Progressive Calendar 04.12.10
From: David Shove (
Date: Mon, 12 Apr 2010 14:57:07 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   04.12.10

1. Coal no!      4.12 7pm

2. Torture       4.13 12noon
3. Vs Amy on war 4.13 4pm
4. Conversation  4.13 6:30pm
5. Gardening     4.13 7pm

6. Bill Quigley  - Nine myths about socialism in the US
7. Ron Jacobs    - Misrepresenting the Left: we are not liberals
8. Allen/Cummins - Is this factory farming's tobacco moment?
9. Ed Bruske     - You call this food?

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Date: Mon, 12 Apr 2010 07:55:42 -0500
Subject: Coal no! 4.12 7pm

7pm:Clean Energy Future Panel Discussion @ Mon Apr 12 7pm - 8:30pm (Erick

Erick Boustead wrote:

Join Campus Beyond Coal for a panel discussion with environmental and
public health leaders about the true costs of burning coal for power,
developments in alternative energy, and how we can move to a 100% clean
energy future.

April 12th
7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Fraser Hall 102, University of Minnesota Campus

Bruce Nilles, Deputy Conservation Director for the Sierra Club
Michael Noble, Executive Director for Fresh Energy
Amy Short, Sustainability Coordinator, University of Minnesota
Steven Taff, Associate Professor, Applied Economics, University of
Donna Zimmerman, Vice President of Community Relations at Health Partners
Siri Simons (moderator), President of Campus Beyond Coal
Sponsored by Campus Beyond Coal, Sierra Club North Star Chapter, and
UMN Sustainability Studies Minor

--------2 of 9--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Torture 4.13 12noon

Ali Soufan: "Tortured Reasoning and Misunderstanding the Threat"
Tuesday, April 13, Noon to 1:30 p.m. Humphrey Institute, Humphrey Forum,
301 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis.

Ali Soufan, former FBI Supervisory Special Agent with commentary by Vice
President Walter F.  Mondale and moderated by Lawrence Jacobs, Professor,
University of Minnesota. Labeled "an important weapon in the ongoing war
on terrorism" by the Department of Defense, Ali Soufan, a highly decorated
former FBI Supervisory Special Agent, investigated and supervised highly
sensitive international terrorism cases, including the East African
Embassy bombings, the attack on the USS Cole, and the events surrounding
9/11. He has been at the forefront of our nation's battle against al
Qaeda, including going undercover as an al Qaeda agent, interrogating top
terrorists, and serving as the government's main witness at trials held in
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Drawing on his experiences, Mr. Soufan will explain
mistakes made against al Qaeda, what we need to do to defeat the terrorist
organization, and how to effectively interrogate top terrorists. To
request disability accommodations, please call 612-625-2530. Sponsored by:
the University of Minnesota Center for the Study of politics and
Governance. Endorsed by: the WAMM Tackling Torture at the Top (T3)

Note: While Soufan is a former FBI agent and investigator of Al Qaeda
terrorism in the "war on terrorism" and therefore does not necessarily
share all of WAMM's views about war and peace, he has spoken out strongly
against waterboarding and other forms of torture. He was privy to how
these decisions were made so from that standpoint, he's a good firsthand
source regarding the torture issues.

--------3 of 9--------

From: Marie Braun <braun044 [at]>
Subject: Vs Amy on war 4.13 4pm

In mid-April, the Congress will be voting for another $33 billion war
supplemental bill for Afghanistan.  Please join us in actions in front
of the offices of Senator Klobuchar and Senator Franken to call for an
end to the war in Afghanistan.


Minnesota Actions at the Office of Senator Amy Klobuchar to End the
Funding and Stop the War
Office of Senator Amy Klobuchar
1200 Washington Avenue S., Suite 250
Tuesday, April 13
4:00 pm

On or around April 15, the House of Representatives and the Senate will
vote on the $33 billion dollar supplemental bill for the war on
Afghanistan. The purpose of our actions is to urge our senators to vote
against the war supplemental bill and for the withdrawal of U.S. troops
from Afghanistan. Money needed to withdraw the troops can be taken from
the bloated $708 billion defense budget being requested by President Obama
for 2011, which is more than the combined defense budgets of all other
countries in the world.

It is imperative that we speak out at this time against the escalation of
the war in Afghanistan and further assaults on Afghan cities and towns,
which can only result in more bloodshed, misery, and death for U.S.
soldiers and the people of Afghanistan, one of the poorest nations in the

Our actions will include; 1) the reading of the names of some who have
been killed in the war in Afghanistan; 2) throwing shoes at the
occupation; and 3) a die-in. The action is patterned after the action at
the White House in Washington D.C. by twenty-four Minnesotans during the
last week in January. You can find articles and videos of the action on
the Voices for Creative Nonviolence website at Some of those
who participate in the die-in may chose to risk arrest.

FFI: If you are interested in risking arrest or want further information
about either of these actions, email braun044 [at] or phone

--------4 of 9--------

From: patty <pattypax [at]>
Subject: Conversation 4.13 6:30pm

Tomorrow we will be having open conversation.  If you have some thoughts
about what you want to converse about, let me know and we can center the
conversation around it.

The "Little Book of the Odd Month Club" agreed to read the following book
and it will be discussed the last Tuesday of May.  This is the description
by Steven from the salon:

Why read The Road, by Cormac McCarthy? The Road is the next selection by
the Madhatter's TeaHouse Little Book of the Odd Month Club. It will be
discussed at the Salon on the last Tuesday of May, May 25. It is a book of
timely importance. McCarthy has written the bare bones of a story for
survival. Each turning of the page is an experience in existential terror.
Why has he written such a book? As a warning? As a teaching? Though a
simple tale there are layers of meaning to unravel.  Come and help us to
unravel them.

Pax Salons ( )
are held (unless otherwise noted in advance):
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.

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From: Do It Green! Minnesota <Do_It_Green_Minnesota [at]>
Subject: Gardening 4.13 7pm

Urban Homesteading Workshop Series Building sustainable, self-sufficient

Come to a Do It Green! Minnesota workshop and learn simple skills you can
use to become a green, self-sustaining city dweller.  Workshops are
interactive and presented by local Twin Cities experts. Workshops are
limited to 10-15 people, so register quickly!

Do It Green! Minnesota members will receive priority registration and

become a member now:

Each month, Do It Green! Minnesota will partner with a local individual,
nonprofit, or business to host an interactive workshop. Participants will
get the chance to ask questions, witness up-close the techniques used by
trail-blazing members of the community, and engage in hands-on urban
homesteading activities. For questions please contact Ami or Eva at
info [at] or 612-345-7973.


Gardening I:  Basic Planning by Marianna Padilla
Tuesday, April 13, 7:00-9:00pm
Learn how to pick a location, choose a size, and find great seeds and
seedlings for your garden.  This is the first of five gardening
Cost:  $20 per session or $75 for all 5 gardening workshops

Gardening II:  Preparation and Planting by Marianna Padilla
Tuesday, May 11, 7:00-9:00pm
Learn to choose tools, prepare the soil, and plant your garden. This
is the second of five gardening workshops
Cost:  $20 per session or $75 for all 5 gardening workshops

Gardening III:  Tending and Harvesting by Marianna Padilla
Tuesday, June 8, 7:00-9:00pm
Find out about watering, mulching, weeding, composting, and harvesting
your garden.  This is the third of five gardening workshops.
Cost:  $20 per session or $75 for all 5 gardening workshops

Gardening IV:  Food Preparation and Preservation, Part I by Marianna
Tuesday, July 13, 7:00-9:00pm
Discover the secrets of preparing garden-fresh dishes and preserving
your harvest for later. This is the fourth of five gardening
Cost:  $20 per session or $75 for all 5 gardening workshops

Backyard Beekeeping by Elise Kyllo
Tuesday, Aug 3, 6:30-8:00pm
Get an up-close view of raising bees in an urban environment.
Cost:  $15 for the public or $12 for Do It Green! Minnesota members

Gardening V:  Food Preparation and Preservation, Part II by Marianna
Aug 10, 7:00-9:00pm
Discover the secrets of preparing garden-fresh dishes and preserving
your harvest for later. This is the fifth of five gardening workshops.

Cost:  $20 per session or $75 for all 5 gardening workshops

--------6 of 9--------

Nine Myths about Socialism in the US
By Bill Quigley
April 10, 2010

Glenn Beck and other far right multi-millionaires are claiming that the US
is hot on the path towards socialism.  Part of their claim is that the US
is much more generous and supportive of our working and poor people than
other countries.  People may wish it was so, but it is not.

As Senator Patrick Moynihan used to say &ldquo;Everyone is entitled to
their own opinions.  But everyone is not entitled to their own

The fact is that the US is not really all that generous to our working and
poor people compared to other countries.

Consider the US in comparison to the rest of the 30 countries that join
the US in making up the OECD - the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development.  These 30 countries include Canada and most comparable
European countries but also include some struggling countries like Czech
Republic, Greece, Hungary, Korea, Mexico, Poland, Slovak Republic, and
Turkey.  See

When you look at how the US compares to these 30 countries, the hot air
myths about the US government going all out towards socialism sort of
disappear into thin air.  Here are some examples of myths that do not hold

Myth #1.  The US government is involved in class warfare attacking the
rich to lift up the poor.

There is a class war going on all right.  But it is the rich against the
rest of us and the rich are winning.  The gap between the rich and
everyone else is wider in the US than any of the 30 other countries
surveyed.  In fact, the top 10% in the US have a higher annual income than
any other country.  And the poorest 10% in the US are below the average of
the other OECD countries.  The rich in the U.S. have been rapidly leaving
the middle class and poor behind since the 1980s.

Myth #2.  The US already has the greatest health care system in the world.

Infant mortality in the US is 4th worst among OECD countries - better only
than Mexico, Turkey and the Slovak Republic.

Myth #3.  There is less poverty in the US than anywhere.

Child poverty in the US, at over 20% or one out of every five kids, is
double the average of the 30 OECD countries.

Myth #4.  The US is generous in its treatment of families with children.

The US ranks in the bottom half of countries in terms of financial
benefits for families with children.  Over half of the 30 OECD countries
pay families with children cash benefits regardless of the income of the
family.  Some among those countries (e.g. Austria, France and Germany) pay
additional benefits if the family is low-income, or one of the parents is

Myth #5.  The US is very supportive of its workers.

The US gives no paid leave for working mothers having children.  Every
single one of the other 30 OECD countries has some form of paid leave. The
US ranks dead last in this.  Over two thirds of the countries give some
form of paid paternity leave.  The US also gives no paid leave for

In fact, it is only workers in the US who have no guaranteed days of paid
leave at all.  Korea is the next lowest to the US and it has a minimum of
8 paid annual days of leave. Most of the other 30 countries require a
minimum of 20 days of annual paid leave for their workers.

Myth #6.  Poor people have more chance of becoming rich in the US than
anywhere else.

Social mobility (how children move up or down the economic ladder in
comparison with their parents) in earnings, wages and education tends to
be easier in Australia, Canada and Nordic countries like Denmark, Norway,
and Finland, than in the US.  That means more of the rich stay rich and
more of the poor stay poor here in the US.

Myth #7. The US spends generously on public education.

In terms of spending for public education, the US is just about average
among the 30 countries of the OECD.  Educational achievement of US
children, however, is 7th worst in the OECD.  On public spending for
childcare and early education, the US is in the bottom third.

Myth #8.  The US government is redistributing income from the rich to the

There is little redistribution of income by government in the U.S. in part
because spending on social benefits like unemployment and family benefits
is so low.  Of the 30 countries in the OECD, only in Korea is the impact
of governmental spending lower.

Myth #9.  The US generously gives foreign aid to countries across the

The US gives the smallest percentage of aid of any of the developed
countries in the OECD.  In 2007 the US was tied for last with Greece.  In
2008, we were tied for last with Japan.

Despite the opinions of right wing folks, the facts say the US is not on
the path towards socialism.

But if socialism means the US would go down the path of being more
generous with our babies, our children, our working families, our pregnant
mothers, and our sisters and brothers across the world, I think we could
all appreciate it.

Bill Quigley is Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights and
law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.  There is a version of
this article with footnotes for those interested.  Quigley77 [at]

--------7 of 9--------

Misrepresenting the Left: We Are Not Liberals
by Ron Jacobs
April 10th, 2010
Dissident Voice

Despite the current media-induced confusion, liberals are not leftists.
This misconception is not only embarrassing to those of us who are
genuinely leftist in our politics, it is also discrediting the Left. From
the New York Times to FOX News, the portrayal of the US Democratic party
and Barack Obama as leftist is creating a perception in the US populace
that leftists are ineffective politicos who have no principles they won't
modify. Of course, the Left has not done that great of a job explaining
the situation in any other way, thereby leaving the way open for the
misconceptions put forth by the media to appear as truth.

If one wants to know what a liberal is, they need only to look at the US
Democratic Party. From Hilary Clinton to Dennis Kucinich, that party is in
no way leftist. How can I say that? To begin with, liberals differ from
leftists in fundamental ways. For starters, liberalism is founded on the
sanctity of private property. According to John Locke, who is quite
possibly the godfather of liberalism, it is the possession of property
that gives humans their freedom. Indeed, in its early days, liberalism
only saw freedom as being deserving to propertied males. While not
disparaging the positive aspects of liberalism's early days - its
opposition to monarchy and the role of the Church, to name two of the most
important ones - it is crucial to acknowledge the shortcomings of a
philosophy grounded in the ownership of property. Since the fact of
private ownership was a qualification for entry into self-governance it
obviously excluded many members of those societies where the politics of
liberalism replaced the monarchy and the Church. Add to this fact the
denial of political power to women and (in the newly created United
States) the acceptance of slavery, and the shortcomings of liberalism as a
philosophy guaranteeing liberty and equality become glaringly obvious. It
is understood by those that utilize a Marxist analysis to understand
history that liberalism is a bourgeois philosophy, primarily because it
protects the dominance of that class in those societies where it

Of course, history does progress. The slave trade was eventually outlawed
in Europe and suffered a bloody end in the United States. Women did
eventually achieve political and economic power in those nations where
liberalism is the underlying philosophical foundation of the regime. This
progress did not occur due to the graces of the ruling class, however. Of
all the countries that fall under the liberal banner, France experienced
the greatest upheavals on its way to eventual liberty for all of its
citizens. The United States was close behind. Equality remains at best a
promise. The greatest challenges to liberalism were the twentieth
century's two world wars. Yet, both of these wars were the result of
liberalism's necessary relationship to the capitalist economy. World War I
was the result of a rivalry between empires that had run out of new lands
to conquer. Those empires then turned on each other in an attempt to steal
each other's colonies. World War Two was a direct assault on the
principles of liberalism by the totalitarian philosophy of fascism.

This brings us neatly to the historical moment when liberalism became
identified with governmental intervention into the domestic economy in
ways not seen before. Instead of helping only the wealthy and their
corporations dominate the economy as in the past, liberals began to
encourage the installation of governmental controls on unfettered
capitalism. This did not happen because liberals were interested in
destroying capitalism, but in saving it. The institutions of capital in
much of the world were under heavy fire from workers and others in the
years preceding World War Two. Unlike the conservative free marketeers in
public life, liberals during the reign of FDR understood that the only way
to save capitalism from what they considered the twin evils of Bolshevism
and fascism was to institute programs that would guarantee working people
work and some minimum financial security. Government programs designed to
provide this minimal security were legislated under intense attacks from
the free marketeers and were the result of years of strikes and other
battles from the labor Left. It is reasonable to state that these safety
net programs and the transformation of the US economy to a Keynesian model
that relied heavily on the production and sale of war materials did save
capitalism in the United States and, consequently, throughout much of the
world. This also placed the United States into the role of the primary
capitalist and imperialist power. This transformation did at least two
things. It insured that war and the preparation for war would continue to
be a growth industry for US business and it created a situation where US
workers (mostly white males at the time) would be able to live a
relatively good life in terms of income and job security, thanks to the
intensified exploitation of labor forces in the developing world. It also
allowed the liberal government to push through programs like Lyndon
Johnson's Great Society and Medicare.

The peak of postwar liberalism in the US was the 1960s. Its greatest
triumph was passing legislation that ended legal apartheid in the US and
its greatest defeat was the defeat of US forces in Southeast Asia. The
latter, which was presented to the world as a mission to bring the liberal
ideals of liberty and equality to the people of that region of the world,
was disproved. The actual conduct of the war exposed this presentation for
the lie it was: a bloody and brutal attempt to destroy a nation and a
people that bordered on genocide. It also gave the US Left, which was at
its greatest popularity since the 1930s, the opportunity to expose the
myth of liberalism. That is, that liberalism's ideals of liberty and
equality could not be obtained under the economic machine of capitalism.
This contradiction was apparent both in Vietnam and in the US, as the
struggle for racial equality became an effort by the government to repress
those individuals and groups dedicated to achieving that equality.

The post World War Two years of capitalist expansion were followed by
years of contraction that began in the early 1970s (most agree that 1973
was the exact year). This created a fear among the capitalist class and
its governmental sycophants that they might lose their position in the
world. So, they began to cut back on labor costs, shipping operations to
the non-union southern US and then overseas and reneging on retirement
promises and health care contracts. At first, there were those among the
liberal establishment in the US who stood with the workers and opposed
these moves. However, by the time the ultraright administration of Ronald
Reagan was out of office, it was almost impossible to find a liberal who
would stand with striking workers. Indeed, it was getting pretty difficult
to find a national union official who would stand with striking workers.
The free marketeers were back on top and were once again in complete
control of the economic policy of Washington. This period saw the rise of
a new type of liberal (the neoliberals) to positions of power in the White
House and throughout Washington. Neoliberal Bill Clinton campaigned on a
promise to halt so-called free trade agreement known as NAFTA and then
pushed it through Congress in his first years in office. NAFTA and other
free trade agreements were not about free trade, but about forcing already
indebted nations of the developing world to accept US goods while
destroying their own economies. At the same time, credit rules began to be
loosened in the United States, resulting in the creation of untold
billions of dollars that did not truly exist. Yet, as long as everyone
from the individual getting a home loan to the World Bank forcing
austerity measures on national governments believed that the money was
good there was no apparent problem. The neoliberal model of world
development - a model that encouraged dependence on US banks and
corporations and espoused the philosophy that the free market would solve
all social ills - reigned supreme.

As for the liberal political program, it became a mere shadow of its
earlier self. No longer were society wide programs to eliminate poverty
like the Great Society programs mentioned earlier considered. Instead, the
liberals looked at such programs and destroyed them under the guise of
reform. Perhaps the best example of this strategy can be found in Bill
Clinton's Welfare Reform Act of 1996, a piece of legislation that took
free marketeer Ronald Reagan's statement that people in the US were only
poor by choice and made that statement policy. Even when it came to
identity politics, the liberals were hesitant to push their belief in
equality to far. Instead of demanding legislation insuring de jure
equality for the LBGT community, the Clinton administration chose to
institute ambiguous policies that clarified little and arguably caused
more discrimination. In addition, during his campaign, Clinton borrowed
from the racist Southern strategy of the GOP and attacked performer Sister
Souljah for her statements about black resistance to white racists. An
adjunct to this more conservative social stance could be seen in liberals
public embrace of religious figures and politics. Bill Clinton and the
Democratic Party also supported the 1995 legislation increasing the number
of federal offenses that could result in the death penalty while further
militarizing the nation's police forces. The US military attack on
Yugoslavia in 1999 that came after forcing the Belgrade government to
accept a peace agreement that guaranteed war was the final act in a reign
that reminded everyone on the left that liberalism exists to defend the
interests of the bourgeoisie.

The Left believes in justice. According to most liberals, so do they.
However, the Left also believes that there can not be genuine justice for
all unless there is economic justice for all. To put it briefly, human
rights can not exist for all regardless of class until economic inequality
is addressed and minimized. Ideally, this means that the motivation of
profit is eliminated altogether. It does not deny the right of people to
own their own property, but it does deny those who would profit from
letting others use that property through rent. Unlike liberalism, leftists
publicly acknowledge the fundamental nature economics plays in how
political structures operate. This doesn't mean that liberals don't
understand the essential role capitalism plays in maintaining the liberal
state in all its guises, it just means that leftists know that to lessen
the inequalities that exist under capitalism, it is necessary to change it
with the eventual goal of ending its predominant role in determining
social relations. In short, leftists understand that capitalism is a
fundamental source of social inequalities, while liberals tend to believe
that, if capitalism cannot cure those inequities, it can surely help
lessen them. This belief exists despite the historical empirical evidence
that the opposite is true.

If one looks at history, it seems apparent that leftism arose in response
to the failings of the original liberal projects of the French revolution
and the American war for independence. Both of these catalytic events did
at least two important things. They ended the power of the monarchy and
put the newly forming bourgeois class in power. Meanwhile, the peasants
and the growing industrial working class discovered that the ideals of
liberty and equality did not apply to them. In fact, their unequal status
in relation to the bourgeoisie was essential to the rule of that class.
This realization created a need for a different political philosophy that
progressed beyond the principles of the French Revolution. Like the
philosophy of that revolution, this newer philosophy was born from the
experience of the oppressed. It found its most complete expression in the
pens of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

Liberals fear the end of capitalism and therefore will not support those
who desire to undermine it. This is why they supported the Cold War. It is
why they support the establishment of a client state in Iraq and why they
support the expansion of the US war in Afghanistan. It is why they support
a health care bill that is not single payer but supportive of the
insurance industry. It is why Barack Obama had no doubts when he continued
the Bush bailout of Wall Street. The musician Phil Ochs said it like this
in his 1965 song "Love Me, Love Me I'm a Liberal".

But don't talk about revolution
That's going a little bit too far
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal.
There's no one more red, white and blue
So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal

Like liberals, there are several varieties of leftists. All, however,
share an understanding that capitalism is an essentially unfair economic
system that rewards those who already have capital much more frequently
than those who just work their tails off. They also understand that
capitalism needs wars to survive and requires inequality to function. This
is why they oppose it. As stated before, liberals have a much rosier view
of capitalism and have historically been willing to do whatever it takes
to save it. So, while they may be the Left's occasional allies, they are
not the Left, no matter how many times FOX News and the New York Times say
they are.

Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way The Wind Blew: A History of the
Weather Underground. His most recent novel Short Order Frame Up is
published by Mainstay Press. He can be reached at:
rjacobs3625 [at]

--------8 of 9--------

Is This Factory Farming's Tobacco Moment?
by Will Allen and Ronnie Cummins
Saturday, April 10, 2010

The nation's chemical and energy-intensive food and farming system, Food
Inc., is out-of-control, posing a mortal threat to public health, the
environment, and climate stability.

Economically stressed and distracted consumers have become dependent on a
factory farm system designed to provide cheap processed food that may be
cosmetically perfect and easily shipped, but which is seriously degraded
in terms of purity and nutritional value.

USDA studies reveal that the food currently grown on America's
chemical-intensive farms contains drastically less vitamins and essential
trace minerals than the food produced 50 years ago (when far less
pesticides and chemical fertilizers were used). As even Time magazine has
admitted recently, given the hidden costs of damage to public health,
climate stability, and the environment, conventional (factory farm) food
is extremely expensive.  Much of Food Inc.'s common fare is not only
nutritionally deficient, but also routinely contaminated--laced with
pesticide residues, antibiotics, hormones, harmful bacteria and viruses,
genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and toxic chemicals. 1 Like
tobacco, factory farm food is dangerous to your health. No wonder organic
food is by far the fastest growing segment of U.S. agriculture.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the California Department of
Agriculture (CDFA), and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) have shown
that many of the nation's favorite foods are contaminated with a lethal
cocktail of the most toxic chemicals, putting consumers, and especially
children and infants (who are up to 100 times more sensitive to toxic
chemicals) at risk. For those living in factory farming communities and
working on farms, the constant exposure to the most toxic pesticides poses
an even greater risk than the general population for cancer, birth
defects, asthma, Parkinson's, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Alzheimer's, liver,
kidney, heart disease, and many other ailments. Forty-eight percent of
U.S. women now get cancer, as well as 38% of men.

There is now conclusive evidence that exposure to farm and household
chemicals (including body care and cleaning products) greatly increase
your chances of getting cancer or other serious diseases. This is why
there are large and growing clusters of cancers and birth defects in farm
and urban communities all over the U.S. These clusters are a direct result
of the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers on our farms, ranches,
gardens, and lawns. 2

Several recent French court decisions have determined that farmers are
suffering from leukemia, Parkinson's, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and myeloma
cancers as a direct result of chemicals they've used on their farms. 3 The
chemicals causing these cancers and leukemia are the same chemicals used
to grow food in the U.S.

Besides the damage to human health from pesticide use, chemical
agriculture's use of synthetic fertilizers and sewage sludge have polluted
the nation's streams, creeks, rivers, oceans, drinking water, and millions
of acres of farmland. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) and the Environmental Working Group, two-thirds of the U.S.
population is drinking water contaminated with high levels of nitrates and
nitrites, caused by nitrate fertilizer runoff from factory farms. Large
areas along our coastlines, bays, and gulfs have become "dead zones" as a
result of excess nitrogen fertilizer and sewage sludge flowing into them.
Serious illness and death are directly attributable to high levels of
nitrates and pesticides in drinking water. 4

Factory farming's carbon footprint is also huge. Government officials have
consistently failed to regulate agriculture's greenhouse gas emissions or
even admit that they are a serious problem. Most official estimates of
greenhouse gas pollution of U.S. agriculture range from a ridiculously low
7% to 12% of total U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Recent analysis
has demonstrated that U.S. factory farms and industrial agriculture are
responsible for at least 35%, and possibly up to 50%, of greenhouse gas
emissions. 5 Unfortunately, agriculture is currently exempted from even
weak U.S. efforts to control greenhouse gases, including the recent cap
and trade legislation passed by the House of Representatives. 6 Hopefully
the most recent U.S. EPA directives in December 2009 on curbing greenhouse
gasses will apply to agriculture, our most polluting industry. However,
"just say no" Republican and Democratic congressmen are doing the bidding
of their pesticide, fertilizer, and petroleum clients (instead of their
constituents) and have vowed to block any efforts by the EPA to regulate

The farm and chemical industry may now be as vulnerable as the tobacco
industry was in the 1990s. People in the U.S. have finally become
suspicious of the safety of the (non-organic) food supply. Millions are
wary of home pesticides, weed killers, and synthetic garden and lawn
fertilizers. Big agricultural chemical companies are under increasing
criticism from consumers, including relatives of those hospitalized and
killed by farm chemicals and factory farm contaminated food.

Giant tobacco corporations lied to the public for decades, claiming that
cigarettes were safe. Similarly chemical corporations and agri-business
have conducted a hundred year campaign to hide the dangers of their farm
chemicals. They hired scientists in the 1920s and 1930s to lie to the
public about the dangers of arsenic and lead, the most widely used
pesticides of the era. They hired scientists in the 1950s and 1960s to
counteract the criticism of DDT and the other World War II pesticides and
fertilizers. In the mid 1960s and the 1970s corporate agribusiness and
chemical giants like Monsanto put enormous resources into debunking the
criticisms of toxic chemicals in Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and those
of other public health and environmental activists.

Chemical companies hired fake laboratories to give their most toxic
chemicals a guarantee of safety in the 1980s and 90s. The EPA, Food and
Drug Administration (FDA), and the USDA accepted these bogus reports as
valid until independent scientists and safe-food activists exposed the
truth. The chemical industry has routinely stalled or neutered any
chemical regulations passed in the U.S. Much of the public still believes
it is protected because Congress passed several landmark pesticide and
chemical control laws in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Unfortunately, the
chemical corporations and corporate agribusiness have lobbied successfully
against these laws, weakening or repealing them. As a result, only a
handful of the 80,000 industrial chemicals or pesticides used in farming
or found in consumer products have lost their federal or state
registration in the last 40 years. 7

As the co-author of this essay, Will Allen, concluded in his 2008 book The
War on Bugs, it is time to conduct a full-scale offensive against factory
farming and industrial agriculture. It is time for consumers to stop
buying chemical food and using poisonous chemicals on their lawns,
gardens, and in their houses. It is time for executives and workers on
factory farms to become whistle blowers. It is time for chemically
assaulted farmworkers and farmers to sue these killers. It is time for
chemical and food industry employees and feedlot cowboys to expose factory
farming's dirty secrets, just as high-level tobacco executives and tobacco
workers did in the 1990s. It is time for courageous magazines or Internet
sites to refuse farm and home chemical advertisements.

In 1905, Colliers magazine refused to publish any more patent medicine
ads. Almost immediately, the Saturday Evening Post, and the Ladies Home
Journal joined the boycott. This didn't solve the problem of useless
patent medicines, but it provoked a public dialogue and the rejection of
thousands of dangerous potions. The public exposure of these "snake oil"
remedies saved countless lives.

Similar bold moves need to be taken to protect us all from the ravages of
Food Inc. Time magazine's recent expose in August of 2009 of our dangerous
and costly food system may be a signal that at least some reporters in the
media are willing to expose the hazards of factory farms and chemical
agriculture. Sadly, other media outlets continue to serve as cheerleaders
for GMOs and industrial food. The New Yorker magazine and National Public
Radio continue to carry Monsanto's ads claiming that GMO crops use less
pesticides and can feed the world's population, when in fact recent
research has shown that GMO crops actually increase pesticide use. Other
studies have demonstrated that yields of both GMO corn and soy are
actually lower than non-GMO varieties. 8

In the European Union (EU), pesticides and farm chemicals have come under
increased scrutiny since the EU instituted a rigorous chemical evaluation
and registration process, known as REACH (Registration, Evaluation, and
Authorization of Chemicals). Many of the most toxic (and profitable)
chemicals used in farming and consumer products could lose their
registration in the EU within the next few years. U.S. agricultural
chemical lobbyists are worried that more aggressive regulations such as
REACH are going to limit their sales in Europe and that more rigorous
chemical enforcements are headed to the US, following the European

It is time for the federal government to stop promoting and subsidizing
factory farms and junk food. Food Inc.'s "business as usual" practices are
destroying public health and the environment, destabilizing the climate,
and setting us up for disaster in the coming era of petroleum and water

It is time for the Obama Administration and government regulators to place
mandatory warnings on dozens of the most toxic foods, similar to the
Surgeon General's warnings on tobacco products. We also need warning
labels on pesticides and chemical fertilizers, as well as a wide range of
consumer products.

The following are proposed Surgeon General's warnings for a few of the
many (non-organic) crops we have analyzed, strawberries, peaches, and


Average Pesticide and Fertilizer Use on 2006 California Strawberries
9,274,453 pounds of pesticides used at an average of 279.44 lbs per acre
VEGETABLE! Two of top five pesticides are probable carcinogens. All five
of the top chemicals cause multiple birth defects. Five pesticides account
for more than 90% of use on California strawberries. Most used pesticide
was Chloropicrin, or tear gas. Second most used pesticide was Methyl
bromide, the ozone destroyer. 92.3% of berries tested had pesticide
residues. 69.2% of berries tested had two or more residues. Of the 109
pesticides used on strawberries, 38 were detectable on berry samples. Some
strawberry samples had as many as 8 residues. Strawberries were the SECOND
most pesticide contaminated fruit in the EWG study Fertilizer use averaged
350 pounds of Nitrogen fertilizer per acre on coastal lands, which drain
FRUIT! Sources: California EPA, DPR and CDFA, Environmental Working Group,


Average Pesticide and Fertilizer use on 2006 California Peaches
4,676,273 pounds of pesticides used at an average of 76 lbs. per acre on
61,377.95 acres. Two of top five pesticides are probable carcinogens,
three cause birth defects, one is an endocrine disruptor, and three damage
fish and other aquatic life.  96.6% of peaches had pesticide residues.
86.6% had two or more residues. 42 different pesticide residues were still
detectable on the fruit. Some had as many as 9 residues on a single
sample.Peaches had the highest percentage of fruit with dangerous residues
of all fruit tested. An average of 125 pounds of NITROGEN, 10 pounds of
PHOSPHOROUS, and 200-500 pounds of POTASH fertilizer were used per
FRUITS! Sources: California EPA, DPR and CDFA, Environmental Working
Group, U.S.EPA


Average Pesticide and Fertilizer use on 2006 California Carrots 6,616,796
pounds of pesticides were used at an Average of 102 lbs per acre on
64,870.55 acres. Most used pesticide was Metam sodium (Temik).  Temik,
Telone II, and Methyldithiocarbamate account for 90% of pesticides on
carrots. All three cause birth defects, two are probable carcinogens.
81.7% of carrots had pesticide residues. 48.3% had two or more residues.
31 poisons were detected on the samples. 6 residues detected on a single
sample. An average of 250 pounds of Nitrogen and more than 100 pounds of
phosphorous and potash fertilizer were used per acre on carrots-NITROGEN
California EPA, DPR and CDFA, Environmental Working Group, U.S.EPA

The proposed warnings above are not the kind of corporate-friendly
regulations that will be tolerated by chemical companies such as Monsanto,
Dow, Syngenta, Bayer, DuPont or BASF. Consumers will need to fight these
corporations to gain their right-to-know what's in our food and other
products. But these are indeed the types of warning labels that are
needed, similar to the warnings on tobacco products.

Given the regulatory coma of the FDA, the USDA, and the EPA, we  need to
be careful about what we eat and feed to our families. We must seek out
and purchase organic foods and products whenever possible (organic
standards prohibit the use of toxic pesticides, chemical fertilizer, and
GMOs), but we also need to be aggressive about demanding that the current
factory farm system must change. It is, after all, our tax dollars that
prop up the GMOs, chemical agriculture, and junk food of Food Inc. Our tax
dollars literally subsidize the production of foods that cause diabetes,
obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Recent studies indicate that 68% of
the U.S. population is overweight, while 34% is obese. This fattening of
America over the last 20 years is a direct result of the highly processed
junk foods that we eat, loaded with fat, sugar, salt, and toxic residues.
Only our collective voices, votes, purchases, and demands for fundamental
reform and regulation can change the nation's dangerous system of food
production and distribution. 9

But, don't wait for the regulators to act before you change your food
habits. Organic and health-minded consumers are transforming the
marketplace with their purchasing power all over the world. You can too!

We need to demand that our presently out-of-control food and farming
system be regulated. Like the mortgage, bank, insurance industries, and
Wall Street, agriculture has not been properly regulated for decades, if
ever.  EPA, FDA, and the USDA regulatory practices have been severely
weakened by pro-agribusiness, deregulatory administrations since Reagan.
It's time to crack down on the hazardous practice of corporate

As long as no one is regulating how many different toxic substances are
applied to conventionally grown food, a staggering amount of chemical
cocktails and synthetic fertilizer will continue to be used. The scary
bottom line is that America's corporate food handlers and processors do
not care about your safety. They care about their profits.

All the "conventional" horrors of industrial agriculture are banned on
organic and biodynamic farms. Why? Because organic consumers and farmers
decided to create third party certification organizations in the 1980s
that enforced strict regulations on how organic food could be grown. So,
instead of asking: Why does organic food cost more than "conventional"
food? We should be asking:  How cheap would poisoned ("conventional") food
have to be to be a good deal?

The time has come to stand up and be counted, to force the chemical,
genetic engineering, petroleum and sewage sludge corporations to bend to
the people's will, to endure their own tobacco moment. Only then will
Rachel Carson's hopes for a sustainable future be realized. Only then will
a 21st Century Silent Spring be averted. 10 Only then will we be able to
stop factory farming's assault on public health and all Earth's creatures,
large and small.


1.    Will Allen, The Death of Food, Alternet, April, 2008. The Real Cost
of Cheap Food, Alternet, June 2008. Organic Consumer's Association
Newsletter, April and June 2008. Bryan Walsh, Getting Real about the High
Cost of Cheap Food, Time magazine, August 21, 2009

2.    The Environmental Working Group's 2008 Dirty Dozen Vegetables and
Fruits (with the highest residues). Residue analyses from the United
States Department of Agriculture. California EPA, Pesticide Use Reports,
1970-2006. Will Allen, The War on Bugs, Chelsea Green, White River
Junction, Vt., March 2008.

3.    Smith, Diana, 2010, Cancer and Pesticides: Victims Fight for
Justice. Ecologist, February 4.

4.    See: The Environmental Working Group's study of EPA water quality
data, and California Department of Agriculture's Fertilizer studies from
1985 to 2006.

5.    Shiva, Vandana, 2009, Soil not Oil, Navdanya, New Delhi, India.
Allen, Will and Cummins, Ronnie, 2010 Beyond Copenhagen: Building a Green
and Organic Future. Huffington Post, Organic Bytes, February

6.    Greenhouse Gas emissions were deemed on December 7, 2009 to be
deleterious to public health by the U.S. EPA. It will be interesting to
see if this ruling allows greenhouse gasses emitted from agriculture to be
regulated like other industries

7.    The United States Environmental Protection Agency began in 1970.
Instead of protecting the public the EPA has aligned itself with Monsanto,
DuPont, Bayer, Crop Life and other chemical protective groups.
California's Proposition 65, passed in 1983 to regulate Cancer Causing
Chemicals in public places. Instead of banning them or regulating them
they now only inform you that cancer causing chemicals are present.
California's Birth Defect Prevention Act, passed in 1984 was designed to
eliminate the most dangerous birth defect generating chemicals. After 25
years almost no chemicals have lost their registration.

8.    Chuck Benbrook, 2009 Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on
Pesticide Use: The First Thirteen Years. The Organic Center. November 17.
Boulder, Colorado

9.    Will Allen, We Need Food and Farming Regulation NOW! Chelsea Green
Blog, April, 2009., Organic Consumer's Association Newsletter, April,
2009, Common Dreams, May, 2009.

10. Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, 1962, Fawcett Publications, Greenwich,

Will Allen is a famer, community organizer, activist, and writer who farms
in Vermont. His first book, The War on Bugs, was published by Chelsea
Green in 2008. His website is The farm website

Ronnie Cummins is an organizer, writer, and activist. He is the
International Director of the Organic Consumers Association and co-author
of the book, Genetically Engineered Food: A Self-Defense Guide for
Consumers. His organization's website is

Zuri Allen Star and Michael Kanter researched the California Pesticide
statistics, and the author researched the fertilizer data. Any errors in
interpretation, however are entirely the authors'.

--------9 of 9--------

You Call This Food?
by Ed Bruske
Friday, April 9, 2010
The Slow Cook
Common Dreams

I was ready to have a perfectly civilized Sam
Fromartz over at ChewsWise on the subject of what we can do to get kids to
eat better when I was stopped dead in my tracks by the lunch being served
at my daughter's elementary school here in the nation's capital. Look at
the photo above and tell me what you see. Do you see the same thing I do?
French fries, a bag of Sun Chips, and an 8-ounce carton of
strawberry-flavored milk.

You almost have to rub your eyes and take a second look. Can this really
be true? Hello, Jamie Oliver! Not all the bad school food is in
Huntington, W.Va. We've got the same stuff right here in Washington, D.C.,
barely a mile from the White House.

To my knowledge, Michelle Obama has never addressed the glycemic bomb
being served daily to public school children right outside her door. But I
could be wrong. Yes, just a mile or so from the White House, where we're
told over and over the Obamas are hard on the case, solving the nation's
childhood obesity epidemic, kids in elementary school are being served
chips, fries and strawberry milk for lunch.

Oh, wait. I forgot the ketchup. Two foil packets of it. That should count
for something. And as far as chips go, Sun Chips - made from corn, whole
wheat, rice flour, whole oat flour - are probably the lesser of many
evils.  Still..

I actually found it heartrending to watch my daughter's lunch group - 10-
and 11-year-olds - waiting patiently for their midday meal, first at their
tables, then pressed against a wall in a queue near the door to the food
line, only to emerge at the other end with this on their Styrofoam trays.
Some also had a mealy-looking chili with beans. Some had a fresh pear. But
under federal "offered-versus-served" rules, kids only need to take three
of the offered items to qualify for a federally-subsidized meal. That's
how you get fries, chips and strawberry-flavored milk. (Fries count as a
vegetable, and the milk protein, the chips grain. Get it?)

Yes, we can have a conversation about how to get kids to eat healthier
foods. But first, we need to ask, Where are the adults in this picture?
Children have not yet reached the age of consent. Grownups are supposed to
take care of them. Yet when you enter a public school cafeteria, you step
into a kind of culinary gulag where for years the adults grinding away
anonymously inside have done their best to keep the truth of what they are
doing hidden from the public at large. And the public at large has been
just as happy not knowing the details. This was a matter we conveniently
left in the hands of "professionals" - food service workers,
nutritionists, government regulators, food industry lobbyists - who have
spent the last several decades devising ways to make "food" for children
that grownups don't have to pay for.

Now, with Jamie Oliver's "Food Revolution" being aired on network
television, and school meals showing up in vivid color in the blogosphere,
we are finally getting a glimmer of what "school lunch" really means. It's
not a joke any more. What we feed children has consequences. And the
pictures are ugly.

Yet it is obvious that childrenand - especially what they eat - are not a
priority. We would much rather spend billions fighting foreign wars,
building tanks, dropping bombs. Honestly, what we get from most
politicians is lip service and a nickel tossed into the collection plate.
We are on the brink of losing our collective memory of what constitutes
real food. Yet no one is accountable. We are not to judge the "lunch
ladies" too harshly. They are doing the best they can. We are not to judge
the food service directors too harshly. They also are doing the best they
can. We should not judge our local government leaders too harshly. They
depend on federal dollars. We should not judge parents too harshly. They
are busy working to make ends meat..

Would anyone like to step forward and take responsibility for feeding our
children in school?

The final indignity came when I was abruptly stopped from taking further
photographs in the lunch room by the school's assistant principal. She
whisked me off to a conference room where the principal was having lunch
with teachers (what would happen if the adults at school had to eat the
same food as the kids?) The principal told me she had been admonished for
the series of articles I wrote from the school's kitchen back in January,
a glimpse behind the curtain that revealed the "fresh cooked" scheme the
school system had recently implemented in collaboration with its
contracted food service provider, Chartwells-Thompson, was nothing of the
sort. To continue taking photographs of the food, the principal said, I
would need clearance from higher up. "I don't want to get in trouble
again," she said.

Turns out there was an aftermath to my expose of the D.C. school kitchen.
The young kitchen manager I profiled, who liked so much to add shredded
cheese to boost the flavor of all those industrially-processed dishes she
was heating in the steamer, has disappeared, presumably re-assigned.

I'm trying to square this with what Anthony Tata, schools Chancellor
Michelle Rhee's chief operating officer, told The Washington Post about me
and that series of articles on Feb. 12: "I think it's great a parent is
super-involved and we are soliciting his input as we go forward with our
program changes," Tata said.

Blah, blah, blah.

I accuse the adults responsible for school food of gross indifference. I
accuse all of us of failing to step up to the plate. I challenge
Chancellor Rhee and Anthony Tata to have a real conversation with parents
about the food children are eating in school. But let us not fail because
we refused to look at the problem square in the eye.

Ed Bruske's blog is The Slow Cook. More of his writing can be found at La
Vida Locavore and at Grist, as well as D.C. Food for All and Better D.C.
School Food.


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