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Mayor urges Londoners to boycott bottled water

London Mayor Ken Livingstone has joined the anti-bottle brigade, exhorting Londoners to drink from the sink and declaring that bottled water served to restaurant patrons costs 500 times more than tap water and is 300 times more damaging to the environment.

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Monsanto U.

Public-university researchers get cash for studying GMOs — and the shaft for studying organic ag

The following essay, which first appeared on Alternet, is a lucid, detailed look at what has become of public-university agriculture research in an age of budget austerity. ----- I've startled a bug scientist. "Yeah, now I'm nervous," said Mike Hoffmann, a Cornell University entomologist and crop specialist who spends his days with cucumber beetles and small wasps. But he's also in charge of keeping the research funding flowing at Cornell's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. What have I done to alarm him? I've drawn his attention to the newly released FY 2009 Presidential Budget. Like more than a hundred …

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Election '08: Real alternatives for real food?

Questions for Obama and Clinton from a Wisconsin farmer

This piece first appeared in the Capitol Times (Madison, Wisc.). -- The candidates have come and gone through Wisconsin for the primary season, but I still have some questions for the Democratic candidates, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama. I would like to be enthusiastic about this election, I really would. After the past eight years, who wouldn't be ready for the "change" that they talk about? Even the Republicans are talking about change. It seems, however, that the American people may have little to say about what that change will be. The media have already decided who the …

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Still a 'jungle' out there

Upton Sinclair on downer cows

Regarding the record-breaking meat recall in California, involving an industrial slaughterhouse that used torture to compel downer (i.e, too sick to walk) cows to slaughter, I caught word of a passage from Upton Sinclair's The Jungle (published exactly 102 years ago Monday). Forcing downer cows through the kill line and into the food supply has a long and ignominious history. (The practice of mixing meat from downer cows into the food supply, of course, played a heavy role in the U.K.'s mad-cow scares in the 1990s.) Here is Sinclair: [T]he creatures were prisoned, each in a separate pen, by gates …

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How to green your fridge

Tastes great, less energy billing. Photo: Fred Ferand Home is where the fridge is. Whether it's a top-freezer or side-by-side model, in stainless steel, bisque, or black, that big box in the kitchen is on the job 24-7, rescuing us from hunger, boredom, warm beer, and cravings for Chunky Monkey. Refrigerators made pre-2000, alas, tend to be major energy hogs that waste watts and money. Add to that the unhealthy, unsustainable stuff so many of us stock inside our refrigerators, and the big box starts looking like an eco-villain. To start reforming your fridge -- and make it earth-friendlier, inside …

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Cadbury eggs will come with less packaging

Cadbury Schweppes, the maker of the Easter season's omnipresent sugar-yolk-in-a-chocolate-shell, has unveiled an alleged "eco-egg." No, the goopy white innards aren't organic; no, the chocolate isn't fair trade. The "eco" aspect comes merely from the eggs being sold unboxed, reducing packaging waste. So which came first, the greenwashing or the egg?

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ILSR, spinning like a top

This is really, really sad. A group, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, which has done stalwart work on relocalizing the economy, has let their pro-local passion overcome their principles. Now they simply embarass themselves, beating the drums for corn ethanol, using flackery techniques that would do any corporate PR shop proud. Let's start in: New Anti-Ethanol Studies Reach Wrong Conclusion on Greenhouse Gases Wow, quite a headline, about not one but two studies in one of the most respected journals in the world. Must be quite a ... no wait ... A new policy brief from Institute for Local Self …

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Blood and chocolate

Fortune mag: widespread poverty and child labor in the cocoa-producing world

While I was waxing euphoric last week about Fair Trade and ultra-fancy chocolate ahead of Valentine's Day, interesting things were happening in the chocolate world. Regulators in Germany raided the offices of seven corporate chocolate makers -- including Nestle, Kraft, and Mars -- investigating allegations of price fixing. Six food conglomerates process half of the world's cocoa, giving them tremendous leverage on price. Usually, they use their market power to squeeze farmers in the global south; evidently, they may now be using it to squeeze consumers in the global north. Canadian and even U.S. antitrust regulators have launched similar investigations, …

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Meat Wagon: Don't have a (downer) cow, man

Despite biggest meat recall ever, 37 million pounds of suspect meat made it to schools.

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat industry. In the last edition of Meat Wagon, we mentioned the scandal at an industrial-scale slaughterhouse in California, where workers had been caught on videotape torturing severely sick ("downer") cows. Horrifically enough, the workers were abusing the enfeebled animals in an attempt to get them stagger to slaughter -- where their flesh would be mixed with that of other cows, and sent to market. More horrifically still, the slaughterhouse in question is a major supplier of beef to the National School Lunch Program. Evidently, the idea of tortured-downer-cow …

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It's not just honey you'll miss

Haagen-Dazs says CCD could interrupt your ice cream fix

As I and many others have pointed out, the loss of as much as 70-80 percent of the US honeybee population to Colony Collapse Disorder is a far greater concern than missing that spot of honey in your lavender soy chai. Premium ice cream maker Haagen-Dazs has joined in to sound the alarm about CCD and the impact it could have on our food supply Haagen-Dazs is warning that a creature as small as a honeybee could become a big problem for the premium ice cream maker's business. At issue is the disappearing bee colonies in the United States, a …