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Submitted by Justin Krebs on Thu, 10/13/2011 - 8:03am.
Bachmann's bubble burst, Perry's pizzazz peaked,
The Republicans reject any route to creating jobs;
As the Occupy Wall Street spreads across the country,
Unable to create jobs, unable to get Occupy Wall Street,
Discuss the debates, Wall Street & Hermentum
Submitted by KAT on Fri, 10/07/2011 - 6:38pm.
Americans may be deeply divided about what ails our country, but there's no denying we're a nation of unhappy campers.
Danes, on the other hand, consistently rank as some of the happiest people in the world, a fact attributed at least in part to Denmark's legendary income equality and strong social safety net.
Forbes recently cited another possible factor; the Danes' "high levels of trust." They trust each other, they trust 'outsiders,' they even trust their government. 90% of Danes vote. Tea party types dismiss Denmark as a hotbed of socialism, but really, they're just practicing a more enlightened kind of capitalism.
In fact, as Richard Wilkinson, a British professor of social epidemiology, recently stated on PBS NewsHour , "if you want to live the American dream, you should move to Finland or Denmark, which have much higher social mobility."
While we debate whether climate change is real and a tax on unhealthy foods is nanny state social engineering, the Danish are actually trying to address these problems head on.
They can afford to, because they don't spend all their waking hours worrying about whether they're about to lose their job, or their house, or how they're going to pay their student loans, or their health insurance premiums.
Could Danish-style democracy catch on here at home? If the way to a nation's heart is through its stomach, there may be hope. After all, the hottest trend on the culinary horizon these days is the new Nordic Cuisine, "which seeks to turn the culinary dial back toward the natural world," as the New York Times reported a few weeks back.
One of the pioneers of this movement is the dynamic Danish chef and climate change activist Trine Hahnemann, whose latest book is The Nordic Diet. Trine has a genius for creating earthy, easy, elegant meals, but she's equally passionate about cooking up social change while she's at it. I had a chance to get her two cents on our respective cultures when she passed through NYC recently. Following is a condensed version of our conversation:
KT: The cover of your latest book declares that you can "Eat Your Way to Health and Happiness with The Nordic Diet." Americans are so stressed and depressed these days, we're more likely to Eat Our Way to Illness and Misery. And the worse we eat, the worse we feel. Any ideas on how to break out of this vicious cycle?
TH: To change the whole political system takes a long time, so, that's not my first suggestion. Cooking your own meals is essential to staying healthy, because that's the only way you can control your diet. And sharing meals with family and friends, having a sense of belonging, that's a very big part of happiness.
Your meal culture has been blown apart, it's a huge problem. I understand when people say "but I get off work at 8 o'clock and I have to shop and go home and cook," but it's a cycle that just goes around and around and nobody's breaking it. You have to start cooking your own food, and it is doable, even on a lower income.
Danes actually eat a lot of crap, a lot of frozen vegetables, but they cook at home every day and sit down and eat together. This is the main thing in our culture, because take-out and processed convenience foods are more expensive. Fruits and vegetables have to be the cheapest thing, cheaper than eating at McDonald's. It all comes down to economics.
So, we're not these 'holy people ' who can manage everything, we just have different ethics. We don't subsidize corn like you do, and also, there is a 25% VAT. And it's socially acceptable to leave work at around 4 or 5 o'clock and pick up your kids from school, go home, share a family meal. From a management point of view, if people have a nice family life, they'll be more productive.
KT: Denmark is famous for having so much less income inequality; do kitchen workers in Danish restuarants make a decent salary?
TH: Yes, a dishwasher in Denmark gets $25 an hour.
KT: Do they get sick days and benefits, too?
TH: Yes, and a pension, and health care, and maternity leave. To me, the more equal your society is, the better it is for everybody. It's not right for a country as rich as yours to have so many poor people. This thing with Americans and taxes, I don't understand it.
I make quite a lot of money, I pay 67% tax on much of it, and I don't mind. I like the idea that the girl who's sitting next to my daughter, whose mother is a cleaning lady, has exactly the same opportunity to get an education that my daughter has. I don't think that's socialism. To me, that's human decency. That girl didn't choose her parents, why shouldn't she have the same opportunities?
KT: The government of Denmark has a very ambitious agenda to eliminate your country's dependence on fossil fuels by 2050. The Danes are early adopters when it comes to conservation and renewable energy.
But Denmark's a relatively small country with a temperate climate, and a homogenous population that doesn't doubt the science on climate change. What lessons do you think the US, with all its diversity and division, could learn from your example?
TH: We can't change the world. We're only five million people, but as you say, we're homogenous. Danes trust their government. Over 90% of our population votes. Our news is not as polarized as yours. We're a good place to try out a model.
And cities around the world can draw from our experience. If we don't adapt, there's not going to be water, there's not going to be electricity, why not find solutions now?
KT: How does your role as a climate change activist influence the way you cook?
TH: I use a lot of whole grains, I cut down on meat, I eat very seasonally. In my company, Hahnemann's Køkken, we have a very seasonal profile, our food waste is really low, we use everything that gets into the kitchen.
And I'm working with some engineers to design an energy efficient professional kitchen. We hope to convince people to buy new equipment. They say, "oh no, it's so expensive," but then you show them how much they could save over ten years on their electricity bill. There are so many old fridges out there that cost a fortune to run.
We need government guaranteed loans to buy new equipment, there are some very interesting models. There's a baker in Germany who has so much leftover bread because people come in at 6 o'clock and demand the same variety he has at 1 o'clock--that's ridiculous! But he'll lose business if he doesn't cater to that, so all the bread that's left everyday goes into his energy system. He burns it, and that runs the ovens for the next day.
KT: So it's like a kind of biofuel? Does it smell like burned toast?
TH: (laughs) I don't know!
KT: In the Nordic Diet, you note that folks in Denmark bicycle everywhere, to get to work, to go shopping--entire families routinely go bicycling together, and you don't let lousy weather stop you. You quote the Danish saying, "There is no such thing as bad weather, only wrong clothing."
But even when the weather's fine, you might work up a sweat and get windblown biking around. Here in the U.S., our surgeon general got in hot water when she noted that too many American women don't exercise because they don't want to mess up their hair.
So, is it socially acceptable in Denmark to arrive at one's destination looking like a sweaty, dishevelled mess?
TH: We don't have an obsession with hair like you have over here, we don't have that hair that sits in one place; that's never been in fashion. But if you bicycle ten miles to work on a racing bike, let's say, you'll have your regular clothes in a bag and most work places in Denmark provide a shower and a changing room.
KT: And what about the time that it takes to get changed into your work clothes, are you on the clock? Is it like taking a lunch break?
TH: Yeah, but Danes are like the Swiss, we're always on time. Danes are not late--being on time is a big part of the culture.
KT: So, it's acceptable to show up with messy hair, but not to be late?
KT: How did you feel about the Copenhagen Climate Change talks, and where do you see the climate change movement heading?
TH: I was so disappointed. I was in tears. Our politicians failed us gravely. America and China came with nothing. And Saudi Arabia was working behind the scenes, I'm told, to sabotage it.
It's a shame people aren't more disappointed with the politicians. I am. I'm really disappointed that they can't step up and do the right thing. Why aren't we doing more? I'm not even satisfied with what we're doing in Denmark. I love that we have these goals and I will help to work towards them through the things I can do as a chef and a responsible citizen.
But I think it will have to get much worse before people realize how bad it is. It's potentially just as catastrophic as terrorism--or worse--but nobody's paying attention. Everybody's just hoping it will go away.
On the food side, I'm more optimistic, I see a lot of changes, a lot of goodwill, people wanting to cook and eat more ecologically.
We've got to change the way we eat, we've got to change the way we source, we've got to change the way we waste. For me, first of all, it's cutting back on the meat. Eating meat everyday has only been part of our diet since World War II. No matter what, only eat meat twice a week.
And everyone should get a composting bucket, so they can see how much they waste. You could save $2,000 a year if you stopped wasting food. Our grandmothers would never have wasted all that food.
We have to take that older mentality and new technologies and put them together for new solutions. I agree with Food, Inc. director Robert Kenner when he says, "Every time you shop, you vote." That's the best thing you can do as an individual who doesn't hold political office.
Submitted by Justin Krebs on Thu, 10/06/2011 - 9:13am.
Occupy Wall Street is polling more popular
Occupy Wall Street is now lasting longer
Occupy Wall Street is bridging young and old,
America wants jobs, jobs, jobs.
Talk about the loss of jobs & loss of Steve Jobs
Submitted by Justin Krebs on Thu, 09/29/2011 - 8:05am.
As we celebrate the Jewish new year, what a moment
As recess yields to a new session in Congress,
As summer turns to fall, the new season
So a new year and new season…old fears, same reasons.
Maybe it's too much to hope for a new start in the new year
Shana tovah to all -- toast a joyful, peaceful year
Submitted by Justin Krebs on Thu, 09/15/2011 - 7:40am.
The audience boos when Rick Perry says an immigrant kid
Ron Paul gets jeered questioning America's foreign policy,
The crowd hisses Mitt Romney's record
In running to be the right candidate for the wrong crowd,
When Jon Huntsman realizes that, he'll be sorry
Join the right crowd with left views & you can't go wrong
Submitted by KAT on Thu, 09/01/2011 - 4:57pm.
Laurie David is a force of nature when it comes to lobbying on behalf of Mother Nature. An author, film producer and environmental advocate, she's best known as the producer who convinced Al Gore that his climate change slide show could reach a lot more folks if he made it into a movie.
David's still concerned about melting glaciers. But her current campaign tackles another kind of erosion; the loss of community, civility and informed debate in our culture. Her latest book, The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time, makes the case that the simple act of sitting down together to eat real food on a regular basis can jumpstart the kind of lively, enlightening discussions that get our friends and family engaged on the issues of the day. And isn't that the first step to pulling our civic discourse out of its muddied and muddled ditch?
She addressed this subject at the Omega Institute's Design By Nature conference in Rhinebeck, New York recently, and kindly agreed to answer a few questions while she was in my neck of the woods. So, with the historic Hudson River Valley--widely regarded as the birthplace of the modern environmental movement--as our backdrop, I sat down with David for a chat about where our country's at.
KT: How does this new mission to revive dinner table discussions mesh with your environmental advocacy? Is conversation the gateway drug to conservation?
LD: There are all kinds of environments. But the very first one we learn anything at is our family environment. I have teenage daughters, and I see from my own personal experience, how grateful I am that I insisted on this ritual of family dinner. It's not just about eating, it's about all the things that happen at the table that we're not even conscious of.
Everything that you worry about as a parent is improved by sitting down to regular meals. This is how we raise civil children, this is how we pass on our values. If we let go of this, we'll be letting go of the very basic things that teach us how to become part of the community, and how to care about the world.
Kids are spending something like seven and a half hours a day looking at some form of screen, and that doesn't include texting time! I call it digital overload. They're not outside playing, they're not spending time with their family. We're not even watching TV together anymore, everyone's on their own separate computer.
That's why it's critically important to hold on to the one ritual that the day gives you, so that everyone can stop leading separate lives and come together. I hope that my book will help make it easy for them. There are some amazing recipes, but also great conversation starters. For some people, it's just as difficult to figure out what to talk about at dinner as it is what to make for dinner.
We have to alleviate the pressure on ourselves that dinner has to be this fancy affair, three courses and a homemade apple pie. If you're having peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole grain bread, that's good enough. The key to the whole thing is sitting down and connecting.
KT: I’d like to borrow a question that Prince Charles asked in a speech at the Washington Post's Future of Food conference earlier this year: "Why it is that an industrialized system, deeply dependent on fossil fuels and chemical treatments, is promoted as viable, while a much less damaging one is rubbished and condemned as unfit for purpose?"
LD: Why are we going down this industrial food supply road? I think the answer is money. This is part of what's exciting to me about the new food movement--we have the individual power to opt out of that system. And if we care about our health, if we care about the planet, we're going to have to do that.
But it's doable. And every piece of this, all the solutions to the factory farms, the industrialization of our food supply, and all the chemicals and antibiotics that are in our food, this is completely doable for us as individuals. We have to start cooking at home, again, we have to start buying fresh ingredients, organic if possible, locally, if possible.
We have to reject the trillion dollar processed food industry that's taken over our lives. Instead of buying salad dressing at the supermarket with nineteen ingredients, we should be taking the three ingredients and the four minutes it takes to make salad dressings at home.
We have to just opt out of that system and start supporting food locally to the best of our ability. It's not about being perfect. 'Perfect is the enemy of the good,' I totally believe that.
It's about saying, you know what? I can decide for myself how many chemicals I'm putting in my body, how many preservatives. All the repercussions of supporting that system, I can choose to opt out of that, and I can educate my small circle of friends.
You can choose to do better. A perfect example is Meatless Monday. I have a chapter about it in my book, and I make all the arguments you can discuss at the dinner table. You can decide, as a family, we're going to get off this treadmill of eating too much meat. We can't sustain this, it's not healthy for our bodies, it's not healthy for the planet, and it's a big myth that this is the only source of protein we can consume.
You want to help global warming issues? Start eating a little less meat. That's a small but perfect example of how powerful the individual can be. And then educate your friends and family.
KT: Speaking of educating folks, Bill Gates is putting his faith and some of his considerable resources into promoting biotech, agribiz-as-usual solutions for feeding the world. If you happened to cross paths with him, how would you try to persuade him to scrap the GMOs and really get behind regenerative farming methods?
LD: I would ask him, what do you want to eat at the end of the day? What's interesting to me is to find out what people who are part of the industrial/chemical system of growing food are eating themselves. I once ran into a gentleman who worked for a huge tomato company. You know, if you buy tomatoes from Florida off season, they're picked green and gassed to turn them red. This is a gazillion dollar industry.
And I said, "Do you eat these tomatoes?" He said, "Oh, I could never eat those! We eat organic food."
I don't understand the arrogance we have as a country that we can do things better than Mother Nature can. We have to go back to being humble, to respecting what Mother Nature provides us, and stop screwing with the system because we think we can do it better.
The oceans are being depleted, the air is being destroyed, because of us. The climate--who ever thought you could screw with the climate? But we're doing it, and it's not an opinion, it's not a theory, it's not a belief, it's a fact. The globe is warming and humans are causing it.
And the fact that we're not running to solve this problem when all the solutions already exist is just mind boggling to me.
KT: Neil Young once sang that “even Richard Nixon has got soul.” Well, at least he gave us the Environmental Protection Agency. Now Republicans want to abolish the EPA. Why don't today’s conservatives embrace conservation? And how did contempt for science become so rampant?
LD: The EPA, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species act, they all had support from both sides. I don't understand it, honestly, I don't have an answer for it. You would think they would care just as much about clean air and water and protecting public lands as you and I do. The only explanation is that it comes down to greed and arrogance--arrogance that we're not going to run out of our natural resources.
The biggest problem we're facing is that people are getting misinformation from advertising, from politicians who are tied to lobbyists who are tied to corporations. It's very difficult to move forward on things when people are misinformed. We have to work on getting back to truth, inconvenient or not.
Submitted by Justin Krebs on Thu, 09/01/2011 - 7:45am.
The President wants to talk about jobs
The GOP claims its top priority is jobs
And as they debate how to debate a debate
It's easier for the GOP to debate each other
And it's easier for Obama to cede a debate debate
Annoyed at the GOP? Confounded by the White House?
Submitted by Justin Krebs on Mon, 08/29/2011 - 12:28pm.
The intrepid members of the Minneapolis chapter of Drinking Liberally have dramatized an unlikely text: actual quotes from Representative Michele Bachmann.
Learn more about the people behind the project -- people who have been following Bachmann long before most of us ever heard of her.
Submitted by Justin Krebs on Thu, 08/25/2011 - 9:06am.
Rebellion against corruption and autocracy
Super PACs super-charge campaigns with cash,
The unemployed, under-water, in-debt Americans
We've stared with amazement at the Arab Spring --
Raise your voice, raise your concerns, raise a pint
Submitted by Justin Krebs on Thu, 08/18/2011 - 8:26am.
The GOP is so confident in their field of candidates
Perry sells himself as a jobs candidate
Perry has famously suggested Texas should secede
The GOP wants a candidate that will "succeed" --
But with this guy's line on secession,
If you need to lift your spirits and raise your voice,
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