Search results for "tom philpott"

Episode 87 Victual Reality: Tom Philpott with Eliot Coleman

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Victual Reality, the podcast about food politics, is hosted by Tom Philpott. Tom’s guest today is Eliot Coleman.

Eliot Coleman is one of the most innovative, successful, and influential small-scale farmers in the United States. Eliot runs Four Seasons Farm in Maine, where he has become legendary for producing top-quality vegetables through Maine’s harsh winters. His books, which include The Winter Harvest Handbook, and Four Season Harvest, are considered bibles among farmers trying to extend their seasons in cold climates. But Eliot isn’t just a guru of the field and the greenhouse. He’s also an intellectual with a commanding grasp of the history of agriculture. In this edition of Victual Reality, the podcast about food politics, Eliot tells me how he came to farming; we also talk about organic farming’s historical roots and where it’s going next.

Eliot Coleman – photo: Barbara Damrosch

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Episode 7: Tom Philpott

Photo: Bart Nagel

Show notes: Tom Philpott, food editor at Grist.org is among the brightest stars and is a prolific and informed voice of the contemporary food revolution taking root in this country today.  A speaker and honored guest at the first annual Edible Institute in Santa Fe, NM, Tom was gracious enough to sit down and have a conversation with us.

When he isn’t obsessing about food and agriculture and hunting and pecking at his laptop’s keyboard, you might find him in the kitchen or in the field at home at Maverick Farms in Valle Crucis, N.C. Before becoming a full time farmer, he held a day job as a finance writer and editor in New York City, and generally split his off time between his community-garden plot in Brooklyn and his apartment kitchen. In past lives, he has worked as a grill cook in an old-school Texas steakhouse, a finance reporter in Mexico City, and a community-college instructor/restaurant critic in Austin, Texas. Follow Tom’s posts at www.Grist.org , and on Facebook, or Twitter.

Bio: Tom Philpott is food editor at Grist.org, where he writes on the politics and ecology of food. He’s also a co-founder and core-group member at Maverick Farms, a center for sustainable-food education in Valle Crucis, North Carolina.
Before moving to the farm in 2004, Philpott worked as a financial journalist in Mexico City and New York City, most recently holding the title of equity research editor for Reuters, where he wrote daily dispatches on the stock market. His work on food politics has appeared in Newsweek, The Guardian, Seed, Gastronomica,  Mother Earth News, New Farm, and Sojourners. Maverick Farms has been featured in Gourmet and The NewYork Times Magazine, and in Sept. 2008, Food & Wine named Philpott one of “ten innovators” who will “continue to shape the culinary consciousness of our country for the next 30 years.” Philpott serves of the board of directors of the Boston-based Chef’s Collaborative, a nationwide group that seeks to push the restaurant business in more sustainable directions; and on the board of advisers at the Ausin, Texas-based Sustainable Food Center.
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Episode 89 Victual Reality: Ashley Atkinson and Annie Novak

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Victual Reality, the podcast about food politics, is hosted by Tom Philpott. Tom’s guests today are Ashley Atkinson and Annie Novak.

Ashley Atkinson and Annie Novak are two of the most dynamic forces in U.S. urban agriculture today. Ashley, 31, is the director of urban agriculture and project development for Greening of Detroit, which provides a broad array of support to the city’s nearly 1,200 registered vegetable gardens. These gardens range from single-family plots to community and school gardens to 37 market gardens, which are business enterprises that sell their goods at farmers’ markets. I profiled some of the crucial work being done by Ashley and Detroit’s gardeners here and here.

Annie, 27, helped found Eagle Street Rooftop Farm in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which is proving that New York City’s bountiful supply of rooftops represent plenty of, well, land for possible food production; and Growing Chefs, an educational program linking kids to to the field and kitchen. Her projects have been profiled on Grist here and here.

In this edition of Victual Reality, Ashley and Annie break down some of the finer points of urban ag and where it’s headed.

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Episode 61: Victual Reality with Jim Thomas

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Welcome to Victual Reality, the Edible Radio podcast about food politics hosted by Grist writer Tom Philpott. Tom’s guest today is Jim Thomas of ETC Group.

I try to stay at the cutting edge of developments in global food politics. But try as I might, I always find myself about five years behind ETC Group, a kind of activist think-tank that promotes the rights of small-scale farmers worldwide against the power of large agribusiness. While I try to tease out the implications of widespread use of genetically modified organisms in the food system, ETC (pronounced “etcetera”; full name: “Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration) churns out penetrating, impeccably documented analyses of things like nanotechnology and synthetic biology: other corporate owned technologies that benefit from government research support and lax regulation. A couple of weeks ago, I penned a critique of cellulosic ethanol, the latest “green” tech fix that’s supposed to keep our vast fleet of cars on the road. Jim Thomas, one of ETC’s crack researchers, emailed me to let me know that he had just come out with a report on just that topic: The New Biomasters: Synthetic Biology and The Next Assault on Biodiversity and Livelihoods.

Sure enough, Jim’s analysis was approximately five years ahead of mine. So I invited him onto the show. Listen and learn.

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Episode 46 Victual Reality – Nancy Rabalais

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Victual Reality, the podcast about food politics, is hosted by Tom Philpott. Tom’s guest today is Nancy Rabalais.

Every year, excess fertilizer from Midwestern farms leaches into streams and eventually into the Mississippi River, which carries it down to the Gulf of Mexico. There, it feeds a giant algae bloom, which, as it dies as decays, sucks oxygen out of the water. The result is a massive area unsuitable for fish — a vast dead zone in what should be one of the globe’s most productive aquatic ecosystems. Scientists from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) journey through the Gulf each summer in a ship measuring the dead zone. They recently completed their verdict: this year’s dead zone is one of the largest ever. (Gulf Hypoxia Report: PDF.) In this edition of Victual Reality, the podcast about food politics, I talk to Nancy Rabalais, executive director of LUMCON and leader of the annual expedition. We talk the importance of oxygen for fish habitats, why agriculture reform is key to reversing the trend of ever-larger dead zones, and more.

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Episode 39 Victual Reality – Ken Meter

 
Victual Reality, the podcast about food politics, is hosted by Tom Philpott. Tom’s guest today is Ken Meter.

Ken Meter is probably our foremost thinker on the role of food in creating robust local and regional economies. I first encountered him at a Community Food Security Coalition conference in Atlanta in 2005, where he gave a presentation that forever changed the way I look at agricultural economics. Ken showed that over and over again, in ag-intensive regions across the country, large-scale commodity farming is a net economic loser for farmers and their surrounding communities. He demonstrated that in areas such as the Corn Belt, farmers typically spend more money buying inputs and servicing debt than they bring in selling their crops—and federal commodities subsidies don’t make up the difference. Moreover, right in the middle of some of the world’s most fertile land, almost all the food consumed by Corn Belt residents is trucked in from outside the region—and almost all the region’s food dollars flow out. Add it all up, Ken shows, and industrial agriculture extracts wealth from farming communities and delivers it to input suppliers (think GMO seed giant Monsanto) and grain buyers (think grain traders like Archer Daniels Midland and industrial-meat companies like Tyson).

In part one of my podcast with Ken, we talked about how we got our current farm system, drawing on Ken’s experience as a agriculture journalist in Minnesota during the farm crisis of the 1980s. Next week, we look at the alternative systems sprouting up all over the country—and how food can be used a tool for building wealth in communities, not just extracting it.

Ken is the director of Minneapolis-based Crossroads Resource Center. His pioneering study of the farm and food economy of Southeast Minnesota, Finding Food in Farm Country, can be found here (pdf download); and the rest of her publications can be found here (Publications: Rural Economic Studies).

 

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Episode 35 Victual Reality – Susan Kegley

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Victual Reality, the podcast about food politics, is hosted by Tom Philpott. Tom’s guest today is Susan Kegley.

In the waning days of the Bush Administration, the EPA executed what will likely go down as the single most egregious decision in its not-always-stellar history: ignoring strong warnings from independent scientists, it approved use of a pesticide so toxic that scientists had previously used it to induce cancer in tissue samples. The chemical, a fumigant called methyl iodide, swiftly went into use in states with significant production of fruit, mainly strawberries. (I chronicled the twisted tale on Grist at the time.) But one key strawberry-growing state held out: California, which subjected methyl iodide to a separate review process. Again, independent scientists cried foul; but now, the state stands on the verge of approving methyl iodide.

In this week’s Victual Reality, the podcast about food politics, I talk to Susan Kegley, organic chemist and long-time science guru for California-based Pesticide Action Network of North America. Susan explains how this stubborn chemical keeps repelling scientists and gaining favor from politicians–and the next steps in the fight to keep it out of America’s fruit fields. To keep up with the story, follow my work on Grist and check Panna’s website, Panna.org.

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Episode 32: Victual Reality – Maryn McKenna

Victual Reality, the podcast about food politics, is hosted by Tom Philpott. Tom’s guest today is Maryn McKenna.

Maryn McKenna is arguably the premier U.S. public health journalist. Not many of her rivals on the beat can boast a bio like this:

Maryn McKenna’s newsroom nickname is Scary Disease Girl, and she earned it. She has reported from inside a field hospital in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, a village on Thailand’s west coast that was erased by the Indian Ocean tsunami, a CDC team investigating the anthrax-letter attacks on Capitol Hill, a graveyard within the Arctic Circle that held victims of the 1918 flu, a malaria hospital in Malawi, and a polio-eradication team in India. She helped uncover the first cases of Gulf War Syndrome and trigger the first Congressional hearings on the illness, and her stories on a small Midwestern town’s cancer clusters helped residents win a nuclear-harm lawsuit against the U.S. government.

In recent years, she has turned her attention to MRSA, the antibiotic resistant staph strain that kills 19,000 Americans every year–more than AIDS. MRSA has a major food angle–today, as much as 70 percent of antibiotics consumed in the United States go into concentrated-animal feedlot operations, or CAFOs. These vast, factory-scale animal farms have been shown to harbor a novel MRSA strain. In this edition of Victual Reality, Maryn and I discussed her new book, Superbug: the Fatal Menace of MRSA.

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Episode 26: Victual Reality – Ben Hewitt

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Victual Reality, the podcast about food politics, is hosted by Tom Philpott. Tom’s guest today is Ben Hewitt.

In October 2008, newspapers brimmed with grim economic news. Once-mighty Wall Street investment banks teetered on the edge of collapse, propped up only by government cash; and businesses fired workers by the hundreds of thousands.

Amid the gloom, New York Times food reporter Marion Burros published an upbeat article about a small Vermont town that was thriving instead of flailing–by using local food production as a tool of economic development. “With the fervor of Internet pioneers,” wrote Burros, “young artisans and agricultural entrepreneurs are expanding aggressively, reaching out to investors and working together to create a collective strength never before seen in this seedbed of Yankee individualism.”

The town, Hardwick, had been depressed for decades, ever since its granite mines had peaked. But it had now “united around food,” Burros reported–and was adding jobs while the national economy imploded. While the many in the food community–including me –oohed and ahed over the Hardwick miracle, a young farmer and freelance writer named Ben Hewitt was living on a farm just outside of Hardwick and observing the hubbub from the ground.

Like Burros, he had taken note of Hardwick’s frenetic agri-preneurism and begun to write about it. An article he had written for Gourmet got relegated to the publication’s Web site after Burros’ Times article beat it to print. But Hewitt stayed on the story, and this spring he brought out The Town That Food Saved: How One Community Found Vitality in Local Food (Rodale Books). With great sensitivity and a wealth of on-the-ground reporting, Hewitt shows that the story of Hardwick’s food revolution is a lot more complex and nuanced than could ever be expressed in a newspaper story. I recently caught up with Hewitt via phone from his farm outside Hardwick.

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Episode 22: Victual Reality – Richard Charter

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Victual Reality, the podcast about food politics, is hosted by Tom Philpott. Tom’s guest today is Richard Charter.

Richard Charter is one of our most eminent authorities on how offshore drilling affects coastal ecosystems. When the Deepwater Horizons oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana last month, Charter’s expertise became invaluable to anyone trying to understand what the ongoing spill meant for the Gulf of Mexico, one of the globe’s most productive fisheries and vibrant ecosystems. Charter was one of the first commentators to raise questions about the heavy use of chemical dispersants to mitigate the effects of the spill. “There is a chemical toxicity to the dispersant compound that in many ways is worse than oil,” he told ProPublica reporter Abrahm Lustgarten, for a groundbreaking article (Chemicals Meant To Break Up BP Oil Spill Present New Environmental Concerns) that spurred my own investigations (What are we dumping into the Gulf to ‘fix’ the oil spill? and Chemical dispersants being used in Gulf clean-up are potentially toxic) into the dispersant topic.

Charter is Senior Policy advisor for Marine Programs for Defenders of Wildlife, and has thirty years experience working on offshore drilling issues with local and state elected officials and the conservation community. In addition, Richard presently serves as the Chair of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council.

In this edition of Victual Reality, I talk to Richard about what past oil disasters have meant for ecosystems, just what the hell is in those dispersants, and how the spill might affect the Gulf fishery.

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