Why We’re Fat and Why To Buy Locally-Grown Food


From THE CONSUMERIST

Click Here To Enlarge
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Get Off The Fat Train That Features Chemical Industrial Food, and Get Healthy With Fresh, Locally Grown Organic Food

YOU’LL GET EXCEPTIONAL TASTE AND FRESHNESS
Local food is fresher and tastes better than food shipped long distances from other states or countries. Local farmers can offer produce varieties bred for taste and freshness rather than for shipping and long shelf life.

YOU’LL STRENGTHEN OUR LOCAL ECONOMY
Buying local food keeps your dollars circulating in our community. Getting to know the farmers who grow our food builds relationships based on understanding and trust, the foundation of strong communities.

YOU’LL SUPPORT ENDANGERED FAMILY FARMS
There’s never been a more critical time to support our farming neighbors. With each local food purchase, you ensure that more of your money spent on food goes to the farmer.

YOU’LL SAFEGUARD YOUR FAMILY’S HEALTH
Knowing where our food comes from and how it is grown or raised enables us to choose safe food from farmers who avoid or reduce their use of chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or genetically modified seed in their operations. Buy food from local farmers you trust.

YOU’LL PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT
Local food doesn’t have to travel far. This reduces carbon dioxide emissions and packing materials. Buying local food also helps to make farming more profitable and selling farmland for development less attractive.

BUYING LOCAL IS EASY
Our Farmers Markets are now opening year-round locally, our Co-op features locally-grown produce, and our CSA’s (here, here, and here) are serving up local organic abundance.

When we buy local food, we vote with our food dollar. This ensures that family farms in our community will continue to thrive and that healthy, flavorful, plentiful food will be available for local future generations.
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Local Slaughterhouses Come Back To Life


From SAMUEL FROMARTZ
Washington Post

HARRISONBURG, VA. — Huddled in a small pen in the slaughterhouse, the four sheep and two goats were quiet and still. A few men nearby in thick rubber aprons cut away at still-warm carcasses hanging on hooks.

“They don’t seem to know what’s going on,” a visitor remarked.

“Oh, they know,” one of the butchers replied. “They know.”

Maybe it was that awareness that led the men to work quietly and efficiently, dispatching each animal with a bolt shot to the head, until the last sheep, perhaps realizing that the flock was gone, began to bleat. Then she too fell silent.

So began the hard work of turning the animals into meat. The process is usually hidden from view, so that all consumers see is a steak or chop in a shrink-wrapped package. But at True & Essential Meats, one of about a dozen small slaughterhouses in the state that work with local farms, even school classes have visited the kill floor.

Co-owner and manager Joe Cloud, a 52-year-old former landscape architect from Seattle who bought the plant in mid-2008, welcomes visitors so they can see what’s at stake, for the eater and the eaten. “It is a slaughterhouse, but I’m not going to shrink from showing who we are and what we do,” Cloud said. “The industry has walled it off and is in a defensive crouch. I want to be different.”

Cloud is riding a wave of consumer demand for meat from local farms, which has burgeoned along with the rash of deadly E. coli food poisoning incidents, hamburger recalls and undercover videos about grossly inhumane practices at a few large plants. Prominent chefs, who work with farmers and processors like T&E to get high-quality meat, have also championed the products.

For farmers, the sales are alluring; they make more money per animal when they sell direct, even if these channels represent less than 2 percent of all meat sales…

More at Washington Post
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The Growing Movement for Publicly-Owned Banks


From ELLEN BROWN
WebOfDebt.com

As the states’ credit crisis deepens, four states have initiated bills for state-owned banks, and candidates in seven states have now included that solution in their platforms.

“Hundreds of job-creating projects are still on hold because Michigan businesses and entrepreneurs cannot get bank financing. We can break the credit crunch and beat Wall Street at their own game by keeping our money right here in Michigan and investing it to retool our economy and create jobs.”

–Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero in the Detroit News, May 9, 2010

Struggling with 14% unemployment, Michigan has been particularly hard hit by the nation’s economic downturn. Virg Bernero, mayor of the state’s capitol and a leading Democratic candidate for governor, proposes that the state relieve its economic ills by opening a state-owned bank. He says the bank could protect consumers by making low-interest loans to those most in need, including students and small businesses; and could help community banks by buying mortgages off their books and working with them to fund development projects.

Bernero joins a growing list of candidates proposing this sensible solution to their states’ fiscal ills. Local economies have collapsed because of the Wall Street credit freeze. To reinvigorate local business, Main Street needs a heavy infusion of credit; and publicly-owned banks could fill that need.

A February posting tracked candidates in five states running on a state-bank platform and one state with a bill pending (Massachusetts). There are now three more bills on the rolls – in Washington State, Illinois and Michigan – and two more candidates on the list of proponents (joining Bernero is Gaelan Brown of Vermont). That brings the total to seven candidates in as many states (Florida, Oregon, Illinois, California, Washington State, Vermont, and Idaho), including three Democrats, two Greens, one Republican and one Independent.

The Independent, Vermont’s Gaelan Brown, says on his website, “Washington DC has lost all moral authority over Vermont.” He maintains that:

“Vermont should explore creating a State-owned bank that would work with private VT-based banks, to insulate VT from Wall Street corruption,

Why Does Congress want me to Shun my Local Bookstore and Shop Online Instead?


From STACY MITCHELL
New Rules Project

Portland, Maine  —  It’s always a relief this time of year to find that my local bookstore has emerged from the crucial holiday retail season still standing. Longfellow Books, named after Portland’s famous 19th century poet, is the only bookstore selling new, general-interest titles left in this small city. I can hardly imagine getting through Maine’s long winter months deprived of its weekly author events or the pleasure of an hour spent browsing the latest staff picks. Longfellow Books nourishes Portland’s cultural life and also its economy. The store anchors a key downtown block, has helped many a budding local author, and provides a livelihood for six of my fellow Portlanders.

All of this makes it hard to understand Congress’s long-standing policy of steering customers away from Longfellow Books by providing a substantial financial incentive to shop at Amazon instead.

Like all bricks-and-mortar stores, Longfellow Books is required to collect Maine’s 5 percent sales tax. Amazon.com is not. Five percent is a titanic advantage in the thin-margined world of retailing. It’s worse in other states like California, where Amazon’s government-bestowed competitive edge rises to nearly 10 percent.

Over the years, there have been four primary arguments made in favor of this grossly inequitable policy.

The first one dates to 1992, when the U.S. Supreme Court, mindful that 45 states and thousands of local jurisdictions levy sales taxes, ruled that requiring a catalog company to collect taxes in states where it has no physical presence would impose too much of a burden on interstate commerce. The Court, however, explicitly opened the door for Congress to conclude otherwise, noting that “the ultimate power” to decide the issue rested with lawmakers.

Nearly 20 years later, technology has both radically expanded long-distance retailing and eliminated the concerns that underpinned the court’s decision.

Can’t Buy Me Love

From Telegraph.co.uk

Money can’t buy you happiness, economists find. Inhabitants of wealthy countries tend to grow more miserable as their economy grows richer, according to research.

Economists Curtis Eaton and Mukesh Eswaran found that while the richest people, such as footballers and bankers, could perk themselves up with a new pair of designer shoes or a sophisticated mobile phone.

However, the bulk of the population who were unable to afford the latest status symbols were left unhappier by their inability to keep up.

As countries become wealthier, more value is attached to objects which are not strictly necessary for comfortable living, the researchers claim.

People are then drawn into keeping up with the Joneses which results in less happiness for those who cannot afford the newest “must-have” items even if their wealth has increased.

The nation’s sense of “community and trust” can then be damaged which, in turn, can affect the wider economy, the experts argued.

Prof Eaton, of the University of Calgary, and Prof Eswaran, of the University of British Columbia, concluded that, beyond the point of reasonable affluence, greater riches can make a nation collectively worse off.

In their research, published in the Economic Journal, they said: “These goods represent a ‘zero-sum game’ for society: they satisfy the owners, making them appear wealthy, but everyone else is left feeling worse off.

“Conspicuous consumption can have an impact not only on people’s well-being but also on the growth prospects of the economy.”

The Canadian research follows in the footsteps of the 19th century Norwegian-American economist Thorstein Veblen.

Prof Veblen coined the term “conspicuous consumption” and said it was a method by which people seek to set themselves apart.
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Women’s History Month Celebrated In Ukiah Last Sunday (3/14/10)


Ukiah Poet Laureate Theresa Whitehill with honorees
Katarzyna Rolzinski, Molly Dwyer, and Peg Kingman

From ANNIE ESPOSITO
Ukiah

The Women’s History Month celebration in Ukiah was this Sunday (3/14). It’s a great tribute to originator Val Muchowski that the event is now in its 27th year.

This year’s honorees were local women authors Peg Kingman and Molly Dwyer, and women’s history scholar Katarzyna Rolzinksi.

Vivian Sotomayor Power presents Neil Bell with an appreciation
of his late wife Susan Bell, for her extensive help in the community

The Developing Virtue Girls’ School Orchestra
playing traditional Chinese instruments

Kingman talked about the fun of writing a novel – a piece of fiction.  She actually did do a lot of research around her new novel, “Not Yet Drown’d.”  She got a laugh by saying that research is her favorite form of procrastination. 

Take Action! Tonight Wednesday 3/17/10 City Council Meeting. Why don’t school austerity programs apply to the Board and Top Brass of the Ukiah Unified School District?


From AVA PETERSON
Redwood Valley

[We have laid off teachers, school closures, unfunded pensions, and budget pain. We have empty school buildings and other surplus buildings such as the former Montgomery Ward site. Yet the UUSD wants $3,000,000 for a brand new luxury Taj Mahal to house the school administration? "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." Stop this foolish waste of critical and needed resources! -DS]

Open Letter to the City of Ukiah Redevelopment Agency & the Ukiah Unified School District

RE: 1 ) The Request by the Ukiah Unified School District for Redevelopment Funds

2 ) The Transfer of Property from the City of Ukiah to the Ukiah Unified School District-Oak Manor Park

Ukiah Redevelopment Agency Meeting Date:  March 17, 2010 8:00 P.M. Ukiah City Hall

In a letter dated January 20, 2010, the Ukiah Unified School District requested that the Ukiah Redevelopment Agency approve $3,000,000 for construction of a new two-story District Administration Office at 925 North State Street, Ukiah, CA 95482. This idea should be defeated by the Ukiah Redevelopment Agency for the following reasons:

1 ) The Brush Street and Low Gap Road intersection is a bottleneck due to the lack of left hand turn signals at this location.  It is heavily used by the Mendocino County offices located on Low Gap Road and by Ukiah High School teachers and students who must use Low Gap Road to reach the high school or leave that area.

2 ) The parking at the UHS administration building is highly limited and the entrances and exits are difficult to negotiate during peak traffic times and when public meetings are held at the District office.

Seeing


From DON SANDERSON
Mendocino County

There are two ways to live your life:

One is as though nothing is a miracle;

The other is as if everything is.

I believe in the latter.

— Albert Einstein

Wondrous tales about the Australian Aborigines’ Dreamtime are often related. While I can provide no names or dates, I’ve been assured the following true. A certain anthropologist specialized in Aborigine culture. Some time ago, he went on a long walkabout with an Aborigine guide. Several years later, he heard unbelievable stories about an Aborigine tracker. When the anthropologist later met the man, he asked whether the tracker could follow the walkabout track he had earlier followed. The tracker said that he could and in fact did with great exactness. The amazed anthropologist asked how this was possible. It was easy, the tracker explained, he had simply walked beside the two men as they made their original traverse.

Australian Zoltan Torey “replaced the entire roof guttering of [his] multi-gabled home single-handed”. What alarmed his neighbors was that he did so in the middle of a dark night and he was and is blind. As he describes in his “Out of Darkness”, in 1951 when he was 21, he loosening the plug in a vat of acid at the chemical factory where he worked. In a moment, a flood of acid engulfed his face and he saw his last sparkle of light. Rather than lose memory of his sight, he determined to maintain a vivid imagination of the world about and constantly reinforce it with his remaining senses. Since, he understood that the imagination can run away with itself, Torey took pains to check the accuracy of his images by every means available. “I learned,” he writes, “to hold the image in a tentative way, conferring credibility and status on it only when some information would tip the balance in its favor.” Torey’s successes extended far beyond what sight would have provided. He became able “to imagine, to visualize, for example, the inside of a differential gearbox in action as if from inside its casing.”

The Big Banks want you back. Yeah, see you later Alligator…


From The New Rules Project

Those who wonder whether public anger at big banks and the Move Your Money sentiment sweeping the country is substantial enough to impact these giants need only look at the banks’ own marketing over the last few weeks to see the proof.

In a spate of new advertisements and PR maneuvers, the nation’s largest banks are working hard to win us back. They are, in effect, standing on our doorstep, flowers in hand, trying to convince us they’ve changed.

They’re using words like “local” and “community,” because they know quite well that there’s a rival for our affections. A recent Zogby poll found that nearly one in ten Americans had moved at least some of their business to small banks or credit unions.

One jilted lover, Citibank, has launched a blog devoted to showcasing the “new Citi.” The site, which Citibank is promoting through newspaper and magazine ads, features a video statement by CEO Vikram Pandit, who offers a few vaguely apologetic statements before detailing how Citi is a changed bank.

We’ve given up boozing and gambling, Citibank seems to be saying as Pandit assures us that the new Citi has embraced “a culture of responsible finance.”

In his opening post, Pandit describes this as a “new chapter” and invites us to participate in a conversation. “We promise we’re listening,” he writes.

So far, many of the user comments, which are moderated, appear to come from Citibank investors, but a few disgruntled customers have managed to get through. “What Cit has done to ‘help’ me in the last year: interest rate increase to 29 percent!” writes Peter. “I have never been late with a payment… [You have] a total lack of caring toward your customer base.”

Switching to Grass-Fed Beef


From TARA PARKER-POPE
NYT

[Just another way to keep us healthier and the cattle we eat healthier. Note that the proposed Mendocino feed lot/slaughter would be fattening cattle before slaughter as well as far as I know. -RP]

What’s the nutritional difference between beef from animals raised on grass compared with animals fattened in feedlots?

New research from California State University in Chico breaks it down, reviewing three decades of research comparing the nutritional profiles of grass-fed and grain-fed beef.

Over all, grass-fed beef comes out ahead, according to the report in the latest Nutrition Journal. Beef from grass-fed animals has lower levels of unhealthy fats and higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are better for cardiovascular health. Grass-fed beef also has lower levels of dietary cholesterol and offers more vitamins A and E as well as antioxidants. The study found that meat from animals raised entirely on grass also had about twice the levels of conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, isomers, which may have cancer fighting properties and lower the risk of diabetes and other health problems.

While the analysis is favorable to grass-fed beef, it’s not clear whether the nutritional differences in the two types of meat have any meaningful impact on human health. For instance, the levels of healthful omega-3s are still far lower than those found in fatty fish like salmon. And as the study authors note, consumers of grain-fed beef can increase their levels of healthful CLAs by eating slightly fattier cuts.

Grass-fed beef has a distinctly different and “grassy” flavor compared with feed-lot beef and also costs more. A recent comparison in The Village Voice cooked up one-pound grass-fed and grain-fed steaks. The grass-fed meat tasted better, according to the article, but at $26 a pound, also cost about three times more.

More at NYT
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See also Boosting Health With Local Food at NYT→

…and Grass-Fed Basics at EatWild→
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Again: Slaughter On The Farm With Mobile Units!


From CIVIL EATS

[As we have been advocating for several years, mobile units are the best alternative for local meat. We do not want a regional slaughterhouse that processes hundreds of animals a day to supply distant markets. That is a no-go. Rather, keep it small, decentralized, on the farms, and local. Compost the waste on the farms. Here is some history, and here is the answer for our local ranchers. Follow the links. Also, see Scott Cratty's comments below. -DS]

As supporters of sustainable food production, many of us know that finding an alternative to the industrial meat supply chain is difficult but by no means impossible.  For the typical sustainable meat buyer, when one thinks of local meat, he most likely pictures a ranch, and then a steak or pork chop.  Unless he is willing to do the work of slaughtering and processing the animal himself, his access to a local abattoir is as difficult to find as local beer without the brewery. This is the marketplace reality that many small-scale ranchers face today.

As the daughter of a former butcher, I recently asked myself how we got ourselves to large-scale meat processing and what our alternatives are. Giant feedlots that truck thousands of cattle to large-scale processing facilities have not always been the favored manner of putting steaks on plates in the U.S. Rapid consolidation in the U.S. meatpacking industry, starting in the late 1970s, greatly impacted the way meat began to be produced, packaged, sold and consumed in the U.S. Earlier, in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, there were many independently owned and operated meatpacking plants that catered to local customers within a few hundred miles of their facilities.

My parents operated one such plant just outside of Eugene, OR from 1980-86. They slaughtered about 100 head of sheep and cattle per week (primarily animals raised on our ranch) and sold the meat to restaurants and hotels in Oregon and Washington. 

The World of Community Supported Agriculture


From CHELSEA GREEN
Keynote for Urgenci Kobe Conference 2010, “Community Supported Foods and Farming”
February 22, 2010

All the way around the world in countries as diverse as the United States, Japan, France, China or Mali, people who farm and people who eat are forming communities around locally grown food. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), Teikei, AMAP, Reciproco, ASC – the names may be different but the essence is the same. Active citizens are making a commitment to local farms to share the risks and the bounty of ecological farming. Elizabeth Henderson at NOFA NY 2010A century of “development” has broken the connection between people and the land where their food is grown and in many countries, north and south, a few decades of free trade have driven family-scale farms to the point of desperation. A long series of food scandals – illnesses from food-borne pathogens, milk and other products contaminated with GMOs and chemical pollutants – have led to a crisis of confidence in imported foods from industrial-scale farms. CSA offers a return to wholeness, health and economic viability.

Human history abounds in examples of specific groups of non-farmers being connected with specific farms—the medieval manor, the Soviet system of linking a farm with a factory, or the steady attachment of particular customers to the stand of a particular farm at a farmers’ market. In Cuba today, all institutions are obliged to be self-sufficient in food, so companies and schools have farms or garden plots. But none of these is like the form of organization we refer to as CSA.

The modern CSA originated in Japan. In 1971, Teruo Ichiraku (1906–1994), a philosopher and a leader of agricultural cooperatives, alerted consumers to the dangers of the chemicals used in agriculture and set off the movement for an organic agriculture. Three years later, concerned housewives joined with farmers to form the first Teikei projects. That same year, Yoshinori Kaneko realized that his family farm, besides providing for the subsistence of his own family, could also supply other people… More at Chelsea Green
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Round 2


From DAVID ROUNDS
Ukiah

[A teachable moment. -DS]

To the editor:

Having read and studied Mark Albrecht’s and John Hendricks’ “Issues preference test,” in Sunday’s Journal, I’m inclined to give myself a grade of “Conservative, Republican.” But I have a few questions for clarification, just to make sure I’m understanding all the vocab on the test. Here goes!

Pro-life:

This is the one I had to work on first. I’ll admit it took me a minute or two. Everybody knows that being “pro-life” is a code-word for being against abortion, but sometimes women die in childbirth when abortions would have saved their lives. So sometimes pro-life means pro-the-opposite. Probably that explains why pro-life folks tend to support the idea that an unnecessary war can be good for the country — provided, of course, that it involves the death of a sufficient number of other people’s children. And, too, usually it’s the people who are pro-life who see no need for health care reform, because they know that if people without health insurance get sick or injured, there’s the comfort that death is always going to be right there ready for them. I put myself down as pro-life.

Rule of Law:

I’m certainly in favor of this one, because people who support the rule of law give thanks on bended knee once a month, as I do, for all the red-blooded American guys and gals out there who love to torture.

Rule-of-law folks like things to be official, and so that’s why they’re so totally behind the big new push to get beating up gay people adopted as an official Olympic sport.

Rule-of-law folks believe that terrorists should not be tried in open court because our criminal justice system is just too namby-pamby weak to handle this type of open-and-shut murder case. They also believe that when the founding fathers wrote in the Constitution that people accused of crimes had the right to a fair trial, they can’t have meant to include everybody.

Ban The Billboards! Go Phil!!!


From The Ukiah Daily Pablum

City Council urges Supes to ban billboards in the Ukiah valley area

The Ukiah City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to call on the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to ban new billboards along the Highway 101 corridor that runs through the county and past the city.

Councilman Phil Baldwin called the number of billboards along the portion of the highway that borders the city “embarrassing,” and brought the issue to the council for discussion.

He said there are 27 billboards along Highway 101 between Hopland and Highway 20, compared to fewer than 10 along the 101 in Sonoma County, and only 10 along Interstate 5 through all of Oregon.

Baldwin noted that Ukiah banned billboards 40 years ago, and has only one inside city limits, but travelers passing through the Ukiah Valley on Highway 101 see “several dozen” CBS and Stott billboards.

“And while these huge placards aren’t in the city, out-of-towners and locals associate this shameless blight with Ukiah,” Baldwin wrote in his letter to his fellow councilmembers.

The city wrote a letter to the Board of Supervisors in 2000 asking the body to “become more rigorous in its efforts to protect the Highway 101 corridor,” but did not ask for an outright ban on new billboards, according to Baldwin.

Baldwin said the state and courts made it very difficult for local jurisdictions to get rid of existing billboards, but haven’t limited local government’s authority to ban new billboards.
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From ROSALIND PETERSON

Congratulations to the Ukiah City Council for urging the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to Ban Billboards in the Ukiah Valley Area. In addition, Mendocino County should ban unsightly billboards throughout our county as many are unsightly, rusting, illegal with new width and height increases, and even advertise for making purchases outside of the County.

Pigs


From BILL MOYERS & MICHAEL WINSHIP
Common Dreams

Living in these United States, there comes a point at which you throw your hands up in exasperation and despair and ask a fundamental question or two: how much excess profit does corporate America really need? How much bigger do executive salaries and bonuses have to be, how many houses or jets or artworks can be crammed into a life?

After all, as billionaire movie director Steven Spielberg is reported to have said, when all is said and done, “How much better can lunch get?”

But since greed is not self-governing, hardly anyone raking in the dough ever stops to say, “That’s it. Enough’s enough! How do we prevent it from sweeping up everything in its path, including us?”

Look at the health care industry saying to hell with consumers and then hiking premiums — by as much as 39% in the case of Anthem Blue Cross in California. According to congressional investigators, over a two-year period Anthem’s parent company WellPoint spent more than $27 million dollars for executive retreats at luxury resorts. And in 2008, WellPoint paid 39 of its executives more than a million dollars each. Profit before patients.

This week, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the health insurance industry’s lobby, announced they’d be spending more than a million dollars on new television ads justifying their costs.

Speaking at their annual policy meeting in Washington — and without a trace of irony — AHIP’s president and CEO Karen Ignagni declared, “The current debate about rising premiums has demonstrated that, in fact, we have a health care cost crisis in this country. Unfortunately, the path that has been followed is one of vilification rather than problem solving.”

Beg pardon? You’re lamenting a health care cost crisis and raising your premiums? Isn’t that like the guy complaining there’s an obesity epidemic in America while ordering a double Big Mac with extra fries?

An Oscar for America’s Hubris


From ROBERT SCHEER
TruthDig
Thanks to Sean Re

What a shame that the one movie about the Iraq war that has a chance of being viewed by a large worldwide audience should be so disappointing. According to press reports, members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finally found a movie about the Iraq war they liked because it is “apolitical.” Actually, “The Hurt Locker” is just the opposite; it’s an endorsement of the politically chauvinistic view that the world is a stage upon which Americans get to deal with their demons no matter the consequence for others.

It is imperial hubris turned into an art form in which the Iraqi people appear as numbed bystanders when they are not deranged extras. It is a perverse tribute to the film’s accuracy in portraying the insanity of the U.S. invasion—while ignoring its root causes—that the Iraqis are at no point treated as though they are important.

They never have been, at least in the American view. No Iraqi had anything to do with attacking us on 9/11, and while we are happy to have an excuse to grab their oil and deploy our bloated military arsenal, the people of Iraq are never more than an afterthought. Whatever motivates Iraqi characters in the movie to throw stones or blow themselves up is unimportant, for they are nothing more than props for a uniquely American-centered show. It is we who matter and they who are graced by our presence no matter how screwed up we may be.

Indeed, the only recognition of the humanity of the people being conquered comes in a brief glimpse of a young boy, a porn video seller, the one Iraqi whose existence touches the concern of the film’s reckless soldier hero…

More at TruthDig
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Eco-Grain? 100% Natural? Saving The Earth? Better Than Organic? Phony Balony!



From MICHAEL LAYBOURN
Hopland

I was reading National Geographic this morning and noticed an ad the featured something called Eco Grain. “What in tarnation is Eco Grain?” the headline said.

Well, according to the ad, it is grown on special farms in Idaho “thanks to a more sustainable farming approach.”

Sounds good to me, I thought, I might get some of this Earthgrain bread. But, wait, maybe I should check this out a little more carefully.

What an ad, tailored for those eco libs that read National Geographic: “The Eco Grain Movement is starting small, but with your help won’t stay that way. ..You’re probably going the store anyway, so why not do a good deed while you’re at it? By simply buying our…. “ “So do the earth a favor…”

I decided to look up this eco grain phrase and found this, by Barry Shlachter:

Sara Lee’s EarthGrains brand has launched an “environmentally friendly” line of bread with a marketing blitz that describes itself as a “plot to save the earth, one field at a time.”

Who Broke America’s Job Machine?


From NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION
Thanks to Thom Hartmann Program

Why creeping consolidation is crushing American livelihoods.

[As mentioned in the video discussion - see below - the original Tea Party was NOT an anti-tax rebellion; it was an anti-monopoly rebellion. To create jobs, we  must first down-scale, de-centralize,  de-monopolize and de-privatize, because that is where all our jobs have been killed. Jimmy Carter broke up AT&T. Obama needs to enforce the law that Ronald Reagan and those after him stopped enforcing, and breakup these monsters that gobble up more and more companies and common wealth as they fire workers and deprive small business entrepreneurs of capital and markets. Start with the hideous Big Box slave emporiums and Food  monopolists so locals have some breathing room to innovate. -DS]

If any single number captures the state of the American economy over the last decade, it is zero. That was the net gain in jobs between 1999 and 2009—nada, nil, zip. By painful contrast, from the 1940s through the 1990s, recessions came and went, but no decade ended without at least a 20 percent increase in the number of jobs.

Many people blame the great real estate bubble of recent years. The idea here is that once a bubble pops it can destroy more real-world business activity—and jobs—than it creates as it expands. There is some truth to this. But it doesn’t explain why, even when the real estate bubble was at its most inflated, so few jobs were created compared to the tech-stock bubble of the late ’90s.

Pasta and Beans


From Culinate.com

Have you tried this Italian staple?

Whether pasta e fagioli — literally, pasta and beans — is an Italian soup with pasta in it or a pasta sauced with beans is a matter of proportion and preference. I like it as a soup thick with beans and pasta.
Featured recipes

* Pasta e Fagioli alla Fiorentina
* Pasta e Fagioli alla Veneta
* Pasta and Bean Soup (Pasta e Fagioli)

The notion of two starches combining to become an Italian staple at first seems difficult to fathom. But try pasta e fagioli. This dish of modest ingredients is capable of providing great pleasure and satisfaction.

Creamy beans give way to pasta’s toothsome give. Seasonings of aromatic rosemary, tangy tomato, garlic, and sometimes pancetta or prosciutto infuse the mellow beans. As they cook, the beans exude a silky broth that absorbs garnishes of green olive oil and Parmesan cheese.

When I want to make soup into a one-dish dinner, I turn to pasta e fagioli. Its ingredients are easy to find or make substitutions for. Its bean-and-grain combo provides a vegetarian protein. Making it can be as easy as simmering cannellini beans with garlic, tomato, and rosemary, and then cooking a short, hollow pasta such as tubetti or macaroni in the beans.

When I want vegetables, too, I serve bowlfuls with a small pile of garlicky sautéed greens on top. Kale, dandelions, or broccoli rabe are good choices. I have also added cubes of the last of the winter squash to the simmering beans, with rich results.

The only deal-breaker to making a decent pasta e fagioli is that you have to begin with dried beans. There is no way around this…

More at Culinate
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Why Eating Meat-Shaped Vegetarian Food Is Like Having Sex with a Blow-up Doll


From ANNELI RUFUS
AlterNet

We’re living in a time when you can eat fake meat that tastes so real you’d swear an animal had to die for it.

It’s not meat, but it looks like meat.

It’s not meat, but it tastes like meat.

It’s not meat, but it feels like meat.

It’s not meat, but the more it looks and tastes and feels like meat, the more eating it is like having sex with rubber blow-up dolls: Both are the simulacra of primal adventures for which we are born and built. For very different reasons, in each case we choose the version without flesh and blood.

One skill that sets apart our species from all others is counterfeiture: We excel at fashioning imitations, simulations, analogues. Whatever we don’t or can’t — or tell ourselves that we don’t or can’t — possess, we make a fake to replicate. We are so good at this as to have changed the very meaning of reality. So just as sex with blow-up dolls — and, to be all-inclusive, latex rods — is sex, and sounds and feels and looks (just squint) like sex, fake meat is real. It’s real fake meat.

When we quit eating animals, why keep eating what looks/tastes/feels like animals? What is it that we still yearn for from meat, about meat, in fake meat? Lifetimes of barbecues and baseball games and beach parties and holidays have programmed our nostrils to flare at the sweet-salt smell of seared fat before our consciences kick into gear and holler No. When bacon curls, our salivary glands perk up unbidden, just like being publicly aroused in middle school. When we choose fakes, what battles rage inside our bodies and our heads?

More at AlterNet
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Locavores – Eating Local


From JEFF COX
Organic To Be

You hear a lot about eating locally these days. It’s one of the three pillars of eating correctly: 1) eat organic; 2) eat local; 3) eat in season. And all three pillars are important. But let’s take a closer look at “eat locally.” Let’s see what that really means, and why that’s such a good idea. And why, in the final analysis, it may be the most important pillar of them all.

Some aspects are obvious. When we eat locally produced food—grown within our local “foodshed,” as the current argot has it—we shorten the supply line from farm to table. Less gasoline or diesel fuel is used to transport the food from where it’s grown to where it’s bought and consumed. That means less air pollutants from fossil fuels and less carbon dioxide is pumped into the atmosphere on behalf of moving the food to market. So, eating locally produced organic food lessens the amount of greenhouse gases used to produce and transport that food.

Eating locally means supporting local farmers. This means keeping local family farmers on their land. Wendell Berry has written eloquently about the social benefits of strong, local farm economies. They translate into strong local communities. And they are the soil from which real democracy grows. Instead of being cogs in a massive production machine, family farmers are their own bosses. They are people who can voice their honest opinions without fear of losing their jobs. They can tell the truth, and the truth is contagious. It also sets us free.

Family farmers are also locally-focused, practical ecologists and environmentalists. Their environmentalism is not based on ideology, but on an intimate knowledge of the land under their care. They know where the pheasants and the quail lay their eggs, and can protect those spots…

More at our companion blog OrganicToBe.com
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The Fate of Books After the Age of Print



From TRUTHDIG
Thanks to Sean Re

Is the printed book on its way to extinction? Will the e-book win the day? Will writers be able to make a living? Will publishers? Will booksellers? Will there be any readers? Is there life after the Age of Print? The new order is fast upon us, the ground shifts beneath our feet, and as the old sage put it, all that is solid melts into air. What will the future bring?

The only thing we can know for certain, of course, is the past—and even the past is notoriously elusive and discloses its truths in fragments whose meanings provide fodder for endless speculation and debate. The present is a vexing blur, its many parts moving too swiftly to be described with consensual accuracy. As for its significance, or what it portends, only the future can render a credible verdict. The future is, famously, an undiscovered—and unknowable—country.

That has not stopped the avatars of the New Information Age. For these ubiquitous boosters, the future is radiant. For them, the means of communication provided by digital devices and ever-enhanced software will democratize publishing, empower those authors whose writings have been marginalized by or, worse, shut out of mainstream publishing, and unleash a new era of book commerce. E-books, they insist, will save an industry whose traditional methods of publishing have been challenged by the new technological forces now sweeping the globe. Robert Darnton, one of our more sober and learned historians of reading and the book, believes that the implications for the ecology of writing and reading, for publishing and bookselling—indeed, for literacy itself—are profound.

More at TruthDig
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