Friday, July 27, 2007

I Link, Therefore I Am

If it's Friday, I've probably got more links in my browser than produce in the fridge, so it's time to offer a buffet of tidbits from the Interwebs. Enjoy.

First up, Colin over at No Impact Man explains the "sustainable eating" part of his No Impact experiment: it's all about local. And those recent news stories that say maybe local's not so great? They have some good points, but don't let them confuse you. Truly sustainable local agriculture (seasonal, remember?) is worth supporting and is better for the environment. (Plus it tastes better. But you knew that already, right?)

Related to this post, a couple of people have asked what would happen if we all went locavore and caused food exports to dwindle? What happens to people in Third World countries if we don't eat their food? Well, my gut answer is, they develop self-supporting, sustainable agriculture and don't get ripped off by us. But Craig over at Celsias gives an ever-so-much-more well-reasoned and thoughtful explanation of the situation that you really should go read it. Go on. I'll wait.

Back? Great! Next up, I know I've sung the praises of Wendell Berry before on this site (he's definitely a hero worth having), but a recent interview with him called "Food and consequence" makes the connection between sustainable agriculture and true economy. One of my favorite bits: "To shorten the distance as far as possible from the farm to the dinner plate just makes sense. But it also begins to elevate food in human culture back up to where it ought to be. We've allowed it to decline from a kind of sacrament and a kind of center of conviviality, through commodification, to a kind of stuffing."

This week, Congress is focusing on the Food and Farm Bill (among other things), and several bloggers are keeping a keen eye on our legislature. They're doing such a great job at cutting through the agonizing red tape, I'll just point you to them: The Ethicurean (thanks to Marc), the Central for Rural Affairs (live blogging!), Mulch, and Eating Liberally. Even the NPR podcast I caught this afternoon covered the bill! I'm not overly optimistic that Congress will actually pass a bill that is fair to more farmers than the usual subsidy recipients, but they're definitely getting an earful of criticism of more Americans than usual this time around. Stay tuned (on the abovementioned blogs) for more details.

And lastly, if you've been noticing higher prices at the grocery store, there's a good reason for that: they are higher. Latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that prices are going up due to higher commodity and fuel prices. And the dirty secret behind it? Ethanol. Corn prices (and subsidies) are going up because of the demand for ethanol development, and higher corn (read: feed) prices mean higher beef, chicken, pork, milk, soda, and snack prices. Tom Philpott (another hero!) explored some of these connections over at Grist back in May and continues to keep his eye on the situation in Gristmill.

(Speaking of Grist, they have a new post today about the top 15 green chefs in the world. Some will be no surprise, of course. I'd nominate my favorite chef, but he's very local and not nearly as big a name, though he's making a name for himself in our small town with his work at the Bistro, his dazzling breakfasts at a local B&B, and his occasional columns in the local paper. Not to mention he's a genuinely nice guy!)

It's enough to make me eat my veggies! Good thing the farmers' market will be open tomorrow...

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