Currently Browsing: Health and Sustainability

Beet me up: Six summery ways to enjoy the sweetest root vegetable

I peek under our hoop house garden bed to check the progress of the hundred beets we planted early in the winter. The greens look healthy and strong. For two months I have resisted the urge to harvest baby beets early. On occasion, I did harvest a few beets under the auspices of "thinning the bed."...

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...

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...

Thanks, Jevons paradox! On why I won’t be replacing my spare fridge

A few weeks ago, my spare side-by-side fridge/freezer up and died. I was (and remain) pissed about this. It's a fancy-pants Samsung, about four years old, and the Sears repair guy said the compressor would cost $800 to fix -- 75% of what the fridge was new. "Samsung's great for TVs, crap for fridges," he...

An artisanal plea from a fed-up foodie

When you find me behind bars, locked up for a fit of lexical rage, please know that it was granola that pushed me over the edge. Not just any granola: "artisan granola." Presumably its makers meant artisanal granola, made in limited quantities using traditional methods, rather than crunchy-buttery-nutty...

Math lessons for Budiansky: Industrial concentration vs. local choice

On Friday, New York Times op-ed contributor Steven Budiansky challenged local food advocates to rethink their math, mainly about food miles. As it happens, I was already doing some food calculations that day -- but not of the sort Budiansky discussed. My numbers included the following: As of Friday, 450...

The new New Urbanism incorporates food growing into urban planning

Let's rurbalize it!: While "farming is the new golf," in terms of surburban developments incorporating communal food-growing operations into their scope, urban planner Daniel Nairn sees many more advantages to embedding such land use into the fabric of a dense city block. In this interesting concept for a...

Arsenic found in Utah kids’ pee traced to their pet chickens’ feed

Poison -  It's what's for breakfast!: A toxicologist for the Utah Department of Health tracked worrisome levels of arsenic in two children to the family’s backyard chicken coop — "along with the eggs that came out of it, the feed that went into the hens that laid them and, finally, widely used...

Why we need to arm the EPA against toxic chemicals

Silent scream: "In America, chemicals are innocent until proven guilty," writes Bejamin Ross in this fascinating summary of the FDA and the larger history of U.S. regulation of toxic substances in food and our everyday environments. While this rule of thumb has been in place for over a century, it's not how...

Researchers trace corn’s ancient history

Children of the teosinte:  Even though maize (Zea mays) is perhaps the most important crop in the Americas (for better or worse), until recently, we didn't know where it came from and when it was domesticated. Research by botanists, geneticists and archeologists has finally found the answers in a grass...

The Marin Carbon Project studies carbon sequestration

Soil carbon sequestration — the process of converting gaseous carbon dioxide into carbon in the soil — offers a promising (and possibly necessary) route to addressing climate change because it could be a massive carbon sink. Indeed, a report by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change estimated that use of...

Bottled water’s energy budget

In a short research paper, two staff members from the Pacific Institute examine how energy is used in the production and distribution of bottled water. Bottle production and transportation are by far the largest energy users, with pre-bottling water processing (filtration and disinfection), filling and...

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