The current farm bill debate is unprecedented, shaking to its very foundation the powerful alliance of commodity and food stamp interests that has driven farm bills for decades. The failure of the House to include a nutrition program in its version of the farm bill, while lavishing public monies on farmers to encourage commodity crop production, is the height of hypocrisy…and mean-spirited as well. Read More
October 30th, 2012
Recently, we have seen a flurry of stories about studies done on Iowa State University’s Marsden Farm demonstrating the power of crop rotation as an engine of modern sustainable agriculture. The study documented high yields and handsome profits on farming plots employing long crop rotations: three-or four-year rather than the usual two-year corn-soy rotations. In addition to high yields and high profits, the long rotations controlled weeds with only sparing use of herbicides and maintained productivity without excessive use of chemical fertilizers. Read More
August 8th, 2012
Although I live on the East Coast far from the current drought, I get periodic reports from the front lines from my sister, who lives with her husband in eastern Kansas on 70 acres of grass and woodland. When I visit them next week, I’ll see for myself the brown expanse of grass that used to be their lawn and the ever-lower water level in the catfish pond. They have harvested their hay field early and stored it to help feed their three horses, especially important now that local hay supplies are tight and prices are skyrocketing. Read More
November 14th, 2011
A recent report from the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) provides new evidence of the importance of local foods systems. Despite its unfortunate title, Direct and Intermediated Marketing of Local Foods in the United States (yawn) actually comes to a startling conclusion—local foods have become a $4.8 billion-a-year industry. Read More
October 24th, 2011
I work on food policy, and I’m nearly always thinking about my next meal. So for me, pretty much every day is food day.
But today, October 24, is capital-letter Food Day, the first annual day set aside for all of us to reflect on what we’re eating and where it comes from, and to commit to creating a healthier, more sustainable food system. Read More
October 14th, 2011
I’m a small-time urban gardener. I have bigger dreams, but I make do with a collection of containers on my postage stamp of a patio, and a border of perennials, shrubs, and small trees. This month, I’m harvesting the last Sungold tomatoes and a late flush of jalapeño peppers…and wishing I’d gotten my act together to start some fall greens to take their place.
I’m also beginning to think about tucking in the perennial beds with a protective, weed-suppressing, winter blanket of compost and mulch.
And more and more, I’m realizing that I’m part of a huge gardening movement. Read More