Food and Farming

Engineering More Information for Consumers

Engineering More Information for Consumers

One hundred calories per serving, two servings per container, three grams of fiber, product of USA, may contain traces of soy, manufactured in a facility that processes wheat. We're accustomed to seeing labels on our food that give us this information. However,...

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Why Are We Eating in the Dark?

Why Are We Eating in the Dark?

Have you ever eaten a genetically engineered food? If you're like most Americans, you have no idea. Genetic engineering is a controversial technology in which genes from one species (say, bacteria) are inserted into the DNA of a different species (for example, corn)....

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The Farm Bill’s Wasteful Welfare Program

The Farm Bill’s Wasteful Welfare Program

Some aspects of American agriculture are quite odd. For example, to meet a farmer these days, you don't need to venture out to the hinterland. Thousands of our farmers are city slickers. And they're really slick, for many of them neither plant nor harvest wheat,...

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Faster Chicken Processing, More Injured Workers

Faster Chicken Processing, More Injured Workers

Oscar was good at his job. He folded chicken wings at an Alabama poultry plant. As bird carcasses zipped by on the processing line, he twisted the wings into position, folding fast enough to meet a quota of about 40 chicken wings per minute — roughly 18,000 wings per...

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Taking Stock of Factory Farm Pollution

Taking Stock of Factory Farm Pollution

One of the biggest drawbacks of the factory farms producing most of our food is the amount of pollution they generate. Factory farms, which raise the bulk of our chickens, hogs, and turkeys, and house most of our dairy cows, are one of the nation's largest sources of...

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Junking Food Is Bad for Everyone

Junking Food Is Bad for Everyone

Several years ago, I worked in a grocery store bakery. At the end of each day, we threw away piles of perfectly good food. Before the store closed, employees walked down each aisle, checking the expiration dates of bread, bagels, and cookies to toss out whatever...

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Raise the Sub-Minimum Wage

Raise the Sub-Minimum Wage

As the fast food workers' minimum wage campaign gains momentum, another group of workers is expanding the fight to address one of the least-known economic outrages. You may not realize it, but the measly $7.25 an hour McDonald's and other fast-food giants pay their...

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Bossing the Poor Around

Bossing the Poor Around

I spent a few months on food stamps this year. As a single woman in San Diego, I qualified for $70 a month — less than a dollar per meal. But I'm lucky and I'm unusual because many of my friends are farmers and gardeners and I know how to forage wild foods. Determined...

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Squeezing More Profits from Crummy Tomatoes

Squeezing More Profits from Crummy Tomatoes

"I'm 98 percent confident we can make a tomato that tastes substantially better," Professor Harry Klee recently exulted to The New York Times. Hmmm. Excuse me, professor, but "substantially better" than what? One of Momma Nature's own heirloom varieties perhaps? No,...

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The USDA’s Reckless Plan

The USDA’s Reckless Plan

My friend Jim, a farmer, jokes about bringing a bowl of manure and a spoon to the farmers' markets where he sells his beef. "My beef has no manure in it, but you can add some," he'd like to tell his customers. I'm sure you'd pass on manure as a condiment. But unless...

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