Uber-mom Frau Farmer: A profile of the very appealing sounding (to us anyway) Shannon Hayes, who is a third-generation farmer as well as a "newly minted paradigm, an exemplar of the pastoral." (New York Times) And don't miss Hayes' tart essay that inspired the coverage: "What I really feel like saying is 'Buy from me, because I want to pick up a bottle of gin on the way home.'"
We can't make any more corn puns: Tom Philpott played hardball in a Victual Reality Q&A last week with a spokesperson for the National Corn Growers Association and Ralph Grossi, his unlikely ally at the American Farmland Trust. Don't miss the director's cut extras he posted on Gristmill, including how rising corn costs have turned cattlemen back to grass.
Even Oprah couldn't save this Farm Bill: As the 2007 farm bill takes final shape in Congress, writes Carol Ness, an unprecedented wave of Bay Area activism appears to have had no effect, complain local reformers like Dan Imhoff, Ann Cooper, and Michael Pollan. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Lay off Alice: A Salon writer asks, after a few weeks of shopping locally and cooking from scratch, Alice Waters whether her gastronomic principles are too hard to live by, and readers answer with a level of vitriol sufficient to curdle milk. Jesus, people, she's an idealist, and it's just dinner — what are you so angry about? (Salon) Related: See the Blogsnacks Digest below for more on the Ameya Preserve connection.
You don't say: A look at the safety of so-called natural and organic cosmetics closes with this doozy of a quote: “The National Organic Program is a marketing program, not a safety program,” says a USDA spokesperson, likening the organic seal to the department's grading system for beef. “Steak may be graded prime, but that has no bearing on whether it is safe or nutritious to eat.” (New York Times)
"From hippies to homeschoolers": A growing movement of Christian agrarians could reinvigorate rural communities. (Christianity Today; thanks Irene!)
Breaking the lawn: Some rebels in Sacramento dared to plant fruits and vegetables in their front yard — which landed them in big trouble, for a while. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Acts of self-preservation: A political, spiritual, anthopological look at home canning. A sample: "Preserving is an ideology, a political act, a hands-on vote in support of local farmers and their produce. It is a way of withholding, even in small measures, from the vast corporatization of our food." (The Toronto Star, via Treehugger)
Slow poison: Investigative journalist Mark Schapiro talks about his new book, "Exposed," on the toxic ingredients in everyday items and how they affect the U.S. Although much of his focus is on cosmetics, toys and electronics, his insights probably apply to pesticides and agriculture. The EU's stricter rules are leading to innovation by EU companies; by contrast, laxity in the U.S. has led to stagnation. (KQED Forum)
"Seeing a pig die is a pretty bloodcurdling experience": Chef-raconteur Anthony Bourdain answers readers' questions, including whether it's good for a chef to see every stage of the main ingredient. (TIME)
A look at the chocolate vs. "mock-olate" wars (Conde Nast Portfolio)
Your garden can help nourish native bees (Marin Independent Journal)
Food policy graphic: Why does a salad cost more than a Big Mac? (PCRM Magazine; thanks Jack)