Television Killed the Blog… (thanks for tuning in!)

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Sometime last year I sat in an elementary school principal’s office waiting to conduct an interview for research related to my graduate studies. I looked around noticing details that might help us connect: photos of her children dressed as scarecrows, a wizard’s hat glazed with glitter paint, her calendar of skateboarding piglets, and within minutes I had developed a keen sense of who this character might be. I imagined her framed degrees as a thin skin for the Liz Lemon type underneath. Her inspirational “Dream Big” poster and photo of Hilary Clinton spoke volumes. Wait, maybe she’s more of a Leslie Knope. It was then and there that I knew I couldn’t avoid it anymore…TV had changed my life.

As much as I had thought I would continue working in education, I was already a full time dreamer, a veritable Walter Mitty, and I was wired for TV. Luckily, somewhere along the line I had also, for better or worse, become a writer (as readers here will know!). I have spent the last two years here Vanderbilt University working on spec scripts, auditing film and television classes, and working with fellow students to see my writing come to life on screen. The entire process, from development to post production, has been intoxicating. Until now, my creative pursuits had been mostly a side hustle, a release valve for the pressures that build during a more traditional career. Not anymore.

Breaking Bad, Dexter, The Good Wife, Parks and Recreation, Game of Thrones…these are the kinds of worlds I long to create. These are some of the programs that have driven me to dream, to have unrelenting faith in my abilities, and to harness every drop of courage in my veins. TV isn’t just a way to zone out, TV is a portal through which stories come to life, transporting us to places where we can reflect on who we are, who we want to be, and what it means to be alive. Great TV programs are windows into our souls. If Shakespeare were alive today, I have no doubt that he’d be creating for TV.

So, it is with great reverence for writers like Tina Fey, Louis C.K., Stephen Merchant, Aaron Sorkin, Greg Daniels, Vince Gilligan, and innumerable others that I will be attending the American Film Institute Conservatory in the fall to earn my MFA in Screenwriting. I know this opportunity to hone my television writing will provide me with the skills I need to stand out in a writer’s room, and to develop relationships with future TV producers as I begin my career. I look forward to learning how to develop solid dramatic structures, memorable characters and engaging scenes, and the Direct TV scholarship will help me get there.

This opportunity to turn my TV watching into TV making will help me reach my goal of becoming a showrunner in the future, and will allow me to introduce compelling characters to audiences worldwide. The Direct TV scholarship doesn’t just match the gravitational pull of my aspirations; it will enable me to make great television.

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WE HAVE MOVED!

Dearest friends,

Sorry for the lack of quality updates recently…we have had a lot going on…but we wanted to make sure that you all know that our newest posts and updates will be found at the site for our book: DollarADayBook.com

In addition to our most recent happenings, you will find lesson plans, quizzes, recipes and more at the new site, like Kerri’s most recent cooking experiment with Teese brand vegan cheese!

So from now on, we’ll catch up with you at the new site!

Warmly,

Christopher & Kerri

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As seen in TIME Magazine.

An article that features us, and comments on our experiment as part of an analysis on deprivation experiments has been published in this week’s TIME Magazine. Here’s a link!

By the way, if you haven’t already, please pick up a copy of our new book “On a Dollar a Day: One Couple’s Unlikely Adventure in Eating in America”…you can click to order on the right hand side of this page!

- Christopher

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As seen in Macleans Magazine.

An article about our project, and the book “On a Dollar a Day” was published in this week’s issue of Macleans Magazine (basically the Canadian version of Newsweek)…enjoy!

Additionally, our friends over at Food Democracy Now sent us another message this week:

The evidence is in: America’s food system is broken. Every week we read about record-breaking food safety recalls, a spiraling childhood obesity epidemic, and the continued loss of independent family farmers.

All of these problems can be traced back to one thing: excessive consolidation by Big, corporate food. But change may be on the way. Recently, the Departments of Justice and Agriculture held their first joint workshop here in Iowa to gather evidence of antitrust violations in food and agriculture.1 We were encouraged by the workshop, the first of five to be held this year,2but also concerned that the same companies that have caused these problems were well represented on the panels, while the family farmers most negatively impacted by corporate food monopolies were only given the opportunity to speak after public officials had left the building.

Even though these workshops are an important first step, real family farmers must have a seat at the table. It will take all our voices to ensure that the Justice department holds giant agribusiness accountable.

The aisles of most American grocery stores give an overwhelming illusion of choice when it comes to our food. A closer look, however, quickly reveals that most of the meat, grain, milk — and even the grocery stores themselves — are all owned and controlled by just a few corporations.

The figures are startling:

• A single company (Monsanto) controls the seeds of 93% of soybeans and 80% of the corn grown in the U.S.3

• 4 companies (Tyson, Cargill, Swift & National Beef Packing Co.) control 83% of the beef packing industry4

• 4 companies (Smithfield, Tyson, Swift & Cargill) control 66% of the pork packing industry

For too long now, food and agricultural production has been consolidated into the hands of a few agribusiness giants. These companies dictate to us how our food is produced, how much farmers are paid for their crops and livestock and how much consumers pay for food.

Food Democracy Now! participated in last week’s workshop. We heard Attorney General Eric Holder talk about the “reckless deregulation that has restricted competition in agriculture” and promise that the Department of Justice, under his watch, was committed to “vigorous enforcement” of U.S. antitrust laws.

But given the power of the companies on the other side, we know that the change we need will not come easily. We must stand together and make our voices heard in favor of a fair and democratic food system!

Please support Secretary Vilsack and Attorney General Holder as they move forward. Join them today in pushing for real enforcement of U.S. antitrust laws and an end to America’s food monopolies. It only takes a moment. And after you’ve signed the petition, please ask your friends and family to do the same.

TAKE ACTION.

Thanks!

- Christopher

1. US pledges to probe, bust agribusiness monopolies, Reuters, March 12, 2010 http://fdn.actionkit.com/go/125?akid=112.29943.NbNkYd&t=12
2. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, Public Workshops, Agriculture and Antitrust Enforcement Issues in Our 21st Century Economy http://fdn.actionkit.com/go/94?akid=112.29943.NbNkYd&t=14
3. Monsanto’s dominance draws antitrust inquiry, Patented seeds are go-to for farmers, who decry their fast-growing price, The Washington Post, November 29, 2009 http://fdn.actionkit.com/go/95?akid=112.29943.NbNkYd&t=16
4. 2007 Concentration of Agricultural Markets report, compiled by Mary Hendrickson and William Heffernan of University of Missouri Department of Rural Sociology.

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Take a Stand for Organics!

Our friends over at Food Democracy Now have sent out a rallying call that we’d like to share:

Everything you thought you knew about organics is about to change. If the USDA and Monsanto get their way, organic integrity is about to go the way of the dinosaur.

Once again, the organic industry is under assault. This time the USDA is determined to let Monsanto ride roughshod over common sense environmental rules that would protect organic farmers from having their crops contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds.

Tell Secretary Vilsack that Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa cannot be allowed to undermine the organic industry. Comments are due by close of business on Wednesday, March 3rd. So please ACT TODAY:

http://fdn.actionkit.com/go/111?akid=88.29943.jaSt4U&t=6

During the Bush administration, Monsanto illegally won USDA approval for its GMO alfalfa by convincing USDA regulators to bypass a mandatory environmental review.1 In 2007, a court reversed this decision, ordering the USDA to complete the legally required environmental impact statement (EIS).

Shockingly, the Obama Administration’s recent review would approve Monsanto’s GMOalfalfa.

The draft USDA EIS was issued in December 2009 and is poised to allow Monsanto’s GMO alfalfa on the market, despite the fact that the USDA admits that these seeds will contaminate organic feed that organic dairy farmers rely on to produce organic milk.2

According to the CEO of the largest farmer-owned organic dairy coop in the U.S., GMO alfalfa “threatens the very fabric of the organic industry.”3 We can’t allow this to happen.

Despite massive public outcry in the past, the USDA’s environmental review went so far as to say that U.S. organic consumers don’t care about GMO contamination.

Tell Secretary Vilsack that you care about organic contamination and that you want him to stand up for the organic industry and organic consumers.

http://fdn.actionkit.com/go/111?akid=88.29943.jaSt4U&t=8

THANKS!

Sources:

1. Farmers Sue USDA Over Modified Alfalfa Crop, The New Standard, March 3, 2006
http://fdn.actionkit.com/go/108?akid=88.29943.jaSt4U&t=11

2. Roundup Ready® Alfalfa Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website
http://fdn.actionkit.com/go/109?akid=88.29943.jaSt4U&t=13

3. USDA stance on GM alfalfa threatens “fabric of organic industry”, The Organic & Non-GMO Report, February, 2010
http://fdn.actionkit.com/go/110?akid=88.29943.jaSt4U&t=15

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As heard on “Think” (NPR)


This past Thursday Christopher spoke live on the air with Krys Boyd, the host of “Think”, a show that airs on NPR affiliate KERA in Dallas. The hour long interview covers a range of interesting topics related to the economics of eating, and has caller initiated questions as well. You can click here, or download this interview for free as a podcast through your iTunes account. Enjoy!

- C & K

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Win a Free Copy of “On a Dollar a Day”

From now until March 16, the nonprofit group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is giving away copies of “On a Dollar a Day” to five lucky people. All they’re asking is that you comment on their blog with your favorite frugal cruelty-free vegan tip; winners will be chosen at random from those who post. Good luck!

- Christopher & Kerri

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