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I have a story up at Civil Eats, also running online at Time Magazine.com, about new data and guidelines on rice

All rice and rice products are not created equal, according to a new study released today by Consumer Reports. Some types of rice, and some rice grown in specific regions, contain much higher levels of inorganic arsenic (IA) than others.

-How Much Arsenic is in Your Rice? 11/18/2014

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The Rumpus is excellent and I’m super happy that they published my essay ‘Like Elsa’ last week.

A few summers back, I received a letter from one of my best friends, written from Prospect Park in Brooklyn. She wrote of blue herons, boys in horn-rimmed glasses, our dreams of moving together to a communal property, and, towards the end, of a writer she thought I would like: Elsa Gidlow. My friend had been particularly inspired by Druid Heights, the unfettered bohemian community just outside of Muir Woods in the San Francisco Bay Area, where this radical feminist anarchist lesbian poet had lived for the last half of her life. A copy of Gidlow’s autobiography would arrive on my doorstep within the week, my friend wrote.

From ‘Like Elsa’ – The Rumpus, November 13, 2014

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On the stands at Oliver’s Market, Copperfield’s, Healdsburg SHED and lots of other locations:

On a sunny Friday morning in the Wright Charter school garden, first graders bustle about between rows of lettuce, dried sunflowers, corn, scarlet runner beans, and cabbage. The students tease and jostle, watering and tending plants. The scene looks straight from Anne of Green Gables or any one of those other classics about the simple pleasures of rural life. But this isn’t 19th century Nova Scotia and no one, except possibly the scarecrow, wears calico. These kids live in Roseland, a low-income, unincorporated area of Sonoma County, where high density housing and little access to parks and open space is the norm.

-Learning to Eat: The school garden movement could end diabetes and does provide Common Core curriculum. So why is it still viewed as a hippie’s daydream? – Made Local Magazine, Nov/Dec. 2014

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New piece up at Civil Eats today:

As one of two counties with fracking bans on the local ballot this November, San Benito County has also become the site of a heated political battle between oil companies and anti-fracking ranchers, farmers, and residents. A similar fight is going down in Santa Barbara County, where oil companies have funneled $7.6 million into a campaign against Measure P, a citizen’s ballot initiative that would ban future high-intensity petroleum operations on unincorporated county land.

Earlier this month, actor and well-known “fracktivist” Mark Ruffalo tweeted: “Hollister (the county seat) is ground zero in the California fracking fight.” And while famous actors aren’t always considered the best source for real talk on climate legislation, Ruffalo is right.

-How a Tiny Farm County Became Ground Zero in California’s Fracking Fight

As one of two counties with fracking bans on the local ballot this November, San Benito County has also become the site of a heated political battle between oil companies and anti-fracking ranchers, farmers, and residents. A similar fight is going down in Santa Barbara County, where oil companies have funneled $7.6 million into a campaign against Measure P, a citizen’s ballot initiative that would ban future high-intensity petroleum operations on unincorporated county land. – See more at: http://civileats.com/2014/10/29/how-a-tiny-farm-county-became-ground-zero-in-californias-fracking-fight/#sthash.nqZYexdA.xWkczMGf.dpuf

As one of two counties with fracking bans on the local ballot this November, San Benito County has also become the site of a heated political battle between oil companies and anti-fracking ranchers, farmers, and residents. A similar fight is going down in Santa Barbara County, where oil companies have funneled $7.6 million into a campaign against Measure P, a citizen’s ballot initiative that would ban future high-intensity petroleum operations on unincorporated county land.

Earlier this month, actor and well-known “fracktivist” Mark Ruffalo tweeted: “Hollister (the county seat) is ground zero in the California fracking fight.” And while famous actors aren’t always considered the best source for real talk on climate legislation, Ruffalo is right.

- See more at: http://civileats.com/2014/10/29/how-a-tiny-farm-county-became-ground-zero-in-californias-fracking-fight/#sthash.nqZYexdA.xWkczMGf.dpuf

As one of two counties with fracking bans on the local ballot this November, San Benito County has also become the site of a heated political battle between oil companies and anti-fracking ranchers, farmers, and residents. A similar fight is going down in Santa Barbara County, where oil companies have funneled $7.6 million into a campaign against Measure P, a citizen’s ballot initiative that would ban future high-intensity petroleum operations on unincorporated county land.

Earlier this month, actor and well-known “fracktivist” Mark Ruffalo tweeted: “Hollister (the county seat) is ground zero in the California fracking fight.” And while famous actors aren’t always considered the best source for real talk on climate legislation, Ruffalo is right.

- See more at: http://civileats.com/2014/10/29/how-a-tiny-farm-county-became-ground-zero-in-californias-fracking-fight/#sthash.nqZYexdA.xWkczMGf.dpuf

Extrativism takes a steep toll on the environment at the Alberta Tar Sands.

Extractivism takes a steep toll on the environment at the Alberta Tar Sands.

Capitalism is on a death ride, and it’s taking all of us with it. So argues Naomi Klein in her new book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate.

The book is a galvanizing and potent dose of real talk, filled with harrowing stories of the immense damage done by free-market capitalism gone amok. But there’s still time (not much) to stave off a fossil-fuel driven endgame, argues Klein.

“Nothing is going to change until there are broad-based, muscular mass movements that are fighting for change,” says Klein, on the phone from Portland, Ore. “And not just polite NGOs having meetings with lawmakers. These should be political communities deeply invested in social change, much like the labor movement and the Civil Rights movement.”

- My interview with journalist Naomi Klein (The Shock Doctrine, No Logo) about her new book This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. The Climate  appears in this week’s North Bay Bohemian.

Civil Eats: Locavore losses

At Nopalito, if the local corn runs out, you might as well shut the doors. It’s typical for the restaurant’s two San Francisco locations to go through 200 pounds of California-grown organic masa in a single day. The grain is at the menu’s core, used in everything from tamales, to tortillas, to house-made chips.

In mid-September, Nopalito’s owner, Laurence Jossel, learned that Giusto’s, the Northern California grain processor and wholesaler from which Nopalito sources its flours, had run out of corn after severe drought conditions caused the product to dry up. “It’s been a mad scramble,” says Jossel. He and his head chef called restaurants all over the city, searching for a locally-grown equivalent, without luck. In a pinch, they settled on more expensive organic corn flour from Montana and some from as far as Mexico.

“We can’t run a restaurant based on [corn] without it,” says Jossel. With no end to the California drought in sight, chefs like Jossel, and many artisan food makers who rely on local food, are feeling the squeeze.

 

- Locavore Losses: California Chefs, Artisans Feel the Drought – Civil Eats, 10/1/2014

Radio Radio

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Finally, I can use the Elvis Costello song in context! Last Tuesday, I was a guest host on Less Rock, More Talk over at KWTF  with The Lila Cugini and Your Old Pal Will.

On Friday 9/12, I was a guest on The People’s Voice on KBBF with host George Alfaro. We discussed the story I wrote for the North Bay Bohemian (as part of my USC health reporting fellowship project) about Roseland and health. George questioned me about how I became a writer and for words of advice to those just starting out. It was crazy to be on the other side of the mic. Usually, I’m the one asking the questions!

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But go to a Zumba class at Roseland elementary and you’ll see the success stories. One woman’s depression is gone. Another has lower insulin levels. And many of the women have dropped a few pounds.

You’ll see that Alejandra Sarmiento has become a community leader. Recently, she was recruited for a five-day neighborhood leadership training class through St. Joseph’s. Sarmiento got a crash course in social justice, community organizing and outreach. She learned about the relationship between governmental policy and the health of communities and strategic planning. She’s excited to go to neighborhood stores as a Healthy Food Project representative, where, for a stipend, she’ll promote marketing and product-placement.

The second installment of my reporting project for the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship is on the stands today.

 

I wrote a 1700 word feature story for Made Local Magazine about the movement to (re) build a local grain economy in Sonoma County. I really enjoyed the process of researching and reporting this piece. The farmers in our community are doing amazing things!

Edited by the fantastic Gretchen Giles, you can find Made Local Magazine at Oliver’s Market, Pacific Market, Andy’s Produce, Copperfield’s Books, SHED in Healdsburg, and various other spots around town.

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Simple and arresting, this is music for the end of the night, when the dancing slows and the party winds down, and whoever is left in the bar is forced, with the disappearance of those distractions, to wrestle with emotional darkness. Like the best songwriters before her (Emmylou Harris and Lucinda Williams come to mind) Muth writes about the underdogs: the mom who waits for her baby to go to sleep so she can have a well-earned drink, the wives of men who’ve disappeared down the road, and the thousands of regular folks staring out the window of a rundown house “dreaming of a life beyond these blues.”

-A music feature I wrote about Americana singer-songwriter Zoe Muth is up today at The Krush.