What with buttery mashed potatoes, cheesy macaroni, and pies begging to be topped with whipped cream or ice cream, Thanksgiving turns out to be a pretty dairy-heavy holiday. Which makes the findings of our new report, Cream of the Crop: The Economic Benefits of Organic Dairy Farms, particularly timely. Read More
November 20th, 2012
October 24th, 2012
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture quietly announced that the nation’s certified organic farmers enjoyed sales of more than $3.5 billion in 2011. On this second annual Food Day—a nationwide celebration of healthy, affordable, sustainable food—it seems fitting to highlight this “good news” story that hasn’t received much attention. Read More
October 11th, 2012
UPDATE: March 18, 2013, 3:15 pm: See bottom of post for an update on coverage of this story.
Big Ag has worked hard for decades to instill a belief—in farmers, policymakers, and the public—that its chemical-intensive industrial farming methods are more productive than low-input methods, and more profitable for farmers. In recent years, study after study has cast doubt on this view, and now a team of government and university researchers has published perhaps the most compelling data yet showing that more sustainable farming systems can achieve similar or greater yields and profits, despite steep reductions in chemical inputs. Read More
August 15th, 2012
As an analyst and communicator at UCS, I know how difficult it can be to tell a complicated, nuanced story in our sound-bite-oriented media culture. So even though it was not totally surprising, it was still frustrating to find UCS’s position on the benefits of local foods mischaracterized last week in a USA Today article that called local food “trendy,” but asked whether it is “really more eco-friendly.” Read More
August 7th, 2012
This week is National Farmers Market Week, and—no surprise to anyone who knows me—I marked the occasion over the weekend by visiting two farmers markets in and around my neighborhood in Washington, DC. The 14th and U Farmers Market and the Dupont Circle FRESHFARM market are among the nearly 8,000 markets now operating in communities across the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which released the results of its annual farmers market census on Friday. Read More
July 3rd, 2012
The Monsanto Company is raking it in—last week they reported third quarter profits of $937 million. Yes, you read that right: Monsanto’s profit for the three-month period ending May 31 amounted to nearly a billion dollars, up a whopping 35% from the same quarter last year. That raging river of cash flowing in must make it easy for the company to finance a flurry of advertising and lobbying extolling the virtues its products. According to Monsanto’s PR, the company is feeding a growing population, protecting natural resources, and promoting biodiversity.
April 26th, 2012
Today I’m thinking about insurance. The point of having it is to protect the things we value most—like our health and our homes. But in U.S. farm policy, that logic has been turned on its head, and many of the crops we should value most are actually ineligible for insurance. Read More
March 7th, 2012
I just returned from another weekend in New York—as on the last trip, I did a lot of walking and eating.
One of my favorite discoveries this time was the Chelsea Market. One hundred years ago, this sprawling warehouse complex was home to the National Biscuit Company’s bakeries, and birthplace of the Oreo cookie. Today, it houses a wide variety of food purveyors, many of them focused on bringing locally produced ingredients to New Yorkers’ tables. Read More
March 1st, 2012
Did you know that the U.S. Department of Agriculture helped nearly 900,000 seniors and 2.15 million WIC (Women, Infants & Children nutrition program) recipients to access fresh fruits and vegetables directly from local farmers at farmers’ markets in 2010? Read More
February 7th, 2012
I can see the new Monsanto ad from my office window in downtown Washington, DC this morning. It must have gone up overnight, on a bus shelter facing K Street NW. Below a close-up of rough, work-worn hands, a plaid shirtsleeve, and an ear of corn, the copy reads:
In the hands of farmers, better seeds can help meet the needs of our rapidly growing population, while protecting the Earth’s natural resources.
If only Monsanto were actually delivering those feel-good benefits. Read More