Organic Bytes
Health, Justice and Sustainability News Tidbits with an Edge!
October 29, 2008 -  Issue 149
In This Issue
Video of the Week: The Grassroots Netroots Alliance: "Change in America"
Alert of the Week: EPA Considers Weakening Fumigant Regulations
Consumer Victory of the Week: USDA Proposes Mandatory Pasture and Feed Requirements for Organic Dairy Farms
Organic Bytes Readers Talk Back: How Green is Your Cell Phone?
Hard Times and Home-Cooked Meals
Sustainability Tip of the Week: Farm to School Programs Sweeping Nation--How to Start One in Your Community
Bad News of the Week: Are You Prepared for the Worst the Economy Has to Offer?
Headlines of the Week
Organic Consumers Association

Welcome to another exciting issue of Organic Bytes from the Organic Consumers Association.


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Video of the Week:
The Grassroots Netroots Alliance: "Change in America"
Time to get out and vote! Election Day is Tuesday, November 4, 2008, and many states have already begun accepting votes by mail or have opened up early-voting polling places. No more stolen elections! We need your help to make sure that everyone gets to vote and that every vote is counted accurately. The Organic Consumers Fund's Grassroots Netroots Alliance has put together a get-out-the-vote video and Action Alert, listing all the ways you can get involved. Please click here to watch the video. Learn more about how voting rights are already being violated, and take action!
Alert of the Week:
EPA Considers Weakening Fumigant Regulations
EPA The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is under pressure to weaken proposed regulations that protect farm workers and rural communities from fumigant exposure. A public comment period is open until October 30. Please take action now, and let the EPA know these regulations should not be weakened. Fumigants are among the most toxic pesticides in use today, drifting into schools and homes in rural communities and threatening the health of farm workers. Exposure has been linked to birth defects, cancer, Parkinson's disease and acute poisonings. Fumigants are used in large quantities to sterilize soils before planting -- an archaic tool of chemical-intensive industrial agriculture, and the polar opposite of soil-nurturing sustainable farming. Tell EPA we want the highest safety precautions for fumigant pesticide use and a timeline to phase out fumigants.

Learn more and take action
Consumer Victory of the Week:
USDA Proposes Mandatory Pasture and Feed Requirements for Organic Dairy Farms
Happy cowAfter years of pressure from organic farmers, consumers, and advocacy groups, spearheaded by the OCA and the Cornucopia Institute, the USDA has finally decided to mandate pasture requirements for cattle on organic farms. The pasture requirements will be required for every day of the growing season (minimum 120 days) for dairy (and beef) cattle, with a minimum requirement that 30% of organic cattle feed come from pasture. It is our hope that these new requirements will put so-called "organic" factory farms, like those operated by Horizon and Aurora, out of business. Although the OCA applauds the USDA for finally proposing regulations that will put an end to intensive confinement dairy feedlots under the "USDA Organic" label, we strongly oppose a separate section of the proposed regulation that would allow non-organic heifers (young milk cows) from conventional farms to be brought onto organic dairy farms and then be considered "organic." The OCA will be mobilizing our national network to take action on this issue in the coming weeks.

Learn more
Organic Bytes Readers Talk Back:
How Green is Your Cell Phone?
cellphoneIn response to last week's email, many readers wrote back with concerns and questions similar to the following:

Email from reader: "I know that most people use cell phones, and I appreciate the OCA looking for the best companies to purchase such a service, but I have a couple concerns. First of all, I have read that cell phones can cause brain tumors. Secondly, I hear there are environmental and child labor issues related to coltan mining for cell phones.

Response from the OCA: Thanks for sharing your concerns. You are correct, the electromagnetic fields emitted by cell phones are likely problematic if the phone is used inappropriately. In Organic Bytes #141, we discuss this issue in detail and provide tips for reducing exposure. The most important health precaution is to keep cell phones away from children and for adults to get in the habit of using an ear piece or speaker phone and not putting the phone directly to your head. As for the coltan mining issue, the OCA has deep concerns about what is happening in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where more than 60% of coltan is mined. Because of its ability to hold high electric charges, coltan is used in cellular phones, computers, jet engines, missiles, ships, and weapons systems. Without coltan the digital age would not exist. Having said that, the electronic industry (and consumers) have done a horrible job recycling this precious substance. You can recycle your old phones here.
Hard Times and Home-Cooked Meals
home-cooked mealAs the financial crisis deepens, more Americans are cutting back on eating out and staying home to cook their own meals. According to the NPD Group, a market research company, restaurant meals now cost on average about three times what it takes to make a similar meal at home. While fast-food restaurants are maintaining a relatively steady customer flow, sit-down restaurants are seeing sales plummet. According to Edward E. Leamer, director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast, "There has been so much of a focus on Wall Street and the credit problem, but the real source of the problem in the fourth quarter is going to be consumer spending, and restaurants are one of the canaries in this coal mine."

Learn more
Sustainability Tip of the Week:
Farm to School Programs Sweeping Nation--How to Start One in Your Community
Farm to schoolThe economic crisis is having a positive impact on the diets of children in thousands of schools across the U.S. School budgets may be shrinking, but family farmers are filling in the gap with low-cost locally-grown foods. It's getting prohibitively expensive for family farmers to ship their goods to customers thousands of miles away, so groups like the National Farm to School program, a national network of community-based food systems that assist farmers and improve student health, are connecting schools directly to local farms. More than 8,700 schools across the U.S. are actively participating in these programs, which can vary everywhere from simply stocking locally grown foods in the cafeterias to developing vegetable gardens on school property. Learn more about these programs and how to start a similar program in your own community here.
OCA Needs Your Help
donateWe know times are tough for everyone right now. That's why the OCA continues to work for consumers, family farmers, our environment, and our most precious assets, our children. We want to continue fighting the good fight, as well as bring you Organic Bytes, but we need your donations to survive these financially difficult times. If you enjoy Organic Bytes and believe the world is a better place with OCA's nonprofit work, please consider donating today. Any size of donation is helpful and appreciated.

Donate Now!
Bad News of the Week:
Are You Prepared for the Worst the Economy Has to Offer?
Peak Oil Next week, after the elections, hopefully after celebrating Regime Change, OCA will be launching a new long-term grassroots campaign called Organic
Transitions: Beyond the Gloom and Doom of Recession, Climate Change, Peak Oil, Deteriorating Public Health, and Endless War. In the meantime you can read this article by best-selling author of The Long Emergency, James Kunstler, to remind yourself how desperately we need, not only change, but radical change.

Learn more
Headlines of the Week:
Headlines 1) Starbucks, TransFair USA and Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International Announce Groundbreaking Initiative to Support Small-Scale Coffee Farmers

2) Research Indicates One in Four Thousand Humans Are Carriers of Mad Cow-Like Disease

3) We Need Green Jobs to Simultaneously Address the Economic, Climate & Energy Crisis

4) FDA Conspired with Chemical Industry to Declare Bisphenol-A Harmless

5) The 2008 Land Grab for Food and Financial Security

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. Bookmark
Eden Foods Offers OCA Customers 15% Discount
Eden Foods Eden Foods is one of the few national organic food producers who goes beyond the USDA Organic Standards. Although Eden Foods is USDA certified, their products do not bear the USDA seal, because they say the USDA standard really represents a "minimum standard" that Eden Foods goes far beyond. As a subscriber to Organic Bytes, you can enjoy a discount rate on any Eden Foods products by clicking here.

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