©Joe Medieros

Living Lightly

STAMP OUT SPRAWL” Measure explained by Denny Jackman


At the August League of Women Voter’s Lunch and Learn, we got a lesson in urban planning from Denny Jackman, a former Modesto City Councilman.

This measure known as “Stamp Out Sprawl” (SOS), is sponsored by Jackman, the Garrad Marsh family, and others. It has been held off the ballot until June 2008, by the Board of Supervisors, even though there were enough signatures turned in to qualify. Apparently the Board of Supervisors has the power to keep measures off the ballot in spite of them having enough signatures.

Beginning with Modesto’s planning history, Denny explained that 35 years ago Ecology Action facilitated the passage of Measure A: Growth, Orderly, Affordable, Livable. At the time, the ultimate sewer service area was also the Modesto city sphere of influence, which remains the same today. About 5000 acres in the sphere of influence are still undeveloped (along the north, “the Villages”, Bangs Ave, etc.).

Now the Board of Supervisors has a plan to develop up to the Stanislaus River, an area containing the deepest, richest soils in the county. This would become part of the Salida area plan. Salida is not incorporated, yet it would become a city by default. Development should take place within cities, which have the tax base and clout to require city services be provided. The county does not.

Denny told us that only the zones that are named agricultural in Stanislaus County are affected by Stamp Out Sprawl, bordered on the north by Kiernan and encompassed by the Hwy 99 corridor. All residents of the County would be eligible to vote on the SOS measure when it finally gets on the ballot, although the Salida plan may be a fait accompli by that time. Hence the reason the Board of Supervisors kept it off the ballot (writer’s conclusion!)

He went on to say that, during the past several years, piecemeal approval of chunks of the Salida plan skewed the market in East Modesto. More housing permits were granted for areas outside cities than inside cities during this period.

CONCLUSION: City residents have been subsidizing this development and the Salida plans ask us to keep on paying for it. In addition, the development closes off east-west corridors which should go in tandem with development all over the county.

SOS measure would have required a vote for development on only the six zones specifically named agricultural in the County plan.

“Go Vegetarian!”


Meat has traditionally been a luxury which few could afford. The American Dietetic Association reports that “most of mankind for most of human history has lived on vegetarian or near vegetarian diets.” Studies show that the healthiest human populations on the globe with the longest lifespans live almost entirely on plant foods — useful data given our skyrocketing healthcare costs. Dr. Nathan Pritikin, author of “The Pritikin Plan,” recommended not more than three ounces of meat per day; three ounces per week for his patients who had already suffered a heart attack.

Zoologist Desmond Morris makes a case for vegetarianism in “The Naked Ape”: “It could be argued that, since our primate ancestors had to make do without a major meat component in their diets, we should be able to do the same. We were driven to become flesh eaters only by environmental circumstances, and now that we have the environment under control, with elaborately cultivated crops at our disposal, we might be expected to return to our ancient primate feeding patterns.”

In “The Human Story,” edited by Marie Louise Makris (1985), we read: “...recent studies of their teeth reveal that the Australopithecines did not eat meat as a regular part of their diet, and were mainly peaceful vegetarians, rather like chimps or gorillas. The popular image of the murderous ape is now as extinct as the Australopithecines themselves.”

The livestock population of the United States today consumes enough grain and soybeans to feed over five times the entire human population of the country. We feed these animals over 80% of the corn we grow, and over 95% of the oats. Less than half of the harvested agricultural acreage in the U.S. is used to grow food for people. Most of it is used to grow livestock feed.

Ronald J. Sider, in his 1977 book, “Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger,” pointed out that 220 million Americans were eating enough food (largely because of the high consumption of grain fed to livestock) to feed over one billion people in the poorer countries.

The realization that meat is an unnecessary luxury, resulting in inequities in the world food supply, has prompted religious leaders in different denominations to call on their members to abstain from meat. Paul Moore Jr., the Episcopal bishop of the Diocese of New York, made such an appeal in a November 1974 pastoral letter calling for the observance of “meatless Wednesdays.”

A similar appeal had previously been issued by Cardinal Cooke, the Roman Catholic archbishop of New York. The Reverend Eugene Carson Blake, former head of the World Council of Churches and founder of Bread for the World, has encouraged everyone in his anti-hunger organization to abstain from eating meat on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

What does the future hold? If the world population triples in the next 100 years and meat consumption continues, then meat production would have to triple as well. Instead of 3.7 billion acres of cropland and 7.5 billion acres of grazing land, we would require 11.1 billion acres of cropland and 22.5 billion acres of grazing land.

But this is slightly more than the total land area of the six inhabited continents! We are already desperately short of groundwater, topsoil, forests and energy. Even modest increases in the world population during the next 100 years would make it impossible to maintain current levels of meat consumption. On a vegetarian diet, however, the world could easily support a population several times its present size. The world’s cattle alone consume enough to feed 8.7 billion humans.

Father Thomas Berry, a Catholic priest and founder of New York’s Riverdale Center of Religious Research, wrote in 1987 that “Vegetarianism is a way of life that we should all move toward for economic survival, physical well-being, and spiritual integrity.”

This is the 21st century. People used to mistakenly think humans were omnivores, they know now that we resemble the other primates (frugivores), and possess a set of completely herbivorous teeth. People used to worry if one could be healthy on a vegetarian diet; they know now that it’s healthier to be a vegetarian and that all kinds of delicious meatless alternatives are readily available.

And science and technology now provide us with alternatives to animal research and testing including cell cultures; bacterial cultures and protozoan studies; tissue cultures; organ cultures; radioimmunoassay; quantum pharmacology; clinical and epidemiological surveys; gas chromotography and mass spectrometry; mathematical computer or mechanical models; the use of human placenta; and the study of human volunteers.

The number of animals killed for food in the United States is 70 times larger than the number of animals killed in laboratories, 30 times larger than the number killed by hunters and trappers, and 500 times larger than the number of animals killed in animal pounds.

“If anyone wants to save the planet,” says Paul McCartney, “all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That’s the single most important thing you could do. It’s staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty. Let’s do it! Going veggie is the single best idea for the new century.”

The animal rights movement should be supported by all caring Americans.