Archive for the 'environmental' Category

Rock the Vote – Fish and Otherwise

If you really want to vote more than once (I keep trying but they won’t let me!) Here’s another way.

The Ocean Conservancy is rocking “Fish Vote 2008” so that you, the citizens, can vote on the Conservancy’s top priorities. Go to this page to vote and learn more about the issues are facing each of these species.

For example: Grouper (Motto: “Let the Grouper Spawn. What happens in the Gulf Should Stay in the Gulf”) – large numbers gather to spawn making the catch easy for fisherman. But harvesting before they’ve had a chance to produce the next generation means Grouper are in danger of disappearing.

And in that other election, think about this: you know that national debt thing – how it hit the $1 Trillion dollar mark? A number so large the clock ticker thing in NYC can’t count it any more? I can’t even count how many zeroes that is so I have spell it! Rob Simpson, Author of What We Could Have Done with the Money We Spent in Iraq offers this fun-slash-totally depressing site and ticker that shows you the amount we’ve spent on the Iraq war during the minutes you’ve been on the site – (in the time it took me to write this post: $5 million plus.)

It also has a “shopping spree” to let you choose what other things you would have spent or we could have spent $1 Trillion dollars on. I’ve just rebuilt the gulf coast, fed, housed and built hospitals for half the third world, saved polar bears, bought an island, a bunch of wineries, the entire NFL, a lear jet, mansions in Hawaii, Beverly Hills, Manhattan, a casino…The point is, I ran out of things to spend it on. (On their list there are silly things and serious things, from Bentley’s to feeding starving kids.)

Here are some other things we could’ve done other than start a war with Iraq:

  • Paved the whole interstate highway system with gold
  • Provided a free college education for every American who’s currently in high school.
  • Made every American baby a multi-millionaire by retirement age.

I don’t know what it would cost that baby to retire by the time she reached that age, but it’s got to beat Social Security benefits!

Bottom line:

VOTE!

Something Fishy at Nobu?

Greenwashing at its best/worst.

Just like putting the “Nutrition Data” label on a box of donuts. Guests at Nobu now get a disclaimer with their soon to be extinct tuna…unreal. Read about it here.

I imagine it goes something like this: “Based on certain research models and theories of wildlife reproduction, a group of research biologists lists this fish as endangered. Enjoy with a refreshing saké .”

At least there’s saké !

If you want to have good, sustainable sushi you can go to Tataki now. Or, you can wait unti our handy pocket cards are released – simulataneously- by three of the top conservation groups: the Blue Ocean Institute, The Seafood Watch Program, and the Environmental Defense Fund.

Hello Greenway! A beautiful Day to Celebrate “Green” Boston

Lying back on grass looking up what used to be a hideous raised highway. Enjoying blue skies.

The dedication and debut of the Rose Kennedy Greenway took place under sunny skies. Throngs of Bostonians came out for the celebration that really put our best face forward. City kids from Charlestown represented (with a “my kind of town”), dance groups smoking hot or sultry, krunk to gospel, to breakdancing, even ballet.

The Dewey Sq market was bittersweet. Okay, it was sweet, I was bitter. I mean it’s kind of false showing off for the visitors “our farmer’s market” when they took it away from us! Then there was the “green” vendors giving away books on fast food – hello? And the Globe passing out “Green” supplements. Um, paper = opposite of green.

Still, it was a day full of smiles and joy. Kids rolling down grassy hills, playing with art installations, fountains. A calliope, a ferris wheel. There were free food vendors (Olivia’s organic salads) and water stations everywhere. Even the Hard Rock got in the act, being a good neighbor and giving away pulled pork sammies.

The plans for the new museum and cultural centers are beautiful. Volunteers were pleased to tell visitors all  about the designs and the art that is coming. Finding someone who could articulate accurately the permanent public market plans, however, that was quite another story. That elusive “carrot” was promised for our concessions, our willingness to live in the contruction zone all these years. I could bury the new museum with all the construction dust that came in through windows, even closed ones.

Almost no one can tell us now what’s happened to the public market plans. Not even one measly little flyer at any of the Conservancy booths. Not one talking point on the greenway flyers. Not one architect’s rendering of that promised market. Shows how important it is in the plans. But the positive aspects of a public market were on display for all to see in that mirage of the Dewey Square market: farmers and artisans meeting face-to-face with city residents. Visitors sampling organic foods, buying local apples. Tourists picnicking on the greenway lawns.

I hope that people will see how a public space, like a permanent market such as Seattle has, such as Toronto has, Cleveland, even Philly, creates a gathering place for the city and her visitors, a venue for our local farmers and artists. The market, if we ever see it happen, will be a  gem in Boston’s green crown and the fulfillment of a promise that seems hard to track. Like flickering lights from the Illuminale displays, it seems so close, we just can’t grab hold.

See the Greenway Conservancy site here at RoseKennedyGreenway.org.

Swimmingly

Swimming on Land

So I decided that was really what I was doing. Not walking, but swimming on land. Today – on my way to an appointment during one of those horizontal, steady, windy, rainstorms – I was SO wet, it was like I’d been swimming in my clothes. The good news is that my ultra lightweight Titanium umbrella held up just fine. The bad news is that it hardly mattered. You know you’re wet when the lining of your pants is plastered to your skin. When the clothes you peel off and hang, are dripping making a small puddle – you were wet. The pink wellies kept my feet dry though!

Swimming Against the Tide

I returned home to find a note from my new favorite ocean photographer, Ken Weiss. Take a look at Ken’s very beautifully done, but sad as hell documentation, Altered Oceans, of how we are destroying the ocean environments and the wildlife that inhabits them.

I chided Ken for his piece on the sustainable sushi news, it was all “doom and gloom”.  A couple of emails back and forth reminded me that tone of voice, irony and such, are too often lost in the medium. I took his first email back at face value. Incredulous that someone writing the LATimes Greenspace environmental blog could not be taking the state of the oceans seriously. It didn’t make sense.

Swimming in a School

Of course it didn’t make sense because the joke in Ken’s emails didn’t come through. Finally, he sent me this piece and it’s obvious, he DOES care about the state of the oceans. Good job Ken! Thanks for sticking with me and please do come by and join our blog event sharing your sustainable seafood (dare I suggest it? Sushi?) experience with our readers…

Here’s the wrap up from last year’s event: Teach a Man to Fish.

Circle of Life, Farming and Growing Love

Somehow it seems as though news of this wedding and news from my mother’s church are related.

First, the wedding. I rarely read wedding announcements but this one caught my eye. Maybe it was the sheep.

Reading about this wedding was really great. Understand, this is from the perspective of a person who was not interested in marriage at all. I was not going to get married. Nor was I going to be all bridey. Certainly, no veil. Oh yes, the whole deal. Going on four years now.

But the love story of these two people, strangers to me, strikes a chord. She’s a vegetarian editor of Edible Manhattan. He’s an upstate farmer. They married four months pregnant in order to time the birth with the farming cycle.

Closer to home, my mother’s priest recently informed the diocese and her congregation that he’s leaving their church after six years serving them. In a beautifully written letter, Father Mark speaks to the joys and sorrows of community life (he presided over my grandmother’s funeral service). He also speaks of growing in his ministry and becoming increasingly aware of the environment and the economy. “Simply put, I am committed to building local agricultural communities in environmentally sustainable ways.”

He’s leaving to farm. To “pursue agrarian dreams.” Man. He’s becoming an environmentally minded sustainable farmer. This is a loss to my mother and her congregation, I know how much he has meant to her. Yet it speaks directly to the high calling that farming can be. Certainly, he is not the first person of faith to combine that with working the land. Polyface Farm is one example in the recent sustainability zeitgeist. The Amish farmers who supply wonderful food to markets bordering many urban and rural areas, are another.

Finally, there’s the Catholic priest I learned of in the film event at Slow Food Nation. Rev. Christopher Hartley who has advocated on behalf of Haitians who are enslaved by the Dominican Republic sugar plantation owners is a powerful example of the best of religion. Too often we see examples of the worst. In The Price of Sugar, we see what can happen when the power of belief, of justice is used on behalf of good.

Whatever one’s belief system is, the fact is that love, like farming, often requires patience and a bit of luck. Sometimes an intervention or two by well-meaning friends. Sometimes it’s pretty messy. The hours are long. A lot of work goes unnoticed but is no less important because it’s invisible.

If we’re honest and tend to this “labor of love” thoughtfully and with care, good things can come of our work. Others’ lives can be improved by the simple fact of our attention to doing things in fair, right, and just ways. The best of what we are, the best of our character, is apparent in what we can offer our planet, our fellow human beings and if you believe, our higher power. How we do this tending of the earth, and of each others’ needs, makes all the difference in the world.

I wish the best to Rev. Mark and to Gabrielle Langholtz and Craig Haney. I’m grateful to my husband who’s taught me a lot about the art of tending to love and who shares my appreciation of the good work farmers do. All these sorts of tending, nurturing activities are like farming. Hard work, and critically important work.

That’s farming, that’s love.

Not a Ba-a-a-d Idea – Goats Munch Weeds – LA Saves Dough

Goats are the ultimate eco-friendly weed whackers.

As one commenter said, they’re “weapons of grass destruction.” (That wasn’t you, was it Dennis?)

This article in the L.A. Times today (Thanks Caleb!) reminds me of one of the key systems that small farms use and “big Ag” (industrial farming) has gotten away from. Rotating crops and animals in complementary ways. This is part of what the Slow Food conference was about. Going fast, or “progress” brought us weed whackers and lawn mowers and such. Noise-polluting, fuel-consuming, waste-producing stuff = bad.

Goats bring us back to “slow” ways. Goats don’t use fossil fuel (except in the transport of them to this lot). They don’t pollute, but do fertilize; and they bring people together, too. The article notes commuters stopping to chat and snap photos. Normally, they’d be rushing by, avoiding the noise and dust and each other. Weed-eating, fertilizer-producing, community-building = good.

Pig farmers, I’ve learned, use goats to eat the weeds around the pigs’ paddocks. Chickens follow behind and scratch around in the poo, fertilizing the soil. Pigs eat a fresh patch of clover and grass and then the whole cycle gets repeated in a fresh patch.

Makes sense for everyone: the pigs, the goats, the chickens, the farm, the water supply. Compare it to what happens at factory pig locations such as Smithfield. Horrors of waste, pollution and well documented abuse of both the pigs being raised and the workers. See the original exposé in Rolling Stone here, Boss Hog.

The more you know about it, the more “going slow” makes sense.

For more on my Slow Food Nation experience see:

Slow Food Nation – Come to the Table ’08

City Hall – a good place to start.

The Info Booth with City Hall in the back.

Despite emitting the carbon equivalent of a Jurrasic Park Velociraptor on my RT flight between Boston and San Francisco, I believe my place “at the table” was justified.

Here’s why the (SFN) “Come to the Table” conference was a success for me:

First, I got to speak with farmers of heritage breed pigs, turkeys and sheep. I learned a ton from every conversation I had, and session I attended. I will be able to share this information with a broader audience and to do so from a more informed position. And I’ve got a good start on my book.

Second, I got to view three films from the Berlin Film Festival that hauntingly portrayed the connections between food choices and politics. (More on these in a separate post. Soon.)

Third, I got to eat and drink good, sustainably farmed foods and to sample artisanal and sustainable beverages. Stay tuned for my posts on DrinkBoston and Foodbuzz.

Fourth, I got to re-connect with West Coast friends, newlyweds, food writers and chefs.

Queue for Taste Pavilion

Inside the Taste Pavilion. Did I mention lines?


It’s shy of a week past now and already the pundits are praising, critics are skewering, and proponents defending all sorts of things about SFN. I did not go to SFN with an expectation that four days of this stuff would solve world hunger or answer the fair trade issues among producers and consumers. Call me crazy, but that just never entered my mind as a possibility from this one event.

Remember, the longest journey begins with a single step. And, sometimes, a bus.

As an inaugural event, I would have to say this was overall, quite successful. I base this on my highly objective personal observations, my valid and reliable survey of cab drivers hired to transport me from venue to venue, and the official press release.

Cab drivers, you say? More carbon? Yes, SF has Muni and BART. Yes there was a free bicycle storage pen. But, Ft. Mason was way too far away and my events were happening close in time, such that public transport was not always feasible. Why no shuttle buses or pedi-cabs?

And that’s a good example of my final analysis of the event. Not perfect maybe, but great.

Will the Victory Garden feed the hungry of San Fran? No. Is it a productive way to use otherwise unused space? Yes.

+

Will it foster discussions about organic farming and food supply issues? Probably.

+

Will it provide organic produce to local food banks? Yes.

+

Using my unique mathematical abilities, that all = success.

“Taste” Sessions I attended

  • The Apple in the Pig’s Mouth– Prosciutto and American Cider – learning to taste, appreciate the differences aging and production makes. La Quercia, Aidell’s, Zingerman, more.
  • Heritage Pork and Sparkling Mead – Ossabaw is a rare heritage breed pig with unique characteristics and history. Sparkling Mead was a revelation.
  • Eat it to Save it, Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste – Poppy Tooker, a force of nature as usual, explained why the Ark of Taste is so important. Food (including American Guinea Hog) and demos combined with lectures and laughs.
  • Slow Spirits – Irony on the side.

And the Taste Pavilion lines were really too long for much sampling, but I managed. Salumi, anyone? (Getting a theme here?)

Coming up:

What I ate; people I met; comments I heard…as well as, links to other posts of mine on aspects of this event and products. Lessons learned.

Jellyfish, By-catch and McDonald’s? Not in my Happy Meal!

Trying to Make Progress in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity

Sustainable seafood debates have their own language. Their terms have entered the general food discourse. Check this quote from LA Stages a Fast Food Intervention:

Fast food chains, he said, are like jellyfish in the ocean: with too many in one area, nothing else can thrive.

But he worries that the law could keep out places of more culinary interest. South Los Angeles has the best barbecue in the city, he said, and it has a growing number of cooks from Mexico and Central America making lamb barbacoa and pupusas. “Anytime you try to ban something, there’s a lot of bycatch,” he (Jonathan Gold LA Weekly food critic) said.

Okay, so the jellies analogy is a bit off (the overabundance is an effect of imbalance, not the cause of it) but here’s another interesting quote from the piece:

“Our policy makers abhor nuance and the subtle but distinct qualities that differentiate
fast food from food that can be served fast,” said Mr. Bain.

When was the last time a pushcart hotdog vendor sounded like that in your neighborhood? It’s an interesting article, worth a read.

Two observations:

1. Tried and true, or overused and hackneyed, (take your pick) arguments about governmental interference and individual liberties are being trotted out once again in the debate about whether LA politicians are over-reaching. Trying to protect citizens from themselves, and their taxpayers from the public health burdens, local politicians are balancing the rights and needs of citizens against the rights, needs of others (e.g. fast food restaurants restricted from conducting business in certain areas.)

What people often fail to realize is that government is always balancing rights of one constituency against those of another. It is the purpose of government, more or less. (e.g. smoking, seat-belts, helmets)

2. Sustainability arguments and issues have permeated the common zeitgeist. It now happens that an unrelated food safety or public health debate picks up phrases, concepts and messaging from the sustainability movement. This, I think, is progress. It suggests that our S/O/L/E issues are not a fad and won’t dissapear any time soon.

Come to the Table – A Timely Gathering

SlowFood Nation convenes in San Francisco August 29th – September 1. It will be a gathering of all constituencies from farmers, fishers, producers, growers, purveyors to policy makers, changemakers, film makers, local activists and simply, those who eat.

It’s the mission of the event to debate, celebrate, create, act and learn together over the course of the Labor Day Weekend. Organizers are bringing everyone who cares about food, food systems, farm to table issues and ideas together. Come to the Table!

In recent news we hear of meat processors sins against laws of the nation or their contracts (Coleman Beef and Whole Foods) and those of “a higher authority” (Kosher plant Agribusiness abusing underage and undocumented workers). If this were not enough to convince you that something is wrong with our food systems, then I don’t know what is.

Perhaps some good news is in order? How about the old foodways, gaining popularity again? Before we outsourced our food production to unscrupulous, unethical and/or unclean huge, industrial CAFO, operations there were more sane ways of getting food from farm to fork. May I offer the glass half-full view?

  • City Farms Taking Root.
  • Read about the Sustainable Harvest Alliance led by Wild Idea Buffalo. It’s a stirring and beautiful example of what can be done to bring some sanity back to our food systems. Responsible stewardship of the land and what we harvest from it, and how; these are concepts that will hopefully also become more common in the public dialog about our food.

Wild Idea Buffalo Ribs with Dad’s Sundried Tomato BBQ Sauce

Greenwashing – It’s Not a New Salad Spinner

What is “greenwashing”? It’s a word of fairly recent vintage, now O.E.D.- accepted. Which means it’s here to stay. It borrows from the term “whitewashing” as in cover up.

Etymology:
1green (environmentalist) + brainwashing
Date: 1989
: expressions of environmentalist concerns especially as a cover for products, policies, or activities

There are so many examples of greenwashing these days, it’s enough to make you green at the gills.

The new spate of television shows purporting to be “green” are a perfect example of greenwashing. Here’s a good overview.

Bite Me

Here’s another example I found particularly disturbing. I met a nice, earnest young guy in Monterey who is with the new IdealBite newsletter (think: “green Daily Candy”). I’ve been reading it each day and just when I was beginning feel it was just a sales wolf in green clothing, I read their blog admitting that none of their staff will do the simple task of putting a pitcher under the shower to save the water that’s wasted while the shower heats up.

Even I do that one! And they’re preaching the green gospel to all the readers – while they themselves are not taking their own advice – and while they sell us all the cool new “green” gear.

Remember: the “greenest” thing you can buy is nothing. The first R in the three R mantra is REDUCE, then RECYCLE, the RE-USE. It is meant to be a heirarchy.

See these similar posts:

To Cordova!

Returning from Cordova

Ah, such a short while ago…that’s me on the deck of the Reluctant Fisherman Inn after a fabulous dinner prepared by Chefs Jeremy Storm, Dominic Cerino and Regan Reik. Read here about the menu including moose sliders.


Sad News

Just on the heels of my Cordova trip comes this depressing news about the level of pollutants found in deep sea creatures such as squid. And in Maryland, news of our beloved blue crab is not good, either.

It’s further evidence that we still don’t know how much damage we are doing to the planet.

Cordova, Alaska is a good example of a town that gets it right. In fact, Alaska incorporates in its state constitution stringent controls. Their constitutional mandates are as strict as many of International bodies addressing environmental protection and sustainability.

Still on my Cordova-cloud, work requirements are taking hold. Reviewing emais, writing, prospecting. One of my feeds delivers this additional news of B.C.s failure to protect a delta in the Vancouver area that is similar to the Copper River Watershed, which it mentions.

Light a candle, rather than curse the darkness

Taking some action usually helps alleviate the feeling of despair. A small step can help shift the perspective. This is Kristin Smith, Exec. Dir. of the Copper River Watershed Project and Bill Webber of Gulkana Seafoods Direct. A fisherman whose livelihood depends on the salmon, working side-by-side with the conservationist imparting insights into how the area’s resources are protected and managed.

If you choose to purchase salmon make a promise to buy only wild Alaskan Salmon (AK allows no fish farming so making all Alaska seafood wild.)

Let your fishmonger know you want to buy sustainable seafood and if it’s going to be salmon, it should be wild. You can also order it directly from fishermen/women and suppliers right in Cordova who ship to your door. At restaurants, like The Oceanaire Seafood Room, sustainability issues are central to their philosophy. The salmon they choose? Copper River Salmon. Enjoy it there and let The Oceanaire know you support their commitment to sustainable seafood.

One of the reasons I wanted to visit Cordova was to see first-hand what I could learn from the people closest to the salmon. While we have much to learn about protecting the spawning habitats of the salmon, Alaska does a remarkable job of balancing economic development and environmental protection.

  • Alaska’s constitution mandates effective resource management that has become an International Standard.
  • 90 percent of the US wild salmon catch comes from Alaska and is not affected by the West Coast fisheries closure.
  • Each salmon spawn in a particular river; each is managed with unique projections and real-time, in-season adjustments. Total Allowable Catch and Escapement goals ensure enough salmon spawn each year to provide a healthy stock the following year.
  • Bycatch is reduced by requiring bycatch limits to trigger closures, independent of TAC.
  • Fishing and seafood processing employ more than any other industry in AK.


A window into what I’m thinking and writing about.

Whether it's Food & Cooking, Sports, Film, Travel or the Business of Writing itself...you can find it all through this page. Use this sidebar and the links below to go directly to whatever strikes your fancy. Jacqueline Church's Facebook profile

Where I’ve been seen, published, cited, syndicated…

  • - Tuesday November 11 @6 PM Povo Blogging Panel. Come to 660 Washington Street in Chinatown at the Archstone Building to see what a panel of bloggers have to say about the state of blogging.
  • - Interviewed by Sarah Turner of Suite101 about Using Blogs to Raise Social Awareness
  • - Reuters, Chicago Sun-Times, Austin American Statesman, BBQ Report, Computer Shopper. See clips here.

For Real on the Virtual Gourmet!

Noted food and wine author John Mariani ran my article Salmon and the Sustainability Zeitgest. Click here to read it!

Books make great gifts, for yourself or others.

Click here to see what's on my Powell's Bookshelf.
Powell's Books

Mark Your Calendars

August 22 - Courtney Hunt's acclaimed film Frozen River at the Coolidge Corner. See Diversions for more.

Caught my eye…

  • The Audubon Insectarium opens in New Orleans. See Getting Down with All that Skitters.
  • Copper River Salmon is so hot, even E!online is commenting on the stars who eat it. Taye Diggs was digging it.
  • Vertical farms? Colbert meets Ethicureans...heaven is for those with humor and ethics, yes? Interesting food for thought here....

On Women and Work

Read my contributions to The Glass Hammer a new blog for executive women.

Diversions

  1. Tales of the Cocktail may be over but the fun continues. Check the blogs and podcasts for all the news that fit to drink!
  2. The Maori art of facial tatooing is called moko. It is a powerful expression of tribal identity which has only recently enjoyed a resurgence as the colonial Christian prohibitions against it have lessened. Go to the Peabody Essex Museum for this rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of this amazing cultural tradition. The documentary I saw at Sundance years ago on moko, was one of the most powerful films I have ever seen.
  3. The Audubon Insectarium is a new and top-notch attraction in New Orleans. We passed by it and wondered why we'd missed it before. Turns out it's just now opening. No time this last trip, but it's on the list for the next time. Check here for info.

What's on my del.iciou.us list?

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