Saturday, June 27, 2009

How I Support My Local Food Producers

I was at my local farmer's market this morning. Thankfully it was busy. Hopping with customers and lots of produce booths.

Most of my vegetables I now get from my local CSA (see my post about community supported agriculture) and would love nothing more than for my CSA to have a pickup spot at my local farmer's market -- here's hoping. So, I buy extra, needed veggies (like if I need more lettuce or onions than appear in my CSA weekly box) at the farmer's market and nearly all our fruits. Sometimes we buy freshly baked bread.

There's an organic farmer at my farmer's market who sells seasonal fruit all yearround. I love the guy!!! He is so genuine. I can say I actually know who grows the food my family eats!!!! I bought a BIG bag of seasonal peaches, plums, and nectarines -- ALL ORGANIC. I said nothing would make me happier than if I had a reason to buy him out for the day. Then he said, "I sometimes drive home at night from these farmer's markets and wish someone would stop my truck and say 'I want to buy all your fruit.' But then I wouldn't get to talk to the folks at the markets." A rare moment of sincerity.

I used to get eggs at the farmer's market, but not now. They aren't cage free and aren't organic -- so I go to my local grocer for that.

My farmer's market also has a booth for "catch of the day." It's a local guy selling fish. But I stood there and went through each of his offerings, comparing them to Seafood Watch recommendations -- all of them were on the avoid list. So, even though frustration showed all over his face, I talked to him about how "catch of the day" doesn't mean sustainable. Wild doesn't even mean sustainable. And that he could sell more fish to the enlightened crowd that comes to these farmer's markets if he were to sell fish exclusively on the Seafood Watch Best Choices List and advertise as such. I think he still doesn't get it. So, next week I'm going to take him a seafood watch card and talk to him more about it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

REVIEW: Food, Inc.

In another film review this week, I present "Food, Inc." A trailer is posted below.

This documentary has received more press and interest than my last review "The End of the Line" but both films are equally important and required films, I believe, for the public and politicians at large.

"Food, Inc." deals with the industrialization, ownership, and safety of our food -- your food, your family's food, your health, and your future.

Most people who are not following environmental and organic-themed articles on a regular basis would find this documentary revealing and shocking. And guess what? They might actually change their food buying behaviors after seeing this film. Kudos!

One of the issues in the film that I feel is one of the greatest threats to our food supply is the monopolistic ownership of our food by corporations. Monsanto was a focus of a good portion of the film, since the company has moved into farming by genetically altering seeds and patenting them. The company and its vast money and legal resources has been able to find insane but legal reasons to stop local farmers from saving their own seeds and planting any crops that are not grown from Monsanto's seeds. Not only this, but even with scientific evidence pointing to many health and environmental dangers with genetically altered seeds and animals, large companies like Monsanto have been able to infiltrate the government with powerful relationships and lobbying tactics that have prevented the general public from knowing which foods are altered or not. This has forced many farmers into bankruptcy and puts our food safety and security into question. This issue also threatens the future of organic foods.

The thought I had was, in the end, Monsanto is actually decreasing its sustainability. In a world without crop diversity and heritage seeds, it is conceivable that one error in Monsanto's seed experiments could wipe out an entire crop ... forever. All for greed. May you shudder every time you hear Monsanto's name as a sponsor on NPR (more about this here).

Says The Center for Food Safety in its "Monsanto vs. U.S. Farmers Report":

As growing numbers of farmers become subject to harassment,investigation, and prosecution by Monsanto over supposed infringement of its seed patents and technology agreements, there will have to be increased pressure to reverse the governmental policies that are allowing this persecution. Various policy options include passing local and state-wide bans or moratoriums on plantings of genetically engineered crops; amending the Patent Act so that genetically engineered plants will no longer be patentable subject matter and so that seed saving is not considered patent infringement; and legislating to prevent farmers from being liable for patent infringement through biological pollution. Implementation of these, and a variety of other options discussed in more detail in the report, is critical. Nothing less than the future of America’s farmers and farming communities is at stake.


Here's how you can choose better food and protect the future sustainability of our food:

  • Speak up: Write your government officials and let them know you support The Center for Food Safety's recommendations above, bolded in red. Also, ACT BY JUNE 29 to write in your support of more oversight on genetically modified crops by going to this link at truefoodnow.org.
  • Make everyday changes: Food, Inc.'s website has a list of everyday things you can do to help change our food system, including eating as much organic food as possible, frequenting farmer's markets, opting into a CSA, and reducing the amount of meat you eat.



Monday, June 22, 2009

REVIEW: The End of the Line

This is the first in a series of reviews that I will role out this week of planet/people focused films that I've recently seen.

Over the weekend I saw The End of the Line, a film about overfishing and the state of the oceans' marine life. Recently I talked about the film, after being introduced to Charles Clover at a Monterey Bay Aquarium event in May. Clover is the author of a book by the same name as the film -- he is the environment editor of London's Daily Telegraph and is featured in the piece.

This documentary is quite hard hitting. It is my belief that every politician and citizen in the developed world should see this film. Massive, immediate change is needed in fishing and ocean policies -- and those policies cannot be politically driven. They must be scientifically based. If we did it to save the whales, one can only hope we can do it on a larger scale -- but it will take a lot of voices in high and important places to save our ocean marine life.

One point that was suggested in the film was frightening to me. The fact that some corporations are seemingly fishing species after species down to the last fish, deep freezing them, and waiting until there are no more left of each species so that they can command the highest price in selling off their reserves of a now-extinct species. It sounds like a bad movie, doesn't it?! But this is real-life, human greed gone mad. Are we so insane about money and power that we are willing to implode the planet just to live like a king? Apparently we may be on that path.

Another greater problem (if there could be one) is apathy. People can know a lot about how to take care of themselves but still be obese. The same is true with the marine life problem. You can educate yourself until you're blue in the face but still choose unsustainable seafood and not voice your concerns. This was demonstrated when we went to go see The End of the Line; as we were leaving the theatre I took it upon myself to let the audience members know, as they were coming out of the theatre, that Seafood Watch cards were on a table in the lobby. They looked at me like dazed zombies. I explained what Seafood Watch cards were, and still no takers. This was from a group of people who had just seen a film that knocked them up silly about the need to be more sustainable!

Therefore, ACTION IS THE WORD OF THE DAY.

Here is a link to a post I did on World Oceans Day about the complexities of the overfishing problem and what the average person can do about it.

Below is a trailer of The End of the Line. Find a way to see the film so that you understand the issues more completely, and invite several of your friends to come with you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What to do with the government's report on climate change

Yesterday, the White House released an extensive report on global warming's effects on the U.S. -- "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States." The findings are not new, if you've been following global environmental events, but they surely are revealing in terms of the seriousness that we find ourselves in.

In the findings, we can expect ... more devastating fires, "wild west shoot outs" for water in Western states, more large-scale flooding, ocean rising of critical proportions, ocean ecosystems' destruction, increasing insect infestations, and extreme heat.

For me, all these issues are of big concern to me and my family and highlight the urgency of what do you do to protect and safeguard your family?

The report encourages adaptation to a changing world of climate change, as well as ways to slow down and prevent emissions that caused excessive greenhouse gas emissions in the first place.

In the end, it is all about choices. We are at a critical crossroads. What will be choose? The status quo or a different path?

For our survival, we MUST choose a different path. As the report conveys, we must improve "energy efficiency, using energy sources that do not produce carbon dioxide or produce less of it, capturing and storing carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use, and so on. Choices made about emissions reductions now and over the next few decades will have far reaching consequences for climate-change impacts."

Furthermore, "no matter how aggressively heat-trapping emissions are reduced, some amount of climate change and resulting impacts will continue due to the effects of gases that have already been released. This is true for several reasons. First, some of these gases are very long-lived and the levels of atmospheric heat-trapping gases will remain elevated for hundreds of years or more. Second, the Earth’s vast oceans have absorbed much of the heat added to the climate system due to the increase in heat-trapping gases, and will retain that heat for many decades. In addition, the factors that determine emissions, such as energy-supply systems, cannot be changed overnight. Consequently, there is also a need for adaptation."

Bottom line, this is what you do:
  • Aggressively speak your mind about emissions reduction to your federal and state government representatives, stating that your family's economic viability and physical safety is at stake.

  • Do everything your budget allows to switch to transportation, electronics, household appliances, and other gadgets that are energy efficient, zero-emission producing, and non-fossil-fuel-renewable-energy using. For example, sign up for renewable energy (like wind) through your electrical company today.

  • In water-strapped zones, do your part to conserve water in every way possible and encourage a cap on development that uses more water resources.

  • Plant native trees -- lots of them, everywhere you can. And if you can contribute to legitimate reforestation projects with your money, do it. There is evidence that reforestation has a rapid effect on balancing the climate in your area -- even regionally.

  • Encourage local food growing. As climate change wrecks havoc on growing areas around the world, we need to be able to grow our own food here in the U.S. to feed ourselves without reliance on outside forces.

  • Eat less meat (primarily beef). Livestock contribute a huge amount to greenhouse gases. Convert your family's diet to a vegetarian or Mediterranean diet. <-- These links take you to food pyramids to help you visualize how to eat that way; it's not difficult. You and the planet will be more healthy.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

CNET Lists Greenpeace Electronics Rating

CNET.com, which reviews and reports on electronics and its industry, has now started to add the Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics on the specifications info of many electronics details found on CNET's site.

CNET is listing the green info under "Sustainability" along with the Greenpeace score.

Here is a sample -- scroll to the bottom to see the sustainability rating.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Great idea for your older kids! Greenpeace Organizing Term

I love this program idea -- ship off high school and college students to work with Greenpeace for a term. Awesome!
Greenpeace has what they call a "Greenpeace Organizing Term" to train students how to become environmental leaders and activists, how to run a campaign, leadership and organizing skills, and they obtain solid environmental connections and relationships, as well as are educated about environmental issues. These young adults are put right to work and have the time of their life. And college students can get credit for school with this program.

Greenpeace is now accepting applications for its Fall term.

Monday, June 8, 2009

World Oceans Day - June 8 - How are you helping? hurting?

The oceans are in trouble. Two of their biggests issues are overfishing and warming (due to climate change). One of these issues is immediately solvable. Imagine that.

The solvable issue is overfishing. I wrote about this issue in a previous post: Will There Be Seafood For Your Children When They Are Your Age? Solving this issue is so simple yet so complex.
The simple part is just stop fishing so much -- problem solved.

The complex part is ...
  • Cultures across the globe are now used to eating so much fish of whatever kind they want, and most of that fish is overfished -- so it is a cultural barrier that fuels world markets who are demanding more fish than the oceans can supply

  • Fishing subsidies by governments to fishermen fuel overfishing and destrutive fishing methods, like trawling (which is equated to burning centuries old Amazon forests and killing all the animals in that forest too with no intent or knowledge of restoring any of it ... only underwater) -- HERE'S A SHORT, EDUCATIONAL VIDEO ON TRAWLING




  • Lack of regulation by governments to stop overfishing -- and a lack of interest by governments to disappoint any fisherman or their businesses

  • Rampant piracy of fish in underpoliced areas of the globe, causing a complete wipe out of fish in those areas and leaving nothing behind for local coastal residents to subsist on

  • Aquaculture (farmed fish) in the oceans with (nearly always) a complete disregard for how that farming affects the health of wild populations

  • A public, who when even informed about the dire circumstances of fish populations across the globe don't seem to care and eat whatever they want whenever they want, demanding nothing different from their government, their restaurant, nor their grocer

Do your part today:

  • Eat fish only moderately

  • Eat only fish that are the best options from Seafood Watch
  • You can also look for fish products that are certified with the blue Marine Stewardship Council label.

  • Give your grocer written feedback that you want the store to only sell the best options from Seafood Watch and products with the Marine Stewardship Council label

  • Write your federal and state representatives asking that more regulation be imposed on fishermen and imported fish -- http://www.congress.org/ -- encourage them to watch the documentary "The End of the Line"

Your voice counts!