'agriculture' on Serious Eats

Video: Janus Food Works in Oregon, Getting Youth Involved in Urban Agriculture

Janus Youth Programs has operated community-based programs for children, youth, and families in Oregon and Washington since 1972. They have a network of over 20 programs includes, including Janus Food Works, which employs 14 to 21 year-olds from Portland. The youth get involved in the planning, growing, selling, and donating of over 4,000 pounds of organic produce each year from the one-acre organic farm on Sauvie Island. More

Midterm Elections: Who Will Be the Next Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee?

The 21 members of the Senate Agriculture Committee are arguably some of the most powerful players in our nation's food system. Most of the senators on the committee come from states that focus on industrial crop production and agriculture. These states are also the primary recipients of high subsidies for crops such as corn, rice, wheat, and soybeans. Among the Agriculture Committee's most important duties is oversight of the Farm Bill. The next Farm Bill will be voted on in 2012, and public hearings have already begun across the country. Find out how the midterm elections tomorrow could affect farming subsidies, agricultural research, and nutrition programs. More

Mobile Museum Focuses on Poor Working Conditions of Florida Ag Workers

In 2009, Barry Estabrook wrote an in-depth piece for Gourmet about tomato pickers in the Immokalee region of Florida. He detailed the near-slavery conditions that farm workers faced as they were forced to work long hours for very little pay, live in filthy and cramped conditions, and remain on the farm against their will. The Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum is a mobile museum currently stopping across the country, seeking to spread the word about the horrible living and working conditions of these tomato pickers and farm workers. More

Coffee Tree to Cup in Brazil: Part 5, The Drink

When we last saw our coffee, it'd been picked and sorted, pitted and dried, rested and roasted. Now? It's time to make a cup of coffee. For that, we'll take you back down to Brazil. For maximum enjoyment, we'd leave you to the eminently capable hands pictured above: those of award-winning barista Silvia Magalhães at Octavio's São Paulo cafe. But first? We're doing a cupping. More

Coffee Tree to Cup in Brazil: Part 3, The Processing

Step out of a car at Octavio's processing plant and you're instantly hit with the smell: toasty, warm, nutty, like a peach pit drying in the Georgia sun. It's the smell of drying coffee beans—also, of course, the seeds of a fruit. But how they go from soft cherries to green, dry beans is quite an involved process. More

Coffee Tree to Cup in Brazil: Part 2, The Harvest

If this online media thing doesn't work out, I'm moving to Brazil as a coffee harvester. At least, that's what went through my head after a morning stripping cherries from the coffee trees of the Nossa Senhora Aparecida farm outside Pedregulho, Brazil. It's hard labor, if not back-breaking; an hour in the fields certainly left this reasonably fit author in a sweat. But the elegance with which expert pickers fill sacks of Skittle-rainbowed coffee beans makes their work seem at least as much art as chore. (The verdant postcard views and piercing 70-degree winter sun certainly wouldn't hurt, either.) More

Coffee Tree to Cup in Brazil: Part I, The Farm

I'm willing to bet that, unless you're from a tropical area or have taken some effort to educate yourself, you have trouble envisioning just where coffee comes from. (And I include myself, as of a few years ago, in that group.) So I jumped at the chance to spend a few days in the heart of the coffee harvest, with Octavio Café and Dallis Coffee, down in the endless coffee fields of Pedregulho, Brazil—picking coffee fruit, pulling out the beans, seeing how they're sorted and dried and milled and roasted and, ultimately, brewed up into the black stuff that wakes you up in the morning. More

My Week Without Corn, Part II: The No Corn-Fed Animal Products Edition

“I’ve basically become a corn-averse vegan." Last week, I wrote about my first seven days without corn. Trying to learn more about just how much of the stuff we consume, I swore off all corn-laced foods for a full week. But as I sipped on cow’s milk and scrambled eggs for my omelets, I started to realize that the corn on package labels was only part of the story. More than half the corn produced in the United States isn’t used for human food—it’s fed to our animals. Eating a steak, in a sense, entails far more corn than drinking a soda. If I really wanted to call myself corn-free, I had a long way to go. So this week,... More

Drop in Wind Speed in U.S. May Affect Crops

"If you're reducing the wind speed, then you're reducing the ventilation of the crop. Corn is like people—it likes the same temperature range. When it gets above 90 degrees, it really would like to have some ventilation." —Eugene Takle, Iowa State University professor of atmospheric science... More

The Organic Milk Business Has Gone Bad: Are You Buying Less Organic Milk?

©iStockphoto.com/cmisje According to the New York Times, the organic milk business has gone bad in a hurry. Are you drinking less organic milk these days, serious eaters? Before we get to the reasons why these farmers are struggling, at least according to Times contributor Katie Zezima, I feel compelled to say that it's this kind of story that demonstrates why we need newspapers to endure. Because without quality institutions like the Times, with its wealth of reporters, editors, and stringers, stories like this might go unreported. Or, at the very least, they wouldn't be made available to the general public. Has anyone read about the plight of these farmers in any other consumer publication, online or in print? Now... More

Foodies Pitch Nominees to Barack Obama for Secretary of Agriculture

Photograph by Robyn Lee The effort to nominate food policy figure Michael Pollan never got off the ground, but Pollan and his other American food thinker buds—88 in total including Alice Waters, Rick Bayless, Wendell Berry, Eric Schlosser, Dan Barber, and Marion Nestle—wrote Obama a letter, nominating some potential Secretaries of Agriculture: 1. Gus Schumacher, former Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services and former Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture (website) 2. Chuck Hassebrook, executive director, Center for Rural Affairs, Nebraska (website) 3. Sarah Vogel, former Commissioner of Agriculture for North Dakota and lawyer (Wiki page) 4. Fred Kirschenmann, organic farmer, distinguished fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Iowa, and president of the Stone... More

Six-Foot Zucchini Grows in Queens Backyard

New York Daily News It's exactly the kind of thing you would expect to see in a county fair contest—a giant 6-foot-long zucchini. But while some farmers spend months carefully cultivating their prize-winning fruits and vegetables, a Queens woman says fertilizer, water, and a little TLC is all it took for her to grow this giant vegetable (technically an immature fruit, in proper botanical terms) in her backyard. At just over six feet, this zucchini is a foot taller than its owner Apollonia Castitlione, and it's just shy of the world record of a 7-foot, 10-inch zucchini grown in India three years ago, reports the New York Daily News. Although this zucchini could be used in a lot of... More

Heavy Metals Found in Organic Agriculture; Does that Make Organic Dangerous?

Photograph from iLoveButter on Flickr Organic agriculture is good for the earth, keeps soil healthy, fosters biodiversity, and recycles organic material without using any of those nasty synthetic chemicals. So if it's good for the earth, then it's good for us, right? Maybe, maybe not. We know that conventional farming leaves nasty metals like arsenic, lead, cadmium, nickel, mercury and zinc behind, but could these same toxins exist in organic soil? Yes, says Slate. Scientists have known since the 1920s that organic fertilizers used by farmers to supplement conventional systems—composted animal manure, rock phosphates, fish emulsions, guano, wood ashes, etc.—further contaminate topsoil with varying concentrations of heavy metals. Organic advocates, who rely exclusively on these fertilizers, remain well aware... More

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