Category Archives: rant


I usually steer clear of politics. I hate our two-party system and wish we could have other choices. But I have been listening to the debates, and I admit that I cheered a couple times during Barack’s come-backs to Romney (“we don’t have as many horses and bayonets either.”) But there is one issue on the California ballot that could actually change things: Prop 37. It basically requires food to be labeled if it is genetically modified. I worked in genetics labs for years when I was studying Biology at the University of Washington. Among other things, I sequenced DNA. We were fumbling around in the dark. We didn’t know then (or now) exactly how DNA worked. There’s an elaborate signaling system (I was studying protein kinase receptors) that is still being worked out.

So when I hear that scientists are genetically modifying food, I think I know what that looks like. Lots of growing vector bacteria, lots of scattershot insertion of DNA into that vector, and then the insertion of the replicated DNA into the organism. Grow the genetically modified plant out and see what happened. It is science, but that doesn’t mean it’s exact. I’m all for science–I love that I don’t have polio or that, during flu season, I can get a flu vaccination. But science needs to be tested to be sure it’s safe. The GMO plants don’t seem like they have been put through vigorous enough trials to prove that it’s absolutely safe for human consumption. That’s why I’m voting yes for 37! (If you don’t live in Cali, if it passes here, it might show up in other progressive states soon).

Also, tonight (October 23) I’ll be doing a reading/talk with Rebecca Solnit at USF Cowell Hall, Room 106. 7:30. I’m bringing figs and limes–GMO free, naturally.

No Impact Woman

I have to weigh in on this No Impact Man article and the resultant blogger–both positive (see how blogs get us book deals?) and negative (this guy wipes his bum with a chamois!)–feeding frenzy. The deal is, this man, NIM, probably read the New Yorker article, Green Manhattan by David Owen 10.18.04, and was seized with a Book Idea. For one year he would live as lightly on planet earth as possible. This involves Sacrifice–trudging to the farmers market, riding a bike, making his own vinegar, composting…hey wait a minute, that sounds like my life! Except my urban farm isn’t some gonzo experiment to be completed in one year, after which I can start on my next project (The People’s History of Lint). Your Twelve Labors of Herucles, NIM, is the life I chose many years ago.
And let me tell you: this actually is a lot of fun.
Making connections–real connections–with the food you eat is intellectually stimulating and spiritually soothing. Figuring ways around the stupid consumer lifestyle is empowering, not drudgery. Looking for ways to divert waste out of the main channels (graywater, humanure) is actually a fun, community-building endeavor, not some spectacle to be chewed on and then spit out. And it doesn’t end after the documentary filmmaker’s cameras stop rolling or the last remaindered book travels to the pulp yard. To be sustainable doesn’t–and can’t by definition–last for only one year.
So, NIM, welcome–glad you arrived.
PS: Ride the subway, the NYC subway is the transportation model for the rest of the country. Believe me, here in California, we would die to have that kind of mass transit.