October 15th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
In First They Came for the Cows: An Activist’s Story, Vermont farmer Sharon Zecchinelli has written a fictionalized account of her battle with federal farm regulations.
Zecchinelli’s target: the National Animal Identification System (NAIS)—a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that collects data on farm animals.
The book exposes how the USDA provides loopholes for massive industrial farms, favoring corporate operations at the expense of family farmers and consumers.
Read More:Book Explores Threats to Family Farms
June 2nd, 2010 - Scott Shaffer
Help protect your pets from dangerous chemicals! Research shows that many flea collars for sale at major pet stores contain chemicals known to cause cancer and neurological damage to humans and pets. Luckily, there’s a nation-wide consumer-led movement underway to get PETCO and PetSmart to pull these dangerous products off their shelves. The Natural Resource Defense Council has a request for all pet-owners: go to your nearest PetSmart or PETCO and see if they’re selling flea collars with propuxor or tetrachlorvinphos. NRDC has typed up a handy check-list with all the products to look for. All they need from you is 15 minutes of your time and an email to [email protected] with the information you gathered.
It’s important for consumers to get out there so the NRDC has an accurate count of how many stores are still selling these dangerous products to pet-owners. It’s also important because, while regulation from the EPA has improved public health by a ton, movements led by informed citizens can get things done faster than the federal government.
So here’s your chance to become civically engaged! If you own a pet, care about pets, or just care about reducing the toxic chemicals floating around your neighborhood, please check out your local pet store and send a letter to the heads of the companies and ask them not to sell dangerous chemicals at their stores.
Here’s the list of the products you should avoid:
- Adams Flea & Tick Collar For Dogs (Large and Small)
- Adams Flea and Tick Collar for Cats and Kittens
- Adams Plus Flea & Tick Collar For Dogs (Large and Small)
- Bansect Flea & Tick Collar for Cats
- Bansect Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs
- Bio Spot Flea & Tick Collar For Dogs (Puppies, Small, and Large)
- BioSpot Flea and Tick Collar for Cats and Kittens
- Scratchex Color Full Formula 5 Flea & Tick Collar For Dogs
- Sentry Dual Action Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs
- Sentry PurrScriptions Dual Action Flea and Tick Collar for Cats
- Sergeant’s Double Duty Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs & Puppies
- Sergeant’s Dual Action Flea & Tick Collar for Dogs
- Vet-Kem Powerband Flea & Tick Collar For Dogs
- Zema Dual Action Flea & Tick Collar For Dogs
- Zodiac Featrol Flea & Tick Collar For Dogs
- Zodiac Fleatrol Flea and Tick Collar for Cats and Kittens
- Zodiac Tick Collar For Dogs
- Americare Rabon Collar
- Hartz 3 in 1 reflection Control Collar
- Hartz Ultra Guard Plus Flea and Tick Collar for Cats and Kittens
- Pet Principles by Hartz Collars
- Longlife 90 day Collar
Image Credit: Star5112
Read More:22 Toxic Products that Pet Stores Need to Ditch
April 30th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Buy tickets for Disney’s Oceans, and you’ll see sobering footage of a shopping cart on the ocean floor—a sure sign of consumerism run amok.
This simple image conveys an incredibly important message: We’re destroying our environment. Climate change may garner more headlines, but ocean pollution remains a considerable concern.
What can you do to reduce your impact?
- Don’t Litter. Litter is a huge contributor to ocean pollution because it ends up in storm drains that eventually empty into rivers and streams. Even if you live miles away from the ocean, your litter will likely contribute to water pollution.
- Follow the Three R’s. How committed are you to the environmental mantra reduce, reuse, recycle? Your answer has a direct effect on the health of our oceans. Failure to embrace the three R’s leads to ocean pollution and mile-high landfills.
- Increase Your Sewage Awareness. Anything that goes down your dishwasher, washing machine, toilet and sink drains will eventually make its way into the ocean. This often leads to oxygen depletion that harms marine life, as well as nutrient loading, which occurs when excessive nitrogen and phosphorous are deposited into the ocean’s ecosystem. Sewage also increases ocean bacteria and parasites, creating a ripple effect that endangers the fishing and tourism industries.
- Understand the Dangers of Toxic Pollutants. Arguably, nothing is more detrimental to the world’s oceans than toxic pollutants, which have been linked to birth defects in wildlife and may contribute to cancer in humans. Lead and mercury collect in marine animals’ tissues, causing reproductive problems and nerve damage. World Wildlife Federation researchers have found that other wildlife, including polar bears and frogs, have experienced decreased fertility, thyroid dysfunction and demasculinization (in males)—a result of exposure to pesticides and industrial chemicals. Other toxic ocean pollutants include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are typically used to manufacture electrical equipment and have been known to cause reproduction problems in marine life. Genetic abnormalities have also been seen in marine animals exposed to polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are caused by burning wood and coal, as well as oil pollution.
- Participate in Community Cleanup Programs. Many seaside communities offer volunteer beach clean-up programs to keep their beaches clean and safe. By volunteering for such programs, you’re not only doing your part, but you’re also giving yourself an excuse to spend a day at the beach.
For Your Organic Bookshelf: The Culture of Flushing: A Social and Legal History of Sewage
Read More:5 Ways to Help Save Our Oceans
April 22nd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Today is Earth Day, and teens who want to make a difference in the fight against climate change now have a place to share their pledges, actions and ideas.
Inconvenient Youth, the Alliance for Climate Protection’s new teen education initiative, launches today. The program will also enable five teens to participate in upcoming in-person training with Nobel Laureate and former Vice President Al Gore.
“Inconvenient Youth is built on the belief that teens can help lead efforts to solve the climate crisis,” Gore says. “It will give this generation—which has a unique stake in this issue—a chance to organize and exchange ideas with other young people who want to do their part to address the climate crisis. Perhaps most importantly, this initiative was inspired by youth and shaped by youth, with their unique viewpoint guiding it forward.”
“It’s not a website; it’s a community,” explains program manager Sam Davidson. “We are building a community—a place where people engage, encourage and empower one another to take action. We’re not broadcasting ‘green tips’ from on high; we’re creating a space where teens can share their ideas and their solutions.”
Interested teens can visit the organization’s website from now until May 15 and apply for the opportunity to attend a Gore-led training session in June.
Students will go through a committee review process. Those selected will become official presenters who can deliver a new slide show to their local communities based on Gore’s latest book, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis.
“The ultimate goal of Inconvenient Youth, at least for me, is to provide ideas and to consciously act on those ideas, while pursuing efforts that make obstacles entirely irrelevant,” says Shilpi Misra, a member of the teen advisory board.
Read More:Inconvenient Youth: Al Gore’s New Earth Day Initiative
October 7th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Here’s a special message for the United Egg Producers: Get over yourselves.
The group is threatening consumers with a 25% hike in egg prices if cages are banned, while blaming animal-rights activists for snatching school breakfasts from the mouths of needy children.
The egg producers’ ultimate threat: importing eggs from overseas.
“I don’t think American consumers really want to play Russian Roulette with every carton of eggs they buy, which is essentially what would happen if we allow special interest groups to force a ban on the most modern, sanitary egg housing systems in the world,” said UEP President Gene Gregory in a hyperbolic press release. “Those systems are used to produce 95% of the eggs that American consumers buy every day.”
And therein lies the problem. California has already banned battery cages—a move that prompted Gregory to tell a U.K. audience that voters were “uninformed.”
I, for one, am willing to pay more for eggs that don’t require hens to be abused. As a child, I would accompany my mom to the local dairy farm in suburban New York, where we would buy our milk and eggs. Watching the chickens and cows roam free was the highlight of the trip. Somehow, the farm managed to get it right.
Am I willing to boycott egg producers who cage their hens? In a New York minute.
Want to get involved in the cause? Farm Sanctuary is pressing for national legislation to prevent animal cruelty.
Read More:Dear Egg Producers: Get Over Yourselves
October 5th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
During yesterday’s successful concert, Farm Aid leaders asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support measures that help family farmers thrive.
In the 1990s, broken farm policies and consolidated corporate food production forced nearly 80% of hog farmers out of business. According to Farm Aid, similar circumstances are causing dairy farmers to be paid less than half of what it costs to produce milk, and the United States risks losing thousands of dairy farmers this year alone.
At yesterday’s concert, Farm Aid representatives reiterated their request for the USDA to set a price for milk that covers the cost of production, which would guarantee dairy farmers a fair price that keeps them on their land. Farm Aid also asked the USDA to stop using taxpayer dollars to fund new and larger factory farms.
“Family farmers are the first rung of the economic ladder in this country,” said Farm Aid Founder and President Willie Nelson. “Against all odds, they have persevered and found ways to stay on their land, growing good food for all of us and creating strong communities. It’s time now for policy to rise to meet their needs with fair prices and support for their innovations.”
“We invite all Americans to join us in pressing for food production that protects our environment, our health and our economy,” added Executive Director Carolyn Mugar. “We are encouraged by the opportunity the new administration in Washington offers us all for making the needed changes.”
At the concert, USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan joined farmers and food advocates in a conversation about the many ways family farmers are rebuilding local and regional food systems and reenergizing the economy.
“Farmers face overwhelming challenges as they work each day to put food on our tables, and Farm Aid’s ongoing efforts on behalf of family farmers have helped put a human face on this vocation,” she said. “At the same time, there is a bright future for small- and mid-sized producers because there is an agricultural renaissance taking place in America. More and more consumers are wanting to better connect with their producers, and USDA’s new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative helps to accomplish that goal.”
For Your Organic Bookshelf: Farm Aid: A Song for America
Photo: Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve Inc. 2009
Read More:Farm Aid Calls for Agriculture Policy Changes
October 3rd, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
What unites former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and international artists like Fergie, Lily Allen, Duran Duran, Mark Ronson, Jamie Cullum, Marion Cotillard and Milla Jovovich?
A global musical petition that demands climate justice.
A new cover of Midnight Oil’s Beds Are Burning is designed to send a message to world leaders who will participate in the UN’s Copenhagen Climate Change Summit in December.
Each free download will count as a signature on a “digital petition” for an ambitious, fair and international answer to the global-warming crisis. More than 1.3 million people have signed on thus far.
“Climate change is the greatest humanitarian challenge facing mankind today,” Annan says. “And it is a challenge that has a grave injustice at its heart. It is the major developed economies of the world which contribute the overwhelming majority of global greenhouse emissions. But it is the poorer and least developed nations that are hit hardest by its impact.
“By downloading ‘Beds Are Burning’ for free from major music download platforms on the Internet, people from around the world will be adding their names to this growing global petition—joining the campaign for climate justice and becoming a climate ally. This will be the first time ever that a musical petition has been created to demand decisive action from our world leaders.”
“Music is the universal language, capable of transcending cultures, generations, religions and races,” adds song producer Alexandre Sap. “A song or an artist truly has the power to translate a message or a movement more than any politician or world leader can on a global scale. This will create a voice for all of us who deserve to have a say leading up to Copenhagen in December. The goal is to draw enough attention to an event that will affect everyone’s lives on the planet.”
You may download the song from the Time for Climate Justice website, Amazon or iTunes.
For Your Organic Bookshelf: Climate Change: What It Means for Us, Our Children and Our Grandchildren
Read More:Fergie, Lily Allen, Kofi Annan Demand Climate Justice
September 21st, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Compassion Over Killing (COK), a Washington, DC-based nonprofit animal advocacy group, has exposed cruelty at an egg factory farm owned by Michael Foods, one of the nation’s largest egg producers and a major supplier to Dunkin’ Donuts. (Click here to view the video.)
While employed at the facility in August, an investigator with a hidden camera shot footage of farm conditions for more than 1 million birds in battery cages, including:
- Hens immobilized in the wires of their cages, unable to access food or water
- Decomposing and “mummified” corpses left in cages alongside live birds
- Severe feather loss
- Untreated injuries
- An employee decapitating a hen
“No responsible company should support this animal cruelty,” says Erica Meier, COK’s executive director. “Dunkin’ Donuts can—and should—make the right decision by removing eggs from its doughnuts and offering more humane vegan menu items.”
Earlier this year, COK asked the donut chain about how the hens in its supply chain were treated and whether the company could offer egg-free donuts.
Dunkin’ took no action, so COK launched DunkinCruelty.com. You can protest the ongoing hen mistreatment by completing an email form.
Photo courtesy of DunkinCruelty.com
Read More:Caught on Tape: Hen Horrors
August 28th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Farm Aid is sponsoring a petition that calls on the U.S. government to suspend taxpayer funding of factory farms.
As the petition states:
Factory farms pose a real danger to our communities, our natural resources and the livelihood of hardworking family farmers. A current USDA program is funneling taxpayer money to fund new and bigger factory farm operations that lead to the gross overproduction of hogs and poultry. So much livestock is being churned out that it has caused a long-term depression of producer prices, forcing family farmers out of business.
The longer the USDA continues this misguided policy, the greater the threat to small farmers who are already being squeezed in this economy.
By signing the petition, you’ll add your name to a letter that will be sent to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. It urges the USDA “to suspend all direct or guaranteed farm ownership or operating loans for the construction or expansion of specialized hog or poultry production facilities.”
In other Farm Aid news, there’s still time to order tickets to the Oct. 4 concert in St. Louis, where performers like Jason Mraz, Dave Matthews, Neil Young and Willie Nelson will rock the house. And if you’re a photography buff, consider entering the Farm Fresh Pics photo contest; the winner will receive an expenses-paid trip and two front-row concert tickets.
Read More:Sign Farm Aid’s Petition Against Factory-Farm Funding