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Is it really a savior for smallholder farmers in the global south?

In the latest Victual Reality, I addressed the "eat-local backlash" -- the steady trickle of media reports seeking to debunk the supposed social and environmental benefits of eating from one's foodshed. Some of the charges are easy to refute. Hey, in Maine, it takes more energy to produce hothouse tomatoes in January than it does to ship them up from South America! Really? Try eating something besides fresh tomatoes in January in Maine. Hell, if you really want Maine tomatoes in January, organize to invest in community-scale canning infrastructure, and then capture July's bounty for the whole year. There's another …

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A virtual world

I scream, you scream, we all scream for an orangutan selling ice cream. On WWF's virtual island in online world Second Life. From the press release: On Conservation Island, if residents "buy" an ice-cream from Mr Tangee, the orangutan who runs the ice-cream van, they will have the chance to learn that plantations to provide the soy and palm oil found in an array of everyday products, from ice-cream to cosmetics and chocolate bars, already cover an area the size of France and are growing. This threatens not only some of the world's greatest forests and traditional lifestyles, but also …

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Eco-events all over the world

There's a rash of "greener" fashion weeks popping up everywhere for the spring 2008 fashion season. And there must be an alignment of the stars or the higher workings of an omnipotent green god, because there is barely any overlap in dates. If you were so inclined, it would be possible for you to attend every single one of the shows listed below -- though the jet lag and carbon emissions from such an excursion might leave you feeling a bit ... restless. I'll be in Seattle, Paris, and New York, and maybe San Francisco, so please drop in and …

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Grist presents lists of eco-notable people, places, and things

15 Green Actors 15 Green Buildings 15 Green Business Founders 15 Green Cars 15 Green Chefs 15 Green Cities 15 Green Colleges 15 Green Fashion Finds 15 Green Fashionistas 15 Green Movies 15 Green Musicians and Bands 15 Green Politicians 15 Green Religious Leaders 15 Green Sports Stars

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Don’t pretend to write about this stuff out of concern, please

A while back, a guy who writes for a magazine called Radar emailed to alert me of his "exclusive" discovery that Barbara Streisand is totally a hypocrite!!1! I replied, in so many words: eh. Apparently it struck a nerve, as he has now gone on to pen an opus that strains mightily to convince us that celebrity eco-hypocrisy is a Very Important Subject that we should all take Very Seriously. Eh. Look, if he wants to spend his time on this stuff, it's his business. I can see the appeal. It's a cheap way to generate traffic. The hoi polloi …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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From Lohan to Lovin’

Paparazzi can you hear me? "I feel like the asshole, the idiot, because I feel like I'm distracting from the other things that are important, like global warming and that kind of stuff." We hear ya, Lindsay -- we had that same problem, until we listened to Leo. Photo: Tony Barson / WireImage.com Raising the handle bar Looking to ride around, Sally? Grab your spandex and sidle up to the BikeDispenser, an urban bike-rental stand that lets you grab some wheels and go. It'll also help you work off the calorie-laden crap you got out of that other vending machine. …

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Cats are the canaries of PBDEs

This is my cat, George. He is fat and grouchy, but I love him. He likes to sun himself on the patio. This is a link to Sightline's research on PBDEs, toxic flame retardants. A couple of years ago, we conducted a study of PBDEs and found high concentrations in the breast milk of nursing mothers throughout the Pacific Northwest. It was bad news. And what's the connection to George? Well, new scientific research shows that PBDEs are making house cats sick. (Major hat tip here to Lisa Stiffler, ace environmental reporter at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, who covers the story …

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More high-tech solutions for low-tech ideas

I first mentioned "neighborrow" a few weeks ago, in a column on the virtues of sharing. This week, we've got an interview with neighborrow founder Adam Berk, who gives us some background on how and why he started the site in his New York apartment building. The basic premise of neighborrow is that it makes no sense to buy stuff when you can get it from your neighbors for free. The site allows you to pool resources with the people who live near you. Everyone can list what they have to loan out, and what they're looking to borrow -- …

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Complaints Choir looking for members

Got good chords? Got stuff to bitch about? The first official U.S.-based Complaints Choir is forming in Chicago, and they'll be debuting on Nov. 3. The Complaints Choir is performance art -- people send in their complaints about life, the world, the environment, whatever's pissing them off, and then everyone gets together and makes a song out of them. Think the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for cynics, or at least people who are fed up with all the crap. A lot of the complaints have eco-themes -- the Finnish version of the choir notes that we've chopped down all the trees …

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Current TV wants to know

Current TV wants to know. Tell them here. And while you're at it, check out the :60 Seconds to Save the Earth Ecospot Contest on the Current site. The best short video message crafted to inspire action against climate change will win a Toyota hybrid, plus exposure on Current TV, MySpace's Impact Channel, and more. The contest is sponsored by Current TV and the Alliance for Climate Protection, in partnership with Grist.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living