Friday, July 30, 2004

Have I mentioned the Convention?

So the Democratic National Convention has just ended with a splendid speech by John Kerry, and while I bask in the warm glow of political optimism, let's look back at this convention's food.

Oh yes, there was food. Delegates have to fuel all their sign-waving with something, you know.

No food or drink was allowed on the floor, hence the lack of turkey legs and corndogs during the speeches, but elsewhere ... check out this food station at the 15,000-person media party which featured home-grown food from local Massachusetts farms.

And in keeping with the greenest convention goals (which also showcased biodegradable balloons , lots of recycling, electricity all from from renewable sources, and hybrid gas-electric buses), the food waste was taken to a composting facility to make fertilizer. Unused food was rescued for local hunger-relief agencies.

And what do they drink? Let's just say many of these events were open bar.

And, is that ...? It is! Hillary's drinking Dunkin' Donuts coffee! Dunkin' Donuts was the first national brand to sell espresso beverages that are made exclusively with Fair Trade Certified coffee.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

He's the son of a mill worker, you know

John Edwards, whom a Southern maternity nurse tipsy on moonshine will recognize as the twin brother of John Ritter she misplaced all those years ago, wants you and America to know that, why shucks, ma'am, he's just a hard-workin' Carolina boy at heart.

But he's also a millionaire trial lawyer, so we look to the food evidence.

Exhibit A: He and his wife, also a lawyer, celebrate their wedding anniversay every year with dinner at ... Wendy's. Jay Leno's take: "That should be his platform, any guy who can convince his wife to go to Wendy's every year should be elected. Imagine what he could convince the leaders of other countries to do."

Exhibit B: When Don Imus quizzed Edwards on the price of milk, he got it right.

Exhibit C: Favorite food is North Carolina barbeque.

Exhibit D: When asked whether he had been eating well on the campaign trail, he said "No,I had two double cheeseburgers for lunch today." (I think that qualifies as "yes," but that's just me.)

No evidence of caviar shampoo or anything like that. Circumstantial, maybe. I tried to find a smoking-gun picture of Edwards digging into a bag of Cheetos. I didn't find one.

I found one of Britney, though.

The verdict? You decide!

Wednesday, July 28, 2004


Just out of Project Blog recovery, and right into MSNBC immersion, watching the Democratic National Convention in ole Beantown. Last night FLOTUS candidate Teh-RAY-zuh Heinz(-Kerry) gave a nice endorsement of her husband. We're fond of her, even though she persists in wearing sweaters tied around her shoulders, because she's Absolutely Fabulous, a breezy fresh contrast to Stepford Wife Laura Bush and the usual helmet-hair political wife.

But don't go trying Teresa's recipe for pumpkin spice cookies in the Family Circle Cookie Cook-Off: it's not hers. After some voters complained to her that they didn't like it (even though in taste tests on TV, tasters were evenly divided), she said on NPR yesterday: "I never made pumpkin cookies; I don't like pumpkin spice cookies."

Apparently Teresa had originally submitted a recipe called Yummy Wonders, but the Family Circle test kitchen said it didn't work. When they called her office and asked if there had been a mistake, an aide sent the pumpkin cookie recipe without consulting her.

Mrs. Heinz Kerry is reported to be a good cook, and, as the New York Times helpfully informs us, "good cooks are usually upset when their names are associated with inferior recipes."

This is far from a silly sidenote, for the winning cookie has foretold who would enter the White House since its inception. (The Cookie knows all; the Cookie sees all.)

And if you don't like Our Lady of Ketchup, well, go Cheney yourself.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

D'Las One!

How do I feel about participating in Project Blog? Well, although I'm very tired and sleepy and it was a b*tch trying to think of what to post every half hour, I'm happy to have raised $214 for TransFair USA and hopefully raised a bit of awareness regarding fair trade as an ethical and sustainable practice. Big thanks to my co-blogger, Foodgoat, for sacrificing his much beloved weekend sleep, and especially to all our wonderful sponsors:


You guys are awesome! I'll be contacting you about making your donation directly to TransFair USA, and for the rest of you, please consider also making a donation to that worthy organization. Tell 'em Foodgoat sent you. After all, I wouldn't forego an entire 24 hours for just anyone.

All in all, I have ...

Now if you'll excuse me, I got some sleepin' to do. Don't wake me up until I'm all caught up with my sleep debt, and don't expect another post for a while. I'm blogger'd out!

Project Blog charity runner-up

I'm really happy to support TransFair USA, but it was hard picking just one charity to do Project Blog for. My second choice was in honor of one of my favorite animals, the elephant, also known as oliphaunts, heffalumps, and Mr. Snuffleupacuses. And when they get old, I'd like to think they loaded up their trunks and they moved to Tennessee ... the Elephant Sanctuary, in Hohenwald, Tennessee, that is. There they while away their last years not having to carry tourists around or stand on their hind legs, and you can watch them on the EleCam.

Just half an hour to go! I'm soooo tired. Nothing like the morning light to make you feel like crap.

Fair Trade Round-Up

Here's an issue of the New Internationalist magazine that takes a gander at fair trade ...

A new Fair Trade Research Group at the sociology department at Colorado State (where are the anthropologists on this issue? where?! oh, wait, here I am!) ...

The Conscious Consumer (a project of the Center of New American Dream) wants you to buy fair trade cocoa and chocolate ...

No Sweat Apparel supports independent trade unions to stop sweatshops in clothing manufacturing. I love their t-shirts, like this fair trade one.

Play fair, trade fair: Buy a fair trade sports ball. Too bad right now they only have soccer balls online. Of all the major sports, which one is most fair trade? Hmm, will have to ask Foodgoat. Maybe football. You know, 'cuz it's more sustainable.

Humane Buzz: It was this PBS Planet Work episode that taught us about fair trade and compelled us to support TransFair USA for Project Blog, so it deserved some mention. Doesn't PBS rock? I learn so much from them.

Only one hour left to go!

Star Wars: ROTS

The title of the next Star Wars movie has been announced as: "Revenge of the Sith." Tee hee!

Looking for a fair trade gift? Check out SERVV International, which partners with 90 groups of artisans and farmers in 34 countries to bring you gifts that make a "world of difference" (their corny pun, not mine). I could use a Large Djembe Drum for Christmas, if you haven't started looking yet.

Odds & Ends

Terror Alert Level

You know, that BowFlex thing looks oddly reasonable right now ... I've also been amusing myself by looking at the Hidden Mickeys

You know how when you're a kid the idea of Charlie and Chocolate Factory was just dreamy (by the way, that now makes two movies Johnny Depp with have made with chocolate themes ... does he know how to pick 'em or what?)? Well, the reality of kids and chocolate isn't so nice. The Global March Against Child Labour has a petition going for fair trade chocolate, because of course there are a great many children working the cocoa plantations in West Africa. Hence, fair trade chocolate good.

The final stretch ....

Am back again, for the home stretch. Yawn ... Foodgoat is off to bed, as is Sienna the dog, who has been mighty confused by the fact that no one else seems to want to sleep. Just now, she actually jumped onto Foodgoat's bed! I don't think so, Doggie-Dog.

It's nothing but Paid Programming time of TV, so for a while I was watching the Christian Movie Network, which right now has a lot of commercials of Kirk Cameron movies and short films about how God Loves You, Yes Even You, Angry Twitchy Man or how Jesus Might Be Anyone, Even the Guy Who Pays for Your Fries and Looks Like Foodgoat's Brother's Friend What's-His-Name. It's 5:17 in the morning and I find these things Hi-LAR-ious, even as Foodgoat finds them Stoopid and Annoying, and so goes to bed.

I seem to recall something about fair trade, but damned if my brain's not feeling sorta mushy right now. Fair trade good ... not-fair trade cheap but not good ... got that?

Instead I leave you with a picture of Nicole Kidman from her prom. Which has nothing to do with anything, but really, is anyone keeping track?

Time to go

Well, Ladygoat has gotten up on her own - and she wants to continue blogging.  My time with you is over and it is time for me to get some sleep.
Thanks to all that pony up some coin to Fair-Trade cause.
All of this has been fun - in a strange way.
Later all

Going Strong

Staying up late is a piece of cake.  I know I am going to feeling this later, but now all goes well.  Still playing Far Cry, I just hit a save point which is good because it is time to blog.
I going to try to stay up for another hour or so.. I'll let you know before I wake up Ladygoat

this is an audio post - click to play

audio blog

hey I just made a mistake on the audio blog...  I will try it again during my next post time..
Playing Far Cry right now....  time is passing well..
Can't believe Ricky Williams (running back Miami) retired..  at 27 and going strong.
Sucks to be Miami fan - they gave up 2 first round picks for the guy and only got 2 years out of him..


Well, it's kind-of late.  But I am doing pretty good right now.
Sealab 2021 was just on - that and ATHF are some of my favorite shows.

After just a 3 hour nap (sleep), I find my body is reacting well to be up.  I feel good.  I don't think I would want to make a 3 hr night routine, but it can been done in a pinch.

I will see how I feel in an hour.

Fight! fight! fight!

The big news at these late hours of the night is the Fight between the Yanks (remember those damn yankees) and the Red Sox (that Boston team where fans complain all the time).  Looks like Boston beamed A-rod (that's the guy making $252 million dollars) and A-rod seems to say something to the pitcher [you don't need to be a lip-reader to figure out what he is saying] and then a brawl starts.  This clip is being played over and over by ESPN, and it is kind-of funny.  Being a tribe fan I dislike the Yanks, but Boston is kind-of worst to me.  Not the orginazation but the fans.  They constantily complain about the Yanks, and say it is unfair for baseball - BUT their team has the second highest payroll.  The only difference is their team never wins - HA.  At least the Yanks win with all that money.

Next Coffee

Time to try another Fair-Trade coffee - Colombian
let me have a slip...smooth
second slip.   Mild  good
not as commanding as the Costa Rica I had earilier.
I think this would make a great everyday coffee, or something one should serve with dessert.  For it doesn't bite at all - which is good - when you want your coffee to accent a dish and not overwhelm the tastbuds..

I'm back

Nappy time is over...  Ladygoat seems to be quite awake, and I still have mucho sleepiness in me.  One  must carry on.  Coffee is being made right now.  I don't think I want to drink toooo much of the stuff, because I kind-of feel a little jittery from my last batch. 
Doggie seems to be confused right now - "are we sleeping tonight or not?"  You see, doggie is looking at me- and I know she thinks things are screwy.
Well, Ladygoat is going to sleep now....
and I am going to start this insanity.

World Peas

My god, it's nightmare!

La Dee Dah, what to blog next?

The Sierra Club has a Fair Trade Bill of Rights, that would uphold three basic principles:

I. Do Not Undermine Environmental Standards.
II. Encourage Environmental Progress.
III. Require Democratic Procedures.

Well, sounds good to me!

This morning in the car we listened to this college radio show, which basicaly has this libertarian guy reading the Constitution or some article libertarian article. On the political compass, I turned out to lean more liberal (no surprise) and libertarian (big surprise).

Foodgoat, I think, who was once told by a teacher that he hoped Foodgoat never got into a position of power, turned out to be authoritarian left. Go figure.

I'm hungry. Excuse me while I go foraging.

Fair trade ... cigarettes?

It almost seems like a oxymoron, doesn't it? But apparently the always-questionable company Phillip Morris is looking into using fair trade tobacco. Do progressives smoke? Never mind, I seem to remember seeing activists pontificating about how cigarettes are the Tool of the Man at the same time they were huddled outside sucking away.

And what about fair trade cigars, to placate Foodgoat?

Well, in Cuba, the famous tobacco farms, due to the economic troubles that began when Russia fell, have begun to move away from collectives into private hands. Farmers and workers are still doing things the old way, plowing with oxen, and doing all the work by hand. Is all this bad or good? I'm not sure, but that's why there are certification organizations like TransFair USA. They're the ones who go check these places out.

Fair Trade Milestones

Currently over 200 coffee roaster and importers from all over the country are licensed to sell Fair Trade Certified™ coffee and it is available in more than 15,000 retail locations across the US.

Fair Trade Certified™ coffee has been in Europe for about 14 years.

In 2002 worldwide sales of Fair Trade Certified™ coffee grew by 46% percent.

Fair Trade Certified™ coffee imports have almost doubled in the US each year since it was introduced in 1999.

Fair Trade consumer education campaigns have been conducted in New England, the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle.

Fair Trade and the plight of coffee farmers has received major press coverage.

In September 2003, Procter & Gamble, one of the world's four largest coffee companies, announced that it would introduce Fair Trade Certified™ coffee products through its specialty coffee division, Millstone.

from Oxfam
Even a conservative campus like Case now has fair trade coffee. Let that be a lesson to you.

It's getting to be that time of the night when everyone else is asleep, my mind's not quite as sharp and crappy movies like Jaws 2 is on TV, so I'm reduced to watching a documentary on transvestites in India. Of course, transgendered people deserve safe and sustainable working conditions and compensation too.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Not to be found at Toys R Us

Ha ha, I just saw a benches-clearing, blood-drawing, all-out fight between the Yankees and the Red Sox, starting with A-Rod and Veritek, on TV! I don't normally enjoy violence in sports but when whole teams are involved it's exciting. Not at all like ice hockey, where two guys just pound each other while everyone sits back and has a Coke.

Okay, enough of the fun and games, back to fair trade ...

Even activists sometimes just want to play a game ... but you know, a socially conscious, equitable game. Maybe they'll like this game, CIVIO, the Civil Rights Card Game. Each player starts as an intern at a law firm specializing in civil rights, and uses cards representing laws, Supreme Court decisions, constitutional amendments, key issues, rights and freedoms, to make precedents.

I hate playing Monopoly. I do think the basic premise is ethically flawed, but more than that it makes everyone mean and not fun. I have my doubts about whether Civio is actually a fun game. How about Balderash instead? Or Magic: The Gathering (sadly, Foodgoat's collection burned up in his car!)? Or Trivial Pursuit? Oh, oh, or Boggle!
Foodgoat: Not all of my cards went up in the fire - just all my favorite cards :(

Ladygoat's back! (for now...)

Hello all! I'm back, and Foodgoat is now curled up in bed, trying to ignore the effects of caffeine in his body, for a nap. I was at the city's Home Days festival, helping the Recycling Committee sell pizza. All I did was go to one meeting, just to see what the recycling committee did (I have very strong feelings about Ohio's general lack of recycling), and I end up signed up for 4 hours of work. It wasn't too bad, although I missing seeing the fireworks.

We're not usually so civil-minded.

By the way, since when did it become fashionable for young, tween-ish girls to look like babies? And by that I mean to dress, and act, literally, like infants. I can't tell you how many girls I saw there carrying blankets and sucking on pacifiers. It's disturbing, I tell you. Between young girls looking like babies and young girls looking like slutty Britney-ites, the female developmental progression is being seriously messed with.

In any case, I'm here now, lit only by a familiar blue glow, with a cuppa Costa Rica at hand (ahhhhh, that is good coffee).

It's all over

No more fireworks - so that means it's time to sleep again...

Still no Ladygoat... Me want nappy-nap time...
ahh sleep.. I going to be missing you tonight.

Ladygoat is on her way home... so I guess I am going to take that nap now...
Thanks for putting up with me..
Like it or not - I'll be back
see you in the wee hours of the night
you me and a hell-of-a-lot of coffee

Shake and Shake


"I don't like fireworks.. ruff ..."

"Frisbees - biscuts - Foodgoat I like...,   fireworks-- AHHHHHhhhh!!!!!"



TRIBE TIES IT UP!!! bottom of the 9th and they get a run--- WAhoo!

TRIBE WIN!!!! TRIBE WIN!!!!  The rookie gets a hit!!!  yippy yippy 

bottom of the 9th 2 outs and they score 2!!!! 

"I'm going to rock and roll all night...   and every day...."

Hold the phones

I hear some boom booms...
doggie still acting fine..
Ladygoat just called..  She still late.  But she told me that the boom I just hear was a mistake.  The firework went off prematurily....
Now the booms booms have started..
Doggie is looking a little nervious...  but still calm...

Boom Boom

Ladygoat just gave me a buzz and she still doing what she needs to do, but this should be my last post before  nappy time.  I am looking forward to testing out all the Fair-Trade coffee that we picked up at city roast cafe.  I am also looking forward to staying up in the wee hours of the night.  If my posts become loopy- sorry.  I will try to stay awake while playing Far Cry
So far I don't hear any fireworks...
Maybe our houseguest will luck out tonight.
I guess South Euclid doesn't have the dough-ray-me to provide its citzens with a grand display.  Which is fine with the doggie.
It took a several weeks for her to get over 4th of July... She didn't even want to go for a walk at night.. Weird...

Tribe down 2 to 3..

Where's the Ladygoat?

It is almost (now is) 9:00 and still no Ladygoat. 
She told me that the city will have a firework display tonight, and what that's means for me- is our houseguest is going to have a ruff night (ladygoat will find this  sentence funny).  You see our houseguest is my brother's dog- and she HATES fireworks...  Any loud noise and she "shakes like a polaroid picuture... heey now..."  and I wonder why that is.  My other family dogs never had a problem with lighting or fireworks, so it got me thinking why she hates it.  The other dogs were all Siberian huskeys - while our houseguest is a mear hunting dog.  I believe that huskeys just don't let nature bother them - it is in their genes to be outside and a little rough weather doesn't faze them at all.  A huskey that freak out during a storm wouldn't be a good sled dog.  While our houseguest, her genes are for hunting and her family line has been living in the creature comforts of man for a long time.  So humans have made her weak...
The fireworks are going to start soon...
and let the shaking begin.  She doesn't know whats coming... :)  look at her just sleeping

it is very undoglike if you ask me.

Tribe still down by 1... KC2 CLE 1

Shift almost over

I am going to lay off the coffee for now.  My heart rate is a little to quick right now, and I need to take a nap before my graveyard shift begins.  I will be posting from midnight to 5:00AM.  I offered to post then because I am better suited for late night hours.  My second career has many late night activities..
Alright- Tribe has runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs!!!!
let's see what happens...
dang it!!! runner threw out at homeplate.... 2 outs and no runs...
baseball sure doesn't have any fair-trade like the NFL does.
3 outs no runs.
the damn yankeeys can spend $180 million while my beloved tribe only can spend $30 million.
Is that fair--?

Coffee time

The first Fair-Trade coffee I will try -
Costa Rican

When making coffee- I find the FrenchPress to be the best method around.  It presevers the favors, paper filters just take out some of the coffee oils (which are tasty).  A percolator is another method that I enjoy.  Again anything that doesn't have paper as a filter is Great!!!

Back to the coffee..   WOW strong Bold - definitily not the crap I get at work!!!
If people knew how good this cup was - everyone would buy fair trade!!
I am on my second cup now- Verdict: wonderful - this is a Great cup of coffee...
Costa Rica sure gets a lot of rain - and while that causes a great deal of mudslides- it sure makes an ideal conditions for a great cup of coffee.  So support the local people of Costa Rica, for they sure know how to grow great coffee beans.

Speaking of cup - I like to drink my coffee out of my SDF-1 mug my buddy got me way back when.
Ahhhh --- "to be in love.... is the sweetest feeling a girl can feel....."

Also in case you haven't notice- I didn't graduate college with an english major like ladygoat... sorry for all the errors....  cigar buzz gone....  caffiene has taken over.
Tribe still down 1 to zip..

Minimum Wage

Ladygoat ask me to post this for her:

Fair Trade seems to me to be somewhat equivalent to a minimum wage.

I used to work as a resident assistant in the college dorm, for which I received free room and board, but if you worked out the number of hours we worked, it came out to less than minimum wage, which only fueled our sense of grievance and no-one-appreciates-the-posters-we-make feelings. Of course, we included the hours that we were on duty in case anything happened, and if nothing happened, we really weren't working, so don't feel too sorry for us. Plus we got single rooms.

Anyway, I was getting all huffy because Ohio has the second-lowest minimum wage in the U.S., at $4.25 (Kansas has a pathetic $2.65), only to realize 7 states don't even have a minimum wage.

That stinks.

Remind me to finally read Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America.

Time to make some coffee :)
and Goooo Tribe-
Tribe down one run... :(


Still feeling Great
Man, does that cigar feel good. 
I have also purchased a humidor today- to store my goodies.  A humidor keeps the cigars fresh - by maintaining a constant level of moisture and temp.  Without one, your cigars will dry up and it will no-longer be good eats (smoke). 
Soon I will be testing all the different fair-trade coffees we purchased this morning.  Caffeine is a must for a 24 hour blogging experience :)

Foodgoat Takes over

Hello All
Ladygoat had to step out for the next 3 hours; she is doing some local charity work.  So, you are stuck with me for the time being..  (I will also be posting during the midnight hours).
Not to jump topics: but I would like to talk about other fine things in life besides the goodness of fair trade (esp. coffee).  This past year people have expossed me to the glory of a good Cigar.  Most of the cigars out there are pretty bad - taste bad, smells awful, and leaves a burnt taste in the lungs.  BUT a great cigar is a thing of beauty.  While ladygoat has been posting this afternoon- I have been living large smoking a wonderful Bazilia.  While not a good a the Monte Cristos I like to induge in (Ortsac Best), this cigar is a fine work.  What makes a great cigar: something that taste wonderful and is a pleasure from begining to end.  The Bazilia definitily fits that mold.  I just spent the last 2 hours enjoying its glory while enjoying the conversation with an old friend.  Maybe it is a guy thing.   But smoking (cigars only) makes you feel like a big fat cat.  Also a great cigar makes you feel GREAT - no wonder the Europeans fell in love with these things when they came over here.  It is nothing like those cancer sticks people put in their lungs daily.  If you never had a Great cigar, you are missing out.  It may not be food - but it is good for the soul.....

Filipino Fair Trade

In the Philippines, there's a lot of not-so-well compensated farm labor.

Fortunately, a ray of hope comes out of the Panay Fair Trade Centre in Iloilo, which is a little south, not far, of where my dad is from. The centre produces organic Mascobado sugar (raw cane sugar) on approximately 60 hectares for the European fair trade market.

I don't have a digital picture of Iloilo, but I do have this picture of me in a tricycle at the other end of the island, on Boracay. Considering that 10 minutes riding on a tricycle costs about a quarter, I don't think they're fair trade either.

Questions that need answering

Q. Of the $3.6 trillion in all goods exchanged globally, what percentage is Fair Trade?

A. Just .01%.

Q. Is the market for fair trade products growing?

A. Yes - quite rapidly! According to the 2003 Fair Trade Trends Report published by the Fair Trade Federation and the International Fair Trade Association, the fair trade industry in North America and the Pacific Rim grew over 35% last year. Coffee is actually the fastest growing sector - with sales up over 50%.

from Peace Coffee Crew

It's the afternoon, it's a lovely day, and I'm a little tired of sitting in front of the 'puter. Foodgoat and his friend Igor have gone off in search of cigars, Sienna the dog is sleeping (as usual), and the Elvis movie on TV with the King as an auto racer/pop star is, ahem, a bit silly.

Fair Trade Clothes

Looking online, it looks like Britain and Europe are way ahead of the U.S. in terms of the availability and variety of fair trade products.
Here's a whole catalog of fair trade clothes from People Tree.

Which reminds me, there's a picture of a girl on the new Case website. She's the one in the upper left corner, and I've been wondering for months if she's a graduate or an undergrad or what, because she sort of looks like someone I know. But now the Case cover girl has been busted!

Turns out she's a stock photo.

Would it have been so hard for the University to take a picture of a real student?

Catholic Just Price

Fair Trade isn't exactly a radical new concept, just radical in the context of the whole "free trade fixes all" mentality. In the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church, which ruled all, would set a "just price" for things as well.

The Fathers of the Church implicitly asserted the right of the labourer to sufficient compensation for the maintenance of his life when they declared that God wished the earth to be the common heritage of all men, and when they denounced as robbers the rich who refused to share their surplus goods with the needy.
from the Catholic Encyclopedia

One of the few times that Foodgoat went to Mass with my family and I, we went to a church we don't usually go to, and the Irish priest, a reedy little man with a most annoying voice, sermonized fiercely against the "ser-pent of sen-su-al-ity." Not something Foodgoat, who has more than a little Italian blood in his veins, likes to hear.

The priest at our regular church is balding and earnest and sometimes talks about his period of gambling addiction at college.

Did you know?

From Equiterre

Coffee prices are determined on the New York and London stock exchanges even though coffee is grown exclusively in Southern countries. Speculation often causes large price fluctuations.

More than 5 million peasant farmers and craftspeople benefit from fair trade.

Europeans have access to certified fair trade chocolate, tea, bananas, sugar, orange juice, and honey, as well as various handicrafts.

Fair trade coffee is served in the European, Swiss, Dutch, British, German, and Belgian parliaments and now in the Parliament of British Columbia!

Are you fascinated?

Don't hold these posts against me, blogging for 24 hours just is not conducive for interesting writing.

Taco Hell

Taco Bell used to be my favorite for quick, cheap eats. Never mind the rumors of using Grade D meat (just barely a step above pet food grade). Foodgoat insists they're awful in Ohio, though.

Well, turns out Taco Bell, and specifically its owner, YUM Brands, is being boycotted by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which has been organizing for many years in an effort to modernize labor relations in Florida's fields and improve wages and working conditions. Taco Bell has turned down requests to pay just 1 cent more per pound of tomatoes to improve the conditions of farmworkers in Florida. Taco Bell doesn't directly control the farmworker conditions, but as a major buyer of tomatoes, they could certainly pressure suppliers to adhere to certain standards.

I wonder if anyone eats at Taco Bell in Mexico?

What Does Your Shopping Support?

It's not easy being a responsible, socially-conscious shopper. You not only have to know about the product you're buying, but the company too. Who has time for all this reseach?

Responsible Shopper to the rescue! Just plug in the company, and it gives you a rundown of what it's been criticized for and what it's been praised for. You can then compare it to similar companies and see what it's done, and what its ratings are for social and environmental issues. It's very handy.

Fair Trade rugs

Courtesy of RUGMARK Foundation, you can also get Fair Trade rugs.

It's a global nonprofit organization working to end illegal child labor in the carpet industry and offer educational opportunities to children in India, Nepal, and Pakistan. It does this through loom and factory monitoring, consumer labeling, and running schools for former child workers.

The house we just bought had this fairly new beige carpet in most of the house, but we also knew that hardwood floors lurked just underneath. A few peeks under the carpet showed thick, virtually intact boards. Carpet is nice, but not as nice as hardwood floors, so Foodgoat ripped off the carpet from the dining room. And what does he find? A great big paint spill in the middle, with lots of paint splatters all around the room.


Foodgoat has already spent much time scraping off the paint with plastic putty knife, but the big white smear, which seems to be the result of stupid contracters trying to wipe up a spill, is still there.

Now I see why my parents always like to buy brand-new houses!

Endangered Species Chocolate

Let's say you're not so much a save-the-humans type but more a save-the-animals type. Hey, no reason you can't do both! Endangered Species Chocolate Bars use fair trade cocoa and funds several endangered species recovery programs and ongoing environmental issues.

Notice that there aren't any Mosquito bars or Pigeon bars or Anthrax bars or Smallpox bars. You can, however, buy yourself a nice ulcer bacteria plush toy.

Act now!

It's always hard when you realize the largest companies, the ones with products that you just can't seem to escape, are also Giant Corporations Who Care Only About Profit. Or at least that they have practices that, shall we say, aren't-quite-nice.

M & M's, owned by Mars, Inc, is the largest chocolate and candy company in the world. Alas, they do not buy fair trade chocolate. And that's sad, because the cocoa industry is plagued not only by poverty, but by child labor practices.

So the biggest bang for your fair-trade chocolate buck is to demand that M & M's support fair trade. Boycott M & M's, made with chocolate picked by impoverished African children! And in any case, that cheap milk chocolate tastes awful once you get used to really good dark chocolate.

Economics and fair trade

I've just sort of assumed the the goodness of Fair Trade practices were self-evident. But perhaps paying an equitable price for goods and the organic and sustainable practices to produce seems contrary to good ole American capitalism. Let the Invisible Hand of the almighty Market set the price, just as it does everything else!

Turns out this is has been question for a long time.

The question of the ‘just price’ is as old as Western civilization and of continuing relevance and concern to it.

In ancient Greece, Aristotle considered it;

in medieval Europe, St. Thomas Aquinas and his fellow Scholastics pondered its mysteries;

in the age of conquest, Mercantilist economists re-considered it as New World gold and plunder poured into the coffers of European kings and queens;

at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, Classical economists from Adam Smith to John Stuart Mill struggled to answer it;

Karl Marx re-established its moral imperative in the exploitation of labour;

at the height of the Industrial Revolution (about 1900), Alfred Marshall and the Neo-Classical School seemingly resolved it through interaction of supply and demand in a perfectly competitive marketplace;

in the pre-dawn of the Atomic Age, Keynes shifted the question from individual markets to the economy as a whole; and,

today, in a post-modern ‘knowledge-based economy’ we continue to seek an answer

here, read the rest ....

Okay, never mind, maybe you don't want to read it, it's all economic mumbo-jumbo. Suffice it to say that the question of fair trade is one that some people have Deep Thoughts about.

Fair Hair Trade

Not a lot of beauty and personal care companies do the fair trade thing. Frankly, not a lot of those companies do the socially conscious thing. But apparently Aveda is one of them.

I've never stopped by the Aveda store, fearing equation sparseness and thin women in their white coats = a lot more money than at the clearance aisle at Target. But maybe I might check it out one of these day, since they have 3 projects with indigenous groups to equitably trade for ingredients in their products. One of the products is morikue, which comes from Brazil nuts, and which they buy from a community-based project in Peru.

Morikue is used in their hair conditioners, including Shampure. Suggested retail is $12, which isn't that bad. I mean, for easing my conscience and all.

Celebrity Fair Trade

For those of you stargazers, the kind that cares about Kirsten Dumpst and started reading about the Kabbalah, I give you a celebrity fair trade endorsement: Chris Martin. Who? Chris Martin. You know, the guy from Coldplay ... the band. You KNOW, the guy married to Gwyneth Paltrow. The one who let his kid be named Apple.

Okay, so maybe he's not exactly E! True Hollywoord Story material ... yet. But, the guy has gone and spent a week in Haiti with Oxfam to promote the Make Trade Fair Campaign. Here, check out his diary of the experience. Considering that he could be spending his time in VIP clubs or getting colonic cleanses, I grudgingly give him props.

Best quote: "I felt like a fourth-rate Bono. Later on I felt like a third-rate Bono, and hopefully it'll escalate until I feel like a full-on Bono."

It's only 11:30??

I'm finding it much harder to post every half hour than I thought it would be. After all, my life is not that interesting, as you can tell by the audio posts. That's why this post is about food, and not my daily life. Even people who blog about their lives don't post about it every half hour. This is why Real World has to edit things and pick hysterical people, because a show actually based on real life is mind-blowingly boring. However, I have always thought that Real World should be set, not in some uptown townhouse, but in the ghetto or some housing project. Then I might be interested to see the reactions of Sweet-Faced Girl/Gay Guy/Slut/Black Man/Boy-Next-Door/etc.

So here's a link to another Fair Trade organization: The International Fair Trade Association
It's official: we're addicted to the lemonades at the Juice Garden at the West Side Market. I don't know if the ingredients are fair trade. I should have asked. But it's very good lemonade.
this is an audio post - click to play
this is an audio post - click to play

10 Things you can do

from the Fair Trade Resource Network ...

1. Buy Fair Trade items on line
2. Find a store near you that stocks Fair Trade products
3. Give Fair trade gifts
4. Educate yourself.
5. Exercise your power as a consumer. (my favorite!)
6. Write an article.
7. Submit letters to editors.
8. Consider forming a Fair Trade committee as part of your student activist group or place of worship.
9. Host a Fair Trade consignment sale.
10. Go to Fair Trade websites and learn more!

Okay, admittedly, some of these are kind of lame and some of you will never ever do them. But, y'all are consumers and the power of the dollar goes a long way. So start with buying fair trade coffee.

And that's what we're off to get now: to the West Side Market! To coffee! Tally ho!

No fair trade for fighters

I'm sorry to say, but there were no fair trade items in the package I sent to some 1st Cavalry soldiers the other day. I did include Twizzlers, gum, oatmeal, and litchee jellies. I don't think they made fair trade instant coffee, do they?

Foodgoat made the greater sacrifice, though: his FHM and Sporting News magazines.

Finding Fair Trade

To find fair trade items, I should have looked up retailers : Transfair USA | Better Products. There are several national retailers that offer fair trade. I'm kicking myself for not thinking of going to Trader Joe's before! Somehow I have feeling most of these places just offer coffee, though.

It's a little bizarre being up so early on a Saturday. It's really quiet. In between eating breakfast (bowl of Oats & Honey granola) and typing up my first post o' the day I was watching a movie on TV about Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her freaky-mean father. The man had 9 kids and didn't want any of them to marry or apparently see anyone outside the family. He's a whack job, especially as played by Charles Laughton. These days, you'd probably see the story on City Confidential or some such crime show.

Now I'm reading all the Catwoman reviews, and I'm shocked, shocked, that no one likes it.

And they're off!

Project Blog begins! It's 8 am on a Saturday morning and I'm blogging, and we won't stop for 24 hours. All to benefit TransFair USA.

Yesterday, we went to the Food Co-op to find fair trade stuff. Well, we couldn't find anything, except for coffee, which we're going to get somewhere else today. Maybe we didn't look hard enough, but I didn't see any fair trade-certified chocolate or bananas or anything. Then again, I guess there wouldn't be a fair trade aisle. In any case, finding fair trade is proving a bit of a challenge.

So there won't be as many fair trade product reviews as I had planned. But don't worry, we'll still be having a lot of coffee.

Friday, July 23, 2004

this is an audio post - click to play

How much time do you think we have?

Project Blog is tomorrow! 24 hours of hot blog-on-blog action, free and live on the Internet. I'll be up and early and Foodgoat will up late into the night. Won't you please make a pledge for TransFair USA? It's good karma.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Fond of Fondue

The local newspaper has a crappy website with crappy forums. Really. Happily, I discovered a couple weeks ago that the food & wine forum is the one exception: it's been active and hoppin' for years, full of great posts and lively discussions. What better place to get the lowdown on local restaurant and food issues?

So last night I went to one of their occassional group dinners, so I could also check out the Melting Pot, the new fondue restaurant.

Fondue also seemed to me to be the epitome of good dining: you dip bread and other tasty morsels into melted cheese. It's just a fancified dip, right?

Oh, it can get really fancy.

There were about 7 people there, and with 3 hot burners at the table going, we started with a course of three different cheese fondues: one with cheddar cheese with jalapeƱo peppers and salsa, one traditional Swiss with Gruyere and Emmenthaler Swiss cheeses, and finally a smoked salmon and vodka fondue. We had piles of bread, chips, vegetables and apples for the dipping.

This was followed by a yummy salad with walnuts, bleu cheese, and a raspberry black walnut vinaigrette.

For the entree, I had a plate of raw meat: shrimp, chicken, salmon, pork loin, teriyaki sirloin, filet migon, and chicken and vegetable potstickers, all of which you would cook at the table by dipping into either coq au vin or a Caribbean seasoned bouillon.

And the grand finale! The dessert course: a plate of cheesecake, brownies, pound cake, and fresh fruit for dipping into 3 different flavors of melted chocolate. My personal fave was the Mint Chocolate Chip Fondue over the cheesecake. To ... die ... for.

And to top it all off, the excellent wait staff gave us each a goodie bag with a bar of their chocolate and a jar of their garlic and wine seasoning (I guess they're hoping we'll spread the word!). But of course the best part was the company: everyone was a lot of fun and I definitely want to go to another of their gatherings.

Double Duty Double Sink

Since I've lived in Cleveland, I haven't had a dishwasher, and it's starting to drive me nuts. Rinsing, soaping, rinsing, drying every little utinsil! It's the height of inefficiency. So get a dishwasher, you say! And to that I say, where in the puny 1925 kitchen would it go? To which Apartment Therapy says, get thee a Kitchenaid Briva In-Sink Dishwasher. It's a sink! It's a dishwasher! It's a cutting board!


It's $1800!

Yet another dream, punctured by the rude prick of reality.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Good IDEAs

Sure, everyone's talking about the circular printer, but this year's Industrial Design Excellence Award (IDEA) winners also included some nifty kitchen stuff. Here's my rundown:

A microwave with a curved door to accommodate bigger pizzas. I don't think I've ever had the problem of not being able to fit the entire pizza in the microwave ... then again, I'm not sure if I've ever microwaved an entire pizza. Oh well. Maybe there are some college dorm kids out there rejoicing.

These baking dishes have a spout in the corner for pouring juices out. Spouts are good: no more trying to scoop out the last of the gravy with a spoon! Yay. The lids also double as hot plates. Double yay.

It's a neoprene bag so keeping not one, but two wine bottles cool and contained. It just screams DINK/yuppie, doesn't it? Take this out in certain places and you're just asking for some biker to beat you on the head with it.

Need another sink in your kitchen? Consider a long, narrow, and probably not very functional trough sink. Good for washing really long wooden spoons.

The future of Tupperware is right purty, isn't it? I'm a little disturbed by this in the description though: "Lids grow if overstuffed". They should have put little eyes on the lids.

Okay, so it's a salad bowl with tossing spoon and fork that fits together. Doesn't exactly rock my world, but I guess it's nice.

My rack is too small and always awkwardly filled. My dish rack that is. Maybe what I need is this fancy-pants dish rack that includes a why didn't I think of this before knife block.

The non-kitchen-related notables that I just can't pass up the opportunity to mention are dissolvable underwear packaging and the artist brush-cleaner.

Monday, July 19, 2004

The power of coffee compels you! The power of coffee compels you!

Less than a week to go until the big Project-Blog marathon for fair trade, and you know what? Not a single sponsor for Foodgoat. That's cold, man. Real cold.

Please, please, please sponsor us for the marathon! We'll blog for 24 hours, all for the love of fair and just food. If you don't want to make your pledge on the Project Blog site, email me with your pledge or leave in the comments and I'll include in my self-pledge.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Is My Blog Burning?: Grilled Shellfish

Foodgoat took the opportunity of IMBB? 7 to snatch up some particularly tasty-looking shellfish at the market.  How can anyone turn down extra-jumbo gulf shrimp? 
While brining the shrimp in salt for about 30 minutes, he mixed up a marinade.  In a bowl, mix olive oil, lemon juice, bunch o' cayenne, salt, pepper, whole heckalotta crushed garlic, and roasted pepper cream sauce.

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And of course, don't forget to devein the shrimp!  Big, black blood vessel does not make good eats.

Sit the shrimp in the marinade for a while.

Use skewers to link two shrimp togethers (you don't want them to fall through the grill!)

Start up the grill!  Foodgoat is a proponent of the chimney starter.  No lighting fluid needed!

We didn't just have shrimp though.  We also picked up a soft-shell crab and two crab cakes.   We didn't actually make the crab cakes but they were still good. The soft-shell crab was an experiment, and Foodgoat will confess he was hesitant: there aren't a lot of animals he's eaten in its literal entirety.  Fortunately, the fishmonger took out the crab's face. 

We put the soft-shell crab and the crab cakes on a hot cast iron skillet along with a lot of butter and garlic on the grill.  Okay, so I don't know if it counts as grilling, but it sure looks good, doesn't it?

The shrimp was placed right on the grill, with the rest of the marinade poured on top, along with some corn on the cob for good measure.

Flip everything once, and in no time you have a filling meal.  The shrimp was big and meaty and full of wonderful spices; the crabcakes soft and tasty; the corn was juicy, but the big surprise was the soft-shell crab.  It was strange biting right through the shell, but it was juicy and quite tasty (and it starts to look pretty good once it starts to cook).  Next time we'll get more than one!