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On the trademarking of ‘urban homesteading’: The Original Best Most Complete Post on the Subject™

By Mat Rogers, Director of Agrariana Language and terminology are an integral part of the food movement. Making distinctions between agricultural practices deemed vile and reprehensible, in favor of methods moral and healthful, is a critical organizing tool for activists. Thus the good-food lexicon is...

Getting plowed: Kristin Kimball’s captivating “Dirty Life”

The first time I heard of Essex Farm, I was working a kitchen/garden internship at the Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Vermont. The school sent me to the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s 2009 conference, where I carefully chose workshops I thought would help me plan and plant a garden that would...

Looking for Mr. Goodfish: Chefs aim to expand our seafood horizons

In the chapter on New York in Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood, Taras Grescoe comes down hard on the Big Apple’s elite chefs: Though the chefs I had met were buying from small businessmen who worked sustainably, their menus were still filled with overfished species....For...

Jimmy Stewart, cults, and a lot of broken glass: Remembering Straus Family Creamery’s opening day

By Michael Straus Pictures from opening night at Straus Family Creamery, February 4, 1994. (That's me with the goatee.) Straus Family Creamery recently turned 17, and I started thinking back to those crazy times. In 1989, my older brother Albert, who’d been managing the farm and doing some pretty innovative...

Book review: Appreciating Elizabeth Andoh’s “Kansha”

Elizabeth Andoh is a prominent figure in my cooking consciousness. Her 2005 book, Washoku: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen, opened a new frontier to me: the deceptively simple and elegant world of home-style Japanese cuisine. By following the recipes and techniques in Washoku, the food I cooked was...

San Francisco sustainable restaurants have a blind spot for seafood

In an ideal world, when a restaurant tells you that it serves “sustainable seafood,” you could have some faith that the claim is true, that the chefs and buyers know exactly what they are getting and the issues around how it was caught. The seafood situation in the famously eco-friendly San Francisco Bay...

Farming groups resort to Machiavellian defense of indefensible practices

Spin-dustrial ag: Two dozen of the nation's largest and best-funded farm groups have formed a coalition to counter poor publicity, reports the AP (LAtimes.com). What are they mad about? "Videos that show male chicks being put into grinders, egg-laying hens in battery cages and the mistreatment of hogs in...

Tipping sacred cows: Reviewing “Meat: A Benign Extravagance”

Mainstream culture and news abound with broad statements about our food system and the choices we make about what we put on the dinner table. Surely you’ve heard that if you want to save the planet, you should eat a vegan diet, since raising livestock contributes significantly to carbon emissions and thus...

For when you Karo too much: In honor of MLK, Jr. Day, my great-grandmother’s pecan pie recipe

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a big fan of pie, supposedly. (Who isn't?) A few years ago, Austin, Tex. artist Luanne Stovall was baking a buttermilk one in honor of the civil-rights activist and decided to turn sharing it into a vehicle for peace and reconciliation on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Now, she...

Boycotting bluefin isn’t enough — time to turn on the siren

Critics of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas often say that the acronym ICCAT might better stand for the “International Conspiracy to Catch All Tuna.” At its most recent meeting, ICCAT lived up to that derisive nickname by setting 2011 catch levels for Atlantic bluefin tuna...

Two cookbooks give winter vegetables a starring role

The temperatures have plunged below the freezing point, the first major snow of the season has blanketed the ground, and winter is officially here. Baby, it’s cold outside, and there’s not a cute fresh tomato in sight -- to which I can only say, thank goodness. After a superabundance of August heat and lush...

Massive gingerbread house recall a reminder that food safety starts in the gut

Grist (where I am the food editor) just got a late entry to our Scariest Food of 2010 contest: Gingerbread houses. Not because you can break a tooth on some of these hard-as-drywall sugar shacks, but because if you snacked on one bought at a Whole Foods in 23 states, you might be doubled over right now with...

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