Digest – Features: The ABCs of GM foods, Alice as the Sustainable Kitchen Fairy, clean-food catastrophe
This Digest was amended at 11 a.m. to add the excellent New York Times Magazine feature on water.
A frank look at frankenfoods: Science writer Elena Conis has a top-notch, clear-eyed primer on the science of, and debate over, genetically modified foods — which can be found in 70% of processed foods. We consider ourselves pretty well briefed on the subject, but we learned something new: scientists sometimes insert the desired gene along with a gene for antibiotic resistance, too, as a sort of benign "marker gene" — only not so benign if you want antibiotics to keep working. (Los Angeles Times) Related: Chicago-based researchers have just announced they've developed a method to take crops' genetic manipulation to a higher level, by inserting an artificial chromosome (thx Jack). Also: Learn where the candidates stand on GM foods
OMG, we smell a reality TV series: Alice Waters, aka "the Glinda of … sustainable locally-grown cuisine," does a makeover on the fridge, pantry, and cooking of a "gastronomic fallen woman" and her two sons. Somebody should pitch Alice, Dan Barber, and Wolfgang Puck to the Food Network as a white-coated "What Not to Eat" team. (If they're not available, we are.) (New York Times Magazine)
"There's no feral pig lobby": A close look at the lengths to which the E. coli outbreaks in leafy greens have driven California's salad-bowl producers — 8-foot-high deer fences, razing all surrounding vegetation (in violation of environmental laws), and doing everything they can to reassure suppliers about crops that after all, are grown in the dirt. (Hydroponics, anyone?) Craziness. Meanwhile, as one person observes, where's the research into the causes and containment of E. coli 0157:H7? (AlterNet)
Splash back: The bottled water industry is on the defensive, yet even at supposedly environmentally conscious stores like Whole Foods Market, bottled water is still the No. 1 selling item. And then there's the little problem that some of the same environmental groups that oppose bottled water have also warned against tap water contamination, especially in rural areas. Long article, but well worth reading if you're seeking a blood-pressure spike. (AlterNet) Related: Chicago Mayor Richard Daley proposes to add a 10-cent tax to each bottle of water
Happy cows make great steaks: Britain's most enlightened farms are revolutionizing the way cattle is reared and slaughtered. (The Observer)
Trough times: About how rural Iowans cope with the ammonia-rank smell of hogs — mostly by not going outside. We're wondering, just how many jobs do these hog factories actually provide, that small towns would sell out residents to attract them? (AP)
They're our heroes, too: Chip Giller of Grist.org — what the Ethicurean aspires to be when it grows up — is included in TIME magazine's cover story on "Heroes of the Environment." (Time)
Trick or treating, LOHAS-style: Yup, organic has jumped the shark…costume. (Wall Street Journal; free)
Getting over "fluffy bunny syndrome": Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall on eating rabbit. (The Guardian)
Slow food in Fast Company: How Patrick Martins of Heritage Foods USA set out to save the old breeds of turkey. (Fast Company)
Water, water, nowhere: The American West is headed into a catastrophe of epic proportions when it comes to water. This Pulitzer-worthy epic examines what states and towns are doing to ensure they continue to have a reliable source in a rapidly warming climate, and elucidates damningly how there's no way we have enough water to sustain all the farms, all the cities, and all the rivers at current growth rates. Soon, one source predicts, we will talk about our “water footprint” just as we now talk about our carbon footprint. Utterly depressing must-read. Goodbye, California's irrigated salad bowls; hello dry-farmed tomatoes — and everything else. (New York Times Magazine)
The real king of corn: The Kitchen Sisters explore the birth of the Frito. Its creator, Charles Elmer Doolin (a vegetarian), imagined them as a side dish — "He never imagined anyone would consume an entire king-size bag." (NPR)
Urban farmer loves growing (if not eating) bountiful harvest (SF Chronicle)
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