Allez

June 22, 2015
By Mickey Friedman

2003. It seems like a lifetime ago when Republican Bob Ney renamed French fries because the French didn’t want to invade Iraq. We showed those Frenchies. Freedom fries not only tasted better but were better for you. And we all know who won the war in Iraq. It certainly wasn’t the French.

But I’m not one to hold a grudge. Give credit where credit is due. Pâté – especially if you don’t know how it’s made – is pretty damn good. And it’s hard to knock that brie cheese.

Anyway, my point is they’ve just done something almost as impressive as inventing French dressing and the French Open.

They’ve just passed a law that forces French supermarkets to give away their unsold food to charities. Incroyable. Or even better, incredible.

According to the UK Guardian “the Socialist deputy Guillaume Garot, a former food minister said ‘It’s scandalous to see bleach being poured into supermarket dustbins along with edible foods.’”

Holy moley, they’ve got Socialist deputies. Who obviously aren’t messing around. Because “The law explicitly bans the practice of supermarkets deliberately spoiling unsold food so it cannot be eaten. Bigger supermarkets … will be obliged to sign formal contracts with charities by July next year, or face penalties including fines … or two years in jail.” Fines of about $83,000. And two years is two years whether the guards speak English or French.

Pourqoui, you ask? Why?

Well, the French are wasting too much pâté and brie and the pommes de terre they need for freedom fries. And fruits and vegetables and meat and dairy products. “According to official estimates, the average French person throws out 20-30kg of food a year, at a combined national cost of up to €20bn.” Which in the States would be 44 – 66 pounds of food a year. At a cost of about $22 billion.

And as an article in ThinkProgress adds: “Mired in an economic slump, France has seen a growing number of people living off food scavenged from waste bins outside grocery stores, which has prompted an outcry from aid workers and activists … ‘There’s an absolute urgency – charities are desperate for food,’ Assemblymember Yves Jégo told Parliament.”

Food waste, it turns out, is a very big deal. A 2013 Report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers found that “The world wastes from one-third to one-half of the four billion metric tons of food it produces each year.”

This is an even bigger problem than it seems. When you consider the effects of the climate crisis and the added stress of the world’s growing population, it is becoming increasingly difficult and more expensive to produce food.

According to the study, the problem of food waste changes with economic development. In poorer less developed countries waste occurs mainly at the farmer/producer level with inefficient harvesting and storage and transportation.

“In mature, fully developed countries … more-efficient farming practices and better transport, storage and processing facilities ensure that a larger proportion of the food produced reaches markets and consumers. However, characteristics associated with modern consumer culture mean produce is often wasted through retail and customer behavior.”

Voilà.

According to Grant Bowman’s fascinating documentary “Just Eat It,” about 97% of all our food waste ends up in a landfill or incinerator.

Unfortunately the consequences of food waste are multiplied. First, we waste extraordinary amounts of water and energy to create the food we waste. Then we squander extraordinary amounts of energy and land to bury or destroy what we’re wasting.

When I think about food waste, I think of Mel Greenberg driving around from markets super to small gathering what’s about to be wasted. I see volunteers turning this into dinner for the hungry. I think about the food pantries throughout the county straining to meet the ever-increasing need for food.

So how about we allez. And vamos. Do it. What the French did.

The Best Small Town in America, which successfully banned plastic bags – about which my friends advise me not to joke anymore – well how about we ban supermarket waste. How about we tell our supermarkets they have to give food pantries and Mel Greenberg the food they’re about to throw away?

We remind our friends at Big Y and the Price Chopper of the federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act which protects them when they donate food to non-profits; and protects them from civil and criminal liability across the country if the food they donate in good faith cause harm to a recipient.

And mandate a team from the Police Department, Fire Department, the DPW, the Health Department and volunteers from Railroad Street Youth and Greenagers to create a pickup team. What if The Best Small Town in America funded a seven day a week food pantry in downtown GB which distributed this free food to worthy recipients.

Allez. Vamos. Let’s Go.

_________________________________________________________________________________

For more information:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/05/26/3662627/france-outlaws-grocery-store-food-waste/

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/french-parliament-cracks-supermarket-waste-31227139

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/22/france-to-force-big-supermarkets-to-give-away-unsold-food-to-charity


http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/02/26/3627531/wasting-food-expensive-bad-for-climate/

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/01/14/1444141/the-world-wastes-as-much-as-half-its-food-new-study-finds/


http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/09/11/2604811/food-waste-report/


http://www.feedingamerica.org/ways-to-give/give-food/become-a-product-partner/protecting-our-food-partners.html

The Melting Honeybees

By Mickey Friedman
June 10, 2015

I’ve never been able to juggle. One ball’s going up, another is headed down, and another is suspended for a moment in space. Too confusing and the balls invariably fall from the sky and bonk me in the head.

And now this morning thinking about what to write about my mind is doing pretty much the same thing – boggling, as one idea is joined by another. I blame Twitter. I follow all these different news organizations and social and political groups, not to mention all the sportswriters and comedians who I can’t blame for today’s dilemma. All these people have things to say and stories they want me to read and things they think I should be thinking about. It’s like a nonstop Associated Press wire.
READ MORE >>

I Know Defensive

By Mickey Friedman
May 22, 2015

I’ve been lucky enough to have loved and been loved, in the short term at least, by a small gaggle of therapists. Of the Freudian, Jungian, Family, and Psychosynthesist persuasions, plus a Hungarian Jewish Gypsy Fortune-Teller. That counts, right?

So I know from defensiveness. I’ve been called “defensive” by them all. Remote and reluctant to share. Unable to trust. So defensive I didn’t realize I was defensive.

It took years of real therapy — sitting across from a therapist, not a lover — to see the truth: guilty as charged. I was defensive. Majorly defensive. So I now know defensive when I see it.
READ MORE >>

Maxy For Mayor

May 13, 2015
By Mickey Friedman

They all have Japanese names, these incredible yellow machines that now make Main Street their home. My favorite, Komatsu. But they all do amazing work. Thanks to their humans.

I’ve got a front row seat here at Fuel Great Barrington, and I admit to reverting back to childhood. When I was a kid there were wooden barriers built at construction sites but the workers drilled holes so you could always peer in from the street at what was happening behind closed walls.

Whether you wanted the trees gone or not; whether you wanted the old to give way to the new or liked things the way they were, funky and quirky and sometimes chaotic, you have to be impressed by the way Maxymillian Construction is dismantling Downtown GB.
READ MORE >>

Twenty-Two Times A Day

April 26, 2015
By Mickey Friedman

Sometimes something happens we know nothing about. Down the road a bit. Around the block. The other side of town. In another state. Or the other side of the country. And so it’s understandable if we don’t know about it.
READ MORE >>

Goodbye

April 21, 2015
By Mickey Friedman

We’re supposed to just get on with it. Embrace the future. Forsake sadness. As the past vanishes before our eyes. Exalt the instrument of transformation, the chainsaw.

But during a moment of daydream one almost killed me. And chainsaws attacking trees have claimed others I know.

Some trees resist the metal that tears through them. The wood not content with the often arbitrary and man-made determination to end its day.

Those of us who came to care for the Bradford Pear trees have lost. And of course those who were convinced they had to go will always celebrate their decision. Because they had to go. That’s the way it goes. Like our old Firehouse had to go for a pittance.
READ MORE >>

A Fence with a View

By Bill Shein
April 3, 2015

“The Town of Great Barrington is accepting letters of interest from legal residents/registered voters to fill the following vacancies: Fence Viewer (1) – Until 2015.”From “Jobs and Opportunities” on townofgb.org.

To the Great Barrington Select Board:

Greetings and salutations! I write in response to news of a vacancy in the Great Barrington Department of Rules, Weights, Measures and Lines, and humbly submit my name for consideration for the storied position of Fence Viewer.

Let me assume that the parenthetical “1” in “Fence Viewer (1)” means you are seeking a duly certified, experienced, and passionate Viewer of Fences, First Class, rather than a novice, apprentice, second class, or otherwise entry-level fence viewer.

If so, I congratulate you on your commitment to professional-quality fence viewing, and your desire to see this vital town responsibility met expertly, with the highest standards of world-class viewing. Of fences, in particular, but perhaps also of flower beds, historic barns, duck ponds, waterfalls, and maybe even supermodels, should there be a need. READ MORE >>

Starting Fresh

By Mickey Friedman
April 3, 2015

Some in the Berkshire Hills Regional School District (BHRSD) look down their educational noses at our neighbors of the Southern Berkshire Regional School District (SBRSD). But the administrators, School Committee, teachers, students, support staff, parents and taxpayers of the SBRSD are accomplishing in a short time what we failed to do. Prioritize. Compromise. And with the hoped-for YES vote in New Marlborough providing a new roof and energy efficient boiler for Mount Everett Regional High School.

I want to congratulate them all.

READ MORE >>

It’s A Bird, Man!

March 10, 2015
By Mickey Friedman

Surprise, surprise: It’s a Bird, Man!

Hollywood, maker of dreams, never-ending schemes to fill movie theaters packed with people munching popcorn. One of many millions, I watched Neil Patrick Harris sing and dance his way through Oscar’s bad jokes and tele-prompted chitchat, with the occasional poke at his fellow celebrities, and the halfhearted attempt to acknowledge the extraordinary waste of it all.
READ MORE >>

Je Suis Mickey

By Mickey Friedman
February 27, 2015

Je suis Mickey. I am Mickey. Certainly not Charlie. When I get anywhere near Paris, the little French I learned at eight in the morning at City College goes running for the Spanish border.

But I sympathize with Charlies everywhere: the comics, cartoonists, satirists, and social critics who poke fun at our pomposity, arrogance, and stupidities.

After a few days of outrage that cartoonists were killed by some so offended by taking their Lord in vain that they deserved death, there’s a backlash. Somehow they crossed that invisible line between acceptable satire and offense. Well, the problem is the Emperors/Emperesses take offense at it all. That he/she is completely naked is just the last straw. But sadly that many rulers large and small are arbitrary, stupid, unkind and much-too-powerful is pretty much the way it is.

READ MORE >>

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An online newsmagazine based in the Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts, Red Crow News covers what's happening and what we hope will happen.

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