2/10/11 Nourishing News Roundup

Our weekly roundup of links to headlines we think you’ll want to read…

How Grass-Fed Beef Can Reduce Global Warming

(Photo by Scott Bauer/USDA)

We’ve talked about the nutritional and animal-welfare benefits of grass-fed beef and bison. Grass-fed meat may help the environment, too, according to the Union of Concern Scientists’ new report, “Raising the Steaks: Global Warming and Pasture-Raised Beef Production in the United States.” As the report notes, beef production generates about one-third of the United States’ global-warming emissions, including 18% of our methane emissions. The report illustrates the best practices to raise cattle while reducing emissions, such as the importance of nutrient-dense forage for grazing cattle.

Bittman on Dietary Guidelines

We reported on the recently (and finally) released 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In his opinion piece for The New York Times, Mark Bittman ponders why the guidelines dance around the more important–and simpler–message that could have a genuine impact on America’s health: Eat real food.

Smart Shrimp

Like food writer Barry Estabrook (and Forrest Gump’s best friend, Bubba), I’m a sucker for shrimp. But as he notes in his Politics of the Plate blog, finding sustainably sourced shrimp can be tricky. That’s why he was so happy to discover sustainable British Columbia spot prawns. The only drawback: You’ll probably have to visit Canada to enjoy them, since the locals gobble most of the seasonal catch. Not a bad excuse to visit BC…that shrimp would be wonderful paired with a lovely Okanagan Valley wine!

More GE News

Last week, we reported on infighting among the organic community over the USDA’s decision to fully deregulate genetically engineered alfalfa while promoting the peaceful coexistence of organic and conventional (including GE) crops. As that hot debate continues in the the organic community, there’s been yet more news on GE topics. Last Friday, the USDA announced the partial deregulation of GE sugar beets, allowing farmers to plant that GE crop before the final Environmental Impact Statement is released in 2012. As Rodale reports, it’s a controversial move, to say the least. Meanwhile, Care2 reports that Mexico’s Interministerial Commission on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms has put planting of Monsanto’s GE corn on hold pending more tests. And Bill Marler’s blog Food Safety News reports on a pair of bipartisan congressional bills to ban GE salmon. Apparently not all American lawmakers share the current administration’s biotech-friendly stance.

What intrigues us in all of this is the USDA’s insistence that GE and organic crops can coexist. We’re working on a story examining what that entails and whether it’s a realistic–and practical–proposal.

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