Articles by

<Amanda Park Taylor>

02/11/10 11:49am

valentines is for lovers

In theory, I think Valentine’s Day is a ridiculously artificial holiday contrived solely to pressure gormless men into spending way too much money in some misguided hope that the perfect gift will make everything better. In theory.

As the day itself approaches, though, I confess I start to fall for the whole stupid romantic mess (just a little)—which is why my last column was about non-awful ways to celebrate Valentine’s, without buying dumb junk that’ll just end up in a landfill in a few years. So I just wanted to remind you all (especially those of you in north Brooklyn) of a great gift idea: Audrey Spa. Not only are their services top notch (great facials!), Audrey is currently donating $5 of every gift certificate to BARC, Williamsburg’s legendary animal shelter.

So this gift really is a multiple threat: it creates very little garbage, helps out a charming local business, benefits a deserving charity, and provides a great service.

02/03/10 2:45am

Ah, Valentine’s Day. Apparently two thirds of us do something to acknowledge the holiday (complain though we may), so we might as well do something good with our time, energy and money. Of course, there are all the Valentine’s Day cliche—flowers, chocolates, cards—and their green equivalents, but we’ve been reading about that stuff for years, right? There must be more…

For starters, as with all gift-giving occasions, I prefer giving services rather than things. Who doesn’t like a massage, or a facial?

The best little spa in Brooklyn, Audrey Spa, on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, has a special offer for gift-givers, and gift-receivers. Owner Yola’s amazing facial is already a great deal at $75 (I swear it’s the best facial in New York), but for every one purchased this month, either for yourself or as a gift, she’ll donate $5 to BARC, Williamsburg’s wonderful animal rescue. So, beauty freak, animal person, or a bit of both, you or your giftee will be happy. Why not treat her, or yourself, to two? (Mention BARC when you buy.)

Swing by the monthly Greenpoint Food Market (129 Russell St.) on the 13th, and stock up on local, handmade gourmet food items, from chocolates to baked goods to vegan pate. Dozens of vendors will have everything you need to prepare a heck of a stay-at-home feast for your sweetie. Who wants roses when there’s homemade kimchee and chutney?

Dining out is also a great way to celebrate, as long as you steer clear of steakhouses (nothing says “I don’t care” like a meal that takes years off your life, the planet’s life and the life of another sentient being). Go veg! Uptown’s Candle 79 won’t disappoint even the most conventional of sweethearts: their elegant space, great service and excellent wine and sake list are a million miles from mung beans and brown rice. Downtown, Blossom and Counter are neck-and-neck in the race to elegant death-free dining. Both are also great places to have a drink or four: Counter mixes up amazing, sustainable cocktails (local gin!) and Blossom has a great selection of organic wines and beers.

Since Valentine’s falls on a Sunday this year it’s a good chance to spread your love around, unencumbered by the work day: find a way to care for someone outside your immediate family (however you define it). I’m gonna head up to the Greenpoint Reformed Church with a little bit of love for their amazing food programs: their wish list (coffee, paper plates, money…) is on their website,, and I figure I can pick up a couple of things they need and drop them off.

Interspecies love is just as valid as the person-on-person kind. If your heart’s been broken by a human, why not turn to the canines and felines? The Mayor’s Alliance is coordinating the month-long “I Love NYC Pets” adoption drive: check out their website for the (extensive) list of events ( Picking up a gorgeous guy or gal has never been so easy… And you won’t have to take any of these beauties out for a prix-fixe dinner. Ever.

And if even that’s too conventional for you, let me suggest you and that special someone attend Unmarriage Until Gay Marriage: take your honey up to the Bethesda Fountain at 1pm on V-Day, join me and Mr. Objector, and get yourselves unmarried, or un-committed, as a protest against unequal marriage laws. Couples will be riven (and riveted, I’ll wager) by the rousing oratory of the Reverend Billy, of the Church of Stop Shopping. A special musical guest will serenade, the church choir will croon, and we’ll all take a stand in favor of LOVE, in all its equally valid forms.

01/28/10 2:11pm

roasted parsnips

It is fitting that the first (well, second, technically) in my weekly blog series of seasonal, local, NYC greenmarket-approved recipes, occurs on the kind of snowy day that really makes you want to stay under the covers drinking coffee and reading Jane Austen. Yup, I’m talking about roasted root vegetables. While that doesn’t sound too glamorous, think of it this way: you’re whole apartment will take on a wonderful, rich, homey aroma, and you can even pull your chair up to the oven to get extra warm.

—So, at the Williamsburg/Greenpoint Greenmarket last weekend I purchased the following, to roast in a big pan: three kinds of potatoes (blue fingerling!), parsnips (trust me), red onions, and garlic. Simple.

—One of the nice things about roasting vegetables is that you don’t have to be too fussy about fine mincing; just hack in and chop away. Because they take a bit longer, it’s best to hew the parsnips into bite-sized morsels, whereas the potatoes can be left a bit bigger. Set the oven to 400.

—Dump the coarsely chopped vegetables into a shallow roasting tray (and add delicious local tofu from the 4th Street Food Co-op for extra protein) and drizzle liberally with olive oil, Bragg’s or soy sauce, and a little mirin. If you want to keep it local (but not vegan) you can use Ronnybrook’s amazing salted butter, but you have to be a little more vigilant with making sure food doesn’t fuse to the pan. Add pepper, thyme or rosemary, and away you go.

—Obviously, I’m not being too fussy with exact measurements here, as it’s really a pretty rough and ready dish. The key is to let the flavors of the food come out of their own accord—parsnips have an almost tangy sweetness to them that is way tastier than your grandma ever let on. Cook for about 20 minutes and then give everything a good toss (ten mins if you you’re using butter), checking to make sure things aren’t sticking; let cook for at least another ten after that. The potatoes will be done before the parsnips, but that’s ok, cuz they’re amazing when they get crispy…

—Try a parsnip—if it’s to your liking, give the whole thing one more toss and serve with rice or couscous, with a side of harissa. Salt and pepper to taste.

BONUS TIP: Cook up a whole whack of stuff at once… it makes for a great quick snack or lunch at work.

01/20/10 3:42pm

trash pile

  • Let’s just cover it in wallpaper.

Dear Christine Finley,
Thank you for the trenchant social commentary. While you were out wallpapering dumpsters, New York City threw out enough trash to fill the Empire State Building. Twice*.

What this project does is precisely the opposite of what it claims to be doing: like a bourgeois housewife taking her trash to the curb in one of these, a wallpapered dumpster distracts passersby from the real problem—it’s a large box filled with possibly usable goods headed for a landfill somewhere, an unconscionable waste of time, money, energy and resources—and replaces it with a cutesified, “oh look at that, isn’t that cool” disposable screen, protecting us from the reality of our situation, the reality of a world killing itself with trash.

Wallpapering a dumpster is like wrapping a tiger in tissue paper: that shit is NOT gonna last. So even the prettifying impulse collapses on itself, and in two days we’ll have a bunch of filthy, tattered, once-papered dumpsters.

I guess you could say it’s a meta-commentary: a project that’s a waste of time, money, resources, and two years of higher learning, camouflaging a waste of time, money etc. but I don’t think that was the intent, as you say yourself:

“Wallpapered Dumpsters transform environmental activism into unexpected beauty.” Well, no, they don’t. They transfer DUMPSTERS into objects of unexpected beauty (if you think that merely wallpapering something makes it beautiful). There is no “environmental activism” inherent to working with dumpsters in such an uncritical way. Environmental activism would be analyzing the contents of the dumpsters, or repurposing them, or lighting them on fire and explaining that all that trash is headed for incinerators.

You go on to say, “This project is an inquiry into urban waste,” and again I’m forced to say, no. The only thing this could possibly be considered an inquiry into is the inanity of a certain subset of “public” art. Just because you are doing something with a dumpseter does not mean you’re addressing issues of waste.

I would argue, and admittedly maybe I’m clinging to an antiquated notion of the artist as revolutionary, that in order to produce “environmental art” one has to force the viewer to confront the state of the environment, or some aspect of it.

Trash bags covered in damask prints play into our conditioned/learned, and wholly counter-productive (in environmental terms) fear of waste: we are taught to believe all garbage is dirty (like, don’t-touch-it-no-matter-what dirty), and therefore outside of our consideration. Let the man on the big truck take it away, and never speak of it again. The garbage bag (a relatively recent invention) was the first step in separating us from our waste, and forcing us into denial about what we waste. Out of sight, out of mind.

If we had to confront our waste, we might actually feel a need (dare I say compulsion?) to do something. We’d have to consume less, think about our role in the world, as individuals, and as a culture. But wrapping our trash containers up like crappy Christmas presents isn’t going to get anyone to think about anything.

The reality is that we ship our garbage to poorer states, or poorer countries; we let poorer people sift through it, sickening themselves recuperating materials from it, or being sickened as it is buried or burned near their homes. We poison bodies of water, and tracts of land with it; huge swathes of rainforest are burned to make the things we so thoughtlessly throw out, people are driven from their ancestral lands so that companies can mine and manufacture what too soon becomes fodder for the garbage man.

Some of us know this. Almost all of us choose to ignore it, at least enough that we continue to feel comfortable producing waste. It’s just the way it is, right? How could we possibly do otherwise? We might as well just gussy it up in pretty patterns to extra-insulate ourselves against having to think about what an ugly, exploitative, destructive system it is.

Isn’t there anything real, and provocative, to say in a world where half of the food we produce ends up in dumpsters just like these, while in other worlds nearby, thousands, nay millions, go to bed hungry?

*(that’s 26,000 tons, 52,800,000 pounds for you science majors)

01/20/10 5:55am

One of the most rewarding green practices is, in my humble opinion, eating home-cooked, local food, purchased from one of NYC’s awesome greenmarkets (hands down my favorite city institution: I get teary sometimes walking into Union Square…). But folks seem to be daunted by the prospect of cooking from scratch, taking a sack full of still-dirty vegetables and turning them into something fit for ordinary appetites, not just ascetic vegan health-food types. The problem intensifies in the winter, when produce choices dwindle, and strange aliens from underground proliferate on farm-stand tables: what the hell is a rutabaga, and how do you make a turnip taste like anything but the dirt that it came from?

Never fear, the Conscientious Cook is here. With 18 markets in Brooklyn and Manhattan open year-round (to find out which ones, visit, there are plenty of sources of great local, seasonal produce, and countless easy ways of preparing same. To get us through the slough of despond that is the next few months, I’ll be shopping, cooking, and explaining local, seasonal dishes in weekly installments online at Look for my shopping lists, photos from the markets, and, most importantly, recipes, to keep you on the path of culinary righteousness.

To jumpstart the process, here’s a quickie recipe for a wintertime staple: mashed potatoes. Comforting and filling, potatoes are available all winter long at every greenmarket: they’re cheap, usually cheaper than at the market (my potato guy sells ten-plus varieties for a dollar a pound), and they’re WAY more nutritious than you think. Five ounces of potato, with the skin on, contain as much potassium as a banana (without the pesky food miles), 45 percent of the RDA for vitamin C, and some fiber, folate, iron and magnesium to boot. Seriously, potatoes rule.

Mashed Potatoes

Make a big batch, and eat ’em all week…

– Wash and inspect a couple pounds of potatoes, peeling only the parts that are damaged, or have thick, leathery skin. Leave the rest of the peel—it’s yummy, and good for you.

– Cut into medium-sized pieces (usually one cut lengthwise, and three or four cuts widthwise).

– Put into a good-sized pot, fill with cold water to cover potatoes, bring to a boil, and add a little salt (sea salt’s good, and has trace minerals, too)—doing it in that order helps cook off excess starch.

– Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until you can smell a nice potatoey smell when you lean over the pot.

– In the meantime, sautee a couple cloves of garlic, finely chopped, with an onion, cut into smallish pieces, in local butter.

– When the potatoes are done, drain and return to the pot. Add onion/garlic mix, toss in some more butter, and a healthy dollop of soymilk, or regular milk. Mash potatoes with a fork, and taste once they start to seem close to the right consistency. Add salt, white pepper, more milk and/or butter as seems appropriate/tastes good.

Mashed potatoes keep nicely in the fridge for four-six days, and go well with simple vegetables, soups, chili, stews, veggie burgers and a million other things. Bon appetit!

01/06/10 5:30am

While the hedonism and self-indulgence of the holidays are a lot of fun, I almost prefer the balancing period of self-discipline and asceticism that naturally follows. Whether it’s eating simply and cheaply after weeks of parties, restaurants, and a fridge filled with yule logs, or swapping endless entertainment for exercise, the dark, cold days of January and February lend themselves nicely to self-examination.

One habit I’ve gotten into post-New Year’s is a tune-up of my domestic situation. God knows I have little desire to leave the house, after weeks on the town.

It starts with the incorporation of any gifts I’ve gotten into the household: clothes into closets, books onto shelves etc. What a perfect time to cull old clothes and books, and take them to Housing Works, or sort out sheets and towels and take the frayed and tattered to the nearest animal shelter for bedding. Too many canned goods? Weird condiments from your Christmas stocking? Make a bag for your local food pantry (Greenpoint Reformed Church is a great place) Whatever you do, don’t throw perfectly good stuff away.

With a little space made, now’s the time for a midwinter clean. If you’re like me the holidays were a time of slapdash tidying and under-the-bed stashing as guests and relatives descended. Green cleaning products are multiplying like rabbits: on a recent trip to megastore Lowe’s I found the cleaning aisle chockablock with less toxic, biodegradeable, naturally scented options. Stock up! (Though I recommend hitting the 4th Street Co-op with your own bottles in hand, for bulk cleaning products, or shopping at Sustainable NYC on Ave. A, if you can.)

If you’re ready for fresh cleaning implements, swap your sponge and scrubber for eco versions: no need for a plastic scrubber when you can get loofah versions at the health food store, or an entire loofah at the nearest Middle-Eastern grocery. A company called Casabella has a beautiful mop/bucket system made out of 100 percent recycled soda bottles and an aluminum handle that works for other cleaning tools, too.

In the bathroom consider switching to products from one of my new favorite stores, Lush. The Canadian company makes great natural skincare products, packages them in recycled plastic tubs, and takes the tubs back themselves for recycling—take five tubs in and they give you another product. Their greatest eco innovations are an assortment of really great bar shampoos, and several bar deodorants, sold by the pound. Sounds crazy, but the stuff is amazing, and the total packaging for either is a whisper of recyclable paper. No more plastic bottles and boxes, hallelujah!

Speaking of no more plastic, now’s the time to get rid of all those takeout boxes you’ve been hoarding—if your freezer has a lot of room in it, fill it with takeout tubs filled with water: it will reduce the energy needed to keep your fridge running, and reduce your electric bill. Recycle what you can from the rest (the Park Slope Co-op has days when it takes yogurt tubs and many other kinds of plastic not recyclable in the city system) and invest in a couple of glass or stainless containers (or use spaghetti-sauce or jam jars) instead—no creepy leaching.

As long as you’re in the kitchen, one of the greenest (and healthiest) things you can do is cook (and eat) more at home, with a little less meat. Whip up a simple vegan soup, with lentils say, some onions, garlic, potatoes, olive oil and spices, and you’ll save money, reduce your carbon footprint, and give yourself a wildly healthy treat. Or resolve to go meat-free one day a week: there’s a cool group called Meatless Mondays, which will send you great recipes, and guide you if you’ll commit to one meat-free day a week (

Whatever you do, make a couple of changes, and have a happier, greener New Year.

12/23/09 4:30am

New Year’s resolutions. Awesome fodder for end-of-the-year columns. Especially when you’re already a bossy, prescriptive-type columnist, addicted to telling people what to do, right? Well, yeah, you’re thinking, but who needs a whole separate set of green resolutions, when I never get around to keeping my regular resolutions?

There’s a pretty limited repertoire of resolutions, and some of us recycle the same ones year after year after year (that’s green, right?). With 12 percent giving up in the first week, and 43 percent bailing after six months, it’s no wonder we keep going back to the classics—you know, get organized, lose weight, exercise more, eat better, take better care of things financial, and volunteer. The good news is that all of these old standards dovetail perfectly with a lower-impact you. So you can improve youself, and the planet too!

Getting organized has topped my list for years, and just this year I realized what a difference it makes in greening my life. Start by getting rid of stuff you don’t want or need, and giving it to people/groups/animals that need it. (See for a list of things to give away, and places that take them).

Recycle old papers and magazines. Cull from your bookshelves. Once you’ve made some space, you’ll be able to track what you do need: think about having room for a recycling system (instead of just tossing stuff), or being able to keep reusable totebags where you’ll actually use them.

So, you want to lose weight? Well, to start with, eat less. Excess weight comes from excess food, and excess food actually means you’re consuming more than you need. Producing food takes energy (for tractors, harvesters, and trucks to bring it to you), and the less you eat, the less CO2 you generate. Another way is to eat different foods, like fewer animal products, and more vegetables. The UN has called out animal agriculture as the number-one generator of greenhouse gases, not to mention runoff from manure lagoons and the environmental impact of all those triple bypass surgeries!

To exercise more, you could join one of those oh-so-cool health clubs, and run on a treadmill in front of a giant window for all to see, just so you can hop in a cab home, and slump in front of the TV for the requisite four hours per day. Or you could get a bike, and bike home, and to work, to see your friends etc. It’s the same exercise, and won’t take much, if any, more travel time than your usual transport. If biking’s not your thing, why not adopt a dog, or volunteer walking dogs at a shelter? A recent study showed that people who walked with dogs stuck with their exercise regimens more closely than those who exercised with their fellow humans, and got stronger too.

Eating better is a great tie-in to greener living—or is it the other way around? The best ways to eat better are to eat less processed food, eat less meat and more vegetables, and to get more involved in local fresh food systems. All of these reduce the environmental impact of the food you eat. Processed food is bad for you, and bad for the environment—think about all those chemical additives, all that packaging, and all those corn and soy byproducts. Meat was mentioned above: it’s bad for you, bad for animals, and bad for the environment. Try going vegetarian one day a week, or one meal a day to start.

Personal finances seem to have the least to do with things eco, but spending less money on less stuff is the easiest way to lessen your impact. Stuff takes energy and materials to make. If your financial picture is clouded by debt, remember that all that interest and those finance charges go to huge multinationals—lessen the amount you pay, and you reduce the amount they can invest in everything from dams to oil drilling. With less money going to credit companies you can give more to charity, invest in greener ways of living, or just save so you can work less.

Have a happy, green New Year!

11/25/09 4:00am

Pondering the return of the holiday season, and the attendant obligation of shopping for holiday gifts and writing about same for this magazine, I started to feel a little overwhelmed. There’s an awful lot of stuff out there: there’s even a lot of cool stuff, green stuff, eco stuff. How to choose? The answer, of course, was to narrow it down, way down.

As regular readers know, I’m pretty into animals, and as I started to peruse gift-giving options, those that were animal-related quickly emerged as my favorites. From great gifts for actual animals, to gifts that benefit animals, to representations of animals to wear or hang on the wall, it quickly became clear that I could narrow my focus, thereby simplifying my life (and yours, if you choose to follow my shopping directives) and still have plenty to choose from.

If you happen to have a pitbull fan on your shopping list, whether an owner or just an admirer, the Bay Area group Bad Rap ( has some of the coolest graphics around, and sells t-shirts, stickers and totes, all sporting a pro-pit message (“My best friend is a pitbull”). Their calendar, with a year’s worth of choice rescued pit pictures, is an easy and affordable gift for any animal lover, and proceeds go to support the group’s wonderful work rehabilitating dogs, and the breed’s image.

But if you have an ACTUAL pitbull to buy for, or any other breed of dog or cat (and as a pet parent, let me tell you that buying a gift, however small, for one of my dogs, or my turtle, will charm and please me in a way that almost nothing you could buy for me would) I suggest you head over to PS9, easily Brooklyn’s most elegant pet store. PS9’s owner, Joan Christian, is as conscientious as she is stylish, so you’ll find dog sweaters hand-knit by indigenous peoples in South America, gorgeous collars hand-beaded in Kenya, green coats and sweaters made from bamboo or recycled plastic bottles and loads of stuff made by local Brooklyn artists.

Of course, PS9 carries the best foods and treats, including the coolest dog gift ever: naturally shed deer antlers (they just fall off… no need to kill the deer, and no more gross animal parts on the bed/sofa/carpet) that are gathered by dogs trained to find them in the woods. That’s right, dog toys that employ actual dogs. Trimmed and cleaned, they make a chew toy that lasts forever, cleans the teeth, and is well worth the premium price ($12-32, depending on size).

For actual people, my favorite store these days, bar none, is a little boutique out on Graham Avenue in Williamsburg, the amazing Treehouse. Treehouse is a treasure trove of beautiful handmade, recycled, vintage, green things, and on closer inspection seemed ready to provide gifts for most of those on my list.

Hand-crocheted copper chain necklaces by house brand Sirius Lux (you might have seen them on The Uniform Project)? Check. Handmade silver jewelry depicting wolves, dogs, dinosaurs and sharks by local designer Species of Thousands? Check. Handmade jasmine cream and bath salts (for mom, or grandma, or your bff) and pregnant-lady essentials from Portland’s Angel Face? Check. Exquisite fingerless cashmere gloves with Swarovski sparkles by Elyse Allen (you have to see these to believe how pretty they are)? Check. Mammy wallets handsewn from vintage fabrics? Men’s organic bamboo denim jeans and jumpsuits from Brooklyn’s own SDN? Real NYC pigeon-feather art objects, encased in glass vials, with date and place found? Hand-silkscreened cards? Check, check, check.

Toss in (locally made, natch) silkscreened onesies for the tiny tots, and dresses made from vintage pillowcases for little girls, soy candles that smell like heaven, incredible handmade hoods with reflective stripes, perfect for keeping your favorite cyclist’s head warm AND visible, and an assortment of beautiful vintage wares, and I can’t think of a person on my list I can’t shop for here. The icing on the cake? Mention The L Magazine, and Treehouse will donate 10 percent of your purchase to Brooklyn animal rescue groups. One-stop shopping, with love for the four-foots! IF you can’t find everything you want at Treehouse, ask proprietress Siri to share her neighborhood knowledge: sister stores Sodafine, on the south side, Kill Devil Hill in Greenpoint, and Kaight in the Lower East Side all stock great vintage and/or amazing eco fashions, and Siri knows all the deets.

If you’d like to extend the gift-of-giving, and take a more ecological approach, don’t forget online animal adoptions: manatees at, Yellowstone’s wolves at NRDC’s (cheap enough for Secret Santa), or farm animals at Perennial favorite (Defenders of Wildlife), which has long offered wild animal adoptions accompanied by stuffed animal versions of your chosen adoptee (perfect for kids) this year has introduced a line of eco-plush stuffed adoptees: they’re made from a byproduct of soy food production, so are sustainable and renewable, and don’t use up actual food.

One of the most sophisticated gifts you can give is art, no? On the top of my list, for any and all occasions, are the prints of Sue Coe, one of the most important political artists of our time. Her work has dealt with all manner of injustice, social, political and animal-rights related: her most affecting work looks at creatures in zoos, slaughterhouses, and laboratories. In keeping with her politics (and following the tradition of earlier graphic artists like Kathe Kollwitz) much of her work is affordable prints, sold through her gallery, Gallerie St. Etienne, on 57th Street. Stroll in, peruse, and purchase: many pieces are under $100, some are under $50.

11/23/09 12:43pm

Dog of the Day: Coco

It’s Coco! Found wandering the streets of Williamsburg’s South Side, Coco was brought to the world’s best pet store, PS9 (North 9th Street, between Bedford and Driggs) by some sweet kids, who couldn’t keep her, but have been stopping in to give her walks and belly rubs. Joan, PS9’s lovely proprietress, tells us Coco is very well behaved, tolerant of all the dogs who’ve been coming to visit her in the store, and very, very affectionate.

And of course, she’s gorgeous. And healthy, and up to date on her shots. It was all I could do to not take her home myself….

She’s had puppies, pretty recently, and the kids who found her did a little Hardy Boy-style research and found that she once belonged to a guy who moved to Puerto Rico, who left her with a friend when he departed: said friend apparently turned her loose in the streets. If I ever come across said friend…

Dog of the Day: Coco

Come visit Coco at PS9 anytime they’re open—12-8 Monday through Saturday, 12-6 on Sundays. (And you can do all your pet-related holiday shopping while you’re there.)

169 N 9th St, between Bedford Ave & Driggs Ave, 718-486-6465,

11/11/09 4:00am

My favorite holiday is coming up: Thanksgiving. But when I tell people that, at least people who know I’m a vegetarian, they invariably ask, “But how can you enjoy Thanksgiving without turkey?” And I want to (and sometimes do) ask, “How can you enjoy Thanksgiving WITH turkey?”

Every year 250 to 300 MILLION turkeys are killed for food in this country, and about 45 million are killed just for Thanksgiving. If that number (and the image of them all piled up in one place—brrr!) isn’t chilling enough, consider this: raising animals for meat (and yes, turkey, chicken and duck count as meat) is our greatest single contribution to global warming.

Even Al Gore is getting with the program: after years of being the official spokesdog for global warming, just last week, in an interview with ABC, he admitted the unthinkable (for a heavyset Southern gentleman of jowly inclinations). “It’s absolutely correct that the growing meat intensity of diets around the world is one of the issues connected to this global crisis—not only because of the CO2 involved, but also because of the water consumed in the process. You could add in the health consequences as well.”

And then he confessed that his environmental concerns had, in fact, led him to seriously reduce the amount of meat he eats, though he stopped well short of embracing vegetarianism (or, gasp, veganism), or suggesting that others stop eating meat.

But as a first step, by a big white dude in a suit, I’ll take it. After years of needling from the more radical (i.e. non-corporate) side of the environmental movement, it’s about time Al spoke truth to power—the power being the massive meat industry and its big, beefy (ha!) lobbying arm.
On top of that, the Wall Street Journal published a fascinating article about a former fisherman who now spends his days flying around looking for piles of chicken manure from the air: runoff from poultry farms on the Delmarva Peninsula has destroyed the ecosystems of the Chesapeake Bay and points further south. Poultry farmers, who function in a kind of indentured servitude under crippling contracts with the big poultry concerns, operate with razor-thin margins that make environmental compliance next to impossible. So they block entrance to their farms, resist inspection and pile up chicken shit.

The only way to find the illegal crap stashes, which will, with their bacterial payloads, eventually wash to the Bay, or the nearest body of water and THEN the Bay, is to spot them from above. First the chicken shit killed the fisherman’s livelihood, then the fisherman cracked down on the chicken shit…

And that’s just one aspect of our glorious meat-production system. Jonathan Safran Foer’s most recent book, Eating Animals, has had him blanketing the internets and the NPR airwaves to bring us the news that Peter Singer brought us many years ago: eating animals is fucked up, intellectually inconsistent with the devotion we feel for our “pets” (dogs and cats) and, oh, it’s bad for the environment. Unless it isn’t, in which case you’re eating humanely-raised grass-fed, organic, free-range meat (which constitutes some 2-4% of the meat produced in this country, so guess what? You’re probably not).

As irritating as Foer’s tone is, it’s hard to be against his attempt to illuminate the issue. As he puts it, “We have the burden and opportunity of living in the moment when the critique of factory farming broke into the popular consciousness.” We should know better, we do know better.

So don’t turn away: if you have a shred of concern about the environment, if you’ve ever seen a glimmer of intelligence in the eyes of an animal, ANY animal (just look—it’s there) consider forgoing the big bird this year. Spend the money you would have given to Perdue by going to to sponsor a turkey. I did—her name is Olive.