FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Heifer Palooza

by MARTHA ROSENBERG

Chicago.

Sheryl Crow fans at the Grazing on the Green fundraiser for Heifer International at Chicago’s Ravinia Park in August are in for a surprise.

In addition to hearing the singer and sampling “locally grown food, wine and beer,” they’ll hear former University of Miami basketball star Will Allen talk about the Heifer-supported aquaculture which is giving Milwaukee’s youth a future and sustainable lifestyle.

Just don’t ask about Heifer’s aquaculture projects in Chicago in the 1990’s.

The idea sounded great–poor kids living in the Chicago Housing Authority’s Robert Taylor Homes would learn aquaculture.

Not only would the tilapia–a fish bought for 5 cents each from Illinois State University and capable of growing to 2 feet–provide nice fillets for housing project dwellers, the project would provide young people, “job readiness skills and learning to become stewards of the natural environment and their community,” enthused Heifer International’s Alison Meares Cohen.

The “natural environment” of fish squeezed into 55 gallon drums could even be extended to Chicago 70,000 vacant lots and start including sheep, goats and cows said Heifer.

And don’t forget the nice income the local restaurants scrambling to buy the fish would provide residents.

Unfortunately the entire population of tilapia was killed.

Twice.

In 1999 all the fish froze to death when the heat and power was cut to the building, some say deliberately.

And in 2001 the fish died of heat when power went off during a storm, some leaping “out of their barrels trying to escape accumulating ammonia and rising temperatures,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

P.S. Not one fish was sold to a restaurant.

Few charities enjoy the print-the-press-release media coverage of Heifer thanks to Bill and Hillary Clinton, Bill and Melinda Gates, Beatrice Biira of Beatrice’s Goat fame and the ubiquitous photos of children hugging their live bequests.

Nor will you hear of Heifer flocks and herds dying of disease or in transit while Heifer’s online shock troops, reminiscent of the Moonies, patrol the internet and conduct viral marketing. (MetaFilter founder Matt Haughey was even forced to expose one online “educator” as posting comments from an internal Heifer International IP address on his personal blog in 2007.)

Even Heifer’s cloudy overseas ownership as reported by Mondaq Business Briefing and non-sustainable food model fly below the press’ radar.

How do destitute families feed the animals?

If they can’t “grow enough feed” a Heifer newsletter says, “Families are taught the best substitutes to buy locally” –skirting how the poor can “buy” anything or why they would grow animal feed rather than edible crops.

What happens when animals get sick?

Families can use “local natural substances that are known to provide specific medicinal benefit,” says Heifer. Maybe they’ll “buy them locally” too or grow them next to the animal feed.

What about the destructive effect of grazing?

Families should build sheds to house the animals says Heifer, using locally available materials.

But philanthropist Philip Wollen, winner of the 2007 Australian of the Year (Victoria) award and the 2006 Australian Humanitarian Award doesn’t buy Heifer hype.

“This so called ‘aid program’ is killing people, animals, and the planet. It is an obscenity dressed up in dollars and dross,” he says. “Worse, it is entrenching more cruelty, more environmental carnage and more ill health in poor communities.”

Nor is former Indian minister for social welfare and animal protection Maneka Gandhi a fan.

“These charities woo the ethical shopper with pictures of goats wearing Christmas hats and promises of helping the poor in developing
countries,” but within two years the communities “have an even poorer lifestyle,” she says.

At the Sheryl Crow gala in August, speaker Will Allen will probably talk more to guests and local philanthropists about jobs for youth and poverty programs than Heifer’s aquaculture ventures in Milwaukee.

Not only is aquaculture inefficient, wasteful, polluting, dangerous to wildlife and a source of disease–images of kids hugging fish don’t sell.

MARTHA ROSENBERG is staff cartoonist on the Evanston Roundtable. She can be reached at mrosenberg@evmark.org

 

 

 

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba After Fidel
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewable of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail