Business & Technology

the man your man would perform like

Dear Old Spice Man, will using your product make me, um, less manly?

Dear Old Spice Man, I see you a lot on TV lately, running around with your shirt off telling me that I won’t be a man if I don’t use Old Spice Body Wash. I hate commercials that blatantly play at gender stereotypes. But I’m not gonna lie, these ads (and your response videos) do make me chuckle. However, I’m worried that your “manly” line of products may actually make me less manly. According to the Environmental Working Group, all but one of the 92 Old Spice products pose a moderate or high health risk to consumers, or all those …

New Agtivist Q&A

N.C. chef Vimala Rajendran tells how cooking can save a family — and build a food ecosystem

An underground legend goes legit: Vimala Rajendran with staff in her gleaming new kitchen. (Kathryn Stein photo) In our New Agtivist interview series, we talk to people who are working to change this country’s f’ed-up food system in inspiring ways. When Vimala cooks, everyone eats–well. (Shannon Barry photo)When the going gets tough, the tough get cooking. That’s the main lesson I’ve gleaned from my friend Vimala Rajendran, a legendary underground cook in Chapel Hill, N.C., who has recently gone legit by opening Vimala’s Curryblossom Café. Doing justice to her life story would require the skills of a Salman Rushdie or …

Raw deal

Raids are increasing on farms and private food-supply clubs — here are 5 tips for surviving one

When the 20 agents arrived bearing a search warrant at her Ventura County farmhouse door at 7 a.m. on a Wednesday a couple weeks back, Sharon Palmer didn’t know what to say. This was the third time she was being raided in 18 months, and she had thought she was on her way to resolving the problem over labeling of her goat cheese that prompted the other two raids. (In addition to producing goat’s milk, she raises cattle, pigs, and chickens, and makes the meat available via a CSA.) But her 12-year-old daughter, Jasmine, wasn’t the least bit tongue-tied. “She …

Hitachi and Schwarzenegger

Hitachi’s Plant Technologies division and two cities in Japan are selling treated sewage water to an iron ore mining company in West Australia for use in industrial processes that today consume scarce drinking water. Ore ships go to Japan fully loaded, but come back to Australia empty, taking on seawater as ballast for that return trip. The treated sewage water will be used for ballast instead, so there is no extra energy used (or net carbon and smog emissions) in moving the water. Moreover, invasive marine species typically hitch a ride in ballast water of ships (California is among many …

Froot Oops

Tainted cereal exposes soggy food-safety system

Photo by Mykl Roventine, FlickrOn June 25, Kellogg’s issued a “voluntary recall” of 28 million boxes of its breakfast cereals, including Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, Corn Pops, and Honey Smacks. The company revealed it had detected an “uncharacteristic off-flavor and smell coming from the liner in the package” of the suspect cereal and warned of “possible temporary symptoms, including nausea and diarrhea” from eating it. Before we plunge our spoon into this cereal bowl of trouble, let’s ponder the enormity of the recall. A box of cereal contains about 12 servings. That means Kellogg’s recalled enough cereal to serve breakfast …

Clean Up The Gulf For Only $19.95!

ScamWow! Greenpeace has the perfect solution for scrubbing BP’s oily image

Mocking the scam that is the BP cleanup, Greenpeace today released the “ScamWow!” infomercial targeting BP and other oil companies who need a quick solution whenever pesky ecological devastation results from their irresponsible, risky drilling practices. Spoofing the original late night cable sensation, the ScamWow! info-mock-cial demonstrates how the simple budget picker-upper’s cleaning powers can instantly sanitize tar-balled beaches, scrub the oil company’s public image, and save shareholders millions in onerous cleanup costs — savings the company can then invest in more insulting “We will make this right” TV commercials and full-page ads. Watch the Greenpeace “ScamWow!” video: The scary …

California greening

Solar projects continue to shine despite dark economic times

Three years into a decade-long project to install 3,000 megawatts of photovoltaic arrays, California is almost halfway to its goal.Photo: Flickr via Jason Levine DesignAs the Great Recession drags on in California — unemployment rate: 12.4 percent, state government in a state of collapse — the solar boom continues. The Golden State’s decade-long program to install 3,000 megawatts of photovoltaic arrays on residential and commercial rooftops kicked off in 2007, not too long before the global economic collapse began. Only three years in, the program — known as the California Solar Initiative — has achieved 42 percent of its 1,750 …

THE BEATDOWN GOES ON

Seven reasons BP would like to forget last weekend

It’s been 81 days since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank in the Gulf.Photo: U.S. Coast GuardIt should have been a good weekend for BP. Its latest plan to staunch the geyser — lowering a tighter cap over the spewing pipe — is ahead of schedule, and its two relief wells, which could stop the gushing once and for all, remain on track to be ready in mid-August. But, as we’ve come to learn over the past 81 days — and counting — BP reeks of bad karma.  Here are seven of examples from last weekend alone: Chum and …

Rebate and switch

Are kickbacks from Kellogg and others driving school-food purchasing?

D.C. Public Schools in the last two years have taken in more than $1 million in corporate rebates — referred to by some as “kickbacks” — paid by giant food manufacturers as an inducement to place their brands on kids’ cafeteria trays at school. Documents I obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that Chartwells, the company hired by D.C. Schools to provide food services at 122 schools across the city, through February of this year had declared $1,076,738 in rebates it received since its contract began in the fall of 2008. That represents 5 percent of the $18.7 …

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