Solutions & sustainability - Mar 10
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This is hospital food?
Leslie Cole, Portland Oregonian
Picture hospital food.
Now picture this:
A hungry new mom orders wild salmon with a side of roasted organic sweet potatoes from a hospital kitchen that cooks it on the spot and hustles it to her room.
Doctors sip organic, fair-trade coffee from biodegradable bamboo cups. Cafeteria chefs walk to a weekly farmers market steps away from the hospital's doors, filling baskets with pesticide-free fruit and vegetables for the next day's meals.
Quite a contrast from a bowl of canned fruit cocktail.
Hospitals nationwide are starting to follow their own advice: In order to be healthy, your food and environment should be that way, too. It's happening right here in Oregon; in some cases, we're leading the charge.
Food-service managers are tweaking cafeterias to look more like restaurants, pushing recyclables and trimming kitchen waste. They're serving patient meals in the style of hotel room service, and looking for ways to get locally grown foods and hormone- and antibiotic-free milk and meat on their menus. Some are even rethinking the contents of the hallowed hospital vending machine.
(7 March 2006)
For Hospital Menus, Overdue Surgery (NY Times)
Eco-friendly care for patients, Earth ("U-M, Henry Ford join trend of constructing innovative hospitals"- Detroit Free Press).
In Berkeley, Calif., lunch has become a learning experience
Chad Heeter, Christian Science Monitor
BERKELEY, CALIF. – Chef Ann Cooper is a lunch lady with a mission. She heaves another 10-gallon pot of marinara sauce onto a worktable as she prepares lunch for more than 2,000 elementary school students at the Berkeley Unified School District Kitchen. On the menu: baked pasta primavera.
Ms. Cooper ladles the sauce over a bin of rotini noodles and mixes it all together. The noodles disintegrate in her hands, and lunch turns into, well, red mush.
"I've been looking at it all morning," Cooper says, "and I've just been in tears because ... this is what we're feeding our kids."
Though she made the sauce from scratch, the low-quality "commodity noodles" ordered through the US government's national school lunch program are a good example of what's served in schools across the country, she says.
Cooper hopes to change that. Her arrival last October as the new director of nutrition services for Berkeley's public schools coincided with the district's new School Lunch Initiative, an ambitious long-range plan to put the district's 10,000 students on a path of lifelong healthy eating habits. In California, 28 percent of schoolchildren are overweight or obese, reflecting a nationwide problem.
Berkeley's School Lunch Initiative aims to replace low-quality "heat and eat" processed foods with fresh, locally grown food. The plan also teaches kids about how food gets from seed to plate by establishing school gardens and kitchen classrooms that integrate lessons about food and cooking into the academic curriculum. Organizers hope children will not only learn about the art and science of food, but also adopt nutritious eating habits.
(9 March 2006)
Related from Eugene Register-Guard: School panel says: Ban junk food.
Why the nation's largest community garden must become a Wal-Mart warehouse
Tom Philpott, Gristmill
The fate of LA's South Central Community Garden, the largest of its kind in the United States, looks fairly straightforward: It sits on private property, and its owner wants to sell it for development. The 300 or so families who garden there, most of whom by all accounts live under the poverty line, will have to find a new source of food. If the owner/developer, one Ralph Horowitz, has decided to erect a massive Wal-Mart warehouse there, well, that's just the way it goes.
However, an excellent article in Los Angeles CityBeat by Dean Kuipers shines an interesting light on this unhappy deal.
(Note: The gardeners, who recently received an eviction notice, have won a stay until March 13. I assume all L.A. greens -- including movie producers, Baldwin brothers, etc. -- will hop in their hybrids, rush over to the garden, and rally to its defense in the meantime.)
Like most urban community gardens, this one sprang up on land that no one much wanted originally. In the late 1980s, the city seized the land under eminent domain from an investment group led by Horowitz, Kuipers reports. Horowitz's investment company ended up receiving $4.7 million in compensation. The city's plan (alternative-energy fans take note): to build an incinerator to generate electricity by burning trash.
Most people don't like to live amid the stench of garbage, so the neighborhood successfully organized to stop that project. By the time of the Rodney King rebellion in 1992, the lot had become trash-strewn and abandoned. The city agreed to allow a soup kitchen to turn it into a community-garden plot. By all accounts, neighborhood residents rallied around the asset, turning it into a vital source of fresh food in an area with few grocery stores.
(7 March 2006)
Is it even possible to withdraw from the marketplace?
Marjorie Kehe, Christian Science Monitor
Much was familiar to me in Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine - and I wasn't always comfortable with that.
Levine begins the book by telling us about a mid-December day in 2003 when she found herself jammed into a subway car, fighting to protect her shopping bags from other people's muddy boots. Her joy was depleting as rapidly as her bank account.
"I have maxed out the Visa, moved on to the Citibank debit card, and am tapping the ATM like an Iraqi guerrilla pulling crude from the pipeline," she wrote. That was when the idea occurred to her: Why don't we just stop buying? And thus was born the premise for this engaging and thought-provoking chronicle of 2004, the year that Levine and her domestic partner, Paul, simply said no to buying.
They did, of course, purchase what they considered necessities - basic foodstuffs, household items like toilet paper, and medicine for themselves and their cat.
But they shunned all processed foods (extras like cookies and crackers), clothes, books (other than those required for work - the rest came from the library), CDs, and - to the horror of their friends - even movies.
The motive was not financial. It was more about discomfort with patterns of overconsumption and curiosity about what would it would be like to survive daily life as a nonconsumer. "Is it even possible to withdraw from the marketplace?" Levine wondered.
... smug celebration finds little place in Levine's account. Living without buying is hard, she confesses again and again, and not because she finds herself hungry, cold, or lacking any true essential.
Rather, it's hard, she comes to realize because - like it or not - what we buy defines us. It gives us status, it creates a space for us, and it allows us to commune with others. To stop buying, Levine discovered, leaves one in a sometimes shadowy - and occasionally even boring - netherworld.
(7 March 2006)
"Just a little effort" -- A new approach to environmentalism spreads across Japan
Japan for Sustainability Newsletter #033
A growing number of Japanese are questioning the 20th century-type of world based on mass consumption of materials, information and energy. Governments and municipalities often encourage change, while many companies and citizens' groups are also active in heir own ways.
During the past few years, a new type of activity has been emerging in Japan, inspired by concepts such "Take small steps," "We are not alone if we do it together," "Pass on the inspiration," and "Take it easy and enjoy the moment."
Easy for anyone to join and fun to share with friends and family, these types of activity are spreading. Through them, many people are starting to experience a change in their sense of time and in their attitudes, and to rediscover a sense of unity with their family, friends, community and the Earth. These activities also give people a chance to question the assumptions underlying the world's current economy -- such as the growth-centered, efficiency-first principle, mass production and mass consumption -- and to reconsider what real happiness is and how we really want to live our lives.
"Candle Nights" on the Summer Solstice
One of these initiatives is "Candle Night." Under the slogan of "Turn off the lights, and take it slow," the first Candle Night was on June 22, 2003 on the night of summer solstice. This event was originally initiated by several of Japan's environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Candle Night encourages people to turn off the lights and to spend some quality time in the candlelight for two hours from 8 to 10 p.m. on the night of summer solstice. The idea of the initiative originated from the Voluntary Blackout movement that started in the United States several years ago, but this approach is not limited to political messages such as promoting energy conservation or opposing nuclear power. "Turn off the lights, and take it slow," appeals to everyone and has obtained wide support in Japan.
Participants can enjoy the event by having dinner, listening to music or taking a bath by candlelight. Some go to local events. Some enjoy a quiet night without television. By spending two hours differently from the normal routine, participants find a chance to review their ways of life
(31 May 2005)