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Past Projects

 

The Bitter Truth About Big Sugar

PCC Sound Consumer, July 2017

By Laura Brady and Eli Penberthy

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For decades the sugar industry quietly skewed public understanding of diet and health. As the truth becomes known, consumers are fighting back.

In a movement likened to the battle against “Big Tobacco,” soda and the sugar industry as a whole are under attack from all sides. Across the country and internationally, a slew of sugary-beverage taxes and lawsuits are targeting the largest soda-producing companies to reduce public sugar consumption, linked to a range of health disorders from obesity and diabetes to heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer.

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Farmers always have been acquainted intimately with the power of the sun. 

"As far as clean energy, we are in the solar business ourselves," says Mike Shriver of Rent's Due Ranch in Snohomish County. "We're farmers." 

While he once may have been referring to photosynthesis, where plants convert light energy from the sun into chemical energy, solar processes have taken on new meaning for farmers in recent years.

In response to decreased solar panel prices and increased incentives across the state and nation, local farms are beginning to expand into the "business" of sustainable energy.

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Sunscreen and coral reefs

PCC Sound Consumer, July 2016

Anyone can tell you the difference a drop of sunscreen can make: many of us have missed slathering some on a patch of skin and ended up with a painful, red tattoo for a few days. But for corals, the difference can mean life or death.

A recent study in the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology reveals that oxybenzone, a chemical found in more than 3,500 sunscreens worldwide, may partly be responsible for coral reef bleaching — and all it takes is a drop. The study found that the equivalent of a water drop of sunscreen in a body of water the size of six Olympic-sized swimming pools was enough to cause damage to the delicate organisms in coral.

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DIY Food Preservation: an Introduction to Canning & Preserving

Our Food, Our Right: Recipes for Food Justice, The Community Alliance for Global Justice, 2012, pp. 182-202

Two generations back, canning wasn't a special skill; it was a basic part of maintaining the household, wedged into its natural place between spring-cleaning and the autumn pumpkin harvest.

Since then, with the advent of cheap, commercially canned food and fruit shipped in easily from far away during the winter, canning has slipped from being considered 'normal' to, all too often, 'dangerous' and 'unsanitary.'

But the most important thing to remember is that if you follow the rules, strap on your seatbelt, watch some experts, and keep your eyes on the target, canning can be safe and lots of fun.

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I first traveled to Venezuela in August 2006, eager to witness first-hand the country that I was convinced had become the site of a revolutionary social movement. A year prior, Venezuela had invoked little in me beyond a vague notion of oil, Caribbean beaches, and strangely colored rainforest parrots. However, after watching The revolution will not be televised, an independent film that followed the 2002 coup attempt on President Hugo Chávez, my interest was instantly peaked. Here, it seemed, were the sprigs of grass roots, community- driven participatory change, without the typical accompaniment of a totalitarian leader and oppressive regime.

The Bolivarian Revolution, Chávez‟s name for Venezuela‟s movement towards Socialismo del siglo XXI, or Socialism of the 21st Century, is the rallying point for these changes. Relying on a newly crafted constitution, globally unique for its protection of certain positive rights such as health and education, Chávez has begun to institutionalize a new norm of “participatory democracy.” The stated goal of the Revolution is to foster citizen mobilization from the ground-up through programs designed to increase literacy, education, and employment. Simultaneously, the government is implementing new infrastructure to engage historically poor and marginalized communities in the political process. Rather than imposing rigid programs and telling groups how to achieve development, the Revolution hinges on the cooperation and empowerment of lower levels of society in the creation of their own pathways to modernization.

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