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Making the World a Better Place

August 16, 2010 – First of all, I need to print a correction concerning last week’s

blog: Grailville still operates a CSA, as well as its own farm stand.

Wonders abound: an affirmative article about global warming appeared on the

front page of The Cincinnati Enquirer last week.

Have you ever read the magazine Permaculture Activist? After having just finished the summer issue, it’s my pleasure to recommend, not just this issue, but every issue, as essential reading. The editors continue to adopt a broader and broader definition of permaculture, thereby broadening the applicability of the publication’s contents. In addition, the articles appearing in PA are authoritative, yet accessible. You don’t have to be an expert to gain something from reading them. The current issue’s theme – eco-nomics – speaks to matters of the home: selecting the right power source, selecting the right home-building materials, figuring out water supply, and, of course, growing one’s food and/or finding locally grown, organically grown food. Above and beyond all that, building the soil. Your soil, right where you live. The book reviews have improved over time, probably because the books have. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable read with a minimum of advertising to get in the way. As more and more magazines have gone the way of dumbing things down, PA treats its readers with respect. Check it out.

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As you may know, a CAFO is a “concentrated animal feedlot operation,” i.e., a

factory farm. What I didn’t know is that Ohio produces more eggs in CAFO’s than any state but Iowa. That’s a whole lot of hens packed into a whole lot of cages. Animal rights activists have been pressing for more humane growing conditions, not just for chickens, but for hogs, calves, and other farm animals, as well. (There’s been quite a kerfuffle about all the antibiotics being fed to these same animals, a closely related issue.) I’m delighted to report that, as a result of secret negotiations, Ohio corporate farmers on the one side and Ohio animal rightists on the other have agreed to ban new construction of egg farms that raise chickens in cages, and to phase out the tight caging of pregnant sows and veal calves. Motivated by the threat of a referendum they believed they could not win, industrial farmers have agreed to this timeline – caging will be phased out by 2015 for the sows, and 2017 for the calves - for obvious reasons: it could hardly be described as onerous. Be that as it may, Ohio is in the vanguard when it comes to protecting the lives of at least some of its domestic animals. (My thanks to Tom Philpott of Grist.com for his article of August 13, “The meat industry feels the heat as the sustainable-food movement gains force,” in which he cites an August 11 article, “Farmers Lean to Truce on Animals’ Close Quarters,” in The New York Times by Erik Eckholm.)

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