It is still Earth Day, and I do have something on my mind that is... Earth-related... so I'm taking this opportunity to ask for your advice.

I read something recently which broke my heart. It was in a book about nutrition, and it was discussing the cultural realities that affect what foods are available to us. It said something like, "The question of who gets to eat -- and who does not -- will always be determined by these economic and political factors". I'm crying right now just reading the first part of that sentence. The question of who gets to eat... This is a question?

Apparently it is. So what do I do about it? I can't come up with a way to get excess food to people who need it. I don't have money, I don't have power, and honestly I don't trust people. I don't want to give food poisoning to homeless people like I almost did last time (I took that one for the team). I feel lost and overwhelmed and sort of furious about it.

As I promised [personal profile] myras_girls, I'm posting a list of what I am doing to reduce my inevitably super-sized impact on the planet.

~ Using natural products rather than chemicals whenever possible: soap nuts for laundry, vinegar for cleaning, baking soda to deodorize, etc.
~ Line drying my laundry and using the coolest water setting feasible for laundry and showers
~ Making my own natural products, like toothpaste and deodorant, rather than investing in manufacturing, packaging, shipping, and marketing
~ Not driving when I can walk; not using machines to exercise when I can use my body
~ Voting my dollar, including getting produce delivered from a local farm and shopping at the farmer's market
~ Avoiding processed foods, buying in bulk to minimize packaging, and only eating until I'm full
~ Going vegan
~ Using the yard to grow edible and practical plants (e.g., aloe vera), rather than focusing solely on appearances
~ Recycling, composting, and reusing as much as possible
~ Using a water filter and avoiding bottled water, minimizing plastic packaging in general
~ Choosing online versions over paper whenever the option is given
~ Using the library instead of collecting books, CDs, and DVDs I am unlikely to get more than a few weeks' use out of
~ Not having cable
~ Only using the heater or a/c when weather conditions are extreme (easy for me to say, I live in Southern California)

I'm sure there are more, but I'm impressed if anyone made it this far. May as well quit while I'm ahead. Please share your tips! For the list or the whole world hunger issue. I'm looking to clear that up as soon as possible.

From: [identity profile]

That's a great list. You make me look like an Earth slacker! ;)

When did you go vegan? How are you finding it?

You are awesome and amazing and inspiring. *love*

From: [identity profile]

Aw, I love you.

I sort of cheated on the list, because as much as I care about the earth, it was never enough to motivate me to do half those things. The veganism and all-natural-everything were pregnancy-inspired. If I'm going to create a new life, I'm not about to build it out of MSG and dioxin. I used to eat chicken and dairy, but a couple rounds of salmonella (one of which you were fortunate enough to witness) cured me of any desire to lick a chicken. I started reading a lot about nutrition after finding out that I was pregnant and subsequently phased out dairy too, along with all the processed foods I was hooked on.

I totally love it. Not that I never crave a big cheesy handful of Doritos or something similarly awful, but I'm eating a lot better now than I ever did before. I've had to learn to cook -- finally -- and my husband, who's always been a great cook, is excited about having a whole new genre to experiment in. The other day I mentioned lasagna, and he threw together a vegan lasagna with ingredients we had on hand. It was SO much better than the tv dinner version I was thinking of.

Aside from the "Wow, real food is yummy" issue, I feel a lot better. My morning sickness went away once I went vegan, and I haven't had any of the other pregnancy symptoms I was warned about. I have more steady energy and mood, and I feel sharper mentally. Plus, my baby's going to live forever and never get sick, so you know, that's good.

From: [identity profile]

Wow, that's totally awesome and inspiring! I struggle with the idea of going vegan. While I no longer drink cow milk, I still eat cheese and eggs, and, occassionally, ice cream.

Cheese and eggs would be really hard for me to give up. And I worry about having difficulty finding vegan food while traveling and at restaurants. My friend [ profile] amazonsun is vegan and I've seen her be challenged when we've gone to D*C together. She can usually find food but she doesn't always eat well while traveling because her options are really limited.

Well I say good for you! Organic, non-processed foods are much better for the body. And so many people have dairy-intolerance and other animal product related illness that it makes ya wonder- you know.

From: [identity profile]

I am worried about traveling, because aside from raw fruit and veggies which I can keep on me, there's not a lot of vegan fare to be found outside my kitchen. Plus, I don't plan on dragging Jen to every vegan-friendly restaurant in the Fort Collins area. She might kill me and eat me.

Speaking of dairy intolerance, part of what sold me on the idea that dairy can't be good for you (aside from imagining sucking my breakfast out of someone's breast) is that we were physically unable to digest it as adults until very recently. Apparently some cattle farmers decided that indigestion was preferable to starvation, and found that a very small number of them didn't get sick at all. They thrived, natural selection did its thing... It's only within the last few generations that the majority of our population became lactose-tolerant. In fact, it's very culture- and race-specific. Even in the U.S., the overwhelming majority of Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Hispanics are still lactose-intolerant.

As far as animal product related illness, read The China Study. In fact, just read the first 10 pages. That will answer every wondering you ever had on the topic.

From: [identity profile]

Well lucky for you there are plenty of vegan friendly restaurants in the Fort that also serve meat for Jen. Woot~!

From: [identity profile]

A big one on my list is breastfeeding--completely natural and the carbon footprint of formula is HUGE (cows to milk to factory for processing to packaging to shipping to production of bottles to feed it with to the extra doctor's visits from not getting mom's protective antibodies, etc etc etc.....)

The hunger issue is a tough one--so many organizations that are supposed to help aren't exactly the most honest and your donations don't make it to where they are supposed to :\ You could always start close to home--volunteer your time at a local soup kitchen? If there's a church or local institution that you know is on the up and up, you can donate time/money/food/clothing--I've found local has a tendency to be more honest because the community actually sees the work they do :p Before I got too pregnant, I volunteered at a local senior center that provides low cost hot meals to seniors--for a lot of them, they are too old/sick to cook for themselves and don't have the money to eat out (and frustratingly make too much on pensions/social security to qualify for help) and the senior center (and its leftovers) were the only decent meal they got each day :\

From: [identity profile]

I am completely sold on breastfeeding. Something tragic would have to happen to keep me from it. I'm so glad you're committed to that, too.

I was thinking that volunteering locally is the only way for me to go.
I'm just frustrated at the whole situation -- that people with the power to feed millions with their excess would rather see food go to waste so that they can manipulate prices and maintain maximum profitability. I want to destroy all the money and all the people who would kill or let others die to get it.
Instead I will serve soup. *sigh*

From: [identity profile]

I'm a veteran breastfeeder :p 27 months with Sterling and gearing up to start with this one as soon as he's born! If I'm lucky enough to be able to stay home this time around instead of having to go back to work, I will probably do some pumping so I can donate to a milk bank so some other kid can get some breastmilk instead of formula :) I'm not a great producer for the pump so if I'm working, all I get goes to the babe but if I'm home, I make plenty to feed the babe and any that can be pumped would be available to help someone else :)

I worked food service my first few years of college and it was heartbreaking all the food we threw away that was perfectly fine and could have been donated to a local shelter/kitchen but wasn't because the corporation was too worried about possible lawsuits if anything ever went wrong. So much of what we threw away was well within the "safe" zone where it could be eaten or refrigerated :(

From: [identity profile]

oop...good idea there nonni....I completely forgot to mention I have several times helped out at St. Vincent DePauls. The Phoenix location feeds more than 2000 every single day 365 days a year. They are always looking for volunteers.


From: [identity profile]

Volunteering can be a lot of fun, too :) I love talking to the seniors and making them smile :)

From: [identity profile]

Short of becoming directly involved in some of the charitable organizations, I don't know that there is much a person can do to feel they make an immediate impact on hunger or the world situation. I make donations to a couple of groups, not much but its all I can afford. Also I sponsor a child thru a group my church hooked me up with.

I've tried to do a lot to cut down on trips in the car and recycling. I also avoid using A/C and Heat for as long as I can just for the electricity savings. But I'm not sure what having or not having cable has to do with it.


From: [identity profile]

I think I will have to get directly involved. I need to feel like I'm doing something.

I already admitted to Chrysta that I cheated a bit on the list, because I do a lot of those things more for my personal health than for the health of the planet. I confess that a lot of it has to do with my financial health as well, when it comes to avoiding A/C, driving, and the dryer. I'm sure the earth doesn't mind if I benefit personally from my environmental correctness. :)

I only mentioned cable because as I understand it, the average household has the tv on more than 4 hours a day. With big screens getting more popular, sometimes that means they're drawing more power for that than for the refrigerator (the biggest power draw in most homes). I could have just said I don't watch a lot of tv. :)

From: [identity profile]

Hmmm...well I don't know that my tv is on more than maybe two hours a day. But the offset is that since I work from home, my computer is on for at least 14 hours a day so I'm prolly not much help to the environment where that is concerned.

This is one organization that I think is doing a good job:

I've also gone on a few of these mission trips myself:

I have friends who have participated with this organization:

All of these have "christian" messages as well but I think it's just because they depend on church giving for the majority of their sponsorship.

A quick google also yeilded:

everybody should do what they can....and I hate to think you are so upset when at least you ARE doing what you can...



From: [identity profile]

Thank you! I appreciate your support, and the head start on the research.

Hey, you should add telecommuting to your list of good works. I know the computer uses energy too, but you could be doing something similar in a big half-empty office and commuting too (as most people seem to).

From: [identity profile]

now debra... don't be bitter... just because i didn't go for your ass while we drove across the country doesn't mean you get to poke fun at my new found sexual prowess.

From: [identity profile]

I had no idea that you went vegan! I'll have to make sure that we have something you can eat at the wedding. I can't wait to see you by the way. Every time I see baby things I want to buy them for you!

From: [identity profile]

Aww, you're so sweet.

Please don't rearrange the wedding on my account -- I'm used to having to improvise when I eat out.

I can't wait to see you too!!