Cruelty to More Than Just Cows

You may have heard about the ground beef that has been recalled from schools recently because it was made from cows too sick to walk. But have you seen the video?

Not only are these cows being treated in an extraordinarily cruel way, but it is sick to think that these companies would knowingly feed them to children – or to anyone. I urge you to complete the form along the right-hand side of the site to send a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture.

I also urge you not to buy any meat that is factory farmed.  If it means more beans and lentils, so be it; do you really want to eat these dying creatures?  New Seasons is a great place to get sustainably farmed, free-range beef, if you are lucky enough to live near one.

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Want healthy, “green” fast food? Head straight to Burgerville!

If you don’t live in the Pacific Northwest, and therefore don’t have access to one of these amazing fast food restaurants, all I can say is, “I’m sorry.”

Burgerville uses local, vegetarian fed, antibiotic-free cows for its burgers (they use the same beef source as New Seasons), and cage-free hens for its eggs. Its milk is also hormone-free, and many of the fruits and vegetables are locally sourced.

You can look forward to delicious seasonal treats throughout the year, like their Sweet Potato Fries, Walla Walla Onion Rings, Strawberry Milkshakes, and other delights. They partner with a host of local businesses to give you the freshest, most delicious foods.

All of their nutrition info is available on their site, as well as ingredient lists. They even have a complete chart for people with food sensitivities, and the peanuts in their sundaes are stored carefully and kept separate from other food items, to protect people with peanut allergies.

In addition to local growers and sustainable farms, you can feel good knowing that your money is going to a company that takes good care of its employees, composts its waste, buys renewable energy, turns its used cooking oil into biodiesel, and more.

With so much healthy, sustainable food and such admirable business practices, Burgerville lives up to its slogan – “Where you go when you know.”

To find a location, click here.

No “Specialty” Food for Poor People

Today, I sent the following letter to Activistas. I hope you’ll take a moment to read it, too.

I would like to call your attention to a serious frustration that I have been dealing with as a mom on government aid.

I have two daughters, ages 23 months and 5 months, and I am on WIC and food stamps. It’s common knowledge that it is very difficult to feed a family on food stamps alone, but with my husband in school, we have been doing our best to do just that.

Recently, I have been taking great pains (see budgethippies.blogspot.com) to switch our family over to organic food. As you can imagine, making food stamps stretch to cover an organic diet is a huge challenge, but I believe that my daughters deserve to eat food that is free of pesticides, antibiotics, and artificial hormones. This has meant regular trips to discount grocers in search of soon-to-expire organic goods, a reduction of meat in meals, more cooking from scratch, and paying a premium for produce, but I think it’s worth it.

A sweet little grocery store, The Green Grocer, just opened across the street from my discount grocer. Sweet! I thought. I can go over there after my discount trip and pick up the things that I didn’t find on discount! I was excited to discover that they carried hard-to-find organic produce, like fresh ginger (a good ginger tea is great for a cold!), as well as the best prices I’ve seen on organic bread and organic palm oil shortening.

I was not so excited to learn that they had been denied the right to take food stamps. When I called the USDA to complain, the woman in charge said, “You are not allowed to shop at specialty stores.”

Apparently, pesticide-free food is too good for me.

True, I can get some of these foods other places, although I have to drive 3 times as far for most of it. But it is very frustrating that I can’t frequent the new local market where the sweet owner gives my daughter free snacks and I can buy almost anything in bulk to avoid extra packaging.

This is almost as frustrating as WIC, which is essentially useless to me now, since they do not allow anything that you buy with their checks to be organic (the exception is the $20 in farmer’s market money that they give out every summer). Free milk with antibiotics, hormones, and pus? Free cheese filled with accumulated pesticides from all of the over-treated grain that the cow has eaten? Free hydrogenated peanut butter? I’m thankful that these services exist, but I wish that I didn’t have to choose between what’s best for my family and what’s most helpful to our budget. If WIC allowed me to simply purchase half the quantity of food that they do now, but to purchase organic food instead, it would be such a blessing!

Don’t get me wrong – I am grateful for both WIC and food stamps, and to the taxpayers who are helping us to make ends meet as my husband gets through school. Our experience at the receiving end of these services has caused me to actually look forward to being in a higher tax bracket, because I will know that our taxes will be going to people who are experiencing what we have experienced.

But when the government insists on distributing that money in a way that limits my ability to care for my family, I am upset, not only for myself, but also for all of the taxpayers who are funding this program, and will later have to fund health care to undo the damage that these products are doing to our bodies. These agencies are very behind-the-times scientifically if they think that organic food is elite and unnecessary. And they are bigoted if they believe that lower-income people do not deserve healthy food.

I would like to urge anyone willing to take a stand to contact WIC, the Department of Human Services, and the USDA, as well as the media and anyone else who might be influential, and to tell them that the government should lead the way in healthy eating. With our current epidemics of obesity, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes, the current method of taking care of the underprivileged is unwise and unacceptable.

You can go here to contact WIC,  here to contact the Oregon Department of Human Services, and here to contact the USDA.

Burt’s Bees – How Should We React?

By now, it’s no secret that Clorox has recently purchased Burt’s Bees.

There has been a lot of debate among hippies like ourselves about whether this is good, bad, or neither. I’d like to take a moment and share what I believe about the subject.

Burt’s Bees, first of all, creates great products. Their products are natural, environmentally friendly, affordable (more or less), and widely available. Being able to drop into the nearest supermarket and pick up a tube of Burt’s Bees lip balm is a wonderful convenience for the environmentally-minded consumer.

I use Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm and Burt’s Bees diaper rash cream. I have been very pleased with both products.

So, obviously, there are practical reasons to buy Burt’s Bees.

HOWEVER, if it is important to you to make sure that you money is only going to do good things, I would discourage you from buying Burt’s Bees.

People are arguing about whether Clorox is trying to truly “go green” or if it is just trying to cash in on the current popularity of environmentalism. Sadly, I am confident that the latter is true.

The reason why I would discourage buying from Burt’s Bees is the same reason that I will always choose Wendy’s over McDonald’s.

When trans fat came under scrutiny, Wendy’s pledged to eliminate all trans fat from its restaurants, and immediately set to work doing so.

When Super Size Me, among other things, brought McDonald’s under intense scrutiny, they added some salads and apple wedges to their menu.

Do you see the difference? The sincere people change what they’re doing wrong, and the fakers add something that seems right.

Clorox manufactures bleach, along with many cleaning products that contain bleach and other harmful chemicals. These chemicals are toxic to the environment, and to your family.

If Clorox truly cared about the environment, they would start phasing out their more dangerous products in favor of more natural alternatives. Buying Burt’s Bees? Probably either a business investment or a publicity stunt. Or both.

The moral of the story? If all you can afford or access is Burt’s Bees, keep right on buying it. It’s a far better product for you and your family than conventional brands. But if you can make the switch, find a better company to give your hard-earned cash to.