USDA Trying to Change the Meaning of ‘Organic’
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Senator Patrick Leahy and Congressman Peter DeFazio have sent a strongly-worded letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack criticizing the recent power grab usurping power from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), according to Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute.
Leahy and DeFazio were prime authors of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA) which created a unique public-private partnership in governing the organic industry. The creation of the NOSB was an essential part of the structure allaying fears that corporate agribusiness and regulatory bureaucrats could eventually undermine the true meaning of the organic farming movement.
Talk about violation of congressional intent! When you have two senior members of the U.S. Congress, both prime sponsors of a bill widely supported by the public, telling you that you have overstepped your regulatory authority, you had better sit up and take notice.
The USDA has clearly gone off the tracks and it is heartening that two leaders in Congress are attempting to reassert their authority by contacting the Secretary at this time.
It should be noted that the National Organic Coalition deserves recognition in securing the support of these key congressional leaders who are siding with every public interest group that has taken a position on the violations of the spirit and letter of the law governing organics.
EXTREME LEVELS OF ROUND-UP FOUND IN IOWA SOYBEANS
A new study led by scientists from the Arctic University of Norway has detected “extreme levels” of Roundup, the agricultural herbicide manufactured by Monsanto, in genetically engineered (GE) soy, according to EcoWatch.
The study, coming out in June’s issue of Food Chemistry, looked at 31 different soybean plants on Iowa farms and compared the accumulation of pesticides and herbicides on plants in three categories: GE “Roundup Ready” soy, conventionally produced (not GE) soy, and soy cultivated using organic practices. They found high levels of Roundup on 70 percent of GE soy plants.
Who says when Roundup contamination can be considered “extreme?” Monsanto itself. In 1999, the chemical giant defined an “extreme level” of the herbicide as 5.6 milligrams per kilogram of plant weight. Astonishingly, the Norwegian scientists found a whopping nine milligrams of Roundup per kilogram, on average. What it boils down to is this: every time we eat GE soy we are taking a dose of Roundup with it.
GUESS WHO’S ATTACKING GREEN ENERGY?
The Koch brothers, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and some of the nation’s largest power companies have backed efforts in recent months to roll back state policies that favor green energy. The conservative luminaries have pushed campaigns in Kansas, North Carolina and Arizona, with the battle rapidly spreading to other states.
Alarmed environmentalists and their allies in the solar industry have fought back, battling the other side to a draw so far. Both sides say the fight is growing more intense as new states, including Ohio, South Carolina and Washington, enter the fray.
The conservatives have warned power companies that profits could erode catastrophically if current policies and market trends continue. If electricity companies delay in taking political action, they warned in a report, “it may be too late to repair the utility business model.”
The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a membership group for conservative state lawmakers, recently drafted model legislation that targeted net metering. The group also helped launch efforts by conservative lawmakers in more than half a dozen states to repeal green energy mandates.
GET INVOLVED IN THE SOIL
The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is a progressive, international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils. Based in Madison, WI, SSSA is the professional home for over 6,000 members dedicated to advancing the field of soil science. It provides information about soils in relation to crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use.
SSSA supports its members by providing quality research-based publications, educational programs, certifications, and science policy initiatives via a Washington, DC, office. Founded in 1936, SSSA proudly celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 2011. For more information, visit www.soils.org.
BEYOND THE YELLOW BRICK ROAD
Here are the lyrics to the great Elton John (music) and Bernie Taupin (lyrics) song. It was written and produced in the early 1970s, the era of “back to the land,” when Elton and Bernie’s generation was discovering organic gardening and farming and environmentalism in general. This is a wonderful evocation of a kid who’s gone to the city, fallen in with a wealthy, louche crowd, and decided to get out for a better, cleaner life in the country. If you want to hear the song, visit this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBwqdA7_4lo
When are you gonna come down
When are you going to land
I should have stayed on the farm
I should have listened to my old man
You know you can’t hold me forever
I didn’t sign up with you
I’m not a present for your friends to open
This boy’s too young to be singing the blues
So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can’t plant me in your penthouse
I’m going back to my plow
Back to the howlin’ old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
I know on which side my future lies
Beyond the yellow brick road.
What do you think you’ll do then
I bet that’ll shoot down your plane
It’ll take you a couple of vodka and tonics
To set you on your feet again
Maybe you’ll get a replacement
There’s plenty like me to be found
Mongrels who ain’t got a penny
Sniffing for tidbits like you on the ground
So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can’t plant me in your penthouse
I’m going back to my plough
Back to the howlin’ old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
I know on which side my future lies
Beyond the yellow brick road
FOUND: A PLACE TO STORE ALL THAT EXCESS CARBON
The following is from the Rodale Institute:
Regenerative organic agriculture for soil-carbon sequestration is tried and true: Humans have long farmed in that fashion, and there is nothing experimental about it. What is new is the scientific verification of regenerative agricultural practices. Excess carbon in the atmosphere is surely toxic to life, but we are, after all, carbon-based life forms, and returning stable carbon to the soil is a tonic that can support ecological abundance.
Taken together, the wealth of scientific support for regenerative agriculture has demonstrated that these practices can comfortably feed the growing human population while repairing our damaged ecosystem:
If management of all current cropland shifted to reflect the regenerative model, we could potentially sequester more than 40 percent of annual emissions.
If all global pasture was managed using a regenerative model, an additional 71 percent could be sequestered.
Even if modest assumptions about soil’s carbon sequestration potential are made, regenerative agriculture can easily keep annual emissions to within a desirable range.
Today there are farmers and agricultural scientists in every corner of the world committed to and excited about the results of regenerative organic agriculture‘s potential in mitigating both climate issues and food insecurity, and the specific research needs have been well documented. Now is the time to harness cutting-edge technological understanding, human ingenuity, and the rich history of farmers working in tandem with the wisdom of natural ecosystems.
Now is the time to arrive at a stable climate by way of healing our land and ourselves—through regenerative organic agriculture.
The Trouble with the Supreme Court
So, let’s get this straight. With its Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court affirmed that corporations are persons, with the same Constitutional rights as flesh-and-blood human beings. And with its recent McCutcheon vs. FEC decision, it said that limits on contributions to political campaigns curtail First Amendment rights.
The Court has ruled, in effect, that Big Money, whether amassed by a corporation or by individuals (most of whom own and run corporations), can now buy control of the legislative branch of the government, and, by financially supporting a favored Presidential candidate, control the Executive Branch and the government’s bureaucracies, too.
Polls show that most Americans don’t like this turn of events one bit—but there it is.
Now consider for a moment a human being who acts like a big corporation or a big bank or a Wall Street trading firm. For starters, this person is dedicated to one thing: making money. That is his (or her) reason for being. And this person will make money legally or illegally, will collude with others to fix prices, turn interest rates to his favor, foreclose mortgages on the victims of his fraud, and amass a fortune doing it.
Greed is his driving force—so much so that this person sells weed killers that he knows are poisonous to human beings as well as weeds. He also goes around causing trouble and fomenting disputes among his neighbors, and then sells them guns and clubs to use on each other.
He runs a restaurant that sells food laced with toxic chemicals. He enslaves people to sew garments and make shoes that he sells at inflated prices. His slaves are exploited and often die because of his uncaring policies.
He owns farms where animals are treated cruelly, the land is poisoned, and waterways are fouled. People get sick and die because of his greed—lots of people.
What would we do to someone like this who lived in our home town? For sure we’d have him arrested, give him a trial, and convict him if the charges are proven. Then we’d give him life in prison or, if he lived in Texas, execute him.
Well, the Supreme Court says corporations are people. Maybe we should start treating them like people.
ORGANIC FOOD NOW AT WALMART AND TARGET
Walmart has announced it has added 100 new organic products to its shelves this month, according to Stacie McMillan, writing in The Guardian. Target has also announced plans to market organic food.
But do Walmart shoppers, most on tight budgets, want to spend more for organic food? In reality, researchers have found that the poor actually consider organic food more important than the rich. Walmart’s market researchers well know that the poor actually do care about organic.
“The new products will be branded under Wild Oats, a longstanding natural foods brand that Whole Foods bought and then resold in the 2000s. The prices seem low enough to fit the modest shopper’s budget: a can of Whole Foods’ 365 organic corn sells for $1.29 at my local Brooklyn store, but Walmart plans to sell Wild Oats vegetables for 88 cents a can,” McMillan writes.
For families that work hard yet still need food stamps to pay for food, Walmart’s program offers something new: an organic option they can afford.
BE SKEPTICAL OF WALMART’S ORGANIC FOOD
Eve Andrews, writing in Grist, has a different take on Walmart’s program than Ms. McMillan. Here’s what she has to say, in part:
“At first blush, this appears to be great news. Cheaper, more accessible organic food-–isn’t that one of the prerequisites for the kind of healthy food system we’ve all been waiting for?
“’We’re removing the premium associated with organic groceries,’ said Jack L. Sinclair, executive vice president of Walmart U.S.’s grocery division. The Wild Oats organic products will be priced the same as similar nonorganic brand-name goods.
“If that sounds suspicious to anyone familiar with organic growing practices, it should. We spoke with Coach Mark Smallwood, executive director of the Rodale Institute in Maxatawny, Pennsylvania, about how Walmart could manage to offer such low prices, and what that might mean for organic farmers across the country. Smallwood explains that the concept of a premium associated with organic food is misleading, because the price of an organic good reflects the true cost of its production.
“’The issue is that there aren’t the subsidies available to organic farmers that there are [for conventional farmers.] So there’s a question in my mind about how Walmart is going to pull this off and be able to make profit,’ Smallwood said. ‘And for them to even come out and make that statement before they’ve started is a huge question mark. Somebody’s going to have to pay, and my hope is that it’s not the organic farmer.
“’The potential is there for [organic farmers] to be treated very well, and paid handsomely for the wonderful artisan stewardship of the planet,’ Smallwood says. ‘What is that worth to Walmart? We’re going to find out.’”
Andrews reached out to Walmart specifically to ask if the company was planning to source from small-scale farmers, and where its farmers would be located geographically. This was their response via email:
“’Regarding your questions, we are working with our suppliers to create a surety of demand which ultimately helps us pass along savings to our customers. We’re using our scale to deliver quality, organic groceries to our customers for less. When we do this, it’s a win, win, win situation for our customers, our suppliers and our company. Our customers can trust that they will save money at Walmart, our suppliers can count on us for the demand and we are able to offer innovative new products.’
“This response provides exactly none of the specifics that we sought,” Andrews writes. “We’ll just have to wait and see, and hope for the best.” I think Andrews is exactly right to be skeptical.
RUSSIA REJECTS GMO FOOD
Both Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and the nation’s agriculture minister have released official statements that Russia shall remain free of genetically engineered foods, and that the ban on imports shall continue. The declarations emphasized that adequate resources and land exist with which to grow organic food for their country’s citizens.
FRENCH PARLIAMENT BANS GMO CORN
Brandon Baker, writing in EcoWatch, reports that France’s lower house of Parliament banned GM corn in a sweeping fashion. Now, no variety of GM corn can be cultivated because of its toxic threats to the soil, insects and human health.
Just a month ago France prohibited the sale, use, and cultivation of Monsanto’s MON 810, the only GM crop that had been authorized by the European Union.
“It is essential today to renew a widely shared desire to maintain the French ban,” Jean-Marie Le Guen, the minister in charge of Parliament relations told the National Assembly. “This bill strengthens the decree passed last March by preventing the immediate cultivation of GMO and extending their reach to all transgenic maize varieties.”
That means that future strains will be banned even if the EU approves them. That includes Pioneer 1507, a crop developed by DuPont and Dow Chemical that is still on the table for EU states and could be approved later this year. The ban now heads back to the Senate, which rejected a similar one two months ago, calling it unconstitutional.
Transition to an Organic World
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It’s sometimes hard to see from the inside the magnitude of the changes that human society is undergoing right now.
The industrial revolution is over and we are transitioning into the age of digital information. Chemical agriculture is transitioning into more responsible organic agriculture. And our energy economy is transitioning—or just beginning to transition—from fossil fuels to renewable energy. All three of these transitions go hand in hand. The more information we have about the environment and the world’s ecologies, the more sense it makes to grow food organically and to curb carbon emissions from fossil fuels.
Those carbon emissions, as you know, are particularly troublesome. When it comes to our sources of energy, humans are still hunter-gatherers. We hunt for oil and natural gas, and then burn them to power our motors, and do so at an unsustainable rate that’s warming the world and its oceans to dangerous levels. Climate change is here and getting worse. We hear a lot of talk and see a lot of hand wringing, but who’s doing anything serious about it? What’s the plan, Stan?
Let me make a suggestion. In the United Kingdom there’s a fledgling company called Air Fuel Synthesis. On its website, AFS writes, “We believe there is a strong case, based on energy security and ambitious carbon reduction targets, to develop a near carbon neutral fuel using low carbon electricity, hydrogen, and atmospheric carbon dioxide.” The principals in AFS have secured start-up funding and are on their way to setting up the system that will create hydrocarbon fuels out of thin air. Here’s how it works:
The petroleum and natural gas that we harvest from the ground as fossil fuels are hydrocarbons—molecules of carbon and hydrogen. They make powerful fuels, and when burned, produce carbon dioxide and water. The carbon dioxide gets dumped into the atmosphere by the trillions of tons. It acts like panes of glass in an automobile on a sunny day. Heat is generated by sunlight but because of the glass in the car windows, it can’t escape. This is the so-called greenhouse effect. It creates climate change.
Air Fuel Synthesis aims to take carbon and oxygen from the carbon dioxide in the air and hydrogen from water molecules and bring them together to form methanol, (CH3OH), a liquid hydrocarbon fuel that can power auto, truck, and airplane engines. Instead of digging up fossil fuels and dumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the AFS set-up will recycle the carbon dioxide that’s already in the atmosphere. By making our fuel carbon neutral, other natural systems for sequestering carbon, such as in plants and in the ocean, can start to reverse the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
But, you may ask, what about the energy it takes to split apart the carbon dioxide and water molecules? Where will that come from?
AFS says it will use electricity from carbon neutral, renewable sources. Let me suggest that there are huge stretches of shade-free surface on the earth where it’s almost always sunny. Saudi Arabia comes to mind. And so do the world’s oceans. Solar panels produce electricity with no pollution. The oceans are already an electrolyte, so electricity passed through negative and positive poles will dissociate water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. Solar electricity can also be used to dissociate carbon dioxide into carbon and oxygen. The raw materials for making methanol are floating in the air and water in superabundance and are there for free. The energy to power methanol factories shines down on us in superabundance every day—and it’s free.
Here’s a further wrinkle in this transition. Instead of hauling methanol to filling stations, these renewable energy factories could burn the methanol on site and use the energy to drive electricity-producing turbines that charge up batteries to be swapped into and out of cars and trucks. Re-useable batteries are hauled to the factories and returned charged up to the filling stations. The engineers can work out the most efficient ways to do this.
So what’s preventing humans from making this transition from fossil fuels to free recycled fuel?
There’s no political will in Congress to do something like this here in the U.S. because Congresspeople spend most of their time raising money so they can stay in office. The big corporations that control energy, autos, and transportation stay committed to fossil fuels because they are lucrative and that money can be used to buy the political impotence of Congresspeople. Tell the guy who’s holding an open sack under a money spigot to turn off his money machine and he’ll likely say, “Later.”
Unfortunately for the status quo, later is now. The transition to a new world is underway. Virtually free energy, organic food, and limitless computing power are on their way.
WALMART AND TARGET TO SELL ORGANIC FOOD
Walmart plans to announce that it is putting its muscle behind Wild Oats organic products, offering the label at prices that will undercut brand-name organic competitors by at least 25 percent.
The move by Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer and grocer, is likely to send shock waves through the organic market, in which an increasing number of food companies and retailers are seeking a toehold.
“We’re removing the premium associated with organic groceries,” said Jack L. Sinclair, executive vice president of Walmart U.S.’s grocery division. The Wild Oats organic products will be priced the same as similar nonorganic brand-name goods.
Over at least the next few years, Walmart’s move is likely to raise prices for organic ingredients, which are already going up because of fast-growing consumer demand. Organic food accounted for $29 billion in United States sales in 2012, according to the most recent data, the Organic Trade Association said. Ten years earlier, its sales were $8 billion.
Eager to tap into that demand, Target, one of Walmart’s primary competitors, said on Tuesday that it would expand the presence of organic products in its stores. At Walmart, internal company research found that 91 percent of customers said they would buy “affordable” organic products if they were available, executives said.
ORGANICS UNDER ATTACK
Without any input from the public, the USDA has changed the way the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) decides which non-organic materials are allowed in certified organic products, according to the Organic Consumers Association.
The change all but guarantees that when the NOSB meets every six months, the list of non-organic and synthetic materials allowed in organic will get longer and longer.
The USDA’s new rule plays to the cabal of the self-appointed organic elite who want to degrade organic standards and undermine organic integrity. For consumers, farmers, co-ops and businesses committed to high organic standards, the USDA’s latest industry-friendly move is a clarion call to fight back against the corporate-led, government-sanctioned attack on organic standards.
KOCH-BACKED BILL NIXES MANDATORY GMO LABELING
A Republican congressman from Kansas has introduced legislation that would nullify efforts in multiple states to require labeling of genetically modified foods, the Reuters news service is reporting.
The bill, dubbed the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, was drafted by Rep. Mike Pompeo and is aimed at overriding bills in about two dozen states that would require foods made with genetically engineered crops to be labeled as such. The bill specifically prohibits any mandatory labeling of foods developed using bioengineering.
Makers of biotech crops and many large food manufacturers have fought mandatory labeling, arguing that genetically modified crops are not materially different and pose no safety risk. They say labeling would mislead consumers.
Pompeo reiterated those claims, stating that GMOs are safe and “equally healthy” and no labeling is needed. “It has made food safer and more abundant,” he said.
“It has been an enormous boon to all of humanity.”
There are currently 66 active bills and ballot initiatives in process in 27 states to require labeling of foods made with GMOs, according to the Environmental Working Group, which is tracking the measures. “The vast majority of Americans… consistently tell pollsters that they want the right to know whether there are GE (genetically engineered) ingredients in their food,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the EWG.
Why Buy Organic Food?
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If anyone asks you why you buy organic food, or why they should buy organic food, you might want to copy the following and hand it to them.
I buy organic food because:
• It’s often more nutritious and tastes better. Many studies show that organic food can provide up to 30 percent more of some nutritive elements than conventionally farmed food.
• It contains no artificial ingredients like chemical food coloring, texturizers, preservatives, laboratory-made flavors, and so on.
• It’s grown or raised without agricultural chemicals, many of which contaminate conventional food, accumulate in the body, and cause serious illness and disease.
• It is not genetically modified. The GM process creates unnatural plants and animals increasingly suspected of causing serious bodily injury when ingested, among other problems.
• No hormones to stimulate growth or force increased milk production are given to organically raised animals.
• No antibiotics, which hasten the evolution of antibiotic-resistant microbes, are allowed in organic animal husbandry.
• Organic rules insist on the humane treatment of farm animals.
• Organic farming enhances the health of the soil, prevents erosion, protects against drought, and adds life-giving organic matter to the soil even as it’s being farmed.
• Organic farms are about 40 percent more biodiverse than conventional farms. The greater the biodiversity, the healthier the ecosystem.
• Organic farming protects farmers and their families, and farm workers and their families, from contact with toxic agricultural chemicals.
• Organic farms provide safe, non-toxic habitat for wild creatures, from microbes to deer, from fish to birds.
• Organic farming protects lakes and streams from chemical pollution.
YOUR COFFEE DOLLARS DEFEAT GMO LABELING
Food Democracy Now has issued the following press release:
With nearly 20,000 retail stores in over 60 countries, Starbucks is the most popular and widespread coffeehouse chain on the planet. In the past decade, Starbucks has paved the way for the modern corporate coffeehouse industry with its alleged commitment to “ethical sourcing” and “sustainability,” and its consistently strong promotional marketing.
Unfortunately, while Starbucks has widely touted “ethical sourcing” and “sustainability” in their marketing material, they’ve failed to live up to those ideals in reality. Right now, Starbucks is serving milk to millions of customers every day from factory farms, along with baked goods full of genetically engineered ingredients.
As if that weren’t bad enough, as a dues paying member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), Starbucks has helped lead the charge against openness and transparency in our food system by fighting against common sense GMO labeling in the U.S.
In the past two years, Starbucks has been a part of a GMA-led coalition that has donated more than $70 million dollars to defeat GMO labeling efforts in California and Washington State. During 2012, the GMA donated $2 million to defeat Prop 37 in California and last year, the GMA illegally donated $11 million as a part of a secret slush fund to defeat I-522 in Washington.
Tell Starbucks to stop fighting against GMO labeling and commit to serving the most sustainable dairy option–organic milk–at all of its locations:
By opposing GMO labeling, Starbucks has willingly climbed in bed with Monsanto and the GMA and is intentionally misleading customers about their commitment to “sustainability” and “ethical sourcing.”
The Starbucks’ company website states: “We have always believed Starbucks can–and should–have a positive impact on the communities we serve. One person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”
That sounds great in theory, but what about the fact that Starbucks serves milk for their lattes and cappuccinos from cows on factory farms? We know from living in Iowa that factory farms are not sustainable and don’t have a positive impact on our communities, where they pollute our water supply, degrade our soil, and depopulate rural towns.
And while we’re impressed with Starbucks’ online “Ethical Sourcing” pledge, which states: “We’re committed to offering high-quality, ethically purchased, and responsibly produced products,” we think they fall frighteningly short by selling dairy products from factory farms where animals are fed genetically engineered grains and given sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics. This is not our idea of sustainable!
At Food Democracy Now! we think that Starbucks could be a force for good and true “ethical sourcing,” instead of promoting industrial agriculture by factory farms and supporting Monsanto’s herbicides and GMOs. In order to do this, Starbucks needs to transition away from the factory farm model and support local, regional and organic dairy farmers.
If Starbucks could commit to that, like they have with sourcing their fair trade coffee, rural America could benefit from a resurgence in small and mid-sized organic dairy farms. Starbucks’ customers can help them lead the way by demanding this important change.
Take the pledge to boycott Starbucks until they stop fighting GMO labeling and start serving local, sustainable organic milk! Tell Starbucks it’s time to get out of bed with Monsanto and start ethically sourcing their dairy products and removing GMOs from their in-store baked goods. Here’s the action website: http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/1227?t=10&akid=1184.101853.pTWO5h
It’s time that major companies like Starbucks are held accountable for their unsustainable and unethical choices that conflict with their own marketing hype. We can’t let them get away with it, just because the mainstream media refuses to do its job and report the truth.
GMO LABELING BILL MOV ING IN CALIFORNIA SENATE
In 2012, California’s Prop 37 sparked a groundswell of GMO labeling bills in states across the nation. Last year, Connecticut and Maine passed GMO labeling laws, but those laws won’t go into effect until other states pass similar legislation. The Organic Consumers Association wants to make California the first state to pass a GMO labeling bill with no strings attached.
California Senate Bill 1381, which would label genetically engineered foods in the state, was recently passed out of the state Senate Health Committee. The bill now goes back to the Rules Committee and then on to the Senate Judicial and Agriculture Committees, before going to the Senate floor for a vote.
SB 1381 is a simpler, clearer version of Prop 37. Polls, both before and after the 2012 election, showed that 67 percent of Californians support a state GMO labeling law. SB 1381 is a chance to finally achieve what the people of California want: GMO labels on their food. Californians deserve the right to know if food has been genetically engineered, just as citizens do in the 64 countries across the globe that have mandatory GMO labeling rules.
PUTTING TWO AND TWO TOGETHER
Let’s put two things together here.
One, income inequality is America is sickening. The top one tenth of one percent have more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans. What we’re talking about is bank accounts worth billions upon billions of dollars. We’re talking about a handful of oligarchs.
Two, the Supreme Court, in its ignorant folly, has ruled that protecting free speech means that these American oligarchs can now back legislators to whatever amount of money they choose over each election cycle.
So here I am, Senator Bunkum or Representative Flunky, spending most of my time on the phone trying to raise money to keep myself in office in the next election, when into my office walks David Koch or Sheldon Adelson or one of their representatives, with an open checkbook and says, “What do you need? A few million? So be it. And in return we’d like you to consider the following pieces of legislation.” Meanwhile, 50,000 of the legislators’ constituents back home are signing petitions urging them to reject the selfsame legislation, but the petitions have no money attached.
What does this mean for the future of America? It means that the top one percent, rich and getting richer, will call the shots. And for whom will they call the shots? Well, let’s see—Paul Ryan’s budget already proposes to cut more food stamp aid, funds for the poor, Medicare and Medicaid. And why? So that the money can flow, as it does in ever-increasing torrents, to the wealthiest among us. And then? The wealthiest will turn the screws ever tighter on the legislators who they are bribing (legally now) to make sure the money spigots open ever wider in their direction, and ever smaller for the rest of us.
The Roberts Court, installed by our country’s own moron, George W. Bush, is carrying out his pro-corporate agenda. This latest decision is beyond sickening. It spells the end of the great experiment in democracy and social justice that was once the United States of America but has now become the suffocating fat asses of the uber-wealthy sitting on top of the people. And the people can’t breathe.
BOOKS FOR FOLKS WHO LIKE TO EAT GOOD FOOD
Here are two books that touch upon aspects of home cookery. Just make sure, if you purchase the books, that the ingredients you use to follow the recipes are organic. Then you’ll be able to set a table that’s the envy of the world.
CHARCUTERIA, The Soul of Spain, by Jeffrey Weiss; Surrey Books, Chicago, 2014; 460 pp., $39.95. If you’re up for it, Chef Weiss, who worked for years with top chefs in Spain, will take you step by step into the world of Spanish charcuterie: smoked meats, fermented and spiced meats, sausages, escabeche, and much more. It’s written with the salty language of a line cook, with a passion for the subject, and it will make your mouth water.
SAUCES AND SHAPES: Pasta the Italian Way, by Oretta Zanini De Vita and Maureen B. Fant; W.W. Norton & Co., New York, 2013; 400 pp., $35. Here in America, we love Italian food. Too bad we don’t make it and serve it the way Italians do. What’s needed is a guidebook to real Italian food, just what you’d encounter if you ate at the dinner tables of real Italian families. Well, this book is it. When your friends from Italy come to visit, they’ll be astounded at the authenticity of your food and service.