Posts Tagged ‘politics’

green books campaign: the raw milk revolution

November 10, 2009

This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 great books printed in an environmentally friendly way. Our goal is to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books. This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website.

The Raw Milk Revolution: Behind America’s Emerging Battle Over Food Rights
by David E. Gumpert
(with foreword by Joel Salatin)
Chelsea Green Publishing
Printed on recycled paper

What do government regulators have against raw milk?

The Raw Milk Revolution is an exploration of this and other relevant questions in a time when the entire industrialized food system is coming into question.

Based on his blog, The Complete Patient, David Gumpert provides a reasonable, balanced, and straightforward account of the pros and cons of raw milk consumption and the legal constraints placed on its production.

The book provides historic context of the dairy industry, from about the time of the Industrial Revolution to more recent regulatory history regarding food safety. It balances past events with the current trend toward consuming raw dairy, explaining both the purported risks and benefits of the product that comes unadulterated from the cow (or goat or sheep).

A taste of the past
Pasteurization was a response to the increasingly deplorable conditions and industrialization of dairy farming. As dairy operations crowded into cities and were coupled with distilleries for “efficient” use of grain (as cow feed, something cows do not naturally eat), cows became sicker, farms became a breeding ground for pathogens.

An emotionally charged debate
But is the method of pasteurization – slow on the uptake at the turn of the century, yet widely used today – still valid? Is it making us safer? The answer is somewhat unclear. The rates of raw-milk–related illness are debatable, depending on who you ask. According to some groups, like [grass-fed] raw-milk advocates the Weston A. Price Foundation, the rates are inflated, while state and federal agencies argue that raw milk carries an inherent risk to health. As do parents of children who may have become seriously ill from it.

Raw milk is outlawed in 28 out of 50 states. But the incidence of other food-borne illnesses is just as high, if not higher, than that of raw milk. Even pasteurized milk carries some risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the highest rates of listeria illness are due to deli meat. If deli meat is 10 times more likely to expose you to listeria illness than raw milk, why isn’t it restricted or outlawed?

Another question I kept asking is: Why can’t we just put a label on raw milk and let consumers decide whether they want to take the supposed risk? Or more to the point, why don’t consumers have the right to choose their foods, raw or treated?

A question of rights
Joel Salatin, now famous farmer of Polyface Farms in Virginia, posits in the foreword,

The only reason the right to food choice was not guaranteed in the Bill of Rights is because the Founders of America could not have envisioned a day when selling a glass of raw milk or homemade pickles to a neighbor would be outlawed. At the time, such a thought was as strange as levitation.

Indeed, what good is the freedom to own guns, worship, or assemble if we don’t have the freedom to eat the proper fuel to energize us to shoot, pray, and preach? Is not freedom to choose our food at least as fundamental a right as the freedom to worship?

Due to the current laws regarding the sale of raw milk, people who choose to produce it are putting themselves at risk of government crackdown in order to fulfill a growing demand. Something is compelling consumers to, in many cases, cross state lines to obtain raw milk. Often, these consumers are pregnant women and mothers. Why are people putting themselves and their families at risk of breaking the law in order to potentially put themselves at risk of illness?

Having tasted raw milk and, unknowingly, carrying it over state lines illegally, The Raw Milk Revolution left me wanting to take the risk again, maybe in order to prove that the benefits are worth the risks.

I think I now have more questions than answers regarding the raw milk debate, but perhaps this is the point – to keep the questions coming with regard to food and our right to choose what we consider healthful to eat.

For more on the raw milk debate, visit The Complete Patient.

Founded in 2007, Eco-Libris is a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. To achieve this goal Eco-Libris is working with book readers, publishers, authors, bookstores and others in the book industry worldwide. Until now Eco-Libris balanced out over 110,000 books, which results in more than 120,000 new trees planted with its planting partners in developing countries.

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save coal river mountain

November 5, 2009

As I’ve mentioned many times before, the destructive practices of mountaintop removal coal mining are not just devastating the ecology of the Appalachian mountains, they’re destroying the health and livelihood of the Appalachian community. Please take action to end this filthy, immoral practice:

Today, organizations across the nation are joining forces with iLoveMountains.org to send a powerful message to the Obama Administration that blasting on America’s Most Endangered Mountain-Coal River Mountain- needs to stop now. This could be the largest day of action on mountaintop removal ever, and we need your help to make history.

Use the form to send your message now.

Coal River Mountain is the last remaining mountain untouched by mountaintop removal in the Coal River Valley of southern West Virginia- but Massey Energy wants to turn it into a 6,600-acre mountaintop removal wasteland. Local residents have a different vision for Coal River Mountain – a wind farm that could provide 70,000 households with clean energy, sustainable jobs and a symbol of hope for new industry in the Appalachian coalfields.

The fate of Coal River Mountain is still uncertain, but its implications for our energy future are clear. Will we continue down the path of destroying our nation’s oldest mountains for a few years worth of coal, or seize the opportunity to produce clean wind power and generate green jobs and a new energy economy?

Please send your message now.

are we living in the age of stupid?

September 4, 2009

I’m inclined to say yes. And I’d like to confirm my suspicions by watching this:

The Age of Stupid Global Premiere Trailer from Age of Stupid on Vimeo.

This isn’t just a film about climate change and what could happen if the most severe predictions come to fruition. It’s also a global call to action (before the film even launches). I think director Franny Armstrong and the producers learned from the anti-climactic, uninspiring suggestions at the end of An Inconvenient Truth for individual energy consumption reduction.* Of course, I think each of us is responsible for our ecological actions, but something as big as climate change requires the attention and concerted effort of policy makers around the world. And the film’s release just happens to coincide with the UN General Assembly’s climate session.

*Not to discount Gore’s own current efforts to thwart climate change.

Want to see what the world might look like if our climate nightmares come true? The Age of Stupid premieres September 21/22.

Find out where it’s playing.

Find out what you can do to help.

now see this! crude, sweet crude

August 28, 2009

We all know by now that petroleum is poison and that it’s time to move on to cleaner & more ethical forms of fuel, right? Well, I guess not everyone is getting the message, including of course the oil companies themselves. Two films expose the dirty, unjust, and plain despicable practices of big oil. Check out the trailers and reviews below:

Crude

Coming to IFC Center Soon (9/9/09)
Check if it’s playing near you

The Official Site

Read a review of Crude [AlterNet]

Sweet Crude

The Official Site

Read a review of Sweet Crude [Variety]

forbidden sweetness

August 11, 2009

As we rebel against the current crappy industrialized food system, and as more & more people migrate to big cities, urban agriculture is going to become more & more prevalent. And where would a successful urbanized & localized agricultural system be without pollinators?

By pollinators in this case, I’m strictly talking bees.

Unlike other cities across the nation, beekeeping is still illegal in NYC. Despite that little obstacle, it’s becoming increasingly popular, especially in Brooklyn.

Here’s a great little video featuring some Brooklyn restaurateurs who are in the business of bees:

Brooklyn’s Urban Beekeepers: Breaking The Law For The Planet (Part I) from SkeeterNYC on Vimeo.

Read more about the work being done to legalize beekeeping.

Sign the petition to legalize the bees.

standing up for bees

June 24, 2009


[Image: Green Brooklyn]

There’s a movement happening in this city right now to develop a strong localized food system. Urban farms, community gardens, backyards, and rooftops are the sites for productive vegetable gardens, chicken coops, and even rabbit raising. People who care about food and where it comes from are going to great lengths to find space to grow. And some are even breaking the law to ensure greater success of these urban crops. They’re illegally keeping bees.

A matter of sustainability
In places like Chicago, San Francisco, and Atlanta, beekeeping is considered part of the city’s long-term sustainability plan. Bees are even kept in the White House garden. But in this city, according to sustainable food advocacy group Just Food,

The New York City Health Code under Section 161.01 prohibits the possession, keeping, harboring and selling of ‘wild animals.’ This ban’s listing of ‘all venomous insects’ includes bees and in doing so outlaws beekeeping.

The perceived risk (allergies, swarming) by few is limiting opportunities for many.

Without bees, we’d all have less food. Einstein didn’t say this, but it’s still rings true to an extent,

If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.

In a post on The Daily Green (2007),

Of about 240,000 flowering plants in North America, three quarters require the pollination of a bee, bird, bat or other animal or insect in order to bear fruit. Since many of our food crops – with the exception of grains – are imports, the imported honey bee is key to our food supply. Beyond that, no other pollinator can be collected, moved and unleashed to pollinate fields of crops like commercial beekeepers can do with honey bee colonies.

So losing bees would have repercussions throughout the food supply chain.


Legalize the bees!
In February, Councilman David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights) introduced legislation to lift the ban on beekeeping. And yesterday he spoke at a press conference in front of city hall backed by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (not “Stinger” as he joked), Executive Director of Just Food Jackie Berger, other Just Food members, beekeepers, urban farmers, and concerned citizens (that would be me).


[David Yassky, Scott Stringer, Deborah Romano, and a swarm of press]

We were all there not just in support of lifting the ban on beekeeping, but to support Park Slope resident Deborah Romano who received a fine for beekeeping and was ordered to remove her hive. Talking about the complaint brought against her, Deborah told the AP yesterday,

“I don’t know why (that neighbor) did it,” she said at the rally. “But my guess is that it probably was a combination of ignorance and fear. They didn’t understand how vital bees are to our very existence on the planet, and a more livable existence in NYC. They probably didn’t realize that honeybees and other pollinating insects are more endangered than dangerous.”

Bees work for me
As someone who uses honey on a daily basis, I’d prefer if the sweet nectar came from right here in Brooklyn than be shipped in from upstate or beyond. I also prefer beeswax candles to paraffin, a petroleum byproduct, or even soy, which is most likely a genetically modified crop.

If we could produce these items locally, it would boost our economy, improve the local food production system, provide the community with products to be proud of, and offer beekeepers the peace of mind that performing their craft brings.

NYC beekeeping in the news and blogosphere

NYC beekeeping resources

It’s Pollinator Week!
And there are still some fun events to partake in:

Hidden Hives Tour & Mead Tasting
@ Jimmy’s No. 43
Thu 6/25

Honey Fest
@ Union Square Greenmarket
Fri 6/26

Honey Tasting
@ The Unfancy Food Show
Sun 6/28

…And more!

For more info visit: www.justfood.org/bees

this just in from just food

June 23, 2009

If you care about food issues in NYC, here’s your chance to get involved!

Join us at two important City Council Hearings on food justice issues…today and tomorrow!

June 23rd Hearing on Food Access Disparities, 1pm

Today at 1pm the NYC Council’s Committee on Community Development will be holding an oversight hearing on the topic “Access to Fresh Food in NYC Neighborhoods and Associated Health, Economic, and Community Impacts”. The hearing will be held on the 16th Floor Hearing Room at 250 Broadway.

Local groups have prepared testimonies to present at the hearing, and written testimony is also being accepted. Come, listen, engage!

Buzzzzzzz: Come a little early and attend the Pollinator Week press conference, 12:30pm at City Halls steps and hear Council Member David Yassky, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and representatives from Just Food, East New York Farms and local beekeepers give support to legislation that will legalize beekeeping in NYC!

June 24th Hearing on Community Gardens, 10am

Action Alert from the NYC Community Gardens Coalition:

JOIN US AT CITY HALL WEDNESDAY JUNE 24 @ 10AM
FOR AN IMPORTANT CITY COUNCIL HEARING ON THE FUTURE OF OUR GARDENS!

We urgently need all gardeners and garden supporters to bring your voices and letters of concern to a public hearing sponsored by City Council’s Committee on Parks and Recreation at City Hall and speak up for the preservation of all community gardens! We need as many people as possible to attend to prove our political (voting) power – so bring friends and forward this message far and wide!

If you are a Parks or a city-operated GreenThumb community garden and think you are safe, THINK AGAIN! Your garden is not safe, as the Attorney General’s agreement that saved us in 2002 is set to expire in 2010 with NO OTHER legislation in place to protect us!

The hearing will focus on the future of community gardens in NYC and specifically Resolution #1890, which calls upon the City to map all GreenThumb community gardens in NYC as parkland, thereby giving them stronger protection for the future!

NYC City Council Hearing on Community Gardens
Wednesday June 24th @ 10:00am
Committee Room @ City Hall

City Hall is located in City Hall Park. You can enter the plaza from either the west side of the park at Broadway and Murray Street or the east side at Park Row.By Subway: #4, #5, #6 trains to City Hall/Brooklyn Bridge; #2, #3 trains to Park Place; W, R trains to City Hall; C, A trains to Chambers Street By Bus: M15 to City Hall/Park Row

Please bring: ID to enter City Hall and 20 copies (double-sided) of your prepared testimony as to why your garden – and all gardens – should be made permanent (if you need help to make copies, please call us – the most important thing is for you to BE THERE!).

Also bring: Youth from your garden (now that school is out – their stories are very powerful), your garden’s scrapbook, pictures, and banners. Our representatives need to understand the deep importance of the community gardens.

If you cannot make the meeting, but want to submit testimony, you can mail or fax it by June 24th to:
Gary Altman, Legislative Council
Council of the City of New York
250 Broadway 15th Floor, New York NY 10007
Att: Community Gardens Hearing – June 24, 2009
Fax: (212) 442-6420 (Attn: Gary Altman)

For more information: See our website for our recommendations to protect our gardens, links to Resolution 1890, the Attorney General’s agreement, and more. If you have any questions, call us at 888-311-3993.

New York City Community Gardens Coalition – United We Grow! The mission of the New York City Community Gardens Coalition is to promote the preservation, creation and empowerment of community gardens through education, advocacy and grass-roots organizing.

Thank you for all you do in advocating for healthier food, farms and communities in New York!

Warm wishes,

Nadia Johnson
Just Food

a philly in the white house garden

June 9, 2009

Just watched this great little vid (via elephant journal, via Huffington Post) featuring Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies and of course, Sam Kass, the White House Chef. What a great way to promote organic gardening and closing the loop with composting. Surely, Mr. Howard is someone many people look up to (literally). Keep spreading the word…

how do you communicate with earth?

May 29, 2009

Ok, this isn’t some new-agey thing. I mean, how can you communicate with other people around the planet about the planet? Connect2Earth can help you do just that.

Connect2Earth is a collaboration of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), and Nokia that brings together people who have questions about environmental issues with the scientists who have the answers.

When you join the Connect2Earth network, you gain access to leading experts in fields like climate change, species extinction, and renewable energy. Members can also upload videos, engage in debate, enter contests, and follow live discussions of the topics that interest them most.

It’s a great way to connect with others interested in reducing their impact on the planet and express views on how to improve the outcome.

Connect2Earth is still in beta, but with a focus on younger participants, I think it’ll take off in no time.

listen to this man

April 17, 2009

Van Jones on Focus the Nation