Archive for March, 2006

A Green Godzilla?

Thursday, March 30th, 2006

Here’s something I wasn’t expecting, though I probably should have–WalMart is starting to stock organic foods. Good? Bad? Well, you can bet your bottom dollar it’ll be good for WalMart, and it is nice if a wider swath of the population can have access to organic foods, and yet… boy are there going to be lots of problems for a lot of people, farmers first of all. (Of course, this sort of ignores that there are many ways to expand access to organic foods that don’t include the refrigerator aisles of mega corporations.)

Wal-Mart’s Organic Offensive
Not everyone is pleased by the giant retailer’s push into natural foods, starting with some very anxious U.S. farmers

by Pallavi Gogoi
MARCH 29, 2006

Richard DeWilde has a long history with organic farming. His grandfather, Nick Hoogshagen, adopted the organic approach five decades ago on his farm in South Dakota, well before it became popular with consumers and fueled the popularity of retailers like Whole Foods Market (WFMI ).

Now, DeWilde, 57, is a working farmer himself, carrying on the family tradition of avoiding pesticides and other chemicals that can contaminate food in favor of a more natural approach. He’s co-owner of Harmony Valley Farm, which grows Swiss chard, parsnips, turnips, and kale on 100 acres in the southwestern corner of Wisconsin….

Stirring the Cauldron…

Thursday, March 30th, 2006

One of the unexpected pleasures for me here at Chelsea Green has been discovering Jessica Prentice’s writing through her book that is now out. I can’t recommend it enough. I expected it not to be quite my style–too new agey to suit the crotchety old man personality that I’m trying to cultivate. But I was wrong, wrong, wrong. Jessica’s writing is glorious, her ideas invigorating, her intelligence irrepresible, and the fact that she is comfortable with seemingly new agey stuff like moon cycles just goes to show that I’m a jerk for excessive stereotyping. Anyway, she writes a monthly essay inspired by each new moon, and here’s her latest. Instructions for subscribing to her email list are at the bottom.

April moondark kitchen notes from Jessica Prentice

The moon is new! We have entered the lunar cycle known as the Egg Moon in
Old Farmer’s Almanacs. Eggs — symbolic of newness and rebirth — are
enduring icons of spring, when Persephone returns from the underworld and
the earth flowers again….

AWOL mea culpa

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

To all the trusty, loyal readers out there, my appologies for leaving you in the lurch. I was distracted by the birth of the newest little knee-high to a flaming grasshopper, Anya Rose.

Global warming, shmobal shmorming, life is grand!

Don’t trust what you see with your own eyes

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

Eyewitness testimony is increasingly recognized as terribly untrustworthy. Not because the witness is lying, but because many factors can influence how a person comes to decide what their memory is and how strongly they believe that their memory is good. Even after encountering incontrovertible proof that they were wrong about pointing out a suspect as the guilty person, some eye witnesses continue to insist that they must be right, because that’s what their memory tells them. Human brains are remarkable. Human brains are not very good when confronted with traumatic experiences. Justice requires reality–our brains are rarely fully up to the task. Gregory Wallis is only the latest to prove this.

Let Justice Eat Cake

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

It’s not the systematic overhaul that we really need, but it is something: US army dog handler found guilty of abuse.

Bach’s Birthday

Tuesday, March 21st, 2006

It’s today, 3/21. It’s his 321st birthday. My goodness, he hasn’t seemed to age a day in years; what is his secret?

My bubs realized the very minor and insignificant coincidence on her own, then googled it and saw that others had also noticed. Some mention the possibility that numerology-minded people will have little adrenaline rushes as a result. More power to them! Of course, since his birthday is always on 3/21, I’m not sure it really even counts as a coincidence. If JC’s birthday was on 12/25, was there something extra special about the date of 12/25/1221 (1225 years minus the 4 extra years that snuck into the Georgian calendar)? Nothing particularly striking, according to Wikipedia. Anyway…

A penny saved is a penny matched by state funding

Monday, March 20th, 2006

This is potentially promising… New Mexico Enacts Legislation to Encourage Working Families to Save Money. In addition to teaching financial literacy, maybe the state should encourage people to get rid of their TVs. Imagine that–a TV buyback program. Could lead to healthier citizens. Anyway, one step at a time.

In for the long haul

Monday, March 20th, 2006

Bush’s plan for Iraq: “the United States will never abandon Iraq.” Why not just add it on as the 51st state?

Cool frogs; deadzone oceans

Monday, March 20th, 2006

Science newsettes from the Washington Post:

Chinese Torrent Frogs Share Bats’ Ultrasonic Capabilities

Not only can a rare Chinese frog sing like a bird, it can also apparently hear like a bat, according to new research….


Fishing Fleets Overexploiting Seas at High Rate, Study Warns

Highly mobile fishing fleets are exploiting the sea’s resources at an unsustainable rate, according to a new paper published Friday by more than a dozen international researchers in the journal Science.

The paper, which looks at how “roving bandits” swoop in and plunder fisheries at a rapid rate, looks at how some fish populations have collapsed within a matter of years. In Maine, the sea urchin became a popular commodity in Japanese sushi markets in the mid-1980s: After peaking in 1993, the catches declined precipitously….

Peak oil, peak seafood (no disrespect to ocean life forms that don’t think of themselves simply as food, regardless of how delicious they are). Speaking of which, I was very disappointed to see Thai shrimp in the Hanover Co-op yesterday: almost guaranteed to be “farm” shrimp which is bad, bad, bad. Shrimp farms tend to be established through the clearing of mangrove forest. These forests are pretty vital system, protecting shorelines, providing breeding habitat for numerous species, providing living resources for traditional peoples, etc. But they get plowed cuz none of those things count for cash dollars like shrimp. And then, usually, the shrimp farms silt up and shut down after only a few years — so the farmers move on to the next patch of mangrove. Uncool.

The Horse in the House

Monday, March 20th, 2006

© Davidson Loehr 2006

It happened in the summer of 1955, and was both logical and necessary. We lived in Colfax, Iowa, a town of about 1800, twenty miles east of Des Moines. Formerly located on Highway 6, the Interstate bypassed it when it went in in the early 1960s, kind of leaving it where it was.

But where it was – at least in 1955 – was a wonderful place, at least for a 13-year-old boy with a horse. My younger brother also had a horse, named Spooky. Spooky was white, and hot-tempered, at least to me, though my brother seemed to get along with him.

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