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Susie Cagle's Posts


California’s GMO labeling proposition bruised by big money and big rumors

It's been a tough couple weeks for California's Proposition 37, which would require that all genetically modified foods carry special labels.

The most recent polling on the measure, released three days ago, shows 39.1 percent in favor of the proposition, with 50.5 opposed. Undecideds were 10.5 percent, with a 3 percent margin of error. That's just a few days after we last reported 44 percent in favor and 42 percent opposed.

In that time, opposition has raised an additional $3.3 million for advertising. Big food and chemical companies are pumping big cash into the no-on-37 campaign faster than you can say National Frozen Pizza Institute (shockingly, they're in the no camp). In the last days leading up to the election, the spending has only intensified. Just yesterday, Coca-Cola contributed $235,000 and Biotechnology Industry Organization sent $250,000. No on 37 ads are clogging everything from Facebook to Hulu, even for green junkies like me.

There's a bit of movement on the other side, including support from the Whole Foods camp. From Napa Valley Patch:

Whole Foods officials formally announced the company's support for Prop. 37 in September. But as the election approaches, additional signage is going up at its stores and employees throughout the state have been trained on GMOs and the ballot measure, [co-CEO Walter] Robb said ... Whole Foods has put the bulk of its Yes on 37 efforts into social media and also has some radio ads that will become more prevalent in the days before the election.

Today the Proposition 37 campaign released new commercials aimed at debunking the assertion of big corporations in the anti-prop camp: that the measure would increase food costs.

Read more: Food, Politics


Michigan race highlights all that’s wrong with climate and election reporting

We've gotten used to not hearing "climate change" on the lips of politicians on the campaign trail this fall. But a very close congressional race in northern Michigan, a place with no lack of grassroots green activism from the area's residents, is shaping up quite differently when it comes to the environment -- at least in some ways.

While climate change may be a part of the discussion -- and even the debates -- it's still been largely up to the candidates to make up the facts as they go along, while local journalists are content to report what happens as opposed to what's true.

Dylan Reminder

The Columbia Journalism Review reports:

[T]he enormous, sparsely populated congressional district—it spans two time zones and more than 30 counties in Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas—has an especially sensitive relationship with the environment. Here, where life is defined by the Great Lakes, environmental issues are intimately connected to economic issues.


Dumpster-diving New Yorkers are not a sign of the apocalypse

NBC brings us this "heartbreaking scene" of New Yorkers dumpster diving outside an East Village Key Foods.

The people there are “so hungry they literally pried open this dumpster — you see that door open right now — and they are literally picking through for whatever they can take home with themselves.”

While lower Manhattan is certainly still in post-Sandy crisis mode, without water, power, or enough food, it's tough for me to see the heartbreak here, specifically, in the recesses of this massive packed dumpster. As a veteran eater of bagels from New York City dumpsters, this doesn’t look to me like “the most extreme example of what people are willing to do right now just to bring food home.” Those trash receptacles are routinely full to the brim with great edible food that stores ditch often because it’s past its sell-by date.

Read more: Cities, Food


U.S. doing far fewer safety checks of foreign meat

A meaty new report from Food Safety News has me feeling a little sick, and I don't even eat the stuff.

Photo by Nick Castonguay.

Since 2008, the number of countries audited by the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has declined sharply, down by more than 60 percent. Only three countries were audited last year -- visited in person by FSIS officials, who do a thorough pat down of operations and equipment -- compared to 30 in 2008 (infographic!).

From Food Safety News:

Read more: Food, Politics


Sandy hits poor hardest of all

Along the Eastern seaboard, Sandy devastated the rich and poor alike. But they've not been equally equipped to deal with that devastation.


In economically stratified New York City, some had the luxury of making sure their loved ones were comfortable and their homes as protected as possible, while others had to keep on earning a much-needed paycheck despite the rising waters. From David Rohde in The Atlantic:

Divides between the rich and the poor are nothing new in New York, but the storm brought them vividly to the surface. There were residents like me who could invest all of their time and energy into protecting their families. And there were New Yorkers who could not.

Those with a car could flee. Those with wealth could move into a hotel. Those with steady jobs could decline to come into work. But the city's cooks, doormen, maintenance men, taxi drivers and maids left their loved ones at home.

Read more: Cities, Politics


NYC Mayor Bloomberg endorses Obama on climate grounds

Oh dang. Many d(r)owntown New Yorkers may still not have the power to vote Tuesday, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) is flexing his own powers today with a new endorsement of Barack Obama (made, like a boss, via op-ed for his own news organization).

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Reuters / Eduardo Munoz

The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast -- in lost lives, lost homes and lost business -- brought the stakes of Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief ...

Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be -- given this week’s devastation -- should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action. ...

We need leadership from the White House -- and over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption ...


Post-Sandy, bike generators bring joy to NYC in the form of charged gadgets

Post-superstorm, cell charges are waning and urban dwellers are getting cranky. Or are they? It seems there's some good neighborly cheer happening amidst the flood waters, as drawn here by Kate Beaton.

Kate Beaton
Read more: Cities, Living


New York City’s urban farms gasp for air after Sandy

Yesterday, we brought you the sad story of the Brooklyn Grange's lost beehives. Today, there's more bad news on the urban farm front in New York City. From Brooklyn to Manhattan, some farms fared OK while others were entirely drowned.

Brooklyn Grange
Some of the Grange's destroyed beehives.

The New York Observer reports:

The Red Hook Community Farm was under more than two feet of water during the storm, executive director Ian Marvy told us. Even the crops that remain after flooding are a total loss and cannot be sold or donated because of water pollution. The farm also lost two bee hives; it’s unclear how much of the equipment can be salvaged.

It is likely that flood waters also destroyed Battery Urban Farm in Lower Manhattan. Phones were not working and emails to staffers went unanswered, but reports of extensive flooding on the streets surrounding the farm leave little doubt that the agricultural operation is more than likely done for the season, if not longer.

It was a pattern that played out consistently across the city: the bees, birds and the plants withstood the gale’s winds, but not even the most diligent preparations could stop the floods.

Read more: Cities, Food


Green Party’s Jill Stein arrested while resupplying KXL blockaders

It's day 38 of the Keystone XL pipeline blockade in East Texas, and that means more treetop activists, more scuffles with police, and more arrests -- including that of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.

Tar Sands Blockade

Today was what blockaders are calling their 11th action -- the construction of a new pair of tree perches more than 100 miles south of Winnsboro, where the main protests have taken place.

Meanwhile, in Winnsboro, Jill Stein and others successfully delivered supplies to activists who may or may not actually be delaying the pipeline's construction. From the Tar Sands Blockade:

Jill Stein was joined by seven others, including three blockaders and four members of the press. They were delivering fresh fruits and vegetables, canned proteins, trail mix, and Halloween candy. They were not warned of imminent arrests; and the arresting officers did not self-identify as police. Instead, the impression the officers gave was that they were private security working for the Canadian oil corporation, TransCanada.


Sandy spooks East Coast Halloween

More Frankenstorm fallout, this time on the sweetest, creepiest, oddly sexiest night of the year. Will Sandy ruin Halloween? From the Huffington Post:

Some children may be feeling fearful of trick-or-treating, even if mom and dad aren't. Heading into the spookiest of holidays on the heels of a threatening natural disaster may take a toll on a young person's psyche.


Another thing that might take a toll: being denied an annual sugar-laden ritual. Yesterday New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tweeted this act of heroic leadership in the face of holiday disaster.

Read more: Living