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Ban on Processed Chicken From China Lifted

chickenLate last month the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that the ban on processed poultry imports from China has been lifted. The chickens will still be raised in the U.S., Canada or Chile (the only countries approved by the USDA), but they can be processed in China at one of four Chinese poultry plants that have been approved to export poultry to the U.S.

Processed poultry is currently imported to the U.S. from Chile, France, Canada, Israel, and Mexico. These products, and the ones that will soon come from China, do not have to disclose the country of origin on the packaging.

Some believe the approval for Chinese chicken imports is simply being used to get China to allow U.S. beef imports.“It has been no secret that China has wanted to export chicken to the U.S. in exchange for reopening its market for beef from the U.S. (which has been closed since 2003 due to the diagnosis of a cow in Washington State with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease.) Once again, trade trumps food safety.”Food & Water Watch

NPR shared more scary news for chicken lovers, new procedures for inspecting poultry in the U.S. may also take a turn for the worse. “Basically, these changes would replace many USDA inspectors on chicken processing lines with employees from the poultry companies themselves. The USDA has been piloting the new procedures, which will save money and significantly speed up processing lines, in 29 chicken plants. As The Washington Post reports, the plan is to roll out the new procedures eventually to “most of the country’s 239 chicken and 96 turkey plants.” – NPR


The environmental cost of raising and slaughtering chicken in one country, shipping in overseas to be processed, and then shipped back to be sold, will be quite high. And many experts question if it will really be cost effective.

Even the poultry industry doesn’t appear to be totally sold on the idea. Toby Moore, a spokesman for the U.S.A. Poultry and Egg Export Council said, “I’m cautiously optimistic this is good news for our industry.”Politico

Only time will tell what the full impacts of these changes will mean from Americans. Oklahomans wanting to find safe alternatives are encouraged to check out the Oklahoma Food Cooperative and get to know the producers of your poultry.

Do you think lifting the China processed chicken ban is a good idea? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Photo credit-  Some rights reserved by yoppy

 

Save Money by Going Green this Summer

Want to have some extra cash for a summer vacation? Or a summer project? Here are some great ways to save money this summer, by going green!

These are just a few ways you can save this summer, we would love to hear your ideas as well. Share your ideas in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

 

 

The Difference Between Climate and Weather

With the record cold weather hitting Oklahoma right now, many are saying this proves climate change isn’t real. However, this is because of the misconception that weather and climate are the same thing. The video above helps explain the difference between climate and weather.

Test Your Environmental Literacy

The EPA has compiled a simple test of environmental literacy. See how you do. (Answers are at the end of the post.)

  1. There are many different types of animals and plants, and they live in many different types of environments. What word is used to describe this idea: multiplicity, biodiversity, socio-economics, or evolution?
  2. Which of the following is a renewable resource: oil, iron ore, trees, or coal?
  3. Which of the following household materials is considered hazardous waste: plastic packaging, glass, batteries, or spoiled food?
  4. What is the most common major cause of pollution of streams, rivers and oceans?
  5. Most electricity in the U.S. is generated from what source?
  6. What is the primary environmental benefit of wetland areas?
  7. Having ozone in the earth’s upper atmosphere protects us from what?
  8. What is the current solution to the disposal of most nuclear waste in the United States?
  9. What is the largest source of carbon monoxide in the U.S.?
  10. What is the most common reason animal species become extinct?
  11. What is the name of the primary federal agency that works to protect the environment?
  12. Where does most household garbage eventually end up once it leaves the home?

If you didn’t answer most of the questions correctly, you are not alone. In a 2001 study by The National Environmental Education and Training Foundation, fewer than 2/3’s of American adults answered half the questions correctly

More than 66% failed.


Yet, the same study found that 95% of the public supports environmental education.

Why is environmental education important?

dustbowl

I suspect more damage has been done to the environment by ignorance than by malice. Not too long ago DDT, asbestos, chlorofluorocarbons, and lead paint were considered safe and useful. Slash and burn farming is still widely practiced. And remember the phrase, “the rain will follow the plow.” This 1881 slogan encouraged people to plow up vast sections of the semi-arid prairie. But rains did not follow the plow. Droughts occurred, as they always have and always will. And before long, the Dust Bowl was born.

 

We know better now. Or do we?

66% failed.

What we can learn from nature.

By studying nature, we learn its two patterns of organization are the web and the cycle, not domination by any one species, even man. Predator-prey cycles are a powerful example of what happens when one species dominates.

The study of living systems is the study of relationships, patterns, cause and effect. It tests assumptions and reveals unintended consequences. By increasing our environmental literacy, we come to appreciate the power of seemingly small variables such as rainfall, soil composition, wind currents, temperatures, migration patterns, advantageous and disadvantageous adaptations, and luck.

And one of these variables is man whose disruptions of natural systems affect society in the form of erosion, floods, desertification, contamination, and disease.

Environmental literacy has been shown to be beneficial to both the students and the community. Since most environmental education involves hands-on experiences such as planting gardens, restoring waterways, and caring for injured wildlife, people are making a difference. The learning is deeper, more meaningful.

And studies have shown that as people gain environmental literacy they increasingly adopt pro-environmental behaviors such as energy conservation, recycling, and eco-conscious buying choices. They understand that even small actions make a difference to the web and cycles of our living systems.

Interested in knowing more? Many resources are online. For example:

http://www.ecoliteracy.org/

http://classroomearth.org/

http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/program/environmental-literacy-guides/?ar_a=1

http://livinggreenmag.com/2013/02/27/energy-ecology/eco-classrooms-teaching-environmental-literacy-in-schools/

Environmental pressures will increase.

Our children will face tougher environmental challenges than we do. Increasing population and political conflict will cause shortages of food and water. Climate change will impact agriculture and trade. Rising oceans will flood cities. Green and sustainable practices will be accused of harming our ability to compete in the global economy. Environmental educators will be accused of teaching children “junk” science. (For a tooth-jarring rant against environmental education, see http://www.redstate.com/dhorowitz3/2011/06/22/its-official-you-must-be-an-eco-socialist-to-graduate-in-maryland/). The problems will be complex, and the solutions will involve tradeoffs, conflict, and compromise.

Our children are going to inherit the environmental mess of prior generations. Let’s give them some tools for dealing with it, starting with environmental literacy.

Answers:

  1. Biodiversity
  2. Trees
  3. Batteries
  4. Surface water running off yards, streets, paved lots and farm fields
  5. By burning coal, oil and wood
  6. To help purify water before it enters lakes, streams, rivers and oceans
  7. Harmful, cancer-causing sunlight
  8. Store and monitor the waste at the plant
  9. Motor Vehicles
  10. Loss of habitat
  11. Environmental Protection Agency
  12. Landfills

Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
Photo credit- NOAA George E. Marsh Album


About the Author

Helen Sedwick, author of COYOTE WINDS, a young adult novel set on the prairie in the years leading up to the Dust Bowl. Visit her web site, Facebook page, blog, and feel free to send her emails at helen@helensedwick.com

 

 

Best of 2013- Voting Closed

bestof2013side

We got a lot of great nominations for Best of 2013. We had a lot of ties so some categories have more than five candidates. Because of the ties in the restaurants and bakeries category we divided this category into two categories.

Voting is open until midnight on April 21st. Winners will be announce on Earth Day, April 22nd. Please only one vote per person.


Best of 2013

bestof2013small

We want to know what your favorite green businesses and organizations in Oklahoma are. Now through April 16th we are taking nominations for the following categories.

  • Retail Stores
  • Restaurants/Bakeries
  • Natural Farm
  • Natural Grocery Store
  • Green Organization
  • Green Service

The nominations must fit the following criteria.

  • Must be locally owned, not a chain.
  • Environmentally friendly (organic food, recycled materials, alternative energy, non-toxic products, etc…)

The top 5 nominations in each category will be finalist and the finalist will be voted on by the public.

Click here to nominate a business.

5 Books to Read in 2013

There are many great green books out there and my bookshelves and Kindle are full of them. It can be a bit overwhelming to know where to start so I thought I would share five that I think are worth reading.

  • Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too, by Beth Terry
    Plastic is full of toxins, almost always made from oil, and non-biodegradable. It’s causing a lot of environmental harm but it can be overwhelming to find solutions. Beth Terry lives an almost plastic-free life and has great info to share to make it much easier.
  • A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions, by Katharine Hayhoe and Andrew Farley
    This book takes a more religious approach to climate change. It sticks to the facts and shares why climate change is very important to Christians. Even if you aren’t a Christian, this book is an amazing read if you want know more about the science behind climate change.

These are just a small sample of the great green books out there. I would love to hear about any good green books you have read lately, just share in the comments below or on our Facebook page.


 

 

Symphony of Science- Our Biggest Challenge

A music video for the planet.

Oklahoma’s Endangered Species

Today is Endangered Species Day. Oklahoma is home to several endangered species, some you may have never even heard of. This list from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation shows just how many we have.

Endangered Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

State-listed Threatened and Endangered Wildlife Species:

Federal-listed Threatened and Endangered Wildlife Species:


It’s important that we protect these species so they don’t just disappear. These animals play different and important roles in our ecosystem. For one, bats help keep bug populations down, including the hated and disease carrying mosquitoes.

One example of how losing species in the state can effect things is our increased number of deer.

“Historically, large predators played a major role in controlling deer herds, but with the removal of the gray wolf and near elimination of the mountain lion, the only effective means of controlling deer numbers is through regulated hunting.”- Ecology and Management of Deer in Oklahoma

When we mess with one species others are effected, this is why protecting endangered species is so very important. We also want our grandkids to get to see the great wildlife Oklahoma has to offer.

We would love to hear your thoughts on endangered species in Oklahoma and ways to protect them. Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook.

Photo credit: n88n88


About the Author


Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and freelance writer. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.

 

 

The Darker Side of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a day of love and showing people we care but it can have a darker side. Many of the common gifts that we give on Valentine’s Day have big environment and social impacts.

Many of the flowers sent this Valentine’s Day will have been picked by women and children in South America that are forced to work and often abused. An estimated 20% of cut flower workers in Ecuador are children. The environmental impact is also large, most of these flowers are being shipped in and many have been grown using chemicals like DDT and methyl-bromide, which are banned in the US.

Another favorite Valentine’s Day gift is chocolate. Around 70% of the world’s chocolate comes from the Ivory Coast where much of the chocolate is farmed using forced labor and child labor. Workers are often forced to work in unsafe working conditions and abuse is common place.


You have likely heard about blood diamonds or conflict diamond, diamonds that are used to fuel horrible wars in Africa. While these are becoming less common, conflict metals are still pretty common. Metals and diamonds that aren’t fueling wars may still be causing environmental harm due to poor mining practices.

All of this may sound like there is no way to enjoy Valentine’s Day without harming others and the environment but that’s not true. When looking for flowers look for Fair Trade certified flowers or choose a locally grown plant. With chocolates look for Fair Trade and organic brands, there are a lot of choices and many stores carry at least a few options. And with jewelry look for recycled and vintage pieces or check out the store Brilliant Earth for other more ethical and eco-friendly options. Doing these simple things can make for a very happy Valentine’s Day without harming others or the plant!

 


About the Author


Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.