Archive for Activism

Hysteria is anti-useful: food safety edition.

I know you’ve gotten one of the email forwards:

“It’s the end of the world! Organic farmers will all go to prison! It will be illegal to garden in your own backyard!”

Well, let me just tell you, that’s ridiculous. That kind of absurd scare-mongering only makes it easy for lawmakers to dismiss the people with real concerns about several food- and farm-related bills in congress right now.

Food and Water Watch has a good summary of the situation here.

The bottom line: Don’t get hysterical. Do call your senators and congresspeople. Do tell them you’re concerned about the effects of food-safety regulation on small farms. Tell them it’s important for any legislation to take into account the different needs of different kinds of farms. And while you’re at it, tell them they need to outlaw the dangerous and unsafe factory farming methods that brought us things like E. Coli hamburgers.

The Organic Consumers Association says this: “write to Congress to urge it to enact food safety legislation that addresses the inherent dangers of our industrialized food system without burdening certified organic and farm-to-consumer operations.” Makes sense to me.


Tell the USDA what’s what.

Remember the USDA Organic Standards debacle? (Summary: the USDA took over the organic “brand” and made it easier for industrial agriculture to make money on it.)

Guess what? They’re after the word “natural” this time.

The Ethicurean has a post about this nefarious business from Walter Jeffries of Sugar Mountain Farm in West Topsham, Vermont (and a lovely place that is, too).

I’d encourage everyone to check out Walter’s post and to register an official comment on the matter with the USDA. (The last day to comment is January 28.)

(Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the “Commonsense Eating” series. I’ll post the next installment shortly.)

Comments (8)

Mountaintop Removal

It’s hard to know where to begin. The West Virginia mountains are the reason I know plants. I am an herbwife because of the place that raised me. The mountain I grew up on is solid coal-free limestone. Many mountains close by are not so fortunate.

I can’t explain mountaintop removal coal mining here. You have to see it. I have been on a mountaintop removal site. It’s absolutely chilling. Even the video I linked to can’t really convey the feeling.

Some of the local groups organizing against mountaintop removal have put together an education / social networking site called It’s an interesting idea—an opportunity for people to let their friends know what’s going on, and to track their connections to other people concerned about mountaintop removal. Another site with more ideas about concrete actions that people can take is

Please do check out the sites, learn about mountaintop removal, and take some action. As someone pointed out at an herb gathering recently, Appalachia has been a really important reservoir for herbal knowledge in a country where herbwifery all but died out by the mid-twentieth century. Let’s show some respect for our grandmother herbwives and get our asses in gear to protect their mountains.