Saturday, July 31, 2010


I'm really excited to report that Greenpeace won its campaign in Slovakia to change Slovakian law, allowing local communities to weigh in on the establishment of uranium mines near them. This is particularly great news for me, as I worked on this campaign a couple years ago in Slovakia with the Greenpeace Organizing Term. Check out the full scoop from Greenpeace:

The campaign was started three years ago by a coalition of groups which included Greenpeace. In Slovakia, any petition gaining 100,000 signatures must be discussed by the country’s parliament. The coalition’s petition gained 113,000 and it was delivered to the parliament in September last year.

This week the campaign was victorious when, in a momentous decision, the Slovak parliament agreed on legal changes to geological and mining laws to give more power and control to local communities, municipal and regional authorities. This will allow them stop or limit geological research of uranium deposits and to stop proposed uranium mining.

This is a huge achievement for the Slovak environmental movement and should be an inspiration for groups around the world. For the first time in Slovak history non-governmental organisations were able to collect over 100,000 signatures, have an environmental issue submitted to the Slovak parliament by a petition, and to achieve a change in the law by a petition.

This does not mean a complete ban on uranium mining in Slovakia but gives significant powers to local and regional authorities in the mining permission process. All 41 municipal authorities facing proposed uranium mining projects in their territories have already declared their opposition. There’s an excellent chance that Slovakia’s uranium will never see the light of day.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tarzana Whole Foods rocks the house, part II

However brief my stint in LA, I always try to cram in as much deliciousness as possible before I return to the veg-mediocre District of Columbia. Thanks to the new Tarzana Whole Foods, the perfect meal is a hot 5 minutes from my house.

On my last trip to LA, I ranted about the new location's vegan baklava and to-go bar. On this trip, I had the pleasure of breaking in the sandwich bar. Although there are a few options, I hit up "Mediterranean Goodness" the first time and haven't been able to break the cycle since. It's honestly one of the best sandwiches I have ever had. What's more, it also passes The Dylan Test (More on the DT below).

The ingredients are simple enough: olive ciabatta, some kind of flavored hummus, a really rockin' babaganoush, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and I add onions. It doesn't sound exciting--but whatever herbs are in the hummus and baba really take the experience to a whole new level.

But, don't take my word for it. As my cousin once told me, "Vanessa, your politics impact your taste buds." My little brother, on the other hand, is the perfect taste-taster. Dylan is basically a black hole of hamburgers, french fries, and well, hamburgers and french fries. I always know when he likes something I eat, it really must be delish.

So what's Dylan's verdict? He thinks that the sandwich tastes like IN N OUT Burger, most likely because the flavor of the babaganoush and hummus together mimics a sort of thousand island dressing. In any event, he was so into Mediterranean Goodness that, after sampling mine, we returned the next day and had at it again.

Note: Dylan and I had a long discussion about whether pickles "match" the ingredients and should be added. He insists pickles do not go at all, but I'm thinking I might give it a try next time.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

regulating female bodies the "French way"

Upon reading "Aging Gracefully...the French Way," all I have to say is, there is nothing particularly "French" about it. It's the same old story: sexism + ageism = hyper-regulation of female bodies. New York Times author Ann Morrison spouts the same methods we see right here in good old America:

1. French women enjoy regulating their own bodies ("Frenchwomen I know regard the pampering of the skin, hair and body as an enjoyable, gratifying ritual").

2. French women feel as though exposing "flaws" somehow lessens them sexually or as women (“I never discuss these things in front of my husband”).

3. French women internalize the pressures of weightism and restrict caloric intake...even if it means spending extra dollars on pills and procedures ("Frenchwomen won’t get fat...If Frenchwomen don’t walk enough to stay en forme, there is always a pill, a lotion, a machine or a treatment to do the trick").

4. French women seek multiple treatments and services, spending large sums of money to preserve their youth ("Frenchwomen also recommend facials, massages and spa “cures” in their campaign against wrinkles, cellulite and saggy bottoms, bellies and breasts").

5. French women finance a multi-billion dollar skin care industry ("As for makeup, Frenchwomen of almost every age (except those teenagers) regard less as best...Of course, it’s easy to look natural if your skin is great. And that may be where the French secrets really are. According to a 2008 Mintel report, Frenchwomen spend about $2.2 billion a year on facial skin car").

6. French women get plastic surgery ("The objective of plastic surgery in France, according to Dr. Michel Soussaline, a Paris surgeon with more than 30 years of experience, is “to keep the natural beauty and charm of each individual woman, not to fit some current ideal of beauty.” After all, trends change. In the United States, he says, women who spend a lot of money on face-lifts want to show off their investments...Frenchwomen prefer results that look as natural as possible").

In conclusion, the "way" of female aging is the same in France as in America: fight it at all costs.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

cancer, neurotoxicity, and cosmetics

Remember The Story of Stuff? Well, Annie Leonard is at it again with The Story of Cosmetics.

From a gendered perspective, heteronormative women suffer the most from toxic cosmetics; it's difficult to reap the social "rewards" of sexism without some makeup, nail polish, and a good perfume.

If you're concerned about what you're rubbing on your face or buying for your family, check out the Environmental Working Group's cosmetic safety database, Skin Deep.

And yes, I realize that toxins in moderation may not be poisonous--but we're talking about using several products a day, every day, for a lifetime (while drinking contaminated water, breathing contaminated air, and eating contaminated food, no less).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

PETA is on crack

My dear friend over at Gluten Freeways really threw me for a loop when he sent me PETA's ranking of the top most veg-friendly cities in North America.

I moved to DC from LA--and how the bleep is DC ranked #1 and LA #8?

LA owns DC when it comes to vegan options and convenience. Aside from the disparity in veg-friendly hot spots, a veg girl can't even ask ingredients around these parts without getting a puzzled face or an attitude.

See the ranking for yourself.

Monday, July 19, 2010

giving back to your dry cleaner

Now that I'm a working woman in a walking city, my dry cleaning bill has more than quadrupled since my days of air conditioning during LA gridlock.

Aside from the added expense, I began suffering from another increase--an army of fugly metal hangers in my closet. For months, I have felt too guilty to throw them away (you know, one-timers headed straight to the landfill)--until I had a brilliant idea.

Why don't I just return the hangers to the dry cleaner? My dry cleaner does not advertise itself as eco-friendly, but was still mighty happy to take all the hangers back for re-use. Awesome.