Monthly Archives: January 2007

JoCo in San Diego!

You may have noticed that little demand sticker on the sidebar here. I’ve been hoping to get Jonathan Coulton to visit our little cultural backwater for a while now, and he’s finally agreed! Details:

Who: Jonathan Coulton
When: Tuesday, 20 February at 8:00 pm
Where: House of Blues San Diego

Details at Eventful, of course. So there you have it. If you’re in San Diego that night and you like… stuff… you absolutely have to be there. I will!

eco-friendly palace?

Here’s something to ponder: is an eco-friendly palace an oxymoron? From The Register:

The Prince of Wales has been given the green light to build an eco-friendly house, rumoured to be a “starter home” for Prince William once he gets married.

In a more functional than palatial move, a 200-litre rainwater reservoir will collect and recycle rainwater to the house. The house will even have an eco-friendly reed bed sewage system.

The house has been scaled down from its original 14,885 sq ft to 8,500 sq ft to make it more energy efficient but the occupants will still live in splendour. There are six reception rooms downstairs and six bedrooms upstairs – five of which are en suite.

Low energy and water saving appliances will be fitted everywhere, whilst three large recycling bins will make the best use of waste and, according to a sustainability report, make “recycling and composting easy for the occupants”.

The report, by Dr Gail Kenton, of the BP Institute in Cambridge, gives the house a “very good” rating according to the Eco Homes 2006 criteria. It misses out on an “excellent” rating predominantly because of its remote location.

So… yeah. On the one hand, it’s a model of how a large residence can be made more sustainable by combining available building techniques. On the other hand, it’s an 8500-square-foot palace, not to mention the entirely new construction in a rural area. Built for royals, no less. Hrmph.

Why “Cheap” Organics is a Bad Idea

Who didn’t see this one coming? None of us in the organic ag industry are surprised. In fact, we’ve been worrying about it for at least a year now. Remember, bigger is not always better, especially when it’s Wal-Mart. Ok, kids, I’m posting the whole article here, complete with original links, as it’s relatively short and well, the more widely it’s circulated the better . . .

OCA Calls on Consumers to Boycott Wal-Mart for Degrading Organic Standards

Organic Consumers Association

Jan 17, 2007

Straight to the Source

Six months after OCA requested in a widely circulated “Open Letter” that Wal-Mart stop selling Horizon and Aurora Organic milk coming from intensive confinement factory farm dairies, and stop importing cheap organic foods and ingredients from China and Brazil that could and should be supplied by North American organic farmers, the nation’s largest and most ethically-challenged retailer has done what you would expect, nothing.

In addition, as the Cornucopia Institute has pointed out over the past two months, Wal-Mart continues to post signs in its stores that mislead consumers into believing that non-organic items are actually organic. Meanwhile Wal-Mart’s friends in the USDA’s National Organic Program have, of course, done nothing.

Wal-Mart’s entry into the organic and fair trade sector has generated much fanfare and publicity, at great benefit to a company seeking to re-brand itself in the wake of broad-based criticism of its business practices. While seeking to improve both its reputation and bottom line by moving into the organic and fair trade market, Wal-Mart has systematically lowered standards for these products by squeezing suppliers and sourcing supplies from factory farms and overseas suppliers. Currently, the demand for organic products outweighs the supply, and Wal-Mart’s entry into the market has only exacerbated the problem.

The popularity of organics for consumers has in large part grown from the knowledge among purchasers that products they purchased were raised and produced in a safe, humane and environmentally friendly manner and in many cases were produced locally or regionally. The industrialization of organics by companies like Wal-Mart threatens the ability of consumers to be certain that products they are purchasing are indeed raised and produced according to true organic standards.

Basta! Enough is enough. It is now obvious that organic consumers and anyone who cares about health, justice, and sustainability should stop “bargain shopping” for organic products at Wal-Mart and its Big Box competitors. Breaking the chains of mindless consumerism means taking into consideration that where you buy an organic or green product is just as important as what you buy. And please keep in mind that boycotting Wal-Mart is not just a symbolic gesture. Over the past year, as OCA and hundreds of other groups have shined the light on America’s retail Death Star, Wal-Mart has lost somewhere between two and eight percent of its former customers, sending tremors through Wall Street and causing the company to lose sales and profits. In countries like Germany and South Korea, consumer rejection has forced Wal-Mart to close down its operations entirely.

So today and everyday please boycott Wal-Mart and the other Big Box chains. Whenever possible buy your organic and fair trade products from your local co-op or independently owned natural food store, or from your local farmers directly. For more information on where you can find organic and fair trade products in your local area, go to: Organic Consumers Association