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The Vegetable Detective

A molecular biologist is finding what could be dangerous levels of heavy metals in plants like kale, often called the “queen” of the vegetable kingdom. And they’ve shown up the most in organic varieties.

Story by TODD OPPENHEIMER
Photography by CLAIRE BLOOMBERG

Tips and Inspiration from England’s Great Dixter Gardens

Fergus Garrett, one of the world’s preeminent gardening experts, talks about the art of making fine gardens, and fine gardeners. His tips are drawn from his years managing Great Dixter House & Gardens, the famously gorgeous and uncommonly diverse set of gardens that lie just outside London.

By THOMAS C. COOPER

The Drought Fighter

On a frigid, eight-acre farm just outside downtown Sebastopol, Paul Kaiser has devised a hyper-intensive form of organic agriculture that is grossing more than $100,000 an acre. And, he believes, saving the planet at the same time. Yet a number of farming experts see trouble on his horizon.

By TODD OPPENHEIMER

A Perfect Note: The Soufflés of Café Jacqueline

Deep in San Francisco’s storied North Beach neighborhood, Jacqueline Margulis has been making soufflés for her café’s customers five nights a week for more than 40 years. Welcome to our story—and mini-documentary—on the only restaurant in the U.S. that specializes solely on this challenging but famously scrumptious symbol of French cuisine.

Film by PHOEBE RUBIN
Story by TODD OPPENHEIMER

Cuba’s Harvest of Surprises

More than two decades ago, a Cuban farming revolution that had nothing to do with ideology bore a bounty of fruit. What could the U.S. learn about sustainable agriculture from its much smaller neighbor?

By CHRISTOPHER D. COOK

The Hidden Powers of a Sheep

While the fashion industry continues to produce more and more clothing made from synthetics, with all their harmful effects, we’ve ignored the wonders of wool. The material is natural, durable, and endlessly renewable; more important, its creators (the sheep) can help regenerate the soil, along with the world’s drying, fire-prone landscapes. Fortunately, a wool revival seems to be underway.

By JUDITH D. SCHWARTZ

The Bug Whisperer

Mark Sturges doesn’t advertise and clients have to find him by word of mouth, but find him they do. He’s become a master of an agricultural art as old as agriculture itself: basic compost.

By KRISTIN OHLSON
Photography by MARK STURGES and KRISTIN OHLSON

The Craft of Sustainable Rice Farming

For generations, the Isbell family of Arkansas has been tinkering with innovations in rice farming. They were the first American farmers to grow elite varieties of rice for sushi and sake, and have pioneered rice cultivation methods that can conserve water and slow climate change.

Story by DAVID RAMSEY
Photography by KAT WILSON

The Human Cost of Recycled Cotton

Everyone in the fashion world wants to find a more sustainable, environmentally friendly way to make cotton clothing—or a benign (and equally comfy) alternative to it. In Scandinavia, an enterprising cadre of materials scientists is on the brink of succeeding. But almost no one appreciates these innovations’ social costs.

Story and photography by ALDEN WICKER

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