Waiter, There Is Toxic Sludge in my Organic Soup!

March 16, 2010 at 9:42 am

Fifteen years ago, the Center for Media and Democracy in my book Toxic Sludge Is Good for You first exposed the deceptive PR campaign by the municipal sewage industry that has renamed toxic sewage sludge as “biosolids” to be spread on farms and gardens. Unfortunately, the scam continues to fool more people than ever, even in San Francisco which is often dubbed the country’s greenest city.

I suspect that Bay area celebrity chef Alice Waters would never dump sewage sludge onto her own organic garden, nor serve food grown in sludge in her world famous natural foods restaurant Chez Panisse. The mission of her Chez Panisse Foundation is to create “edible schoolyards” where kids grow, prepare, and eat food from their own organic gardens. But Francesca Vietor, the new executive director of the Chez Panisse Foundation, is at the same time actively promoting dumping toxic sludge on gardens in her role as Vice President of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

SFPUC has been deceptively bagging toxic sewage sludge as ‘organic compost’ and giving it away to unsuspecting gardeners, people to whom the word ‘organic’ connotes the highest level of pure, toxin-free food production. On March 4, 2010, the Organic Consumers Association and dozens of San Francisco community groups protested at the mayor’s office causing the city to put its sludge “compost” giveaway on hold, but only temporarily.

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John Stauber is an independent writer, his views are his own

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Is San Francisco giving gardeners toxic sludge compost? Why Won’t Alice Waters Just Say NO to Toxic Sludge?



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