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Reggae artist Michael Franti lets loose on inspiring social change

Michael Franti. Photo: anti.com/Megan Gentile "Everyone deserves music, sweet music," Michael Franti sings in the title track from a 2003 album. The man behind Michael Franti & Spearhead -- a band that blends hip-hop with jazz, folk, and funk music -- also believes that everyone deserves health care, social justice, and a sustainable planet. And he makes sure you know it -- whether he's talking with the press, his fans, or a vendor. For almost 10 years, Franti has organized the Power to the Peaceful Festival, a yearly concert in San Francisco that raises awareness and funds for social, environmental, …

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Endangered birds may trump Donald’s golf-course plans

Donald Trump is fired. Fired up, that is, about his plans to build "the world's greatest golf course" in Scotland. But seven endangered bird species may fly in his way. Which is just silly, says The Donald: "Each and every golf course I have built has got awards for environmental protection. ... When we are finished, the course will be better environmentally than before we started." Um, he may be exaggerating just a (combed-over) hair.

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My brush with medical reality, on a bike

My fella and I have been living a one-car life for the last year, and overall it's going pretty well. Helps that I'm a telecommuter, and helps that we have made the choice to live near a commuter rail and a small but semi-useful downtown. I also succeeded in finding a doctor and a dentist within (loosely defined) walking distance. Which worked really well, on a sunny day, when I was in good health. But this morning, I had to go see my doctor. And it's cold and rainy out. And I feel like crap. Out came the bike. Out …

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Warmer weather causes Big Retail to lower profit forecasts

A dozen leading U.S. retailers are reducing profit forecasts and blaming warmer weather for contributing to slumping sales. Retailers plagued by lower-than-expected September earnings included Nordstrom, Target, American Eagle Outfitters, Limited Brands, and JCPenney, all of which have had trouble moving autumn and winter clothing. Our suggestion: prove those reduced-profit predictions right by buying your winter shorts at that cute local place down the street.

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The savory challenges of being a sustainable chef in Big Ag country

Fifteen years ago, I left a great job teaching at a prestigious northeast culinary school to move back to Iowa and be an executive chef at a Holiday Inn. It was difficult to find people, in Vermont or Iowa, who did not think I was certifiably insane. Those who thought they knew Iowa claimed, "There's no there there!" And those who did not asked, "Iowa? Isn't that where they grow potatoes?" Because I had spent my undergraduate years in Iowa, I was accustomed to the rest of the country, especially folks from the coasts, referring to it as one of …

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Want environmentally conscious effervescence? DIY

If you're a fan of sparkling water but feel guilty about having to buy it bottled, you might enjoy this NYT story about home seltzer makers that provide "environmentally conscious effervescence." Myself, I don't care for the bubbly stuff, but I did find this part amusing (emph. mine, obvi): Plain tap water has become the surprise food fashion of the year. A growing number of restaurants are offering it in place of bottled water, which is much more lucrative and whose popularity had made the free-flowing kind seem déclassé. On the street, it is not uncommon to see people toting …

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Umbra on tossing food waste

Dear Umbra, I am a college student. I eat a lot on the go. Not fast food or boxed meals, but when I leave my dorm I usually grab an apple, banana, or other fruit/veggie to eat as I walk to my destination. I don't compost, instead I just throw the banana peel or apple core into the bushes. I like the thought that maybe one day my apple core will become an apple, or that my banana peel will help nourish that piece of ground/animals in the area over ending up in a landfill. To me this eco-littering is …

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Group will do organic lawn care outside Capitol

Nonprofit SafeLawns.org has received permission to use organic gardening techniques on a portion of the National Mall for a two-year trial period. Can environmentally friendly soil treatments be embraced at the site of battling over a Live Earth concert? You could cut the tension with a spade.

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A journey into the heart of industrial agriculture

  Americans live in a post-agricultural age. Today, fewer than two of every 100 U.S. citizens owe their living primarily to the land. A century ago, two of every five did. Yet even though very few of us contribute to food production, we all still eat -- and food comes from somewhere. But where? In a sense, the answer is: Iowa, buckle of the farm belt, heart of the heartland. Do you know where your food comes from? Illustration: Keri Rosebraugh Accounting for less than 2 percent of the U.S. landmass, Iowa churns out a fifth of U.S. corn and …

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A Grist special series on food and farming

You know where babies come from, sure -- but do you know where Tater Tots come from? In this two-week series, we'll take you on a behind-the-scenes tour of your very own diet. Everybody eats, every day, but we tend to gloss over the details. Things like the work that really goes into putting food on our plates, the environmental impacts of food production, and how we can make the best choices -- for our bodies and the planet -- when it comes time to chow down. So take a seat at the Grist table as we venture to the …

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