Go Go Green!
Slow Food, Big Event, Exploited Workers
Nearly 100,000 people gathered in San Francisco at summer’s end for the first big stateside rally of the international organization Slow Food. The group, which is based in Italy, champions locally farmed food, traditional cooking methods, and organic wholesomeness. The event was, essentially, a world’s fair for the taste buds, with pavilions dedicated to small-batch spirits, cheeses, beer, heirloom produce, honey, and pickles, to name just a handful. But not everybody had a great time: Some volunteers later reported being treated like the hired help—minus the paycheck.
As the world food system seemed to collapse around us this year, there was a glimmer of hope for the bees. Since 2006 honeybees have been disappearing at an alarming rate, pushing people into mass hysterics and bad headline-punning (“How to Bee Helpful,” “Silence of the Bees,” and various other references to the sting of defeat and minding one’s beeswax). No bees means no pollination, no pollination means no pollinated crops, and no pollinated crops means no food. A group of scientists from Beeologics believes that Israeli acute paralysis virus is the primary cause of Colony Collapse Disorder. The Israeli-U.S. team is testing an antiviral agent on a population of 100,000 hives. Bee optimistic.
The Year of Eating Flexibly
The term flexitarianism wasn’t invented in 2008, but it made a decent run at becoming Buzzword of the Year, with prominent mentions in Newsweek, USA Today, and U.S. News & World Report, among others. It means someone who is vegetarian most of the time, and is supposed to both help you be healthier and give the environment a break, because by now most of us know that the raising of livestock uses up a lot of resources and can cause pollution. But the very flexibility of the diet that makes it so appealing also makes it largely ineffective in achieving its vague ends. When there are no hard and fast rules, it’s easy to fudge.