A hydroponic garden.

An environmental group called New York Sun Works thinks the rooftops of New York could be used as gardens to provide food for the whole city. To prove their point, they created a garden on a barge on the Hudson River. The barge is a greenhouse that uses solely rain, solar panels, wind turbines and biofuel to subsist. New York Sun Works says that if these ‘hydroponic systems’ with no water or soil were installed on the rooftops of New York, the provided food could feed 20 million people.

Cities like New York growing their own produce would encourage becoming organically inclined and aid the fight against global warming! Having the gardens on the tops of schools could feed the school, and teach lessons in science and horticulture. It would solve the terrible nutrition problems that American cafeterias face! And because space on land is often sought after in cities, what better place to choose for these gardens than the often unused rooftops?

I think this is an extremely exciting and inspiring idea! Think of the changes that this could create in American society– it would be like a tidal wave of health, beauty and tasty organic food! The greenhouses apparently produce seven times more food and they use four times less water than the traditional farm. So many benefits would be in store for New York if they chose to enforce this plan. This is truly one of the best ideas I’ve ever heard– there has to be a city who will do this. Please, someone listen to these wonderful people!

S O U R C E S:
Reuter`s Article

The Taxis

By the year 2012, all of New York City’s taxi cabs have been chosen to become gas-electric hybrids. New York’s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, recently introduced a plan that would ensure this dream to come true. Evgeny Freidman , the manager of three major taxi companies, has been trying to do this for a long time. To the Commission’s protest, Friedman spent $222,743 on licenses for the first hybrid cars he would put into service in 2005. The Commission had tried to tell Friedman that hybrids “weren’t spacious enough” to be taxis. Friedman, of course, prevailed and employed 19 Ford Escape Hybrids on the streets. According to Friedman, the taxi drivers “save 20 dollars per shift (on gas).” The ride is also apparently very comfortable (to the Commission’s surprise). Nowadays, New York has around 375 hybrid taxis on the road, and the mayor’s new plan demands a thousand more by 2008, and 13,000 by 2012.

The very fact that the Commission tried to fight a change like this is just ludicrous and makes me deeply upset. It just goes to show how narrow minded some people can be, I guess… I’m sure many hybrids are too small for the job, but to just say that all hybrids are too small and not to give them a chance? That whole deal is just depressing. This is just another example of authority not being strong enough to step up to the environmental plate.

Despite that, I think this is an absolutely wonderful plan for New York! I was entirely glad to see a big city making such great steps towards environmental health. Especially after their recent banning of trans fats. They don’t just want to make their people healthier, but they want to keep their atmosphere healthier too. I think that considering all of the cars and people in New York, that making such a large change in their public transportation services was almost necessary. I would love to see other states do the same. In fact, I think a lot of other states would do well just to have better public transportation services in the first place, instead of requiring people to just drive wherever they go. It would be so much better for the environment if people could rely more on public transportation instead of the cities having half-baked bus systems that pollute like hogs. I think New York has truly made a step towards their people breathing easier with this new plan. People aren’t driving individual cars, the transportation doesn’t pollute nearly as much, and people are getting where they need to go. Awesome.

• (yellow cabs going green — at the bottom)


Ok, so Richard Branson’s TV show, his cola and vodka were flops, (What? You didn’t know about those? Well, you’re not the only one!) and his many world record attempts at flying or sailing around the world are well documented, but this may be his biggest idea yet. Back in February, he offered a $25,000,000 reward to anyone who could come up with a way to clean our atmosphere of harmful CO2 gases. That would entail removing one billion metric tons of carbon gases a year (some of which his own airline contributes to). It’s affectionately called the Virgin Earth Challenge and will hopefully generate a landslide of ideas. Hmm, how about a giant vacuum powered by Zero Point Energy? No use of fossil fuel in its production at all – no carbon footprint? Impossible? Flop or no flop, what in the world have you got to lose?

Where might the next gallon of gas that fuels your automobile come from? Not from vegetable oil or cow manure. You have to think green—as in algae! Yes, that green, slimy organism that blooms on many bodies of water is where the next crop of venture capitalists are placing their money, fueling the idea that it could someday eliminate our dependence on the fossil fuel oil! Yes, that black gold formed by dead plants and animals. So why not produce a fuel from a slimy organism?

“If the U.S. put 15 million acres of desert into algae production, we could produce enough volume of liquid fuels to get us off the Middle East oil addiction and give Iowa back to the songbirds,” said B. Gregory Mitchell, an algae research biologist at the University of California, San Diego, who is a friend of venture capitalists, Ms. Morgenthaler-Jones and Mr. Jones, the founders of LiveFuels.

“I can honestly say that for the first time in my life we are seeing the venture capital community put sizable amounts of money into energy,” Energy Secretary Samuel W. Bodman said in a speech in Houston last month. “This is real money. They are betting, if you will, that clean, safe, affordable energy represents the new innovation frontier.”

Innovative thinking, science and money — they’re like the three musketeers; a partnership that could take this country, and the world, into a greener future. Algae for one, and algae for all!

As Team Gaia looks further into America’s food issues, we thought it was important that we look to what casual dining and fast-food restaurants are doing to make a positive difference in the way we eat.

Whole Foods Deli

A few months ago, Whole Foods Market, which already maintains strict guidelines with regards to the meat it sells, announced that it was introducing “animal compassionate” meat to its shelves. The “animal compassionate” label denotes that aside from meeting Whole Foods’ existing guidelines on meat quality and ethical treatment of animals, additional steps have been taken by the food producer to ensure that species-specific needs (emotional, physical and behavioral, according to WF’s website) are being met. While not necessarily organic, the meat and poultry are:

  • Raised without added hormones or antibiotics
  • Never fed animal by-products
  • Raised by farmers and ranchers who care about the animals and the environment in which they live
  • Closely monitored by Whole Foods Market from the farm to their stores

Chipotle - Baltimore, MD

Not long before Whole Foods made their announcement, the fast food chain, Chipotle, announced that it would be selling only “humanely raised pork” in its more than 450 locations nationwide. As a company spokesman said said, “In our case, [the shift towards natural pork] started with a menu item that wasn’t selling very well, in part because it wasn’t very good.”

Some suspect that what “wasn’t very good” about the old pork was that it was loaded with antibiotics, synthetic hormones, had no flavor and likely came from “stressed” animals that were kept in stalls the size of their bodies. When Chipotle discovered Niman Ranch, who raises hogs the “traditional” way – in open pastures and with a vegetarian, additive-free diet – the company began buying all of its pork from them. Though the price of the pork burrito went up $1 (which is an astronomical increase in the fast-food world) , the in-store marketing campaign that Chipotle waged and the sheer increase in meat quality and flavor drove sales through the roof. And while the company tries to buy naturally raised chicken whenever possible, their practice of not freezing food often precludes them from doing this if a given producer is located too far away from a restaurant location.

Panera - Milwaukee

The bakery and sandwich chain Panera Bread, however, began exclusively serving naturally raised chicken in all of their locations in the summer of 2005. The decision to do this, as well as to incorporate as many other organic and natural ingredients as possible, was based not only on taste but on ethics.

And while for some companies, the motivation to shift toward organic, natural and humane food is made for health or environmental reasons, the economic motivation can’t be ignored. Many CEO’s and industry analysts have remarked upon how being “animal compassionate” is one more way to be distinctive among a sea of food retailers. And as organic food producers grow in number, that distinction will become more and more necessary to increase competition and, hopefully, the quality of the products offered.

Coming Soon: An in-depth look at humane farming.