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Chickens given roosts in urban backyards

Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
California Web developer and business consultant Rob Ludlow gets laughs when he tells people his pets make him breakfast.

It’s no joke. Ludlow, his wife, Emily, and their two daughters have five egg-laying hens living in the backyard of their Bay Area home in Pleasant Hill, Calif. “Can your dog or cat claim the same?” Ludlow asks.

He is among the growing number of city dwellers across the country choosing chickens as pets — raising them for eggs that proponents say taste fresher, for pest control, for fertilizer and, as the economy continues to struggle, for a cost-saving source of protein.
(2 January 2009)

Coffee next in line as biofuel source

SciDev.Net via Guardian
Coffee grounds — currently wasted or used as garden compost — could become a cheap and environmentally friendly source of biodiesel and fuel pellets, says a study.

Spent coffee grounds contain 11–20 per cent oil, depending on their type. “This is competitive with other major biodiesel feedstocks such as rapeseed oil (37–50 per cent), palm oil (20 per cent), and soybean oil (20 per cent),” say researchers writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Scientists at the US-based University of Nevada, Reno, used an inexpensive process to extract oil from the leftovers of making espressos, cappuccinos and other coffee preparations from a multinational coffeehouse chain.

This oil was then converted into biodiesel, which could be used to fuel cars and trucks.
(2 January 2009)
The idea of turning nutrients into biofuel seems insane to me. (Coffee grounds are a wonderful ingredient for compost and worm bins – they can even be applied directly as a mulch.) -BA

Universal Food Stamps? If the Industrial Food System No Longer Provides Cheap Food, What Are We Keeping It For, Anyway?

Sharon Astyk, Casaubon’s Book
…Vermont’s policy change on food stamps is likely to be mirrored by other states, and this represents both a fundamental shift in the reality of American need, and also, I think, the final stake in the heart of the industrial food system.

…“The well-known Food Stamp program got a new updated name Friday, and Vermont Gov. James Douglas was on hand for the launch, standing in front of three tables of food at Shaw’s Supermarket Friday afternoon. The state’s expanded nutrition program was symbolized by the display of foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner, underscoring the new name and “3Squares” focus on healthy eating. Enrollment in the program currently stands at 31,000, or more than 12 percent, of Vermont’s approximately 250,000 households. Those households represent more than 61,000 individuals in the state. The program has expanded by about 57 percent since 2001, when it served 39,000 individuals, said Steve Dale, the commissioner of the Department for Children and Families. Douglas said he anticipates that “tens of thousands of additional Vermont families will be eligible” for 3Squares VT. “What better time to make that important change than now, when so many Vermonters are struggling to pay their bills in these challenging economic times,” he said.

During the summer, anti-hunger advocates and members of the Vermont Food and Fuel Partnership looked for the most effective way to confront an expected winter crisis caused by spiking fuel bills that could force Vermonters to cut back on food. The consensus was to raise the eligibility ceiling for the supplemental nutrition assistance program and eliminate the asset test, which Douglas called “a burden to participation.” Those changes, agreed to last summer, went into effect Jan. 1….
(3 January 2009)

More reasons for dumping industrial agriculture are listed here in this article from the Common Dreams website. KS