Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Stuff Happens

Last week, I blogged about Dead Zones. Last night, I caught the tail end of an episode of "Stuff Happens" with Bill Nye titled, "Breakfast." The tidbit that really caught my attention was about the 200 mile by 35 mile dead zone off the coast of Maryland and Virginia. The instigator of which, I imagine, may a big name poultry producer in Salisbury, MD.

Nye started talking about the billions and billions of eggs that we consume, the chickens that they come from, and the overwhelming amount of nitrogen output by chickens kept in massive containment in order maximise egg production. While plenty of nitrogen can be great for soil quality, the run-off reeks havoc in nearby waters: creating dead zones. So what's the solution? When buying poultry products (chicken, eggs) you want to be sure they are from, or are, free range chickens. Purchasing from these massive output-focused establishments means supporting not only inhumane treatment of chickens, but also it worsens the growing problem of dead zones.

I understand the "Breakfast" episode also examines coffee. Paul Roberts gives a detailed explanation of the pitfalls of the coffee trade over the past few decades in his latest, The End of Food. This is huge topic that I hope to explore in depth in the future. For now, as with poultry, a good rule of thumb is to look for the word "free" as in "free trade" when purchasing coffee.

Check out for "Stuff Happens" episode guides and other Planet Green series listings.

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