Wal-mart

The Engine of Change Is on Full Throttle

Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. Photo courtesy Tom Ehrich

My first career: print journalism. Current status of that field: on life support.

My second career: pastoring neighborhood churches. Current status of that field: on life support.

My third career: writing and publishing books. Current status of that field: on life support.

My fourth career: implementing client-server data management systems. Current status of that field: on life support.

Do you see a trend here? I did. So now I try to stay nimble and to keep moving. My publishing business is entirely electronic. I have cycled through three websites and three subscription systems in 10 months. I do more of my church consulting online.

Entrepreneur Sees Hope for Clean Water on Wal-Mart Shelves

RNS photo courtesy T.J. Foltz

Humankind Water, RNS photo courtesy T.J. Foltz

T.J. Foltz has a recipe to help the world's poor: Take one part entrepreneurship, one part social media savvy and one part faith-based motivation. Fold in the world's largest retailer.

Then add water.

If every American spent $10 per year on his Humankind Water — less than they spend on Halloween candy — it would be enough to nearly eradicate the world's water sanitation problems, Foltz says.

Foltz, a former Christian youth minister, put out his first bottle of Humankind Water last October. The idea is to sell bottled water in a socially conscious way, with 100 percent of net profits going to fund clean-water projects in Haiti, Asia and Africa.

The American Way of Eating--Everyone Wants to Eat Well

Produce at Farmer's Market photo, Charles Amundson, Shutterstock.com

Produce at Farmer's Market photo, Charles Amundson, Shutterstock.com

I love great food. Last night, I made fresh linguini with organic whole wheat flour and local, free-range eggs, and topped them with from-scratch meatballs made with organic beef, fresh parsley from my garden, fresh Parmesan--you get the idea. And in a few days, I’ll be celebrating a special occasion at one of the finest restaurants in the Northeast, where the produce is local and seasonal and sustainable and where the experience of eating is a little like visiting a museum of fine arts where you get to taste all the masterpieces. And yesterday, I planted the first spring vegetables in my garden. I’m a member of Slow Food USA, for cryin’ out loud.

I’m just waiting for the James Beard foundation to give me a badge for being such a morally superior eater.

Except I’m not. Because while the way I eat is motivated by certain ethical considerations (including but not limited to concern for the health of the environment and that of animals), I’m aware that my way of eating is an almost miraculous privilege. I can eat this way because I happen to live in a place where I can buy eggs from a neighbor and grow vegetables in my backyard. I don’t have much money, but I have the luxury of time to grow my own vegetables, to cook from scratch, and enough wiggle room in the budget to buy 25 pounds of organic flour in bulk (which makes it cheaper) without running out of money before the end of the month.

In a stunning new book, The American Way of Eating,Tracie McMillan goes undercover in farm fields, in the Wal-Mart produce department, and at Applebee’s to explore common assumptions that food-movement types make about the way many Americans eat: that many of us are overweight and unhealthy because we just don’t “care” enough about the quality of our food--with people who are poor “caring” the least. Throughout the book, which chronicles her numerous conversations with low-wage co-workers, McMillan fiercely defends her conviction that everyone--everyone--wants to eat well. 

Buy Nothing Day as Advent Activism Against the Demon Mammon

As per usual, on Friday, we had all sorts of Buy Nothing Day festivities (check out the video here). But that's not what I want to talk about. I read recent posts on consumerism and Buy Nothing Day by Eugene Cho and Rachel Anderson here on God's Politics, and I admire the optimism and nuanced critiques. But this past weekend folks around the world stared in embarrassment, pity, and horror as people killed each other for bargains –- literally.

Wal-Mart's Big Green Claim

Well color me happy (as the saying goes): Wal-Mart just released a big claim to be greening up its act. But what does their claim really mean and how do we define what corporate green looks like anyway? Especially since lately, corporate green seems to grow everywhere, at times fertilized by a healthy dose of corporate greed.

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