The Modern Kale Debacle: Bo’s Fight

The man behind the t-shirts that started a war with fast food giant Chick-Fil-A

Bo Muller-Moore is attempting to trademark “Eat More Kale,” a slogan that he has been printing one-at-a-time on t-shirts for over a decade. Chick-Fil-A, a fast-food company that sells over 800 chicken sandwiches a minute, has sent Bo a cease and desist letter and is also attempting to block Bo’s application for a trademark, claiming he is harming their Eat Mor Chikin campaign.
Steven Roux is an organic farmer/writer who works by day for acclaimed Microgreens grower Good Water Farms.

Steven: You’ve described yourself as a “Neolithic stencil artist.” Since I first ordered a shirt from you and received a signed photo along with it, I’ve thought of you as a chill dude living in Vermont who designed an Eat More Kale t-shirt that evolved from a comical decree to eat more nutritious super foods into a mantra for conscious living.  The signed photo of you, Bo, genuinely beaming with a hand written thank-you, was great personal touch that resonated with me—I was living in Brooklyn at the time and everywhere I wore the shirt, complete strangers complimented or made funny remarks to me, in which I would retort with a question: “Have you heard of these shirts before? And the debacle the designer is having with Chick-Fil-A?” For every time this happened, for every time I explained the Cease and Desist letter and Chick-Fil-A’s claim that your harming the intellectual property of their Eat Mor Chikin campaign, I not only made whomever stranger I was talking interested in your case, I made them visibly upset by the ordeal.

Bo: It’s a universal thing. I’m grinning because I’m lucky to hear stories like yours all the time. Last week it was my friend telling me how he was down in Miami where everyone was more beautiful than the next person, and he was walking along the boardwalk, getting more looks than he’s ever had, and he starts wondering—“Wow is it my hair? Is it my tan?” Then he realized—“Oh it’s my goddamn shirt!”

Steven: The Kickstarter campaign for Jim Lance’s film about your case,  “A Defiant Dude,” raised almost $15,000 more than its goal of $75,000 back in March. How has production been? Are we basically waiting for the outcome of the case?

Bo: Yes. Some might think he could have the film three quarters of the way finished, but the filmmaker—Jim, it’s his film—assures me that he needs to have an ending before he can craft the rest of the film. He does have over 300 hours worth of footage, he literally crossed the United States twice last summer with a film crew interviewing everyone from lawyers and intellectual property specialists to moms and pops, real people in various businesses being affected by corporate bullies. I haven’t seen too much of the footage, but it’s real American heartland stuff, you know, not left wing rebellious hippie stuff. The trademark office is supposed to come up with a ruling this month. They’ve had six months to respond to our final argument that we submitted on September 26th.

Bo hard at work screening in his Vermont shop.

Bo hard at work screening in his Vermont shop.

Steven: And you’ll receive the trademark?

Bo: I’m not fighting at this point to win a trademark. For the last two and a half years I’ve simply been fighting to get my application in the game, to be considered for a trademark. In this case, before I even make it to the public arena for debate, Chick-Fil-A sent a letter of protest saying, ‘Hey trademark office, this trademark is so egregious he doesn’t deserve the due process.’ They don’t want a public debate; they’re trying to stop me at the starting line.

Steven: And they’ve stopped others before.

Bo: They sent me a list of 40 businesses that they’ve shut down.

Steven: Eat more goat, eat more broccoli…

Bo: One was a race car team call Eat More Gas… When you get that cease and desist letter, it looks so official most people’s first thought is either to shut it down or go talk to a lawyer for $400 an hour. If it wasn’t for our local lawyer agreeing to do it for free and immediately soliciting the help of the University of New Hampshire’s law school, I wouldn’t have been able to do this for a minute.

Visiting the Good Water Farms Team (FOND Client and Day Job of the Writer, Steven Roux)

Visiting the Good Water Farms Team | From Left: Isaac Algarin (Good Water Farms Grower), Brendan Davison (Good Water Farms Founder), Nicole Delma (FOND Founder), Steven Roux (Writer and Good Water Farms Grower)

Steven: In the trailer for the film you acknowledge your awareness of Chick-Fil-A’s aggressive and victorious history with like-minded trademark seekers in the past, but you clearly remain undaunted toward their corporate advantage. Perhaps it’s because you have an enormous amount of support by Team Kale devotees from State Governors to Anderson Cooper that believe this is corporate bullying and that Chick-Fil-A should try eating more kale-slaw.

Bo: I was kind of in the perfect storm; I think I’m the perfect character to fight back. I grew up on the south, the way the Chick-Fil-A family did… I don’t know them personally but I’m from the same cut of fabric as them. On the face of this, everyone sees a chubby hippie from Vermont fighting God-fearing southern folks but in reality we know the same language, we wrestled at the same schools, water skied in the same lakes… I’m not that different from them, we grew up within miles of each other.

Steven: The first t-shirt you ever designed was your classic “Cheese” print you made on a silk screen you received from your wife as a gift….

Bo: Yup, it was Valentines Day, 1999.

Steven: How did you first become interested in printing shirts?

Bo: I was working at a high school in Montpelier, I had just moved to Vermont and was working in the Learning Services Department, the Special Education Department, and this was when Gap and Old Navy were huge, and all the kids had shirts with brands across the front, and the individual in me started to go crazy…. it was also the time we started to learn about sweat shops and conscientious shopping. That and I used to doodle in my notebook during meetings and my wife saw them and said that’d be cool tattoos or shirts.

The screen that started it all. Shop Eatmorekale.com for these and other styles, stickers and to donate to Bo's legal fund.

The screen that started it all. Shop Eatmorekale.com for these and other styles, stickers and to donate to Bo’s legal fund.

Steven: Along with working on the film, you’ve just launched a new website with sweet new merch like aprons, beanies, even Eat More Kale yoga mats. Also new to Eatmorekale.com is a wholesale section, where you can order larger quantities of shirts or hoodies for entire families of veg-heads or even to sell at a local farmers markets. There’s also a “Design of the Week” now, will these designs be exclusively by you, Bo, or will other local artists be involved?

Bo: My family will make them, the one that’s up this week my 8-year-old daughter made, and the one I’m posting next week my wife made. In the past ten years I’ve cut 450 stencils and people used to really respond to them at my booth, but when I made the site it wasn’t practical to have so many in addition to the popular EMK shirt. So I whittled it down to some best sellers, but it dawned on me to have a design of the week for some deeper cuts. Variation is fun.

Steven: You’ve also described yourself as a folk artist. Have these last two and a half years of legal distress tarnished the lyrics from Willie Dixon’s’ ‘Back Door Man’ for you? The song later covered by The Doors…  In both songs the lyrics: “I eat more chicken, Than any man ever seen” are bellowed.

Bo: I hasn’t ruined the song, but you know what is has kind of ruined? I used to like a good fried chicken sandwich, at a nice southern diner. Maybe a local chicken breast fried up would be okay… But the EMK guy doesn’t eat chicken sandwiches anymore.

Steven: Has your struggle been worth it so far? Would make that first Eat More Kale shirt all over again if you had the chance?

Bo: A typical thing I hear from people—and it really hits the spot—is, and I’m paraphrasing: “It must feel all encompassing sometimes, and we’re here to remind you that this is a fight that’s really worth fighting.” So on the days when I wish I’d never heard of Eat More Kale, and that doesn’t happen very often, but just when you start thinking that, that’s when you get an 80-year-old in a nursing home in Kentucky sending you a check for your legal fund…. I’d for sure make that first shirt over again.  When we were at Bush gardens last week, I had 5-10 people approach me while I was wearing the shirt, and most knew of the shirt but didn’t recognize me as the maker, but 2-3 people knew who I was and my 8 year old was thrilled. To be a rock star in the eyes of your daughter is worth it right there… I’ll be a real zero to her in a few years when she’s a teenager, but that night I tucked her in she was still talking about the people who knew me.

 

A special thanks to both Bo and Steven who put a substantial amount of time and heart into bringing us inside this perplexing story. Your hard work is appreciated.   –Nicole Delma, FOND Founder
 
Support Bo’s Cause and SHOP or DONATE NOW: 
Kale Sale

SHOP OR DONATE AT EATMOREKALE.COM

 
 

Kauai’s Struggle for Health by Amanda Brower

Health and the environment have become the number one issue with GMO operations on Kauai. 

FOND NOTE: During my stay on Kauai, I was presented with an onslaught of information regarding the GMO debate and much of it was downright shocking . What had seemed like a straightforward argument between Chemicals/Genetic Engineering versus No Chemicals/No Genetic Engineering was anything but.  There were and are layers upon layers of history, loyalty, information, misinformation, politics, employment issues and tradition factoring in to the debates taking place on beautiful Kauai.  As I did some digging (which I will elaborate on in a future post), a friend shared the below summary with me of the local issues specific to Kauai – arguably the US capital of GMO industry. I am still doing my own research (as I encourage you to do) but this post by Andrea Brower, originally run on Civilbeat.com on July, 17, does a great job of covering the key issues. Mahalo to Richard Diamond for allowing me to share and Andrea Brower for authoring. — Nicole Delma

By Amanda Brower

Born, raised and educated on Kauai, I was brought up with an ethic of care for this land, its future, and the people of this aina. I was also taught that we have kuleana to stand-up for what is right, just, and in the service of the common good — and that sometimes we must struggle for what is pono.

The movement on Kauai to protect our land, water and communities from the impacts of the agrochemical-GMO industry is reflective of this deep sense of responsibility that my generation feels for our home and one another. We know that the decisions being made today will shape our future and that of many generations to follow.

Despite what they would like us to believe, the global agrochemical-GMO industry — corporate giants Pioneer DuPont, Syngenta, Monsanto, Dow, BASF — did not show up in Hawaii merely because we have a year-round growing season. They came because they saw us as an exploitable community, left with an economic void when the sugar plantations exited, and challenged to think outside of the box of plantation agriculture after 150 years of it.

They saw a community of mostly working-class people, already conditioned to accept an industry that exports all of its profits and leaves behind nothing but pollution, health bills and unsafe, low-paying jobs. They came because, despite our enlightened state motto and constitutional mandate to protect the environment, we allow them to get away with doing things that they wouldn’t be allowed to do in other places.

Since GMO testing began in Hawaii, over 3,000 permits have been granted for open-air field trials, more than in any other state in the nation. In 2012 alone, there were 160 such permits issued on 740 sites.

Kauai has the highest number of these experimental sites, which are associated with the use of 22 restricted-use pesticides in the amount of 18 tons of concentrate each year. Syngenta, BASF, Pioneer DuPont and Dow occupy nearly all of the leased agricultural lands on the westside of Kauai — over 12,000 acres in close proximity to schools, residences, churches, and hospitals.

Kauai residents currently do not have the right to know what is happening on these agricultural lands, or how these activities are affecting our common air and water. We do not know which pesticides are being used where, in what amounts, and what their cumulative impacts might be. We also know nothing about the experimental GMO crops being tested. Even when the federal government determines that new pesticide-GMO crop combos significantly affect the quality of the human environment, as the USDA did in the recent case of 2,4-D and Dicamba resistant crops, we have no way of knowing whether they were tested here and what their impacts might have been.

Kauai County Council Bill 2491 on pesticides and GMOs seeks to correct this obvious oversight. It is a highly reasonable bill that is applicable only to the five corporations who use tremendous amounts of restricted-use pesticides each year.

The bill establishes people’s right to know about the chemicals that are being used, and sets up a buffer zone between the spraying and schools, hospitals, residential areas and waterways. It also requires that the county conduct an EIS so we can better understand the impacts of the agrochemical-GMO operations on our island, and in the meantime puts a moratorium on new operations. And it mandates that experimental pesticides and GMOs be tested in containment rather than in the open-air.

The pesticides this bill pertains to are not the type you purchase at Ace Hardware. They are “restricted-use” pesticides because they are recognized as extremely dangerous to human health and the environment. Chemicals such as Atrazine (Syngenta), banned in the EU and known to cause birth defects, cancer and reproductive issues, and to contaminate ground-water. Lorsban (Dow), known to cause impaired brain and nervous system functions in children and fetuses, even in minute amounts. Other pesticides being used are shown to affect brain cancer, autism, and heart and liver problems.

Pioneer employees who were bussed by DuPont County Council meeting for hearing on Bill 2491 to regulate GMO company pesticide use on Kauai Photo by Juan Wilson.

Pioneer employees who were bussed by DuPont County Council meeting for hearing on Bill 2491 to regulate GMO company pesticide use on Kauai Photo by Juan Wilson.

Atrazine, chlorpyrifos (Lorsban) and bifenthrin have made it inside Waimea Canyon Middle School, almost certainly the result of drift from the chemical-GMO operations around the school, which is a violation of federal law. Bill 2491 is about our right to know where these highly-dangerous pesticides are coming from so we can determine how they might be affecting human health and the environment. It has nothing to do with whether we are for or against the science and technology of GMOs.

While it would be great if we could count on the state and federal governments to adequately regulate, the fact is that they haven’t. And this issue cannot wait. People are sick now. We need to know now. Our state and federal governments have spent the last decades putting the interests of these transnational corporations over the interests of the common good.

The US government’s own Accountability Office concluded that the EPA is severely lacking in its implementation of laws relating to pesticides. It is up to us on Kauai, the people who have direct experience of the industry’s impacts, to take the necessary action. This bill has been reviewed by many local and national attorneys, and we at the county level have the right to protect our health, safety and environment.

Rather than be responsive to reasonable concerns, the chemical-GMO companies are doing everything they can to fight this bill. They are some of the largest and most powerful corporations in the world, and infamous for their fierce opposition to any kind of disclosure and regulation. This is not a matter of “bad” people doing bad things. These corporations are legally mandated to make profit for their shareholders at other expenses.

Beyond the rhetoric of their well-paid marketing, they do not care about the places where they operate. They may have a few friendly and concerned managers who live locally, but the economic structure that they operate within does not prioritize environmental and human health. That is why this issue requires a structural response — actual policy that will limit these corporation’s ability to externalize their costs onto us.

The industry is using the unfortunate tactic of threatening workers that if this bill passes, their jobs will be lost. While the claim of these incredibly wealthy corporations that they can’t afford to be more responsible in their chemical usage seems exaggerated, if not absurd, we need to be compassionate and sensitive to the position workers are being put in.

If in fact the industry does decide to leave simply because we’ve asked them to be transparent and responsible, then we must generate new agricultural jobs that are higher-paying, less hazardous and long-term. Jobs that express who we are and are integral to our local economy rather than those dependent on the whims of transnational corporations who can get up and leave at anytime.

As an island dependent on barges coming from at least 2500 miles away for 85% of our food, one obvious place for job generation is in developing our sustainable agriculture industry. There are huge possibilities. Half of the lands used by the agrochemical-GMO industry on Kauai are state lands, which could be made more easily available to real farmers. Water that is currently being hoarded by the private chemical industry could be returned to streams and agricultural users, in line with state water law. Subsidy support and research could be consistently put towards sustainable and locally-appropriate agriculture.

By privileging the chemical-GMO companies’ use of our resources over local agriculture, we are paying the high costs of missed opportunities. Sustainable agriculture to service local needs would generate local revenues and stimulate the economic multiplier effect, plug economic leakages, support a wide variety of other small businesses, employ far more people, insure food security, add to the resilience of our economy, distribute benefits more equitably, and be a real draw to tourists.

While we do face structural challenges to building our local agricultural industry, some of which are national or global, there are innumerable creative and immediate solutions. These include a variety of socially responsible enterprises, cooperatives, food hubs, land trusts and ag parks, land use policy in favor of local ag, farmer training, and research funding for sustainable ag. The public will to proactively create and support these solutions keeps growing. Young people especially are looking for opportunities to farm, to be stewards of the aina and feed their communities.

By regulating these transnational corporations, we are supporting the possibility of local agriculture and food security. By protecting our fragile, limited and precious resources, we protect the possibility of real agriculture (that actually feeds us) thriving in the long-term. This is a turning point in the island’s history, one which will determine the type of path we will take.

On Kauai we take pride in our values of care and responsibility for one another and the aina. Now is our moment to lead the state and show the nation how a small community can stand-up for what is obviously moral — putting people and nature’s rights ahead of corporate profits. When it comes to the health of our population and environment, we must demand self-determination. The world is watching, and we will send a clear message, one way or the other.

Andrea BrowerAndrea Brower is doing a PhD on the politics and economics of food and agriculture. She has a Masters degree in Science and International Development from the University of Sussex.

Please visit Civilbeat.com to view the original article and browse more great content.

Fresher Farm to Table

GETTING THE ROOT OF FRESH AND HOW TO GET IT IN THE CITY

Living in NYC, it is surprisingly hard to find impeccably fresh produce. I’d insert the word ‘local’ here too but recent schooling has taught me that ‘local’ is rapidly becoming the new ‘organic’ when it comes to overuse and lack of meaning in terms of describing the quality of our food. You see, we can call anything ‘local’ but how far does that mean…this block, zipcode, state? To be determined.

When it comes to organic, it can be even trickier. In a recent conversation with Long Island microgreens grower, Brendan Davison,  I was educated on the some of the misnomers surrounding organic and natural food labeling. Davison shocked me when he told me that one of my very favorite ‘organic’ producers actually only operated one single acre of truly chemical-free farmland and for the rest of its thousand or so acres, it was full-fledged pesticide-laden business as usual. And yet, they were legally able to maintain their USDA Certified Organic classification on their packaging. News to me.

So, for now, I’ll settle on ‘fresh’ as the key quality I am looking for in my food and with that, I mean I want it to be picked within the last 10 hours and to have come into contact with as few chemicals as possible in the course of its life. This food not only tastes the best but it offers the highest amount of nutrients and critical enzymes our body needs to nourish itself. I treat my body like a science experiment and I can vouch for the difference I feel in energy, mood, sleep quality with the right supply of fresh wholesome foods.

In my search for fresh in the city, I tried out so many different options in the last year and was painfully disappointed with many of them. The major at-home grocery delivery chain brings its organic bananas wrapped in bubble wrap and then styrofoam and then packaged in an industrial sized cardboard box (carrying cockroaches if you are lucky).  The semi-prepped food services are slow to disclose the source of their food suppliers and fail to provide a good value. Farmers markets do provide good options but are not exactly convenient for someone like me who juices daily and moves through 20lbs of produce in a week (though be sure to still ask questions about the food they are selling because it doesn’t all come from where you think).

After much digging and wishing for a ‘local’ and ‘organic’ (bear with me) service that would bring me products from places that I could go and visit without an airplane that had been cut from the vine only hours before, I finally landed at RusticRootsDelivery.com through the introduction of a friend/grower. What killed me is that I didn’t find them in all my google searching. There must be other people who want this type of service. A few conversations with the delightful couple (Emer and Jeff) who run the operation and  I was committed to helping them get the word out digitally…which is how you now see them listed under the FOND umbrella. The work Emer and Jeff do to get all of this fresh food into the city isn’t easy – a complex  distribution chain with  over 40 local growers and farmers is not something anyone can come in and master. One taste though and you will see why it is well worth the effort.

Mark my words though – THIS IS THE BEST VALUE I have found in healthful, real food anywhere in the city.  The fact that a real live farmer shows up at your door to drop the goods off is just the icing on the cake.  I wasn’t home for my delivery today at the beach and they put the items away in the fridge for me and then sent me a note to tell me where everything was. Items arrive in neat coolers that are reusable, not cardboard boxes. They follow-up with recipes via emails to help those of us along who don’t have a clue what to do with swiss chard or rhubarb. In one month, I’ve made rhubarb preserves, brocolli rabe, wild ramps for god’s sake! These are not items I would have ever bought or considered adding to my diet but I’m so glad I did.

In addition to fruit and juice baskets (my dermatologist asked what I was using on my skin today because its glowing BTW), they offer local farm fresh eggs, milk in the bottle, goats milk, yogurt, micgrogreens, meat, cheese, honeys and syrups and are adding more each day. Minimum order is $50, delivery $10, no subscription and pick and choose what you want and when you want it. For more, see their FAQ’s.

No one paid me to write this. I simply love these guys and think they are doing a good thing and it is improving the quality of life for a lot of people. Check it out and let me know what you think at nicole@fondgroup.com.

Use code FOND and they’ll knock 10% off your first two orders. Delivering to Long Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.
(And thank your farmer when they drop your food off – farmers rock.)

RusticRootsDelivery.com

To your health-

Nicole

Here are some of the highlights from my last several months in farm fresh heaven:

Breakfast Salad - a runners secret weapon. pumped up with extra nutritious kale Microgreens from @goodwaterfarms and toast with fresh avo and homemade rhubarb preserves

Breakfast Salad – a runners secret weapon. pumped up with extra nutritious kale Microgreens from @goodwaterfarms and toast with fresh avo and homemade rhubarb preserves.

Fresh bottled milk from Ronnybrook farms. You forget how good real milk tastes.

Fresh bottled milk from Ronnybrook farms. You forget how good real milk tastes.

Juicing every morning is easy with RRD's juicing basket.

Juicing every morning is easy with RRD’s juicing basket. Skin, hair, joints, (my brain!) have never been better.

RusticRoots1 RusticRoots2 image image_6 image_5 image_4 image_3 image_2 image_1

Seeing Microgreen

FOND was first introduced to Brendan Davison, founder of Good Water Farms back in November through a mutual friend who knew it would be immediate kismet. Since first sampling the sweet and unfathomably nutritious Microgreens superfood that Davison grows on his land in Long Island, we were hooked. Since then, Davison has been expanding rapidly and now supplies multiple Whole Foods and Gourmet Garage locations in the NY area. You can also order his delicious greens from organic home delivery service Rustic Roots Delivery (use code FOND to save 10% off your first two orders).

In spite of his busy schedule, Davison still makes time to give back to the community and we caught up with him this past weekend out at Rockaway Beach. Davison was posted up at Rockaway Beach’s 96th Street Relief Center where he spent the day offering educational microgreens demos in support of the building of a new community garden. Good Water Farms was at the event along with other local green business owners and artisans to help raise awareness for the garden build as well as educate locals on urban farming and the importance of sustainable food, fashion and other eco friendly products.

We were lucky enough to witness the excitement around the uber ladybug freeing (they are pollinators for the greens) as well as take home our own Sunflower microgreens pot which will begin producing the delicious edible greens in just a few days from the comfort of our NY apartments.

Read more about Brendan’s amazing story and his awesome path from Shaman to becoming a microgreens farmer on NPR. 

After demoing how to germinate and sprout the sunflower microgreens, Davison gifted Delma with her own take home pot of micgrogreens.

After demoing how to germinate and sprout the sunflower microgreens, Davison gifted Delma with her own take home pot of micgrogreens.

FOND headed out to Rockaway Beach to say hello to Good Water Farms and check out the festivities surrounding the build of the 96th Street Community Garden.
FOND headed out to Rockaway Beach to say hello to Good Water Farms and check out the festivities surrounding the build of the 96th Street Community Garden.

%d bloggers like this: