News posts from dpacheco's Archive


Food Freedom: An Interview with Raw Milk Revolution Author David Gumpert

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

The Raw Milk Revolution takes readers behind the scenes of the government’s tough and occasionally brutal intimidation tactics, as seen through the eyes of milk producers, government regulators, scientists, prosecutors, and consumers. It is a disturbing story involving marginally legal police tactics and investigation techniques, with young children used as political pawns in a highly charged atmosphere of fear and retribution.

Here’s an interview David E. Gumpert did with the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association:

The key concept that you bring up right in your title is that raw milk is an issue of food rights. Would you go so far as to say that this is really a civil rights issue?

I’d say it certainly is a lot like a civil rights issue. I guess you could call it a civil rights issue. That’s interesting, I hadn’t really thought of it. I mean, it’s an issue that’s so fundamental that the framers of the Constitution didn’t even think to mention it because there was no issue in those days about food rights. They had a lot of other rights issues — about rights against self-incrimination and the rights to assembly and right to free speech and freedom of religion. So they didn’t think to write about that.

But it’s been turned into a civil rights issue by our own governmental authorities. I mean, they are very gradually forcing more and more foods to be processed in different ways — and foods that growing numbers of people want to be able to consume unprocessed. This includes things like apple cider and vegetable juice and almonds, and now it’s beginning to include meats and leafy greens that might be irradiated. Eventually it could be meats that are cloned, genetically modified food, and, to the extent that those kind of processes become common place, it becomes difficult or impossible to get the original unprocessed food.

So I’d say it is a civil right.

And so milk is really representative?

Yes, I call it a proxy issue. Milk is, I’d say, out there because there are specific laws against it that people are becoming aware of as they decide that maybe pasteurized milk isn’t so great and because maybe the processing damages the milk and makes it less nutritionally beneficial or in various ways alters it so that it’s not easily digested, or whatever. Then the raw milk becomes more desirable to more people, and what people are finding is what I talk about with these other foods. You go to the store in most places in the country and you cannot find raw milk in the store. So you have to make all these special arrangements, and in about twenty states it’s illegal to sell raw milk at all. So that’s the kind of dilemma that people are facing.

Read the whole interview here.

Learn more about The Raw Milk Revolution in our bookstore.

Buy it on Amazon.com.

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Has Obama Squandered Opportunity? A Presidency in Peril Author Robert Kuttner Debates Jonathan Alter: On Point

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

In this hard-hitting, incisive account, Robert Kuttner shares his unique, insider view of how the Obama administration not only missed its moment to turn our economy around—but deepened Wall Street’s risky grip on America’s future. Carefully constructing a one-year history of the problem, the players, and the outcome, Kuttner gives readers an unparalleled account of the president’s first year.

Robert Kuttner debates Jonathan Alter in this episode of NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook.

Listen Now

Learn more about A Presidency in Peril: The Inside Story of Obama’s Promise, Wall Street’s Power, and the Struggle to Control our Economic Future in our bookstore.

Buy it on Amazon.com.

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Poisoned for Profit: An Interview with Alice Shabecoff

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Powerful, unflinching, and eminently readable, Poisoned for Profit is a wake-up call that is bound to inspire talk and force change.

In a landmark investigation that’s been compared to Silent Spring, two veteran journalists definitively show how, why, and where industrial toxins are causing rates of birth defects, asthma, cancer, and other serious illnesses to soar in children. Philip and Alice Shabecoff reveal that the children of baby boomers—the first to be raised in a truly toxified world—are the first generation to be sicker and have shorter life expectancies than their parents. The culprits, they say, are the companies that profit from producing, using, and selling toxics.

Here’s an interview with coauthor Alice Shabecoff from “Hipsqueek,” the Time Out Chicago kids’ blog:

And my reflex, living in Chicago, is to say, “We need to get out of the city.” But it’s everywhere.
Even the Inuits have toxins in their bodies. At least, with our book, we give them some way to protect their kids, and get them angry enough that they’ll start speaking out. At this point, one in three kids have a chronic illness. That is not a figure we made up. That is a cumulative figure that comes from all of the government statistics. If there are 23 million sick kids, with 23 million mothers and 46 grandmothers, we could make a difference.

The debate over what causes autism, it’s so heated and emotional. Particularly among those who believe vaccines causes it.
I hope those parents are willing to look beyond vaccines. We’re going to talk [at the panel] about what other toxins might cause autism, and it will be interesting to see if those parents are willing to work with environmental health groups outside of just autism.

Did you have concerns about weighing in on such a heated, public debate.
No. The parents are non-hostile people. The only people they attack are the people they think are downplaying the risk to their kids. But whether they’ll be as open to thinking it could be a pesticide causing autism, instead of a vaccine, we’ll find out a the conference.

With emotions so high, you have to be even more cautious and meticulous with your documentation and reporting.

We had a set of advisors, about a dozen scientists around the country. They looked over the book to make sure accurate. Scientifically speaking, there is nothing inaccurate or even overstated in the book. We did get a review from two places where we were called alarmist, and in fact, we are sounding the alarm.

Read the whole article here.

Learn more about Poisoned for Profit: How Toxins Are Making Our Children Chronically Ill in our bookstore.

Buy it on Amazon.com.

Find a Green Partner store near you.

Sustainable Living in the Postmodern Homestead: Up Tunket Road

Monday, May 31st, 2010

For seven years Philip Ackerman-Leist and his wife, Erin, lived without electricity or running water in an old cabin in the beautiful but remote hills of western New England. Slowly forging their own farm and homestead, they took inspiration from their experiences among the mountain farmers of the Tirolean Alps and were guided by their Vermont neighbors, who taught them about what it truly means to live sustainably in the postmodern homestead—not only to survive, but to thrive in a fragmented landscape and a fractured economy.

Read an excerpt on Scribd.

Learn more about Up Tunket Road: The Education of a Modern Homesteader in our bookstore.

Buy it on Amazon.com.

Find a Green Partner store near you.

Planting? Think “Permaculture” with Gaia’s Garden: Second Edition

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Many people mistakenly think that ecological gardening—which involves growing a wide range of edible and other useful plants—can take place only on a large, multiacre scale. As Hemenway demonstrates, it’s fun and easy to create a “backyard ecosystem” by assembling communities of plants that can work cooperatively and perform a variety of functions, including:

  • Building and maintaining soil fertility and structure
  • Catching and conserving water in the landscape
  • Providing habitat for beneficial insects, birds, and animals
  • Growing an edible “forest” that yields seasonal fruits, nuts, and other foods

Learn more about Gaia’s Garden, Second Edition: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture in our bookstore.

Buy it on Amazon.com.

Find a Green Partner store near you.

This Memorial Day Weekend, Add Grains to Your Garden with Small-Scale Grain Raising

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

First published in 1977, this book—from one of America’s most famous and prolific agricultural writers—became an almost instant classic among homestead gardeners and small farmers. Now fully updated and available once more, Small-Scale Grain Raising offers a entirely new generation of readers the best introduction to a wide range of both common and lesser-known specialty grains and related field crops, from corn, wheat, and rye to buckwheat, millet, rice, spelt, flax, and even beans and sunflowers.

Learn more about Small-Scale Grain Raising, Second Edition: An Organic Guide to Growing, Processing, and Using Nutritious Whole Grains for Home Gardeners and Local Farmers in our bookstore.

Buy it on Amazon.com.

Find a Green Partner store near you.

LISTEN: An Interview with Waiting on a Train Author James McCommons

Friday, May 28th, 2010

During the tumultuous year of 2008—when gas prices reached $4 a gallon, Amtrak set ridership records, and a commuter train collided with a freight train in California—journalist James McCommons spent a year on America’s trains, talking to the people who ride and work the rails throughout much of the Amtrak system. Organized around these rail journeys, Waiting on a Train is equal parts travel narrative, personal memoir, and investigative journalism.

James McCommons appeared on Up to Date with Steve Kraske from KCUR—Kansas City’s NPR affiliate—on Thursday, May 27 to discuss the stimulus and the future of passenger rail in America.

Listen Now

Explore Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service in our bookstore.

Buy it on Amazon.com.

Find a Green Partner store near you.

Oil Spills, Betrayal, and Courage: Riki Ott’s Not One Drop

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

It’s hard not to feel helpless, frustrated anger over the rapidly spreading oil leak in the Gulf Coast. For marine toxicologist and author Riki Ott, it brings to mind the tragedy she experienced firsthand when, in 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, dumping tens of millions of gallons of oil and causing an environmental catastrophe from which the environment and the people of Cordova, Alaska are still recovering.

In her book, Riki Ott, a rare combination of commercial salmon “fisherm’am” and PhD marine biologist, describes firsthand the impacts of oil companies’ broken promises when the Exxon Valdez spills most of its cargo and despoils thousands of miles of shore. Ott illustrates in stirring fashion the oil industry’s 20-year trail of pollution and deception that predated the tragic 1989 spill and delves deep into the disruption to the fishing community of Cordova over the following 19 years. In vivid detail, she describes the human trauma coupled inextricably with that of the sound’s wildlife and its long road to recovery.

Ott critically examines shifts in scientific understanding of oil-spill effects on ecosystems and communities, exposes fundamental flaws in governance and the legal system, and contrasts hard won spill-prevention and spill-response measures in the sound to dangerous conditions on the Alaska pipeline. Her human story, varied background, professional training, and activist heart lead readers to the root of the problem: a clash of human rights and corporate power embedded in law and small-town life.

 
In the News…

The Story, from American Public Media

Beyond Dispersants in the Gulf

Listen Now

Los Angeles Times

Oil cleanup workers report illness

Some fishermen who have been hired by BP to clean up the gulf oil spill say they have become ill after working long hours near waters fouled with oil and dispersant, prompting a Louisiana lawmaker to call on the federal government to open mobile clinics in rural areas to treat them.

Read the whole article here.

WATCH: Fishermen Sick from Cleanup Work in the Gulf

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Fisherman exposed to the toxic fumes from both the oil spill and the chemical dispersants BP is using to clean it up are reporting flu-like symptoms and respiratory illnesses. Dr. Riki Ott saw the same thing in Alaska when cleanup workers were exposed to toxic fumes and chemicals from the Exxon Valdez oil spill. They called it “the Valdez crud.”

WDSU News in New Orleans spoke to Dr. Ott to learn more.

Riki Ott: The volatile organic carbons are a—they act like a narcotic on the brain. And at high concentrations what we learned in Exxon Valdez from carcasses of harbor seals and sea otters, it actually literally fried the brain. Brain lesions.

From gulfoilspill‘s YouTube channel. (Thanks to Brasscheck TV for finding the video.)

Watch the video on YouTube.

 
Related Articles:

Jeffrey Roberts Spreads the Word about Vermont’s Artisan Cheeses

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Chronicler of handcrafted American artisan cheeses and their producers, Jeffrey Roberts has been spreading the word about these surprising delicacies for over a decade, since the time he first sampled a handcrafted goat cheese at a farmers market and struck up a conversation with the local producer. On June 6 he’ll be headlining a fundraiser in Marshfield. He’s currently working on a guidebook of American craft beers.

From the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus:

Jeffrey Roberts of Montpelier claims he can drive to just about anywhere in the country and nose his way to good food. He is more interested than most people in where it came from. Who made it? Where was it grown or raised?

Once while eating at a remote roadside diner in Montana, Roberts asked if the place got its beef from the herd of cattle he could see right across the road. Well, no one knew. So an employee went to check the wrapper on some meat that was still in the cooler. Best he could tell, the restaurant bought its beef from a processor in another part of the country, and there was no telling where the animals themselves came from.

American consumers and their food sources have suffered a giant disconnect over the past 60 years, stemming from the industrialization of food production, the shift from small farms to factory-like agribusiness and the rise of convoluted global distribution schemes. Roberts’ eyes tighten as he speaks about it. But he brightens wonderfully when he talks about local artisan foods.

Especially cheese.

Some 15 years ago, on Roberts’ second day as a new resident of Vermont, a bit of reconnaissance led him to the Capitol Farmer’s Market in Montpelier. He approached a woman tending a booth offering samples of goat’s milk cheese, and he asked her, “So who made this?” The woman answered, “I made it myself. What’s it to ya?” And thus began a great friendship — and a budding collaboration in growing markets for artisan cheesemakers.

Over several years, Roberts gained more such friends and collaborators. Then, in a pivotal move, he helped bring 85 varieties of American handcrafted cheeses to a prestigious international exhibition called Cheese 2001 in Bra, Italy. The showcase event attracted some 60,000 neo-gastronomes and fired-up cheese tasters from around the world. Begun in the 1990s, Cheese was organized by the group called Slow Food International, which espouses the ideals of “good, clean and fair food.” This means food produced in accordance with high standards of quality and safety, and with fair profits to producers.

Until that point, Europeans had long regarded America as a kind of cheese wasteland, on the assumption that we mainly ate mass produced, gelatinous bricks of orange “cheese product” and jars of school-paste-like spreads, heavily comprising vegetable oils and unsavory chemicals that were a cheap staple of many of childhoods.

But lo, the American artisan cheeses of 2001 were revelatory to the Europeans. The U.S. entries were deemed on a par with entries from Old World countries where cheese artisanship was honed and handed down over centuries. Notably, more than a third of the cheeses showcased at Cheese 2001 came from Vermont producers.

Read the whole article here.

Author photo courtesy Lizzari Photographic.

 
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