The Costs and Problems of Community (Update 2)

Via Energy Bulletin
[Sharon Astyk’s response below]

The point to be made in this week’s post is a bit complex, and I hope that my readers will have the patience to read through an apparently unrelated story that leads to it. A few years back, I researched and wrote a book on the UFO phenomenon, somewhat unimaginatively titled The UFO Phenomenon. It was an intriguing project, not least because the acronym “UFO” has all but lost its original meaning – something seen in the sky that the witnesses don’t happen to be able to identify – and become a strange attractor for exotic belief systems that fuse the modern myth of infinite progress with archaic religious visions of immanent evil and apocalyptic renewal.

Behind the myths, though, I noted the intriguing fact that the “alien spacecraft” of each decade had quite a bit in common with whatever secret aerospace projects the US military was testing at that time. From the round silver shapes of the late 1940s, when high-altitude balloons were the last word in strategic reconnaissance, to the black triangles of the early 1980s, when stealth planes were new and highly secret, the parallels were remarkable, as was the involvement of the US military in fostering the UFO furore. While plenty of things fed into the emergence of the UFO mythology, it seems pretty clear that this mythology was used repeatedly for the kind of strategic deception the Allies used to bamboozle the Germans before D-Day, to provide cover for secret aerospace projects in the US and elsewhere, not to mention plenty of less exotic situations where it was inconvenient to talk about who was flying what in whose airspace.

Michelle Obama’s Food Rules


[Draft Michelle Obama For President 2012. C’mon, really! -DS]

Making sense of food, from processed sugar to homegrown sweet potatoes…

Over the last year, First Lady Michelle Obama has told the world a lot about her personal and family food guidelines, during the course of many interviews, speeches, and remarks, and while planting and harvesting the White House Kitchen Garden. Bestselling author Michael Pollan has just published Food Rules, a tome on eating boundaries, and there’s much overlap with Mrs. Obama’s platform. Both sets of rules embroider and expand on Pollan’s now-famous mantra from his earlier book, In Defense of Food: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” And both sets of food rules highlight gustatory pleasure, too. Mrs. Obama does not yet have her own book on the topic, so herewith, a collection of her food rules. Taken as a whole, they make perfect sense, especially because Mrs. Obama has said that “being First Lady is like the icing on the cake of helping other people.”

Michelle Obama’s Food Rules

1. No child in the United States of America should ever go to bed hungry, and no family in this country should have to worry that they won’t have food on the table.

2. We need to educate kids about the need for healthy eating.

3. We eat dinner together as a family.

4. Vegetables and fruits are not the enemy; it is the power to a good future.

Loco Food

The Contrary Farmer

Out here in the flatland corn forests of the Midwest, we boast that we have the localest food in the country. Some of it never travels farther than 200 feet, the average distance between barn and house.

Souse is one such delicacy. If you don’t know about souse you are a mere fledgling in the world of local foods. If you do know about it, you may refer to it more often as loco food. You can find out about it in cookbooks, but I can save you the time. Souse is the inedible parts of a hog cooked to a gelatinous mass that has the consistency and taste of Vaseline washed in vinegar. If it is not a local food where you live, count your blessings.

Blood pudding is another loco food still made in our county. Some cookbooks have recipes for it but none of them tell the whole story. Frontier farmers eking out a living before giant tractors were discovered in the primeval forests invented this savory dish. It consists of everything in or on a razorback hog that can’t be eaten until one is near starvation. After surviving on the stuff in one’s youth, old timers keep forcing it on younger generations out of loyalty to the past. Younger generations, worried about the future of mankind, have been known to make blood pudding disappear on the way from barn to the kitchen. It goes from barn to doghouse, ten feet away, making it the grand champion of all local foods.

If you are a locavore, be thankful you don’t live in Kentucky. A local dish where my wife grew up is called Kentucky oysters…

Complete article at The Contrary Farmer

Redefining Prosperity: Energy Descent and Community Resilience

Report of the Bloomington, Indiana Peak Oil Task Force
Via Energy Bulletin

[Where’s OUR Task Force?! -DS]

On December 5, 2007, the Bloomington Common Council passed Resolution 07-16: Establishing a Bloomington Peak Oil Task Force (PDF 12.21 KB). Sponsored by Councilmember Dave Rollo, the purpose of the Task Force is to assess Bloomington’s vulnerability to changing energy markets and to develop researched and prudent strategies to protect our community.

The City of Bloomington first formally recognized that the City must begin preparing for peak oil in July 2006, with the adoption of Resolution 06-07: Recognizing the Peak of World Petroleum Production (PDF 10.19 KB). With the support of the Mayor, the Environmental Commission and the Commission on Sustainability, the Task Force shifts this recognition to action.

It is widely acknowledged that the global supply of petroleum is finite and that production will peak at the mid-point of extraction and decline thereafter. With most forecasts locating peak production within the next 14 years and a report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy advising that communities implement mitigation strategies at least 15-20 years in advance of peak oil to offset and largely avoid the implications of a liquid fuels shortage, Rollo states that now is the time to start planning for a community shift away from reliance on petroleum and other fossil fuels.

Bill Maher: You don’t have to stay in a loveless, abusive relationship with your big bank. Move your money.


Bringing Down The Monster

How To Save The World

…So to change “the system” it is not sufficient to persuade a majority of the people who work within it (up and down the hierarchy) that a change is needed and appropriate. Like Frankenstein’s monster, “the system” has enormous inertia when you want it to start moving somewhere new, and enormous momentum when you want to stop it or shift its direction. As Clay Christensen has written, the larger a corporation gets, the less capable it becomes of any innovation whatsoever, and the same is true for other types of institution.

So what can be done about it? How do we “bring down the monster” if persuasion and democratic means, even when available, will inevitably be ineffective? If changing “them” isn’t enough, how do we change “it”?

Perhaps the first thing we need to do is to get past the “pathetic fallacy” and realize that this “monster” has no human attributes. It is not capable of feeling or morality or judgement…

Complete article here
See also Jack London’s Credo and Bioregionalism

Save the Internet from Corporate Control: You have until Thursday at midnight…

Huffington Post
Thanks to Rosalind Peterson

How much have you already used the Internet today?

We don’t think twice about how much we rely on the Internet. Imagine not being able to map directions on Google or check the weather online. A business that doesn’t have a Web site? Forgettable. Or rather, unsearchable. Remember when we didn’t have e-mail? Would you want to go back to those Dark Ages? Me neither.

The Internet is in the very fabric of how we communicate, learn, shop, conduct business, organize, innovate and engage. If we lost it, we’d be lost.

But did you know that we’re at risk of losing the Internet as we know it? Millions of Americans don’t know that a battle over the future of the Internet is being played out right now in Washington. How it ends will have deep repercussions for decades to come.

On one side are public interest and consumer groups, small businesses, Internet entrepreneurs, librarians, civil libertarians and civil rights groups who want to preserve the Internet as it is – the last remaining open communications platform where anyone with access and a computer can create and consume online content.

Right now a film student in Idaho can upload a video the same way a Hollywood movie studio can.

The Most Idiotic Thing I’ve Read This Decade

Daily Kos
Thanks to Janie Sheppard

Well, I’ve found a frontrunner for “The Stupidest Article of the Decade” award. Oh, I’m sure it won’t win overall because we’ve got most of 10 years to go and lots of rightwing publications all competing for the title, but allow me to share with you the stupid article that was published in The Atlantic this week…

It’s a piece slamming school gardens and Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard specifically. They begin by painting a picture of a migrant laborer coming to the U.S. to give their child a better life, enrolling them in a wonderful American school, only to have the kid waste his or her school day picking vegetables. They go on to say:

The cruel trick has been pulled on this benighted child by an agglomeration of foodies and educational reformers who are propelled by a vacuous if well-meaning ideology that is responsible for robbing an increasing number of American schoolchildren of hours they might other wise have spent reading important books or learning higher math (attaining the cultural achievements, in other words, that have lifted uncounted generations of human beings out of the desperate daily scrabble to wrest sustenance from dirt).

I’m sorry but you cannot get it any more wrong than that. I’ve been gardening with my boyfriend’s kids for a few months now and the amount of science (not to mention language, history, and math) they have learned from our adventures in the garden is unbelievable.

Costco Stupidity


Do we really want to default into a future that delivers 30 square feet of retail space per capita?  How about 40?  Does a shopper in the US really need more than six times as much retail shopping space as someone in Europe?  How much is ‘too much?’

The heroic efforts to sustain that way of life could well have something to do with the fact that so many people have a sinking feeling in their stomachs that we are on the wrong track.

The challenge at any great turning point in history is recognizing that the landscape has fundamentally shifted.  For my part, I am so certain that the Aughts [2000-2009] cannot be recreated in letter or spirit that I am not at all interested in playing the stock market or fiddling around with bond funds, both of which are trading at levels that explicitly assume the Aughts are coming back.

They are not.

It’s a different future that awaits.  Not necessarily worse, but certainly involving a whole lot less stuff bought on credit.  Some will interpret this as a distressing decline in living standards, but for those who can shift their perception, this will be an exciting time of transformation from a culture of consumption to something far more satisfying and lasting.

Dave responds to Tommy Wayne Kramer’s scurrilous attack


Letter to the UDJ Editor:

Closet Environmentalist

Can one truly say they have “arrived” in Mendocino County unless they have been called out and made fun of by columnist Tommy Wayne Kramer? After living in and out of the Mendocino County for over 20 years, yes, I’ve finally arrived. In the Sunday paper (Building a Skatepark with SOLE?, Ukiah Daily Journal 1/10/2010), I was smeared as an environmentalist and S.O.L.E. (Save Our Local Economy) fellow traveler by this man, and lumped in with Eddie Bauer wannabes, Prius drivers, and Evian slurpers. I suppose he also thinks I walk to work, bicycle to the Co-op, and watch birds in my free time!

This is the height of hypocrisy! I’ve seen this guy walking around town like other environmentalists do so they won’t contribute to global warming or peak oil. Oh, you may say he’s just skulking around looking for something to make fun of, but no… I’ve seen him stop and look up into trees! There ain’t nothing up in a tree to make fun of. He’s looking at birds!

Recently, I saw a man coming towards me with his hoody up over his head and as he drew closer I saw it was Tommy Wayne. As I turned to watch him pass, sure enough, printed on the back was “100% Organic Cotton!”

This guy has got to cop to his secret life, or we can never again trust the journalistic integrity of this newspaper.

A great, short, inspiring video about a local town’s future

From Transition Manchester in Vermont

Transition Town Manchester, Vermont – Manchester 2020 Vision video

Everything this farmer does is illegal


The problems associated with the way we’ve chosen to feed our population include food borne pathogens from robust strains of antibiotic resistant pathogens, diabetes, obesity, water pollution, increased green house gasses, and a general disconnect between ourselves and real food. We wander the grocery store, reaching for whatever processed corn product we feel most suits our appetite. The source of our meals is more often the factory than the farm.

Still, we idealize the pastoral. We imagine the farmer on his beat-up tractor, or smiling happily as he feeds his livestock, or walking through his golden fields of waving grain. But anymore, the small farm is rarity. We may not see it in Portland, where we can find a farmers market ever single day of the week for most of the year. We may take it for granted that we’ve been able to develop a regional system of small farms supported by a healthy community. This is truly an agricultural Shangri-la. The majority of America is not so lucky.

Enter Joel Salatin and Polyface Farms. Salatin is an outspoken agriculture revolutionary with designs to redeem our food system. His farm has become a symbol for a new way of growing food. Well, not actually a new way. Salatin has discovered that the best way to farm the land and feed the community is to do exactly what nature has been doing for millions of years.

Man Gets Life In Order For 36 Minutes


Briefly overcoming a near-continuous streak of disorganization, area man Terry Oberlin, 37, got his life together for exactly 36 minutes, sources confirmed Monday.

According to family reports, Oberlin’s bills for the month were paid, the living room was vacuumed, the dishes from dinner were all washed and put away, and the father of two was sitting in his favorite chair in the living room without a single thing in his life out of place.

“It was nice to get some chores out of the way,” Oberlin told reporters later, acknowledging that for more than half an hour he experienced no regrets, despair, or frustration of any kind. “Felt really good.”

The crucial worry-free period reportedly began at 7:50 p.m., when Oberlin took the garbage out to the curb and then returned to the house, where his back, which had been bothering him all day, finally cracked back into alignment. Upon entering his kitchen, he spotted a month-old magazine sitting on the counter where it didn’t belong, and dropped it into the garbage.

At that precise moment, sources said, Oberlin achieved a state of total order in his life.

Witnesses indicated that upon entering into his relaxed state, Oberlin—who had no e-mails to respond to and was finally caught up with everything at the office—spent a full 90 seconds staring quietly at nothing in particular, and then approximately 8.5 minutes paging leisurely through the evening newspaper.

more at The Onion

Today’s Scripture


We Don’t Need This Culture of Overwork

The London Independent
Via Energy Bulletin

This year, we all need to become more like Utah, under its Republican governor – and then go further. No, dear reader, don’t panic – I have not converted to Mormonism, nor have I tossed out my sanity with my old Santa hat and Christmas decorations. The people of one of the most conservative states in the US have stumbled across a simple policy that slashes greenhouse gas emissions by 13 percent, saves huge sums of money, improves public services, cuts traffic congestion, and makes 82 per cent of workers happier. It can do the same for us – and point to an even better future beyond it – without the need for the Arch-Angel Moron (yes, Mormons really do believe in him) to offer his blessing.

It all began two years ago, when the state was facing a budget crisis. One night, the new Republican Governor Jon Huntsman was staring at the red ink and rough sums when he had an idea. Keeping the state’s buildings lit and heated and manned cost a fortune. Could it be cut without cutting the service given to the public? Then it hit him. What if, instead of working 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, the state’s employees only came in four days a week, but now from 8 to 6? The state would be getting the same forty hours a week out of its staff – but the costs of maintaining their offices would plummet. The employees would get a three-day weekend, and cut a whole day’s worth of tiring, polluting commuting out of their week.

He took the step of requiring it by law for 80 per cent of the state’s employees. (Obviously, some places – like the emergency services or prisons – had to be exempted.) At first, there was cautious support among the workforce but as the experiment has rolled on, it has gathered remarkable acclaim. Today, two years on, 82 per cent of employees applaud the new hours, and hardly anyone wants to go back. Professor Lori Wadsworth carried out a detailed study of workers’ responses, and she says: “People love it.”

TV is a Stalking Horse (Updated)

From Possum Living
A seventies classic updated

Television is like a loud salesman in your living room. Sometimes he’s interesting, frequently he’s embarrassing, and always he’s trying to sell you stuff.

The whole purpose of mainstream TV [including the “news” -DS] is to get you to buy things — not to entertain you or teach you or make you feel you belong, but to get you to spend money. Think about it: millions and millions of dollars and thousands and thousands of hours of man power put in by clever people just to get you, personally, to buy stuff. They will resort to almost anything  to accomplish this. They will make you feel you are inadequate, a failure, a bad parent, incomplete; they will use any method and pander to your basest instincts to get you to spend money. Just like most of the people on TV are better looking than you are, most of the homes, cars, possessions are better than yours. This will affect you even though you swear it doesn’t. And if they can’t get you with ads, hypermaterialism, or product placement, they will promote shows that breed envy and discontent, such as “Lifestyles of the Beautiful and Ostentatious” or “Exorbitant Fabulous Houses.” They will even try to sell you leisure time so you can have a break from your hectic lifestyle of earning money to buy things.

You can get the benefits of television programming without all the pressure if you just disconnect the TV and use the library or Netflix to get DVDs. If you combine this with a little Internet research, you can completely control the content of what enters your home in the guise of entertainment.

Never forget that the whole purpose of TV is to make you want to spend money. Of course, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet [increasingly becoming obnoxious] present the same problem, but it’s a lot easier to ignore the obvious advertising and rampant commercialism posing as stories in written media.
Update: See also Watching TV shortens life span
Thanks to Ron Epstein

Ukiah Farmers Market Saturday 1/9/2010


Friend of the Farmers’ Market …

We’re back!  The holiday break is over and the Ukiah Saturday Farmers’ Market is back.  Through April the market’s hours will be 9:30 to noon, in Alex Thomas Plaza at the corner of School and Clay Streets in beautiful, historic downtown Ukiah.

We should have lots of great, fresh local food including Ortiz Brothers produce, Green Uprising salad mix, and lots of other goodies such as crab and the first local bacon in some time.  We also expect to have a supply of Redwood Valley farm fresh eggs.

Food Stamps/EBT/Advantage welcome.  Come to the market table (where the coffee is) to swipe your card.

Live music provided by Jerry Krantman.

See you at the market!

Harvesting Tranquility

The Contrary Farmer

When visitors ask what our main crop is on our little farm, they look a bit startled when I reply “wood.” They look even more startled when I say the reason wood is important to us is that it brings tranquility to our lives. In winter when an old man’s fancy turns to thoughts of staying warm, I am just about as happy to have a garage full of stove wood as to have a storeroom full of food. I could not afford to keep the house toasty warm with “bought” fuel. If the electricity conks out in a January blizzard, as it seems to do more often now than in years past, we can ride the storm out fairly well. Not only will we stay warm, but we can cook our food and warm our water. The mere thought of this kind of security relieves stress and brings tranquility— the Federal Reserve can take away the interest on our life’s savings, but I don’t think even that bunch of buzzards can take away the warmth from our wood. Tranquility is the most precious possession of life, possibly more conducive to good health than proper food, exercise or medication. Add to that the tranquility that can be achieved in the work of cutting and splitting wood in the sanctuary of the trees. I often think of one of my heroes, Scott Nearing, who kept cutting wood until he was 100 years old. He stopped then, figuring he had enough ahead to last the rest of his life.

In terms of income, we reckon our tree land brings in about $1000 a year from the value of the wood substituting for other home heating fuels and an occasional sale of sawlogs and veneer logs, plus some black walnut and cherry lumber turned into furniture. There are also nuts and mushrooms for food, and hickory bark for cooking and smoking meat on the grill. There are bean poles and fence posts and gate boards and chicken roosts too. A thousand dollars is not much in terms of today’s high-flying business profits, but even this small amount, in terms of saving money is interesting (another dratted pun).

Complete article here

Whole Grain Biscuits Recipe

Wonderful Ingredients


news is out at our house- these are the best biscuits yet. this last month i’ve been working out just the right mix for a biscuit that is both dense and fluffy, wholesome without tasting like a brick, and with just the right amount of height. tonight i finally got a full thumbs up from dylan, i.e. there was barely enough time to click a pic before they were all gone. btw: do i need to mention organic is ur best choice for the funky ingredients?!

Whole Grain Biscuits
3/4 cup spelt flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbl baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda (aluminum free)
5 tbl cold unsalted sweet butter
3/4 cup raw goat milk (or cow)
parchment paper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Softly mix flours, baking powder, salt & baking soda. cut butter into small chunks, add a bit at a time to the flour mixture making sure each piece gets individually coated w/ flour (keeps em from sticking together). at this point i dump the mixture into my vitamix and turn it on to 7 (low) for 10-15 seconds until the butter is mixed into the flour, resembling coarse cornmeal. caution, over-mixing will tend towards a flat biscuit. you can also pulse a few times in a food processor, mix in a mixer or cut the butter into the flour mixture using your hands, pastry cutter, or a couple of knives.

If using a blender/food processor, dump back into your mixing bowl and add milk. stir w/ a fork till just combined. it may be a bit sticky.

Mendocino County: Fire the CEO and Open Up the Planning and Budgeting Process!


[After overwhelmingly defeating the Monster Mall with Measure A, citizens are outraged to learn that the county CEO is still trying to get a Big Box store on the Masonite site. This is anti-democratic and he should be fired forthwith! Further, the title of CEO should be eliminated as it pumps up the power-seeking, games-playing politico. The position is an administrative public servant. We need someone who will open up the democratic process and get this county moving forward again. -DS]

Wikipedia: Participatory budgeting is a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making, in which ordinary residents decide how to allocate part of a municipal or public budget. Participatory budgeting allows citizens to present their demands and priorities for improvement, and influence through discussions and negotiations the budget allocations made by their municipalities.

Participatory budgeting is usually characterized by several basic design features: identification of spending priorities by community members, election of budget delegates to represent different communities, facilitation and technical assistance by public employees, local and higher level assemblies to deliberate and vote on spending priorities, and the implementation of local direct-impact community projects.

Various studies have suggested that participatory budgeting results in more equitable public spending, higher quality of life, increased satisfaction of basic needs, greater government transparency and accountability, increased levels of public participation (especially by marginalized or poorer residents), and democratic and citizenship learning.

Wild Fermentation Sauerkraut Recipe (Video)

Author, Wild Fermentation
Video here

Making Sauerkraut is Easy!

Sandor Ellix Katz, the author of Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods (Chelsea Green, 2003) has earned the nickname “Sandorkraut” for his love of sauerkraut. This is Sandorkaut’s easy sauerkraut recipe, one of more than 90 ferments included in his book.

Timeframe: 1-4 weeks (or more)

Special Equipment:

  • Ceramic crock or food-grade plastic bucket, one-gallon capacity or greater
  • Plate that fits inside crock or bucket
  • One-gallon jug filled with water (or a scrubbed and boiled rock)
  • Cloth cover (like a pillowcase or towel)

Ingredients (for 1 gallon):

  • 5 pounds cabbage
  • 3 tablespoons sea salt


Fidel Castro on Climate Change, Copenhagen, and Obama

Thanks to Pinky Kushner

As the Revolution celebrated its 51st anniversary two days ago, memories of that January 1st of 1959 came to mind. The outlandish idea that, after half a century — which flew by — we would remember it as if it were yesterday, never occurred to any of us.

During the meeting at the Oriente sugar mill on December 28, 1958, with the commander in chief of the enemy’s forces, whose elite units were surrounded without any way out whatsoever, he admitted defeat and appealed to our generosity to find a dignified way out for the rest of his forces. He knew of our humane treatment of prisoners and the injured without any exception. He accepted the agreement that I proposed, although I warned him that operations under way would continue. But he traveled to the capital, and, incited by the United States embassy, instigated a coup d’état.

We were preparing for combat on that January 1st when, in the early hours of the morning, the news came in of the dictator’s flight. The Rebel Army was ordered not to permit a ceasefire and to continue battling on all fronts. Radio Rebelde convened workers to a revolutionary general strike, immediately followed by the entire nation. The coup attempt was defeated, and that same afternoon, our victorious troops entered Santiago de Cuba.

Mixed Farming Systems & Carbon Sequestration

Redwood Valley
Mendocino Organics CSA Newsletter

I’m visiting family on the East Coast but also catching up on all the news from Copenhagen, including a briefing paper I came across from the UK’s Soil Association. They promote planet-friendly food and farming through education, campaigns, and community programs.

If you’re looking for some good, scientific reading, check out SA policy advisor Richard Young’s paper, “The role of livestock in sustainable food systems.” While meat production has been bashed for associated methane emissions contributing to global climate change, this briefing paper summarizes how mixed farming systems  – using grassland rotation to build soil fertility for arable crops – gives the best means of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere and replenishing the soil carbon bank. This research actually points to beef and sheep production as central in carbon-friendly ag systems.

“One way to enable soil carbon sequestration is to convert cropland into grassland as part of a ley/arable rotation which deploys a leguminous grass ley to build fertility, grazed by ruminant animals to convert the forage into food. This appears to be the only proven method applicable to large areas of farmland that is capable of sequestering substantial amounts of soil carbon, whilst at the same time maximising the production of an adequate range and quantity of food for human consumption.”

The Warning


Frontline has produced a remarkable documentary titled The Warning, which has aired on PBS Television across the nation. It documents how Lawrence Summers, Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin attacked and blocked Brooksley Born, who was in charge of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission when she warned of the derivatives danger in the mid-1990s and heroically fought to regulate them. The presentation follows the problem that created the crisis back through Greenspan, to its origin in his philosophical mentor, Ayn Rand. You can watch this documentary here.


Mendocino County: Community Egg Co-ops Anyone?

From Cooking Up A Story

Have you ever thought about raising chickens? Have you given much thought to the difference between a freshly gathered egg and one from the store? You may want to after meeting Patrick and Holly, and watching this story. They had raised chickens themselves in the past and wanted to again, but this time they wanted to raise more of them for themselves and through their local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to provide directly to others. Through serendipity and the community coming together, they were able to pull together a team of 14 people to take care of 30 chickens to form Eastside Egg Co-op.

There are so many benefits to raising chickens. They are a great addition to any garden, they clear out whatever area of land defines their boundary, and they also leave their nitrogen rich manure for the next round of plantings. The eggs from these naturally raised chickens are higher in the good omega-3 fatty acids than eggs produced from factory farms, not to mention being fresher. Typically, eggs from the supermarket are at least 2 weeks old before they even reach the shelf.

If this is something you think you’d like to try, find out first if chickens are allowed where you live. If yes, like Patrick says, make it happen!

Go to story video here

Praising Leaves/Condemning Leaf Blowers

Sonoma County
Via Energy Bulletin

Leaves are one of nature’s most miraculous creations. They tie it all together. They rise from the ground, reach to the sky, and bring life to the Earth. Leaves do many good things — manufacture food for trees and other plants, use the sun’s energy to transform carbon dioxide into carbohydrates, and decompose water (H2O) into oxygen and hydrogen. The resulting complex compound, glucose, is the universal and basic energy source for all living organisms. Leaves also provide beauty and delight, thus meriting our praise for their abundant gifts. Children and animals love frolicing in fresh piles of leaves.

Yet by the late 20th century human ingenuity, irritated by fallen leaves, created a fossil fuel-driven industrial machine — the highly-polluting, gas-operated leaf blower — that disrupts leaves natural cycle and night-workers sleeping cycle. Left to their own, leaves leave their perch and fall to the ground and remain there. Even when brown, dead, and on the Earth, their transformative work continues — first as mulch, then as compost, and eventually integrating into the soil that nourishes plants and so much of life. Interrupting that cycle will have all kinds of negative unintended consequences.

Selected Comments on Move Your Money Local (Updated)

[I’ve been a Credit Union member for more than 40 years for the simple reason that, like the Co-op food store  I am also a member of, it is owned and run democratically by its members. -DS]

[Updated below]

From Move Your Money Local post

Janie Sheppard: Thanks for this post Dave. I hope lots of people move their money to credit unions that lend locally.

Mary Anne Landis: Really important reminder for us all, Dave. Loved seeing the re-cap of “It’s a Wonderful Life” juxtaposed within our current circumstances. The zipcode search leads only to banks; our credit unions serve our communities well, too. Thanks!

Sean Re: A little worrisome. I put our zip code in there and not one Credit Union came up. There’s a significant difference between the two, namely where the money is being invested.

I put my money in Credit Unions 20 years ago and never looked back- and was rewarded with better service and rates too. Imagine what would happen if everyone did just that. I’m no economist but I imagine it would be a tremendous shift in power downward.

Here’s an interesting story about the Redwood Credit Union. I moved up here to go to grad school at SSU, and switched my accounts from the San Diego Credit Union to the Redwood Credit Union.

Feeding The World By Cleaning The Air

See full image by clicking on the title of this post above

Redwood Valley

NASA Funded Study November 23, 2009: “Feeding the world by cleaning the air…study ties heavy regional haze to reductions in crop production.”

“A new study suggests that cleaning up the air may help to feed the world. Published in the November 23, 2009, issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study found that heavy regional haze in… important agricultural areas may be cutting food production there by as much as one-third. Covering a million square kilometers or more, the haze scatters and absorbs solar radiation, reducing the amount of sunlight reaching key rice and winter wheat crops. That decreases plant growth and food production…”

“For crops that are irrigated and fertilized, there is often a direct correlation between how much is grown and how much sunlight reaches those crops,” said Dr. William L. Chameides, professor in the School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “In China there is a significant amount of haze that reduces the sunlight reaching the surface by at least five percent, and perhaps as much as 30 percent. The optimal yields of crops in China are likely reduced by the same percentage.”

“…Extensive studies by agricultural researchers have documented the relationship between crop production and the sunlight received…

FDA approves Crestor drug for people who have no health problem to correct


Big Pharma has been trending this direction for a long time: marketing medicines to people who don’t need them and who have nothing wrong with their health. It’s all part of a ploy to position prescription drugs as nutrients — things you need to take on a regular basis in order to prevent disease.

The FDA recently gave its nod of approval on the matter, announcing that Crestor can now be advertised and prescribed as a “preventive” medicine. No longer does a patient need to have anything wrong with them to warrant this expensive prescription medication: They only need to remember the brand name of the drug from television ads.

This FDA approval for the marketing of Crestor to healthy people is a breakthrough for wealthy drug companies. Selling drugs only to people who are sick is, by definition, a limited market. Expanding drug revenues requires reaching people who have nothing wrong with them and convincing them that taking a cocktail of daily pharmaceuticals will somehow keep them healthy.

All this is, of course, the greatest quackery we’ve yet seen from Big Pharma, because once this floodgate of “preventive pharmaceuticals” is unleashed, the drug companies will be positioned to promote a bewildering array of other preventive chemicals you’re supposed to take at the same time.

A New Year’s Revolution

Next American Revolution blog

Welcome to The Next American Revolution, coming soon to your neighborhood.  Or so we can hope.  Because the revolution we need will have to come neighborhood by neighborhood, community by community, congressional district by congressional district.

Nothing is more depressing, given the corrupted state of our politics, than to hear responsible and perceptive critics of business as usual calling for greater efforts to secure federal funds to solve local problems, as we did this morning on our local public radio station.  Of course we need all the help we can get, especially in rural counties like ours, where unemployment is high and underemployment higher, where poverty levels are growing and state services shrinking. Of course we could benefit from help from any source.

But all those federal funds out there — for small business development, for green enterprise, for strengthening local food systems, for creating jobs — come at some price. One price is the procrustean bed of Congressional micro-management on which all proposals must stretch and the limited reach, consequently, of such funding. “Small business,” if I’m not mistaken, is currently defined as any business employing fewer than 500 employees, and much of what the Small Business Administration does caters to businesses at the larger end of the spectrum. Local start-ups need not apply.