Friday, February 29, 2008

Thanks, Hillary!

I posted a comment on the campaign web page, asking specifically about her relationship to Monsanto and whether that isn't contradictory to her consistent message about supporting small farmers and local businesses. I got this e-mail in reply:

Thank you for taking the time to share your views with the campaign. Hillary is grateful that so many Americans are joining the conversation about the serious and complex challenges before us.

Please continue to visit and to get the latest news and information about the issues important to you and all Americans.

Working together, we can change the direction of the country!

Thank you again for your interest.
Hillary Clinton for President

I understand it would have been foolish to expect any other response. Still, I find I would prefer silence to perky little cheerleaders.

Continuing coverage

Trying to get more information about Hillary in relation to her association with Monsanto is difficult. Googling the combination only seems to yield endless pages of links to the article I linked below.

There is, however, this article in Business Week about Monsanto's gradual evolution into an agribusiness. Hopefully we can agree that Business Week is not just some liberal rag?

To me, the information in this article is troubling. Monsanto's history of trying to outlaw labeling milk that doesn't contain their growth hormone as such is very troubling. What I have read about Monsanto's history of filing lawsuits against small farmers without the financial resources to defend themselves is extremely troubling.

There are corporate ties, and there are corporate ties. I am more than willing to believe that Hillary spent her time as a Wal-Mart director trying to make it a better company, regardless of whether or not those efforts were effectual. I am even willing to believe that she truly credits Monsanto with efforts to fight global hunger and address crop productivity, although I personally do not. BUT, and this is huge to me, I don't see how she can overlook Monsanto's direct attacks on small producers and free speech.

Which brings me back to why this is so discouraging -- I have absolutely nothing positive to propose.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Just when I thought I couldn't get any more discouraged ....

Here is a long and sometimes rambling rant from someone who feels very strongly about Hillary Clinton. While it's true that most of her criticisms are more relevant to Bill, who is not currently running for president, it does call into question some of Hillary's corporate connections and her priorities in the areas of food safety, truth in labeling, and the welfare of the world's poor and hungry.

Regardless of how your politics play out, this post is worth looking at if you care about what is in the food that goes into your mouth.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

More about meat

Here is a short article about grass-fed beef.

Why would you want grass-fed beef? Here is a short article about scary practices at one large beef slaughterhouse. (Note: I have not watched the video myself, and I'm not going to.) My assumption is that this kind of thing does not occur at smaller-scale operations. I also know for a fact that cows fed on grass are at much lower risk for BSE, because the disease will not be transmitted to them in their feed.

This hits me particularly hard, because beef is probably everybody's favorite food around here (excepting me, actually). When you've got three picky eaters who all agree they like something, that food tends to feature prominently on the menu. The thing is, grass-fed beef really is expensive, and everything else is getting scarier by the day. My solution is going to be meat less often, but grass-fed when we have it.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


This passage made me think of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle:

The Tudor garden needed to be productive; there were shops in towns and cities but in rural Derbyshire self-sufficiency was the order of the day. A herb garden was a necessity, isnce herbs were widely used in all aspects of cooking, medicine and sundry housewifely tasks. All homes of any substance also grew fruit trees, apples of a variety dating back to the Roman occupation over a millennium earlier for cooking and eating, and crab apples for jellies and jams. Cherries, pears and figs for dessert were common. A good housewife prided herself on her pantry preserves of fruit and vegetable produce, stored against the iron-hard winters when there was little fresh food to be had.

-- from page 13 of Bess of Hardwick, Empire Builder by Mary S. Lovell

I also liked this, from page 12:

The millstream provided fresh fish, and to supplement the protein there would be whatever root vegetables, pulses and brassicas grew in the garden (no potatoes then, of course) ...

No potatoes? And why not? Potatoes were just around the corner for Tudor England. Native to South America, they did not cross the Atlantic until after Christopher Columbus. When I read that I realized how hard it is for me to imagine a huge feast table with roast meats of all kinds but no potatoes of any sort. I've always held that my love of potatoes is the Irish blood coming out in me, but of course, even the Irish haven't been eating potatoes all that long in the scheme of things.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Let the record show

that at the dinner table Monday night, Ziad, under severe provocation (which, it has to be said, occurred largely as a consequence of his own rash behavior) flew into a seething, sobbing, grimacing rage. Yet basically kept himself under control. He didn't give any one the evil little smile he gets when he's so mad he doesn't care what happens next. There was none of that tight, high-pitched voice. He didn't make any horrible threats. He didn't grab or hit, he didn't yell or accuse. He informed us, his voice quivering with fury, that he was very, very angry. And that was as far as it went.

To the parent of a docile child, this may seem so trivial. Perhaps such a parent would even find it shocking that a child can get so angry, or that the lack of those behaviors would ever be reason to rejoice. For me, though, I am so impressed with the growth he demonstrated that I feel entirely more hopeful for his future than I did before.

Now, if he can just relax a little, maybe he doesn't need to get so angry in the first place.