January 2009

Monthly Archive

#17 Mucking with the Weather

Posted by on 27 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Every place we’ve lived—including Connecticut, Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, and Butte County, California—the locals have a saying, “If you don’t like the weather here, wait a minute.”

But what if you don’t like the weather and want to do something about it.  What if you have an extended drought and desperately need more water for wells and farm crops?  What if global warming is changing the climate so the weather has become too cold or too hot or too wet or too dry? Can we do anything about it?

This program takes a look at technology and the weather, including references to some science fiction popular culture materials that hold out positive and negative prospects for weather control.

Listen to Ecotopia 17 Online Now! (To download, right click [control click Mac users] and select “Download File”.)

Weather News:

From Capital Press “the west’s ag website” comes a story dated January 15 by Tim Hearden concerning cloud seeding in California:

“As drought conditions persist, some California utilities and water districts are stepping up their efforts to wring more water out of passing clouds. But not everyone thinks that’s such a good idea. Local residents and environmentalists are complaining about Pacific Gas & Electric Company’s plan to enhance storms over the Pit and McCloud river watersheds in Siskiyou and Shasta counties. The utility perches cloud-seeding generators on mountaintops, where they use prevailing winds to carry a silver iodide solution up into the clouds, said Paul Moreno, a PG&E spokesman in Chico.
‘For our projects, we get as much as 10 percent more snowfall precipitation,’ Moreno said. He added that the resulting water flows through hydroelectric plants and benefits downstream users, including agriculture. Critics say the practice may make drought in non-seeded areas more severe and contaminate soil and water with the salts used in the process. The environmental impacts from cloud seeding are poorly understood and understudied, asserts Angelina Cook, an environmental consultant from Mount Shasta. ‘PG&E kind of sprung this one on us,’ Cook said. ‘They just published a notice of intent about two weeks before the proposed start date. Luckily we saw the notice and raised concerns in time for them to back off.’”


From National Review, a national website of the Thailand Government comes an article published on January 15, 2009 authored by THARIT CHARUNGVAT. “VILLAGERS have said that miracles happen wherever the King treads. Arid land becomes fertile once again.”   

“To the uninitiated, it must be tempting to dismiss this approximate translation of a Thai radio spot as worshipful hyperbole. Yet to Thais, apart from the obvious affection towards their King, the statement contains a very real element of truth. For over half a century, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej has applied his technical ingenuity and resources to improving the lives of his people, in particular farmers otherwise at the mercy of nature. His inventions have helped make droughts more bearable, water less polluted and innovation more widely appreciated.  What the Thai people have long known has again been given due recognition by the outside world. On January 14, Dr Francis Gurry, director-general of the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organisation presented the Wipo Global Leaders Award to His Majesty the King. Some of His Majesty’s best-known projects relate to artificial rain. Rain-making techniques invented by His Majesty, with such memorable names as “sandwich” and “super sandwich”, have brought welcome moisture to land parched by drought, and relief to thousands of farmers. The Royal Rain Project, as it is called, is one of the more than 4,000 royally-initiated development projects to date. Others include those pertaining to irrigation, farming, drought and flood alleviation, crop substitution, public health, distance learning and employment promotion.”


From Spoof, a British satire magazine, comes a January 9 headline: “Palin Sends Massive Cold Wave To [Chill] Inauguration”
“Governor Sarah Palin [used] HAARP technology to send a devastating cold wave to the Eastern Seaboard. HAARP STANDS for
High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program [which is used to]  analyze basic ionospheric properties and to assess the potential for developing ionospheric enhancement technology for communications and surveillance purposes.  Governor Palin has the highest security rating of any governor in the United States. The governor felt disrespected by the mainstream media during the presidential campaign. She has access to the latest HAARP weather modification technology and plans to punish the Eastern Liberal Establishment severely. ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold.’ crowed Ms. Palin. ‘I plan to make the Blue States very, very blue. I hope their Starbucks espressos freeze in their throats!’”


Films, Videos, Games, and Novels on Weather Manipulation

 Wikipedia’s listing of weather control in popular culture demonstrates how the idea of controlling the weather incites the imagination. In science fiction and fantasy film, television, fiction, and computer games, the controlling the weather is used for both good and evil.  For example, Star Trek portrays most advanced colonies and plants utilizing weather control as a matter of course. “For example, the planet Risa has its climate controlled to be a tropical paradise.” In one episode of the TV series Stargate, the “team discovers a weather control device on an alien planet, which is subsequently stolen and brought to earth, where experimenting with it wreaked havoc with the local weather. The device was later recaptured and returned to its original planet which had suffered phenomenal storms since it had been stolen.”

Here are other films and TV episodes Wikipedia cites as using weather control:

    * In the Disney Channel Original Movie, The Ultimate Christmas Present, two girls find a weather machine and make it snow in Los Angeles.

    * In the live action Justice League of America film, the villain is a terrorist who has a weather control device.

    * In Aliens, a colony sent to LV-426 by the Company utilized a fusion-powered terraforming atmosphere processor. In the first film, the planet’s climate was not yet suitable for human life.

    * In The Arrival, a race of aliens is found to be terraforming the Earth using hidden factories producing huge volumes of highly potent, engineered “super-greenhouse gases”.

    * In the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon series, the episode “Hot Rodding Teenagers from Dimension X” includes Stone Warriors using a “weather satellite”, , , [which] creates a storm to level New York City, but the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles destroy it. The episode “Take Me to Your Leader” of the same series include Krang and the Shredder using a machine to reduce the Sun, creating cold weather on the Earth.

    * Storm (played by Halle Berry in the 2000 film and subsequent sequels), a member of the X-Men, can control the weather with her mind.

    * In Superman III, Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) changes the weather by hacking into a weather satellite.

    * In a Family Guy episode, Stewie builds a machine that can control the weather using only a satellite dish and a See ‘n Say.

    * In the film The Avengers Sir August de Wynter (Sean Connery) creates a satellite capable of controlling the weather.

    * Our Man Flint is a 1966 sci-fi action film which stars James Coburn as Derek Flint where a trio of mad scientists attempt to blackmail the world with a weather-control machine.

    * The cartoon miniseries G.I. Joe: The Revenge of Cobra, showed the terrorist group Cobra in possession of a device called the Weather Dominator.


Wikipedia also describes Computer games using weather control:

* In Master Of Orion, it is possible to build a weather control building to change the planet’s environment.

    * In Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2, the Allies can build the weather controller device superweapon, and direct thunderstorms to strike a selected location of the map every 10 game minutes.

    * In Tribunal, the player finds a machine under the city of Almalexia that can change the weather of the city at the will of its user.

    * In Phantasy Star II, a weather, irrigation and dam control system known as Climatrol has been constructed by Mother Brain to make the barren planet Motavia habitable for Palman occupation.

    * In the game Spore by Will Wright, players are able to use a spacecraft to modify planetary atmospheres – creating volcanoes to generate carbon dioxide, seeding plant life to create breathable air, or even using a “Genesis device” to make a planet habitable in one go. There is no actual controlling of weather, however.[20]

    * In “Earth 2150”, the Lunar Corporation are capable of building a weather control station for tactical weather control. The structure can be charged to cause storms, fog, and/or wind at targeted areas on the map.

Fiction has many instances in which weather control figures prominently. Wikipedia includes these:

 * Ben Bova’s The Weathermakers is the story of a government agency that controls the weather.

    * Sidney Sheldon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark is the story of a think tank that builds technology powerful enough to create hurricanes, tornadoes, and tsunamis.

    * In Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, ecoterrorists plan to create a tsunami, calve an iceberg, and induce flash flooding and hurricanes.

*In Normand Lester’s science thriller Verglas, the 1998 icestorm that struck theMontréal area is an experiment by the Pentagon in the development of a climatic weapon that went wrong.

*In Lois Lowry’s The Giver, the government controls the weather and keeps it from nowing, and confine rain to the farmland.

*In the book series Weather Warden by Rachel Caine, the Wardens are an association of people who have the ability to control the elements – earth, fire and weather. They manipulate these elements to stop natural disasters from devastating mankind.

* In Roger Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber an openly known quality of the Jewel of Judgment is the ability to control the local weather.

    * In Frank Herbert’s Dune series, weather control is widespread, and is achieved with specialized satellites in orbit around a planet.

According to Wikipedia, comic books also feature weather control. For example:

   * DC Comics villain Weather Wizard could control the weather with a special kind of technology in the shape of a wand.

    * Marvel Comics heroes Thor and Storm could control weather; the former because he is the Norse god of thunder, the latter because she is a mutant whose powers specifically center around weather control.

    * In some of the Asterix comics, when the village bard Cacofonix sings, it starts to rain.


Play List

1. (Love Is Like A) Heat Wave        2:46    Martha & The Vandellas    

The Ultimate Collection: Martha Reeves & The Vandellas     

2. Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin’ All The Time)          5:17    Ella Fitzgerald         

The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books        

3. Both Sides Now (LP Version)   5:45    Joni Mitchell

Both Sides Now

4. Cloudbusting       5:09    Kate Bush    

Hounds Of Love                  

5. The Rape Of The World 7:08    Tracy Chapman      

New Beginning       

6. Weave Me the Sunshine           4:28    Peter, Paul And Mary         






Ecotopia #16 Hail to the Chief: Promises and Prospects

Posted by on 19 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Tonight’s program is entitled “Hail to the Chief,” as we take a look at the promises and prospects of the Obama administration in bringing us closer to Ecotopia.

After a brief survey of media opinions on Obama’s prospects, we  talk with Barbara Vlamis of the Butte Environmental Council to find out what she thinks about environmental issues under Obama. We then go live to Washington D.C., where Sue Hilderbrand, Director of the Chico Peace and Justice Center, fills us in on the tone and feeling of the capital and tell us what she thinks are the hopes for a social Ecotopia under the new president.

Listen to Ecotopia 16 Online Now!
To download, right click [control click Mac users] and select “Download File”.

Opinions about Obama’s Prospects

From Mother Jones: The dimension of the problems the new President inherits is almost unfathomable, but  Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz gives a concise rundown of what he calls “The Seven Deadly Deficits”  Stiglitz writes:  “When George W. Bush assumed office, most of those disgruntled about the stolen election contented themselves with this thought: Given our system of checks and balances, given the gridlock in Washington, how much damage could be done? Now we know: far more than the worst pessimists could have imagined. From the war in Iraq to the collapse of the credit markets, the financial losses are difficult to fathom. And behind those losses lie even greater missed opportunities.”  Stiglitz writes of seven major shortfalls the Bush administration leaves behind: Deficits in Values, the Climate, Equality, Accountability, Trade, the Budget, Investment in the Infrastructure.  http://www.motherjones.com/

From the Washington Times:  Christina Bellantoni writes:   “President-elect Barack Obama said Americans will have to sacrifice to lift the nation from recession and acknowledged that some of his campaign promises may not be fulfilled because of what he described as a dire economic situation. In a wide-ranging interview on ABC’s ‘This Week’, Mr. Obama continued to sell his proposed economic stimulus package as ‘bold’ and insisted Congress must pass it by mid-February. …Mr. Obama also used a form of the word ‘tough’ three times to describe prospects for the package, then conceded: ‘I want to be realistic here — not everything that we talked about during the campaign are we going to be able to do on the pace that we had hoped’.” http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jan/11/obama-sees-campaign-promises-fade/

From the Scripps-Howard News Service: JOEL MATHIS comments:  “…[I]t’s perversely refreshing to hear Obama say that harder times are ahead. ‘Recovery won’t happen overnight, and it’s likely that things will get worse before they get better,’ he said in a recent radio address. Americans have often been asked to choose between an unjustly optimistic president or their own lying eyes. Obama’s grim realism is thus bracing, but welcome.”  But BEN BOYCHUCK in a counterpoint says: “Americans had better hope and pray that Barack Obama can put America on the right track — or at the very least insist that his policies do not make matters any worse than they already are. But when the new president promises $1 trillion deficits for ‘years to come,’ it’s tough not to experience a certain sinking feeling. Truth is, there isn’t much a president can do to help the U.S. economy. But he can do much to hurt it. He can encourage the Treasury to print more money, which spurs inflation and kills American savings and investment. He can cajole ever more reluctant foreign governments, such as China, to buy more American debt. He could raise taxes and call it ‘investment in the public good,’ even as the recession drags on for a year or two. He can also promote regulations and mandates that eliminate jobs, destroy industries and drive up the cost of living for all Americans. Obama’s enthusiasm for tax-subsidized ‘green jobs’ is a prescription for all of that, and more. Or he could keep the tax-and-regulate-and-spend impulses of a Democratic-controlled Congress in check. Seriously.” http://www.scrippsnews.com/node/40023

Our Conversation with Barbara Vlamis, Executive Director, Butte Environmental Council.

  • We thought you might want to spend a little time talking about the key national/global priorities,  e.g., What of environmentalism under Obama. What about alternative energy?  “clean” coal?  signing international treaties? 
  • Please  talk about BEC’s priorities and how the new administration might affect them. water? mining? watersheds? greenhouse gases? farm subsidies and supports? 
  • Do you have grants in progress that might be affected by either the financial meltdown or prospective Obama programs?
  • We’ve had several guests on the show say that California is a great market for private enterprise working on environmental projects: solar, clean water, clean air. Do you see reason for optimism here?

 Check out the Butte Environmental Council website to get a fuller sense of their important work for our community.  http://becnet.org

Our Conversation with Sue Hilderbrand, Director of the Peace and Justice Center, from the Inaugural Celebration

  • Hi Sue. Where are you and what’s happening?
  • Have you seen any beautiful people?  What are they wearing?
  • Impressions of the day.
  • Your take on prospects under Obama.

Check out the Chico Peace and Justice Center at www.chico-peace.org


We want to encourage you to point your browser to <Politifact.com>. This is sponsored by the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times and includes “The Obameter: Tracking Obama’s Campaign Promises.” PolitiFact has compiled a list of over 500 promises that Barack Obama made during the campaign and is tracking their progress on our Obameter. They rate their status as No Action, In the Works or Stalled. Once they  find action is completed, they rate them Promise Kept, Compromise or Promise Broken. As of inauguration day, the track record shows: 3 promises kept, 8 in the works, and 499 with no action. http://politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/

Play List

1. Obama Song (feat. SoliLLaquists of Sound, Cherine Anderson & Anthony B) 4:09   Michael Franti         

2. Four Ruffles & Flourishes / Hail To the Chief  0:55    US Coast Guard Band

3. Revolution 1     4:16   The Beatles   The Beatles (White Album)                      

4. Take Care of This House     A White House Cantata  4:27  June Anderson    

5. Star Spangled Banner         3:47   Jimi Hendrix        Experience Hendrix: The Best Of Jimi Hendrix     

6. Being At War With Each Other     4:05   Carole King   The Living Room Tour

7. Weave Me the Sunshine      4:28   Peter, Paul And Mary    



Ecotopia #15 Sustainable Eating

Posted by on 12 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Our topic for this program is Eating Sustainably. Our guests are Dave Miller, baker extrodinaire of Miller’s Bake House in Yankee Hill and Francine Steulpnagel of Chico GRUB: Growing Resourcefully, Uniting Bellies. We also share some international news stories on food issues and include some do-it-yourself ways of increasing the sustainability of your diet.

Listen to Ecotopia 15 Online Now!
To download, right click [control click Mac users] and select “Download File”.

Global News:

  • From “Sustainable Food Monitor” comes a description of “The Cordoba Declaration on the Right to Food,” launched on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal declaration of Human Rights as an outgrowth of a seminar on the world food crisis. “As a consequence of the 2007-2008 food crisis and its aftermath, a series of different initiatives have been promoted by governments and international organizations to tackle hunger and the unbalances created in the food system. Those initiatives pursue a common goal: to restructure the global agri-food system. To ensure that these initiatives will help to combat hunger, there should be a call on all States to place the right to food at the top of the political agenda regarding food and agriculture.” http://sustainablefoodmonitor.org/2008/12/12/the-cordoba-declaration-on-the-right-to-food/
  • Writing for Food Production Daily, Sarah Hills reports of meat and poultry product checks for melamine, [an organic compound that is often combined with formaldehyde to produce melamine resin, a synthetic polymer which is fire resistant and heat tolerant and is widely used in household products and fireproofing applications.] The US launched this program following the deaths of four infants in China linked to consuming baby milk contaminated with the industrial chemical. US officials are to begin sample checks on processed meat and poultry products that are already on shop shelves for traces of melamine contamination.  The US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced a general sampling plan to check those meat and poultry products that contain milk-derived ingredients such as non-fat dried milk, casein, whey, evaporated milk, and milk powder. The products it has chosen for sampling fall into five categories:
  • Baby food; containing a significant amount of meat or poultry products.
  • Cooked sausages; including hot dogs or frankfurters with and without cheese products.
  • Breaded chicken; bite sized morsels or nuggets with and without cheese products. Examples include “Chicken and Cheese Nugget Shaped Patties”.
    •  Meat and poultry wrapped in dough and pizza (including calzones). Examples include products enrobed in a dough that are often identified with descriptive names such as “Pizza Snacks-Crust Filled with Cheese, Sausage and Sauce”.
    • Meatballs.


  • From The London Telegraph comes the headline: Call for full ban on junk food adverts for children… “[The British Office of Communications], Ofcom, estimates the number of television advertisements for foods high in fat, salt or sugar seen by children has dropped by 34 per cent since 2005. Ofcom introduced a ban in April 2007 on manufacturers advertising junk food during programmes aimed at children. Campaigners, however, argue that children are still seeing many adverts for sweet breakfast cereals, salty snacks and burgers because companies are still allowed to advertise during programmes that are very popular with children, but predominantly watched by adults. These shows would include soap operas and talent programmes . . . . Richard Watts, coordinator of the Children’s Food campaign said: ‘Although we welcome this modest fall in children’s exposure to junk food advertising, Ofcom’s figures highlight just how far their rules fall short of what is needed. If we are serious about putting children’s health first, we must protect them from junk food advertising before the 9pm watershed, because children watch most TV in the early evening’.”  www.telegraph.co.uk/
  • More and more consumers raise the question of whether American farmers can supply organic food to everyone. An interview from Acres USA with Mary-Howell and Klaas Martens, New York field and vegetable crop growers and organic feed suppliers, winners of the 2008 Patrick Madden Award for Sustainable Agriculture, begins to answer the question of profitably and practicality of organic farming:
    • Mary-Howell Martens: We have tracked our costs very carefully on a computer program ever since the late ‘80s and early ’90s, before we were organic farmers, through our transition and now for more than 12 years farming organically. What we found is that our cost of production, our cost per bushel, has actually dropped as compared to what it was when we were farming conventionally. This year, with conventional input costs skyrocketing and the costs of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides going through the roof, organic farming is going to make even more economic sense because, except for petroleum, our input costs haven’t changed much while organic grain prices have risen significantly. Even if we weren’t getting a premium price for our organic grain, we’d still make more money farming organically.
    • Klaas  Martens: I think there’s another point we need to make here, and that’s how organic farmers are challenged by the statement that organic farming can’t feed the world with the population that we have now. I tell them categorically that’s a bunch of baloney, with one caveat: organic farming could definitely feed the world, but not on the diet that it has become accustomed to. We can’t have half of the Midwest planted to corn, and the other half planted to soybeans, and call that sustainable. But we could feed the world a much better diet with more diversity if we’d bring back the varied groups of crops that were once grown, perhaps also some new crops. We could feed the world with a more diverse crop mix that will also produce a healthy stable soil.”

http://attra.ncat.org/interviews/martens.html   [Reported in http://www.urbanagriculture-news.com/food-production.news]

Our Interview with Dave Miller

Dave Miller makes his bread in the foothills of Yankee Hill. The mission of his bake house is stated on his website: “The Mission: From the very beginning our intent has been to provide the best quality bread available. A bread that illustrates the full expression of the grain, and therefore gives you the most flavorful, pleasing, nutritious loaf possible.”

  • Tell us a little about Miller’s Bakehouse What’s your philosophy of baking bread?
  • Tell us something about your process of making bread. It seems you put a lot of emphasis on sustainable practices. What are some things you do to be sustainable? (“Some interesting features include our brick wood-fired oven,our Austrian grain mill where we grind our flour fresh between two massive granite stones, and the solar arrays outside the bakery which supply the majority of our power needs.  All of our organic wheat, rye, nuts and dried fruit are purchased directly from farmers in our region.”)
  • How did you become interested in baking whole, sustainably created products?
  • What makes your products healthy, better than we can get with more highly processed food?
  • Tell us about your background. Where did you get your training? What’s your history in Chico?
  • What value do you see in working through the Chico Farmer’s Market? Have you worked with other farmer’s markets?
  • Aren’t you a part of the “Slow Foods” Chapter of Northern California? What do they do? Are there other ways you network with other food people? How?

Dave Miller of Miller’s Bakehouse in Yankee Hill is online at http://millersbakehouse.com.

Our Interview with Francine Stuelpnagel

We’ve been greatly impressed by an Chico organization called GRUB, for  Growing Resourcefully Uniting Bellies a non-profit that began under the Chico Food Network. They operate a CSA (community, supported, agriculture) and have a commitment to minimizing their community’s ecological footprint. According to their website:

“Food systems and industrial agriculture as they exist today are extremely wasteful, generating 20% of the carbon emissions for the whole country. By using organic practices & ensuring that the food we produce stays local we can minimize fossil fuel usage.”  Tonight we have with us Francine Stuelpnagel, part of the GRUB team and working on their community outreach program. Francine, tell us a little bit more about the work of GRUB.

  • Who is GRUB? What does the core group consist of? How do you use volunteers?
  • Where do you farm?
  • Where does the food that you grow go?
  • What are some of the practices of farming that you are most committed to?
  • What does your community outreach consist of?
  • How did you get interested in growing this way? And how did you become connected with GRUB?
  • How can people become involved in GRUB?


Do-It-Yourself Sustainable Eating

  • The True Cost of Food is a project of the Sierra Club National Sustainable Consumption Committee.  “Their mission statement: “We, the consumers, through our food choices, can stop the practices that harm our health, our planet, and our quality of life.”  One of their topics is cooking:  “…[T]he cooking style that is kindest to the planet also yields the best-tasting food. Cooking sustainably means using fresh, in-season ingredients that have not traveled thousands of miles to your kitchen and preparing them simply so that their true flavor comes through. The sustainable kitchen includes a pantryful of unprocessed or lightly processed foods; the sustainable cook uses sustainably-raised foods from local suppliers.”  Several of their recipes are posted in the following section of the Ecotopia Web. http://www.truecostoffood.org/truecostoffood/cooking.asp
  • Also from the website of The True Cost of Food from the Sierra Club:  The Sierra Club argues we consumers can make a difference: “Most of the world’s problems can’t be fixed by individual action: disease, war, and poverty require concentrated efforts by policy makers and governments. But ONLY consumers can affect the way food is grown and transported; this is an area where our actions make a difference. If we buy food that’s grown sustainably supply will follow demand and it will become more available. When it becomes obvious that small farmers can make a decent living, more young people will be able to start farming.”  Some of their recommendations are to know how your food is grown and processed; to know your farmer; to eat seasonally and locally; to eat less meat, but when you do to buy grass-fed, free-range, or pastured meats; to shop at farmers’ markets, to join a CSA, and to ask restaurants, stores, and schools where they get their food.  http://www.truecostoffood.org/truecostoffood/takeaction.asp
  • Locally, you can learn more about the Chico Food Network, which fosters a “local food system that contributes to the long-term viability of farms in our region, provides Chico-area residents with fresh, healthy food choices, provides education regarding local food systems, and creates an awareness and interdependence between Chico consumers, food businesses, and local farmers.” Their projects include:
    • Gardeners’ Swap Meet Program
    • Coordination of Volunteers in School Gardens
    • Free Seeds for Education
    • In 2008 partnerships with three local nurseries led to the donation of over 500 vegetable Restaurant Partnerships
    • Grant Writing on behalf of school and community garden projects.
    • Supporting GRUB as a fiscal sponsor in 2008.


  • You can Learn more about the Slow Food Movement and how you can participate. “Slow Food USA seeks to create dramatic and lasting change in the food system. We reconnect Americans with the people, traditions, plants, animals, fertile soils and waters that produce our food. We work to inspire a transformation in food policy, production practices and market forces so that they ensure equity, sustainability and pleasure in the food we eat.”  The Slow Movement also supports the Terra Madre, an international project.that “grows, strengthens, organizes, and defends local cultures and products, and makes real the Slow Food concept of Good, Clean, and Fair quality. Good refers to the quality of food products and of their taste; Clean, to a production process that respects the natural environment; and Fair, in which there is dignity and appropriate economic return for the people who produce, including respect from those who consume.”  http://www.slowfoodusa.org/
  • You can also  Look into supporting the local Chapter of the Slow Foods movement—covering the counties of Shasta, Tehama, and Butte, found at  http://slowfoodshastacascade.org/  Contact information for Chico, Red Bluff and Redding can be found on their website.
  • In addition, you can  support The Chico Grange, whose mission is:    “To Promote Local Agriculture, Environmental Stewardship, and a Vibrant Community.”   http://chicogrange.org/

Recipes from the True Cost of Food Project

Basic Vegetable Quiche

From Swiss chard season (early summer) to winter squash season (late fall) this is always a hit at our pot-lucks. We have included two easy pastry recipes and have only tested this with homemade pastry in standard 9-inch glass or enamel pie plates. If you want to use commercial 9-inch frozen crusts, choose deep-dish and it will be just fine, but you may need to butter a custard cup or two to bake the excess filling because they are always smaller.

Makes 6 servings

Pastry for 9-inch single-crust pie, recipes follow

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped green or yellow onions

3 cups prepared vegetable, see Note

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/8 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups half-and-half or whole milk

1 1/2 cups shredded Jarlsberg, Swiss, or your favorite cheese

Prepare pie crust. On a floured board, roll out pastry to make an 11-inch round; fit into a standard 9-inch pie plate. Fold edge over and flute.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in prepared vegetable and cook until hot through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in flour, salt, thyme, and black pepper. Beat eggs until frothy in a medium bowl; brush a little egg over the bottom of the pie crust. Beat the half-and-half into the remaining eggs. Layer half of the cheese, the vegetable mixture, and the remaining cheese into the pie crust. Pour the cream mixture over all.

Bake quiche until center appears set when pie plate is gently tapped, 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside 5 minutes before cutting.

Note: Almost any vegetable or mixture of vegetables can be used in a quiche. If you are using asparagus, broccoli, celery, eggplant, fresh corn, bell peppers, summer squash, mushrooms, or zucchini, they should be sliced, added to the skillet raw, and sautéed with the onions. Carrots, green or yellow beans, peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, or winter squash should be parboiled and drained thoroughly before adding. Greens such as arugula, beet greens, collards, kale, mustard, spinach, Swiss chard, or turnip greens should be steamed, simmered or stir-fried until wilted, thoroughly drained, and coarsely chopped before adding.

Plain Pastry

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cold butter

4 to 6 tablespoons cold water

Combine flour, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle water over flour a little at a time and mix until pastry forms a ball when lightly pressed. Flatten dough, wrap, and chill at least 30 minutes.

Easy Whole-wheat Pastry

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 to 5 tablespoons cold water

Combine flour, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in oil until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle water over flour a little at a time and mix until pastry forms a ball when lightly pressed. Flatten dough, wrap, and chill at least 30 minutes.

Basic Soufflé

The secret to a perfect soufflé is using high quality eggs and gently incorporating the beaten egg whites with the vegetable puree mixture. The variety of vegetable purees that may be used makes it possible to serve this spectacular dish any season of the year.

Makes 6 servings

3/4 cup vegetable puree, see below

6 large eggs

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

1/4 cup very finely chopped onion

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh dill, marjoram, oregano, or thyme, see Note

1/8 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper

1 1/4 cups milk

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Prepare vegetable puree. Separate eggs placing whites in a large bowl and yolks in small bowl. Gradually beat puree into yolks with wire whisk.

Melt butter in a medium skillet. Add onion and sauté until tender about 3 minutes. Stir in flour, salt, your choice of herb, and the black pepper; gradually stir in the milk. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until smooth and thickened. Fold yolk-vegetable puree mixture into thickened sauce along with 3 tablespoons of the cheese. Cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Measure and cut a 26-inch long piece of waxed paper. Fold paper in thirds lengthwise. Lightly grease one side. Fit paper, greased side in, around outside of 1 1/2-quart souffle dish with at least 2 inches above the top of dish. Tie tightly with string.

With electric mixer on high speed, beat whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold some of whites into vegetable mixture. Then fold mixture into remaining beaten whites. Gently spoon mixture into prepared souffle dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon cheese. Bake souffle 40 to 45 minutes or until top is golden brown and center does not shake when dish is gently tapped. Serve immediately.

Note: You can use asparagus, beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, peas, pumpkin, summer or winter squash, and greens such as chard, mustard, and spinach.

Basic Purees

Purees are colorful and comforting as a side dish (We like to pair two compatible flavors and swirl them in the serving bowl.) and are an essential first step to vegetable soufflés, cream soups and breads. Because they are simply made from fully cooked vegetables and seasonings, you really only need to know how much to cook and how long.

Makes 1 cup puree

Vegetables, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks, if necessary

1/2 teaspoon fresh or about 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme, oregano, basil, cilantro, or rosemary, optional

Salt and freshly milled black pepper, optional

Combine vegetable, water to cover and herbs in a small saucepan. Heat to boiling over high heat; reduce heat and cook, covered, until tender. Drain vegetable very well, reserving cooking liquid. Puree vegetable in a food processor or blender adding cooking liquid 1 tablespoon at a time until mixture is smooth and creamy, yet stiff enough to maintain a furrow when a spoon is pulled through the mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Use puree as directed in recipe or prepare puree recipe in multiples and serve as a side dish, allowing about 3/4 cup puree per serving.

Basic Omelets and Frittatas


There is nothing faster than an omelet for breakfast, lunch, or dinner when you are serving a small number of people. This recipe serves 1 but can be multiplied to serve more. We suggest using an 8- to 9-inch pan for a double recipe and a 10-inch pan for four. If serving more than that, you might want to go to a second pan or cook the omelets one at a time and keep them warm in a very low-temperature oven.

Makes 1 serving

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon milk, water, broth, or sour cream

Salt and freshly milled black pepper

2 teaspoons vegetable oil or butter

1/2 cup warm omelet filling, see below

Whisk together eggs, milk, and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 7- or 8- inch omelet pan or heavy skillet over medium-high heat.

Pour in egg mixture, tilting pan to distribute egg evenly. As egg sets, push toward center of pan with an inverted spatula and swirl uncooked egg onto pan surface. When top surface has just set, fill, fold in half, and slide onto serving plate.

Omelet Fillings: To fill one single-serving omelet, combine about 3/4 cup of any chopped or thinly sliced hot cooked vegetable or mixture of vegetables with 3 tablespoons grated American, Blue, Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Munster, or mozzarella cheese (or 1 tablespoon Parmesan), salt and freshly milled black pepper to taste, and 1/8 teaspoon dried basil, cilantro, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, or thyme. Cooked meat, poultry or fish can make up part of the 3/4 cup as well.


This Italian-style omelet couldn’t be easier. Any cooked vegetable can be used and you can serve it right from the pan. Mix and match the cheese and herbs with the vegetables you have chosen.

Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 cups chopped or thinly sliced cooked vegetables

6 large eggs

Salt and freshly milled black pepper

1/4 cup grated Cheddar, Munster, or Swiss cheese

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried basil, cilantro, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, or thyme, optional

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy 9- or 10-inch skillet with broiler-proof handle over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add vegetables and cook, stirring, until hot.

Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl; fold in hot vegetable mixture, cheeses, and herb, if using. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over very low heat. Pour in egg and vegetable mixture, spreading with spatula to distribute evenly. Cook, covered, until top surface has just set, 8 to 10 minutes.

Preheat boiler half way through cooking time. Broil frittata just until top surface browns. Cut into 6 wedges and serve.

Basic Gratins

The only thing that makes a casserole a gratin is the crisp, well-browned, broiled topping. You can use buttered bread crumbs, grated cheese, a mixture of the two, or nothing at all over layers of cooked vegetables. Almost any vegetable will make a delicious gratin and if you choose to add the cheese or a little meat, it can serve as a main dish.

Makes 4 main dish or 6 side dish servings

1 pound potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, or Jerusalem

artichokes, peeled, and thinly sliced

1 pound leafy greens, cabbage, zucchini, summer squash, fennel, Belgian endive, or cauliflower, rinsed, and sliced, or an additional pound of roots and tubers above

1/4 cup olive oil or butter

1 cup chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped, optional

2 cups milk, broth, or cooled vegetable cooking liquid

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Salt and freshly milled black pepper

1 1/4 cups shredded Cheddar, Swiss, Munster, Monterey Jack or other cheese

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs or panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

Cook root vegetables in salted water 5 to 7 minutes or until surface starts to look cooked. Drain; save and cool cooking liquid to use for sauce, if desired. Blanch the pound of more tender vegetables; drain thoroughly.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 2-quart gratin or shallow baking dish. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic, if using, until it starts to brown, about 4 minutes. Whisk the milk into the flour in a small bowl. Whisk the mixture into the onion mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is bubbly and thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Layer half of root vegetables, 1/3 cup sauce, 1/4 cup cheese, half of the tender vegetables, 1/3 cup sauce, and 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat ending with 1 cup sauce and 1/2 cup cheese. Combine crumbs and remaining oil. If using butter, melt it before combining. Sprinkle over cheese.

Bake until root vegetables are tender and top is well browned, 35 to 40 minutes.

Basic Pizzas

There is almost no limit to what can go on top of a pizza–fresh or parboiled vegetables; meat, fish or poultry; and any kind of cheese you crave.

Makes 6 servings

Makes one 14-inch pizza or 6 individual pizzas

2 to 2 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour

1 package quick rising dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup very warm water (120° to 130°F)

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cups prepared vegetables, see Note (or part fully-cooked meat, poultry, or seafood)

1 cup tomato sauce

2 cups shredded mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Munster, Cheddar, Fontina, Provolone, or crumbled goat cheese, or a mixture

Combine 2 cups flour, the yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and oil; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a board with the remaining 1/2 cup flour; knead until smooth adding any additional flour as needed. Oil bowl; return dough; let rise 30 to 45 minutes until double in volume.

Meanwhile, prepare vegetables.

Shape dough on lightly oiled pizza pan. Set aside 15 minutes. Place oven rack at lowest position. Preheat oven to 450°F.

Top dough with tomato sauce, vegetables, and cheese; bake 15 to 20 minutes or until crust has browned and cheese is bubbly.

Note: Asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, broccoli rabe, cauliflower, carrots, cooking greens, fresh peas, green beans, summer and winter squash and zucchini should be cut into bite-size pieces and parboiled until crisp-tender. Onions and mushrooms are best if sautéed. All should be well drained.

Text and recipes from Recipes from America’s Small Farms by Joanne Lamb Hayes and Lori Stein, copyright 2003 by Joanne Lamb Hayes and Lori Stein. Used by permission of Villard Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

Playlist for Ecotopia #14

1.Food, Glorious Food (From ‘Oliver’)        3:49    Cast Of ‘Oliver’         

Lionel Bart’s Oliver   

2. Shortenin’ Bread                           2:03    Mississippi John Hurt          

The Library Of Congress Recordings

3. Chicken Soup With Rice (Album Version)         4:20    Carole King  

Really Rosie 

4. Home Cookin’                                           4:32    Linda Miles   

Home Cookin’                                  

5. Tacos, Enchiladas And Beans                2:52    Doris Day      

Golden Girl (The Columbia Recordings 1944-1966)






Ecotopia #14 Wild and Scenic Film Festival

Posted by on 05 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Tonight we focus on the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, which takes place in Nevada City, January 9-11. We talk with the festival director and founder, Kathy Dotson, and then with two of the filmmakers who will be in the festival: David Brown of a film about Dumpster Diving, I LOVE TRASH, and Annabella Funk, a third grade student who has made a film history of the Yuba River.

Listen to Ecotopia #14 Online Now!

This year’s will be the seventh annual festival, and the sponsors state:

“The Wild and Scenic Film Festival is a call to action….[F]ilmgoers are transformed into a congregation of committed activists, dedicated to saving our increasingly threatened planet. We show environmental and adventure films that illustrate the Earth’s beauty, the challenges facing our planet, and the work communities are doing to protect the environment. Through these films, Wild and Scenic both informs people about the state of the world and inspires them to take action.”

Our purpose in this edition of Ecotopia is partly to promote the festival, which is an excellent event within our listening area, but also to look at the Ecotopian issues that filmmakers undertake and how film functions as a medium for spreading the word about important environmental issues and problems.

Our questions for Festival Director Kathy Dotson:

  • Please give us some details of the festival.
  • How many films will be shown?
  • How are films selected for the festival? Do you have a panel of judges?
  • How did you come to found the festival?
  • In what ways to you see film as an effective medium for promoting environmental causes?
  • What else would you like to tell us about the festival?


Our conversation with David Brown, creator of I LOVE TRASH.

Synopsis: Two rules: purchase nothing for 3 months and live off only the things and food found in the trash. This dumpster diving experiment reveals much about our society.

Questions for David:

  • Please tell us more about this film.
  • What motivated you to make this film?
  • How did you find your subject?
  • Who did the dumpster diving?
  • What did the film reveal about our society?
  • What’s your background as an environmentalist and filmmaker?
  • What particular problems or opportunities did making this film present?
  • What do you hope is the effect?  How does film differ from other media?

Our conversation with Annabella Funk, creator of “Journey of the Yuba”

Synopsis:  This family-oriented history of the Yuba, written and directed by a third-grade girl, tells the story of both the challenges and beauty of the river. Winner of the Student Filmmaker Award.

Questions for Annabella:

  • Where do you go to school?
  • What got you started in making a film?
  • Why did you choose the Yuba?
  • How did you actually make the film? What parts of the Yuba did you visit?  How did you research the film?
  • What equipment did you use? How did you edit the film?
  • What do you hope your film will accomplish?

Resources on Environmental Films and Filmmaking

  • Probably after listening to this program, you have an overwhelming urge to make a film yourself!  Fortunately, with digital cameras and home computers, we can all become filmmakers if we’d like, and there are plenty of places to show your film, such as You Tube. A good info source is: The Complete Eejit’s Guide to Filmmaking     http://www.exposure.co.uk/eejit/index.html     You’ll find ideas on all aspects of the filmmaking process, plus tips for making low budget films using a digital camera plus editing software on your home computer.
  • We also want to tell you about Green Planet Films, a nonprofit distributor of nature and environmental films from around the globe. They promote environmental education through film and believe the power of film can be an instrumental catalyst to awareness, education, and change. In 2004 they obtained nonprofit status. Since then they have been growing their selection of DVDs and promoting them to those who wish to educate themselves or others on the important environmental topics of our time.  Check the website for a list of their many great films.  http://greenplanetfilms.org/information.php?info_id=40

Playlist for Ecotopia #14

  • Let’s Go To The Movies      4:42    Aileen Quinn; Albert Finney;Ann Reinking;Chorus     Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Annie                                 
  • Let’s Make a Movie  2:57    Ratcliff Bailey           Deuce           
  • Fresh-Garbage (Album Version)  3:13    Spirit   Spirit                                      
  • Proud Mary   5:27    Tina Turner   All The Best                         
  • Cool, Cool River       3:56    Paul Simon   Rhythm Of The Saints                               
  • Weave Me the Sunshine   4:28    Peter, Paul And Mary          The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary