Shopping and Food, Week 27 2009
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SHOPPING & FOOD
Blogs & Podcasts
>>Gadi Amit blogs about the need to change our consumer behaviors rather than simply "green" our over-consumption behaviors.
>>Food Shortages and Civilizations with Lester Brown - How closely related are food supplies and the stability of a civilization? We'll talk with environmental advocate Lester Brown about food, water, energy, and global stability. Teachers, find more information about using Science Friday as a classroom resource in the Kids' Connection. Via Science Friday from NPR
In the News
>>Choose Fair Trade Cocoa/Chocolate to Choose Slave-Free Cocoa/Chocolate - "The US State Department has reported slavery on many of these cocoa farms, and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture reported in 2002 that nearly 284,000 children were working under unsafe conditions." Via examiner.com
>>Pathogens in our Pork - "Seventy percent of all antibiotics in the United States go to healthy livestock, according to a careful...and that’s one reason we’re seeing the rise of pathogens that defy antibiotics."
>>Crop Scientists Say Biotechnology Seed Companies Are Thwarting Research - "Biotechnology companies are keeping university scientists from fully researching the effectiveness and environmental impact of the industry’s genetically modified crops, according to an unusual complaint issued by a group of those scientists."
>>The Inflection Is Near? - by Thomas Friedman "We have created a system for growth that depended on our building more and more stores to sell more and more stuff made in more and more factories in China, powered by more and more coal that would cause more and more climate change but earn China more and more dollars to buy more and more U.S. T-bills so America would have more and more money to build more and more stores and sell more and more stuff that would employ more and more Chinese ... We can’t do this anymore. " Via NY Times.
>>Organic Farming Beats Genetically Engineered Corn as Response to Rising Global Temperatures - Food security and global warming: Monsanto versus organic. Via Organic Consumers Association.
>>Farmer in Chief - A New York Times article by Michael Pollan stating what the next president can and should do to remake the way we grow and eat our food.
>>Michael Pollan on Food As A National Security Issue - Fresh Air from WHYY, October 20, 2008 · In an open letter to the next president, author Michael Pollan writes about the waning health of America's food systems — and warns that "the era of cheap and abundant food appears to be drawing to a close." The president's food policies, says Pollan, will have a large impact on a wide range of issues, including national security, climate change, energy independence and health care.
Pollan is the author of The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History Of Four Meals and In Defense OF Food: An Eater's Manifesto.
>>Michael Pollan Fixes Dinner - "In this Mother Jones Magazine interview, America's favorite food intellectual talks about ethanol, the carrot lobby, and secularizing food. With audio."
>>"In this fiery and funny talk, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman weighs in on what's wrong with the way we eat now (too much meat, too few plants; too much fast food, too little home cooking), and why it's putting the entire planet at risk."
>>Vegetarian is the New Prius - A great article summarizing the the environmental benefits of eating plant based meals.
>>The World's Top 10 Pesticide Firms - Who Owns Nature? - "According to the report, the world's six largest agrochemical manufacturers, who control nearly 75% of the global pesticide market, are also seed industry giants." Via Organic Consumers Association.
>>Deadly 'superbug' infections spread - The drug-resistant bacterium is now more lethal than AIDS in the U.S., a study shows. "Experts attribute the emergence of the superbugs to indiscriminate use of antibiotics, the failure of patients to complete their antibiotic regimens and the use of antibiotics in animal feed. In each case, incomplete eradication of the bacteria leads to mutations that have increased resistance to the drugs." Via LA Times.
SHOPPINGBecoming an Informed Consumer
>>Green Office Buying Guide - This site will assist anyone interested in purchasing products designed to use water and energy efficiently, preserve trees and natural resources, be less toxic and less polluting, and not threaten air quality.
>>GreenerChoices.org - A very informative environmental section of Consumer Reports.
>>SustainLane.com - An online environmental portal where you can review green products and read others' reviews.
>>ResponsibleShopper.org - GreenAmerica's (formerly CoOp America's) excellent online resource that alerts the public about the social and environmental impact of major corporations while providing opportunities for consumers and investors to vote with their dollars for change.
>>BetterWorldShopper.org - terrific resource created by the author of the Better World Shoppping Guide.
>>Greenopia.com - guide to all things green in our area.
>>Recycled Tissue and Toilet Paper Guide by Greenpeace - Recycled tissue products help protect ancient forest, clean water, and wildlife habitat. Via Greenpeace.
>>EnviroMedia Greenwashing Index - rate real ads by whether you think they're greenwashing or not.
>>CorpWatch Greenwashing Awards - nominate companies that greenwash for this less-than-desirable bimonthly award.
>>MicroPlace - eBay's lending site, where you can make a return of up to 3% off your microloan investment.
>>FINCA - sets up community banks in small villages in developing countries.
>>GlobalGiving - offers a money-back guarantee if you don't like the results, and heads up American projects like helping people affected by Hurricane Katrina.
>>Grameen Foundation - the original microlender, it's credited with reducing rural poverty in Bangladesh by 40%.
>>Kiva - lets you choose a project; loan $25 or more, and you'll receive updates on how the money's being spent - and the idea is that you'll be repaid.
Healthier Food Choices
>>Look at the labels stuck on your fruits and veggies:
* A four-digit number means it's conventionally grown, meaning it was grown with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
* A five-digit number beginning with 9 means it's organic.
* A five-digit number beginning with 8 means it's genetically modified (GM or GMO).
>>Campaign for Healthier Eating in America - "Genetically modified foods are linked to toxic and allergic reactions, sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ studied in lab animals. They are banned by food manufacturers in Europe and elsewhere, yet GMOs are present in the vast majority of processed foods in the US." View a Non-GMO Shopping Guide. Via Institute for Responsible Technology.
>>Download the handy wallet-sized "Shopper's Guide to Pesticides" from Environmental Working Group - Learn which top 12 fruits and vegetables you should always buy and eat organic, and lower your exposure to pesticides by up to 80 percent!
>>Food and Water Watch - is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. They challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.
>>Water Filters: Green Buying Guide - Via Consumer Reports.
>>Farmers' Markets - A complete list of farmers' markets in Los Angeles County
>>FoodDeclaration.org - Assert your right to healthy food and agriculture. Michael Pollan, author of the Omnivores Dilemma and In Defense of Food, edited the third draft of this declaration.
>>VegPledge.com - A resource for those of you looking to dramatically lower your ecological footprint by reducing your consumption of animal products.
Community Supported Agriculture
>>New L.A.-area CSAs and a free organic wine tasting- Find out about local events and sources for CSA's
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)
>>June 21, 1995 a waste "lagoon" holding 8 acres of hog excrement burst
* Gallons of oil spilled by the Exxon-Valdez: 12 Million
* Gallons of putrefying hog urine and feces spilled into the New River in North Carolina 25 Million
* Fish killed as an immediate result: 10-14 Million
* Fish whose breeding area was decimated: Half of all mid-East coast fish species.
* Acres of coastal wetlands closed to shell fishing as a result: 364,000
More Veg, Less Meat
>>VegKit.org - A free resource including, booklet, recipes, advice and current nutritional information
>>CoolYourDiet.org - An online resource connecting diet and global warming, including several links to the UN report detailing the environmental impacts of meat.
>>MeatOutMondays.org - A weekly e-newsletter that delivers a veg recipe, an inspirational message, and an informative feature to help you go without meat every Monday.
>>Blue Ocean Institute FishPhone - send a text to 30644 with the message FISH in all caps, followed by the name of the fish you want to know about, and it'll fire back sustainability info on that species.
>>Seafood Selector - Environmental Defense Fund's downloadable pocket seafood selector and up-to-date list for the skinny on the most and least sustainable fish.
>>National Resources Defense Council - Mercury info and another pocket-sized seafood selector that focuses on mercury levels.
Documentaries on SHOPPING & FOOD
>>Food Inc. – "unveils the sometimes dirty politics of the food industry; features experts like Michael Pollan (Omnivore’s Dilemma) and Eric Schloseer (Fast Food Nation)." "In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that's been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment."
>>Earthlings - "a feature length documentary about humanity's absolute dependence on animals (for pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and scientific research) but also illustrates our complete disrespect for these so-called "non-human providers." The film is narrated by Academy Award nominee Joaquin Phoenix and features music by the critically acclaimed platinum artist Moby."
>>King Corn - "King Corn is a feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast food nation."
>>My Father's Garden - "Explores sustainable agriculture and the contrast between chemical and organic farming. An emotionally charged documentary about the use and misuse of technology on the American farm."
>>Shall We Gather at the River - "exposes a huge health and environmental scandal in our modern industrial system of meat and poultry production. The health and environmental damage documented in today’s factory farms far exceeds the damage that Upton Sinclair could have imagined a century ago."
>>The Future of Food - "There is a revolution happening in the farm fields and on the dinner tables of America -- a revolution that is transforming the very nature of the food we eat. The Future of Food offers an in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled U.S. grocery store shelves for the past decade."
>>The Power of Community - Cubans share how they transitioned from a highly mechanized, industrial agricultural system to one using organic methods of farming and local, urban gardens. It is an unusual look into the Cuban culture during this economic crisis, which they call "The Special Period."
>>The Real Dirt on Farmer John - "If you are still debating if you should join a CSA then you must watch the documentary about John Peterson, a.k.a Farmer John, a midwest farmer whose life parallels the history of American farming in the late 20th century."
>>The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard - "From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns."
>>Two Angry Moms - "Do you have kids in school? Do you pack a lunch for them every single day? If not, they probably are buying what the school is serving. If so, you probably want to know what your kids are eating in school. So did Amy Kalafa and Susan Rubin. These moms were fed up that their children were eating highly-processed food filled with additives and preservatives at school."
>>Super Size Me - "If you have not seen this 30-day eating journey of Morgan Spurlock it is a must. Spurlock’s month long McDonald’s food (gross) fest explores the fast food industry’s influence on the American consumer and how public health is put aside for corporate wealth."
Literature addressing SHOPPING & FOOD issues
>>Deep Economy - Bill McKibben's book about a sustainable economy and the wealth that is created when we build strong and resilient communities. A manifesto on moving beyond 'growth' as the measure of economic prosperity.
>>Omnivores Dilemma - "Michael Pollan examines what he calls "our national eating disorder" (the Atkins craze, the precipitous rise in obesity) in this remarkably clearheaded book. It's a fascinating journey up and down the food chain, one that might change the way you read the label on a frozen dinner, dig into a steak or decide whether to buy organic eggs. You'll certainly never look at a Chicken McNugget the same way again."
>>Food Revolution - The bestselling book for the environmental impacts of food. I highly recommend it for learning more about how food effects the health of both us and the planet.
Documentaries covering other topics of interest
>>Sharkwater - takes you into the most shark rich waters of the world, exposing the exploitation and corruption surrounding the world's shark populations in the marine reserves of Cocos Island, Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. Stewart teams up with renegade conservationist Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Via Sharkwater.com.
>>The Shape of Water - In an intimate encounter with five very different women in Brazil, India, Jerusalem, and Senegal (narrated by Susan Sarandon with introductory narration co-written by Edwidge Danticat) THE SHAPE OF WATER offers a close look at the far reaching and vibrant alternatives crafted by women in response to environmental degradation, archaic traditions, lack of economic independence and war. Via theshapeofwatermovie.com.
>>Call+Response - a first of its kind feature documentary film that reveals the world’s 27 million dirtiest secrets: there are more slaves today than ever before in human history. CALL+RESPONSE goes deep undercover where slavery is thriving from the child brothels of Cambodia to the slave brick kilns of rural India to reveal that in 2007, Slave Traders made more money than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined. Via callandresponse.com.