Monday, January 30, 2012

Let Them Eat Horse - Misplaced Concerns

Do you remember a few months back, when people got all up in arms over the administration lifting a ban that would seem to lead to everyone eating horse meat?

I LOVE horses. Love love love them. No, I don't even ride, I've never properly learned, but I love them. I love being around them. I don't even mind the smell of their manure. (Cows, stinky. Horses, earthy and mild.) My favorite job was on a horse farm, just me and about 100 horses for 8 hours at a time. No humans. Just horses. And the occasional rat or skunk. I learned horses actually DO lay down to sleep when they feel most comfortable and safe. I learned that mother horses are FIERCE about their offspring, and actually teach them manners, often better moms than some humans I have seen. I found that there is almost nothing quite so comfortable and comforting as leaning up against a horse as it contentedly munches on hay.

Did you really think this was horse?
So was I outraged when, back in November, it was announced that the Obama administration was somehow incomprehensibly clearing the way for people to eat horse meat in this country? No. I was actually amused (if not more than a little annoyed) at the reaction of most people. 1) Most people have little or no idea what the reality of the situation was. 2) It wasn't like this little piece of legislation was going to have horse meat appearing at your local grocery store. 3) There are so much worse things to be concerned about in the food industry, yet these things go largely ignored.

Let's examine these points, shall we?

1) Here's the reality of the situation: They lifted a 5-year-old ban on funding horse meat inspections. Did anyone catch that part? This is not a new situation. This lifted a relatively young and new ban on FUNDING INSPECTIONS. Most people got all up and huffy thinking (incorrectly) that suddenly the Obama administration said, in a bill, "Go eat horse." No. It did not even allocate money for funding the inspections. And with the USDA being woefully underfunded, nothing was going to happen immediately anyway. Reality: There was a slaughterhouse in Illinois that butchered horses until 2007. Where was the outcry then? (Oh - that's right - we didn't have Facebook to get all up in stupidity about stuff we don't really research.)

2) Reality: there WERE slaughterhouses open when no one thought about it, but the meat went to other countries. As it is now, if such a place were to open, the meat would still get sent elsewhere. And it would only open after a lot of controversy and opposition anyway. But, again, injecting reality in there: I have been to livestock auctions. I have seen what goes down. It's not pretty. You get a cow or horse that is too old to be of use to anyone or anything... it's not a nice warm-fuzzy situation. At present, horses get shipped to Canada or Mexico to get slaughtered. Where's the outcry for American jobs on that one? Huh? (Yes I am being facetious.) Lifting this ban does NOT change the FACT that consumption of horse meat is still under another ban in most states. California is one.

3) People I know got their undies in a huge wad from this. And yet, Monsanto goes unknown, BPA is everywhere, and high-fructose corn syrup and other unhealthy things are consumed left and right. We're getting better with the Monsanto thing, and BPA is getting more well-known, but we still eat and give our kids the crappiest stuff. But by all means, let's get up in arms over the sale of horse meat, which isn't even a real problem, while these things and SO many more ARE real problems. Let's focus on buzz words and false panic, while we continue a ban on growing industrial hemp. Let's blow things out of proportion while stuffing cancer-causing chemicals and additives into our obese kids. Where's the outrage over much, much, MUCH worse stuff going on in our foods???

Nothing to see here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Just Because We Can, Doesn't Mean We Should.

What's better, what's worse? Veggies not in season shipped from far away, or locally-grown, sustainably, ethically raised meat?

No such thing, anti-omnivores say. You can't have meat with ethics.

In a previous post, I talked about "Tomatoland" and how our demand for out-of-season fruits and veggies needs to be examined. but no one examines it. Everyone just tromps right on down to the store and gets bent if their produce they want RIGHT NOW isn't there and pretty.

Let's think about times past. The Midwest... the East Coast.... Native Americans and early settlers. Were they vegetarians? Hardly. They would have starved by February. They had to plan ahead, and grow as much as they could and store as much as they could and - here's the big part - rely on what was readily available around them at the time. That meant your diet was filled with grains and roots and whatever Pa brought home from the hunt at certain times of the year. (Yeah, I pretty much did a Little House reference right there.) Can you go out and buy lettuce whenever you wish? Of course you can! That's what's so great about modern times! That's what freedom and choice is all about! Dad-gum it, I have the gull-durn right to march down to my grocery store and buy me my completely out-of-season cucumbers! Because I'm a gosh-darn American, and that's what we do! Because we are superior and evolved!

We can do this. Should we?

Shipping *stuff* from wherever so we can eat it whenever involves a lot of used-up resources. Start with the crap needed for growing the produce. Pesticides galore. Forcing crops to grow in places they are not usually grown, without the nutrients they usually have. (But jobs!!! Giving people jobs!!! Nope. Fail. False.) Skip a few steps and think about the shipping of said product from Florida or California to, say, Ohio. Fuel. Fossil fuel, that is, consumed for what? So you can have your out-of-season stuff. (But... jobs??) Because you deserve it. Let's think about all the packaging. Unnecessary  packaging. Of course it is unnecessary, because it is NOT necessary for you to have that tomato just because you want it.

Is this an easy problem to fix? Well, yes and no. Yes because we have the power to do it, no because it would take such a huge shift in consciousness and lifestyle that it surely won't happen any time soon. Do we need to? Yes. Look at where we are heading. We need to change a lot. We need to be local local local and we need to stop taking so much for granted. We need to look at what we do and why, and how we can change that.

You know why cucumbers used to taste SO GOOD to me in the summer? Because I could only have them in the summer. Because I didn't take them for granted. We need to get back to being more like that, or we may as well forget it. Mother Earth does NOT need us. We need her.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Juice Boxes = Bad, But Not Why You Think

I'll start right out with it: I do not like juice boxes. I find them pointless. I find them lazy. I find them wasteful. Oh so fun, oh so cute with their little plastic straws. LAZY. A quick way to get kids to shut up and get them full of sugar. The juices in most of those isn't even very good for kids. Proof? Right here in an e-mail I got, asking to get the FDA to change regulations.

Here's some text from the e-mail:

Every child enjoys a juice box with her after school snack. But what parents don’t know is that a disturbing number of juices contain unsafe levels of lead and inorganic arsenic that can lead to serious health problems for children. While the government has rules in place to limit lead and arsenic in our drinking water, there’s nothing to stop companies from making juices and other children’s drinks that contain unsafe levels of those poisons. A new study by Consumer Reports found that at least 10% of apple and grape juices sampled had more arsenic than what the government says is safe for drinking water -- and even more had unsafe levels of lead.

Now it’s up to the Food and Drug Administration to make rules to regulate how much arsenic and lead can be in juices, like they do for drinking water.
While not lethal, that kind of sustained, low-level exposure during early childhood "carries the most serious long-term risk," according to researchers. The dangerous effects of unsafe levels of inorganic arsenic and lead in children are shocking:
  • Inorganic arsenic is linked to cancers, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and immune system problems
  • Children exposed to drinking water with unsafe arsenic levels had decreased intellectual function
  • Low-level arsenic exposure is "significantly related to poorer scores in language, visuospatial skills, processing speed, and immediate memory," among other problems
  • Unsafe levels of lead were found in 25% of juices sampled, and lead exposure is linked to brain development and behavioral problems
If lead and arsenic are unsafe for children in their drinking water, the same poisons should be regulated for the juices that so many children love.

Why? WHY must the government step in for this? Why do we not just put this information out there and let parents actually make the CHOICE to stop giving their kids crap? People clamor all the time about too many government regulations. Here's another one. Do we really need this? Comparing drinking water to JUICE BOXES is, in my ever so humble opinion, absurd. Drinking water is kind of on the side of necessity. Juice boxes are on the side of POINTLESS. 

But... but... fruit! And juice! And vitamins!!! BULLCRAP. Sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors... how about all those? How about NOT giving your kids stuff that is bad for them in packaging that is wasteful and bad for the planet? Sure, I too have the uber-cool totebag made from re-purposed juice pouches, but do we really think the vast majority of those are being reclaimed? 

Bottom line: No, the FDA does NOT need to regulate what is in these juices. Parents need to regulate the crap that goes in their kids. Period.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Exploit Humans, Not Animals.

Do you reject all animal products because you do not believe in exploiting them? Well, good for you. Are you enjoying that tomato on your vegetarian sandwich or on your Gardein burger with the soy cheese? It's good, isn't it? Hang on a second, it's January. Where is that tomato coming from? It's surely not in season. Your own greenhouse? A local hothouse? Oh, wait, it's OK, they grow them in Florida where they can be harvested all year long, and look! - it gives people jobs, too! Woo hoo economy! Your tomato is giving someone employment! Great.

Let's look at that. Is your simple slice of tomato more humane than my grass-fed cow burger? Obvious answer: yes. Real answer: snort. (Sorry, I could only manage a derisive snort for a second there.) My cow was local and sustainably raised and fed with care and avoiding pesticides and antibiotics at all costs. Your tomato was shipped from miles and miles away and was coated with pesticides and harvested with the cost of human health.

 If you are not aware of where your food is coming from, then you cannot call yourself concerned about the well-being of anything. Do you not exploit bees for honey, or worms for composting, or hens for eggs, or animals for ANYTHING, yet you can allow humans to be exploited because... why? Humans have "free choice" and allow themselves to be exploited? Or, hey, it's a job? People need jobs? Yeah. Check out the book I have put here down below. People are suffering and dying because you have to have a tomato out of season. And this is just a tiny example. Don't tell me you are concerned about other living creatures when you have your head buried in the sand about all else. Oh... sand. Yeah - that's what they grow tomatoes in down there in Florida. No nutritional value from the soil AT ALL.

 The long and short of it is this: unless you are growing all your own food or everything local and eating what is in season and not full of processed crap, then I can't take you seriously. You spout your beliefs but you don't even follow them. Yeah, I'm angry. Don't lecture me about my meat-eating unless you can tell me exactly where what you are eating comes from and how not one thing was harmed to bring it to your plate. I know exactly ONE person like that. He walks his walk. He gets a pass. All you others that feel you can pass judgement on me? Consider yourself served. I got my eye on you, and I know stuff. Bring it. If you don't care about the exploitation of humans, but are all over not using bees... well. All I can say is please don't procreate. Thank you.


You Are Still Using Bees

And again.

Bee keeping... I always think of it as one of the best things you can do. Any beekeeper I ever met CARED about their bees, each and every hive, and looked after them with such great care. You have to. Healthy happy bees are the key. And oh do we need bees. Honeybees bother no one in their daily lives, really... only defend their hives. I stepped on them regularly as a child, as they collected among the clover flowers. Ouch. But I also would park myself right outside their hive in the wall of our garage and they simply flew around me with no concern. I just watched them. But, bee keeping is apparently another one of those anti-vegan things. Even though... well, let me get into it.

I'll say up front I am NOT an expert. Most of my knowledge is gathered along the way and some of it is, I am sure, anecdotal. For instance, all bees you see out and flying about are female. They do all the work. Thus: worker bees. The men stay at home and service the queen. Drones. Bees are great. We cannot exist without them. They are the main pollinators of everything we eat. Try as we might, we as humans cannot possibly duplicate what bees do for our food supply. Here's the hardline from the vegan perspective: "In common with other animals kept to produce food products bees are farmed and manipulated, and the honey they produce for themselves is taken from them. Vegans do not eat products taken from any animal, including bees, because it is neither desirable nor necessary to exploit animals in order to obtain food for humans."

Exploit? Aren't you exploiting bees by simply eating ANYTHING? After all, they worked for it. They worked hard. I just want to know where the line is drawn. If you give bees a home on your property, is that expecting something from them in return, even if you aren't taking their honey? Keeping bees is a wonderful thing. I don't eat a lot of honey  myself, but I would keep bees just to pollinate my garden. This, apparently, is not correct. I would be enslaving them. Again, I fail to see how providing creatures with a good place to live and benefiting from their labor is such a bad thing. It's symbiotic.

 Honey and bee pollen is amazing for our health. Mother Nature provides something that is so good for us, but because commercial practices are bad, the whole thing is bad? I go back to the beekeepers I have known. They won't take more than they should, and they are very careful about everything. And I feel they know more about Nature and the ways of things than most "gimme processed soy product" vegangelicals. What if you are NOT exploiting them? What if you have that symbiotic relationship with them? Why is it still wrong? Commercial ANYTHING is pretty much bad, so can we take things case by case and quit overreacting to everything??

Bees need our help. They have problems. How many people know about Colony Collapse Disorder? I do. Beekeepers do. And they try to protect their hives. Isn't that a good thing? Or must all bees be free-range because of that whole expecting something from them thing? Wild bees are in trouble and keeping hives might help. So if it is said that no bees should be kept, yet they all dies because no bees were kept and protected, well then...

Say goodbye to your food. When the cannibalism hits because all plants are dead, certain people will go first.

Just sayin'. :)

You can tell me I'm full of crap and to quit picking on non-omnivores. Fine. I just want answers. Because this defies logic to me, and I want logic. Be logical and I will leave you alone. But right now, I just want answers. Anyone?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Worm Slaves

"Here she goes again." It's OK if you think that. I can see how it looks like I pick on vegans. It could be because I've been lectured one (ten?) too many times. It's a hazard of the trade. I accept it, but I do enjoy giving it back.

I love worms. Always have. Don't like fishing with them; hate to have to kill them to put them on the hook. Always pick them up from the sidewalk where they are at risk of drying in the sun or getting trod-upon. Never been grossed out by worms. Never ate one either, by the way. I guess kids do that sometimes when dared. I avoided that fate. I would love to compost with worms, but it seems daunting. Especially in an apartment. But it seems like a great thing to do.

So, imagine my amusement when I came across a debate on Facebook about whether or not composting with worms, or vermiculture, is vegan. Imagine my chuckle as some vegangelical came across and said, "NO! You are enslaving worms!!! You are making them serve you!" (Oh, and bee keeping is ALSO not vegan, but that's another post. I promise.) I did a search, and came across this from a vegan-ish board: "vermiculture is not vegan. vegans don't use animals or animal by products, compost from worms is an animal by product. the worms are working for you, they are not pets like dogs and fish because they are kept for an end result, poop. even if you keep them in the best conditions and treat them with respect, you are still harvesting them for your own purpose."

Seriously? Um... So, giving them a nice warm home and lots of great food and keeping them from harm and giving them the best life ever... that's... well... that's not a good intention, it can't be vegan because you are using their poop? It's OK to eat things that grow out in the wild 'cuz them worms is free-range type worms? The poster goes on with a little more clarity: "i understand that it is nearly impossible to find out what type of compost was used to grow food and plants, and that most food is grown with animal manure or compost with animal by products, however these methods or unnecessary because vegan compost works just as well as vermicompost and other composts with animal by products. we get to choose how we fertilize our own plants at home, choosing vermicompost is not vegan."

Frankly, I'm confused. Someone please enlighten me on this one, because I REALLY don't get it, even after this enlightened explanation. It could be this particular person is just a crock, and this isn't an all-encompassing feeling. But I have seen it more than once, and so that tells me I need to address it. See, extremism scares me. I wish to understand. I want to know. Inquisitive mind, remember? Someone please tell me why providing worms with a good place to live and lots of free food and protection from birds and the elements is WRONG? We're using their poop. They are using us for all the things just back there in that sentence right back there you just read back there. It's a SYMBIOTIC relationship. And those are good. By this crock (IMHO) line of reasoning, we should flush all the e.coli out of our systems, because we are using them for our own health. How very.

Look, live how you want, but please learn some logic. I wish for there to be logic. Because my brain hurts, otherwise. And I like my brain. I give it a nice home and it gives me...

Wait... I'm USING my brain for my own purpose.

Mm hmm.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How Far We Aren't

The industry through which I earn my pay is not a very sustainable one in any way, shape, or form. I knew this. But it really hit me a few weeks ago. Pull up a mouse, let me tell you my tale.

Hollywood is all about image. In casting offices all over, images are printed out again and again and again. Computers have helped cut out a little of the massive mounds, pounds, reams of paper, but not by much. It's about holding the image in your hands, making up boards, discarding. (And since it's about paper, it's about ink cartridges too. How many used? Hard to know. Color printouts all day long.But that's another topic.) I noticed, in one such office, two giant blue barrels, into which the discards go. I gently inquired how often those hit overflow-point. I was informed, it isn't too bad, they get filled and emptied maybe every other day. At this point, I am still slightly horrified by the waste, but not completely dismayed yet.

No, that came shortly afterwards. The tale goes on that the bins are taken by a shredding company. After all, these pages contain personal information that would be very bad to get out, and for some reason, shredding this stuff is not enough. And here's where the horror comes in: because simply shredding the personal information is not enough (???), it is far too dangerous for the shredding company to do anything with that shredded stuff. So they keep it. Yes, they keep these bags and bags and bags and bags of shredded paper and material in storage. In storage. It never goes anywhere. It just sits there. this prime paper (that I at least thought, well, it's going to get recycled) just goes to some storage place somewhere and sits. Moldering. Rotting. Just... sitting. Ignored, soon forgotten... pointless.

Not that I should have been surprised. I've seen first-hand what so-called recycling is really like. We think so long as we throw plastic in the bins, everything is hunky-dory. it's not. That stuff, IF it even gets processed, just gets shipped overseas. We don't DO anything with it. Someone in China might, or it might just get dumped in some third-world country. All we know is it's gone from our sight.

One office in one town in one state in one country. Multiply that by all the offices you can think of that shred documents then multiply that by towns and cities you can think of off the top of your head, and now you can start to get a sense of what I felt that day.

We're taking on water. And we are not bailing fast enough.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Time to Try Soap Nuts

Laundry is done. Well, OK, the laundry hamper is empty for at least an hour, anyway. Give or take. Good second day to the year.

Have you tried soap nuts yet? Why not? Does the "nut" part freak you out? Do you need your laundry to smell like fake fragrance and chemicals, instead of nothing at all? Can you just not wean yourself from the liquid stuff? Stuff in plastic jugs? What do  you do with all those jugs, anyway? Did you know you can throw the spent soap nuts in your yard where they can just quietly bio-degrade? Can you do that with your plastic jug? I triple-dog dare you. Even with the smallest possible container, aren't you still just left with a plastic thing and chemicals in  your clothes and on your skin? Even the most "natural" brand... what's in it? Have you looked? Will you now? Do you think your clothes are cleaner than mine? Don't you think Mother Nature would give us whatever we need, that we don't need to MAKE stuff like this?


We were ordering our soap nuts from a place in Canada, until I discovered a wonderful little local company. (Well, local for now) Eco-Nuts has really high quality product, you can visit to look at all their great stuff! I encountered the company at a green event, and I contacted Mona about getting a sample. She sent over the "nuts" (they aren't really nuts, they are the shells, but whatevs, right?), which were definitely of the quality that was promised. She also sent some liquid detergent. I had never tried that, but I loved that it came in a little recyclable aluminum bottle. Their products don't come in plastic, and I love that. I have been using the nuts, so I did not get around to using the liquid. Today, I found it and thought, well, why not. It's a tiny bottle; I figured it was just a sampler size. That's a quarter there in the picture. The cap is about as big around as the coin. SO, how much of this do I dump in? I looked at the instructions... ONE little tiny cap-full! That's it! Less for an HE machine. Which, in an apartment, I'm lucky with the crap machines in our laundry room.

I think I love the liquid stuff. I'll keep on with the nuts themselves because I love those too. I love knowing the are made by Nature, and clean my clothes gently and leave less pilling and NO smell.

Hit up Mona at Eco-Nuts. Tell her Good Green Witch sent you. Hopefully, you'll try them and never go back.

Do I Even Need to Point This Out?

"Kimberly-Clark is looking to shake up the toilet-paper accessory category with toilet roll covers from designer Jonathan Adler.

To boost awareness about a new formulation of its Cottonelle toilet paper that it says is 30 percent stronger, Kimberly-Clark Inc. decided to forgo traditional advertising. Instead, it's offering limited-edition boxes to hide your backup rolls. Who knew you needed such a thing?

It's the latest effort by consumer product makers to spice up stagnant categories with eye-catching design." 

'Cuz, you know, toilet paper needs shake-up.

I cannot figure out if these are made from paper or plastic. I guess I'll have to check them out in a store. Either way... Sigh. Really? I mean, come on. One more stupid thing to collect dust and to throw away when you get tired of it. Totally not necessary. Can we stop? Can we stop coming up with pointless crap and get back to the important stuff? Who buys this???

Are they made in China? THAT would be the icing on the cake.