Posts filed under ‘Food’

California’s Snowpack at 19% of Normal

Yikes.  This is such bad news for plants and animals (including we human animals) insofar as California went into this year in a dire drought situation to begin with.  This chart represents ground water values from 1962 to roughly the present:

Cal Ground Water via

(Image via

More info and a larger, more readable version of this chart here.

I’m thinking a spike in food prices and all kinds of potential cascading ramifications.

April 19, 2014 at 5:48 PM Leave a comment

Homemade Tartar Sauce — Eat it With Just About Everything

A few weeks ago I made Andrew Zimmern’s homemade tartar sauce. I don’t remember what I made that compelled me to do that but it was probably because I can’t stand flavorless, slimy, store-bought tartar sauce anymore.  It ain’t worth the money, imho.  Oh, and at the food bank the other month I stocked some jars of tartar sauce that had “settled” (I don’t remember the brand).  The jars were at least one-third oil.  It grossed me out.

I made another batch of his tartar sauce today to have on fish fillet sandwiches I’m making tonight for the hubby and I.  Onion burger buns, sliced tomatoes, Romaine lettuce and a bunch of homemade tartar sauce.  It’s great on burgers too and of course fried calamari and clams.

Here’s a pic and here’s the recipe.

I want to dive in!

Homemade Tartar Sauce Andrew Zimmern

I’m at the point where I want to try it on almost anything.

Oh, and by the way, I didn’t have sweet pickles the first time I made it so I used sweet relish.  I didn’t have any tarragon either but it was delicious nonetheless.

Try it.  You’ll never buy store-bought tartar sauce again which is as it should be — we shouldn’t pay good money for some of the crap they try to pawn off on us.

April 12, 2014 at 5:56 PM Leave a comment

Imagine Spending Your Life in a Gestational Crate

From the Humane Society of the United States:


I think it’s wrong that the HUHS made light of, and joked about, gestational crates in this video (we can handle serious stuff people, can’t we!?) but hey, it’s better than nothing.

April 9, 2014 at 7:29 PM Leave a comment

Baby Food Sure Ain’t What it Used to Be

I’m back from my volunteer job at the Emergency Family Assistance Association‘s food bank, something I do every Friday morning. The place was in good shape; the canned food shelves were full as was the cooler (we even had butter, which is a rarity) and the fresh produce bins were gorgeous.

We were very busy for about 90 minutes but there was a lull just before I left at noon so I wandered around and noticed that the baby food shelf was a little bare.  I went to the storage area and pulled out a few boxes and proceeded to put the squeeze bottles inside on the shelf….and then I started paying more attention to what I was putting out:

Baby food at FEAA

(Image via

“Chicken Risotto & Portabella Mushrooms” puree?  Woah.  Not your father’s baby food, that’s for damn sure.


April 4, 2014 at 3:07 PM 1 comment

We the People Win a Round in the Food Labeling War

Food Label via Wikimedia Commons

Hey Americans, we won a tiny round last week in the war to know more about the food we eat via labeling:

In its relatively brief but potentially exceedingly important opinion in American Meat Institute v. United States Dep’t of Agriculture, the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a meat labeling rule requiring increased specificity.

As the court explained, the 2013 rule regarding country of origin newly required the “production step,” so that instead of saying, “Product of the United States,” a label for Category A meat will now read, “Born, Raised, and Slaughtered in the United States.” Similarly, Category B meat might now have to be labeled, “Born in X, Raised and Slaughtered in the United States,” and Category C meat “Born and Raised in X, Slaughtered in the United States.”

The meat producers argued that the new rule exceeded statutory authority and that it violated the First Amendment.  They sought a preliminary injunction which the district judge denied.


Again, it’s a tiny victory but hey, it’s nice to get some good news for a change.


March 31, 2014 at 1:38 PM Leave a comment

The US is Letting its “Bread Basket” Die

San Joaquin Valley wikipmedia commons

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Climate change is happening fast in the United States but state and federal governments are so dysfunctional they’re unable to respond.  Chaos reigns. Central California’s San Joaquin Valley is an example.  It’s referred to as America’s “bread basket” but it’s literally being sucked dry.   And no, I’m not a drama queen blogger high on Cheetos:

When water doesn’t fall from the sky or flow from reservoirs, there’s only one place to find it: underground. So, three years into a devastating drought, thirsty Californians are draining the precious aquifer beneath the nation’s most productive farmland like never before, pitting neighbor against neighbor in a perverse race to the bottom.

The rush to drill is driven not just by historically dry conditions, but by a host of other factors that promote short-term consumption over long-term survival — new, more moisture-demanding crops; improved drilling technologies; and a surge of corporate investors seeking profits for agricultural ventures.

Now those forces are renewing an age-old problem of environmental degradation: Decades ago, overpumping sunk half of the entire San Joaquin Valley, in one area as much as 28 feet. Today new areas are subsiding, some almost a foot each year, damaging bridges and vital canals.

Yet in California, one of the few states that doesn’t regulate how much water can be pumped from underground, even this hasn’t been enough to create a consensus to stop.

“It’s our savings account, and we’re draining it,” said Phil Isenberg of the Public Policy Institute of California, a former Sacramento mayor and assemblyman. “At some point, there will be none left.”


I recommend reading the whole article.  Growers are plowing hundreds of thousands of dollars into drilling wells and well drilling companies are booked 12 months out.  Well permits have tripled this year over last, and this year is only three months old.  What’s happening there is a not-so-slow-motion catastrophe the corporate media will talk about — and people will know about — when it’s too late.


March 30, 2014 at 7:35 PM Leave a comment

GMO Corn: The Bugs Will Win In the End

Adult Stage Western corn rootworm via commons.wikimeida

Adult Stage Western Corn Rootworm (Image via

We humans are stupid to think we can outsmart bugs who have the ability to mutate and adapt much faster than we give them credit for:

One of agricultural biotechnology’s great success stories may become a cautionary tale of how short-sighted mismanagement can squander the benefits of genetic modification.

After years of predicting it would happen — and after years of having their suggestions largely ignored by companies, farmers and regulators — scientists have documented the rapid evolution of corn rootworms that are resistant to Bt corn.

Until Bt corn was genetically altered to be poisonous to the pests, rootworms used to cause billions of dollars in damage to U.S. crops. Named for the pesticidal toxin-producing Bacillus thuringiensis gene it contains, Bt corn now accounts for three-quarters of the U.S. corn crop.


First planted in 1996, Bt corn quickly became hugely popular among U.S. farmers. Within a few years, populations of rootworms and corn borers, another common corn pest, had plummeted across the midwest. Yields rose and farmers reduced their use of conventional insecticides that cause more ecological damage than the Bt toxin.


In the new paper, Gassmann describes further incidents of Bt resistance in other parts of Iowa. He also found rootworms resistant to a second variety of Bt corn. Moreover, being resistant to one variety heightened the chances of resistance to another. That means corn engineered to produce multiple Bt toxins — so-called stacked varieties — won’t do much to slow the evolution of rootworm resistance, as was originally hoped.


Shorter:  Rootworms have figured out a way around Bt corn and they’ve begun destroying corn crops in Iowa again.  Farmers don’t want to do the “hard” thing, i.e., rotate the fields they plant their corn on — i.e. crop rotation (Remember that old fashioned thing?  Hello!) — which has been proven to work against rootworms:

Breaks in the corn cycle naturally disrupt rootworm populations, but the approach fell from favor as the high price of corn made continuous planting appealing. “Continuous corn is the perfect habitat for rootworm,” said Gassmann.

Greed rears its ugly head again.

I predict we’re heading toward more and “better” GMO corn.  The thing is, rootworms will become resistant to that version too.  We can alter this seed and that seed and pour chemicals on fields all we want but Mother Nature will win in the end.  It’s about time we got off our high horse and accepted that.  But will we?  Sadly, probably not.

March 21, 2014 at 5:33 PM Leave a comment

Weird New Sweetener Coming to a Soda Near You

Sugar via Wikimedia Commons

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

As if we need more reason to get Americans addicted to soda, a biotechnology company has just introduced a way for that to happen. California-based Senomyx has just announced that it is licensing a new “sweetness enhancer” called Sweetmyx exclusively to Pepsi and that it will start being used in soft drinks as early as this year.


When Senomyx first announced that Sweetmyx would be commercialized, it relased a statement saying, “Sweetmyx has been determined to be Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) under the provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, administered by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

Shortly afterwards, the FDA issued a rebuke to the company stating that “the agency had not made this determination nor had it been notified by Senomyx regarding a GRAS determination for this food ingredient.”

Why the confusion? Sweetmyx is considered a flavor ingredient, which means that it doesn’t need to go through any sort of FDA approval process to get to market. These flavor ingredients can be evaluated by an independent third party and, if they meets that body’s criteria, that third-party evaluator gives it GRAS status and doesn’t even need to notify the FDA that the ingredient has passed muster. In this case, the third party is the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association of the United States, an organization made up of flavor manufacturers and other industry members.


Manufacturers get to decide whether food additives are safe or not. Manufacturers get to decide whether to bother to tell the FDA the additives are in the food supply, and even if they do. Manufacturers get to decide who sits on the panels that review the evidence for safety.”


It sounds like the food industry’s lobbyists earned their money big time in setting up how these rules work, huh?  What an unbelievable racket and as usual, the looser isssssss:  You and me!

Anyway, this is another reason to stay away from sweet things.  You never know what’s making the sweet thing sweet because manufacturers can lump weird sweeteners like this new on under the term, “artificial flavors.” Don’t expect to see “Sweetmyx” on a label any time soon.

What a mess.

March 21, 2014 at 3:40 PM Leave a comment

Bees Are Smart

I swear, we so underestimate the intelligence of every single animal below us:

Bees Capable of Learning Feats with Tasty Prize in Sight

They may have tiny brains, but bumblebees are capable of some remarkable learning feats, especially when they might get a tasty reward, according to two studies by University of Guelph researchers.


The researchers presented bees with a series of artificial flowers that required ever-more challenging strategies, such as moving objects aside or upwards, to gain a sugar syrup reward.

When inexperienced bees encountered the most complex flower first, they were unable to access the syrup reward and stopped trying. Bees allowed to progress through increasingly complex flowers were able to navigate the most difficult ones.


She and Kevan consider the study an example of scaffold learning, a concept normally restricted to human psychology in which learners move through increasingly complex steps.

In a second study recently published in Psyche, the researchers found bees learned by watching and communicating with other bees, a process called social learning.


Good reason to respect the humble bumble bee.  Oh, and here’s another one:  They have a lot to do with feeding us.  We’d better take care of them:

Bees Taking Us With them via IrinaGreenVoice on Twitter



March 18, 2014 at 5:14 PM Leave a comment

France Says Not So Fast Monsanto

France via Wikipedia

(Image via Wikipedia)

Make it permanent France!

On Saturday, France’s agriculture ministry temporarily banned the sale, use and cultivation of Monsanto’s MON 810 genetically engineered (GE) corn—the only variety that had been authorized in the European Union (EU).

France’s reinstatement of its previous ban of Monsanto’s controversial genetically engineered crop … is another encouraging sign that the biotech industry’s iron grip on foreign government’s is slipping and that resistance to these flawed products is continuing to take hold,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!.

The decision was strategically timed to block the seasonal planting of Monsanto’s corn by French farmers before a draft law is debated on April 10, which is aimed at banning the cultivation of foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

“The sale, use and cultivation of varieties of [Monsanto's corn seed] … is banned in the country until the adoption, on the one hand, of a final decision, and secondly, of European Union community action,” a French decree stated.

The annual planting of corn in France typically gets under way in the second half of March.


Things like this can happen when politicians aren’t wholly owned corporate puppets like they are here in the U.S.


March 18, 2014 at 1:04 PM Leave a comment

What’s for Breakfast?

Here’s a peppy little video from Buzzfeed showing typical breakfast food in countries around the world.  Check out the UK’s.


March 13, 2014 at 8:58 AM Leave a comment

Yes Really: Hot Dog Pancakes

Aye yie yie.

Unfortunately they’re probably delicious but the last thing I need is a new way to crave hot dogs more than I already do.  I love them (and bacon).

Hot Dog Pancakes via Fooddiggity

(Image via







March 12, 2014 at 11:18 AM 1 comment

List: Yoga Mat Material Found in Nearly 500 Foods

Yoga Mats via Wikimedia commons

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

You probably heard that azodicarbonamide, the industrial chemical foaming agent used to make yoga mats (and other things), was found in bread served at Subway a few weeks ago.  Un.  Believable.  Where in the hell is the Food and Drug Administration?  (Yeah, I know.  In bed with food and drug makers.)

Anyway, I guess it’s the wild, wild, west around here and it’s up to each one of us to protect ourselves against this insanity so thanks to Rodale News for publishing a list of the 500 foods that contain that ingredient.

Here it is.  Check it out.  It’s very well organized and easy to use.   In a word or two, don’t eat prepared pastries or flour products (like pizza crust).

February 28, 2014 at 5:19 PM Leave a comment


Bacon wrapped fried Snicker’s bar.

Bacon Wrapped Snicker's Bar

(Image via Matt Waite on Twitter)

Aye yie yie.  That’ll kill ya.

February 22, 2014 at 4:23 PM Leave a comment

Bravo to Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizza in Tucson, Arizona!

I love this:

Rocco's Little Chicago Pizza

(Image via


Arizona Pizzeria Refuses to Serve Legislators

In the wake of Arizona’s legislature recently passing a law that allows for discrimination (under the guise of religious freedom), a pizzeria in Tucson has decided that it will no longer serve Arizona legislators.

Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizza is taking a stand against the politicians who have voted in favor of Senate Bill 1062 which gives Arizona business owners the right to deny service to gays and others on the basis of religious freedom.

On Thursday the pizzeria posted a photo to its Facebook page (seen above) along with the message “”Funny how just being decent is starting to seem radical these days.”

“A customer posted the sign to my Facebook feed, so I printed it up and laminated it,” owner Anthony Rocco DiGrazia told The Huffington Post Friday (via Facebook). “The response has been overwhelming and almost all positive from across the globe. I just want to serve dinner and own and work in a place I’m proud of. Opening the door to government-sanctioned discrimination, regardless of why, is a huge step in the wrong direction. Thanks for all the support.”


If you want to send a note of support to Rocco, the address is

Good move guys!


February 22, 2014 at 10:18 AM Leave a comment

What is “Hispanic-Style” Cheese?

Hispanic Cheese

One of the images I got when I Googled “Hispanic cheese”

Yet another so-called “news” item that doesn’t tell readers anything:

One Dead, Seven Sickened in Listeria Outbreak Linked to Cheese

One person has died and three newborns have become ill in an outbreak of listeria linked to Hispanic-style cheese.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that the death occurred in California. Seven additional illnesses were reported in Maryland.

All of the Maryland victims reported eating soft or semi-soft Hispanic-style cheese that they purchased at different locations of the same grocery store chain. Listeria was later detected in a sample of Caujada en Terron, or fresh cheese curd, purchased at that chain.

The CDC says three of the victims are newborns. Two of those ill are mothers of two of the ill newborns.


This is a case of rushing to publish so-called breaking news before the facts are known.  Or maybe it’s a case of not caring about facts.


What is “Hispanic-style cheese?”  Could ya’ll narrow that down a bit?

Expiration dates and production codes would be greatly appreciated.

Is “Caujada en Terron” a brand of cheese or a type of cheese?

Aye yie yie.  When oh when will we get a better media?


February 21, 2014 at 7:40 PM 1 comment

How About a Hamburger With Slices of Pepperoni Pizza for the “Bun?”

A lot of people are spending a lot of time coming up with the most outrageously fatty foods imaginable.  Here’s the latest entry:

Pizza Burger via

(Image via

The professional stunt-burger makers at Philadelphia’s PYT — who have deep-fried everything from twinkes to lasagna in an effort to rid the world of its normal hamburger bun problem — are back at it. This time around, PYT owner Tommy Up heads to the grocery freezer case for a couple slices of Ellio’s Pizza (pepperoni flavor), which are breaded, deep-fried, and used for buns.


I don’t think this puppy is complete without three or four slices of bacon. ;)


February 13, 2014 at 11:03 AM 1 comment

For Valentine’s Day: Bacon Roses!

Hey, sweet hubby, this is what I want for Valentine’s Day:

February 12, 2014 at 12:36 PM Leave a comment

“Natural” Foods? “We Can Put the ‘Natural’ Label on Pretty Much Anything”

What does it mean when a food is labeled, “Natural?”  Let’s just say it doesn’t mean what they want us to think it means.

“The False Advertising Industry” reveals the shocking truth about what is allowed in “Natural” food. Only the USDA Organic Seal guarantees your food contains no Genetically Modified Organisms, no toxic pesticides, and no growth hormones or antibiotics.


February 6, 2014 at 6:35 PM Leave a comment

Think People Who Go to Food Banks Gave it Good?

UPDATED below @8:59 p.m. EDT 1-28-14.

Last week, while doing my usual Friday morning volunteer job at our local food bank, I was straightening out the snack and treat area when I came across some Pop Tart-type desserts called “Zippy Cakes.”  We had a whole box of them — probably 30 or 40 — and as I was rearranging them I noticed how squishy they felt and how wet they looked.

I’d never heard of “Zippy Cakes” before so I decided to take a closer look at the ingredients, but I began by looking at the nutritional breakdown and my eyes just about bugged out of my head.  The total fat content (I know the photo below is hard, if not impossible to read…sorry) was 39% and the first ingredient wasn’t flour, it was “fractionated palm oil and cottonseed oil.”  The second ingredient was sugar.  It isn’t until we get to the third ingredient that we get to flour, which one would think would be the first ingredient in anything called a “cake.”

Zippie Fat Dognuts

So the first two ingredients are oils and the third is sugar.  Disgusting.

According to Dr. Andrew Weil,

Fractionation is a further phase of palm oil processing, designed to extract and concentrate specific fatty acid fractions. Fractionated palm oil, as found in food products, has a higher concentration of saturated fat than regular palm oil and is used for the convenience of manufacturers who like its stability and melting characteristics. The healthful aspects of natural palm oil are largely lost in the process.

So, bottom line, a friend and I tossed all those “Zippy Cakes” into the trash.  Just because people are forced to get their food from a food bank, doesn’t mean they should have to eat garbage — fatty, sugary junk with no nutritional value whatsoever.

Again, disgusting.  Products like “Zippy Cakes” shouldn’t be allowed to be made, at least with those ingredients and with that much fat.  I read somewhere a while back that we shouldn’t eat any one thing with a fat content higher than 7%.


Woohah.  I just found the wrapper I took the screenshot of (above) in my printer.  Per the “Nutrition Facts” on the back, the “total fat” content of these Zippys is 38 grams or 58% of the “Daily Value.”  Saturated fat?  21 grams or 105% of the “Daily Value.”  Sodium:  320 mgs.  Carbs:  52 grams.

Eat one of these Zippy puppies per day and that’s it.  Nothing else.

January 23, 2014 at 3:38 PM Leave a comment

Mozzarella: The #1 Cheese in the U.S.

Americans eat more Mozzarella than any other cheese:Cheese via

For the second year in a row, Mozzarella has taken the title as the most available cheese in America according to the U.S.D.A., beating out cheddar by just a few slices. More notable than mozzarella solidifying it’s status as top cheese is America’s increasing willingness to down the stuff.


I can’t think of a more boring, flavorless cheese than Mozzarella.

January 20, 2014 at 2:40 PM Leave a comment

The Most Scathing Restaurant Review Ever

Villard Michel Richard .com

(Image via

Pete Wells, the New York Time‘s restaurant critic is out with a scathing, but oh-so-fun-to-read, restaurant review of Michel Richard’s new New York restaurant, Villard Michel Richard in midtown Manhattan.

According to Wells,

Michel Richard has been one of the most respected chefs in this country since the 1980s. Settling in Washington, he gave the city a restaurant, Citronelle, that earned national fame. Michel Richard was serious. He would not have come to New York last fall to open an awful hotel restaurant.

It gets worse:

Think of everything that’s great about fried chicken. Now take it all away. In its place, right between dried-out strands of gray meat and a shell of fried bread crumbs, imagine a gummy white paste about a quarter-inch deep. This unidentifiable paste coats your mouth until you can’t perceive textures or flavors. It is like edible Novocain.

What Villard Michel Richard’s $28 fried chicken does to Southern cooking, its $40 veal cheek blanquette does to French. A classic blanquette is a gentle, reassuring white stew of sublimely tender veal. In this version, the veal cheeks had the dense, rubbery consistency of overcooked liver. Slithering around the meat was a terrifying sauce the color of jarred turkey gravy mixed with cigar ashes. If soldiers had killed Escoffier’s family in front of him and then forced him to make dinner, this is what he would have cooked.

Yes, Villard Michel Richard is, in fact, an awful hotel restaurant. But it still didn’t make any sense. Was Mr. Richard not the chef I had thought?

Maybe.  Maybe not.  The problem may be accomplished chefs who lend their name to cheapened, commercialized restaurants that bank on their name, not on their food.

Villard Michel Richard may be a symptom of the deal-making culture that afflicts the restaurant business. Too many chefs are being tempted with too many offers from too many developers and investors. Hotels especially know that a famous name lures travelers, who won’t realize until it’s too late that the food being served has nothing in common with the cooking that made the name famous.

Opening a restaurant used to be a brutal process, and for many chefs it still is. If you’ve spent your own money and borrowed from your friends and family, you’re too scared to slack off. But the best-known chefs don’t have to worry about this anymore. It’s become much easier for them to open restaurants. Maybe it’s too easy, because running one is still as hard as ever.


Poor Michel Richard.  I’m sure he’s having a very bad day but maybe he’ll learn something from this, as in, the restaurant biz, reputation is everything.

(P.S.  What is that in the photo?  A scallop on a bed of greens with beets and Bermuda onions?  Fried cheese on a bed of greens with beets and Bermuda onions?  The website doesn’t say but hey, either way, I think I could make that which is not what I want when I go out to dinner.  I want something I can’t make!)

January 14, 2014 at 6:46 PM Leave a comment

Jack Kingston (R-GA): Against Lunch Programs for Poor Kids But For Lunch Programs for His Staff

What’s that saying?  When you have one finger pointed at someone else you have four fingers pointed at yourself?

Serious question:  How do these guys sleep at night?

Jack Kingston R-GA via Wikipedia

(Image via Wikipedia.)

Georgia GOPer Attacking Free School Lunch Expensed $4,200 In Meals

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) warned that there’s “no such thing as free lunch” for school children in Georgia, but he seems to have enjoyed a few.

An investigation by Georgia’s WSAV channel 3 found that Kingston, who is currently running for Senate and recently suggested students work cleaning cafeterias in exchange for lunch, had expensed as much as $4,182 worth of lunches for his office over the past three years.


January 10, 2014 at 7:59 PM Leave a comment

Vegans “Stay at Home Crying and Drinking”

This is pretty funny:

British Butcher Rant against Vegans via Buzzfeed

(Image via Buzzfeed)

December 31, 2013 at 1:09 PM 1 comment

Republicans Kick a Million+ Lazy Ass Americans Off Their Unemployment Insurance

Got that?  Earlier this month, Republicans refused to extend unemployment insurance to more than a million Americans because they’re lazy a++holes and if we coddle them they’ll just keep on keepin’ on sucking the tit of the American taxpayer.

Dear god of the universe:  If only we really did have a liberal media here in the U.S., they’d be screaming about this<—-  <—-:

—->  —–>

GOP not working-

And if we had Democrats here in the U.S. who made some serious noise, who had guts and a willingness to stand up to the corporatocarcy (thank you Justice Roberts and your ruling on Citizens United), We the People might stand a chance…


December 28, 2013 at 8:44 PM 2 comments

Are We Talking Ducks Tonight?

My Tweet of the Day:

Tweet of the Day 12-19-13

What? Are we talkin’ Peking Duck? I love Peking Duck.

The pancakes are key.  I have a delicious and easy recipe for them if you’re interested.

December 19, 2013 at 7:59 PM Leave a comment

Give Your Salivary Glands a Workout

The James Beard Foundation is out with their “Favorite Dishes (and Drinks!) of 2013.”  See them here.

My salivary glands went into overdrive over the Roasted Suckling Pig with Smoked Bacon Marmalade.  Sounds sooo good!

Sucking Pig Francesco Tonelli via

(Image Francesco Tonelli via


December 18, 2013 at 12:20 PM Leave a comment

Gulf of Maine Shrimp Stock Could be Extinct Next Year

Hey humans, it’s time to foster a respect for our fellow travelers on this planet, from forests to shrimp:

Northern shirmp via

(Northern shrimp via Wikipedia)

Northeastern regulators shut down the Gulf of Maine shrimp fishery for the first time in 35 years Tuesday afternoon, worried by reports of what researchers called a fully “collapsed” stock that could be driven to near extinction with any 2014 catch.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Northern Shrimp Section, a subset of the multistate agency that oversees North Atlantic shrimp fisheries, met Tuesday in Portland to set guidelines for the coming season.

The 11-person section decided by consensus to wipe out the 2014 season, denying a 175-metric-ton catch limit recommended by its Northern Shrimp Advisory Board.

The panel made its decision against a backdrop of plummeting shrimp populations off the coast of Maine, according to researchers with the commission’s Northern Shrimp Technical Committee.


“There are very few, if any, shrimp left,” Whitmore told section members. “It just seems like we’ve reached the bottom. There’s probably no such thing as a ‘do no harm’ fishery at this point.”


December 4, 2013 at 3:12 PM Leave a comment

Is Mass Malnutrition Coming to the U.S.?

Feed the Hungry Logo

Here’s a shocking article about how austerity cuts are affecting the health of folks in the U.K.:


Malnutrition a Public Health Emergency, Experts Warn

Malnutrition is something most of us associate with the third world or even the world of Dickens. But new figures show hospital admissions in England have nearly doubled in the last five years.

A group of scientists and public health experts is warning the rise is evidence of a “public health emergency” which could be linked to changes to benefits.”

They cite government statistics that show there were 5,500 hospital admissions for malnutrition between 2012 and 2013 compared to just over 3,000 in 2008.

They also point to a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies that found families were buying cheaper more unhealthy food.

This has all the signs of a public health emergency that could go unrecognised until it is too late.

Letter to the British Medical Journal

In a letter to the British Medical Journal, David Taylor-Robinson from the University of Liverpool and six other academics warn: “This has all the signs of a public health emergency that could go unrecognised until it is too late to take preventive action.”

They say they are particularly worried about the number of children with malnutrition because it can cause cardiovascular and other chronic diseases in adulthood.

They believe the rise in cases of malnutrition, and the increase in the use of food banks, could be linked to welfare reform.


So, that’s austerity, U.K-style.

Meanwhile, this is what’s happening here in the U.S.:


Meanwhile, there may be no way to prevent Congress from allowing 1.3 million people to lose their unemployment benefits, or reversing the sharp cuts to food stamps, which are one of the most destructive forms of austerity. (In fact, Republicans demand much, much greater cuts to food stamps.)

As the CNN report says, the ostensible reason to cut spending and/or raise taxes is to keep the budget deficit low. But government borrowing costs are still near historic lows, and the budget deficit is plummeting like a stone. Meanwhile, unemployment is still high, inflation is still low, and hysteresis is turning unemployment into long-run structural damage.

Overall, the austerity binge has cost the economy about 3 million jobs at this point. Put simply, this is insane, and there is no sign Congress will stop it anytime soon.


I volunteer at a food bank.  Food banks in the area just held their big annual food drive.  We collected something like 6,000 pounds less than we did last year.  Last year we collected roughly 13,000 pounds less than the year before that.  At some point, food banks are going to get crushed under the weight of so many starving people and hey, maybe then we should get together with the U.K. and have a malnurishathon.

Geezus.  I think it’s immoral to cut services to the poorest, most desperate segments of a society.



December 4, 2013 at 12:42 PM Leave a comment

House Republicans Refuse to Include Extending Unemployment Benefits in Budget Talks

Republicans are vicious, cold-hearted partisans who are willing to see over a million people suffer because they don’t want anything — anything — good to happen on Obama’s watch:

EFAA Cooler and Vegie Area

Portion of the EFAA Food Bank, Boulder, Colorado)

If Congress does nothing, and fails to extend a jobless-aid program, 1.3 million people will lose unemployment insurance only a few days after Christmas — perhaps leading to a series of stories about real people’s economic travails during the slow-news holiday season.


I’m told House Dems will hold a hearing on Thursday into the plight of those set to lose unemployment insurance if Congress fails to extend the Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, as part of an effort to pressure Republicans to agree to an extension. Sources tell me it will be presided over by Dem Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Chris Van Hollen, Sander Levin, and others, and will hear from witness who stand to lose those benefits.


Meanwhile, sources tell me that in private discussions, House Republicans are giving the thumbs down to Dem entreaties for an unemployment benefits extension. According to a senior Senate Democratic leadership aide, Dems have pushed for the extension to be included in ongoing budget conference talks. “So far, they’ve resisted,” the aide tells me. “They don’t want to do that.”


I wish “senior Senate Democratic leadership aides” like the one Greg Sargent spoke to above, would be a little, no, a lot less charitable when talking about this.  It’s just outrageous what Republicans are doing here.

December 3, 2013 at 3:09 PM 5 comments

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