Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tuna Manifesto

It took 10-days for the officials at ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas) to reach an agreement on how to combat illegal fishing. The key takeaway was to reduce the quotas - plain and simple. At the heart of this matter is the bluefin tuna. That is the red, delicious meat that most of you so greatly enjoy during your sushi dinners. This amazing fish goes for about $100,000 on the Japanese seafood market and is rapidly in danger as it continues to be over fished. Now, surely, after having a round table of intelligent environmentalists, fisherman, and representatives, that a more aggressive and potentially strategic approach would be devised. In the end, a simple quota to reduce from 13,500 tons to 12,900 tons in 2011 was the game plan.

Many including PEW Environment Group feel the quota is not enough. There is also some belief that ICCAT is simply selling out to the short-term interests of fisherman. “After years of observing ICCAT and countless opportunities to do the right thing, it is clear to us that the commission’s interests lie not in the sustainable harvesting of bluefin tuna but in pandering to short-term business interests," says Dr. Tudela - head of the WWF Mediterrean’s Fisheries Programme . "There have been no effective measures implemented here to deal with widespread illegal and unreported fishing for bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean.”

Many retailers, such as Carrefour, Ikea, Sodexo, famous sushi restaurant chains Itsu and Moshi Moshi have decided to take action themselves. These business are signing the Tuna Manifesto. This agreement states that a business will decide not to sell Atlantic bluefin tuna in any of its outlets around the world until the fisheries are being managed in a way that will allow the tuna to recover. While that waiting period unfolds, the ICCAT’s scientists will next assess bluefin tuna stocks in the East Atlantic in 2012, when they vow to address the uncertainties in data to ensure recommendations are clearer.

To see the full listing of companies that signed the manifesto, click here.

Sources: NPR News, WWF

Saturday, November 27, 2010

In Lieu of Turkey

I thought it would be appropriate to re-iterate how corporate transparency doesn't start or stop just with food prices. It is more about the "system" and how our food is properly grown, processed, labeled, shipped and marketed. Actually, it is more about how the system is broken, and consumers (like you and I) that care, will find out the truth and not wait for Thanksgiving, holiday demands.

Let's start with chickens and corn. For a juicy, inside look into the hazardous, toxic environments, I recommend watching Food, Inc. It is a documentary that showcases the unflattering events that have led to America's corporate controlled food industry. We want breasts, right? Big, white, meaty breasts from chickens and turkeys. The last time, I checked a chicken should not be so fat it can't walk, should not be sleeping or walking in its own feces and definitely should not be treated like a "bug in a jar". But if you'd like to eat an animal that mistakes its own poop for food, then by all means you can surely eat that "type" of protein if you'd like.

And actually, I enjoy meat! Beef burgers, chicken tortillas, fish tacos, etc. However, the critical factor is that my life should not be a gamble when I eat food that is processed by unregulated laws. Why can't I determine if my chicken is from Ohio or from China or Brazil? Why can't I read on a simple label like my cereal that my turkey or beef was fed and raised naturally knowing that I won't get E.Coli or die from virulent strain of O157:H7. In our nation, this contamination has led to the recall of beef in 3,000 grocers in 41 states due to numerous deaths of our simple staple. Of course, in lieu of turkey or meat, there are many tasty vegetarian options. However, may I remind you we had this with spinach, tomatoes, jalapenos, and what is next? What can I eat safely?

Do your part to be educated, informed, buy local, choose local and push for reform that puts the power of eating safe food back in the hands of consumers, and not at the table of greedy corporate board members and executives. From barn to bowl, or pasture to plate, we have a choice to eat healthy, reduce our obesity epidemic, get off the sugar-fat cycle and eat wholesome meat and potatoes just like before with a smile on our face.

Source: NY Times, E.Coli news
Image: Trendwatching, 2009

Friday, November 12, 2010

Toxic Colors

I have written numerous posts about toxins that are in our bubble and around us in everyday household products. Yes, the classic BPA bottles, formaldehyde in our Orbit gum, and even how Teflon is associated with PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls). But ever stop and wonder what you put on your skin?

Think about your masculine Gillette shaving cream for sensitive skin or your jazzy Revlon Colorstay lipstick? You actually think these personal care products are safe? I did, until I reviewed their toxicity levels now available at Skin Deep, a free, online database provided by the Environmental Working Group, which document toxins in our hair, skin, makeup, and personal care products. Yes, they have men and women products available for review (by brand, by type, etc.) These toxins, while deadly and crazy scary are fairly easy to determine through a red, yellow and green color coding system. The brand reports commonly explain how the basic ingredients used in your product of choice impact Neurotoxicity, Endocrine disruption, Persistence and bioaccumulation. Scary shit!

Skin Deep also helps fuel the nationwide Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of public health, educational, labor, women, environmental and consumer groups working to protect the health of consumers and workers by requiring the health and beauty industry to phase out the use of dangerous chemicals and replace them with safer alternatives. Let's just say that L’Oreal, Revlon, Avon and few others weren't every happy about this campaign. Through the Campaign, as of May 2007 over 500 companies have joined the effort by signing the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. Environmental Working Group is a founding partner of the Campaign.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Leaf Letters

When is the last time you sent a card? I'm not referring to a card where you simply sign your name and seal the envelope. A real card with a real message that isn't printed with some cheezy gold lettering in old English style writing. For those close friends and relatives that truly know me, I prefer the "no card means no trash" approach and typically like to send e-cards or emails. Some of you lucky friends have seen my real handwriting.

If only we could adopt an ancient Japanese approach to communication, right? In Japan, people used leaves as a tool in which to exchange their messages. This form is known as hagaki - the Japanese postcard. A design concept known as leaf letter takes this idea of writing on leaves and brings it into modern times. With the spread of personal computers and mobile devices, we are beginning to seem further away from nature. Their design focuses on a question of wondering can sending a message on a leaf, reduce our distance between nature and one another,
by reviving the hand-written letter? To see additional printing concepts, click here.