Thursday, December 1, 2011

Yes, Virginia, a Healthy Diet is Affordable and Convenient

I didn’t used to know which foods are really healthy for me (thanks to the Blood Type Diet and the GenoType Diet, by Peter D’Adamo, I do now), let alone how to cook. For most of my adult life, the ways of eating touted as being healthy were actually very bad for my individual genetic hardwiring. I don’t do well at ALL on diets that emphasize grains/carbs, demonize fat, and tell me to cut out animal protein (I wish I did do well on that latter point, but I simply don’t). And those were the “in” trends from basically the late 1960’s through the mid-90’s in this country. Not a good era for blood type O folks such as myself. Most of my Type O life was lived in a Type A era. As a result of how the nutrition “experts” (not) said I should eat, combined with my utter lack of cooking skills and propensity for carry-out food, I ended up woefully out of biochemical balance, experiencing the predictable effect of being ruled by cravings (because my blood sugar was always spiking then crashing, never steady and in balance, and my serotonin level was always low, etc.), and basically living on pasta (wheat pasta = VERY bad for a Type O person) and take-out food. I also ended up morbidly obese.

People tried to tell me “you could save so much money by cooking at home”. I forgot to mention that I was always dirt poor my whole adult life until 2008, at which time I catapulted all the way up from ‘po to low income. I know what not having much money is all about. I am the 99%, and I am at the low end of that, but I’m blessed to be much better off than many and than I myself was for most of my adult life.

When folks advised me that changing from The Carry-Out Queen to cooking at home would save me money, I thought: “Ha, shows what they know! It’s just as cheap to get take-out food as to cook and, besides, I am busy, I work full-time, who has all the oodles of time that would be required to do all that cooking and the shopping and planning that no doubt goes with it?” No, thought I, I’m better off just living on subs, Chinese food, more subs, more Chinese food, pasta, popcorn and, of course, my drug of choice since I was so out of biochemical balance and thus, like I said, totally ruled by hormonal cravings of the craviest variety: POTATO CHIPS AND DIP!

Well, my peppermint peeps, hard as it is to fathom, it turns out I was wrong. Don’t buy into the myth (which, trust me, Big Agribiz wants you to buy into!) that eating healthy is more expensive than eating junk, and/or that eating junk is more convenient and time-saving than eating healthy. People think “health food” is expensive, but it can be CHEAP if you know what you are doing. People think going the homemade route is also terribly time-consuming and a hassle, but I find it is just the opposite! It is soooooooooooooo much more relaxing and freeing, time-wise, to cook at home versus to be constantly running around town getting take-out food and NEVER having anything in the fridge or cupboards. And it turns out that cooking is EASY and convenient, not hard at all! If I can do it, anyone can, and it SAVES me time! I don’t even follow recipes, I just “wing it” and it all works out deliciously. Once you get a little experience under your belt, the time involved in “planning” (even that word turns me off at the git-go) is minimal, and mainly consists of ensuring that your kitchen is always stocked up with good stuff that you can then throw together in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Sure, some things take a long time to cook, hence the term “slow food” that many, including myself, like to apply to the homemade cooking lifestyle, but the thing is: you can just stick those things in the oven or crock pot WHEN YOU ARE HOME ANYWAY (or, in the case of the crock pot, it can be cooking away while you are at work or off doing something else, or while you sleep at night!) and let them go for a few hours. Say you are out the door before sunrise (like me) and you don’t get home until it is dark. If you stick something in the oven or crock pot when you get home, even though it may take several hours to cook and thus won’t be ready for your dinner that night, stick it in the fridge for the next day—then you have it! How beautiful is that? And meanwhile, that night, you eat something you already had prepared and can just heat up and/or throw together. It is SUCH a good, comforting feeling to feel that your kitchen is stocked to the gills with healthy, nourishing, delicious food.

You will learn what “staples” you need to keep on hand to ensure that you always have something to throw together at a moment’s notice. For example, I boil brown basmati rice with onion, carrot and spices, about once per week. It takes TWO SECONDS to chop the onion and carrot, throw it in the pot with the rice, sprinkle on my fave spices, add water and stick the rice on the stove, and it takes it about 40 to 45 minutes to cook. Then I stick the cooked rice in a Gladware container in the fridge. Total preparation and cooking time? About 45 minutes. Then I have rice at the ready for the entire week! I can throw together a stir-fry or whatever in moments, using that rice that I have already cooked. Keep fresh and frozen veggies and fruit on hand, as well as fresh and frozen meat, some nice organic eggs, perhaps a can or several of wild (never farmed!) salmon, and you’re golden!

When the weather is warm (which is most of the time here in Florida), I keep bags of organic salad in the fridge, and containers of grape tomatoes. Then I can toss a salad together in no time, adding in whatever already cooked meat I have around (like chicken, turkey, ground lamb, beef, canned wild salmon) and make a homemade salad dressing in TWO SECONDS. By the way, there is NO reason to buy store-bought salad dressing, which virtually always contains a bunch of junky ingredients and is nowhere near as delicious as homemade. You can throw olive oil (or other oils, such as dark-toasted sesame, a personal fave of mine) and organic lemon or lime juice (comes in a handy bottle) together in the aforementioned TWO SECONDS, people! I make a delicious yogurt ranch dressing by mixing organic, plain yogurt, a smidge of organic mayo, a dash or three of extra-virgin olive oil, dried oregano, garlic granules and sea salt. DA BOMB! (I don’t use lemon or lime in that one because the yogurt is already a tad tart and it doesn’t need it.) While I seem to live on salads with protein, and WATERMELON in the summer now, in the winter, I don’t eat as much salad because I want something HOT. So it is then time for simply sticking some meat and veg in the oven at 350 and there you go! And now, as of this week, I have FINALLY gotten the knack of how to make SOUP! Thanks to a dear friend basically talking me through every nuance of how to do it, I can now make soup and I use the crock pot to make it in, which is so simple, it is really ridiculous that I was intimidated about the whole mysterious soup-making process for so long!

My soup-making experience this week brings me to what inspired this blog entry in the first place, because it got me marveling yet again about how not just wonderful but CHEAP healthy eating can really be! Think about it: how expensive is it to buy whole produce such as sweet potatoes, yams, onions, celery, turnips and carrots, and protein such as a turkey, chicken thighs, etc.? You simply cook the meat, then throw the bones and some of the meat (and the FAT/drippings!) into your soup pot or crock pot, along with the veggies, some spices, water (it doesn’t get much cheaper than water, folks *lol*), and a good, pure (not laced with junky ingredients) brand of broth to start you off with a bang, such as Kitchen Basics vegetable broth, as there is no junk in that particular variety (although you could use just water, if you are sure to add enough FAT, spices, veggies, bones and put in some tomato paste or crushed tomatoes if you just use water, to add flavor and body). You then—if you use a crock pot, like I do—simply set it to low and WALK AWAY. I’ve been letting it cook overnight in the crock pot while I sleep (does anything get easier or more convenient than that?) and waking up to a steaming, beautiful crock pot full of deeply nourishing, delicious, warming, satisfying, relaxing, awesomely wonderful SOUP!

Learning to make soup and enjoying the results has reminded me again, not that I need reminding, as I’m grateful for my diet every day, just how important to me my homemade, slow-food lifestyle is. It is cheap, it is easy, it is satisfying, it is health bestowing, and even though, this week, I’ve been very stressed out about some things going on in my life, and busy and over-tired, it is my diet that has once again kept me strong, steady as she goes, in balance, healthy, energized and able to cope to the best of my abilities with everything. My diet is my foundation, my rock of Gibraltar, when things get stressful and/or otherwise challenging in my life. I’ve noticed over this busy, stressful week, that soup, in particular, seems instantly to relax me, calm me down, re-energize me and just generally help me keep strong and in balance through choppy seas. A simple thing like soup can do all that! And everything about eating well is simple, once you learn what to do. Just shop along the outer edges of the supermarket for whole produce and fresh meat, augmenting that with some bags of frozen veggies, too, and healthy grains like brown rice—or, if you don’t want any grains in your diet, stick to root veggies like sweet potatoes, yams, turnips and carrots (all very inexpensive). While it is true that meat—especially humanely-raised, “clean” meat—IS relatively expensive, another very important point I want to touch on is that, even the relatively expensive items in a healthy diet are all NUTRIENT DENSE, which means they are very satisfying and thus you do not need much of them. Therefore, they are actually very cost effective. I do best with some meat in almost every meal, yet I don’t need a ton of meat. Nuts and seeds (very expensive) are excellent, too, yet I don’t need many. When you are eating right, you are in balance, steady and satisfied, so you aren’t ruled by cravings and thus prone to go on a junk food binge. Junk food is EXPENSIVE (in more ways than one)! It is usually overpackaged, which costs money and if it is carry-out food, you are paying for the labor, etc. You also pay in so many hidden ways. Junk food is highly addictive and often devoid of any real nutrition, so the result is you are always out of balance, always hungry, and very likely to get in a vicious cycle of choosing the wrong foods to try to bring up your blood sugar and/or serotonin level, etc., quickly. You tend to overeat junk food, so how is that saving money? No, it is far better to choose whole, healthy foods that put you in a strong place of balance and health. Most of these foods are very affordable, a few are expensive but it evens out because you don’t need much of the nutrient-dense foods like meats, nuts and oils, and your diet will keep you healthy, which is priceless.

Another very important, related point, regarding choosing organic food, specifically, is this: while choosing a certified organic food is often more expensive at the front end (in the grocery store) than choosing the same food that isn’t labeled certified organic, you are paying for what isn’t in there, such as toxic junk, so you are keeping yourself healthier and out of the health care system, which saves you money in the long run. You are also, as I’ve blogged about before, VOTING with your dollars for sustainable, humane agriculture (and against the cruelty and unsustainability of factory farms and factory farming techniques) and by extension for a sustainable, green, humane economy, society and world, which is priceless, too. But even if you don't give a hoot about ending the barbarism and unsustainability of factory farming, choose organic for your own health. Yes, it's a tad more expensive but just as choosing nutrient-dense foods such as meats, oils and nuts SEEMS expensive at the front end, the big picture is that, in the long-run, for the many reasons I've detailed above, it is saving both your health and your bank account.

To sum up, riddle me this: if “cheap” junk food doesn’t satisfy you, so you eat more of it, it makes you sick, so you go to the doctor more, it makes you fat and addicts you (not necessarily in that order), so you are ruled by cravings like a drug addict and go through life unsteady, unfocused and out of balance, how is that really cheap, or really “affordable”? I don’t know about you, but I can’t “afford” to sabotage my health like that. By contrast, a healthy, unprocessed, whole foods diet contains mostly very inexpensive foods like veggies and fruit, but even the more seemingly “expensive” foods like meat, healthy oils, nuts, are actually saving you money in medical costs and because you will be satisfied and in balance and therefore you won’t be overeating, buying more and more and more junk food, and getting into a vicious cycle. The gifts of balance, energy, focus, strength and overall health are priceless, don’t let Big Agribiz convince you otherwise. Stick to whole, pure, unpackaged, preferrably organic foods from the outer edges of the grocery store as much as possible and stay aware from the shiny packages filled with addictive, non-nutritive junk that adorns most of the inner aisles, for it is not an exaggeration to say that, in many cases, those foods are specifically designed to addict you. Choose food made by nature, not food made by Big Agribiz. When you experience the profound benefits to your health (most importantly), lifestyle and wallet, you will be extremely glad you did.

Monday, October 3, 2011

America, America, Where Are You, My America?

Update: Please see the first comment below this blog, by yours truly. It turns out that I had the date of the anti-nuclear rally wrong (my bad!). Therefore, when you read this, I want you to know that going in, so you don't think that the wonderful people of my dear city are truly as apathetic as I momentarily thought when writing this blog. It made no sense to me and I was in shock over it, so I'm very heartened to learn that I was wrong about the date of the rally and thus right that it made no sense that folks didn't show up. They DID show up, bless them all. They DO care! There IS still hope for our world! With that cleared up, I am leaving the blog up because my theme about America being in Great Depression II still stands, sadly. The good news is, since people do care and do get out and protest and work for social change, there is hope. And that is very good news indeed. Fight da powa and keep the light of hope burning!

Yesterday, I walked 32 blocks to the downtown location of an anti-nuclear rally. No one was there. Not a single living soul showed up except me. The '60's died with Jerry Garcia, thought I, and a black cloud of depression engulfed me. Then I thought of what is happening on Wall Street with the protest growing and growing, and I felt a little better. Yet, as I walked the 32 blocks back home, being asked for money by 8 homeless people along the way and passing vacant storefront after vacant storefront, then foreclosed home after foreclosed home, I thought: don’t people realize that the economy and the environment are CONNECTED? WHY did no one show up?

One older guy I passed, looking very beaten down by life, inquired “Baby, do you have a few dollars so I can get some soda pop?” “Soda pop”, struck me as such an old-fashioned term. For a minute, I wasn’t sure if I was in 2011 or 1933. Am I in The Great Depression? He stared into my eyes with such a hopeful intensity, as we stood there amidst the vacant businesses and desperate people. My eyes filled with tears. I’m sorry, I said, I don’t have any money with me. I was thinking: I’ll bet you wouldn’t really spend it on “soda pop” anyway, and even if you would, that isn’t what you need: high-fructose corn syrup and phosphoric acid are not something I would donate to the cause of you obtaining. If I had any money, I would take you to that “Five Guys” burger place I noticed a few blocks away and get some PROTEIN into you. But all I had was the clothes on my back and a political button stating “solar employs, nuclear destroys.”

As I walked the rest of the way home, I felt I no longer recognize my country. This is Lord of the Flies, this isn’t America. It isn’t the American Dream, anyway. It’s the American Nightmare.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I have a dream today.

Yesterday, the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial opened on the National Mall, just a stone’s throw from the Lincoln Memorial, where Dr. King delivered his inspiring “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. The very fact of this memorial is a breathtaking testament to how far we’ve come in the realization of Dr. King’s dream. While the memorial opened to the public yesterday (see link below), the official dedication will take place this coming Sunday, August 28, 2011, on the 48th anniversary of the “I Have a Dream” speech.

I was one year old on August 28, 1963. Too young to remember the speech when it was originally delivered, yet it became deeply etched in the DNA of my entire generation, even those of us who were babies when Dr. King actually delivered it. His dream was for us. I’m white yet I feel his dream included me. He dreamed of black children and white children together, no “separate but equal”, just equal. To this day, I cannot listen to that profoundly stirring speech without tearing up. So much of his dream has been realized, just as he envisioned it from the “mountaintop”. He would be (and I imagine he is, looking down on events such as the inauguration of the nation’s first African-American president) so gratified and glad of that. Yet so very much is left to be done, not just for people of color, but for all oppressed people. Dr. King deeply cared about his specific people, African-Americans, yet he also clearly saw the non-violent fight for civil rights and freedom as a universal struggle.  If any are not free, none are truly free. As Dick Gregory once said: “Oppression is more detrimental to the oppressor than it is to the oppressed.” A society and a world that tolerates violence, let alone encourages it in any way(s), against any group will never be healthy, will never be truly free.

In our own country and in our world, there is so much of Dr. King’s dream, so much of the work of it, left to do for those of us who were one year old or not even born yet when he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. Just focusing on our country (if I panned out to the entire world, that would make for a LONG blog), it is hard to know where to start and easy to get extremely discouraged. There is so much inequality, so much hatred, so much bigotry. Inequality takes many forms. There is inequality in the law as, for example, gay people cannot marry in many states, which is a clear, classic denial of civil rights. Separate but equal water fountains were never really equal, nor is a civil union really the same thing as a marriage certificate. Failed private corporations are bailed out with tax dollars while children live in poverty and elected officials at all levels try to slash and burn programs like Medicaid, Headstart and WIC that help them. I WANT my taxes to go to our children, not to failed corporations like AIG. Our government wants to subsidize new nuclear plants but decimate public education, Social Security and Medicare. In other words, private corporations come first in our society, actual human citizens of the country are a distant second.

I think that Dr. King would see all of this as part of the struggle, as the ongoing work we need to do to fully realize the dream. Folks, we are nowhere near done. As my mom often says about various and sundry things, “Thank God we’re this far!”, yet while it is important to acknowledge how far we’ve come, it is even more important to honor Dr. King’s dream by honestly seeing that we are nowhere near done. There is hatred, there is bullying, there is oppression, there is violence, there is an ever-widening chasm between rich and poor, there is disparity in our laws.  There is still “separate but equal”, it just takes new forms. We have to see it with clarity and fight it with the same “soul force”, the same creative, non-violent means that visionary, inspiring, effective leaders like Dr. King and Gandhi employed.

Are the days of marching in the streets, hand in hand, standing one for all and all for one, over? No. As Dr. King said in 1963, this is “not an end, but a beginning”.

Further reading:  WAMU article on MLK Memorial opening to the public

Friday, June 3, 2011

I’m living in a “Night Gallery” episode!

Earwig ALERT!  Am I the only living person who remembers that horrifically terrifying episode of “Night Gallery”?  Well, brace yourselves, because now I’M LIVING IT!
I've said from the outset that living in my house is like living in a Hitchcock movie, from the possums and rats that were in the attic when I moved in, to the Subaru-sized palmetto bugs that periodically light on me, to intractable termites eating my sole asset, to you name the fauna and I’ll guaran-damn-tee you it's in my house SOMEWHERE!  My house is wood-frame, in Florida and built in 1946.  Really, need more be said?  Answer Key:  YESSS!  WAY MORE!  Because last night took the horror show cake!
Some background: mosquitoes have been dogging me in my bedroom at night for years, and my theory is that this is from my incorrectly installed, useless gutters that were put up in 2002-ish, which do nothing but serve as a mosquito breeding ground, and which may actually be getting removed as we speak (yay, WINNING!).  So, I’m used to the occasional sleepless night due to mosquitoes trying to eat me alive.  But, a few weeks or so ago, I kept feeling something on my arms.  And my hair.  And my neck.  And my FACE.  Now, you know how, when you are half asleep, you aren’t thinking straight?  I mean, it wasn’t like if I were wide awake and felt something on my arms, and immediately snapped to and CHECKED IT OUT in an alert fashion.  No, my comatose thought process was more like:  "*WHACK!* ...eeeeeew, I just smushed something…that was one BIG, lethargic mosquito  …eeeeeew  …I can’t wait until the gutters are down!  Oh, well, just another night in Florida.  Goodnight, Gracie.”
Then it happened again another night and I realized, wait a hair, PT, those aren’t mosquitoes!  What the heck ARE they?  Then again, I’m too exhausted to care:  back to trying to sleep.  I should pause here to let you know, as I can tell that you are sitting there thinking “WHAT, something is crawling all over her and she doesn’t get up, turn on the light, and try to figure out what it is?”, that when you live in Florida, you become the opposite of hysterical about bugs, lizards, possums, rats, snakes, etc.  Frankly, after all these years of living in Florida, a grizzly could show up in my bedroom and I’d probably be like, “Duuuude, whatEVER:  just don’t shred me and try to keep it down, okay, I have to be at work at 7:30 a.m.”  So no, I didn’t really get up and investigate then, either, I just kept swatting and killing and ruining my karma until eventually I either fell asleep or it was time to go to work, whichever came first.
Well, last night, I kept feeling these mysterious critters all over my arms and neck and SUDDENLY I felt—as U2 would say—wide awake in America, I got REALLY freaked out to beat the band, GOT UP, TURNED THE LIGHT ON, and decided to launch a full-scale investigation.  2:45 a.m., mind you.  Well!  Turns out, I THINK, that what the creatures are—brace yourselves—are SILVERFISH!  Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeew/oooooooooooooh, the HORROR, the HORROR!  Silverfish!  Only they aren’t silver, they are dark brown or black.  And they don’t have wings except the occasional one seems to.  And, folks, I’ve got an INFESTATION on my hands!  They were EVERYWHERE!  The bed, the curtain, the wall.  Me, who can’t tolerate any sort of pesticide, chemical, etc., has to somehow combat The Attack of The Killer Silverfish?  So I’m going to have to go the boric acid powder route, but I think this may be beyond boric acid.  I think we may finally be talking about waving the white flag on my house, here.  As in:  SELL, MOVE, NOT NECESSARILY IN THAT ORDER!  And not only that, but I may have to throw away all my books that I have collected and cherished over a lifetime, and my most cherished material thing, my LP record albums.  Silverfish live on and IN books, cardboard album covers, plaster walls, DUST, I mean, I’ve got it all, baby:  my house is a veritable silverfish paradise!
And here comes the freakiest, most HORRIFYING part:  I Googled silverfish and learned that they can GET INTO YOUR EARS AND LAY EGGS THERE.  Now, I’ve been going through some stuff with my ears lately, namely:  vertigo (fixed, thanks to the most awesome medical care I ever experienced) and a rare thing called pulsatile tinnitus, which we don’t know what the cause is and we are monitoring.  I’m so grateful to have the vertigo taken care of and to actually have a good ENT who is conservatively monitoring the pulsatile tinnitus sitch, so the LAST thing I want is for some silverfish to go and take up residence in my ear, lay an egg or several thousand, and plummet me further into a “Night Gallery” episode!  I was hoping, when I read that they can do that, that it was just some sort of urban myth, but I can’t find anything on the net saying to disregard all the things on the net that say this is a real, truly live THING.
So, folks, I think there is nothing else for it but to throw out everything I own and go into a new house—and, by “new” house, I don’t just mean new to me, I mean NEW, as in, no wood, no plaster, no paper, no drywall, no NOTHING that can be ruined by Florida.  I mean a concrete and steel dome home that can withstand a Cat 5 hurricane, THAT’s what I mean by new, peeps!  And I won’t have anything to move in there except me, my cats, and my dog.  I am going to jettison the few material possessions I have that mean something to me:  my vinyl record albums, my books, and the WOOD furniture I inherited from my Grandma.  And I’m going to jettison everything that means nothing to me yet harbors silverfish, such as all my CLOTHES.  As for photo albums, of course I cherish those, but I'll have to find some way to load them all onto Picasa even though I have no access to Picasa, thanks to a boring series of facts about my internet access at the present juncture.  ...MAYBE I can keep a FEW cherished albums (photo and record), books, and clothes, IF I inspect them thoroughly.  Are silverfish eggs microscopic or seeable via the human eye?  I NEED TO KNOW!  Thank God for Google!  I'll find out, but meanwhile, worst case scenario:  I and my dear pets are going to show up to our new Cat 5-worthy concrete dome wearing nothing that nature didn’t give us, namely:  BUCK NAKED, no possessions.  And I’m putting a sign up saying that this is a termite-free, silverfish-free, rot-proof, hurricane-proof zone, so check yourself at the door, Florida!  Ha ha!  WINNING!
(Yes, you are correct, dear astute reader:  Peppermint Twist has finally lost it.  Advantage, Florida.  Game, set and match.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Still LOST

4 8 15 16 23 42!
If you are a LOST fan, you instantly recognize those numbers and are transported to another world simply upon seeing or hearing them.  It was one year ago today that the series finale of LOST aired.  I have never loved a television show the way I loved LOST and, I hasten to add, I’m a TV addict, so that is saying something.  For the first time in my life, I finally understood what it must be like to be a ‘Trekkie”, one of those people who is obsessed with Star Trek, even years after the original series wrapped, and who goes to conventions and other events, living la vida Star Trek.  I thought those folks were a tad pathetic…until I became a “LOSTie”!  LOST, at its best, was a completely compelling, riveting, beautiful, captivating whole world, with characters who were complicated, deep, multi-layered, exquisitely developed, cast and written, and a storyline that was even more complex and, unfortunately, in the end, perhaps not as well-developed as some of us fans had kept the faith that it would be.  Like many true loves, LOST broke a lot of hearts in the end, mine among them.
People who didn’t get it, who weren’t true LOST fans, always said there were too many unanswered questions for them to get into the show, too many loose ends, too many mysteries.  But those of us who loved the show countered with, but that’s precisely part of what is so compelling about LOST and, in the end, the writers will answer all the questions, or all the BIG questions, anyway.  The writers won’t let us down!  I loved the questions and the mysteries and all the possibilities and suspense.  I didn’t want or need all the answers right away.  I stood by the show through the ABC writers’ strike and through ABC continually moving the time slot and putting it on long hiatuses.  There was even one dear LOST fan on the official fan forum who got cancer and bravely quipped that she didn’t want to die before finding out the ending of LOST!  Very sadly, she did die, and it was a few seasons before the show ended.  After I watched the finale, I thought of her and thought:  as far as LOST goes, you can be at peace now:  you didn’t miss anything.  WE STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED!
Now, mind you:  I don’t have cable, I don’t have a PC (don’t even ask how I write this blog, but rest assured that I suffer for my art!), and iPhone isn’t compatible with something called “Flash” that one needs in order to watch episodes of television shows on such sites as ABC.com and Hulu.com.  Therefore, I cannot re-watch the finale, as I feel any LOST fan worth her or his salt ideally should do at least once and preferably several times before issuing forth a comment on it.  I’ve only seen it the once.  But it’s been a full year now, and the initial shock and awe and RAGE (!) has worn off, and I feel I must comment now on the anniversary of the finale, or forever hold my peace:  So, here goes:  I’m not happy with the finale.  Not happy at all.  As I read one fan say in a comment on the internet about the finale last year, the LOST writers are, quote, “the Bernie Madoff of writers”.  I thought, THAT is so true, that is the perfect way of putting it, as the LOST writers got us to emotionally invest in LOST, and then made off with our hearts!  They ripped us off!  And, now that a year has passed, I have calmed down sufficiently to write this blog, even though, as I admitted, I’ve only seen the finale once, so MAYBE I would feel differently if I could see it again...but I doubt it.  Here’s why:
For six years, we had faith in the writers.  We thought they loved the show at least as much as the fans, if not more.  It was their baby.  Surely, they would do right by their baby.  We thought the mysteries and questions were part of what was wonderful about the show, and like I said, that all the big questions would be answered in the end.  But we were wrong.  In my opinion, as someone who watched every single nanosecond of LOST from the moment Jack opened his eyes in the pilot until he closed them in the last episode (and after that, when ABC panned out to the smoldering wreckage of 815, which I’ll get to momentarily), all the passengers on Oceanic Flight 815 perished in the plane crash immediately, except for Jack, who managed to stagger a short distance before collapsing and dying.  The entire show consisted of the souls of the passengers of 815 working out their individual life issues together before moving on to the afterlife.  Since they all perished together, they had to work out their “stuff” together, and the island was a sort of purgatory (which, by the way, the writers SWORE all along was NOT how the story of LOST would end, but that in itself isn’t why I’m so upset by the ending—it’s okay if they didn’t tell us the truth about the ending before it aired, it could be argued they were just protecting the secrecy and integrity of the story until the end).  Now, while that ending is terribly sad and poignant and not what I would want, as someone who came to love all the characters and want a “happily ever after” ending (or, one could argue, is that a happily ever after ending, after all?), I could have accepted it and one great thing about it, IF it is really what happened (which we don’t know and THAT is what is so maddening/infuriating!), is that it DOES answer ALL the questions, from the tiniest one to the most major, because one could simply say that anything that doesn’t make sense in the normal world, from seeing the numbers crop up everywhere to seeing visions of dead fathers and horses, to ANYTHING and everything that happened, is explained by the fact that the island was a purgatory and they were working out their collective issues, and the normal rules of science don’t apply in purgatory.

So what I’m submitting to you, dear readers, is that, shocked and awed though I would have been by the end being that they all died in the plane crash, I could have taken it, I could have made my peace with it, I even could have come to respect it and appreciate certain things about it, such as the finality and elegance of it, the answering of all questions, and at least knowing that all the main characters did work through their life issues and move on.  There is only one problem:  IT WAS NOT MADE CLEAR IF THEY DID OR DID NOT DIE IN THE PLANE CRASH!
In fact, me thinking that they did is actually the minority opinion among hard-core LOST fans.  And the writers REFUSE to answer the mystery, saying that it is very “LOSTian” to leave the fans with ambiguity and questions versus certainty and answers.  Well, NO.  As one of my favorite characters, Hurley, said to Danielle in a classic scene from Season One:  “Okay, that thing in the woods, maybe it's a monster, maybe it's a pissed off giraffe!  I don't know. The fact that no one is even looking for us?  Yeah, that's weird, but I just go along with it because I'm along for the ride. Good old fun time Hurley! Well guess what? Now, I want some friggin' answers!”  I was defending all the mysteries and questions throughout the series, but in the end?  Yeah, note to the writers:  that is NOT the time for leaving it open to interpretation!  DID THEY DIE IN THE PLANE CRASH OR NOT?!
After the final credits, they panned over the smoldering wreckage of Flight 815.  That settles it, thought I, through my tears, THEY ALL DIED IN THE CRASH.  But then it comes out after the finale aired that, well, ABC (not "Darlton", as the show's main creative minds and writers, Damon Lindeloff and Carlton Cuse, are affectionately known by LOST fans), in its infinite wisdom, decided to put that shot in as—and I couldn’t make this logic up, folks—a way to ease the transition for LOST fans out of the shock of the last episode into the local evening news!  Like I said, I can’t make this stuff up, look it up on the net!  Or, better yet, I will link the information at the end and you be the judge:  ABC says they added that, but I think they just said that they did, after there was an OUTCRY about the ending.  I think the writers, OBVIOUSLY, put that last shot in (Darlton has never confirmed or denied, to my knowledge, if the smoldering wreckage was put in by them or as a woefully misguided afterthought by ABC).  Ah, but then why, say some LOST fans, was it AFTER the final credits?  Anything AFTER the credits is obviously not part of the “official” show, right?  WRONG:  hello, that was the SERIES FINALE.  Having the wreckage of Oceanic 815 after the final credits was a final punctuation mark to the series and to what the ending was, in case there was any doubt.  THEY ALL DIED IN THE CRASH.
And I could be at peace with that ending IF the writers would have had some backbone and said:  “YES, they all died in the crash.  PERIOD.”, not instead being coy about (a.k.a., refusing to answer) who put in that footage, and saying, well, we just can’t say yay or nay re if they all died in the crash or not, because, tee hee HEEE, aren’t we just so delightful and coy?!!!  And isn't mystery and leaving things open to interpretation the FUN of LOST?!  Weeee!  All the ways of looking at things, all the questions!  Ha ha!  We purposely made it open to interpretation so that you poor, engrossed, totally emotionally invested fans could spend the rest of ETERNITY arguing about it!  Isn’t that wonderfully LOSTian of us?”

Do you see me laughing, Darlton?  Do I seem amused AT ALL to you, a full ONE YEAR LATER?!  I, who loved your television series like nobody’s business.  I, who defended the questions and the mysteries, saying that indeed that WAS part of what was great about it.  I, who lived, breathed, ate, slept and dreamt LOST for six years, do I SEEM AMUSED?  There is a time for mystery and a time for clarity and, FYI:  THE FINALE IS THE TIME FOR FRIGGIN’ ANSWERS!  There were things I liked about the finale and how it was done.  My only TRAUMA is that it is STILL not clear WHAT HAPPENED!

Six years of my life I invested in this story, in the characters.  I think they all died in the crash.  But I don’t KNOW.  And I want to KNOW.  I NEED TO KNOW!  So, Darlton, if you are reading this, stop being so coy:  now, I want some friggin' answers!

Link:  Did ABC or Darlton add the shots of the 815 wreckage after the final credits? Do you believe this linked report?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fukushima: Glowing in the Dark

I'm usually not a conspiracy theorist, but when the mainstream news media in the USA presents a united front of total silence as a full scale NUCLEAR MELTDOWN is in process, what other conclusion can one reach? I've said from the beginning: WHY ISN'T THIS THE TOP NEWS STORY EVERY NIGHT? And now, when at least one reactor is actually in full meltdown, it not only isn't the top story, they virtually aren't covering it at all!

Do we need to hear about celebrity goings-on or do we need hard news about a nuclear disaster with fall-out that is spreading worldwide? Information is power and it is a teacher. Silence and fluffy filler on the part of the mainstream media is nothing but lulling people into a false sense of normalcy and business as usual while Fukushima glows ominously in the dark.

Link to OEN article:
Fukushima - Deadly Silence

Link to Japan Broadcasting Corporation piece on YouTube:
Fukushima Reactor 1 in state of meltdown.

Link to Financial Times article:
Doubt Over Meltdown Disspelled

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Einstein said: "Nuclear power is a hell of a way to boil water."

God bless Helen Caldicott! She's one of my heroes. She's been trying to wake our species up to the profound dangers of nuclear power and weapons for decades and, as far as I can tell from listening to this horrifyingly sobering video, her passion and eloquence on the subject has only intensified over the years and with each new nuclear disaster. Will we ever learn? What will it take? Nuclear power sure is, as Dr. Caldicott quotes Einstein as saying, a hell of a way to boil water:

Helen Caldicott on Fukushima

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Nuclear Power is not Green, It's Death

Nuclear power is the opposite of everything the industry's lobbyists sell it as: it is NOT safe, efficient, sustainable and green. It is profoundly deadly, infinitely expensive, disastrous and mean.

If anyone doubts that, consider Fukushima. In a sobering interview on "Russia Today", Professor Christopher Busby of the European Committee on Radiation Risks tells it like it is. He says "we're not being told everything", which is an understatement, and "I think that we're going to get another pack of lies after this, so people should watch out."

I'm providing a link below to the YouTube video of the full interview. It says it all about the nuclear industry. What they define as safe, efficient, green energy, most of us can clearly recognize as death. Judge for yourself and then, please, if you agree that nuclear energy only leads us down a terribly expensive path of doom and death, get active and write to your elected representatives, telling them you don't want taxpayer dollars going to subsidize new nuclear plants, and you do want all existing nuclear plants phased out as we move to solar, wind and other truly sustainable energy sources. Tell them, in the immortal words of an old anti-nuclear slogan that I find myself quoting more and more: solar employs, nuclear destroys.

America is still a representative democracy, even though big business wields tremendous power. If enough voters make enough noise, we can make our representatives take notice. No more Three Mile Islands, Chernobyls or Fukushimas. We cannot afford it in any way.

Link: Professor Busby discusses Fukushima and the nuclear industry on "Russia Today"

Monday, May 2, 2011

I think of Juliana’s Eyes

Good morning, America.

9.11.01 was a beautiful, crisp, clear, sunny day on the east coast of the United States, as was yesterday, 5.1.11.  The difference is, that on 9.11.01, terrible violence was done.  On 5.1.11, as President Obama informed the nation just before midnight, justice was done.  On 9.11.01, Osama Bin Laden rained violent death and destruction upon our people and country.  On 5.1.11, he reaped what he sowed, as the United States of America came calling and put an end to his reign of terror.

At this great moment, I feel there is no liberal, conservative, left, right, blue, red, yellow dog, blue dog, tea partier, or any other divisive labels.  Today, as on 9.11.01, we are all united.  We are all simply Americans, and human beings.  Though our country has become terribly divided, today all of that falls away and we are one.  The spirit of every American who lived through 9.11.01 and who died on it and in the wars fought in its name, is at Ground Zero today, present as witnesses to justice finally triumphing bittersweet.

I have to give credit where credit is richly due here:  great job, President Obama, in bringing this evil (I don’t use that word lightly, but Osama Bin Laden truly was so violent and took so much pleasure in targeting the innocent, that there is no other word I can use) terrorist to justice.  He will never again blow an innocent four-year-old child out of the sky.  There were thousands of innocent victims on that day, but sometimes it is very clarifying to me to think of just one little girl, Juliana Valentine McCourt, whose tragic death that day was just one of many, yet it was one that particularly touched my heart, brought tears to my eyes again and again, and frankly enraged me at Osama Bin Laden.

Juliana was a totally innocent, beautiful, four-year-old girl with strikingly gorgeous eyes.  She died on Flight 175.  Her tragic, violent, senseless death hit me especially hard and I always thought, if I came face to face with Osama Bin Laden, I’d like to ask him what grand point he thought he was making by blowing up innocent children.  But there is no point staring evil in the face and questioning it, hoping for a glint of human decency to shine through.  All you can do when you come face to face with a force of pure, violent evil like Osama Bin Laden is exactly what we did:  defend the world from any further violence emanating from it by snuffing it out.  Like I said, he will never blow another four-year-old child out of the sky.  And, had I been the one to come face to face with him and pull the trigger, I think that is what I would have said to him just before pulling it:  you will never again blow a four-year-old child out of the sky.

We can’t bring Juliana or the other 2,976 victims of 9.11 back, or all the Americans, allies and civilians who have died since in wars vaguely lumped together in “the war on terror”.  That is the “bitter” part of this bittersweet justice.  But we have now stopped Bin Laden from committing any future violence.  That’s the “sweet” part.

Have we ended terrorism or even Al Qaeda?  No.  However, one very violent incarnation of evil has been struck down and, in so doing, justice has been served.

It’s a clear crisp morning here today, as it was on 9.11.01.  The world is the same as it was, as it always has been.  Night cycles to day and then back again.  Everything comes full circle.  I believe, as Anne Frank mused years ago in the face of another incarnation of evil, good is stronger than evil and will triumph in the end.  We are witness to that today.  Amen, and good morning, my beautiful country.  May we take note of this moment and the feeling of unity and togetherness.  May we remember that it is the real us and stronger than all that divides us.  And may we always remember and honor Juliana's eyes, for they reflected the goodness, innocence, hope and promise of the future that unites us.

Friday, April 15, 2011

ACTION ALERT: Tell the President and Congress No Subsidies for New Nukes!

I'm unabashedly using my little peppermint part of cyberspace here to put forth an urgent call to action to all readers of the US citizen variety:  this is a democracy, so let's GET ACTIVE and tell our representatives that we do not want a nuclear future, we want a green future!  In this time of severe budget cutting, we don't want 36 billion in the budget to subsidize new nuclear power plants.  That is, quite simply and accurately put, insanity!  And yet, as of this writing, that is what is in the proposed budget.  I mean:  36 billion dollars to subsidize a toxic, failed industry that is a path to nothing but doom?  That is NOT an exaggeration:  the nuclear path is a path to more Three Mile Islands and Chernobyls and Fukushimas.  NO thank you.

Hear us, dear government of ours:  Take that 36 billion and invest it in a truly sustainable energy future, namely in solar, wind and geothermal.  How do we have 36 billion to throw at a failed, deadly private industry when we are talking about cuts to programs that help actual citizens such as children, families, seniors, and basically everyone else?  We allegedly can't afford Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security (which, by the way, we all pay into all of our working lives, so let's not go there re cutting it now or in the future, or this blog will take a wild veer and severe ranting will ensue), funding our children's public school system or our nation's first responders and infrastructure, but we can somehow come up with a whopping 36 billion dollars to subsidize an industry that is both literally and figuratively highly radioactive?  I don't think so!

Greenpeace has set up an easy, quick way for us all to contact President Obama and our specific elected Congressional Representatives to let them know we do NOT want the proposed 36 billion dollars for subsidizing new nuclear plants to stay in the budget.  I beg you, my dear peppermint readers, to take a few moments, click on the link I've provided below to to that page of their site, and let your government know that you don't want your tax dollars going to a radioactive future, you want a truly clean, green, sustainable future for your children, their children, their children's children, and on out into the future for as long as there is a sun above us to power it.

Greenpeace's action opportunity to tell the President and Congress: no subsidies for new nukes!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

As Fukushima Nightmare Unfolds, Obama Wants to Hand Out 55 Billion in Federal Loan Guarantees for New Nukes

If President Obama is truly concerned with turning back global climate change, he should be investing only in truly clean, green, sustainable, safe, renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and geothermal.  Instead, he wants to offer 55 billion dollars in federal loan guarantees to companies to build new nuclear plants.  If the loans are defaulted on, the government would cover up to 80% of the cost.  By “the government”, I of course mean you and I, the American taxpayer.

Consider the following quote from a 4/5/2011 DW-World article (bold emphasis added):

“...as part of its energy agenda, the Obama administration has called for the construction of new nuclear power plants as a way to combat climate change and become less dependent on foreign oil at the same time.  To push utilities to build new reactors, Washington wants to hand out loan guarantees to the nuclear industry totaling $55 billion (39 billion euros) to construct up to a dozen new reactors. Should a plant operator default, the government would cough up up to 80 percent of the loan. Until now, the Energy Department has conditionally awarded only one loan guarantee of eight billion dollars for two reactors.  The administration's nuclear loan plans require Congressional approval. But the chorus of voices calling for a review of US nuclear policy is growing daily.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my taxes to go to build new nuclear power plants.  Nuclear energy, despite Obama’s skillful attempts to spin it as being ye olde “friendly atom”, i.e., clean and green, is most decidedly neither, as I have shouted from this cyber-rooftop before.  How anyone can look at what is unfolding right now in Japan, never mind what the world has already experienced with previous nuclear disasters, and say with a straight face that nuclear is “clean” energy, is totally beyond my ken.

There is enough solar energy that could be harvested in Algeria alone to power the entire world.1  And that is just solar.  And just from Algeria.  I’m so sick of the argument that we somehow need nuclear energy, let alone that we need fossil fuel, for that matter.  We need neither and we can afford neither anymore.  We need to transition off fossil fuel and existing nuclear plants, and we certainly do not need new nukes.  What will it take for us to realize this?  What will it take to realize both that renewables certainly CAN meet our energy needs, and that we must commit to that path and invest in it immediately, because the environment cannot sustain the path we are on?

Granted, the infrastructure is not in place, for example in the case of my Algeria reference, to power the whole world with renewables right this very moment, but the potential—the actual renewable energy itself—is there for the taking, all around us!  What say, President Obama, that we take that 55 billion you want to make available to the extremely dangerous, toxic nuclear industry and instead invest it in solar, wind and geothermal right here at home?  We have desert, just like Algeria.  Why not invest in harvesting sunshine, wind, and geothermal instead of investing in something that is proven to produce extremely toxic waste that we can’t dispose of, and is also proven to malfunction in ways that in no way fit any model of acceptable risk-to-reward ratio?  Again, I direct your attention to the unfolding, out-of-control, extremely toxic situation in Japan, that is spreading worldwide as I write this.  And you, President Obama, want to encourage and subsidize MORE nuclear plants?  That is not clean and it’s not green.  It is not facing reality.

We need to move off fossil fuel and nuclear energy with all deliberate speed.  I urge everyone reading this to write to President Obama and to all of your elected representatives.2 Tell them America cannot afford anything about nuclear energy and we certainly don’t want our tax dollars invested in new nuclear plants.  We welcome our tax dollars being invested in a truly clean, green, sustainable future.  Tell them that we must harness and work in harmony with nature, not continue to violate it.  Tell them to invest our green in green:  sun, wind and geothermal, before it’s too late.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Memo to Obama: we don't need new nukes!

Rant alert!!!

First off, I want to say that a thoughtful, wonderful friend of mine named Wayne is absolutely right:  one can certainly be for or against something without being "in the pocket" of anyone or any entity.  The reason I say, as I recently said to him and in my "Solar Employs, Nuclear Destroys" blog, that Obama is "in the pocket" of Big Nukes, is because of the money trail of contributors to his campaigns, as well as key people advising him and in his administration (see Washington Post article).

And now THIS:  NY Times article: "Obama Lays Out Plan to Cut Reliance on Fuel Imports" (read: Obama tries yet again to spin nuclear power as being a good thing)

When I saw the headline on my Google homepage and clicked on the article, I wanted so badly to think, oh, YAY, kudos to Obama for doing something on climate change.  But I knew better.  I knew what I would find as I read on in the article, based on Obama's past history, ideas and statements on going green, which all seem to emphasize nuclear and "clean coal" (not that there is such a thing as clean coal, but moving along), and the whole time I was thinking "Wait for it...wait for it, you know it's coming..."  Sure enough, Obama is USING climate change to justify building more nukes.  He had recently restated his support for more nukes before Japan, but had gone mercifully silent on same since, until now.  He had to find a way to make it palatable to the American people, post-Japan.  That man could sell fish hooks to fish!  Ingenius:  he announces a wonderful new climate change package of ideas and, oh, by the way, nuclear is still a big part of the solution to climate change, and we all want to solve climate change, now don't we, my gullible little kiddies?  Well, "nuclear power doesn't emit carbon dioxide in the atmosphere":

Quote:  "The president repeated his assertion that, despite the frightening situation at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor complex in Japan, nuclear power will remain an important source of electricity in the United States for decades to come.  'It’s important to recognize that nuclear energy doesn’t emit carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,' he said, noting that nuclear power now provides about one-fifth of domestic electricity supplies. 'Those of us concerned about climate change know that nuclear power, if it’s safe, can make a significant contribution to the climate change question. And I’m determined to ensure that it’s safe.'”

Notice that he even has the GALL to imply that anyone who is concerned about climate change is for nuclear energy!  Speak for your own INFURIATING self, Obama!

I'm sorry if the following offends those of you who love the man but, I'm telling you, I DETEST this guy.  Of course, it isn't just due to this, it goes back to so many other things (be glad I wasn't blogging during the 2007/8 primary season and the whole Florida and Michigan delegate mess or there would be no room left in cyberspace due to the sheer volume of my blogs).  The bottom line is that, though I've tried to see what my fellow liberals see in the guy, and I've wanted to see it, I never have, and he just keeps proving me right, not that that makes me happy, believe me.  At this point, I just simply detest him and see right through him.  The detestation took time to evolve, based on his actions and/or lack thereof on various fronts, but the seeing right  through him is something that I always have (since the first time I saw him, giving the keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention that everyone raved about and thought was so great, but all I saw was a hollow, sloganeering politician versus a substantive leader...and his later "hope and change" campaign proved me right, as it was ALL slogans and no SUBSTANCE...not that anyone would listen to me at the time, but I digress again) and can't believe that all my fellow liberals still do not.  Some do, but most still think the guy parted the Red Sea.  Well, to him I say:  NO NEW NUKES!  We can solve climate change without creating more devastating environmental disasters and human tragedies waiting to happen.  Even if nuclear power plants don't melt down, what are you proposing to do with the nuclear waste, Obama?  WHAT?  WHAT?!  Tell me, damn it.  I'm all ears.

I am SO SICK of big business running/ruining this world!

Color me radicalized anew, and I'm about to read a book I just ordered that a friend told me I have to read, called "The Shock Doctrine", which I'm sure will put me over the top!

End of rant.  As always, thanks for listening.  I know some of you like Obama, but on this issue, look at the money trail and ask yourselves WHY he is so intent on pushing for new nukes, other than that said money trail clearly ties him to that industry?  We do not need nukes to fuel our future, people.  Solar energy IS the future!  Now, I know it isn't quite as simple as that, but almost!  Yes, we will also need wind, geothermal, biofuels, and other sustainable, renewable energy, but solar is the future and can power this world.  We need to INVEST in research and development, and infrastructure!  All it will take is the imagination, vision and commitment to make it happen.

If I have to chain myself to wherever they think they are building new nukes at this point, I shall.  There is one place at which the power company right here in my area is already planning to build a new reactor.  Like I said, color me radicalized anew on so many fronts.  My inner anti-nuclear activist, for so long dormant, has ROARED back awake.  I'm ready to march, shout, chain myself to various and sundry things, dig out my old anti-nuclear buttons, and just generally fight (non-violently, of course) for this beautiful world.

Who's with me?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Make your dollars holler for a green future.

I recently discovered a wonderful, pure, fresh carrot juice at my supermarket. To top off the fabulousness factor, it is organic. I should back up and say that I do about 99.99999% of my food shopping at an excellent local health food store (Rollin' Oats, yay!) in my city and, until recently, I only used to go to the regular supermarket for certain things, mostly non-food items, such as pine cat litter and toilet paper, to name two. However, that may be about to change.

Publix, the supermarket chain I go to, recently tore down my regular and closest store, because it was the smallest, oldest one in the city, and they are rebuilding a shiny new one on the same spot. Meanwhile, those of us who shopped at that location have been sent packing (or, more accurately, shopping) to another Publix store, which turns out to be a fantastic one with a much greater selection of organics and “near organics”, if you will. Publix has a whole line of products (everything from meats to produce to the aforementioned pine cat litter to toilet paper) called their “Greenwise” line, and even though much of it is not certified organic, which would be my ideal for all the food items, it is all at least in some way(s) striving to be sustainably and/or humanely produced and healthier for us to consume. I appreciate a lot of things about Publix as a company (no, they are not paying me to write that, nor are they or any company in any way affiliated with my little bit of cyberspace here, a.k.a., this little blog of mine--I'm gonna let it shine!), and the Greenwise line is just one of them. I thought my old Publix had a good selection of Greenwise items, but the Publix that I now am going to while my regular one is being rebuilt has a MUCH expanded, better variety of Greenwise choices and I’ve been completely dazzled and wowed the two times I’ve been shopping there thus far.  My bedazzlement mainly stems from the fact that they have a FAR greater selection of fresh meats and produce, both of which are vitally important in my diet.

I also found this fresh carrot juice at that Publix, Odwalla brand, to be exact, and it is a good example of the type of thing that thrills me to find in a grocery store versus a health food store. In fact, my wonderful local health food store does not sell fresh carrot juice in the store itself (unless I’ve somehow missed seeing it, which doesn’t seem possible, since I practically live there and am intimately familiar with every aisle. When your diet consists primarily of fresh, chi-laden, perishable food, you shop often for groceries, although, God bless the invention of the freezer, or I’d be in there every DAY). They do have a cafe in which you can order fantastic, freshly-juiced carrot juice, but it is very expensive (understandably—it takes a lot of organic carrots to make a little carrot juice, plus it is kind of labor-intensive). The Odwalla juice at my Publix, by contrast, was only $6.99, which may sound like a lot, but that is for a fairly large, 64 fluid ounce (two quart) container. That’s a lot of carrot juice, although I personally could drink the entire thing in one fell swoop, if challenged to do so. The container says it has 8 servings. I happen to love carrot juice, so for me it is realistically more like 3 or 4 servings, as I like me a long, tall drink of carrot juice. Still, even if you only get three HUGE servings out of it, that is $2.33 per serving, which to me is very reasonable, considering the nutrition factor, the refreshing factor, and the deliciousness factor (and no, Odwalla is not paying me to write this blog, either—I just call ‘em like I see ‘em) of this juice, and considering that I’m on a healthy diet, and carrot juice is like a “treat” item to me, yet good for me, I think it is a far better and more economical treat than, say, folks running out to Starbucks and spending goodness knows what on a sugary, caffeine-laden, fat-laden, liquid dessert called some sort of “coffee” but which is more like “coffee-flavored addictive dessert in a cup”. Carrot juice has tons of Vitamin A and is bursting with chi (life energy).

I’d much rather have a big cuppa fresh carrot juice for "dessert" than a slice of wheat-laden, corn-syrupy, God-knows-what-laden cake with faux whipped cream on it. I don’t even have a taste for stuff like the latter, thank God. To me, it is faux food. Even homemade cake doesn’t tempt me, and not only because I know how bad wheat is for my particular blood type (O). I’ve never been a cake person. SALTY junk food, now there’s where I hang my addiction hat. But when I’m eating right for my type (I follow the The GenoType Diet), I’m in balance and not craving anything. And items like fresh carrot juice, which I haven’t had in years until rediscovering it at this Publix this week, are what make my diet so joyful and sustainable and keep me in fine fettle.

I am so happy to vote with my hard-earned green for green. When I choose to shop greenly, I’m voting for sustainability, for organics, for purity, for humane farming practices, for whole foods, for quality, for products produced in ways and by companies that respect nature and work in harmony with it, thus preserving and protecting it and ourselves.

Buying organic and/or as close as you can get, as with the Publix Greenwise line, may seem like a small thing that you are mainly doing for your own health and that of your family. But make no mistake about it: when you CHOOSE to spend your dollars on certified organic food or on products by companies that are trying to at least come close to that, like the Greenwise line at Publix, you are doing something very powerful to change the world, no less. Here in the USA, our right to vote with ballots is precious and powerful. Yet understand, voting with our dollars is profoundly powerful, too, because this is a capitalist society. Very few things speak louder here than MONEY and how consumers CHOOSE to spend it. By “voting” with our dollars for certified organic whenever possible, we are saying we not only want pure, junk-free, whole, high-quality, nutritious foods for our own health, but we also demand food that is humanely and sustainably raised. Humane agriculture is sustainable agriculture is healthy agriculture is a big piece of the puzzle in how we support the health of ourselves and our environment

Please note that it is very important to choose “certified organic” and not greenwashed, i.e., green lite, items that just say “natural” or something equally meaningless on them. And no, that doesn’t contradict my support above for the Publix Greenwise line, even though some of their food is not certified organic and thus does have room for improvement by really becoming certified organic. I feel the Greenwise line of meats and produce (some of which IS organic mind you, but in the meat department, some isn’t) is still worth choosing over their regular offerings, as again, back to my point, that way we are voting with our dollars and letting them know that we like the green direction and please take it even further, offer more certified organic items, we will buy them.

Like I said, items are simply “greenwashed” and not truly green if they just have meaningless marketing phrases on them like “natural”, but with companies like Publix that are really trying and really producing quality, purer (not purest, but purer) meats, for example, I think that is worth supporting and is certainly better for my own health and that of my family (read: pets...feeding them is yet another blog topic...so many blog topics, so little computer access). If a Greenwise meat item is not certified organic, for example, it has features about it that are specific and meaningful to me as a green consumer, such as: “Our chickens are completely free of antibiotics and added growth hormones”, etc. That is why I say such an item is truly worth supporting and choosing and is not simply greenwashed.  In my city, we don’t have a big, national health food store chain such as Whole Foods and, like I said, the selection of meats, particularly fresh meats, at my local health food store, is very limited. Therefore, by supporting grocery stores who are moving in that direction, even if they aren’t totally organic yet, we can send a powerful message.

Besides voting with our dollars, we can provide feedback to stores and companies on what we appreciate and what we would like to see. I told the Publix “Customer Service Team Leader” how much I appreciate their Greenwise line and how greatly expanded it is at that particular store than at the smaller store that is being rebuilt. I said I try to buy organic whenever I can, and I normally shop at the health food store, but Publix has so much more variety of meat, particularly fresh meat, that I am going to start buying more of their Greenwise stuff. I said I love how many varieties of bagged salads they have. I get SPECIFIC. I finished by singing the praises of fresh carrot juice, and then I was off, but not before she called after me “I’m glad you like what we’re doing—come back again!” and I shouted back “Oh, I will!”

THEN (today), I continued my personal green consumer revolution by writing the following email to the Odwalla company regarding their carrot juice:

“Just a quick note of appreciation to tell you how much I appreciate your fresh carrot juice, which I recently purchased at the Publix Supermarket on 4th Street North and 37th Ave North in St. Petersburg, FL. It is reasonably priced for such a high-quality, nutritious, pure, fresh item and what I really love is what you DON'T put in it: all it is, is pure, fresh carrot juice! Wu HUUUUUUUUUUUUU!

Thanks for producing this healthy, delicious, fabulous product!”

I should have said I appreciate very much that is it certified organic, but I am ashamed to note that I honestly didn’t even notice that until today. And I call myself an organic consumer! In my defense, I was so bedazzled by everything around me in that section of the produce area that, when I quickly read the ingredients label, I just noticed that the sole ingredient was carrot juice not that it also said “organic”. Once I saw that carrot juice was the only ingredient, that container was in my cart faster than I could sing out “OMG, fresh, pure carrot juice!”, and I was back to looking all around me in wide-eyed wonder at all the colorful, chi-laden produce. Hosanna, I’ve hit the mother lode!

My point, after much rambling, is to remind my dear and hopefully green-leaning readers that the mundane act of shopping wields a LOT of power in this society. America is all about the consumer. We actually RULE, folks, so whether one likes or despises the fact that this is a consumer-driven culture, it is a fact. So why not make your dollars count towards what you believe in? As Gandhi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” If you wish to see sustainable agriculture, humane treatment of animals and an end to factory farms and all the violence they do to animals and the environment, a healthier population, more whole, chi-laden food on your grocery store shelves, ethical companies thriving, and just generally a greener world, you have to CHOOSE that every day, in every way. And one important way is when you are filling your cart at the grocery store. Think about what you are “voting for” with every item you put in your cart. Cast your votes wisely!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Solar Employs, Nuclear Destroys

The political slogan in my title is an oldie but goodie.  It is sad that it is still so topical and controversial.  It should evoke a collective:  “Duh, we figured that out decades ago!”, but instead we haven’t quite gotten there yet, and it is still relevant, still a hot-button issue.

Obama’s ties to the nuclear industry are crystal clear and run very deep (see linked Washington Post article below), which is why he continues to push nuclear energy and new nuclear plants, even now, post-Japan, with the same old lie that has always been used to push them, namely the claim that they are “clean”, safe, efficient and sustainable, not to mention affordable.  The reality is that they are none of those things, never have been, never will be.  Just the opposite, they create highly toxic waste that we don’t know what to do with, they are extremely dangerous, and they are very expensive.  We need a president who will promote truly clean, sustainable, safe, renewable energy that works in harmony with nature instead of violating it.  We need a president who will invest in and push for solar and wind.  Instead, we have someone in the pocket of the nuclear industry.  Witness:


The nuclear industry has friends in the highest of places and we face an uphill battle as citizens to try to make our voices heard against nuclear energy and for truly clean, sustainable energy like solar and wind.  Yet make our voices heard we must, because, as I’ve said before and will no doubt feel compelled to shout from the cyber-rooftops many more times:  if our wisdom quotient as a species doesn’t somehow catch up to our intelligence and abilities, so that we realize that, just because we can do something (like splitting the atom), doesn’t mean we should do it, we as a species are not going to be sustainable here on our dear planet earth.

We must learn and learn quickly that the yardstick for everything we do should be this:  is it respectful of nature, or does it violate nature?  A species that is violent towards the natural world that sustains it and of which it is a part, cannot continue to live in that natural world indefinitely.  Nature is very tolerant and forgiving, yet it does have limits.  We have violated and hurt our natural world very much already, yet so far it has been very forgiving.  There is mounting evidence, though, that our grace period is nearing an end.  My fellow humans:  let’s use those big brains of ours to choose to evolve, wisdom-wise (wisdom-wise:  now there’s a phrase you don’t see every day).

We as a species have that awesome power to choose.  We can realize things, learn from mistakes and choose to behave in new and different ways.  So let’s stop violating nature.  Of course, I mean let’s stop violating nature in general, but specifically here I am speaking about splitting the atom.  That is not something we should be doing, any more than a two-year-old who discovers his daddy’s loaded gun in a shoe box should be exploring what it can do, what powers it has.  A two-year-old is not meant to play with a loaded gun, they are not equipped to understand what they are handling, they don’t know its violent power.  Similarly, humans are not meant to split the atom—we do not understand what we are doing.  So let’s STOP and instead choose to work in harmony with nature by employing solar and wind energy, just to name two very powerful, promising examples of energy we should be exploring and harnessing, if you go by my yardstick of asking ourselves:  does it respect and work in harmony with nature?  If the answer is no (nuclear energy), we should not go.  If the answer is yes (solar and wind), we should progress!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Too many guns, too little health care...

My thought for the day:  In my beloved US of A, anyone can get a gun, yet very few can get health care. That should be reversed in a healthy society!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A love note to those who rush in when the rest of us rush for cover.

It’s been a rough 48 Hours for St. Petersburg, Florida. On Monday, we had a violent monster kill two St. Petersburg police officers and wound a federal marshal. One of the police officers has three young children. As Mayor Bill Foster said, it was a dark day for St. Petersburg.

Tuesday evening, a strong line of tornadic storms hit Florida, with one unconfirmed tornado hitting here in St. Petersburg, resulting in a gas station awning and pillars getting up-ended along with a car, and the car ended up crushed and on its side with the driver trapped inside. She was extracted by rescue personnel and heavy equipment and is now recovering in the hospital. I passed by the scene on the way to work this morning and, trust me, the photos I’ve seen on the news do not do justice to how horribly the real thing brings to light the power of nature, specifically wind. Also on my way to work, I saw several huge trees down, etc. It was like a hurricane had hit the city. It reminded me of how powerless and insignificant we are when, as my mom puts it, “nature flicks her tail”.

Now, these two events were very different in nature: one was a human tragedy and one was a natural event. Yet something jumps out at me, in trying to wrap my head around the last 48 hours here in my beautiful, beloved city of St. Petersburg, Florida. Something that the two events each led me to: Thank God for first responders.

Thank God for police, for fire and rescue, for paramedics, for everyone who rushes in when the rest of us rush for cover. These folks risk their lives for us and I say TAX ME MORE, if necessary, to ensure that they are paid enough, trained enough, armored enough, equipped enough, have enough health insurance, and know that they are valued.  I just want to say THANK YOU to everyone who puts themselves on the line for us every day, making heroism seem routine.

I particularly want to give a deep, heartfelt thank you to the St. Petersburg Police Department, which I had the privilege of partnering with as a citizen volunteer Wrice process anti-drug marcher for many years. We marchers always felt safe, no matter what dangerous situation we faced, because the St. Petersburg police were right there with us. We were threatened, taunted, had lights shone in our eyes, even had weapons brandished at us by drug dealers, yet we always kept our focus, stood our ground, and continued chanting. Was this because of extraordinary bravery on our part? Speaking for myself, I can say no, I’m a huge chicken. So why did I feel safe in those inherently unsafe situations? Again, we felt safe because we had the St. Petersburg police right there with us. They would (and did) protect us, no matter what, and we always knew that. For all those times they were with us, surrounding us, supporting us and protecting us, I hope they know that today, the heart of every St. Petersburg Wrice process anti-drug marcher (we haven’t marched in a few years, but once a Wrice marcher, always a Wrice marcher), as well as the heart of every citizen of St. Petersburg, is with them and their families, surrounding them with appreciation and love.

In the words of one of our Turn Around St. Petersburg, Wrice march chants:  "Support your men and women in green, they're the best we've ever seen!"

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Ever Fiercer Urgency of Now

"We must continue to delve deeper into the philosophy of non-violent resistance, for there is something about this method that has power."

Quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK on non-violence

MLK's way of creative non-violence is still the way to heal the world. His message is still so relevant, moving and profoundly important. If anything, "the fierce urgency of now" he felt and spoke of so passionately and eloquently has become even fiercer. We must embrace a new path of non-violence, of respect, not just for each other, but for all of God's creation/nature, including and especially for this awesome planet that sustains us, as our very existence is at stake.