17 August 2008

an open letter to jamba juice

Dear Jamba Jamba,

I am deeply concerned. Why must you continue to use styrofoam (aka, polystyrene) cups? You crank out smoothie after smoothie without even thinking about the vessel in which your so-called healthy drink is dispensed.

Why do I care? For one, the styrene component in polystyrene can leach out of the container. Styrene is a known neurotoxin, a potential carcinogen, and estrogen disrupter. According to studies cited by Grinning Planet, "long-term exposure to small quantities of styrene is also suspected of causing:

  • low platelet counts or hemoglobin values
  • chromosomal and lymphatic abnormalities
  • neurotoxic effects due to accumulation of styrene in the tissues of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves, resulting in fatigue, nervousness, difficulty sleeping, and other acute or chronic health problems associated with the nervous system"
Styrofoam also takes about 1,000 years to break down, and who knows if it ever actually degrades.

I wonder what you do in cities like San Francisco that have banned styrofoam to-go containers. Why can't you use whatever kind of cups you use there in every city? Like paper cups or Fabri-Kal's Greenware biodegradable cups.

I thought I was the only one taking issue with your choice of cup until I did a quick Google search. Turns out there's even a Facebook cause to try to get you to change your wicked ways.

Please consider this plea. I feel I must boycott your tasty smoothies until this issue is resolved.



urban homesteading: part 3

The third part in a series of urban farmers. Read part 1 and part 2.

A bunch of people, London, England
While not as hardcore as the urban homesteads featured in parts 1 and 2, city farming is taking root (excuse the bad pun) in places like London with regular folks playing the role of farmer. Thanks to Food Up Front, the smallest of plots -- gardens, balconies, windowsills -- are being converted into growing grounds for edibles.

What this non-profit group is proving is that anyone, just about anywhere, can grow their own food. Food Up Front provides novice urban farmers with tools, education, and a network of other growers with whom to trade produce. According to their site, new members receive:

  • Starter Kit: a container, locally produced, peat-free compost, and some organic salad and herb seeds (2 types from a choice of 4)
  • Basic Planting and Harvesting Guide
  • Advice and support from a Food Up Front Street Rep: a volunteer who is local to your area.
  • Details of Food Up Front gatherings and workshops, enabling you to meet other members and develop your food growing knowledge
  • The opportunity to share and grow food with your neighbours and people in your surrounding area
  • Access to the Food Up Front members online forum at Project Dirt

The urban farming movement not only helps people provide for themselves, it encourages community interaction. One of the smart things about Food Up Front is that they favor planting food in the front garden (it's right there in their name) as opposed to behind the house in a backyard. The reasons for this are many:
  • More often than not front gardens are dead space
  • It is a modern day trend to pave over front gardens, or lay slate or stones down. This reduction in vegetation can lead to heat island effect, making urban areas warmer at night
  • It helps to encourage people to get to know their neighbours – there’s more chance of sharing a conversation with someone in the front garden compared to the back garden
  • In some cases the front garden could be better suited to food growing due to its position
  • It also allows a neighbour or friend to water your plants while you are on holiday, without the need for a key
Read more about Food Up Front.

Watch a video about the urban food growing network.

[Image source: Food Up Front]