November 2010


See here.

UPDATE: Sen. Sanders (I-VT) has a press release on the issue, “Senate Passes Food Safety Bill, Sanders Provision Protects Small Farmers and Processors.”

UPDATE 2: Process Mistake May Kill Food Safety Bill

A Summit on the Future of Vermont’s Working Landscape will be held at the Vermont State House on Friday, December 10, discussing the challenges facing the agricultural and forest-based enterprises in Vermont.  Full agenda available here.

I’m becoming increasingly sympathetic and more understanding of the types of argument made in an article in Newsweek entitled “Divided We Eat” (where Michael Pollan is quoted as making the statement used in the subject of this post).  The article argues that a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and grains is becoming less affordable to most Americans.  One certainly sees that high-calorie mass produced foods are increasing in price at lower rates than healthier foods, and many healthy foods (e.g., good produce) is not available in many poor urban neighborhoods.  In addition, it is true that having an organic locavore diet is becoming a sign of being of higher socio-economic status.  I do think the article undervalues the importance of food literacy (e.g., knowing where your food comes from, how to cook, and what is healthy), underestimates the power of marketing for unhealthy industrial food, and does not address whether eating healthy with better coventional ingredients could be affordable when cooking as opposed to buying prepared foods.  Finally, I am becoming fascinated of late with price (i.e., how can we all afford healthy local low-input food) and choice (i.e., why are we spending so much less of our income on food).   At the end of the day, I think the locavore and organic movements are good, but we can’t lose sight of wider social justice concerns like hunger and food insecurity.  Locals should be able to afford local food, and everyone should have access to fresh raw fruits and vegetables, and healthy dry grains.

Today is the first day of the international climate change negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, known as COP16.  Professor Kat Garvey and 3L Daniel Miller will be representing Vermont Law School at these climate talks.  You can follow the adventures of the VLS delegation on their blog at: http://vlsatcop16.wordpress.com/.

Green reports that the InterAcademy Medical Panel is urging a low-carbon diet and lifestyle.  This should come as no surprise, but perhaps is long overdue.  Many things that are ‘low-carbon’ are much healthier than the alternatives (and both healthier for your personal biology and the environment).  Examples abound: red meat v. chicken, chicken v. vegetable, walk v. drive, etc.  Sometimes the choices aren’t so clear.

Sweden, with it’s new dietary guidelines that take the environment into account, is on the cutting edge.  These recommendations have been suggested for a whole host of environmental reasons in addition to acknowledged health benefits.  For example, the guidelines account for the high climate impact of beef due to methane released in cattle digestion, the depletion of many fish stocks, the energy-heavy refrigerated transport required by delicate fruits and vegetables,  the fact that fiber-rich root vegetables are more likely to be grown outdoors than in greenhouses requiring fossil fuels, that water-soaked rice fields produce more greenhouse gases than potato farms, that oil palms are often cultivated on former rainforest lands, and even the high carbon footprint of plastic water bottles.

Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development

CALL FOR PAPERS

The Essential Principles of Small- and Mid-Scale

Food Value Chain Development

Manuscripts due February 15, 2011

For details about JAFSCD and author guidelines, visit www.AgDevJournal.com/submissions.

(more…)

The Vermont Journal of Environmental Law invites you to its 2011 Symposium:

China’s Environmental Governance: Global Challenges and Comparative Solutions

中国的环境治理:全球挑战及解决方案比较

Applications are invited for two fellowships in climate change law at Columbia Law School’s Center for Climate Change Law.  For both, the salary will be $60,000/year plus benefits.  Applicants must have received a J.D. degree within three years prior to the beginning of the Fellowship. Strong academic qualifications and background in environmental law and policy will be expected. The Fellows will function as Associate Directors of the Center; will supervise various fellows, visiting scholars and interns; will work on a wide variety of research and writing projects; and will help organize conferences, seminars, collaborative publications, and other projects concerning climate mitigation and adaptation.

The Earth Institute Climate Law Fellowship will be for a two-year period, from September 2011 through August 2013. The application deadline is December 20, 2010. The winner will also participate in seminars and other programs of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, which is partly funding this position.

The Center for Climate Change Law Fellowship will be for a one-year period, from September 2011 through August 2012. The application deadline is February 15, 2011.

Prospective fellows may apply for one or both fellowships.  It will be assumed that those applying for the Earth Institute Climate Law Fellowship will, if unsuccessful in that application, also wish to apply for the Center for Climate Change Law Fellowship, unless they indicate otherwise in the cover letter; resubmission of their application will not be necessary.

More information about the Center is available at www.ColumbiaClimateLaw.com. Applicants should submit a cover letter, C.V. and law school transcript to gregory.wannier@law.columbia.edu (no calls, please).

In the article “Importing Coal, China Burns It as Others Stop,” the Times reports:

Even as developed countries close or limit the construction of coal-fired power plants out of concern over pollution and climate-warming emissions, coal has found a rapidly expanding market elsewhere: Asia, particularly China.

(1) We’re hosting Turkey Day, as always, for friends.  This year we’re having 16 people total, and, while we’re vegetarians*, we do cook a turkey.  Today we bought the turkey.  We chose an antibiotic-free bird.  Here’s the odd thing.  All the no antibiotic, free range and/or all-natural fresh birds were between 10-14 lbs.  All the fresh turkeys that were not “natural” were between 14-24 pounds.  And the chemical free-for-all frozen birds were up to 35 lbs.  Hmm….I think I’ll go with the pre-2000 Barry Bonds turkey rather than the McGuire/Sosa/post-2000 Bonds turkey.

*Note: While my partner is a strict vegetarian, I will eat some ecologically appropriate fish or poultry about once a month when my body craves the protein or fish oil.

(2) Dislike sprawl and like walkable neighbors?  Just found a cool website called Walk Score that evaluates the walkability of your address based on how walkable errands and amenities are (e.g., mass transit, groceries, stores, restaurants, parks).  Just type in your address and get your score.  I find it to be a good predictor for locations that I have liked living in.

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