† The Grim State of Bee Health: On the heels of yesterday’s announcement of a Slow Food Los Angeles event featuring a presentation by Professor May Berenbaum, one of the nation’s experts on the declining bee population, this article via the SFGate noting that bees are dying at a substantial rate, with losses estimated as high as 36.1% of the commercially managed beehives in the United States. The article is available online here; details of the Los Angeles event, which is open to Slow food members and nonmembers, are also available on this site.
† Farm Bill Update: Carolyn Lochhead’s update on the Farm Bill considers the seemingly odd position of the Bill’s political players, who are divided over billions of dollars in subsidies. Among the interesting details, Lochhead notes: “To secure votes, negotiators added a $93 million write-off for thoroughbred racehorses at the behest of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Arkansas Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln. That is nearly as much money a organic farmers will get for research, data collection, and certification help for small growers.” [emphasis added] Read the full article online.
† From the Los Angeles Times: Several pieces, last week and this week, that may be of particular interest:
+ What happened to the farmers of the South Central Community Garden that was the subject of such controversy? They’re now farming at Buttonwillow, west of Bakersfield, and are continuing to sell their produce at farmers’ markets across Los Angeles. Steve Chawkins visited with them and wrote about their new–and growing–farm.
+ Russ Parsons looks at the next generation of farmers and the hurdles and rewards they face.
+ Charles Perry considers the history of farm stands and the role they might play in encouraging consumption of more local products.
† And over at the New York Times, a bounty of articles that examine food choices of many kinds:
+ As a general note, readers may wish to bookmark the series page for “The Food Chain,” the NYT’s series about food production around the world. Articles in the series, and others of interest:
+ The Environmental Cost of Shipping Groceries Around the World: How else do we see kiwis, strawberries, tomatoes, and other produce month after month in grocery store bins and on menus? Because somewhere, someone is growing it, and shipping it.
+ The term RAFT may be familiar to Slow Food members, but to many others, the food context is not clear. Kim Severson writes about Gary Paul Nabhan and his new book, Renewing America’s Food Traditions: Saving and Savoring the Continent’s Most Endangered Foods. In a nutshell, the philosophy of RAFT is “eat it to save it,” an idea that inspired Heritage Foods (founded by Patrick Martins, a founder of Slow Food USA) and continues to be a focus of Slow Food USA’s efforts.
+ Tracie McMillan spotlights urban farmers and the benefits of urban agriculture in Brooklyn and other cities across the country, citing examples from Detroit, Oakland, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia.
+ Last, but not least, Mark Bittman, aka The Minimalist, considers the real cost of cheap food. The report to which he refers, “Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America,” has been released by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production and is available online. In sum: “The current industrial farm animal production (IFAP) system often poses unacceptable risks to public health, the environment and the welfare of the animals themselves.”
Marion Nestle, a member of the Commission, notes in her blog post that the two big issues are antibiotics and waste, and includes links to related pieces in the Washington Post and Kansas City Star. (If you’ve not bookmarked Dr Nestle’s “What to Eat” blog or added it to your RSS/newsreader, we encourage you to do so. It’s a great source for timely information, and Dr Nestle’s brief but incisive commentary provides helpful context.)