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IMMOKALEE, FL (January 7, 2015) – The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and Greensboro, N.C.-based The Fresh Market are proud to announce their national partnership to support fair farm labor conditions and verifiable, worker-driven social responsibility in US agriculture.

The collaboration breaks new ground in the CIW’s award-winning Fair Food Program in two significant ways. First, starting with the 2015-2016 season, The Fresh Market will increase its purchases by 15% year-over-year from Florida tomato growers participating in the Fair Food Program. This is an important new precedent that recognizes and supports growers who are making significant investments to improve labor conditions on their farms with increased market share.

Second, The Fresh Market will make an annual contribution to support the Fair Food Standards Council (FFSC), the third-party monitoring organization that oversees compliance with the Fair Food Program’s unique human rights standards. The essential work of the FFSC includes investigating and resolving workers’ complaints, auditing farms for compliance with the Fair Food Code of Conduct, and enforcing the FFP’s standards. Through the FFSC’s diligent efforts, the Fair Food Program has become the gold standard for social responsibility in US agriculture, recognized by longtime labor and human rights observers as “the best workplace monitoring program in the US” and “one of the great human rights success stories of our day.”
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By now you’ve probably (or not) heard about actress Danielle Watts being approached by police officers about a call they received that her and her boyfriend Brian James Lucas were having sex in their car. There is audio of the incident, and I must say the cop approached them with the upmost respect when asking for ID and informing them why he was there. Danielle Watts refused to ID herself and claimed it was her right to do so. And in a sense she’s right…but not at this moment. The officer had probable cause to do so, and in the state of California where the incident took place the cops can handcuff and detain you if you do not comply. She claims race was the determining factor and she also try to pull the I’m famous bullshit on the cop. The problem I have with this incident is, with all that’s going on in this country in regards to race. This will be the example that closeted racists and Uncle Toms alike will use to point out, that when dealing with “authority” people of color don’t know how to act. Kudos to the officer for keeping his cool. And maybe if Danielle Watts took her head out of her ass, then she’d know that having a white boyfriend and having minor parts in a movie and having a publicist doesn’t mean you’re above the law.

If you have just clicked this to hear more about the Jay Z and Solange rift that recently exploded all over the Internet, then you have come to the right place but for reasons that may differ from your expectations (but keep reading). Before we begin, ask yourself, “Why did I click this and what drew me to it?” This is exactly the point RapRehab’s Sebastien Elkoubymakes with his recent excellent piece analyzing “gossip and celebrity worship,”what draws us to these subjects, and how the behavior has grafted our society as a whole.

Our days are filled with obligation–work, school, family, friends–and our rapid shift to a world filled with instant gratification is a product of our increasingly limited pockets of time for ourselves. When we come across stolen moments of pleasure, how do we fill them? Streaming videos, memes, apps, the latest in celebrity discourse and, of course, the hot new song of the minute.

As Elkouby states in his article, “[w]e crave distractions. Stories about people like Donald Sterling, Mimi Faust, Chris Brown, Cliven Bundy, and the Carters/Knowles give us a temporary escape from our own boring lives. Many of us spend 8 or more hours a day at a job we hate, working with people we can’t stand, making less than what we need, to start all over again the following day. And out of nowhere comes a story that instantaneously takes us away from endless spreadsheets, bossy supervisors, and grueling staff meetings. Our cell phones and computers are patiently waiting, a magical portal to an exciting world of superstars, fame, drama, and anything else to make us forget our tedious daily routine.”

We invest into this perpetually refreshing “feed.” We share, comment, re-tweet and open dialogue with others looking to escape. And then with a click, we are back in the Matrix of real life. Our phones and iPads shimmer with a blank stare. The fantasy world we visited sits still like a well-behaved hound on the other side of the darkness, ready to deliver the next story with the next slide of our fingers. But is there something bigger that we are missing? How long have we been living in this virtual world and how is it affecting us in reality?

Elkouby suggests that we channel our energies toward loftier objectives. “Rather than posting countless Facebook comments about Donald Sterling’s racist rants, can that same fire be used to advocate for racial justice…even if only within our own circles?  Instead of tweeting how outraged we are about Mimi Faust’s sex tape, can we do a better job of monitoring the sexually degrading entertainment our kids are exposed to?  Can we spend more time developing healthier relationships with our loved ones than we do trying to figure out why Jay Z and Solange don’t get along?”

If we are regularly using the limited amount of time we have everyday to engage with the latest celebrity gossip, it’s a safe bet that critical societal problems will go unresolved amidst all this seemingly useless discourse. Elkouby’s ultimate concern is that our “quality of life is rapidly decreasing” amidst the endless distractions. This premise is worthy of more than just a few clicks of consideration…but it does not allow for the totality of our needs as people.

It’s okay to click on celebrity news. It’s okay to eat junk food. It’s okay to escape the rigamarole of every day life. Sometimes. Like any good nutrition plan, the keys to good health (physical and mental) are balance and moderation. We all need moments where we indulge ourselves. By contrast, there also are times where we need to strive for greatness, in ourselves and others. Sometimes, the best way to move past life’s ennuis is to face them full on and change the life circumstance that is causing them in the first place. Build that business you’ve been considering. Lose that weight you’ve wanted to shed. Make that song that makes people’s lives better. Follow that dream…

Maybe next time you see another Jay Z and Solange-related post, you won’t click it. Or maybe you will. If you do, just remember to balance the scale when the opportunity arises.

Spotted at Ambrosia for heads

Over 2 million Americans are currently incarcerated in the country’s prison system: 70% of them are illiterate, 40% are black and almost all of them are poor. Earlier this month, Nas met with legendary civil rights activist Angela Davis at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania to discuss the current state of the prison system, how people end up behind bars and the inequality that drives them there.

Skip to 33:30 for the discussion:

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To commemorate the 25th anniversary of their debut album (3 Feet High & Rising) this year, De La is re-releasing their “entire” catalog on line for free. Now the reason I keep putting entire in quotes is because, while they’re claiming it’s their “entire” catalog. Nothing that was released past 2001 is included in the downloads, Like 2004’s “The Grind Date” (a personal fav of mine). Or the 2009 Nike and iTunes exclusive “Are You In?” None the less, if you’d like to brush up on the group’s work, you can do so here wearedelasoul.com The downloads will only be available for 25 hours, they started today @ 11AM and will end tomorrow @ noon. If you want to get in on this you need to hurry because at their website they’re saying it may be hours until the downloads are available for you after you enter your email address. Peace.

The disappearance of honey bees in the United States is a phenomenon that has many people asking questions. What exactly is going on? This question has been answered by multiple studies that have shed light on the harmful effect pesticides are having on honey bees. More research is showing that bees exposed to common agricultural chemicals while pollinating US crops are less likely to resist a parasitic infection. Honey bees are more likely to become a victim of the lethal Nosema ceranae parasite, which ultimately leads to death.

Scientists from the US Department of Agriculture as well as the University of Maryland published a study this past week that linked chemicals, including fungicides, to the large scale die-off of bees that has recently plagued the planet, you can read that study here. It’s not just the United States, Elmwood Canada also recently reported a discovery of over  30 million dead bees. The massive bee deaths in Elmwood came shortly after approximately 50 thousand bees were found dead in an Oregon parking lot. If we look overseas, the United Kingdom recently recorded itslargest ever honey bee loss in history.

In the United Stats alone, the honey bee population declined by approximately 30 percent, with some beekeepers reporting losses up to 90 and 100 percent. More than 100 US crops rely on honey bees to pollinate them. The study determined that fields ranging from Maine to Delaware contained nine different agricultural chemicals. These included fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides. In some cases they even recorded samples of 21 different agricultural chemicals.

Bees are declining at an extreme rate, the human race is at a critical point and we must find alternative ways to cultivate our crops. There are a number of factors that are contributing to bee losses all over the planet. These include climate change and habitat destruction to name only a couple. It is clear that the effect of agricultural chemicals is also quite large. The European Union recently recognized this problem, and quickly put a ban on the pesticides linked to massive bee deaths, while the EPA in the US approved them.

Produce with bees

Produces with bees

Produce without bees

produce without bees

The link between pesticides and bee deaths cannot be disregarded. It has been published in a number of peer-reviewed journals that show how widely used pesticides have a very damaging effect on bees. A paper published in the journal Nature shows how bees are twice as likely to die when exposed to pesticides; two-thirds of the bees are lost when exposed compared to a third when not exposed. The exposed bees are also half as successful in gathering food. The exotoxicology tests only looked at honey bees, and failed to include bumblebees. Bumblebees are just as important in providing the required pollination to create much of the food we consume.

There was also a study done published by the NCBI. The study found that various groups of neonicotinoids are harming honey bees. They discovered that both clothianidin and and thiamethoxam persist in “extremely high levels” in planter exhaust material produced during the planting of crops treated with these insecticides. The research team also found neonicotinoid compounds in soil, including in fields where the chemicals were not even sprayed. They also found them in several plants and flowers visited by bees. Researchers determined that bees actively transfer contaminated pollen from primarily neonicotinoid treated corn crop and bring it back to their hives. The bees also transfer these compounds to other plants and crops that are not treated with the chemicals which demonstrates just how persistent these chemicals truly are in the environment and how easily they can spread.

It’s amazing how much information is surfacing within the past few months on this subject, it’s clear that we need to stop using these pesticides and begin using organic and permaculture methods of growing.

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Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne have been farming their yard in Los Angeles for over a decade. In addition to a mini orchard and extensive veggie garden, they have all the instruments of an urban homestead: chickens, bees, rainwater capture, DIY greywater, solar fruit preserver, humanure toilet, rocket stove, adobe oven. But they don’t like to talk about sustainability of self-sufficiency, instead they prefer the term self-reliance.

“I don’t like the goal of self-sufficiency, I think it’s a fool’s errand to chase that goal,” explains Knutzen. “I think we live in communities, human beings are meant to live, and trade and work together. I think self-reliance is okay, in other words, knowing how to do things.”

Knutzen and Coyne share their tinkering, DIY and small scale urban agriculture experiments on their blog Root Simple and in their books “The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City” and “Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post Consumer World”. They believe in the value of shop classes and old-school home economics (back when you learned how to make things, not shop for things).

For the couple, their true goal with all of this self-reliance is freedom to live as they please. By growing their own and canning, pickling, preserving, freezing and baking their own breads and beans, they live frugally. They also only own one car (plus a cargo bike), one cellphone and no tv. “I think a lot of it has to do with our overdriving ambition to be free,” explains Coyne, “makes being cheap fun, because it means you can be free”.

seen at www.upworthy.com