Former Utne Reader senior editor Keith Goetzman on environmental issues from climate change to composting.
Thursday, July 14, 2011 2:50 PM
A growing number of beer makers are incorporating green practices in their brewing operations, but a couple of brothers setting up a brewery in Chicago are setting their sights even higher, reports the Chicago Reader: They’re aiming for a zero-waste facility.
The key is that the New Chicago Brewing Company is not a freestanding operation but part of The Plant, a former meatpacking facility that is being renovated to house a bunch of symbiotic businesses under one roof. One makes pickles, one makes kombucha tea, and one is an aquaponics operation that will produce tilapia, greens, mushrooms, and herbs. The Reader reports:
The idea is to turn the whole compound into a zero-waste facility. The heat for brewing New Chicago’s beer will come from an anaerobic digester, which uses bacteria to convert organic waste—produced in the building and by neighboring food businesses—to biogas (and sludge, which becomes fertilizer). The gas is then cleaned, compressed, and run through a high-pressure turbine (repurposed from a military fighter jet engine) to create electricity and 850-degree steam. The brewery, in turn, will produce spent grains—which can be used to feed the tilapia, grow mushrooms, and feed the digester—and carbon dioxide—which will be piped to the plants in the building to make them grow faster.
Sounds like a great idea, though it has a ways to go yet. The brothers, Samuel Evans and Jesse Edwin Evans, don’t expect to be brewing beer till March 2012, and The Plant’s website shows pretty clearly that the facility is a DIY work in progress. But Samuel Evans figures that ultimately their production costs will be “insanely lower—like 75 percent lower” than a conventional brewery.
Once they’re up and running, New Chicago plans to produce 12,000 barrels of beer in the first year, to be sold to city bars and liquor stores. The Evanses also hope to sell beer on-site in a tasting room and to help aspiring brewers make and market their own concoctions.
It’ll be up to beer aficionados to decide how stellar the suds are. But if the Evans brothers realize their ambitions, New Chicago will help set a new standard for sustainable breweries—and others businesses too. “Nothing leaves our brewery except beer,” they write on the New Chicago website. “Imagine if that were true for all production businesses.”
Source: Chicago Reader, The Plant, New Chicago Brewing Company
Diagram by Matt Bergstrom.
Wednesday, June 02, 2010 3:49 PM
Large, invasive Asian carp are overwhelming the Mississippi River and heading for the Great Lakes—and one way to help stop their spread is to eat them, a host of observers are suggesting. But the American palate is not attuned to carp as a delicacy, and the fish’s PR problems begin with its inelegant, harsh-sounding name. So why not rename it? It worked for orange roughy, which once was known as the slimehead, and “rock salmon,” a.k.a. the spiny dogfish.
Big River magazine, which covers the Upper Mississippi, has had a field day with its carp coverage, which recently included a Name That Carp contest that is now down to its finalists. The common carp is the more established but less aggressive invader, while the silver carp is the gigantic, leaping variety that really has river watchers worried. Here are the suggested names:
winged silver roughy
Entries are closed, but Big River is asking the public to vote on these finalists and will announce the winning names in the July-August issue.
It’s not the only publication with carp on its mind. The Chicago Reader did an entire carp issue that included a ten-chef carp challenge. One chef, Phillip Foss of Lockwood restaurant, took the competition to heart and began putting carp dishes on his menu that attracted favorable attention from the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal.
But Foss isn’t going along with this renaming business. The Reader notes that “he was excited about selling Asian carp,” but that he wasn’t going to start calling it silverfin, as some boosters already have suggested. “He wasn’t going to sugarcoat it.”
Foss tells the Reader, “This fish has a lot of strikes against it. But this is not a bad-tasting fish. … You want to get it out of the water—why not fish it? Eat it for dinner tonight.”
Sources: Big River, Chicago Reader, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal
Top image by Michael Boyd, www.mboydphoto.com
. Carp dish image courtesy of Phillip Foss from his blog The Pickled Tongue.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008 10:12 AM
Creative Loafing Inc., which owns eponymous alt-weeklies in Tampa, Atlanta, Sarasota, and Charlotte, as well as the Chicago Reader and the Washington City Paper, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on September 29. CEO Ben Eason assured employees that the move will leave editorial budgets and staffs intact, and it looks like all six titles are planning to continue publishing in print, though editors are being encouraged to pursue "web-first" strategies.
“I’m filing [bankruptcy] because the economy sucks,” said Eason, whose parents founded Creative Loafing Atlanta in 1972. He told employees that the "safe harbor" of Chapter 11 would allow the company to work out a solid online advertising strategy and reorder its finances.
“This isn’t a failing company,” Eason wrote in an email to his newspapers’ executives, “but instead one caught squarely by this challenging economy between old media and new media.”
Thursday, September 11, 2008 2:08 PM
When Chicago stand-up comedian and political activist Ken Swanborn died, his family placed a paid death notice in the Chicago Tribune ending with the request “In lieu of flowers, please vote Democratic.” The Tribune quickly removed the line from the obituary before it ran, citing a policy against “discriminatory or offensive” material. Chicago Reader blogger Michael Miner cried foul and was told by a Tribune employee that the deleted line could potentially offend Republican readers. But, Miner points out, what about offending the family who paid to place the announcement?
Is this a denial of free speech or merely a newspaper trying to stay neutral?
Friday, June 13, 2008 4:20 PM
Every aesthetic movement has its rivalries, its schisms, its heated battles over who’s keeping it real and who’s already sold out. Hip-hop is, famously, no exception: East Coast vs. West Coast, Tupac vs. Biggie, old school vs. new school—we’re all too familiar with these contentions. But now some of the old-school contingent are hating on a new segment of their new-school progeny: hipster rappers (hipster-hop?).
Hipster rap, as loosely defined by the Chicago Reader, consists of the most recent crop of MCs and DJs who flout conventional hip-hop fashions, eschewing baggy clothes and gold chains for tight jeans, big sunglasses, the occasional keffiyeh, and other trappings of the hipster lifestyle. Mainstream rappers like Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco, along with smaller up-and-coming acts like Kid Sister and the Cool Kids, come under fire from the old-school hip-hop website Unkut, and Jersey City rapper Mazzi has recorded diss tracks criticizing, by name, the rappers he sees as poseurs.
The Reader argues that such criticisms don’t hold much water in a genre that has always reinvented itself, borrowing and remixing until the question of authenticity is at best a slippery one. It’s also superficial: much of the derision directed toward hipster rap barely extends beyond clothes and other accoutrements, while the actual substance of the music never really enters the discussion. Furthermore, hip-hop’s notorious homophobia still lingers; much of the backlash takes the form of overt gay panic as rappers call each other fags for copping the metrosexual appearances of hipster fashion.
Race also complicates matters: the latest crop of hipster rap—or new rap, or independent hip-hop, or whatever we’re calling it—is just as likely to be heard at a party full of white kids slamming back Sparks on the Lower East Side as it is in the black community. The Reader notes, however, that the listener base is increasingly diverse, citing multiple firsthand accounts of shows and parties around Chicago where the audience defies racial and socioeconomic categorization—a compelling rebuttal to those still hung up on racial, social, or artistic distinctions.
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Monday, February 18, 2008 10:44 AM
Over the course of several months, “citizen contributor” Patrick Corcoran steadfastly plugged his favorite Democratic congressional candidate, Mark Pera, on the Chicago Tribune’s user-generated, local reporting site, Triblocal.com. Corcoran wrote more than a dozen articles in support of Pera, and the Pera campaign happily linked to his stories on their site, reports Michael Miner of the Chicago Reader.
The doting stories didn’t raise an alarm online, but they did once they hit newsprint. Every week, a round up of the site’s best stories, Trib Local, is shipped with the Chicago Tribune. The January 10 print supplement’s leading headline—“Democrat Mark Pera picks up support”—caught the eye of the parents of a staffer for Pera’s rival campaign and Corcoran’s hand finally tipped: The “citizen contributor” was also the Pera campaign’s media spokesperson. Whoops.
Citizen journalism is a much-lauded fruit of internet democracy, as Adam Weinstein notes in Mother Jones, but the stories produced by these self-selected reporters are seldom vetted by editors or otherwise quality-controlled, spawning a briar patch of new media ethics questions. “The Triblocal.com kind of citizen journalism has at least one conspicuous defect,” writes Miner, “nothing gets written about unless somebody feels like doing the writing.”
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