in the news -- plastic still bad; pastured poultry taking off

two recent articles in Salon.com track the dangers of plastics:

  • "Two words: Bad plastic
    Scientists now fear a chemical used in baby bottles and CDs, food cans and dental sealants, can disrupt fetal development and even lead to obesity.
    " -- Salon covers the ongoing controversy over the use and dangers of bisphenol A, an endocrine disruptor found in polycarbonate plastics that just may be more dangerous at low levels of exposure, especially for developing fetuses. yet another reason to avoid plastic water bottles and other light, clear plastics (unfortunately, bisphenol A is also used in the plastic linings of canned goods).

  • "Plastic bags are killing us
    The most ubiquitous consumer item on Earth, the lowly plastic bag is an environmental scourge like none other, sapping the life out of our oceans and thwarting our attempts to recycle it.
    " -- Salon reminds us that plastic bags just create permanent litter that won't biodegrade, and that tends to blow away into lakes and oceans, only to break down into smaller pieces of plastic that can re-enter the ecosystem when eaten by marine animals. very few plastic bags get recycled, and those that do aren't remade into more plastic bags, but into further products which can't be reclyced. the best solution is to bring your own bag when shopping (canvas bags are great for groceries, but i also have a small nylon bag that can be stuffed into an integral pouch and fits perfectly into my purse), and when you do take plastic, save the bags and return them to the store (most supermarkets will take plastic bags and recycle them, whereas most curbside recycling will not).

    of course, better consumer behavior alone can't change the habits of clerks that put your items into plastic bags by default -- i'd like more stores to provide bags only on request, since half the time, the cashier has already bagged my purchases by the time i remember that i really don't want yet another plastic bag. as usual, it would be nice if the bag-production industry would take more responsibility for the lifetime of their products, instead of relying on consumer concern alone to solve environmental crises.

  • in more upbeat news, the SF Chronicle reported last week about the growing demand for pastured chicken, as met by Soul Food Farm in Northern California:

  • "Raising poultry the new-old way" -- it's nice to read about chicken farmers using Joel Salatin's method of rotational grazing to maintain both land and animal health (a project Michael Pollan discusses at length in The Omnivore's Dilemma). the Chronicle appears to have started a regular series called "Food conscious" that looks promising overall.
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