Archive for December, 2010

Poems from Matt Harvey’s Where Earwigs Dare

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Here are a few poems from Where Earwigs Dare – a newly published collection of Matt Harvey’s latest poems—horticultural, whimsical, ecological, political and just plain funny. Matt is a frequent live performer (a hilariously entertaining one, at that) throughout his native U.K., and is involved with the Transition Town movement.


down through the generations
we’ve been generating leeks
we’ve not won all the prizes
but we’ve had our winning streaks
won enough to furnish houses -
we’ve had fewer troughs than peaks
in the company of leeks

rosettes, I’ve had a few
and then some honourable mentions
to see a leek you, yourself, grew
receiving plaudits and attention
when that leek in peak condition
wins a Best Leek Competition
you feel so cock-a-hoop
it calls for cock-a-leekie soup
although it isn’t Mum’s leek pudding
…it’ll do

for what is a leek – what is it like?
let’s take a look – let’s sneak a peek
a cylinder of bundled sheafs
tortilla wrap of Welsh motifs
a spring onion on steroids
or – roots on – pagan Barbie
close relation of the onion
upside-down Olympic flame
they are Garlic’s kissing cousin
they’re an eco-party-popper in freeze-frame

a little bit ineffable
a heavy metal daffodil
it makes me feel so affable
the company of leeks

so you can keep your Spanish beach
I’ll stay where leeks are within reach
- the tasty part of vichyssoise -
and while the world around me sleeps
beneath the undemanding stars
I’ll keep the company of leeks


made entirely from offcuts and recycled popular hits,
hand stitched non-seamlessly together

to see a hot tub in a council skip
and heaven in a bald tyre
behold infinity in your local tip
and eternity in some frayed electrical wire

it seems one man’s chimney pot’s another man’s top hot
one man’s bauble is another man’s jewel
one man’s cheapskate’s another man’s skip-rat
one man’s chip fat’s another man’s fuel
one man’s cheek is another man’s chutzpah
one man’s puddle is another man’s foot spa

broken umbrellas, malfunctioning kettles
empty containers of various metals
that never quite did what it said on their tins
these are a few of my favourite things

and one man’s tip is another man’s temple
one man’s junk is another man’s joy
one man’s meat is another man’s pen pal
one man’s man is another girl’s boy
one man’s popgun’s another man’s uzi
one man’s grit is another man’s muesli

leftovers, hand-me-downs, chuckaways, offcuts
used, pre-loved, second-hand, rejects and cast-offs
all the fresh junk that this rampantly unsustainable consumer society brings
these are yet more of my favourite things

when the cold bites, when my skip leaks
when I’ve lost my zest
I simply dismember my favourite things
and then I don’t feel so stressed



with a low matchmaking murmur
from bloom to bloom fumble with fervour
the honeybees

we owe them
but let’s not assume
we know them

for we project on to the bee
utopian society
their attitude, their industry
the bee’s seen as exemplary

I’ll quarrel with moralists
the bee to me
is seasonal accessory
nature’s necessity

honey maker, pollen picker
stamen shaker, pistil licker
floating voter
stigma stroker
window basher, private dancer
picnic crasher, lip enhancer

blank-and-yellow hive dweller
anaphylaxis point of access

unexpected aviator, blind dater, pollinator
distant lawnmower impersonator

metaphor provider, inflorescence inspector
hairdo inspirer, nectar collector

these things and more are what make me
make much ado about a bee



A silver trail across the monitor;
fresh mouse-droppings beneath the swivel-chair;
the view obscured by rogue japonica.
Released into the wild, where earwigs dare -

you first went freelance – and then gently feral.
You worked from home – then wandered out again,
roughed it with spider, ant, shrew, blackbird, squirrel
in your won realm, your micro-Vatican.

No name conveys exactly what it is -
Chalet? Gazebo? You were not misled
by studios, snugs, garden offices,
workshops or outhouses. A shed’s a shed -

and proud of it. You wouldn’t want to hide it.
Wi-Fi-enabled rain-proof wooden box -
a box to sit in while you think outside it.
Self-rattling cage, den, poop-deck, paradox,

hutch with home-rule, cramped cubicle of freedom,
laboratory, thought-palace, bodger’s bower,
plot both to sow seeds and to go to seed in,
cobwebbed, Cuprinol-scented, Seat of Power.

Matt Harvey’s Where Earwigs Dare is available now.

New Study Correlates Fluoride Levels in Children’s Blood to Lowered IQ

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

This just in from Dr. Paul Connett (The Case Against Fluoride) and the Fluoride Action Network: A very important study, titled Serum Fluoride Level and Children’s Intelligence Quotient in Two Villages in China, was pre-published by Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) on Dec 17, 2010 (EHP is published by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences).

In this study, Xiang and co-workers from China found an inverse correlation between the level of fluoride in children’s blood and their IQ. Specifically, Xiang et al. show that in a village in an area endemic for fluorosis that the higher the fluoride in the children’s blood the lower the IQ of the children studied.  In addition, the level of the fluoride in the children’s blood was strongly correlated with the level of the naturally occurring fluoride in their water.  Please note, that the levels of the fluoride in the water in the village studied (Wamiao, Jiangsu Province, China) were not that high 2.47 +/- 0.79 ppm (range 0.57-4.50). These levels are actually lower than the EPA’s so-called safe drinking water standard for fluoride (4 ppm). Previously Xiang had reported that a linear regression analysis of their data indicated that IQ would occur at levels as low as 1.9 ppm fluoride in the water (Xiang, 2003a,b). For a study that involved about 200 children this does not leave anything like an adequate margin of safety to protect the millions of children drinking artificially fluoridated water at 1 ppm. Finding a correlation between fluoride in the blood and lowered IQ further strengthens Xiang’s earlier findings.

Moreover, this study does not come out of the blue. It is the 24th study that has found an association between fluoride in water and lowered IQ in children. Most of these have come from China, but they also include studies published in Mexico, India and Iran. There have also been over 100 studies that fluoride can damage animal brain and studies showing that the fetal brain has been damaged in aborted fetuses in areas of China endemic for fluorosis. A complete listing of these studies can be found in Appendix 1 of the book “The Case Against Fluoride…” which is available online, with permission from the publisher.

One of the earliest animal studies of fluoride’s impact on the brain in the U.S. was by Mullenix et al. (1995). This led to the firing of the lead author by the Forsyth Dental Center (the details of this are in Chris Bryson’s book The Fluoride Deception). This treatment sent out a clear message to other researchers in the U.S. that it was not good for their careers to look into the health effects of fluoride – particularly on the brain!

When the National Research Council reviewed this topic in their 507-page report “Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Review of EPA’s Standards” published in 2006, only 5 of the IQ studies were available in English. Even so the panel found the link between fluoride exposure and lowered IQ both consistent and “plausible.” There have now been another 19 studies that have since been published or become available via English translation.

Risk-benefit analysis.  Let’s put two studies in the weighing pans of a risk-benefit analysis. In the left hand pan let’s put the largest US study purporting to demonstrate fluoridation’s benefit (Brunelle and Carlos,1990) and in the right hand pan let’s put this study by Xiang, and see where the balance of wise policy lies.

The left hand pan. The Brunelle and Carlos study indicates that comparing tooth decay between children who had lived all their lives in a fluoridated community (versus a non-fluoridated one) had an average saving (for 5-17 year olds) of 0.6 of one permanent tooth surface out of over 100 tooth surfaces in a child’s mouth. Not only was this miniscule saving not shown to be statistically significant but it completely disappears if a one-year delay occurs in the eruption of the teeth of the children in the fluoridated communities (for which there is some evidence).

The right hand pan.
The Xiang study (2003 a,b) indicates that their might be a lowering of IQ at 1.9 ppm, allowing an inadequate margin of safety to protect all children drinking uncontrolled amounts of water at 1 ppm (and getting fluoride from other sources). Now Xiang et al’s (2010) study strengthens this original finding by relating lowered IQ to plasma fluoride levels, which brings the finding closer to individual exposure.
Could either a parent or a decision maker possibly justify a practice that may possibly lower tooth decay by a very small amount, while it may possibly be risking their mental development? Surely the right hand scale pan must tip the left in this analysis?

References can be found at FAN’s bibliography.

Read the original article at

Dr. Paul Connett’s The Case Against Fluoride: How Hazardous Waste Ended Up in Our Drinking Water and the Bad Science and Powerful Politics That Keep It There is available now.

Robert Kuttner: The Stimulus That Isn’t

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

On signing the tax-cut deal December 17, President Obama jubilantly declared “We are here with some good news for the American people this holiday season. This is progress and that’s what they sent us here to achieve.” So how have Republicans repaid Obama’s willingness to meet them three-quarters of the way?

Bipartisanship evidently lasted about as long as the signing ceremony.

First Republicans refused to approve the routine stop-gap bill to keep the government funded at current levels pending the budget resolution and next round of appropriations. They killed the DREAM Act, for decent treatment of well-behaved children of undocumented immigrants. Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell squeaked through the senate with the votes of a few socially moderate Republicans defying their leadership.

The Republicans on the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, in a massive denial of reality, issued their own separate report, denying that the financial collapse had anything to do with deregulation or speculation. Coming along next is a set of Republican demands in the budget resolution for much deeper cutting of public outlay.

So it’s clear that “bipartisanship,” even on heavily Republican terms, produces no follow-through and no reciprocity. This is bipartisanship in the spirit of Neville Chamberlain. You give, and immediately they are after you for more.

It is astonishing how the Beltway echo-chamber, most egregiously the editorial page and news columns of the Washington Post (hard to tell the difference), thinks this deal is good for the Republic. The Post has become a cheerleader for policies that fail to cure the economy and show off Obama as a weakling waiting to be rolled again.

The tax deal, re-branded as a stimulus program, is paltry and ineffective as economic tonic. What hardly anyone seems to have grasped is that the deal basically continues the status quo with almost no stimulus.

If the tax rates on the books in 2010 did not produce a recovery, why should we expect that the very same rates will change the economy in 2011?

The deal not only continues 2010 income tax rates into 2011 and 2012. It actually increases estate taxes slightly, since estate taxes lapsed entirely for one year in 2010.

It also basically continues current unemployment benefits. Even the temporary 2-point tax break on Social Security taxes is a substitute for a more progressive and effective Obama tax break from the original stimulus of February 2009 that the Republicans refused to extend — the Making Work Pay tax credit.

About the only new stimulus in the bill is a business tax break that increases the value of tax write-offs for new investment, valued at about $55 billion.

Does anyone seriously believe that a $55 billion net tax cut in a $15 trillion economy will have more than trivial effect?

Using Congressional Budget Office estimates of GDP growth, the deal might produce as many as two million jobs if businesses respond by investing more and consumers feel more confident about increasing their spending. Lovely, but the economy is currently short at least fifteen million jobs.

The small stimulus effect will soon be undermined by the spending cuts that are already the Republicans’ next demand. Even the stopgap spending measure to continue spending next year at this year’s levels, which Republicans just blocked, is already a cut when you factor in inflation. Deeper spending cuts, about to be imposed by incoming Republican House leaders, will overwhelm any stimulus effect of the tax deal.

Obama, according to well-placed sources, plans to introduce a “tax-simplification” scheme in the State of the Union address — get rid of tax preferences and lower tax rates, as proposed by the Bowles-Simpson commission, with no net stimulative effect. This is a classic case of trying to change the subject. This might or might not be sensible policy depending on the specifics. But what ails the economy has little to do with the particulars of the tax code.

I don’t understand how Obama’s political advisers think this formula can produce his re-election. The tax deal was popular at a superficial level. Voters, when asked about the deal in a vacuum, apart from other economic issues, approve of bipartisan cooperation and they like tax relief when nothing else is on offer. (In that context, it’s noteworthy that the one part of the tax deal that respondents to the ABC-Washington Post poll did not like was the temporary cut in payroll taxes. The vast majority of Americans don’t want to weaken Social Security, even when the bait is tax relief.)

But such polls tell us nothing about the President’s prospects for 2012. The 2010 off-year election was the second largest swing away from the incumbent party in the past 130 years (1930 produced a slightly worse swing against the Republicans), according to the political scientist Walter Dean Burnham. It was the worst mid-year swing against the Democrats ever.

Ground Zero of this disastrous defeat was the Midwest. This is hardly surprising, because the working middle class in the industrial heartland, which provisionally voted for Obama in 2008, is facing devastation in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The 2010 swing there was huge. Without carrying the heartland of the Midwest, Obama does not stand a prayer of re-election, even if the broad public says it approves of his bipartisanship.

But bipartisanship to what end? There is simply no way that the combination of upwardly tilted and puny tax breaks, spending cuts, and a re-jiggering of tax rates and loopholes is going to make a serious dent in either unemployment rates or underwater housing values in the Midwest.

Joblessness and losses of household assets in these states will continue at depression levels, even if the national unemployment comes down modestly.

Obama and his advisers are left with the vain hope that Republicans will nominate someone so lunatic that Obama will somehow squeak through. But be careful what you wish for. I vividly remember 1980, when some Democrats cheered the nomination of Ronald Reagan because he was too rightwing to get elected.

The watershed year 2008 was a political moment when an incoming Democratic president had all the raw material for a dramatic break with the old order — when Republicans, Wall Street, and laissez-faire ideology were primed to take a richly deserved fall for the economic collapse.

Obama chose not to pursue that course. Instead, he identified himself with reviving Wall Street and pursued a feckless bipartisanship and a feeble recovery program.

Last spring, Obama and his aides were on the road assuring everyone that the administration’s economic program would produce a “Recovery Summer,” which never came. Now, Obama is repeating the mistake. Adviser Larry Summers’ valedictory message is that the even weaker tonic of the tax deal will somehow restore economic jobs and growth. Crying recovery, when recovery doesn’t come, is even riskier than crying wolf.

Six months from now, when the economy is still in the doldrums, either Obama or some other Democrat had better stand up for a real economic recovery program — or no Republican will be too grizzly to be elected president in 2012.

Read the original article at The Huffington Post.

Robert Kuttner’s most recent book, A Presidency In Peril, is available now.

Gene Logsdon: Fertilizer Prices Putting Manure in the Limelight

Monday, December 20th, 2010

I never thought I’d see the day when shit – the bodily kind – would make headlines the way it is right now.When my book about managing manure, Holy Shit, came out recently, erstwhile friends grinned and remarked, “You’ve been shooting the bull all your life so, sure, why not write a book about it?”

But this time what I’m writing is definitely not B.S. The current fertilizer crisis is real. Chemical fertilizer prices rise and fall with every change of pulse in supply and demand, but they are definitely on a long-term rise — not only because production and transportation costs are increasing, but because of anticipated shorter supplies in the future. People talk about Peak Oil, but we’re also at Peak Fertilizer. Without plenty of some kind of fertilizer, there will not be enough food to go around. The headline hype is not just overreaction from the press: recently farming news sources such as DTN were reporting all over their networks about how international traders in phosphorous and potash are elbowing for bigger chunks of the remaining fertilizer pie.

I would like to puff up and brag about how smart I must be to see this coming, but actually for anyone who has milked cows for a living like I have, it’s a no-brainer. Although I spent an awful lot of time in classrooms studying weird subjects like theology and anthropology, my real education began as a hired man for a dairy farmer in Minnesota, who was very astute and rather wealthy, too. He made money even though the bright boys at the university would say he was backward. He still used horses for much of his farm power, and he didn’t use any “bought” fertilizer. As a farm boy from Ohio who thought he knew a thing or two about farming, I was surprised to see how well his corn grew anyway.

My employer smirked when I said as much, and patiently explained to me that the gods of manure and legumes could keep a farm profitable by keeping the farmer independent of all those agribusiness suppliers who so much wanted to lead him to the poorhouse. Since then, my own experience milking a hundred cows has taught me the same lesson. Manure can be the key to real farming success. It not only fertilizes the crop but also builds organic matter, the secret to sustainable agriculture. As Edward Janus says in his new book, Creating Dairyland, in the days before chemical fertilizers, wheat farming nearly impoverished Wisconsin, until it became a leading dairy state.

“You might say that manure was the poop that saved Wisconsin,” writes Janus.

I firmly believe manure will be the salvation of the whole world in the days after chemical fertilizers run short. That’s why I call it holy.

Janus’ book also describes a very large dairy and cheese factory business that uses its manure to produce methane, generating enough electricity from it to power the business and some 450 residential homes. The amount of electricity generated is valued at $300,000, a very impressive number. The cost of producing those kilowatts is, however, is not offered. In fact, from all the research I’ve been able to do, there isn’t any proof yet of profit-generating electricity from methane. But even if this idea does become profitable, what if the manure used is worth $300,000 for fertilizer, or even half that? Will we use such manure to make light bulbs glow or bodies grow?

Stories about holy shit are popping up all over the Internet. Last week, Treehugger reported that the Soil Association, a venerable organic farming organization in England, had just released a study concluding that we are approaching “peak phosphorus” as early as 2033. In addition, deposits of potash in Canada, our usual and handiest source of another necessary plant nutrient, are declining by all accounts. Commercial nitrogen fertilizer, the third of the big three plant nutrients, is manufactured almost entirely with natural gas, which has an increasing number of competing uses. Tell me: If you heat with gas, are your bills going down these days?

But I suppose the naysayers will have evidence that we have plenty of fertilizer left, just as they say that we have plenty of oil deep down in the bowels of the Earth, under the oceans.

The point is, no matter what, as population and the cost of business both rise, sources of chemical fertilizer will become harder to get at and more expensive to process and deliver to the farm. The value of manure will rise along with the price of chemical fertilizers but without nearly as much increase in their application costs. Throwing away billions of dollars of human and animal manure that could be used for fertilizer, plus who knows how much money spent in the throwing, is no longer a sane option.

One bright spot is that scientists have found a way to extract phosphorous from human sewage to use as fertilizer. But the method is expensive. Another alternative is using properly treated sludge directly on farmland, a practice that the National Academy of Sciences has twice approved.

But many farmers and environmentalists balk at the use of biosolids, pointing out that there is too much danger yet from sludge contaminated with pollutants that humans throw away down their toilets, including pharmaceuticals. And their point is well taken. We need to find a proper way to separate the manure from the heavy metals. However, culturally speaking, we are still victims of the flush-it-and-forget-it culture. If we can learn to live with our own human manure (and see the benefits from its proper application), we’ll realize we’re sitting on a gold mine. Literally. [Editor's note: Grist agrees -- see our coverage of "humanure" and our special series on poop.]

The same problem will no doubt come from fertilizing with animal manures from large-scale concentrated animal feeding operations. It’s not as simple as taking crap from CAFOs.

However, while these operations couldn’t give their manure away a few years ago, now farmers close enough to afford the transportation costs are lining up to buy it, because it’s being sold cheaper than chemical fertilizers. If this practice grows, factory-animal manure will come under closer scrutiny, and well it should. Indeed, it bears its own risks because of the levels of antibiotics and other additions to the feed and insecticides used in the buildings and on the grounds.

In fact, I remember clearly about 15 years ago, soils on which poultry manure from large-scale operations had been spread were found to be so highly contaminated with copper — which if I remember correctly was being added to the chickens’ water. Farming had to be suspended on that land.

In other words, it’s not as simple as just taking the manure and spreading it. We need to know where the manure comes from, how it was treated, and what the lives of the animals that excreted it were like. Otherwise we’ll just encourage the production of poop on a massive scale, for production’s sake, reinforcing an agricultural system that doesn’t value animals, a healthy environment, or sustainability in any way.

The key is re-imagining our current system into something that values manure as the holy, healthful, fertilizing substance it is. Sustainable shit, in other words, is the only holy kind.

Read the original article on Grist.

Gene Logsdon’s Holy Shit is available now.

Gordon Edgar picks the Best New Cheeses of 2010

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Cheesemonger author Gordon Edgar selected the Best New Cheeses of 2010 for the San Francisco Weekly‘s SFoodie blog last week. Take a look at these great ideas to add to your holiday table!

It shows the strength and popularity of the growing world of American craft cheese that not only are all of my top five new (to the Bay Area) cheeses of the year American, but I had a hard time choosing. Ten years ago I would have felt obligated to find one non-Euro cheese to mention. This year it’s all American.

1. Nettle Meadow Kunik
From upstate New York, a ripened goat milk cheese made into a triple cream using Jersey cow milk. Jersey milk is the richest of all the cows and the Kunik is tangy, rich, refreshing, and fruity. Nettle Meadow Farm even runs an animal sanctuary on premises. This is a cheese I didn’t know I needed until I tried it. Now I think I’d cry if we couldn’t get any more deliveries to Rainbow.

Gordon Edgar
Kunik from Nettle Meadow: Goat, meet cow.

2. Vintage Cheese Company Mountina
“An Alpine cheese from the mountains of … Montana.” I was absolutely skeptical of this cheese before I tried it. Sure, third-generation cheese makers, blah blah blah. I expected yet another pale imitation of a baby Swiss like Jarlsberg. But no, Vintage Cheese Company’s Heap brothers went to the real source for inspiration. Not only is this cheese nutty and earthy like a real Emmenthal, this is better than most Emmenthal sold in the states. Big, unexpected flavor.

Gordon Edgar
Mountina from Vintage Cheese Company: Not some pale imitation of a Swiss.

3. Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery Bonne Bouche
Okay, this is cheating for an end-of-year review, since Bonne Bouche has been available in the Bay for a couple of years now. But I include it because it is now flat-out incredible ― I’d go so far as to say that this is better than any soft-ripened French goat regularly available in the U.S., and it’s made in Vermont. I was a judge at the American Cheese Society competition this fall and out of over 1,300 entries this got my vote for Best of Show. If you’ve tried this before, try it again!

Gordon Edgar
Bonne Bouche from Vermont Butter and Cheese: Flat-out incredible.

4. Uplands Creamery Rush Creek Reserve
It’s probably not right to mention this one because it is still a little inconsistent. It takes years to get a cheese recipe right, considering the continuous corrections for milk protein levels, humidity, and timing, plus the Vacherin Mont D’or style (which the Rush Creek aspires to) is particularly tough. But this cheese is very good right now and has huge potential. Made by the company that is the only three-time winner of the American Cheese Society competition, this is oozy, earthy, rich, and a touch smoky. This style is the most complex soft cheese you can find.

Gordon Edgar
Rush Creek Reserve from Uplands Creamery: French aspirations.

5. Four from California
My people (the Californians) will come after me if I don’t mention all the good new cheeses in our own backyard. First off, Garden Variety Black Eyed Susan is one of the most incredible U.S.-made sheep milk cheeses I have ever had. Two Rock Valley’s aged goat cheese is not only tangy and sharp, but often has flavors of tropical fruit (and I don’t say crap like that often!). Pt. Reyes Farmstead Cheese Toma is rich and grassy, and Valley Ford Cheese Company Estero Gold is similar, only sharper and more acidic. Four new awesome cheeses is a lot for one state in one year!

Gordon Edgar
Aged goat from Two Rock Valley, left, and Estero Gold from Valley Ford: Local heroes.

Gordon Edgar’s Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge, is available now.

Shannon Hayes: How to Transform Your Household

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

The following post written by Radical Homemakers author Shannon Hayes appeared originally on the Yes! Magazine website.

OK, not everyone is in a position to quit their job to spend more time at home. And not everyone wants to. That doesn’t mean that the household can’t shift toward increasing production and decreasing consumption. The transition can start with simple things, like hanging out the laundry or planting a garden. For those people who need or want to push further into the realm of living on a single income or less, here are a few secrets for survival we’ve learned on the family farm:

Get out of the cash economy
Sometimes a direct barter—“your bushel of potatoes for my ground beef”—works. But we don’t always have something the other party needs. At those times, gifting may be the best answer. Gifts are often returned along an unexpected path. Last summer I canned beets and green beans for my folks—of course, for no charge. In the process, I discovered that my solar hot water system wasn’t working. I called a neighbor and asked him to look at it. He fixed it, free. We have a facility that a butcher uses to process chickens for local farmers. On chicken processing days, Bob, Mom, and Dad help out, at no charge. At the end of the summer, the neighbor who fixed our hot water wanted to get his chickens processed. He got them done, no charge. Mom and Dad got a winter’s supply of veggies. Bob and I got a repaired hot water system. The butcher had a place to do his work, and the neighbor got his chickens processed.

Be interdependent
It would be handy sometimes to have our own tractor and tiller. But it seems foolish for us to own that equipment when we can borrow from my parents. It’s cheaper to borrow and lend money, tools, time, and resources among family, friends, and neighbors and abandon the idea that it’s shameful to rely on each other, rather than a credit card, paycheck, or bank.

Invest in your home
One of the most solid investments Bob and I have discovered is spending to lower expenses. Examples are better windows, more insulation, solar hot water, photovoltaic panels, or even just a really big kettle for canning.

Tolerate imperfect relationships
Living on reduced incomes may require more family members living under one roof, husbands and wives spending more time together, or greater reliance on friends and neighbors who may stand in for family. The families depicted on television, in movies, and in advertisements show dysfunction as the norm—with an antidote of further fragmentation of the family and community. That gets expensive. While no one should tolerate an abusive relationship, learning to accept or navigate the quirks of family and friends will keep the home stable and facilitate the sharing of resources.

Read the original article at Yes!

Shannon Hayes is the author of, most recently, Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture.

Maggie Kozel: Confessions of a Worn-Out Pediatrician

Friday, December 17th, 2010

I used to practice pediatrics. It has been several years since I decided to leave medicine, but people still ask me about it, and I find myself offering neat explanations between gulps of coffee. Of course, the full truth is much more complicated. The full truth has as much to do with our health care system and our culture as it does with me.

My journey in pediatrics was not entirely typical.  I went through Georgetown University’s medical school on a Navy scholarship, which meant that, unlike most of my peers, I spent my formative years as a pediatrician practicing under a system of universal health coverage in the U.S. military. All patients – admirals’ sons as well as the stepchild of a seaman apprentice – received excellent care.  Doctors were well paid, and the standards and quality of care were as high as I have observed anywhere.  No money exchanged hands: Just show your card and you were in.

Fast forward ten years and I was in a thriving private practice in suburban Rhode Island, along with several other dedicated, highly trained pediatricians, and an army of nurses. I quickly learned how methods of reimbursement shape the way doctors practice. Private insurance companies decide who gets paid for what, so pediatricians treat serious mental illness with little psychiatric training, use nebulous tools to diagnose attention deficit disorders, and valiantly tilt at the windmill of childhood obesity not because we can do this most effectively, but because we are the only professionals who can get paid to do so.

At the other end of the treatment spectrum, free market forces often urge us to over-intervene with minor illness, where less really would be more. For example as baby spit up acquired more syllables, expensive medications to treat infant gastroesophageal reflux earned full page glossy ads in parenting magazines, pharmaceutical industries poured tons of money into self-serving clinical studies, and prescriptions flew off our pads.

The economics of health care trickled down into my exam room, into the conversation between doctor and patient, distorting the relationship. Most of my patients, children of the “worried well,” had self-limited illnesses that would get better without any intervention from me. I had to explain again and again to frustrated parents, who had just shelled out a $25 copay, why their child didn’t need antibiotics – or any other medicine – for a cold. I met skepticism, even hostility, as I explained for the hundredth time why a 3 AM earache wouldn’t improve with a visit to the emergency room. “Do you know how much I pay in health premiums?” parents would ask. Our system of paying for health care and the stresses on today’s families were pitting my best medical judgment for the child against all the other worries and desires of the parents.

Important things have been happening to keep kids healthy – things like vaccines, nutritional advice and safety education – and these have been provided most effectively by nursing staff, expertly doing what they were trained to do. If a mom was hanging on to her crummy job just to keep health benefits, then it was not too surprising when she insisted on potty training advice from no one less than a board certified pediatrician, thank you very much. I loved chatting with families, but I was spending too much time as Dr. Mary Poppins, pulling an endless supply of fuzzy child care advice out of a carpet bag as I burned up $60 office visits weighing the benefits of naps vs. no naps. (If there were any lectures on naps in my residency training, I must have slept through them.)

I like most of my colleagues, valiantly stepped up to the plate and kept on swinging, even as I was being pulled farther and farther from the doctor I was trained to be. I did my part to put a scientific spin on our highly subjective approach to learning disorders.  I patiently played along with obsessive discussions on toilet training without acknowledging the toll such indulgence took on precious health care dollars, as I tried to meet the ever-expanding expectations of the “worried well.” I taught myself as much as I could about mood-altering drugs so that my depressed patients, denied appropriate access to psychiatrists, would have some one to turn to. In short, I helped put the “dys” in dysfunctional.

In the end I just got tired.  Literally.  At forty-six years old, being up all night and working the next day left me physically ill.  Meanwhile, my own two teenage daughters were spending too many nights at home alone while both their parents tended to patients. So when I was unexpectedly presented with a way out – the chance to teach chemistry at an all-girls’ high school – I took it. It was a painful, difficult choice, but it was the best decision for me and my family.

I have hope for my profession.  I believe our society will eventually see the economic sense and moral imperative of universal health care coverage, paving the way for healthcare to be designed by health professionals, and to be viewed as a right and a responsibility, rather than a commodity to be purchased. I believe that pediatrics can evolve, too, in a way that will truly meet our society’s health needs.  We will always need pediatricians to understand and cope with complex or dangerous illness. We will also need trained health care providers, like pediatric nurse practitioners, to deliver competent, less expensive care for health maintenance and minor illness. Pediatricians in turn will need to be trained in how to support those practitioners. Finally, in an age when public health issues like obesity are what pose the greatest threats to our children, pediatricians will need to move out of the confines of the fee-for-service exam room to advocate for effective healthcare policy in the wider community.  This shift in how we focus and pay for pediatric expertise will be challenging, but I know there is a whole new generation of young students out there who will be up to the task, and a new generation of children counting on us.

Read the original article on Barkingdoc’s Blog.

Maggie Kozel, M.D. is the author of The Color of Atmosphere: One Doctor’s Journey In and Out of Medicine, to be released in January 2011.

Jamie Court: White House and Progressives Should Be Cheering Virginia Ruling Striking Down Mandatory Health Insurance

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

If anything can save Democrats now, it’s populism — the notion that standing with 80 percent of Americans is real power.

That’s why the White House and progressives should be cheering the decision by a conservative Virginia judge to strike down the highly-unpopular federal mandate to purchase health insurance and preserve the rest of the federal health care reform law. Conservatives have tried to repeal the mandate that everyone must buy health insurance as a way of taking out the full law in the court. Today’s ruling makes clear that the popular and progressive parts of health care reform could go forward without the big sop to health insurance companies — mandatory purchases without regulated premiums.

Why would a progressive like me support repeal of mandatory health insurance purchases?

70 percent of Americans consistently oppose mandatory health insurance purchases.

If the last two elections have taught Washington a lesson, it’s that we can do anything if 70 percent of Americans agree and do nothing if a majority cannot agree.

Most of the progressive parts of health care reform — subsidies to buy insurance for the poor and rules to make the marketplace fairer — enjoy 60 percent to 70 percent public support. Mandatory purchases, however, will consistently suffer the public’s wrath because of popular distrust of the insurance industry and the high cost of health insurance premiums. Congressional refusal to limit how much health insurance companies can charge will ensure Americans’ distaste only grows.

This issue is a ticking time bomb for Democrats and the courts may yet defuse it.

Beneath the polling, of course, is a strong social mores that the government should not be forcing Americans to buy health insurance that they cannot afford.

As a candidate, President Obama agreed with this popular sentiment. He argued, in stark contrast to Hillary Clinton, that, “The reason people don’t have health insurance isn’t because they don’t want it, it’s because they can’t afford it.” Once in office, Obama conceded to the Washington wisdom that government cannot force insurance companies to sell policies to all
citizens without requiring that everyone have to buy it.

The notion that mandatory insurance is necessary for a “take-all-comers” law to succeed, like so many assumptions in the Beltway, needs to be reexamined. Fear of gaming by those who won’t buy insurance until they are sick can be alleviated by creating greater carrots for buying coverage and less severe deterrents for failing to, such as a limited national open-enrollment period.

Current law now requires Americans to spend 8% of their income on health insurance by 2014 or face fines. Sliding scale subsidies would assist a family of four up to $88,000, but the $7,000 the family would have to pay could not even buy a policy likely to meet their needs, since the average policy for the family costs more than $12,000 today.

Mandatory health insurance has not produced lower premiums or health care budget savings in Massachusetts, the laboratory for the experiment. Massachusetts recently adopted strong premium regulation to give consumers relief from the highest health insurance rates in America.

New York, which has a take-all-comers law, is often cited as the disastrous consequence of the failure to enact mandatory purchases. But the empire state also is embarking on tough premium regulation to deal with its problems — which still rank it lower than Massachusetts in premium prices. Premium regulation is the key.

This principle set me on my journey as a consumer advocate more than twenty
years ago. Californian endured double-digit premium hikes on their auto insurance under mandatory auto insurance laws imposed in 1986. This sparked a voter revolt in 1988 led by the founder of the consumer group I now head, Consumer Watchdog. Proposition 103, passed via ballot measure, created the nation’s toughest premium regulation. A 2008 report by the Consumer Federation of America found California motorists have saved $62 billion on their auto insurance bills. Congress has no such appetite for tough regulation, however.

Driving is discretionary, so you can always take the bus rather than buy auto insurance. Breathing and not having to pay more than 8 percent of your income are the only requirements for the 2014 federal insurance mandate. When the public feels that blow, the backlash will make the midterm election look like a baby shower.

There’s a lot worth saving in the health care reform overhaul, including provisions I fought for to limit out-of-pocket costs and force insurers to be fairer. Democrats should want to repeal the mandate because otherwise the most progressive parts of health reform could be lost. Laws tend to be repealed based on their most objectionable provisions.

Despite their moral objections to the mandate, Republicans may not want to diffuse the ticking time bomb of mandatory health insurance before it blows up on the Democrats. But they should be wary of standing too close when the bomb goes off. Narrowly repealing mandatory health insurance is something the public and many Democrats agree with, it’s the common ground that Americans overwhelming stand on. The political establishment should join them.

Read the original article on The Huffington Post.

Jamie Court’s The Progressive’s Guide to Raising Hell is available now.

Ronnie Cummins: The Road Ahead – Steps Toward a Global Uprising

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Editor’s Note: We are delighted today to re-post the following article by Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association. It appeared originally on The Huffington Post.

December 7, 2010, Cancún, Mexico – On a beautiful sunny morning, marching down the Avenida Tulúm, our five thousand strong brigade of climate change activists, armed with colorful flags, hats, signs, and banners, supercharged with lively music and drummers, are making our voices heard: “Cambie el sistema, no la clima” (Change the System, not the climate), “El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido” (The people united will never be defeated) and “Obama, Obama respete Cochabamba” (Obama, Obama, respect the Cochabamba Declaration–on the Rights of Mother Earth). One of two simultaneous street demonstrations this morning, we are heading toward the Moon Palace, 15 miles away, where hundreds of heavily armed riot police are lined up behind enormous steel barricades to prevent us from getting within earshot of the Palace, the official headquarters for the United Nation’s COP 16 (Congress of the Parties 16) global climate summit.

With black military helicopters (courtesy of the USA) circling overhead, our message to the “business as usual” elite in the Palace is simple: get off your bureaucratic asses and do something. Stop allowing large corporations to use our common atmosphere as an open sewer. Stop cutting down our forests, spraying poisonous pesticides, killing our oceans, and destroying our living soils. Stand aside and let the world’s 1.5 billion small farmers, ranchers, and indigenous communities cool off the planet with organic soil management and sustainable grazing and forestry practices. Tax the rich, nationalize the banks, and do whatever is necessary to pay for millions of Green Jobs and public works programs to rebuild our soils and our economic infrastructure. Stop the delaying tactics. Join hands with the global grassroots to retrofit our buildings, our utilities, and our transportation sectors and move away from fossil fuels, or get the hell out of our way.

In our dancing, chanting corps, a veritable rainbow of nationalities and constituencies, I recognize some of the climate warriors I’ve seen over the last few days at the alternative forums and workshops: Bolivian, Mexican, Ecuadorian, Guatemalan, and Native American indigenous people; Mexican campesinos and campesinas (small farmers); Via Campesina members from Asia, North America, Latin America, and Africa; Korean peace advocates; Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Code Pink, and Global Exchange campaigners; the National Family Farm Coalition; anti-globalization militants, Klimaforum delegates; trade union leaders from Canada, the U.S., and Argentina; Council of Canadian activists; student organizers; and comrades from the Organic Consumers Association and Via Organica.

The bitter consensus in workshops and plenary sessions over the past week is that we can’t wait for Obama or the industrialized nations to take decisive action. Along with the growing list of governments ready to move forward to reverse global warming (Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bangladesh, South Africa, several EU nations, and the Island nations of the Pacific) we’ve got to take matters into our own hands, in our local communities and regions, and build a mass movement larger than any the world has ever seen. As Bill McKibben of said today on Democracy Now (

“[The COP 16 Climate Summit meeting here in Cancun is] just like a family reunion aboard the Titanic We can’t keep doing this. Until we can build some power outside of these arenas to actually push these guys it’s not about how well people are communicating or how great the policy papers are. It’s on who has the power. And at the moment, that power rests in the hands of the fossil fuel industry and their allies in governments around the world. And until we build some independent outside movement power to push back, then we’re going to get scraps from the table, at the very best.”

So how do we take down the climate criminals, Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Agribusiness, Monsanto, and the Military-Industrial Complex? How do we build a fierce and formidable climate conservation corps that can radically alter the dynamics of the marketplace and our suicide economy? How can we mobilize grassroots forces, alternative technology, and progressive public officials to fundamentally change the laws and public policies that are driving us to the brink of disaster? How do we scale up our organic, sustainable, equitable, climate-friendly projects and communities past the “tipping point” so that we become the norm, not just the alternative?

A full battle plan to Save Mother Earth and our climate and life-support systems requires more space than we have today. But here are several steps we need to take as we start our Long March.

Step One: Expand Our Analysis and Broaden Our Coalition

We need to educate a critical mass of the public about the real causes and consequences of global warming so as to inspire and mobilize a grassroots army of hundreds of millions of people armed with practical ideas and confidence. We need to connect the dots and supercharge the synergy between all of our burning issues and Movements (urban and rural Green Jobs for all; retrofitting the economy; stopping the wars for oil and strategic resources in Iraq and Afghanistan; healthy, climate-friendly organic food and farms; drastically reducing fossil fuel use; and environmental and economic justice). We need to break down the walls of the “my issue is more important than your issue” silos.

We need to more clearly identify our adversaries and pinpoint their most vulnerable weaknesses: Big Oil; Big Coal; chemical, genetically modified (GM), and energy-intensive agribusiness and factory farms; transnational timber companies; the Military-Industrial Complex; as well as the financial institutions that fund this Earth and climate-raping Behemoth. At the same time we need to clearly and comprehensively identify our allies: workers and apprentices who can retrofit our fossil fuel economy; organic and green-minded consumers and backyard gardeners; green businesses; environmental, justice, and peace activists; educators; students; churches and religious organizations; and a global army of 1.5 billion small farmers, ranchers, pastoralists, forest dwellers, and indigenous people. As a banner on the march says today “Campesinos y Campesinas Enfrian La Planeta.” (Small farmers are cooling off the planet).

We need to educate (and shout when necessary) that there is already 435 ppm (parts per million) of three major greenhouse gases polluting the atmosphere, heating up the earth, killing the oceans, melting the glaciers and polar icecaps, and destabilizing the climate. We need to name these gases over and over again-Carbon dioxide (CO2); Methane (CH4); and Nitrous oxide (N2O); explain exactly where they come from; and then point out how we can drastically curtail and organically sequester these emissions utilizing organic farm and land management and rotational grazing.

Carbon Dioxide Pollution: 800 Gigaton Carbon Gorilla in the Atmosphere

CO2 pollution (76% of all greenhouse gas pollution) comes from burning fossil fuels (in buildings, cars, industry, and most of all in our industrial food system), cutting down forests, draining wetlands, and destroying the soil and ocean’s natural capacities to sequester billions of tons of excess greenhouse gases. How do we reduce CO2 emissions as rapidly as possible? Stop building coal plants, stop tar sands and gas shale production, stop deepwater oil exploration, increase energy efficiency, retrofit buildings, ban factory farms, and slap a carbon tax on fossil fuel use that makes the polluters pay.

For a more in-depth discussion see:

How can a global alliance of food (and fiber) consumers and food and fiber producers literally suck down a significant proportion (50 ppm) of the excess CO2 that’s already up in the atmosphere? Through organic and sustainable farming, grazing, and forest practices. Organic soil management on a significant proportion of the world’s 12 billion acres of farm land and pasture/grazing land can sequester up to 7,000 pounds of CO2 per acre per year and lock this excess carbon naturally in the soil, where it belongs. This Great Transition to organic farming and rotational grazing, coupled with the defense and restoration of the world’s 10 billion acres of forests and wetlands, can buy us the precious time we need to retrofit our economies and make the Great Transition to alternative solar, wind, and geothermal energy.

Methane: Food Inc. and Waste Management’s Climate Killer

Methane (CH4) is a greenhouse gas that makes up approximately 14% of human-induced global warming. Per ton, released into the atmosphere, methane is 72 times more destructive than CO2. The good news about methane is that if we stop releasing it into the atmosphere, the 65 ppm already up there will quickly dissipate, unlike carbon dioxide (which is more long-lasting) or nitrous oxide (which for all practical purposes is permanent). Where does methane pollution come from, and how can we get rid of it? Methane pollution mainly comes from factory farms and the overproduction and over consumption of non-organic, non-grass-fed, non-grass-finished meat and animal products; from throwing hundreds of millions of tons of rotting food, paper, and lawn wastes into our garbage cans and landfills, instead of composting them for use on farms, ranches, and gardens; destruction of wetlands for shrimp and fish farms, industrial agriculture, urban development or sprawl; and industrial, chemical-intensive rice farming.

How do we get rid of excess methane? We must build massive consumer awareness that it is a “climate crime” to buy or consume meat, animal products, or any food whatsoever that comes from a factory farm or feedlot. At the same time we must educate consumers that organically managed small farms and ranches are actually greenhouse gas sequestration centers, arguably our most important allies in cooling off the planet.

In addition to boycotting any and all of the products of Food Inc. we must create “Zero Waste” households, businesses, and municipalities, not just through voluntary action, but more importantly by passing laws requiring mandatory separation and composting of all food and yard wastes. One major city in the U.S. that has already done this is San Francisco. Mandatory separation and composting of food wastes not only drastically reduces methane emissions from garbage dumps or landfills; but also creates an enormous amount of compost which farmers, ranchers, gardeners, and landscapers can then use (along with the organic concentrated liquid form of compost called “compost tea”). This will create the preconditions to replace the 12 billion pounds of deadly nitrate fertilizers that are dumped on the U.S.’s already ravaged and eroded soils every year.

Nitrous Oxide: Taking Down the Global Chemical Fertilizer Corporations Before They Kill Us All

Human-induced releases of nitrous oxide (N2O) make up 10% of all the greenhouse gases that are causing global warming. Excess nitrous oxide per ton in the atmosphere is 300 times more destructive than CO2 and unfortunately, for the present and future generations, will remain there almost permanently. Two-thirds of all N2O emissions arise from the use of nitrate fertilizers on Genetically Modified (GM) and chemical-intensive industrial farms. And of course the main crops of these fossil fuel-guzzling industrial farms are billions of tons of (pesticide and GMO-tainted) animal feed for use on factory farms or feedlots.

Nitrous oxide is extremely hazardous. It depletes the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere (thereby increasing skin cancer for humans). It increases ozone pollution levels at the ground level (fueling the current epidemic of asthma and respiratory diseases.) Poisonous nitrate fertilizers leaching into our rural wells and municipal drinking water supplies (where it combines into a super-toxic brew with pesticides) are a biological time bomb, a major cause of cancer, infertility, hormone disruption, and birth defects. Nitrate fertilizer runoff into our rivers and streams kills fish and marine life and is directly responsible for the hundreds of dead zones in our oceans, the most famous of which is the enormous dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

Perhaps most deadly of all, nitrate fertilizer kills our living soils and microorganisms, decreasing their ability to sequester (through plant photosynthesis) excess CO2 in the soil. Even after six decades of industrial agriculture dumping hundreds of billions of pounds of chemical fertilizers on farmlands, our living soils still contain two to three times as much carbon as the atmosphere, with the practical capacity to clean and safely sequester at least 50 ppm of greenhouse gases over the next 40 years. In other works, our living soils can save us-but only if we can stop the widespread use of nitrate fertilizers, GMO crops, and pesticides and replace these deadly chemicals and mutant organisms with organic compost and compost tea, and cover crops–augmented by the biological power and fertility generated by carefully planned, high-density rotational grazing of animals.

The energy-intensive manufacturing of nitrate fertilizers requires the use of massive amounts of natural gas, a resource in short supply, that will increasingly be needed to take us through the transition from fossil fuels to alternative energy. We can no longer afford to waste natural gas in order to uphold the profits of Cargill, Monsanto, and Food Inc.

So how do we get rid of nitrous oxide pollution? Similar to our phasing- out of methane emissions, we need a global boycott of factory farms, foods, and fibers derived from chemical pesticides, GMOs, and nitrate fertilizers. We need a million new organic, carbon-sequestering farms and ranches that feed the soil with organic compost, organic tea, animal manure, and cover crops instead of nitrate fertilizer. We need ten million more backyard and community gardens to feed ourselves locally and organically. We need mandatory composting laws so that all of our 100 billion plus tons of food and yard waste every year are transformed into organic compost and compost tea. We need to spread the word that corporate agribusiness, factory farms, and the chemical fertilizer industry are climate criminals. We either “sunset” them or they’re going to sunset us.

Moving from Gloom and Doom to Green Solutions and Green Jobs

People are desperate and hungry for hope. People are desperate and hungry for jobs and a sense of meaning and mission. We in the Movement must consciously change the tone of our gloom and doom messages to emphasize the practical solutions and socio-economic benefits that we have to offer: green jobs, healthy food, climate stability, sustainability, peace, and a revitalized democracy. For the most part we don’t need to invent new technologies. The tools and techniques and labor power we need are already here, although in many cases they exist only in embryonic form, in our local regions. Solar and wind technology, super-efficient and deep-retrofitted homes and commercial buildings. Organic farms, ranches, restored riparian zones and wetlands and urban gardens. Urban mass transportation, ride share and carpool systems, bike and walking paths, farmers markets, urban greenhouses. Rooftop gardens. Organic gardening and cooking classes. Financial mechanisms like Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), community credit unions, and “Slow Money” cooperatives. We can and must cool off the planet, but luckily we have pilot projects and “best practices” and climate-friendly laws and policies that we show people right now, from Main Street and our local organic farms or ranches to green buildings, composting toilets, and farmers markets in Manhattan.

We need in short, a Green New Deal, comparable in scope to the New Deal of the 1930s that helped lift the U.S. out of economic depression. Since we don’t have the political power right now to force Obama and the Congress to implement a massive Green Jobs and Climate Conservation Corps program at the federal level, let’s go local instead. Let’s build political power and a series of mini-Green New Deals at the city, county and state levels.

And as we move to phase-out fossil fuels and the fossil fuels industry, let’s make sure that we take care of the workers and the blue-collar communities where these industries are located. For every job lost in the fossil fuel economy, in industrial agriculture, and the military industrial complex, we must create two jobs in the urban and rural organic and Green Jobs sector. When China, Europe, and the rest of the world eventually slap a carbon taxes on our exports, then maybe we’ll see a carbon tax on greenhouse gas emissions here in the U.S. If we do implement a Carbon Tax that gradually but steadily raises the prices of fossil fuel energy, let’s make sure that poor people and the middle class get reduced payroll taxes to make up the difference. Let the polluter pay.

So let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work in our local communities. Roll out pilot projects and “structural reform” campaigns that are (a) radical but winnable; (b) that have the potential to educate and mobilize large numbers of people; (c) that build new and broader coalitions; and (d) that slowly but steadily begin to build and expand our political power. Let’s point out the problems, but also point out the organic and green solutions that are already taking root.

Early in 2011, my organization, the Organic Consumers Association, joined by our labor and climate action allies, plans to launch a 20+ city campaign to take down the methane and nitrous oxide climate criminals, to build a Movement for Zero Waste and organic soil management that will hopefully mark the beginning of the end for industrial agriculture, factory farms, and the so-called Solid Waste Industry.

Stay tuned for details, but please send an email [email protected] if you’re interesting in helping organize such a campaign in your local community. In the meantime I hope to see you in the streets and the suites raising hell about Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Ag, Big Unemployment, and Endless War. Power to the people!

Ronnie Cummins is a lifetime activist and populist hell-raiser. He is the International Director of the Organic Consumers Association and its Mexico affiliate, Via Organica.

Read the original article on The Huffington Post.


Monday, December 13th, 2010

The year is quickly counting down and time is running short to find those perfect gifts for friends and family. We have you covered for whoever is on your list and with our holiday sale you’ll save 35% on your entire order.

Use the coupon code CGFL11 at checkout to get 35% off your entire order from now until the end of the year. Take a look below at some suggestions we have for friends and family, and a selection of some of our most popular titles to get started, or browse our online bookstore.

Happy Holidays from the folks at Chelsea Green Publishing.
P.S. Don’t forget, we offer free shipping on orders over $100.


Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods

Wild Fermentation Book Cover

Bread. Cheese. Wine. Beer. Coffee. Chocolate. Most people consume fermented foods and drinks every day. For thousands of years, humans have enjoyed the distinctive flavors and nutrition resulting from the transformative power of microscopic bacteria and fungi. Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods is the first cookbook to widely explore the culinary magic of fermentation.

The flavors of fermentation are compelling and complex, quite literally alive. This book takes readers on a whirlwind trip through the wide world of fermentation, providing readers with basic and delicious recipes–some familiar, others exotic–that are easy to make at home.


Cooking Close To Home: A Year of Seasonal Recipes

Cooking Close to Home Cover Image


Cooking Close to Home: A Year of Seasonal Recipes is a collection of over 150 original recipes designed to follow the seasons.

Whether you are a home gardener, a farmers’ market regular, or a member of a community-supported agriculture program, this cookbook will serve as a guide to using the foods available in your region year-round.

Each recipe includes useful “Harvest Hints” that explain how to find, purchase, prepare, and preserve fresh and seasonal ingredients. Within each chapter you will find information about sustainable food, small family farms, and how to reduce your carbon footprint by buying local foods.





The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year-Round Vegetable Production Using Deep-Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses


The Winter Harvest Handbook Cover

Choosing locally grown organic food is a sustainable living trend that’s taken hold throughout North America. Celebrated farming expert Eliot Coleman continues to lead the way, pushing the limits of the harvest season while working his world-renowned organic farm in Harborside, Maine.

Gardeners and farmers can use the innovative, highly successful methods Coleman describes in this comprehensive handbook to raise crops throughout the coldest of winters.


Slow Gardening: A No-Stress Philosophy for All Senses and Seasons


Thanks to the resurgence of home and community gardening, more and more people are discovering the pleasure of biting into a sun-ripened tomato picked right off the vine, the earthy smell of freshly turned soil, and the cheerful harbingers of spring such as daffodils, irises, and pansies. But they are also discovering that gardening can be a heck of a lot of work. So what happens when keeping up with the weeds turns into a full-time job? What do you do when gardening becomes stressful?


Slow Gardening to the rescue! Inspired by Slow Food, an international movement that promotes local food systems and biological and cultural diversity, the slow-gardening approach can help us appreciate and enjoy our gardens more, year in and year out.


Slow Gardening will inspire you to slip into the rhythm of the seasons, take it easy, and get more enjoyment out of your garden, all at the same time.




Dream of a Nation: Inspiring Ideas for a Better America

Dream of a Nation Cover

Across the nation countless individuals and organizations are dreaming a new future. Dream of a Nation sheds lights on some of the groundbreaking leaders, projects and ideas that have the potential to solve society’s toughest problems. Dream of a Nation restores faith that humanity can solve our current looming environmental, economic and societal challenges. This is a comprehensive resource for any reader interested in gaining critical information and deepening their role as an empowered citizen.





When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival

When Disaster Strikes Cover


Disasters often strike without warning and leave a trail of destruction in their wake. Yet armed with the right tools and information, survivors can fend for themselves and get through even the toughest circumstances. Matthew Stein’s When Disaster Strikes provides a thorough, practical guide for how to prepare for and react in many of life’s most unpredictable scenarios.


Stein instructs you on the smartest responses to natural disasters—such as fires, earthquakes, hurricanes and floods—how to keep warm during winter storms, even how to protect yourself from attack or other dangerous situations. With this comprehensive guide in hand, you can be sure to respond quickly, correctly, and confidently when a crisis threatens.


The Transition Companion: Making Your Community More Resilient in Uncertain Times

When Disaster Strikes Cover


In 2008, the best-selling The Transition Handbook suggested a model for a community-led response to peak oil and climate change. Since then, the Transition idea has gone viral across the globe, from Italian villages and Brazilian favelas to universities and London neighborhoods. In contrast to the ever-worsening stream of information about climate change, the economy, and resource depletion, Transition focuses on solutions, on community-scale responses, on meeting new people, and on having fun.


The Transition Companion picks up the story today, drawing on the experience of one of the most fascinating experiments under way in the world. It tells inspiring tales of communities working for a future where local economies are valued and nurtured; where lower energy use is seen as a benefit; and where enterprise, creativity, and the building of resilience have become cornerstones of a new economy.




Thinking in Systems: A Primer

Thinking in Systems Cover


Thinking in Systems is a concise and crucial book offering insight for problem solving on scales ranging from the personal to the global. This essential primer brings systems thinking out of the realm of computers and equations and into the tangible world, showing readers how to develop the systems-thinking skills that thought leaders across the globe consider critical for 21st-century life.

While readers will learn the conceptual tools and methods of systems thinking, the heart of the book is grander than methodology. Donella Meadows was known as much for nurturing positive outcomes as she was for delving into the science behind global dilemmas. She reminds readers to pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable, to stay humble, and to keep learning.



Logodaedaly, or Sleight-of-Words

Logodaedaly Image Cover


What is a “balanoid”? Who carries an “ombrifuge” into a storm? How is a “filipendulous” city destroyed? These and other fabulous questions are found in Logodædaly, or, Sleight-of-Words: a dictionary of the imagination.


Young author Erzsébet Gilbert has delved into the history of the English language to unearth a host of forgotten, quirky, obsolete and utterly bizarre words, and created a phrasebook like no other. It is a dictionary whose entries are not merely words, but the fantastical stories and wild musings behind them. Through Logodædaly one might not learn an everyday vocabulary, but beyond A and Z the reader finds that the meaning of a word is always much more than it seems.

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