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01/23/2012

People’s Grocery goes solar!  »

You knew West Oakland’s People’s Grocery was awesome,* but now it’s getting even awesomer: As of today, Jan. 23, the joint will run on solar power. And not just any solar-power, but uber-progressive, crowd-funded solar power from Solar Mosaic.

If you want, you can pretend like you’re a reporter and sneak into the media event they’re having today — at People’s Grocery, 909 Seventh St. in Oakland, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — for the installation. Or you could just actually be helpful: Go fund some solar projects at Solar Mosaic (you basically give a small, zero-interest loan on behalf of solar power); buy some stuff from People’s Grocery (supposedly they’ve even got a grocery store coming later this year!), or find an organization in your area doing rad stuff. 

I’m off to feel bad about myself now, since I haven’t done anything to help the world today beside make sure there’s one less Field Roast Apple Sage Sausage around to terrorize our nation’s youth.

*You did know that right? If not, don’t admit it, you’ll look seriously out of the loop. It’s basically a pioneering social-justice org focused on access to healthy food.

04/06/2011

Say WHAT, Novella Carpenter?  »

Oh, dear. This woman, Novella Carpenter, she’s just your average middle-class white American afforded all the opportunities that comes with this status, yet she chooses to play “farmer held down by The Man.” It’s really only privileged white people who “choose” to be poor, isn’t it? Like it’s some powerful social act? But, you know, when they want to travel around the world, they travel around the world, and when they want to go to grad school, they go to grad school, and when they want to feed a hen 8,000 grain-calories to produce just a dozen eggs, they do it and claim it’s all in interest of improving food security. Being poor by choice has its advantages!

I could’ve given two shits about Carpenter until she had to go and make some unfounded claims about “animal people” calling the city of Oakland on her (allegedly) illegal-farm-having ass AND NOW I HAVE TO CARE ABOUT THIS WOMAN, GODDAMMIT. Ugh, all I wanted to do this morning was eat my Wheatabix and watch an episode of Arrested Development in peace and NOW THIS SHIT.

Carpenter gets dimed out for some shady farm shit—selling food when she hasn’t got a permit—and it’s front page news! The Chronicle is on her team. Super, I don’t give a fuck. But then she gets an email from some person saying it was probably animal rights people who turned her in and she posts the letter on her blog and says yes, she assumed it was in fact those meddling animal-lovers! Carpenter, don’t say that bunny lovers are after you because some person who sent you an email BELIEVES that they PROBABLY know who turned you in. What if I sent you an email telling you I BELIEVED that it was PROBABLY Willie Brown who did it? Or that it was a neighbor who secretly hates you? Maybe it’s even someone who hates animals and wants them gone? Who knows! Don’t go spouting bullshit against animal-lovers because you got some email tip from someone who believes they might know something. And then later, she’s like WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG!? to the animal people, after she straight called us out on her blog. As Kanye says, that’s a pretty bad way to start a conversation.

Also guys, you know what else is low? When the city of Oakland dude told her she was being taken to task for breaking the law, she responded, “What about City Slicker Farms? Or People’s Grocery? I asked, two urban farming non-profits in Oakland. No one has complained about them.” So uh, she just dragged the legality of City Slicker Farms and People’s Grocery into a talk with a government official? Now who’s the snitch?! Wow, maybe it was another urban farmer who turned her in because they are equally petty? I wonder. Not to mention, those are two places that are WAAAAAY more useful than she’ll ever be.

This is my favorite part: “I’ll have to spend countless hours of my time (making it my 4th low paying/no paying job) so you can have a new law to enforce when one person (with money and power probably) complains about another person’s private activities. I just want to grow food for myself and other people, I don’t want to go to meetings and speak bureaucrat talk.” Um, Carpenter is a person with money and power. She has the extremely lucrative commodity of media coverage at her fingertips. I mean, she’s bitching about chard and it’s front-page news. Here’s some real news: actual oppressed individuals cannot spawn media shitstorms at will. And I’m sure as someone who studied under Michael Pollan at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, she’s got that bureaucrat talk down better than most, so cry me a goddamn river.

And really: Welcome to the world! I don’t want to register my car because it’s expensive and a pain in the ass—alert the media! If I let that registration slide and I get caught and my ass gets handed a ticket, I don’t like it, but I don’t whine “poor me” and I don’t get front-page coverage in the Chron. I also can’t open a retail store in my residentially zoned apartment WOE IS ME. Also, if she wanted to be more generous with this whole thing, at least she could say something like, “Good thing this is happening to me and not someone who really needs the food and actually can’t afford the time and money needed to lobby. I have the ability and power to seek (my version of) justice.”  A bit of fucking perspective is all I ask. You’re not some chard-martyr.

But the worst part is, in a follow up post, Carpenter encourages people to raise (and slaughter?!) their own food under the radar? I’m actually way more comfortable with these activities being overseen; I don’t trust the idiots who order chickens in the mail to take that shit seriously. Carpenter might have the time (remember! She has no real job! She’s just a simple farmer! With a book deal!), skills, and money (yes, it takes a good amount of money to raise chickens, whether it be for eggs or meat), but most people don’t. So yes, I do want laws dictating how and where people in my city can raise and slaughter animals. I’d like more laws surrounding animal agriculture in general, whether it be factory farms or you new American farmers who want to eat your pets. Given the horrific treatment of animals pretty much everywhere, we need more oversight, not less. Self-policing isn’t working.

If you can kill an animal that you raised with kindness and love for no other reason than it tastes good to you, well then you kinda freak me out. So, yeah, I’ll continue to spend the majority of my time railing against factory farms, but just like you, Carpenter, I’ve got extra time, and so heeeeey what’s up, girl! If you want to team up on factory farming issues (and hell, even organic farming issues), holler, I’m all for it. However, don’t drag “rabbit fanatics” into this and force me to read your blog. I was much happier having no clue who you are.

To tie this long-ass rant up, a picture of a cute-ass bunny, Surya, who is up for adoption at SaveABunny (Sorry, Carpenter, she’s not for eating, she’s for snuggling!)
Blog post title gaffled from the always awesome Say what, Michael Pollan?

01/13/2010

Un-Cookbook review: The Raw Healing Patch! Veganize your rawness!  »

In my last post on Vegansaurus, I offered a few strategies for making raw organic foods more accessible and affordable, especially for young people and lower-income folks living in the Bay Area. Wherever you fall on the raw-to-cooked spectrum, it’s indisputable that the raw food movement is helping to bring more folks into the vegan fold, which is something all vegans can be happy about. It seems to me that if we find creative ways to motivate raw foodists to go full-on vegan (e.g., rain down on them with mad knowledge, advice, free vegan food and love), we can help them discover that, through raw veganism, they can make a huge difference not only for their own health, but also for the health of the planet. A couple good places to start are local nonprofit People’s Grocery and Lauren Ornelas’ fabulous food justice/human rights/environmental advocacy group the Food Empowerment Project, which work to source ethical products and make organic produce accessible to everyone.

In the spirit of accessibility, I recently got my hands on a copy of The Healing Patch Cookbook produced by the down-to-earth, super-ecologically conscious, queer veg couple Julie Cara Hoffenberg and Sarah Woodward, who together make up the raw food team known as The Healing Patch. The cookbook, which they were kind enough to also make available in an eco-friendly e-book format, is utterly unpretentious, and a great way to usher rawies into the ethical vegan eating path. Hoffenberg and Woodward make clear throughout the witty cookbook that their way of eating and (un)cooking is just that—their way—and that they would never wish to impose them on anyone else; yet they are very clear that raw veganism has remarkably improved their lives. Healing Patch’s primary goal is to offer gentle coaxing to adopt a raw vegan lifestyle, basing their recipes and advice on what helped Woodward heal after her battle with ovarian cancer. Thankfully, they do this without laying on the sorts of guilt-trips or strict guidelines usually found in these .

Healing Patch’s recipes are really easy to make, require no esoteric ingredients, and have cute little factoids, including nutritional profiles. They also offer useful tips on economical home sprouting, gardening, selecting the best produce for each season, and how to substitute recipe ingredients for whatever is local and fresh whenever possible. They succeed at providing ample tricks for being a raw vegan while healing yourself and the planet at the lowest possible expense.

The one issue I take with this otherwise charming volume is that some of the recipes include dairy, ostensibly in order to help folks to “transition more gently” to raw veganism. This is disappointing, especially since the authors clearly believe in the tenets of raw veganism and oppose cruelty and oppression. It seems to me like the duo hasn’t quite made the connection that the dairy industry is horribly cruel and directly supports the meat industry. Maybe they should pick up feminist masterpiece The Sexual Politics of Meat by my personal hero Carol J. Adams—which, by the way, has just been released in a newly updated 20th anniversary edition!

Once Healing Patch gets educated in the ways of vegan feminism by Adams, I’m sure they’ll be willing to make all of their recipes totally vegan. Feel free to comment to them about this on their website—it will be good practice for the raw foodists you’ll be converting to raw veganism in the near future! Anyway, hopefully the next edition of The Healing Patch (which I do hope they eventually write!) will address this concern.

This is the second post written by Sarah E. Brown. Thanks, Sarah!

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