King Amendment Defeated!

Senator Steve King (R-IA), the namesake of the amendment. (From his official website).

Senator Steve King (R-IA), the namesake of the amendment. (From his official website).

If you have been following the Farm Bill (which has been quite a long process this time around) or you read our post back in June, you may be familiar with the King Amendment. It is an addendum which sought to strengthen and centralize the federal government’s regulation of interstate agricultural commerce. In response to a letter I wrote some months ago to my representative, Glenn Thompson (R-PA), he explained that the debate was largely fueled by:

[A] California law through a ballot initiative that established state standards regarding the housing of chickens on farms. As a result, eggs cannot be imported from any other state, unless the eggs were produced in accordance with California’s standards. Because the U.S. Constitution expressly states that the authority to regulate interstate commerce resides with the federal government through the “Commerce Clause” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 3), many elected officials from both political parties have voiced concerns over California’s law.” -email from Glenn Thompson, Nov. 13th, 2013.

Later, I criticized Thompson, a republican, of denying states the right to chose how to regulate their own agriculture and food products, which seemed weird for a conservative. The bills namesake, is Iowa representative Steve King. I am sure it is no coincidence that his state produces the most eggs by a huge margin (click here for egg production by state)(American Egg Board).

This bill had serious implications for animal welfare and the regulation of animal agriculture as it threatened to nullify not only California’s law (and California’s foie gras ban), but various other animal welfare laws in many states, including Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, the Northern Mariana Island, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Rhode Island (HSUS).

This past week however, animal advocates and those who value agricultural transparency and freedom celebrated as the Farm Bill Conference Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives released the final version of the Farm Bill, in which the King Amendment was omitted (Green, ALDF, 2014).

With the exclusion of this dreaded amendment, various animal welfare and agriculture groups are now urging representatives to pass the farm bill. Click here to see how you can help!

Sources:  Green, Chris. 2014″King Amendment Officially Rejected!”From Animal Legal Defense Fund. Accessed January 31, 2014 from

“Egg Industy Fact Sheet”. American Egg Board. Accessed January 31, 2014 from

“The King Amendment:A Potential Disaster for Protecting Animals”. The Humane Society of the United States. Accessed January 31, 2014 from


Winter Bay Laurel

Short days and early nights are making me long for greenery. Now that I have more time on my hands, I’ve started to go a little haywire on my indoor gardening. My newest plant addition is the Bay Laurel (Laurus Nobilis), often used as a spice in cooking. This little plant was shipped in the mail during the winter, and is looking pretty good considering its cold travel. It did appear to have some powdery mildew. Wiping the leaves with some neem oil seems to have resolved the problem!

On a side note, it did not occur to me that this plant is “laurel.” I have only ever referred to it as “bay leaf.” Interestingly enough, names beginning with the Latin prefix “Laur-” have meanings related to this plant. For instance, my name is Lauren, meaning “crowned in laurels.” The Greek God Apollo was depicted with a crown of laurels, and traditions of crowning victorious athletes and warriors occurred in Greek and Roman culture. Some pretty interesting folk-lore explains this origin in the story of Apollo and Daphne.

Enough of my ranting, have a peaceful winter!

Arctic Vortex and Vegetarian Sushi


Source: WeatherBell, National Weather Service

If you live just about anywhere in the Eastern US, you are likely confined to indoors as temperatures plunge below zero, in addition to lots of ice and snow on the roads. Here in Ann Arbor, Michigan, we are enjoying wind chills of -40 F, colder than I ever remember. The spike in cold temps is caused by a low pressure system that is usually present far to the North, near the arctic. Instead, temperatures typical in Northern Manitoba are here in Southeastern Michigan and the Midwest. Brrr! Things are expected to begin improving later this week, but in the meantime, we have to keep ourselves sane indoors.

Below, Lauren keeps her peace by making vegetarian sushi. She used cucumbers, shiitake mushrooms seared in tamari and mirin, avocado, turnips, and chives stuffed in sushi rice and seaweed. How did you keep away from the cold? Comment and let us know!

Photo Jan 06, 6 32 42 PM

Photo Jan 06, 6 35 38 PM

Source: Detroit Free Press, 06 January 2014

Inspiration – Einstein & Compassion

Einstein Quote - Urban Hermits

Design by Lauren Korany, Urban Hermits, 05 January 2014.

How Well Do You Know The Globe? Try Geoguessr!

This is too cool! A friend of mine brought this to my attention. Geoguessr is a game you can play on the BBC’s website in which it drops you to a random location in Google street view and you have to note on a map where you believe you are. Play the game HERE! Let us know what your high score is!

ImageImage: Screenshot from Geoguessr, BBC Travel.