Wall Street’s Dirty Little Secret

From The Daily Beast

“Awarding bankers bonuses is tantamount to paying them for not being certified cretins.”

The biggest problem with 2009’s megabonuses is economic, not moral. Tunku Varadarajan on how Wall Street made money soaking savers and taxpayers, rather than adding value.

Bankers do not deserve bonuses this year, at least not in the Western world. And I don’t say this from atop some moral or aesthetic or populist high horse. Instead, my arguments are mostly economic.

Banks are making money because they’re borrowing at ridiculously low rates from the public and central banks and then investing in higher-yielding government securities.

The banks receive deposits from savers (on which they pay negligible interest) and then leverage it several times by borrowing from other banks, or the central bank. LIBOR (the rate at which banks borrow from each other) as well as the Fed’s discount window are below 0.5 percent. This is the cost of money to banks. The loot is then invested in government bonds, which are yielding anywhere from 3.75 percent to 4.75 percent in the U.S. and Europe.

This interest margin may not sound like much, but when applied to the trillions of dollars that make up various banks’ balance sheets, it produces profits in tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars. For a well-leveraged bank, this is a safe “carry” trade as long as the value of government securities does not collapse. In fact, a bank would have to be incredibly inept not to make money in these circumstances. Awarding bankers bonuses is tantamount to paying them for not being certified cretins.

Go to article

Mendo Slaughterhouse? Kill ’em Where You Raise ’em! (Updated)

From Grist

Whole Foods’ new mobile slaughterhouses

Massachusetts poultry farmer Jennifer Hashley has a problem. From the moment she started raising pastured chickens outside Concord, Mass. in 2002, there was, as she put it “nowhere to go to get them processed.” While she had the option of slaughtering her chickens in her own backyard, Hashley knew that selling her chickens would be easier if she used a licensed slaughterhouse. Nor is she alone in her troubles. Despite growing demand for local, pasture-raised chickens, small poultry producers throughout Massachusetts, Connecticut, and even New York can’t or won’t expand for lack of processing capacity…  Full article here
Update: [As a carnivore, I support our small, local, pastoral farmers. Our weekend lamb-shank soup/stew (simmered for 4 hours with local organic veggies), from Owen Family Farm in Hopland, was superb! (They’ll raise lamb, goat, or Black Angus beef for you – 707-744-1615.) Other than our much-respected vegan/vegetarian community, previous opposition centered around outside investors imposing a large facility on our population center to serve distant markets. I believe that the healthiest, sustainable farms are small, “garden farms” that include grass-fed livestock, with agricultural practices such as Biodynamics. Whether using mobile units for chickens, or more permanent structures for larger animals, sustainable community principles for local meat-processing include: humane slaughter, small-scale, location on the ranches or ranch-lands outside population centers, environmentally-friendly, wastes composted, locally-owned. -DS]

See also: Save The Planet: Eat More Beef

…and Favorite Veggie Burger recipes

What’s Killing The Honeybees?

From California Literary Review
Thanks to Lisa Bregger

Rowan Jacobsen is an environmental writer living in Vermont. His most recent book is Fruitless Fall, an investigation into the collapse of honeybee colonies throughout the world. Below is Rowan’s interview with the California Literary Review.

For those of us who weren’t paying close attention during biology class, would you give us an overview of flowers, fruit and the role of bees?

Flowers are the sexual organs of plants. Most contain both pollen (plant sperm) and ovaries. For a plant to reproduce, it needs to somehow transfer its pollen to the ovaries of another member of the same species. For hundreds of millions of years, plants used the wind to do this. It’s like Internet spam: send hundreds of millions of flyweight grains of pollen in all directions, hoping that just one or two finds its way by chance to the right ovary. Many plants, such as pine and birch trees and the dreaded ragweed, still use wind pollination.

But about a hundred million years ago, one class of plants hit upon a revolutionary idea: Why not use insects to transport the pollen instead of wind? That way, you can make much bigger, heavier, more sophisticated pollen packages. And you can make far fewer of them if you can rely on the insects to travel more or less directly to another flower of your species… Full article here

Local Stock Exchanges and National Stimulus

Thanks to Michael Foley

Since the global financial system unraveled in 2008, U.S. policymakers have struggled heroically to improve the performance and oversight of global banks and investment firms. But these actions have been largely unresponsive to the growing number of Americans who would like to remove their hard-earned retirement savings from these high financial fliers altogether and invest their nest eggs in their community. Might it be time for policymakers to consider the potential stimulus payoffs from nurturing micro-equity investments?

One reason for growing public interest in local investment is the spread of “buy local” campaigns, a movement that is more than just local hucksterism. Consider the title of an article in a recent issue of Time: “Buying Local: How It Boosts the Economy.” Cutting-edge economic developers (except at the national level) increasingly recognize is the importance of strengthening locally owned, small businesses.

Growing evidence suggests that every dollar spent at a locally owned business generates two to four times more economic benefit—measured in income, wealth, jobs, and tax revenue—than a dollar spent at a globally owned business. That is because locally owned businesses spend much more of their money locally and thereby pump up the so-called economic multiplier. Other studies suggest that local businesses are critical to tourism, walkable communities, entrepreneurship, social equality, civil society, charitable giving, revitalized downtowns, and even political participation.

No on A But Yes on CostCo?

Redwood Valley

Many of us fought against Measure A because we believed that Ukiah had no need for out-of-county retailers stealing business from our local merchants. Yet both the City Council and the County BOS are moving ahead trying to entice CostCo to locate here either as a part of the Airport Blvd. shopping area or as a special use permit on the old Masonite Site.

Many of those who seemed so militant last fall about keeping out the DDR complex now seem to be showing their true colors: they are really well brain-washed Super-Consumers trained in front of TV screen since infancy. They like the idea of a local CostCo in town. They love to push those oversized carts around a store empty of sales help and with an unpredictable inventory. They really don’t give a shit about the fate of our local merchants nor about the seedy look of empty stores on State Street that are the legacy of our previous run-ins with the Bog Box Monster. Yet, but yet, maybe they are actually the Realists: they know Little Ukiah can’t keep fighting the Big Capitalists indefinitely and are willing to make this one compromise so they can frolic along the broad aisles of a Ukiah CostCo and stand for 20 minutes at the checkout.

But how will CostCo impact local business? Who will be hit first? Probably the food stores: The Ukiah Valley cannot support our three big supermarkets plus both CostCo and the planned Walmart food store. Already struggling Raleys will likely go under first and those living in the north end of town without cars will be miles from a food store.

Ukiah Farmers Market Saturday 1/16/10

Neosho, Missouri


Farmers’ Market Fans,

Greetings.  Please come out Saturday to enjoy the Ukiah Saturday Farmers’ Market debut of musician John Craigie.  (More at http://www.johncraigiemusic.com/ or http://www.myspace.com/johncraigie )

John John reports that gopher activity has been spotted in the valley.  You can take action to protect your summer crops now by planting Gopher Purge, which John happens to have, in gallons pots and six packs.

When you get to the market Saturday (remember that we are starting at 9:30) you will notice that we are starting to ramp back up from the holidays, as describe below in the Market Message column slated to appear in this Friday’s Ukiah Daily Journal.  Here it is:

Food Not Drugs

Growth is not inherently better any more than turning up the volume makes bad music better.  Just because a farm is filling bins and bushels with food does not mean the food is fit to eat.  Remember, cancer is a growth-unregulated and uncontrolled growth.  Does anyone what to see a growth in the number of wars?  The number of abortions?  The number of high school dropouts?

Through modern technology, we have learned to produce bins and bushels without nutrient content.  It’s like giving tons of high school diplomas without knowing the information.

Action Center: Demonstrations at Geo-Engineering Scientists Conference in San Diego

Redwood Valley

Geo-Engineering (Wikipedia) is the artificial modification of Earth’s climate systems. Geo-Engineering projects range from DECLASSIFIED experimentation (like iron particles being dumped into the oceans to attract algae, which sequesters carbon and, theoretically, slows global warming) to HIGHLY CLASSIFIED experimentation like AEROSOL SPRAYING (chemical spraying). The two most quickly advancing Geo-Engineering philosophies are carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM).

ALL Activists, Demonstrators Meet at (at closest public property- to be announced) San Diego Convention Center at 7:30 AM on Saturday, February 20th. Scientists and others will be meeting for their conference entitled “Can Geoengineering save us from Global Warming”. Bring signs, flyers and media connections. Groups are now co-ordinating from several nearby states. News has been that reports of this are spreading far and wide. Keep it LEGAL, keep it safe, STAY ON PUBLIC PROPERTY. When you arrive, others will be able to help guide you.

You can obtain the information by going to www.geoengineeringwatch.org

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.”