Friday, February 27, 2009

New Seasons tomatoes and slavery

Yesterday, in a story on farmworker slavery back where I came from, I said I'd ask New Seasons to tell how they avoid supporting slavery in the tomato industry. Their response (minus salutation and similar stuff) is (quoted with consent):

We work hard to build relationships with the growers of our produce. While Florida remains the number one supplier of winter tomatoes, none of our tomatoes come to us from Florida. We buy local whenever we can, and during the cold months our organic tomatoes come to us from Mexico. We are just moving into early spring when California tomatoes will ripen and then Oregon’s tomatoes will arrive in full bounty as they always do.

Our growers are currently working towards Fair-trade certified tomatoes, and we hope to see those fair-trade stickers by next year. I encourage you to talk with one of our staff members about the tomatoes we have available. They will be able to steer you toward our most local options and often times tell you a little about the farms your tomatoes are coming from.

So, their Mexican tomatoes might be slave-picked, as yesterday's article noted. So could their California tomatoes, as what happens in Florida could well happen in California. How about the conditions of Oregon's produce pickers? Tomatoes from B. C.'s greenhouses?

I will ask, on my next trip to New Seasons.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Slaves Pick Your Tomatoes ?

Does New Seasons explicitly support the anti-slavery movement of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers ? How?


That was the very simple letter I just e-mailed to talktous at newseasonsmarket dot com - for, although Whole Foods is on board, along with A&W, Burger King, KFC, Long John Silver’s, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Subway and Taco Bell. It cost them a whole extra cent per pound of tomatoes. One penny per pound extra.


I'll post the answer here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On-Demand Street Lights Save $$ and Carbon Emissions

Here's a BBC video, at which shows an eighty-one second video of how an innovative German town saves on street lighting by allowing local folks to turn on street lighting as needed from their phones. You might consider asking County Service District No. 5 or the County Sustainability Office to talk to PGE about a demo project.

Unlike the German project shown in the video, there's no reason why folks could not use landline or VOIP phones to call in to turn up the lights, no need to require the caller to have a cellphone.

Open Source software to run it like MySQL, Linux and Apache are free, and a server from Freegeek suitable to run them are free for the asking.

Each light pole could mount a custom cellphone device which, when the correct text message is received, turns the light on. I'm sure that PGE could get a very good rate for text-only service (based on what I know cellular companies charge large-volume customers) which, with the amortization of the cellular device and the service cost, would be cheaper than wasting power when not needed; and, in volume, the cellular controller would be much cheaper, too, than one-hundred-and-thirty quid.

Then, there's a little bonus; when these cellular devices go off the air, PGE knows the power has failed. Cellphones check in (they call this 'polling') every 30 seconds with a very short data burst on a control channel. PGE could use this data to more accurately determine power outages, and map them based on every streetlight in an area which is silent.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

All That Glitters Is Not at Cash4Gold

This blogger reports how Cash4Gold would like to recast... err, cover up their practice of offering one-quarter of what gold objects are worth... on the first offer, that is. His story shows how, if you refuse their first offer, they offer a fair and competitive offer... the price you could get by visiting a local pawn shop, only weeks later.