By car, Quebec City, Quebec, is 1,840 miles from Bismarck, N.D. I know, because in the last two months I have seen every mile of highway between North Dakota's state capital on the Missouri to Quebec's provincial capital on the St. Lawrence. Interestingly, as you drive west to east across arguably some of the New World's richest farm ground, cultural ties to the Old World go in the opposite direction: from North Dakota's Russian heritage to Quebec's devotion to France. One feature that never seems to change across the nearly 2,000 miles, however, is the crop mix.
Faithful readers of this weekly effort may recall my darling, but dangerous, Uncle Honey. He was my hometown's quiet, easy-going milkman who retired to the southern Illinois dairy farm of my youth to break, bend or beat up any plant, animal or machine unlucky enough to be nearby when Honey "helped" my father. It wasn't intentional; Honey didn't have a mean molecule in him.
Rare is the day any newspaper is printed without a mistake. All strive for perfection; few ever achieve it. Newspapers, of course, don't make mistakes. Newspaper reporters and editors make mistakes.
On Aug. 14, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia gave members of the National Pork Producers Council and the farmer-directors of the checkoff-collecting National Pork Board one more reason to loathe the Humane Society of the United States. In a terse, 11-page order, Circuit Judge Cornelia T.
In a relatively short, toughly-worded decision issued Aug. 3, a federal judge in Idaho struck down that state’s year-old “ag gag” law that sought to “criminalize” undercover, or whistleblower, investigations...
Everywhere you look, there's a poetic irony to today's high-speed rush toward "slow" food and agricultural sustainability. For example, throughout the U.S., well-informed, well-intentioned shoppers see no inherent conflict in driving their tank-sized SUVs to the local organic cooperative to purchase sustainably-grown meat, fruit, dairy products and vegetables. Corporate America is little different. It spends billions on brains and millions in jet fuel to sniff out, then buy, pieces of today's hottest new business sector, sustainable food.
There’s little safety and virtually no accuracy in SAFE, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, that passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 23. It...
As summer continues to heat up, so too will agriculture's ongoing water quality problems. On July 10, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that Lake Erie's algal bloom will be "more severe in 2015" due to "historic rains in June." On a scale of 1 to 10, forecasts NOAA, this year's bloom will be 8.7, far higher than 2014's mark of 6.5 "when Toledo suffered its drinking water problem." The problem doesn't stop in Ohio.
It's an almost poetic coincidence that the day after Greek voters loudly told European technocrats in Brussels and German bankers in Berlin to stuff it, the futures trading CME Group quietly moved its last, open-outcry commodity trading pit from Chicago's Loop to the perfectly technocratic, globally homeless electronic market. The Greek "No!" vote, like the Greek-European Union financial showdown that brought it about, was loud, messy and definitive. In other words, it was democracy in action.
"I just read your column," noted an Illinois critic of an early May piece that outlined a proposed, multi-billion dollar merger between the key players in the prepared foods sector. "I have just one question," the emailer went on, "what makes you an expert in the Sysco attempt to buy US Foods?" Ah, blessed readers. They are heartwarming and hazardous, professional and profane, loving and loathing. Without them, I'm out of business; with them, I'm often hearing their business.