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Isabel Cowles
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Entries by Isabel Cowles

Just Food ... and a Few Hard Truths

(12) Comments | Posted September 28, 2010 | 10:52 PM

In the days of contaminated produce and factory-farmed meat, it's comforting to seek out simple, transparent food sources. But according to James McWilliams, author of Just Food, embracing a quaint relationship with what we eat often inhibits a necessary exploration of the challenges facing global sustainability. According to...

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You Are What You Eat: Are You Comfortable With That?

(70) Comments | Posted August 16, 2010 | 5:34 PM

How much do we need to learn about factory farms before we stop supporting them? The New York Times recently published a short article on the lives of 97% of laying hens in America--those raised in battery cages. According to the report, hens are allotted about 8"...

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Big Advancements for Little Environmentalists: Two Great Products for Eco-Babies

(5) Comments | Posted July 22, 2010 | 1:03 PM

In this world of carbon counting, it turns out that the smallest feet can have the biggest footprint. The thought dawned on me recently as I watched a friend wrap up her child's used diaper and place it in a trashcan, already half-filled with shiny, plastic lumps. Her sink brimmed...

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Protecting Animal Migrations

(3) Comments | Posted June 29, 2010 | 2:35 AM

If you've ever visited East Africa to see the Great Migration, you will have likely been struck by two things: first, a sense of wonderment as thousands of animals move in a faithful cycle across great expanses of uncharted land. Second, a concern that it will not continue. Currently 1.8...

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And God Created the Microbe...

(1) Comments | Posted May 26, 2010 | 12:19 AM

Dr. Venter's creation of life could not have come at a more appropriate moment: as a months' worth of gushing oil begins to shore up on the gulf, an increasing number of scientists and environmentalists have touted the efficacy of bioremediation in mitigating the damage caused by the BP spill....

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Bringing Nature Home: Fostering Biodiversity in Your Own Backyard

(3) Comments | Posted April 30, 2010 | 4:26 PM

Douglas Tallamy, lifelong bug lover, made a striking discovery in his yard a few years ago: he noticed that his ornamental plants were not attracting any bugs. The observation seems innocuous enough--especially since so many plants sold for beauty boast an adverse taste to "pests"--but it was actually an incredibly...

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Real Environmentalists Eat Meat

(153) Comments | Posted March 31, 2010 | 11:31 PM

There is a lot that excites me about the argument for vegetarianism, and by and large, it is a lifestyle I espouse--though I've learned to stay away from the pitfalls of nomenclature. I no longer call, or even consider myself a vegetarian, though for many years I was proud to...

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The Patriot Cooks

(3) Comments | Posted February 28, 2010 | 11:47 AM

Americans have done a lot of great things since our forefathers limned our democratic identity, but we've never collectively known how to eat. American culture developed fast, without centuries of agricultural subsistence to define our landscape and our habits. Unlike any other nation, we came of age in the post-industrial...

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When Yoga and Civilization Collide

(4) Comments | Posted February 1, 2010 | 4:48 PM

Last week's New York Times article, "When Yoga and Chakras Collide," threw the debate between yogis and civilization into relief. Essentially, the piece can be read to pose the following question: If we practice yoga, are we obliged to withdraw from society?

The article highlights the tension many...

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50 Nifty Ways to Green 2010

(0) Comments | Posted December 31, 2009 | 3:39 PM

Resolutions are easy to make and even easier to abandon. Righteousness gives way to guilt as my commitments fall by the wayside: disappointment clouds every February and leads me to reject my resolutions entirely in favor of a better year eleven months hence. It's a vicious cycle indeed. This year...

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Can New Urbanism Save America?

(8) Comments | Posted November 27, 2009 | 3:56 PM

Most of the public spaces that define the American landscape today foster a sense of loneliness, isolation and fundamental discontent -- at least according to New Urbanist Andrés Duany. Many cities and their surrounding suburbs have been constructed in such a way as to discourage public interaction, thereby engendering...

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Fat and Fated? The Changeable State of Low-Income Communities, Part III

(1) Comments | Posted October 28, 2009 | 4:10 PM

Despite the potential that farmers' markets and community gardens have for changing eating habits and consumer behavior, they need government support in order to succeed, especially in low-income communities and in neighborhoods where they have never existed. Unlike large-scale farms that receive massive government support, and whose output ends up...

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Fat and Fated? The Changeable State of Low-Income Communities, Part II

(0) Comments | Posted September 15, 2009 | 10:25 AM


It's not just finances and availability keeping low-income individuals from eating better food--though the two issues are undeniably at the heart of the problem. More complex still, is the urban and social structure upon which low-income neighborhoods are built: namely, the construction of urban landscapes and the...

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Fat and Fated? The Changeable State of Low-Income Communities, Part I

(3) Comments | Posted August 19, 2009 | 8:01 PM

Prevention is at the heart of the health care debate, but low-income and minority communities are often deprived of the nourishing options they deserve. Worse still, they're frequently blamed or held in contempt for the diseases that result. Needless to say, the health of all Americans has never mattered...

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Reclaiming America, Bite by Bite

(5) Comments | Posted June 10, 2009 | 2:25 PM

"Tell me what you eat and I'll tell you who you are." Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Food is everything, in the best of ways. It is what ties us to our friends and families, what holds us to our traditions and the planet, what keeps us coming together each day...

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Growing Life on the Family Farm

(1) Comments | Posted May 5, 2009 | 1:05 PM

Logan Scott, age 7, owes his life to a goat and a backyard garden. In 2006 Logan's parents, Aaron and Stephanie Scott, began a small experiment to save their son from a severe nutritional deficiency. A mere three years later, the Scotts have created their own small enterprise, "Southern...

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Nasty Habits of Food Network Celebrities

(19) Comments | Posted April 15, 2009 | 6:00 PM

Put away your tin foil, Giada de Laurentiis enthusiasts; lay down your many meats, Guy Fieri fans, and please, Sandra Lee watchers, resist buying all of the pre-packaged ingredients you can easily make on your own. Food Network viewers be warned: your favorite celebrity chef is encouraging wasteful, unhealthy behavior...

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What Alice Waters is Missing

(52) Comments | Posted March 25, 2009 | 3:34 PM

For decades, Alice Waters has commanded attention for her love of the freshest, most local food. Last week, her crusade was the focal point of national attention, as Michelle Obama finally agreed to plant an extensive vegetable garden at the White House.

If Ms. Waters is serious about...

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No Child Left Inside

(1) Comments | Posted March 11, 2009 | 5:12 PM

Contemporary education and global warming are critical issues and, according to journalist Richard Louv, they're two sides of the same coin. In his book, "Last Child in the Woods," Louv argues that the future of our planet, and our children, begins outdoors.

Louv's book explores the link between...

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The Land We Are

(1) Comments | Posted February 26, 2009 | 10:47 AM

I am not a native to the lone star state, but I've recently come to understand the old adage, "Don't Mess With Texas." While some non-Texans may associate this phrase with staunch federalist tendencies and a love of guns, the sentiment runs deeper than stereotypes, and is a concept we...

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