Digest – Features: Grist goes ag-grow, excremental exhortations, and Cal Dining gets SOLE

Now that's true Grist: Our favorite environmental website has kicked off a special, two-week series on food and farming. Among the current crop of stories: Tom Philpott first looks at the history of industrial agriculture in Iowa, then he heads into the Corn Belt capital to compare Hardin County, "mired in hog excrement and political indifference," with Woodbury County, which has a thriving sustainable food infrastructure, whose flagship is the farmer-owned and -operated Floyd Boulevard Local Foods Market (with audio slideshow).

starEat shit, don't die: Maybe instead of trying to make the food chain as sterile as possible, we need to recognize that "our centuries-long program of winnowing out all the muck has turned us into sissies and withered the substantial part of the immune system mediated by our intestinal tract." (Slate)

starBlue and Gold and green food?: John Birdsall, recently (and unconscionably) laid off from the East Bay Express, evaluates (in his usual irreverent fashion) UC Berkeley's toe-dip into the local and sustainable food movement known as farm-to-college — "a movement Cal has been mostly content to watch from the sidelines, its critics say, while other universities have charged ahead." (Contra Costa Times)

Let the corny puns begin: The Grey Lady reviews the new documentary "King Corn," whose filmmakers hope to raise awareness about how the food on our plates gets there, for better or worse. (New York Times)

Grapes of wrath: There's a big controversy in Calistoga, CA, over whether the district should get its own American Viticultural Area designation, which has led to a rethinking — and potentially a watering down — of the U.S. wine-designation rules. (Los Angeles Times)

Eating some meat has smaller footprint: Diets including modest amounts of grass-fed meat could feed more New Yorkers than some vegetarian diets, according to new research from Cornell University. (Cornell Chronicle)

What about good fat vs. bad fat?: Another take, this one in the Science section, on Gary Taubes's new book debunking diet myths, “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” We have yet to see mentioned whether Taubes talks about the difference between fat derived from grassfed animals (high in Omega 3s) and fat from cornfed animals (high in Omega-6s). (New York Times) Related: Nutritionist Marion Nestle comments on the Tierney piece.

Dissing Alice's new cookbook: Russ Parsons reviews "The Art of Simple Food," the new book from Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters, and calls it "a bit of a mess" before proceeding to clean up after it in the Los Angeles Times. But Elissa Altman at the Huffington Post loves it even more than her collection of Chez Panisse cookbooks. Related: In an excerpt from “The Art of Simple Foods,” Waters offers a few pieces of advice to launch your own "Delicious Revolution."

Don't you just love conscious capitalism?: A California entrepreneur has a plan to profit from the vast amount of global-warming gases created by the synthetic fertilizer used to grow rice in China. He is trying to sell a gene that supposedly allows rice plants to use less fertilizer, and then he'll sell the reduced emissions on the growing global market for carbon credits. (Wall Street Journal; free)

Feeling fizzy: Devices for making soda water at home. How environmentally friendly are those disposable carbon-dioxide cartridges? (New York Times)

Abalonely hearts: Farming those mollusks with the prized tender meat takes patience. Abalones grow an inch a year, if that. (San Jose Mercury News)

So seasonal you won't recognize it: Frank Bruni reviews Park Avenue Autumn — a few weeks ago it was Park Avenue Summer, a few months from now it will be Park Avenue Winter. (The New York Times)

Sweet harvest: It's time to make honey in San Francisco, and urban beekeepers are extracting it from hives in community gardens, atop apartment buildings, in their driveways and from bee colonies tucked away in Golden Gate Park. (SF Chronicle)

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