Tuesday, January 29, 2008
As a kick off for the Focus The Nation events in our area, several local organizations joined together to show the movie, Green: The New Red, White & Blue with writer Thomas Friedman. The movie is clearly geared towards populations of people uneducated about the issues of “clean” energy in an attempt to provide what appears to be an “overview” of our options at this critical point in time. It makes the assumption that climate change is here to stay and appeals American patriotism to urge us to become the leader in the race for “green” solutions.
However, the “solutions” presented are a bit slanted in a particular direction. It makes one wonder if Mr. Friedman is getting paid to show things in such a light. The claim that nuclear energy is the only “green” energy solution to solve the bulk of our energy problems was the big cue.
This declaration was followed up with an in depth explanation of the need for “clean” coal (doesn’t that seem a bit incongruous?) while aerial views depicted the land being raped by machinery as beautiful! No mention of the 470 mountains that have been permanently destroyed along with the communities that have been devastated in attempts to meet our voracious demand for energy! If this is not intentional attempts to manipulate our perceptions, then what is?
It even went as far to interview a woman who outlined the process of building a “much needed” nuclear plant and the barriers that get in the way…such as finding a community willing to have such a plant in their own back yard. They laughed at the oddity of such a scenario – imagine a community that does NOT want such a toxic site in their neighborhood for the better good of the world. Heed the intuitive self!
He goes on to highlight France and the Netherlands as running almost completely on nuclear energy while implying America is falling behind. He urgently calls out to the patriotism that sparked our nation during WWII to call us into action but fails to realize that the values our country was based on have been ripped to shreds. Our government is corrupt and we are leaderless. We have lost all trust.
He incites us to blindly follow this “green” movement that is lacking in leadership. He repeatedly compares the US to other countries abroad but avoids such comparisons like the amount of energy we use in contrast to European counties. He sadly denounces that we have not built any more nuclear plants since the Three Mile Island catastrophe, showing photos of the site as if it were a revered memorial. He neglects to note the challenges France has with the use containers of toxic waste buried on the coast of Normandy. Details like those are irrelevant.
Biofuels are touched upon as one of the many profitable growing green businesses, along with big corporations like Walmart that are featured in the film. No need to think about all of the GM crops taking over the world to make that biodiesel and how much money like corporate giants such as Monsanto are making. Monsanto just celebrated their huge success of signing up Brazil for GM sugarbeets for biofuels at the beginning of this year. Go ahead, keep buying from Walmart who sells “organic” clothing and frozen foods from China (there is a reason their prices are so low folks!).
Again, attempts to gloss the surface and make people feel good about their choices without having to delve deep into the real issues. That’s what “greenwashing” is all about! The future of “green” is all about money and the bottom line! Yes, it is about buying green and supporting sustainable business practices, but it is not about buying MORE. It is about buying less, using less, consuming less.
We have to LOOK BEHIND THE SCENES to discern the real truth here! My concern is that Americans are so gullible. We will believe whatever we are told BECAUSE that is what we want to hear! Who really wants to change their lifestyle? This film suggests that we can go on with life as usual without having to make any sacrifices or change any of our behaviors! Only two or three sentences in the entire film are dedicated to the ideas of conservation.
Yet, conservation is the key. We can switch to renewable energy options, yes (and if you haven’t already, put that at the top of your to do list) but you have to USE LESS ENERGY! As Americans, we must look at our own personal carbon footprints (i.e. how much energy and non-renewable resources we use) compared to other people in other parts of the world. When we do, we see the disparity.
My concern is that films, such as this one, are designed specifically to inculcate the minds of the masses with the specific goal of normalizing the extraordinary through propaganda. What we know to be inherently and intuitively wrong they are condoning as perfectly acceptable behaviors while presenting “solutions” in order for us to not feel so uncomfortable. It is up to us to discern the difference.
The time has come for a real revolution for a cause and a country that one can feel good about.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Insidiously, it is our demand as consumers for the convenient, cheap foods we have become accustomed that “justifies” such oddities. Simply put, the food industry is trying to keep up with consumer demand and to do so they must resort to things that never before existed. The motivation appears logical but its implementation is irrational! Let us not accept such circumstances simply because we do not want to be bothered with changing our ways.
People put off by the higher cost of organic food are unaware of what the real cost of real food is. Cheap food does not equate quality food. Think about it. How is it really possible to create something worth putting into your body for just one dollar? Part of the process here is changing our customary patterns around food. Refusing to eat any and all products (meat and milk) from cloned animals or their offspring is a good start.
Back up your actions with a pledge to let companies know that you will not buy food from clones! Part of the path of living a sustainable life is not just thinking about it but doing it! We must vote with our dollars and use every opportunity to shape the future by having our voices be heard.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Our culture has reinforced this concept with bottle feeding. We use food as a way to pacify children rather than comfort them with the breast or physical attention. It is easier to stick something in their mouths to shut them up rather than to deal with their specific needs at a particular moment in time.
But with what result? We now have a nation of overweight and emotionally starved children who turn into adults with the same issues in various forms. Food, sex, shopping - one addiction is linked to another. We are a compulsive society aching to fill the insatiable emptiness within. The Age of Consumerism has created a chasm between our inner wisdom and what we are told we need.
Here in the US we have the highest rates of everything: obesity, rape, suicide, drunk driving, prison inmates, depression. You name, we have it. Yet we are the forerunners in this materialistic way of life that is now successfully infiltrating the rest of the planet. Countries around the world are adopting some of our worst habits. Yes, we are the leaders in this downward spiral.
I began to see the full spectrum to this picture soon after we opened our cafe. We began hosting free film showings which we still do to this day, every Friday night. The first film we showed was The Future of Food by Jeffrey Smith. The information presented in the documentary about genetically modified foods was terrifying. I was outraged to discover that genetically modified foods have filled the majority of grocery store shelves here in America without consumer knowledge or consent for the past five years.
Other countries in the world are opposed to GM foods. Here in the US, where most of the GM crops are grown, the FDA allowed the inclusion of GMO’s in most of the products fed to our children without any mandated labeling. These money hungry mad scientists truly believe they can feed the world with GM crops, heal the world with GM vaccines and clothe the world with GM fibers. Even crazier are the recent attempts to push products from cloned animals onto consumers, without telling them of course.
This world that they are “creating” is sterile and surreal. It is a world absent of soil, of trees, of nature as we know it. Growing food will become yet another lost art form as there will exist no land left on which to farm. Our “food” will be grown in stacked towers and chemically infused. Children of tomorrow will spend even more of their days inside than kids of today.
What kind of “evolution” is this? I want my grandchildren to be able to walk outside and feel the dirt beneath their feet and to have a relationship to the earth. I want them to be able to look up into the sky and see real clouds – not particles of metallic matter that leave wispy trails spreading as far as the eye can see. Our planet has been permanently altered in the past decade alone.
We are not participating in the evolution of our species but rather a (de)volution of our kind. We are driving ourselves to extinction. Nutrient dense foods are dwindling in number. Pristine places void of toxic contaminants are scarce in number and the available fresh water left on our planet is decreasing rapidly in every moment. There is definitely not enough for the growing numbers populating our planet but few people seem to notice these “small” details.
When the big picture is finally visible to all, it will be too late. We will be told that only GM foods, cloned animals and nuclear power plants will be able to save the day. These are insane solutions to the insane circumstances we are living each day of our lives. It is time to wake up! This is a call to mothers everywhere to heed the warning signs.
Somewhere, deep down, I always knew that I knew something. I just wasn’t quite sure of what it was exactly that I knew. Now I do. In choosing to feed my family organic foods I am not only making a statement but I am taking action. Foods labeled organic cannot be genetically modified.
Knowing this, one begins to question the connection between the recent growing epidemics and conditions (diabetes, obesity, soy/wheat/gluten intolerances) and the genetically modified foods people eat.It is more accurate to assume that every processed, packaged “food” product on the market (especially products containing corn syrup and soy based products) contain some genetically modified ingredient (even dairy or meat if the animals were fed GM grains) than to assume otherwise.
Now, years later, with even more facts and figures to back up my position, I feel cornered by the limiting choices surrounding us. Genetically modified foods still continue to legally infiltrate the marketplace at a rapid pace. I find myself becoming frustrated especially around the holidays when I have to more aggressively protect my children (especially my youngest) by the onslaught of good intentioned adults offering junk candies from Halloween to Valentine’s Day.
It’s like an insane game of Russian Roulette with my kids the potential victims. I begin dreaming of a life far away in the mountains - away from all civilization – but know that disappearing isn’t the answer. This past holiday season I decided to take action. I searched out organic candy canes in an effort not to break my four year olds heart. She was enchanted at first sight and we seemed to see them everywhere we went in the month of December.
I successfully tracked down Pure Fun Organic Candies out of Toronto only to find out that they had sold out of their organic candy canes (good sign I suppose for the market but not for my little one!). I ordered the traditional round red and white mints instead and all of our kids and customers LOVED them, especially our four year old. Next year I will get my order in early!
My Stance: The only foods I feel I can trust are those that are labeled organic and non-gmo or food that is grown locally by farmers I know (that might not be certified organic).
Intuitive Clue that something is up: Many products on the shelves today are beginning to label themselves as NON-GMO! Aha!
My Commitment: To serve my family only organic, non-gmo foods with the intention of growing the healthiest, strongest and most mentally adept kids I possibly can.
Your challenge: Clean out your cupboards and see if any non-organic food items contain corn syrup, canola or soy. These are all GMO products. Throw them all away.
Sleep tonight knowing that you are on the path towards honoring your wise woman ways and that you, your family, humanity and your planet will reap the rewards!
Monday, January 7, 2008
The first step towards sustainable living for our family began with food. It makes sense in hindsight since food is one of the basic survival needs. Eating local organic food is more sustainable in that it requires less energy to produce, shorter distance to travel, minimal packaging and waste and is grown without toxic pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides that eventually wash into and poison our waterways.
Now it was not always this way for our family of eight. It is important to realize that we are a blended family – one dad and two kids from one household and three girls and a mom from another with a little one who melds us together. Our eating habits in the beginning were much different than they are today – almost six years later.
In the beginning we couldn’t even go out to eat without major controversy and stress (and at that point we had no special dietary needs or requests – just a desire to eat). For the first time in my life, I began to have a first hand experience of the issues so many in our culture have with food.
My girls and I were what I call “intuitive eaters” – we ate when our bodies indicated they were hungry and took cues from them on what we needed to eat. My husband and his kids were just plain eaters and would basically eat whatever was lying around without necessarily having any pangs of hunger.
Thus our battle over food began. It became a race to eat as much food as you could before anyone else, whether or not you were hungry at that moment or not. We soon forfeited eating out all together and made a commitment to eat dinner together as a family at home in an effort to regulate our eating patterns.
Sitting down to dinner together was one of the best things we did as a family that not only addressed our food issues but bonded us a “family” unit as well. Our kids still replay some of those initial memories to this day. The positive imprint we established still serves as a familiar routine that we fall back on when needed. For non-homeschooling families that don’t spend every hour of the day and night together, something like dinner time together is even more important and sacred. Many families have lost the connection that was once a traditional part of mealtime in years past with this stressful fast paced society we now live in.
Being that we threw ourselves and our families into relationship quite quickly, some things were more obvious than others right away to me. Although my husband was making every effort to eat healthier before we met, he still had a way to go. For example, sugar was a huge problem. I quickly implemented acceptable and unacceptable food options and began establishing boundaries around food choices. Since I was the one micro-managing our life and my husband was happy to have the help, there was little resistance on his part.
A few months later, we opened the doors of our all organic café. Eating organic was something we both believed in and wanted to have available to our family even more because we felt (knew) it was better for them and the earth. For my husband, this time marked a big shift in awareness. As he began to trust his body’s ability to give him answers, his parenting style with his children began to positively shift as well.
We were excited to be able to eat all organic and share what we were doing with others.
What we soon discovered after eating all organic over time was that we could not eat anything else. Our bodies could tell the difference! Our children noticed that they felt better when they ate organic food and naturally began eating less and less non-organic food even when given an option.
This happened more slowly with my stepchildren as they had more exposure to media-hyped processed, packaged food than my own, including food from fast food restaurants. In time they began requesting that their mom buy organic food. Soon they were taking their own food with them when they visited with their mom and began refusing to eat from fast food restaurants. If they had no choice but to eat “bad” food when they were not with us they would come back feeling physically awful and the whole family would feel the effects for days.
Numerous parents have commented on our children’s eating habits in the years we have had our cafe. They seem surprised to see our kids sit down and eat a plate of steamed kale or ask for avocado. Many have shared their personal struggles of getting their own children to eat healthy foods. Some parents have convinced themselves that their children would sooner starve than eat healthy food like vegetables. I think part of establishing a balanced diet for our kids is from introducing green foods such as veggies and avoiding all artificial sugar products (anything other than real fruit) from the beginning. This may require some extra effort initially.
Someone shared with me a recent study with kids that allowed them to eat whatever they wanted for a period of time. After a few days of gorging on junk food and sweets the children innately began to eat the healthier foods. This makes sense to me. Children naturally choose healthy foods for their bodies, yet exposure to sugar laden “fake foods” and constant marketing tactics are designed to be confusing.
Decades ago, marketers targeted moms because they were the primary ones making the decision regarding what food products to buy. Today, marketers incorporate bright colors in foods and on packaging because kids are now influence parent choices. Specific techniques such as whining, begging and pleading have been studied by these folks because they know they affect parent purchases (and not just in the realm of food – more to come on this later).
Thus, children’s relationship with food becomes a tool for manipulation capitalized on by “talented” marketers (check out the Century of Self on YouTube for a detailed overview of exactly how this happened in our country). The choice of healthy vs. unhealthy food somehow becomes a debate and mothers find themselves making compromises. Multi-billion dollar corporations accomplish their goal.
Overcoming this challenge can be achieved! First, as mothers, we have to have a clear understanding of our own personal values. For example, in our family we value organic food and choose to only eat organic food. This serves as one of our guiding principles that forms the foundation by which we live our lives. Within this agreed upon structure, our children have the freedom to make choices as to which kinds of organic foods they will eat. In our world, eating out at a fast food restaurant, eating junk food or even eating at social events are not even considered. They are not part of our equation. As their mother, it is my role to provide other viable options (I am always prepared with organic snacks) and remind them if need be the reason for our choice (mostly necessary for the four year old). I simply explain to my kids that there are good body foods and bad body foods and that we don’t eat those foods. It seems to work – so much so that they tell other kids.
Witnessing the process of my own children has led me to have even more faith in children’s ability to instinctively eat what their bodies need, even when they have been exposed to and manipulated by the opposite. We merely have to offer them the option to choose and stick to it. Once children have experienced the world of artificial flavorings and the lure of artificial colorings it can be a difficult battle. Sugar plays a key role in the behaviors of children. I have talked to many mothers who were amazed that their child’s labeled “disorder” has been able to be controlled through diet (and the elimination of fake sugar) alone.
Try the following:
*Take a personal (honest) inventory of your families food intake (For example, gauge the percentage of processed foods vs. whole foods your family eats, how often do you eat “out” vs. home, begin reading ingredients )
*Meditate on whether or not your family is truly eating a healthy diet –sustainable for both them and the planet (organic, non-gmo)
*If you were to listen to your instinctual, intuitive self, which foods would it insist be removed from your families diet?
Share with us your insights and revelations and what steps you plan to take to move your family towards healthier eating habits! This could be just one thing like stop eating packaged cereal or eating at fast food restaurants OR something broader like eliminating all processed, packaged non-organic genetically modified foods (www.coopamerica.org – type in GMO and see complete listings of all the companies that hide GMO ingredients in their products) or challenging yourself to eat local (check out www.eatlocalchallenge.org ). Talk with other moms about your choice to eat a more sustainable diet. Good Luck!
Suggested Reading: Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food by Andrew Kimbrell