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A News21 food and health reporting project by UC Berkeley School of Journalism

Pastoral farm setting

VIDEO: Lost in Sprawl

Threatened by suburban development, a fourth-generation farmer documents his family's doomed legacy with time-lapse video.

When artist Matt Moore returned to his family farm outside Phoenix, signs of approaching suburbia were everywhere. Using time-lapse video, Moore captures his crops’ hidden lives, inviting viewers to reflect on the shrinking space for independent farmers. Continue reading

VIDEO: The (Open-Source) Ecologist

A farm run by DIY technologists aims to revolutionize agriculture.

Marcin Jakubowski traded in a promising career in nuclear fusion for a farm in Missouri, with a plan to radically decentralize agriculture. Using a DIY ethos and open source plans, this 2011 TED fellow is trying to re-engineer 40 important farm tools, creating a kind of Lego set for farmers anywhere in the world to build their own farming equipment with readily available materials. Continue reading

VIDEO: The Farm

Their idealism gave rise to the local and organic food movement.

Some stayed, most left. It’s been forty years since busloads of hippies caravanned to Tennessee to go “back to the land,” and create a commune — The Farm. The seeds they planted helped give rise to today’s organics movement. Continue reading

VIDEO: Farms, Lies and Videotape

Who gets to tell the story of America's largest livestock farms?

Iowa is ground zero for undercover investigations of livestock facilities by animal rights activists. It is also the first of four states to try to ban them. One former investigator goes public for the first time to offer a rare glimpse at how these videos are made, and what’s at stake for farmers, animals and consumers. Continue reading

VIDEO: GMOrganic, A Botanical Love Story

He's an organic farmer. She's a genetic engineer. They're married.

It seems like their professions put them on opposing sides of agriculture, but UC Davis Professor Pamela Ronald and her husband Raoul Adamchak share a vision: they believe genetic engineering is a tool to make farming more sustainable. Continue reading

A photo of patch-work farmland from Matthew Moore

Radishes in Suburbia

Documenting urban growth and the end of a family farm

Few cities epitomize suburban sprawl in the United States like Phoenix, Arizona. Over the last half century, the city has become the nation’s 6th largest metropolitan area, and with more than 4.1 million people, was one of the fastest growing until the housing collapse took some the wind from its sails.

Urban development nationwide has swallowed more than 23 million acres of agricultural land in the last quarter century. As a fourth-generation Arizona farmer, Matthew Moore is not the first to face the reality that one day soon, his family’s property will be completely engulfed by urban development. Continue reading

Pop art of farmworkers in a field

How Can We Keep the People Who Harvest Our Veggies Healthy Too?

Even though agricultural workers spend their days surrounded by fresh produce, obesity and diabetes are at epidemic levels in many farmworker communities. In one farmworker group where Schenker does research, 80 percent of people were overweight or obese. Other farmworker health surveys have drawn similar conclusions.

Multiple factors could be at play: Immigration often disrupts traditional diets and food culture, and farmworkers who work grueling hours for little pay may struggle to find the time or money to eat healthy foods. Continue reading

Will the EPA help doctors fight pesticide poisoning?

After years of running into this problem while treating orchard workers in Washington’s Yakima Valley, Keifer devised a solution: He wants the EPA to require chemical companies to provide tools that would detect human exposure to their products.

Proponents of the idea say it could help safeguard the health of some of the most vulnerable people in society — farm workers. Continue reading

VIDEO: The Disappearing Farmer

It's hard for the small farmer. It's harder when you're black.

Fresh collard greens and black-eyed peas. He brings these traditional foods to historically African-American neighborhoods. Who will take his place? Who will keep the farming tradition going when he retires? Continue reading