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Words on the street food

A sampler of dispatches from the street-food universe. What this got to do with Ethicureanism? Well, unlike most fast food, good street food is made from fresh, real ingredients by independent sole proprietors. And it fascinates us because it's like the "farming in the middle" conundrum: how can talented...

Open season: Local Roots Markets opens in Wooster, Ohio

Nine months doesn't really seem like a very long time: over the span of a lifetime, just a mere hiccup on a long journey. But when you're in the midst of those nine months (ask any expectant mother), you find yourself amazed at how much goes on in that time frame — and how it can seem to pass so slowly, and...

Small-town grocery stores feed a need bigger than stomachs

In the small Nebraska town I now call home, a small grocery store anchors one end of Main Street. Once a farm-implement dealership, it has nine aisles, a dairy cooler, and a fresh meat counter. It employs nine full-time workers plus various high school students, and its limited hours frequently cause this...

Meet your greens, part 3: Taking the stand against the veggilantes

This is the third in a series about the USDA hearings on an industry proposal for a food-safety marketing agreement for leafy green vegetables. My first post describes what marketing agreements are and do; my second covers the first day of testimony, which was dominated by industry supporters of the...

Meet your greens: National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement hearings, Week 1

This is the first in a short series on the National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement hearings held September 22-24 in Monterey, CA. I packed a suit for three days of USDA hearings over an industry-proposed national food safety agreement [pdf] for leafy greens. In retrospect, I should have packed a flask....

Mapping Markets and Organic Demand

Today is “Direct Markets” day for the USDA’s new “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative, with the big event being the opening of a farmers market near the White House. In recent years, the value of direct sales from farms to individuals has seen significant growth:  from about $800 million in 2002 to...

Michael Pollan denounces Whole Foods boycott

Money quote: "Mackey is wrong on health care, but Whole Foods is often right about food, and their support for the farmers matters more to me than the political views of their founder. I haven’t examined the political views of all the retailers who feed me, but I can imagine having a lot of eating problems...

NPR utters the phrase “big milk”

Consolidation station: NPR's John Burnett shines a spotlight on agribusiness consolidation, the control of the food system by an ever-smaller group of mega-companies. Independent farmers and ranchers are pushing the Obama Administration to take a good, long look at the factors that brought us to where we...

Twenty-five years of food expenditure trends

One of the interesting data tidbits in the recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is annual American food expenditures. Using data from the USDA and the consumer price index (to correct for inflation), the GAO calculated per capita food expenditures and the share of disposable income...

Feds to hold workshops on ‘competition issues’ in agriculture

We're not the only skeptics. The same day that Ethicurean Marc gave his skeptical analysis of a General Accounting Office report finding no harm from the growing (ha-ha) power of a very few agribiz companies, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Agriculture announced plans to conduct workshops in early 2010...

Concentration in the food industry not a concern, says new GAO report

In recent years, farmers have received an ever-decreasing share of the retail dollar, even during recent spikes in food prices. Some have argued that concentration in the food industry — the increase in the economic power of the largest firms — is the cause. Although it might be a factor, there are numerous...

Slow but steady growth: Building the Local Roots market in Ohio

This summer has been a cool one so far here in northeastern Ohio. The sweltering heat and humidity has so far failed to materialize, and while I personally am not complaining about being less uncomfortable, I do sometimes worry about the gardens. The mild days and cool nights are keeping tomatoes from...

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