Digest – News & Features: Tomato pickers make Gourmet, MiPo in MoJo, Obama on payment limits

Update: now with working URLs! (sorry and thanks Patrick!)

We Digest food-politics news both tasty and ewww for you twice a week. Send articles (and puns!) to t...@ethicurean.com.

Green with exploitation: The March issue of Gourmet Magazine documents that modern-day slavery is alive and well in Florida’s tomato fields, which produce 90% of our nation’s domestically grown tomatoes between December and May. “[Is it] reasonable to assume that an American who has eaten a fresh tomato from a grocery store or food-service company during the winter has eaten fruit picked by the hand of a slave?” the article asks. “It is not an assumption. It is a fact.” (Gourmet Magazine)

Why not "Eat Food. Only Plants"?: MoJo's food issue features a Q&A with Michael Pollan on Vilsack, subsidy realpolitik, corn-based ethanol, and elitism in the food movement; the rest of the articles aren't yet online, alas. (Mother Jones)

Pay now or pay later: Farm industry spokespeople grouse about Obama's no-payments-to agribusiness comments during his speech Tuesday. (Reuters) Tom Laskawy explains what those remarks might mean in a guest post for Obama Foodarama.

Just desert: Severe drought adds to hardships in California, threatening to drive up joblessness, increase food prices, and cripple farms and towns. (New York Times)

Roots of resistance: 80% of cotton grown in the U.S. is genetically modified, most of it Roundup Ready, which is resistant to the herbicide glyphosate. California's cotton industry, at 50%, is behind the rest of the country, but it's watching the impacts in other regions closely. Widespread RR cotton use has driven the evolution of glyphosate-resistant weeds, and resistance is showing up in more and more weed species. Farmers planting Roundup Ready crops and practicing minimum tillage now have to fire up the tractor and till weeds under, following it up with multiple applications of other herbicides. (Western Farm Press)

ZIP affects diets: A pair of studies led by Manuel Franco shows that people who live where high-quality food is less available also tend to have lower-quality diets. Correlation/causation is always tricky, but one of the authors, Benjamin Caballero, declares, "Our studies show that where you live is a major determinant of your health." (Johns Hopkins)

Masks, anyone?: Those who developed a neurological disorder thanks to inhaling "pig brain mist" are doing better a year later, but no one's calling them cured. (EurekAlert)

Survival of the fittest chef: Harvard's Richard Wrangham thinks that cooking and other forms of preparing food are humanity’s “killer app” — the evolutionary change that underpins all the things that make people such unusual animals. (The Economist; thanks Holly!)

Sentimental education: A debate is heating up in Iowa as female land ownership creeps toward 50%. Women land owners, many of whose husbands have passed on, are finding themselves at odds with tenants who refuse to farm "sentimentally." Oh wait, we heard somewhere that if you ain't a little lady, they call that kind of sentiment "conservation practices." Shucks. But hey SOLE food farmers, here's a golden opportunity: some of these women say they'd lower the rent to get a tenant who won't destroy their land. (Christian Science Monitor)

Orthorexia hits the orthodontics set: In one of its occasional pseudo-trend stories, the Times trains its lens on the rise in children obsessed with eating only health food. Basically, it doesn't sound new — just anorexia under a certified organic label. Thankfully an anorexic expert leaves us with sane words: “It’s a tragedy that we’ve developed this moralistic, restrictive and unhappy relationship [with eating]…it is making kids nutty, it’s sucking the life out of our relationship with food.” (New York Times)

Sour milk: The Kansas Legislature once again tries to restrict milk labels regarding use of artificial bovine growth hormone. (Center for Food Safety; over at Foodperson.com, the Ethicurean's Janet tells how Kansans can fight back)

Urban farms lauded: Letitia L. Star offers up a list of America's "top 10" urban farms, and Chicago lands two on the list. (Natural Home) Kansas City Community Farm leader Katherine Kelly joins us in being surprised at the absence of a Bay Area representative. (Fat City)

Ranchers cool with COOL: The National Cattlemen's Beef Association is pleased that the Bush administration country-of-origin labeling rules will go into effect as planned. (Brownfield)

USDA tells National Organic Program inspectors to report health or safety violations (NYT Diners Journal)

Obama proposes $1 billion/year increase in funding for U.S. child nutrition programs (Reuters)

Vilsack adviser Neil Hamilton predicts White House vegetable garden by summer (CBSNews blog)

USDA toughens oversight of organic fertilizer (Sacramento Bee)

Canada issues new set of organic standards (Brownfield)

U. of Missouri-Kansas City students get growing (University News)

One Responseto “Digest – News & Features: Tomato pickers make Gourmet, MiPo in MoJo, Obama on payment limits”

  1. Patrick says:

    A number of the links are broken. Halp!