Scientists finally get off their butts to study the effects of farm runoff on our goddamn water  »

imageIt’s not that they don’t care! It’s that the extreme weather has increased runoff to a degree so alarming that scientists thought, Gosh, maybe now is the time to see what the effects of like seven decades of industrial agriculture has had on our waterways. NPR has some pretty delightful (horrifying) quotes:

Agriculture is the nation’s leading cause of impaired water quality, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"It’s been happening for years," says [Bob Broz, a water quality specialist with the University of Missouri Extension]. "The problem is now we seem to be seeing more of these more intense rainfalls. And that, in turn, creates a huge amount of nutrient loss."

"There’s the direct impact on the aquatic ecosystem," says [Bob Lerch, a USDA soil scientist]. "And then there’s the downstream impacts on say, drinking water, or a reservoir, or a recreational [body of water]."

Want to freak the fuck out about whether the next generation will even understand the concept of “tap water”? (Potable water from … the government? Available to all of us citizens for a nominal fee? Go on, old person, tell me another ridiculous story about life before you ruined the planet for us.) Read the article at The Salt blog.

[photo by Penn State News via Flickr]


Australia’s National Food Plan may include vegan issues  »

That’s the way to do it, Vegan Australia.

The magical island of Australia (or as we think of it, Evil New Zealand), is right now creating a national food plan. The government wants “to foster a sustainable, globally competitive, resilient food supply that supports access to nutritious and affordable food.” Which is admirable!

The leader of NFP project, Senator the Hon. Joe Ludwig, minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, has been meeting with interested parties nationwide, and taking public comment since releasing his ministry’s first issues papers on the subject in June 2011. This week Vegan Australia submitted its own set of recommendations to the NFP, because vegans care a lot about the direction of food production. As quoted in the International News Magazine, Vegan Australia recommends the NFP should

Ensure all Australians have access to affordable and adequate fresh fruits and vegetables and other plant foods irrespective of income by 2015.

Improve the health of Australians and lower the burden on the health system by reducing the incidence of dietary related diseases.

Use Australia’s land resources more effectively and sustainably.

End the use of animal agriculture systems within the next 20 years by building up and supporting Australia’s fruit, vegetable and grain producers.

"End the use of animal agriculture systems within the next 20 years"! As in, TURN AUSTRALIA VEGAN. I love it. I love that the first tenet is "food justice" and the last is "National veganism." Those are big goals! Read them all in the official submission [pdf].

Would our Australian readers (or any antipodean readers, if you follow Australian news) please tell us your opinions on this? Is it a tiny issue? Is the country abuzz with cries of “Let us eat steak!”? Are Australian vegans like the ideal-world version of the silent majority? OK that can’t be true—no vegan is silent. But I don’t know anything about anything, so let your favorite pink dinosaur know: What is up with the National Food Plan? Will Australia be vegan within our lifetime?

[Photo of (and recipe for) vegan lamingtons by penguincakes via Flickr]


In March, Intelligence Squared hosted a debate at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne, Australia, on the topic “Animals Should Be Off the Menu.” Peter Singer, Philip Wollen, and Veronica Ridge spoke on the pro side, and Adrian Richardson, Fiona Chambers, and Bruce McGregor were con.

Wollen, a onetime vice president of Citibank and founder of the Kindness Trust, brought the house down with his 10 minutes on the horrors of slaughterhouses, and the absolute wreck the meat industry has made of the environment. Take a break (you are legally entitled to it, at-computer workers) and watch it! Then go cry in the bathroom because it is an emotional subject, and seeing an erstwhile super-capitalist get worked up about animal rights and economic disparity is really moving!

Read the full text from Wollen’s speech here, get a nice summary of the debate here, and check out the full, 71-minute event here. In the future, no one will eat animals, and no one will starve.


Yay Vulcans!  »

With the release of the new Star Trek movie today, I thought I should point out that Vulcans, those quintessential mavens of enviable, indisputable LOGIC, are all vegetarians! (Unless, apparently, they are some kind of social outcast Vulcans.)

In fact, the entire Federation could be considered vegans, as just about all their food seems to be provided for them via replicators, the equivalent of vat-grown meat. As Riker points out in one episode, “We no longer enslave animals for food purposes.” Woo! My kind of future!

Unfortunately, the Trekkie community has yet to embrace this philosophy fully. Get with it, guys! If you can put on pointy ears and wear a dorky uniform out in public, you can order a veggie burger once in a while! Sigh.

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