March of the Vines: Vineyards are Exploding, But is That Good for Wine Country?

Everyone seems to have an opinion on California wines; some people think they’re insipid and awful, a judgment usually based on the reputation of the early years of the wine industry, and other people think they’re fantastic. In actuality, of course, some vineyards make outstanding, award-winning vintages that rival wines from anywhere else in the […]

Animals are Not Disposable

In a society that largely treats animals as commodities, it should come as no surprise to learn that animal abuse is rife at every level, from industrial agriculture to hobby farming to keeping animals as pets, but it never ceases to make me boil with fury. Animals are living beings capable of experiencing pain and […]

Walking the Corn

While cotton may have snagged the tagline ‘the fabric of our lives,’ corn might as well be the grain of our lives in the United States, given how inextricably it’s woven into the food landscape. It’s not that people eat a great deal of corn as corn, but that corn and corn components are everywhere, […]

Farming, the Food Supply, and Reality

The disconnect between consumers and the food supply can be extremely stark, and sometimes I’m reminded of it in jarring ways, as when a woman at a conference smugly informed me that discussions about seasonal availability of produce weren’t ‘realistic’ because her grocery store stocks lettuce 365 days a year. Confronting this mismatch between reality—actual […]

Mainstreaming Humane Farming?

One of the biggest recent gains for the animal welfare movement has been increasing pressure on the agriculture industry to make farming more humane, for animals from dairy cattle to chickens. Advocates have used a variety of tactics to accomplish their goals, including shareholder activism at major corporations, legislative lobbying, and individual advocacy with specific […]

Who Watches the Watchers? Livestock Self-Inspection Is A Bad Idea

In April, the United States Department of Agriculture announced that it would be turning some poultry inspection responsibilities over to poultry processing plants. This was spun as an improvement for food safety, as well as a cost-cutting and streamlining measure. The USDA pushed hard on the modernisation rhetoric, arguing that the change in inspection policies […]