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Nestlé doesn’t want you to know how much water it’s bottling from the California desert

plastic-water-bottles
Shutterstock

Nestlé may bring smiles to the faces of children across America through cookies and chocolate milk. But when it comes to water, the company starts to look a little less wholesome. Amid California's historically grim drought, Nestlé is sucking up an undisclosed amount of precious groundwater from a desert area near Palm Springs and carting it off in plastic bottles for its Arrowhead and Pure Life brands.

The Desert Sun reports that because Nestlé's water plant in Millard Canyon, Calif., is located on the Morongo Band of Mission Indians' reservation, the company is exempt from reporting things like how much groundwater it's pumping, or the water levels in its wells.

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Featured Friend: Marshall Ambrose

Each month, we showcase one of our beloved Friends with Benefits -- folks who have donated to support our work. Want to take your relationship with Grist to the next level? Just donate any amount to join the fun.

Marshall Ambrose.
Marshall Ambrose.

Marshall Ambrose

"Grist is my favorite place for environmental news. But that alone probably wouldn’t be enough to get my donation. I donated to Grist because I love how it covers local, positive developments, when so much of published news is boilerplate doom and gloom. I learn something new and intriguing every time I visit Grist; the stories demand real consideration about how the world works, and I find news there that I seldom find elsewhere."

We never tire of kind words, Marshall. We're happy to help keep your wheels spinning.

Already a FWB? Send your photo and 3-4 sentences about you and why you give to Grist to jmacdonald@grist.org. Featured Friends will receive a complimentary Klean Kanteen. Thanks for your support! 

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Get a Kick Out of Recycling

Now that you don’t care about soccer, here’s how you can recycle your World Cup gear

soccer-team-feet-shutterstock
Shutterstock

The World Cup is a wrap, which means it's that quadrennial time for most of us Americans to stop caring about soccer. But before you ditch your impulse-buy Neymar jersey, peep the above parody video from the UCB comedy troupe. "World Cup Recycling" is a hilarious take on repurposing all the trendy soccer items Americans copped during Cupmania -- and probably won't use again for the foreseeable future.

And who knows, maybe 2014 will finally be the World Cup that turns more Americans into everyday soccer fans: According to ESPN, U.S. viewership on the sports network doubled between 2006 and 2014.

Anyone want to kick the brazuca around?

Read more: Living

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Is organic food healthier? A new analysis adds … a question mark

produce
Jamie McCaffrey

A new paper on nutrition in organic foods just came out. It’s a meta-analysis -- which means, instead of doing any new measurement or experimentation, it’s simply combining the findings of past studies. According to the report, there are more antioxidants and carbohydrates in organic food, but less protein, pesticide residue, and less cadmium.

So what does all this mean in terms of health?

Protein and carbohydrates:

“Most people in Europe and North America are consuming adequate levels of protein, or even too much,” pointed out Charles Benbrook, one of the co-authors on the study. And the controversy rages over whether it’s good or bad to have more protein or carbs. So this result may be meaningful, but it would mean totally different things to different people.

Read more: Food

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Cellar's market

A growing appetite for local food sends us back to our root cellars

root cellar st philips

Tucked in a grassy ridge cutting across the Small Family CSA Farm in La Farge, Wis., is a refrigerator so efficient it requires not a single watt of electricity, yet it can keep some crops chilly for months. It’s not some high-tech, Swedish-designed, solar-powered cooling unit. Just a good old-fashioned root cellar, kept cool through the summer months, and above freezing in the winter, by the soil surrounding it.

Shunning hulking and energy wasting refrigerated cold storage, Jillian and Adam Varney four years ago chose to build this two-room cellar for $10,000. Over time, like solar panels, it will pay for itself in savings – and in revenue for their small, organic farm. The hand-built produce closet, which includes a room kept extra cool with a small air-conditioner, allows them to extend their 220-member community-supported agriculture operation (CSA) into the winter months.

Root cellars are basically any storage area that operates on the earth's natural cooling, humidifying, and insulating properties. To work properly, a root cellar must stay between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit and at 85 to 95 percent humidity. The cool temps slow the release of ethylene gas, halting decomposition. High humidity levels prevent evaporation loss, stopping your veggies from shriveling and withering.

Outmoded with the birth of the refrigerator and the 1950s kitchen, root cellars all but went underground, resurfacing briefly in the ’60s and with survivalists. Now, this tiny house movement for foodstuffs is experiencing a slow but certain renaissance as the local food movement gains momentum.

Read more: Food

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What kind of environmentalist are you? This time, you decide

What is the IPCC saying?
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A couple weeks ago, I put together a highly scientific questionnaire in order to dig into the depths of our readers’ environmental motivations and psyches.

Ha, no I didn’t. But I did ask a few silly questions and then mercilessly stereotype you all!

Putting the “What kind of environmentalist are you” quiz together felt like a fun experiment in the ways of the internet, because quizzes are internet crack -- and not just for BuzzFeed. The New York Times' most popular article of last year was a quiz (by a long shot). But I recognize that, to many people, I kind of missed the mark.

Part of the fun of taking a quiz is recognizing yourself in the results and poking fun at that. The way I saw it, half of the joke was mocking the fact that I even made a quiz -- and so most of the answers I provided weren't actually serious (raise your hand if you actually get around in self-driving cars or communicate with Occupy hand signals). So, probably no one fully recognized themselves in his or her result. But a lot of what I felt I was making fun of were the glimmers of myself I saw in each of the included parodies, and I hoped others could do the same.

Read more: Living

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for whom the label tolls

Can we have our sustainable seafood and eat it too?

fish
Tyler Parker

You know the feeling: You're standing in front of the seafood counter, running down the list of evils you might be supporting when you buy one of those gleaming filets. There’s overfishing, but also pollution from fish farming, not to mention bycatch, marine habitat destruction, illegal fishing … and that's before getting to the problem of seafood fraud, and the fact that 1 in 3 seafood samples in a massive study by Oceana was served under pseudonym.

Programs like Monterey Bay’s Seafood Watch and the Safina Center’s Seafood Guide are helpful when it comes to sorting seafood’s angels from its demons, but only if you can be sure the red snapper you’re looking at is actually red snapper (hint: It probably isn't).

Meanwhile, third-party certification outfits -- the ones that slap their seal of approval on seafood that’s harvested responsibly -- are not without their flaws. In fact, the current demand for certified “sustainable” seafood is so high that it’s driving, you guessed it, overfishing. Someone get Poseidon in here because that, my friends, is what the Greeks called a "tragic flaw."

Still, these third-party groups may offer the best hope for ocean-loving fish eaters like myself, so it’s worth paying attention to how they operate. And while these certification programs are very much a work in progress, they’re getting better.

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Like father, like daughter

Liz Cheney scorns climate action just as much as her dad

Liz and Dick Cheney
Reuters/Ruffin Prevost | spirit of america

Darth Vader and his Sith apprentice -- a.k.a. Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz -- are totally in synch about climate change. Here's how they responded to a question on the topic during a conversation with Politico's Mike Allen on Monday:

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Guess which two words can make your nonpartisan education reforms a hot potato?

globe in hands
Podoc

Depending on who you're talking to, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)-- the first major national recommendations for teaching science to be made since 1996 -- either painfully water down the presentation of climate-change information or attempt to brainwash our nation's youth into believing climate change is real.

The backlash to the NGSS began last year, but now, we also have the backlash to the backlash -- an effort by the Union of Concerned Scientists, and others, to frame science education as a civil rights issue and mobilize a grassroots movement around the idea of a Climate Students Bill of Rights. The idea is to ensure that the new standards actually wind up getting taught.

If you're the kind of person who likes geeking out over curricula, you'll find the NGSS's website fascinating. How do we teach climate change? It's such an awkward thing to explain to children, who have not caused the problem and have yet to have a chance to help make it better. Or worse, for that matter.

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dude, where's my water?

America’s largest reservoir is hitting new record lows every day

A low Lake Mead
rjcox

The drought that's afflicting much of the American West has hoovered out a record-breaking amount of water from the reservoir that's held in place by the Hoover Dam.

Water levels in Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir, have fallen to a point not seen since the reservoir was created during the 1930s to store water from the Colorado River. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that the surface of the reservoir dipped below 1,082 feet above sea level last week:

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