Caring about the origin of your food is not just for dissident hipsters, academics, and the “foodie elite” any more. The more mainstream the food movement becomes, the more we see laws, regulations, and plain-old public opinion and buying habits that focus on healthy, sustainable, and seasonal foods—from big corporations right on down the line to local communities.
It’s becoming increasingly important to be food and ag savvy for our own personal health and for the health of the planet. Here are our favorite sources. This list is certainly not exhaustive, so please share YOUR favorite sources via comments, below.
A relatively new series. CNN Money reporter Christina Alesci and her team take an in-depth look at food systems and the way they affect our health and the health of the planet. Their reportage is packaged into eight featurettes (5 to 6 minutes each) including "How antibiotics in our food system affect your health" and "How to grocery shop like a food safety expert." This is a great way to get oriented into the world of food.
Now in its sixth year, Edible Education is a course taught out of the the University of California. It traces its roots to the 40th anniversary of of Chez Panisse Restaurant and Cafe in Berkeley. Hosted by Michael Pollan and the Berkeley Food Institute, Edible Education is a “who’s who” of food movement experts, authors, deep thinkers, and revolutionaries. This year's course just started on January 19th, and you can view 5 years of backlogged recordings.
3. Civil Eats
Founded by award-winning food journalist Naomi Starkman in 2009, Civil Eats is a cache of thoughtful stories and critical thinking focused on social justice and America’s shifting understanding of food-system sustainability. Original articles highlight the good things that are happening in our country when it comes to food. In a field where it is so easy to get wrapped up in negativity, Civil Eats brings a smart and positive outlook. They also offer a nice weekly news roundup on Fridays. Winner of the James Beard Foundation’s 2014 Publication of the Year.
4. Food Tank
Started by Danielle Nierenberg and Ellen Gustafson (founder of FEED and author of We the Eaters), Food Tank is an excellent source for original news and content about sustainable agriculture. Food Tank foments change in the global agricultural system by highlighting the ways research and investment in sustainable agriculture alleviates global problems such as hunger, obesity, and poverty. While their subject matter is global, most of their reporting reflects things that we can do in our own country to create a more sustainable food system.
5. EWG Ag Mag
Environmental Working Group has long been a champion of people and the environment. Their political leanings are strong (holding the progressive torch and taking challenging conservative views), but they also keep close tabs on policy issues that will have a direct effect on the environment. Ag Mag is a great source for news and updates on food and agriculture issues that pertain to EWG’s initiatives.
For those of you who want to be more politically savvy than your own representative regarding what’s happening on the Hill related to agriculture and food, we recommend this daily newsletter from Politico. It tackles even the minutia of bills in Congress, developments in food business, and happenings in the USDA and FDA. It’s a free service and you can subscribe here or read archived newsletters.
The Food and Environment Reporting Network (FERN) has been a great source for original reporting on food and ag issues pertaining to planetary health since 2011 (fun fact: Naomi Starkman of Civil Eats, listed above, is a founding board member). We highly recommend all of their articles. Similar to Politico, FERN recently launched an Ag Insider service which features writing and analysis from Chuck Abbott, a 30-year veteran of food and agriculture reporting. Abbott is about as savvy as they come. You can sign up for the service here and check out some recent editions of Ag Insider here.