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CHILLY MORNING TEMPERATURES will continue through mid week across interior valleys. Thereafter, a wet and unsettled weather pattern will become increasingly likely Thursday through the weekend. (NWS)
FOUR NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County on Monday, bringing the total to 1242. And another death, bringing Mendo’s death total to 22.
AV FIRE: WILDLAND TRAINING BURN
Anderson Valley Fire Department will be conducting a training burn in at Gowan’s Orchard in Philo on Wednesday, November 11th from 8:00 am into the afternoon.
The site is 10 acres of fallow field bordered by Hendy Woods State Park and the Navarro River. The exercise will provide an invaluable opportunity for Anderson Valley’s first responders to observe fire behavior and drill on control and extinguishment techniques.
Expect to see some smoke in the area throughout the day.
For more information, contact Anderson Valley Fire Department at 707 895-2020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
AV FIRE CANNOT ISSUE in person burn permits this year due to COVID office closures. They suggest going directly through the county's Air Quality Mgmt District at 463-4354 or email@example.com
The Fort Bragg Police Department would like to take the time to honor all veterans on this Veterans Day, November 11, 2020.
The department will continuously honor, support, and send appreciation to all veterans. We would also like to thank the veterans in our community and send out a helping hand of 24 hours of support every day. Always feel welcome to reach out.
We wish to extend a thank you to the military families of veterans who also made sacrifices who as well supported their own.
We encourage our community to honor Veterans Day every day, and we thank you for your service.
(Fort Bragg Police Chief John Naulty)
On Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 8:20 P.M. Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to several subjects causing a disturbance in the 100 block of Laws Avenue in Ukiah.
On arrival, the Deputies observed a black sedan occupied by several subjects parked in a parking lot.
The Deputies contacted the occupants and observed the odor of alcohol and marijuana emitting from the vehicle and occupants. The Deputies were familiar with the vehicle's occupants from previous law enforcement encounters.
The Deputies observed the occupants were dressed in suspected gang attire and were familiar with Danny Dominguez-Barrera, 18, of Ukiah, and Dreven Dawson-Valencia, 24, of Ukiah and suspected them to be members of a criminal street gang.
A third occupant was a 16 year-old male juvenile.
The Deputies developed probable cause to search the vehicle and it's occupants.
The Deputies searched Dominguez-Barrera and located a loaded handgun in his clothing. The loaded handgun was not registered to Dominguez-Barrera and he was suspected of being a criminal street gang member while armed.
The Deputies located alcohol and marijuana inside the vehicle.
The 16 year-old male juvenile was suspected of being intoxicated to the point he could not care for himself or others.
Dawson-Valencia was over 21 years of age and the Deputies suspected him of supplying the male juvenile with the alcohol and marijuana.
Through their investigation the Deputies developed probable cause to believe Dawson-Valencia was in violation of Misdemeanor Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor.
Dominguez-Barrera committed a violation of Felony Criminal Street Gang Member Carry Loaded Firearm, Felony Carry Loaded Handgun Not Registered Owner, and Felony Carry Loaded Firearm In Public Under Specific Circumstances.
Dominguez-Barrera was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was held in lieu of zero bail.
Dawson-Valencia was booked into the Mendocino County Jail where he was held in lieu of zero bail.
In accordance with the COVID-19 emergency order issued by the State of California Judicial Council, bail was set at zero dollars for Dominguez-Barrera and Dawson-Valencia and they were released after the jail booking process.
Please visit the following link to hear Sheriff Matthew C. Kendall provide a Public Safety Message on the current COVID-19 emergency order related to zero bail:facebook.com/MendocinoSheriff/videos/2568683186688486/
The male juvenile was cited to appear in juvenile court.
Another juvenile associated with the suspects was transported home and released to a parent without charges.
ART CHAMPIONS CORRECTED PRESSER
WILLITS WEEKLY is a locally owned community newspaper, co-founded by Art Director and Chief Photographer Maureen Moore and Editor/Publisher Jennifer Poole. WW has covered hundreds of art and performance events, exhibitions and fundraisers since publishing its first edition on May 2, 2013. Inside pages boast full-color photos by feature freelance photographers and writers Mathew Caine and Ree Slocum. WW also features the work of news freelancers including Mike A’Dair (county), Forrest Glyer (city), and Joanne Moore (fire and school boards). Look for the return of WW’s “What’s Happening” centerspread color calendar when community events resume. Visit www.willitsweekly.com to see .pdfs of all WW’s regular editions and special publications. Willits Weekly is honored by the community for being “in tune” with the arts and, “always responding with local event coverage” in the words of one community nominator.
ALBION RIVER BRIDGE, 1920
LEE EDMUNDSON WRITES: “Calling petty names a la The Donald is beneath you. I’ve known and occasionally worked with Joe Louis Wildman for many years now — every election cycle it seems and, sure, he is a mellow fellow — but he and everyone methinks, deserves to be addressed by their proper name. The Trumpster was a master at inventing denigrating monikers — Sleepy Joe, Crooked Hillary, Little Marco, you catch my drift here — but serious writers should stay above that cheap shot demeaning of people. Yes? Even you.”
IN RESPONSE to the gentlest trigger ever, my friend Lee E. objects to re-dubbing Joe Wildman as Joe Tame Man, comparing the re-dub to the equivalently mild redubs dealt by Orange Man, as if Tame Man, Little Marco, Crooked Hillary and Sleepy Joe are so deeply wounding their designees are traumatized. I know we live in hyper-sensitive times, but jeez.
WILDMAN himself made his name an issue back in the 90s when he was running for 5th District Supervisor as Joe Louis Hoffman on the typically Mendo middle-of-the-road extremist platform, announcing, in the piously-PC prose that seems to resonate with the dimmer cadres of Mendolib, that he was taking his wife’s surname of Wild(er) and attaching his gender identifier to it. Ta da! Wildman was born!
THE PROB I have with the dude, and you too, in fact, has nothing to do with your mellow quotient but your reactionary politics which, of course, mirror the DNC's or Republican-Lite represented by Slo Joe Biden, a man who has either initiated or signed off on every single piece of damaging legislation or unfounded war over his entire dreary 47 years in office, during which, of course, he became a millionaire many times over.
YES Tame Man, like a lot of local Democrats, is a “mellow fellow,” i.e., as politically tame as the DNC shot callers. Until he isn't. Which is when he's criticized.
WHEN the AVA called him on his cynical excursion as a “Green” to rope in a few disaffected left Democrats for Mendo's Democrat Club, Tame Man quickly cut off communications. (Not that we're complaining.) Tame Man's function is to kill any political energy to the left of Biden-Pelosi-Schumer-Huffman-McGuire-Wood-Shoemaker-Hamburg-Kendall Smith, and so on and on and on to ensure that nothing even remotely progressive can ever happen north of the Golden Gate Bridge. (Slo Joe Biden and the DNC, as we meet here today, are cordoning off Bernie and AOC.)
BUT SURE, YOU'RE OK. I'd trust you and Tame Man to walk the dog, feed the cat, babysit the kids. Er, check that with the kids. Only if another adult is present.
PFIZER'S announcement yesterday (Monday) that they'd come up with a covid-19 vaccine that was 90 percent effective has ignited the ignorati, the anti-vaxxers and conspiracy nuts who claim, among other things, that Bill Gates is trying to implant everyone in the world with microchips. (For the man who has everything, why not mass murder?) Mendo, natch, has large nests of anti-vaxxers throughout the county, although there don't seem to be all that many of the way out wackos of the type who believe that Democrats are Satanist-inspired baby blood drinkers. Of course the hardcore psychos have their own channels of communication these days so us more or less normals are seldom in touch with any of them. I always laugh when I see the schools announce, “By golly we're teaching critical thinking.” Really?
ROBERT DENIRO was in the news Tuesday with remarks along the lines that the next version of Trump will be a lot smarter, a lot more generally acceptable to the unwary, aka your standard Trumper. I'm putting my money on Dan Crenshaw, a young Texas congressman and former Navy Seal. You might have seen him on tv, esp Fox. He's the guy with the eye patch. Very smart, articulate, personable. And wrong. On most issues. But he's not wrong about everything like lots of Republicans. Crenshaw seems teachable. And he's young. To his credit, and for example, he got himself in trouble with the lunatic fringe over a 7-year-old Texas male child whose nutball mother claimed the boy was, at age 3, “identifying” as a girl. The gender benders claim that doctors “assign” sex at birth, apparently an eeny meeny miney mo process in this view, penises and vaginas interchangeable. Anyway, this poor kid was the subject of a custodial battle between his father and his mother. Dad said the kid was a boy, Mom said he was a girl. Crenshaw sensibly declared for the father. Following a decision by the judge to grant custody to the mother over the father, Crenshaw called it “heartbreaking” and added, “a 7-year-old can't possibly make this decision or understand it. Parents should know better. I hope this father receives the public support he needs.” The DNC would undoubtedly side with the mother, which is why Crenshaw will be president by 2030, assuming things hang more or less together that long.
AND HOMELESSNESS WILL DOUBLE THE NEXT DAY
Senator McGuire and Mendocino County to Host Virtual Town Hall Meeting on Homelessness
On November 16, 2020, at 6:30pm Senator Mike McGuire, the County of Mendocino and City of Ukiah will be hosting a virtual Town Hall Meeting for a community discussion on local efforts to address the homelessness crisis. During the event, there will be an overview of the Project Homekey Program, discussion on potential management models and plans for this permanent housing project and types of services that will be offered with this program. The public is encouraged to participate and join the community conversation by sharing your ideas, asking questions and participating in neighborhood input opportunities.
"Like hundreds of communities across America and throughout the state, Mendocino County has been working hard to tackle the homelessness crisis that exists on our streets,” Senator Mike McGuire said. "We’re looking forward to partnering with the County and the City of Ukiah on Monday’s Town Hall focused on providing permanent housing, which would be connected to mental health and addiction services, to some of our neighbors who are in greatest need."
Commenting on the event Supervisor John Haschak stated, “I certainly appreciate Senator McGuire's efforts to open this discussion on homelessness and the Homekey project to the public. This will be informative and an opportunity for public expression. The Board of Supervisors looks forward to this virtual Town Hall.”
“The County of Mendocino is happy to share our plans to provide enhanced mental health services, permanent supportive housing and alcohol and drug services,” stated Mendocino County Chief Executive Officer Carmel Angelo.
Virtual Town Hall Details:
Who: Senator Mike McGuire; Mendocino County; City of Ukiah
What: Virtual Town Hall – Coming Together on the Homelessness Crisis
When: Monday, November 16 at 6:30 p.m.
How to attend: Register in advance for this webinar at https://mendocinocounty.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_56BGCnjfTmO9qwGeX41FnQ. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. The webinar will also be streaming live in English and Spanish on the County’s YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/mendocinocountyvideo).
How to submit your questions and comments: Email your questions and comments in advance and in real time during the virtual town hall to: Senator.McGuire@senate.ca.gov.
For more information, please contact the Executive Office at (707) 463-4441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
IT COULD HAPPEN HERE!
Las Lomitas board president resigns over wife's racist and misogynistic tweets about Kamala Harris; Jon Venverloh calls wife Mehridith's posts ‘reprehensible’
by Angela Swatz
A local school board president resigned his post on Sunday, Nov. 8, after community members saw tweets from his wife making profane racist and misogynistic insults questioning Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' qualifications for office.
Mehridith Venverloh, the wife of Las Lomitas Elementary School District board president Jon, took to Twitter in the early morning hours of Sunday. In one post she said of the California senator and former state attorney general: “All she needs to be qualified is a Black (profanity)! No brain needed.” Screenshots of the tweets can be seen here. (Warning: the tweets contain profane and inappropriate material.)
Jon, a former Google executive, in 2018 joined the elected board that oversees Las Lomitas Elementary School in Atherton and La Entrada Middle School in Menlo Park. He issued a statement on Facebook Sunday announcing he was stepping down from the board and condemned his wife's tweets, which have since been deleted. Her Twitter account has also disappeared.
“My wife and I have volunteered in the district for over a decade while our four girls have gone through our amazing schools with our world class teachers,” he said in the post. “I stood for election to be a trustee because I care about doing the right thing for ALL of our kids in our district. However, given my wife's social media posts, which expressed reprehensible views that I do not agree with, I know that my continued service would be a distraction from the work that needs to be done in the district over the two years remaining in my term.”
Mehridith, who volunteered for Mothers Together at Menlo Church from 2012 to 2014, according to her LinkedIn page and the church, issued an apology to Harris and community members on Facebook on Sunday, saying her “vulgar words crossed the line.” She said the comments were a result of changes in her medication.
“Some of you know I suffer from a debilitating neurological disease, and as a result I take various medications,” she said. “Over the past several days I have been weaning off of my meds to prepare for a hospitalization that is scheduled to start tomorrow (Nov. 9). I believe that the change in my medication reduced my judgment between right and wrong when I made the posts. There is no excuse for what I wrote, but I ask for your understanding that my state of mind was far from normal last night.”
In an email to The Almanac, Jon said “Mehridith is not a racist in the least; she personally has done a lot of great work for underprivileged communities.” He said in the past she has often used sarcasm and exaggeration when trying to make a point.
“In this case I believe she was trying to be humorous and sarcastic and completely missed the mark, possibly because of the situation with the meds,” he said in an email to The Almanac. “Her remarks are atrocious and unacceptable nonetheless, and she is now devastated, broken and deeply sorry.”
The reaction from district parents and other community members was swift, and several people reached out to The Almanac and posted on social media denouncing Mehridith's comments.
“This kind of behavior hurts people of color more than any other demographic in that wealthy school,” said district parent Antonio Altamirano. “As I said in my tweets, I'm saddened to see that it took this level of racism for people to take action. Regardless of the economic power any wealthy individual might have, respect is important for a community to be welcoming. I am sad that my half-Black, half-Latinx children are exposed to this kind of ‘leadership’ — money does not equal capability.”
School board members William Steinmetz, John Earnhardt, Diane Honda and Dana Nunn condemned the posts in an email to parents on Monday morning, noting they were grateful for Jon's hard work for the district.
“However, the egregiousness of these posts has undermined Jon's ability to serve effectively on our governance team,” they said. “We are deeply saddened that this happened and are committed to take action to address the harm done to our community. We acknowledge that there is much more that we can and should be doing to confront and address racism and inequality every day, and we commit ourselves to that task.”
Menlo Park council member and district parent Ray Mueller condemned the tweets in a prepared statement, noting that regardless of political affiliation, people should celebrate that Harris will be the first woman and first woman of color to hold the vice president's office.
“The candid truth is the words before us today were easy to spot and denounce,” he said. “But the real work before us required to make change to address institutional racism is much more difficult and that is the ultimate challenge to which we must hold ourselves accountable… . But also use this moment to reflect and understand more clearly and more personally the racism and sexism she and every woman and person of color has had to endure and overcome, to achieve and lead.”
Filling Jon's seat
Jon and two others were the only candidates for three open seats on the governing board in November 2018, so the election was automatically canceled and the three were appointed. At the time, he said he had a personal stake in the district as a parent to four daughters — who would, or already did, attend district schools.
Jon served on the Las Lomitas Education Foundation's executive board from 2010 to 2016 before he and his family moved to Zurich, Switzerland, for his job with Google, where he was director of operations for Google Shopping product management. The Venverlohs are Atherton residents.
Jason Morimoto and Jody Leng are leading to fill two open seats on the school board on the November ballot, according to the latest results posted at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 9.
In the coming weeks, the board will need to decide whether it will appoint someone to fill Jon's spot or hold a special election, said Superintendent Beth Polito in an email.
(Courtesy, the Atherton Almanac)
CATCH OF THE DAY, November 10, 2020
BENJAMIN KEATOR, Redwood Valley. Sale-transport-furnish organic drug, suspended license (for reckless driving), failure to appear.
CODY LADD, Sacramento/Ukiah. Parole violation.
BRYAN LOCKWOOD, Santa Rosa/Ukiah. Failure to appear, probation revocation.
MEET THE NEW BOSS
by Tom Stevenson
In parts of the Holy Roman Empire, a new elector was obliged not only to attend the funeral of his predecessor but to bury the body. In the weeks leading up to Joe Biden’s inauguration, Donald Trump’s opponents may wish for the finality of interment. The election result is understandably seen as a form of deliverance by many in the US. The view is not uncommon in the rest of the world, either. When the count was called for Biden, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung carried the news under the headline “Demonstrativ staatsmännisch”: a Biden victory represents a return to dignity and rectitude.
Trump was often derided as an isolationist by the imperial bureaucracy, for whom the term is a stock insult. His opponents liked to say he was tearing down the US-led “liberal international order.” On election night, when early vote counts implied Trump was winning, the former State Department analyst Aaron David Miller tweeted that “champagne corks are popping” in Riyadh, Jerusalem, Moscow, Ankara and Beijing. In the Washington Post, Josh Rogin wrote that Biden held the promise of salvation from the Trump days: “a return to a bipartisan, internationalist foreign policy that moderate Republicans and Democrats have long championed.”
In fact the Trump administration’s foreign policy was more orthodox than is generally admitted. Many of his appointees were old regime hands: his trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, was a Reagan-era official; the director of the CIA, Gina Haspel, ran a torture site in Thailand under George W. Bush; Trump’s fifth secretary of defense, Mark Esper (fired Monday), was formerly an adviser to Barack Obama’s defense secretary Chuck Hagel. Having pledged to “get out of foreign wars,” Trump did nothing of the sort. He pursued the global assassination program established under Obama. The US-backed war in Yemen, begun while Biden was vice president, continued. The military budget increased.
Trump did not get along with the diplomats at the State Department, but his administration did very little that was out of the usual line of business. He maintained the traditional US-dominated alliance structure in Europe, and expanded it in the Pacific through the Quad (an informal arrangement with Australia, Japan and India). His administration supported coups in Latin America and set up the Western Hemisphere Strategic Framework to ensure US dominance. In the Middle East, he pursued the traditional American goal of strangling Iran, and prevailed on the Gulf monarchies to recognize Israel.
Trump’s America was disdainful of international co-operation on terms other than its own, but that, too, was nothing new. The US imposed sanctions on the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in September, over an attempt to apply international law to US citizens. More than thirty years ago, Reagan’s America refused to accept the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice when it ruled in Nicaragua’s favor against the US. Trump’s disputes with the foreign policy intelligentsia were for the most part matters of style, not principle. Dismantling American hegemony would have been a historic act, but Trump never considered it.
The one ostensibly distinctive part of the Trump program was the trade war with China, but this, too, predated Trump and will survive him. Lighthizer may be out of a job, but the US is still absorbing Chinese and European surpluses. Biden will be just as unwilling as Trump to limit capital flows into dollar debt, which impoverish workers but inflate the prices of assets owned by the rich, and maintain US power over the international financial system. Given that Biden supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq and has spoken of his admiration for Dick Cheney, it seems unlikely that he will pursue a quietist strategy on China.
Writing in Foreign Affairs, Biden pledged that under him America would “lead again,” a message not so very different from Trump’s. Biden may be less enthusiastic about photo opportunities with the autocratic heads of American protectorates, but he will support them. He has pledged to rejoin the Paris Accords but no one expects him to usher in the transformation of the industrial world’s infrastructure that would be required to avert the climate crisis.
The election was watched in every part of the world because of American power, but foreign policy played almost no part in the campaign. It is not contested ground and US political factions, apart from the dissident margins, have nothing to debate.
To some extent this is inevitable in a great power: Augustus’ policy of restricting the Roman Empire’s eastward expansion was followed by every emperor until Trajan. In most respects, Trump’s foreign policy was a continuation of Obama’s (itself largely a continuation of Bush’s), despite the vindictive sentiments that brought him to power. When the obligatory “Biden doctrine” comes, it will, for the most part, show continuity with Trump.
US foreign policy has been fairly stable for 30 years. Biden’s desiccated promise is of minor corrections in management style and a more congenial tone. Without a transformative vision, the task will continue to be to prevent things the US disapproves of from happening. A sense of relief at the election result should not lead to a muting of criticism of US hegemony.
by Bee Wilson
Not many people have heard of Norman Borlaug, but his invention – the high-yield, short-straw wheat that fuelled the Green Revolution – is consumed every day by the majority of humans on the planet. Without Borlaug’s wheat, there would be no modern food as we know it. Everything from sandwiches to pizza to soy sauce to animal feed is manufactured from wheats adapted from Borlaug’s. “Wheat is in everything!” a friend of mine exclaimed with fury after being diagnosed with coeliac disease. To those of us who live far from the land, wheat seems a changeless and universal part of the countryside, the stuff of harvest festivals and corn dollies. We don’t imagine it was or could be any different. All we ask is that it should be there to feed us.
After lockdown started, neighbours on my street in Cambridge formed a WhatsApp group. It soon became apparent that one of the group’s main functions would be to pool information about flour. Participants shared sightings of plain white flour in local shops or online suppliers with the secretive thrill of foragers who’ve just discovered a patch of wild garlic or chanterelles. When one neighbour managed to get hold of some, it would be portioned up and distributed or bartered for other rare treasures – yeast or a jar of sourdough starter. There was excitement when someone discovered an online source that promised to deliver bags of organic plain flour in only two working days. But sometimes, as with foraging tips, you would find the source stripped by the time you got there; other people in other streets were flour-fixated too.
The pandemic flour shortages – which weren’t unique to Britain – were driven not just by regular consumers stocking up but by people who never normally buy flour. In April, a representative for British and Irish millers said that even with millers working “round the clock” there was only enough capacity for 15 per cent of UK households to buy a bag of flour a week. Plain flour has never in recent decades been something for which demand exceeds supply, not least because our shops are full of items ready-made from industrial wheat, from croissants to muffins, bagels to noodles. One of the curious things about the pandemic flour shortages is that items made from wheat were never in short supply. Even at the height of panic buying there were plenty of flour-based products in British shops, but somehow none of them stopped people wanting to buy flour itself.
If you want to kill an hour or so making a loaf of banana bread – or a few days making sourdough – you need to start with a bag of flour. Plenty of other forms of time-consuming cookery could have been used to pass the hours and days of the pandemic. We could have chosen to pickle vegetables or to roll tiny meatballs by hand or to spend hours skimming and clarifying consommé. But few other forms of cookery have anything like the mass appeal of wheat-based baking (unless it’s wheat-based boiling in the form of pasta).
Plain white flour has many drawbacks as a food, one of which is lack of flavour. Most mass-produced raw white flour tastes of almost nothing, although if you try very hard, you may notice a faint aroma of wallpaper paste. It’s also lacking in nutrients, even if, unlike coeliacs, you are able to tolerate gluten. As the journalist Wendell Steavenson writes, white flour is “a pure starch so nutritionally void” that by law vitamins must be added back into it. White flour must be fortified with calcium, iron, thiamin and niacin to make up for the fact that the nutritious part of the wheat has been taken away during the milling process. And yet what wheat flour lacks in flavour and nutrients, it makes up for in the gratification it gives in the mouth and the stomach after you combine it with other ingredients and apply heat. Flour can be engineered into a series of deeply likeable textures, from the softness of sponge cake to the crispness of a cracker to the custardy satisfaction of a Yorkshire pudding. Perhaps the fear and uncertainty of the current situation made people want to get back to our staple food in its purest and most basic form. But plain flour is neither pure nor basic: it is the endpoint of a series of technological processes and inputs, incorporating plant breeding and chemical fertilisers as well as advances in milling and globalised distribution networks.
In 2019, wheat was grown on more land than any other food crop: 538 million acres across the globe. On average, it contributes the largest amount of calories to the human diet of any foodstuff, according to data from the CIAT (the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture), a research group for the Food and Agriculture Association. In 2009, the average human had access to 498 calories a day from wheat compared with 349 calories from oils, 333 calories from rice and 281 calories from sugar and other sweeteners. In some countries, such as Turkey and France, per capita wheat consumption is a great deal higher and in others, such as Cameroon (where maize is the staple food) or the Philippines (rice), much lower. But it’s striking that wheat consumption has been increasing fast since the 1960s, even in traditional rice economies such as China and Japan. The supply of wheat in China rose from fewer than 200 calories per person a day in 1961 to nearly 600 in 2009. Across Asia, the gradual substitution of wheat for rice has been a near universal marker of economic development.
The human relationship with wheat is the subject of Catherine Zabinski’s short book Amber Waves, which presents itself as a “biography” of the grain, although she reminds us on page three that “wheat isn’t a person” in case we were liable to be confused. Zabinski, a plant and soil ecologist at Montana State University, seeks to tell “a story of a group of grasses whose existence became complicated by its convergence with our own species and our never-ending need for more food.” The vast consumption of wheat today is linked to the fact that it is the main ingredient in so many convenience foods. If you want to satisfy hunger quickly and cheaply, the odds are that you will turn to a wheat-based food (unless you opt for potatoes, in the form of crisps or chips). You might buy a healthy wrap or an unhealthy burger or a pie or a sandwich or a slice of pizza or a tub of instant ramen or a samosa or a slice of toast or a bowl of bran flakes. Whichever choice you make, you will end up eating the same industrial wheat. No other grain comes in such a vast range of ready-to-eat foods. Yet it must have taken great perseverance and ingenuity for our Neolithic ancestors to add wheat to their diets. The calories it contains are remarkably difficult to access compared with other items in the hunter-gatherer diet such as wild fruits and nuts and honey and meat. Wheat was originally a wild grass, as Zabinski explains, and “grass seeds are small and hard and impenetrable.”
In evolutionary terms, wild wheat seeds do not want to be eaten, because as soon as they are broken open, they cease to be a seed. In this, grains differ from wild fruits, which positively invite animals to eat them. Fruit is luscious and sweet in order to appeal to creatures that will eat the flesh and excrete the seeds, thus dispersing them. Wild wheat seeds, by contrast, have extremely hard hulls to deter predators. Every seed, as Thor Hanson put it in The Triumph of Seeds (2015), consists of three elements: a baby, lunch and a box. The “baby” is the embryo of the new plant. The “lunch” is the nutritive tissue that provides energy reserves until the seed can start to absorb nutrients from the soil. In the case of wheat seeds, this is a combination of protein and carbohydrate, while in oil seeds such as sunflower seeds the lunch is mostly fat. Finally, every seed is contained in a “box”: a defence mechanism to protect the germ from hungry animals. In theory, a chilli seed stops anyone from eating it by burning them. An almond kernel defends itself by being bitter, and having a slightly poisonous taste (which backfired when humans acquired a love of that curious marzipan flavour). A wheat seed protects itself with a series of viciously hard layers: first a hull, and then a layer of bran, made up of a fruit coat and a seed coat fused together. Only when both of these layers have been penetrated do you reach the wheat germ (the baby embryo) and the wheat starch (the lunch). These defences might have been enough to put off most herbivores, but humans – omnivores in possession of tools – were not so easily deterred.
MENDO DOES CLIMATE CHANGE
From: Eileen Mitro <email@example.com>
Subject: Climate Action Mendocino Meeting Reminder
What a week! What a year! I know we're breathing more easily these days.
Here are some of the things we're thinking about working on next year:
Power Resilience: renewable energy/battery storage
Housing: more charging stations at new housing developments, solar also, all electric housing
Truck Idling Law
Education: washing cars at home pollutes waterways (ocean), compost making is easy, flyers or talks at apartment buildings, farmers markets, schools (Michele Goodman at C & S Waste Solutions)
Paving: more permeable surfaces
City of Ukiah passing a Climate Emergency Resolution
Working to reduce poverty and a more inclusive community - need bilingual help. Peggy and Polly may team up to work on this
Fast chargers for Electric Vehicles in Ukiah: brings in revenue. Need to research grants to pay for this.
Our next meeting is this coming Saturday. Margo will facilitate the meeting and we will explore how we run our meetings and our goals for the next year. Please tune in if you can. We would very much like to see you there. No need to stay for the whole meeting if time is an issue.
Topic: Climate Action Mendocino
Time: Nov 14, 2020 12:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/8752861542
Meeting ID: 875 286 1542
WHAT’S AT STAKE for California if Obamacare is overturned, explained
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
After Louis the 16th was crowned in 1775, the royal carriage made a tour around Paris with appointed stops, speeches, greetings, well-wishes, you know, that whole kabuki dance.
Of course, speeches ran over the time allotted. So as it got late, the royal couple had to trim the schedule. At one orphanage a teen-aged boy (brightest of the bunch) waited to give them the speech he had written. He knelt in the mud as the royal carriage approached. It barely slowed down, the royals waved, and drove on. Orphans were a low priority stop. That humiliated boy was Robespierre, and you know the rest of the story.