Blue Heron Local Cuisine

Cooking, Eating, and Drinking on the North Shore (and beyond)

Voting and other things you can do to improve the world November 3, 2008

Filed under: Agriculture — blueheronlocal @ 1:53 pm
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(photo from

(photo from

Nov 4: Election day.  Perhaps the one day every four years where most
(ok, many) American citizens actively engage in our political system.
Your participation matters: the President sets the agenda, picks the
advisors, and influences the funding, application and even creation of
laws and the rules that enforce them.  So, please VOTE.

But you can engage beyond voting.  I’m sure some of you have called or
written your Reps and Senators about a bill– check out the websites
for the House and the Senate if you haven’t.  The most underused
system is commenting on proposed rules.  So what’s a rule?  And why do
they matter?

A rule is the method by which agencies interpret laws for action–
whether it is creating a program, ending a program, enforcing a ban,
etc.  Most laws are pretty stretchy (politically easier to pass), so
the rules are where political agendas can be acted out relativley
unseen.  But wait, transparency does exist!  You just have to know the
system: rules are required to have a public comment period (posted on
this handy website: and agencies are required to
respond to each comment and take them into account as they write the
final rule.

Right now, there is a rule about pasture and organic dairy open to
comment.  Some of it is good, some of it is bad (awful, like, what were they



Not in My Cookies! July 14, 2008

Filed under: Ethical Eating — blueheronlocal @ 3:37 pm
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(thanks,, for the image!)


Flour was a staple of my childhood—huge bags of whole wheat organic bread flour were almost always in the center of the kitchen. It was vital, literally the base of our diet, but also invisible because it was so available and familiar. Unlike the seasonal apples or the labor–intensive black walnuts, flour was a given that required no work and was always there. I didn’t even think about it until well into college, when I had one obsessive vegan in my life, which meant that there were fewer titillating topics at 3 am other than flour + fake butter + tofu (organic & local) + peanut butter (organic) + maple syrup (local) = ethical anti-establishment cookies.


What establishment? you ask. Well, to begin with, the industrial food complex, the corporitization of food, agribusiness, consolidation, vertical/horizontal integration, transnational takeovers… To most localvore types, these phrases sound dangerous, cues that our food system has moved far from the place where it was 200, 100, and even 50 years ago. Some of the structural changes have benefited society. More have not. Today I offer a superficial look at a few structural issues seen through my ethical adventures in buying flour.