Digest – Features: Cows — they’ll eat anything, Wendell Berry book & news

starChina, please, just say no: Several American feedlot cattle operators are starting up in China, where they hope to "kick start the consolidation of China's disorganized beef-production chain, bringing to Inner Mongolia all the high-volume efficiency — and social and environmental concerns — that go with big agriculture." The profiled firm's target herd size is 75,000, and it's buying calves from villagers who previously sold them for serum to make cosmetics. If you're looking for us, you'll find us in a fetal position curled under our desk. (Time)

Hoof-and-bluetongue?: The Economist summarizes just what the UK's hoof-and-mouth and bluetongue outbreaks mean for the global meat industry.

starWe are what we won't eat: An article about why British cattle seem to be more susceptible to illness contains a startling statement — "Pathology researchers consider airline food waste, which is sometimes processed into food for livestock, the greatest danger to animal health in the world." We're all for recycling, but this is insane. (Slate)

Alice in Wonderbreadland: Alice Waters visits sustainable farmers and restaurant owners in North Carolina. (Charlotte Observer)

Reversing his poll position: Farmer-philosopher Wendell Berry will be trudging back to the voting booth this November — though somewhat reluctantly. (Courier-Journal, via the Rural Blog)

Best title of the week: "Inconvenient Youths" looks at how kids are becoming the green movement's stealth weapon, pressuring their parents on everything from hybrid cars to composting. Hey, if the marketers an use them to buy Shrek shit, why not use the little buggers to pester for recycled toilet paper? Too bad there's already a conservative counteroffensive.(Wall Street Journal; free article)

Certified fishy: Good Food includes an interview with Environmental Defense's Rebecca Goldburg about organic seafood and aquaculture, and some tips on gardening in containers. (KCRW's Good Food)

"It's the right thing to do": Can a dairy be big and organic? A look at Watts Brothers, Washington's largest organic dairy (with 2,200 milking cows). Aside from the fact that they have to irrigate their pasture, sounds to us like Watts is doing big with integrity. (Seattle Times) Related: Sam has a Chews Wise guest post from a NY organic dairy farmer addressing the question, "What makes a cow organic?"

What to get an Ethicurean for Christmas: "Wendell Berry: Life and Work," a new collection in which leading writers like Kingsolver and McKibben appraise Kentucky's famed author, farmer, educator and philosopher. (Courier-Journal)

Mmm, "ethanol corn": The latest installment in the WashPo's excellent "Harvesting Cash" series on U.S. agriculture subsidies looks at the effect of the ethanol boom's subsidies and tax rebates on the rural Midwest. Fun image: "country roads are dotted with signs advertising 'ethanol corn' — genetically engineered seeds with the high starch content ideal for making 200-proof, high-octane ethanol." (Washington Post) Related: The New York Times reports that the ethanol market is experiencing a glut.

The other "chefs" in white coats: Going inside the food lab at Mattson, which concocts thousands of items Americans eat every day. Interesting aside: Specifying the provenance of ingredients, not only on restaurant menus but also on packaged products, is gaining momentum as a trend. (New York Times)

Clearly they need better lobbyists: French farmers are facing climate change and dwindling EU aid (International Herald Tribune). But what's this? Their government has unveiled a blueprint for a "green revolution". Too bad it's about fuel and supermarket labels.

Free Speech, subsidized cherry tomatoes: Students have brought UC Berkeley its first student-run cooperative organic produce stand. (The Daily Californian)

Tipping the scales: A review of Raj Patel's Stuffed and Starved, which tries to discover why 800 million people are undernourished, while at the same time more than 1 billion people are obese or overweight. Not surprisingly, the corporatization of food and farming is a major cause of the world's bimodal nutrition situation. (Time)

Call it the "8-Mile diet"?: A personal perspective on a new report about "food deserts" in Detroit. More than half of the Detroit's residents live twice as close to a "fringe food location" (gas station, liquor store, party store, dollar stores, etc.) as a grocery store. One of the solutions: farmers markets featuring food grown within Detroit city limits. (Metro Times Detroit)

Farm tours near Charlotte, North Carolina (The Charlotte Observer)

Pig-friendly practices on a Niman Ranch supplier's Minnesota farm (Austin Daily Herald)

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