Search This Blog

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Food Safety Bill Passes US Senate with Family Farm Protections

Today, Food Democracy Now and other local food advocates, including Michael Pollan declared a huge victory today with the passage of the "Food Safety Act" (S.510).

The United States Capitol

The FDN group claims their grassroots efforts made the difference with over 12,000 calls to Senators.
"The passage of the food safety bill, which grants the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandatory recall authority and includes provisions that protect family farmers engaged in direct sales of local foods is an historic victory for family farmers and the local food movement, said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!.  "In overcoming the backlash of agricultural giants who desperately fought to kill these protections for family farmers, the sustainable agricultural movement has shown that it is a political force to be reckoned with."
"The bill is far from perfect, but the inclusion of these protections guarantees that farmers that sell directly to consumers, farmers markets, grocery stores and restaurants with sales under $500,000 and sell in state or within 275 miles of their farm or facility are exempted from expensive regulations that could drive them out of business," continued Murphy. 
 The Bill will now go to the House of Representatives for Reconciliation. The original House Bill passed on July 30th.  The WA State Delegation voted FOR it then 7-2 with both Inslee and McDermott voting YES.

Today in the NY Times, authors and local food advocates Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser wrote in opinion column:
"The bill would, for the first time, give the F.D.A., which oversees 80 percent of the nation’s food, the authority to test widely for dangerous pathogens and to recall contaminated food. The agency would finally have the resources and authority to prevent food safety problems, rather than respond only after people have become ill. The bill would also require more frequent inspections of large-scale, high-risk food-production plants....... 
 You would think that such reasonable measures to protect the health and safety of the American people would have long since sailed through Congress. But after being passed by the House of Representatives more than a year ago with strong bipartisan support, the legislation has been stuck in the Senate. One sticking point was the fear among small farmers and producers that the new regulations would be too costly — and the counter-fear among consumer groups that allowing any exemptions for small-scale agriculture might threaten public health.
Those legitimate concerns have been addressed in an amendment, added by Senator Jon Tester of Montana, that recently was endorsed by a coalition of sustainable agriculture and consumer groups. But now that common sense has prevailed, the bill is under fierce attack from critics — egged on by Glenn Beck and various Tea Partyers, including some in the local food movement — who are playing fast and loose with the facts. "
In another fascinating analysis of the problems created by over concentrations of "factory farms", 
from Food/Water Watch, a "Factory Farm Map" gives a critical view of how many farm animals are concentrated in areas around the US.  It shows a high concentration of "factory farming" on the West side of WA and also in Central WA.  And it shows the average number of animals per site increasing as of 2007.;location:WA;year:2007


  • The average industrial feedlot in Washington has more than 12,100 beef cattle.
  • In 2010, a manure lagoon on a 750-cow dairy collapsed, spilling 12 million gallons of manure onto fields that leaked into the Snohimish River.
  • The 86,000 dairy cows on factory-farm dairies in Yakima County, Washington produce as much untreated manure as the sewage output from the New York City metro area.
  • In 2008, a Mt. Vernon, Washington dairy agreed to pay an $8,000 penalty to settle alleged Clean Water Act violations for manure discharges that leaked from a barn into a tributary that leads to the Puget Sound.
More Washington facts

As a representative of a small family dairy, I feel close to this issue. There is certainly a need for great care in producing safe food, but it is also so important to provide enough flexibility for innovation and
access to local products in the markets.  

I hope this legislation will help without overly burdening our family farms and customers.

Appreciate YOUR input.



Storefront Seattle Program Gives New Life to Deserted Sites in Pioneer Square

Pioneer Square to Host Second Round of 
Storefront Seattle on First Thursday!

An exciting effort is underway in Pioneer Square, Seattle to highlight and keep alive a 
struggling historic district. It could be a great model for other cities, including Shoreline which
also has a lot of storefronts that need something to fill them.

The Seattle PI online blog has the story -

Don Blakeney is spokesperson.

Storefronts Seattle is a community-driven effort to help revitalize Seattle’s historic  
Pioneer Square and Chinatown-International District neighborhoods by bringing vibrancy, activity, and light to otherwise vacant spaces and sparsely populated streetscapes. The program started in early 2010, when members of both neighborhoods sought solutions for the growing number of vacant storefronts in the area, which contribute to a lack of foot traffic, public safety issues, and less incentive for community engagement....
Storefronts Seattle is part of a national wave of community-driven collaboration between businesses and artists to activate empty spaces and renew public activity in  neighborhoods. Similar programs are taking place in San FranciscoPortlandNew Yorkand Tacoma, WA.
Steering Committee
The Alliance for Pioneer Square
City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development
City of Seattle’s Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs
Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area
Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority 

Environmental Priorities Coalition Sets Course for 2011

Environmental Priorities Coalition
Environmental Priorities Coalition

The 2011 Environmental Priorities Coalition has announced its 
recommendations for this year's agenda.

This effort represents 25 Environmental organizations in 
WA State and has been an effective voice for sustainable change 
and important legislation to advance effective environmental 
agendas for many years.

The organizations come together for Environmental Lobby Day 
in February. It is a very interesting and useful way for citizens 
to be most effective.

The Environmental Priorities Coalition believes that we 
can have a strong economy that provides everyone with 
the opportunity to prosper and a clean, healthy, and safe 
environment for ourselves and our children.  Especially 
in these challenging economic times, our leaders in Olympia 
need to stand up and make smart decisions that support 
both economic recovery and protect our environment.

This year, the Environmental Priorities Coalition has 

chosen four priority proposals to support during 
Washington State's legislative session that achieve 
these goals.  Together, they will deliver healthy 
communities and create thousands of good-paying jobs.

Our 2011 Priorities are:
    Our 2011 Priorities will help ensure clean water, 
    create new jobs, reduce threats to our families’ health 
    from the poisons emitted by our state’s single largest 
    polluter, and strike a balance that even in hard times 
    will protect our public health, economic future, and 
    quality of life in Washington.

    This year we need your voice more than ever.  

    Our leaders in Olympia need to hear from you about 
    the importance of making smart decisions so that we can 
    have a strong economy and a healthy environment.  
    Please join us at two upcoming events where you 
    can learn more about our Priorities and lobby 
    your legislators to help get them passed:
    2011 Legislative Workshop – Saturday, January 8th
         Seattle, WA
    •2011 Lobby Day – Tuesday, February 15th, Olympia WA 
         (details coming soon!)
    For more information about our 2011 Priorities, 
    please visit our website.

    Thank you for everything that you do,

    Craig M. Benjamin
    Communications Director
    Environmental Priorities Coalition

    PS: Want to join our online conversation? Find us 

    on Facebook and Twitter.
    This alert is part of a series of action alerts from the Environmental Priorities
    Coalition, an effort of the leading conservation groups that work in the state
    legislature to protect the health of people, land, air, water and wildlife of
    Washington. We work together to promote the passage of a focused
    list of priorities each year.

    The Environmental Priorities Coalition is a combined effort of:
    • American Rivers
    • Cascade Bicycle Club
    • Climate Solutions
    • Conservation NW
    • Earth Ministry
    • Environment Washington
    • Fuse
    • Futurewise
    • Heart of America Northwest
    • The Lands Council
    • League of Women Voters of Washington
    • Lutheran Public Policy Office
    • National Wildlife Federation
    • The Nature Conservancy
    • NW Energy Coalition
    • People for Puget Sound
    • Sierra Club Cascade Chapter
    • Surfrider Foundation
    • Transportation Choices Coalition
    • Washington Conservation Voters
    • Washington Environmental Council
    • Washington State Audubon
    • Washington Toxics Coalition
    • Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition
    • Zero Waste Washington

    Monday, November 29, 2010

    Online Healthcare Degrees is Featuring Of Paramount Importance!

    Of Paramount Importance is excited to announce our recognition by the 
    site with an Award! 

    Online Health Degrees represents  Online Colleges and Schools that feature 
    Health Degrees and sends this recognition for our stories relating to healthy eating 
    and other environmental topics.
    We have featured several stories on this topic including the Farmers Markets,
    concerns about toxics affecting our food, water quality and similar topics. 

    We are pleased to be recognized and expect to continue to feature these types of topics.


    Presented by: Online Healthcare Degrees

    Here is the message we received about
    our award today:

    Congratulations! Your blog, Of Paramount Importance, is
    an essential part of our resources!

    As a website dedicated to help those consider a career in 

    healthcare, we only provide the best information available.  
    Whether it's a resource that explores different diseases, 
    or provides information on healthy eating, we
    provide them for those seeking to obtain this information.  

    This is why we've featured your blog, as it is one 
    of the best to teach our readers.

    You can see your blog and others at:  

    Thanks to everyone who's contributed or become 
    a "follower" to Of Paramount Importance! 
    Keep spreading the word and Healthy Eating all!

    Best Wishes,


    Sunday, November 28, 2010

    Waiting for the "Season of Light"!

    Paramount Park Wetland last Tuesday,
    Slough Sedge has mantle of snow.
    photo credit-Janet Way
    Amazing Weather Week in Shoreline!
    photo credit-Janet Way

    Now we're back to good ole winter grey.  

    Winter skies over Paramount Park,
    photo credit-Janet Way

    But, the Season of Light approaches! Looking forward to the next holiday. 

    Lower Pond at Paramount Park
    created by PPNG with a 1998
    King County Water Quality Grant
    photo credit-Janet Way

    Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving weekend.


    Friday, November 26, 2010

    Impact Fees - One Revenue Option for the State

    The Carnegie Group, a non-profit in the Olympia Area, has sent a letter to Governor Gregoire.

    They are requesting that the State consider Impact Fees as an untapped resource 
    that could help balance the revenue and budgetary  challenges ahead this session in Olympia.

    Tom Holz is Past Chair of the organization. He is an expert on "zero impact design", which proposes attractive alternatives to existing drainage solutions which will literally allow responsible development which leaves little impact and can be built with existing technologies. He also serves on the Board of People for Puget Sound.

    The Carnegie Group of Olympia
    Buck’s Fifth Avenue

    209 Fifth Ave. SE
    Olympia, WA  98501

    360 866 1791

    November 9, 2010

    Governor Christine Gregoire
    Office of the Governor
    PO Box 40002
    Olympia, WA 98504-0002

    Dear Governor Gregoire:


    The State of Washington has suffered a severe setback in the 
    recent election that has greatly worsened our budget crisis.  Temporary 
    tax measures were eliminated, and Eyman Initiative-1053 makes it 
    clear that new taxes require a two-thirds majority vote of the legislature.

    The resulting inevitable budget cuts will hurt many people including 
    children and troubled families.  Moreover the ability of the state to protect 
    and preserve our environment is hamstrung at a time when the health of 
    Puget Sound is hanging by a thread.

    However, a state impact fee on new development remains an untapped 
    source of revenue that does not require new taxes.  Currently massive 
    subsidies are provided by the state for the development industry.  The 
    state is forced to absorb enormous costs to build new infrastructure to 
    support growth.  This new infrastructure is paid for by all state residents 
    (through taxes) instead of only by those who create the demand for and 
    benefit from the new infrastructure.  Because the newcomers are generally 
    wealthier than existing state residents (they can afford new half-million 
    dollar homes) this subsidy is in effect a transfer of wealth from the poor 
    to the rich. 

    We recommend that the state immediately commission an impact fee 
    study to inform the legislature about fee schedules and to be completed 
    in time for incorporation into a bill before adjournment.  The 
    infrastructure to be funded by capital facilities charges (impact fees
    on new dwelling units should initially include: 

    • State Parks
    • Schools and colleges
    • State transportation roadways and rolling stock (buses and trains)
    • State penal system
    • Justice systems
    • State Patrol capital facilities
    • Social and health services
    • State funding for new energy
    • State portion of water, sewer, solid waste

    Voluminous analytical material is available on this topic from our 
    own local jurisdictions and other states.  And, as the study progresses, 
    other infrastructure facilities will be identified as candidates for funding.

    We further recommend that, in lieu of a moratorium on development 
    activity, the provisions of this law be retroactive to January 1, 2011.

    The Carnegie Group of Olympia is prepared to help promote this 
    bill to legislators and other citizen groups as well as to supplement 
    the technical work needed on any impact fee research.

    Thomas W. Holz, Past President
    On behalf of The Carnegie Group of Olympia

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Great Blue Heron Sighted at Hidden Lake

    Bob Phelps sends this lovely shot of the iconic Great Blue Heron at Hidden Lake in the Boeing Creek Watershed of Shoreline.

    Hidden Lake has seen many changes over the decades. It was built by William Boeing and his cohorts early in the 20th Century. His family built a "hunting lodge" nearby and the pond was stocked with trout.

    Hidden Lake heron
    photo credit-Bob Phelps

    But the Lake has been through a lot. In the 1996-97 snow storm/flood, Boeing Creek and Hidden Lake were inundated by a massive landslide and "sink hole" due to drainage pipes bursting at N175th. The lake was dredged and restored. Another episode occurred in 2007, when Shoreline was again deluged in a heavy rain storm. The lake was again filled with sediment. 

    Since that time, King County and the City of Shoreline constructed the retention pond and natural drainage system at Boeing Creek Park. This project installed hundreds of native plants and the lake was dredged once again during that period.  

    It still harbors fish, which is why the heron is visiting. There have been many different wildlife sightings at Hidden Lake, including osprey, bandtailed pigeons and many others.

    Boeing Creek is salmon habitat and empties directly into Puget Sound. It is one of 3 major watersheds in Shoreline.

    Recycling Cooking Oil at Thanksgiving

    Want to find a way to recycle all that holiday meal cooking oil? Are you deep frying a turkey or making other goodies that use a lot of fat for deep frying? 

    Our Green Waste Hauler Cleanscapes and Central Market are Teaming Up to help residents recycle used cooking oil for Bio-diesel.  This is a great way to get rid of your excess cooking oil (if you're doing a deep fried turkey for instance) AND get the oil reused in a "carbon neutral" way. That way, you won't be clogging up pipes or drains. General Biodiesel is the company that is making it possible.
    They are a Seattle based company founded in 2006.
    General Biodiesel recycles cooking oil and produces low 
    carbon fuel from sustainable sources.
    General Biodiesel

    Recycle your used cooking oil at Central Market in Shoreline or Shoreline Recycling and Transfer Station. Drop-off is available Tuesday, Nov. 23 through Sunday, Dec. 5. Cooking oil is collected by General Biodiesel and refined into biodiesel fuel, which is purchased CleanScapes to fuel garbage trucks!
    Central Market Shoreline
    15505 Westminster Way NContainer is outside, to the right of the main door, past the shopping carts
    Shoreline Recycling & Transfer Station2300 N 165th Street Check-in at gate entrance to be directed to the container inside station

    For questions please call the Environmental Programs Assistant at (206) 801-2455.

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    City of Shoreline Warns Parks Users to Stay Safe

    City Warning to "Stay off The Ice" at Local Ponds. 
    Thin Ice at Paramount Park

    Even though it is record cold today, the ice is not likely to be thick enough to support people or pets.

    Please stay safe and steer clear of the pond ice!   Play it safe!
    The ice is pretty but not strong enough for "skating".