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This is kind of embarrassing. I go all the way into Manhattan to score some raw milk (which is illegal but shouldn’t be, because it’s delicious and wholesome), and then I come home and soil it with an Oreo cookie. Oreos are made from highly processed ingredients, they’re “chocolate” cookies, but the very last ingredient listed on their packaging is chocolate, and they’re made by Nabisco, which is owned by R.J. Reynolds and is one of those big nasty food/tobacco/evil companies.
It was really tasty. I really shouldn’t buy Oreos. From now on I’m just going to make my own cookies, or even better I’ll make Boyfriend make them for me.
Last night the Associated Press released a breaking story about the shooting and capture of Larkin Baggett, a Utah-based chemical company owner who was wanted by the EPA for illegally disposing of hazardous waste. The EPA was tipped off about Baggett’s whereabouts after listing him as a wanted fugitive on the Criminal Enforcement section of their website, and found him in the Florida Keys yesteday where the manhunt ended in a hail of bullets. Baggett reportedly pulled out a gun when confronted by officials, who in turn shot him twice, arrested him, and brought him to a Miami hospital where he remains in critical condition.
It’s not easy enforcing environmental protection law, so back in December of last year Bush Administration EPA officials set up a webpage on the that features a saloon-style bulletin board of EPA Fugitive wanted posters. The fugitives include hazardous waste dumpers and importers of emissions-spewing vehicles and ozone-depleting chemicles, and grainy photographs of their two dozen sad faces are posted on the page along with short descriptions of their wrongdoings and last known whereabouts.
Baggett was the first EPA fugitive to be identified and captured using the Agency’s online list. When the list was first published back in December, environmentalists doubted that the digital wanted posters would help bring eco-violators to justice. Under the current administration, however, the EPA has been newly empowered and seems genuinely interested in enforcing environmental law. The story of Larkin Baggett may only be the first of its kind as the EPA enters into a new era of environmental protection by all means necessary (including the use of deadly force).
I got this book as a christmas gift and it’s turned out to be the best present I ever received. It’s called The Urban Homestead, and it was written by an LA couple -Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen – who have a real knack for sustainable living in the urban environment. They cover all sorts of things, from making your own homegrown booze to city bike travel, but my favorite parts of the book are the sections on growing food. These guys have a full-fledged food forest in their back yard, and have also cultivated all sorts of crops on the road median out in front of their house. The book offers a slew of tips on mulching, container gardening, irrigation, and is a great place to start if you’re interested in growing some food but don’t have tons of experience. It’s been a pleasure to read this time of year, while I make decisions about what seeds to buy and daydream about digging in the dirt.
The authors also have a blog, which I recommend checking out, too – the web ads a layer of interactivity and accessibility to the authors that I can really appreciate. These guys are real pros – and they can write, which is always a plus. And they have chickens, which I’m kind of jealous about (for some reason I’m finding myself increasingly draw to animal husbandry – unfortunately I think my cats would torture and perhaps even kill a chicken if given the chance).
Big props to Kelly and Erik – you’re an inspiration! And if you ever find yourself in Brooklyn, you’re welcome to stay at my house and help me make my yard into an urban oasis.
This nice piece in Alternet today reminded me of something important: just because it’s cold and miserable out doesn’t mean that it’s too soon to start planning my garden. And planning is half the fun. Or, almost half -say forty percent.
I’m getting my seeds from Seed Savers Exchange, as usual, but I’m also going to try out this place called Seeds of Change, because I’ve got a gift certificate. There’s also a handful of seeds that I saved from last year (and the year before), including some flowers that were in my yard this summer in Alaska, and some squash seeds that I dug out of my dinner before cooking it. But I still need to get seeds for most of the plants that I plan to grow in my new garden, so I’ve started a list and in a few days I’m going to hit the seed sites and order a bunch before they run out of the good stuff (and they do run out – a few years ago I just couldn’t get arugula and it was really upsetting).
Here’s my seed list so far:
New York City has this great tradition, where the Sanitation and Parks Departments pick up all the tossed-out Christmas trees, bring them down to the park and grind them up into mulch. I had the great pleasure of volunteering at one of the parks where the mulching was taking place last week, and it was really something. As you can see in the photo below, they had this big industrial-strength chipper and within a few hours had turned well over a hundred trees into a huge, piney pile of mulch. I had the foresight to bring my car with me (cars are bad bad bad), and filled it up with bags of mulch that now exist in the form of a large, decomposing lump in my back yard. Come spring time (or as soon as the snow melts and it’s not unbearably cold outside) I’ll use the piney stuff to make paths between my garden plots – this year it’s too fresh to use on the plants themselves. Yay for mulch! And more on my garden coming soon…
The holidays. They’re over now (phew), but I’m still feeling the aftershocks. It’s time for a confession.
Christmas is about gifts, and this year I bought a lot of them, made a couple (too few), and received even more. There might be a recession on, and Americans might have experienced a leaner holiday this year, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the mountain of loot that I brought home on December 26th. It’s worth noting that a few of the consumer goods I received were fairly green – I got a compost bin, some gardening tools, and a gift certificate to buy vegetable seeds from Seeds of Change. I also wrapped the presents that I gave in the paper that I saved last year. But for the most part, this Christmas was a nauseating display of consumption and waste.
And there was also food. Too much of it. And lots of alcohol to wash it down. I ate until my stomach hurt on more than one occasion, and threw a New Years party which resulted in a morning-after recycling bag full of bottles and cans whose girth rivaled that of my 1995 volvo sedan. Even a couple of days ago I caught myself eating and drinking to the point of gluttony, excusing my behavior with the pathetic phrase, “it’s the holidays, right?” No, it wasn’t the holidays. It was January.
And it still is January, which means that I’ve still got an opportunity to repent for my holiday season sins (more…)
I just wanted to take a second to make a shout-out to a long beloved but oft overlooked entity: the used book. In a time of economic and environmental woe, the used book is a cheap and green way to entertain yourself and reward others throughout the holiday season and beyond.
Yesterday I picked up my mail and was pleased to discover that my expected delivery from Amazon.com had arrived. Just a week earlier, I went online and paid $3.50 for the book ($7.50 with shipping), which happens to be a 1977 paperback edition of John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath“. This is a classic piece of American fiction that I’ve never read before, but have recently been compelled to pick up after reading another book, “Stuffed and Starved” by Raj Patel.
“Stuffed and Starved” gives an informative and well-researched overview of our ailing global food system, and although it’s not as artfully written as some other works in its genre, particularly those authored by Pollans, Schlossers and Lappes, it is a must-read for anyone who cares about food, nutrition, environment and social justice. But more to the point, Patel’s book regularly quotes Steinbeck, and inspired me to read “The Grapes of Wrath” (which I will, starting today).
A new copy of “The Grapes of Wrath” will run you at least ten bucks, so I really scored with my $3.50 copy. Plus, my copy has a nice yellow coloration and some lovely coffee (or maybe chocolate?) stains on the cover, which give it character and a light fragrance. I am a strong believer in judging books by their covers, and I can tell that this is going to be a good read. And new books are tainted with carbon footprints and the blood of happy young forests, which is simply awful.
So if you’re planning to buy a book (or anything else, for that matter), try and get it used. I promise it will be better for your wallet, better for the planet, and it will look cuter on your coffee table.