vegansaurus!

11/18/2010

Poor ol’ Rawesome, the members-only raw food club. Everything they sell is raw! But the government HATES THEM, because…dairy? The government is anti-raw dairy products? The government tends to go overboard with its responses to alternative foods clubs? Maybe it’s the long arm of Dairy Management—those guys do not fuck around.

On the other hand, some of the things these raw-milk enthusiasts say is priceless.

"It’s how nature provides the food without man becoming involved with, uh, pasteurization, homogenization, processing of any kind."

"Rawesome had a real, desperate need for raw goat milk, and we progressed in building our own dairy and raising our own goats."

Yes, guys. “Nature” provided you with the milk. Nature in the form of cows and goats that were never consulted about the situation. And unless they spontaneously excrete their milk into buckets, “man” has to be involved in the process. Oh dear. A “desperate need” for goat’s milk! What does that look like? Do you get the shakes if you don’t get your fix? Leave you curled in a ball on the floor, immobile and ashen-faced, until someone can place a few precious drops of god’s own ambrosia—sorry, “rawmbrosia”—on your parched tongue?

Obviously, shut up, government oversight agencies; try looking into Big Ag before raiding tiny private raw food clubs. But also, shut up raw-animal-products evangelists. You guys sound just as ridiculous as every other evangelizing raw foodist,* except you also claim that raw dairy is better because it’s straight from the animal, as though that mitigates the from-the-animal part. Your high horse: please, come off it.

*Excluding our Sarah E. Brown, as we suspect her of having a secret crazy side.

[video link via eater national]

11/16/2010

Wherever you are, your government hates you  »

Not a joke. In England, after slashing health and welfare benefits, the new government is writing policy on “obesity, alcohol, and diet-related disease”; namely, “an overhaul of public health.” To advise them, the government has asked experts in different areas of obesity, alcohol, and diet-related disease, including: Cancer Research U.K.; the Faculty of Public Health; the CEO (Jeremy Beadles) of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association; Diageo; Unilever; Mars; Kellogg’s; PepsiCo; KFC; and McDonald’s. British public health policy: it’s just like ours! Which is to say, the mighty businesses get to strike all the legislation they don’t like, work in sneaky little loopholes so they can continue to sell their demon “food” unfettered by silly regulations, and do it with the approval of the government AND public health advocacy groups! Win-win-win, suckers!

Currently 30 percent of North Korean residents are “substantially undernourished,” but every single country save China and South Korea does not want to donate food because the PRK’s government is all nuked up. AHAHA sorry fellow human beings; your government eats up all your food and hordes money you will never see, makes selling or trading your own food illegal, and refuses to shut down its nuclear program despite 30 percent of you already starving! And not one wealthy country that could give you food or the supplies to grow your own will, because we’re all playing a game of nuclear-chicken with your dictator-leader! I guess you’ll just have to rely on the underfunded U.N. World Food Program.

Those lovely reuseable plastic-composite shopping bags all the grocery and drugstores sell now? Some of them are full of lead. YES. Thanks for the Q.C., government! Glad you’re looking out for us as we try to avoid using terrible animal-murdering never-decomposing plastic bags! Solution: canvas. Just use bags made of recycled canvas and you and the environment and the cotton-harvesters will be all right.

And here are your FDA recalls from last week (Nov. 9 to 13)! As the majority of these are non-vegan, maybe let your meat- and cheese-eating pals know about them. And sleep well at night knowing how much lower your risk of bacterial illness is.

Thanks for strictly enforcing those safety standards, FDA! Man it is great to live in a country whose government cares so much about its citizens’ health and safety.

11/15/2010

Make San Francisco a No-Kill City TUESDAY NIGHT!  »

We need people to show up to the Animal Welfare Commission meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 5:30 p.m. in room 408 of San Francisco City Hall. Find City Hall at 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, right off the Civic Center Bart/Muni station!

Adoptable animals are being killed in SF shelters, and if you’d like to express your opinion about making SF a no-kill city, PLEASE COME! The fact is thousands of adoptable animals are put down every year because they fail a ridiculously hard temperament test, or have minor health problems, or are too old, or are a breed considered “violent” and “dangerous.” You know, racism.

Here’s exactly what they’ll be discussing:

5. Unfinished Business
A) The Commission will discuss and take possible action to table indefinitely the issue of whether or not San Francisco should mandate that all city shelters not euthanize any adoptable animal or any animal that would be adoptable after behavioral or medical intervention. The Commission has discussed various aspects of this issue over the course of the past two years. In May 2010, the Commission said it would revisit the issue in three months, and this agenda item fulfills that commitment. [Discussion/Action Item] [Commissioner Brooks]

San Francisco does an admirable job of re-homing thousands of homeless animals each year, far better than most cities, but we do have the resources, the rescue groups, and the ability to make that number even higher. The more pressure we put on the city to make this happen, the more likely it will happen. It’ll take less than an hour of your time and has the potential to help thousands and thousands of animals. Plus, you get to see our government! at! work! And usually a fair amount of crazy people, too. You know you love it.

See you there!

07/06/2010

01/08/2010

UPDATE: Obama reverses pledge to stop funding factory farming!?  »

OK, we promised more investigating, and here it is. Let’s get some things out of the way first, though. The USDA rule in question isn’t just about subsidizing factory farms, it’s about corporate farms in general. So, large corporate farms like soybeans, corn, wheat, and so on, and yes, livestock and dairy.

Now, if I were dictator, instead of closing the loophole, I’d just eliminate the farm subsidy program completely. Farm subsidies are a weird throwback to a horse-and-buggy era, and they’re bad news no matter who gets them. Think about all the water, fuel and land that goes to waste to grow food that no one needs. Stupid, right? And if the experience of New Zealand is any guide, ditching farm subsidies would actually save family farms, not hurt them.

But unfortunately I’m not dictator (though MAYBE SOMEDAY and I’ll tell you what, my first act as vegan dictator would be a hell of lot more dictatorial than free brownies, not that I don’t love a good brownie) and it’s pretty obvious that, at the very least, the loophole needs to be closed. So when I heard the change didn’t go through, it triggered my WTF-dar.

So here’s what I set out to answer: (1) Did the rule require an act of Congress to change, or was it fully within the executive branch’s power? In other words, did Obama make a promise that needed new law passed by Congress, or was it in his administration’s power to change? (2) Are there any signs that his USDA plans to tackle it later, or does this reflect a genuine change in priorities for the rest of his first term?

To answer this I called the USDA (and in the process learned that if you want to find out what your government is doing, don’t call your representative, call the bored mid-level civil servant in D.C.) and found the final rules. The original proposed rules were published and made available for public comment on Feb. 9, 2009, with the final rules that sparked blogger outrage published Thursday, Jan. 7. Warning, both links are very dry PDFs.

And I saved you the trouble of reading them. At issue is the definition of “actively engaged in farming.” As defined by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill, a person who might be “actively engaged in farming” is vague enough to include spouses of farmers (which is fine) to farm management (loophole alert!).

So when the USDA published the new rules for the comment period, they got flooded with comments asking them to tighten up this definition of “actively engaged in farming”. Read on and see how they chose to respond to one of these comments, then I’ll unpack what they’re saying:

Sec. 1400.203 Joint Operations

COMMENT:

A more rigorous definition or measurable standard for active personal management is needed; too many people per entity are qualifying for payment eligibility based on only active personal management. However, the comments did not represent a consensus on what that standard should be. Use a 1000 hour eligibility (test) for an active contribution of management and labor combined. Require each actively engaged partner to work at least 1000 hours in proving labor or management, or engage in labor or management for hours equal to at least half those required by the share of the operation.

Define active management to include marketing, securing financing, supervising employees, and scheduling field activities.

Close the potential loopholes and end unlimited payments to the nation’s largest farms. Require a person to either work half time on a farm or provide half the labor or management to qualify as an active farmer. The ‘‘actively engaged’’ issue is the biggest potential loophole of all. Megafarms with investor partners use this potential loophole to collect unlimited payments.

The excess payments gained from the actively engaged potential loopholes allow megafarms to outbid smaller farmers and beginning farmers for land, leading to the demise of family farming. This potential loophole is strangling the economic future of rural communities and choking off farm entry for the next generation.


RESPONSE:

As indicated previously, the definition of what constitutes a significant contribution is provided by regulation, not by statute and, therefore, could be changed. We recognize the difficulty in determining the significance of a management contribution under the current definition and the appeal of a measurable, quantifiable standard. However, unlike labor, the significance of a management contribution is not appropriately measured by the amount of time a person spends doing the claimed contribution. The current regulatory definition of a significant contribution of active personal management has been in effect for over 20 years; Congress has not mandated a more restrictive definition during that time, including in the 2008 Farm Bill. However, we are currently exploring whether the current definition could be amended in a manner that would be fair, equitable, and enhance program integrity. Therefore, no changes were made at this time as the result of this comment and other related comments.

Got all that? Here’s what they’re saying in their response:

As indicated previously, the definition of what constitutes a significant contribution is provided by regulation, not by statute and, therefore, could be changed. We recognize the difficulty in determining the significance of a management contribution under the current definition and the appeal of a measurable, quantifiable standard.

So the USDA has the power to change the loophole and doesn’t need an act of Congress. That answers that. They seem to agree that the loophole should be changed (“the appeal of a measurable, quantifiable standard”).

However, unlike labor, the significance of a management contribution is not appropriately measured by the amount of time a person spends doing the claimed contribution. The current regulatory definition of a significant contribution of active personal management has been in effect for over 20 years.

Here they’re saying it’s a hard problem to solve without causing other problems. In the rest of the document, they talk a lot about how spouses of farmers might be affected by an “actively engaged in farming” rule-change, and it’s not clear how much wiggle room they have.

Congress has not mandated a more restrictive definition during that time, including in the 2008 Farm Bill.

Now they’re punting the question to Congress, even though it’s within the USDA’s power to make some kind of change, so this line is a bit of a cop-out. But then again, maybe Congress should just take it up and make the rule change permanent instead of leaving it up to each new presidential administration to fiddle around with things. (Hint hint, more activism and lobbying from vegans kthx.)

However, we are currently exploring whether the current definition could be amended in a manner that would be fair, equitable, and enhance program integrity.

Here’s the crux of it. Do you believe that they’re working on the loophole to try and close it for the next round of rule changes, or do you believe it’s a brush off? And do you believe the loophole should be closed by the USDA, or by Congress? Questions, questions.

From what I can see, there are a lot of issues going on. Has the USDA sold out to corporate farms, or are they honestly trying to grapple with a complex issue without creating unintended consequences for family members of farmers? And are they trying to avoid a separation of powers problem by defining something further than the Farm Bill allows, or are they just being a bunch of lame-brains?

I don’t really have any conclusions here, just more questions, so…I report, you decide!

09/11/2009

A million recipes, a whole bunch of videos, some adorable (rescued!) animals, another fruit in a cute shape AND MORE: Friday link-o-rama!  »

The Cute Show visits an alpaca farm. It is unsettling to hear the farm children talk about the little creatures in terms of fleece quality, but I advise ignoring them and focusing on the unbearable squeezeability of the alpacas. Look at their furry little legs and their fuzzy heads! Look at the little bitty blue-eyed deaf one! It’s only four days old you can pick it up and snuggle it LOVE YOU ALPACAS.

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau makes the best tuna salad and quesadillas you’ll ever eat: the kind without tuna or cheese! Yes, really. Instructional video and recipes here.

WAY better than the heart- and star-shaped cucumbers: buddha-shaped pears! Will someone in Europe please send us some? Label them “trinkets” or whatever on the customs form, you KNOW how California is about importing produce. Dear state of California, we promise not to let these pears’ seeds come anywhere near your fertile soil.

There’s going to be a small, open-air fall farmers market just around the corner from the White House!

Activism had some effect! Remember how in The Cove, some of the dolphins were sold to aquariums, and the rest were murdered to be sold for meat? Well! Because of international pressure created by audiences of the film, the Japanese town responsible for this horror show has promised not to slaughter the dolphins in the season’s first “catch” (ugh). Instead, the people say they’ll release the dolphins they don’t sell live. Yes that’s still far from ideal, but it’s a huge improvement over mass murder.

San Francisco city Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi introduced an ordinance this week to prohibit the procedure known as declawing on cats. For all the nothing that our local government seems to accomplish, this little piece of legislation is at least a little compensation:

"…[D]eclawing and tendonectomy are inhumane procedures that cause pain, anguish and permanent disability to a cat, and frequently result in behavioral and personality changes in cats subjected to those procedures. The primary benefit of the procedures—the convenience of pet owners—is outweighed by the cruelty of the procedures. It is inappropriate to remove parts of an animal’s anatomy, thereby causing the animal pain and suffering, and restricting and altering its natural behaviors, simply to fit the owner’s lifestyle, aesthetics or convenience, without benefit to the animal."

We like our Board of Supes with a little righteous anger.

Make cheezy quackers with Celine of Have Cake, Will Travel! She’s adorable, they’re adorable, there is nothing not adorable (and delicious!) about this video.

The recipe for “Ultimate Vegan Hot Wingz” over at Vegan Dad looks too good! If I make these, don’t expect to get any! Just me and the hot wingz and LEAVE ME ALONE I’M STARVING.

Har har: Quarry Girl announces the release of their iPhone app, which allows you to just push buttons instead of talking to people. This is all you talk about anyway, right?

MORE DELICIOUS FOOD ALERT! Carrie at Map Mistress tells us how to roast perfect sweet potatoes (Hey! It’s almost fall! CAN YOU FUCKING BELIEVE THIS SHIT IT WAS JUST NEW YEAR’S!) and I know this was mentioned before but VEGAN CHEDDAR CHEESE BISCUITS over at It’s Faturday. That truly calls for a what what in the butt shout out.

Eater SF has a few photos from inside Gracias Madre, the vegan nuevo Latino restaurant by the Cafe Gratitude people. It’s set to open in “late summer 2009,” which technically means anytime between now and Sept. 21. Who’s taking me when it opens? I will eat raw vegan nuevo Latino ANYTHING, especially with those Gratitude nut cheeses, they are the best.

Hey, it’s National Cholesterol Month. You know who has super-duper excellent blood cholesterol? Vegans! Oh yes. Encourage all your non-vegan friends and family members to get their cholesterol levels checked, while you eat dairy-free ice cream out of the carton, in front of them. Because usually you are good and can keep your smugness to a minimum, but no one’s perfect, and basically the NIH is asking you to rub your better health in everyone else’s face, so why not?

A box turtle with prosthetic limbs. There is nothing more sweetly pathetic on this earth. [via Cute Overload]

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