By Della Watson
Grilled | DIY: Local Food Directory
Invading the Privacy of the People Who Make the Club Tick
Tom Dusenbery/Courtesy of the Goldman Environmental Prize
Water Sentinels activist fighting concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)
We've had dead animals put on our car, on our porch, in our mailbox. We've had property damage on our farm, we've had our mailbox blown up, and last December, my two-year-old granddaughter's bedroom window got shot up right after I had turned in a local CAFO for violations.
They're turning clean, fresh groundwater into waste. In 2001, the EPA reported that there are 168 chemicals in manure, which ferments in lagoons for months, changing the chemical characteristics of the waste. It brings out the methane, the carbon dioxide, the carbon monoxide, and the ammonia. Both of my in-laws have been diagnosed with hydrogen sulfide poisoning [from CAFO exposure], which causes irreversible brain damage, memory loss, headaches, nausea, anger.
I'm not totally vegetarian, but I know where my food comes from. I have a one-acre garden, and I trade vegetables. I have an older gentleman that raises organic turkeys, and we have a fish pond on our property. I do not drink milk at all, and I will not buy meat from a store.
It opened doors for me to educate the people, the agencies, the government about this issue. I got to go to San Francisco and Washington. I met the president, I met [EPA director] Lisa Jackson, I had lunch with congressional leaders. I've had more than 40 interviews since April. Erin Brockovich herself interviewed me for O magazine.
Actually, we're working together on several issues now. She and I are back and forth on e-mail now.
Yes, I have that movie. The people who sent it to me were calling me Erin Poopovich.
[Laughs.] I haven't even thought about it.
—interview by Della Watson
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DIY: Local Food Directory
South Dakotans Go Loco for Local
Some South Dakota Sierra Clubbers got inspired to support local food by the meat-delivering Goosemobile, which gave them a personal connection with the farmers producing their meat. In 2007, Vermillion resident Dean Spader decided to take the group's locavore leanings further by creating a local foods directory.
"I wanted to make it as practical as possible to find local produce," said Spader, a retired professor who figures he and his wife, Vikki Fix, grow about half of their food. When they resolved to get as much of the rest as possible from area growers, the idea for the directory was born.
Over six months, Spader and fellow Sierra Clubber Barbara Yelverton contacted every nearby farm and food organization they could find. The result is an online and printed resource that people can use to buy fresh, local produce and meat. The directory has even earned the chapter new members: Kelly Fuller and Paul Blackburn recently relocated to Vermillion in part because of its thriving locavore movement.
"It seemed that if there was a lively foods scene," Fuller said, "we'd probably find like-minded people." —Jamie Hansen
When creating a local foods directory, allow farmers to describe what they do in their own words. Spader sent farmers a questionnaire that asked who, what, how, and why.
Check out the South Dakota Chapter's Vermillion area directory at southdakota.sierraclub.org/livingriver/localfoods.htm.