Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"We should all hang our heads in shame for letting America come to this..."

I'm paraphrasing a bit there, but such were the words of Bill Moyers on a recent broadcast, in regards to, oh, I don't know, pick your pet catastrophe... Today, he might apply that sentiment to the Bush administration's pledge of $250,000 of aid to the victims of Cyclone Nargis in Burma. Let's see... Up to a million left homeless (never mind the 100,000 dead)... $250,000... That works out to (calculating furiously), twenty five gleaming American cents per person! Can't you just see those terrified, confused and desperate cyclone victims wetting their pants in anticipation? Doesn't it just warm your heart to imagine them wondering, "Which American state will be on the backside of MY quarter???" Perhaps the resulting quarter trading craze will spur their economy into an upswing and empower the Burmese to take back their country and set themselves on the road to democratic self determination... It's an exciting time to be alive!

To be fair, that does go a bit further in Burma than it does here in the Pacific Northwest, where a quarter won't buy anyone much of their old life back once the lahars start flowing, but doesn't this seem just a bit... miserly? Shameful? Or INSULTING??? Yes, I think that's the word I was looking for. Although I suppose it's more or less on par with the Feds' response to Hurricane Katrina...

But enough with my self-righteous indignation, already. In other news, I've recently run across several food-related articles that I think are worth passing along. For those of you not familiar with the skulking evil that is Monsanto, a recent Vanity Fair article will shed light on some pretty scary stuff that your tax dollars, via federal farm subsidies, are being poured into. But wait, don't jump out of the nearest open window just yet... There was a great piece in last month's Harper's by Nathanael Johnson about raw (unpasteurized) milk, called The Revolution Will Not Be Pasteurized. I've recently started looking around for raw milk sources here in Oregon, for cheesemaking purposes, but there's arguably a good case to be made for just drinking the stuff on a regular basis (also worth reading is Nina Planck's defense of whole milk). Interesting stuff. Finally, in case you missed it (as did I - always a day late and a dollar short), over at The New York Times, Sunday before last, Michael Pollan wrote a compelling argument for tearing out the lawn and starting a garden. More than just an advocation of growing food, however, it was a meditation on overcoming the psychological effects of living in the culture of hopelessness fostered by a highly specialized society such as ours. Pollan invokes the agrarian philosophy of Wendell Berry in admonishing us for wondering what good any of our actions will do (we've been chasing that one around since time immemorial, haven't we?) and calls upon us to just get out there and do something, anything, big or small. Be the change you want to see in the world, as Ghandi put it. This piece, at once frightening and inspiring, shows Pollan bringing his A game. Well worth a look!


Jack said...

Hi Tommy
Just found you via Chez Pim. Your site looks great i look forward to reading further...
$250K ??? I'm Aussie and have been embarressed at our governments' tendency to follow yours (no offense intended...) but am proud that we made a preliminary grant of $3mill yesterday, perhaps we need to swap roles for a bit? Just watching the news tonight I have this awful sense of dread just like the tsunami that something really bad is going on yet we just don't fully 'get it' yet.
Personal donatations will fill the void as the truth is revealled, no doubt.

tommy said...

Political incompetence is generally (hopefully...) cyclical. You guys have Kevin Rudd now and we'll have Barack Obama soon, so perhaps there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks for reading, and welcome aboard, Jack.

The Pastry Pirate said...

Hi Tommy... thanks for posting all those links, though I question some of Nina Planck's assertions (whole milk *is* the best for little kids, but some of her science was a bit squidgy).

In my own little sphere, I mentioned to Chef last week that I was perturbed we were getting "regular" industrial agricultural eggs, and couldn't we switch to organic, cage/battery-free, humanely raised? He shrugged in his usual inscrutable way.

Today when we were putting away the food order, I noticed the eggs were in a different box. Unpacking them, I saw they were indeed organic/humane. Little victories count.

McAuliflower said...

You and I are watching the same tv and reading the same articles.

I just bought Hope's Edge (30 years after diet for a small planet). So far the intro itself is tying into Bill Moyers discussion nicely.

ps- pet the chickens for me

tommy said...

Hmmm, squidgy science... might have to look into that. And bravo on your humane egg coup!

Checked out Hope's Edge on the Powells site, looks interesting. I've never read any of Lappe's work, apart from a couple articles/essays. That's probably worth a look. Myself, I just picked up Jim Kunstler's Geography of Nowhere. I enjoyed (if that's the word...) The Long Emergency, and I'm a big fan of his website.