From the Column

Welcome Greenie Weenie Wally

Walmart, the elephant of American food retailing, announced April 10 that it plans to bring its clout, cash and vegetable crispers to the American pea patch this year and bigfoot its way into the still-growing U.S. organic grocery business.
The news sent Wall Street motor mouths into overdrive. Walmart’s entrance into organic grocery retailing, they breathlessly […]

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Just the Facts Ma’am

As this space has often noted, facts, figures, and data are as essential to journalism as verbs, nouns, and dangling participles. In fact, journalism without facts is a cup of tea without tea.
We also understand that erudite farm and food conversationalists—like you, for instance—are often on the prowl for convincing evidence and fresh facts to […]

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Doing Nothing Does Nothing

The March 31 front page of almost every daily newspaper in the world featured dire headlines for a story made public the night before by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
“Climate change already affecting food supply,” announced The Guardian in England. “Worst is Yet to Come,” noted that day’s New York Times. “UN […]

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The Chase

Three weeks ago a fluffed-up robin, chin tucked deeply into its rust-colored chest, clung tightly to a low, bare branch of a crab apple tree near my office door. An icy wind ruffled the feathers on its back while the bird, eyes closed, stood stiff as frozen dumpling on the slowly heaving branch.
And it stood […]

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“I Know What I Know”

Members of Congress are finally getting around to reading the Farm Bill they approved late this winter after three years of gum bumping, chest beating, and finger pointing. Their big discovery so far?
Many now are shocked (shocked! I say) that the money they thought they had saved in food stamps and commodity programs won’t be […]

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Safe, Not Sorry

Almost everyone in American agriculture, from farmers to ranchers to the top executives of the biggest transnational grain trading and meatpacking firms, loves to say the United States is home to the cheapest, safest food supply in the world.
Of course, the global commodity slingers love cheap. It’s the yeast that makes their dough rise because, […]

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Punching Russia’s Breadbasket

When Vladimir Putin sent his nation’s armed, but unmarked troops into sovereign territory of Ukraine, he became the latest in a long line of Russian Little Big Men to punch Eurasia’s famed breadbasket in the gut.
First came the imperial czars, then the revolutionary Bolsheviks and, right behind them and most brutally, Soviet leader Josef Stalin.
And […]

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Renewable Energy

The tall, mostly dead red oak on the eastern edge of the farmette still stands this late, long winter, saved mostly by this late, long winter.
The majestic, strong-armed tree, my age or a little more, had a date with the saw and maul as soon as the weather turned cold. Deep snow and face-cracking cold, […]

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Read It and Pay

On Jan. 5, 2011, www.gop.gov, the website for the “House Republican Majority,” trumpeted news that its members had acted on their “promise” to “ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square by publishing the text online for at least three days before coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives.”
The […]

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The Least of Your Problems

Early February was not a good time to be an American carnivore.
First, on Saturday, Feb. 8, Rancho Feeding Co. of Petaluma, CA, announced it was recalling 8.7 million pounds of beef carcasses and cuts. That’s virtually every pound of the company’s 2013 throughput.
The reason for the recall, explained the Feb. 11 Los Angeles Times, was […]

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