Digest – Features: Eat local NOW, sugar power, chef-farmer matchmaking in Wisconsin

starPBS goes locavore: The "Now" show does a big package on the "grow local, eat local" movement that includes a terrific video segment featuring Appalachian ex-tobacco farmers, now organic; as well as Steven Hopp — husband of Barbara Kingsolver, who spent a year living off the land (and who we didn't know owned a restaurant!) — and climate-change activist Bill McKibben. Includes lots of good resources, including "10 Steps to Becoming a Locavore" by our friend Jen Maiser. (PBS) Over at The Rural Blog, Al Cross points out that PBS fails to mention how "now that the quotas are gone, some farmers are raising more tobacco, and though cigarette companies pay them less, they make up for it in volume."

Cane and able: The WashPo's "Harvesting Cash" series continues with a look at the sugar lobby. "When you take on Big Sugar, you take on a huge political money operation," says one Congressional rep. And this is different from corn, soy, rice, etc. how? (Washington Post)

Chefs and farmers, speed-dating?: At a Wisconsin REAP Food Group event to fuel the "buy local" food movement, a chef will meet two farmers for 10 minutes, then change tables, again and again. (The Capital Times)

Buy fresh bison: The Times does its second feature in two months on America's growing buffalo herds, focusing on the New York trend, but glosses over the feedlot side of the industry with a few vague statements about how unlike cattle "they do not require antibiotics or growth hormones." Note to Jan Ellen Spiegel: Uh, cattle don't "require" them either, and you could have probed the grain-feeding bison ranchers a little harder. (New York Times)

Assault on battery cages: A California egg producer, Gary West, as new chairman of United Egg Producers is determined to fight a proposed ballot initiative to ban laying-hen cages, claiming the animal-welfare groups just want to "put an end to animal agriculture" altogether. (The Modesto Bee)

Indian farmers getting rich: All across India, farmers near major metropolitan areas have seen their ancestral land turn to real estate gold as developers scramble to build suburban retreats. How the cities plan to feed themselves is not discussed, nor is the plague of farmer-suicides in rural areas. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Of Tar Heels and chicken feet: The urban chicken movement is on the rise in North Carolina. (Independent Weekly)

Marketing masochism: A thought-provoking ride-along with the creator of the blog Suicide Food, which points out advertising whose point is "to distance carnivorous diners from the cruelty and death that seasons their dinners." (The Stranger; hat tip to Chow)

"We are not all bad guys": A Maryland farmer who grows corn, wheat and soybeans — and 200,000 roaster chickens a year — is trying to do the right thing by the state's manure-management laws. (Baltimore Sun)

A most un-rotten Tomato: Massachusetts apple growers are benefiting from the help of Red Tomato, a marketing and distribution co-op that works with small farmers in the United States and Latin America to negotiate prices and expand market access. (Boston Globe)

Stony hearted fellow: A review of David Mas Masumoto's latest collection, "Heirlooms: Letters From a Peach Farmer." (San Francisco Chronicle)

Brew the right thing: If you're having trouble coughing up more for your daily beans, read this lengthy Times Literary Supplement summary of the coffee documentary "Black Gold" and several books about the vices of the coffee trade. (Times Online)

Io-whaaa?: A local newspaper profiles Edible Iowa River Valley, which will soon release its fifth issue. To the surprise of many who see Iowa as a vast monoculture of transgenic corn, the magazine reveals Iowa's "nooks and crannies" of food, like Apple cider from Applecart Orchard in Vinton and Northern Prairie Chevre from Woodward. (Des Moines Register)

Small farm numbers up, land share down: The USDA's surprisingly excellent publication Amber Waves looks at trends in farm sizes. Small farms (fewer than 50 acres) operated less than 2 percent of all farmland in 2002, while farms with more than 1,000 acres operated two-thirds of all farmland. The researchers say that common measures of representative farm size — the average and median — thus obscure large changes in the concentration of production. (Amber Waves)

Comments are closed.