The Good – The Bad – The Possible

Over the years, I’ve written about Peak Oil, Community Exchanges, Shop Local, Campaign Finance Reform, Education Reform, Alternative Healthcare, Big Pharma, Corporate Monoculture Farming, Sustainable Living, Renewable Energy, Self-Healing and Spirituality.

I’ve read, listened and researched.

I’ve talked, argued and thrown my hands up in despair.

I’ve ranted, I’ve raved, tried sharing information through humor and How – Not – Too.

I’ve been on fire with enthusiasm and sick with despair when I believed that my passion for these subjects had no interested audience.

I’ve dreamed, I’ve hoped, I’ve struggled to make a difference through my lifestyle choices, purchasing decisions, writing topic choices and personal belief system improvements.

And now, all that experience has been encapsulated into one extraordinary two-hour film, “Thrive: What on Earth Will It Take?”, which I discovered this morning via a post by recOveryhealth.

(I embedded the film below – yes, it’s that important – I don’t want you to even have to click twice to start watching it  –  *You can donate to the producers here.)

So instead of digging through my archives, you can now glean all that info with the simple investment of a couple hours of your time – you can even watch in increments if you like…

The Good

From the beginning to about 33 minutes – the film highlights the creator’s background and reason for researching.  His quest for truth and the form he found it in echoes the conclusions found throughout the history of the spiritual, the religious and the scientific.  It has been postulated by the prophets, the holy men, the gurus, metaphysicists, cosmologists, cellular bioligists and quantum theorists:

There is a code to the Universe – to Life

If we  figure it out, we can work in harmony with it,

Instead of paddling upstream all the while…

And though I’ve had my crisis of faith moments and believed the Universe to be one big Chaotic mess, bent on destroying me – – I’ve found the only way for me to continue in this life with any semblance of happiness is to embrace the Code story in it’s many variations.

The Bad

Around 33 minutes, you enter the Bad phase – the phase that examines the problems facing our world and the inter-connected,  complex structures  that are contributing to or causing-on-purpose the disasters we fear and seek refuge from.    It digs deep into systems and mind-sets that contribute to the misery of our lives –

You may not agree with all the viewpoints referenced as causing our global problems, but only the truly oblivious could say we have no challenges regarding our continued existence given our present course.

It’s not always a pleasant or comforting place to be, confronting our fears – though I believe this film does it’s best to present the information within a space of hope – – which brings us to…

The Possible

At around 1 hour, 38 minutes – after you’ve delved into a story you really hope isn’t true -but suspect is –  you get to watch the What’s Possible portion.

(If you’re already worried and depressed about the state of things and you feel powerless in being able to do anything about it – skip from :33 to 1:38 on the film.

Choosing not to wallow in the problems portion will not keep you from being inspired by the Possible section; however, if you’re one of those who must know Why? before you do – best just take your lumps and confront your fears.  Watch with a friend and the lights on if it helps – – )

The Possible portion will inspire you – it will show you easy-to-integrate ways to make a difference, right now, today, with what you already know and  have, with who you already are.  To quit contributing to the problems and instead, become part of the solution – you don’t have to do them all – – any forays you make into your favorite arenas makes a difference – just pick one and start.

Without further ado – here’s “Thrive: What on Earth will it Take?”:

For myself, I’m continuing on through my day ‘off’ by meandering through the ThriveMovement website – – – they sound like my kind of folks….

Superfoods and their Staying Power

Vacation is over – my family is back to their normal school and work routines and I once more have the house to myself.  Which means I now have huge blocks of  uninterrupted time in which to…..

Read and Write.

(Did you really think I was going to say clean house or cook?!?)

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So this morning, coffee in hand, butt in computer chair, I read about the growing popularity of quinoa as a superfood and all the various agricultural, governmental and industrial machinations going on in order to increase production and bring a higher standard of living to the poor Bolivian peasants who have grown it for generations.

Interesting… there are reports of higher levels of malnutrition among children in some of the Quinoa growing communities – now that it’s quadrupled in price (due to demand) some folks are selling what they used to keep, substituting rice or noodles in their own meals so some health conscious nut in the US can have their share, at a good price  – – yup, sounds like their standard of living is really increasing…

And while a boom in sales of quinoa have helped some farmers, others are concerned:

“The soils are tired and need nutrition. Production is dropping”

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The term “superfood” is of marketing origins.   Any food that gives you more calories and nutrition than you expended in getting it into your mouth and digested, is, technically, good for you.  Those that give you Waaayyyy more nutrition than standard fare are now labeled Superfoods.

Okay.

But consider this – Think back to all the new “Superfoods” that have come out in the past few years.   Gogi berry, Acai, Quinoa are a few that come to my mind.   Many of the top “Superfoods” are foods consumed by the healthy local natives, who grow and/or harvest the food without the aide of chemical fertilizers, modern technology, etc.   Often,  either the food is harvested in the wild, or grown as part of an interwoven garden, by folks who have to take good care of their soil because A. they don’t have much of it and B. They can’t afford to move anywhere else.

Once the Superfood is discovered – the Hawkfest begins.   The National economy, especially if the country is one of the debt-stricken southern ones, will greatly benefit from the demand of Northern countries for this new miracle food.

Corporate Interests are piqued – how can they make the most money of this new food?   What’s needed to increase production, transport/store/package and re-sell the new bounty?

And before long, the latest-greatest is now converted to a mono-cultural, industrial crop and it’s days of being a Superfood are now numbered.

In our quest to provide the world (or at least the world’s elite) with this new Nature’s Miracle and maximizing the financial rewards, we will set to work making it grow faster and provide higher yields – all in soil that never rests and which receives supplements containing the long-term benefits equivalent to me ingesting a steady diet of  Twinkies  .

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Ask any representative of DuPont, Monsanto or any others of their industry and they will tell you 1 farmer fed about 60 people in the 1940’s – 1950’s, but today’s farmer feeds over 200.  All thanks to their products, techniques and machinery.  They are solving world – hunger!

Read any research done comparing the nutritional value of  a industrially grown carrot to an organically grown, heirloom variety carrot from you or your neighbor’s garden and you will see that carrots, too, used to be a Superfood – but not so much now.  The garden carrot may not look as pretty, be uniform enough to package neatly and may not survive a 3,000 mile journey, 2 weeks of storage and still look like something you want to eat…BUT it’s nutritional analysis will outweigh it’s pretty, transported cousin.

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I once worked with a gal who had 5 children in 4 years.   She was pregnant with twins when we first started working together.   Her hair was falling out, she wore bandaids on her fingers, covered by plastic gloves, because her nails were so thin, they simply peeled off; concentration problems and numerous ‘sick days’ were the norm.   Although the first child seemed fairly healthy, the following four were wracked with numerous ailments –

I don’t think she planned on producing her own Super Army of offspring.   But the consequences of asking her body to perform, year after year, greater yields than it was programmed to, took a heavy toll.

When we demand the same kind of production from plants and soil, without regard to their care – sooner or later, we get the same end results.

And on we move, to discover (and then destroy) the next SuperFood.

 

 

Good Manners

So, I’ve taken a break from blogging.  All because I realized we all have our opinions, and most times, the only people that want to hear yours are those who already agree with you, so what’s the point?

But I had to post tonight, because I’ve been aware of a weird phenomena for quite awhile.  Really aware since I found out more folks are interested in reading about my smoking habit than are about pending legislation regarding free internet, food and supplement choices….

I’ve observed when I post something stupid on Facebook regarding either a kamikaze fly in my beer, or how I’ve lost over 200K in play money on poker, I get all kinds of “comments”, but when I post something regarding religion, politics or what have you,

Nil, Zip, Nada, Zero….

Which reminds me again why I’m an outcast ….

I also don’t “do” daytime TV or reality shows….

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What is it, exactly?  Does no one else think about important (IMHO) stuff, or are they too polite to talk about it?

Are they afraid to have their first “facebook fight” or do they figure I’m probably drunk and grieving and won’t think about it tomorrow?

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For the record, I’m not a Christian… Simply because I believe in order to be one, you have to believe Jesus died for your sins.

I don’t believe that.

I believe Jesus lived and did all kinds of wonderful things.

I believe in a higher power.  I was raised to call this power God.

I believe wisdom to be found in the Bible.

But I just cannot go around professing that Jesus died for my sins.

I figure he died BECAUSE of the sins (wrong thinking) of those who lived at the time he did.

So, because of that, I finally, after 18+ years of thinking about it, had to decide, I cannot call myself a Christian.

Some may call this a technicality.

I call it being true.

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Because of this, my loyalties are perhaps not as strong as those around me think they ought to be.   For example, I took a pretty unpopular stance on the whole “mosque within 6 blocks of ground zero” debate….

One person asked me how I could support those who believe the end will come via “a fire to erase the earth” (according to them, Muslim thinking).

My reply?

“Sounds pretty similar to Armegeddon to me.   Isn’t there something in Revelations about fire?”

No, I don’t win many popularity contests.

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I would hazard it’s nearly as hard today to be non-Christian, as it was in Constantine’s empire shortly after he “saw the light.”

If you’re non-Christian today, you run the risk of being Un-American.  Or at least in the geographical and social circle I run in.

If it’s not true for you, Congratulations!

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It’s not that I don’t believe in Evil or that I am relieved of duty when it comes to fighting Evil.  It’s just that I see Evil committed by those called Christian just as much as I see it in others.   In fact, the worst screwings (figuratively) I ever took was from someone who assured me they were “Christian” as soon as I met them.

Which means now, if someone says that to me, I run for the hills.

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So here I sit, a law abiding, tax-paying, organic eating, local shopping, one-car, use efficiency light bulbs, cigarette smoking, non-Christian.

I tell you, life is not always easy on this side of the fence…

Sunny Side Up(date)

Ventured into the newsroom this morning.   Already in a ‘mood’ so what’s a little more irritation and angst?

Read the latest regarding food poisoning allegations and egg recalls.

Seems FDA Chief Margaret Hamburg needs more ‘power’ in order to do her job properly.   She’d also like to have greater authority over imported foods.

Funny, the tainted eggs came from farms in Iowa.  When did they become defined as foreign imports?

She is, however, taking the ‘egg problem’ very seriously.  Apparently laws that allow the shutdown of lemonade stands and small dairy farms (read here, and here, and oh, lookee, here’s another….) have failed miserably when it comes to keeping big corporations on the straight and narrow.  She simply must have more authority in her fight against evil egg producers.

She calls for more enforcement and preventative power.  Oh, and would you people please quit eating eggs sunny side up too?

(I can see aides and under-paid paralegals frantically adding that decree to some sub-section in the pending Modern Food Safety Act….)

Sheesh.   Have you no intelligence whatsoever?  Must we now legislate how your breakfast  be cooked, too?

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What really caught my eye was the long list of previous violations by DeCoster companies (seems the two main farms in this tragedy are owned by or heavily linked to Wright County Egg and Quality Egg, both owned by Austin “Jack” DeCoster).

Between 1994 and 2010, seems DeCoster companies have run afoul of and had to pay large fines for multiple offenses regarding harm to the environment, employees and animals.

As my eyes re-read the timeline, I noticed heavy involvement by Labor Secretaries, EPA, Immigration authorities and animal welfare groups… the list was long and varied, but allusions to different agencies involved made my mind fill in, “OSHA”, “Fair Wage & Labor”, “State Environmental agencies”…

I didn’t see FDA or subtle reference to such at all in the long list.   Guess they were anxiously sitting in their offices, unable to join in the battle because they didn’t have proper authority and power….

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Really, what kind of product did you expect from those who don’t care if hog waste runs off into local waterways, if  employees have safe and clean working conditions, who continually hire illegal immigrants willing to work for peanuts and suffer all kinds of indignities just to stay in the country and eat?  Apparently these folks also make the typical slave quarters of the pre-war south look like mansions when compared to the living conditions of their animals.

Rather than just blindly giving Ms. FDA some more power, me thinks perhaps a little more research is required.

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Some preliminary digging into historic egg prices tells me savvy egg producers plan for space and animal workforce management to counteract the dips in productivity compliments of the molting process.

(Which in chicken speak means, renewal time.  “I’m taking time off from reproducing and growing me some new feathers to replace these old, shabby ones.”   Nature does have a cycle.   Which, historically, is rebelliously out of sync with consumer demands….)

According to one poultry specialist report attempting to educate in regards to Flock Management the average wholesale price per dozen of eggs from 1983 – 2002 was 52.3¢.

I figure this is probably a good number, since the report was ‘sponsored’ by the United Egg Producers.  They better know how much money they get per dozen, else their 10-year approach to flock management will be severely handicapped.

This author also contends that prices took a jump in 2003.  Up to an average of .58¢ per dozen.  One section puzzled me:

“Are we entering a period of time for significant changes in the prices we receive for our eggs?  If so, should we re-think our replacement policies? If prices justify the elimination of molting is the industry prepared to make a major investment in new rearing facilities?”

How are they ‘eliminating’ molting?   Have they found the secret to keeping chickens from dropping their feathers?  How do the birds feel about this?  Did Mother Nature get the memo?

Further reading indicates they eliminate molting by selling off the chickens.  And replacing them with new ones, ready to lay….

Sometimes my cynical heart leads me to jump to conclusions….

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I also question the container in which these egg farmers are doing business.   A search to find who actually sets the wholesale price for eggs informs me it’s either complicated or on a need-to-know-basis, and I do not need to know.  (or perhaps I need to polish up my searching skills….it does happen….)

I did find this quote regarding poultry and egg prices from the USDA’s Economic Research website (tsk, tsk, last updated April, 2009):

“With almost 18 percent of total poultry production being exported, the U.S. poultry industry is heavily influenced by currency fluctuations, trade negotiations, and economic growth in its major importing markets.”

Okay, that’s interesting.   Has anyone heard the rumor a global economic crisis is going on?   Maybe egg prices were reduced in order to keep folks from starving due to poverty.   Lowered prices means egg producers need to get their profits from quantity, not quality….just a speculation…

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My brain committee speaks up about a gal I worked with years ago.

I never saw this gal wear the same outfit twice during the six months I was a temp in her office.   During a visit to her home,  my hostess proudly showed me her master closet, and two other full-size closets packed from floor to rafter with clothes. They made the local Goodwill racks look sparse and neat.

She was appalled I paid an average of $8/gallon for raw milk from an organic farm. (translation: small flock, healthy animals, modest lifestyle owners who love God’s creatures, great and small.)

She routinely went clothes shopping in order to keep her wardrobe and fashion plate status renewed.   In her mind, organic dairy farmers were interfering with my right to dress well.

When a society encourages fashionable, extravagant wardrobes over basic nutrition, then we all have a problem.

(No, I don’t look in other people’s medicine cabinets…It’s just her bad luck to combine a tour of her wardrobe with criticisms of my food choices…and my ability to type…)

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The buy-local-organic community cries “corporate farming” is the root of most of our evils.

I say corporate farming grew in the fertile ground prepared by a busy, complex society who values luxuries over necessities and demands ‘instant gratification’.

“I want an Egg McMuffin, My Way and I want it now!  Hurry up, I’m late for work.”

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Philip Zimbardo defines Evil as

The Exercise of Power to Intentionally Harm, Hurt, Destroy or Commit Crimes against Humanity.

He also contends it’s not just bad apples who commit Evil.  Often, it’s good apples who have been placed in a poor situation and are required to operate under a problematic system.

The plot thickens….

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The AP article listed over 3.5 million dollars paid by DeCoster Farms in fines and settlements since 1994, though I think they just highlighted the big ones.

Are the owner and his managers Evil people who must be stopped via a more powerful FDA?

Or are they business men trying to make a living in a system that demands short-cuts and piss-poor conditions just in order to make a living off a commodity they have no direct power in setting the price of other than through pricey lobbyists and campaign donations? (those two items do not come cheap…)

Have they grown so big and received so many tax breaks, they can survive even in the face of million dollar penalties, fines and settlements?

Did they grow to immense proportions through Taking Over the World Intent, or did they do their best to meet supplier demands in a price fixing system?

Did they discover they could not fulfill supply demands, profit requirements, regulatory fees, labor laws, environmental protection acts and good animal husbandry practices all at the same time?  Did they truly set out to destroy the average American or did they slide one slippery step at a time down a muddy slope built and maintained by our government and culture?

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One last observation – It’s amazing to me how I don’t have to go any further than my Yahoo email “What’s New?” tab to connect with reports on the Salmonella outbreak that simply cries out for more FDA power and authority.

Mainstream media is just in time as Congress reconvenes on September 13th and Senate Bill S510 is on the agenda.

I have to scan Facebook, read emails from a friend and surf independent blogs or small locally owned media to find out how local, state and federal authorities are wreaking havoc in the lives of small dairy, poultry and meat operations.

Via charges of regulatory, permit and licensing violations.

Resulting in operation shut down, seizure and/or destruction of personal property and Cease and Desist orders, punishable by jail time if ignored. (Grazin’ Acres, Bechard Family Farms, Rawesome organic co-op, Palmer Family Farm, Brigitte Ruthman just to name a few…)

These small farms were targeted via sting operations or unannounced raids by local regulatory agencies.   No allegations of tainted food, food borne illness, environmental hazards, labor violations or cruelty to animals have been made by those leveling charges.

They face extinction because they dared to provide themselves, their neighbors and local community with healthy, nutritious food.

But you won’t hear about them through Yahoo News or the AP.

Cause if you did, you’d tell Ms. FDA and the authors of S510 they already have power aplenty and they’d better start focusing their enforcement efforts on the proper targets.

Tyranny grows to power in the field of Fear and Hysteria.

Food Adventures

Years ago, when I first found out about Dr. Weston A. Price and his research, I set about changing my kitchen stores.

Silly me, I did it all at once which resulted in some long days and a very tired me that first month.

Over the years, I’ve gotten into a routine.   Freezers, dehydrators and 7 crockpots greatly reduce my workload.

I’ve modified recipes to get more nutritious stuff into us, but still close enough to texture and taste of ‘store-bought’ my family will eat it.

Four years of making pizza dough, bread and tortillas from sprouted wheat and Hubby still says, “Good, but it’d be better if it was white” smiling at me with a wicked gleam in his eye.

I counter with a “When you make baked goods, you’re free to use whatever ingredients you want.”

Which means all our tummies are safe.

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Trying to keep your family fed via the method you’ve decided is good for them is not always an easy task.

When you live within walking distance of four fast food restaurants, it’s even harder.  Add to that USDA, AMA, AHA and FDA guidelines and you are way outnumbered.

Making ‘what’s good for you’ match in texture and flavor what’s been processed to the point of sawdust, then artificially flavored back to yumminess, is sometimes an exercise in futility.

To date, I have located or invented recipes that mimic or excel: Manwich sauce,  onion ring coating,  thousand island, Ragu pizza sauce, Prego spaghetti sauce, Mac-n-Cheese, Digiorno pizza, the sauce served with onion strings at a nearby restaurant, the  pizza quesadilla, twinkies and teriyaki wings.

I have yet to successfully create my own: Miracle Whip, A-1, Ranch dressing or dip, frosted mini-wheats or gummi bears.

Some days, these experiments are my motivation to get out of bed.

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When I was faithfully following organic, properly prepared meals 24/7, I noticed a bowl of Halloween candy could remain untouched  for days on end.   Pepsi didn’t really even taste good, nor did coffee.

It wasn’t that I had purposefully set out to delete these things from my diet.  I just didn’t add them onto the grocery list, and after a few months, found thoughts of “Hey, I’ve been good.  Think I’ll indulge some,” was followed by the reality of, “Yuck!  Why did I want this?”

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What I crave is a good indicator to me of the health and balance in my body.  When I’m at my healthiest, I don’t even think about A-1, gummi bears or Pepsi.

If I’m not getting good nutrition and sleep, my body reminds me that Pepsi and Coffee are good band-aids.

After a period of ‘first aid’, my body confuses band-aids with long term fixes, and then suffers the consequences.

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Many people in my circle have told me, “I don’t have time to do all that reading.   Just tell me I should eat and what I should avoid.”

I use to give advice.  Not any more.   #1 because I don’t always follow my own advice, so I try to avoid hypocrisy.

#2 because I believe the first thing needed for health and quality of life, is making it a priority.

When someone tells me they don’t have time to cook, read or research, then I surmise it’s not a priority for them yet.

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I laugh at my own little adventures.   I work hours to sprout wheat, dry and grind it, just so I can fix some yummy desert with raw sugar in it.

I only break my relationship with coffee when my stomach says, “Fine.  I can play this hurtful game too.”

I take extra Vitamin C, so I can continue to smoke.

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I’ve given up in the battle for family members to take their lunch to work and school.

I no longer send long articles to other family members regarding the dangers of cholesterol and blood pressure medicines.  I just inform them forgetting my name is excusable, because hey! they are suffering from dementia.

But I haven’t given up exploring.  And trying new things.  And wondering if the caveman cuisine was so durn bad, how did we survive long enough to ‘multiply and cover the earth’.

In short, I take advantage of modern conveniences all the while aware that our current technologies can often give us the illusion of health rather than the real deal.

Off to try another experiment in homemade gummi bears……