Wheat-X2-for-blog

I want to call attention to an op-ed by Mark Bittman in The New York Times last week, headlined “What Is the Purpose of Society,” because it’s particularly incisive. He rightly asks us to reconsider how we think about the production and distribution of our food. He calls on us to ask the right questions: What is the purpose of agriculture? And he asks that we come to a common agreement on what that purpose is. He writes: “… [I]s contemporary American agriculture a system for nourishing people and providing a livelihood for farmers? Or is it one for denuding the nation’s topsoil while poisoning land, water, workers and consumers and enriching corporations? Our collective actions would indicate that our principles favor the latter; that has to change. “…[i]f we had a national agreement that food Read On »

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2x-Farm-photos

The following post by my fellow writer and former neighbor, Kristin Ohlson, is in honor of World Soil Day. Kristin argues in her excellent book, The Soil Will Save Us, how important it is to think of our soil as a living thing, which it is—healthy soil teems with life. She compares it to a coral reef in her book, and rightly so, as she elaborates in this short post.—M.R.   by Kristin Ohlson I was visiting a friend in New Jersey’s bucolic countryside—no, not an oxymoron. Knowing my fondness for farms, he took me down the road to visit Bobby, the man who sells him eggs. We soon stood on a windy hilltop near Bobby’s home, surrounded by fields in which feathery green lines of wheat radiated into the distance separated by bare lanes of Read On »

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Potato-blog

Beware the cancer lurking within these harmless-looking spuds/iPhoto by Donna The New York Times recently called my attention to the USDA approval of a new genetically modified potato intended to reduce cancer by eliminating acrylamide. What is acrylamide? Here’s a link with lots of other links. It causes cancer in rats and therefore, maybe, in humans? We don’t know for certain. In one of these links a scientist guessed that 3,000 people a year get cancer from acrylamide, though on what he based his guess is, well, anybody’s guess. Here’s a headline I’d like to see in The Onion: Scientist Working to Extinguish Sun in Bold Effort to Eradicate Some Skin Cancers. And here’s my rant line: We fuck with our food at our own peril. The Times dutifully quoted people on both sides of the issue. Doug Read On »

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BH1

In June I interviewed Dan Barber at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland about his superb new book The Third Plate. Barber is not only one of the country’s leading chefs, he’s one of the foremost thinkers and writers on the state of how we grow, distribute, cook, and eat food, which is quickly becoming one of the dominant conversations of our generation. He implored me to make the trip to Blue Hill at Stone Barns, comprising a high-end restaurant plus 80 acres of farmland and pasture and woods for growing and raising the plants and livestock he and his brigade serve at the restaurant. The following month, Donna and I drove up to Blue Hill to take him up on his offer (a full ten years since its opening), arriving early enough to talk with Read On »

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real-farmer@1020

I can’t remember how I stumbled on Kasha Bialas’s blog The Farm Girl Cooks, but I know I was immediately charmed by her photography and the clear integrity of her words about life on a working, small-scale farm, Bialas Farms, about 70 miles north of New York City. I asked her if she had anything she wanted to say on my site about the work. It turns out she did, about farm size, farm income, farm work, and what she would like you to know about buying from local farmers.—M.R.   By Kasha Bialas   I was raised on our 55-acre Orange County, NY, vegetable farm, as my father was before me, and as I’m raising my son now. Our family has owned and operated this business for 75 years. Sure, it sounds romantic, but it’s Read On »

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