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In the News… Monday, January 28, 2008

† “Closing the Barn Door After the Cows Have Gotten Out”: Verlyn Klinkenborg looks at the cloning debate from the perspective of both diversity and market power:

. . . I will not be eating cloned meat. The reason has nothing to do with my personal health or safety. I think the clearest way to understand the problem with cloning is to consider a broader question: Who benefits from it? Proponents will say that the consumer does, because we will get higher quality, more consistent foods from cloned animals. But the real beneficiaries are the nation’s large meatpacking companies–the kind that would like it best if chickens grew in the shape of nuggets. Anyone who really cares about food–its different tastes, textures and delights–is more interested in diversity than uniformity. As it happens, the same is true for anyone who cares about farmers and their animals. An agricultural system that favors cloned animals has no room for farmers who farm in different ways. Cloning, you will hear advocates say, is just another way of making cows. But every other way — even using embryo transplants and artificial insemination — allows nature to shuffle the genetic deck. A clone does not.

Read the complete op-ed piece on the New York Times site.

† Considering “Good, Clean, and Fair” from another perspective: The Ethicurean provides a summary of Eric Schlosser’s remarks at the EcoFarm conference:

How we treat people at the bottom of our food chain is a reflection of our society’s values. “If there are organic tomatoes being picked by indentured servants, I’d rather not have the organic tomato,” he told the audience. “It doesn’t matter how you’re treating the soil if you’re mistreating the worker. ‘Organic’ is wonderful, but a whole set of interconnected values is more wonderful still.”

Echoes of Slow’s Food’s Manifesto of Quality. Tom Philpott also comments on Eric Schlosser’s presentation in his Gristmill post and the debate over genetically modified foods.

† Slow Food at Ojai’s Topa Topa School: Steve Fields and Sims Brannon, leaders of Slow Food Ojai/Ventura, shared with us news of an after-school program at the Topa Topa elementary school that the Ojai/Ventura convivium is supporting:

Rachel Sanchez made it through her first 11 years without ever tasting a slice of red pepper or a cauliflower floret.
But that changed this fall, when the fifth-grader signed up for a new after-school program at Ojai’s Topa Topa School. The program is designed to promote healthy living, and Tuesdays are dedicated to cooking and nutrition–sessions that included a raw vegetable tasting.

“They were all right,” Rachel said of the unfamiliar snacks. Students agreed that yogurt parfaits were the best of their afternoon creations, but they liked it all, from making cranberry-orange bread to squeezing locally grown oranges for juice.

Read the article on the Ventura County Star website. Steve also noted:

Sims and I taught the kids how to make macaroni and cheese from scratch. It was great to see that kids really could tell the difference between real food and processed packaged food. Another of our members, Gillian McManus, is doing a class on avocados and allowing the kids to make their own guacamole.

If you are in the Ojai area on Tuesday afternoons and are interested in volunteering to teach a session, please contact Steve and Sims by email.

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