Chefs Alice Waters and Jerome Waag of the legendary Chez Panisse in Berkeley, today launched a chefs’ petition urging fellow food professionals to take a stand against fracking in California. Working in collaboration with Food & Water Watch, a founding committee member of the statewide coalition Californians Against Fracking, the chefs are concerned about the threat fracking poses to the world-renown food and wine grown, served and sold in California. The petition includes a letter calling on Gov. Brown (D-CA) to place a moratorium on fracking now.
Fracking is a highly controversial process for extracting oil and gas that, along with related drilling, wastewater disposal and other extreme extraction methods like acidizing, has raised serious environmental and public health concerns across the country.
In California the oil and gas industry has intensified its focus on the Monterey Shale, which sits beneath some of the state’s most prized farmland, and hopes to conduct new, more intensive forms of fracking and extraction, putting California’s scarce and precious water resources and most prized farmland at serious risk. Plus, wastewater from fracking and drilling operations is regularly dumped or leaked into waterways, putting fisheries in danger.
With 81,500 farms producing $43.5 billion in annual profits in 2011, agriculture is California’s leading industry and California is the nation’s largest farm state. In states like Pennsylvania, Colorado and Ohio, grazing animals have gotten sick and died after drinking fracking runoff and water from farm wells near fracking operations and in Kern County, CA, one farmer lost millions of dollars worth of almond and pistachio crops from groundwater contamination from a nearby fracking operation.
In a letter to the state’s chefs, Waters writes, “as chefs, restaurateurs, and eaters who cherish and rely on the natural bounty cultivated and cared for by our state’s farmers, ranchers, fishers and food producers, we cannot stand by and allow the same fate to befall California’s unparalleled food shed,” noting that in New York, chefs and food professionals have been instrumental in keeping fracking from putting that state’s agricultural and fishery bounty in jeopardy.
“By signing this important petition you’ll be adding your name to a list of chefs who care about the provenance of our food, the stewardship of our land and the future of our state’s health,” writes Waters.
The chefs’ petition comes on the heels of the passage by the state legislature of Senate Bill 4, a controversial bill sponsored by State Senator Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) that creates a permit process for fracking and other dangerous forms of oil extraction to continue. The bill, opposed by leading environmental, public health and consumer organizations, was just signed by Gov. Brown. However, polls show that most Californians oppose fracking and nearly 200,000 have signed a petition to Gov. Brown asking him to ban it outright.
“The oil and gas industry’s favorite talking point is how fracking will bring jobs, but they neglect to factor in the impact that fracking would have on the industries that make California great—namely our agriculture, fisheries, food production and culinary arts,” said Adam Scow, California campaigns director for Food & Water Watch. “The best way for Gov. Brown to build a legacy for himself as a champion for California is to place a moratorium on fracking immediately."
Several top California chefs have already signaled their support, including legendary chef/author Joyce Goldstein; Chris Cosentino, Incanto, Boccalone; Joshua Drew, FarmshopLA; Ann Gentry, Real Food Daily; Bruce Hill, Picco, Zero Zero, Bix and the just-relaunched Fog City; Laurence Jossel, Nopa; Roxana Jullapat, Cooks County; Robert Klein, Oliveto; Mourad Lahlou, Aziza; Joanna Moore, AXE; Anthony Myint, Mission Street Food; Cal Peternell, Chez Panisse; Gayle Pirie, Foreign Cinema; Amaryll Schwertner, Boulette’s Larder/Bouli Bar; Annie Somerville, Greens; James Syhabout, Commis, Hawker Fare and forthcoming Box & Bells; Heidi Swanson, chef/author; Steffan Terje, Perbacco; and chef/author Bryant Terry.
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
By Gudrun Heise
Just as scientists are scoring successes in coronavirus research, new problems are on their way. Fall is with us and winter is around the corner, so the season for colds and flu has begun — joining COVID-19.
Influenza Vaccination<p>A flu vaccination may thus be able to narrow down the diagnostic options when flu-like symptoms occur, but whether such a vaccination also has an influence on the behavior of the dangerous new virus is — like so much else — not clear. "It is conceivable that there is an indirect effect. But it is, I believe, a matter of speculation whether it has an immunological effect in the narrower sense," says Krause.</p><p>Every winter, doctors' waiting rooms are full of people who are coughing and sniffing but who mostly turn out to have only a severe respiratory infection. According to current knowledge, the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, is also likely to be subject to seasonal fluctuations. </p><p>In winter, cold viruses, at least, flourish because cold and dry air offers ideal conditions for their spread. In addition, it becomes more difficult to air rooms regularly and intensively — an important further measure to counteract the coronavirus and contain to some extent the danger posed by aerosols.</p><p>According to the <a href="https://www.rki.de/DE/Home/homepage_node.html" target="_blank">Robert Koch Institute, Germany's public health agency</a>, between 5% and 20% of people in Germany become infected with flu viruses every year. These viruses are also dangerous and can be fatal. The flu vaccination must be adapted to the influenza viruses every year, because they mutate. But at least there is a vaccination.</p><p>Most experts agree that there is unlikely to be a vaccine against the coronavirus by the time the next wave of influenza comes around. And even if a vaccine were to be approved, many unknowns remain.</p>
COVID-19 and Flu Simultaneously<p>For example, there is a lack of practical experience in dealing simultaneously with SARS-CoV-2 and influenza. It is possible to speculate that having influenza could facilitate the entry of the coronavirus into the human body. "The general weakening of the immune system during an influenza infection could increase the susceptibility of a patient to a SARS-CoV-2 infection," Krause says.</p><p>However, it is uncertain how dangerous this double infection could ultimately be and what can be done about it. Krause is of the opinion that we must arm ourselves against all three diseases — colds, flu and COVID-19. If we have a cold, bed rest, hot tea and cough medicine usually help. We can get vaccinated against flu. But how do we deal with COVID-19?</p><p><span></span>Probably people can only hope that if they get the illness, they will have a mild form with as few after-effects as possible. Here, it will certainly help to stick to suggested rules on hygiene to reduce or prevent our exposure to the virus. In an interview with DW, Bonn-based virology professor Hendrik Streeck made it clear that COVID-19 usually takes a more severe course when there is a high viral load at infection.</p>
Hygiene, Hygiene, Hygiene<p>The same hygiene measures with which we are trying to get at least some kind of grip on COVID-19 also apply to influenza. The less we come into contact with viruses, the greater the chance that we will be spared an infection or that it will be mild.</p><p>These measures include general hygiene precautions such as frequent hand washing and the wearing of protective face masks. "The various hygienic measures against COVID-19 will also reduce the spread of influenza," says Krause. "Possibly, further connections of a more immunological nature will be discovered."</p><p>Let us hope that is the case, because the flu season hasn't even started.</p>
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By Sharon Zhang
Back in March, when the pandemic had just planted its roots in the U.S., President Donald Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to do something devastating: The agency was to indefinitely and cruelly suspend environmental rule enforcement. The EPA complied, and for just under half a year, it provided over 3,000 waivers that granted facilities clemency from state-level environmental rule compliance.