Willits Albion

Organic Money


From GENE LOGSDON
Upper Sandusky, Ohio

Recently I was invited to a most unusual gathering. The event was not officially called a “Conference On Advanced Economic Trends” but if it had been held at a university, it would surely have been given a high-sounding name like that. Instead it was held on a working farm and was called “Our Garlic Festival.”

The farm is Jandy’s, after its owners, Andy Reinhart and Jan Dawson. They make their living growing and selling vegetables from less than two acres of their little farm, mostly at the farmer’s market in nearby Bellefountaine, Ohio. Locally Jan and Andy are revered organic garden farmers. One look at their crops will tell anyone who knows anything about organic gardening just how remarkably skilled they are at their craft. Sometimes a head of their bibb lettuce barely fits into a bushel basket. They don’t need to have organic certification. Their customers know that if Jan and Andy say its organic, rest assured that it is organic. They don’t sell commodities; they sell the fruit of their dedicated way of life, drops of their sweat and blood.

Keep reading at OrganicToBe
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Journalism Is Killing America


From emptywheel

Five years ago, the traditional media helped Bush pitch a war that got 4,337 service men and women killed in Iraq (to say nothing of the thousands and thousands of Iraqis killed).

Now, traditional media journalism is back to killing Americans, in this case by deliberately misrepresenting public views on health care reform. EJ Dionne describes how at least one network refused to cover civil, informative town halls.

But what if our media-created impression of the meetings is wrong? What if the highly publicized screamers represented only a fraction of public opinion? What if most of the town halls were populated by citizens who respectfully but firmly expressed a mixture of support, concern and doubt?

There is an overwhelming case that the electronic media went out of their way to cover the noise and ignored the calmer (and from television’s point of view “boring”) encounters between elected representatives and their constituents.

Over the past week, I’ve spoken with Democratic House members, most from highly contested districts, about what happened in their town halls. None would deny polls showing that the health-reform cause lost ground last month, but little of the probing civility that characterized so many of their forums was ever seen on television.

Ukiah Mendocino: Who’s Polluting Our Local Water?


From RON EPSTEIN
Ukiah

Across the nation, the system that Congress created to protect the nation’s waters under the Clean Water Act of 1972 today often fails to prevent pollution. The New York Times has compiled data on more than 200,000 facilities that have permits to discharge pollutants and collected responses from states regarding compliance. Information about facilities contained in this database comes from two sources: the Environmental Protection Agency and the California State Water Resources Control Board. The database does not contain information submitted by the states.

Go to 95482 map and list here

Go to story Toxic Waters at NYT here
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Ukiah Mendocino: Slave Wage Mall Jobs Get DDR CEO His Castle


From Cleveland Magazine (August 2008)
A Tour of DDR CEO Scott Wolstein’s Castle RAVENCREST

[There’s an old Ry Cooder song “The Very Thing That Makes You Rich Makes Me Poor.” As Chinese slave-wage  sweatshop labor turns out more cheap crap for our storage lockers and landfill, Mendocino County is being offered 700 slave-wage, soul-killing dumb jobs here at home to dispose of it all from our very own Monster Mall, while they keep the high-paying smart jobs in Ohio. Meanwhile, the recently-resigned Monster Mall CEO enjoys this 36,000-square-feet castle. Before the hoardes of Ohio homeless and unemployed start coming over the hill for food and shelter, he best get the servants out digging the moat. Let’s take a tour, shall we? -DS]

When it’s time to get cleaned up, he hops in an 11-foot-long, custom-tiled porcelain shower. Afterward, he’ll relax and catch a show or two on the plasma TV that hangs just in front of the plush cushions he rests on.

Only we’re not referring to the man of the house. We’re talking about his dog.

What makes Wolstein’s house so special isn’t any one thing. It’s that it has everything: an infinity pool, indoor basketball court, indoor climbing wall, indoor pool with grotto-style hot tub, steam room, sauna and massage room.

Big Food vs. Big Insurance



From MICHAEL POLLAN
New York Times

TO listen to President Obama’s speech on Wednesday night, or to just about anyone else in the health care debate, you would think that the biggest problem with health care in America is the system itself — perverse incentives, inefficiencies, unnecessary tests and procedures, lack of competition, and greed.

No one disputes that the $2.3 trillion we devote to the health care industry is often spent unwisely, but the fact that the United States spends twice as much per person as most European countries on health care can be substantially explained, as a study released last month says, by our being fatter. Even the most efficient health care system that the administration could hope to devise would still confront a rising tide of chronic disease linked to diet.

That’s why our success in bringing health care costs under control ultimately depends on whether Washington can summon the political will to take on and reform a second, even more powerful industry: the food industry.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three-quarters of health care spending now goes to treat “preventable chronic diseases.” Not all of these diseases are linked to diet — there’s smoking, for instance — but many, if not most, of them are.

We’re spending $147 billion to treat obesity, $116 billion to treat diabetes, and hundreds of billions more to treat cardiovascular disease and the many types of cancer that have been linked to the so-called Western diet. One recent study estimated that 30 percent of the increase in health care spending over the past 20 years could be attributed to the soaring rate of obesity, a condition that now accounts for nearly a tenth of all spending on health care.
Go to article at NYT
Thanks to Janie Sheppard and Evan Johnson
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Biological Agriculture’s First Rule



From ELIOT COLEMAN
Harborside, Maine
Excerpted from The Winter Harvest Handbook (2009)

Once you become determined to eliminate the cause of insects and disease rather than just mask the symptoms, a whole new world opens up. A plant bothered by pest or disease need no longer be seen in the negative. The plant can now be looked upon as your coworker. It is communicating with you. It is saying that conditions are not conducive to its optimum growth and that if the plants are to be healthier next year, the soil must be improved.

But to succeed at that you have to accept what I call the first rule of biological agriculture–“Nature makes sense.” If something is not working, it is the farmer’s, not Nature’s, fault. The farmer has made the mistake. You have to have faith in the rational design of the natural world, and thus have an expectation of success, if you hope to understand the potential for succeeding. To do so, it helps to restate Darwin more correctly as “the un-survival of the unfit.”
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Learn by Observing

Take your lawn as an example. Say you have a lawn that is growing mostly crab grass, sorrel, dandelions, and other weeds but none of the finer grasses that you would prefer. There are two courses of action. For one you could purchase all the heavily advertised nostrums, herbicides, fertilizers, and stimulants to suppress the weed competition so the finer grasses would be able to struggle ahead. Conversely, you could study the optimum growing conditions for the grasses you want and then by adding compost, rock powders, peat moss, manure, aerating, draining, or whatever seemed indicated, you could try to create the soil conditions under which the finer grasses thrive. If you doubt this approach, look closely at wild vegetation on undisturbed land.

People Are Finally Talking About Food, and You Can Thank Wendell Berry for That


From MICHAEL POLLAN
The Nation and Alternet

This article is adapted from Michael Pollan’s introduction to Bringing It to the Table, a collection of Wendell Berry’s writings out this fall from Counterpoint.

Wendell Berry’s now-famous formulation, “eating is an agricultural act” — is perhaps his signal contribution to the rethinking of food and farming under way today.

A few days after Michelle Obama broke ground on an organic vegetable garden on the South Lawn of the White House in March, the business section of the Sunday New York Times published a cover story bearing the headline Is a Food Revolution Now in Season? The article, written by the paper’s agriculture reporter, said that “after being largely ignored for years by Washington, advocates of organic and locally grown food have found a receptive ear in the White House.”

Certainly these are heady days for people who have been working to reform the way Americans grow food and feed themselves — the “food movement,” as it is now often called. Markets for alternative kinds of food — local and organic and pastured — are thriving, farmers’ markets are popping up like mushrooms and for the first time in many years the number of farms tallied in the Department of Agriculture’s census has gone up rather than down. The new secretary of agriculture has dedicated his department to “sustainability” and holds meetings with the sorts of farmers and activists who not many years ago stood outside the limestone walls of the USDA holding signs of protest and snarling traffic with their tractors.

Cheap words, you might say; and it is true that, so far at least, there have been more words than deeds — but some of those words are astonishing. Like these: shortly before his election, Barack Obama told a reporter for Time that “our entire agricultural system is built on cheap oil”… Complete article at AlterNet
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Community Building in a World of Shrinking Energy Resources


From DON SANDERSON
Mendocino County

Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better … and the catastrophe toward which this world is headed – the ecological, social, demographic, or general breakdown of civilization – will be unavoidable.
–Václav Havel, then president of Czechoslovakia, in a speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, February, 1990

The American political establishment and press were ecstatic that playwright Havel, the president of a recently communist country, should come the U.S. and praise freedom. But, they entirely overlooked what he was saying.

Earlier in the century, phenomenologist philosopher Edmund Husserl was contending that theoretical knowledge had lost contact with living human experience. In 1936, Husserl wrote a powerful treatise on the subject, “The Crisis of European Sciences” (in German), in which he asserted that the morally ordered world of our prereflective lived experience is inseparable from Nature, what he described as the common life-world. Lebenswelt. Havel wrote that Husserl’s understanding of “the natural world” and “the world of lived experience” are reliable vectors through which to approach “the spiritual framework of modern civilization and the source of the present crisis.” He identified children, working people, and peasants as “far more rooted in what some philosophers call the natural world… than most modern adults.” “They have not grown alienated from the world of their actual personal experience,” he wrote, “the world which has its morning and its evening, its down (the earth) and its up (the heavens), where the sun rises daily in the east, traverses the sky and sets in the west …”

Ukiah Mendocino: No on Measure A – Letter from Laytonville


From ROBIN THOMPSON
Laytonville

[Hey DDR Slicksters! C’mon down from your castles and let’s get on with the debates! -DS]

To the Editor:
Ukiah Daily Journal

I recently received the Mendocino County Tomorrow (MCT) Open Letter (vote ‘yes’ on measure A) from Danny Rosales concerning the DDR vs. Mendocino County debacle (depending on which side of the issue it’s viewed from).

Mr. Rosales starts with the standard bag of worries by appealing to everyone’s fears about everything as a way of gaining a foothold in his argument. After almost a decade of that tactic, I grow weary of listening to that as the basis for discussion. Sure we are in hard economic times, but are Americans so afraid of challenges that we are willing place all our eggs in yet another big business basket? I hope that is not an accurate depiction of our society now.

Mr. Rosales states that the MCT vision statement “…is to promote responsible community growth…” How responsible is it to promote importing more millions of metric cubic tons of, essentially, garbage consumables from China and elsewhere? Aren’t our dumps full enough? Aren’t our storage units jammed full? Mr. Rosales goes on to parrot words like “sustainable.” Yeah, sustaining DDR and Big Box stores.

If DDR considers dealing with our county “…more difficult than climbing Mount Everest…”, then I don’t think much of DDR’s hand wringing and incapable staff. Could they even manage the whole thing well from here forward? DDR is the one with the big bucks to bash their way through any obstacle so why the whining?