Q&A: Oran Hesterman/Fair Food; Leila Conners/Urban Roots

Written on November 16th, 2011

 

 

Aired 11/13/11

Some bad news:

In 2008 more than 50% of all US harvested cropland grew only two crops – corn and soybeans and more than 40% of the food calories consumed worldwide came from just three crops: wheat, corn and rice.

30% of Detroit residents receive food stamps, but 92% of Detroit’s food stamp retailers offer few or no fresh fruit or vegetables.

The average plate of food eaten in our homes or restaurants travels 1,500 miles from where the food is grown. Our food system consumes 10.3 calories of fossil fuel energy to produce 1.4 calories of food energy.”

And some good news:

There are now 8000 farm to school programs across the US. Eight years ago there were only 4. There are now 6000 farmers’ markets in the US three times as many as in 1995. 330 hospitals in the US and Canada have pledged to purchase food that is grown according to Fair Food principles.

In recent years a number of books and films have documented the dangers of our current food system, and a number of those have been featured on Free forum. Just as you can’t alter the course of climate change by simply switching to efficient light bulbs, today’s guests believe that you can’t fix the broken food system by simply growing a backyard garden. It requires redesigning our food system.

My first guest, ORAN HESTERMAN has a new book FAIR FOOD, a guide to changing not only what we eat, but how our food is grown, packaged, delivered, marketed and sold. Hesterman opens the book talking about Detroit, Michigan, an unlikely beacon of hope in the fight for fair food.

Prior to starting the Fair Food Network, where he is President & CEO, ORAN HESTERMAN was the inaugural president of Fair Food Foundation, leading their sustainable food systems programs. Before that, he researched and taught in the crop and soil sciences department at Michigan State University in East Lansing, and for more than 15 years he co-led the Integrated Farming Systems and Food and Society Programs for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, during which time the Foundation seeded the local food systems movement with over $200 million. FAIR FOOD is his first book.

My second guest LEILA CONNERS, a founder of Tree Media in Santa Monica, is a producer of URBAN ROOTS, a documentary on the food revolution taking place in Detroit. Directed by Detroit-native Mark McInnis the film tells the powerful story of a group of dedicated Detroiters working tirelessly to fulfill their vision for locally-grown, sustainably farmed food in a city where people — as in much of the county — have found themselves cut off from real food and limited to lifeless offerings of fast food chains, mini-marts, and grocery stores stocked with processed food from thousands of miles away.

LEILA CONNERS is Founder and President of Tree Media Group. Conners is director, producer, and writer on THE 11TH HOUR, as well as the short films “Global Warning” and “Water Planet” (all with Leonardo DiCaprio). She was Associate Editor at New Perspectives Quarterly and Global Viewpoint, focusing on international politics and social issues. She is producer of URBAN ROOTS.

fairfoodbook.org, fairfoodnetwork.org, urbanrootsamerica.com, treemedia.com

Q&A: Bioneers-Ken Ausubel, David Orr

Written on November 4th, 2011

 

 

Aired 10/02/11

This radio show aims for “pieces of the puzzle of a world that just might work.” Many of those pieces arise out of a vision that reality is not dead, mechanical, or separate, but rather alive, evolving, and composed of interdependent systems. I believe this worldview has been shared by indigenous peoples for millennia, revealed by science since early in the 20th century, and obvious every time we walk outside or look into the eyes of another living creature.

It is this world view that inspires the annual Bioneers conferences that take place each fall in the San Francisco Bay area and now stream via satellite to sites across the country. The conference is a gathering of scientific and social innovators who draw from four billion years of evolutionary intelligence and apply nature’s operating instructions to develop and implement visionary and practical models for restoring the Earth, and its communities and people.

In addition to founding and co-directing Bioneers (Collective Heritage Institute), KENNY AUSUBEL, is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, and social entrepreneur specializing in health and the environment. He co-founded Seeds of Change, a biodiversity organic seed company. He authored the books, Seeds of Change; Restoring the Earth: Visionary Solutions from the Bioneers. Recently he edited the first two titles in the Bioneers book series with J.P Harpignies, Ecologocal Medicine, and Nature’s Operating Instructions. He founded Inner Tan Productions to produce visionary feature films.

DAVID ORR is the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics and Special Assistant to the President of Oberlin College and a James Marsh Professor at the University of Vermont. He is perhaps best known for his pioneering work on environmental literacy in higher education and his recent work in ecological design. He raised funds for and spearheaded the effort to design and build a $7.2 million Environmental Studies Center at Oberlin College, a building described by the New York Times as “the most remarkable” of a new generation of college buildings and selected as one of 30 “milestone buildings” in the 20th century by the U.S. Department of Energy. Orr is the author of six books including THE LAST REFUGE: The Corruption of Patriotism in the Age of Terror; THE NATURE OF DESIGN; EARTH IN MIND; ECOLOGICAL LITERACY; and co-editor of The Global Predicament and The Campus and Environmental Responsibility.

http://www.bioneers.org/
http://davidorr.com/

Q&A: Occupy Wall Street/Occupy LA

Written on November 4th, 2011

 

 

Aired 10/09/11

Politics and the media have for the most part shown themselves impotent, indifferent, or in cahoots when it comes to confronting and rolling back the takeover of the United States by the super-rich and the super-corporations.

Since the days of Clinton, we’ve been reminding ourselves of the words of FDR to progressives pressing for the New Deal — “Make me do it.” Envying the attention and power granted the tea party. Millions march all over Europe in response to austerity measures that make the people pay for the failures of the financial class. Millions march in the Arab Awakening when hunger, poverty, corruption, and autocracy prove too much to bear and social media connects and informs the people like never before. When will Americans take to the streets?

September 17th, a small group of demonstrators camped out in a downtown New York park and Occupy Wall Street was born. Occupy Los Angeles emerged a week ago, October 1st. Both are alive and well. As of Saturday the Occupy movement has spread to 1,016 cities in the US and abroad. There has been carping in the mainstream media about the movement’s lack of focus, lack of clear message, lack of specific platform or demands. The closest thing to a brand for the movement so far is the claim that, “We are the 99%”. I think this is a wonderful opening. It’s based on cold hard facts. It is inclusive. Even a tea partier knows they are part of the 99%. Inequality is problem #1 in this country. from which all else follows, including a corrupted political system that is not able to meet the challenges we face.

I don’t think anyone knows where this goes…At some level a lot of us have grown so resigned to the dominance of money in our society that I’m not sure too many have a plan how to get from here to where we need to get.

I think we each also have to invent the role we are going to play as this story unfolds.

I’ll be joined by representatives for both Occupy Wall Street — NELINI STAMP (Working Families Party) and MELANIE BUTLER (Code Pink) — and Occupy Los Angeles — LISA CLAPIER (media, Occupy LA) and SHARIF ABDULLAH (Commonway.org). I plan to ask them to tell their individual stories, report what’s happening around them and what they think it means.

http://www.adbusters.org/campaigns/occupywallstreet

Q&A: Robin Wright-Rock the Casbah-Arab Awakening

Written on November 2nd, 2011

 

 

 

 

Aired 09/18/11

ROBIN WRIGHT said of her last book ROBIN WRIGHT, “My goal was to probe deep inside societies of the Middle East for the emerging ideas and players that are changing the political environment in ways that will unfold for decades to come.” Just three years later, ROCK THE CASBAH tells the stunning personal stories behind the rejection of both autocrats and extremists in the Muslim world.

She describes the new phase of the Islamic activism as a counter-jihad. For some, it’s about reforming the faith. For others, it’s overhauling political systems. For all, it is about basic rights-on their own terms and not necessarily based on Western models. Muslims are now confronting extremism and rescuing their faith from a virulent minority, thereby taking charge of history and doing what the West cannot.

ROBIN WRIGHT has reported from more than 140 countries on 6 continents for numerous news organizations, including several years with the LA Times. She has been a fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, Brookings Institution, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Yale, Duke, Stanford and others, and is the author of five books. Her latest is ROCK THE CASBAH: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World.

http://www.robinwright.net/

Q&A: MICHAEL LEWIS, MONEYBALL

Written on December 19th, 2010

 

 

Aired 10/16/11

Both Ira Glass and Malcolm Gladwell say today’s guest is their favorite storyteller. In his books and magazine articles, Lewis writes about sports, business, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, political campaigns, fatherhood. Stuff that matters to a lot of people. He’s smart and he has a sense of humor.

Lewis was a trader at Salomon Brothers before he wrote his first best-seller, LIAR’S POKER about the excesses of Wall Street during the 1980s. He continues to write about that world with his last two books, a column for Bloomberg, and articles in Vanity Fair.

His newest book BOOMERANG: Travels in the New Third World is made up of articles originally published in Vanity Fair and picks up where 2010’s THE BIG SHORT left off. What happens after the meltdown of 07-08? Governments are the focus of this book. Mostly because they have taken on the bad debts of the too big to fail banks, so now they are themselves at risk. Now politics and culture become much more important as to how they will deal with that risk. Then there’s the story of California which as a state ran up unsustainable debts during a series of bubbles and can’t raise the taxes to pay for them.

We’ll also talk about the twisted path taken to get MONEYBALL into theatres. The film based on his 2003 book is now a popular and critical success.

MICHAEL LEWIS received a BA in art history from Princeton University and a Masters in economics from the London School of Economics. He contributes to bloomberg.com and Vanity Fair. His other books include The Blind Side, Panic, The New New Thing, and Home Game.