Steven Colbert: How to Save the World

7 05 2010

This clip was passed along to me by a Leadership Calgary Alum. We have an amazing network and this clip fit perfectly with the Health Food Junkies blog…especially if you read my distress for the KFC double down a few weeks ago.

Steven Colbert hits on a how product marketing can be used in seemingly useful ways to promote healthful ways of being. Really though these organizations should be inquiring into their role in the health dilemma. The newest low sodium hype makes me especially crazy. The manufactures know that teaspoons of salt are all we need in a day and they produce products that label sodium content up to 100% of ones daily intake – shouldn’t they be questioning their own decision producing them? Of course we are going to buy it! You advertise that it is so good for us! <Argh.> Thank goodness that someone was thinking and at least had them put labels on food, but now we’re hooked on it and sugar. <double argh>

It is too much for manufactures to see beyond their campaign tactics and they believe that the public will be swayed to buy their products because of their connection to a new cancer-fighting-money-raising-disease-busting campaign. I’d like to think that most people see past this. Sadly, many don’t. Even more sadly I don’t think the campaign impacts them at all, they are driven to continue their health-less ways on their own.

What other campaigns do you see that are in contradiction to healthful living?

Wow, how’s that for a Friday rant!

Be well,


A Way Forward

2 05 2010

Last night I took up the screening of Fresh, the movie, at the Yoga Shala. Dana, those movie nights are great, thanks for hosting (and the popcorn) and thanks to the Sunnyside Natural Market for providing the beverages.

Like Food Inc., Fresh does a good job showing the result of the factory and industrialized farm. More so than Food Inc., it focuses on opportunities for change. We meet our friend Joel Salatin again, but there is more of his operations, his thoughts and how his practices are more than sustainable, they are economical!

“Americans fear one thing, inconvenience.” (Fresh, the movie)

We meet John Ikerd, and agricultural economist who reminds us that building efficiency in production is a good thing, but when we “apply it to everything it doesn’t work”. He reflects on the fact that the goal of productivity is the same for all types of industry and systems. “We need to shift our paradigm (in agriculture to look at productivity differently)”. I’d add that to move adaptively, we need to first understand what got us to where we are today. Shifts in paradigm are good, but what if they are in the wrong direction? We could end up with the same result by a different path.

“Monoculture is a lot of the same species grown together and it needs a lot of antibiotics and pesticides to keep it healthy” (Michael Pollan). As one of the inherent issues of the factory farm, lack of diversity in our species is putting us at great risk. “The more species you have in the field the less shock you are venerable to” (Michael Pollan). Consider this. The threat of super strain bacteria and viruses is real. When there is a concentration of viruses and bacteria, the drugs we use to kill them kill the weakest, leaving the strongest to multiply. This applies to both animals and vegetables. Industrialized farming is teaming with disease, we know this to be true. In the movie, Ross Kremer experienced this first hand, almost dying from an infected wound he got from a hog. Drug resistant bacteria riddled his body. When it became obvious to him that “when you concentrate biological organisms…you are going to have problems” he exterminated his herd and started over, with free range, sustainable farming with no disease in 15 years. Huh.

We also meet Will Allen, a passionate farmer who not only farms vegetation, hens and hogs but tilapia in which he has engineered a river system, using the waste water as fertilizer. He runs a program called Growing Power helping other people learn to farm their own food referring to composted soil as ‘black gold. He does great work.

Favorite Joel Salatin quotes:

On how he decided to feed his cow herd: “A herbivore doesn’t eat dead cow. As stewards of the earth we need to respect the design of nature.” “If you treat the herbivores like herbivores things will fall into place.” (Why is this so badly misunderstood in our food industry, argh.)

“There are no boundaries to creativity.” (When speaking about how maladaptive our creativity can be, like serving dead cows to cows. We need to think deeply about this and engineer our creativity to meet the threats and opportunities we face, not create more!)

“We’re not farming animals we’re farming grass. If we take care of the grass, it’ll take care of the animals.”

“…marrying technology of today with indigenous and heritage knowledge.” (Describing what sustainable agriculture needs to be.)

If you know people that farm share this movie with them. If you don’t have your own garden, do what my friend Mariette does, ‘borrow’ your neighbours yards or what Joann did, start a community garden. Make the choices to support family farms and sustainable agriculture. Most importantly, learn about where your food comes from and understand how we got here, it is not enough to just make ‘better choices’. Draw the parallel of ‘bigger, better, cheaper’ to other parts of your life as this is part of the story. With that I leave you with what John Ikerd said about shifting our ways of farming, “It’s not an impossible dream.”

Be well,


Seriously Now

14 04 2010

I gotta a lot to say today. It is amazing how starting a blog gets people talking and sharing. I have been parking things to blog about and now I could be blogging daily. So I am going to bundle a few things up here for added value.

First, watch Food Inc. This is an important movie. Yes it is gross at times and you might be like ‘I can’t stand watching stuff like that’. Well do it, truth hurts, and it’s what you do with it that matters. So get past the gross stuff, it’s important but it’s not the whole story. The movie is based on the book Omnivores Dilemma, written by Michael Pollan. It takes you on a journey of where our food comes from, how we got to the industrial food era we are in and the implications of our choices and how to change it. It gives you much to consider. What’s most important is understanding how we got here and what questions we have to ask to change it. Making individual choices is one thing, but knowing how we can turn the tide is another. Joel Salatin, a farmer in the book and the movie asks some very important questions. He asks questions about why we think the way we do. By asking these questions, we can start to unpack what we have done, understand the causal architecture and begin to work in ways that will course correct, even prevent these things from happening again. These are huge challenges, but critical to our survival as a species. Watch the movie.

Next. My dear friend Dana who owns the Yoga Shala in Calgary will be screening the movie Fresh on May 1 from 7-9PM. I haven’t seen it yet but am hoping it will shed more light on what it will take to shift our collective thinking around industrial farming and food practices. Some of the same characters appear in this movie as Food Inc. aka Michael Pollan and our farm friend Joel Salatin. If you are interested, follow this link to the screening information.

Finally. The KFC Double Down. I have no words. Our friend Rod sent this to me today. I hadn’t gotten to my G&M scan this morning and if I had my tea with almond milk and green smoothie would have come right back up. If this isn’t an indication of our societal gluttony of bigger, better, NOW I don’t know what is. It’s not the Double Down itself (which by the way you can’t get in Canada yet) the article is revealing. So says Dr. Freedhoff, an obesity specialist, “As far as I’m concerned, the restaurant industry, their job is to satisfy their shareholders. It’s not to make healthy food. Now, if consumers were to start demanding healthier food, the restaurant industry would start delivering healthier food.” I agree that our choices in life are left to us, however, there are systems at play that lead to crappy choices, they are bigger, richer and more organized than we are (and just to clarify Doc, restaurants are in business to make money and not to feed people, got it, nothing to be culpable about, right.). What’s missing is ‘Why are we eating like this?’ and ‘How did we get here?’ It is easy to see the link between economics and health in this case and it is obvious that the previous out weighs the later. A society driven by profit and getting ‘more’ also results in obesity. Just like a society driven by profit results in millions of people without health care and the basic needs of life. We have the science and technology to feed the world, but we don’t, seriously now.

Give this some thought, think about how you make choices, what systems are at play and the discipline it takes to change. Just because Mickie D’s puts the caloric information on a burger doesn’t mean you won’t eat the burger.

Be well, Nat

Shame on Us

26 02 2010

I had these links shared with me yesterday, I watched all the little movies and then checked out Chris Jordan’s photography, ‘Message from the Gyre’. It is about a project on Midway Atoll, an island and place that is suffering because of our over consumption. Like a canary in a coal mine, this should cause alarm. It did me. The pictures of the albatross have not left my mind.

Think about it. The big fish (and mammals and turtles and others) eat the smaller fish that eat the even smaller fish that eat the little fish that eat the even littler fish that eat the minnows that eat the smaller minnows that eat the plankton (and other fish eat plankton) that are confused for bits of plastic we unceremoniously throw out. Seriously.

Midway Journey

Chris Jordan Message from the Gyre

Be well, Natalie