Category Archives: environment.

the big three threw out my baby.



I still don’t know how I feel about the buyouts.  I’ve read a lot about how the automobile industry has created the type and extent of capitalist/ economic/ political/environmental systems we now have.  I don’t like these systems and tend to agree.   If cars stopped being made tomorrow, certainly lots of things would change, but I can’t say that it would make me sad to lose cars. 


On the other hand, the automobile industry is tied to so much in our lives, as we are now witnessing. It is also iconic and somehow synonymous  with North American identity – in a strange way, despite “killing my baby”, the Big 3 are tied to a national/regional understanding of myself and my history.

On the other hand, the one which happens to speak to me more loudly, the Big 3 have been criminally negligent in a lot of ways.  I don’t like that my tax dollars (OK, I get all of my taxes back and then some – would be tax dollars) are helping to sweep that fact nicely away from public attention so that the world is protected from the knowledge that fundamentally, our system is failing.  Likely, no one will ever be prosecuted for any of the blatantly criminal actions they’ve committed.  Mostly because by ‘criminal’ I of course mean ‘questionable’ and actually ‘criminal’ only according to the criminal code in my head.  At least in one of these situations however, I do believe laws need to be made against what was done.  Specifically, GM’s EV1.

For those who don’t know the story, GM introduced the EV1 – their first commercially available, purpose built electric vehicle – in 1996.  In 1999 they recalled and destroyed all but a very few of them.  Criminal waste.

I hate waste.  I compost and adamantly recycle. I cringe when people I eat out with don’t take home their leftovers, no matter how small, and usually cajole them into giving them to me.  I have rubbermaid containers full of fabric, ribbon, paper, and wrapping material scraps because I can imagine another distant use for them.  My household only takes a plastic bag for meat and have an unofficial ‘must be used twice’ rule for the plastic that does make it into our house, like from bread.  Still, my household makes an average of 2 bags of garbage a week and I feel that is far too much.  Can you imagine throwing out a whole entire run of a vehicle?

The phrase is ‘throw away society’, and it’s certainly true. GM’s act, and other acts of waste, are such perfect examples of blind opulence and careless privilege; it is easy to ignore the value of something we consider leftover when we’ve never felt want of anything.  GM’s particular indiscretion deserves the title of criminal for the sheer volume of what was wasted.  We should not be allowed to simply, irresponsibly discard of that which is not convenient to have around any longer if it has further possible utility.  No, recycling isn’t perfect but mindless waste and bottomless landfilling are much much worse.  

Like all facets of society, the legal system is in desperate need of an environmental revolution and I think criminal waste would be a good place to start.

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Filed under environment.

your ontology is killing me.

this pig has boots.

this pig has boots.

This story was on the CBC  morning show yesterday.  It is an illustration of some of the evils of factory farming: animals are treated like emotionless product/cargo and often transported long distances without food or water, crammed in uncomfortably, and as the story specifically shows us, often without concern for whether or not the animals will fall out of the truck.

Feminists should care about factory farming because the way we as a society treat animals is an indication of the status of the patriarchy.  Violence against women and violence against animals is the result of the same ontology operating on society.  The ontology that places MAN above WOMAN and NATURE/ANIMALS in a hierarchical structure of understanding despite the interconnectedness of the well-being of all actors on the planet.  Obviously, feminism is quite concerned with ‘man’ being above ‘woman’ in this proliferate model, but concern for the other ‘other’ is slower coming.  As I see it though, systemic violence against nature/animals is not only linked to the health and well-being of all of our world system including people, but is a sign of a sick society that is yet to give up an ontology of hierarchy as one of its basic principles.

The struggle for animal rights has many similarities with the struggle for women’s rights.  For instance, there are systemic laws in place which normalize the oppression of animals and make it next to impossible for the average citizen of Canada to begin a process whereby we view animals as something for than a commodity.  Just as women in legal matters were mere property, animals, particularly food production animals, are legally  bound to be reduced to mere property.  The case of the little pig on the 401 is an example of this as the piglet, by virtue of being a ‘farm animal’, cannot legally be owned as a domestic pet.  Just as women were viewed as baby-making property, animals are still viewed merely as meat-making property and even if we wanted to reimagine the role of meat-producing animals in our lives, we can’t because of the laws restricting private ownership.   

These types of by-laws and laws normalize essential commdofication of animals, keeping them in the hands of mass producers as most cities in North America disallow city dwellers to own or raise animals such as chickens, despite the fact that most standard backyards are more than enough space to safely raise happy, well-cared-for chickens.  This also makes alternative food production, a move which could help reduce strain on the environment, difficult.

Like the current trends to focus on class and ethnicity as well as gender within feminist discourse, I think we also need to start looking at systemic models of animal oppression as indicators of the status of security and equality of women in our society.


Filed under environment., feminism

something to chew on


amber waves of grain.

amber waves of grain.

Anyone who follows me on twitter can attest to my recent preoccupation with food.  This is as a result of my decision to rise to a friend‘s challenge to be vegan for 30 days.  I was vegan before for a period of 2 weeks after about 2 years of vegetarianism all of which halted when my anemia got the best of me and I had to go back to eating delicious ironful meat.  But the politics never left my belief system and I have again succumbed to a desire to reduce my overall consumption and not willingly participate in animal suffering

It had been a long time since I had considered my food intake, its production, and footprint so much and this week also marked my decision to actually do readings for my distance ed course in Politics and the Environment which saw me reading excerpts from Lester Brown‘s Plan B, particularly on the issue of global food sources.  So I’ve got food on the brain:

Here in the west, our environmental discussion is greatly focused on our driving force: the automobile.  Our popular eco-poli discussions focus on oil consumption and emissions reductions.  Of course, oil is a force of international relations very important to issues of peace and security.  But our bellies bloated with heavily-subsidized and abundant food are virtually blind and deaf to an interconnected and increasingly pressing issue: world food sources.

The excesses of the well-fed west spill over to the entire world.  Our emissions change the climate which kills trees, reduces crop fertility and aquifers,degrades soil, and desertifies once arable lands all over the world; the trade and debt policies lorded over the developing world by the west and our institutions leave farmers with little other option than to monocrop, deforest precious forests, and use harmful chemicals which kill trees, reduce crop fertility and aquifers, degrade soil, and desertify once arable lands all over the world.  Etc.

We now have had 6 consecutive years of grain deficit worldwide.  You may have noticed that you pay an awful lot more for bread than you were a few years ago.  Canada’s reaction has been to retain the grain for domestic use and sell only to ‘preferred customers’, leaving many starving states in the lurch.  America, which controls more of the world’s grain than Saudi Arabia does of the world’s oil, uses portions of its precious supply for the creation of alternative fuels through a process that uses more energy to create the oil than is gained through use of the oil, driving up world costs of corn such that the corn-based diet of many Central Americans was recently priced out of their grasp.  In fact, President Obama has recently made such a practice American policy.  Maybe he feels its OK to have to start regulating how many SCAs-to-the-gallon (Starving Central Americans)cars get. 

But of course, we in the west will not feel the worst effects of food shortages.  Not even close. For the most part, we will still be able to afford food even at inflated prices.  Some studies show that with climate change, we may actually see longer growing seasons in Canada and thus have more food, which precedence tells us we will horde for our rapidly obeseifying masses.  And while many developing and transitioning countries will face massive loss of life and growing civil unrest, in some cases in already destabilized political environments, as water dries up and food becomes ever- scarcer, Canada’s uber-stable government, along with America’s unstoppable one, will be toasting one another with Great Lakes’ NAFTA water, poring over the 10s of millions of environmental refugee applications, which they will of course have the luxury of rejecting.

I used to be embarrassed when my grandparents gave thanks for food in restaurants. Now, despite being distanced from my Christian upbringing, I reflect with secular gratitude for every meal.

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Filed under environment., rant.

filez el Cinco de Mayo!

Though we know the lifestyle is easier on the environment and our arteries,  being veg’n takes a lot of will power many don’t have.  Like me.  Chocolate milk and steak are delicious: though I used to identify as both vegetarian and vegan for times in turn my new fav date is going to my in-laws to spend a pleasant evening and eat what is always a delicious meal including some sort of delicious meat entree.

But meat is expensive and the many arguments against meat and for veg’sm make too much sense for this former student of reason and ethics to justify meat consumption at the average North American rate. (**somewhat related book I’m dying to read) Instead, my darling husband and I have chosen to eat in various permeatations  of weekday/weekly veg’sm.  At least we’ve tried to.  (see: no will power)

But Xtine ‘smelly girl’ D. of Peeling The Yellow Wallpaper, and Feedback: Women’s Edition fame wrote a thought provoking blog about veg’sm the other day and it gave me new resolve toward making delicious veg’n food for dinner at least 4 days a week.  Mostly, this will take a lot of strength to avoid eating our fav indian food.

this has nothing to do with anything but came up in the google images search i did looking for a painting with the ghosts of meat.

this has nothing to do with anything but came up in the google images search i did looking for a painting with the ghosts of meat.

In celebration of my rededication to a vegetablier lifestyle, I have made a delicious Cinco de Mayo salad, named more for its date of birth than relationship to latin food:

Feliz el Cinco De Mayo Salad!

4 ears of fresh corn, sliced     from cob
one sweet pepper,                    chopped
1 can of black beans,              drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, diced
1 mango, firm is fine, diced
4 green onions, diced
juice of 1 lime
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
hot sauce to taste
3 tbsp barbecue sauce
2 cups TVP prepared with taco seasoning (pork or beef can be substituted)
1 cup of quinoa, prepared 

**optional: (ie. I didn’t have these but it would taste good) avocado, diced and jalepeño, minced. 

  1.  heat non-stick or oiled heavy bottomed pan over high then add corn,season to taste, stir occasionally until corn is browned – – about 8 – 10 minutes
  2. reduce heat to medium and add mango, pepper, and red onion, stir until soft
  3. add green onion and optional jalepeño, stir until soft then remove from heat
  4. stir in hot sauce, barbecue sauce, and lime juice
  5. set aside to cool to room temperature then add tomatoes and avocado right before serving
  6. serve layered over quinoa topped with taco seasoned TVP
  7. optional topping: sour cream and fresh chopped cilantro

For the record, I ate this, not with the TVP and quinoa, but with half a barbecued sausage.


Filed under domesticity., environment.