Tag Archives: agriculture

Raising backyard ducks: Final thoughts (for now)

Much has changed since I first started raising ducks and chronicled my experiences here in 2002. Then, backyard poultry was almost unheard of, a thing of the past I was fighting to revive. At the turn of the century few … Continue reading

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Efficiency, waste, and backyard chickens

Most of the talk about reducing food waste focuses on big solutions and improving efficiency, but big solutions tend to create waste; in fact the pursuit of efficiency itself can create new kinds of waste even while limiting other kinds. Let me give just one example of why: Chickens. Continue reading

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Scientifically sound? Maybe. But wise?

“Let’s start the new year on scientifically sound footing,” writes Jane Brody in the New York Times. Maybe in addition, we could all start the new year by recognizing that our food — and ourselves — are more than just collections of chemicals. Continue reading

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Why plastic chicken is not the answer

Mark Bittman writes in this Sunday’s New York Times (“Finally, Fake Chicken Worth Eating”) that he has decided, at last, to endorse fake meat, because he believes that Americans ought to eat less meat and because certain new soy- and … Continue reading

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What you can grow in Durham, 2011-12

Intrigued by Thomas Jefferson’s calendar of the Washington city market (see the previous post) and liking the design, I decided to use it as a model for mapping produce available right here, right now. So with some help from Erin … Continue reading

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What you could grow (and when) in 1800

Thomas Jefferson was a man of many interests, and being President of the United States doesn’t seem to have deterred him from pursuing them. If from the White House he couldn’t putter in his beloved garden at Monticello, he still … Continue reading

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What’s a chicken worth?

Occasionally I see arguments to the effect that eating red meat is dangerously damaging to the environment — red meat specifically, as compared to poultry. For example, that it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef, … Continue reading

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More tender morsels

The matter of grass-fed beef and dental hygeine has me thinking some more about the connection between cuisine and agriculture, or between what we might think of as personal or cultural preference and the on-the-ground facts of how food is … Continue reading

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Tender morsels

James McWilliams writes today in the Freakonomics blog that advocates of grass-fed beef are mistaken in asserting that until very recently, all beef was grass-fed. He’s right, as far as he goes: Agriculture experts advocated raising beef cattle on corn … Continue reading

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Standards and Stewards

In this 2003 essay I argue that the desire for standards, because it tends to produce standardization, is antithetical to stewardship, which must be based on an intimate knowledge of unique persons and places. No set of standards, therefore — such as the national organic standards — can serve as a substitute or even a stepping-stone to true stewardship, and may even make that ultimate goal more difficult to reach. Continue reading

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