Nigel Barker cares about stuff – and he’s not a sissy. I recently chatted on the phone with this amazingly talented, compassionate, and influential photographer. We talked about everything from his fashion industry work, to his time spent in Haiti exposing some of the worst poverty, to his documentation of the controversial seal hunt. He doesn’t think that you can be a fur-wearing environmentalist, and he likes to shop thrift. NigelBarker_1-2

Things We Talked About:

Killer Bacon Bugs, Bid on Stars & Recycling Myths

1. An Op-Ed published by the New York Times last week has linked killer MRSA, also known as the  antibiotic-resistant “Flesh Eating Bacteria” to more than 18,000 deaths per year in the US. That’s more than AIDS. And what is the source of this superbug? You guessed it: cheap pig products. “Probably from the routine use — make that the insane overuse — of antibiotics in livestock feed. This is a system that may help breed virulent “superbugs” that pose a public health threat to us all.


A small Dutch study found pig farmers there were 760 times more likely than the general population to carry MRSA (without necessarily showing symptoms), and Scientific American reports that this strain of MRSA has turned up in 12 percent of Dutch retail pork samples.

Now this same strain of MRSA has also been found in the United States. A new study by Tara Smith, a University of Iowa epidemiologist, found that 45 percent of pig farmers she sampled carried MRSA, as did 49 percent of the hogs tested.

Death on a Factory Farm

And now with the NYT review of the Documentary “Death on Factory Farm” which is taking HBO viewers by

storm, I can only wonder how these animals that are smarter than dogs (yet some dogs chew delightfully on their dried ears & limbs) will fare int he coming months? And au contraire Mike Hale and the Wiles’s community, we can all eat veggies and thrive.

2. Bid on me! Help Farm Sanctuary raise some funds, and get a private brunch for two prepared by yours truly! Also bid on items from Bill Mahr, Amy Smart, Joan Jett, Chloe Jo, Daniela Sea, Heather Mills, Matt & Nat, Wendy Kidd, Dan Piraro, Gloria Steinem, Joelle Katcher, Rachael Sage, 30 Seconds to Mars, Maureen Burke, Gabrielle Brick, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Nigel Barker, and more!

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3. Is recycling really all that it claims to be? Have you ever been confronted by someone who is a total recycling skeptic and didn’t know what to say?

Read: “Recycling Is Too Difficult and 9 Other Obnoxious Myths

Read the Economist article: “The Truth About Recycling

Read: The Economics of Recycling

Watch: William McDonough on ‘Cradle to Cradle’

Recycling is a tricky issue because it’s really a problem of over-production and over-consumption. But one thing is certain. We do not have infinite resources on this planet, and people who are in the industries that use up these resources, and are in positions to do something about it have a responsibility to figure out how to not leave devastated ecosystems for future generations. Just because the recycling systems aren’t perfect does not justify throwing caution to the wind and continuing ‘business as usual’.

The real issue is that recycling is not enough. Reuse is better, and ‘green’ products with toxic by-products need to be more thoroughly sourced, because there are products that come from closed loop systems, also known as EIN Eco Industrial Networking or EIP- Environmental Industrial Parks. But again, the root problem is still there.

Bottler of an idea ... Crushed drink bottles at a recycling plant in Chullora

One major problem is that recycling systems are often based on dollars as opposed to ecological and personal well-being. Dollars are abstract and when you work towards achieving such an abstraction (as opposed to working towards sustainability, good health, community, friendship, etc) the consequences to the physical world become secondary, when in fact ecosystems are primary and without functioning, healthy ones, we’d all be gone. The reason recycling appears to be useless to some people is not because re-rendering products into new products is impossible – it’s because they are seeing the effects of basing a recycling system upon a system that in itself is not sustainable.

Does that mean we shouldn’t recycle? Of course not! It means we should do that, and much much more! It also means the problems haven’t been solved and we need to get some serious critical thinking done.

Fresh Friday Finds

1. Conference of Birds

I attended the COB runway show for the Spring 2009 collection and was thrilled to see some organics! Andrew Holden’s ‘excellent bad-boys’ looked as if they were just back to London from a desert excavation or an Egyptian urban-safari. This collection featured gorgeous canvas jackets, Hebrew-inspired scarves, lots of layers, an organic hooded trench coat, vests, and a bright but soft color palate of yellow, bone, black, gray and pale blue. DB contributer Jodi worked on this collection. Most of the spring collection was vegan, but there was some wool and leather, unfortunately.

2. Blog of a Vegan Pirate

SuperVegan has been publishing the blog of Tod Emko who documented his time serving on the Sea Shepherd pirate ship, The Steve Irwin, and their mission to stop illegal Japanese whaling from February and March of 2008. In light of the 2008 IWC Meeting finishing with the usual deadlock, and Sea Shepherd officially announcing its 2008-2009 anti-whaling campaign, Operation Musashi, it seemed a good time to show people what’s going on in the world of whaling.



3. ‘Top Model’ Judge Protects Seals!

America’s Next Top Model judge and renowned photographer Nigel Barker opens A Sealed Fate? tonight in New York. If you are in NYC, go check out an exhibition about the world’s largest slaughter of marine animals. Tyra, no doubt, would approve—even if she didn’t think of it first.
July 25-27 at 401 Projects, 401 West St., New York, (212) 633-6202, humanesociety.org/protectseals

4. Victoria’s (Dirty Forest Destroying) Secret cleaned up!

Victoria's Secret
LISTEN to CEO Todd Katzenmeyer as he talks about how the Forest Ethics campaign changed the company’s catalog practices. Also pay attention to the insanity of Corporate monsters like VS and the insanity they foster.

5. An Olympic-Sized Fur Trade

A Shocking Look Inside Chinese Fur Farms

China is one of the world’s largest suppliers of fur garments. More than 95 percent of China’s finished fur garments are exported for sale overseas, and many of them go to North America. Cat and dog fur is often deliberately mislabeled as “Asian jackal” or “rabbit” fur. This summer, with the world’s eyes focused on China during the Olympics, PETA is exposing the horrors that take place on Chinese fur farms. This is a historic opportunity to speak out against the global fur trade and influence consumers worldwide.

Sign the Pledge to fo Fur-Free

6. Ontario has made the largest conservation commitment in Canadian history, setting aside at least half the Northern Boreal region – 225,000 square kilometres – for permanent protection from development.

7. CBS News Joins FOX in revealing the true role of mainstream media: Lies.

8. Click to feed shelter dogs (for free!)


9. VINYL from Olympia

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10. Graphic Tease

Some fresh Organic Prints from Edun & Loomstate: