If You Give a Health Nut a Fruit Chip


“Industrial technologies, particularly synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, has fed the swelling human population during the last century. Can organic agriculture feed a world of nine billion people?” David Biello, “Will Organic Food Fail to Feed the World?”

David Biello’s “Will Organic Food Fail to Feed the World?” examines an issue that “has too often been an emotional debate”: organic vs. non-organic farming methods.

Biello begins by drawing attention to how much civilization truly relies on food: we need it to feed ourselves, to feed the animals we use to feed ourselves, to strengthen our clothing with fiber, and even to fuel our cars. Because we rely so heavily on food, agriculture has wiped out massive amounts of the biosphere: 70% of grasslands and 45% of temperate forests have been converted to farmland. Additionally, farming is not only the leading cause of deforestation in the tropics, but also “one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions.” Continue reading

Leave the Soybean, Take the Mustard: Considering the “Least of all Seeds”

“Will the future of India’s edible-oil culture be based on mustard and other edible oilseeds, or will it become part of the globalized monoculture of soybean…”

-Vandana Shiva
“Soy Imperialism and the Destruction of Local Food Cultures”


Have you ever taken a drive through the Mississippi Delta? I’m thinking probably not, so allow me to fill in the gap. Imagine a road. The straightest road you’ve ever seen, stretching in opposite directions until it reaches the horizon. And what is there on either side of the road? Nothing but unbroken fields of green. Row after row of some small, bushy plant with broad leaves. As you drive down the road and look out at the fields, the rows seem to turn like the spokes of a giant green bicycle wheel. You continue on the road for hours, and this is all you ever see. Continue reading

What’s in Charge of Your Gut?

USDA_Food_Pyramid           MyPlate

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture established the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion in 1994 to promote the nutrition and well-being of Americans.”

– The United States Department of Agriculture

Bad things go at the top, right? Candy, soda, cookies – that sort of thing. And at the bottom is, uh, wheat? Bread and stuff. Look, the last time I really saw the Food Pyramid was in 4th grade. Some group came to our school and talked about eating vegetables and that Mr. T pities the fool who does drugs. There were T-shirts and stickers, and some kid got in trouble for poking teachers with the metal pin buttons.

On second thought, I may be thinking of D.A.R.E. The point is, I didn’t pay much attention to the Food Pyramid, and I doubt anyone else did either. I had a general sense that I should eat more greens and less sweets, but my family wasn’t basing our eating habits on anything specific. The pyramid was just something there – everyone knew about it, of course, but that was it. Continue reading

Into the Orchard: Apple-Carrot Leather

“Tomorrow we will can plums, and the next day we’ll start on the peaches. We’ve only got eighty-three lids left, so all too soon this sweltering work will be over, and everything we can’t cram under a lid will be left to rot in the summer sun.”

–Jean Hegland, Into the Forest


Jean Hegland’s Into the Forest, a book about survival and family and youth, is also at times a book about food. In the midst of an indefinitely long power outage and miles from even the nearest neighbor, sisters Nell and Eva must struggle to live. At first, they merely ration the food they have in the house, assuming the power will return. Their diet is limited: beans, rice, flour, eggs retrieved from the family chickens, and vegetables canned by their father. Protagonist Nell savors cups of tea made from a fraction of a teabag and craves hot dogs, waiting for the lifestyle she knows to return.

It doesn’t. Continue reading