Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Good Work is launching Sustainable Vocations – North Carolina

Here is an excerpt from the more extensive description below of the Good Work Sustainable Vocations Program.
During this time of economic transition and environmental challenges, people are re-thinking old habits and imagining new futures. The Sustainable Vocations program gives participants skills and direction to move forward positively in ways that support a more sustainable and abundant future.

In response to the growing demand for life-skills and vocational training that offers practical guidance for becoming more self-reliant, environmentally conscious and entrepreneurial, our highly qualified and skilled team has designed a three-week intensive program for North Carolina that connects young people to nature, local entrepreneurs, and green job opportunities.

Sustainable Vocations - North Carolina is a residential and experiential training for young people, ages 15-24, who come from diverse backgrounds and share a common desire to align their livelihoods with their ethics and beliefs that we should live well and do good for the environment and our communities. We will provide personal mentoring, classroom time, workshops with local entrepreneurs, field trips, and experiential training in sustainable development, both on an individual and community level.
For more information see the images below or go to:

Friday, April 23, 2010

fight breast cancer with fried chicken

Every once in a while I run across something that is so twisted and bizarre as to stop me in my tracks and force me to consciously make the decision as to whether I should laugh or cry. Falling into this category is a recent Washington Post article about Kentucky Fried Chicken, or KFC as their marketing department would rather you refer to them. Why you ask, cause fried chicken "sounds" bad for you. But that's not stopping Susan G. Komen for the Cure from partnering with Kentucky Fried Chicken to raise money to fight breast cancer. Yup, you read that right.

Breast cancer is a terrible disease that shortens the lives of tens of thousands of American women each year. But then the Washington Post article says that,
". . .studies have shown that an increased risk of developing colorectal, pancreatic, and breast cancer is associated with high intakes of well-done, fried, or barbequed meats."
This is what just sat me straight up in my chair and shocked me. No not all or even most women who develop breast cancer will do so because they ate to much KFC chicken. It is true though that our eating habits in America are the single greatest contributor to our incredibly bad health (2/3 of Americans obese, 1 in 3 born after 2000 will develop diabetes, highest rate of chronic disease except for Australia in the overdeveloped world, etc., etc.)

What floored me was the idea that anyone could think to link unhealthy food with the drive for a cure for cancer; or that average Americans would think, "Huh, yeah I'll buy a bucket of food that is not good for my health because hey, it's going to help cure cancer."

I'm still kind of in shock. Maybe tomorrow I'll find out this was all a joke or perhaps I'll read about how I can help fight lung cancer buy purchasing cigarettes.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

pew charitable trust ad :: yuck

This went out over the North Carolina local food listserv today. I'm reprinting it here because I think it is important.
I heard a very disappointing ad sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trust on a major radio station in Charlotte, WBT today.

The ad urged listeners to call their Senators to support S 510, the food safety bill. The Pew Charitable Trust ad played off the tragic loss of a family of their 2 year old child who died from an E Coli O157:H7 originating in the Spinach contamination outbreak in 2006. The ad urges support of S 510 because the ad states that passage of S 510 would prevent children from dying from food borne illnesses. Apparently, Pew has made a major ad buy in many markets around the country to put this message out.

This ad is disgusting propaganda. The Pew Charitable Trust is no friend of the local food movement or small farmers. If there is someone with connection to the Pew Charitable Trust that is a member of this list, or if a list member has a contact at Pew, I would like to hear someone at Pew defend this ad and explain the logic of this major ad buy.
This will sound very harsh but if you know the person who grows your spinach you are *much* less likely to lose a child to E Coli. You are better off growing it yourself. It's really not that hard to grow good spinach. But real food safety isn't about about more regulations. It is about better relationships with local people growing good, healthy food.

I'd like to add that the effectiveness of federal and state government is likely to wane in the future due to budgetary constraints. Tying our hopes for a safe food system to the increased regulations of the federal government is akin to donning a millstone necklace.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

us military warns of global oil production peak

I do not spend much time these days following petroleum production numbers. I have found other ways to keep myself occupied. Matt Simmons says we peaked in global oil production year on year in 2007 and who am I to argue with him?

In July 2008 the world produced more oil than any month since. How much of that is supply driven and how much of it is demand driven? Are we talking light sweet crude, total liquids or do those numbers include unconventional sources like the tar sands? Have we definitively peaked in global oil production? Not having time to closely follow the debate I can't say for certain.

Writing a report for the US Department of Energy Robert Hirsch said, "Without mitigation, the peaking of world oil production will cause major economic upheaval." By mitigation the report suggests 20 years or more of "accelerated effort." It seems clear to me that we're not going to have 20 years to prepare but I have been waiting for some "official" organization to recognize that we are in fact standing on top of the oil age and in some trouble.

For that reason the article below caught my eye. I wasn't exactly waiting for the media or the US government to report on peak oil before it becomes a clear image in our collective rear view mirror but I figured at some point some significant organization by cough up the truth of the situation. In fact it was the US military. The Guardian recently reported the following.

The US military has warned that surplus oil production capacity could disappear within two years and there could be serious shortages by 2015 with a significant economic and political impact.

The energy crisis outlined in a Joint Operating Environment report from the US Joint Forces Command, comes as the price of petrol in Britain reaches record levels and the cost of crude is predicted to soon top $100 a barrel.

"By 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 million barrels per day," says the report, which has a foreword by a senior commander, General James N Mattis.

It adds: "While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds.

It is the job of the US military to accurately identify threats. Sure they've used psyops in the past but if this were propaganda aimed at the US population I could have read about it in a mainstream US publication or seen it on the nightly newz. Instead I had to go to a British website.

This should not have been a total surprise to me. In a 2005 report entitled, Energy Trends and Implications for U.S. Army Installations, the US Army Corps of Engineers said, "Peak oil is at hand with low availability growth for the next 5 to 10 years... World oil production is at or near its peak and current world demand exceeds the supply." It follows that five years later the US military might issue a warning suggesting they were right.

So for what it's worth here is an important organization, regularly tasked with identifying threats, reporting that the world is about to experience a serious oil output shortfall.

what's in your meat?

Beef containing harmful pesticides, veterinary antibiotics and heavy metals is being sold to the public because federal agencies have failed to set limits for the contaminants or adequately test for them, a federal audit finds.

A program set up to test beef for chemical residues "is not accomplishing its mission of monitoring the food supply for … dangerous substances, which has resulted in meat with these substances being distributed in commerce," says the audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General.

The health effects on people who eat such meat are a "growing concern," the audit adds.
You can read the rest of the article here.

Or you can read the actual audit report here.