Business & Technology

Ring in the new with a ‘natural’ bottle of bubbly

Fewer chemicals in our sparkling wines? We’ll drink to that. Nothing says festive quite like the pop of a chilled bottle of bubbly. But while sparkling wine delivers a party in a glass, things are typically less thrilling out in the field. Like most wine, bubbly tends to come from grapes grown in large monocrops — vines as far as the eye can see. And they’re more likely to be swathed in a cloud of pesticide spray than in a farmer’s careful attention. These grim conditions generally hold sway at all price points, from $5 headache bait to the brand-name …

Breaking: Major sustainable-food foundation collapses

The Fair Food Foundation crumbles under weight of the Madoff Ponzi scheme

For a couple of years, there has been lots of buzz in the sustainable-food world about the Fair Food Foundation of Ann Arbor, Mich. Fair Food was founded recently by Oran Hesterman, under whose leadership the Kellogg Foundation became the key funder in the sustainable-food space. Kellogg has been pulling back from that space; Fair Food, which was gearing up to begin giving $20 million per year, was expected to fill the void. Today brings a stunning announcement: Fair Food is closing down. In an email message I obtained from the Comfood listserv, Hesterman wrote that the funds of the …

Sweetness in Seattle

Theo Chocolate is the country’s first organic and fair-trade chocolate-maker

Photo: Sarah van Schagen Stroll into Theo Chocolate in Seattle’s artsy Fremont neighborhood, and you’re bound to feel all warm and cozy. From the freshly made confections beckoning from behind the counter to the welcoming brick fireplace and mugs of hot cocoa (a new addition this winter), the storefront offers a respite from the winter chill. But descend the stairwell into the belly of the chocolate factory on one of their daily tours — adjusting your blue hairnet along the way — and you might end up more than a little disappointed. For starters, there are no chocolate waterfalls. There …

The unbearable maleness of green

NYT op-ed says mostly men will benefit from green jobs

Green jobs are great — if you’re a dude, says a recent New York Times op-ed by Linda Hirshman: It turns out that green jobs are almost entirely male … especially in the alternative energy area. A broad study by the United States Conference of Mayors found that half the projected new jobs in any green area are in engineering, a field that is only 12 percent female, or in the heavily male professions of law and consulting; the rest are in such traditional male areas as manufacturing, agriculture, and forestry. And like companies that build roads, alternative energy firms …

The unbearable maleness of green

NYT op-ed says mostly men will benefit from green jobs

Green jobs are great — if you’re a dude, says a recent New York Times op-ed by Linda Hirshman: It turns out that green jobs are almost entirely male … especially in the alternative energy area. A broad study by the United States Conference of Mayors found that half the projected new jobs in any green area are in engineering, a field that is only 12 percent female, or in the heavily male professions of law and consulting; the rest are in such traditional male areas as manufacturing, agriculture, and forestry. And like companies that build roads, alternative energy firms …

U.S. auto bailout bill dies in Congress

The survival of Chrysler and General Motors remains in doubt after Congress adjourned late Thursday night without passing a Senate bailout bill for U.S. automakers. The U.S. House passed a version of the bailout bill Wednesday that included a key green provision requiring automakers to abide by California’s strict fuel-efficiency requirements. However, the Senate’s rescue bill contained a provision essentially stipulating the opposite, but now that the legislation is dead, neither version will be passed into law.

Can we get those good cars here?

NYT: Temporarily relax regulations to allow Big Three’s European models in the U.S.

The Big Three make high-quality, fuel-efficient cars. No, really, they do. They just sell them in Europe — Ford Ka, anyone? And now that $15 billion of the the $25 billion designated in the 2007 energy bill to provide funds for fuel-efficiency retooling will likely serve as loan guarantees to keep GM and Chrysler solvent, where will domestic fuel-efficient cars come from? Christian Edstrom at the New York Times blog Wheels suggests the Big Three bring some of those fuel-sipping European models to the U.S., and that the feds make it easy for the auto industry by temporarily green-lighting models …

Dodgy deals

Car dealers offering two for the price of one

It used to be a chicken in every pot. Now it’s two cars in every sale — at least at some Dodge dealers. At a Quebec dealer, buy a Dodge truck and get a Caliber for “free.” In the U.K., a similar deal (bonus: video with fun British accents!). In Miami, buy a four-door pick-up and get a two-door thrown in. This as Chrysler scraps plans to add a wee Chinese car to the Dodge line. Call me crazy, but methinks they’re not going to, er, Dodge the bullet. (Hat tip: my fella)

Auto bailout passed by House requires compliance with state emission standards

The U.S. House on Wednesday approved a $14 billion rescue plan for the domestic auto industry that, among many other things, would force the companies to comply with California’s strict emissions requirements for vehicles. However, House Democrats reportedly dropped a requirement from the bill that would have barred the Big Three from using any of the federal money from the bailout to challenge state greenhouse-gas emission limits in court. The bill has not yet been passed in the Senate, where it faces serious opposition.

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