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10 Ways to Get Plastic Out of Your Kitchen

Plastics seem to invade every aspect of our lives, and the kitchen is no exception. From cooking to storage to packing food for on the go, there are places that we can ditch the plastic in favor of safer, more Earth-friendly materials. Take some time to inventory the plastic in your kitchen and see if your kitchen can go plastic-free. It’s easier than you think!

Plastic is no good for the planet, and it’s no good for people, either. Plastic pollution is a serious environmental problem. It pollutes our waterways, causing ocean dead zones and killing countless numbers of aquatic life. You don’t want plastic coming in contact with your food, either, especially hot or acidic foods. Plastic cooking utensils and food storage containers can leach toxins into the food that it touches. No, thank you!

10 Ways to Get Plastic Out of Your Kitchen

Luckily, there are lots of simple ways to get plastic out of your cooking processes. One word of caution: if you’re getting rid of plastic that you already have, like ladels or tupperware, see if you can come up with crafty or creative ways to reuse them elsewhere, rather than sending them to the landfill. That plastic still exists, even if it’s not in your home!

Ready to ditch the plastic in your kitchen? Here are 10 tips to get you going!

1. Store your food in glass or metal. Instead of plastic Tupperware containers, chose metal or glass food storage. Glass Mason jars are great for storing bulk items like beans, grains and nuts. You can also check retailers like The Container Store. I’ve seen some great glass and metal food storage options there.

2. No more baggies! When you’re packing lunch, choose reusable glass or metal containers instead of plastic baggies or plastic Tupperware containers.

3. Choose reusable. You don’t need plastic forks and spoons in your lunchbox! Grab metal utensils from your own utensil drawer instead. If you want something that’s just for lunch, check out these cute, reusable wooden utensils!

4. Get rid of plastic cooking utensils. Ditch the plastic tools like spatulas and serving spoons in favor of metal ones.

5. Skip the processed food and produce in plastic bags. Processed food almost always means disposable plastic packaging, so choose whole foods wherever you can. When you’re hitting the produce section, don’t buy fruits and veggies in plastic wrap or those plastic mesh bags.

6. Forget bottled water. Chances are you already don’t buy bottled water, but just in case there are any hold outs out there, this is a no-brainer. Bottled water is expensive and the plastic bottles are unhealthy. Choose filtered tap water in a reusable glass or BPA free metal bottle instead.

7. Bring your own bag to the grocery store. You probably also already have reusable grocery bags, but what about when you’re in the bulk or produce aisle? Skip the single-use plastic bags in favor of reusable produce bags instead.

8. Buy dishwasher detergent that comes in a cardboard box. Dishwasher detergent often comes in a plastic container. Skip the plastic and opt for the powdered stuff in a cardboard box. Even better? Make your own dishwasher detergent!

9. Make your own dish soap. No need to buy dish soap in a plastic bottle, either. You can make your own dish soap at home! I know, the Dr. Bronner’s in this recipe comes in a plastic bottle, but many co-ops offer bulk refills of Dr. Bronner’s, so at least you only have to buy the one bottle. If anyone has suggestions for getting around this one, I’d love to hear them!

10. Skip the nonstick. Did you know that the nonstick coating on pots and pans is actually plastic? Instead of nonstick, choose cast iron or stainless steel so you can cook plastic free!

How do you keep the plastic out of your kitchen?

Cast Iron 101: Cooking, Cleaning and Seasoning
13 Natural Ingredients to Clean Almost Anything
Your Kitchen Sponge is Gross. Here’s How to Change That.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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10 Ways to Get Plastic Out of Your Kitchen

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Of Wolves and Men – Barry Lopez


Of Wolves and Men
Barry Lopez

Genre: Nature

Price: $9.99

Publish Date: May 31, 2016

Publisher: Open Road Media

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC

National Book Award Finalist: A “brilliant” study of the science and mythology of the wolf by the New York Times –bestselling author of Arctic Dreams ( The Washington Post ).  When John Fowles reviewed Of Wolves and Men , he called it “A remarkable book, both biologically absorbing and humanly rich, and one that should be read by every concerned American.” In this National Book Award–shortlisted work, literary master Barry Lopez guides us through the world of the wolf and our often-mistaken perceptions of another species’ place on our shared planet. Throughout the centuries, the wolf has been a figure of fascination and mystery, and a major motif in literature and myth. Inspiring fear and respect, the creature has long exerted a powerful influence on the human imagination. Of Wolves and Men takes the reader into the world of the Canis lupus and its relationship to humankind through the ages. Lopez draws on science, history, mythology, and his own field research to present a compelling portrait of wolves both real and imagined, dispelling our fear of them while celebrating their place in our history, legends, and hearts.  This ebook features an illustrated biography of Barry Lopez including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection. “A splendid, beautiful book.” — The Wall Street Journal “Fascinating. . . . A wealth of observation, mythology, and mysticism.” — The New York Times Book Review “Brilliant. . . . A work of intelligence, dedication, and beauty deserving the widest possible attention not only for the sake of wolves but also for the sake of men.” — The Washington Post Barry Lopez (b. 1945) is the author of thirteen books of essays, short stories, and nonfiction. He is a recipient of the National Book Award, the Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and numerous other literary and cultural honors and awards. His highly acclaimed books include Arctic Dreams , Winter Count , and Of Wolves and Men, for which he received the John Burroughs and Christopher medals. He lives in western Oregon.     

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Of Wolves and Men – Barry Lopez

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What has Elon Musk been up to since ditching Trump’s advisory councils?

There’s been much high-profile gushing over the spaceship-in-Eden–themed campus that Apple spent six years and $5 billion building in Silicon Valley, but it turns out techno-utopias don’t make great neighbors.

“Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general,” writes Adam Rogers at Wired, in an indictment of the company’s approach to transportation, housing, and economics in the Bay Area.

The Ring — well, they can’t call it The Circle — is a solar-powered, passively cooled marvel of engineering, sure. But when it opens, it will house 12,000 Apple employees, 90 percent of whom will be making lengthy commutes to Cupertino and back every day. (San Francisco is 45 miles away.)

To accommodate that, Apple Park features a whopping 9,000 parking spots (presumably the other 3,000 employees will use the private shuttle bus instead). Those 9,000 cars will be an added burden on the region’s traffic problems, as Wired reports, not to mention that whole global carbon pollution thing.

You can read Roger’s full piece here, but the takeaway is simple: With so much money, Apple could have made meaningful improvements to the community — building state-of-the-art mass transit, for example — but chose to make a sparkly, exclusionary statement instead.

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What has Elon Musk been up to since ditching Trump’s advisory councils?

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In Which I Waste a Lot of Time on Climate Change Yahooism

Mother Jones

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Boy did I waste some time yesterday. It started with this post from David French:

The Environmentalist Left Has to Grapple with Its Failed, Alarmist Predictions

I’m pasting below one of my favorite videos, from a Good Morning America report in 2008….Truly, it’s a stunning piece of work, depicting the deadly dystopia that awaited Americans in . . . 2015. Manhattan is disappearing under rising seas, milk is almost $13 per “carton,” and gas prices skyrocketed to more than $9 per gallon. But if you’re familiar at all with environmentalist predictions, there’s nothing all that unusual about the GMA’s report (except for its vivid visuals).

….As I wrote in early 2016 — after the world allegedly passed Al Gore’s “point of no return” — environmentalist predictions are a target-rich environment. There’s a veritable online cottage industry cataloguing hysterical, failed predictions of environmentalist catastrophe. Over at the American Enterprise Institute, Mark Perry keeps his list of “18 spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions” made around the original Earth Day in 1970. Robert Tracinski at The Federalist has a nice list of “Seven big failed environmentalist predictions.” The Daily Caller’s “25 years of predicting the global warming ‘tipping point’” makes for amusing reading, including one declaration that we had mere “hours to act” to “avert a slow-motion tsunami.”

….Is the environmental movement interested in explaining rather than hectoring? Then explain why you’ve been wrong before. Own your mistakes.

I would be a lot more impressed with complaints like this if conservatives had spent the past decade loudly insisting that although climate change was important and needed to be addressed, we shouldn’t panic over it. That would be defensible. Needless to say, that’s not what they’ve done. Instead, for purely partisan reasons, we’ve gone from lots of Republicans supporting cap-and-trade to a nearly unanimous rejection in 2010 of what they now fatuously call cap-and-tax, followed in 2016 by the election of a man who’s called climate change a hoax.

Still, alarmism from activists is nothing new, so I was ready to believe plenty of them had gone overboard. At the same time, I was suspicious because the GMA video was rather oddly cropped. It was a hyperactive promo for a forgettable ABC program called Earth 2100 that aired eight years ago, so I wasted some time watching it. Here it is, so you can watch it too if you want to make sure I describe it accurately:

The program is very clear at the beginning that it’s dramatizing a worst-case dystopia of climate change if we do nothing. That said, the show’s actual depiction of 2015 includes these vignettes: an oil shortage spikes gasoline prices to $5 per gallon; higher oil prices make suburbs less desirable places to live; eating meat uses a lot more oil than eating grain; Congress approves 40 new coal-fired power plants; a huge storm hits Miami; a huge cyclone hits Bangladesh; a drought in China causes wheat shortages; and world leaders fail to reach agreement on greenhouse gas reductions.

That’s…not at all what French describes. And it’s not especially alarmist, either. The big drought was (is) in South Sudan, not China, and the most intense cyclone ever was in the eastern Pacific, not Bangladesh or Miami. It was the Lima conference that produced no climate agreement (that would have to wait for Paris at the tail end of 2015), and for pretty much the reasons described in the program. Extreme weather events have increased and wildfire damage in the western US has intensified. But the show did get a couple of things wrong: there was no oil shortage and no new coal-fired plants.

After I finished my vintage TV watching, I trudged through each of French’s catalogs of ridiculous environmental predictions. First up was Mark Perry’s list of bad prediction from the first Earth Day. I’m not sure why I’m supposed to care about a random assortment of stuff from 50 years ago, but whatever. Perry has a list of 18 items, and of them, (a) six were from Paul Ehrlich, (b) two were vague warnings about humans destroying the planet, which we were certainly doing in 1970, and (c) four were dire predictions of things that might happen if we did nothing. But of course, we didn’t do nothing. That leaves six: two predictions of famine, two predictions of resource shortages, one prediction of mass extinction, and one prediction of an impending ice age. I can’t find any backup for the mass extinction thing, but the guy who allegedly predicted it got a Medal of Freedom from Ronald Reagan, so how bad could he be? Nor could I find any backup for the supposed prediction of a coming ice age, and the data it’s based on makes it seem unlikely.

So if we agree that Paul Ehrlich was just way off base, we’re left with four guys who got some stuff wrong. If this is the best we can find from the entire maelstrom of the environmental movement of 1970, it doesn’t sound like those guys did so badly after all.

Next up was the Federalist list, but it was pretty much the same stuff.

Finally there’s the Daily Caller’s list of bad predictions about a global “tipping point.” I had to trudge through each one and click through to see what it really said, and it turns out the first five cases were all routine statements about how much time we had left until the next climate conference, where we really had to get something done. The sixth was from Prince Charles, so who cares? The seventh was a claim that we needed to do something by 2012 in order to keep climate change from getting out of control. The eighth was a piece about the unsustainability of eating lots of meat. And the ninth was a 1989 prediction that we needed to get moving on climate change by 2000 to avoid catastrophe.

So we have a grand total of two people saying that we need to act fast or else it will be impossible to keep future climate change under 2°C. This is a pretty mainstream view since there’s a lot of inertia built into climate change, so I’m not sure why this list is supposed to be so scandalous in the first place. We do need to act quickly if we want global warming to peak at 2°C or less. What’s wrong with saying that at every opportunity?

When you get done with all this, there’s virtually nothing of substance left. Sure, some people got some stuff wrong. That’s always the case. The whole point of science is not to get everything right, but to have a mechanism for correcting its errors. And if you look at consensus views, instead of cherry picking individuals, I think environmental scientists have as good a track record as anyone. Aside from creating listicles that get passed around forever on the internet by ignorant yahoos, what’s the point of pretending that they’ve been epically wrong for decades and need to offer up abject apologies before we ever listen to them again?

There’s no need to answer that. I think we all know exactly what the point is.

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In Which I Waste a Lot of Time on Climate Change Yahooism

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These 15 Albums Might Actually Make 2016 Tolerable

Mother Jones

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Each year, Mother Jones‘ favorite music critic browses through hundreds of new albums and pulls out maybe a couple hundred for his weekly reviews. But only a few can make the final-final cut. Below, in alphabetical order, are Jon Young’s super-quick takes on his 15 top albums for 2016. (Feel free to heartily disagree and share your own faves in the comments.)

1. William Bell, This Is Where I Live (Stax): The tender, moving return of an underrated soul great.

2. David Bowie, Blackstar (Columbia/ISO): The Thin White Duke’s eerie, haunting farewell.

3. Gaz Coombes, Matador (Hot Fruit Recordings/Kobalt Label Services): Grand, witty megapop from the former Supergrass leader. (Full review here.)

4. Bob Dylan, The 1966 Live Recordings (Columbia/Legacy): A massive compilation of every note from his notorious tour. (Full review here.)

5. Margaret Glaspy, Emotions and Math (ATO): No-nonsense relationship tales that rock out with insistent verve.

6. Hinds, Leave Me Alone (Mom + Pop/Lucky Number): Frayed, rowdy femme-punk straight outta Madrid.

7. Jennifer O’Connor, Surface Noise (Kiam): Tuneful, deadpan folk-pop with a cutting edge. (Full review here.)

8. Brigid Mae Power, Brigid Mae Power (Tompkins Square): Hair-raising solo acoustic performances by an Irish chanteuse. (Full review here.)

9. Dex Romweber, Carrboro, (Bloodshot): A colorful Americana kaleidoscope from a master balladeer and rockabilly shouter. (Full review here.)

10. Sad13, Slugger (Carpark): Sadie Dupuis’ solo debut, poppier than her band Speedy Ortiz, and exuberantly feminist.

11 & 12. The Scientists, A Place Called Bad (Numero Group); and Blonde Redhead, Masculin Feminin (Numero Group): The great Chicago reissue label scores again with retrospectives devoted to The Scientists, Australian trash-rockers from the ’70s and ’80s, and Blonde Redhead’s ’90s shoegaze-noise recordings amid the chaotic New York scene. (Full review here.)

13. Allen Toussaint, American Tunes (Nonesuch): The gorgeous final works of the New Orleans R&B genius. (And here’s our recent chat with Toussaint collaborator Aaron Neville.)

14. A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service (Epic): The long-overdue return, and devastating goodbye, of a hip-hop institution.

15. Various Artists, The Microcosm: Visionary Music of Continental Europe, 1970-1986 (Light in the Attic): An eye-opening survey of vintage new age music in all its oddball, unexpected glory.

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These 15 Albums Might Actually Make 2016 Tolerable

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Millennials are starting to realize that Clinton is not the same as Trump

Ready. Same. Fire.

Millennials are starting to realize that Clinton is not the same as Trump

By on Sep 15, 2016Share

Hillary Clinton got one piece of good news this week: An increasing number of  young voters can tell her policies apart from Donald Trump’s.

For Clinton, that’s no small feat.

In July, Tom Steyer’s group NextGen Climate released the first battleground poll of millennial voters this election cycle. The takeaway was a startling number: roughly four out of 10 voters age 34 and younger saw no difference between the two candidates on the issues most important to them.

Now a new follow-up poll by NextGen Climate/Project New America in 11 swing states has found some improvement in Clinton’s numbers in just the month since the last poll was done. More see a difference between the two candidates:

NextGen Climate/Project New America Battleground Millennial Survey

Clinton also gained five points since July among likely millennial voters who say they intend to vote for her: 48 percent now back Clinton compared to 23 percent for Trump in a four-way race.

Her gains among Sanders’ most die-hard voters are worth looking at. Around the time of the Democratic National Convention in July, one in five millennials were still devoted Sanders supporters, and most of them didn’t see a difference between Clinton and Trump. Now, the Sanders holdouts have shrunk from 21 to 16 percent, and slightly fewer Sanders supporters still claim there’s no difference between the two major-party candidates.

While Clinton’s numbers have improved, Trump’s have stayed about the same, despite his repeated attempts to reboot his campaign.

“Millennials’ views of Donald Trump haven’t changed — but their awareness of the differences between Trump and Hillary Clinton on the issues has,” Jamison Foser, a strategic advisor to NextGen Climate, said in a statement. “Clinton’s lead has grown and favorability has increased as young voters learn more about the candidates’ policy positions, suggesting that as bad as things are for Trump, they can still get worse.”

The polling firm Global Strategy Group asked voters which candidate represents their views on issues like equal pay and debt-free college. Clinton pulls ahead on these issues and also has stronger favorability on climate-related questions — like moving away from fossil fuels to clean energy and protecting families’ health with clean air and water.

NextGen Climate/Project New America Battleground Millennial Survey

Still, 28 percent of likely voters see no difference between Clinton and Trump on protecting air and water and 30 percent don’t think there’s a difference on moving away from fossil fuels. That’s still a lot of voters who don’t see the point in choosing between the two.

Clinton at least has a few more millennial-whisperers working in her corner from now until Election Day. This weekend, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will campaign in Ohio to convince this historically unreliable voter demographic that she’s their best bet.

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Millennials are starting to realize that Clinton is not the same as Trump

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Donald Trump Once Said His Wife Shouldn’t Work Because She Should Prepare Dinner

Mother Jones

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Should you forget for any brief moment during your upcoming Memorial Day weekend that Donald Trump has a serious problem with women, here is a 1994 clip of the presidential hopeful explaining why he didn’t approve of his then wife Marla Maples joining the workforce.

“I have days where I think it’s great,” Trump said in the newly unearthed interview. “And then I have days where if I come home and—you know, I don’t want to sound too much like a chauvinist—but when I come home and dinner’s not ready, I’ll go through the roof, okay?”

The clip comes courtesy of the Daily Show‘s “Tales from the Trump Archive” series, in which host Trevor Noah brings to light such unsavory moments from the real estate magnate’s past. Also on Thursday, NBC resurfaced another vintage interview where Trump called pregnancy an “inconvenience” to businesses. Anyone sensing a pattern?

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Donald Trump Once Said His Wife Shouldn’t Work Because She Should Prepare Dinner

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What’s in the new McNugget? No one will tell me

What’s in the new McNugget? No one will tell me

By on Apr 27, 2016Share

Will someone please tell me what’s in the new McNugget? For the love of the Hamburglar, I just cannot figure it out.

An allegedly improved version of America’s favorite lump of fried poultry debuted at some 140 McDonald’s restaurants in Oregon and southwestern Washington in March, a spokesperson for the company told Crain’s on Wednesday. The new nuggets, according to the company, “are made with a simpler recipe that parents can feel good about while keeping the same great taste they know and love.” According to Crain’s, the rest of the country will get to enjoy the crispy little pillows of mystery ahead of the Olympic Games in August.

But McDonald’s has not provided any specific details about the contents of this new, “cleaner” nugget. And in the post-Chipotlegate era, how can we be sure that “simpler” necessarily means “cleaner” — or even “healthier?” Grist embarked on an investigative journey.

The first clue: A McDonald’s in Portland, Ore., shared a photo of what is presumably the new nugget. But it hasn’t responded to my questions regarding what, exactly, is pictured here:

It was time to go up the chain. I called the McDonald’s global corporate office multiple times. I left several messages with the McDonald’s U.S. corporate office. I sent an email. I even tweeted at the McDonald’s corporate account — no response, although the account tweets every few minutes at its loyal and vocal fans.

You’d think that McDonald’s, a company with a less-than-stellar transparency record, would jump at the chance to talk about the “cleaner” McNugget! But no one seems to want to tell me what makes this McNugget different than the old McNugget, and I’m certainly stumped. If you find out, I’d love to know.

UPDATE: McDonald’s got back to us! What’s in the McNugget? “100% white meat chicken, no artificial flavors or colors and our signature seasonings and crispy breading.  The Chicken McNuggets we are testing in Portland have no artificial preservatives.” Rest easy tonight, dear reader.



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What’s in the new McNugget? No one will tell me

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The 7 Biggest Food Stories of 2015

Mother Jones

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The food politics beat was as tumultuous and fascinating as ever in 2015. Here, in no particular order, is my list of the year’s biggest stories. Let me know what I missed in the comments section.

1) Chipotle loses its halo. Unlike its rather timid salsas, Chipotle Mexican Grill’s stock has typically been red-hot, rising more than sevenfold between 2009 and the end of 2014. The burrito behemoth drove its rapid growth by successfully marketing itself as a rustic, farm-friendly alternative to faceless, soulless agribusiness. This year, however, the company’s halo has plunged into the muck. Chipotle got caught in a seemingly endless chain of foodborne illness disasters: an E. coli outbreak that sickened 53 people, including 20 who had to be hospitalized, mostly in the northwest; a norovirus eruption in Boston, affecting 80 people, including 10 members of the Boston College basketball team; and just last week, another E. coli imbroglio, this time centered in the Midwest. Adding insult to (gastric) injury, in one of Bloomberg BusinessWeeks final issues of the year, the cover depicts an image of a Chipotle burrito vomiting its contents.

As the Washington Post’s Roberto Ferdman suggested, serving hand-prepared food from fresh ingredients is tough to pull off safely while also opening new stores at a fast enough clip to appease growth-hungry investors. (The company’s total number of stores leapt from 704 in 2007 to 1,783 in 2014—150 percent growth in less than a decade.)

Meanwhile, the excellent financial writer Helaine Olen revealed that Chipotle’s much-ballyhooed “Food with Integrity” pledge apparently doesn’t extend to employee wages. The company got its wrist slapped by the National Labor Relations Board for firing a St. Louis employee for participating in the Fight for $15 campaign. And Chipotle workers make just marginally more in wages than their peers at McDonald’s, Olen showed. Chipotle stock lost around a quarter of its value over the course of the company’s rough 2015.

2) The meat industry’s antibiotic problem festers. In order to churn out cheap product, the global meat industry relies heavily on antibiotics—the very same drugs used by doctors to stave off infections in people—to spur animals to grow faster and avoid disease in tight conditions. Here in the United States, the meat industry burns through about three times the amount of antibiotics used in human medicine, according to the Food and Drug Administration’s latest reckoning. And the meat industry’s demand for “medically important” antibiotics grew an eye-popping 23 percent between 2009 and 2014, the FDA found. The practice drew a rising crescendo of warnings from public health authorities in 2015. Echoing similar statements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics warned that the meat industry’s antibiotic habit “often leaves the drugs ineffective when they are needed to treat infections in people,” leaving kids particularly vulnerable.

Scarier still: A group of Chinese and UK researchers published a reported in The Lancet that they had discovered a strain of E. coli in Chinese pig farms that can shake off colistin, a last-resort drug for a variety of pathogens that can resist other antibiotics. And this particularly ferocious superbug isn’t likely to stay put on those Chinese hog farms, the researchers warned. Once the E. coli gene that arose to resist colistin “becomes global, which is a case of when not if, and the gene aligns itself with other antibiotic resistance genes, which is inevitable, then we will have very likely reached the start of the post-antibiotic era…At that point if a patient is seriously ill, say with E. coli, then there is virtually nothing you can do,” one of The Lancet study’s authors told the BBC. Uh oh.

3) The GMO industry doubles down on herbicides… Since GM crops first hit farm fields in the mid-’90s, the industry has relied heavily on one blockbuster innovation: a gene that confers corn, soybeans, cotton, and a few other crops with the power to shake off an herbicide called glyphosate, marketed by Monsanto as Roundup. The product rapidly conquered US farm fields and minted profits for Monsanto, which made bank from selling the high-priced seeds and the weed-killing chemical, which farmers could spray on their fields at will, leveling weeds and leaving crops unscathed. But the so-called Roundup Ready seeds became too successful for their own good—weeds developed the ability resist the ubiquitous chemical, leading farmers to uncork a gusher of older, more toxic herbicides onto their fields.

After years of development and regulatory hurdles, the GMO/agrichemical industry debuted its new (weed) killer app to solve the problem: genes that confer resistance to those older, more toxic herbicides, to be mashed up with the Roundup-resistant gene. Dow introduced its Enlist Duo line of corn and soybeans, engineered to resist a cocktail of glyphosate and a decades-old herbicide called 2,4-D. And Monsanto is hotly anticipating approval of its own double-herbicide-resistant product, cleverly deemed Roundup Ready Plus: corn and soybeans tweaked to stave off a mix of gyphpsate and dicamba, another mid-century-era weed killer.

But the herbicide cocktail party got crashed by a few skunks in 2015. The World Health Organization declared glyphosate and 2,4-D—the two ingredients in Dow’s new mix—“probable” and “possible” carcinogens, respectively. And the Environmental Protection Agency temporarily revoked its approval of Dow’s herbicide cocktail just before Thanksgiving for reasons explained here, though Dow vows the cocktail will be back on the market in time for spring planting (and weed killing).

4) …and eyes dazzling new techniques. While the industry harbors high hopes for its herbicide-resistant products in the near term, it looks ahead to a future of genetic wizardry that promises to make old-school GMOs look as vintage as an iPod. First, there’s RNA interference, or RNAi, an emerging technique that allows engineers to turn off specific genes in living organisms, including crops, weeds, and insects. The industry has already used RNAi to create potatoes and apples that don’t brown quickly after cutting (neither of which has taken off in the marketplace). But the industry’s main hopes for big RNAi profits is through generating gene-silencing pesticides and herbicides, as this excellent MIT Technology Review article shows. The pitch is that these RNAi sprays will be able to precisely target specific pests, leaving everything else unscathed. Some scientists, including a USDA whistleblower, are unconvinced, as I’ve explained here and here.

Even more hype swirls around a powerful new technique called CRISPR (explained briefly in this video), which allows engineers to edit genomes like you might edit a document in Microsoft Word—by deleting unwanted genes and inserting new ones. DuPont announced that it’s experimenting with CRISPR to create drought-tolerant corn and soybeans, and it has vowed to have these crops in the field in as few as five years.

Then there’s something called “gene drives,” in which engineers can transform entire species by ensuring desired genetic alterations are passed on across generations—which could make crop pests like weeds and insects easier to kill, according to Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

5) A historic El Niño eased California’s drought—but won’t fix its water troubles. The Golden State endured its fourth consecutive year of punishing drought, to which farmers responded by drawing ever more deeply from finite underground aquifers. In California’s vast Central Valley, one of the planet’s most productive farming regions, farmers have withdrawn water so rapidly that the ground is sinking by as much as a foot per year in some parts, permanently reducing the aquifers’ water-storage capacity and causing tens of millions of dollars in fouled-up infrastructure, including train tracks, roads, and bridges. Meanwhile, growers continued to shift from annual crops to long-lasting ones like almonds and pistachios, putting long-term strain on those same aquifers.

A historically powerful El Niño oceanic warming event is currently bringing much-needed rain and snow to the state, sparking hopes of a drought reprieve. But as I showed here, the state’s farms have gotten so big and productive that their water demands have outstripped the state’s water resources, even accounting for wet years.

6) Midwest farms can’t stop fouling water. While California was drying up, the nation’s other major farming region, the corn- and soybean-dominated Midwest, underwent a different kind of water crisis. Fertilizer from farms, along with manure from massive hog-raising facilities, is leaching into drinking-water supplies, causing dangerous nitrate spikes in Des Moines and Columbus and feeding toxic algae blooms that periodically make Toledo’s water supply poisonous.

After years of paying millions of dollars annually to remove Big Ag’s nitrates from its water, Des Moines pushed back, launching a lawsuit that would place farmers in its watershed under Clean Water Act regulation.

7) Americans are losing their appetite for Big Food (and Beer), which have responded by getting bigger. The American appetite for processed junk finally showed signs of waning, pinching the bottom lines of giant food conglomerates and inspiring them to woo back customers by cutting out artificial dyes and other hoary tricks of the trade. Another way the industry responded was by combining forces in hopes of slashing costs—see the merger of behemoths Heinz and Kraft.

Americans also continued to lose their thirst for corporate beer—giants MillerSAB and InBev saw sales drop even as craft-brew sales boomed. That trend inspired InBev to lean on its US distributors to sell less craft beer, a tale I laid out here. Similar trends played out globally, and that inspired SAB and Inbev to embark upon a megamerger. The resulting company will churn out nearly one in three beers consumed worldwide—nearly all of them, according to my palate, undrinkable.

Merger mania also extended to agrichemical companies—Dow and DuPont combined and have promised to create the globe’s largest GMO seed/pesticide company, bigger even then Monsanto and Syngenta. And those two companies nearly merged in 2015, and may yet.


The 7 Biggest Food Stories of 2015

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TransCanada tries desperate move to save Keystone XL pipeline

TransCanada tries desperate move to save Keystone XL pipeline

By on 3 Nov 2015 6:40 amcommentsShare

President Obama has reportedly been gearing up to reject the Keystone XL pipeline project, so pipeline company TransCanada is trying a last-ditch effort to get the decision punted to Obama’s successor.

The latest twists and turns in the long-running Keystone saga kicked off on Monday afternoon, when White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest responded to a question from a reporter by saying that President Obama will make a decision on the pipeline before he leaves office. It’s been rumored for months that his decision will be “no.” As The Washington Post reports, “The administration is preparing to reject a cross-border permit for the project aimed at transporting hundreds of thousands of barrels of heavy crude oil from Canada’s oil sands region to Gulf Coast refineries, according to several individuals who have been briefed but spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House’s decision has not been announced.”

A few hours after Earnest’s comments, TransCanada sent a formal letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking the State Department to “pause” its review of the Keystone proposal. His department has been tasked with determining whether the project would be in the “national interest” and then reporting its determination to the White House. TransCanada is arguing that because the pipeline’s planned route through Nebraska is in contention, the federal review should be put on hold until the route is finalized.

That’s pretty cheeky: After years of complaining that the administration has been delaying its Keystone decision, TransCanada is now asking the administration to further delay it.

Climate campaigners and anti-Keystone activists see TransCanada’s move as a desperate ploy that has exactly nothing to do with the pipeline route. “The route in Nebraska has been uncertain for years,” activist Jane Kleeb of the group Bold Nebraska told the Omaha World-Herald. “The only difference is they know they are losing now.”

Activists are loudly calling on Obama to reject TransCanada’s request for a delay and then reject the pipeline altogether. Said 350.org founder (and Grist board member) Bill McKibben, “No matter what route TransCanada comes back with, the ultimate problem all along with Keystone XL has been that it’s a climate disaster.”

If TransCanada’s request for a delay is granted, the final Keystone decision would likely fall to the next president. TransCanada is obviously hoping that president will be a Republican, as all of the Republican candidates support Keystone, while the top three Democratic candidates oppose it. Hillary Clinton had refused to take a position on the pipeline for years, but in September she finally came out against it. “This is nothing more than another desperate and cynical attempt by TransCanada to build their dirty pipeline someday if they get a climate denier in the White House in 2017,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld of the League of Conservation Voters.

If Obama sticks to his plan and denies TransCanada the permit it needs, the move could help build his legacy as a leader in the climate fight. Says McKibben, “If President Obama rejects this pipeline once and for all, he’ll go to Paris with boosted credibility — the world leader who was willing to shut down a big project on climate grounds.” A major round of U.N. climate negotiations will start in Paris on Nov. 30, and Obama has been working to get other big countries to make significant pledges of climate action ahead of that meeting.

A pipeline rejection from Obama might mean that TransCanada is screwed even if a Republican moves into the White House in 2017. “The company would either have to restart the difficult and costly application entirely from scratch — or, more likely, abandon the pipeline altogether,” writes Brad Plumer of Vox.

So where does all this leave us now? Exactly where we were two days ago: waiting to see what Obama will do.


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TransCanada tries desperate move to save Keystone XL pipeline

Posted in alo, Anchor, eco-friendly, FF, G & F, GE, LAI, LG, ONA, organic, Radius, Ultima, Uncategorized, Vintage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on TransCanada tries desperate move to save Keystone XL pipeline