Digest – Features: The bacterial Jungle, civic agriculture, China cracks down on food producers

star"There’s no silver bullet": The always-excellent Andrew Martin reports on how the beef industry spends upward of $350 million a year to keep pathogens out of its meat — acid-washed, chemically bathed, and steam-treated steak anyone? — and yet can’t seem to stamp out that pesky E. coli. Hmm, what if instead of feeding even more antibiotics to, and hosing down manure-encrusted cattle before slaughtering, we examined whether the whole feedlot system was a bad idea? (New York Times)

Much better than gated greenwashing developments: Some enlightened real-state developers are building communities that blend working farms into the suburban landscape. (The Nation; via Eating Liberally)

China is not messing around: China announced it has destroyed the facilities of more than 2,800 rural food makers to crack down on shoddy, fake or substandard food. Earlier it moved to stop pork producers from selling diseased pigs. It’s also drafting legislation to apply the death penalty to makers of consumer products. (New York Times)

Free Peach Movement: Berkeley students run "The Local," a weekly produce stand in Sproul Plaza and pick campus olives (right) for a harvest festival, all "visible manifestations of a budding campus movement that is trying to provide an alternative for students interested in sustainable, organic and local food production – but frustrated by how little they find at the university." (San Francisco Chronicle)

National interest rates: At a time when small family farms are disappearing and the average age of farmers is 55, a 30-something couple named Michael and Jill Paine have done something so risky a bank wouldn’t sanction it — gone into farming. (Edible Portland; includes video segment)

Not a baaad idea: A businesswoman in Booneville, Iowa, has turned sheep rancher, raising Katahdin Hair sheep organically — one of two such operations in the state. (The funny-looking sheep were developed by Heifer International for their meat production and don’t need to be shorn every year like most sheep breeds, because the Katahdins shed their hair naturally.) (Des Moines Register)

The prosciutto smugglers: Fun (and sad) story about all the food that gets confiscated at US Customs and Border Protection checkpoints does not mention why people are not allowed to bring gourmet treats or their traditional foods from home back for personal consumption. (Boston Globe)

F is for fast food: Marion Nestle alerts us that McDonald’s has stooped to the incredible low of advertising on report cards. Ronald & Co. picked up the $1,600 cost of printing report-card jackets for the 2007-2008 school year in Seminole County, Fla., in exchange for a Happy Meal coupon on the card’s cover. (Advertising Age; NYT has bigger context)

An impending Indonesian “carbon bomb”: Responding to global demand for palm oil, which is used in cooking and cosmetics and, lately, in the increasingly popular fuel increasingly popular biodiesel, companies have logged and burned vast swathes of rainforest to establish palm oil plantations. (New York Times)

Barbecuing our lungs: Emissions of fine particles (which cause multiple respiratory and cardiological problems) from restaurant char-broilers and grills are a big enough pollution source that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has passed a rule regulating them. Restaurants that cook more than a certain quantity of beef or have a large enough grill will have to install pollution control devices or change their cooking methods. The restaurant association’s director of local government affairs asks why the air board doesn’t "go after the bigger sources of particulates first, like diesel trucks and vehicles?" There’s a good reason why, one that the director should already know: local air boards do not have the regulatory authority to address mobile sources — that authority rests solely in the hands of the California Air Resouces Board (outside California, the EPA has that responsibility). (Fremont Argus)

Tasty sustainable seafood at Washington, D.C. restaurant Hook (Fortune)

Maryland farmers are encouraging consumers to shop locally for the holidays (Washington Post)

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