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Weeds – They’re What’s for Dinner – April 8, 2015

Urban foraging could help boost nutrition in food deserts, researchers say

A few summers back I was in the middle of coordinating the weekly community harvest at San Francisco’s Alemany Farm when a few of our regular “customers” showed up to cut and collect some of the bounty. A lot of the farm’s neighbors are recent immigrants, and the other farm managers and I try our best to create a crop plan that the nearby residents will appreciate. The Latino families seem to especially enjoy our rows of squash and tomatoes (whether green or red). The Chinese families usually go for the broccoli, various chois, and snap peas. Everyone likes the green beans. On that particular afternoon, I noticed that… more

by: Jason Mark

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Free Trade versus Good Food – March 31, 2015

How the World Trade Organization struck down Country of Origin Labeling for meat

Eager to chalk up some second-term accomplishments, the Obama administration is busy with the final negotiating stages of a sweeping free trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Although many of the details of the agreement remain secret, a lot of progressives and environmental groups are worried about the broad outlines of the deal. If you care about creating a more sustainable food system, you should be worried, too. Let me explain.

Supermarket oysters labeled by country of originPhoto by Bob Nichols/USDAThe United States is currently in a trade fight with Canada and Mexico over a US law that requires Country of Origin Labeling on most… more

by: Jason Mark

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Goodbye CA Coastal Fog, Goodbye Redwoods – March 10, 2015

Loss of fog, linked to urban heat islands, imperils coastal ecosystems

In Southern California they call it the “June Gloom” — the gray layer of heavy fog that drapes itself across much of Los Angeles in late spring. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we just call it “summer”: The months-long cycle of overcast mornings and chilly evenings that supposedly* prompted Mark Twain to complain that “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco.” While coastal California’s summer fog has long annoyed residents and tourists alike, the regular rush of cool, wet air helps sustain coastal ecosystems, including the state’s iconic redwoods. Now, thanks to human development, that weather phenomenon is at risk.

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by: Jason Mark

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In Conversation: Dr.  M. Sanjayan, host of EARTH: A New Wild – February 5, 2015

Conservation biologist discusses his new PBS Series, the challenges of co-existing with wild animals, and the schism among conservationists these days.

Last night PBS debuted its newest nature special, EARTH: A New Wild. In the opening episode, the program’s host, M. Sanjayan, promises that this will be a genre-busting kind of environmental documentary. “My mission,” Sanjayan says, “is to tell you an untold story, where we humans are not separate from nature – we are part of it.” And indeed this isn’t just a Planet Earth knock off. Instead of focusing the camera on the planet’s myriad natural wonders, Sanjayan is more interested in exploring a thornier question: How can human civilization and wild nature coexist, especially in this worrisome new era of the Anthropocene? 

Earlier this week I… more

by: Jason Mark

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The Most Important Environmental Stories of 2014 – December 22, 2014

The good, the bad, and the ugly of the year that was

The calendar is about to flip over once again, meaning it’s time for the obligatory roundup of the most important environmental stories of the past year.

This list is mostly subjective — my own personal picks, filtered through my own lens. But I did reach out to a several dozen environmental activists and thinkers to tap into the wisdom of the crowd. I asked folks to give me their suggestions not necessarily for the “biggest” news as measured by headlines or page views or likes, but for the most important stories. That is, happenings likely to have an impact on ecosystems, politics, economy, and culture beyond 2014.

Not surprisingly, climate change… more

by: Jason Mark

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