Sarah Laskow

Sarah Laskow is a journalist based in New York.

Recent Articles

No Land to Lease

New farmers inspired by the local and organic food movements can't find the real estate.

Even before they began looking for land, Cara Fraver and Luke Deikis had a name picked out for their farm. Quincy Farm, they imagined, would be within 200 miles of New York City and would grow organic vegetables, which they would sell at farmers' markets and to members of a community-supported agriculture group. They didn't know much about farming, but they were accomplished gardeners eager to work a plot larger than their Brooklyn backyard. Like many new farmers, Fraver and Deikis were drawn to agriculture by activist calls to reform the country's food system. They saw an opportunity to start a business that tapped into urban food markets for locally grown organic food. Between 2000 and 2008, sales of organic food have almost quadrupled according to industry sources, and by the end of that period, 4.1 million acres of U.S. farmland were growing USDA-certified organic crops. While the proportion of beginning farmers among all farm operators has declined more than 10 percent since the...

Spiking Obama on High Gas Prices

Ben Smith [has a story this morning]( ) about Americans for Prosperity's first whack at Obama on gas prices. This is Obama's most vulnerable flank as 2012 approaches, and the more the right can pound into people's heads that the president is responsible for high gas prices, the better off their candidates will be. AFP is arguing that Obama could salve gas pump pain by increasing opportunities for domestic drilling. That's an old tactic: Republicans in D.C. have been using it for months. But elsewhere in *Politico*, **Haley Barbour** presents [the more insidious version of AFP's argument]( ): it's not just that Obama could do more to lower gas prices, but that he wants them to be high. In fact, he loves high gas prices. In this version of the story, Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Obama's hippie friend from Berkeley, prize alternative energy so much,...

Government-funded art appreciation

When I lived in DC, one of my favorite things to do on a weekend was wander down to the Mall and walk through the National Gallery. Sometimes I'd stay 15 minutes; sometimes I'd stay for an hour. It didn't matter how long I stayed, because I didn't have to pay for admission. Now that I live in New York, I don't do that, because museums charge admission. Today the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that [it will raise its recommended admission price]( {F71BB7CE-EE24-449D-AB1E-537D1496669C}) to $25. "Recommended" means that visitors can pay whatever they want, but for me, at least, having a cashier ring up the ticket price automatically is fairly effective mechanism for extracting the recommended fee. Apparently other people are more resistant to that, though, because one of the reasons the Met cites for raising the recommended price is that, in this bad economy, visitors have been paying less at the door. Government funding...

Another Attack on Public Lands and Environmental Laws

Here's another example of how House Republicans are working to undermine not only the environmental integrity of public lands but the most basic environmental laws we've got. Yesterday, during a series of votes on the homeland security appropriations bill, the House approved an amendment , sponsored by Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), that took away DHS' ability to work with the Interior Department on cleaning up the damage that border patrol activity inflict. The amendment keeps DHS from transferring any funds to Interior for mitigating the Border Patrol's environmental impacts. On the floor, Republicans argued that money awarded to DHS should stay in DHS. But Lummis' statement on the amendment and a "dear colleague" letter circulated by House committee chairmen Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) and Rep. Peter King (R-NY) show what the amendment is really about: scorn for the value of the environment and the laws that protect it. These statements argue that Interior's silly environmental...

Record Rain and Snowmelt in the Missouri River

All along the Missouri river, residents and government agencies on all levels are preparing for flooding, and this, from The Wall Street Journal , is really incredible: Col. Bob Ruch, commander of the Corps's Omaha, Neb., district, said engineers had been releasing water from the reservoirs at a measured pace to clear way for snowmelt. But rains in eastern Montana over the last three weeks equaled a full year's normal total , he said, and "it filled up the space we created to take on the snowmelt, which still sits up in the mountains." The dam that the Army Corps of Engineers is using to control the water dates from 1957. It has transformed this impending flood into a slow-moving disaster, that could keep people from their homes for months, but that people can prepare for. It makes the flood a totally different sort of disaster from the tornado the struck Massachusetts, where Gov. Deval Patrick had to give a flash lesson in tornado preparedness. (Stay in the basement or in a bathroom...