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New West Daily Roundup for Feb. 23, 2016


Today in New West news: Arch Coal versus unsecured creditors in bankruptcy schism and organic alfalfa fraud in Idaho.

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The Hard Questions Of Raising Bison For Supper

Do you know where your meat comes from? Was the animal raised and killed with "compassion?" Do its survivors grieve? Bob Jackson says it all sounds so New Age, so Left of center, so radically alternative, so touchy feely, and yet many Americans are making a conscious shift in their diets and attitudes toward more healthful, natural foods. As the movement gains both cultural and economic momentum, consumers also are facing questions they never pondered before. One of the native edibles appearing increasingly on family dinner menus is bison. Over the last several days, NewWest.Net has carried on a conversation with "Action" Jackson, the bison rancher who first made headlines as an outspoken backcountry ranger who battled big game poachers in the wilds of Yellowstone. But every autumn when he went home to Iowa for the winter, Jackson's lesser-known parallel life took shape as he steadily grew his own bison herd. In this, the conclusion to our interview with Jackson, he takes readers metaphorically and physically into his own backyard where he has enlisted bison to become a better land steward and to tweak the sensibilities of our consumer, fast-food society.

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America Is Paying A Steep Price For Cheap Food

George Wuerthner has been called a brilliant provocateur who knows how to get under the skin of Western ranchers. With this essay, one that is certain to incite a strong reaction from readers, he examines the costs of America's cheap food policy on both the U.S. Treasury and the environment. Wuerthner writes: "Agriculture is the most destructive land use in America." As an activist, trained biologist, photographer and environmental writer, he has become a prominent figure in the campaign to eliminate livestock from public lands. The author of several dozen books, Wuerthner also has written prolifically about forest ecology, wildfire, the impacts of ATVs and, of course, the effects of non-native cattle and sheep on native species. His coffee-table picture book,Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West, set off a firestorm of debate over the impacts of livestock and the multiple ways that beef production is subsidized by U.S. taxpayers. His most recent book is Wild Fire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy. With this first piece, NewWest.Net is debuting a regular column from Mr. Wuerthner that will run twice a month on all things nature-related and anything that suits his fancy.

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Bozeman Organic Food Hub Ponders Peril Of Staying Small

Editor's Note: Small may be beautiful and quaint, but sometimes small means having less opportunity to think big and make a difference in changing the world. Around Montana's Gallatin Valley within the growing legion of people who have joined the healthy food movement, rumors have been persistant that the Community Food Co-op of Bozeman, located at 908 West Main Street, is considering opening a second store. The speculation, in fact, was confirmed this week in a story written by Dean Williamson, a Co-op Board member, in the newsletter Community Food News. Where the new store would break ground is still a matter of discussion but even talk of it has spurred wider chatter that is relevant to every sister co-op in America. As anyone who tries to shop healthy knows, buying organic foods isn't cheap when compared to fruits, vegetables and meats grown on industrial farms and sold in the supermarkets. In fact, it has caused many to question if there isn't a growing chasm not only between economic and social haves and have nots, but a gap between those who can afford to eat healthiest and working class folks whose limited incomes prevent them from being able to purchase organic products. In yet another provocative essay from Kelly Dean Wiseman, general manager of the Community Food Co-op, the topic is partially addressed as the local center of healthy food thinks about where to invest its profits.

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Bozeman’s Community Food Co-op Wrestles With Its Own Success

Bozeman's Community Food Co-op, in its distinctive metallic-silver building that looks like a retro-grain elevator on Main Street (located, interestingly enough, across from Safeway), is in the minds of its ardent patrons the very paragon of rebellion against Big Box stores, industrialization of food commodities, and material-driven conspicuous consumption. Be a Yokel, Buy Local is the catchphrase. Yet what happens when the Co-op's own startling success forces it to grow and expand its footprint and staff? Ah, a fascinating dilemma. Only four years ago did the Co-op move into its brand new space—gargantuan, then— that is already outgrown. The Co-op now has over 150 employees spread across four buildings in 10 departments, an annual payroll of $2.6 million, and a 12 percent growth rate in which 140 new members are being added to the rolls every month. In this bit of reflection, Co-op general manager Kelly Dean Wiseman ponders the fledging from a once quaint mom and pop-sized operation to something a bit more, well, supersized. Can the Co-op remain different from the food markets that it long has stood in contrast against? Can it maintain its identity?

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Salt Lake City’s One World Cafe: Food For All

Swing open the glass door to the One World Café and you’ll see prep cooks chopping vegetables and serving food while people wait in line to pick out what they’d like from the day’s offerings. Professionals in suits, students with books and mothers with their children sit at small tables on the outskirts of the kitchen area. Laughter is heard further back through one of the doorways. The scene is the nearly perfect picture of a small café in the city. Besides some ordinary props that are missing -- a menu, a cash register, prices -- the to and fro of the café moves like a comfortable dance. The owner, Denise Cerreta, choreographs the dance, but the uniqueness of this place came from a small but determined voice in the back of her head. Call it conscience, or fate. Call it whatever you like, but this small whisper is about to make its voice heard -- loud and clear.

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Squirmy Little Reasons to Organicize Your Life

Once, I knew a girl who had a tapeworm. She was a blonde girl from California. We were both students on semester abroad in South Africa. I got off the plane with excitement in my stomach and Lariam and Cipro in my backpack, at the urging of my doctor, who had pretty much scared the hell out of me with stories of people encountering flesh-eating bacteria, lifelong cases of malaria and—worst of all—ten-pound, full-body-spanning tapeworms. Ahh yes. The illustrious tapeworm. Tapeworms, as any American knows, are African organisms that find their way into our bodies via some kind of uncooked African meat, unwashed African vegetables, or by touching the dirty hand of an African person with one’s own hand and then accidentally putting said hand into innocent American mouth.

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Toshiro Mifune, Willy Ryken, Cary Grant & Cyndi Lee—vs. the World.

Christians may be excused if they look upon 2006 as a dark time: for pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth are in rampant excess, for sale at every 7-11, as seen on TV. Those heathens, the Buddhists, couldn’t agree more. They call this ‘the dark age,’ when even devoted ‘warriors’ for peace and gentleness are losing heart. One of the signs of this ‘dark age,’ it’s said, is a lack of respect for one’s elders (reverence is a value particularly pronounced in Confucianism, the Tao and Tibetan Buddhism—three ways of life that, less than welcome in their native country, survive primarily in $90 textbooks that college freshman have to, but don’t, read).

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Nirvana! Enlightenment! Who Cares!

  The Boulder Way
Pema Chödron, a famous-ish American Buddhist nun, once gave a beautiful, succinct definition of the path to spiritual realization. To paraphrase: 'If one can keep the sadness and pain of samsara in their heart, and at the same time the vision and brilliance of the Great Eastern Sun, then the warrior can make a proper cup of tea.'

A proper cup of tea. The fruition of a spiritual path ain’t fireworks and trumpets and angels descending from heaven. It’s more likely to be whatever happens to be happening, in that moment. Or, as the Zennies say, before enlightenment you chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment? Chop more wood, carry more water. Nirvana—or whatever you want to call it—is no big deal.

I publish a little Boulder-based magazine in Boulder called elephant. We do stories on yoga, on conscious consumerism and green living, on Buddhism and the ‘contemplative arts.' We do stories on a lot of other things, too—everything from bicycling to work and the stock market to green tea and green fashion. So what do all these things have in common?

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Can one vineyard make a difference?

by Susan Hess Robin Dobson looks European to me. He wears a beret year-round and wears his straight brown hair almost shoulder length. His skin is perpetually tanned from outdoor work. The vintner and ecologist grows grapes in the Klickitat River canyon. It's hot and dry in summer. Perfect for growing Dobson's organic red wine grapes. Dobson's vineyard takes up only three acres. His Klickitat Canyon Winery produces 500 to 625 cases of wine a year. Thats not much in the larger market: Maryhill Winery, near Goldendale, produces 28,000 cases from their acreage; and Columbia Crest Winery, further up the Columbia River near Alderdale, puts out 1.5 million cases annually. But Dobson thinks he has the better deal. He thinks that if agriculture is to continue yielding food for future generations, we must get away from the idea that larger is necessarily better, and instead help cultivate smaller operations.

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