• Posted by Califia Suntree on September 3rd, 2012, 8:01 PM

    Given that it has both Pollan and Bittman in its stable of writers, it surprises me how the New York Times insists on printing aggravatingly lopsided articles about organic food. In a one-two follow up to the “exposé” of July 7th–of the big-business aspect of organic agriculture–today we saw a report on a recent Stanford study under the misleading headline: “Study Questions Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce.” That, of course, depends on your definition of “advantage.” Not surprisingly, to me anyway, organic produce and meats had no greater nutritional value than conventionally grown food–and just as much bacteria. Thus, the writer declares, no health advantage.

    Except, of course, “[o]rganic produce, as expected, was much less likely to retain traces of pesticides.” Oh, and “[o]rganic chicken and pork were less likely to be contaminated by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.” But other than that, NO advantages. So, the implication goes, you organic crunchy types are being ripped off! I mean, unless you consider the absence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and measurable pesticides in your food supply an “advantage.”

    But what goes completely unmentioned here, and what galls me in its consistent absence from such coverage, is right there in the photo illustrating the article: the field workers who suffer unconscionably from exposure to some of the most toxic chemicals on earth. (Read Barry Estabrook’s Tomatoland if you want a sense of the horrific human toll of pesticides on farmworkers.) While it may be my choice to pay more in order to avoid consuming these chemicals, these workers aren’t afforded that luxury. Does that not count as an “advantage”? Is that not a real, human health impact? Or does only the health of the consumer matter in this absurd equation?

    via Study Questions Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce – NYTimes.com.

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on July 18th, 2012, 6:03 PM

    In response to last week’s New York Times article exposing organic agriculture for the big business that it is, Grist’s food editor (and, presumably, fellow hippy kid) Twilight Greenaway wrote a spot-on argument for why she will continue to buy organic, and why the organics business is a bit more than “pure fantasy.” It’s certainly worth a read before you toss the organic baby carrots out with the…oof, I can’t even finish that one.

    Greenaway buries the lead a little here though: Because it’s the biggest and most profitable part of the business, much of the labeling controversy surrounds packaged foods. Those are overpriced and rarely all that nutritious in the first place. Another important point is down there in the comments section of Greenaway’s post: Many small farmers can’t afford the USDA Organics label at all, but may be growing healthier produce and livestock. Shop at farmers markets, and then you can actually just ask how your food was grown.

    The latest New York Times exposé won’t stop me from eating organic | Grist.

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on February 9th, 2012, 9:32 AM

    In this week’s installment of green-living website Grist‘s “Protein Angst” series: eating squirrels. It’s a subject that we covered way back in 2008 (in an essay by Steve Rinella and a squirrel-cooking tutorial), but it just keeps coming back. The benefits are many, as the Grist piece points out, and drawbacks are few. Among them: you need a gun and a sharpshooter’s eye (or a squirrel-hunting friend), they’re easy to turn tough if you don’t know how to prepare them, and you can’t eat the brains.

    Al rodente: Could squirrel meat come back into vogue? | Grist.

  • Posted by Califia Suntree on January 13th, 2012, 12:01 PM

    I have been waiting for some clever charlie to figure this out. Single-cup brewers have been an environmental nightmare, what with roughly 5 billion of those damned “coffee pods” ending up in landfills in 2011. The pods are neither recyclable nor compostable, but now, finally, there is a reusable option for Keurig machines. Fill the pod your own grounds, to your desired strength, and brew away one cup at a time, if that’s your thing.


    Ekobrew Reusable Filter for Keurig Single Cup Brewers.

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