Author: Steve Savage

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Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Today, to be patriotic, I bought my wife some red, white and blue carnations. I asked the clerk who was trimming and wrapping the flowers where they came from, and he said, “Columbia.” I would rather have purchased them from a domestic grower, but I couldn’t…. And it’s hard to find domestic fruits and vegetables, too. What happened?

July 2nd

Farm Subsidies Don’t Make Us Fat

Last week Dr. Robert Paarlberg published an article in GOOD titled “The Inconvenient Truth About Cheap Food and Obesity: It’s Not Farm Subsidies.”  In the article he debunks the assertion by Michael Pollan in Omnivore’s Dilemma that farm subsidies make unhealthy foods artificially cheap.  He points out that (for different reasons) libertarian-leaning groups like the […]

April 11th

A New Look At The American “Food Dollar”

Patrick Canning of  the Economic Research Service of the USDA just released a new report on food prices.  My friend, John, sent it to me knowing that I can never resist a new set of interesting data.  I made some graphs to try to unpack the story here.  The title of the report is “A […]

March 15th

Yet Another Organic Fertilizer Fraud: Should You Care?

The short answer is “no.”  Here is the longer answer: Last Thursday the president of Port Organic Products Ltd was indicted on 28 counts of mail fraud for marketing an “Organic” fertilizer that was spiked with aqueous ammonia – a “synthetic” source of nitrogen which is not allowed under the Organic rules.  Nelson had represented […]

March 12th

Global Food Prices Continue to Rise

Each month the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) releases an update on the global prices for food in trade channels. The chart above is based on this data and it shows that we are continuing into a price spike much like the one in 2008. This does not tell you what food […]

March 4th

Reasons The Tiny Scale Of US Organic Could Be A Good Thing

In 2008, the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the USDA (USDA-NASS) conducted a very detailed and comprehensive survey of Organic agriculture in the US.  It was published last year but got little notice.  It is interesting to study the data and to compare it to the equivalent statistics that are available for the rest of […]

February 8th

Food Folly in Washington

As Congressional Republicans and others search for budget cuts (without addressing any of the really big ticket items), one of the programs they are targeting is the small national support for wheat breeding.  Representatives of the wheat industry are mobilizing to try to let the politicians know why that is a really bad idea! Even […]

February 7th

Fraud At The Farmers Market

How “local and sustainable” is the produce you’re buying at your local farmers market? There is a troubling article today on a site called “The Perishable Pundit.”  Jim Prevor, the author, is an extremely well respected source of information for the fresh produce industry.  It’s safe to say that most people in that business follow […]

February 2nd

Rethinking Public Dollars To Promote Organic Adoption

There was a news story this week about how there are $1.5 million of Federal funds available to help farmers in Nebraska convert to Organic.  This is part of an Obama administration initiative to promote the expansion of Organic agriculture.  Frankly, this is a token effort that will have little effect, but there is an […]

January 31st

New Technology Will Enhance Biofuel Potential

Sugarcane is currently the best crop for biofuel. In the regions where it can grow it is extremely productive.  Sugarcane ethanol production is typically 8-10 times as efficient as Corn ethanol. But sugarcane, like many other plants, is vegetatively propagated, or cloned, not grown from seeds.  It is very difficult and slow to breed for desirable […]

January 19th

Senator Jon Tester of Montana Insults US Farmers

Senator Tester (D, Montana) has been pushing an amendment to the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010 exempting small farms from the bill’s provisions.  The wisdom of this legislation and the amendment are subjects of legitimate debate, but the Senator reveals his actual agenda in this quote: “Small producers are not raising a commodity, […]

November 23rd

An Inconvenient Truth About Composting Revisited

Although composting has a very strong “green” reputation, it isn’t without its environmental issues.  Compost is an important source of fertilizer for Organic crops, and is widely promoted as a “green” alternative to synthetic nitrogen.  The inconvenient truth is that, as a nitrogen fertilizer, compost has a carbon footprint more than 10 times as large as […]

November 21st

Right And Left Agree: OK To Risk Starvation Of The Poor

The anti-climate-science politicians from the Right and the anti-technology activists from the Left are independently, but quite successfully, increasing the risk of malnutrition and/or starvation for the poorest people of the world.  This may not be their intended agenda, but it is the likely outcome from what they are doing. Another food price spike looming […]

November 15th