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July 7, 2014

A few early-summer visits to the local farmer’s market are usually all it takes to turn us into cheerleaders for the American farm. But if you really want to know about the current state of farming in the U.S.A. (as opposed to merely knowing the current state of this summer’s heirloom tomatoes), you’ll need some real, hard facts.

For that, you'll want to turn to the latest Census of Agriculture (COA). Chances...

May 19, 2014

Back when Gwen Clements worked at the Perdue chicken plant in Beaver Dam, Kentucky, she stood beside a conveyor belt blanketed in chicken parts for eight hours each day. Usually she packed drumsticks, but whichever part of the bird she happened to be packing on a given shift, the smell was as constant as it was noxious: a combination of raw poultry and chlorine, the latter emanating from the pathogen-killing chemical bath that the carcasses—often contaminated with fecal matter—...

September 19, 2013

A few days ago, Ted Labuza enjoyed an afternoon snack of crackers with sour cream, which he spooned from a tub whose sell-by date had passed two weeks earlier. A professor of food science and engineering at the University of Minnesota, Labuza has been studying the shelf life of food for nearly half a century. He’s written 17 books on the topic. Another recent Labuza feast consisted of chicken and broth that had been sealed into a can seven years ago. The result? In neither case was the...

September 5, 2013

A year ago, when I was working as an editor at the magazine Whole Living, I oversaw a special issue on food featuring “Visionaries”—people making a real difference in the way this country thinks about eating. There was “The Motivated Mayor” (Michael Bloomberg), “The Integrator” (Harlem chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson), and, among several others, there was “The Badass.”

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August 27, 2013

When I came home from the farmer’s market last week juggling two giant bags of tomatoes, my kids looked at me like I was insane. And maybe I had gone a little overboard. I confess to falling into a sort of heirloom mania around this time of year, unable to resist picking up at least one of these gloriously nonconformist fruits in every color, shape, and size. For an American raised on cookie-cutter produce, heirloom varieties are a happy reminder of the diversity that exists out there...

June 27, 2013

A day or two earlier, I would have looked right past the Spanish mackerel. The clams, too, most likely.

Usually, when I stop by the fish counter to pick up something for dinner, I go for halibut, or maybe some sort of cod or bass. If we’re grilling, I might grab a few whole branzino or splurge on tuna steaks or wild salmon. But on my last trip to the store, I had just finished reading ...

April 26, 2013

Today marks the deadline for public comments on a genetically modified salmon currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration. If approved, the fish will be the first transgenic animal ever to enter the human food supply. Some say it’s about...