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Claire Thompson's Posts

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Lost in the maize [VIDEO]

For Mexicans, maize is not only the key ingredient of their daily staple, corn tortillas; it forms an integral part of their cultural identity -- according to legend, the Mayan gods created people out of maize, and it was the cultivation of this crop that propelled the rise of Mayan civilization. But soaring corn prices are making it harder for many Mexicans, especially in poor, rural communities, to afford this basic necessity. And experts say the increase in food speculation has something -- if not everything -- to do with it. Writes Tom Levitt for the Ecologist: In the short-term …

Read more: Food

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The crude reality of oil in Nigeria

Overnight, Nigeria went from being a British colony to being owned by Shell oil.Photo: Kendra E. ThornburyFilmmaker Sandy Cioffi went to the Niger Delta -- Nigeria's oil-rich southern region -- in 2005 intending to document the construction of a library in a small village there. But something about the effort smelled foul to her; it smacked of the type of empty philanthropy that's carried out by well-intentioned but misguided volunteers and backed by controlling interests hoping to distract or make up for deeper, systemic exploitation. Fifty years of oil extraction in the delta has polluted the region's ecosystem to the …

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Another urban garden bites the dirt

With the current groundswell of interest in urban homesteading and super-local food production, it's no surprise people are fired up about their right to garden! But it appears that the widespread, incredulous response to the case of the Michigan gardener who faced jail time for growing veggies last year wasn't enough to convince  local governments to update their urban agriculture policies. The latest example? Adam Guerrero of Memphis, Tenn., received a citation last week for the "nuisance" caused by the raised vegetable beds and sunflower plants in his yard. This case has an especially ridiculous twist: Guerrero, a high school …

Read more: Food, Urban Agriculture

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Cheap date: Take Slow Food’s $5 challenge

Gather your friends for a sustainable, affordable, delicious meal.Photo: Lauren JongSay you want to eat healthy. You even support the idea of a more sustainable food system. But really embracing either might mean breaking out of an entrenched microwave meal routines, carving a big slice out of your budget, or -- gulp -- learning to cook. How about a trial run? That's the idea behind Saturday's Slow Food USA $5 Challenge. It's an invitation to gather friends, family, and neighbors together for a "slow food" meal that costs no more than $5 per person, or around the price of a …

Read more: Food, Sustainable Food

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Josh Fox scores an Emmy for fracking documentary 'Gasland'

Josh Fox accepting his Emmy for Gasland.On Saturday, Josh Fox took home an Emmy for Outstanding Direction for Nonfiction Programming for Gasland, his widely acclaimed documentary on the destructive practice of natural gas fracking. Gasland was nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar earlier this year, but lost to Inside Job. HBO is now airing Gasland, making it eligible for TV as well as film honors. The award came as part of the Creative Arts Emmys, broadcast a week before the "Primetime" Emmys. "President Obama, I hope you are paying attention," Fox said when he went on stage to accept his …

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Fat lady sings: Gore gears up for 24 hours of climate reality [VIDEO]

Al Gore officially kicks off his new Climate Reality Project on Sept. 14 with an ambitious global event called "24 Hours of Reality." It will broadcast a call to action on climate change once an hour for 24 hours, in every time zone on the planet. Gore gave Grist's David Roberts the lowdown on the project in July. Grist will have a live feed of the event starting 7:00 p.m. CT, so tune in on Wednesday.  To generate buzz, the project released a couple of goofy videos featuring opera singing. Was Gore inspired by the forthcoming but long-delayed "Inconvenient Truth" …

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Zip decoding: Can one Seattle area serve as model of diversity?

A light rail line is part of the new development reshaping South Seattle. Check Mt. Rainier looming in the background.Photo: Wendi DunlapA few years ago, a rumor started flying around that my zip code -- 98118 in Seattle -- is the most diverse in the nation. Local media outlets quickly reported the story as fact, only to backpedal after checking in with the Census Bureau, which denied having the ability to make such qualitative declarations (what special combination of statistics would make one zip code more "diverse" than every other, anyway?). So now those of us in the 98118, which …

Read more: Cities, Urbanism

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Buddhist wisdom for the green soul [VIDEO]

When the Bachmanns, Perrys, and tar sands of the world have us wringing our hands, sometimes scathing journalistic wit and passionate political protest only add to the noise. Sometimes we all just need a little Buddhist wisdom to soothe our souls. Thich Nhat Hanh to the rescue: The world-famous monk, poet, and peace activist sits down with Canadian enviro David Suzuki and the chair of Suzuki's foundation, Jim Hoggan, for a talk on how to stay centered and calm in the face of climate change chaos. (Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson is also present.) "If we allow despair to take over …

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Grass is good: Natural meats benefit the economy and family farms

Photo: Charles LavoieThanks to the success of Super Size Me and Food, Inc., public awareness of the environmental and health impacts of the U.S. industrial meat system is growing steadily. Adding to the growing chorus calling for change is American Meat, a new documentary that director Graham Meriwether says is "dedicated to the American farmer." Meriwether's film follows Joel Salatin, a pasture-based farmer featured in Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, and looks at the lives of dozens of other farmers across the country producing both industrially and sustainably raised meat. Meriwether's film aims to spark conversation about our food system, …