You Are What You Eat – And What It Eats Too


Liz Carlisle guest posts for the Union of Concerned Scientists blog, The Equation:

A dozen years ago, a New York Times Magazine article titled “Power Steer” changed the way Americans thought about meat. “We are what we eat, it is often said,” wrote author Michael Pollan, “but of course that is only part of the story. We are what what we eat eats too.”
A bit of an awkward phrase, perhaps, but a salient point, not lost on the thousands of Americans who collectively plunk down $380 million a year for grass-fed beef. When we eat animals, we are inheriting their diet—as well as several other aspects of their lives.
But what about when we eat plants? Plants don’t, strictly speaking, eat, but they are no less embedded in their ecological relationships than animals are. Perhaps most importantly, plants take up nutrients from the soil in which they grow, and the meal on offer varies tremendously depending on how that soil is managed. So does it matter, for human nutrition, what our plant-based foods eat?

Read the rest:

Book Signing and Giveaway at Eco-Farm!


Just confirmed: Liz Carlisle will be signing copies of Lentil Underground at 3pm on Friday, January 23, at the Real Books pop-up bookstore in the Eco-Farm exhibit hall.  They’ll be giving away a few copies, so be sure to stop by before the signing and put your name in the hat.

For more info on Eco-Farm, see the conference website.

The Making of a Book Trailer

I love when things work out like this.

A couple months ago, Alison Harmon (the professor behind Lentils: Gems in the Treasure State) told me she knew a graduate student at Montana State University who might be able to make us a book trailer.  She introduced me by email to Marcus Hockett, who promptly set up a Dropbox folder, and told me to start sending him content.

I had a bunch of photos and some great footage from a 1991 Farm Tour at Dave Oien’s place, but no real idea what to do about audio.  So I asked my musician neighbor, Chris Houston, if he could record me doing some narration.  He invited me over to his studio and we had the narration knocked out in about 10 minutes.  As I was leaving, he asked if I had plans for the music, and I told him I didn’t, but that I’d appreciate his advice.  Two hours later, I had an mp3 in my inbox.  Chris just sat down to the piano and wrote us original music!

Of course, I was very excited to send all of this to Marcus.  This trailer was coming together!

And then, earlier today, Marcus sent me the final cut.  Amazing!  I love all the little touches – the cut to “high fructose corn syrup” on the nutrition label, the shot of lentils in a bowl, and of course, the vintage footage of “Lentil Cowboy” Jim Sims.

If you haven’t already, go to the homepage and check it out.

Crop Yields of Organic Agriculture Are Higher Than Previously Thought

Just out from my colleagues at UC Berkeley:

“A systematic overview of more than 100 studies comparing organic and conventional farming finds that the crop yields of organic agriculture are higher than previously thought. The study, conducted by UC Berkeley researchers, also found that certain practices could further shrink the productivity gap between organic crops and conventional farming.