Archive for April, 2011

Changing the Endgame, an Earth Week Webcast with Dr. Riki Ott

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Marine toxicologist Riki Ott, author of Not One Drop: Courage and Betrayal in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, will take part in a webcast teach-in taking place April 18th-22nd for Earth Week.

This three-part, on-demand web cast, entitled “Changing the Endgame: America’s Energy Future”, will revisit the Gulf of Mexico – and other communities disproportionately bearing the cost of America’s fossil fuel dependency – to unite Americans in a serious commitment to transitioning away from fossil fuels and confronting the dangerous expansion of corporate power.

Register here for Changing the Endgame, hosted by Dr. Riki Ott and John Francis, available on demand April 18 – 22, 2011.

  • Discover the real Gulf oil disaster story.
  • Learn the devastating costs of our fossil fuel dependency in communities across America.
  • Explore what ordinary people are doing to create self-reliant communities and real democracy.
  • Listen to people who are making a difference and taking back power over corporations.
  • Practice democracy skills.
  • Help make sure the outcome of the BP Gulf disaster is not a return to “oil business as usual”.

Learn more about Riki Ott and Not One Drop in our bookstore.

Kirkus reviews Chasing Chiles

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Chasing Chiles by Kurt Michael Friese, Kraig Kraft, and Gary Paul Nabhan continues to spice things up with a new review from Kirkus:

Three self-described “gastronauts” plumb climate change through the piquant prism of chile peppers.

The journey is the destination as the earnest trio launch their “spice ship” throughout the United States and Mexico to learn how shifting weather patterns have been affecting the noble pepper’s destiny—and the fate of those who rely on the crop.

The authors—a chef, an agroecologist and an ethnobotanist—rely on listening (and, of course, eating) during their one-year odyssey, harvesting anecdotes to better understand the global dilemma. “We had a hunch that climate change wasn’t just out there—in the polar ice caps and in receding glaciers—but in here, in our food system,” they write. On their travels, the authors meet men like Fernando Niño Estudillo, a spice trader in Sonora who describes his recent quandary: “I’ve been ten years in the business; most years I drive truckloads of chiltepines to Tijuana myself. Only this last year has the wild chile crop ever failed me…I didn’t even make a single trip to the border.” But it’s not all serious—the trio relishes chiles, after all. In Florida, as they prepare to dig into a jar of datil peppers in white vinegar, they write, “We smiled at one another like old junkies who have just discovered that someone left a couple of joints in their midst.”

The occasionally florid writing notwithstanding, the book provides well-crafted regional recipes and edifying passages about the surveyed chiles.

Read the original review at Kirkus.

Learn more about Chasing Chiles in our bookstore.

Upcoming Event: Nature Has Rights

Monday, April 11th, 2011

If you’re in or around New York City on Thursday, April 21st, don’t miss the highly anticipated launch event for Wild Law, a new book by Cormac Cullinan.

Just in time for Earth Day, the event is co-sponsored by the Center for Place, Culture and Politics at CUNY Graduate Center, the Brecht Forum, Global Exchange, Council of Canadians, and the Mission of Bolivia to the UN. Featured speakers include Maude Barlow, Shannon Biggs, Cormac Cullinan, Vandana Shiva and Pablo Solón in conversation with moderator David Harvey.

Does a river have a right to flow?  Is nature a commodity, or an entity? International law often recognizes nature as property – to be hoarded and exploited – not as an ecosystem with the right to exist, flourish and regenerate. How do we begin to change non-Indigenous culture and law to recognize the Rights of Mother Earth? The time has come for a new paradigm. Join these distinguished speakers as they present the case for the Rights of Nature. This is a joint launch event for Cormac Cullinan’s book, Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice, Second Edition, and The Rights of Nature: The Case for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

The event will be held from 6:30 to 8 pm on April 21st at the CUNY Graduate Center, Proshansky Auditorium, 365 5th Avenue (corner of 34th St.), New York, NY. Download the event poster here.

Learn more about Cormac Cullinan’s Wild Law in our bookstore.

Telling The Story Of Climate Change By Way Of Chile Peppers

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Annie Corrigan from Indiana Public Media’s Earth Eats program interviewed Kurt Michael Friese, co-author of the newly released Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail, recently. Here’s an excerpt.

Kurt Michael Friese and two other chile lovers went on a year-long adventure to experience some of America’s most interesting pepper varieties – from datil peppers only found in St. Augustine, Florida to the wild chiltepin peppers of Sorona, Mexico. They tasted local cuisine and experienced various pepper cultures firsthand.

But Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail gives the reader insight into more than just tasting and cooking these fiery foods. Friese and his colleagues spoke with farmers who are struggling to stay afloat (sometimes literally) as climate change wreaks havoc on weather patterns and, therefore, their yields.

Earth Eats spoke with Friese from his home in Iowa. Along with co-authoring Chasing Chiles, he is the owner and Chef Emeritus of Devotay in Iowa City and the publisher of Edible Iowa River Valley magazine.

Spice Dream Team

Annie Corrigan: The other two authors have very fancy titles: Kraig Kraft is an agroecologist and Gary Paul Nabhan is an ethnobotanist.

Kurt Michael Friese: Science geeks!

AC: As the chef, what did you bring to the pepper hunting team?

KMF: I brought a passion for chiles of course, but all three of us have that. I also brought a certain amount of culinary expertise and knowing what to do with these things once they come off the plant. My co-authors know a lot about the plants: how they grow, why and where. My job was to deal with them once they were harvested.

Continue reading this interview at Indiana Public Media.

Chasing Chiles by Kurt Michael Friese, Kraig Kraft, and Gary Paul Nabhan is available now in our bookstore.

ForeWord review: The Mystery of Metamorphosis

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

The following book review by Joseph Thompson was published April 1st at

In 2009, retired zoologist Donald Williamson published a radical theory shocking the scientific world. His paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggested the dual stages of an insect’s life, larval and adult, are a result of hybridization rather than through more orthodox evolutionary methods.

The majority of the uproar came not from the audacity of Williamson’s suggestions, but from his bypassing the journal’s peer review process. His paper had been accepted through a now defunct system unique to PNAS that afforded publication to papers providing they had two referees. The scandal overshadowed Williamson’s arguments. The academy faced accusations of nepotism and, in the words of one Duke University biologist speaking to Scientific American, of publishing a paper “better suited for the ‘National Enquirer than the National Academy.’”

Now, almost two years later, physician and evolutionary biologist Frank Ryan examines Williamson’s claims on the basis of their scholarship in The Mystery of Metamorphosis: A Scientific Detective Story. The author of several books, Ryan sparked discussions among academics and casual readers alike with Darwin’s Blind Spot and in 1993, the New York Times selected his book The Forgotten Plague as the non-fiction book of the year. The Mystery of Metamorphosis marks Ryan’s return to the stormy waters of modern science in an attempt to understand evolution’s dynamic concepts, and their relationship to the mystifying lifecycle of many marine and terrestrial creatures.

The enormity of Ryan’s task and the complexity of the cross-disciplinary research would have overwhelmed a lesser writer. Part history lecture and part science class, Ryan brings an accessible passion to the subject comparable to Carl Sagan’s popularization of astronomy. As he builds the case for hybridization in The Mystery of Metamorphosis, Ryan leads readers through the earliest ideas put forth by Darwin and his contemporaries to the modern questions raised by the Cambrian explosion. Like Sagan, Ryan is able to communicate complex theories without becoming simplistic while challenging basic evolutionary concepts.

Opening with a foreword by biologist Lynn Margulis, who refereed Williamson’s paper, and Dorian Sagan, Ryan nods at the past controversy but avoids revisiting its ad hominem accusations. Regardless of the scandal, however, Williamson’s idea is inescapably radical. To be accepted, a massive amount of testing, proof, and elucidation is needed. This is where The Mystery of Metamorphosis ultimately leads the reader: not to a limiting declaration, but rather to a call for greater understanding and exploration.Read the source article at Ryan’s The Mystery of Metamorphosis is available now.

Diane Wilson to deliver Black Planet Award to BP’s Tony Hayward

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Shrimper-turned-environmental hero Diane Wilson, whose new book is Diary of an Eco-Outlaw: An Unreasonable Woman Breaks the Law for Mother Earth, will be in London along with other Gulf Coast activists next week to deliver the International “Black Planet Award” to Tony Hayward, CEO of BP. (Some of you may recall that last summer, Diane was arrested during a Senate hearing about BP’s oil disaster for pouring fake oil on herself and demanding that Hayward be brought to justice.)

Awarded annually since 2006 by the German grassroots organization ethecon, The Black Planet Award exposes and condemns those responsible for the ruin and destruction of the planet. Hayward is the recipient of the 2010 award, and Diane Wilson is committed to delivering it to him personally at BP’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday, April 14th.

In a press release about the upcoming action, Diane stated:

I am coming to the AGM to call BP to account for its actions in the Gulf – for the oil spill, the lies, the cover-ups, the skimping on safety, the deaths, the non-existent documents, the ‘swinging door’ with regulators. The massive nature of the oil catastrophe means it can’t be covered up, even by BP. It’s everywhere, from 5,000 feet down to miles upon miles across and then spread in the ocean’s currents. I am coming to articulate the anger of thousands of Gulf Coast residents whose lives and livelihoods have been destroyed while the BP board continues to prosper.

Additional information on the April 14th day of action and other protests planned next week in London can be found here.

More from Diane, from a speech at the ethecon awards ceremony in November 2010:

I find it very ironic that I am a peaceful shrimper, out of business by the corrupt practices of companies such as Formosa Plastics, Dow Chemical, and BP. Yet these Corporate CEOs who make millions upon millions of dollars are never apprehended or charged with crimes even though it is the worst environmental disaster that America has ever had. And the evidence is so plan. Still these men go free and I’m the one charged with three offenses and could spend over two years in jail for protesting. I spill a half-gallon of syrup on myself and I could get two years in jail. BP spills 5 million barrels of oil and gets charged with nothing. Tony Hayward was sent back to London with a bonus of millions of dollars. I am banned from Washington DC. Where is the justice?…Let me add that I am volunteering to present this year’s Black Planet Award to Tony Hayward. I think it is only appropriate.

Read Diane’s full, original speech at

Diane Wilson’s new book, Diary of an Eco-Outlaw, is available now.

Chasing Chiles in the New York Times!

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

We’re bursting with pride to see Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail featured in a wonderful new article by Anne Raver of the New York Times. Read an excerpt from the piece, published April 6th, below!

Hot on the Trail of Chili Peppers
by Anne Raver

Patagonia, Arizona: There was a frost expected here two weeks ago, but Gary Paul Nabhan, a conservation biologist and inveterate seed-saver, was out in his hardscrabble garden anyway, planting his favorite food, hot chilies. Chiltepin, chile de árbol (the one that scrambles up trees), Tabasco, serrano, pasilla, Chimayó. These are only a few of the pungent peppers that Mr. Nabhan and two other chili lovers — Kurt Michael Friese, a chef from Iowa City, and Kraig Kraft, an agro-ecologist studying the origin of hot peppers — collected on a journey that began two years ago, in northern Mexico, and took them across the hot spots of this country.

In a van dubbed the Spice Ship, these three gastronauts set out to talk to farmers dealing with the effects of climate change on their crops, especially chilies, both wild and domesticated. Their collective tale, “Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail,” spiced up with recipes vetted by Mr. Friese, was published last month by Chelsea Green.

Continue reading this article at the New York Times.

Learn more about Chasing Chiles by Kurt Michael Friese, Kraig Kraft, and Gary Paul Nabhan.

Win a Free Copy of The Color of Atmosphere

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Over on now through April 15th, you could win one of five free copies of The Color of Atmosphere: One Doctor’s Journey In and Out of Medicine by Maggie Kozel.

View the book giveaway details here.

In case you’re not familiar with it, Goodreads is the largest social network for readers in the world. Joining is free, and takes only a moment of your time. Goodreads members can keep track of book recommendations, record and rate the books they’ve read, create and join book clubs, and more.

About The Color of Atmosphere:

If the medical profession you’d devoted your life to was completely taken over by liability concerns and insurance regulations, would you stay a physician?

The Color of Atmosphere tells one doctor’s story and the route of her medical career with warmth, humor, and above all, honesty. As we follow Maggie Kozel from her idealistic days as a devoted young pediatrician, through her Navy experience with universal health coverage, and on into the world of private practice, we see not only her reverence for medical science, and her compassion for her patients, but also the widening gap between what she was trained to do and what is eventually expected of her.

Watch a video of Maggie telling her story, below.

Chile Crisis of 2011 Reveals Need for More Resilience and Diversity on the Farm

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

by Gary Paul Nabhan, co-author of Chasing Chiles.

What a difference a few days of aberrant weather can mean to our food security, our pocket books, and our penchant for hot sauce. The record freeze that hit the U.S. Southwest and Northern Mexico in early February is still affecting vegetable availability and food prices in general more than 6 weeks after the catastrophe. Restaurants across the U.S. are rationing peppers and tomatoes on their sandwiches and in their salsas. Prices for peppers have jumped as much as 50 percent, and for tomatoes by 15 percent, due to crop damages resulting from the worst freeze in southwestern North America since 1957.

This binational region normally produces well over 90 percent of all winter vegetables eaten in the United States. The cold snap damaged fruits and leafy vegetables from the Imperial Valley of California and the Yuma area of Arizona, clear to Los Mochius and Culiacan in Sinaloa, Mexico.

Open fields in the region suffered damage on 85-90 percent of their peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons, while those in hoop houses and greenhouses varied in levels of damage from 60 percent to 80 percent, depending on the local microclimate.

And in Florida — the other winter source of these vegetables for American eaters — abnormally cold weather had already disrupted crop production over the previous two months prior to the freeze. As Gregg Biada, vice president of Global Fresh Import and Export told The Packer, a leading reporter of agri-business trends, “Things got really crazy … prices went through the roof.”

Continue reading this article at Grist.

Chasing Chiles: Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail is available now.

Dissident Voice reviews Get Up, Stand Up

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Kim Petersen over at Dissident Voice found Bruce E. Levine’s new book, Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite, to be “extraordinarily relevant”. Read on for her full review.

There is democratic fervor and revolutionary ferment in many spots around the world today. There are mass and sustained demonstrations taking place throughout the Middle East. Some are revolutions, some appear more so to be engineered coup d’états – the intervention and attack by western imperialist forces on one side in a civil war in Libya seems best described as a coup-in-the-making. The United States, a nation that has been the most egregious slaughterer of civilians in history, pressed for involvement on the pretext of protecting civilian lives. It is an irony of the most sordid type. Yet, even back in the United States a populist uprising sprouted up against anti-labor legislation in Wisconsin.

Against this simmering backdrop, psychologist and author, Bruce Levine’s book, Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated and Battling the Corporate Elite, is extraordinarily relevant. Levine tackles a massively important subject: namely, how to achieve social justice.

Get Up, Stand Up is anti-war, anti-capitalism, and anti-imperialism. It is about how to escape such destructive systems and societies.

Levine reveals one obstacle to escape from the system is so-called democracy. Levine finds democracy to be a game rigged to be won by elitists. The last US presidential election added to the historical evidence of a system predisposed to plutocrats. The result was that Barack Obama bailed out the Wall Street financiers with the money of the masses who have been bilked by the self-same tycoons.

It is also the masses who wind up paying for the wars of the elitists. The Nobel Prize peacenik, Obama, has raised expenditures for US militarism.

Levine opposes the wars of US empire, but he mislabels them. If one were unaware, then Afghan War and Viet Nam War would sound like civil wars, but it was a US war against Viet Nam, a US war against Afghanistan, and a US war against Iraq. So let us not obscure that fact by misleadingly labeling such “wars” minus the initiator and perpetrator of the violence.

Continue reading this review at Dissident Voice.

Get Up, Stand Up is available in bookstores now.

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