Digest – Features: Pollan Q&A, the bee middleman, some wild donations to hunger cause

starTwo P’s in a partnership: As part of its "Sow What" special series of food and farming, Grist columnist Tom Philpott interviews Michael Pollan in a Q&A that blessedly doesn’t go over the same tired soil (except the Cracker Jacks). Interesting nuggets: congresspeople are now calling Pollan about the Farm Bill (yay!), and some of an Iowa State audience walked out because he "was taking the name of corn in vain" (boo). (Grist)

You had us at "Hall of Farm": Also in Grist’s series, Kurt Michael Friese writes about being a sustainable chef in Iowa City, the heart of Big Ag country. Among other things, as owners of Devotay, he and his wife built a network of local growers who are recognized in name and image at the restaurant’s entrance.

Bee is for broker: A profile of the unassuming man who has become the best-known middleman in the business of honeybee pollination of California almond trees — "a respected intermediary in the largest managed pollination event in the history of the world." California’s almond harvest requires importation of more than half of all the honey bees in the United States. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Who pays for the butchering? Just curious: Last year, about 4,000 hunters contributed enough venison to soup kitchens and food pantries to serve more than 1 million meals. (CBS News)

Deborah Madison on local meat: The queen of seasonal veggies describes Sante Fe’s second annual round-up of local flavors and livestock tasting, where 500 people met ranchers and sampled rabbit and other traditional meats. Says Madison, "I see a return of the meat locker in our future." (Culinate)

New residents of the Jungle: Immigration crackdowns at Smithfield Foods’ giant North Carolina hog slaughterhouse have led it to largely replace Latinos with American workers. But the turnover rate for new workers is now twice what it was. (New York Times)

EPA stands for the Eligible Pesticides Agency: A look at the controversy around methyl iodide, a newly approved replacement for the lethal pesticide methyl bromide, most commonly used in strawberries. Quite a few prominent scientists have expressed concern that the chemical poses a significant risk to the young and unborn. The segment includes an abruptly ended interview with the EPA’s Jim Gulliford, who leads EPA’s pesticide program. Ethicurean readers will no doubt be shocked that just a little while ago, the EPA hired someone who used to work at the company that produces methyl iodide. (Living on Earth)

Ethanol boom’s small-farm victims: The ethanol boom is having a disproportionate effect on small farmers, like the Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm in Sterling, Connecticut, which raises free-range New Holland White turkeys. The price of feed has gone up 34 percent while the price he can charge has gone up only 11 percent. Small egg farms are also feeling a pinch. (The Hartford Courant)

Strange bedfellows: Environmentalists and the timber industry are setting aside old hatreds and drafting plans that would get loggers back into the national forests in exchange for setting aside certain areas for protection. "Cutting down trees, if done responsibly, is not the worst thing that can happen to a forest, when the alternative is selling the land to people who want to build houses," say environmentalists. (New York Times)

Jon Stewart muses about Taco Bell’s entry into Mexico (The Daily Show)

An interview with one of the creators of the "King Corn" (Living on Earth)

3 Responsesto “Digest – Features: Pollan Q&A, the bee middleman, some wild donations to hunger cause”

  1. Diana Foss says:

    The bee article in the Chronicle is much more than just a profile of the broker. I was gobsmacked by the facts about the almond pollenization, and the promiscuous mixing of over half of the honeybees in the US. This added stress and its probable contribution to Colony Collapse Disorder reminded me strongly of the origin of E. coli O157:H7 in the acidized rumens of cows: an incredibly salient fact that somehow goes missing from every discussion of the problem.

  2. meloukhia says:

    As for venison and butchering, a lot of local butchers agree to butcher venison for food banks, to ensure that it’s handled properly so that the food banks can legally accept it. They may or may not charge a small fee for the service. Requirements for food bank submissions are actually very rigorous: they cannot, for example, accept leftovers from restaurants, due to concerns about food safety. Since butchers are USDA inspected, they can safely butcher and package the meat for donation.

  3. Bonnie P. says:

    Diana, you’re right, it was and we should have said so. I just met the author yesterday, funnily enough. Meloukhia — nice to hear from you again! Thanks for the clarification.