The average American child gets 5+ servings of pesticide residues in their food and water each day.
The average American child gets 5+ servings of pesticide residues in their food and water each day.
From RON EPSTEIN
The Economic Development and Financing Corporation of Mendocino County (EDFC) is soliciting objective comments about their new report entitled “Meat Industry Capacity and Feasibility Study of the North Coast Region of California,” which is a preliminary examination of the feasibility of a meat-processing plant located in Mendocino County.
The report has recently been released and is available to the public. It is available for download online at the following locations:
[The give and take in the comments after the article, by informed experts, is also quite interesting. -DS]
From THOM HARTMANN
The fundamental myth of the Milton/Thomas Friedman neoliberal cons is that in a “flat world” everybody is not only able to compete with everybody else freely, but should be required to. It sounds nice. America trades with – and competes with trade with and for – the European Union. France against Germany. England against Australia.
But wait a minute. In such a “free” trade competition, who will win when the match-up is Canada versus the Solomon Islands? Germany versus Bulgaria? Zimbabwe versus Italy?
There are two glaringly obvious flaws in the so-called “free trade” theories expounded by neoliberal philosophers like Friedrich Von Hayek and Milton Friedman, and promoted relentlessly in the popular press by (very wealthy) hucksters like Thomas Friedman.
First, “infant” economies – countries that are only beginning to get on their feet – cannot “compete” with “mature” economies. They really only have two choices – lose to their more mature competitors and stand on the hungry and cold outside of the world of trade (as we see with much of Africa), or be colonized and exploited by the dominant corporate forces within the mature economies (as we see with Shell Oil and Nigeria, or historically with the “banana republics” of Central and South America and Asia and, literally, the banana corporations).
From ELIOT COLEMAN
Four Season Farm
The radical idea behind by organic agriculture is a change in focus.
[This post was adapted from an address given at the recent Eco-Farm conference in California.]
When a friend told me of two of the proposed discussion topics for a major agricultural conference — “What is so radical about radical agriculture?” and “Is small the only beautiful?” — I told him that I thought both questions had the same answer. Let me see if I can explain.
The radical idea behind organic agriculture is a change in focus. The new focus is on the quality of the crops grown and their suitability for human nutrition. That is a change from the more common focus on growing as much quantity as possible and using whatever chemical techniques contribute to increasing that quantity.
None of the non-chemical techniques associated with organic farming are radical or new. Compost, crop rotations, green manures and so forth are age-old agricultural practices. What is radical is the belief that these time-proven “natural” techniques produce food that is more nourishing for people and livestock than food grown with chemicals. What is radical is successfully pursuing that “unscientific” belief against the counter-propaganda and huge commercial power of the agrochemical industry.
The initiators of this new focus were a few perceptive old farmers from the 1930s and ‘40s who had not been taken in by commercial pressures and saw clearly the flaws of chemical agriculture. The popularizers of the new focus were the young idealists of the 1960s and 70s who were attracted to the idea of food production based on non-industrial systems, even though most of them had no previous connection to agriculture.
From JOANNE CAMAS; photo by Alia Malley
It can be complicated to simplify things, but sometimes we need to be reminded of the essentials. Michael Pollan’s done just that with his new book, “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual”. After researching “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” (2006) and “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” (2008), Pollan came to an important realization: “The deeper I delved into the confused and confusing thicket of nutritional science, sorting through long-running fats versus carb wars, the fiber skirmishes and the raging dietary supplement debates, the simpler the picture gradually became,” he writes in “Food Rules.”
The simple picture, he says, can be distilled into two facts that will lead to a sensible diet: First, the Western diet leads to Western diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. “Four of the top ten killers in America are chronic diseases that can be linked to this diet,” Pollan claims. Second, people throughout the world who eat a range of traditional diets, even those heavy in fats, carbohydrates, or protein, don’t suffer from these diseases. Thankfully, Pollan offers a third fact derived from these two: If we get away from the Western diet, we can see dramatic improvements in our health and reduce the risk of chronic diet-related diseases.
Epicurious spoke with Pollan about “Food Rules” and how its prescription for eating “real food” in moderation and sidestepping the Western diet developed naturally from the author’s mantra in his “In Defense of Food”: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
Epicurious: If “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” is an eater’s manifesto, did you write “Food Rules” as a guide to putting the manifesto into practice?
From GM Watch
10 reasons why we don’t need GM foods
If you want to print this article as an A4 leaflet, download a PDF.
With the cost of food recently skyrocketing – hitting not just shoppers but the poor and hungry in the developing world – genetically modified (GM) foods are once again being promoted as the way to feed the world. But this is little short of a confidence trick. Far from needing more GM foods, there are urgent reasons why we need to ban them altogether.
1. GM foods won’t solve the food crisis
A 2008 World Bank report concluded that increased biofuel production is the major cause of the increase in food prices. GM giant Monsanto has been at the heart of the lobbying for biofuels (crops grown for fuel rather than food) — while profiting enormously from the resulting food crisis and using it as a PR opportunity to promote GM foods!
“The climate crisis was used to boost biofuels, helping to create the food crisis; and now the food crisis is being used to revive the fortunes of the GM industry.” — Daniel Howden, Africa correspondent of The Independent
“The cynic in me thinks that they’re just using the current food crisis and the fuel crisis as a springboard to push GM crops back on to the public agenda. I understand why they’re doing it, but the danger is that if they’re making these claims about GM crops solving the problem of drought or feeding the world, that’s bullshit.” – Prof Denis Murphy, head of biotechnology at the University of Glamorgan in Wales
From JENNIFER M.
The potential for disaster surrounds us every day. The aftershocks of the earthquake in Haiti may seem too big for many Americans to grasp, but we too should have a plan for possible local emergencies such as severe storms that wipe out our power supply for days, earthquakes, long-term illness, or unforeseen personal economic crises. Because when something catastrophic does occur, food security becomes critical: how can you keep yourself and your family from going hungry when hard times hit?
Robin Wheeler explores that question in her book “Food Security for the Faint of Heart,” which emphasizes the need to bring control of our food supply back home through gardening, preserving food, stocking up on basics, supporting local growers and community organizations, and sharing with others when disaster strikes. Many of her reasons for encouraging people to develop this home-grown food security are familiar — the bumpy effects of the global economic crisis, the need to wean oneself from dependence on fossil fuels, and the desire to avoid GMOs and pesticides. She also stresses, however, the community-building aspects of keeping money local and becoming “a new community asset” through sharing skills and resources.
Less than a hundred years ago, Wheeler points out, maintaining home gardens, preserving food, and keeping a full pantry used to be merely common-sense planning, not tarred with the damning label of “stockpiling.” Homes of the time were built with “that wondrous space” — whether a pantry closet or a basement room or a root cellar — “where you just fling a door open and rows of cans and jars shine out at you.”
From SHEILAH ROGERS
From the Center for Rural Affairs/Blog for Rural America:
by Steph Larsen
These days it seems the most popular person to be in the food system is the “local farmer”. Farmers markets are popping up everywhere, and their size and popularity grow all the time. Local food is trendy – even the First Family is in on it.
But as anyone who has ever raised grain or livestock can tell you, the farmer is not the only person in the chain of players from her farm to your fork. In addition to producers, your food chain includes processors, distributors or transporters, and retailers.
In other words, to have a truly local food system, we also need local butchers, bakers and millers, local truck drivers, local grocers, and a community that supports them in all their efforts.
In the world of farm and food policy, we’ve paid a lot of attention to production end of the food system. It’s an obvious place to start. We have programs within the Farm Bill to develop new or “beginning” farmers, help them secure loans and down payments, and transition to organic agriculture. But most products aren’t made to eat directly out of the field. Even salad greens or apples, things we typically eat raw and straight from the field, must be washed and sorted before your local farmer will sell them.
As Tom Philpott pointed out in early November, the infrastructure for small-scale processing is woefully inadequate, having suffered decades of atrophy – to the point where an otherwise profitable farmer can be driven out of business because she has no where to take her pigs for slaughter, her grain to be milled or her tomatoes to be “sauced”.
Small-scale, certified community kitchens, like this one in Montana or this one in Tennessee, are beginning to fill some of this need. There are a few mobile slaughter facilities gaining traction, but not enough to meet demand and too new to measure their long term viability. Not many community colleges offer classes on how to humanely kill and butcher an animal anymore.
From DAVE SMITH
This is something for us Seniors. You young’uns best move on to something else because you ain’t gonna be interested in this at all. Duke Ellington? Roy Orbison? Louis Armstrong? Frankie Lymon? Janis Joplin? Albert Ammons? Like I said, move along now.
Geezers! Ever wish you had your own personal Disk Jockey? I don’t mean going online and programming your own music channels. I mean, having someone local you know, play the music you love, interspersed with just the right amount of intelligent bits and pieces about the music and the musicians you remember, told by someone who really, really loves the music. Benj Thomas puts his shows together in themes and sequences in such a way that it means something and is really fun to listen to whether you want to be engaged with it, or just want something in the background while you’re doing other things. It’s the difference between a cup of coffee and a lattè.
Here’s the thing. You can tune in each Saturday afternoon at 4pm for a couple of hours, but here’s something very cool. Sid Cooperrider has archived all of the shows on KMEC. You can go here, click on one of Benj’s shows, and it will keep playing all the way through to the last one recorded just this past Saturday. Hours and hours, over two years of weekly 2-hour programs, are there to listen to.
Most any time you walk into Mulligan Books, that’s what you’re going to hear. Benj music. It’s the best music ever created. Period.
From JOHN MICHAEL GREER
The Archdruid Report
Author, The Long Descent
I’ve mentioned more than once in these essays the foreshortening effect that textbook history can have on our understanding of the historical events going on around us. The stark chronologies most of us get fed in school can make it hard to remember that even the most drastic social changes happen over time, amid the fabric of everyday life and a flurry of events that can seem more important at the time.
This becomes especially problematic in times like the present, when apocalyptic prophecy is a central trope in the popular culture that frames a people’s hopes and fears for the future. When the collective imagination becomes obsessed with the dream of a sudden cataclysm that sweeps away the old world overnight and ushers in the new, even relatively rapid social changes can pass by unnoticed. The twilight years of Rome offer a good object lesson; so many people were convinced that the Second Coming might occur at any moment that the collapse of classical civilization went almost unnoticed; only a tiny handful of writers from those years show any recognition that something out of the ordinary was happening at all.
Reflections of this sort have been much on my mind lately, and there’s a reason for that. Scattered among the statistical noise that makes up most of today’s news are data points that suggest to me that business as usual is quietly coming to an end around us, launching us into a new world for which very few of us have made any preparations at all.
Here’s one example. Friends of mine in a couple of midwestern states have mentioned that the steady trickle of refugees from the Chicago slums into their communities has taken a sharp turn up.
From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer
For many years I could not understand why the sound of singing hens soothed me so much. Hen song is hardly melodic, being composed of two or three notes at most. It is plaintive in fact, a far cry from the bubbling warble of a bluebird or the soaring lilt of a meadowlark. Hen song is plainsong, equivalent to the way any of us might hum our way through the humble chores of daily life. It is quite different from the excited cackles that Mrs. Hen voices to announce that she has just laid an egg or been surprised by a cat. Nor is there any hint in it of her sharp warning cry when a hawk flies over. Hen song only keeps from slipping into humdrum because if often comes pouring forth from Mrs. Hen in a burst of what sounds like pure exultation at just being alive on a warm spring day and knowing that on her very next scratching in the soil, she is going to turn up a juicy worm to eat. You never hear hen song when the temperature is near zero and the north wind is blowing.
Hen song has even influenced human song on occasion. The Cackle Sisters, Carolyn and Mary Jane DeZurick, were quite popular fifty years ago. In their singing, mostly yodeling, they often imitated the music of the barnyard, especially hen song. Hence their stage name. Strangely, or perhaps not so strangely, their music enjoyed a bit of resurgence about five years ago. Interestingly I heard them on National Public Radio, hardly a country music station.
I finally figured out why singing hens cast a spell of tranquility over me. It’s not because the sound is a harbinger of a nice warm day free of hen stress although that may be a contributing factor. It is because as a child, playing around our farmhouse, hardly two hundred feet from the chicken coop, I was unconsciously hearing hen song all day long…
More at The Contrary Farmer→
From Adam and Paula
Mendocino Organics CSA
Do you crave yummy, local, organic chicken? Free-range? Mendocino Organics has it! And when we say “free-range,” we’re not talking about birds that live in a warehouse with a door to the outside that they never use. If you really want, you can visit these birds pasturing on our farm, adding fertility to the soil.
The chickens leave the brooder and move to the garden at 4 weeks.
In the spirit of community supported agriculture and agriculture supported community, Mendocino Organics is selling chicken CSA shares this spring. Right now, we are making our shares available to Ukiah-area residents.
Here is a short video of a speech given by a military soldier explaining the simple truth as to why we are actually in Iraq.
See also Iraq to sue US, Britain over depleted uranium bombs→
Thanks to Don Sanderson
From HOLLY and SCOTT
[Shop Locally-Owned! -DS]
Event THIS Friday. Information below.
Finally! The week when the WRM gets hot, food that is. Friday we expect our 1st delivery of Local Flavor‘s yummy pizza, which we will serve hot by the slice. We expect to feature the pizza regularly on Wednesday and Friday … assuming that you come get it. Until we get a sense of demand, production of these chewy golden discs will be limited to a few a day.
We are working on hot chicken from Kemmy’s for Tuesday. That leaves Monday and Thursday for ???
Karen Rifkin’s peanut butter pies are now in stock. Come find out why they were famous back in the day of the Palace Hotel. Once your taste buds fathom how rich these are, you will come to appreciate the relatively small serving size. Some things are not meant to be super-sized.
Don’t forget, we now have Haig’s hummus, falafel and dolmas, plus Sukhi’s gourmet potato samosas with mint chutney (vegan), hand-crafted in Berkeley and favorites in Bay Area farmers’ markets, and Paramount Piroshkis from SF’s Potrero Hill neighborhood. The piroshkis are a hungry person’s dream. Big, filling, flavorful and $2,25.
Also new: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday afternoons we have added Cafe Beaujolais’ Olive Rosemary Fougasse to the bread line-up. You want to get this unique, strongly flavored bread when it is fresh. Welcome our newest supplier, Maisie Jane‘s. You can find out about this line of all natural plain and flavored, high quality nuts & champion of small family farming here.
From BOB PASSARO
This dish, invented by my brother, Dave, is very simple — nothing more than penne pasta with Parmesan and chard. But it’s not really easy. The exact amount of each ingredient isn’t as important; you can vary them if you like. The trick seems to be in the timing during the sauté stage.
It’s also not a bad idea to halve this recipe, as it makes the stage in the sauté pan more manageable. If you don’t feel you’ve got it right the first time, don’t give up. It may take some practice.
1 lb. dried penne pasta
~ Olive oil
5 to 6 cloves garlic, roughly minced
1 bunch chard (about 10 leaves), roughly chopped
1 handful pine nuts (optional)
1½ to 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan
~ Salt to taste
More at Culinate.com→
Record $1 million spent on Mendocino fight over big-box development
From GLENDA ANDERSON
The Press Democrat
Thanks to Ron Epstein
Developers spent a record-breaking $917,375 on a failed ballot measure that would have allowed them to bypass Mendocino County’s planning process and build the county’s largest commercial development.
Ohio-based Developers Diversified Realty and Texas businessman David Berndt last year invested almost $102 for each of the 9,022 “yes” votes they won, only to see nearly 2 of every 3 voters reject their plan.
Measure A opponents spent $107,135, or $7 for each of the 15,292 votes that defeated the measure, according to final campaign reports filed Monday.
The ballot box battle over the Ukiah Valley’s planning process slashed the previous record held by a 2004 ballot measure that banned production of genetically modified crops in the county.
During that ballot campaign, agribusiness corporations spent almost $688,000 in a futile effort to defeat Measure H. Measure H proponents spent just over $145,000.
Measure A would have freed developers to build up to 800,000 square feet of retail stores and other commercial buildings on 80 acres at the former Masonite plant property just outside Ukiah without going through the county planning process.
Developers Diversified officials have yet to divulge what they plan to do next with the property, which they purchased for $6.5 million in 2006. They reportedly are in negotiations to sell a portion of the land to Costco.
Developers Diversified took the project to voters last year, saying the county process was too cumbersome and lengthy. They also said they did not believe the current county Board of Supervisors would approve the project.
It’s time to connect the headlines between persistent unemployment in the United States and growing food insecurity. The next Obama stimulus package should focus on how local food can address both simultaneously.
A study done two years ago found that a 20% shift of retail food spending in Detroit redirected to locally grown foods would create 5,000 jobs and increase local output by half a billion dollars. A similar shift to Detroit-grown food by those living in the five surrounding counties would create 35,000 jobs – far more than ever will come out of the multibillion-dollar bailout of the auto industry. The experience of microenterprise organizations around the country suggests that each of these jobs can be created for $2,000-3,000 of public money–a tiny fraction of the price of the last stimulus.
To some skeptics, locavorism is a cute hobby only embraced by Prius-driving environmentalists in rich countries. Libertarians like those at the Cato Institute argue that the best way to localize is to open Walmarts in every community. Progressives like Peter Singer of Princeton University ask, “If you’re living in a prosperous part of the United States, what’s really ethical about supporting the economy around you rather than, say, buying fairly traded produce from Bangladesh, where you might be supporting smaller, poorer farmers who need a market for their goods?”…
Originally published January 25, 2010 in The Huffington Post
From the executive summary of Community Food Enterprise: Local Success in a Global Marketplace, by Michael Shuman, Alissa Barron and Wendy Wasserman
From DAVE SMITH
To the Banksters and Titans of Industry, you and I are considered consumers. Not citizens. Not human beings. Just gaping pie-holes that needs stuffing with more of their stuff. They spend billions and billions of dollars trying to get our attention to sell us more stuff.
More and more stuff is killing our earth and our future.
Conserve or consume. We have a choice. The future is up to us.
Or we can continue in status quo mode and face a grim and disastrous future.
We each make a thousand decisions a day that lead to our shared future.
We can go it alone, or we can choose to help each other into a better life.