Farm to Family School Bus Turned Farmers Market


If you see a school bus rolling down the streets of Richmond, Virginia, look closer- that bus might not be transporting school children, but fresh produce from the peripheral rural farming areas around the city. Mark Lilly has transformed a 1987 diesel school bus into a mobile produce market in order to connect local farms with communities to re-establish a personal relationship with locally grown food, and of course to encourage better eating and general well-being. Farm to Family, the bus market and CSA program, changes its offerings throughout the year to reflect what’s growing every season. And the space itself, inside the bus, is smartly planned and built-out as a sturdy framework for toting vegetables around town. Check out their website to see where they’re pulling up next!


Warren Johnson: Letter To Obama


[Warren’s 1978 book, Muddling Toward Frugality, has just been republished with the foreward being a review of the book in 1978 by Edward Abbey. Warren is circulating this letter with hopes of getting through to the President. -DS]

Warren Johnson
74001 Dobie Lane, Covelo, CA 95428
(707) 983-6853

July 20, 2010

President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington D.C. 20500-0004

Dear Mr. President,

I tried to get this to you before, but now it is critical for the challenge all of us face in keeping the economy healthy when debt makes it risky to stimulate growth. My background in natural resources adds a second barrier to growth—the stabilization of oil production since 2005 that would drive oil prices up if new jobs were created.

What is needed is a way of creating jobs at less cost and use of oil.  This could be done by encouraging the creation of sustainable ways of life by offering assistance to those who would like to live in the simpler, more cooperative ways that can be supported with renewable energy.  The industrial niche is growing crowded even as it is being consumed with the depletion of the fossil fuels that made the Industrial Revolution possible in the first place.  The opening we have is in the sustainable niche that supported human life prior to the industrial era, and will do so again after the fossil fuels are gone, and with the larger amounts of renewable energy that modern technology can make available on an ongoing basis.

Dave Pollard: How a Community-Based Co-op Economy Might Work

How To Save The World

Most people have been brought up to believe that the competitive, grow-or-die, absentee-shareholder-owned, “free”-trade “market” economy is the only one that works, the only alternative to a socialist, government-run economy. This myth is perpetrated in business and other schools, by the media, by accountants and lawyers and bankers and, of course, in the business world. This amoral-capitalist economic model has “succeeded” in the same hostile way our species has “succeeded” — by brutally suppressing, starving for resources, using power to steal from, and, when all else fails, killing off anything deemed a “competitor” or threat to its monopoly on power and resources. It relies on massive subsidies and near-zero interest rates thanks to well-rewarded political cronies, on political graft and corruption worldwide, on oligopoly and restraint of competition, on wage slavery and worker ignorance, on phony money and unrepayable debt, and on advertising, human insecurity, ego and greed to create an artificial demand for its shoddy, overpriced crap. And, on top of all that, it’s utterly unsustainable.

For an alternative, natural economy to work, we either have to wait for this amoral-capitalist economy to collapse (which it will, but probably not for a few decades), or we have to plant the seeds for this alternative economy in the cracks where the current one is already failing most badly — at the community level where the economy is most obviously failing to produce meaningful work, sucking resources, wealth and opportunity out, and dumping mass-produced and imported crap that ends up in the landfill, and pollutants in our air, water, soil and food that make us sick and contribute to climate change…

more here

James Houle: Washington tries to cap the WikiLeaks leak


WikiLeaks released on July 25th 76,000 mostly one-page battlefield documents leaked from US Army sources out of a total of 92,000 in their possession. They detail a vast array of material about the Afghan War ranging from “tactical reports about small unit operations to broader strategic analyses of politico-military relations between the US and Pakistan”. /STRATFOR’s George Friedman (07/27/10)/ doubts that this disparate assortment of not-so-sensitive materials below the ‘Top Secret’ category would likely have been collected by any single source. WikiLeaks, an organization operating out of several European cities since July 2007, produced this report entitled: “Afghan War Diary, 2004-2010” and sent it to three news organizations, The New York Times, the Guardian of London, and Der Speigel in Germany. One United States official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the continuing investigation, said government lawyers were exploring whether WikiLeaks and its leader, Mr. Julian Assange could be charged in violation of the Espionage Act, a 1917 law that prohibits the unauthorized disclosure of national security information. They might be charged with a crime if they were to release actual names or identities of Afghans who had worked under cover with the US Army/(NYTimes 07/29/10)/. Pfc. Bradley Manning, now returned from Army incarceration in Kuwait to the Quantico Brig in Virginia, previously released to WikiLeaks a 2007 video showing a US helicopter killing 12 unarmed Iraqis including two Reuters newsmen in Baghdad. WikiLeaks have not identified Pfc. Manning nor anyone else as the source of the current Afghan War Diary covering the period from Jan. 2004 through Dec.2009.

“Nothing new here, nothing we did not know”, we have been reassured by Defense Secretary Bob Gates and White House flak Robert Gibbs: “There is not much here that the public did not know and was not told by the media nor by the Administration”.

Todd Walton: Social Security


Anderson Valley

“The government of my country snubs honest simplicity, but fondles artistic villainy, and I think I might have developed into a very capable pickpocket if I had remained in the public service a year or two.” ~Mark Twain

Today’s mail brought my annual report from the Lord High Chamberlain of the Exchequer informing me that unless I get hyper busy and super lucky, too, and start making gobs of money so the government can tax those gobs and dump loads of loot into my Social Security account, my later years, so-called, will be mean ones, as in Not Fun. True, the scribes toiling for SS (how Naziesque that acronym) are quick to point out that no reasonable human can hope to survive on SS payments alone, that such payments are merely intended to supplement the vast sums they seem to assume we have tucked away in other income-producing niches impervious to downturns in interest rates, stock markets, housing markets, and all other known markets currently falling like lead weights dropped from leaning towers everywhere.

Indeed, the verbiage attached to the SS notice trumpeting the diminutive stipend awaiting me when I crest sixty-six, puts me in mind of the surreal fiction of Calvino and Ionesco and Pinter, their ironic humor barely softening the horror of being eaten alive by the bureaucratic mouths of our overlords. For instance, here is a badly written but highly revealing passage of SS doggerel. “If you retire early, you may not have enough income to enjoy the years ahead of you. Likewise, if you retire late, you’ll have a larger income, but fewer years to enjoy it. Everyone needs to try to find the right balance, based on his or her own circumstances.”

Michael Foley: Local Produce Price Comparisons — Farmers Markets This Saturday 7/31/10


Friends of the Market,

Get set for another booming farmers’ market Saturday morning.  We will likely set yet another record for vendors in attendance.  At the moment I am expecting 36 food vendors, then there are the local crafts. Why not customers as well?

Joining us this weekend for the first time this season will be Elmer’s Orchard with Ukiah area peaches. Barlow Farms from Willits will debut. Red Tail Farm from Potter Valley will be back as will Glowing Lotus farm… tomatoes are starting to happen (but you may still need to be early to get yours) and overall School Street will be one giant salad bowl.  Plus we will have a full range of local meat, seafood, and more for your weekend grill.

Are you one of, apparently many, people who think they cannot afford farm fresh food in these tough economic times?  If so, please read the excellent article by Willits market manager Michael Foley that is pasted below.  Share it with your friends as well.

The market is open every Saturday 8:30 to Noon in Alex Thomas Plaza at School and Clay Streets.


Isn’t Farmers Market more expensive than the supermarket?  Well, no.
by Michael Foley

Surveys have shown that most customers at farmers markets think the produce is more expensive when in fact it isn’t.  That seems to be true for Willits as well.

Wendy Roberts Contracting With Outside Company To Bug You In The 5th District With Phone ‘Polls’


[With Wendy Roberts, what you see here, is what you’ll get here: dumb growth,  privatized services, mall-think, and gated condos as far as the eye can see. Instead, vote for Transition and Localizing. Vote for Dan! -DS]

Wendy Roberts is contracting with the Charlton Co., an Oregon based info gathering  and political strategizing organization who work with the following corporations:

American Automobile Manufacturers Assn.

American Crop Protection Association

American Paper Institute

American Petroleum Institute


Association of California Tort Reform

AT & T

Bank of America

Bechtel, Inc.

Bell Atlantic

Boeing Company

Building Industry Association of the Delta

Business Roundtable

California Assoc. of Hospitals and Health Systems

California Bankers Association

California Cattlemen’s Association

California Forest Products Commission

Staci Mitchell: Taking financial reform into our own hands

YES! Magazine

Wall Street has prospered following the financial crisis—while on Main Street, economic suffering continues

With the passage of the financial reform bill, giant banks see a golden opportunity to finally put the financial crisis, along with their culpability for wrecking our economy, in the rearview mirror.

“We are very pleased to have this certainty and closure,” declared Steve Bartlett when the House-Senate conference committee had finished negotiating. Bartlett is the president of the Financial Services Roundtable, a powerful big bank lobbying group that would like nothing more than to make this legislation the one and only policy response to the banking system’s catastrophic failure.

It’s up to all of us to make sure that it is not.

The economic crisis is not over, and the rot and malfunctioning at the heart of our banking system remains. Indeed, since the collapse, giant banks have only grown bigger and more powerful, and less responsive to the needs of the real economy. While the financial reform bill includes several worthwhile measures, it will not set the industry right or entail a fundamental alteration of its scale and structure.

It leaves us, at best, only modestly less vulnerable to another meltdown. And it fails utterly to confront a deeper problem: even in the best of times, our banking system does not serve us very well.

The Story of Cosmetics






EWG tested the umbilical cord blood of 10 newborn babies and found nearly 300 chemicals, including BPA, fire retardants, lead, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and pesticides that were banned more than 30 years ago.

Speak up for change. Our kids deserve it.

Bills to overhaul federal toxic chemicals policies are now moving through Congress. They would require that all chemicals be proven safe for children before they can be sold. Lawmakers in Washington need to know that you want strong reforms for our broken toxics law.

Please sign this petition to demand that Congress take action to make chemicals in consumer products kid-safe.


Keeping Local Meat Local

Bill and Jim Eklund receive cattle near their farm in Stamford, N.Y.
The next day, the cows will be led into the Modular Harvest System (behind Bill) to be processed.

From NYT

[It’s time for Mendocino County to bring itself current with this obvious solution to local meat. If California law has to be adjusted to deal with this, get it adjusted. The big-time slaughterhouse solution being foisted on our community by economic development groups under the guise of “job creation” is nothing but industrialized farming to supply distant markets in the Bay Area and Sacramento… and that’s a load of uncomposted bull pucky. Humane slaughter on the farm can keep our local meat locally-controlled for local markets. Keep it small and on the farm, or forget it. -DS]

The only indication that I was outside a slaughterhouse was the blood dripping from a pipe jutting out of a pristine white trailer. I’d driven right past the Lego-like set-up — a refrigerated semi-trailer with a half-trailer and a delivery truck stuck onto it — parked behind Eklund’s old farm-machinery shop in Stamford, N.Y. With a former Hollywood trailer situated nearby, I took it for a movie set. But I was looking at the first mobile slaughterhouse for large animals in the Northeast.

It was hard to believe that these four innocuous-looking components may well be the answer to the prayers of livestock farmers.

Organic, grass-fed meat is much in demand in Manhattan restaurants, but little of it is local. It’s not that Hudson Valley farmers aren’t raising it. Who wouldn’t want the extra 25 cents per pound that a 900-pound organically raised cow can bring? But when it comes time to kill (or “harvest”) their animals, farmers have only four slaughter facilities available in the area to go to.

Proposed 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines — A Recipe for Chronic Disease


Weston A. Price Foundation Proposes a Return to Four Basic Groups of Nutrient-Dense Foods

The proposed 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines are a recipe for infertility, learning problems in children and increased chronic disease in all age groups according to Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation.

“The proposed 2010 Dietary Guidelines perpetuate the mistakes of previous guidelines in demonizing saturated fats and animal foods rich in saturated fatty acids such as egg yolks, butter, whole milk, cheese, fatty meats like bacon and animal fats for cooking. The current obesity epidemic emerged as vegetable oils and refined carbohydrates replaced these healthy, nutrient-dense traditional fats. Animal fats supply many essential nutrients that are difficult to obtain from other sources,” explains Fallon Morell.

“The revised Guidelines recommend even more stringent reductions in animal fats and cholesterol than previous versions,” says Fallon Morell, “and are tantamount to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. While the ship of state sinks under the weight of a crippling health care burden, the Committee members are giving us more of the same disastrous advice.  These are unscientific and grossly deficient dietary recommendations.”

The Weston A. Price Foundation is a non-profit nutrition education foundation with no ties to the government or food processing industries. 

Richard Heinberg: We Need a New Myth


[Extracted from an interview in Acres USA, March 2007 – DS]

Over the past 200 years the human population has grown from under one billion to now over 6.5 billion. That’s an extraordinary rate of increase—completely unprecedented in all of previous history. There are various ways of explaining how and why that has happened, but certainly it could not have happened without cheap fossil fuels with which to grow more food and to transport that food from where it’s abundant to where it’s scarce. I think it’s fair to say that there are somewhere between 2 and 4 billion people alive today who probably would not exist if it weren’t for fossil fuels. That’s a little worrisome to think about when one realizes that oil production globally is set to peak any year now, and global natural gas production will not be far behind. If we’re going to avoid to die-off of much of humanity through starvation and disease, we’re going to have to find ways of feeding people without fossil fuels or with a lot less fossil fuel use—and that really means redesigning out entire food system. It means growing more food locally, for local consumption, it means using smaller farm machinery and less of it, it means more people being involved in the process of producing food, and it means growing food with fewer chemicals and fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Fortunately, over the past few decades we have developed information, knowledge, experience and techniques that are capable of growing food intensively, organically and ecologically. Those techniques, those methods desperately need to be expanded and replicated and made the basis for our national and global food system.

The whole chemicals industry arose starting with coal, but natural gas is now the basis for the modern pharmaceutical and agri-chemical industry, and that’s a very worrisome situation here in North America

Book Review: A More Feminine Food System — Farmer Jane


[…] Enter Temra Costa’s new book, Farmer Jane. A compilation of profiles of farmers and food activists, the book groups the women it profiles by what they do — though most likely do several, if not all, of these things — into six chapters (Building new Farm-to-Eater Relationships, Advocates for Social Change, Promoting Local and Seasonal Food, Networks for Sustainable Food, Urban Farm Women and The Next Generation of Sustainable Farmers), each with a “recipe for action,”…

With all due respect to the “farm moms” featured in Monsanto’s Mom of the Year contest, Farmer Jane paints a more dynamic picture of women farmers, many of whom don’t adhere to the “typical” farm stereotype, who instead focus on their creative approaches to food production and marketing, as well as the politics that influence their work (otherwise known as our meals)…

A few of the dynamic women farmers profiled in Farmer Jane:

  • Nancy Vail, who entered into a creative partnership to fund Pie Ranch, and, inspired by the shape of her land, used it to her advantage, luring youths out to her farm with the promise of pie.
  • Erika Allen, who incorporated her knowledge of art, knowing that in order to sell urban farming to a town like Chicago, it had better be aesthetically pleasing, of Growing Power Chicago.
  • Deborah Koons Garcia — the filmmaker who knew to use media as a tool for education, with whom Costa now runs a radio show called Queens of Green.
  • Denise O’Brien — the farmer/activist perhaps best known for her (close) run for Secretary of Agriculture in Iowa, profiled here for founding Women, Food and Agriculture Network… More here.

The Man Behind WikiLeaks (video)

Click Post Title For Full Screen

Hungry for Meatless? Horny as All-Get-Out? Need a Drinky-Poo?

Rock Island, IL

The high summer day slides languorously toward evening as the cicadas grind out their metallic song. Your gastric longings peak at a level that can almost be described as libidinous.

Your teeth and taste buds crave something substantial, like flesh, yet lighter, like farfel bathed sparingly in cream sauce. They want something savory and assertive, something that will hang on the tongue but not in the belly.

Your conscience, which always sits down to dine with you whether you know it or not, requires something seasonal and local, and your damned imagination interrupts with talk of color and texture. “Show me a palate,” it says. “Give me something soft yet crunchy, warm yet cold.”

In this season of oxymorons, let not your hearts be trouble; neither let them be confused. The most prefectest and yet simplest meal awaits you. It’s more simpler than good grammar.

So for the moment disregard what an English wag once said about his neighbors to the east (“nice place, France; pity about the French”) and pull a nice big French baguette out of the freezer—one of those prepared numbers that needs only to be baked for a short period of time. The ones I get need about eight minutes at 375.

(You can make your own, it is true. But remember that the day is already slipping into evening.)

Set the baguette down on a counter top cleared of all clutter. Remember: the mise en place is part of the experience.

The Financial and Political Big Picture

The Automatic Earth

As The Automatic Earth has grown and continued to catalogue the on-going financial crisis, it has been getting increasingly difficult for readers to find our view of the big picture in one place. Since it has been exactly one year since we issued our first primer guide, and several new primers have been added in the meantime, it seems an opportune moment to offer an updated distillation of our worldview.

The Resurgence of Risk, which appeared at The Oil Drum Canada in August 2007 provides the background to how we came to be in our present predicament. It is by far the longest of the primers, and its purpose is to explain in some depth the nature of our credit bubble, the role of ‘financial innovation’, the distinction between currency inflation and credit hyper-expansion and the mechanism by which value disappears as a bubble deflates.

For further explanation of the ponzi nature of bubbles, the spectrum of ponzi dynamics underlying many economic phenomena and the implications of this for where we are headed, see From the Top of the Great Pyramid.

This ties in with an earlier piece from The Oil Drum Canada, Entropy and Empire , detailing the progression of hegemonic power from empire to empire, as each rises, over-reaches, falls and passes the mantle on to its successor.

The political picture is further developed in Economics and the Nature of Political Crisis, with a more specific look at Europe in The Imperial Eurozone (With all That Implies).

When bubbles reach their maximum extent, they invariably deflate. Our explanation as to why this is inevitable can be found in Inflation Deflated, followed by, The Unbearable Mightiness of Deflation, a rebuttal to inflationist Gary North. An Interview with Stoneleigh provides a more recent and more comprehensive piece on deflation and its consequences.

America, There Is a Better Way: It’s Called Social Democracy


What anemic America can learn from Europe’s export-happy engine and largest social democracy

Nearly two years after the financial crisis brought the U.S. economy to its knees, more than 20 million Americans are either unemployed or underemployed and Congress can barely extend jobless benefits. Republicans propose the same old nostrums–tax cuts–while President Barack Obama burnishes his deficit hawk credentials. Nearly everyone in power appears content to return to the status quo, circa 2007, with a few tweaks in place.

Even worse, alternatives to U.S.-style capitalism — and its attendant inequality, poverty and instability — are harder than ever to glimpse, as the sovereign debt crisis across the Atlantic distracts U.S media and politicians, once again, from the impressive achievements of European social democracies. That’s a shame, because if we can’t imagine a better world, our political and economic status quo appears inevitable and uncontestable, much to the benefit of those in power.

Thankfully, we have Thomas Geoghegan’s new book Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?: How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life (The New Press, 2010) to remind us that things like tax cuts for the wealthy, a healthcare system controlled by corporations and privatized retirement schemes are not inevitable.

The book’s central mission–to detail a more humane form of capitalism — couldn’t be more relevant to overworked Americans quietly thinking to themselves, there has to be a better way. Indeed, there is: Contrary to apocalyptic U.S. news articles, European-style social democracy is not about to go extinct. Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that Europe is not an undifferentiated mass of debt, socialist profligacy and unemployment.

Complete article here.

Wendell Berry: What Else?


For more than 100 years the coal-producing counties of eastern Kentucky have been dependent on the coal industry, which has dominated them politically and, submitting only to the limits of technology, has come near to ruining them. The legacy of the coal economy in the Kentucky mountains will be immense and lasting damage to the land and to the people. Much of the damage to the land and the streams, and to water quality downstream, will be irreparable within historical time. The lastingness of the damage to the people will, to a considerable extent, be determined by the people.

The future of the people will, in turn, be determined by the kind of economy that may come to supplement and finally to replace the economy of coal. Contrary to my own prejudice and sense of caution, I am going to yield here, briefly, to the temptation to talk about the future.

In talking about the future, wishes have a certain standing. My wish for eastern Kentucky, as for the rest of the state, is that the economies of the future might originate in the local use of local intelligence. The coal economy, by contrast, has been an imposed economy, coming in from the outside and also coming down from the high perches of wealth and power. It is the product of an abstracting industrial and mercenary intelligence, alien both to the nature of the land and to the minds and lives of the people. But as we humans seem always to have known, though we have often needed to be reminded, freedom is founded upon the land and upon the free use of local intelligence in husbanding the land. Disfranchisement approaches the absolute when powerful outsiders do your thinking for you. This can happen only when local intelligence is degraded and disvalued and when, as a consequence, political responsibility is sold out.

What is Lump Charcoal and Why Use It?


[Years ago, when I learned Alice Waters over at Chez Panisse in Berkeley used Lazzari Mesquite Charcoal in her restaurant grilling, I converted from briquettes and have used only Mesquite since. The co-op now carries lump charcoal and so does the Farm Supply. I get large bags of Lazzari Mesquite from Harvest Market in Fort Bragg when we are over on the coast. Lamb sausage hot dogs, and lamb burgers, from Owens Family Farm in Hopland, over mesquite… oh, yeah! I’m headed to the Farmers Market right now. And: Is lump charcoal a local business opportunity? (see photos below) -DS]

What is charcoal?

In general, wood charcoal is a substance obtained by partial burning or destructive distillation of wood. It is largely pure carbon. Wood charcoal is prepared by heating wood in the absence of oxygen. In this process volatile compounds in the wood (e.g., water, hydrogen, methane and tars) pass off as vapors into the air, and the carbon is converted into charcoal. (Tar is a generic name for big, smoky, sticky molecules that form liquids when they’re cool. The tars, in particular, can contain carcinogenic compounds, like benzo-A-pyrene.) With the volatile component driven off, you are left with wood charcoal that is about 20 to 25-percent of the original volume of the wood. It’s chiefly carbon, with traces of volatile chemicals and ash. When it burns, it won’t produce as much smoke as burning wood, and it will burn long, hot and steady. Charcoal, being almost pure carbon, yields a larger amount of heat in proportion to its volume than is obtained from a corresponding quantity of wood.

What forms does charcoal come in?

As far as cooking is concerned, there are two main forms, lump charcoal and briquettes. Lump charcoal is charcoal which has not been formed into briquettes. Briquettes are the pillow shaped little pieces of compressed ground charcoal.

Which is better, lump or briquettes?

Tony Miksak: Heard At The Bookshop

Words on Books KZYX
Thanks to Tom Davenport

I’ve been out of the bookselling biz for some time now. That old familiar monkey on my back bothers someone else with his bad breath, scratchy claws and constant demands for attention.

This week it all came back – the adventure, the heartbreak, the humor of working in an independent bookstore. It seems that bookseller Cynthia Christensen of Book Stop in Hood River, Oregon, recently came down with pneumonia and laryngitis, and her husband stepped in for a couple of weeks in her place.

He kept notes:

“Do you have this used?” (Customer holds up a book just released in paperback that day.) “It was just released today.” “But you’re a used bookstore.” “Sorry, they haven’t figured out how to print them used.”

“Do you have a restroom? My son needs to poop.”

“I’m just browsing.”

“I’m just killing time.”

“Can my kids stay here while I’m eating next door?”

“There’s a hair on this sofa.”

“Can I make you a deal on this book?”

“Have you seen my wife?”

“Do you have maps?” (Looks at map, copies directions, incorrectly folds map, leaves it on the sofa.)

“Where am I?”


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