While Barbara was in Eugene this week for the Food Justice Conference (check out last week's Locus Focus to learn more about this event), we repeated a Locus Focus episode from November 2009 that features, Joel Salatin, farmer, food choice advocate and dream-doer, who runs Polyface Farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Joel, Barbara and Willamette Valley farmer Clare Carver (of Big Table Farm in Gaston) discuss the sustainable agricultural methods Joel and Clare practice, based on polyculture and the interweaving roles of farm animals and crops.
Oregon is blessed with many small family farms that have somehow managed to survive in a hostile environment dominated by behemoth industrial farming operations. Friends of Family Farmers, a statewide organization working to promote and protect socially responsible agriculture in Oregon, has spent the last couple years meeting with farmers around the state to hone legislation that will create a level playing field for small family farmers trying to compete in the corporate-dominated market place. The result of this two-year process is the Agricultural Reclamation Act, that Friends of Family Farmers is working to get passed during the current Oregon Legislative session.
Until World War II, Odessa was one of Europe's great multicultural cities, a place of optimism and light. For nearly a century its colorful street life inspired poets and writers like Alexander Pushkin, Mark Twain and Isaac Babel. It was also a major center of Jewish culture, and by 1941 Odessa had 200,000 Jews living within its bounds—over a third of its population. But by the end of the war there were only 48 Jews left. Many had perished in a gruesome—but still largely unknown—episode of the Holocaust.
While we worry about melting nuclear reactor cores and fuel rods in Japan, another environmental crisis is brewing closer to home. On this episode of Locus Focus we find out why the Alberta Tar Sands endanger the world and how its industrialized tentacles are trying to creep across the United States.
The local food movement has become a palatable force. In Portland alone there are now 40 farmers markets. Raising backyard chickens has become fashionable and growing numbers of people are planting vegetable gardens or joining CSAs. But what about all the people who feel they can’t afford to buy local organic food or lack the time or space to plant a garden? How can the local food movement become a movement for food justice, and work to ensure that everyone has the right to eat healthy, local food?
Oregon is touted as one of the epicenters for the local food movement. As if to reinforce its credentials, there have been food related conferences up and down the Willamette Valley since the year began. Coming up on April 16 is one more conference, this time at the University of Portland in North Portland and it's called Food for Thought. The big name at the conference is food writer Michael Pollan who will be speaking in the evening. But throughout the day there will be several panels, featuring an assortment of interesting folks. This episode of Locus Focus features one of the speakers at a panel on sustainable and local food.
Climate change not only threatens the earth's ecosystems—it is damaging the health of people around the world. While early warning signals of ecological havoc brought on by climate change are being detected in arctic regions, its serious health impacts are most notable in the tropics. But as the planet continues to warm, we're beginning to see tropical diseases and the pests that spread disease moving into temperate regions around the globe. On this episode of Locus Focus we talk with science writer Dan Ferber, co-author of a new book, Changing Planet, Changing Health.Dan's book takes us to places like Mozambique, Honduras, and the United States for an on-the-ground investigation of how climate change is altering patterns of disease.
Day-to-day coverage of the ongoing nuclear disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power complex has slipped from the headlines. But the severity of the nuclear crisis in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan continues to unfold. Right after the earthquake, nuclear expert Arjun Makhijani was on Locus Focus discussing the short term and long range impacts from the damage to the Japanese nuclear facilities. He focused in particular on the danger of spent fuel rod pools overheating, something no one was talking about at the time. Shortly afterwards, the coolant in several of the Fukushima spent fuel rod pools evaporated resulting in fires and radioactive releases.
In October 2009 the Portland city council adopted a climate action plan, setting in place the city’s ambitious sustainability roadmap to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. A year and a half later the city is putting the action plan to work with its Portland Climate Action Now!campaign. As daunting a challenge as climate change presents, the city is helping its residents understand how individual choices we make everyday can have a huge impact on our collective carbon emissions.