Digest: Times et al on food movement’s “arrival,” dairy drama, Murphy profiled

Busy days; we're playing catch-up on news this week. Send URLs we shouldn't miss to digest@ethicurean.com.

The dietgeist “love fest”: Everyone's talking about Andrew Martin's sweeping, chockablock New York Times Business section feature on how the food movement finally feels it's breaking some political ground, thanks to the surprisingly amenable Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and enthusiastic White House gardener-in-chief Michelle Obama. (See below.) Everyone who's anyone has a cameo in Martin's story, but the takeaway seems to be the usual: will these seeds of change actually germinate? Gwen Schantz at Alternet is chugging the organic bubbly already and the Center for a Livable Future says yes, if we can speak with one voice. Meanwhile, Tom Philpott over at Grist focuses in on the class issues Martin raises, and argues for a food system that builds wealth within communities, vs. one that extracts it from them. However, AOL's DailyFinance looks at the price-to-earnings rations of Monsanto and ADM and cautions agtivists not to quit their day jobs.

Shovel-ready Kodak moment: In case you somehow missed it, the First Lady and some photogenic kids broke ground last Friday on an 1,100-square-foot food garden on the South Lawn. The Times has the plans and context; the Post has video. Alice is psyched; Pollan is all, Jeez, I said they should do this 18 years ago, folks. (Not really, but hey, he did.)

Humboldt in a fog: A financial trainwreck is in progress at Humboldt Creamery in northern California, where a cheating executive may put many dairy farmers out of business. The way one farmer sees it, “you can’t just skip a milking, or stay in bed when a cow is calving. These animals count on you, and you count on these animals. The same with people.” Get the tissues ready, this piece will break your heart. (New York Times)

The accidental agtivist: Jane Black profiles Dave Murphy, the windmill-tilting Iowan turned media darling behind Food Democracy Now (and its awesomely successful 90,000-signature-strong petition), who is bringing a much-needed Midwestern perspective to the sustainable agriculture fight. (Washington Post)

No, panic — even if it's organic: Mark Bittman on the misperceptions around food labeled organic — which “seems to have become the magic cure-all, synonymous with eating well, healthfully, sanely, even ethically” — and what it will take to get Americans to just eat food. Not too much. And mostly what? All together now… (New York Times)

Wild things: Iso Rabins' foraged food is all the rage amongst San Francisco's hip eaters. Health inspectors and environmentalists aren't so thrilled. But, as this intelligent opus observes, maybe fans of wild foods aren;t scofflaws, just making “culinary decisions based on an antique ethos of food production that today's regulatory apparatus simply is not built to understand.” (SF Weekly)

Grow slow: Slow gardening calls for gardeners to chill out and follow seasonal rhythms, instead of doing everything at once. And Felder Rushing, who has a garden in the back of his pickup truck in Mississippi, is one hell of a good salesman for its tenets. (New York Times)

Milk news not homogeneous: The Kansas House passed a bill significantly restricting labeling of dairy products from cows not treated with recombinant bovine growth hormone. (Hutchinson News) Meanwhile, Food & Water Watch is campaigning to get school districts to buy milk only from cows not injected with the artificial hormone. (NY Times Diner's Journal)

Don't hoe that row: Ag state Senators say Farm Bill is fine and dandy, and definitely not a place where the Obama administration should seek cuts. (Brownfield)

…but officials pledge a little weeding: U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack and Treasury Secretary Tim Geitner say they'll work together to snip ag payments to recipients earning more than $500,000 a year in taxable nonfarm income. (Brownfield)

“The suffering of the sea”: We're decimating the oceans to feed not just ourselves, but our domesticated animals. The pet food industry now uses about 10% of the global supply of forage fish. The swine industry consumes 24% of fish meal and oil, and poultry as much as 22%. (New York Times; the Freakanomics blog has more on the fish haul for pets.)

We spit on you, Goliath: Ethicurean BFF Kerry Trueman writes about seed supplier Fedco, which, following the acquisition of Fedco’s largest seed supplier, Seminis, by monolithic Monsanto back in 2005, had the balls to stop carrying its seeds. And has not only lived to tell the tale, but thrived. (The Green Fork)


Now that's green:Growing Home, a nonprofit that uses organic farming to provide job training for hard-to-employ individuals, has won a Green Award, honoring Chicagoans who are pioneering smart, new environmental ideas. Starting out as a 10-acre organic farm, Growing Home has graduated 130 trainees, most of whom have been homeless or incarcerated at some point. It operates via a home delivery program and farmers markets, including one it pioneered in a “food desert.” (Chicago Magazine)

Fuel from flies: Black Soldier fly larvae are being marshaled by the EcoSystem Corporation to make biodiesel fuel from food waste, poultry and swine manure, and waste from livestock processing facilities. They claim that the larvae are voracious eaters that are insensitive to contaminants and bacteria. No information about what they plan to do with the fully matured flies, however — food for fish farms or poultry operations, perhaps? (Press release, via Green Car Congress)

Dry harder: With potential water shortages on Californians' minds, many farmers are converting to 'dry farming,' where crops like apples, tomatoes, or pumpkins receive only natural irrigation. Although water costs go down, revenues can also drop, as trees need to be spaced farther apart and the fruit grows slower and ends up smaller. The article offers many tips about how to 'dry farm' at home. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Flowing uphill battle: With drought and shrinking per capita water resources on the horizon, advocates are trying to get state officials to simplify the regulations for using gray water (from sinks, washing machines, etc) for irrigation. (Greenspace from the L.A. Times) Related: The Chronicle's tips on saving water by going gray.

Blue-green test: We scored 9 out of 10 on this quiz about sustainable seafood. How bout you? (Sierra Club)

Not a SOLE mention: An analysis of the decline in demand for beef focuses on safety, nutrition and convenience but doesn’t appear to consider such consumer concerns as sustainability or ethical practices. Of course, most Americans may not care about those things — yet — but they’re learning. (Wichita Eagle)

And now, chickens? That's what self-identified conservative blogger Rod Dreher suggests for the White House. (BeliefNet)

Plains speaking: Kansas City area restaurants are getting national attention, thanks in part to local foods. (Kansas City Star)

Old idea, new roots: Community gardens like the Welden Yerby Senior Citizens Garden are on the rise even in El Paso, Texas, the Seventh Fattest City in America according to Men's Health. (Newspaper Tree El Paso)

Paging Janet Napolitano!: A Brazilian Wandering Spider, the world's deadliest, was found in a Tulsa Whole Foods banana section. (Arizona Star; thanks, Aunt Biddy!)

Food industry opposes fee for more safety inspections (Wall Street Journal)

Edible garden to be planted at California Capitol (but no lawn sacrificed)(FirstLady.ca.gov)

Kirkland brand organic eggs recalled north of Fresno(MSNBC)

“Stephen Colbert's World of Nahlej” looks at artificial meat(Colbert Nation, also at Hulu)

One Responseto “Digest: Times et al on food movement’s “arrival,” dairy drama, Murphy profiled”

  1. Flies, as larva and adults, are wonderful food for poultry. We have about 100 chickens. That's far more than we need for our own eggs. Six would do for us. We have the extras because they serve as valuable natural, organic pest control. We raise pigs on pasture. Particularly in the spring when the bedding packs thaw the flies can be something else, if we didn't have chickens. With the chickens here the flies are under control. In fact so much so that while our neighbors about a half mile and mile in either direction have a lot of black flies, deer flies and mosquitoes we have almost none despite our being right near a marsh and having ponds. So, those soldier fly adults would make a great food for chickens.