Regulars and Shorts

Green Bits

By Pax Rasmussen

News and ideas for a healthier, more sustainable future.
by Pax Rasmussen

Dirty Dozen’s 2014 Shopper Guide

Environmental Working Group has released their 2014 Shopper Guide to Pesticides in Produce, including their “Dirty Dozen” list of most-contaminated fruits and vegetables.

If you buy a mixture of organic and conventional, choose organic for these: apples, strawberries, grapes, celery and peaches.

But this year, they’ve added a ‘Dirty Dozen Plus’ section: Since the method of determining ‘most contaminated’ is by measuring the amount of pesticide left on the produce after washing and preparing for eating, they felt they had to add an additional section. Avoid conventional hot peppers, kale and collards, because while there was less residue detected, it was of particularly toxic varieties (organophosphates and carbamate insecticides no longer detected widely on other produce, either because of binding legal restrictions or voluntary phase-outs).

The cleanest produce were avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage and frozen sweet peas.

Minnesota bans triclosan

Minnesota has become the first state to ban triclosan, an antibacterial agent used in soaps, detergents and even toothpaste. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year released a report showing that triclo­san doesn’t even really work, and worse, can be toxic and possibly contribute to the breeding of resistant bacteria.

Possibly contributing to the legislation was a study released last year by the University of Minnesota showing increased amounts of triclosan in several Minnesota lakes.,

Let them eat cake

In April, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that the Utah Transit Authority doubled executives’ bonuses last year—while seeking a tax hike to restore bus service cut during the recession. To give you an idea of the kind of money we are talking about: UTA spent $1.74 million on bonus, up from about $870,000 in 2012. The biggest individual bonuses were around $30,000, up from $25,000 in 2012—on top of compensation packages exceeding $300,000 per person in some cases. The Tribune also, aptly, pointed out that Gov. Gary Herbert’s total compensation in 2013 was $151,294 (with no bonus). With Salt Lake City currently holding a record for the most expensive public transit system, I have to wonder why we’re rewarding these guys.

$5M for energy

Salt Lake City has announced that we are throwing our collective hat in the in the ring to win the Georgetown University Energy Prize. The Prize was announced at a conference in Washington, D.C. in April, and will be awarded to one of 50 communities around the U.S. with a population between 5,000 and 250,000.

To win, Salt Lake City will have to come up with a plan for the prize money that focuses on reductions in energy use, innovation of approach, quality of community outreach, sustainability and replicability. There’s no information yet about what sort of approach Salt Lake will be taking, but updates will definitely make it into this column.

This article was originally published on May 31, 2014.