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Eden Foods pulls a Hobby Lobby

This organic food company is refusing to pay for employees’ birth control

Eden Food cans

Just because a company is organic doesn't mean it's progressive. Exhibit A: Eden Foods.

Like Hobby Lobby, Eden Foods sued the Obama administration to try to get out of providing contraceptive coverage for its employees. Eden Foods is a Michigan-based business that bills itself as "the oldest natural and organic food company in North America." It is solely owned by Michael Potter, a Catholic who refers to birth control pills as "lifestyle drugs" and likes to whine about "unconstitutional government overreach." (More crazy quotes from him below.)

In Eden Foods Inc. v. Kathleen Sebelius, filed in federal court in March of 2013, the company claimed its religious freedom was being violated by the Affordable Care Act's mandate that employee health insurance cover birth control. The suit argued that "contraception or abortifacients ... almost always involve immoral and unnatural practices.” In October, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided against Eden Foods, ruling that a for-profit company cannot exercise religion.

But then, on June 30, the Supreme Court ruled in the Hobby Lobby case that family-owned, "closely held" companies can use religion as an excuse to flout the birth control mandate. Eden Foods is one of a few dozen "closely held" for-profit companies that have filed suit over the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate. On July 1, the Supreme Court ordered the 6th Circuit Court to reconsider its decision against Eden Foods and another plaintiff with a similar case.

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Latest sign that the end is nigh: You can now get a “ride share” in a helicopter

uber-ocalypse

You know how it is -- there you are, standing on the roof of the American embassy during the fall of Saigon and all of the helicopters have their vacancy lights turned off. It’s the worst!

Now, thanks to the ride-share company Uber and its whirly-bird partner, Blade, well, you’d still be screwed. But if you want to get from Manhattan to the Hamptons this Thursday for a little surfing, they’ve got you covered.

Uber, a company that gets its name from a word banned from the German national anthem after World War II, is teaming up for one day with Blade, a company that offers Uber-like services for those in desperate need of a helicopter. Just make sure you get the pilot to crank Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” as you come in low over P-Diddy’s place.

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This timelapse serves up some deforestation with your World Cup

Manaus Amazonas stadium
Gabriel Smith

We all know that this World Cup, however magnificent the saves, comes with its fair share of fouls. But it's one thing to know that Brazil built a stadium in the capital city of Amazonas, and another thing entirely to SEE 30 years of satellite images in which a little patch of mostly green is slowly and almost completely colonized by concrete.

(To be fair, FIFA can only take the blame for the stuff that happens after 2007, when Brazil was named this year's tournament host ... in fact, most of the deforestation was already fait accompli by then, but you didn't click on this for quibbles, you clicked on this because you wanted to watch a depressing timelapse.)

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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The not-so-hidden climate messages in Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing”

"Do the Right Thing" poster

Today marks the 25th anniversary of Spike Lee’s film Do the Right Thing, listed by the late, great critic Roger Ebert as one of America’s greatest movies. It wasn’t Lee’s first film, but it was the one that launched him into legendary cinematic status and comparisons to other lauded New York filmmakers like Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese. In celebration of the anniversary, Lee held a block party over the weekend on the Bed-Stuy block where the movie was filmed, with performances from Public Enemy, Erykah Badu, and Dave Chappelle. The First Family even streamed a video message to the party, noting that Do the Right Thing was the movie Barack and Michelle saw on their first date.

http://instagram.com/p/py1PNvR2FW/

While “Do the Right Thing” is best known for its commentary on race relations, there are some prophetic moments and prognostic themes in the film for those concerned about climate change and cities.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Drug users buy local, snack heavily

marijuana-smoke.jpg
Shutterstock

The U.N.'s annual World Drug report is in and -- good news! -- it turns out that crocheted hackie sack isn't the only local artisanal product those hippies on the quad are supporting. The world's drug market is also hitting the locavore trend.

Here in the States, for instance, imported cocaine is on the decline and home grown (well, not necessarily grown so much as distilled from only the finest household cleaning products in a vintage trailer park bathtub) drugs are taking its place.

Joshua Keating at Slate has the story:

Read more: Living

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Ask Umbra: Should I find a rideshare for my trip — or just go Greyhound?

Greyhound
Chester Paul Sgroi

Send your question to Umbra!

Q. I would like to take a Greyhound bus with another family member on a short trip from Toledo to Cincinnati. It would be more relaxing than driving, and better for the planet. But we have an appointment we can't miss. How do I find out how reliable the schedule is? Also, I have heard there are rideshare websites one can go to. Any information on them? Are they safe?

Kathy
Southeast MI

A. Dearest Kathy,

I’m revved to hear your enthusiasm for transportation options beyond the personal automobile. Given the choice, I, too, would happily hand the wheel over to someone else and spend those road hours catching up on my crossword puzzles. It’s the surest cure for road rage I know.

Planet-wise, the bus is an excellent option for your trip to The Queen City. Not only do Greyhounds have wifi these days, but buses are among your lowest-carbon choices: According to a Union of Concerned Scientists report, you and your relative will cut your carbon emissions almost in half over even a hybrid car by busing. The downside to this option over, say, a high-speed train is that you’re still tied to the ebb and flow of highway traffic.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Upcycling finally gets its own reality TV show

According to the latest census, there are roughly three times as many reality TV shows as there are people, so pretty much every job you could possibly imagine has a show. There are shows about the high stakes of baking; programs devoted to the thrilling world of long-haul trucking (which somehow has not had a single episode about meth); series on goldfish caretaking; heck, every other gun shop in America has a show (which is a lot of gun shops). Toddlers in tiaras have their own show as do toddlers who used to wear tiaras. But the reality TV field has been sorely lacking on the green front ... until now.

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Buzz kill much?

Just how friendly are your “bee-friendly” plants?

neonic
Shutterstock

We don't want to kill your bee-loving buzz, but if you buy "bee-friendly" plants and seedlings from Home Depot or similar stores, then you could be unwittingly killing the bees that you're trying to protect.

Friends of the Earth tested 71 garden plants with "bee-friendly" labels purchased from major retailers in the U.S. and Canada and discovered that 36 of them had been treated with bee- and butterfly-killing neonic pesticides.

"Since 51 percent of the plants that were tested contained neonicotinoid residues, the chance of purchasing a plant contaminated with neonicotinoids is high," states a new report detailing the findings. "Therefore, many home gardens have likely become a source of exposure for bees. For the samples with positive detections, adverse effects on bees and other pollinators consuming nectar and pollen from these plants are possible, ranging from sublethal effects on navigation, fertility, and immune function to pollinator death."

Déjà vu? You bet. The nonprofit published similar findings last year.

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Stands And Deliver

Farm stands turn your backyard kale into cold, hard cash

turnip-for-what.jpg
Becky Warner

One Saturday morning a few weeks ago, my friend Caitlin texted me an odd message. “My neighbors are having a really weird yard sale,” she wrote. “You should come check this out.” She’d walked out her front door one weekend morning in the Seattle neighborhood of Wallingford and found a table full of beets and chard set up in her neighbors' front yard. It was much like a roadside produce stand one finds in rural America -- except it was smack in the middle of a 3.3-million-strong metropolis. Turns out it happens every Saturday from May until Thanksgiving: Her neighbors are running a farm stand out of their front yard.

There are peas growing along the sidewalk, compost bins stacked along the side of the house, and raised beds in the back. On a table in the front yard lie bunches of spinach and fat radishes. Becky Warner, one of the farmers, stands on the sidewalk in muck boots and flannel. A guy walks up with a chubby Scottish terrier to pick up his CSA share. “Hank the tank!” Warner greets them. When a farm is this local, apparently you know your farmer and they know your dog.

Read more: Food, Living

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The greenest man in America doesn’t drive a Prius or shop at Whole Foods

lipo.jpg

With all due apologies to the Banner boys, Bruce and David, people are calling Lipo Chanthanasak the greenest man in America. What has the Incredible Chanthanasak done to deserve the title? Well it turns out trashing the environment makes Chanthanasak angry, and if you’re a polluter, you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.

As leader of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN), a group coordinating refugee and immigrant communities around Richmond and Oakland, Calif., the 73-year-old Laotian immigrant fights for clean energy and environmental justice. Lipo and the APEN team work, Avengers-style, to create green jobs and block the dumping of toxic and dirty facilities in their neighborhoods. Lipo helps lead a crusade against Chevron’s dirty refinery in Richmond and the proposed billion-dollar expansion that could be devastating for the health of residents.

Good work, Chanthanasak, and when it comes to Chevron and the other Big Oil bad guys, we say, “Lipo Smash!”

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living