Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cornell University's agriculture and home economics databases

I stumbled upon these collections of online books and journals recently. First, there's the Core Historical Literature of Agriculture, which contains links to thousands of e-books or journals on everything from soil management to barn building. Then, there's the Home Economics Archive that covers everything from plumbing to sewing. Both of these include publications going all the way back to the early 1800s.

For those interested in beekeeping (which is a bit controversial in vegan circles, I know), they have The Hive and the Honeybee Collection -- links to about 50 or 60 e-texts of older books on the topic.

Spain to extend rights to apes

This is huge. According to this Reuters blurb, the proposed legislation which would, in effect, comply with the Great Ape Project's Declaration on Great Apes and extend what are currently regarded as ''human'' rights to all other apes. The proposed legislation has the support of all political parties and is expected to go through. It's expected that within the next year, all experimentation on apes will be banned, and it will also be illegal to hold apes in captivity for entertainment purposes (e.g. circuses, filming, etc.).

There'll still be some in zoos, but over 70% of these zoos will now be forced to drastically improve the conditions under which the apes are kept.

I'll see if I can dig up more details concerning this over the next few days.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

McCartney's Meat-Free Monday

Paul McCartney's in the news this week. I just read a story this morning about how he's promoting the idea of a meat-free Monday in Britain. He's encouraging people to abstain from eating meat one day a week to help the environment, citing the UN's recent report on climate change which linked meat consumption to global warming. I think it's a great idea from an environmental perspective. In terms of animal rights, it's no more than a token gesture that will leave people feeling better about what they eat the rest of the week.
Around four years ago, I went to hear Canadian pop culture icon (and environmentalist extraordinaire) David Suzuki speak on one of his tours, he was also promoting the idea of
non-vegetarians integrating a meat-free day into their routines. I've always wished Dr. Suzuki would publicly come around to vegetarianism (or even more so, veganism), especially considering the fact that he frequently addresses the environmental impact of factory farming, as well as its inherent cruelty and also often writes about the environmental impact of the Canadian fisheries industry. I've read here and there that the only animal products he consumes are fish and dairy, but haven't seen official confirmation of it.

Update from an August 23, 2012 article in the Globe and Mail:

"[I]note>We shun red meat, but eat eggs, chicken and fish. I'm not a breakfast guy. For me it's get up, have a coffee and go to work. My idea of a wonderful breakfast is leftovers from a Japanese meal the night before. It's called ochazuke: You take cold rice and pour hot tea on it and eat that with pickles and a bit of salmon.

"Our foundation works a four-day work week. Usually my workout is before dinner, so I come home and have a beer because after I work out the beer goes right to my head, so I get a buzz off of that. My wife has a nice Japanese meal for me. The one indulgence I have when travelling is Panago's thin-crust pizza with everything on it."

Monday, June 23, 2008

Reducing and reusing creatively and a few other finds

I like checking out DIY and crafts sites or blogs -- especially their posts or articles on environmentally-friendly creations. There are a lot of original ideas to be found that make being practical sorta fun.

For instance, here's a step-by-step guide to how to make your own reusable sandwich wrapper. You need some basic sewing skills to do it, obviously, but it's something that wouldn't be difficult to learn (and would have wider applications than merely making a bunch of reusable sandwich wrappers).

Then I stumbled upon instructions for making a solar food dryer. There are lots of these all over the internet and there are even more for solar cookers (with everything from satellite dishes to pizza boxes incorporated into the designs).

And then there's a lot of buzz about Zeer pots, which are refrigerating earthenware pots (you put a terra cotta pot into a larger terra cotta pot, slip sand in between then and keep it wet -- the evaporation of the water cools the inner pot).

Oh, and if you're like me and you have boxes and boxes of old VHS tapes in your shed, attic or basement -- here are some instructions on how to make a totebag using tape from them. The My Recycled site has tons of neat blurbs on how to make bags out of just about anything, by the way. Very neat! (Do people still say 'neat'?)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mini garden update

One of the neighbourhood cats has discovered my garden. I'll see him amble towards it in the morning when I'm sitting on my back step drinking my morning coffee. Fearless, he is. I'll have to make sure that I keep some sort of screening down over any open areas lest he start using the garden as his personal litter box.

I'd planted some black heirloom bush beans almost three weeks ago (I'm bad with dates and need to check my gardening notebook), and they've been coming up over the past 2-3 days. So have the beets and chard I planted in-between the bean rows. I have heirloom wax bush beans beside them that I planted a little later and they should be coming up soon, as well. Between rain, overtime and the yard being occupied by neighbours, I haven't finished off as much of the garden as I'd like, yet. I still need to pull sooooo much lemon balm and sow some more greens. It's hard to believe that it's past mid-June already; it still feels as if May was right behind me, all spring-like and promise-filled. I have a few jalapeno peppers just barely starting to grow and my potted zucchini has a couple of blossoms.

I'll have to remember to jot down the names of the heirloom veggies I'm growing to post them here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The safety of GMOs revisited

The Institute for Responsible Technology has recently issued a report called ''State-of-the-Science on the Health Risks of GM Foods''. According to the Organic Consumers' Association:

the 28-page study describes the conflict of interest among regulators that allowed GMO foods on the market; the wide range of adverse findings from animal feeding studies [...]; reports by farmers of thousands of sick, sterile, and dead livestock; toxic and allergic properties of GM foods; numerous scientific assumptions used as the basis for safety claims that have since proven false; inadequate regulatory oversight; biased industry safety studies; manipulation of public opinion; and the mistreatment of scientists critical of the technology.

The report is available for free download here.

Wanna start an organic farm?

The Center for Rural Affairs' June 2008 newsletter has a short piece on starting an organic farm (or transitioning to organic farming). There are great resource links at the bottom of the article. The Magdoff book mentioned can be found online for free here; if you want to learn anything about building soil, it's invaluable to anyone who grows food on any scale. Also, the Rodale Institute's website offers a free 15-hour online course on transitioning to organic farming.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The AP plans to charge you $12.50 to quote as few as five words from them

The Associated Press is now requiring that bloggers and websites pay them for permission to quote as few as five words from its members' publications (e.g. The New York Times). So, what I'm wondering is what if you blog a quote that's five words the New York Times quoted from somewhere else? Basically, what if the New York Times quotes Hillary Clinton as saying something; if you blog about it and quote the quote (i.e. Hillary Clinton's quoted words), do you still have to pay?

As the a bit in the first link below states, we're entering a world where we can no longer even criticize the press freely, since we're bring required to pay to reproduce as few as five words of what they publish.

Read about it here and here.

Edited to add:

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) had a great piece on it that raises really valid points. They've also got a must-read section on their website that looks at bloggers' legal rights in the US. I hope to find something about similar legislation in Canada. Wikipedia's got a decent little section on fair use legislation that's worth reading, as well.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A couple of things I'm reading up on

My iMac is in a coma at home, so my 'net access has become tricky and will continue to be so until I can get my creaky little laptop online.

In the interim, here are a few things that I'd been reading up on before the ''big sleep''.

Vegan organic and veganic gardening
. Basically, it has a lot to do with minimizing use of animals products in organic gardening (e.g. using plant-based compost rather than animal fertilizers). The UK's Vegan Society has a lot of info on it here.

A friend got me interested in Seeds of Diversity, a ''Canadian charitable organization dedicated to the conservation, documentation and use of public-domain non-hybrid plants of Canadian significance'' (kinda scary when we now have to start referring to certain plants as ''public domain''). They have a great website that includes a searchable database of 19,000 cultivars of Canadian garden vegetables, fruits, etc. -- I'm sure that most of it applies to the US, as well.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Orson Welles on loneliness

We're born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we're not alone.
--Orson Welles (1915-1985)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Oprah's vegan fast blog resumes

I just glanced at the Mighty O's site and there was a brief post from the day before yesterday stating that she'd ordered food from a vegan restaurant (no idea what) and brought some gluten-free waffles and Morningstar veggie sausages from home. And there's a note telling readers to check back on Friday for the next blog post. That's it, though.

Maybe I'm just too cynical about the whole thing at this point. Or maybe I was cynical about it from day one. It bugs me that someone as stupendously wealthy as Oprah can't at least find someone to write down what she's actually eating while on this purported vegan fast. I also don't think it's doing any of her followers any favours to read that she's merely ordering vegan takeout. This would have been a great opportunity to show how easy it is for people to (affordably) cook the right foods for themselves at home. What really, really, really bugged me the most, however, is that Kathy Freston, her supposed vegan fast guru, responded to Oprah's blog post by writing: ''You may have to drink a protein shake during the day to get your full nutrients (not everyone has beans and nuts on hand!!)''.

Um... First of all, nobody who's eating Morningstar veggie sausages is going to urgently need a protein shake to get their ''full nutrients''. She's making it sound as if nutrition is all about meat, meat, meat. Plus, if ''not everyone has beans and nuts on hand'', then who the hell has vegan protein powder on hand at al times? It just makes it sound as if the vegan cleanse is unhealthy and unbalanced and IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to do without a personal chef, access to a vegan restaurant and supplements. It's too bad, really.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oprah? Are you falling off your temporary vegan wagon?

The online vegetarian community has been buzzing for the past few weeks over the news of Oprah's 21-day vegan cleanse. Yes, it was only meant to be temporary cleanse, and not a permanent lifestyle change. However, it was bringing some ok attention to the reality that vegan food can be nutritious and tasty (and if any of her loyal followers were going along with her on this cleanse, it also meant that for 21 days, there'd be a little less animal consumption going on in the world). My biggest eye-rolling over the whole thing had to do with the fact that Oprah had her own personal chef preparing all of her dishes. Hey, I'd be a more-than-happy vegan too if I had someone preparing all of my meals, even (as per Oprah's blog) fed-exing them when I was traveling... So? I think there may be trouble in Oprah-land.

last blog post on Saturday reported that her personal chef left. Her reaction: "Tal left…the void is immense. I'm in New York trying to make do."

That's the last time she posted about her cleanse, after posting daily since its beginning. I don't watch the show, so I dunno if she's commented on it on television at this point. Anyone? I'm thinking that it shouldn't be all that hard for someone that rich and connected to find another spectacular vegan-friendly chef to step up and fill Tal's shoes (heck -- I'd go cook for her myself for a fraction of what Tal must have cost, except that I somehow suspect that my ordinary old lentil chilli or chickpea salad wraps probably wouldn't impress her all that much), but the lack of further blog posts leads me to suspect that the 21-day cleanse may very well be on the skids. Which of course, would send out this big old message to her legions that following a vegan diet is just too hard for regular folks. And for this reason alone, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Oprah's lack of blogging has more to do with her busy schedule than it does her abandoning her project.

Wow. For the first time in my life,
I'm sending supportive vibes out to Oprah. Kinda leaves me feeling a little warm and fuzzy inside.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The garden

So far, I've got three heirloom Brandywines, three organic plums, one cherry and two ground cherry tomato plants in. I've also got a jalapeno pepper and a zucchini seedling (potted, for now). All of these are flowering. This Saturday, I plan to add a couple of bell seedlings, another couple of jalapeno, a cayenne (if I can find one), and at least another three plums.

I have the first sowing of organic leaf lettuce and organic dwarf carrots coming up, as well as my first sowing (15 square feet?) of yellow organic bush beans just breaking ground. Tonight, I planted a 4' row of beets and a 4' row of chard and my second sowing of organic bush beans (these, a drying type -- I'll have to dig out the envelope to post the names). The beets and chard are in between the bush bean rows. I added some thyme seed to my old winter-worn thyme plant (it's seven years old and I'll get another to grow alongside it before I pull this one out of the ground -- it was the first thing I ever planted in my garden). I also scattered some organic spicy mixed greens seed in with the lettuce and carrots coming up around my heirloom tomatoes.

I harvested some rhubarb yesterday. I should have separated some of it early in the spring. It's sort of scrunched together and scraggly. If I play my cards right, though, I should be able to get at least a couple dozen jars of chutney or jam out of it, and some frozen to boot. Right now, I need to figure out what to do with the 50 square feet or so of lemon balm that's spread across part of the garden over the past summers. Do I just pull it and compost it? I have some young burdock coming up, too, in a corner, and need to figure out when to pull it to get to try out the roots.

I'll definitely take some photos this weekend after I get some more seedlings in.

Hope as an obstacle

As someone who often gets paralyzed in just trying to suss out possible outcomes, both good and bad, this passage from Thich Nhat Hanh's Peace Is Every Step really resonated with me.

Hope is important, because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. But that is the most that hope can do for us - to make some hardship lighter. When I think deeply about the nature of hope, I see something tragic. Since we cling to our hope in the future, we do not focus our energies and capabilities on the present moment. We use hope to believe something better will happen in the future, that we will arrive at peace, or the Kingdom of God. Hope becomes a kind of obstacle. If you can refrain from hoping, you can bring yourself entirely into the present moment and discover the joy that is already here.


Western civilization places so much emphasis on the idea of hope that we sacrifice the present moment. Hope is for the future. It cannot help us discover joy, peace, or enlightenment in the present moment. Many religions are based on the notion of hope, and this teaching about refraining from hope may create a strong reaction. But the shock can bring about something important. I do not mean that you should not have hope, but that hope is not enough. Hope can create an obstacle for you, and if you dwell in the energy of hope, you will not bring yourself back entirely into the present moment. If you re-channel those energies into being aware of what is going on in the present moment, you will be able to make a breakthrough and discover joy and peace right in the present moment, inside of yourself and all around you.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Echowood's Making Tofu At Home: Part three

And finally, the last part.

Echowood's Making Tofu At Home: Part two

Here's the second part. The music is a little loud.

Echowood's Making Tofu At Home: Part one

This was too much fun not to share; stay tuned for the rest of them soon.

(It's a little loud, so you may need to adjust your volume settings.)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

On the practice of not being jaded (with some Thich Nhat Hanh thrown in for good measure)

I was thinking about someone who passed through my life not too long ago and a conversation we'd once (or twice) had about unconditional love. He'd indicated that anyone who gave it any sort of consideration in terms of its feasibility was certainly trying to compensate for some sort of lack in childhood with which they hadn't managed to come to terms in their adult lives. He brought up single women who adopt babies as an example of people seeking an instant fix to their own similar childhood lacks by taking in a human who'd more or less be forced to love them, by virtue of his or her helplessness and complete reliance on the woman / adoptive mother in question. It struck me at the time that he seemed to have no understanding of the concept of the reciprocity of love, or of the possibility that people might actually seek to love in and of itself, and not necessarily merely desperately seek to set themselves up to be its recipients.

It's along the same lines as people who enjoy giving for the sake of giving versus those who restrict their giving to reward-like affirmations (verbal, physical, et al.) to modify others' behaviour. There are some who dole out "love" as if it's just another component of some sort of reward-based system -- a controlling sort of habit that's ultimately, especially when done consciously, just another variation of emotional blackmail. So I come back to wondering about unconditional love and its place, if any, in human relationships. In the end, does it really all just boil down to baggage and strings? So this got me thinking about
Thich Nhat Hanh (1926- ), and a passage of his I'd read and remembered about a more general way to approach those milling about in the world:

When we come into contact with the other person, our thoughts and actions should express our mind of compassion, even if that person says and does things that are not easy to accept. We practice in this way until we see clearly that our love is not contingent upon the other person being lovable.

I guess in a sense, it's about love being more of an approach or mindset when engaging anybody in our lives than it is a tool to define and frame our contexts and relationships. In this sense, according to Thich Nhat Hanh, we need to learn to offer it unconditionally. It's "not contingent upon the other person being lovable". In a sense, love shouldn't be conditional upon someone's loving us back, or someone's being able to give us exactly whatever it is that we want. Maybe it's naive (or side-stepping into the murk) to think of it as such, or to strive to adopt that understanding of it into one's own life and one-on-one relationships, and particularly with romantic interests (at least not without a good therapist watching your back -- heheh). Maybe the term (in the English language, anyway) just covers too wide a range of emotions and interactions for it to make any sort of sense to try to examine it in one single blog post.

Friday, June 06, 2008

PETA and KFC-Canada -- Gary L. Francione`s take on it

The PETA / KFC-Canada story has generated a lot of discussion in veg*an circles over the internet this past week. I've gotten involved in a few of them, myself, and have been surprised at how divisive the rights vs. welfarism issue has become. Criticizing /praising PETA has also become a divisive issue within veg circles (which I won't get into today, although I'd like to write about it and about the love / hate veg*ans have for PETA at a later date). Anyway, I just wanted to post this link to my favourite animal rights philosopher, legal scholar Gary L. Francione's take on the whole PETA / KFC-Canada happenings, since I think he makes a really sound case for why it's all just been one big ol' publicity coup for KFC-Canada and why PETA's work here is far from a step forward, but is instead several steps backward for the animals in question.

Waitress sent home after shaving head for cancer research

Stacey Fearnall, waitress at upscale restaurant Nathaniel's in Owen Sound, shaved her head for a cancer fundraiser and was promptly sent home by her employers for having done so. My initial reaction to this CBC-written story was, of course, that the restaurant owners' actions were incredibly sexist and discriminatory. After all, Fearnall didn't show up with an offensive word tattooed across her forehead; she shaved her hair. For charity. This particular article states that she was, in fact, laid off. As the chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission indicates in the article, Fearnall may thus have justifiable grounds to sue based on gender discrimination at this point, since bald men work in restaurants.

I found another article on the story on the CBC site but by the Canadian Press, that was disconcerting for other reasons. Here, Fearnall's husband was quoted as saying that when she did go in to work that customers wouldn't make eye contact with her. Restaurant owner Dan Hilliard also claims that some of his customers support his decision and told him that they ''would have been 'appalled' to have been served at Fearnall's table''. If this is indeed true, then it's a sad commentary on people's narrow-mindedness and stereotypical expectations of women's appearance, either within or outside of the context of why she actually did it. I mean, what if this woman had actually been going through chemo? Does a woman suddenly become a grotesque untouchable just by virtue of not having a full head of hair?

Also, although in the first CBC-written article, Hilliard claims that he was not advised ahead of time that Fearnall was planning to shave her head, the second piece by the Canadian Press states that the ''restaurant's owners'' told her ''well in advance that they wouldn't be pleased if she participated in the fundraiser'', so it seems that it actually was discussed beforehand and that Hilliard's not being upfront about it (not that this has any bearing whatsoever on whether he had any justification to either send her home or lay her off). In this second article, it's also indicated that Fearnall is ''still on the payroll'' until her hair grows back, yet in the first CBC piece, it states that she was laid off and is no longer employed there (which may not have been made clear when the Canadian Press article was written).

A third article on the story that appeared in Owen Sound's The Sun Times newspaper further complicates the story. In it, Ontario Human Rights Commission spokesperson Afroze Edwards asserts that ''appearance disputes are rarely grounds for a workplace discrimination investigation'', which doesn't exactly jive with what the Ontario Human Rights Commission's chief commissioner is quoted as having said in the CBC article.

Regardless of the confusion (whether due to differing stories, misquotes or shoddy research / writing), the bottom line is that -- whether they canned her, or not -- a woman shaved her head (in this case, for charity) and was sent home from work for having done so. Come on? Shame on Nathaniel's!

I'm writing a letter to the editor of the Owen Sound's The Sun Times newspaper over the weekend and hope that others do the same.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

How to explain Peak Oil to anyone

Sharon Astyk wrote this piece for Grist's blog (Gristmill) a few weeks ago. I read it and forgot all about it, getting side-tracked by visitors and gardening. I thought I'd post a link to it here today for a few chuckles. For instance, she writes:

If the person is a lot like Homer Simpson:

The way to explain it is: "Beer comes from oil. You use oil to run tractor to grow barley. You use oil to run fermenting equipment. You use oil to ship beer to liquor store. You use gas, made from oil, to drive drunk to the store to get beer. No oil means no more beer -- ever."

The solution you offer: More beer good. Beer comes from oil. Must. Save. Beer.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Realistic gardening (and some links on storing and preserving what you grow)

Energy Bulletin has a short article by Zachary Nowak touching upon what he calls the ''illusion'' that those concerned about Peak Oil have about being able to adequately feed themselves with their own gardens. He presents some hard and realistic questions that prospective gardeners should ask themselves and he makes a handful of suggestions. The gist of it is that there's a difference between being a backyard hobby gardener and on literally needing to be able to fill your cupboards with what you grow. It takes a lot of time and energy and a lot of knowledge to grow food. At least to grow enough to feed yourself adequately. Nowak has recently written a book called Crash Course: Preparing for Peak Oil which looks at his 7-year-long attempt to become self-sufficient and addresses the challenges of post-Peak life. You can download the intro and first chapter for free, as well as order the entire book itself on his website.

Oh yeah... I added a new links section called ''Food Storage'' earlier today, and I posted a link to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)'s information on storing horticultural crops. Further along in their document, they have a section on processing horticultural crops, including info on solar drying, canning, etc. Most of the information is designed to be used by a non-technically oriented audience. If you nose around their site, you'll find tons of useful information there, including Ecocrop, a searchable database of over 2300 plant species that provides environmental crop information.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Canadian Environment Week in Fredericton (June 1-7, 2008)

A coworker sent me a link to the events planned around the city for Canadian Environment Week, June 1-7. The Eco-Fair at the Playhouse sounds really interesting; I've been meaning to hook up with the Conservation Council and Fredericton Backyard Composters to see what they're doing. Unfortunately, the Eco-Fair runs from 10 am to 4 pm on a weekday, which means that a lot of people who are working won't be able to attend.

If I find out there's more going on around the city, I'll update this over the next day or so.


Wednesday, June 4 - Clean Air Day

Clean Air Day is held each year in Canada as a celebration of environmentally friendly activities that promote clean air and good health. JD Irving and Green Matters will be holding a tree seedling giveaway at City Hall from 12 noon to 2 pm.

Thursday, June 5 - World Environment Day

Green Matters is hosting an Eco-Fair at the Fredericton Playhouse from 10a.m. to 4 p.m. The fair is free to attend, and participants will be able to learn more about composting and energy-efficient living, as well as visit exhibitors, including NB Lung Association, the Conservation Council, Whisco, Bird Stairs, Save a Plant, IPS, Taylor Printing, Jacques Whitford, and the Fredericton Backyard Composters.

Friday, June 6 - Commuter Challenge

Radical Edge will be offering bike tune-ups at the South End of the walking bridge from 7 - 9 a.m. Free coffee will also be available, so remember to bring your travel mug.

Saturday, June 7 - Riverfest River Jubilee

The Jubilee is being held in Officer's Square from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Drop by the Green Matters booth to learn about Water Conservation and the City's Water Utility. Green Matters is also sponsoring Al Gore-trained Carl Duivenvoorden, as he presents An Inconvenient Truth in the St. John Room at the Crowne Plaza from 3:30 - 5 p.m.

For more information on Canadian Environment Week, visit the Environment Canada website.

Update to the KFC Canada / PETA story, an industry website, has published more details of the KFC Canada / PETA agreement.

- The vegan chicken substitute will only be offered in a little over half of the KFC restaurants in Canada (i.e. those owned by a company called Priszm).
- KFC Canada will merely be "urg[ing] (my emphasis) its suppliers to adopt better practices, including improved lighting, lower stocking density and ammonia levels, and a phase-out of growth-promoting drugs and breeding practices that cripple chickens", so it appears that there'll be no actual requirement for it (or if there will be, nobody's sayin' so).
- No information is provided on solid dates for the phasing in of controlled-atmosphere killed chickens.
- They'll be forming an advisory panel to monitor the changes and suggest further ones, but no information is given on who will be on the panel and how (or if) they'll have any direct sort of impact on real changes.

The list on the website is taken directly from PETA's and there's no information at any of this at all yet on KFC Canada's website.

The protein myth

AlterNet has a short article today by Kathy Freston about the "protein myth". For most vegans, the question "But where do you get your protein?" always seems a bit perplexing as it comes up again and again (and again). It's as if by eschewing that ol' ribeye steak or yogurt cup, vegans face some sort of inevitable and well-known nutritional deficiency purportedly common to their ilk, even though most of the folks like me who live in North America live in a world where most diseases have to do with excessive consumption.

Freston points out that only 10 percent of most people's daily caloric intake needs to be protein-derived and that it's almost impossible to not meet this requirement by simply eating a varied plant-based diet. She discusses Dr. Dean Ornish's article that links common cancers, heart disease and other illnesses to high protein -- and especially animal-derived -- foods (she's right that his article is well-worth the read) . She also mentions T. Colin Campbell's famous The China Study, which also links cancer to excessive animal protein consumption.

The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) has a well-researched section on its website about daily protein requirements and vegan sources of protein. It also addresses the still widely-perpetuated myth (kick-started -- and long-since repudiated -- by France Moore Lappé in her famous work Diet for a Small Planet) of the supposed need to combine different types of protein to get a "complete" protein. PCRM also has an informative article on protein for vegans
and breaks down protein requirements by body weight (as well as throwing in a couple of protein-rich recipes to boot). It's almost embarrassing how ridiculously easy it is to get the minimum amount of protein you need day to day.

Monday, June 02, 2008

KFC Canada and PETA come to an agreement

After five years of dealing with PETA's ''Kentucky Fried Cruelty'' campaign, KFC Canada is ''promising improved welfare for the chickens it buys for its fast-food outlets in exchange for an end to a boycott campaign that will continue in the U.S. and elsewhere.''

KFC Canada and PETA have supposedly signed an agreement, by which KFC Canada agrees that it will begin buying from suppliers who gas their chickens to death -- a method deemed less cruel than other popular methods. KFC Canada is also going to lay down animal care guidelines by which its suppliers must abide (e.g. mostly pertaining to limiting crowding in cages and phasing out the use of hormones and drugs). Basically, they're just implementing some small welfarist changes to enhance their image and to get PETA to call of its goons. I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around the concept of PETA-approved animal slaughter.

KFC Canada is also planning to introduce a vegan ''chicken'' subtitute, but I have to wonder about that since it seems that everything at KFC is deep-fried together, isn't it?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Peak Oil gardening-oriented discussion forums?

If anyone's aware of some good (and active) organic (or biointensive, even) gardening discussion forums on any peak oil oriented sites and wants to share a link, I'd be grateful.

Jane Siberry - The Walking

Hadn't heard this in years...

Kierkegaard on our relationships with others

"Most people are subjective toward themselves and objective toward all others, frightfully objective sometimes--but the task is precisely to be objective toward oneself and subjective toward all others."
-- Søren Kierkegaard

Rain and gardening

The forecast for this weekend called for rain and it poured most of yesterday. I wish I'd gotten more seedlings into the soil of my garden on Friday evening and that I'd had the ground more well-prepared in advance to have been able to sow my bush beans before yesterday's downpour. It's warm and sunny this morning, but the ground is saturated, so it looks as if today will be another day with my nose in an Eliot Coleman book or on the bike. It's too wet to do anything, unless I just skirt the sides of my garden and pull some more of the lemon balm that spread throughout it last summer (which ended up being my first gardening-free season in years). Right now, my established perennial herbs are thriving -- oregano, savoury, sage, lemon thyme, parsley and chives. My echinacea is coming up. The three heirloom Brandywines I planted last week are looking nice, as are the still-potted organic jalapeño pepper and zucchini. I hope that the scattered heirloom carrot and organic black-seeded Simpson lettuce seed had time to settle in before the rain, so that it didn't get moved around or bunched up much. I discovered a couple of asparagus plants on Friday, surprises from seed I'd planted a couple of years ago and about which I'd forgotten; I think I'll try to nurture them to see what I can get out of them since I've never grown asparagus before.

The rhubarb in the yard is lush and green and ready to start harvesting over the next few weeks. I'll likely freeze much of it, but would like to can some -- maybe find a recipe for chutney or something along those lines. I'll have to be mindful of food preservation techniques I use over the next 4-5 months, since I'll invariably have to pull up stakes to move before the fall is over because of oil prices. This past winter, I'd thought about using this year's rhubarb to teach myself to make homemade wine this year, but after spending a couple of weeks sans-vino, I'm thinking of taking a cue from more straight-edge types and of continuing to abstain from alcohol. Between the expense and the multitude of health issues associated with its consumption, I think it just makes sense. Maybe part of today, then, will be spent finding preservation ideas for rhubarb, then...