Food Revolution: Jamie Oliver Teams with Music Greats to Change How We Eat

We eat too much. We eat the wrong things. According to Jamie Oliver, “Obesity is one of the three biggest social burdens created by human beings alongside smoking, and armed violence, war, and terrorism. Obesity costs $2 trillion dollars globally each year.” #FoodRevolutionDay is May 15th, a day Oliver wants us to join him in kicking off a campaign to change the way we eat at home, at school, and out. He’s got some highly talented help from Ed Sheeran, Hugh Jackman and Paul McCartney with this music video.

We’ve been buying into the corporate model since the advent of industrialism. Crops are modified; hormones and antibiotics are given to animals as routine business; pesticides flow freely; forests are cleared for immediate pay back; and the list grows. We’ve become robots of digestion and consumption.

The World Health Organization compiled this data on obesity:

– Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980.

– In 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these over 600 million were obese.

– 39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2014, and 13% were obese.

– Most of the world’s population lives in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.

– 42 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2013.

– Obesity is preventable.

Time to connect the dots. A revolution doesn’t “just happen.” The consciousness for changing how we eat comes from the work of individuals, groups, and organizations like the Organic Consumer’s Association, The Cornucopia Institute, and The Food Tank, to name a few.

McDonald’s growth isn’t declining because society wants “to speed up customer service,” as reported by Business Insider. Steve Easterbrook, the new CEO, says he’s going to turn McDonald’s around by introducing a better burger and removing antibiotics and “hard to pronounce ingredients” from its chicken in the US. Not enough. What about the beef? Consumers want healthy food – simple food – that fulfills its mission: Nutrition, health, and energy, which give back to life rather than take from it. The mighty Mac food conglomerate began a slow descent when its ingredients went public. As consumers, we’re becoming smart.

instagramJamie Oliver takes on the tough subjects. His goal is to implement food education in the school system. Not easy. I’ve worked in schools, and I’ve owned my own restaurant where I’ve watched this organic, eat-better/grow-better food movement on a national and international level. From Central America to Europe to the US, organic food and better eating practices are shaking up the way tradition has boxed in food. Oliver also aims to pave a path towards better eating at home. Also not an easy task. Even for me, an organic girl from way back, I struggle to feed my family with organic food and as little sugar and fats as possible. Challenging? Yes. Impossible? No. We can’t continue stuffing ourselves as the conventional model wants us to do. The more we demand higher quality, the more we’ll get it – and at a better price.

Back up to the World Health Organization’s last point about obesity: It is preventable. Our health reflects the health of our planet. If we’re sick, so is our food system. #FoodRevolutionDay is more than signing a petition. It’s a movement in awareness reflecting a change we not only need to happen, but also want to succeed.

Take some action: Sign the petition; buy something organic; make a salad; take a walk with someone you love. We can do this. Our lives depend on it.

Simple Green Cleaning Ideas

DSCN2621The simplest spring cleaning ideas can be found around the home. Under the sink and in the cupboard are ingredients with the power to clean easily and organically. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Hydrogen peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide is very inexpensive. Available at any store in the pharmacy and health and beauty section, the bubbling action gets up stuck on grime and sanitizes as it works. Food grade hydrogen peroxide is an even safer, cleaner way to go, though a bit more in cost.
2. Baking Soda: Scrubbing made easy and cheap. Put this cleaner on tough stains and scrub. Many like to mix hydrogen peroxide with baking soda and call it the miracle cleaner. I always wear gloves when cleaning.
3. Vinegar: Most know about vinegar as a glass cleaner. Old newspapers make a great wipe as paper towels can leave a trace of paper flecks behind.
4. Lemon: Clean with the power of a natural sanitizer with lemon. I love to use the last drops on my cutting boards. After drinking down a delightful fresh lemon drink, drop the rind down the garbage disposal and in an instant get a fresher system and smell.
5. Room Freshener and deodorizer: Mix half alcohol such as vodka (as has no smell) and water. Then add your favorite essential oil like peppermint or bergamot.

A Place of Peace with Daily Food Choices

DSCN2628At times, I pile the bags of food in my car after spending a boatload of money and feel lost. With all my research and knowledge of the world of organics, I should radiate confidence. Instead, I doubt my choices and wonder if I even make a difference in what I feed my family.

Back in the store, I gazed upon the simple choice of cookies. With food allergies and touchy digestive issues for my kids, I can spend time laboring over even the simple choice of which animal cracker I should choose. Do I buy the kind without sugar? If so, what other kind of sweetener does it have? Is it organic? Gluten-free? Loaded with food dyes? Preservatives? GMOs? Is it local? The days of walking out to the barn to get the milk is gone for most of us. Now, we rely on a chain of people, machines, and often corporations to bring us our food. Instead of a place to nourish my family, stores feel like science labs – the joy of life squeezed right out of it.

Avoiding one toxic choice feels like bowing down to another. I’d like to always buy organic and planet-friendly for my kids and not stumble over ingredients I often cannot pronounce. The word organic gives me hope that there are fruits and vegetables still glistening with nutrition. Then, I look at the prices: a single cucumber is $2.29. $2.29? Each? The other cucumbers are $.79 each. Yet I remember (from all my research) that cucumbers are one of the most chemically sprayed crops. When I go back to the bin of organic cucumbers, I wonder about the plastic each cucumber is wrapped in: Isn’t that bad for the environment? The conventional cucumbers feel waxy. But just one cucumber for $2.29?! One won’t last the whole week! It’s my kids’ favorite vegetable. And it’s so nutritious! Which one should I buy? After only being in the store for five minutes, I was exhausted. This shouldn’t be how we have to buy food.

We’ve polluted our planet and can’t eat our foods without loads of labels warning us what the food does and does not have. We can’t drink the water unless it is filtered or eat the fish unless it is found in the right waters.

Whether organic or not; whole grain or gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian, we’ve got to eat. I have to find a place where food is happy again. I’ve put down my food-battle sword and written a seal of peace on my shopping list. I eat organic whenever I can. I eat as little sugar as I can. I eat greens more than anything else. I stay within budget without beating myself up. I let it go when eating with others so as not to be a know-it-all or worrywart about the food contents.

Most of all, I relax and give thanks for every bite I take and am able to give my children. No food is any good unless it is served with joy.

Whole. Green. Simple. Life.

DSCN0180Meditating on a mountaintop never did it for me. I’ve been there. Climbed high; stretched my arms out; and reached for the sun on the horizon. Then, I’d turn around and realized I’d have to go down. The search for the ideal, whole, simple life would have to continue after the vacation ended. Life called me back into the hectic fold.

The whole life, the green life, the simple life truly is one. Each aspect circles into the other. Without contentment from within, a green, organic lifestyle will only do so much good. Without simple choices in how to live, a whole life hangs far in the distance.

With the universe at our fingertips, we can find the answer to anything. An internet search for “organic food” offers 97,000,000 results. And tomorrow will yield more. What do we do with all this information?

The planet is being torn apart; people dismissed, marginalized, and compromised. Toxins infiltrate the air and water; global warming destroys our foundation of life; food has been reduced to profits and slick marketing campaigns, and gadgets are replacing face-to-face interactions. These examples are only a few of what we face as a global community. Climbing back up to that mountain and settling in for a lifetime of meditation at times does sound appealing at times. But, it’s with the people, in society, and at the farms and grocery stores we need to be. Together is where we will find our solutions.

As a writer in the field of organic and natural lifestyle, I’ve discovered that these are confusing and complicated subjects. Driven by my own real-life traumas, I decided to find alternative approaches to health, education, and life. The Many Shades of Green offers a platform to extend into all areas of “greening” our lives, including our own backyards. I intend to add to the commitment of this site by finding the information and tools to live at a greener, less chaotic, and simpler level.

After my own health traumas, I faced more with my children. That’s when the search engine becomes a steam machine: caring for the life of another. I research, assimilate, and try to practice a lifestyle with as much awareness and consciousness about how my choices impact my family, the planet, and myself. I am not a model organic eater. When I try to meditate, I fidget and start thinking about chocolate or if my library book is overdue. Sometimes I fail. But I go on and never give up on the green path. By making my phone last another year, by eating a few more organic salads a week, by walking instead of driving, I find ways to simplify the moments and let the natural whole life burst through.

I lived in Central America for 15 years. By understanding a different culture, I’ve been able to raise my level of understanding, compassion, and pragmatism to the day-to-day struggles we face in raising our children and maintaining our planet. We can all find our own formula to succeed. A day is a jubilant success if my family has eaten an apple over a candy bar or a glass of water over a sugary drink. Success on a national and global level will follow with the same steps.

Life is whole when it is simple and surrounded by the healing powers of green.