Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is a prototypical rural conservative, in that he decries government involvement while championing federal agriculture subsidies and mandates for corn ethanol. Where he breaks from the herd is the Senator’s laudable, principled stand against gross inequity in the farm subsidy program by fighting year after year for payment limits to mega farms...
Food historian Rachel Laudan touched a nerve last week when a long ago published essay “A plea for culinary modernism” resurfaced on Jacobin magazine. The gist of her thinking is that the good food movement is unjustly ignoring the efficiency and bounty our industrialized food system produces. From an interview of Laudan by Washingtonian’s...
When Congress talks food and farming, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) is there. From 2011 to 2014, she was chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and she remains a ranking member with enormous influence over what our nation eats. Stabenow shepherded the latest farm bill, which was signed into law in February 2014, after a...
There’s a growing public fight brewing over industrial agriculture’s water pollution. The most prominent scuffle is the Environmental Protection Agency’s highly contentious Waters of the US rule. At the local level much of the heat is centered on the recent lawsuit filed by the Des Moines’ Water Works over fertilizer derived nitrate run-off. Minnesota...

TJ’s Garden

Spent a lovely morning touring Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The garden was just starting to erupt. From the official Monticello site: Thomas Jefferson’s 1,000-foot-long, terraced vegetable garden is the true American garden: practical, expansive, casual, diverse, wrought from a world of edible immigrants.  Aside from its diverse population of mostly introduced crops, the Monticello garden...
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas over environmental concerns has driven some residents desperate for extraction income to consider secession. As told by the LA Times: Chief among those decisions has been the fracking ban, Price said. Local disappointment was sharpened by the knowledge that friends living...
This morning Julie Kelly and Jeff Stier took aim at chef, restaurant owner and MSNBC food correspondent Tom Colicchio’s food and farm activism. In a National Review piece titled No, the culinary is not political, they write: Colicchio is now cooking up liberal food policy to expand the government’s ever-encroaching role in how we...
On January 3, 2013 in an Oxford farming conference lecture, Mark Lynas declared the science behind the safety of consuming genetically modified crops settled. Lynas is an author, journalist and long-time climate change campaigner. He also had been a vehement anti-GMO activist. The attention Lynas’s “conversion” brought made him an in-demand speaker for agriculture-related groups. The...
When it comes to changing the food system, Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) might be the most outspoken member of Congress yet. Now in his sixth term, Ryan is the author of Real Food Revolution, Healthy Eating, Green Groceries, and the Return of the American Family Farm. Former President Bill Clinton describes the book as “a straightforward and much-needed...