At some point in grade school, students learn all about photosynthesis and how to make things grow. We poked around with beans, waited until they germinated, then planted them in soil, set’em in the sun and watered them daily so they’d turn into happy, fruitful bean plants. But despite the ingrained importance of water in successful gardening, some farmers in California are not only embracing dry weather, they’re forgoing watering on purpose to achieve sweeter results. [More]
Fewer Americans smoke today, which is a really good thing for our collective health and finances as a nation. It’s not so good for farmers in the areas of Virginia and the Carolinas that once were tobacco country. However, it just so happens that there’s a new addiction sweeping the nation that those farmers can profit from. Americans just can’t stop gobbling hummus. [More]
In a combination we never would’ve thought would be so likable, Chipotle has enlisted the help of Willie Nelson covering a Coldplay song to make an animated piece that is anti-factory farming. [More]
Greyhound doesn’t just transport people across the continent: it transports cargo, too. Yesterday morning, strange canisters that smelled bad and gave off steam fell off a bus in Nashville, confusing emergency services. Were they bombs? Alien probes? No, containers of liquid nitrogen filled with bull semen bound for a cattle breeding facility in Texas. [More]
After coming to the conclusion that farmers have gone a little hog-wild with their use of antimicrobials — not to cure animals of disease, but to spur animal growth — the FDA has kindly asked them to cut it out because it’s just going to make the rest of us sicker. [More]
If you really want to claim the title of the most do-it-yourself Consumerist reader, you will grab this book (free PDF) and learn from it. Just don’t come back here and post about it in the comments.
A group of farmers in the Seattle area are testing out a new $300,000 “Mobile Meat Processing Unit”—a 45-foot stainless steel trailer that comes with its own USDA inspector and a butcher—in an attempt to see whether they can make a profit selling their meat locally instead of shipping livestock off to a feedlot “hundreds of miles away.”
We’re gonna say “nope.” But since we’re all here, let’s look at the recent New York Times article over the subject and consider whether the current “chicken boomlet” is right for you.
HomegrownEvolution.com is sort of a simplified Instructables for people interested in “mead making, beer brewing, bread baking, urban poultry raising, container planting, pirate gardening, foraging, pickling,” and more, according to Cool Tools. We have a feeling “pirate gardening” isn’t as fun as it sounds.
Farmers markets aren’t just for dirty hippies anymore. Everyone’s starting to catch on to food straight off the farm, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service.
We don’t blame the Mid America CropLife Association (MACA)—
a pesticide an agribusiness trade group—for promoting its interests, but we still think it’s funny that they’ve asked the first family to not grow organic vegetables in the White House vegetable garden. MACA’s Executive Director Bonnie McCarvel sent a long letter to Michelle Obama reminding her of the importance of technology in modern farming, then publicized the letter via an email where she noted, “While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made Janet Braun, CropLife Ambassador Coordinator and I shudder.”
The New York Times reports that more and more people are buying shares of small farms, mostly on the coasts and around the Great Lakes region, which guarantee them a percentage of the season’s harvest. This “community-supported agriculture” model has exploded from fewer than 100 farms in the early 90s to nearly 1,500 in recent years. Helping out is optional, although we’re not sure the real farmers would appreciate our constant bitching about being in the sun. (I worked summers hoeing cotton fields in Texas, which is partly why I moved to NYC.)
Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Charlottesville, Virginia attained a certain moderate level of fame when his operation was featured in Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Now he’s got a book of his own called Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal.
Fertilizer prices have shot upwards in the past five years as manufacturers have been unable to keep up with demand. The demand is driven by an increase in biofuel production, and a growing appetite for red meat in developing countries. The end result is that it now costs an extra $1.00 now to get a slice from my the pizza place around the corner from me. [NYT]
The awful drought in Georgia is helping the pecan crop. We smell a pecan farmer conspiracy. Not really. [Associated Press]
China says US Soybeans have quality issues and are putting their consumers at risk, according to the WSJ:
The heirloom tomatoes in your garden may not just be tastier than commercially grown vegetables, but healthier too, according to a study from the American College of Nutrition. The study looked for 13 nutrients in 43 crops grown from 1950 to 1999 and discovered that the vegetables enjoyed by our grandparents were significantly more nutritious than the veggies found on supermarket shelves today.
After rigorous statistical analysis, the researchers found that, on average, all three minerals evaluated have declined; two of five vitamins have declined; and protein content has dropped by 6 percent.
An angry reader wrote us yesterday asking if the photos he’s been finding in his bag along with his Chipotle veggie burrito were legit. Matt wrote:
Last time I got the pigs out on the plains of super green grass (Grass won’t last more than a day under pigs). Today was a lone adult chicken in an otherwise empty commercial coop, perfectly clean bird, on a perfectly clean floor. I know for fact chickens don’t get moved from the time they are chicks, until the vacuum machine comes to box them for transport to the slaughter house. So where is all the bird shit and carcasses that succumbed to walking on the ammonia soaked floor?