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Archive for August, 2009

A liberal lion passes on. An age is coming to an end.

Edward Kennedy, Senate Stalwart, Dies

Help honor his memory by passing health care reform with a strong public option now.

You can start today by attending Representative Rush Holt’s Middletown Meeting on Health Care from 7PM to 9PM tonight.

Details here

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Because it’s too important not too.

Stand with Dr. Dean and support a robust public option

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From OpenLeft

Let’s keep up the pressure.

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NJ’s cranberry production is forecast to exceed national production levels this year. The USDA reports that NJ’s cranberry producers may produce 540,000 barrels in 2009, up 5% from last year.

The nation’s largest cranberry producing states, Massachusetts and Wisconsin (Editors Note Go Badgers! — my son’s a junior at Wisconsin — ) have smaller than average productions this year.

This is mixed news for NJ however, as cranberry prices were dramatically impacted by an oversupply last year.

Despite last year’s glut, cranberry producers across the country are working to ensure that increased demand from consumers, retailers and food processors doesn’t cause a migration of cranberry production overseas due to a lack of capacity or product.

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Ed. Note From our Special Correspondent and someone who loves the Jersey Shore as much as I do. This is the first in what will be an ongoing (and for now sporadic) look at fishing and shell fishing in the coastal NJ economy.

The 15th Annual Highlands Clam Festival held this past weekend (Aug. 6-9) was filled with vendors from local restaurants and other mass food distributors offering clam dishes, baked goods, and typical fair-like foods such as hamburgers, smoothies, funnel cakes and thankfully for this non seafood eater, a Wholefoods Market (Editors Note: Boycott Whole Foods! 🙂 ) stand with stir-fried vegetables, minus the clams!

According to our taster, Joelle Aponte (Long Branch, NJ),

The Clam Hut of Highlands, NJ
1 Atlantic Street
Highlands, NJ

offered the best “drunken clams” scoring a 10 for freshness, noting that the clams had “lots of garlic and the size was good”. The Clam Hut Restaurant is located on the water at the foot of Atlantic Street, easily accessable by land or sea, just West of Sandy Hook.

According to an anonymous source, their recipe included clam juice, a secret beer, white wine and a sauce with herbs and spices. The taster said they were delicious, but according to this reporter, they still looked disgusting.

My research revealed that the restaurants get their clams from one of two local distributors in the community, Certified Clams and Brook Sea Clamming Distributors.

It was very difficult to find an actual clammer, but after lurking around behind the booths (Joelle’s suggestion) we caught a big one.

According to “Captain Tom” (who wished to remain anonymous), the clamming industry is dependent on the condition of “run off”.

“There are problems from Monmouth Park because run off goes into Branchport clams and now those waters are closed”.

He has been in the clamming industry on and off for 20 years and working on a boat since he was three years old. He sells his clams through a a depuration plant which cleans and distributes them to local restaurants and food suppliers. Most of his living does not actually come from clamming but rather the Whelk Snail, more commonly known as Conch, which he sells to Asian Markets.

According to another rather chatty man, who was not a clammer, but seemed to know a lot of clammers in the community, “Clammers get grants from the towns and the tax payers”, to assist with production and distribution costs.

There are two warring clammer groups in the community that appear to be like two rival gangs, much like in West Side Story, although I am not sure how much singing is actually involved. One of the clamming fractions is called, ” The S.H.A.R.C.’s” which stands for the Sandy Hook Alliance for Real Clamers”, This reporter was forced to purchase a S.H.A.R.C. T shirt at the:
Water Witch Coffee & Tea Co.
67 Waterwitch Ave
Highlands, NJ 07732-1446
(732) 291-5660‎

which apparently, unknowingly has pledged her allegiance to this organizations, while simultaneously restricting access to one side of town, although she is not sure which side. Joelle asked the two men if the other faction was known as the Jets, but they refused to comment.

The Water Witch featured a number of scrumptions looking homemade desserts, none of which this reporter could sample because she is on a diet. The quaint coffee and tea room featured decorations with lots of kitch on the walls including a Sigmund Freud action figure doll. This is a place that this reporter definitely wants to return too.

Further investigation is warranted on the topic of the intriguing clamming industry in NJ.

In signing off, this reported thinks that it would be better to have someone a little more knowledgeable about the subject to do background research, as well as, someone who actually likes clams.

Roving Reporter,

Laura Greenstone

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I haven’t been posting as much lately because I’ve been in Louisiana working on a very cool clean energy project. But it’s important that we all push back against John Mackey’s anti-Obama, anti-worker, anti-common good arguments in the Wall Street Journal.

Mackey is essentially promoting a bankrupt free market philosophy as the anecdote to a failing public commons. It’s been known for quite a while to those of us who have worked in and around the food industry that Whole Foods’ CEO is anti-union and anti-consumer co-op. Yet many advocates of natural and organic foods and many progressives and liberals have continued to support Whole Foods with their dollars.

After I moved back to NJ from Minneapolis I patronized Whole Foods for their meats even though I knew from interviews with Whole Foods butchers and meat cutters in Minnesota and Texas that Whole Foods feed lots much of their beef at the end of their life cycle — even the natural and organic cuts. And I always shook my head at the lack of locally sourced produce, fruits, eggs and dairy at Whole Foods, even in a Garden State like New Jersey.

But what choice did I have in winter and early spring? New Jersey lacks the great collection of local food co-ops that Minnesota boasts and the resources for locally raised chicken and pork like southeast Minnesota, southwest Wisconsin and northeastern Iowa. And Whole Foods is a pleasant shopping experience. Many of the smaller Whole Foods have a great market feel to them, and Whole Foods’ stores are well merchandised, exceptionally clean, and make great use of lighting. Rather than overwhelming you with signage, the flow and format of the stores guides you to where you need to be.

It’s a good place to shop from a merchandising perspective. However, Mackey and Whole Foods fail to live up to their mission statement and fail to fully respect the lnterdependent Web of Life of which we are all a part.

Ethan Nichtern, a Buddhist, Whole Foods Shopper, and founder of the Interdependence Project has a must read essay on our collective responsibilities to one another and John Mackey’s failure to embody this in his Wall Street Journal commentary. Nichtern writes:

“the Buddhist teachings on the truth of interdependence don’t allow us to stop at the level of individual health and wellbeing. The more we pay attention to reality, the more we see the total impossibility of taking care of our own bodies and minds without taking care of others. The more we see interdependence — that our lives do not happen in a vacuum, separate from the lives of others — the more we realize that our own health is inextricably bound up with the health of others. If you are healthier, then I am healthier, and vice versa. This is true physically, this is true psychologically, and this is true communally.

If John Mackey wants to take his failed libertarian ideals and his Whole Foods brand into battle against President Obama and meaningful healthcare reform than I say bring it on. Not only will we fight you on the healthcare front, we’ll extend the battle to EFCA and workers rights and right on into agriculture and organic standards.

We’ll fight hard to get back to a true free market economy where an abundance of farmers, local markets, small businesses and regional chains supply locally raised and grown foods to our tables. We’ll fight hard for a free market economy where butchers and food workers make middle class wages and can afford to live in pleasant communities with good schools, good libraries, and abundant recreational opportunities. And we’ll fight hard for collective bargaining and the right to organize to ensure that butchers and other workers earn middle class wages and are treated with dignity and respect.

Our public commons have been failing for a long-time because of people like John Mackey. It’s time we became the change we believe in and not let failed libertarian ideals and naked corporate greed hijack our opportunity to move the nation forward.

We have the power. It’s time we start using it.

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