So un-COOL: The USDA releases the final rule on Country of Origin Labeling, the law that requires that many of our main foodstuffs be labeled with (duh) the country where they were made, but it leaves a massive loophole by exempting "processed" foods from the law and defining "processed" broadly to include things like meat that was smoked, nuts that were roasted, or frozen vegetables. There's a chance that Obama could strengthen the rule before it goes into effect March 16; keep your fingers crossed. (OMB Watch)
Ethano': The Center for Food Safety is campaigning to halt the proposed deregulation of a genetically engineered corn made just for ethanol. USDA is accepting comments only until January 20. (Center for Food Safety)
Inaugural feast: If you're heading to Washington for Tuesday's festivities, make sure to hit the Eat Well Guide first for directions to sustainable food vendors along your route. The site has pre-made directories for the New York (PDF) and Chicago (PDF) routes, and others can peruse the Eat Well Everywhere site for a custom trip guide. (Eat Well Guide)
Our goat is gotten: The FDA is close to a decision on whether or not to approve the marketing of medicine produced by a transgenic goat. The agency didn't even have an approval-setting process in place when it agreed to consider the proposal, but what's the big deal? It's just, you know, drugs coming out of the udders of animals. Rick Weiss of the Center for American Progress leads us all in song: "Old MerckDonald had a pharm...". (Science Progress)
Why only one episode's worth?: The next big BBC talent show is a nationwide search for Britain's next top butcher. (The Telegraph)
Where the beef is: Three recent meaty books — Betty Fussell's "American Steak," and Andrew Rimas and Evan DJ Fraserhelp's "Beef: The Untold Story of How Milk, Meat, and Muscle Shaped the World," and the academic collection "Meat, Modernity, and the Rise of the Slaughterhouse" — help piece together the story of how cows went from four-legged co-worker to shrink-wrapped cutlet. (Slate)
Soybean there, done that: Meet Missouri farmer Kip Cullers, who produced 155 bushels of soybeans per acre in 2007 — a world record — and is as a result much beloved by his sponsors Pioneer Hi-Bred and the German chemical conglomerate BASF. A great inside peek inside the business of industrial farming. (Wired)
The newest Eater-in-Chief: Obama bucked tradition and kept the Bushes' head chef on for the new administration. Tom Philpott digs into the history of chowin' down, president-style. (Gristmill)
The People's Naked Chef: The upstart young chef Jamie Oliver "represents something unusual in the British food writing universe – he isn't middle class, he didn't go to university and he doesn't treat food as the exclusive province of the well-educated and well heeled." (The Guardian) Bonus: Watch Oliver cook with Mark Bittman, aka The Minimalist, in this New York Times Bitten blog video.
World's largest CSA: Fascinating look at Danish farmer and "gastropreneur" Thomas Harttung, whose company, Aarstiderne, delivers weekly boxes of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, and bread to the doors of 45,000 families in Denmark and 5,000 in Sweden. Now ten years old, the company is the largest CSA in the world with annual revenues of $45 million. We're happy to see the WashPo's fine foodpol reporter Jane Black moonlighting at Gourmet.com for this.
U.S. could oust Italy as world's No. 1 wine drinker (Capital Press)