Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Coal Can Do That

Yes, Coal can do this! This is Centralia, WA, home to TransAlta Centralia Mining as well as the TransAlta Coal Fired Power Plant. The upper gray blotch is the 1,700 acres around the Coal Plant. This plant started in April of 2001 and already boosts 5 Huge settling ponds to contain the waste ash produced by the Coal Fired Plant.

The lower gray blotch is the actual mine property. About 5,000 acres have been strip-mined and the mine has been closed for over two years. The company promised to reclaim the land when it closed back in 2006, so far very little has been do to return the 14,000 acres to anything resembling useful land.

This is just one very small operation of more than 140 Coal Fired Power Plants in the Western States. These companies have sold the idea of Clean Coal for years, but now it is easy to see just how "clean" it really is. Centralia lost 14,000 acres of prime farm land to "Clean Coal" and the SECOND that TransAlta had to start cleaning up the mess they closed the operations.

The Army Corps of Engineers and Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) published a notice of intent in the April 7, 2006, issue of the Federal Register (71 FR 17840) to prepare an EIS on TCM's proposed Pit 7 Mining Project. By November, the coal mine was "closed with reservation to reopen in the future." The environmental Impact Study was canceled. The area lost 600 jobs and the company canceled health insurance for more than 2000 employees, spouses and children.

I love the page sponsor listed at the bottom a whole site dedicated to promoting the positive side of coal. There isn't a single web page devoted to pollution, fly ash impoundment, strip mining, mountain top removal, water quality, black lung disease, mine reclaimation. Not a single page devoted to cleaning up the messes that the coal industry has already left in thousands of locations around the world. Yes, Coal can do that!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Stop The Waste--Legalize Marijuana!

Dear Obama Team,

President Elect Obama has pledged to fight waste in all levels of Government, so Will Barack Obama consider the waste involved in the marijuana issue?

The monetary value of Marijuana in the United States is staggering, even with the Government's attempts to abolish it at every level. Most recent reports state the marijuana sales are over $35 Billion per year and have been increasing every year. That money is mostly being paid to Foreign Drug Cartels that profit at every turn selling this controlled substance. The drug wars being fought around marijuana are killing thousands of people every year and leading to the incarceration of many thousands more. All of this adds up to near $8 Billion a year to arrest, prosecute, and house people for possession of a substance no more addictive and much less harmful than alcohol. The waste must stop!

Abortion Laws, Doctor Assisted Suicide, and the rejection of Prohibition all point to the public's demand for Self-Determination, the right to live, control our bodies, and die the way we want to. Adults in America demand and receive the right to drinks as much as we want, have relationships with those we choose and in many states the right to die when we want to. Marijuana laws need to reflect the spirit of Self-Determination and be freed from outside influences that are counter to Self-Determination.

A Better Way: Follow the Alcohol Model for Marijuana- Decriminalize Growing and Possessing Marijuana for personal use. Allow growers to apply for a Permit to sell marijuana to their state governments for a set price based on a set potency. The States control the potency, sale and taxation of the marijuana.

The current street value of marijuana is $20 per gram. Let the States buy it from licensed growers for $5 per gram. The jobs created in the US growing marijuana--about 4 Million jobs at $40,000 per year in the first 2 years. (Triple that number to include hemp growing as an agricultural product that can be used in over 25,000 products.) The States sell the marijuana with a taxation rate of 200% making the street price about $15 per gram. The States would gain $22 Billion per year in taxes. And, that is just the first year. Following years would see even more jobs created and more taxes collected.

Will the Obama Administration stop the WASTE of law enforcement efforts, WASTE of salary and tax money and WASTE of non-violent incarceration by decriminalizing marijuana and hemp?

* Disclaimer: I do not, have not, and never will use marijuana due to an allergy to the plant and all of it's parts. Even though I cannot smoke it, I do see the benefits of legalizing it for Adult Usage as well as an agricultural product.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Consequences of Foreign Debt--Good Bye America

National Debt & Immigration

In the United States, we are watching in horror as our government digs us ever deeper in debt. Billions in bailouts have quickly soared into Trillions and there is no end in sight. What happens when that debt is so great that the US is forced to support foreign policies whether we agree with them or not just because we owe another country so much money that they have purchased our agreement? Just the last 8 years has proved this is not only possible but currently happening.

In the 1960's Mao Zedong forged links with African countries including South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana and Senegal by loaning the countries money, selling them weapons and generally supporting local revolutions. Later, China used that debt as leverage to open the way for Chinese Immigrants to those countries. The current estimate by the South African Institute of Internal Affairs states that 750,000 first generation Chinese have moved to Africa complete with Chinese bank loans and governmental approval.

These are not the standard type of immigrants looking to blend in but a whole new kind of wealthy businessman-immigrant looking for fresh opportunities to exploit and share(for a profit) with China. Lax immigration laws enable them to bring even more Chinese in as cheap labor, excluding local workers from working in the new businesses. They advertise their businesses in Chinese, they advertise job openings in Chinese--locals not needed or wanted.

Since, 2002 more than 20,000 Chinese have immigrated to Angola alone. [1] They are invited and protected by the $4 Billion in interest free loans made by the Chinese government to oil-rich Angola to build infrastructure designed to pump the oil and then ship it back to China to repay the loan. According to the loan agreement, at least 70% of the work must be done by Chinese companies. Their paychecks come from Chinese companies so their taxes go back to China, not to the country where they are working.

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil--The real Bush Legacy

China, once blacklisted as an American trade partner now enjoys favored trading status and leads the world in exports to America. Did China suddenly come to the light concerning human rights? Did China suddenly agree to stop polluting or allow Tibet to go free? No, China bought up enough American debt to force us to turn a blind eye to their problems, and throw open our ports to everything they had to offer. What does our future hold in terms of our freedoms to make policies and enforce trade regulations that benefit Americans? The outlook is not good.

Several writers have mentioned this concern in the last few years, even before the current crisis. Nikkei Weekly says Chinese leaders have boasted that because China is such an important lender to America, “Beijing is holding a dagger to Washington’s throat.” In September of this year China surpassed Japan as the largest American debt holder with the US owing China $585 Billion compared to $60 Billion in 2000. even stated "serfdom is a reality many Americans may face in the future."

The Face of China in Africa--and Soon in the United States:

South Africa
Kenya & Nigeria
Uganda-- war financing leads to tourism and big business

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pirates or Patriots?

News calls them pirates....the men in the boats say they are acting as a coastguard to protect Somalia from illegal fishing vessels and waste dumping. Even with so much news available it is often hard to figure out what is really going on.

The ransom demand is a means of "reacting to the toxic waste that has been continually dumped on the shores of our country for nearly 20 years", Januna Ali Jama, a spokesman for the pirates, based in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, said.

"The Somali coastline has been destroyed, and we believe this money is nothing compared to the devastation that we have seen on the seas."

In a September 08 interview Sugule Ali, the spokesman for the Somali pirates said, "We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits [”sea bandit” is one way Somalis translate the English word pirate]. We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard."

July 26, 2008: The UN sounded the alarm on behalf of the people of Somalia, saying, the combination of illegal dumping and illegal fishing, and now open piracy, has made the Somali coast one of the most dangerous on earth." Ironically, the most prized catch for fishermen, the yellowfin tuna, is being caught in waters that have proved to be unsafe to humans due to high levels of toxic chemicals including lead, cadmium, mercury and radioactive uranium. Because of the secretive nature of illegal fishing( and the fact no one would buy fish known to be from Somali waters), these contaminated fish are sold, and consumed across Europe, to uninformed buyers. The same lack of regulation that allows European Fishermen to steal from Somali waters, also allows contaminated fish to be sold on the market without mentioning the origin.

This is far from being a new problem, in an article from 2001 the writer calls Somalia the **World's Most Attractive Illegal Hazardous Waste Dumping Site** and the pollution at that time was already over a decade old. Experts estimate that it costs about $2.50 to sink a ton of toxic waste off the African Coast compared to $250 that would have to be paid in Europe.

Going back even further, this abstract from 1999 tells about a meeting in 1991 that discussed how difficult is was to patrol 3333 km of coastline. At the time over 400 huge ships were illegally fishing the coast of Somalia to the extent that the local fishing industry was near collapse. It has since completely collapsed leaving the locals with no source of food or income. Illegal dumping was also discussed, and "2 Companies were named as perpetrators include an Italian firm (Progresso) and Swiss firm (Achair Partners)"

A story from 2002 names Achair Partners of Chapelle-sur-Moudon, in Switzerland as "authorized to build and operate a facility near Mogadishu for dumping or incinerating up to half a million tonnes of hospital and industrial waste per year for the next 20 years." The person who "authorized" (and profited to the tune of $80 Million) from the deal is Nur Elmy Osman, who called himself minister of health in the 'government' of Ali Mahdi Mohammed, leader of one of Somalia's warring factions. As a result of the UNEP's investigation, the contract was declared null and the facility was never built. Still it became apparent to the UNEP's director Dr. Mustafa Tolba that the firms of Achair Partners and Progresso were set up specifically as fictitious companies by larger industrial firms to dispose of hazardous waste.

During the Christmas tsunami of 2004, dozens of rusty barrels washed ashore. Since then, hundreds of local people have fallen ill, suffering from mouth and abdominal bleeding, skin infections, and other ailments. Many of the barrels dated back to 1992 when a group of European companies recruited Swiss company Archair Partners and the Italian company Progresso, both specialized in the export of undesirable waste.

The very company hired in 2005 to patrol the coastline has been linked to government contracts sold by the ousted Somali Transitional Federal Government(STFG), which is temporarily based in Nairobi, to escort ships traveling through Somali waters. The ships they were escorting seem to be the same ships that are carrying waste from Europe. What little government is left is supporting itself by selling dumping rights and poisoning the people they claim(from Nairobi) to be representing. In truth, much of the waste was being carried from Italy aboard fishing vessels belonging to a company called the Somali High Sea Fishing Company, working out of Yemen harbors, supported by big money deals between the Italian Mafia aka "The Pirates of Rubbish" and the STFG.

There are no fish left to catch, the ones that can be caught in the traditional ways are poisoned, the water poisoned and the land is at war. No wonder the Somalian people are ticked off enough to become "pirates!"

Oil tankers do not double as fishing vessels, but since there are no safe fish to catch, tankers provide the next best thing---CASH. Piracy makes up 35% of the GDP of Somalia and without it, up to half of the people would starve to death. European(and World) politics created this problem and like other problems resulting from blind greed, this particular problem has grown into a Monster. Shipping companies can either pay the ransom or pay the people of Somalia to clean up the mess directly and pass the cost onto their customers. One way or another, someone is going to pay for years of neglect and corruption.

More Recently, stories have been emerging that point to the Ivory Coast as being the new "Best Place to Dump"

The ship Probo Koala, a former oil tanker that has been used more recently for waste disposal, dumped waste into an Ivory Coast lagoon in September of 2006 after deeming European disposal methods too expensive. The ship was chartered by the Holland-based oil trading firm Trafigura.

UPDATE 7/23/2010:

A Dutch court has found multinational Trafigura guilty of illegally exporting toxic waste from Amsterdam and concealing the nature of the cargo.

In 2006, Trafigura transported waste alleged to have been involved in the injury of thousands of people in Ivory Coast. Trafigura denied any wrongdoing.

It expressed disappointment in the ruling and is considering an appeal.

The firm was fined 1m euros (£836,894) for its ship, the Probo Koala, transiting Amsterdam with its cargo.

The ship then went on to unload its cargo in Ivory Coast.

One of those who fell ill after waste was dumped, Ivorian Guy Oulla, told the BBC: "I believe it is a very good decision because people should pay for what they do, you know. So, I agree with that decision. You know, we live in Africa and it could happen again because in Africa people do everything for money."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cheap Low-Tech Desalination Using a Greenhouse

Water, Water, everywhere, but just .5% to drink!

The world is facing a serious clean water shortage and scientists everywhere are hard at work on solutions, but too often the solutions are so expensive that they are out of reach for the people who need them. One simple solution is to change a problem into a solution.

I have had many greenhouses over the years, and I can tell you a major problem is condensation. High humidity can cause fungus in many crops, and it is no fun to work in a greenhouse when you are being rained on! But if the goal is to harvest water then that problem can be turned into a solution.

In this example, a very simple hoop house can provide the heat needed to extract water from wet soil, brackish ponds or even the ocean. The sun warms the air inside the hoop and causes the water to be evaporated. The condensation collects on the ceiling and runs down the walls into a channel where it can be pumped into a reservoir. On land, as the moisture inside is depleted, more nasty water can be added. This step is not needed for a floating system.

Advantages of this system.
1) Very low tech and low cost.
2) Suitable for use in tropical climates. The more sun it gets the faster it makes clean water.
3) Moisture additions can be salty, water laden plant materials or even animal or human waste buried under a layer of soil.
4) Floating system would not damage sealife since only a small percentage of surface area is covered.
5) This system can be erected in 1-2 days by 2 people for about $24.00. It would last up to 3 years and produce up to 100 gallons a day(at 80 F. outside temperature)
6) Inside temperature would be 140 F.-150 F. effectively pasteurizing the water and preventing most fungus, & bacteria including tuberculosis, diphtheria, polio, salmonella, strep throat, scarlet fever, and typhoid fever.

Friday, November 7, 2008

One of the Reasons I Hate SPRINT!

Sprint Charges fees for whatever they want to and there is no way to opt out of paying them.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sofrito Recipe Fall Favorite

Fall is Sofrito season! This tasty and (this time of the year) cheap sauce can be used in dozens of recipes for yummy cheap food.

5 pounds Red Bell Peppers(Pulled out of the discount bin--$2.49
1 pound tomatoes (fresh or canned--99c)
2 large onions(also in season--1 pound .49c
1/2 bunch of celery(not in season but usually cheap--$1.00)
5 cloves of garlic, crushed(5c)

* Chop everything down to 1/4 inch cubes.
* Saute the celery and onions in 3 Tablespoons of Olive oil (15c) for a few minutes until the onions are starting to turn brown.
* Turn down the heat and add the chopped peppers and garlic and cover the pan so that the peppers will sweat out quickly
* Continue to cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours (or place in the oven on 300 degrees for 2 hours.) Most of the liquid should be cooked down to syrup.
* Stir 2 tablespoons of corn starch or flour(10c) into 1/2 cup of water or vegetable broth(10c) until all the lumps are gone. Dump into the sofrito and stir well.
* Ladle the sauce into 2 quart jars, cover and allow to cool to room temp, then refrigerate for up to 1 week. (2 quarts of Safrito for $5.37--which is about 1/3 the price of buying it premade.)
* There should be sauce left in the pot. SPANISH BEANS: Add 2-3 cups of cooked beans and 1/2 cup of water. Cook until heated through. Salt & Pepper to taste and serve with crusty bread.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Drill, Baby, Drill??? For What???

An oil slick of this size in the Gulf of Mexico is bad, but due to the warm water, the oil tends to evaporate in a matter of a few months. An oil slick this size in Alaska would be devastating--the cold water would stop evaporation and the oil would stay in the environment for HUNDREDS OF YEARS.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cheap Eats: My Favorite Cream Pies

Cream Pies are easy, though time consuming, to make. Basically, all cream pies are cooked pudding, poured into a crust and topped with whipped cream.

Cooked pudding:
3 cups of milk or other liquid(more about that later)
2 eggs
3/4 cup of sugar
1/3 cup corn starch or 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine milk, eggs, sugar, flour and salt. Heat in microwave on high, 2 minutes at a time until mixture is thick and bubbly. Stir in the vanilla extract and pour into individual sized cups or bowls & refrigerate until firm. This beats Jello Instant Pudding by a MILE and 6 servings cost about $1.50 to make.

The transition from pudding to pie simply involves dumping the cooked pudding into a pie crust instead of serving cups and topping with whipped cream. Voila! Vanilla Cream Pie.

Once those steps are mastered, things can get interesting! Use a combo of Coconut Milk and Evaporated milk, add some flaked coconut and you have Coconut Cream Pie:

Coconut Cream Pie ala Vickie

1 13.5 ounce can Coconut Milk
1 12 ounce can Evaporated Milk
2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup corn starch or 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup flaked coconut
1/4 cup flaked coconut, toasted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (9 inch) pie shell, baked
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed


1. Combine coconut milk, condensed milk, eggs, sugar, flour and salt. Heat in microwave on high, 2 minutes at a time until mixture is thick and bubbly. Stir in 1/4 cup of the coconut and the vanilla extract. Pour into pie shell and chill 2 to 4 hours, or until firm.
2. Top with whipped topping, and with remaining 1/4 cup of toasted coconut.
3. Note: To toast coconut, spread it in an ungreased pan and bake in a 350 degree F (175 degrees C) oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

Banana Cream Pie

Peel and chop 3 ripe bananas. Saute the bananas on low heat in1 teaspoon of butter with 2 tablespoons of brown sugar for 3-5 minutes until sugar is completely melted. Pour half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pie crust.

Make the pudding recipe:
1 1/2 cup milk
1 12 ounce can Evaporated Milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup corn starch or 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Reserved cooked bananas
1/2 Teaspoon banana flavoring(if desired)
1 (9 inch) pie shell, baked
1 cup frozen whipped topping, thawed


1. Combine the milk, condensed milk, eggs, sugar, flour and salt. Heat in microwave on high, 2 minutes at a time until mixture is thick and bubbly. Stir in the reserved cooked bananas and the banana & vanilla extracts. Pour into pie shell and chill 2 to 4 hours, or until firm.
2. Top with whipped topping.

Ocean Shores Pie
AKA The Original Sex on the Beach

Chocolate Pudding

3 cups of milk
2 eggs
1 cup Instant Chocolate Milk Mix
1/3 cup corn starch or 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine milk, eggs, chocolate milk mix, flour and salt. Heat in microwave on high, 2 minutes at a time until mixture is thick and bubbly. Stir in the vanilla extract and set aside.

2 Cups Whole Small Ripe Strawberries
1/4 cup Caramels, melted
1/4 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, melted
1 tablespoon butter
Graham Cracker Crust
1/4 cup Hershey's Chocolate Syrup


1. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips and stir in the butter. Dump into graham cracker crust and spread evenly.
2. Melt caramels, dump on top of chocolate and spread evenly.
3. Remove the stems from the strawberries and stand them in the caramel upside down until the floor of the pie is filled.
4. Carefully fill up the pie with chocolate pudding. (There will be some left that while waiting for the pie to chill.)
5. Chill the pie at least 3 hours. Then top with whipped topping and drizzle Hershey's Chocolate Syrup over the top.

Whipped Cream Topping
Use this simple sweetened whipped cream topping on cream pies, gingerbread, cobbler, and other desserts.

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip cream until almost stiff. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until cream holds peaks. Spread over top of cooled pie or use as a dessert or shortcake topping.

Cooler Whip Recipe

1 c instant nonfat dry milk
1 c ice water
1/4 c lemon juice
1/2 c sugar


1. Chill bowl and beaters.
2. Whip dry milk with water until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes.
3. Add lemon juice and beat until stiff, about 4 minutes.
4. Fold in sugar.

Tofu Whipped Topping

10 1/2 ounces package extra-firm or Firm tofu, reg. or low fat
4 tablespoons sweetener of your choice
2 tablespoons Lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Almond extract
Soymilk as needed


Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until very smooth. Add more soymilk a teaspoon at a time if the mixture is too thick; blend well. Place in a covered container; refrigerate until chilled.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Can We Trust the Polls?

The Pollsters, including Gallup Polls, throw numbers at us every day. McCain 49%. Obama 44% for example, but where do the Pollsters really get their numbers?

In the case of Gallup polls that track the election and the major political, social and economic questions of the day, the target audience is generally referred to as "national adults." Strictly speaking the target audience is all adults, aged 18 and over, living in telephone households
within the continental United States. In effect, it is the civilian, non-institutionalized population. College students living on campus, armed forces personnel living on military
bases, prisoners, hospital patients and others living in group institutions are not represented in Gallup's "sampling frame."

This "Sampling Frame" also leaves out the 3/10 Households in the US that have ONLY cell phones because Federal Law forbids unsolicited call to cell phones from the automatic dialing machines used by Gallup.

So, who are these 30% of Americans that are not represented in the "National Polls"??? A good portion of them are:
* Lower-than-Median income
* Renters (rather than home-owners)
* Minorities
* Under 30
* In College or Recently Post-Graduation-General better educated than non-cell phone users.
* Single(nearly 66% of people age 30 and under are single compared to only 33% of people over 40.

In Short, the people under represented in Gallop Polls (by a Whopping 30%!!) are DEMOCRATS!

In the case of the Recent Political Poll offered by Gallop Polls stating that McCain is leading by 5% (McCain 49% to Obama 45%), what would the numbers look like if the unrepresented 30% were added into the poll??

If the sample was 100 land-lines called:
49 of them chose McCain
45 of them chose Obama
6 of them are undecided.

If 30 of those calls had been to cell-phones, then the numbers would probably look like this:
19 would choose McCain
75 of them would choose Obama
6 of them would be undecided.

Land-line polling is not keeping up with the changes in American Culture, so how can we trust the Polls at all?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pet Ownership Hits a New Low at MudBay

I got a unsolicited catalog in the mail today from Mud Bay. Mud Bay is a pet supply company with about 14 locations in The Puget Sound area. I personally don't keep pets, but when I did, Purina Dog or Cat Chow seemed to keep them healthy for a reasonable price. It contained grains, meat by-products, vitamins and minerals--pretty basic stuff. Today I thumbed through a catalog that, first of all, made me angry, and then as I read more, ashamed.

"Mud Bay offers more than 500 varieties of healthy foods for dogs and cats." And, they are PROUD to say so right on the cover!

See the first "article"? Remember that this is Seattle and I live in one of the poorest neighborhoods. Mud Bay thinks I will need a Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat for my DOG, when I take it out on my BOAT! The price of $49.95-$69.95 is right in the range of what I spend on groceries at the local Canned Food Outlet. Let me or dog life preserver??? The US Government sent US Service Men to Iraq with out of date body armor but one of my low-income neighbors is going to buy a 1680-denier BALLISTIC nylon doggy boating outfit???? THIS IS SO WRONG!

CBS did a series on a product called Plumpynut, basically a nutritious food bar made of peanut butter, designed to feed starving children. Since the introduction of the product in 2007, thousands of children have been rescued from the edge of death, but guess what? The price of peanut butter is on the rise--39 to 100% in worldwide markets. That means that Plumpynut is only going to be available to about half as many children next year. The good news is Mud Bay has plenty of peanut butter snacks for our PETS. Mud Bay customers must be rolling in assets though, Presto Peanut Butter Twinkles start at $7.99 for 8 ounces! ($7.99 would feed 8 children for 2 days. ) If an 8 ounce jar of peanut butter was $7.99 at the grocery store, America would be outraged! THIS IS SO WRONG!

Whats for dinner? How about Organic Beef, & Organic Vegetables with Cold Pressed Unrefined Safflower Oil? Sound like the best meal many of us will see all year, but this is for DOGS! If a Mud Bay customer feeds their pet Organic petfood and then I cook their pet for Sunday dinner, is that considered Organic & Cagefree Meat? THIS IS SO WRONG!

The ingredients listed in the PETFOODS sold by this company are amazing, and these are not listed as "By-Product". How many things on this list do you buy regularly? How many things on this list would your pet eat if it wasn't processed?
  • Duck
  • Beef & Organic Beef
  • Turkey & Organic Turkey
  • Shrimp
  • Crab
  • Herring
  • Salmon
  • Chicken
  • Venison
  • Lamb
  • Tilipia
  • Tuna
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Rabbit
  • Maki Rolls
  • Artichoke
  • Avocado
  • Garlic
  • Potato
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Apples
  • Sweet Potato
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Papaya
  • Figs
  • Cranberries
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Brown Rice
  • Flaxseed

We all know how much dogs love to hike and Mud Bay has the prefect take along dehydrated foods just for dogs! It comes in 4 flavors made from either Venison or Brushtail. And don't forget the $15 Folding Water Bowl...don't want Fido drinking out of a mountain stream--Heaven forbid!! After EXTENSIVE research. I finally found out what "Brushtail" is. Wiki says "Brushtailed possums are also very intelligent creatures, with brainpower comparable to a dog. This makes hand reared possums ideal to teach tricks. Common tricks can include "sit" and "hiss" but they can also be trained to "fetch" with enough time. It is important to remember when training brushtailed possums to be firm with the instruction and always give a reward such as fruit or vegetables." So, Americans grind up animals as smart as dogs to feed to dogs. I guess it's the Brushtail's fault for not being smart enough to get their own Kennel Club. THIS IS SO WRONG!

Cat litter is a problem for most cat owners in the city, but thankfully Mud Bay has them covered with a wide array of cat-pee absorbents that have no resemblance to the owners favorite pillow. First offender, the Lavender scented clumping litter ..."some people mix it with unscented litter for a subtler effect" In other word this stuff is strong and unless you want to be greeted at the front door by a WALL OF LAVENDER SCENTED CAT PEE, you might want to cut it a little. Second offender, Swheat Scoop, made from WHEAT(that stuff we need to get a decent Artisan Loaf of Bread) and it "smells like healthy breakfast cereal". If wheat prices go much higher we may be buying this product in the 40 pound it "high fiber bread!" The third offender is "World's Best Cat Litter". I want the President of Mud Bay to fly to Mexico City and face the crowds rioting over the price of corn tortillas. Let that person tell those hungry poor people that the price has gone up, not just due to bio-fuel but because Americans need corn for cat-litter! That's right this product is made out of corn. THIS IS SO WRONG!

For $13.95, you can buy a purse that clips to your dogs collar so they can carry their own poo to the garbage much cooler for you than walking around with a bag of sh*t for a half hour!

In a world of food riots and starvation around the world, this company offers pet food made from blueberries, organic beef, duck, buffalo, shrimp, salmon, artichokes, avocados, and lamb??? No wonder the price of groceries is so high--rich people have so damn much money that they are feeding the good stuff to their pets.

In a word, Mud Bay is ridiculous. And, since this company has no sense of shame, then I will be ashamed for them. American pets are treated and fed better than half of the children in the world. SHAME!


Junk mail eats up 100 Million Trees a year, so the very action of printing and mailing out 10,000 of them to my zipcode is a huge waste. I see a future, when junk mail will finally be outlawed!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Easter Baked Pineapple

When I was young, my Mother always made a ham for Easter that was covered with cloves and pineapple rings. The pineapple was always my favorite part of the meal. This recipe reproduces the flavor of the baked pineapple without the meat.

1 Whole Ripe Pineapple, skinned and cored.

1 Tbsp Brown Sugar

1 Tsp Bacon Salt

1/2 Tsp Ground Cloves

Spray a sheet pan with cooking oil and set aside. Heat oven to 350.

Slice the whole pineapple into 1/2 inch slices and cut each in half to create a crescent. Arrange slices on a sheet pan. Mix sugar, cloves and bacon salt together and then sprinkle a tiny bit over each slice.

Bake the pineapple at 350 for 60 minutes or until slightly browned. Turn the pineapple over every 10 minutes.

After baking, arrange the slices in a food dehydrator and dry on regular setting for 6-8 hours or until very leathery. Store in the fridge until eaten.

Eat these slices as is for snacks or chop them up and use them in recipes calling for dried fruit.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dandelions: Pest or Asset?

The best way to manage a pest is to think of it as an asset and learn how to use it for profit. Once this strategy is in place the Old Pest/New Asset will start to decline.

Dandelions are a great place to put this principal to work. Think of the origins of Dandelions: Dandelions are native to the Middle East and were carried along the Spice Trails over a thousand years ago as a medicinal plant as well as a garden green. Immigrants carried dandelions from Europe to the United States in the 1790's as a guaranteed nutritional food crop that required little work to produce. It has since then, self seeded all over the western continents and being so common, most of Dandelions' value has been forgotten.

Currently, Dandelions are enjoying a resurgence of popularity as people rediscover the wonders of this plant. Bundles of young leaves share space with spinach at my local farmers market at about the same price. Dried roots are available at most health food stores and on eBay for $5.00 for 2 ounces of dried root. Recipes for Dandelion wine are every where on the internet, carefully reproducing recipes tracing back to our ancestors over 300 years ago. Scientists are experimenting with processes to use the latex in dandelions to produce commercial rubber. Dandelions have a lot to offer to anyone who takes the time to appreciate them.

Dandelions through the year:
Early Spring: Pull off the young leaves(less than 8 inches long) and mix them with salad greens or cooked greens for a super nutritional boost! These youngest leaves are good to eat as long as you keep harvesting them. Once the leaves start to get old, they will be too bitter to enjoy.

Early Summer: Gather every flower you can get your hands on. Remove all the green bits and make a few gallons of Dandelion Wine. This traditional wine is a scarce treat that will delight your family and friends at Christmas time. Serve in small quantities as this wine can develop an alcohol content of up to 14%!

Flowers are also terrific deep fried in batter. Simply dip the whole flower into your favorite tempura style batter and fry until golden brown.

Fall: Gather Dandelion Puffs before they blow away for a natural and Vegan substitute for down filling. It takes a lot of dandelions for a vest but the puffs will not deteriorate for at least 20 years.(And even after 20 years the seeds will still grow if given the chance.) and the insulation qualities are very similar to goose down although not as water repellent.
Late fall: After the first hard frost, dig up the dandelion roots, dry them and use all winter long for a good diuretic tea that still packs a nutritional punch in the form of potassium and other trace minerals. For the whole story on Dandelions for medicine visit Here.

After following this plan for a couple of years you will see the Dandelion supply go down. As is the case every time you change a pest into an asset.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Experiments in Gardening?

I am new to vegetable gardening and I am enjoying some surprising successes in my tiny city garden that I would like to share.

Experiment 1
My first attempt at city gardening came with strict instructions from my landlord, "Don't mess up the grass!" My yard, I must add, is on a dramatic slope of about 35 degrees. The total rise from the front to the back is about 10 feet. The base under the soil is rip-rap(fist sized granite used to hold the hillside in place and the soil is only about 4 inches deep in most places.)

That year I cleared out a portion of ivy that adjoined the yard on the west side and set up my first garden. Much to my surprise I found literally a truck load of aged compost under the ivy, left by lawn care workers over many years as they tended the grass. All of this was carefully scraped away and reserved. No permanent structures were allowed so I had to improvise my raised beds. I was just getting started so I went with the cheapest material possible--cardboard boxes. I had a good supply of 12 inch square shipping boxes on hand (usually used for my E-Bay sales) I set up a bunch of them, filled them with soil and compost and planted corn, beans & lettuce.

These boxes had 8 inches of soil and that is just not enough for corn so it failed. We did get 10 or so edible ears. The beans did fine and produced for about 2 months. We had greens beans every other night and I have developed many recipes to put green beans in the main dish for dinner.

The lettuce was eaten as it showed up. The slugs were determined to eat all of it. Luckily I planted plently for all of us! Slugs really seemed to love the cardboard boxes and they were very hard to battle in this experimental garden, there were just too many place for them to hide!

Experiment 2
Later in the season, I had run out of boxes and wanted to add tomatoes so I used the very lazy approach of just laying a bag of soil on the ground and cutting out a space to plant in the top. I have never seen this done but it was expedient at the time.
I planted more lettuce in these as well as tomatoes. In this picture the tomatoes are about 1 inch tall. Eventually, those tomatoes grew to over 7 feet tall and needed elaborate support, sorry no pictures of that semi-fiasco! We got 3 or 4 dozen small tomatoes and had lettuce until November 14th, the first frost of the season.

Experiment 3
I have read about Gro-bags in various places on the internet but most of them were $10.00 or more each and all of them seemed to have problems when it came to watering them. One garden commentator resorted to dipping the whole bag into a barrel of water to fix the problem. With each bag weighing about 40 pounds, this was not an option for me, so I tried to invent a better bag.
I made these bags out of contractor's grade garbage bags, duct tape, twine, and staples. Each of these bags has 4 or 5 pockets and takes up a space of 8 inches wide by 40 inches long on the wall of my building. Or in this picture, on my balcony. I have cherry tomatoes, baby lettuce and squash.

Here is a happy cabbage plant basking in the sun.

Here is a zucchini growing in front of my window.

Every thing did fine in these bags early on, but I had the same problem...uneven water distribution. By August, I had to water these 3 times a day and still the black plastic got too hot and par-boiled most of the plants. Tomatoes and squash seemed to enjoy the heat but all the lettuce and cabbage plants were cooked in their soil. The encouraging part of this experiment was the lack of harmful bugs. Spiders set up shop in gangs but no slugs, no grubs and very little of anything else to munch on my veggies. I harvested tomatoes by the handfuls and an average of 10 baby squash from each of the squash plants.

My second permutation of these bags added an automatic drip system to each bag. 2 - 1/2 gallon drippers in the top and middle of each bag set on 15 minutes of water 2 times per day. This worked well but heat was still a major problem. The black plastic simply absorbs too much heat. Also the constant watering seems to wash the nutrients out of the soil. These small pockets do not have enough room to side dress with compost so I resorted to Alaska Fish Fertilizer. The nitrogen levels in this product make for fabulous foliage but probably wont help fruit production much.
This is my balcony as of July 13, 2008. I have harvested pounds of lettuce and the tomatoes are going crazy. I also have Foot-Long beans planted in here but they are growing very slowly. Over night temperatures have finally reached above 60 degrees so I am hoping they will finally show some growth. If you look very closely, you can see the pipe for the watering system.

As a side note on this experiment, I'd like to say that using these plastic bags gave me time to think about plastic in general. The experiment was not perfect and far worse is the fact that when the experiment is over, I will be adding many pounds of plastic to the landfill. The un-sustainability of this project has really bothered me and I am not going to continue this after these bags wear out. Plastic is one of the items of everyday life that has an extremely long life as waste. The type of plastic I used is recyclable but not accepted here in Seattle where the recycling company insists on recycling by shape rather than by the numbers. For example we can recycle water bottles (#1 plastic) but we can't recycle strawberry boxes (also #1 plastic). We can recycle yogurt containers (#5 plastic) but we can't recycle Glad Food Boxes (also #5 plastic). Our system is flawed so many, many items that are marked recyclable still end up in the trash headed for a landfill.

After looking around I have found a product that is headed for landfill but suits my needs very well: Lumber Wraps. This Tyvek like material is used to wrap bundles of lumber during shipment and is discarded once the lumber gets to the lumber yard. It allows air to circulate by it will contain the soil and water. Plus it is much stronger than plastic so the steps needed to make a plant bag have been cut in half. I made 18 bags out of 1 lumber wrap with very little waste. Total time for 18 bags was about 2 hours. Each bag uses: 20"x 40" of material, 44" of duct tape, about 100 staples, and 2 wire ties.

This is my first bag made out of a lumber-wrap. Note the top pocket is fitted with a lid. I will be able to add compost and fertilizer to the top and then water the nutrients down to the other pockets. I have transplanted 2 Blue Lake beans, a Romaine lettuce and a broccoli plant into the pockets and I will report on the outcome later in the season.

This new material is 1) recycled, 2) white so it doesn't absorb as much heat, 3) air-permeable so it allows air circulation to the plant roots, 4) very easy to work with, and 5) very stable. I expect these bags to last 5 years of more even out in the sun. Oh, did I mention it is CHEAP?

I have a PDF available on how to make these GroPockets. I will e-mail the PDF within 48 hours of your notification of payment! Total cost for the detailed PDF is $ s&h!

GroPocket Instruction PDF $2.00

Experiment 4
My small successes in my first year seemed to impress my landlord and he has given permission to install more permanent raised beds, so when we got a break in the weather last February, we installed 13 beds. Each bed is 2.5 feet wide and 5 feet long. The depths vary from 8 inches on the top to 16 inches on the lower side of our sloped yard.
The skylights were salvaged from a construction project here in Seattle and they make excellent cold frames that fit into the beds like they were custom made! This picture is from February of 2008, right after the beds were built. Total cost was less than $200 using all new cedar lumber from Lowe's. Notice the wide paths between the beds to accommodate our wheel barrow and my ample!

I only have about 140 square feet of space to work with so I have been using a combination of Square Foot Gardening and French Intensive Gardening. Each bed is 12.5 square feet and is planted with many different plants. Each plant is spaced from similar plants at the recommended distances but the space is filled with other types of plants. Over all, one bed contains about 100 plants.
This bed is a good example: 2 rhubarb, 10 strawberries, 50 shallots and 50 beans. The shallots were harvested in June and replaced with leeks. The beans are blooming now. The strawberries are just beginning to produce following a horribly cold and wet spring. They are everbearers so I expect them to continue producing through September or November.

One unexpected problem with my garden has been moles and rats, both of which love to dig around in my beds. This isn't much of a problem for established plants but seedlings were dug up every night. I have resorted to rat poison and traps as well as a Sonic Mole Repellent. The moles have left but the rats haven't been impressed. Finally I had to wrap each bed in 18 inches of 4 mil plastic to make an added barrier to deter the rats. The plastic is held up by flimsy bamboo stakes and is loose so it is very hard for the rats to chew it or climb it. So far, this has been about 75% successful.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Seeds of Shame?

Gardening Into The Future.
Gardening is enjoying renewed interest in the US and around the world. We are trudging down the garden path of our grandparents to plant our own Victory Gardens. We dig in the dirt and drop in a few seeds and a miracle appears! Home gardening seems so safe, we know what we put on our food and we can choose organic or non-organic methods, but the line is beginning to blur. Can Genetically Modified(GM) crops be "Organic"? How do we know if seeds are GM or not? Where do garden seeds come from? Who grows fruits and vegetables just for the seeds? Monsanto is the worlds largest supplier of garden seed in the world, so how do we trust that they are selling us the seeds we want? Currently there is no way to know.

Monsanto is the largest supplier of seeds in the world, but they don't seem very proud of the fact. I doubt I will ever see a package of Monsanto Brand Big Beef Tomatoes but they own that variety. Big Beef Tomato Seeds are resold by dozens of seed companies including Johnny's and Burpee, but nowhere do they say "Proudly Produced by Monsanto Seeds..." In fact 23% of the Tomato seeds sold in the WORLD come from Monsanto and none of them say so on the package. Monsanto is also the creator of "Round-up Ready" seeds and "Terminator" Seeds. When will these dubious "atributes" be incorporated into vegetable garden seeds? Very Very soon.

Monsanto subsidiary Seminis is announcing "Seedless Tomatoes" on it's website. Tomatoes WITHOUT SEEDS. "Seedless" is the basic foundation of "Terminator" seeds...they don't reproduce. I felt a chill down my spine at the thought of that. When bees visit the flowers of these tomatoes, they will cross pollinate with other long does it take to make ALL tomatoes SEEDLESS? The only seeds available will be from Monsanto!

Seeds are the foundation of the future of our food supply, yet it is almost impossible to find out where the seeds come from. Even Heirloom varieties can be contaminated, and if they are, all the better for Monsanto. It is time to care for our own future by being more careful where we get our seeds. Boycott the GM seeds and be watchful for your neighbors to prevent cross-contamination. And, learn how to collect your own seeds for the coming season.

A partial list of who controls food seeds in the US and around the world:
Monsanto Subsidiaries
DeltaPine Australia Pty Limited - Dec-99
Holden's/Cotton States - Mar-03
Stoneville Cotton
De Ruiter Seeds - 2008
Delta & Pine - Aug-06 (again) World’s largest cotton seed company. Developer of Terminator Technology. Annual sales, 2004: US$315 million-Owns:
* Ellis Brothers Seed
* Arizona Processing
* Mississippi Seed Co.
* Hartz Cotton
* Sure Grow Seeds
* D&PL South Africa, Inc.
* D&PL Semillas Ltda (Costa Rica)
* Deltapine Australia Pty. Ltd.
* Turk DeltaPine, Inc. (Turkey)
* Deltapine India Seed Private Ltd.
* D&M International, LLC:
* D&PL China Pte Ltd.
* Hebei Ji Dai Cottonseed Technology Company Ltd.
* CDM Mandiyu S.R.L. (Argentina)
* MDM Sementes De Algodao, Ltda. (Brazil)
* DeltaMax Cotton, LLC (50%)
As of Nov, 2008, over 170,000 Indian Farmers have committed suicide over crop failures of Monsanto Seeds.

Semillas Cristiani Burkard - June-06?
Mahyco - 2003

American Seeds Inc - NOV-04 ownes:
Channel Bio Seeds - NOV-04
Crow's Hybrid Corn - Feb-05
Midwest Seed Genetics - Feb-05
Wilson Seeds - Feb-05
NC+ Hybrids - Mar-05
Emergent Genetics - Mar-05
Fontanelle Hybrids - Sept-05
Stewart Seeds - Sept-05
Trelay Seeds - Sept-05
Stone Seeds - Sept-05
Specialty Hybrids - Sept-05
Gold Country Seed Inc. - Mar-06
Heritage Seeds - Mar-06
Diener Seeds - Sept-06
Kruger Seed Company - June-06
Landec's - Dec-06
Fielder's Choice Direct - Dec-06
Heartland Hybrids - Dec-06
Jacob Hartz
First Line Seeds
Cargill's Intern.
Seminis - Jan-07 ownes:
Royal Sluis
Asgrow Vegetable Seeds
Sementes Agroceres (vegetable seed division)
Barham Seed

Monsanto now assumes a leading market share in the global vegetable seed market, where they were virtually invisible before:

Beans Monsanto controls 31% of the global seed market
Cucumbers Monsanto controls 38% of the global seed market
Hot Pepper Monsanto controls 34% of the global seed market
Sweet Pepper Monsanto controls 29% of the global seed market
Tomato Monsanto controls 23% of the global seed market
Onions Monsanto controls 25% of the global seed market

Monsanto Brand Names Sold By Seminis: All seeds using these trademarked names are created and owned by Monsanto:
Ancho San Martin Peppers
Apollo Seedless watermelon
Baby Star Romaine
Bambino mini-personal watermelons
Big Beef Hybrid Tomato
Bistro Lamb’s Lettuce
Bizarr Tomato
Brilliant Tomato
Castle Dome Broccoli(PS 1536)
Cheddar Cauliflower
CMS Liberty Broccoli
Coronado Crown Broccoli
Cupid Tomato
Cupid Tomato
Envy Carrot
Eureka Cucumber
Ever Tomato
Fairy Tale Eggplant
Festina Beans
Glory Tomato
Idooll Tomato
Impreza Cucumber
Ivone Tomato
Jive Spinach
Karina Carrot
Kenia Cucumber
Llanoverde Cucumber
Loustik Cucumber
Luzon Peppers
Mariachi Hybrid pepper
Morraine Peppers
Obsession Sweet Corn
Orange Glory Peppers
Passion Hybrid yellow sweet corn
Pheres Kohlrabi
Picus Roma Tomato(XP 01429864)
Ramiro Peppers
Red Glory Peppers
Red Knight (with X3R *copyright) Pepper
Rumbo Winter Squash
Schooltime Pumpkin
Socrates (with X3R *copyright) hybrid pepper
Spoetnik Cucumber
Striker Peppers
Sun King Hybrid tomato
Sungreen Squash
Sunny Delight Scallop Squash
Tiffany Hybrid tomato
Timotion Tomato
Tomande Tomato

Seed Catalog Companies Supplied by Seminis(Monsanto)

Burpee, W Atlee
J.W. Jung Seed Co.
E & R Seed Co.
Earl May Seed
Lindenberg Seeds
Earl May Seed
Mountain Valley Seed
Gardens Alive
Johnnys Selected Seeds
Mountain Valley Seeds
Park Seed
Ag-Seeds Unlimited
Goway Seed Co.
Keithly-Williams Seed Co
Lockhart Seeds
Logan-Zenner Seeds
Osborn Int'l Seed Co
Rocky Mountain Seed Co.
Santa Maria Seeds
Scott Seed Co
T & T Seeds
Tomato Growers Supply
Select Seeds of Arizona
Snow Seed Co
Timothy, Stewart & Lekos
Willhite Seed Co
White Seed Co
DeWitt Seed Co
Holmes Seed Co
Jordan Seed Co
Kelly Seed Co
Rispen's & Son
Rupp Seed Co
Seedway Inc
Siegers Seed Co
Stokes Seeds Limited


Monsanto Licensee's
Syngenta - June-08
* Advanta BV (North American corn and soybean business – Garst brand)
* Petoseed
* Bruinsma
* Northrup King (NK)
* Asgrow Vegetable Seeds
* Funk Seed Intl.
* Rogers Bros.
* Zaadunie BV (Neth.)
* McNair Seed
* Cokers Pedigreed
* Fredonia
* Hilleshog
* Agritrading
* CC Benoist
* Maisadour Semences
* Eridania Beghin-Soy
* Golden Harvest (6/04)
* Dia-Engei (Japan) 2/04
* CHS Research LLC (04)
* GA21 (technology) (04)

Devgen - Sept-07

Delta & Pine Land(Monsanto) Subsidiaries (as of November 2005)

Companies Owned or Licensed By DuPont:
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Intl. (USA)
* Pioneer Argentina S.A.
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Australia Pty Ltd
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Services GmbH (Austria)
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Northern Europe (Belgium)
* Pioneer Sementes Ltda. (Brazil)
* Pioneer Semena Bulgaria
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Limited (Canada)
* Semillas Pioneer Chile Ltda.
* Shandong Denghai-PIONEER Seeds (China)
* DuPont de Colombia S.A.
* Pioneer Sjeme d.o.o. (Croatia)
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Services (Czech Rep.)
* Misr Pioneer Seed Company (Egypt)
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Seeds (Ethiopia)
* Pioneer Semences SAS (France)
* Pioneer Hi-Bred N. Europe (Germany
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Hellas (Greece)
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Magyarország Kft. (Hungary)
* PHI Seeds Ltd. (India)
* PT DuPont Indonesia
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Italia
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Japan
* Farmchem Seedlinks Limited (Kenya)
* Chemicals & Marketing Co. (Malawi)
* PHI Mexico SA de CV
* Pioneer Hi-Bred N. Europe (Neth.)
* Genetic Technologies, Ltd. (New Zealand)
* Pioneer Pakistan Seed Ltd
* Melo & Cia, C.A. (Panama)
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Philippines
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Services GmbH (Poland)
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Sementes de Portugal
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Puerto Rico
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Seeds Agro (Romania)
* Pioneer Semena Holding GmbH (Russia)
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Services (Serbia & Montenegro)
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Slovensko (Slovakia)
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Services (Slovenia)
* Pioneer Hi-Bred RSA (South Africa)
* South Korea O.M.C.
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Spain SL
* Bytrade Tanzania Limited
* Pioneer Hi-Bred (Thailand) Co.
* Pioneer Tohumculuk (Turkey)
* Pioneer Nasinnya Ukraine, LLC
* Pioneer Hi-Bred N. Europe (UK)
* Agar Cross Uruguaya S.A
* Semillas Pioneer de Venezuela
* Farmchem Services Ltd. (Zambia)
* Pioneer Hi-Bred Zimbabwe

Companies Owned by Land O Lakes (USA)

* Croplan Genetics
* Hytest Seeds
* Agriliance (joint venture with CHS, Inc.)
* ABI Alfalfa
* Seed Research of Oregon
* Pickseed Companies Group
* Seeds Ohio
* Forage Genetics Inc.

Land O’ Lakes is a giant agribusiness cooperative with total sales of $7,700 million. The company’s 2004 seed sales were $538 million, specializing in alfalfa, maize, soybeans and forage and turf grasses. About one-half of the seed sold by Land O’Lakes is purchased from Monsanto & Syngenta and then sold to coops.

Seed Companies Owned or Licensed by Dow Chemical:
* Mycogen
* Agrigenetics
* Cargill Hybrid Seeds
* United Agriseeds
* Morgan Seeds (Argentina)
* Kelten & Lynks
* Delta & Pine Land (corn & sorghum only)
* Dinamilho Carol Productos (Brazil)
* Hibridos Colorado Ltda. (Brazil)
* FT Biogenetica de Milho (Brazil)
* Phytogen (w/J.G. Boswell)
* Empresa Brasileira de Sementes (Brazil)

Companies Owned or Licensed by NOVARTIS INTERNATIONAL, AG
Northrup King Co.
Novartis NK, Inc

Companies Owned or Licensed by ASTRAZENECA, PLC

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Recycling Cans and Bottles is the Beginning

Top five reasons to recycle your aluminum recycling

Recycling is great but re-use is much much better. Recycling a can may save 95% of the energy but reusing a glass bottle approaches 99% energy savings. American companies are very spoiled by disposable packaging because they do not have to pay for the recovery processes. Coke Corp doesn't pay to recover aluminum or plastic so they really do not care whether we buy plastic bottles or aluminum cans--the cost is about the same for them while recycling centers and individuals shoulder the costs and efforts to keep these out of the landfills. If they were forced to go back to returnable glass bottles the cost to them would be around 2 cents per bottle and they are adamantly against this even though it would drastically lower energy use in the beverage industry.

The idea of a whole industry built around putting sugar and chemicals into bottles and cans is repulsive to me. There are a lot of better uses for for the 150 quarts of sugar water each American consumes each year.

If America drank water instead of soda, each American would:
Have 50 gallons more fuel for their cars,
Have an average of 1 less visit to a Doctor or Dentist,
Lose 17 pounds from the reduced calories,
Would keep 450 bottles and cans out of the waste stream.

Recycling is the Beginning. Intelligent Consumption is the Future.

Friday, June 13, 2008

How Much Does It Cost?

Take a stroll through WalMart or a Dollar Store and look at all the tons of cheap consumer goods available. Cheap toys, cheap clothes, cheap kitchen wares and cheap electronics. How can anyone produce a snow globe and sell it for $1.00? How can anyone produce an AM/FM radio for $4.99 or a DVD player for $29.00?? The reason these goods can get to the store at such low prices is by practice of "Externalizing Costs". Companies move their manufacturing to Third World countries to take advantage of cheap labor and lax manufacturing rules.

For example, if your company produces a product that causes large amounts of dioxin to be released as part of it's process then it is much cheaper to move to a country that allows the dioxin to be released freely than it would be to work in a country that demands that the dioxin be recovered and processes to limit toxicity. This is why most plastics used in electronics are created and molded in Mexico, China and India.

If your company want to sell cheap handmade quilts or rugs, then you set up your manufacturing plant in a country that has a labor force available with no governmental demands of real wages or worker safety. Pakistan and Turkey have been perfect for this because orphanages in these countries are overcrowded and so underfunded that they have become self supporting private businesses. Orphans have no protection under the law and can be made to work long hours for food and shelter only.

Next time you run out to WalMart to get cheap stuff, ask yourself how much it really costs.

6 Real Costs that are not included in the Price of Consumer Goods.

1) Pollution at the site of the materials origin. Water, air and ground pollution as a direct result of mining and plastics manufacturing and refining.

2) Work force health and safety. Exposure to mutigenic chemicals affect generations of humans exposed to chemical processing without regard to future complications. Underage workers literally worked to death without any legal protection. Workers killed by exposure, heatstroke and neglect. (1)

3) Landfill space and illegal dumping. Manufacturing processes cause huge wastes that must be landfilled for centuries or more commonly, just left where they are dropped.

4) Loss of wildlife habitat in areas surrounding manufacturing centers. Huge swaths of land are lost to pollution surrounding manufacturing plants. In many cases, this land will take hundreds or thousands of years to recover.

5) Immoral Energy Production. Third world manufacturing plants burn plastic waste products to create electricity and heat for use in their manufacturing plants. Tons of waste are pumped into the air without any attempt to clean the smoke.

6) End of cycle disposal. Once a gadget is done being used it must be disposed of and possibly recycled by poorly paid workers who are once again exposed to all kinds of nasty chemicals. (1)

7) Child Labor. Children, ages 5 to 14, are forced into the labor market as cheap labor to do repetitive and toxic jobs shunned by adults. These children are often chained to their work stations and routinely starved until they can't work anymore. Then, they are turned out to die on the street. Many of these children have been stolen from their families but most are sold or rented out by their parents for cash. (1) (2) This isn't confined to 3rd world countries. In the US, children work at dangerous jobs without access to schooling, all to keep prices down.

Friday, May 30, 2008

"I can afford to drive any auto I want to..."

"I can afford to drive any auto I want to..." I would like to remind the rest of us that rich people get their money from the middle class and the poor. In every industry, the key to wealth includes:

1) Keep employee wages and benefits low. (Who grows the food you eat? When you eat a $50 meal out, how much of it goes to your server?---most areas have rules that keep server wages under $10 per hour INCLUDING EXPECTED TIPS--if you don't tip, the server may be working for nothing at all.)

2) Keep product costs down. (How many patches do we need for Vista? What toys have lead paint? How many Walmarts* are there in the world? Why is the Lug-Nut Rule* still the best way to drive? Why haven't we separated freeways between City Cars and Transports??? )

3) Substitute lower cost ingredients whenever possible. (Coke says, "real sugar is too expensive....corn sweetener is good enough...aspartame is even better....darn, we really miss cyclomates*!")

4) Shift the blame whenever possible...back to the victim is best! (Thousands of farmers in India* have committed suicide after crop failures left them horribly in debt due to Monsanto Bt seeds that didn't produce as claimed. Monsanto claims the farmers didn't plant the seeds correctly as directed on the bags, "in perfectly clear ENGLISH." Pork and Beef farmers in the US have been bankrupted when GM crops have caused sterility in livestock---guess what??? Those same GM crops are showing up in 90% of the white flour on the US market and 75% of the soy products on the US market. Monsanto and BASF both deny any changes in fertility rates but Monsanto gives a large discount on rBGH* to farmers that also buy GM corn or GM soy seeds.)

5) Hedge Funds are the best investment, some of these funds are returning 20-25% on investments when the middle class is lucky to get 2% on their savings--minimum buy in for a hedge fund is $500,000(in cash.) Hedge Funds are a gambling system that bets on the price of food tomorrow or next year...the more they bet...the more money the investors make...and the higher the prices go. If you want a scape-goat for high oil or food prices....blame the 50 Million Americans who own Mutual Funds....they are the ones that are driving the price of oil, wheat, corn, soy, and rice out of reason. Next year they will switch over to beef, pork, and dairy products....expect the price of those to skyrocket!

6) Long term risk is worth the short term profits. (Monsanto gave the world Agent Orange*, swearing that it was completely safe for Humans. In the early years, a spokesman for Monsanto actually ate a spoonful of Agent Orange during his sales pitch for the product to show how safe it was. --Ask your nearest Vietnam Vet about this....the Army showed films of this event to the crews that were spraying the chemical over Vietnam.--- Monsanto eventually paid a relatively small fine to Americans who suffered as a result of this but the Vietnamese never got a dime of compensation. Also, LOVE CANAL*, MONSANTO ROUNDUP ILLNESS*, GM FOOD ILLNESS, ROUNDUP READY COCAINE)

The list goes on and on....and I say that the more you rely on processed foods and chemicals, the more you put yourself and your family at the mercy of people who just don't care at all what might happen to you in the future. If you think this isn't the case...please Google "Revolving Door FDA" and then e-mail me your ideas that the government is really trying to help and protect us.

*Just Google it! The information is everywhere if you take the time to look!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Myth of the Population Bomb

I am reading a lot about population problems and how to slow down the growth of population but every story seems to point the finger at a certain group that is producing too many children. Boil down any story and they seem to be saying there are too many of the "wrong" kind of people....too many Indians, too many Chinese....too many Africans....too many Muslims...too many Catholics....too many (insert any group besides your own)...

That kind of Racist Thinking is not going to help solve the problem at all.

Look at the raw numbers...6.5 Billion people. Move each and every one of them to the State of Florida. Each person would have 292 square feet.

Move every person in the world to the US and we would each have 1/3 of an acre of land.

Number of people is nowhere close to being a problem. The problem is greed....the idea that some people deserve more than other people. When resources are averaged there is plenty for all and then some, but when resources are hoarded by the few elite then, there isn't enough left to support the rest.

Western countries grab massive amounts of resources and use them up as fast as we can get them for useless and frivolous reasons. Gourmet PET FOOD? 5000 square foot homes??? 30 Billion dollar Diet and Fitness industry???

Even in Third World countries, 90% of the resources go to the elite leaving the poor to starve. The problem isn't the number of is that a few people use too much.

Just once I would like to see "Retro-active Abortion" suggested as a method of population control. Start with the dictators that use guns to hoard resources, follow up with the world's elite that waste the most and work our way down the list until everyone who is left has enough. Wiping out the top 1 Million Resource Pigs would make room for another 10 billion more earth friendly people.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cheap and Healthy...Pass the Tofu!

Faux MorningStar Veggie Bites
aka Broccoli Cheddar Bites.

As a recently converted vegetarian, I am always on the look out for acceptable and tasty vegetarian products. I tried MorningStar Veggie Bites this week and my family liked them just fine. Glancing at the box gave me a start though! The 40+ ingredients listed read like a bag of Cheetos!

Broccoli Cheddar Bites.
14 ounces extra firm tofu/drain, mince and press out as much liquid as possible.
2 cups frozen broccoli/ thawed and minced
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese or cheddar soy.
1 teaspoon Johnny's Seasoning Salt(Increase to 2 tsp if you like a little more salt.)
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
3 eggs or egg replacement
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons of pure cane sugar (about 1/3 of what is in the original)

Mix together until well distributed. Add enough white or whole wheat flour to make a stiff batter-about 3/4 cup.

Form batter into ping pong sized balls, flatten slightly and coat each side with bread crumbs. Place patties on an oiled baking sheet so that they are not touching. Spray the tops of the patties with cooking spray. Pre-Bake for 5 minutes at 400 degrees.

Cool and freeze until needed. Makes about 32 patties. 3 patties=270 calories.

To use: Take out desired number and bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes until hot through and golden brown. Flip halfway through baking.

This is a good recipe to double or triple as most of the effort is in the first stage.

This recipe could be made using just about any combination of cooked veggie and cheese:

Portabella Mushroom, Red pepper and mozzarella
Corn & Smoked Swiss
Bell Pepper, Onion and Pepper Jack

Experiment and come back with your comments!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Gas Price Predictions-How bad can it get?

Oil hit $100 per bbl on Feb 20,2008. Many economists predict the price will rise to $200/bbl in less than 2 years. After looking at the trends for the last 3 months, I want to go on the record and predict $200/bbl on or before Jan 5th, 2009.

May 22,2008 $135
May 26th Dr. Robert Hirsch agrees with my prediction.
June 27, 2008 $140
July 1st, 2008 144.25 (Price is lagging behind my prediction at the point.)
July 6th, 2008 Russian Expert says $250 within an year.
July 22, 2008 A little dip in the market to 130.23...has brought gas prices down 1 cent!

I am basing this on oil's continued price gains, on average, $0.31 per day since Feb 20,2008. At that growth rate it will take 235 days for it to reach $200. This will raise the price of a gallon of gas to between $7.50 and $8.00 USD. The greatest price increases will come toward the end of the year as the Outgoing President and his cronies take all the profit they can squeeze out before the Newly Elected President can take over on Tuesday, January 20th,2009. (1)

Natural disasters and/or another American invasion of a foreign country could raise the price of oil even higher.

I predict the following Major Changes as a result of dramatically higher gas prices:

1) Reduction in the national speed limit from 70 mph to 50 mph or 55 mph. (1)

2) We will have a resurgence of interest in "Buy American" as people scramble to support American Made and American Grown products.

3) More people will grow a portion of their own food and more people will focus on locally grown food.
As of May 2008, farmer's market prices are leveling out with supermarket prices on fresh in-season vegetables-more people are buying local produce than ever before. (1)

4) Food Rioting around the world will increase exponentially as the gap between rich and poor widens.

5) Worldwide GM crop failures due to the reduction in availability and high cost of petroleum based fertilizers, on which GM crops are heavily dependent. (1) (2) (3)

6) Materials previously considered "garbage" will become valuable enough to incite theft and crime. (1) (2) (3) (6) Used Oil (4) (5) And, previously safe public works & art will be stolen and trashed. Bronze Grave Markers John Wadden's Art Catalytic Converters will disappear with amazing efficiency. (1)

7) SUV's will become unsaleable as people scramble to buy smaller more fuel efficient transport. (1) (2)

8) Many companies and governments will switch to 4 day work weeks. (1) This will be good for companies and workers. Companies will be able to save about 20% on energy operating costs, and workers will save 20% on their work related fuel and food costs.

I will come back and update this post as new information becomes available.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Food Buyer Beware....THEY Know How We Shop!

Some weird things are going on lately with food prices, at least at Safeway! I am making out my weekly shopping list and I have come across some interesting discrepancies.

I always shop the sales and one thing I like about Safeway is that you can shop online and get groceries delivered without being tempted to buy every thing in the store. I can just shop from my list and only my list. even lets you sort similar items by price to get the best deal.

So here I am looking at different grocery options and I find my first new discrepancy. Powdered milk has long been a staple in the Frugal Kitchen so imagine my surprise at $17.69 for a box of store brand powdered milk (44 cents per pint) verses store brand 2% at $2.99 (37 cents per pint)! How is that possible? Powdered milk has never, in my memory, been more expensive than fresh milk! We use about 1 gallon of milk per day so that is $204 per year difference! I just noticed this today and since I have ordered the store brand powdered without thinking I wonder how much this has cost me in the last year? $204 extra on my grocery bill for buying what has always been the cheapest product until now?? When did this change actually happen?

My interest is peaked and I look at other "cheap" staples.

Rice and beans are the cheapest in the largest bags right? Wrong! Pearl barley, yellow split peas and small white beans are the cheapest in 1 pound bags. Pinto beans are the cheapest(84 cents per pound) in the 10 pound bag compared to 95 cents per pound in a 20 pound bag. Rice is cheaper in 20 pound bags(46 cents per pound) than 25 pound bags (55 cents per pound). The cheapest package of rice at Safeway is $1.25 for a 1 pound bag...nearly 3 times higher than the 20 pound bag. Even a 2 pound bag is dramatically cheaper at 1.99($1 per pound)

Frozen veggies are cheaper than canned or fresh right?
Wrong again! Frozen corn is $1.30 per pound while canned corn is $0.63 per pound. Fresh corn is 5/$1.00 or about 80 cents a pound. Canned peas are 63 cents per pound, frozen peas are $1.30 per pound. Canned spinach is $1.51 per pound, fresh is $1.79 and frozen is $2.50. Again, I have been fooled by the old Frugal Wisdom.

Tuna is cheap? Not any more! Canned salmon is, on average, 10 cents per pound cheaper than tuna.

Has Safeway finally found our weakness in our sheer aversion to comparing prices on our own? 99% of all Frugal Living sites will repeat the old "Powdered/Frozen/Big Bags" as the way to get the cheapest foods and now Safeway has found a way to cash in on it by raising the prices on the styles and package sizes that automatically attract the Frugal Shoppers!

Sadly, I noticed that in nearly all basic food groups the food marketed to African Americans, Hispanics and Asians were almost always higher in price than the same product in universal packaging.

Safeway/Vons Canned Spinach - 14 Oz $1.32
Sylvia's Southern Style Spinach Greens - 14.5 Oz $2.45

O Organic Black Beans - 15 Oz 99 cents
S&W Mexican Style Black Beans (Hispanic Food Aisle)- 15 Oz $1.49

Fiesta Garbanzo Beans-(Hispanic Foods Aisle) 16 Oz $1.79
O Organic Garbanzo Beans - (canned veggie aisle) 16 Oz $1.09

Goya Dry Chick Peas (Eastern Foods aisle) 16 Oz $2.69
Fiesta Dry Garbanzo Beans (Hispanic Foods Aisle) 16 Oz $1.76
Safeway/Vons Garbanzo Beans -(Pasta aisle) 16 Oz $1.13

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dear Trader Joe

Dear Joe or Authorized Representative,

I love my local Trader Joe's. The store is bright and clean, crew members are friendly and knowledgeable, and the food is fabulous! Still, I find myself limiting my visits due to concerns about packaging. I find it confusing that I get a great re-usable paper bag filled to the top with non-recyclable plastics. Plastic are a great concern to me, so I do not buy any veggies at your store and find myself appalled by sheer volume of plastic on everything else.

Here in the Seattle area, we have a good but limited plastic recycling system and other than plastic bottles, very little of the plastics I get from your store can be placed in the bins.

Trader Joe's is so great at being environmentally friendly in other areas but this area also needs to be addressed.

I would like to see more items offered in standard canning-style glass jars. More and more of us are doing some home canning so many of the jars would be reused many times.

I would like to see more products packaged in compostable plastics. Packages that are clearly marked, "Suitable for compost bin recycling" would be a great comfort to me.

I would like to see more products including your lovely baby veggies packaged in reusable "Tupperware" style packaging.

I would like to see more products packaged in consumer reusable containers. Something I can use the contents, slip off the label and reuse. For example: Playtex Chubs Stackable Baby Wipes. These come in a re-fillable box that is also a giant Lego that can be played with for years and then recycled.

And, I would LOVE to see Trader Joe's switch to more "returnable" packaging that could be taken back to the factory and refilled.

I would also love to see more regionally produced products. My great disappointment of my last TJ's shopping trip: TJ's Spanish White Beans with Vegetables from Spain. I will never buy this product again no matter how healthy and delicious it is. The only part of the packaging that is recyclable here in Seattle is the cardboard sleeve. The tray and plastic film are trash. And, the idea of shipping cooked beans from Spain is ridiculous. I know that dealing with large companies helps to make your products consistent but Spain??? Maybe you can get the same thing in a dehydrated version and sell it in paper packaging---just add water or maybe just sell the Sofrito sauce in a big jar to flavor beans with, made in Washington State if possible. Until I see something like that, I am done with this particular product.

Alas, Dear Trader Joe, even though your goods are really, really good, I will have to limit my trips to your store to just the basic necessities.