Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Student's Perspective on Merrigan

Contagious glee filled the classroom Wednesday morning as we eagerly awaited the arrival of our Agriculture, Science and Policy class lecturer. A Reuters UK story hit the internet earlier Monday night and immediately went viral among the food world. A jubilation of Facebook status changes, GChats, text messages, emails, blog posts and phone calls carried the evening into the night. While any of the Friedman School students at Tufts were astute enough to know that something was coming, we were certainly astonished when we saw “No. 2 USDA post.” The class broke into applause as Kathleen, as her students call her, sheepishly entered the room. “Okay, so I’ve been holding a secret,” she claimed.

I met Kathleen my first semester at Tufts through two courses that she was instructing, both in the arena of policy and agriculture. Her approaches to teaching policy involved a mix of structural theory, ambiguous creativity, and story telling. One of the underlining themes, which she proposed the first day, was to “think big.” No idea was too ridiculous. While there may be a science to policy making, there is also a human element that keeps it imaginative and inspired. One of my favorite “big ideas” from class was the idea to build grocery stores in the shape of the food pyramid.

Kathleen holds an extraordinary appreciation for democracy and the role of government holding servitude to the people. She made it a point to show our classes how transparent the government really is, and the opportunity (and duty) that each of us has to participate in the rules that govern our land. Following a comment from a student on how struck they were at the “opportunities that exist for any citizen to try to influence policy by adding their voice, if they were just aware that they are out there,” Kathleen walked into the seats, requested the student stand and wrapped her arms around her in gratitude.

Kathleen’s classes were spent looking at many problems with solution based approaches, all the while peering through a historical window. Her background in the organic and sustainable agriculture, pesticides, animal and plant health, marketing, conservation and business, is impressive, but more importantly is her understanding of the processes of government and how to get things done by bringing all interests to the table.

So what can we expect from Kathleen? I think it is advantageous to note her use of Deborah Stone's Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making text that she utilizes in class. From this we can see that Kathleen appreciates and utilizes the theories of government and policy that are flexible, yet strategic, that uphold equity and focus on real root problems when developing solutions.

Any special interest group that believes their and only their agenda is going to be served by this nomination is undermining the process that makes this country great. While this news is in fact the most exciting news for those citizens who know we are overdue for a revamp in the country’s food system, I would argue that the work has only just begun. While Kathleen will help implement Obama and Vilsack’s agenda, it remains our duty to be imaginative and vigilant in solving the problems facing our own communities.

On a personal note, Kathleen has had an esteemed influence on me. Some of that endearment probably comes from her time spent earning her Masters in my hometown of Austin, but moreover, she has always had an open door and honest and realistic perspective. She is pragmatic and powerful, yet modest and civilized. I am honored to have had the opportunity to learn from ‘the best.’ I know I speak on behalf of all of her students when I say how truly proud I am of her and how excited I am to be in this field during this time. It is a bitter sweet loss for the Tufts community, but I think our “policy window” is wide open.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Pinocchio- Save us from obesity!

Many of my friends know that I have been joking lately about naming my first son Pinocchio--Don't laugh, I wanted to bring it back. Alas, I don't have to! Tom Vilsack and the Ad Council are doing it for me. All in the name of obesity prevention. Nice. Now I need another name. Hmmm?


The new television, radio, print, outdoor, and online PSAs, created by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, remind parents that healthier lifestyle habits are critical for a child's mind and body and illustrate how much fun it can be to "Eat Right. Be Active." and "Make it Balance." Parents and caregivers are encouraged to visit the campaign's website and use the USDA's My Pyramid to assist them in making healthy choices for their families.

"I am delighted to continue our partnership with USDA and to work with Secretary Vilsack on this critical campaign to educate parents and children about My Pyramid. I hope these PSAs motivate parents to begin taking simple steps today with their child's nutrition and physical activity habits because a healthy lifestyle can lead to a bright future for our children," said Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of The Advertising Council.

Worst Food Product Ever?

Thanks to Fitz for sending on this one. From the Consumerist comes:

TADA! The Worst Food Product Ever! Pork Brains in Milk Gravy.

I feel nauseated. Yes, that does say 3550mg of Cholesterol. Hey man, brains are fat.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Tufts Merrigan -Deputy Secretary of Agriculture

I can finally announce that my Agriculture Science and Policy professor has been officially chosen for Deputy Secretary of Agriculture under Tom Vilsack. Change is in the works. I am blessed to have had her for my policy classes. Obviously learning from the horse's mouth is the best. This is a very exciting time for Tufts faculty and students. Congratulations to Kathleen. From Reuters:

President Barack Obama chose Kathleen Merrigan, an assistant professor at Tufts University who helped develop U.S. organic food labeling rules, for the Agriculture Department's No 2 job, the White House said on Monday.

Merrigan, tapped for deputy secretary of Agriculture, was head of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service from 1999-2001 during the Clinton era and helped develop USDA's rules on what can be sold as organic food. As a Senate aide, she worked on the 1990 law that recognized organic farming.

"Sustainable and organic farmers are excited ... that someone who has been associated with these issues her whole career is going to be at that level in the department," said Ferd Hoefner of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

Hoefner encouraged the Senate to confirm Merrigan for the post.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was confirmed on Jan 20. The deputy agriculture secretary usually oversees day-to-day operations of USDA.

Merrigan, who went to work at Tufts in Boston after serving at USDA, has worked at the Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture and as a consultant for the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization from 1994-99. She worked on the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee from 1987-92. She has a doctoral degree in environmental planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Surviving a depression

While the government wouldn't dare use the "D" word, most that understand the destiny of a fiat currency, know exactly where we are headed.

This post from the Consumerist called Cooking: Learn to Make Depression Era Recipes with 93-year-old Clara gives some advice on how eat in hard times. Even though Clara was born in 1915, she is helping people through her YouTube videos. I wonder what sort of rations we will get.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Saving the Planet

As I continue to read article upon article of how the human species is destroying the soil, water, air, other species and ultimately ourselves, I can't help but feel a bit of relief for the plant at large. This is a funny sketch by George Carlin. While he is positioned to not do anything about our recklessness, I think a better approach is to try to live in harmony with nature, less it destroys us.

My friend Robert keyed me in on this book The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. This video tell the break down of what would happen to New York if humans "suddenly" disappeared.

You can hear an excerpt of the book here at

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The food lobby goes to school

The Food Lobby Goes to School, a video created by The American News Project, gives some insight into the process of deciding standards for the National School Lunch Program. While some may think that the people deciding policy are Registered Dietitians, health professionals, school lunch workers and policy advocates, the fact of the matter is, like with most policy, lobbyists warm the seats. These are the same big names that grace the expo hall at the national and state American Dietetic Association meetings.

To a large degree, it is the Federal Government. Congress and the Department of Agriculture approve what foods can (and can't) be served to over 30 million American school children who get daily meals from the National School Lunch Program. The government gets a ton of pressure from a food and beverage industry frantic to keep kids hooked on a diet of sodas, snacks and hot dogs. The competition for a piece of this $10 billion market is particularly fierce right now because this year the School Lunch Program is being reviewed and revised.

Despite the enormous nutritional and financial stakes at play, ANP was the only media to cover a recent panel set up to discuss the school menu. While nutritionists outnumbered the press, corporate lobbyists outnumbered everyone.

This op-ed in the New York Times by Alice Waters and Katrina Heron, No Lunch Left Behind further discusses the issues and hurdles.

JBS has abandoned its bid to take over National Beef Packing Co.

The world’s largest beef producer and packer, Brazilian-based JBS-Swift, announced it was abandoning its attempted takeover of the National Beef Packing Company. Last year JBS-Swift purchased Smithfield Foods’ beef business as well as majority shares in Italian and Australian beef companies. It had been in talks with the US Department of Justice trying to gain approval of its next takeover target, but now appears to be backing out. According to the Reuters article, JBS abandoned the takeover due to a “lack of satisfactory conditions.”

Since March 2008, the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM)has aggressively opposed the JBS/National Beef merger on the grounds that it would exacerbate the distortions already evidenced in the U.S. cattle market and would strengthen JBS’ ability to use packer-owned cattle and other forms of captive supplies to manipulate prices paid to hundreds of thousands of independent cattle producers.

My, July 14, 2008 post called "Meat conglomerates" showed my home-made graphic of the market hold that JBS would have had if the merger had taken place.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Industry Thwarting Research

As the economy continues to slump, publicly funded research is also drying up. Are there risks associated with private industry funding research, and if so, how do we, as citizens, read research with a concerning eye? An article published in the New York Times yesterday by Andrew Pollack: Crop Scientist Say Biotechnology Seed Companies Are Thwarting Research addresses biased research in agriculture.

A statement made to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by 26 scientists was posted to a non-rule making docket titled: Evaluation of the Resistance Risks from Using a Seed Mix Refuge with Pioneer's Optimum AcreMax 1 Corn Rootworm-Protected Corn. The statement says:
"Technology/stewardship agreements required for the purchase of genetically modified seed explicitly prohibit research. These agreements inhibit public scientists from pursuing their mandated role on behalf of the public good unless the research is approved by industry. As a result of restricted access, no truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions regarding the technology, its performance, its management implications, IRM, and its interactions with insect biology. Consequently, data flowing to an EPA Scientific Advisory Panel from the public sector is unduly limited."
In other words, some scientists feel as if industry has a chokehold not only on the research that is being conducted, but on what is actually being disseminated to the public. This research problem is largely under-reported and under-addressed to a science illiterate public. An article by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry called Who's Getting It Right and Who's Getting in Wrong in the Debate About Science Literacy, dives deeper into this equally important issue. You can add science based blogs to your RSS here.

Research should be a public good and government should be conducting research to protect the wellbeing of its citizens from corporate strongholds. Another example of the system failing by Tom Phillpot of the Grist is in the issue of Why is the FDA unwilling to study evidence of mercury in high-fructose corn syrup? I would argue much has to do with skill. The Crème de la Crop of scientists and research are easily enticed by high paying jobs in industry, not in regulatory positions at FDA. The FDA lacks man power and funding. On the flip side, those who are working in for the public interest (i.e. the scientists who just published their statement to the EPA) are being manipulated as well.

A professor at Tufts, Sheldon Krimsky, has done extensive work on the effects of industry on research. He argues that a series of laws, federal policies and court decisions have enabled private interest "stakeholder science" to gain influence over university research. His book "Science in the Private Interest"sparked a website that continues to address these issues.

The key to change, Krimsky says, is separating the financial interests from the science. A daunting task indeed.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Organic Coke & 'retro-foods'

(Fair trade and naturally produced health drink)

Thanks to Marion Nestle for her blog post: Today's Giggle.

Hopefully people see the humor in this. If we can get organic high-fructose corn syrup, organic artificial coloring & flavoring and organic phenylalanine, we have a problem.

These were made by Koert Van Mensvoort. From the site Next Nature:

Thus, while engineering might make food healthier, it also makes food more abstract. And abstraction is not something people generally appreciate, whether it is in language, music, painting, or food. No surprise that people, who can afford it, move away from engineered food, packed with abstract chemicals and meta-substances, towards the so-called organic food, which can be more or less classified as ‘food produced in the way your grandparents produced their food’.

Historically, the organic farms have been relatively small family-run farms — which is why the retro-food was once only available in small stores or farmers’ markets. However, since the early 1990s organic food has had growth rates of around 20% a year, far ahead of the rest of the food industry. With the market share of organic food outpacing much of the food industry, many big corporations have moved into the market of retro-food production.
Van Mensvoort's concerned are not without warrant. The Cornucopia Institute has produced a white paper: Wal-Mart: The Nation’s Largest Grocer Rolls-out Organic Products — Market Expansion or Market Delusion, after their announcement to start offering more organic lines in the spring of 2006. You can read their letter to Walmart's CEO here.

In July 2007, Dr. Phil Howard, an Assistant Professor at Michigan State, created and updated the organic food business chart: Organic Industry Structure: Acquisitions by the Top 25 Food Processors in North America. There is also a new graphically animated version of consolidation occurring in the organic food sector between 1995 and 2007. Two other revealing presentations of organic business have also been prepared by Dr. Howard. There are also charts of major independent organic companies and a chart of private label organic brands, including supermarket chains, specialty chains and distributors.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What humans will eat

I couldn't resist this one.

Domino's scientists test the limits of what humans will eat- results not surprising.

Thanks for the Onion for making life worth laughing at.

Implicit subsidies to corn sweeteners & obesity

The Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University has released a policy brief: Sweetening the Pot: Implicit Subsidies to Corn Sweeteners and the U.S. Obesity Epidemic.
Alicia Harvie, a Masters candidate in Agriculture, Food, and the Environment at the Friedman
School of Nutrition Science and Policy and a Research Assistant, along with Timothy A. Wise the Director of the Research and Policy Program at the GDEI produced the document.

They explore how much cheaper high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a critical ingredient in the American diet, was from 1997-2005 due to corn prices below corn’s cost of production and the possible connection to USDA subsidies.
"While this (corn subsidies) may not have reduced soda prices to an extent that would account for rising consumption, there is little doubt U.S. agricultural policies have indirectly subsidized a sector that may be contributing to health problems."
The research was mentioned in Farm Subsidies, Bitter and Sweet, by Grist blogger, Tom Philpott.

Organic agriculture: an approach to African food security

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development released a policy brief stating that organic agriculture could boost African food security. The brief begins:
“the way the world grows its food will have to change radically to better serve the poor and hungry if the world is to cope with growing population and climate change while avoiding social breakdown and environmental collapse”.
It is often argued that Africa needs to follow the agro-industrial “Green Revolution” model implemented in many parts of Asia and Latin America in previous decades. Using strains of crops that required agrochemical fertilizer, pesticides and irrigation, these methods increased yields. But they also damaged the environment, caused dramatic loss of agrobiodiversity and associated traditional knowledge, favoured wealthier farmers and left some poorer ones deeper in debt.

This can not be sustainable in Africa, a continent that imports 90 per cent of its agrochemicals, which most of the smallscale farmers cannot afford. It will increase dependencies on foreign inputs (agrochemical and seeds of protected plant varieties) and foreign aid. Africa should build on its strengths – its land, local resources, indigenous plant varieties, indigenous knowledge, biologically diverse smallholder farms and limited use (to date) of agrochemicals. It is time for the African Sustainable Green Revolution – to increase agricultural productivity by using sustainable agricultural practices that minimize harm to the environment and build soil fertility.
The brief defines 'organic agriculture' as "a holistic production system based on active agroecosystem management rather than on external inputs. It builds on traditional agriculture and utilizes both traditional and scientific knowledge. It is a form of sustainable or ecological agriculture that involves production according to precise standards."

I know some big agro-companies that won't be too thrilled about this brief, especially to hear the research that has obviously not been funded by them:
"research shows that organic agriculture is a good option for food security in Africa – equal or better than most conventional systems and more likely to be sustainable in the longer term. The study’s analysis of 114 cases in Africa revealed that a conversion of farms to organic or near-organic production methods increased agricultural productivity of 116 per cent. Moreover, a shift towards organic production systems has enduring impact, as it builds up levels of natural, human, social, financial and physical capital in farming communities."
The brief does not avoid the challenges facing African agriculture. Building production capacities, market access (against a buy local movement), lack of government support for alternative methods, expensive certification processes, and lack of research and awareness are all major noted hurdles.

A few of their recommendations, according to the UNCTAD–UNEP Best Practices for Organic Policy: What Developing Country Governments Can Do to Promote the Organic Agriculture Sector include:
• Setting sustainable agriculture as a priority;
• Assessing current policies and programmes, and remove disincentives to sustainable/ecological/organic agriculture – for example, subsidies on agrochemicals;
• Training extension workers in sustainable agricultural practices;
• Encouraging farmer-to-farmer exchanges;
• Compiling and disseminating indigenous agricultural knowledge and varieties;
• Funding research on sustainable agriculture, building on indigenous knowledge in response and in partnership with farmers; and
• Promoting development of local and regional markets for organic products.

The international community should;
• Reverse the decline in development aid to African agriculture
• Increase support to African sustainable agriculture;
• Reduce organic market entry barriers, including by recognizing African standards such as the East African Organic Products Standard.
• Explore schemes to make payments to smallholder organic farmers in Africa for carbon sequestration and ecosystem services.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

SNL Taco Town sketch drives home the point

Thanks to reader JulieMac for this one. It is relevant to the "this is why you're fat" webpage. I take it Saturday Night Live caught that wave too. Hilarious.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Victory is ours?

I am a little in awe of the news coming out of Washington today. Vilsack is turning out to be a dream come true. I first read a few articles on Grist. One called Prepping the Soil by Tom Laskawy in which he says:
There was some curiosity as to what stance U.S. Department of Agriculture chief Tom Vilsack would take in his speech this week before the National Association of Wheat Growers. Surprisingly, he came as the bearer of bad tidings. According to this report:
Vilsack called on farmers to accept the political reality that U.S. farm program direct payments are under fire both at home and abroad and therefore farmers should develop other sources of income. In his remarks to the groups he said he intends to promote a far more diversified income base for the farm sector, saying that windmills and biofuels should definitely be part of the income mix and that organic agriculture will also play an increasing role.
Then, I read a couple other articles on Grist. One by Tom Philpot, called More to Vilsack than Meets the Eye and another by Tom Laskawy called Vilsack sets the table: It's official: Nutrition will play a big role in reform at the USDA. Both articles allude to the change in the air at USDA. Should I be rubbing my eyes? Apparently YES, because then I found this news release from USDA today:
WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2009 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today "broke pavement" on the inaugural USDA The People's Garden during a ceremony on the grounds of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) commemorating the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln. The Secretary declared the stretch of pavement permanently closed and returned back to green, and encouraged other Administration officials and the general public to join in to protect the Chesapeake watershed.

"It is essential for the federal government to lead the way in enhancing and conserving our land and water resources," said Vilsack. "President Obama has expressed his commitment to responsible stewardship of our land, water and other natural resources, and one way of restoring the land to its natural condition is what we are doing here today - "breaking pavement" for The People's Garden."

The dedication comes on the 200th anniversary of the birth of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln founded the Department of Agriculture in 1862 and referred to it as "The People's Department" in his last annual message to Congress.

The commemoration of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial is only the first step in the Department of Agriculture's celebration of President Lincoln's life. During today's ceremony, Secretary Vilsack announced the goal of creating a community garden at each USDA facility worldwide. The USDA community garden project will include a wide variety of garden activities including Embassy window boxes, tree planting, and field office plots. The gardens will be designed to promote "going green" concepts, including landscaping and building design to retain water and reduce runoff; roof gardens for energy efficiency; utilizing native plantings and using sound conservation practices.

The USDA People's Garden announced today will eliminate 1,250 square feet of unnecessary paved surface at the USDA headquarters and return the landscape to grass. The changes signal a removal of impervious surfaces and improvement in water management that is needed throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

The new garden will add 612 square feet of planted space to an existing garden traditionally planted with ornamentals. The garden will showcase conservation practices that all Americans can implement in their own backyards and green spaces. As a component of the garden, pollinator-friendly plantings will not only provide important habitat for bees and butterflies, but can serve as an educational opportunity to help people understand the vital role pollinators play in our food, forage and all agriculture. The garden plot is adjacent to the site of the USDA Farmer's Market.

About 100,000 streams and rivers thread through the Chesapeake's 64,000-square-mile watershed, which is home to almost 17 million people in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, New York and the District of Columbia. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America, with a length of 200 miles and 11,684 miles of tidal shoreline, more than the entire U.S. West Coast. The Chesapeake Bay supports more than 3,600 species of plants, fish and animals.

USDA leads efforts on public and private lands to help reduce the impact of nutrient and sediment pollution on wildlife habitat, forest lands and water quality, as well as supporting community involvement in managing natural resources, urban green space and land stewardship. For more information about USDA, the People's Garden, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and other conservation and agriculture related programs available in local communities, visit a USDA Service Center or go to the USDA Web page at
Further research on the USDA website revealed this picture of Vilsack "breaking ground" on the garden.
(USDA Photo 09di1236-028)

I would have to agree that this is ground breaking. Cheers to Vilsack for making a bold statement and taking a stand to the status quo.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This is (partly) why you're fat

So, yes, genetics and ethnicity play a role.

And, yes, sedentary life style due to evolving technology and poorly designed urban areas that keep people inside plays a role.

And, Endocrine disruptors in some foods that may alter fats in the body can play a role.

There are many other theories.

But could we please call a spade a spade and admit that we have a SERIOUS problem. I know this is "touchy" topic for some, and that some people may get "offended," but the health of the nation is at stake and we are facing not a problem, but an EPIDEMIC. The Center for Disease Control has obesity in its top 10 (although last on its homepage) and if you haven't seen the frightening animated map of the nation, changing from light blues (<10%>30%) in 2007, you should take a gander. Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee are leading the pack with 32%, 30.3% and 30.1% respectively.

But what else is playing a role? FOOD! And not just food, but the kinds of food and the amount of food. You gain weight by eating more calories then you expel, seems like common knowledge. You would think.

So the actual reason for this post is: I just left my first class at MIT called Food Systems and the Environment where we were discussing the history of our food system and how we got to where we are today. And what is more obvious than ever, is that our system, as much as we feel comfortable in it, IT IS NOT WORKING. There is more food then ever before being produced and much of the problem lies in the distribution of that food and the knowledge transfer that is not occurring for one reason or another, to millions of people. So while most of the impoverished world is living on less then a dollar a day, we have websites popping up that infuriate me, and thus the reason for my post.

So here is the coup de grâce:

Brought to you by: This is Why You're Fat which receiv
ed 1,520,464 hits since it was released on Monday and was sent to my by my friend Emily. This site collects photos of exhibitionist food endeavors. While many find this really humorous, I would argue that it is definitely a societal problem to act this way, while much of the world is going hungry. Call me the party pooper if you want, but I doubt many of these people have ever experienced actual hunger. So here are my "favorites"

Turbaconucken - A chicken inside a duck inside a turkey, all wrapped in bacon. (via nycfoodguy)

Giant Breakfast Burrito - A seven pound breakfast burrito stuffed with potatoes, eggs, onions, and ham bits, lots of cheese on top and smothered in red chile. (via dogsarefunyes)

The Meat Ship- Made from bacon, sausages, pastry, franks and pork mince. (via supersizedmeals)

Brick Of Cheese (via laist)

The fact of the matter is we have made this "okay," "cool" and even "funny." I would argue that this is not okay, global warming is not cool and hunger is not funny. And if you think the way we consume food in this country doesn't have a rippling effect through the world, then we are failing to educate people on the severity of the issues we face as the resources run out. I challenge people to change the cultural "norm" and challenge the "status quo."

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. " ~Author unknown, commonly misattributed to Charles Darwin

Friday, February 6, 2009

Green Patriot Posters

Reader Mari, fellow Friedman student and author of the cool blog Projects to Finish Someday, brought a cool site to my attention.

It seems the old propaganda posters are gaining traction as a mechanism for rallying people to help fight global warming and create energy independence. You can see people's new poster submissions at Green Patriot Posters or get inspired by some of the old WW2 posters on their site. It is interesting to me that many of the same themes of decreasing consumption, self reliance, and sustainability are the same issues we are facing today.

My favorites so far are:

Mellow Your Yellow by pocktlynnt -Conserve at home by reducing water wastage on unnecessary flushes.

Change by BPaulR -Human contribution to global climate change now appears irrefutable. We now know that humans can affect global climate for ill, but we can affect it for good too. We have changed the climate before, we can do it again. Make better change now.

And this one, which really encompasses the theme of a propaganda poster:

Use Less
by iheartjavelinas -Uncle Sam reminds us we've tightened our belts before and we can do it again.

I would encourage any creative foodies out there to create some food and agriculture related posters. I collected some interesting facts from Sustainable Table and the Take a Bite out of Climate Change page( a project of the Small Planet Institute) that may help get your creative advocacy juices flowing:
  • If 10,000 medium-sized U.S. farms converted to organic production, they would store so much carbon in the soil that it would be the carbon-saving equivalent to taking one million cars off the road. -Rodale Institute
  • With one-third of the world's cereal harvest and 90 percent of the world's soy harvest being raised for animal feed, the energy required to grow those crops are a major factor in these on-farm emissions. -Dr Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Speech at Compassion in World Farming, London, September 8, 2008.
  • The sheer number of animals being raised for meat on the planet is another reason livestock production accounts for nearly one-fifth of all the globe's greenhouse gas emissions. In 1965, 8 billion livestock animals were alive at any given moment; 10 billion were slaughtered every year. Today, thanks in part to confined feeding operations that have spurred faster growth and shorter lives, 20 billion livestock animals are alive at any given moment, but nearly five times that many—55 billion—are slaughtered annually. -United Nations FAO- The Global Food Economy: The Battle for the Future of Farming Tony Wies.
To see more or vote on your favorites, visit Green Patriot Posters.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Victory Garden of Tomorrow

I have been waiting for this! Those of you who know me know my affinity for the WW2 Victory garden propaganda posters. I have been in contact with Joseph Wirtheim, a graphic designer, artist, and student living and working in Portland, Oregon. He is creating new-age Victory Garden posters that are amazing. I just picked up part of his collection at ETSY. If you have never heard of ETSY it is the greatest online flea market where you can buy handmade artisan gifts, clothes, trinkets and other goodies directly from the artist.

Check these babies out:

"I do a lot of thinking about my generation's place in history and its contribution to the American story - that's what my art generally concerns."

VGoT is an art project posing as a propaganda campaign for new, American homefront values. The message style draws from American mid-century homefront propaganda, and the messages essentially draws from 21st century needs as found in the current environmental sustainability movement.

The resulting artwork is a series of propaganda-style poster images, that are either hand screenprinted, painted, or offset printed.

Learn More about Joe here and the Victory Garden of Tomorrow collection. I would encourage you too support artists, especially this one. They would look good in an office, great room or barn yard wall.