“Ugly fruits & vegetables need love, too.”

On Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables

Eat Your Wonky Vegetables Dept: Those rows of glossy, flawless apples you see at the store, it turns out, come at a grim cost: The U.S. and other developed countries waste up to 40% of their food, bringing total global food waste to a staggering 1.3 billion tons worth almost $400 billion, and wreaking environmental havoc with it. Cue fabulously sensible new campaigns to discount produce that’s “naturally imperfect,” creating an improbable win-win all around – for farmers, consumers, the planet and the feelings of uncomely vegetables alike.

According to a 2013 report, the production of food that’s not eaten because it’s not cute enough for grocery shelves devours an amount of water equal to the annual flow of Russia’s Volga River. Most of the food waste is dumped in landfills, where it decomposes and releases over 3 billion tons of methane, a greenhouse gas. Globally, organic waste accounts for at least 7 percent of greenhouse gas emissions; if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest producer of emissions behind China and the U.S.

Enter Loblaws, Canada’s largest food retailer, which has launched the No Name Naturally Imperfect campaign, offering “ugly” – like the rest of us, less than perfect on the outside and just as divine on the inside – fruits and vegetables at a discount of up to 30%. They’ve started with apples and potatoes, and hope eventually to include most produce. The launch in Canada, which each year wastes over $31 billion worth of food, reflects growing international efforts to combat the obscenity of rich countries tossing enough food to feed most of the world’s estimated 870 million hungry people.

Love Food Hate Waste

8 ways to save money and waste less food…
1
Work out what most of your meals will be for the week ahead – leave 1 or 2 days free to eat from the freezer in case your plans change. Check your cupboards, write a list, take it to the shops and stick to it. If you don’t have time, use your phone and take a snap of your fridge and cupboard before you rush out the door – no double buying!

More on portions and planning >

2
Check your dates and take control. The display-until and sell-by are only for the shops and not for us – ignore them and scribble them out at home. The Best-Before is all about quality – it’s at its best on this date but is perfectly safe to eat afterwards, providing it looks, smells and tastes ok. The Use-By is the important one – this will only ever be on foods that have a safety risk such as meat, fish and pre-prepared fruit and veg. Never eat after the use-by, but you can use and freeze the food right up to the use-by date. Freezing on day of purchase is just a myth. When you want to use it, defrost overnight in the fridge (or if needed quicker in the microwave) and use within 24 hours – cook till piping hot.

Download our date label infographic >

3
Do you usually make too much food? Get your portions just right using our perfect portion tool. If rice is your nemesis, weigh out what you need then pour into your favourite mug. Keep the mug near the cooker and then next time you won’t need to weigh it – just pour and go.

Try the perfect portions tool >

4
Store your food in the best way possible to keep it fresher for longer. Apples (and all other fruit other than bananas) go in the fridge, onions in a cool dark place, and store bread in the cupboard or freezer. If you buy them in packs, keep them in their original packaging to keep the moisture in and your fresh food crispy and fresh.

More storage advice >

Chowdafest Diverts Food Waste, Feeds Hungry

Although there could be only one winner last Sunday night at MetLife Stadium, it was a different story at a pre Super Bowl event at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where we had a “souper” time partnering with Chowdafest to make their Feb. 2 chowder tasting competition a zero-waste event.

Now in its sixth year, Chowdafest brought together 28 award-winning chefs and restaurants offering samples of chowder and bisque to thousands of hungry football fans before they retired to watch the Super Bowl. Attendees sampled great food while restaurants had an opportunity to showcase their talents. This year, Sustainable America jumped into the soup to divert the event’s food waste to composting, instead of where it usually goes in Connecticut: to an incinerator. And perhaps the biggest win of all was that both the proceeds and a large amount of direct food donations went to the Connecticut Food Bank to help feed the hungry.

Sustainable America volunteer helps sort food waste During the event, volunteers from Sacred Heart University’s women’s volleyball team and the Wakeman Boys and Girls Club donned our signature Sustainable America foam fingers and construction hats and manned 11 waste stations. They were on hand throughout the event to direct patrons on how to sort their waste and offer information about composting.

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looking back…

photo by Katie Orlinsky

The Scene of the Crime

On my recent trip, I spent five days in Hanoi, which is the capital of unified Vietnam. Retired military officers and Communist Party officials there told me that the My Lai massacre, by bolstering antiwar dissent inside America, helped North Vietnam win the war. I was also told, again and again, that My Lai was unique only in its size. The most straightforward assessment came from Nguyen Thi Binh, known to everyone in Vietnam as Madame Binh. In the early seventies, she was the head of the National Liberation Front delegation at the Paris peace talks and became widely known for her willingness to speak bluntly and for her striking good looks. Madame Binh, who is eighty-seven, retired from public life in 2002, after serving two terms as Vietnam’s Vice-President, but she remains involved in war-related charities dealing with Agent Orange victims and the disabled.

“I’ll be honest with you,” she said. “My Lai became important in America only after it was reported by an American.” Within weeks of the massacre, a spokesman for the North Vietnamese in Paris had publicly described the events, but the story was assumed to be propaganda. “I remember it well, because the antiwar movement in America grew because of it,” Madame Binh added, speaking in French. “But in Vietnam there was not only one My Lai—there were many.”

One morning in Danang, a beach resort and port city of about a million people, I had coffee with Vo Cao Loi, one of the few survivors of Bravo Company’s attack at My Khe 4. He was fifteen at the time, Loi said, through an interpreter. His mother had what she called “a bad feeling” when she heard helicopters approaching the village. There had been operations in the area before. “It was not just like some Americans would show up all of a sudden,” he said. “Before they came, they often fired artillery and bombed the area, and then after all that they would send in the ground forces.” American and South Vietnamese Army units had moved through the area many times with no incident, but this time Loi was shooed out of the village by his mother moments before the attack. His two older brothers were fighting with the Vietcong, and one had been killed in combat six days earlier. “I think she was afraid because I was almost a grown boy and if I stayed I could be beaten up or forced to join the South Vietnamese Army. I went to the river, about fifty metres away. Close, close enough: I heard the fire and the screaming.” Loi stayed hidden until evening, when he returned home to bury his mother and other relatives.

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Still waiting for “zero tolerance”…

There’s this:

Doctrinal chief says bishops must be accountable in abuse prevention

but then there’s this:

Chile’s bishops back prelate linked to notorious abuser priest

When Barros’ transfer was announced in January, Juan Carlos Cruz, a former seminarian and one of Karadima’s victims, accused the bishop of covering up the priest’s sexual abuses, being present while the abuses took place, threatening seminarians, and “doing Karadima’s dirty work.”

James Hamilton, another of Karadima’s victims, has also testified that he saw Barros in the room while he was abused by his former mentor.

“This is who gets named to be bishop of Osorno?” Hamilton told CNN. “For those of us who know the truth of this story – and apparently the Vatican also knows – this it is unbelievable,” he said.

And there’s this:

Church rejects whistleblower priest’s bid to reverse sacking

Father Patrick Lawson has been told by the church’s highest court that it was upholding a decision dismissing him as a parish priest in Ayrshire, citing ill-health as preventing him doing the job.

The ruling, by the Signatura in Rome, added that Father Lawson’s “ministry has been rendered substantially ineffectual to a large body of parishioners”.

But one fellow priest said “all fingers pointed” to the priest speaking out against Father Paul Moore in the 1990s, as the root cause of his dismissal. Moore later admitted to his bishop he abused boys

And this:

Archbishop Philip Wilson becomes world’s most senior Catholic charged with concealing child abuse

Charged: Archbishop Philip Wilson.Charged: Archbishop Philip Wilson. Photo: David Mariuz

Former Hunter priest Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson has become the most senior Catholic clergyman in the world to be charged with concealing a child sex abuse allegation against another priest on what a Hunter paedophile priest victim has described as “a Saint Patrick’s Day we’ll never forget”.

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“Policy is frozen politics.”

AIPAC Discovers 47 Useful Idiots

The invitation and the letter were both unprecedented, far exceeding previous stunts by the ubiquitous GOP “maverick” Senator John McCain cavorting with terrorists in Syria or appearing in Tbilisi or at Maidan Square in Ukraine to instigate either a new war or a change of government. McCain’s hubris, as well as that of other peripatetic Congressmen prowling the world looking for an audience, was on display “over there” where he had no real authority and no one would listen to him anyway but the current incarnation of Republican leadership was and is, unfortunately, doing its damage over here.

The visit and letter were together an assault on how American democracy is supposed to work. Retired Major General Paul Eaton summed up the impact of the letter succinctly: “…to directly engage a foreign entity, in this way, undermining the strategy and work of our diplomats and our Commander in Chief, strains the very discipline and structure that our foreign relations depend on to succeed. The breach of discipline is extremely dangerous, because undermining our diplomatic efforts, at this moment, brings us another step closer to a very costly and perilous war with Iran. I think Senator Cotton recognizes this, and he simply does not care.”

The most significant damage is to the separation of powers under the Constitution of the United States. One might argue reasonably that executive authority has increased dramatically in Washington since 9/11 and should be rolled back by the legislature and judiciary. But the GOP is not addressing the issues that it should be confronting like war powers, immigration, state secrecy privilege, illegal spying and death by drone. It is instead seeking to challenge Article 2 of the Constitution, which specifies that the executive is the lead agency in dealing with foreign governments. The House of Representatives can choose to defund presidential programs and the Senate can refuse to “consent” to treaties that the executive has entered into, but the actual work of diplomacy and protecting Americans overseas is the responsibility of the president.

The Dance of Liberals and Radicals

Marxists describe the State as “the executive committee of the ruling class.” When the top financial posts at the U.S. Treasury are handed off among various alumni of Goldman Sachs, the way a prostitute is passed around drunken sailors, it sure seems as if government is a subsidiary of Wall Street. But occasionally, as in the alliance between Roosevelt and labor radicals, or between MLK and LBJ, the government actually functions as ally of the working class and the broad middle class of ordinary citizens. That’s why one can cling to the hopes of liberalism.

Which role the State plays depends on the balance of activism. As current politics reveal all too vividly, government’s default setting in a capitalist economy is to serve the wealthy and the powerful. Liberals can write policy proposals to their hearts’ content. But unless they are backed by radicalism on the ground, they are playing in a sandbox.

David Rolf, a key architect of Seattle’s $15-an-hour minimum wage and one of the best of today’s radical labor organizers, puts the problem with prescience and eloquence. In a recent speech, he offered an aphorism that should stay with us:
“Policy is frozen politics.” (I actually googled it — and as far as I can tell, the phrase is original to Rolf.)

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“I’m not marching anywhere with George Bush.” Abby Zimet speaks…

We’re Supposed To Be Peace Officers: Good Cop Who Stopped Brutality and Got Fired For Her Trouble Just Won Her Job Back

Pigs Fly Dept: Regina Tasca, an actual, humane, compassionate, common sense police officer in New Jersey – and the only female and openly gay one in her department – just won back her job after a judge invalidated her 2012 firing due to the scummy behavior of police and town officials who orchestrated it. A 20-year veteran of law enforcement who had served in Bogota for 11 years, higher-ups had declared Tasca “unfit for duty” after she fought off fellow officers brutally beating a disturbed young man whose family had called, improbably, for help. Many believed she was targeted for “crossing the blue line” of police impunity. Damn straight, says Tasca: “I protected that kid – I did what I’m supposed to do.”

The April 2011 incident, captured on harrowing video, began when Kyle Sharp’s parents called police asking for help to get their distraught son to the hospital. On camera, Tasca, who had just completed training on dealing with cases involving mental health, can be heard sensibly asking dispatch to bring in an ambulance without lights or siren. She then approaches Kyle to ask him about going to the hospital. As Kyle balks and begins to walk away, two cops from a neighboring town arrive, tackle him, and start punching him as he flails on the ground. Kyle’s horrified mother, a former City Council member, is heard shrieking at police, “Why are you punching him?! Get off my son!”; his father likewise protests, to which one cop yells, “As soon as I get off him I’ll get to you”; both cops, meanwhile, continue to wrestle with Kyle while screaming “Shut up! Back up!” Tasca can be seen struggling to pull the cops off Kyle. Once they’re finally off him, she’s heard comforting him with, “You’re okay, it’s okay.”

Following the incident, Tasca, who had earlier filed several, never-addressed harrassment complaints within the department, was made to undergo a sketchy psychological analysis that found her “unfit for duty,” and was terminated. She was also slapped with over 20 administrative and departmental charges, and was accused of failing to help her partner during an earlier incident in which he brutally took down a small, young intoxicated woman. Tasca insisted she’d done nothing wrong, and sued. In subsequent hearings, both the officer who attacked Kyle and Tasca’s superior admitted to violating protocol and repeatedly lying in their reports. Tasca argued she “intervened to prevent excessive force against a kid who was the subject of a medical call, not a criminal suspect.” Testimony also revealed clear conflict of interest by the town’s then-mayor and a councilman involved in Tasca’s termination – one key reason a Superior Court judge last week ruled the town must reinstate her and give her back pay.

Notorious: Good-bye Barbie, Hello Legal Justice League (Please)

In honor of Women’s History Month, do let’s trash Mattel’s new, creepy, eavesdropping, Wi-Fi-connected “Hello Barbie” – dubbed Soviet Snitch Barbie by skeptics in Europe – and fight for Maia Weinstock’s new, teeny, inspired female SCOTUS justices in LEGO form, which the company rejected under their rule of “no politics or political symbols.” Because it’s not like the issues before the Court, already dismally under-reported, aren’t important in our real-world lives or warrant further awareness by girls, kids or other sentient beings.

Hello Barbie, newly unveiled at Toy Fair 2015, uses an embedded microphone to record kids’ conversations – which could often include intimate details of their lives – before transmitting them online. The toy, which has alarmed privacy advocates, is scheduled to appear in the fall, right in time for, you know. Mattel says the doll will “deepen that relationship girls have with (Barbie), who will “become like the best of friends,” even though she’s, like, a plastic doll, which is kind of weird. Responding to privacy concerns, they insist they will get parental permission to record a kid, they won’t use data “for anything to do with marketing or publicity or any of that stuff…but only to improve this product,” and parents can get daily or weekly e-mails allowing them access to their kids’ chats with Barbie, which sounds even creepier and more invasive than the doll herself. Correctly noting that kids “aren’t only talking to a doll – they are talking directly to a toy conglomerate whose only interest in them is financial,” the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has launched a campaign to halt the doll’s production.

For Truth and Honor’s Sake: I Will Show You Change, and It Will Not Include George Bush

Amidst the fervor and spectacle and soaring rhetoric of Sunday’s commemorative march in Selma, a small incisive morality play was quietly unfolding. Diane Nash, longtime civil rightsactivist in Nashville and elsewhere, co-founder of SNCC and key colleague alongside King 50 years ago, declined to march, citing the photo-op-ready presence of George Bush: “The Selma movement stands for nonviolence and peace and democracy, and George Bush stands for just the opposite. He stands for violence and war and stolen elections, and, for goodness sake, his administration had people tortured.” Nash later reiterated her opposition to appearing with Bush, whose presence – irony alert – was mostly noted by paranoid right-wingers made furious when the “radical progressives” at the New York Times cropped him out of a large photo. Speaking at an event honoring civil rights foot soldiers, Nash said to cheers, “I’m not marching anywhere with George Bush.” She also stressed the lessons of Selma remain vital in the here and now: “It is a huge mistake for Americans to leave the future of this country in the hands of elected officials. … Suppose we had waited for elected officials to desegregate lunch counters, buses, and to get the right to vote? I think 50 years later we would still be waiting….It is important, critical in fact, that citizens take the future of this country into their own hands and make the necessary changes.” Her principled stance echoed the stalwart John Lewis, who was likewise there 50 years ago, who marched with Obama, and who issued a series of eloquent, moving tweets about the events then and now. He ended with, “When people tell me nothing has changed, I say come walk in my shoes and I will show you change.” John Lewis, Diane Nash and so many others give us hope.

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