Digest – Features: A+ for bee-minus story, cattlemen no supertasters, farming is poisoning our drinking water
Queen of the bees: Colony collapse disorder in U.S. bees "may have many contributing causes," writes Gina Covina in this terrific Ecology Center Terrain article posted on AlterNet, "but it comes down to bees hitting the biological limits of our agricultural system. It's not so much a bee crisis as a pollination crisis. And we may end up calling it agricultural collapse disorder."
Jack, this one's for you: Members of the Southwest Missouri Cattlemen's Association had a blind taste test between grass-finished beef and corn-fed conventional beef. They couldn't tell the difference. (News-Leader.com; story has mysteriously disappeared, here's Google-cached version)
"They don't call it the Big Muddy for nothing": The Mississippi River basin, which provides drinking water to more than 18 million people, receives not only the effluent of all those humans, but also that of their crops and cows. Of the many threats to drinking water in this region, reports "Garbage Land" author Elizabeth Royte, farming is by far the worst. It's enough to send you back to bottled water — the industry that's the subject of her next book. (Grist)
Net interests: Marian Burros untangles the kerfuffle over news that the fishing industry had funded research that led a recommendation that women of childbearing age eat more fish, in contradiction of government warnings about mercury contamination. (New York Times)
Alice has an iPhone?: Shadowing Alice Waters on three days of her book tour in Chicago, where no one has heard of her and an audience member wants her to try out a nearby Hawaiian-based chain restaurant. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Big Red-Tape Apple: Getting local carrots into the meals served at New York City schools seemed like a no-brainer — the project would help farmers diversify, and the veggies would be fresher, tastier and take less fuel to ship. As you can imagine, it turned out to be more complicated than that. One thing that bugged us "food purists": Why take it for granted that a school system shouldn't even try to handle fresh carrots, instead distributing a plastic package of dip-vehicle "coins" instead? (New York Times; thanks Possum 225)
And in a parallel universe...: An in-depth look at school lunches in the Puget Sound area. The challenges are the same as those facing NYC schools (see above). Some Washington districts, however, like Olympia, have managed to make significant improvements. One of the principals sums it up: "It's really adult work. It's our job to provide choices that nourish our children and then that becomes part of what they understand about the world." (Seattle Post Intelligencer)
Deer prudence: New Zealand venison farmers are trying to break into the untapped U.S. market. With an estimated 2 million red deer stocked on more than 3,500 farms, New Zealand has the world's largest deer-farming industry. (Washington Post)
"White tablecloth trickle-down": Chef Michael Nischan and Paul Newman have not just opened a hot farm-totable restaurant in Westport, Connecticut, they've also launched a nonprofit called Wholesome Wave that is running a farmers market and soon, maybe, a farm. (Plenty Magazine)
The lost art of home-curing olives — without lye (New York Times)
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