Archive for May 27th, 2011

Food in the Ancient World

Food in the Ancient World

Download Food in the Ancient World free e-book

Posted 21 May 2011, by Staff, BookPhaze,

Book Description:

The ways of life of four great ancient civilizations– Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Celtic–are illuminated here through their foodways. As these cultures moved toward settled agriculture, a time of experimentation and learning began. Cities emerged, and with them consumer societies that needed to be supplied. Food Culture in the Ancient World draws on writings of classical authors such as Petronius, Galen, and Cato, as well as on archeological findings to present intimate insight into ancient peoples. This volume will be indispensable as it complements classical history, cultural, and literature studies at the high school and college levels and will also inform the general reader. The book begins with an overview of the civilizations and their agricultural practices and trade. A full discussion of available foodstuffs describes the discovery, emergence, usage, and appraisals of a host of ingredients. A subsequent chapter covers food by civilization. Chapters on food preparation, the food professions, and eating habits pre a fascinating look at the social structure, with slaves and women preparing and serving food. Accounts of the gatherings of slaves and freedmen in taverns, inns, and bars and the notorious banquet, symposium, feast, and convivium of the elite are particularly intriguing and crucial to understanding male society. Other aspects of ancient life brought to life for the reader include food for soldiers, food in religious and funerary practices, and concepts of diet and nutrition. Many Classical recipes are interspersed with the text, along with illustrations.

Summary: Follows culinary explorations through four great ancient civilizations
Rating: 5

College-level collections with strong holdings in either ancient history or culinary history will want to take a close look at Food In The Ancient World, part of Greenwood’s ‘Food Through History’ series: it follows culinary explorations through four great ancient civilizations – Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Celtic – and uses the writings of classical ancient authors along with archaeological findings to follow the lives of ancient civilizations through agricultural and culinary habits. Discussions of available ingredients, different foods by civilization, food preparation and serving habits, and more reveals social, religious and culinary trends alike.

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Posted 25 May 2011, by Lila Garnett,,

Eco Amazons, released this month by powerHouse Books, profiles 20 American women who are leaders of the environmental movement. The author, Dorka Keehn, has put together a diverse group actively working across a host of issues to effect change. Keehn focuses on individuals with deep personal ties to their work, whose accomplishments merit greater recognition. Her subjects illustrate specific ways in which women can become agents for a sustainable future. Alice Waters describes her involvement with organic foods and farmers’ markets; Majora Carter chronicles the development of her Sustainable South Bronx program; Janine Benyus shares anecdotes that inspired her innovations in the field of biomimicry. With photographs by Colin Finlay, Eco Amazons provides a broad-spectrum view of the positive trends that can evolve from individual determination and dedication.

The following exerpts are from Eco Amazons: 20 Women Who Are Transforming the World by Dorka Keehn, published by powerHouse Books.

Judy Bonds: Born August 27, 1952, Boone County, West Virginia
The daughter and granddaughter of coal miners, Judy Bonds is the director of Coal River Mountain Watch. She is an Appalachian American, and her family has lived in the Coal River Valley for ten generations. In 2003 Judy won the coveted Goldman Prize for her work to stop mountaintop removal mining and its destructive impact on local communities and ecosystems.

Winona LaDuke: Born August 18, 1959, Los Angeles, California
A member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg from the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, Winona LaDuke is the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, which buys back nonnative land, and the executive director of Honor the Earth, an organization she cofounded with the Indigo Girls to raise awareness and financial support for Indigenous environmental justice. Winona ran twice for Vice President of the United Sates as the nominee of the Green Party, and in 2007, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Sylvia Earle: Born August 30, 1935, Gibbstown, New Jersey
Affectionately called “Her Deepness,” oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle is an explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society and leader of the Sustainable Seas Expeditions. Formerly the chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, she has also founded three marine research companies. Sylvia was TIME magazine’s first “Hero of the Planet” and is the recipient of the 2009 TED Prize for her proposal to establish a global network of marine protected areas. “This is the first time in our history that we are capable of understanding our effect on the earth’s atmosphere, the chemistry of the ocean, and the biodiversity of life. We’re the only species on the planet that can do something about it.” Sylvia Earle

Husband-Wife Environmentalists Ambushed, Killed in Amazon

Husband-Wife Environmentalists Ambushed, Killed in Amazon

Posted 26 May 2011, by Staff, Voice of America News,

A husband and wife team of environmental activists were shot and killed in Brazil’s Amazon rain forest, just before lawmakers moved closer to approving legislation to ease restrictions on using land in the world’s largest forest.

Authorities said Joao Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo were ambushed by gunmen in the northern Brazil state of Para on Tuesday. President Dilma Rousseff’s office says she has ordered a federal investigation, but it was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.

Both victims had received death threats from loggers and ranchers angry about their attempts to fight deforestation and protect Amazon residents who harvest rubber, nuts and other renewable resources.

Brazil is a major exporter of soy, beef, coffee and other commodities.

On Wednesday, the Brazilian lower house of Congress approved a bill that reduces the amount of protected land in the Amazon, delegates enforcement to state governments, and grants amnesty for those who have illegally cleared trees. The bill still must pass in the Senate.  It also must be signed by Ms. Rousseff, who has indicated she may veto the bill if the amnesty and enforcement provisions are not changed.

Proponents say existing laws are impossible to enforce and need to be updated. But critics say the proposed laws already have encouraged illegal logging by people who assume the amnesty provisions will pass.  They point to a government announcement last week that satellite images from the past two months showed a nearly six-fold increase in land clearing compared to the same period last year.

Previously, deforestation in the Amazon had fallen to its slowest pace on record since 1988.

Computerized Geographic Information System for the Mangrove Forest

Computerized Geographic Information System for the Mangrove Forest

Posted 25 May 2011, by Stacy Carmichael, National Communications Network, Inc. (Guyana),

The development of a Computerized Geographic Information System for the mangrove forest along the coastline and river bank areas was created to provide an inventory of mangrove. This is according to Agriculture Minister, Robert Persaud, who said that the G$ 22million project has been commendable thus far.

“I also want to publicly commend the work of the Mangrove Action Committee and the Secretariat, which I have more or less kidnapped and brought under NARI from sea defence. At some point in time, probably the next Minister of Agriculture will send it back to sea defence where it belongs, but the aim was to give it some focus, look at synergies we have there with forestry as well as agriculture,” Minister Persaud said.

Head of the Mangrove Action Committee, Annette Arjune noted that since the formation of the committee, one hundred and ten thousand mangrove seedlings have been planted. “It will enable us to manage this very precious natural resource so we have collaborated with our very important partner, the Guyana Forestry Commission,” she said.

The mangrove inventory will enable the Guyana Mangrove Restoration Project to design activities that will allow for sustainable development. The computerized Geographic Information System for the mangrove forest was created to provide an inventory of mangrove.

Enforcing laws the focus of shale conference

Enforcing laws the focus of shale conference

Pa. law enforcers learn about crimes and first response measures at meeting.

Posted 26 May 2011, by Staff, The Times Leader,

STATE COLLEGE – Law enforcement officials learned about environmental and financial crimes, first response measures and other issues associated with natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale at a two-day conference that ended Wednesday.

More than 200 federal, state and local officers, prosecutors and environmental officials from Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Ohio, attended the Marcellus Shale Law Enforcement Training Conference, which was hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. Attorneys for the Eastern, Western and Middle Districts of Pennsylvania.

The conference gave an overview of natural gas extraction activities and the state and federal requirements that companies and their subcontractors must follow to ensure that workers, the public and the environment are not put at risk. Topics included environmental and financial crimes, first response measures, wastewater disposal, heavy truck enforcement, as well as state and local law enforcement issues.

“As a result of innovations like hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling, oil and gas extraction is occurring with increasing frequency in certain concentrated regions across the nation, including the Marcellus Shale region,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Department of Justice.  “Exploration of sources of domestic energy is vital to the national interest.  In doing so, we must ensure that all laws intended to protect human health, sources of drinking water, wildlife and the environment are well understood and enforced to mitigate any potential adverse effects.”

Peter J. Smith, U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, said federal, state and local law enforcement must work together “to protect public health, the environment … and the communities that we live in from the harmful byproducts of rapid industrial development and social change. The conference presents us with a great opportunity to launch this joint effort.”

Presenters included the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigations Division, the FBI, the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General, Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association, Pennsylvania State Police, Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section, Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research, Lycoming County Department of Public Safety, the Middle Atlantic-Great Lakes Organized Crime Law Enforcement Network, the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the Marcellus Center for Outreach & Research Penn State University and the Sierra Club.

Environmental Justice Storms the Gates

Environmental Justice Storms the Gates

Posted 10 May 2011, by Rose Eveleth, OnEarth,

A blighted community in Jersey City, New Jersey, sues a multibillion-dollar company to clean up its mess

When you peer through the chain-link fence at 900 Garfield Avenue in Jersey City, New Jersey, you will notice that concrete slabs occupy the space where buildings once stood. Nearby, blue and green tarps cover mounds of dirt. More remarkable, however, is what you can’t see: beneath the surface lie 700,000 tons of chromium waste that has been present on the 16.6-acre site for more than 50 years, seeping into the soil and groundwater and escaping into the air as dust.

Chromium ore is an amazingly useful substance. When processed and added to steel, chromium produces stainless steel; when applied as a coating to boats, planes, and cars, it protects their surfaces from rust. This work was done by PPG Industries for 40 years, until the Garfield Avenue facility was shuttered in 1963 and manufacturing was shifted to a newer plant in Texas. Left behind were high concentrations of hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen that, when inhaled or ingested, can cause lung cancer, gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcers, respiratory problems, and low birth weight. Now, after decades of failed attempts, a legal settlement among NRDC, local community groups, and PPG, which is based in Pittsburgh, will finally bring about a thorough cleanup of the contamination.

Chromium pollution is a national problem. Erin Brockovich made her name seeking legal reparations for a Hinkley, California, community that suffered health consequences from hexavalent chromium in its water supply; the battle she waged against Pacific Gas and Electric in the1990s became the basis of the film starring Julia Roberts, who won an Oscar for her performance as Brockovich. Even today, about half of California’s drinking water is tainted by chromium, which has also killed off aquatic life in the harbors of Baltimore and Boston.

Garfield Avenue is one of more than 130 chromium-contaminated sites in heavily industrialized New Jersey, and one of the largest. The settlement, according to Nancy Marks, a senior attorney who led NRDC’s legal team, could open the door for effective remediation of other sites. “I’m hoping that this will be part of a general clamping down on hexavalent chromium nationwide,” she says.

Like many such contaminated sites in the United States, 900 Garfield Avenue sits in the middle of a low-income community where the majority of residents happen to be people of color. They have had to tolerate yellow pools of chromium-tainted water seeping into their basements when it rains.

“Had this been a more affluent community — a whiter community — this would have been handled differently,” asserts Joe Morris, an organizer with the Interfaith Community Organization (ICO), a local group that sought out NRDC in 2005 to help wage its legal battle against PPG. By then, the fight to clean up the site had already dragged on for 23 years, during which time the state of New Jersey negotiated, but failed to enforce, several agreements with the company. “Both the company and the state have a long track record of failure at this site,” says Al Huang, an environmental justice attorney at NRDC.

Marks and Huang worked closely with ICO and other local organizations to bring legal action against PPG. “The community defined its expectations for justice, and our role was to use the law to achieve those goals,” Huang says.

The cleanup will cost PPG hundreds of millions of dollars and take an estimated five years to complete. New Jersey usually requires that polluters reduce chromium levels to 20 parts per million, but this settlement requires PPG to reduce levels to five parts per million. The agreement also requires PPG to fund the salary of a consultant knowledgeable about chromium contamination, who will be hired by the community to represent its concerns during the cleanup and monitor the progress. In addition, the settlement allows residents living in the vicinity to have their property assessed for contamination; if chromium exceeds safe levels, PPG will have to clean up those sites, too.

The clean-up at 900 Garfield Avenue begins this spring, finally bringing residents relief after more than a quarter of a century. Yet more than 600 Superfund sites around the country remain contaminated with chromium. The victory forged by NRDC and its local partners sends a strong message to similarly afflicted communities that they need not tolerate the toxic legacy of industrial pollution.

Women Demand Environmental Justice from Chevron

Women Demand Environmental Justice from Chevron

Posted 25 May 2011, by Kari Paul, Ms. Magazine,

Women traversed the globe from as far as Ecuador, Nigeria, Colombia and Indonesia to make their voices heard today at Chevron’s annual shareholder’s meeting in California. In contrast to last year–when activists were denied the mic–22 indigenous, First Nation and other community activists spoke at the meeting, supported by 150 protesters who gathered outside.

Chevron is America’s third largest company, with $19.1 billion in profits last year. It is also one of the several oil companies that benefit from the $4 billion in annual tax breaks the Senate voted to continue last week. According to Chevron’s YouTube page and its “We Agree” ad campaign, it has used these immense profits to help the environment, keep workers safe, and promote education. In its 2010 annual report, CEO John Watson calls 2010 “an outstanding year for Chevron.”

Women worldwide who say they have experienced the horrific environmental and human health tolls of Chevron’s business tactics beg to differ on all counts. They joined with other activists at GlobalExchange to create a third annual alternative annual report [PDF] for Chevron. It demands that instead of trying to clean up its image by greenwashing its ads, the corporation clean up its act. The introduction reads:

We, the communities who bear the costs of Chevron’s operations, have witnessed a year in which Chevron’s performance was anything but exceptional … Chevron continues its long history of ravaging natural environments, violating human rights, ignoring the longstanding decisions of Indigenous communities, destroying traditional livelihoods, and converting its dollars into unjust political influence in the United States and around the world.

The report, The True Cost of Chevron: An Alternative Annual Report, addresses [PDF] the “egregious corporate behavior” of Chevron in 2010, contending that it has inflicted immeasurable environmental, health and cultural damage, including:

  • “ever-riskier and ever-deeper offshore projects”
  • expansion of tar sand projects into environmentally delicate regions of Canada
  • oil spills in Salt Lake City, Utah that dumped over 54,000 gallons of oil into Red Butte Creek
  • an explosion in Indonesia that covered part of a village in hot crude oil and left two young girls with serious burn wounds
  • releasing toxic pollution into the air through gas flaring (the burning of the unwanted natural gas produced in oil drilling), which has been linked to numerous women’s health problems

Today, representatives of communities affected by these projects traveled to California to attend the corporation’s annual shareholder’s meeting and present the report. Last year, Chevron refused to hear the stories of these representatives, even barring 17 legal proxy holders from attending the meeting–leaving them standing on the street corner outside. Emem Okon of Nigeria was one of these banned delegates, and she spoke this year, saying:

I am here to represent the women of the Niger Delta who live in communities near gas flares and who suffer health issues of infertility, early menopause, miscarriages, cancer, rashes; women who fish in waters polluted by Chevron; who drink Chevron polluted water because there is no other source of drinking water; women whose traditional means of livelihood of farming and fishing have been destroyed by chevron oil business activities. The women who confronted Chevron years back over the injustice perpetrated by Chevron in their communities.

The report quotes Okon further on the dangers women face from the flares:

Women in the communities near the gas flares experience high rates of infertility, early menopause, miscarriages, cancer and skin rashes. Think about the loss of an expected child. Think about young women having difficulty with pregnancies. Think about watching your family members become ill in a places where there are no health facilities.

Laura Livoti, founder of Justice in Nigeria Now, echoes Okon’s concerns and charges that what Chevron is doing is not only dangerous and immoral, but also illegal:

Gas flaring harms global health through the emission of greenhouse gases which cause climate change. It harms local health by releasing toxins that can cause asthma, cancer, respiratory illnesses, rashes and other diseases. Plus, the acid rain that results causes soil infertility, lower crop yields and hunger. Flaring gas that can cause these harms is immoral and Chevron management knows it. Plus, it’s illegal in Nigeria and has been since 1984.

Livoti, Okon, and other activists are motivated by the success of a case brought against Chevron by residents of  remote parts of Ecuador’s jungles, including many strong women, in which the company was ordered to pay $9 billion in damages.

Despite this major victory, and the victory of the 22 speakers at today’s meeting, advocates must continue their hard work. Chevron has not yet agreed to pay the fines in Ecuador, and it has made plans to expand its oil ventures to other ecologically and culturally delicate areas. But activists such as Okon have demonstrated that they will not back down until their voices are heard and their grievances addressed.

You can support their fight for justice by sharing their Alternative Annual Report [PDF] and signing this petition to demand Chevron make amends in Ecuador.