Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time

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Health vs. Pork: The Farm Bill

The Farm Bill, a massive piece of federal legislation making its way through Congress, governs what children are fed in schools and what food assistance programs can distribute to recipients. The bill provides billions of dollars in subsidies, much of which goes to huge agribusinesses producing feed crops, such as corn and soy, which are then fed to animals. By funding these crops, the government supports the production of meat and dairy products—the same products that contribute to our growing rates of obesity and chronic disease. Fruit and vegetable farmers, on the other hand, receive less than 1 percent of government subsidies.

The government also purchases surplus foods like cheese, milk, pork, and beef for distribution to food assistance programs—including school lunches. The government is not required to purchase nutritious foods.

This article was written in 2007, but nothing has changed yet.  Lots more, including diagrams showing how subsidies are spent…

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The Other War We’re Not Winning

If you hadn’t heard that more than 10 percent of American households are in danger of running out of food, you’re not the only one. We don’t talk much about poverty anymore, in part because it’s a story that rarely makes headlines. “The issue is under-covered mainly because right now, the government is not actively engaged in programs trying to address the problem,” says David K. Shipler, author of The Working Poor: Invisible in America. Without War on Poverty programs to check in on, minimum-wage legislation to track, or new research findings to parse, reporters don’t have “hooks” on which to hang their stories. Consequently, there is a paucity of coverage outside of rare enterprise stories and ubiquitous holiday-themed tales about food shelves and shelters.

The result is that many people have an incomplete picture of poverty and what Shipler calls its “constellation of problems,” which magnify and reinforce one another. …

The Other War We’re Not Winning

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Japanese Whalers Set Sail Again — The Slaughter Continues

The Fisheries Agency, a small government bureaucracy with control of whaling policy, sees itself as Japan’s defender against Western “culinary imperialism” and its right to marine resources. The agency says Japan’s low food self-sufficiency – less than 40 per cent – gives it the right to hunt all sustainable sea life, including whales.

What’s the matter with these people?  They’re supposed to be civilized!

A political brawl for meat they don’t even want to eat – Independent Online Edition > Asia

2 Comments — Fun and Fulfilling

FreeRice has a custom database containing thousands of words at varying degrees of difficulty. There are words appropriate for people just learning English and words that will challenge the most scholarly professors. In between are thousands of words for students, business people, homemakers, doctors, truck drivers, retired people… everyone!

FreeRice automatically adjusts to your level of vocabulary. It starts by giving you words at different levels of difficulty and then, based on how you do, assigns you an approximate starting level. You then determine a more exact level for yourself as you play. When you get a word wrong, you go to an easier level. When you get three words in a row right, you go to a harder level. This one-to-three ratio is best for keeping you at the “outer fringe” of your vocabulary, where learning can take place.

There are 50 levels in all, but it is rare for people to get above level 48.

  • Click on the answer that best defines the word.
  • If you get it right, you get a harder word. If wrong, you get an easier word.
  • For each word you get right, we donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.

Ten grains of rice may seem pretty cheesy, but FreeRice began on October 7th, 2007 and as of 14 November they had donated 1,897,053,670 grains.

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How an Iowa man grows a 1,600-pound pumpkin

“It’s extreme gardening,” Young says, strolling through the remnants of his pumpkin plot. He stops at a smooth spot in the dirt the size of a minke whale. It’s where Young grew the second-largest pumpkin the world has ever seen.

The “big guy,” he calls it, weighed in at 1,662 pounds. In the last decade, big-pumpkin growing has gone from a farmer’s hobby to a regulated, worldwide competition. The boom in gourds has been fueled mainly by the Internet, which makes seeds and growing advice widely available. This year, nine pumpkins outweighed last year’s world record holder. Young’s missed being crowned king gourd by only 27 pounds…

Click here to read this article.

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Think Outside The Bottle — Take The Pledge

Bottled water corporations are changing the very way people think about water. Though many bottled water brands come from the same source as public tap water, they are marketed as somehow more pure. What’s more – bottled water corporations sell water back to the public at thousands of times the cost. Plastic bottles also require massive amounts of fossil fuels to manufacture and transport. Billions of these bottles wind up in landfills every year.

You can help reverse this trend. At events and over online networks tens of thousands are supporting the efforts of local officials to reduce the social impact and environmental harm of bottled water by prioritizing public water systems. Taking the Think Outside the Bottle Pledge is quick, easy, and sends the message that water is a human right, not a commodity.    Take the pledge!

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How is Atlanta like Tibet?

After a 1995 visit, the Dalai Lama and actor Richard Gere, America’s celebrity Buddhist, stopped in [at Mary Mac’s Tea Room, in Atlanta, for soul food].

Mims recognized Gere. The Dalai Lama? Nope.

His crimson and saffron robes confused her when she saw him getting out of the car.

“I thought he was a lady Dalai Lama at first. Because somebody said the name Dolly, you know?”

“I didn’t know he was a big-time church man,” Mims said.

Gere and the bespectacled Dalai Lama strolled in, ate corn bread, vegetables, rolls and cheese grits.

“He loved it,” Mims remembered. “He blessed us and everything.”

Good thing, too. Because that same day, a Mary Mac’s employee wrecked his motorcycle. “He didn’t have a scratch on him,” said the suitably impressed Mims.

How is Atlanta like Tibet? |

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Floods, Death, Destruction in Africa IGNORED by US Media

Floods hit large parts of Africa (BBC)

Severe flooding across Africa has wrecked hundreds of thousands of homes and left many people vulnerable to water-borne diseases, officials say.

Scores of people have died and much of the continent’s most fertile farmland has been washed away in what is being described as a humanitarian disaster.

 The BBC has it front page.  Al-Jazeera has it front page.  I checked the major US media sites, and NOT ONE is headlining it or even mentioning it on the front page.  We should have aircraft in the air and ships on the way, but THAT might involve money that can’t be funneled to Bush’s friends.

You can be proud to be an Amerricun all you want — I’m ashamed.

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Le Cordon Bleu? Sacre bleu!

…unbeknownst even to many French, the idealized Paris kitchen is changing. Paris food remains superb. But except for two- and three-star places, many of the 5,000 Paris restaurants that serve traditional cuisine rely increasingly on high quality preparation done off site. The famed stereotype of mustachioed white-hat chefs laboring over hot stoves is fading, due to sheer cost.

Paris restaurants turn to food made off site to cut costs |