Getting Fed Up

 

By Susan Lutz

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is watch. We know we should speak up. We know we should act. But, at times, we must let go and watch.

For years I’ve watched young people around me participate in life according to what others have told them. Advertisers cram sugar down kids’ throats; plastic toys fill up bins; we consume and consume and create chaos in our drive to satiate our desires.

I’ve worked to be a model for my kids in how I eat. I speak up about how the milk on the table is made and where the eggs in the carton come from. I show them videos about ecology, recycling, and humane treatment to animals. After awhile, I feel like the teacher in the comic strip, the Peanuts: bla bla bla – after awhile, my message thinned over the airwaves of our home. I knew some was getting in, but society pushes hard. I gave up on some issues, even warmed to a few I once staunchly disliked (i.e. Disney comes to mind).

As I watched my kids and friends’ kids grow, I’d learn of one becoming a vegetarian, another off to build a solar boat, and others blossoming in their awareness of the environment. When a young person’s mind turns on, it’s an amazing thing to stand witness too.

After a class of kids I know saw the documentary film, Fed Up, some were appalled at the treatment of our food system and as if awoken from their childhood world and were shocked at how corporations had a grip on what went into our food. Some I talked to truly empathized with people in the story, suffering from obesity or health issues all so companies could turn a buck.

The light bulbs didn’t just go on – the passion arose. I could see their minds ticking and their ire rise. Discovering the message the film was way more powerful than me just babbling on about it at the dinner table. I am sure the message will fade and settle over time but perhaps a few will let it truly sink in.

The hard truth is we have to go back into the grocery stores, feed our families, and ourselves drink our water, and breathe the polluted air. Cutting out sugar is a lot harder once we realize it is in almost everything we eat. Yet, the power in what they now know gives me the confidence to now watch as they take on these issues for a new generation. And, once they’ve grabbed on and owned it, we can join together and speak up with a louder voice than before.

Organic Humor: Videos to Check Out, Share, and Enjoy

By Susan Lutz

The food wars rage on. Good things are happening. We as consumers are getting savvy about what’s in our food and the path it takes to get to our table. Here is a quick look at some of the funny, poignant, and entertaining clips I love. Humor gets the point across like no other. As Mark Twain said, “Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”

The more we share these clever ideas, the more it will reach an audience, open a door, and perhaps, start a conversation and a new way of thinking.

Cuke Vador? Ham Solo? My kids love this video and it makes me chuckle every time I see it. The Grocery Store Wars is perfectly timed to circulate again with the new (and old) audiences o Star Wars. The props are funny; the lines are cheeky and clever.

This video captures the ridiculous concept of marketing and the power of the written word. Every time I shop, I laugh and gasp at corporations’ claims that their product is “all natural.” After reading the ingredient list, there’s nothing natural about the preservatives, the dyes, and unpronounceable things that start with “p.” I giggle at the amazing pull of advertising and marketing to make us all feel better about paying for close-enough to organic products. Great script. Hilarious.

This video is clever. The satire is on the mark. Simply and with razor-sharp wit, it questions why we had to mess with nature at all. Guess the job just wasn’t up to Monsanto’s standard.

Genetic Scientists Develop Sheep With Brain Of A Goat – The Onion published this short clip showing the overall ridiculous world of altering life on the planet. I realized that I smiled from beginning to end.

Climate Change Deniers Anthem: Beau Bridges plays the Koch brothers; the singers gather to offer up an anthem, We are the World style, that we’re just fine. The climate’s not changing – polar bears are fine; Al Gore’s a liar; and the earth’s temperatures are not rising. We’re fine!

When something’s funny, it hits a chord. The power of video can spread consciousness in a way that isn’t so preachy. Humor may save us all, as nothing can stand against the wave of its assault. Watch and see.

 

 

 

 

WECAN: Women’s Earth & Climate Action Network

Maxine-Abba-Meg_2This weeks episode takes us to the Global Women’s Climate Justice Day of Action at the UN, sponsored by the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN). This event was attended by women from over 50 countries. To have such a collection of amazing women in one place, who presented stories of courage and resilience in combating climate change was deeply touching. Women play a key role in adapting solutions to climate change, and it was an honor to speak with WECAN founder Osprey Lake, environmentalist visionary Sally Ranney, as well as Neha Misra founder of Solar Sister, Harriet Shugarman Executive Director of ClimateMama, Executive Director of CELF Katie Ginsberg and student Coreena, and Patricia Gualinga-Montalvo, Indigenous Leader of Ecuador, whose interview was translated by Amazon Watch’s Executive Director Leila Salazar-López. For more information visit wecaninternational.org

 

We’re Melting

By Susan Lutz

Forests are dying. Polar bears starving, ice caps shrinking. The list grows. We’ve spent a lifetime stomping on the planet and now world leaders gather in the hopes of finding a solution before we hit the tipping point. Can we pull back? Can we save ourselves?

I read positive stories: a community garden in Haiti becomes a center of growth and revitalization; the price of solar power is dropping fast and becoming an extremely viable alternative energy source; climate adapted strategies are manifesting and working to stabilize wildlife. Around towns, I see trees being planted, youth conversing about important issues. This is great. And there are many more examples of success and ideas which are moving us forward.

Yet, I read bad news, too: the UK starts to cut millions of dollars from its renewable resources; the threat of disease increases due to insects gaining the ability to live longer and travel farther; the sea level is rising; and of course, we’ve all seen the pictures of the polar bears starving. Some days, it’s hard to read the news. Some days it does seem like we’re just going to tip over and sink.

I recently heard a lecture on the cause and effect of our actions and the impact our choices have on climate change. The most interesting, and most powerful, I thought, was this: What are we willing to give up? In this country, the majority of cars during rush hour consist of single drivers. Bottled water and soda fill our vending machines, and we don’t give a second thought to the short pleasure we get versus the amount of toxins in each bottle. We like our stuff. We like our creams, cars, deals online, new phones, and processed, over-packaged foods.

The summit on climate change brings together world leaders. The model of coming together to talk; understanding our differences; taking note of those suffering the most; and, moving forward with dialogue. Regardless of how difficult the task is, it is one we must implement from the highest of offices to the grass-roots level.

We wait too long to act. We wait to change gun laws until terror steps into our cafes (if even then). We wait to ban trophy hunting and poaching and watch as species become threatened and face habitat loss and even become extinct. We’re slowly melting under the take-the-money-and-run philosophy of getting what we need, now, and forgetting how it will hurt us in the future.

When my son picked up an acorn the other day, he thought it was the grandest of discoveries. I held it up and told him it was amazing. We carried it with us as if it were a piece of gold. Our food supply, our land, our water – they truly are gold. We must realize this now, or we will watch as the world melts and slowly slips away.

 

#1534: The End of Plenty

bourneCan we feed the world without wrecking it? Are we farming ourselves out of food? My guest, Joel K. Bourne Jr. and I delve into those questions on this week’s show. Joel’s new book, THE END OF PLENTY: The Race to Feed a Crowded World, discusses the world food crisis, as it relates to population increase and environmental concerns. Farm land is becoming decimated, as water shortages are spreading globally, thus reducing growth of crops needed to feed the populace. Political unrest and revolutions have occurred in various hot spots around the world, as wheat crops have failed, which has lead to tightening grain supplies. Lives are lost as fights break out over bread. Will 3D printing of food save us? Probably not, but there is hope, as farmers are using innovations in food irrigation, as well as conservation methods to solve some of the problems. A new land ethic must be put into place to feed the world. For more information go to joelkbournejr.com and amazon.com for his book, THE END OF PLENTY.

#1525: The End of Plenty by The Many Shades Of Green on Mixcloud

Making Miracles Happen through Our Choices: My Family’s Story of Healing

By Susan Lutz

In 2005, my second child was born with Down syndrome. He underwent surgery on the third day of his life to untangle a defective digestive tract. Without the surgery, he would not live. I knew organic food and lots of exercise would have to be the huge part of his recovery, growth, and development. To believe in this principle was one thing – to implement quite another.

After discovering the benefits of breast-feeding with my first child, I pumped breast milk for my son, freezing the colostrum and bringing fresh bottles to the hospital every day. He received the milk from a drip in the NICU until he was able to eat on his own. After a few weeks in intensive care, an ultrasound exposed two cysts on his bile ducts. Left untreated, the doctor said, the cysts most likely would turn cancerous. As the surgeon drew me a picture what and where bile ducts were, she apologized and said, “I’m sorry, but he’ll need surgery again.” All I heard was a voice in my head that said, No he will not.

DSCN1286Through the years, I traveled between different paths in search of a healthier life. I figured I could get by with a “pretty-good-kind-of” healthy life. There was always room for beer and chocolate and if in small enough quantities, just about every other unhealthy food choice. My first child changed all that. Not long after her teeth came in, I noticed brown spots: rapid, fast-growing tooth decay. I took her to acupuncture. In our sessions, the acupuncturist talked about diets. It was the first time I’d ever heard of the terms alkaline, acid, and ash in the context of our bodies. He said if my daughter’s body changed to alkaline, the carries couldn’t survive.

I went and bought my first juicer – determined to make a difference without the invasive use of surgery. I doubled the amount of organic greens and found creative ways to hide celery, parsley, and kale in smoothies. After a few years, my daughter’s adult teeth came in straight, white, and free of cavities.

Believing my son’s cysts were going to go away amounted to nothing unless I took action. I searched for an alternative doctor, especially one that would implement diet as part of healing. I located a naturopathic doctor more than seven hours from my home. We set up a consultation on the phone. He gave me a list of vitamins and other things that might help. Then, he said one thing, as the acupuncturist did, that made the most sense of all: if the body is in balance, no cyst can live. I got the juicer out again.

2435797833_042756f4b2At nine months, I took my son to check on the cyst in an ultrasound. If the cyst grew, there would be reason for concern. If the cyst had stayed the same size or, was smaller, we’d have reason to know something was going right. Since I couldn’t make heads or tails out of an ultrasound, I watched the doctor’s face instead. I held down my son’s tiny penis down with rough, brown paper towels. It was quiet. My son was calm. The doctor had a very blank look on her face. She moved the wand back and forth across his belly. “They’re not there,” she said.

“What?” I said.

“I can’t find the cysts,” she said. “They’re gone.”

Books and information about Down syndrome listed very matter-of-factly what limitations he could have: speech deficiencies, slow to walk, heart problems, digestive difficulties, fine and gross motor skills challenges, crooked teeth, physical abnormalities, lagging in emotional development, to name a few. Although he seemed to have high level of cognitive development, his walking and gross motor skills were very slow to develop. He struggled with a lot of mucus. Smaller nose and ear tubes made it even harder to breathe. At a young age he contracted a case of bronchitis, which put him in the hospital. Balancing the lists of “what ifs” with the reality of the child in front of me is a constant battle in raising my son.

Each health challenge raised the bar. What more could I do? What more could my son do? I installed therapy machines in my garage and converted my living room to an all-out gymnasium. I measured every step as a tiny victory, every green vegetable eaten a step in the right direction. Several times a day, we worked his lungs through laughing, respiratory therapy, (even crying worked out his lungs!) extracted phlegm and pushed his lungs to work harder.

Deciding what is best for me is one thing because I feel the effects when I make questionable food choices or slack off in exercising. Choosing what to give my children is confounding. Getting all those greens into a child is a daunting task. Yet over many trials, spit ups, tummy aches, and dodging food matter thrown at me, my children and I have settled into a healthy, organic diet that seems to satisfy and push of them to thrive. We eat sprouted lentils, avocados, alfalfa sprouts, celery, parsley, cucumbers and other greens for breakfast; we try to drink another super-green juice for lunch and dinner; and I work hard at limiting the sugar in their diet.

Looking back, I can see what a huge blessing, though uncomfortable, challenging, and painful, all the health challenges were. My children are now thriving. My son climbs, plays soccer, runs track, and plays baseball and basketball. My daughter glows and her smile – white and brilliant – shines. The issue of health care never stops. No diet solves everything; no exercise cures it all; I still indulge on less-than-perfectly-healthy foods. I’m no health guru, just a mom with kids that needed a solution.

I know the miracle was also fueled by of those who care for my children and me: family, coaches, and doctors, even the clerk at the health food store. The combined strength, healthy organic food, community and family support, and the tenacity of my children’s spirit make for a powerful cure.

A portion of this essay appeared on Crazysexylife.com.
I’ve also put it on my site, nomorenicegirl.com.

#1527: Farm to School

staff_Jaime2According the the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents within the past 30 years. Enter the National Farm to School Network, which is working to bring local, fresh foods to school across the U.S., in an effort to reduce obesity, and bring healthy food choices to cafeteria menus. My guest this week is Jaime Lockwood, Development Director at the Farm to School Network, which helps connect local farmers with schools, chefs to cafeterias, and students to gardens. We talk about the importance of the Farm to School Act of 2015, and discuss how chefs inspire healthy eating, environmental awareness, and fitness via wellnessintheschools.org. Jaime is also a board member of Urban Tree Connection, an organization based in Philadelphia, that works to educate and develop community driven greening and gardening projects on vacant land. For more information visit farmtoschool.org. and urbantreeconnection.org

#1527: Farm to School by The Many Shades Of Green on Mixcloud