Author: Steve Savage

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“Monoculture” May Not Mean What You Think It Means

In one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride, the character Inigo Montoya challenges Vizzini about his use of the word inconceivable:  “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”  I feel the same way about the term “monoculture.” I’ve been noticing the increasingly frequent use of the term […]

March 10th

Small Farms: A Drop In The Organic Bucket

For people in the “Food Movement,” the ideal sort of farm would be a small, organic farm that is “local” by at least some definition of that term.  This is most likely to happen in California, so it is interesting to look at a detailed report that came out last week from the University of California […]

March 8th

Update On Rising Global Food Prices

Last month I started a series of monthly updates on the rising prices of food in international trade.  As you can see from the graph above, the trend is continuing so that it looks like we are likely to see prices as high as the previous spike.  It is important to note that these indicies […]

March 4th

Why I Wish More People Could Meet Farmers

The other day I made a comment on a blog post that had quoted an article I wrote about the surprisingly tiny scale of organic farming.  In describing “conventional agriculture,” that author had used the term “chemical laden farming,” which I pointed out was misleading considering the  USDA data which documents how miniscule chemical residues […]

February 28th

Rising Global Food Prices – Why You Should Care

The chart above shows that global food prices, as measured by the FAO indicies, are spiking, much as they did in 2008.  At the end of January,  the overall food price index had just surpassed the 2008/9 peak, while the indicies for dairy, cereals and oils were closing in on the previous maximum.  The meat […]

February 14th

US Organic Farming: Digging into the Numbers

In 2008, the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the USDA (USDA-NASS) conducted a first-time, in-depth survey of the US organic farming sector.  A summary was published in 2010 from which it is possible to see state-by-state and crop-by-crop how many organic acres were harvested, how much they produced, and how much the crop was worth. […]

January 31st

What Are Your Favorite Toxins?

From what I read on various blogs and their comment streams, it is obvious that there are a lot of people who are very concerned about toxins in their food and water. Many say they want to live in a “toxin-free world.”  Although I would be the first to say that there are some toxins […]

January 4th

What Asparagus Tells Us About Our Food Future

I’d like to make the case that asparagus, as a crop, is a prophetic vegetable.  How the global asparagus industry has changed gives us a window on how the rest of the US fresh produce market is likely to change over time. We Americans Love Asparagus, but… As you can see in the graph above, […]

December 6th

News Flash! Scientists Find that Cigarettes May Be Dangerous!

[social_buttons] A team of American and French scientists have just documented the fact that there are a lot of bacteria in cigarettes and that the bacterial population includes some human pathogens.  They don’t actually know if this leads to human disease- after all, these things are BURNED!.  Still it raises interesting issues. But at least the tobacco is not […]

November 22nd

When it Comes to Food, Concern is Good – But Action is Better

[social_buttons] The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has developed a career-long role that entails finding issues to worry about and writing about them.  That can be a good thing because science is definitely about asking the hard questions.  Sometimes however, these well-intentioned folks can let their biases and presuppositions get in the way. UCS has […]

November 19th

The Ethics of Selling Crop Seed: Part 1

[social_buttons] There is a lot of confusion and disinformation circulating today about seeds and the ethics of their commercial sale.  Actually a healthy, commercial seed industry is critical for agricultural sustainability.  Because seeds are such a fundamental component of the sustainability of our food supply, this area deserves careful thought and accurate information even if you are […]

November 17th