Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “save the planet”

There Back: Killer Cantaloupe – Roger Ingalls

I’m starting to sound like a broken record with my reoccurring posts about the far reaching poisoning caused by industrialized farming. Today, a single mega-farm can have a single quality oversight and people across the country will get ill or die. It happens two or three times a year.

Here are my previous posts on the subject:

1)      Killer Cantaloupe, September 2011

2)      A Toilet Bowl of Food, June 2011

3)      Strawberries to Die For, September 2001

It’s August 2012 and here we go again with two more occurrences of produce poisoning; a lettuce recall due to E.coli and cantaloupe illnesses due to salmonella. These recent events have caused death and sickness across multiple states.

When will we learn that a centralized food system is not only environmentally disastrous but also puts too many people at risk? It’s amazing that we continue to endorse this food system.

Responsible farming has given way to energy intensive factory farms and as a result, there’s been a change in how food animals are raised and crops are grown. Instead of many decentralized mom-and-pop farms feeding the local population, we now have a small quantity of mega-farms supplying the far reaches of the country.

The solution is locally grown food. If an E.coli, listeria or salmonella outbreak does occur, it is locally contained and only a few people are affected. In addition, local production simulates the economy, creates jobs, uses less energy and has a smaller impact on the environment.

We have choices. Save your life, your family and the planet by buying locally produced goods.

Killer Cantaloupe

When will we learn that a centralized food system not only is environmentally disastrous but it also kills people? I blogged about an E. coli breakout in June, poisonous strawberry production earlier this month and now in late September, I’m writing about an outbreak of killer cantaloupe.

Killer Cantaloupe…it sounds like a bad title for a 1950’s era B-horror movie. Unfortunately, this Listeria-laced deadly fruit is scary and real. To date, up to 16 people have died and close to 100 are seriously ill. The incubation period for Listeria can take as long as 70 days so it is forecasted that many more people will become sick and potentially die. So far, 18 states are affected by the cantaloupe that came from one farm in Colorado.

It’s amazing that we continue to endorse a food system where one farm can make so many people sick across the country. We have choices. We can buy food from locally grown sources.

Let’s briefly review the benefits of local food:

1)      It is healthier because it tends to be organic and free of fuel-based fertilizers and pesticide.

2)      It is harvested when rip and sold within 24 hours so it’s more flavorful and has more nutrients. Factory farmed produce is picked weeks in advance and then ripened with ethylene gas before being sold.

3)      Locally grown food (as with all locally manufactured products) employs more people and improves local economies.

4)      It is environmentally friendlier than factory produced food. Factory farms are energy intensive, use chemicals and goods are transported up to 1500 miles creating a large carbon footprint. The run-off from factory farms acidifies waterways and negatively impacts the eco-system. In addition, these big farms inefficiently use water and create soil erosion.

I sound like a broken record because this subject comes up a lot in my posts. But it is important, especially now that the frequency of food borne illness is increasing. This doesn’t need to happen. We have choices and all we need to do is think before we buy.

Save your life, your family, the planet and neighborhood jobs by buying locally produced goods.

-Roger Ingalls

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Roger Ingalls is well traveled and has seen the good and bad of many foreign governments. He hopes his blogging will encourage readers to think more deeply about the American political system and its impact on US citizens and the international community.

Grounds for Saving the World

When I grow up, I want a coffee machine that makes that first cup of the day automatically and perfectly. I want to come downstairs and be greeted by the rich aroma of caffeinated creativity. Then, with steaming cup in hand, I am ready to go save the planet.

Now it is heartening to discover that all this is possible. The coffee machine you can research for yourself, but I recently received a comment in response to a post in which I wrote about an initiative by two young Cal entrepreneurs who grow mushrooms in coffee grounds.


Now meet Shane Genziuk and friends, who run an initiative called Coffee Grounds to Grounds. They organize groups to collect their coffee grounds and recycle them in the garden. The nutritional worth of these grounds for the earth, plants and wildlife is impressive. The work that these young women do is as well. What is also encouraging is that we can all do our bit here – coffee drinkers to save the planet.

Now excuse me while I go pour myself a cup of Fogbuster coffee. By the way – Fogbuster is made by a great local coffee company called Jeremiah’s Pick.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

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