Wednesday, April 28, 2010

FDA Says "You may not eat the food of your choice."

The Untold Story of Milk: 
Green Pastures, Contented Cows and Raw Dairy ProductsFDA Steps Up Enforcement Against Raw Milk

On April 20, two FDA agents, two federal marshals and one state trooper descended on the Kinzer, Pennsylvania farm (Rainbow Acres) of Dan Allgyer to execute an administrative search warrant against Allgyer's premises. The group set foot on the farm at 5 a.m. to conduct the inspection even thoughthe warrant called for the inspection to take place "at reasonable times during reasonable business hours." The warrant allowed the FDA agents to inspect "all portions of Rainbow Acres facility (except for the private residence located therein) and all things therein, including all equipment, finished and unfinished materials, containers and labeling therein." The warrant also called for the "use of reasonable force" to gain entry to any area the agents were authorized to search.

Later that day after the agents reported their findings to officials at FDA's Philadelphia district office, Philadelphia District Director Kirk Sooter sent Allgyer a warning letter stating that FDA had determined that "you are causing to be delivered into interstate commerce, selling or
otherwise distributing raw milk in final package form for human consumption, such distribution is a violation of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, Title 42 United States Code, Section 264(a), and the implementing regulation codified in Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Section 1240.61(a)."

The regulation [21 CFR 1240.61(a)] issued by FDA in response to a 1988 court order provides, in part, that "no person shall cause to be delivered into interstate commerce or shall sell, otherwise distribute, or hold for sale or other distribution after shipment in interstate commerce any milk or milk product in final package form for direct human consumption unless the product has been pasteurized."

The statute [42 USC 264(a)] authorizing FDA to issue the regulation prohibiting raw milk for human consumption in interstate commerce provides, in part, "The Surgeon General, with the approval of the Secretary, is authorized to make and enforce such regulations as in his judgment are necessary to prevent the introduction, transmission, or spread of communicable diseases...from one state or possession into any other state orpossession." In FDA's view all raw milk is a communicable disease and is "adulterated"; so, a product that is legal to sell under the laws of two
neighboring states is a "communicable disease" and illegal when it crosses from one neighboring state into another. The federal ban on raw milk is a prohibition on a product that is legal to sell or distribute in at least twenty-nine (29) states and legal to consume in all fifty (50).


In spite of the booming demand for raw milk, FDA's position has not changed. The agency is at the center of the opposition to raw milk and wants a complete ban on the product's sale and distribution. In the Chicago area,the FDA has targeted for enforcement (one at a time) twenty (20) different buying clubs the agency suspects of having obtained raw milk from
out-of-state sources. FDA has a similar strategy for the states, with the plan being to pressure one state at a time to ban raw milk sales. If the food safety legislation currently before Congress passes, FDA will have increased leverage over the states so this threat will be greater; the agency does not have the manpower to conduct the inspections mandated by the food safety bill(s) and will in effect be putting state agriculture and health department employees on the federal payroll to carry out its workload.

In taking action against farms, like Rainbow Acres, whom FDA suspects of transporting raw milk across state lines, the agency is attempting to deny the people's right to obtain the food of their choice from the source of their choice. FDA allows Vioxx, Avandia, melamine, aspartame, and
genetically modified foods on the market but is now trying to take off the market a food that has benefited human health for thousands of years.

Interestingly, there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution nor in any Supreme Court decision that specifically mentions freedom of food choice. Freedom of food choice is 'the rights issue' of the twenty-first century; ultimately, consumers will be the ones to win the fight.

Raw milk is at the heart of the battle for food freedom. The key to securing the right to obtain raw milk from the source of choice is to overturn the federal ban; without the ban, FDA will not be able to put the pressure on states that it currently does to make raw milk sales and distribution illegal. Efforts are being made to overturn the ban. In February of this year, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit in federal district court seeking a court ruling that the federal ban is unconstitutional as applied to its members and other individual plaintiffs. Congressman Ron Paul last year introduced HR 778, a bill that would effectively overturn 21 CFR 1240.61.

Readers can do their part to help by contacting FDA and asking that the
agency not harass farmers like Dan Allgyer whom the agency suspects of
transporting raw milk across state lines. John F. Sheehan, the Director of FDA's Division of Plant and Dairy Food, is the official most responsible for carrying out FDA's agenda of completely banning the sale and distribution of raw milk. Sheehan has stated: "Raw milk should not be consumed by anyone, at any time, for any reason."

Call, fax and/or write Mr. Sheehan at the contact information provided below, telling him to leave Dan Allgyer alone. Here are some points to make:

1. FDA should respect the right of consumers to obtain the food of their choice.

2. FDA has no business trying to deny consumers the right to drink raw milk since consumption of raw milk is legal in all fifty states.

3. Consumers are perfectly capable of making food choices for themselves and their families and don't want FDA dictating what foods they should and should not consume.

4. If FDA has no choice but to "enforce the law" then the agency should advocate for overturning that law.

NOTE: FDA has never taken action against any individual obtaining raw milk for their own consumption from another State; but it is possible that FDA could interpret the ban to include prohibiting even consumers from crossing state lines to get raw milk. FTCLDF strongly disagrees with this interpretation and takes the position that people have the right to cross state lines to obtain the foods of their choice.

John F. Sheehan, Director
Div. of Plant and Dairy Food
Office of Food Safety
Bldg. CPK-1, Rm. 3D-055
5100 Paint Branch
College Park, MD 20740
Main phone for Office of Food Safety
1-301-436-1700 (If the receptionist refuses
to put you through to Mr. Sheehan, respectfully
leave a message.) Fax 1-301-436-1700
A sample letter to Mr. Sheehan can be found at

Pete Kennedy, Esq. - President 
Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund

Monday, April 26, 2010

Agriburbia - A Logical Step in Relocalizing Your Bioregion

While I might not have made the drawings exactly the same, I admire and support thinking that re-imagines combining farms with cities and suburbs. It's seems somehow blatantly obvious that this is a correct and fruitful way of meeting one's food needs without the costly energy of long distance shipping and schlepping of over-processed food by fuel-guzzling trucks and planes. Local food ought to be a primary aim of any sensibly relocalizing culture / economy. Let there be more examples.
From (magazine and website offer news viewed through the lens of "good").

Agriculture is the New Golf: Rethinking Suburban Communities

There is new movement to plan suburban communities around farms instead of golf courses. Can it catch on?

It has often been observed that suburbia is a place where the developer displaces animals and rips out trees, and then names the streets after them.
Whether you see that as destruction or reinvention, the tendency is nothing new. All of America was built on this sort of land transformation, some of it smart, much of it not. But the devastation wrought from decades of intervention by heavy equipment has manifested itself in a range of ills from economic collapse to loss of biodiversity. So today we’re faced with a strange scenario: Our relentless pursuit of the American Dream now has us scrambling for a return to Eden.
“We’re at a watershed in terms of reaching the limits of sustainability both environmentally  [and in] time and expense,” says June Williamson, coauthor with Ellen Dunham-Jones of Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs. “There are many dynamics pushing and encouraging a rethinking of our development patterns. The opportunity is there to reshape those settings in a way that will reflect changing demographics, recognize climate change, and acknowledge the need for new suburban development patterns.”
Look at Google Maps images of any platted but unbuilt or unfinished subdivision—all remaining evidence of what stood before erased, replaced with flattened house lots with nothing on them, paved streets including curvy cul-de-sacs, and even street signs, but no signs of life—and you’ll understand the impulse to do things differently. According the American Farmland Trust, more than 6 million acres of agricultural land in the United States were lost to development between 1992 and 1997 alone. Consider that many of those acres were lost to developments that never saw the light of day. Is it too late to restore that acreage? And is it possible that agriculture could be suburbia’s best hope?
Well, sort of. It’s not as if Orange County, California, despite its dire decline in home values, is going to revert back to acres of orange groves. But around the country, there’s a growing interest in looking at the ways agriculture might help retrofit ailing suburbs and cities, and offer an alternative way of thinking about new developments. Growing Power, run by the urban farming expert, MacArthur Foundation “genius,” and GOOD 100 honoree Will Allen, has already demonstrated the potential of urban (and suburban) farming with six greenhouses on nearly two acres of land in Milwaukee as well as a 40-acre rural farm 45 minutes away in the suburb of Merton. And in Detroit, the entrepreneur John Hantz is moving forward with an ambitious but controversial plan to build the world’s largest urban farm—and with it, create green jobs, help the environment, and supply food to the region.
In cities, agriculture might be able to take the place of vacant lots. And in suburbia? Well, in 2008, the New Urbanism evangelist AndrĂ©s Duany, of Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company (DPZ), architects and town planners, proclaimed that “agriculture is the new golf,” a prescient and deliberately provocative claim that is helping frame the conversation about suburbia’s future. “Only 17 percent of people living in golf-course communities play golf more than once a year. Why not grow food?”
Why not indeed? While we may have a way to go before we achieve a reality of agricultural urbanism, Duany’s idea seems increasingly reasonable: that we design around agriculture just as golf communities were designed around courses. (Though even the most fervent fan of farming might concede the disparity in cachet between bogeying and back-hoeing.)
The opportunity to design a development from scratch is rare in this period of housing-market implosion. So DPZ is exploring how it might improve upon existing scenarios to assimilate agriculture in ways that are palatable to our contemporary lives, ranging from vertical farms to individual window boxes. Because as attractive as the idea of suburban agriculture is, it’s not quite that simple. Residents may clamor for a house overlooking a pristine green; the realities of farming (smell, flying dust, muck, etc.) demand greater separation between land and house. 

That was just one of the challenges facing the planners from the architecture and land-planning firm Hart Howerton when it was approached by California’s Solano County, a region that already had the agriculture but couldn’t figure out how to create a community within it. In recent years, the region, once blooming with cherry orchards, has been overrun with gas stations and fast-food restaurants. The county hoped Hart Howerton could help it solve a long-standing conflict between the open space desired by neighbors and development rights desired by landowners. Many of those landowners were farmers whose livelihoods had vanished and who had no option but to sell to the highest bidder, resulting in what the architect Brendan Kelly describes as “crap development. You know, the  sort of ‘take a nice orchard and turn it into Stonebridge/Meritage/Quail Run’ crap. If nothing was done lands would remain fallow.”

In Solano, Kelly and his colleague Amie MacPhee created a plan for a clustered rural community that marries innovation with deeply rooted farming patterns. The big idea here is that they’ve retrofitted not buildings but the typical pattern of development: The existing agricultural land is clustered into a 1,400-acre plot, while the rest of the community is preserved open lands, habitat preservation, and a village of 400 homes at the center. A land conservancy, partially funded by a percentage of home sales, would provide a mechanism with which to manage and monitor the land. As MacPhee explains, “Agriculture is an amenity. You can’t just wish for it, you have to support it.”
MacPhee and Kelly believe that the local community embraced their plan in large part because, as MacPhee explains, “We got to design this without a developer over our shoulder, and that helped us break out of any conventional practice.” Developers—and the banks that fund them—are decidedly risk-averse, and their hesitancy to commit to anything unknown is one of the major obstacles deterring all but the status quo in suburban design. MacPhee and Kelly are convinced that their project for Solano will “pencil out” for developers: “If agriculture is the new golf,” says Kelly, “then this plan is a fabulous 72-hole resort.”
In Colorado, a planner and farmer named Matthew “Quint” Redmond has found that to be true. He is working on a similar suburban re-envisioning, with his own version of house-meets-farm that he’s calling “agriburbia.” Marketing his efforts with the tag line “Growing sustainable communities by the bushel!,” Redmond recalls being laughed out of the room for a similar idea back in 2003, though developers now seem to be taking him more seriously. New developments, such as the 3,000-acre Sterling Ranch in Colorado, typically mix housing, commercial development, and significant acreage dedicated to professionally farmed land that will provide produce to the neighborhood as well as the larger region.

Redmond’s vision of agriculture-based development is notable not just for the farming itself but for its mention of a secure food supply in the marketing materials. As concerns around food health and safety continue to make their way into national discussions, a community that produces a trusted food source is a community in possession of a meaningful market differentiator.
“The issue of where your food comes from is disturbing to everyone,” says the activist and architect Fritz Haeg, whose Edible Estates project has urged homeowners to take back their lawns and replace them with edible landscaping. “When my aunt in Omaha is aware of these issues, I know it’s taken off.”
Even in its infancy, it appears that this model might help new development, which is at a relative standstill these days. But how viable is it for the communities that are already here, whether built, partially completed, or abandoned? Peachtree Lane or Chipmunk Court may have been farmland once, but is thinking about returning to that little more than a bucolic fantasy?
Not necessarily, says Galina Tachieva of DPZ. “Almost every project we’ve done is looking at ways to incorporate food production, in both urban and suburban settings,” she says. DPZ has several projects that have been retrofitted to some degree to include agricultural urbanism, including the New Town at St. Charles in Missouri, and Sky in Florida, where land is preserved and sustainable building is encouraged in a predominately rural (and formerly agricultural) community.
But agricultural urbanism is not a cure-all for what ails suburbia. After all, not all suburbs are created equal. “If you’re thinking about remaking suburbia you have to recognize the patterns we have today,” says Egon Terplan, the regional planning director of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association. “You can’t treat suburbia in a monolithic way.”
Alex Steffen, the executive editor of Worldchanging, agrees. “We have to get smarter about suburban taxonomy: Inner-ring suburbs—with relatively dense single-family neighborhoods and semi-auto-dependent cores, within easy transit reach of a central city—are in a completely different position than outer-ring suburbia, with its big houses on large lots, cul-de-sacs, and arterials planning, and long drives to get anywhere. In the inner ring, it’s not that hard to imagine adding lots of infill development and new transportation infrastructure to make livable, fairly walkable, much more sustainable communities.”

But “visions of subdivisions turned nicely into habitat and farms,” Steffen believes, “are delusional.” The outer rings of suburbs, especially those recently built “with funny loans at the far edges of sunbelt cities, are probably just destined to become the ruins of the unsustainable.”
The opinions are as different as the kinds of suburbs, and it’s an understanding of difference that will inspire creative solutions to how to retrofit suburbia. Says Williamson, who also teaches architecture at the City College of New York/CUNY: “Local conditions will drive retrofitting.”
That focus on local solutions inspired the creation of Tachieva’s forthcoming book of techniques, The Sprawl Repair Manual. The book will offer pragmatic solutions by scale and type, from the big picture (which would include addressing transportation, employment, and green space) to the individual block (how a street lined with McMansions can gain population density with little intervention if townhouses and senior housing are added). It’s painstakingly detailed because it will take just that level of hand-holding to bring about real change.
But will lenders, builders, and developers see the big picture? “I think developers well understand that things need to change—that when the economy comes back it will be different,” says Tachieva. “The majority of leaders, politicians, and planners know that things will be different. It’s not possible to do the same from a financial point of view.”
“I’m optimistic,” says Williamson. “But it won’t happen tomorrow. It took us fifty or sixty years to 
get where we are today, and it will take us that long to fix it.”
This article first appeared in GOOD Issue 19: The Neighborhoods Issue. You can read more from the issue here, or find out what it's all about by reading the introduction.

Paintings by Carrie Marill, courtesy of Jen Bekman Gallery.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Story Told in Sand

Have a (full screen) look at this amazing young Ukranian woman's work...
This video shows the winner of " Ukraine 's Got Talent", Kseniya Simonova, 24,  drawing a series of pictures on an illuminated sand  table showing how ordinary people were affected by the German invasion during World War II.  Her talent, which admittedly is a strange one, is mesmerizing to watch.   The images, projected onto a large screen, moved many in the audience to tears and she won the top prize of about $130,000.00
She begins by creating a scene showing a couple sitting holding hands on a bench under a starry sky, but then warplanes appear and the happy scene is obliterated.
It is replaced by a woman's face crying, but then a baby arrives and the woman smiles again. Once again war returns and Miss Simonova throws the sand into chaos from which a young woman's face appears.   She quickly becomes an old widow, her face wrinkled and sad, before the image turns into a monument to an Unknown Soldier.
This outdoor scene becomes framed by a window as if the viewer is looking out on the monument from within a house.
In the final scene, a mother and child appear inside and a man standing outside, with his hands pressed against the glass, saying goodbye.
The Great Patriotic War, as it is called in  Ukraine, resulted in one in four of the population being killed with eight to 11 million deaths out of a population of 42 million.
Kseniya Simonova says: "I find it difficult enough to create art using paper and pencils or paintbrushes, but using sand and fingers is beyond me. The art, especially when the war is used as the subject matter, even brings some audience members to tears. And there's surely no bigger compliment."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Left-Wing Icon: America Is Still Headed Towards Fascism Under Obama

Are liberals finally starting to understand the real enemy – the two party monopoly?
Left Wing Icon: America Is Still Headed Towards Fascism Under Obama
Paul Joseph Watson
Thursday, April 1, 2010
When left-wing icon Naomi Wolf warned that America was heading towards fascism under George W. Bush, characterized by illegal surveillance, arbitrary detention of suspects, and paramilitary martial law, she was lauded, but when she continued to issue the same warning as a result of Obama’s failure to reverse any of those policies, many on the left abandoned support for her.
However, as Wolf’s recent interview with leftist website Alternet makes plain, liberals may finally be starting to understand that both political parties in Washington are part of the problem, not the solution.
Alternet writer Justine Sharrock seems to be struggling to come to terms with the fact that Naomi Wolf’s rhetoric now very much echoes that of Alex Jones and many aspects of the Tea Party movement, an uncomfortable quandary for leftist media outlets, many of whom have acted as obedient echo chambers for the corporate media in demonizing grassroots populists as extremists and even domestic terrorists.
“She speaks their language, referring to the Founding Fathers and American Revolution as models, admitting to a profound sense of fear, warning of tyranny, fascism, Nazism and martial law. When Glenn Beck warns of these things we laugh. When Wolf draws those same connections, we listen. How can both sides be speaking the same language, yet see things so differently?” asks Sharrock.
The reason, as Wolf outlines, is the fact that Obama has preserved, institutionalized, and even expanded the very same policies that led to the left comparing George W. Bush to Hitler, a comparison which now, when made with Obama, is taboo, racist and an example of “fringe beliefs” according to the establishment media.
“Bush legalized torture, but Obama is legalizing impunity. He promised to roll stuff back, but he is institutionalizing these things forever. It is terrifying and the left doesn’t seem to recognize it,” responds Wolf, adding that making comparisons between Obama and historical dictators should not be off limits when he is following similar tyrannical policies.
“Obama has done things like Hitler did,” states Wolf. “Let me be very careful here. The National Socialists rounded people up and held them without trial, signed legislation that gave torture impunity, and spied on their citizens, just as Obama has. It isn’t a question of what has been done that Hitler did. It’s what does every dictator do, on the left or the right, that is being done here and now. The real fight isn’t left or right but between forces of democracy across the spectrum and the forces of tyranny.”
And that’s what the left-wing needs to understand if true freedom is ever going to be restored in America. As Wolf touches upon in the interview, the left is brilliant at going up against the tyranny of the state, but only when a Republican is in office. As , soon as a Democrat gets in, liberals suddenly prostrate themselves in obedience and join the chorus in attacking any dissenters as radical-right wing extremists who should have their speech taken away, blissfully ignorant of the fact that those very same laws will then be used to silence their free speech when the oval office rotates back to a Republican once again.
Leftists are so prone to flip-flopping and becoming statists when a Democrat gets in office because they associate their own ego and political power with politicians, a foolish misjudgment in light of the fact that politicians stopped representing anything other than their own crooked interests decades ago. As Wolf emphasizes, “Frankly, liberals are out of the habit of communicating with anyone outside their own in cohort. We have a cultural problem with self-righteousness and elitism….We look down on people we don’t agree with. It doesn’t serve us well.”
“I was basically saying don’t sit around waiting for the two corrupted established parties to restore the Constitution or the Republic. The founding generation was birthed by the rabble of all walks of life that got fed up and did risky things because they were captivated by the breath of liberty. There is a looming oligarchy and it is up to the people to organize a grassroots movement and push back,” states Wolf, outlining why she shares many of the same principles embraced by the Tea Party, while warning that huge chunks of the movement have obviously been hijacked by Republican operatives.
Wolf, who admits that her “cultural heritage is FDR and Medicare and federal government solutions,” now expresses her support for the logic behind the states’ rights movement, a grassroots project mainly driven by libertarians and Ron Paul supporters.
“If you think through the analysis, strengthening state rights is a good corrective of the aggregation of an over-reaching federal power. Take California’s challenge of the Patriot Act or states like Vermont leading the way with addressing the corruption of the voting system. It’s a good example of the Tea Party thinking out of the box on how to address a problem,” states Wolf.
The interview ends with Wolf warning of the fact that concerns about martial law are now more prescient than ever.
“I think we have gone very far down that road. I met Muslim immigrants in Brooklyn who were swept up in 9-11 raids, held in abusive conditions, beaten, denied rights. That’s how things started in Germany. Guantanamo was modeled after what Stalin developed for the Gulag. Why are we engaged in psychological denial that it’s not a concentration camp? In terms of martial law, my god. Since the book came out they deployed a brigade in the U.S. and suspended the Posse Comitatus Act. There is no question that it’s something to take seriously. People have a histrionic view of what martial law will look like.”