Waste not, want not – in Oakland

❝ The red plum’s presence confounds the third grader. She didn’t want the fruit in the first place, yet there it is. She doesn’t want to eat it, but she knows that tossing it into the garbage at Oakland’s Hoover Elementary School is wrong. Standing before containers for trash, recyclables, compostables, and unopened entrees, milk cartons, and whole fruit, the girl’s decision-making matches her Disney-movie hijab — Frozen.

Fortunately, Nancy Deming, the school district’s sustainability manager for custodial and nutritional services, is supervising the sorting line today. “If you’ve started eating your fruit, it goes in the compost,” she reminds the girl with a smile. “If you haven’t taken a bite, it goes to Food Share.” The girl glances at the plum, then carefully places it in the clear bin, from which students can take whatever unopened or unbitten foods they please. Anything left will either be offered the next day or donated to a local hunger-relief organization.

❝ For decades, students here and there have made use of designated tables in school lunch rooms to leave or pick up unwanted whole fruit, packaged foods, or other meal items. Although rare in most school districts, Deming has standardized the practice and made it mandatory for schools serving some 37,000 students in Oakland. As the only school employee in the country whose sole responsibility is fighting food waste, Deming has transformed the Oakland Unified School District — and somewhat reluctantly herself — into a national leader. With her help, the district has arguably done more than any other in the country to minimize excess food, redistribute edible leftovers to people in need, and compost the inevitable inedibles.

Always nice to see someone in a craft often practiced casually – managed by cheapass bureaucrats – build sensible frugality into successful management.

Counterfeit Canned Tomatoes

❝ Rossetto Kasper wrote: “What is it with San Marzano tomatoes? Their PR shines; every chef recommends them, but I wonder how many have actually tasted them next to American tomatoes.”

❝ What seems to be the issue with San Marzano tomatoes is widespread fraud. They command a higher price than regular canned tomatoes, and as with any other premium brand, counterfeits follow. Unlike faux Chanel bags, though, you can buy San Marzanos in legit stores, which is why the sheer number of knockoffs is jaw-dropping. In 2011, Edoardo Ruggiero, the president of Consorzio San Marzano, told the small Italian importing company Gustiamo that at maximum 5 percent of tomatoes sold in the U.S. as San Marzanos are real San Marzanos. So according to the guy who oversees the certification of those tomatoes, at least 95 percent of the so-called San Marzanos in the U.S. are fakes…

❝ With all this fraud going on, I wondered if chefs even used San Marzanos…Food writers are working with ingredients that home cooks can easily find at the neighborhood grocery store, where all the San Marzanos are fakes. If you’re at the grocery store, Muir Glen is your best bet. But good chefs don’t shop at the grocery store and test out all sorts of specialty suppliers to find the best possible ingredients available.

RTFA. Learn what’s really available, see what trained chefs use, what good home cooks can use to make a great Italian tomato sauce.

Thanks, Om Malik

Replanting a forest from the air

❝ Wildfires are consuming our forests and grasslands faster than we can replace them. It’s a vicious cycle of destruction and inadequate restoration rooted, so to speak, in decades of neglect of the institutions and technologies needed to keep these environments healthy.

DroneSeed is a Seattle-based startup that aims to combat this growing problem with a modern toolkit that scales: drones, artificial intelligence and biological engineering. And it’s even more complicated than it sounds…

❝ Earlier this year, DroneSeed was awarded the first multi-craft, over-55-pounds unmanned aerial vehicle license ever issued by the FAA. Its custom UAV platforms, equipped with multispectral camera arrays, high-end lidar, six-gallon tanks of herbicide and proprietary seed dispersal mechanisms have been hired by several major forest management companies, with government entities eyeing the service as well.

RTFA. Please. Interesting, useful tech being used for progressive ends benefitting our species. Perhaps, if sufficient numbers of human beings get off their rusty-dusties and build political movements to support and involve solutions like this – we can turn around some of the decades of profits-before-anything-else ideology that has destroyed so much of this world, this nation’s potential.

Annual Growth in Personal Income Since the Great Recession

The second-longest U.S. economic expansion has played out unevenly across states. Growth has been strongest in North Dakota and a group of mostly Western states and weakest in Connecticut, as measured by the rate of change in each state’s total personal income since the start of the Great Recession. In the first half of 2018, all but a couple of states shared in widespread gains.

The national recovery has been long-running, but growth in total U.S. personal income is still off its historic pace. As of the second quarter of 2018, the combined personal income of U.S. residents rose by the equivalent of 1.9 percent a year over the 10-plus years since the recession began, compared with the equivalent of 2.3 percent over the past 20 years, after accounting for inflation.

The rates represent the constant pace at which inflation-adjusted state personal income would need to grow each year to reach the most recent level and are one way of tracking a state’s economy.

RTFA, Check the map. Maybe even wander back through newspaper archives and check out what your state politicians said their “solutions” would provide. Versus what you ended up with. Like in supply-side Republican bastions like Kansas.

Number of indocumentados reaches 12-year low

❝ The estimated number of undocumented immigrants living in the USA reached a 12-year low in 2016, continuing a decade-long decline in which that population fell from a high of 12.2 million in 2007 to 10.7 million in 2016…

Researchers from the Pew Research Center, which conducted the analysis, said economics played a major role in that fall. The Great Recession wiped out millions of jobs that attracted undocumented immigrants to the USA, while the Mexican economy steadily improved, giving Mexicans more reasons to stay in their country…

❝ In fact, Pew concluded in 2015 that more Mexicans returned to their home country than entered the USA, a historic shift in the source of illegal immigration.

Anyone who works building trades along the southern border could have told USA Today the same.