10 in 10: Consider Heating Your Home with Biomass

10in10

A new decade brings new opportunities and challenges. The interaction between diet and health received significant attention during “The Aughts.” What will we do during this next decade to respond to the call for action for a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle? This is the third in a continuing series highlighting 10 ways you can help this year.



This new year, make it your resolution to put your home on a carbon diet. We did it a few years ago, and have reaped many rewards. Since March of 2006, a corn-burning stove has occupied one corner of our living room. It’s a nice thing to cozy up to on a cold winter’s eve, but the stove is more than just a nice aesthetic addition to our home, it’s also our main source of heat. Beyond that, it provides economic benefits to our family and region, and environmental benefits to everyone.

Our corn stove looks a lot like this one

Our corn stove looks a lot like this one

Meanwhile, the oil furnace in our basement has become our backup heating system, used sparingly, such as when the temperatures dip well below freezing and the stove needs a little help heating the house. Our oil use has been so sparing that we went three years between oil deliveries – which was very confusing to the company that delivers our heating oil. That company would call us periodically wondering why we hadn’t needed a delivery in so long. After all, in those years B.C. (before corn) we would fill our oil tank a few times per heating season. Read More >

Response to the President of the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association: Use of Roxarsone in poultry and swine feed defies “sustainability.”

Responding to Congressman Steve Israel’s (D-NY) proposed ban on roxarsone – an arsenical growth-promoting additive to swine and poultry feed – John Starkey, President of the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, claimed use of the antimicrobial drug in poultry feed “…increases sustainability of production.”  Mr. Starkey’s use of the term “sustainability” requires clarification – is he associating roxarsone use in feed with a form of sustainable agriculture, or is he suggesting the practice is necessary to sustain the cost-effectiveness of a poultry operation?  Both claims are unsupported, if not wholly contradictory to the evidence. Read More >

The AMA’s Support for Sustainable Food Systems: They Sure Can Talk the Talk

President Obama spoke at the AMA conference last week

President Obama spoke at the AMA conference last week

Last week at the American Medical Association’s 158th annual meeting in Chicago members passed a resolution that supports the advocacy of sustainable healthy food systems. This is a landmark time for environmentalists since the AMA had previously endorsed healthy food alternatives and minimizing the environmental impact of certain foods, but never before has it publicly recognized the dangerous effects of the current industrial food manufacturing system. The AMA issued a statement making clear the benefits of more healthy and sustainable food systems. They get it: “Healthy food is part of a sustainable food system, in which food is defined not only by its nutrient content, but also by how and where it is raised, grown, processed, and distributed.”

The resolution piggybacked a report issued by the AMA’s Council on Science and Public Health that recognizes the ecological footprint of industrially produced food, understanding that it contributes to antibiotic resistance, climate change and air and water pollution. Combating these causes of damage to the environment is a preventive treatment for illnesses and conditions such as asthma. This preventive approach is all the rage as it is consistent with President Obama’s stance on healthcare reform, and who wouldn’t want to be in the President’s good graces?

The major buzzword of the week is “sustainable,” a term used by the President himself when addressing the large AMA meeting on June 15th. Sustainable food systems seem to fit into the sustainable healthcare picture that the President is pursuing. Not to mention, the idea of sustainable food systems has already been on his radar, something he implied when describing the White House victory garden which is in place to educate children on the significance of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. Read More >