Digest – Features: The littlest farmworkers, free-meal stigma, defending soul food

starWasn't the Green Revolution supposed to save the children?: A comprehensive look at the problem of child labor around the world. According to the UN International Labor Organization, there are an estimated 218 million child laborers worldwide — and 7 out of 10 of them are in agriculture. Farmers in India blame Monsanto's high prices for genetically modified, pesticide-resistant seeds create a cost squeeze that forces them to use child labor. Grab a hanky; this story is heartbreaking. Also, since when were Syngenta genetically modified seeds for such "vegetables as okra, tomatoes, chilies and eggplant" approved? (Forbes)

Make them taste better than the paid-for ones?: San Francisco school officials are looking at ways to encourage more poor students to accept government-financed meals. (New York Times)

starSinging hominy: "Grub" author Bryant Terry defends "true grits," non-instant African-American soul food, from its perception as "unsophisticated and unhealthy fare comprised of high-calorie, low-nutrient dishes replete with, salt, sugar, and bad fats." (TheRoot.com)

The Sysco kidders: Small farmers in Minnesota lack the distribution system needed to get locally grown food from small farms to people’s tables. That's true all over. But this made us sit up and take notice: The Minnesota operating unit of Sysco, a $37 billion national food distributor, says it “sees this as a real market trend, and they want to be part of it." Yeah, keep an eye on those guys. (Finance and Commerce)

Humane nature: This piece on alternatives to Downergate meat — certified humane or organic operations — includes a profile of the slaughterhouse belonging to Bay Area seller Prather Ranch, and a depressing video of the 100,000-cow operation for Brandt Beef. (Press-Enterprise)

Because greener is greener: Grist's advice columnist tackles the question of why organic bananas are usually smaller and greener than non-organic. Great additions in the comments section. (Grist)

Doing the chicken math: Thanks to the TV crusade of Jamie Oliver and Hugh What's-His-Name, the English are stampeding for free-range poultry, so Martin Samuel does the snarky math as to what it would take to raise 1.7 billion such birds with room to roam. "The smug set will say the nation should go back to treating meat as a luxury, but that will not happen, either," he maintains, What if rising feed and energy prices may make all meat a luxury, regardless? (Times (UK); ta, Courtney!)

Mind your pees and cues: Ugandan farmers are touting what our friend Fred calls peecycling — using human urine as a remarkable fertilizer. (allAfrica.com)

Prince Charles bans foie gras at his official residences (AFP)

Is mead, last popular around King Arthur's table, poised for a comeback? (Slate)

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