Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday. Oh, and Dean Foods

Well, I had a morning of shopping, for Second Seating, of course. Began the morning by picking up another tub of oyster shells (They are still smelling up the back of my car. I must get out there and deal with them.). Then dashed over to Michael's for more embroidery floss, so I can stitch together pieces of another wall hanging. Stopped by Bering's for some free coffee and plate holders for all these plates I've been writing on and baking.
Then I couldn't help myself. I stopped by the Guild Shop and found ever more plates to write on as well as another old metal top-of-the-stove coffee pot and a tray with hand painted roses.

Remember those two French style chairs that I forgot to purchase in a timely way for the Bayou, Bay, Beach tableau, when I first saw them months ago at Corporate Outfitters? Of course, they were sold when I finally returned for them, and so I've spent time this week looking for replacements. Here's a potential replacement. I am sure the right ones will turn up if they are truly necessary.
In the meantime, I stopped at Reeve's Antiques this afternoon, and lo and behold, at the end of a long corridor of furniture stood a small French sort of chair with needle point sunflowers. Well, that chair was a must have at any price. Sunflowers have been the management district's icon ever since we published the East End Strategic Vision and we had that big luncheon at UH to introduce 'our vision and goals' in September 2006. Does this sound like I still take ownership of projects and programs of the Greater East End District, even though I haven't drawn a salary in two years? Can't help it.

So now I have a delicate and comfortable little chair covered with sunflowers. Of course, it's going into Second Seating. Though probably not in the Bayou, Bay, Beach tableau. I am still looking for tattered little French chairs. The sunflower chair is, by the way, an American chair from the Northeast. Perhaps from the 1920s?
This afternoon, I invited a friend over just to see and listen to all the things that are happening to make this show a reality. I simply needed to reiterate all the tasks undertaken of late.
This past week has been a somewhat lost one as far as I am concerned. July is supposed to be about getting the facility itself ready. I was supposed to hear about the permitting process and I was supposed to get a bid for installing some sheet rock in the space.
Irma has to clear the place out, the roof needs repair and I need to get a crew in to clean and power wash before the sheetrock work and the final electrical work must be installed for the chandeliers.
So, all that being said, I need to take a Tylenol or two aspirin and get myself on the walk that I didn't take this morning and then on to some collage work out in the studio. First, a detour to the trunk of the car with a colander and a pot so I can get those oyster shells laid out in back to be cleaned and bleached by natural means.
By the way, I read an article today written by Ari LeVaux about Dean Foods, the company that owns the Oak Farm Dairy plant here in the East End. I'd wanted to make an Oak Farm Dairy milk carton chandelier because this plant processes all the milk used by the Houston Independent School District and the Cy Fair District. It's a major East End plant. But now, I think that perhaps it's a good thing that Dean Foods is not sponsoring a chandelier for Second Seating. LeVaux talks about Dean Foods taking over Silk, originally an organic soy milk product made with American organic soy beans. Dean Foods proceeded to dump American organic farmers in favor of buying cheaper Chinese soy beans for Silk. Another example of an organic food business being taken over by agribusiness and then, simply not supported, even when it's clear that Americans are willing to pay more for 'real' organic foodstuffs.
I quote from the article, "When mega corporation Dean Foods acquired Silk soy milk the prospects looked good for American organic soy farmers. Silk had always been committed to supporting domestic organic farmers, and with the new might of Dean Foods behind it, Silk would likely grow. Silk did grow, but it also dropped its commitment to domestic soy.
"Multiple Midwestern farmers and farmers cooperatives in the heart of American soy country were told by Silk they had to match the rock-bottom cost of Chinese organic soybeans -- a price they simply could not meet. Organic agriculture is labor-intensive, and China's edge comes largely from its abundance of cheap labor...
"Dean Foods had the opportunity to push organic and sustainable agriculture to incredible heights of production by working with North American farmers and traders to get more land in organic production," says Merle Kramer, a marketer for the Midwestern Organic Farmers Cooperative, based in Michigan. "But what they did was pit cheap foreign soybeans against the U.S. organic farmer, taking away any attraction for conventional farmers to make the move into sustainable agriculture."
"Silk bought Chinese soybeans for years, building a commanding share of the soy milk market, before substantially decreasing its support of organic agriculture altogether.
"Few Silk products are certified organic anymore, and some are processed with hexane, a neurotoxin. The use of hexane poses risks to workers in the plants and possibly the consumers of the product and is listed as an air pollutant by EPA. In Illinois alone, 5 million pounds of hexane are released into the environment by food processors Bunge, Cargill and Arthur Daniels Midland."So, I guess I will stop looking for vintage milk pitchers and just let that milk carton project fade away. I'll get on with the feral parrot pinata chandeliers instead. For whatever it's worth.

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