Environmental Laws – California 2012

COMPLETED!

Food & Water – For your protection!

I’m continuing the saga of learning about all the new environmentally oriented laws that were enacted for 2012, just about in time for those that will be enacted in 2013! Because I am obsessive I had to complete the project…and now I am finally DONE!  In the 745 new California laws taking effect or continuing this year, 9 are aimed at protecting your food and water supply.

Admittedly, it continues to take time to read through each of the actual bills and decipher what is being said, it really is taking me until the beginning of October to get through all of this!

If you want to refer to any of these bills in their entirety, anyone can access the PDF with links to the bills as they passed through Congress, including the amendments and the final enacted bill:

www.leginfo.ca.gov/pdf/BillsEnactedReport2011.pdf

FOOD & WATER –>

AB0054

Drinking Water: Insuring Safe Drinking Water

This bill is a long one with multiple components.  The current California Safe Drinking Water Act requires the State Department of Public Health to administer provisions relating to the regulation of drinking water to protect public health and laws already exist to provide funds.  Here comes the legalese of this bill.  It does a few different things.  First, it allows a public water system that is a lead applicant for a project to be funded by the Safe Drinking Water Revolving Fund and would make expenditures related to the project potentially reimbursable.  Second, it authorizes the commission to review and decide on consolidation of territory in the jurisdiction of a mutual water company.  Finally,  it authorizes the commission to include in the service review, whether the drinking water sources comply with safe drinking water standards.

AB0222 

Food and Agriculture: Biotechnology

There is already a bill in place that regulates the Food and Agriculture fund programs.  All this amendment does is eliminates the requirement of the Department of Food and Agriculture from being required to report issues to the Governor and the Legislature.  Not sure the new oversight committee of these funds and programs is any longer, self-regulation?

AB0337

Ocean Protection: Sustainable Seafood

Enacts a voluntary seafood promotion program to promote sustainable fishing industry practices, provide grants/loans for limited activities, and develop labeling standards for these sustainable fishing companies.

AB0983

Safe Drinking Water: State Revolving Fund

Makes minor amendments to the already enacted California Safe Drinking Water Act, basically just addressing actions pertaining to the fund.

AB1152

Groundwater: Groundwater Elevations

Establishes rules for the Department of Water Resources in terms of monitoring groundwater elevations within each basin or sub-basin and the well water management.  Prevents counties from being eligible for water grant/loans administered by the state if they decline to accept responsibility for monitoring groundwater elevations (from unmonitored private wells included).

AB1194

Drinking Water: Safety

The Calderon-Sher Safe Drinking Water Act of 1996 requires the State Department of Public health to adopt regulations regarding contaminants in water potentially ingested by people.  The new addition is that this law permits the department to issue citations if a public water system is in violation and defines the specifics.

AB1292

Safe Drinking Water Funds: Revenue Bonds

Already in place is a bill where money is appropriated into the State Department of Health budget to design and construct projects for public water systems to assist in providing safe drinking water.  This bill authorizes the bank to issue taxable or tax-exempt revenue bonds to provide funding.

SB0267

Water Safety: Pollutant Discharge

Under current law, the State Water Resources Control Board and California Regional Water Quality Control board define waste discharge requirements in accordance with the Clean Water Act and Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act.  The Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act is a state act requiring any proposal to discharge pollutants or fill material to file a report at least 180 days in advance of the date on which it is desiring to discharge the materials.  This bill only changes the date requirement by 5 days, to 185 days before.

SB0818

Food Labeling: Olive Oil

Since I am particularly fond of olives, I found this one interesting.  Currently, the State Department of Public Health enforces laws regarding manufacture, blending, production and sale of olive oil and any violation is a crime.  This law pertains solely to the edible oil obtained solely from the fruit of the olive tree.  The hierarchy from highest to lowest: extra-virgin olive oil, virgin olive oil, and virgin oil not fit for human consumption (lampante virgin olive oil), olive oil, and refined olive oil.  These are all described in detail in the bill.

In 2013, I think I will pick and choose.

Green Living

Can you have it all?

Sometimes it seems like the answer to that question is “no”.  Rather every choice seems more to be, pardon the cliché, but a ‘choice between the lesser of two evils’.

Paying careful attention to every choice I’ve been making has definitely been work and I’m finding others are asking me what I think about which is a better option.

The question of being the perfect ‘green’ consumer resurfaced for me this past week as we went out to our local toyshop to buy a gift for a friend’s daughter.  We try to shop local but a majority of the toys in our local toy store were not from the United States nor made of sustainable or compostable materials.  Ultimately, choosing what seemed the lesser of two evils, we went with a wooden jewelry box with a set of wooden beads to make your own jewelry…from China.

My brother-in-law when he was buying a toy kitchen for his daughter wondered, “is it better to purchase a plastic kitchen made in the United States or a wooden one from China?”

Another friend was shopping in the grocery store the other day and noted the organic fruit had traveled from Mexico and sent my husband a text begging the question, “is it better to purchase organic fruit from another country or local grown produce made via standard farming methods?”

Organic Strawberries---from Mexico

What about organic hummus, but in single serving containers?  Although most of the packaging was recyclable, it just seemed wrong.  I must confess we bought it so our son and I could take it in our lunches.

Single Serve ---Organic Hummus

At times we are weak, like with the single serving hummus.  I also commute, which painfully has been costing me nearly $500/month on gas and does weigh on my conscience.

Other times, we try to be as stringent as possible, such as walking around at the Livermore Farmer’s Market this past Sunday; we only bought from those booths where the produce was grown locally and that had certification of their organic produce status and we walked there from our home with our son and wagon in tow.

It seems more and more of us are trying to make choices with less environmental impact but it’s becoming less and less obvious what the “green” choice is without complex calculations?  Simply realizing that each of our choices has some impact is a first step.  There are times when you can have it all but there are more of the other times, where you have to weigh the options as best you can and decide from there.

There is someone who will help you with some of the calculations.  From the University of Wisconsin Energy Institute the “Environmental Impact Calculator”.

 

 

 

If you care what’s in your food California – Please sign!

Sign the petition

(that’s genetically modified organisms)

Please log on and sign before April 22, 2012!

This is for all those in California who care what is in their food.   If enough signatures can be collected, there will be a measure on the ballot in November 2012 that will require genetically engineered foods to add a label.  That’s it!  All this law is asking is that consumers are informed about the foods they are eating.

Approximately 800,000 signatures are needed by April 22, 2012.  So, if you haven’t already signed the petition go to www.labelgmos.org to learn about the campaign or volunteer.

 

 

 

JUST SAY NO…GMO

or at least label in California

(that’s genetically modified organisms)

 

With two blogs currently in the works that are taking me some time to research, I have a ton of new ideas after returning from the Natural Products Expo West 2012 this past weekend.  This was my first time there and it is amazing what’s available!

Thought I’d write a quick post because it is truly time sensitive.

This is for all those in California who care what is in their food.  At the Expo I signed the petition to get on the ballot labeling of foods.  This measure that will be voted on in November 2012 will require genetically engineered foods to specifically label this fact.  That’s it; just add a label so the consumers know what is in the food they consume!

Approximately 800,000 signatures are needed by April 22, 2012.  So, if you haven’t already signed the petition go to www.labelgmos.org to learn about the campaign or volunteer.

Be sure to add your signature to the petition and get the word out to others!

Score One for Organic Milk

Minus one for those of us finding empty shelves…

I heard a report the other day that Organic Milk sales were up by 15%.  It’s apparent, when we got to the grocery store, the organic milk, especially the one with DHA seems to be gone the most.  The cost, however, is expected to rise by 50% according to the report.  I can’t help but still feel it’s worth the purchase.

If you want to know where your milk comes from, my brother-in-law sent me over a link to find out:  http://whereismymilkfrom.com/

My Horizon, Organic DHA Omega-3, Vitamin D milk comes from White Wave Foods in Industry, California.

Please dairy farmers, produce more organic milk!

World Food Day 2011

What’s for dinner?

Today, October 16th is World Food Day!  I admit, I hadn’t heard about this until recently but I’m learning.

The first World Food Day was celebrated in 1981 and is held in recognition of the founding of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. In essence, the reason for its existence is to increase awareness of hunger and spark conversation on how to alleviate hunger worldwide.

According to the World Bank, in 2010-2011 rising food costs pushed nearly 70 million people into extreme poverty.  Feeding America estimates, even in the United States, 49 million people are forced to skip meals or go days without eating because of their financial situation.  This equates to 1 in 6 people but statistics show the rates are actually higher in children, 1 in 5 who go hungry.  Even with readily accessible food in grocery stores, it is not accessible to everyone.

This year’s World Food Day motto is “From Crisis to Stability”.  Where international markets are concerned, this is a complex topic and one I have very limited knowledge about. However, thinking community and bringing it closer to home, the World Food Day planners put together a nice Sunday dinner discussion guide to think about our relations with food.

It’s easy in the United States to forget “the story” of the items in your store, with farms generally being so separated from the supermarkets where we purchase the bulk of our food.  This guide suggests questions for your guests.  For instance, start by asking where your food comes from and taking a moment to remember the farmer’s who grew it. Other questions they suggest are:  if your guests know any farmers personally, do they grow any produce themselves, or have they personally been affected by price fluctuations in the market (ie. not able to make a favorite meal because of availability or price).

In my own home, before eating, this past year I started asking those at the table to share one thing for which they are grateful.  I found it a way to pause and acknowledge before eating. While there is so much conflict in the world, there too is positivity in our lives.

Do you have any rituals before eating to pause and acknowledge if you don’t have a formal prayer?

"hunger words" - World Food Day USA

Besides asking the questions, Oxfam provided a number of other aspects that affect the food supply chains.  I’ve chosen a few where we, in the United States, may make the biggest difference.

  1. Waste less.  According to Oxfam, sadly, even while some Americans go hungry, consumers here throw away as much as 25% of the food they buy.  In fact, we waste more than we donate in food-aid.  If we cut back on waste, at home and work, we could reduce the amount of food needed and ensure more than enough for others.  The best thing you could do is buy only what you need.  However, other ideas to reduce waste would be partnering with another family to go in on groceries or buy in bulk with others, share with your neighbors, church, family or friends if you realize things are going to go to waste, or donate to agencies and shelters with other families in your neighborhood regularly.
  2. Speak up about corn-ethanol programs.  The Environmental Protection Agency found that corn-based ethanol releases more greenhouse gas than standard gasoline. What a waste then to spend billions of tax dollars to turn corn into fuel!  Let your congress know to stop wasting the funds, write and vote.
  3. Support programs that support farmers.  We rely on farmers for our daily meals; yet, many of these individuals struggle to survive.  There are fewer legal protections for farm workers.  Let legislature know you want safe working environments for those who work on the farms.  In this country, many of the workers are immigrants, whether legal/illegal ask farms to grow responsible and ethical produce. There is w
  4. Voice your opinion via the almighty $$.  Only purchase from companies who support sustainable practices. Better yet buy locally grown food at your Farmer’s Markets or join food co-ops, delivering local fare.

 

Make everyday World Food Day!

 

Other things you can do:

Visit the World Food Day USA page –>  http://www.worldfooddayusa.org/

Sign the “One Billion Hungry” petition –> http://www.1billionhungry.org/

Sign up to help in other ways throughout the year –> Text 30644, type the word OXFAM

                                (Can text STOP at any time)

Donate to Feeding America http://feedingamerica.org/