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Leslie Hatfield
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Leslie Hatfield is senior editor at the GRACE. The primary blogger and editor of Ecocentric, Leslie has also contributed to Edible Chesapeake and The Ethicurean, and served as lead author of the publication Cultivating the Web: High Tech Tools for the Sustainable Food Movement.

Originally from Washington State, Leslie earned her BA from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, and an MA in Public Communication from American University in Washington, DC. She lives in Brooklyn with her dog, Belle.

Entries by Leslie Hatfield

5 Types of People Who Should Care About Civil Eats, and Why

(2) Comments | Posted October 15, 2013 | 7:55 AM

If you haven’t yet given to Civil Eats, you should. Their Kickstarter campaign ends Friday at 4:51 Pacific. If they don’t raise the $100,000 that editors Naomi Starkman and Paula Crossfield – neither of whom has ever been paid for their work on Civil Eats – are seeking to be able...

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Damning New Study Demonstrates Harm to Animals Raised on GMO Feed

(19) Comments | Posted June 11, 2013 | 6:12 PM

Just when you thought the market for controversy over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) was completely saturated, a new study published in the Journal of Organic Systems finds that pigs raised on a mixed diet of GM corn and GM soy had higher rates of intestinal problems, “including...

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New Analysis of Wikileaks Shows State Department's Promotion of Monsanto's GMOs Abroad

(22) Comments | Posted May 20, 2013 | 11:50 AM

Back in December 2010, Wikileaks released thousands of cables between the US State Department and over 100 embassies around the world, some of which (about ten percent) shed light on the U.S. government's promotion of agricultural biotechnology abroad. The subject matter -- for those with a lot of time on...

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Too Big to Be Fair: Foodopoly (A Book Review)

(2) Comments | Posted January 10, 2013 | 12:35 PM

It was surely the first time squirtable cheese and Ritz crackers were served at the James Beard House.

Tuesday evening, the James Beard Foundation – famous for its focus on fine dining – hosted a book release party for Wenonah Hauter, executive director of DC-based watchdog group Food & Water Watch...

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Now With More Integrity: Chipotle Gets With the Fair Food Program

(3) Comments | Posted October 9, 2012 | 12:46 PM

On Thursday, Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill signed an agreement to join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers' Fair Food Program. Chipotle joins the ranks of McDonald's, Taco Bell, Whole Foods and Subway as the 11th company to join the program, which improves working conditions for farmworkers in a few major...

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Much Ado About Meatless Monday: Why the USDA Retraction Matters

(5) Comments | Posted August 1, 2012 | 6:09 PM

I came back to work after a two-week vacation last Thursday and couldn't miss the story about the USDA's internal endorsement for Meatless Mondays, then rapid reversal and resultant fallout, most of which read like an Onion article.

In case you missed it, here's what went down:


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All About Hot Dogs: Kosher Controversy, Label Confusion, Regional Flavors and More

(1) Comments | Posted July 3, 2012 | 10:34 AM

There is an old saying with many variations, the gist of which is, "Making laws and making sausages are both disgusting processes." The quote is often attributed to Otto Von Bismark, but according to Yale's Fred Shapiro (writing for the Times), it was actually lawyer-poet John Godfrey Saxe who...

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WATCH: Organic Farmers Sue Monsanto, Hundreds Converge in Support

(17) Comments | Posted February 21, 2012 | 1:47 PM

Late last month in downtown Manhattan, Judge Federal Court Judge Naomi Buchwald heard the first arguments in OSGATA et al. versus Monsanto, a groundbreaking lawsuit brought by The Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) on behalf of 83 farmer plaintiffs, who are "seeking court protection under the Declaratory Judgment Act, from Monsanto-initiated patent infringement lawsuits."

A lawsuit protecting against future lawsuits? Understandable, considering that Monsanto employs a fleet of lawyers and took 144 farmers to court between 1997 and 2010 and settled out of court with over 700 more. Laying aside the question of whether it is ethical to patent seeds in the first place -- let's assume some farmers have saved seed and should be brought to justice for doing so -- this suit seeks to protect farmers whose crops are contaminated by seeds or pollen drifting onto their land, in effect contaminating their crops, from being sued by the biotech giant (talk about adding insult to injury).

Across the street in Foley Square, chilly morning temperatures didn't stop several hundred from gathering in support of the farmers. In a citizen's assembly organized by Food Democracy Now, Occupy Big Food and Occupy Food Justice, attendees heard from environmental journalist Simran Sethi, permaculture expert Andrew Faust and others. Organizers also created an informative spectacle in the form of a human timeline of Monsanto's long, environmentally dubious history.

The OSGATA press release included statements from Dan Ravicher, lawyer for the plaintiffs:

"We were very pleased that the court granted our request to have oral argument regarding Monsanto's motion to dismiss our case today," said Daniel Ravicher of the Public Patent Foundation, lead lawyer for the Plaintiffs. "The judge graciously permitted both parties to raise all the points they wished in a session that lasted over an hour. While Monsanto's attorney attempted to portray the risk organic farmers face from being contaminated and then accused of patent infringement as hypothetical and abstract, we rebutted those arguments with the concrete proof of the harm being suffered by our clients in their attempts to avoid such accusations. The judge indicated she will issue her ruling within two months. We expect she will deny the motion and the case will then proceed forward. If she should happen to grant the motion, we will most likely appeal to the Court of Appeals who will review her decision without deference."

And from OGSATA president, Jim Gerritsen:

"Our lawyer did a good job explaining the current injustice farmers face. We have a right to be secure on our farms and to be free from Monsanto's GMO trespass. If we become contaminated by Monsanto, not only is the value of our organic seed crop extinguished but we could also be sued by Monsanto for patent infringement because their contamination results in our 'possession' of their GMO technology. We have farmers who have stopped growing organic corn, organic canola and organic soybeans because they can't risk being sued by Monsanto. It's not fair and it's not right. Family farmers need justice and we deserve the protection of the court."

After the hearing, the plaintiffs crossed the street to a heroes' welcome. Dan Ravicher addressed the crowd, as did several organic farmers involved in the suit, and Dave Murphy and Lisa Stokke, co-founders of Food Democracy Now! (who have gathered over 100,000 signatures in support of the plaintiffs). Lisa read a statement on behalf of Ecocentric Hero Joan Dye Gussow, professor of nutrition at Columbia University, longtime backyard gardener, outspoken critic of industrial agriculture and unofficial matriarch of the sustainable food movement. The statement Joan, who couldn't make it that day, contributed -- concise and powerful as ever -- is below.

We will report on the next chapter of this story after Judge Buchwald decides whether the case will move forward.

Statement of Joan Dye Gussow to the Citizens' Assembly of Support for Family Farmers

It's simple. I don't want the companies who've already poisoned the earth and our personal environments with clever chemicals to own the genes of our crop plants and use them to threaten our farmers. They have already proved that they can't be trusted with our future.

All organisms are embedded in ecosystems whose workings we only vaguely understand. Given the depth of our ignorance, it is shockingly risky to allow Nature to be treated as a Lego toy, replacing her parts at will. All the problems we predicted genetically-engineered organisms would create have occurred, insect resistance, weed resistance, toxic changes in the soil organisms. We have NO IDEA how much more Nature will tolerate.

Therefore, it is desperately important that farmers who wish to produce our food without genetically engineered seeds should be assured by law that they can do so. The law should eliminate the possibility that a farmer can be sued as the consequence of the uninvited trespass of GE organisms onto his or her farm. This suit must go forward in the courts. In the long run all our lives depend on it.

Originally published at

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Prince Charles Calls for a Greener Food System

(1) Comments | Posted February 15, 2012 | 12:44 PM

Advocates of locally sourced, sustainably produced food are often portrayed as elitists (most often by those with a vested interest in the agricultural status quo) and granted, it doesn't get much more elite than His Royal Highness Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales.

Last May, just a day...

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Summer's Coolest Culinary Trend: Invasive Species

(4) Comments | Posted July 14, 2011 | 10:21 AM

Last week, I attended an event at New York City's famous James Beard House that took me back to Yellowstone National Park.

Around this time last summer, I was on a tour boat on Lake Yellowstone with my family, where we learned that lake trout, a non-native species introduced...

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Growth, Interrupted: Teen Moms Fight to Save Innovative School (and Farm)

(0) Comments | Posted June 15, 2011 | 3:26 PM

Update: Just before today's scheduled rally, CFA supporters got word that the beloved school will remain open as a charter school. Congratulations to Miss Andrews, Nicole Conoway and all the students and supporters. More info here.

Once one of the wealthiest cities in the nation, today Detroit is...

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The Destruction and Rebirth of Joan Gussow's Famous Garden

(0) Comments | Posted March 22, 2011 | 11:07 AM

Originally published at Ecocentric, as part of the Our Heroes series.

Like many of the women I admire most, Joan Gussow has a bit of an edge to her. One gets the impression that she doesn't gladly suffer fools. But as an avid gardener and longtime...

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Who Will Fix Food? Obama? Walmart? You?

(6) Comments | Posted February 18, 2011 | 11:15 AM

A few weeks ago, when President Obama gave his State of the Union Address, food issue analysts and activists livetweeted the event, hungry for a few crumbs by which to make out the President's thoughts on the state of food policy. The crumbs were few and far between and...

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Don't Eat the Mutants: GE Salmon and New Seafood Guidance

(1) Comments | Posted October 27, 2010 | 11:42 AM

Originally published at Ecocentric.

Sustainable food advocates are still watching with bated breath to see whether the Food and Drug Administration will really push through the approval of AquAdvantage, a transgenic (read: genetically engineered) salmon for human consumption. Although industry - and the FDA, apparently - would have...

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This Labor Day, Will Trader Joe's Agree to Fair Food?

(9) Comments | Posted September 3, 2010 | 2:31 PM

Originally published at Ecocentric.

Two weeks ago, my coworker Karen and I left the office a little early and walked across Manhattan to the Trader Joe's store in Chelsea, where a small group had gathered making signs and chatting. Among them were members of the...

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A More Feminine Food System: Farmer Jane (a Book Review)

(5) Comments | Posted July 23, 2010 | 3:33 PM

Originally published at Ecocentric.

Let's try something. Picture for a moment, dear reader, a farmer. It doesn't have to be a farmer you know, assuming you are lucky enough to know a farmer. It could be a farmer you've seen on television, in a movie or read...

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Factory vs. Sustainable Pork Production: Two Videos, One Case for Transparency

(14) Comments | Posted July 14, 2010 | 3:06 PM

Originally published at Ecocentric.

Not many people would actually choose to get near a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO). In fact, lots of people spend lots of time trying to prevent such outfits from being built in their communities. But last fall, I jumped at the opportunity to...

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Free Your Picnic: Food Independence Day

(7) Comments | Posted July 1, 2010 | 12:30 PM

Originally published at Ecocentric.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Eating local food is patriotic.

The nation seems to grow ever more deeply divided about what that means, especially this last year, with the tea partiers insisting that the so-called liberal elite are not patriotic...

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A Motor City Farm and Must-See Cinema -- Grown in Detroit

(1) Comments | Posted June 22, 2010 | 1:50 PM

Grown in Detroit screens tomorrow at 2:30 pm at the AFSCME Building (600 Lafayette) at the US Social Forum in Detroit, and at the Detroit Windsor International Film Festival this week. The USSF screening will be followed by a question-and-answer period with filmmakers Mascha and Manfred Poppenk, Catherine Ferguson...

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Could Oyster Mushrooms Help Clean the Gulf?

(29) Comments | Posted June 2, 2010 | 5:51 PM

Is it just me, or have the days since the Deepwater Horizon explosion blew a hole into a pipe deep in the Gulf of Mexico, a catastrophe that has since been confirmed the worst oil spill in US history, played out like an extra dark episode of that Amy...

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