Business & Technology

Berry cool

New Agtivist: Shakirah Simley wants to preserve justice

Shakira Simley at the San Francisco Underground Market.(Photo by Monica Jensen/SF Public Press via Flickr) 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. Shakirah Simley is a food justice activist with an unusual weapon: pectin. She’s the founder and creative force behind Slow Jams, a socially conscious artisanal jam company in Oakland, Calif. She also works full-time for the public health organization Prevention Institute, a not-for-profit dedicated to addressing health disparities and food and recreational inequities. Born in the South Bronx, Simley grew up in …

The Lowe's down

Home improvement giant invests in energy retrofit startup

Photo: aka Kath via FlickrI usually don’t write about companies’ funding announcements, unless the amount of money raised is particularly eye-popping. But when Recurve announced Wednesday that it had scored $8 million in its latest round of fund-raising, what caught my attention was who decided to invest in the San Francisco energy retrofit startup. Along with the venture capital firms re-upping their investments — RockPort Capital Partners and Shasta Ventures — was a new investor, Lowe’s. That the home improvement giant — $47 billion in sales, 1,700 stores — would invest in a relatively small “green energy remodeling” outfit is …

BP: Beaten Pinata?

‘Reasonably high’ chance BP files for bankruptcy

Bankruptcy expert Peter S. KaufmanPhoto: Gordian GroupThere is a reasonably high chance that BP could file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the next few years, or even months, and the result would be an “absolute horror” for the government, according to a bankruptcy expert. Peter S. Kaufman, the President of investment bank Gordian Group and head of the firm’s Restructuring and Distressed M&A practice, told me that if he had BP’s ear, “I’d advise them to explore the option of bankruptcy.” If he had the government’s ear, he’d tell them to stop berating the company to the point where BP …

miconstrued minconstruction

Must-sea TV on the oil spill from Comedy Central

Staying up-to-date on the oil spill sucks a little bit less thanks to Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert (and Grist!). Here are the latest offerings from Day 62 of “The Strife Aquatic.” Worth watching!

Grilled Cheese?! Now that's what I call a hamburger!

WTFood: Friendly’s Grilled Cheese Burger Melt

Since KFC introduced the Double Down earlier this year, fast food chains are tripping over themselves to slap together as many of their limited menu items as possible. In the process they’re churning out some pretty disturbing food-like substances. You can add the Grilled Cheese Burger Melt from the Friendly’s restaurant chain to the growing list of WTFood items. This monster packs 1,500 calories and 97 grams of fat, but I guess that’s what happens when you sell three sandwiches as one (at least it’s two-thirds vegetarian!). Photo: Friendly’s Friendly’s, KFC, and IHOP still have nothing on SNL’s “Taco Town,” …

Batteries included

California considers mandating energy storage

The California Assembly has passed legislation [PDF] that takes the first step to requiring that a percentage of electricity generated in the state be stored. Electricity, of course, is the ultimate perishable commodity. If the bill is approved by the California Senate and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, it would apparently be the first time a state will move toward mandating that electricity generated by wind farms, solar power plants, and other intermittent sources be stored for use during peak demand.   That’s key if California is to meet its ambitious mandates to obtain 33 percent of its electricity from …

Hype haymaker

Supreme Court’s ruling on Monsanto’s GE alfalfa: Who won?

Updated 2:20 pm Pacific, June 21 The sustainable agriculture world is abuzz today with news of the Supreme Court’s ruling regarding an earlier lawsuit, brought by alfalfa farmers, that sought to stop any planting of Monsanto’s genetically engineered Roundup Ready alfalfa seed. While the press coverage heralds the ruling as a decisive victory for Monsanto, a close reading shows that, in fact, it’s a fairly significant win for opponents of biotech crops. Hay dudes, not so fast The background: As the fourth most-planted U.S. crop behind corn, soybeans, and wheat, alfalfa is worth $9 billion a year — the dairy …

a sorry site

You should totally apologize to BP

There have been a lot of apologies flying around this week. BP CEO Tony Hayward to the U.S. people. Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) to Hayward and BP. Now it’s Twitter’s (and your) turn to tell BP just how totally sorry it is for everything. It’s been a rough week. DrogoBoffin via Twitter@DrogoBoffin: #Imsorrybp That Kanye called you out. @itwaschris: #ImsorryBP for not giving you your props for the 8 other oil rigs you operate that are hardly leaking at all. @chrisbaskind: We Gulf Coast residents should quit whining and realize it’s not an oil spill. It’s BP’s new home delivery …

Bean there, done that

New Agtivist Q&A with John Scharffenberger: First wine, then chocolate, and now … tofu?

John Scharffenberger at the Hodo Soy Beanery tofu factory in Oakland, Calif.(Bart Nagel Photography) This is the first in Grist’s series of interviews with a group we’re calling the “New Agtivists” — the many people who’re working to change this country’s f’ed-up food system. Whether famous or un-, they’re a little bit country and a little bit punk rock. They’re starting urban farms, seed-saving ventures, and underground food-swapping markets. They’re fighting for better food in schools and fewer feedlots. They have one thing in common: they think food matters — and they’re taking it into their own hands to improve …

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