Saturday, January 30, 2010

Food 101

I SO enjoy listening to Michael Pollan speak. This video is from an appearance that he made on the Oprah Winfrey Show recently. I am particularly struck by Oprah's reaction to Michael speaking about buying sustainable, quality meat!
At the end Oprah invites everyone to form their own opinion about FOOD. What is your opinion?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Why I garden/Why Everyone Should Garden

The garden is the perfect example of how we as humans can learn to occupy the planet in a more thoughtful way. The garden is what humans make to feed ourselves; it's like some reconciliation between what humans need to survive and what the planet needs to sustain that. Where we grow food, it's scary, industrial, there's chemicals and machinery - it's problematic. But when you eat out of your garden, you don't dump things in it that you don't want to eat. It's very direct: you understand the connection. And the more disconnected we become from the garden, the more reckless we become with the way we occupy the planet. ~Fritz Haeg
 I love this quote from an interview with Fritz Haeg, architect and project director for Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Chance to Make a Difference!

My friends it is time to TAKE ACTION.
Breaking News: Monsanto Takes Center for Food Safety Legal Victory to Highest Court
(January 15, 2010) Today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear a first-time case about the risks of genetically engineered crops.  Named Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms, No. 09-475, the case before the high court will be yet another step in an ongoing battle waged by the Center for Food Safety to protect consumers and the environment from potentially harmful effects of genetically engineered (GE) crops.
“This is truly a ‘David versus Goliath’ struggle, between public interest non-profits and a corporation bent on nothing less than domination of our food system,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety. “That Monsanto has pushed this case all the way to the Supreme Court, even though USDA’s court-ordered analysis is now complete, and the U.S. government actively opposed further litigation in this matter, underscores the great lengths that Monsanto will go to further its mission of patent control of our food system and selling more pesticides.”
 I encourage you to TAKE ACTION. Let the USDA know that it matters to you and your family that GMO's be controlled and labeled and that measures are taken to protect Organics from contamination.
USDA also claims that consumers will not reject GE contamination of organic alfalfa if the contamination is unintentional or if the transgenic material is not transmitted to the end milk or meat product, despite the fact that more than 75% of consumers believe that they are purchasing products without GE ingredients when they buy organic.
TAKE ACTION. Tell the USDA that you DO indeed care about contamination even if it is UNINTENTIONAL...  Tell them that any amount of contamination is UNACCEPTABLE ! TAKE ACTION today and SPREAD THE WORD. Our voices cannot be heard if we don't SPEAK UP! So TAKE ACTION and be heard.
We can make a difference together.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Chilling News

(NaturalNews) According to a recent Associated Press investigation, agri-giant Monsanto regularly employs business practices that not only aim to eliminate all competition, but essentially position the company as the sole proprietor of all things related to food. While old news to many in the natural health community, the mainstream press is beginning to recognize the world domination tactics being employed by Monsanto that are slowly destroying the integrity of the global food supply.
Reading this article just gave me the chills. Really, this is the stuff of a scary sci-fi  movie. But the really scary part is that it is real and happening in our world and that this company is so advanced in it's take-over that it will take a lot to stop them.
According to Neil Harl, an agricultural economist from Iowa State University, Monsanto now has patented control over 90 percent of seeds and seed genetics, a chilling notion that has far-reaching consequences. Since the company regularly buys up independent seed companies, its competition is dwindling and the prices for its patented seeds continue to rise.
I am not exactly certain what we can do. Write to whoever you can think of that has connection to this issue. Write to the Justice Department. Tell them that this is not good for anyone and that the ramifications of this way of doing business are beyond comprehension. In my post, Noxiousness to the Organism, I  told you about the consequences of ingesting these GMO crops on our liver and kidneys and this control of seed crops is serious stuff!
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and at least two state attorneys general are probing Monsanto's contracts and agreements that many are alleging violate antitrust laws. Everything from exerting unreasonable control on farmers who purchase its seeds to flat out lying about their benefits is under investigation.
What else can we do?
Not buy what they are selling... and I admit, with control over 90 % of seed patents that can be a bit tricky.. But if we demand that GMOs be labeled and if we seek out foods that are non-GMO, it will be a start. Tell others what you are doing and how you feel about this issue. While it affects all of us, many people are unaware of the problems associated with GMOs or with the business practices of this company. Spread the word! And when you purchase seed for your garden, consider heirloom varieties and open-pollinated seed. Also look to the small or local seed companies.
Many seed growers and crop farmers feel cornered by Monsanto as it solidifies its control over the entire seed and crop industry. Most have no other option but to continue using Monsanto products or else face ruin. Unless the DOJ steps in and clamps down on Monsanto's quest for total control, the world's food supply may eventually be controlled by a single biotechnology corporation.
 We need to take control now before it is too late. We need to raise up our voices, vote with our dollars, spread the word and make personal choices that will make a difference.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Local Food Rules!

Yes indeed local food is better for so many reasons and this morning I read about another at Natural News. Experts believe regional foodsheds would reverse obesity epidemic.
Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology collected data from a myriad of sources to help them analyze the obesity problem and its causes. They concluded that the large-scale food system of today has resulted in a glut of readily-available, highly-processed foods that are rich in refined flours, sugars, and fats, and devoid of necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Well, I knew that! But what excited me the most is that the MIT researchers also concluded that Local Food is the answer.
Fresh produce, meats, and other whole foods often travel long distances from farm to market, often coming from other continents. When processing is involved, food travels even further as commodities are shipped in from around the globe, processed, shipped out to distribution centers, and distributed to local retailers. The total distance a single processed item's ingredients have traveled is mind-boggling.
The MIT team is advocating for integrated, regional foodsheds that they believe would make healthier fare more readily available. One idea includes encouraging the conversion of urban and suburban yards and lawns into small-scale farms. Lawn maintenance actually costs more than maintaining a small garden plot, making the idea highly plausible.
Local Food is the answer to so many of our food security issues and provides better nutrition, taste, and biodiversity as well as a smaller carbon footprint for you and the farmer/seller promising better air quality, less pollution, and minimal environmental impact.

My favorite local food, of course, is food grown in my own yard. How about you?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Getting Back to the Basics

I have been thinking lately about the importance of getting back to the basics for everyone. For me the "back to the basics" mentality has been a part of my life since childhood. It was just how I was raised. But when economic resources dip, this way of thinking bubbles up to the surface of the collective consciousness as a necessary mode of operation.  I invite you to consider the value of this way of thinking as an everyday way of life, no matter what your financial resources.

Recently Rebecca has become enamored with the idea of becoming a journalist. She is all about it! Pencil behind her ear, asking questions and taking notes, always looking for a scoop. And for Christmas do you know what she wanted the most? A real old-fashioned typewriter! Yep... we could not convince her that her computer could do more stuff and better, than an old typewriter. She had decided that in order to BE a journalist, she had to be able to smell the ink and feel the letters as they streamed from her mind onto the paper. Funny! But the more I thought about it, I realized that it was her need to get back to the basics.

Well, she got her typewriter and she is totally inspired to write now and absolutely loves the smell of ink on her fingertips after a good writing session. I have read about novelists who use old typewriters to create their work. It is funny to me that at the age of 8, Rebecca just knew on some level that it was important to be connected to the process.
Getting back to the basics can connect us with "stuff"  and  "process" in ways that we never knew possible. Think about it. Grow your own tomato and eating it becomes a spiritual experience that is unlike the experience of eating a tomato that grew in a field some 1500 miles from your plate, grown by a generic "taste doesn't matter" method! The experience extends beyond just the eating. It becomes about the sunlight and the earth in your yard. It is about the nutrition and the color and the vine ripening and your very own self-reliance. It is life itself and you grew it. You KNOW it. And that my friends is just the beginning of connecting to the process. When we connect to one life process, we awaken to other life processes that we never before thought about and the whole world begins to unfold in layers and layers of goodness. The depth of these layers is awesome. Welcome to the beauty of the basics.

Frequently,  we are drawn to a "back to the basics' way of thinking when our personal economics are stretched to the limit. Back to the basics can be thought of as FRUGALITY. The word, Frugal,  has so many negative connotations, but I invite you to think of it as being smart and resourceful. The dictionary defines FRUGAL as "sparing or  economical, as in the expenditure of money or the use of material resources." Frugality is really a return to the basics:
  • Considering the true cost of "stuff" and "convenience".
  • Do I really need this?
  • What happens to it after I am done with it?
  • Can I re-purpose it, recycle it? 
  • How much waste is involved? Zero waste?
It is getting clear about what is really important to you and your family. It is about time, awareness,  and conserving resources. This way of thinking is not only good for your personal finances, but also good for the planet! Now think about how much you would have if you had been thinking this way all along! Yikes..

This way of living should not just be something to "fall back on" in hard times, but rather a lifelong philosophy of awareness and connection. For me the gist of "Getting Back to the Basics"  is to materially participate in as much of my life as possible.  Every year when I fill out my business taxes the IRS asks "Did you materially participate in this business?" For the IRS that means that an individual materially participates in business activities if he or she participates on a "regular, continuous and substantial basis." Think about it in terms of your life. Think about how you participate in a regular, continuous and substantial basis in your own life. For my LIFE that includes:
  • growing as much of our food as possible 
  • preparing meals from scratch
  • buying local food
  • practicing Jin Shin Jyutsu as self-help to heal and keep my body in balance 
  • participating in do-it-yourself entertainment (Contra and Square dancing, playing music, hiking, gardening) 
  • making and repairing clothes 
  • shopping in thrift stores, yard sales, etc 
  • using Freecycle to get "stuff"and to pass "stuff" on to others
  • knowing where "stuff" is made
  • considering the impact of a purchase
  • borrowing books and movies from the library
  • making responsible choices for the environment
  • living light
 David recently read a great book by Studs Terkel called Hard Times. In this book Mr. Terkel interviews people who lived through the Great Depression and it is filled with valuable insights. I haven't gotten to read it yet myself, but have been enlightened through David's enlightenment.  The quote that most got David was from a woman who said "Security is knowing what I can do without." Now isn't that the truth! Amazing what you find you can do without...

Another favorite book of mine is Extreme Simplicity, by Christopher and Dolores Lynn Nyerges. In this book they offer some suggestions to improve your financial situation... they understand about getting back to the basics, frugality, and self-reliance!
Once, during a period of homelessness before we were married, Christopher was engulfed in thoughts of "poor me" and "I'm destitute," and he could scarcely see a way out of the darkness. Dolores provided him with a simple set of practical tools that anyone can use if only they choose to do so. Here are four "magic" ways to improve your financial situation:
1. Never waste anything.
2. Continually improve your personal honesty.
3. Leave every situation or circumstance better than you found it.
4. Tithe to the church (or organization) of your choice.
We know that these are genuine practical solutions. We have heard people say that they cannot make these efforts - such as tithing, or improving the environment - because "we are poor." Our perspective is that they have their reasoning backwards. They are poor because they do not engage themselves in the world in these ways. Logical thinking leads to erroneous conclusions when the premise is false.
So how do you begin to connect to the basics, to find your own simplicity? Perhaps begin by making  a list of your daily or weekly activities. Then with awareness, figure out how you can start to materially participate in as many of those activities as possible. Take one step at a time and you'll be surprised. Get clear about what is really important to you. Access how you want to spend your time and your money. The gift you get when you participate materially in your life, is the gift of connection and awareness. It is the gift of security, a philosophy for life and your own personal path to freedom.  Enjoy the journey.

Friday, January 8, 2010

More Reasons to Grow Your Own, Eat Local and Organic

Seems these days that every time I log on to the internet, I find more reasons to grow my own food, eat local food or choose organic.

I told you about the nasty "pink slime" that is added to ground beef earlier this week. And I must say, that nasty stuff really made me realize the importance of  not buying just any meat! I have been aware of this importance for a while now but a story like this really makes you think! We had hamburgers last night made from ground beef that came from "our cow". They were fabulous on organic buns with non-rBGH cheese and home made tomato jam. Yum... I knew where this cow came from, where and how it was butchered and still I could not help thinking about the pink slime... yuck...

Yesterday I read an article in the Huffington Post  about the contamination of 48% of all soda fountain machines with coliform bacteria... Do you know what coliform bacteria comes from? Feces... That's right... When I first started reading about this issue, I thought to myself.. well, I rarely drink soda fountain sodas because I avoid HFCS (high fructose corn syrup)... but every once in a while, I succumb to the icy cold temptation... But more often I get an ice water instead, but this water and ice is dispensed from the same machines! So from now on, I bring my own!

I am a big fan of the work of the Organic Consumers Association.  Check out their website and sign up for weekly newsletters. In the last year, the OCA has broadened my awareness and opened my eyes to issues that I had never even thought about!

Here is a list of questions to ask yourself from the folks at OCA:
Before You Pull out Your Wallet
  • Who profits from this sale?
  • Are you buying this product from a national chain, or buying locally from an independent business, coop, or family farm?
  • Where was this item grown or made?
  • How far did it travel?
  • Were farmers' or workers' rights protected?
  • Did the producer receive a living wage?
  • Is it certified organic or Fair Trade?
  • Is the company making or selling
    this item socially responsible?
  • Is this product genuinely ecological & healthy?
  • What would be an organic, local,
    and Fair Trade or Fair Made alternative?
 I invite you to think about where your food comes from and who handles it. This questioning takes extra effort and time, but isn't your health and the health of your family worth it?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Think Again about Your Meat Choices

No, this is not a post about vegetarianism but after reading this piece you may want to think again about grabbing just any burger! I just have to share this with you.
Here are some quotes from the article.. but I encourage you to read the whole thing!
According to today's New York Times, The "majority of hamburger" now sold in the U.S. now contains fatty slaughterhouse trimmings "the industry once relegated to pet food and cooking oil," "typically including most of the material from the outer surfaces of the carcass" that contains "larger microbiological populations."
and another:
This "nasty pink slime," as one FDA microbiologist called it, is now wrung in a centrifuge to remove the fat, and then treated with AMMONIA to "retard spoilage," and turned into "a mashlike substance frozen into blocks or chips".
Thus saving THREE CENTS a pound off production costs. And making the company, Beef Products Inc., a fortune. $440 million/year in revenue. Ain't that something?
 Are you as totally disgusted by this as I am? Do you want to eat this stuff? Is it really food? Yikes...
What is a momma to do?!

Here's what Jennifer Poole suggests in the article:
I've been thinking about an action item on this issue, and I've got three ideas: a. write Michelle Obama through this web form: or snail mail: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500; 2. print out the NY Times article and give it to the manager of your local supermarket, and ask them if they sell any kind of ground beef that doesn't contain this "pink slime" or if their butchers will grind meat fresh for you; 3. just stop buying the damned stuff altogether.

I know that I will NOT be buying this stuff at the grocery store or when I go out to eat! And I am so glad to send my daughter to school with a healthy homemade lunch! This stuff is in the school lunch program... do you believe it?!
Please bring yourself to a place where you make conscious choices about the food you eat and the food you feed your family...
If you are what you eat, the last thing I want to be is an ammonia laden hamburger patty!