October 26, 2007

Scrapin’ Up the Bits, Locals-Do-Well Style

NPR provides an update on the Farm Bill and a concise overview of its main components, or “titles” in legislative geek speak. Meanwhile, burghpunk over at Daily Kos gives a rousing summary of the importance of the Conservation title.

Speaking of the Farm Bill, a big part of the debate on it often centers around subsidies for corn. The excellent environmental blog Grist, which often produces some very insightful pieces on food and food policy by Tom Philpott, has an interview between the aforementioned Mr. Philpott and two representatives from two organizations who, in many respects, represent "Big Corn." The intro to the interview is enough to make the average person dirty his or her pants...

According to the U.S. Grains Council, the U.S. produces about 44 percent of the globe's corn crop -- that's more than China, the European Union, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico combined. Iowa alone, which produces a sixth of U.S. corn, produces about as much as the European Union.


[Corn] covers fully a fifth of U.S. cropland, far more than any other crop. It draws more subsidies than any other crop, too. According to the Environmental Working Group, the U.S. government paid corn farmers $51.2 billion between 1995 and 2005 -- more than the outlays for the next two most-subsidized crops combined (cotton and wheat) and nearly three times more than the amount spent on the Conservation Reserve Program over the same period.
Some interesting stuff in Wednesday’s NY Times Dining & Wine section:
  • One of the Times’ most emailed articles/blog posts this week has been 5 Easy Ways to Go Organic. As has been pointed out by many people, just because something’s organic doesn’t mean it hasn’t left a substantial environmental footprint to arrive at your grocery store. Same goes for locally produced food. Man it can be confusing trying to be a responsible eater.
  • Back in our D.C. days, a favorite meal at one of our regular – and, sadly, defunct – restaurants, The Fairmont Café, was lobster and mashed potatoes. I can still taste those chunks of lobster coated in buttery mashed potatoes ("Drool clean up on laptop keyboard, pronto!"). The Minimalist suggests trying something similar, but with a less costly piece of fish.

National props for some local establishments, including to Penn Brewery for proving once again that its hefeweizen is da’ finest in all o’ the land, and Bona Terra in Sharpsburg – where, gasp!, I have yet to eat – which Gourmet magazine has named one of the country’s finest farm-to-table restaurants.

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