Weekly Mulch: How to Avoid Gobbling Your Way Through the Holidays

Editor’s Note: Happy Thanksgiving from the Media Consortium! This week, we aren’t stopping The Audit, The Pulse, The Diaspora, or The Mulch, but we are taking a bit of a break. Expect shorter blog posts, and The Diaspora and The Mulch will be posted on Wednesday afternoon, instead of their usual Thursday and Friday postings. We’ll return to our normal schedule next week.

by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger

Tomorrow marks the day that, as a nation, we put aside our usual habits and begin a weeks-long push to eat, buy, and generally consume as much as possible in the spirit of the holiday season. Thanksgiving and Black Friday are only the first sprint, the gateway to latkes, holiday party hors d’oeuvres, Secret Santa shopping, and party-dress buying that will culminate in a hangover after a booze-soaked New Year’s Eve.

There’s really no escape, and to some extent, who would want to miss out? (Cranberry sauce! Christmas cookies!) But it’s not exactly a sustainable lifestyle, even for six weeks. Here are some guideposts to help light the way through.

Turkey trouble

A sad fact about commercially raised turkeys: Even the ones pardoned by the President are destined to live short lives. As Jill Richardson writes at AlterNet, “The Broad-Breasted Whites who receive presidential pardons have gone to Disneyland to peacefully live out the remainder of their lives since 2005, but as of last Thanksgiving, half of the pardoned turkeys did not survive long enough to celebrate a second Thanksgiving.”

It’s not news that commercial methods of raising poultry give rise to creatures that are more fit to die than to live. So think about buying a heritage bird this year.

Or, go veggie! Carol Deppe’s ode to potatoes, also at AlterNet, is enough to convince the most hardened meat-eater that tubers are one of the best ways to thrive. For a little more diversity of Thanksgiving-specific options, peruse this New York Times gallery which has veggie options good enough to make meat-eaters jealous.

But wait, there’s more!

  • In the past few weeks, reusable grocery bags have been tarred as germ-incubators. But before leaving canvas bags behind for epic Thanksgiving grocery runs, consider where those reports originated. As Jessica Belsky writes at Change.org:

Earlier this year, the ACC [American Chemistry Council]—which represents such upstanding citizens as Exxon and Chevron—paid for a study that concluded that unwashed reusable bags can be contaminated with bacteria. Let’s remember that these are the same folks who recently lobbied to keep the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby bottles. Big Plastic is using fear-mongering tactics to get health-conscious environmentalists to switch back to disposable, single-use plastic grocery bags.

Plus, there’s a simple solution to germy bags: wash them.

Want to enjoy a real savings stampede? Consider celebrating Buy Nothing Day. Enjoy a day without buying. Give your cash and credit cards a day off with you. Store them in the refrigerator next to your Thanksgiving leftovers. Trade, barter, and share. Enjoy the luxury of living the money-free life for a day.

Of course, Christmas and Hanukkah presents have to bought at some point. Here are two green-friendly gift ideas: via Earth Focus, Fate of the World, a video game that challenges players to save the world from climate change; or via Care2, for those of us who must drive a car and have cash to burn, a Porsche. Apparently every single model will soon be available as a hybrid.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Weekly Mulch: How to Avoid Gobbling Your Way Through the Holidays

Editor’s Note: Happy Thanksgiving from the Media Consortium! This week, we aren’t stopping The Audit, The Pulse, The Diaspora, or The Mulch, but we are taking a bit of a break. Expect shorter blog posts, and The Diaspora and The Mulch will be posted on Wednesday afternoon, instead of their usual Thursday and Friday postings. We’ll return to our normal schedule next week.

by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger

Tomorrow marks the day that, as a nation, we put aside our usual habits and begin a weeks-long push to eat, buy, and generally consume as much as possible in the spirit of the holiday season. Thanksgiving and Black Friday are only the first sprint, the gateway to latkes, holiday party hors d’oeuvres, Secret Santa shopping, and party-dress buying that will culminate in a hangover after a booze-soaked New Year’s Eve.

There’s really no escape, and to some extent, who would want to miss out? (Cranberry sauce! Christmas cookies!) But it’s not exactly a sustainable lifestyle, even for six weeks. Here are some guideposts to help light the way through.

Turkey trouble

A sad fact about commercially raised turkeys: Even the ones pardoned by the President are destined to live short lives. As Jill Richardson writes at AlterNet, “The Broad-Breasted Whites who receive presidential pardons have gone to Disneyland to peacefully live out the remainder of their lives since 2005, but as of last Thanksgiving, half of the pardoned turkeys did not survive long enough to celebrate a second Thanksgiving.”

It’s not news that commercial methods of raising poultry give rise to creatures that are more fit to die than to live. So think about buying a heritage bird this year.

Or, go veggie! Carol Deppe’s ode to potatoes, also at AlterNet, is enough to convince the most hardened meat-eater that tubers are one of the best ways to thrive. For a little more diversity of Thanksgiving-specific options, peruse this New York Times gallery which has veggie options good enough to make meat-eaters jealous.

But wait, there’s more!

  • In the past few weeks, reusable grocery bags have been tarred as germ-incubators. But before leaving canvas bags behind for epic Thanksgiving grocery runs, consider where those reports originated. As Jessica Belsky writes at Change.org:

Earlier this year, the ACC [American Chemistry Council]—which represents such upstanding citizens as Exxon and Chevron—paid for a study that concluded that unwashed reusable bags can be contaminated with bacteria. Let’s remember that these are the same folks who recently lobbied to keep the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby bottles. Big Plastic is using fear-mongering tactics to get health-conscious environmentalists to switch back to disposable, single-use plastic grocery bags.

Plus, there’s a simple solution to germy bags: wash them.

Want to enjoy a real savings stampede? Consider celebrating Buy Nothing Day. Enjoy a day without buying. Give your cash and credit cards a day off with you. Store them in the refrigerator next to your Thanksgiving leftovers. Trade, barter, and share. Enjoy the luxury of living the money-free life for a day.

Of course, Christmas and Hanukkah presents have to bought at some point. Here are two green-friendly gift ideas: via Earth Focus, Fate of the World, a video game that challenges players to save the world from climate change; or via Care2, for those of us who must drive a car and have cash to burn, a Porsche. Apparently every single model will soon be available as a hybrid.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Ready Left, Ready Right, Ready on the Christmas Firing Line

It’s that time of year when fundamentalist Christians exercise their stupid muscles by declaring there’s a War on Christmas, Commanding Generalissimo Bill O’Reilly presiding.

For a group of people who regularly brag about their strength and moral superiority, these people are some of the most self-righteous, creme brulee-spined I’ve ever seen. In their headlong rush to see imagined slights behind every scotch pine, they – as they quite often do – forget several pertinent facts.

Christians make up 70-80% of the American population, yet they are so offended by people saying Happy Holidays they boycott any business bold enough to challenge their God’s alleged right to drive everyone else from the manger on the public square.

This seems a bit odd since their claim to rightness rests on their Big Kahuna, a force so powerful He can smite those who quibble with him like squashing a bug or a Muslim underfoot. If He’s so offended, why don’t Christians celebrate the annual cleansing of heathens by hell-fire, brimstone, and 50% off sales at Macy’s instead of Christmas? Where the hell is the perpetual lightning storm they keep predicting will come?

Their position on this is that Christmas is their holiday and that since they are the predominate religion – let’s call this the “American is a Christian Nation” gambit – no one has the right to say Happy Holidays, even if by ‘holidays’ they mean multiple Christian holidays.

More Christian Holidays Than You Can Swing Incense At

But here’s the thing. The American calendar allocates more days to Christians than any other religion. Of course, you have the Big 3 religious holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. You also have – depending on the year – roughly 52 Sundays a year, and if you’re Catholic a similar number of Long John Silver’s Fridays. When you throw in minor Christiancentric days, like Ash Wednesday, Fat Tuesday, Palm Sunday, and all the lesser Saint, crab feed, and spaghetti dinner days , most of the days already belong to Christians. They get 364 days a year to hog all the food and fellowship and have crab boils, spaghetti dinners, bean dinners, and bingo.

If they had their way, Jews, Muslims, Wiccans and all the other religious and irreligious would get bupkis, including having Christmas and Thanksgiving as a plain old day off , “NO TIME OFF FOR YOU! Make a hole, manger coming through! Stop stealing my tax money you heathen!”

I guess someone has to work the Black Friday, 3 am doorbuster shift at Walmart, because Christian Conspicuous Consumption day seems to be popular – some might even say holy – with the Jesus sect.

Commandment 11 – thou shalt buy a 51-inch plasma HD-TV marked down 50%.

Even if the common fundamentalist complaint that there is  unwarranted government interference in their lives, the rest of us could make the same argument.

Christians are free to pray, celebrate, sing hymns, and have as many cheesy midnight Christmas Eve pageants as they like. Besides, BONUS, it keeps the little Christian whelps off the street where they may run across a stray socialist bully who will beat them like a rug.

Christians Already Rule the Roost
Christians already rule the roost. They are the predominate faith of the country, as they point out with the frequency of parrots on truth serum. All the rest of use ask is that we can call a holiday a holiday.

Look my fine biblical friends, if being able to squat on the taxpayer-funded public square is so evil, why don’t the majority Christian legislators rise up against the Goliath atheists and Ramadan-celebrating Muslims and smite the Constitutional law  – that document to which these Americans pledge fealty only second than they do to the Bible.

Even as an atheist I could care less whether Christians return an innocent pleasantry like “Happy Holidays” with a rude punch in the pickle and a reminder that, “It’s Christmas dammit you scummy heathen” – so long as the pickle they’re punching isn’t mine.

I don’t begrudge them “In God we Trust”, because a buck is a buck…and when you throw into the collection plate it’s prelabeled so God can tell it’s his.

I don’t even care if you pray in school. All I ask is that you do it quietly on your own time because tuition is getting too damned expensive and, as you like to remind me, it’s time to root out fraud and inefficiency from America’s educational system – sort of a no deity left behind thing.

So go ahead and grumble about your persecution. Say Merry Christmas, even on Independence Day if you want. Truthfully, I don’t care. I’m more secure in my atheism than you appear to be in your Christianity. I love you as I would my brother, even though I don’t subscribe to the book advising so therein. But sometimes brothers need a little cuff behind the ear and some tough love. So here it is:

For Christ’s sake, er, goodness sake, stop you incessant whining about an imagined etymological affront. It’s peanuts beside a guy dragging a cross around, wearing rose bush thorns on his head, and telling the nitwits pounding 10-pennies into his palms, “Here, let me help you with that.”

Merry Christmas!

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

Beyond Band-Aids for Hunger

Beyond Band-Aids for Hunger

Cross-post (op-ed) from the Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet
By Danielle Nierenberg and Brian Halweil

It's been twenty-five years since a well-meaning music producer threw together a bunch of megastars to record the now ubiquitous humanitarian torch song, Do They Know it's Christmas. Bob Geldof's Band-Aid raised millions of dollars and immeasurable awareness with the compelling chorus of "Feed the World," but global interest in those hungry people has plummeted in the last two decades, if the barometer is international investment in agriculture: agriculture's share of global development aid has dropped from 7 percent to 4 percent since the song debuted, even though most of the world's poor and hungry people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.

The famine-stricken Ethiopia that inspired the song in the 1980s remains hobbled by food shortages today: some 23 million people in the Horn of Africa are at risk for starvation, according to the World Food Program, which delivers food aid around the world. The global recession and a recent spike in food prices aren't helping, either; the United Nations reported recently that the number of hungry worldwide has crested 1 billion.

The sheer number of hungry people isn't the only reason we must raise our standards for success. Because agriculture makes up such a large percentage of the planet's surface, and touches our rivers, air, and other natural resources so intimately, the world can't tolerate some of the unintended-and counterproductive-consequences of how we farm and produce food. And farmers everywhere, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, will need crop varieties and whole new approaches to farming that help them deal with drought, extreme heat and increasingly erratic weather.

Hopefully, our collective understanding of how to "cure" hunger has matured enough over the last twenty-five years to recognize that solutions lie not only in shipping food aid, but a new approach to agriculture that nourishes people and the planet. One of us has been traveling in Africa for the last two months, visiting farmers, agricultural research centers and other sources of innovation. There is no shortage of innovative and winning ideas on the continent.

There's more...

Christmas open thread and haiku contest

Merry Christmas to the MyDD community! Although we don't celebrate the holiday, I do enjoy listening to Oy to the World, the klezmer Christmas album by the Klezmonauts (samples here). Their arrangements make the songs sound joyous, which is surprisingly rare in Christmas music. It's Jesus' birthday, after all.

Steve Sack of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Star Tribune brings you a Christmas card from the Republicans (NOel).

Following the example of an Iowa Republican blogger, I launched a haiku contest at Bleeding Heartland. (A haiku consists of "three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables.")

Let's see what MyDD readers can come up with.

My first shot was inspired by former Republican Governor Terry Branstad's recent campaign moves:

Ignoring record
the MasterCard governor
throws stones from glass house.

The idea for my second haiku came from a stupid robocall the NRCC began this week against Representative Leonard Boswell (don't ask me why they'd do political calls three days before Christmas):

For lack of ideas
or a fresh campaign message,
"Nancy Pelosi."

The kids helped me make gingerbread yesterday. I use the recipe from the Laurel's Kitchen cookbook: 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp salt in one bowl. 1 egg, 2/3 cup blackstrap molasses, 1/3 cup honey, 1 cup buttermilk (or kefir), 1/3 cup melted butter mixed in another bowl. Combine wet and dry ingredients, pour into greased 9 x 9 pan and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes (a few minutes less in my oven).

For elaborate Christmas cooking, read Asinus Asinum Fricat/Patric Juillet's amazing diary about Christmas dinner in Provence.

This thread is for anything on your mind today.

There's more...

Diaries

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