What is your food policy?

When you go to the grocery store, how much effort to you put into thinking about what the food policy of your household is?   It’s an interesting question that has been pushing me around the web lately.

I grew up in Wisconsin and quite honestly, I remember having a garden all my childhood.  I worked in the gardens, spending summers weeding plants, composting and of course harvesting the ‘vegetables’ of my labor.  I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I’ve had the pleasure of spending time on a couple – harvesting hay and milking cows were the two things I enjoyed the most.

In addition, my grandparents would often take me out to find asparagus and walnuts.  In the kitchens of family members, and at home, preparing meals with naturally grown foods was a common occurrence.  At the same time, I remember growing up listening to local farm reports and highly respected media personalities talk about Roundup Ready crops.

Through some secondary education and into the career world I didn’t consider my diet much, consuming pizza and mass produced and big farm manufactured foods.  Based on my consistency of food consumption and employment my weight, mental state and overall health has fluctuated greatly.  Over the years I have seen how processed and prepackaged food have enhanced the levels of illnesses in others.   Avoiding soda and high sugar processed items, as well as my personal battle to prevent the purchase of plastics in my daily life has helped me to eat fairly responsibly.  I don’t by any means eat organic and it’s difficult to eat 100% fresh.  Especially on a budget.

Then I learned about Genetically Modified Foods also known as GMO’s.  I learned how, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications,  roughly 90% of core crops: Sugar Beets, Soybeans, Corn and Cotton are grown with gmo seeds.   Modified seeds can’t be that bad, can they?  It’s a question I asked and did lot’s of research on.  Recently I saw a picture, it made things very clear to me, showing how GMO corn is: Corn +DNA from soil bacteria + genes from e.coli plus more bacteria that causes tumors in plants.

So, now I have a food policy.  In every circumstance possible I buy local.  I am trying to avoid shopping for processed foods, go to farmers markets and am doing my best to buy free range animals.  When in doubt, I am using a smartphone app call Buycott.  This app allows me to scan the bar codes of products and it tells me if I am about to purchase an item that is conflict with my core values.   In addition I am watching movies like Food Fight ( you need a HULU account), following entities like The Organic Consumers Association and watching feeds on Facebook from groups in my community like March Against Monsanto- Denver and GMO Free USA the parent group of many GMO free state entities.

All of this takes work, time and effort.  In addition to changing my shopping habits, I’m contributing time in my community focusing on educating others about what I have learned.  In addition I’m pushing for legislation that requires Food Labeling on all things containing any GMO products.

For me, it’s worth the quality of life, and the knowledge that I am not killing myself in the process of enjoying life.  Do you think being educated and making the kind of changes I am is worth it?

 

EU establishes formal stance on environmental planning and responsibility

EU establishes formal stance on environmental planning and responsibility

The European Union just published a formal stance acknowledging that it’s economically and environmentally necessary to plan development and sustainable use of resources as the only way to move forward.  The are decreeing a governmental  stance toward promotion and support in Policy making, research and development, and financing.  For one of the planets primary 1st world economies to formally make such a decree by press release is exciting news for our planet.  Hopefully the rest of the worlds bureaucracies will follow such bold measures!

 

Using annalytics to help heal America?

So, I’m reading blog posts, which as an author is something that one should be part of the daily process.  If one contributes only to the initial idea without contributing to the conversation, then there is a diminished value to the point of publicly writing.  Today I read an amazing article on listening by The Journey Institute’s founder Dafna Michaelson.
The point is that every time I read a great post I go off on a tangent of thoughts that often expands to another idea or post.  So, my advice, read other blogs.

Today’s gem:  Not Taking your medication, or taking way to much? The Data Knows… by Derrick Harris
This is an amazing article examining the facts of Prescription Drug use and abuse in the United States.  Using analytic methods like this would allow both private businesses and local governments the ability to heal communities that are broken by a process that is illegally abusing both communities and the aspects of health care both private and public.  The real truth here is that both private and public medical systems are funding these abuses that trickle down the economic pipeline.  Effectively persecuting Dr.’s who abuse the system must include publicly available data without exposing the private personal and medical data.  Examining doctors who prescribe high quantities of narcotics, especially in high risk communities, can expose tragic abuses and help curb the public costs.  In addition to the actual medical expenses paid by governments and private health insurance that would reduce the overall expense of coverage, the welfare of communities and the extended burden of addiction.  This extends to the capacity of social service agencies, churches, the burden of community governments that pay for extended crime rates that are extended by “Pill Farms”.

Additionally, effective use of this data (when it comes to people that don’t take all their medicines effectively), could allow health insurance companies to help communicate to their clients the value of effective medication consumption in regards to success of medication usage as well as a tool for targeting national health concerns like unused medicine disposal in correlation to water quality (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) and diseases developing immunity to medicine due to lack of complete consumption of assigned prescription dosages.  More on bacterial immunity can be found via the CDC.

Amazing things are happening!

Accademia in America continues to stun me.  See I’m one of those that didn’t get, didn’t grasp the value of education the first time round.  Drinking, experimentation and new freedom without much parental guidance of responsibility ruled the day.
After most of my generation made decisions to stop having children, I decided to go back to school.  For me, this decision was a complete change of life, and a decision to chase after the ideas that were most important to me.

What I found is that I’m not alone.  All across America people of all ages continue to come back for more, and while the 2012-2013 Finals season is among us to many this is more than a championship cup and millions of dollars in contracts and sponsorship prizes. Instead its about pride, goals, overcoming fear and building confidence.

I am truly amazed when I ponder the effort that goes into preparing for excellence.  Roughly two weeks ago, I myself alienated a friend as I melted down over the weight of a major term paper.  But this posting isn’t about me.  It’s about students all over, and a couple of people I am proud to call friends.

These friends are not the normal variety either.  They are the kind that stress about details, about accuracy, intrigue and the abnormal.  I relate to them because of their passions, their desires to reach beyond their depths of known confidences to find a little something more and then, instead of handing in a paper and calling it a day they will be taking their labors of love and doing the unthinkable – preseting in lecture format!

On Thursday, in the community of Aurora, Colorado will be having a special treat.  Here, a community will come together to discuss writing, authors and the love of literature.  Students become the teachers, opening themselves up for whatever may be. If you live in or near the Aurora community it would be most wise to come for lunch and check out Jennifer Bird and Seth Cardin as they present H.P. Lovecraft Cosmic Horror for an Uncertain Age and Stephen King Pet Cemetery A Literary Argument on the Community College of Aurora’s CenterTech campus.

http://www.ccaurora.edu/news-events/study-american-horror-literature

https://www.facebook.com/events/161361387361992/

I was there when the shooting happened, and it’s not going to change my behavior…

Really, it pisses me off more than anything.  Gunfire isn’t exactly a new thing to me.  I’ve fired guns before, I’ve lived in a community where (as aggravating as it is) guns were shot fairly regularly within city limits.  Sitting on the front porch,  I could hear them in the distance, “down the hill” if you will.  Now I don’t feel that I lived in a war zone, but I’m not a stranger to the sound of gunfire in my life.  It’s not like I lived in a war zone or a ghetto where it was around me on a constant basis either.

I moved to  Denver, Colorado about ten months ago.  The first thing I did when moving here – volunteer for HeavenFest as a security agent.  My biggest difficulty was working with security executives that didn’t handle crowd control very well.  As a matter of disclosure I will state that my experiences in security include events from local bars to massive 20,000 in attendance events.  Then there was the Aurora theater shooting,   that occurred within 3 weeks of arriving.  While I personally wasn’t at the theater, my brother-in-law and I  had talked about going.  Fortunately my nephew wore us out that night and we opted out.   When I was at worship that Sunday it was obvious that many of the church had been there for a youth group outing, and had been involved as people- and as pastors in the love given as first responders.  Having been surrounded by people personally impacted by the shooting experience was intense, but over the last several months things have been quiet.

Then there was Saturday.   I decided that I would go to the ‘4/20’ celebrations at Civic Center Park with curiosity in mind.  I am an environmental reporter and one of the most common arguments for the reintroduction of Cannabis and Hemp into the US marketplace on an industrial basis is the Environment.  From paper production to textiles and new bio-fuel production, I expected legitimate information on the plethora of uses for HEMP, to be made available. Additionally, the news indicated that there was to be a significant police presence due to the bombings in Boston.  There were concerns of the size of the event in addition to the recent Boston Bombing that caused my sister to advise caution and quote news reports before I left for the event.  I like many new to Denver, did manage to spend time exploring much of Denver With these voices in the back of my head, as well as personal reasons, I was not on site during the actual ‘zero hour’ when, as I have read, thousands of people participated in consuming Cannabis simultaneously.  Instead I arrived an hour before the zero hour, did some reconnaissance work examining the layout of the event, left for the ‘main event’  and returned afterwards, anticipating a large crowd who would be taking a breather.  Instead I found several things occurring.

First: the event was over in the minds of many.  It appeared that the only ‘cool’ thing was to be on site to participate in the consumption of cannabis, also known as marijuana, for the Pot Holiday.

Second:  Security was a joke.   I’ve done more work preparing for large scale events that were expected to have 1/4 of the crowd, than was probably spent putting up snow or ‘security fencing’.   I found no general comfort at any time in the efforts of the police or other security people in holding any type of presence.

Third:  When gunshots went off, things were a mess.  Yes there was a wave of people fleeing the site, and there were people cowering underneath tables and behind one another.  There was no security to be seen yet I wasn’t afraid.

Now let me be clear, I didn’t run.  I didn’t hide, I counted several pops, said, “oh that’s just some dumb ass with a firework” and watched the crowd.  As the first wave was running by, my phone went off.  It was gunshots after all.  Well, shots were fired, but they aren’t going off anymore.  It took ten minutes to get two items of food because to food vendor was stoned stupid.  I placed my order multiple times before I got my food, but hey the place was emptying out, might as well get something to eat.  By the time we got our meal, ate it and left the grounds a process that took over twenty minutes; I still didn’t see any type of security professional or police on site.

And now, I’m mad about it.  I’m not going to stop going to public events.  I refuse to fell less safe.  I refuse to be scared.  I am however mad.  I’m mad that we have to be aware that my life could be threatened today.  I’m mad that we aren’t as able to feel safe and free at large community events.  I’m mad that I am analyzing the event and writing this post about it.  I’m mad that people would bring children of all ages to a closed off marijuana  smoking festival and I’m mad that they weren’t safe while they were there.  I hope everyone will share this feeling, “I will not be timid, I will not be confined and I will not focus on fear.”  Were you somewhere something tragic happened?  Go ahead and repeat that italicized sentence a few times, it’s ok.

But I’m digressing.  For the record it’s not the public consumption of marijuana that I’m bothered by.  It’s the way this group of people is treated as second class and not deserving of something that represents events put on by those who are highly respected.  I’ve seen more security at a Winter Jam concert where tens of thousands of Christians combine for a night of worship, fellowship and community and are protected mostly by volunteers there to do the same thing while ensuring everybody else has a good time.    I’m shocked that I entered and left an area with security fencing and no security personnel.   I get that this was a sketchy event to begin with and I’m sure there were concerns about who would or wouldn’t come if there was someone looking at you and your belongings when you come in.   At the same time this was a family event and while  I admit that I don’t know anybody other than the Pillsbury Dough Boy that might enjoy going through security.  However it’s the same measures that might have convinced someone to leave their gun at home.  After all in Colorado it’s still Illegal to have both at the same one time. 

Blizzard Warnings in April – how is your garden coming?

Having moved to Colorado in July of last year, adjusting to a different “Normal” to what Spring means is definitely something new.   Having lived in Wisconsin and Illinois all of my life, I am accustomed to April Showers, not Snow and Blizzards.  It got me to thinking that I am missing something in my day to day life.  Gardening!

I have been aware of many different changes since moving to a concentrated metropolitan area for the first time in my life.  One of these is composting.  Breads, lawn clippings, banana peels, egg shells, coffee grounds and plant matter of all kinds!   For the fist time in years I find myself considering ways that I can participate in the social effort of responsible food development.  There are some community gardens, and based on the snow count, I’m sure I’m not to late to get in on a plot I’m sure, however with all the changes of work, I really think I want to find someone who will co-work the gardens.

I can hear it now, Brian – planting a garden sounds fun but I don’t have the time.  Well, I understand that people think gardening is labor intensive.  And maybe for some it is.  I will state this one thing, Gardening is my peace.  This is the one thing that I get to do, where I can slow down, take a little time out of the go go go of the modern world and say Hello to God, the dirt, worms, and even the weeds.

The other excuse you are going to give is that you don’t know what to do!  (This is where I get giddy).  I met Lorraine the other day while riding the train to school.  She’s into gardening and she has one of the most amazing websites I have ever explored.  You can find it here.
http://www.vegetable-gardening-with-lorraine.com  Now the home page has a lot of things to consider, however if you just want to know where to start, this is the link I would choose.
http://www.vegetable-gardening-with-lorraine.com/starting-a-vegetable-garden.html

Now I haven’t gotten to garden today, but I sure have gotten to write about it.  Hopefully this will allow someone who hasn’t the slightest idea a place to begin to learn and explore!  I hope you enjoy her site!

 

Your parents may have been hippies – but they made a difference

April 22nd is Earth day and you can thank your family for that the next time you sit down for dinner.  Why, well it wasn’t that long ago America was really sucking on an environmental basis. So a while back a bunch of hippies decided to get together and have a celebration of the place we live, this planet that well call home.  Whippie!!!

But no, really. This is a big deal and those hippies, well they were your parents or grandparents.  Why?  Well what you probably don’t realize is that in America the place was beginning to look like a landfill.  After WWII, the government went through a process to downsize.  One of the bureaucracies that were cut from the picture was a national recycling program.  Many of your grandparents probably still remember what it was like to take newspapers, soda bottles, aluminum and all kinds of items and turn them in, many times for money.  This is how they got to buy dollies and baseball gloves when they were children.  They worked for it because their parents taught them how important it was to tend to the things we had like beautiful land and clean water and healthy food that was grown so locally that much of the time you could walk outside in your bare feet and pick it.

These values are the kind that have (ideally) come down from generation to generation.  Unfortunately, in any society, this is only a representative of a portion of the population.  Corporations were still corporations and without regulatory oversight it doesn’t make sense to be responsible to the planet at the expense of the bottom line.  It’s the kind of attitude that says, if I’m not told something is wrong – it must not be wrong for me to do.  And devastation was laid out on the countryside.   Eventually,  major city beaches were being closed due to pollution, waterways caught fire due to chemical and oil spills and masses of animals were  mutating and dying from unnatural changes to their environment.

So our parents, and grandparents, they did something about it.  Earth day rallies, like those of civil rights and women’s suffrage actually did make an impact.  The disasters that were befalling our country were visible to the naked eye and people cared about it.  They thought about you and me and our children.  They didn’t want to leave a legacy that was shameful, deadly and horrific.  So they took action.  They made cities build waste water treatment facilities, (before it often went from toilet to river to tap in the next town).   They banned chemicals like DDT and They cleaned up most of the messes they made.  They set rules into place that said, what we did was not ok – and nobody should be allowed to do this in the future.

And here we are in 2013.  While human waste is cleaned before entering the waterways, mass quantities of factory farm waste is not regulated.  Instead of filling our waterways with oil and chemicals we are loading them with a different chemical that is producing the same results in killing off biospheres of natural wildlife – plastic.  While air pollution standards have made visible skies in major cities a reality, we are now burning Tar Sands Oil- which is producing double the amount of carbon-dioxide standard crude oil emits.  And instead of boldly declaring the atrocities of big industry, news agencies are now owned, operated and invested in the entities they are supposed to be holding accountable.  This month the FAA declared an American NoFly Zone because an oil company (and the government) doesn’t want bad press to negatively impact infrastructure plans that are bad for our country.

So does Earth Day mean anything to you?  Will the sacrifices and values of those that wanted you to have a clean planet encourage you to make changes in your life, to stand in unison with one another over real issues and to hold big polluters accountable not just with the click of a mouse button but with real action? Please I encourage you to take the time to consider – what kind of life are we leaving behind and begin making simple changes like bringing your own bags to the grocery store, riding public transportation and more importantly write your representatives and hold them accountable to standing strong on issues that matter to you.

Most importantly, if you have children – on April 20th (Saturday) show them what Earth Day is about by spending time outdoors, learning about or doing something special, they will only learn what you pass on.

Do you know what is really going on in this world? For days we have been not been receiving news of what is really going on and now – they don’t even have to pay for it!

Earth First! Newswire

from Think Progress

A technicality has spared Exxon from having to pay any money into the fund that will be covering most of the clean up costs of its Arkansas pipeline spill.

The cleanup efforts themselves took a sobering turn as crews found injured and dead duckscovered in oil.

The environmental impacts of an oil spill in central Arkansas began to come into focus Monday as officials said a couple of dead ducks and 10 live oily birds were found after an ExxonMobil Corp. pipeline ruptured last week.

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I really enjoyed this blog about the responsibility of being a tourist.

El mundo desde otras miradas

Sustainable tourism is defined in the Brundtland Report of 1987 as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”1. It is fitting, then, that we look at sustainable tourism as a journey from then to the now, and beyond that into the future.

What is the difference, then, between sustainable and responsible tourism really? Sustainable tourism and responsible tourism have the same goal of sustainable development, but responsible tourism is regarded as a pathway towards sustainable tourism.

Responsible tourism is about making “better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit” – in that order. It is about using tourism rather than being used by it. It is about identifying the locally significant issues and acting to deal with them.

Over the past couple of years the phrase “sustainable and responsible tourism” has gained currency…

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Do your values align with your actions? or Why shopping at Wal-Mart is bad for you and your friends.

For ten years now I have successfully NOT shopped at Wal-Mart for myself. In 10 years, I have been there – to my memory 6 times.  Two were to return items purchased for me, the rest were for family members.  It’s a passion for me, I am not a wealthy person so I understand how important each and every dollar I spend speaks for my core values. In this quickly written and extremely brief outline (only 4 points) I don’t hope to convince you that Wal-mart is the Devil. Instead I argue that American’s have the responsibility to align their values with their actions. If what you read makes you feel good about shopping at Wal-mart, then it is your freedom to do so. If you become aware that you are supporting something you don’t approve of then it is your responsibility to change your behaviors.

Core values?  Yes – the ideals I carry as an American, as a Christian and as a supporter for the fair and decent treatment of all humanity and the earth we live on. So, let us begin.

1. Sam Walton’s Wal-Mart grew in popularity based on penny pinching, – share the discounts received from the supplier with the customer. A very American idea.  However, he did it with intentional value, something that his heirs missed out on; “Wal-Mart’s new leaders took to heart one element of the founder’s business philosophy — the importance of reducing costs — but they didn’t show his intuition about the importance of making employees feel as though they had a stake in the company”  – excerpt from ( http://reclaimdemocracy.org/brief-history-of-walmart/)

Sam Walton was also anti union.  In truth, the fall of the American Union and it’s position to protect the American employee with honest wages and health and welfare benefits is one of the main reasons Wal-mart makes in excess of $175 million dollars in profits annually. It also can be tied to why The Affordable Health Care Act – also known as ObamaCare became a necessity. This article is one of thousands you can find describing the practices of this organization  (http://www.theglobalist.com/storyid.aspx?storyid=9769)

2  The platform of ‘Made in America’, one that proved to be untrue as NBC’s Dateline revealed back in the 90’s.  According to PBS, “In fact, only after Wal-Mart’s “Buy American” ad campaign was in full swing did the company become the country’s largest importer of Chinese goods in any industry.”

http://www.pbs.org/itvs/storewars/stores3.html (paragraph 9)

3 Wal-Mart is the leading reason the American Economy is in such disarray, forcing American manufacturing to shut down and move overseas.

http://www.demos.org/publication/not-made-america-top-10-ways-walmart-destroys-us-manufacturing-jobs

4. Locally owned and operated businesses close when Wal-Mart comes to town.  I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and have had conversations with people that have had to close their doors.    Here is an interesting piece,”Is Wal-Mart Good for Small Town America?” by Ken Lambert effectively surmises many aspects of the anti Wal-Mart argument.

http://www.deltacollege.edu/org/deltawinds/DWOnline08/iswalmartgoodforsmalltown.html

Getting off my horse now, hope all of these pieces of information will cause you to pause and think about how you spend your money. The question is, if you shop at Wal-Mart – do you think you will change your habits?