On this last day of August – a month with five Mondays – we offer you this selection of stories to begin your work week.


Food is free in a city near you. Across the nation, a new kind of sharing culture is springing up around gardening. Among the benefits accruing to participating communities? Increased food security, healthier landscapes, recycling resources and a greater sense of community. Kate Dougherty (@kate_dougherty) writes about Food is Free, a non-profit that is helping to drive this “community building and gardening movement.” Projects in Iowa and Austin are discussed. An uplifting piece and one that we hope will spark gardening action in more communities. This piece appears in Civil Eats. And ICYMI, an informative and inspiring Q&A with Roger Doiron of Kitchen Gardeners International. His non-profit organization provides resources and inspiration for home and community gardeners.


Biotechnology: three reads. 1. Perspective on Golden Rice: bringing a superfood down to earth. Few genetically modified crops are discussed as much as “Golden Rice.” And debates over the crop are heated. Glenn Davis Stone (@glenndavisstone) is an anthropology and environmental studies professor at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He conducts research and writes about food, agriculture and biotechnology; this piece appears on his blog Field Questions. It’s certain to spark discussion. 2. Another perspective: Recently, the UC Food Observer interviewed UC Davis plant geneticist Pamela Ronald (@pcronald) on a range of issues relating to biotechnology. Ronald’s research includes studying the genetic basis of resistance to disease and tolerance to stress in rice. Together with her collaborators, she has engineered rice for resistance to disease and tolerance to flooding, which seriously threaten rice crops in Asia and Africa. Read the Q&A here. 3. In the race to save species, GMOs are coming to nature. This raises important questions. Can we? And should we? The piece contains an interesting discussion of the American chestnut tree’s demise and potential recovery. A thought-provoking article by Greg Breining for Ensia.


ICYMI, “Good Food” interests start to think about lobbying. “Good Food” is winning big in the public eye, but is not using the strategies employed by “Big Food” powerhouses…but that may be starting to change. Helena Bottemiller Evich (@hbottemiller) pens an informative piece for Politico. Take a parent company quiz. Who owns Gatorade? Match “iconic brands with their parent companies.” Note: these are not all food-related questions. Bryan Cronan (@BryanCronan) for the Christian Science Monitor (ICYMI). H/T Michele R. Simon (@MicheleRSimon).


Labor: farm workers and fast food workers mobilize here and around the globe. Two pieces. Farm workers: the Pacific Coast Farm Worker Rebellion. Much has been written in the last year about the farm labor strife in Mexico. (We particularly valued the Product of Mexico series that appeared in the Los Angeles Times; follow Richard Marosi – @ricardin24). In other places on the Pacific Coast, indigenous farm workers are standing up for their rights. David Bacon writes this piece for The Nation; he also took the stunning photographs that accompany it. Taking the battle to McDonald’s. The Fight for $15 movement is taking a larger, more strategic approach as the minimum wage movement gains national and global momentum. “This is about lifting the 64 million American workers who make less than $15 an hour,” says top strategist Scott Courtney. Steven Greenhouse (@greenhousenyt) writes a must-read piece; it appears in The Guardian. Greenhouse is a labor correspondent for the New York Times.

What does the future hold for organics? Read our Q&A with organic policy expert Mark Lipson. For more than three decades, Mark has been intimately involved with the organic movement from the local to national level, as an organic producer, a researcher and an advocate. He has been extremely influential in shaping state and national policy surrounding organics, including certification standards. He weighs in on a number of topics, including the role of young farmers in the future of organics and the agricultural research enterprise.


Have a great day!