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Organic Bytes #145: 9/24/2008

Health, Justice and Sustainability News Tidbits with an Edge!
Written and edited by Craig Minowa and Ronnie Cummins

Quotes of the Week

Stockbrokers panic"We're literally maybe days away from a complete meltdown of our financial system, with all the implications here at home and globally."

-Senator Christopher J. Dodd - Chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee

"This financial crisis has exposed the right-wing's anti-regulation philosophy as an abject failure. Their hands-off approach... has resulted in greedy corporate titans getting rich on the backs of working people... and is causing irreparable harm to the planet. And now we face a trillion-dollar taxpayer-funded bailout. Enough is enough. We oppose the Bush administration's... blank-check bailout... What is needed is truly fundamental reform, not this no-strings-attached proposal. The government must impose oversight and re-regulation... The days of the fox guarding the henhouse, with corporate lobbyists writing the laws that regulate their industries, must end."

-Brent Blackwelder, Friends of the Earth, Sept. 22, 2008

Consumer Tip of the Week

How to Survive the Market Meltdown

stockbroker graphicThe headlines are ablaze with news of an impending global financial catastrophe. While the U.S. federal government, which is already in the throes of the largest national deficit in history, piles nearly a trillion additional tax-payer dollars at the flood walls of Wall Street to avoid certain collapse, the U.S. dollar teeters on the threshold of one of the greatest inflationary periods in history.

Nothing destroys investments or savings like inflation. So how is the every day organic consumer supposed to respond to this? Hopefully, the recent bailouts although so far severely misguided, in terms of giving Wall Street speculators a blank check give consumers a little more time to prepare. Here are some quick tips:

  1. Food: As noted in previous issues of Organic Bytes, it's a good time to learn how to grow and preserve your own food ,and cook healthy organic meals from scratch. Peak oil and inflation will cause food prices, especially processed food and meat, to go through the roof. The sooner you relearn the cooking, canning, and gardening skills of your grandparents, the sooner you'll have stability on your food shelf.
  2. Finances: If you have notable amounts of cash in a savings account, consider paying down debt, investing in "green' survival-oriented products, or purchasing real assets. The value of the dollar is plummeting, so a $10k bank account doesn't mean as much if the dollar is worth half that.
  3. Home: There's no better time than the present to look for ways to make your home more energy efficient. Energy costs are going to escalate. The energy use in the average American home can be cut in half with some fairly simple conservation measures.
  4. Transportation: What do you drive? Resale value of fuel efficient cars is increasing as fuel prices go up. If you drive, consider trading your current car for a used fuel efficient vehicle. You'll likely be able to sell it for more than you purchased it for, if you buy it used and in decent condition (for our urban readers, we don't need to tell you how far bicycles and mass transportation can take you).
  5. Lifestyle: Redefine what you consider to be "desirable". Instead of the newest flat-screen television, start doing some research into items like pressure cookers, homesteading books, electricity backup devices, etc. Refine your diet, eat less (or no) meat and animal products, and eat more whole grains, beans, and vegetables.
  6. Politics: Call Congress now and urge your representatives to require those who profited from three decades of reckless finance to be required to pay for the bailout. Call 202-224-3121.
(Stay tuned... The OCA will be launching a "Transitions Culture" website soon, which will feature related information.)
Alert of the Week

Unlabeled Genetically Engineered Animals In the Food Supply?

cartoonThe Food and Drug Administration released a "draft guidance" document on September 18th that outlines the regulatory approval process for Genetically Engineered (GE) animals.

To date, the process has not been transparent, and maintains that GE animals, like their plant counterparts, do not need to be labeled. Food derived from GE animals will not be labeled and represents a huge risk for human health and the environment.

Some GE animals will be designed to produce drugs and might even outcompete native species. Without mandatory labeling, adequate environmental impact studies and genuine public participation, GE animals should be prohibited from entering the food supply.

Act now! Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service public comment forum and tell the FDA all Genetically Engineered Animals must be labeled!
Learn more
Mark Your Calendars

Tell Whole Foods: No Sweatshop 'Natural' Beef! Mobilize Oct. 4 & 5

what's the beefThe Organic Consumers Association has reported and acted on the chronic abuses of workers rights at the Beef Northwest feedlots in Oregon and the United Farm Workers ongoing union drive. With the majority of Beef Northwest's workers signing cards indicating that they want the United Farmworkers Union to represent them, even Barack Obama has recently told Beef Northwest that they need to start collective bargaining with the UFW.

While Whole Foods Market, the largest purchaser of Beef Northwest's "Country Natural" beef claims to be an industry leader in promoting animal welfare standards, they have lagged behind in protecting workers rights. OCA believes that a healthy and sustainable food system depends on respect for the workers, animals and the environment, including entering into a collective bargaining process once the majority of workers sign a Union card. Read more about the situation at Beef Northwest and the struggle to respect worker rights.

Want to send a message to Whole Foods demanding that labor exploitation must be eliminated in the organic and natural food sector? Sign up to leaflet Whole Foods the weekend of October 4 & 5 with OCA campaigner Ryan Zinn. OCA is teaming up with the United Farm Workers, the Teamsters Union and other organic and social justice advocates to send a loud message: No Sweatshop Beef! Don't have a Whole Foods in your neighborhood?

Sign OCA's petition to Whole Foods here.
OCA Readers Talk Back

What's Up With Pasteurized 'Raw' Almonds?

almondsAn OCA Reader Writes: "A year ago, in Organic Bytes #120, you reported that the USDA now mandates that all almonds, even those labeled as "raw" must now be pasteurized. Has anything changed with that issue?"

OCA Responds: More than a dozen almond growers filed a lawsuit against the USDA this month, claiming the USDA's ruling has devastated their businesses. Foreign producers do not have to abide by this rule, so consumers of raw almonds are increasingly shifting their business away from domestic production. "This ruling is a financial disaster and has closed a major customer group that we have built up over the years," said Dan Hyman, an almond grower and owner of D&S Ranches in Selma, CA.

Learn more
yawning manHealth Tip of the Week

Sleeping Through the Insanity

With all the news of national and global financial crisis, peak oil, food scarcity and expanding wars, some of our readers (and some of the OCA staff) are finding it difficult to sleep at night. From our friends at here are some bedtime snacks that can elevate your levels of tryptophan and serotonin, two natural chemicals your body needs for a restful nights sleep.

  1. Rice with miso soup
  2. Whole grain pita with hummus (add tomato and red onion slices for flavor)
  3. Whole grain crackers with organic peanut butter (add a touch of honey for sweetness, if desired)
  4. Rice with lentils
  5. Rice, black beans, and guacamole
  6. Hummus with steamed broccoli
  7. Eggs with whole grain toast
Learn more
Website Tool of the Week

Online Climate Time Machine

NASA has launched a website that provides a dramatic visualization of temperature change, sea level rise, co2 emissions, and ice melt from the beginning of the industrial revolution to the present. We find the temperature change map particularly mind melting.


Register to Vote!Register to Vote!

If you are not registered to vote, or if your address has changed since the last time you voted, please register to vote using a new online tool provided by Peace Impact, a coalition of progressive non- profits, including the Organic Consumers Association.

Register to vote here

Dog & NewspaperTop Headlines of the Week

  1. Communities Plan for a Low-Energy Future
  2. Italy Joins Three Other Nations and Bans Pesticides Linked to Bee Devastation
  3. Election Theft for 2008 Already Underway: Will Americans Be Able to Trust the Vote Count in 2008?
  4. Mobile Phone Use 'Raises Children's Risk of Brain Cancer Fivefold'
  5. Efforts to Halt the National Animal Identification System Head to Court

Let OCA sift through the media smog and bring you the top new and analysis of the day. The OCA website has 20 or more news articles posted each day, and a library of over 4,000 articles covering issues including health, justice, food and farming, politics, and the environment.


OCA LogoMobilizing Organic Consumers In Your State

Through the Organic Consumers Fund's Grassroots Netroots Alliance project, voters are pressing the politicians to support strict organic standards, mandatory labels for genetically engineered food, and the conversion of U.S. farmland to organic. Find out who's answering the call in your state here.


Listen To Podcast With Organic Bytes

According to, the #1 health/wellness podcast on the internet is "Real Health" with Dr. Steve. This podcast will now be highlighting each issue of Organic Bytes with in-depth interviews of OCA staff.

Tune-in to the podcast today to hear OCA experts talk about the news stories we're covering in this issue of Organic Bytes.

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