Calamity cowboys: On Iowa, obesity, and earthquakes

Living directly on top of the Hayward Fault, which seismologists claim is overdue for a major earthquake, I'm pretty familiar with the idea that there are losers (of which I may be one) and winners in moments of human tragedy. Here, the winner category is largely comprised of developers, who must feel a...

One nation, underinformed (and one state underwater)

We've been slow to report on the flooding that has turned Iowa, golden icon of the Corn Belt, into an underwater nightmare. If I may speak for the group, it's just pretty damn overwhelming. As of this writing, some 36,000 Iowans have been evacuated from their homes; according to Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, one...

Who owns the last bite?

Speaking of food-crisis-as-economic-opportunity, Bonnie's post below is the perfect set-up for a shocker of an article in today's New York Times business section, "Food is Gold, so Billions Invested in Farming." (Thanks to Britt for the heads up!) Private mega-investors appear to be hedging their bets on...

Everything looks better when your head’s in the sand: The USDA stops tracking pesticide use

When I was four, I ate my mother's houseplant. (I claimed to have thought it was salad.) As any responsible mother would, she freaked out and called poison control. The friendly folks at the 800 number — who must get these kinds of calls all the time, poor guys — immediately asked her the two most important...

The trouble with Teflon

Farm Bill tension had me sequestered in the kitchen these past few evenings. With most things house-related, I find frustration to be an excellent source of motivation; I'm happy to report that thanks to the Farm Bill, the floors have been scrubbed, the cast-iron pan seasoned, and the last batch of citrus...

The enemy of my enemy: Why a Bush veto of the Farm Bill is bad for the food movement (and the world)

My former boss in DC once said that if she ever found herself on the same side of an issue as the Bush Administration, it was time to go back and look more closely: there must be a hidden agenda. That was the thought that struck me as I contemplated the administration's Farm Bill veto threat on Friday. I...

Ode to podcasts: Down on the farm at 38,000 feet

I have an embarrassing confession: I am terrified of flying. I've tried everything I can think of to get over it (deep breathing, Dramamine, and even, yes, a self-help book called "Fly Without Fear"), yet I still end up locking the armrest in a death grip on every flight. It was after my last trip, when the...

The CAFO one-two punch

I am sitting in a swanky conference center on the outskirts of Phoenix, a city that may be one of our country's least sustainable, where the water is as scarce as the SUVs and air conditioners are numerous. But for all the shortcomings of developers who thought it would be a great idea to build a sprawling...

Farm Bill organizers regroup in Phoenix

Greetings from smoldering-hot Phoenix. (But it's a dry heat! Right... somehow when it's a million degrees, that caveat becomes less convincing.) It's been a full, exhausting day. One highlight for me was playing fly on the wall during a coming-together of folks who participated in the Farm and Food Policy...

Bucking the CAFO tax: A plea for conscientious objection

Here's a number to knock you out of that mid-day stupor: every year, taxpayers shell out between $7.1 billion and $8.2 billion to subsidize or clean up after our nation's 9,900 confined animal feeding operations. That's the finding of "CAFOs Uncovered," a new report released earlier today by the Union of...

When discrimination is more than OK: Time to call our reps about pesticide policy

Update 4/10: We're hearing from our confidential intel sources on the Hill (OK, an action alert I just received) that the deadline for asking your reps to sign the letter mentioned below has been extended until mid-day tomorrow, 4/11. I just called my rep. The feeling of fulfillment is immense... try it! -E...

Saving the songbirds (and ourselves)

Today's New York Times featured an op-ed by Bridget Stutchbury, a biology professor at the University of Toronto and author of Silence of the Songbirds. Her book follows in the footsteps of Silent Spring and documents the rapid disappearance of migratory songbirds -- by her account, a 50% decline in the...

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