Browngirl Going Green


First Poem Dedicated to Browngirl Going Green
February 25, 2010, 6:32 am
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I’m so honored that my friend and fellow Pinay writer Jean Vengua was inspired to write a poem for me after reading about my recentsustainably-raised-pig purchase. She posted it on her own blog,Local Nomad. Thanks Jean for the ‘pig-poem’!

For a Brown Girl Going Green
by Jean Vengua

kayumangging babae, the cogon
grass has turned to rye
and wild radish

on your birth day someone
sacrifices a pig
it’s not

the same, yet
it’s always
the same

Oakland, Elkhorn,
Pangasinan, each day
lived,

gleaned, killed, tasted; eating
flesh, stems, leaves
hoping

that this time we
will see
clearly

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The Pig is Coming! And Other News

So we are FINALLY getting our pasture-raised, all-natural-feed pig delivered this Saturday from Godfrey Family Farms. The delay was on the butcher’s end, I guess, since the pig was slaughtered on my birthday (coincidence, but an interesting one) back at the end of December. I organized this purchase, pulling together five other buyers from Oakland and Berkeley via the Bay Area Meat CSA and my personal network of progressive foodie friends, mostly people of color. I’m very excited to cook and taste an animal that I purchased directly from the farmer, whom I will meet on Saturday and whom I’ve spoken to on the phone and communicated with via email. I wrote an earlier post that you can read for more background on our pig. This is all in an effort to eat more sustainably and humanely raised animals, and while I haven’t gone completely 100% sustainable in this regard, I’d say about 90% of the meat I consume now is at least hormone- and antibiotic-free, if not free-range/pasture-raised.

Of course, it’s impossible to know if stores’ labeling practices are completely forthcoming and honest, which is why I’m glad to be meeting the Godfreys on Saturday and taking home some of their pork. I’m hoping to have a little dinner party with a few friends at some point to hopefully turn more people on to buying meat in this way. I have to say, while it was definitely time-consuming and not very convenient, it’s so far been an interesting experiment in farm-to-table shopping, and is something I think more people will need to do more of if we want to have a truly sustainable, green, locavore-based food distribution system.

In other eco-news, through the networking magic of the Internet I’m happy to have connected with another woman of color writer, Dianne Glave, whose blog, entitled Rooted in the Earth is a precursor to her upcoming book, Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage. Obviously, there are lots of connections between what Dianne writes about (much more eloquently than I do, I must add) and what I strive to describe in this blog. I’m excited about Dianne’s book and hope that it signals a wave of environmental non-fiction by people of color in the US that is long overdue.

Lately, I’ve been reading The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, which is fascinating and offers a lot of information to absorb about what the Earth would be like if human beings disappeared from its face completely. The predictions will no doubt surprise you, and make you realize how much energy we expend everyday to maintain our modern civilization. Mr. Weisman is such a skilled writer that you feel as if you’re seeing the landscapes that he writes about, both ancient and modern, before your very eyes.

There’s some really good environmental/scientific non-fiction out there these days that is both highly educational as well as entertaining—two that I read last year that were among my favorite books of the whole year: Farm City by Oakland-based writer and urban farmer Novella Carpenter, and Fruitless Fall by Rowan Jacobsen. I look forward to reading Ms. Glave’s book and adding it to my growing collection.

If you know any other books that you think I or other people who read this blog might like, please share them. I’d love to hear about what you’re reading.



Another BrownGirl Going Green

Photo of Jolene Rodriguez, by Jennie Warren, from The Long Beach District Weekly

This is another good example of how communities of color and immigrants communities in this country are often at the cutting edge of creating more a more ‘green’ environment for everyone. But they’re not necessarily driving Priuses or eating locally grown food. Usually they’re fighting for basic environmental rights that more privileged folks take for granted, like clean air.

I’m so proud of my former organization, Californians for Justice (CFJ), where I worked for many years, and also of this CFJ student, Jolene Rodriguez, who was recently profiled in a local publication for speaking out about air pollution in her community in Long Beach. The article talks about a testimonial she gave before the Long Beach City Council, and includes this great quote from Jolene: ““Every weekday at 1:40 p.m., I should look forward to softball practice. But instead, I fear that my lungs will give out because I have asthma.”

Yes, Jolene is just one of many young people in California and elsewhere fighting for clean air and a healthy environment. I don’t know whether she eats humanely raised meat or organic produce (although I’m guessing she doesn’t, since that kind of food is likely harder to find or afford in the low-income neighborhoods in Long Beach), but she’s another Browngirl Going Green. Kudos to CFJ and Jolene for their great work!