Recycled Propaganda Joins Us Today

Recycled Propaganda Big Brand

G A R D E N E A T S is getting ready to publish an article on non-GMO corn growing. I was on Instagram and landed on an image that encompassed the entire article- one by artist, Izaac Zevalking of Recycled Propaganda. Instantly I started flipping through Izaac’s other photos and was drawn to how he brings socially relevant topics to your mind through mixed media art. Initially I thought of simply asking to feature his photo for our article, but then decided I’d really like to know a little bit about the thought behind his art. He’s a really down-to-earth, think before you act kind of guy. And, was awesome enough to share a conversation with me so I could introduce him to you today.

Let us know what you think! And, if you want to see Izaac’s art in person, read til the end…

Christine: Did you go to college? Why or why not. What did you study? Do you think college is important these days?

Izaac: Y E S ! I did my Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Technology and my Master’s Degree in 2D & 3D Visualisation.

I view higher education in incredibly high regard, an essential part of becoming a well-balanced contributing member of society. From my experience, university instilled and refined a valuable sense of skepticism and curiosity. It also developed my sense of perspective, weighing up and adjusting opinions based on several sources of information, instead of ill-informed one-dimensional gullibility that is so common today. This constant critique and questioning definitely transferred from my academics to myself and my surroundings and is definitely the foundation of Recycled Propaganda.

To me a great tragedy and paradox of USA and increasingly the UK, is that these seemingly developed countries are making further education more inaccessible by making it more expensive and elitist, moving away from the meritocracy that I think it should be.

Christine: Ah, yes, agreed. I was really drawn in with some of your more provocative designs; especially the one you featured on vaccinations and GMO crops. I was even more impressed with the well-researched commentary and quotes that accompany them. Do these reflect your personal philosophies/ethics?

Most of my designs do have an element of personal belief, but more so a personal sense of what issues need highlighting in society. I really try hard to make my designs ambiguous, the reason I love design and art is that it is open to interpretation. There is no right or wrong answer. To me this reflects life; there is no right or wrong just perspective. When people ask me what does this piece of art mean, I always reply, “to me it means…”.

I really enjoy designing for real-time and relevant issues, especially being a face for a group or movement, to me this transforms the designs from idealistic visual porn to pertinent and relevant social commentary. I love using quotes as they give validity as well as dimensionality and perspective to the designs, however, sometimes I feel like they ground the design too much and reduce the ambiguity and hence the critical thought of the work.

Recycled Propaganda Vaccine Art

“Official data shows that large scale vaccination has failed to obtain any significant improvement of the diseases against which they were supposed to provide protection.”

– Dr. Sabin, developer of Polio vaccine

Recycled Propaganda GMO Corn

The genetic modification of food is intrinsically dangerous. It involves making irreversible changes in a random manner to a complex level of life about which is little known. It is inevitable that this hit-and-miss approach will lead to disasters. It must disrupt the natural intelligence of the plant or animal to which it is applied, and lead to health damaging side effects.

– Dr. Geoffry Clements, leader of the Natural Law Party, UK

Recycled Propaganda Antibiotics Meat

“One reason for the alarming increase in antibiotic-resistant infections is that antibiotics are routinely given on a massive scale to farmed animals who do not need them. Figures for the EU are hard to obtain, but an incredible 80 % of antibiotics sold in the US are used in animals. They are given because they act as growth-promoters and they are given to prevent the spread of infection on overcrowded factory farms. Both these uses are unnecessary: animals should not be forced to grow unnaturally quickly and they should not be kept in such close confinement.”

– Richard Mountford, Animal Aid

Christine: I often get dirty looks when I comment that although we have the potential to thrive collectively, we’re still allowing our communities to devolve by not working more cooperatively. How do you see this/can we all get along?

Izaac: I often say that the solution to most of the world’s problems is empathy. If we all were more understanding of how people came to be the way they are and appreciate why they do the things they do I really believe we could all live more cooperatively.

Christine: Obamacare. Bullshit or cool. Why?

Izaac: Undecided. I think good for sick people but bad for me?
However, the overwhelming feeling it leaves me with is disappointed. For me it typifies the common societal focus upon treating the symptom and not the cause. Why in such a ‘developed’ country are so many of us sick? Fast food? GMOs? Pollution? Chloride? Sedentarism? Technology? Over-worked? Lack of education?

Christine: “Anarchy Is Contagious”? How so?

Izzac: This design has several meanings to me, on a basic level it represents how popular anit-establishment perspectives would be if they were better known. However, to me anarchy is a word frequently used and yet if we explore what anarchy actually means (‘a state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority’) to me, it is not an intelligent or desirable system. I think people use this word to represent a pro-thought perspective, hence, to me here I am using the work anarchy to represent an idea. Which definitely is contagious!

Christine: What are your thoughts on the abundant fear to think freely in America?

Izaac: I don’t think there is a fear to think freely in America. I think there is an inability. Free-thinking and free-speech is often said to be an inalienable right that sets America aside from the rest of the world. However, I don’t think American society nurtures or encourages ‘free-thought’. Worst still, you could argue it actively discourages it. If anyone’s afraid of free-thought and analysis, it’s those in the upper-echelons, the ones who control and ‘own’ this country, for if everyone was well informed and thought independently, those people may no longer be in a position of power.

I would also argue that there is a lack of motivation to think freely. Affluence and apathy go hand in hand. I think most people would prefer to live in their confortable and secure lives than disturb their blissful mind to critically analyze themselves and their surroundings, which would surely only breed discomfort and frustration. I think critical thought is like a fire, too little and it will disappear completely, too much and it could consume you.

Recycled Propaganda Buddha Beats

“Could Buddha achieve enlightenment in today’s sensory society?”

– Izaac Zevalking

Christine: Do you maintain a practice of meditation?

Izaac: Meditation is something I really want to explore more. I recently started doing bikram yoga again which has a great meditative component. Also, in the bath I get pretty lost in myself ..

Christine: How do you stay healthy everyday?

Izaac: Veganism, juicing, weights, cardio, yoga, herbal tea, sex, laughing, posture, hydration, sauna, bee pollen…

You can get up close to Izaac’s work next week on November 23rd at The Blackbird Gallery. If you can’t make it, move your mind at Instagram.

I Z A A C comes from an extremely artistic background with his mother, Carol Jephcott, and sister, Miriam Zevalking, both having successful professional art careers lasting decades. Izaac grew up in a small rural Warwickshire town in the UK, where his creativity and free thinking were encouraged at a young age. Naturally he flourished in art within an academic setting, and at the age of 14 he was in already in a National Exhibition in Birmingham. In the following few years he became dissatisfied with the traditional nature of art at his school, where controversy and experimentation were not common place.

At this point in his career Izaac, decided to study Sports Technology at the world renowned Loughborough University, opposed to the more traditional subjects and art schools. Here he learned a wide variety of subjects from mechanical engineering to sports science. He excelled graduating top of his class of 100 and receiving a scholarship to study at a Master’s level. Izaac chose 2D and 3D visualization as his Master’s degree and thought it would help him get back in touch with his more liberal and expressive self. Within this course he experimented with countless techniques including metal fabrication, 3D printing, laser cutting and 3D CAD. Once again he shined and graduated top of his class.

After his University education he was offered a position doing Multimedia Design for a sports coaching company. Here he fine-tuned his graphic, web and animation skills but he soon grew tired of the unchallenging and uncreative nature of his work and surroundings and decided to leave the job after over a year of service. Seeking adventure, opportunity and excitement, Izaac got a job doing the graphic design for the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, so packed up his life and moved on to his next challenge. At this job he really mastered simplicity within graphics and developed his independent and critical thinking. However, what he didn’t expect was the huge cultural disparity, he was always obsessed with human and social behavior and issues, but moving to a new country really opened his eyes to how shielded and uniformed he felt many Americans were and felt passionate about trying to change that.

After months of planning and thought, Izaac decided he needed to push his career in a direction that would better the world and inform the public about pertinent issues. He decided to achieve this the only way he knew how, via the use of the visual. He immediately quit his full-time job and started ‘Recycled Propaganda’. His thought was to counteract mass- media propaganda by creating visuals that were either contradictory or ambiguous, with an aim to promote thought and conversation and ultimately inspire personal and societal change. This is achieved through multiple platforms, including digital design, digital prints, stickers, tshirts, canvas art, murals and installations.
Currently you will find Izaac hosting and a painting at the weekly art show at Artisan Nightclub, displaying his work at the Final Friday show at the Palms every month, selling artwork at a booth at First Friday and Vegas Streats every month, doing one off events (i.e. Treasures in motion in September and Foodie fest in October) and one off exhibitions (i.e. RAW art in October and charity benefit at BlackBird gallery in November). Most recently Izaac has rented a warehouse where he will be setting up a gallery space, be doing larger art works and hosting monthly events with other local artists.

Images and quotes provided by Izaac.

Are You Being Duped Or Just Not Thinking For Yourself?

Pesticides toxic fruit

How often do you overhear a conversation in public you’d love to jump in? For me, it always seems to be in the grocery store. Just the other day I overheard a young kid explaining the benefits of probiotics to his girlfriend- it was awesome to hear his vast knowledge on the topic. As I was waiting in line, I overheard a conversation I couldn’t possibly resist becoming a part of. A young man, who had just self-disclosed to the person ahead of him in line,told the customer that pesticides were probably not as bad as people think they are and there’s very little data to prove they’re harmful. It was so completely false, that I immediately began talking as soon as he stopped,”excuse me- you think pesticides aren’t harmful to you or you just don’t care if they are? Who exactly told you they were good for you? Who told you they weren’t bad for you? Have you researched countless hours to know that they aren’t harmful? You’re a physician and you operate under the un-informed guise that what you’re purporting is true? I’d call you a liar right now, but it sounds like you actually have no idea what you’re talking about.”

It’s really not like me to talk to people like this. In the past it was like me to talk to everyone that I overheard saying something ludicrous. But, let’s face it, we get a little older and we just “don’t go there” every time. The fact that this man strung together that he was 1. a physician, that 2. pesticides weren’t that bad for health and 3. that there’s very little data that exists to prove they’re harmful sent me over the edge. I looked at the consumer and said, “hey, didn’t mean to drop a bomb on your conversation, but I’m also a professional health care provider and I have an ethical, professional standard to uphold- to protect, advocate, liberate, heal and help deliver the truth to people at-large.” The 30-something year old customer smiled at me, thanked me and said to the physician- “dude, don’t be douchey, go learn what the hell you’re telling people if you’re going to call yourself a doctor.” It was a pretty intense five minutes in the grocery store line!

There is nothing worse than a person who is in a position to be a thought leader to cheat people out of a fair chance at understanding the way something really is.

Check out the photos below- this is the way it really is…

P H O T O  O N E- this person is covered from head to toe in protective gear. Notice how his nose and throat are covered and he’s wearing protective goggles? Do you know why? He’s spraying a chemical intended to kill live insects and their larvae. What makes you think that what he’s spraying won’t kill you and your eggs or your ability to fertilize eggs?

Pesticides Spraying

P H O T O  T W O- this is a diagram of the anatomical sites where pesticides have been shown to most readily enter the human body. In medical speak, we call it tissue affinity or tissue permeability. Notice the lit up area of the genitals? Did you know that Dole and Chiquita Banana employ banana farmers who have gone sterile due to their everyday, occupational use of pesticides?

Pesticide Danger Anatomy

P H O T O  T H R E E- know what an endocrine disruptor is? It’s the primary and partial cause of 99.9 % of the health concerns that I treat people for in private practice. Endocrine disruptors aka environmental toxins that we absorb because we possess tissue permeability, are one of the leading causes of today’s modern diseases, including cancer, auto-immune diseases thyroid disease, infertility… All pesticides are known endocrine disruptors. If you think there’s a dispute about whether they cause cancer or not, then lay the debate to rest now- they DO cause cancer. Remember, fetus, babies and small children are sponges- they absorb everything and their cells rapidly divide- would you want pesticides that have been absorbed through permeable tissues to cause your child’s cells to divide atypically? I doubt it. The Environmental Working Group lists pesticides as known carcinogens and helps you learn how to avoid them.

Stop Endocrine Disruptors

Are you still not convinced you’re being duped? Think it’s no big deal that compounds delivered to eradicate a life form have no affect on your personal viability? Think that guy above spraying would be wearing all that gear if pesticides weren’t harmful? If after reading this you think it’s okay to eat foods with pesticides, well, then you’ve essentially handed over your freedom to choose for yourself. You’ve said, “hey, instead of growing me life-giving, nutrient dense food, I’d like food that will cause me diseases, which will lead to me incurring tons of medical bills as I get older, which can rob my children of having a fair chance at thriving free from chemicals…”

Think I’m being extreme? Good, I am. I hope you’re inspired to go organic and tell other people how they can too!

Pesticides In Your Water Source


Pesticides tips-avoid-pesticide-consumption

Spring Is Ahead At Garden Eats, We’re Talking The Stuff Of Life Here

Garden Eats Business Cards

Garden Eats Spring

I know, I know, some of you see the word, “Spring” and think of a time far, far away as you watch the snowflakes fall outside your wintery windows. But, it really is coming- the daisies, April showers, bunnies hopping in the grass- you know, the season of flowers and pastels will be here sooner than you think! Here in San Diego we get to enjoy the long growing season and warmer weather a little earlier than most of the US, so we’re gearing up early for what’s ahead.

If you’re new here at Reaching Beyond Now, hello! Welcome! Garden Eats is my organic kitchen gardening blog and business. We teach people how to live well in the modern world by growing and eating organic, sustainable food. It’s a little less sciencey than what you get here and a lot more bubbly (yes, sarcasm prevails here at RBN- how else could we talk about all that sensitive hot-button stuff).

If you haven’t visited Garden Eats yet, please do! I’m co-writing two books right now- one with friend and genius UK based health chef, Magnus Mumby and the other with product developer and craft cocktail mixologist, Jeremy LeBlanc. I’ll be repping my best in all things food science, slow food philosophy and Chinese medicinal food therapy in these collections, but sharing the process and of course, recipes all along the way.

Kath, Garden Eats co-founder is prepping everyone now to get their seed catalogs ordered too! Last year so many folks wrote to us asking where to get seeds so she wanted to let everyone know much earlier this year! If you’re living in SoCal or another warm-weathered locale, stay tuned over there, she’ll be featuring an awesome article about soil culture- the thing that makes or breaks the health of your garden.

Another reason to visit Garden Eats? How about two- we just gave the site a new look to navigate recipes, lifestyle features and growing tips much easier along with our newly featured section on culinary drinks and spirits. The second reason- we’re still not done doing our giveaways for the new year!

The S T U F F. And, what’s to come in the new year here at Reaching Beyond Now? A lot more of the stuff that most people don’t like to write about- the stuff that’s difficult to talk about, the stuff that’s controversial, the stuff that is however, enlightening, empowering and oh so the stuff of life.

Wake Up Your Mind Wednesday: GMO Madness

GM technology permits companies to ensure that everything we eat is owned by them…

I really enjoy featuring guests at Reaching Beyond Now. Why? Turns out, you, the readers of this blog love it (thanks for writing me notes and letters telling me so)! Keeping up with current events and the election topics, Lauren Ampolos is back today to candidly share her thoughts on GMOs. Her thoughts aren’t wild ideas, opinions or beliefs, but a fired-up (and rightfully so) glimpse of how the few are attempting to make a “while you were sleeping” type decision that may elicit irreversible affects on the many.

Let’s Just Call Bullshit Now

After researching who all of you readers are (so I can best understand who I’m writing to and what you all like to see), it appears that you live all over the world, not only range in ages from about 20-80, but show a common interest in farming, science, spirituality, gardening, lifestyle design, integrative medicine and progressive health, social psychology, free-thinking, compassion, social consciousness, social ecology, improving research integrity and lastly- calling bullshit on monopolizing, propagandizing human-rights thieves. Since you all share that last commendable attribute, we’ve got a great post for you today- but first, an excerpt from best-selling author, activist and humanitarian, John Robbins:

The world has a surplus of food, but still people go hungry. They go hungry because they cannot afford to buy it. They cannot afford to buy it because the sources of wealth and the means of production have been captured and in some cases monopolized by landowners and corporations. The purpose of the biotech industry is to capture and monopolize the sources of wealth and the means of production …

GM technology permits companies to ensure that everything we eat is owned by them. They can patent the seeds and the processes which give rise to them. They can make sure that crops can’t be grown without their patented chemicals. They can prevent seeds from reproducing themselves. By buying up competing seed companies and closing them down, they can capture the food market, the biggest and most diverse market of all.

No one in her right mind would welcome this, so the corporations must persuade us to focus on something else … We are told that … by refusing to eat GM products, we are threatening the developing world with starvation, an argument that is, shall we say, imaginative …

– John Robbins, Huffington Post contribution

GMOs… don’t know what they are? You will now. KNOW what they are and want to take Lauren’s GMO challenge? Get started now here.

Now, please welcome Lauren!

I T  N E V E R  C E A S E S  T O  A M A Z E  M E  that so many people still don’t know what genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are, considering all of the controversy AND the fact that they unfortunately dominate our current food system. Case in point: I was at the grocery store the other night and asked if they carried non-GMO tortilla chips… the grocer  (yes, the guy that works at the grocery store, selling the food) had no idea what I was talking about. I was shocked! How could a man, working in a grocery store not know that the majority of the food (estimated to be 70% in your typical, mainstream grocery store) in his store contained these lab-manufactured products, and worse, not even know what they are? I was horrified!

So, let’s answer the question at hand… What are GMOs? GMOs are organisms which are created in a lab in an attempt to (supposedly) increase desirable characteristics of crops, such as a built-in tolerance to herbicides/pesticides (allowing for more spraying), herbicides/pesticides in the DNA of the plant (to kill the natural things that eat the produce), to withstand drought, cold weather and other natural issues that could affect crop yield. Some GMOs even contain human DNA (seriously). One of the alleged benefits of GMO use is that they can help create food security (which is seemingly important during a time where the world is worried about exponential population growth and how our beautiful Earth is going to support us all). Yet, I have to wonder, is it really a good idea for us to be messing around with Mother Nature in this capacity? What do we actually know about the safety of GMOs?

The answer is: not much. To date, there are NO studies that demonstrate GMO safety for humans. That means when you eat GMO food, you are literally part of a huge and extremely unethical science experiment… Instead of scientists actually collecting data on the safety of these organisms, they are just collecting dollars. How you ask? Well, because these seeds are bio-engineered in a lab, the seeds are patentable… people literally own specific types of seeds and have sued farmers who use these seeds, regardless of whether or not the use was intentional or desired. Think about it (you learned this in elementary school!): plants have a really special way of working to survive… they can’t walk around, find a mate and breed, so they were designed to disseminate via nature (e.g. wind, other animals fur or animal droppings, et cetera). So, naturally, the seeds spread. When the owners of the seeds test other’s products and recognize their seeds are growing on another farm, they can take legal action against said farm. This discourages others from growing similar types of produce (why would you grow organic corn next to a GMO farmer who will just sue you when their crop migrates over to your farm and ruins your produce?), which decreases bio-diversity (necessary to maintain healthy crops – think about what would happen if we all inbred instead of branched out genetically!), and competition (which is necessary to maintain healthy capitalism). Basically, if you own the patent to a seed (and, really, is it ethical to patent a seed?!?), you can manipulate the market.

On top of the fact that research has yet to prove GMO safety in humans and that it is a profit-driven monster, there is also a plethora of research bottom-lining them dangerous to the environment, animals, and humans. To list just a few issues, GMOs are suspected to cause food allergies, decreased fertility, birth complications (e.g. low birth weight, potential developmental disorders – more research needs to be conducted), liver and kidney damage (think about it: GMOs were designed to kill living things… sure, you are bigger than a bug, so it will take more to kill you, but are you not a living thing? Will eating poison in small amounts not affect you?), potentially permanently alter gut flora (important for nutrient absorption, the immune system, mental health, obesity, to name a few), antibiotic resistance, super viruses, herbicide-resistant weeds, an adversely affected ecosystem (think: the insects and animals that keep the ecosystem balanced are dying from GMOs), insecticide-resistant bugs (scary!), contaminated organic food (really nothing is safe… organic food, despite the fact that a major criteria is that it is non-GMO, is estimated to be at about 3% GMO because of contaminated farms). These are just some of the issues.

Because of the controversy, and the fact that more and more people are learning about GMOs, there is a big push to label GMOs in various states. The proposed legislation varies from state to state (if it’s even being proposed; research your state to find out more – see link below). Unfortunately, one of the biggest GMO companies out there, Monsanto (which, surprise, surprise, also owns the herbicide/insecticide used in the bioengineering and thus, spraying of these crops) is responsible for 87% of the GMO market. What this means is that they have a TON of money to spend on protecting their (literal) cash crops. For example, in Vermont and Connecticut, where the majority (90% in both states!) of its residents are in support of GMO labeling, Monsanto threatened to sue the state if this measure made it onto the ballot… guess what happened? The state caved and GMO labeling is currently on hold. Not only does Monsanto have the money to legally threaten entire states, high-ranking federal government members also have close ties with Monsanto. In order to achieve labeling, there is a tough battle ahead and the people must remain united and committed to the issue.

While labeling legislation is clearly the first necessary (and huge!) step in educating people about GMOs, I fear it’s not enough. Food will still be contaminated with GMOs. Farmers are also forced to change farming strategies in order to reduce the effects of contamination. Farmers dedicated to producing organic crops, are required to plant their seeds later than normal, which ironically (considering GMOs are supposed to stop world hunger) results in a smaller yield of organic crop. Additionally, dependent on the legislation, who will be required to label? For example, will you know if a plate you order when dining out contains Agent Orange corn, or Human DNA rice? Will restaurants, coffee shops, and school cafeterias be required to label along with food manufacturers?

Only time will tell how the government decides to handle GMOs. In the meantime, there is plenty that YOU can do to improve this problematic situation.

1) Be sure to buy local and organic, especially with these.

2) Support legislation in your state. Get involved. Sign petitions.

3) Educate others. Talk to your family, friends, neighbors, strangers. Let them know what GMOs are (toxic) and help them to make better choices.

4) Ask for what you want. At the grocery store they always ask you if you’ve found everything – tell them if you’d like to see more or less of something on the shelves. When you order at a restaurant, ask where they get their food (this can be a great starting point for educating restaurant workers, like servers, as well). Contact producers of your favorite foods and supplements (they all have contact information on their containers – YOU are the consumer, you shape the product with requests and purchases).

5) Don’t give up. There will always be minor setbacks and disappointments. Think about all of the things we didn’t know 5, 10 and 50 years ago… beliefs change; standards change. Do your best to make this information a part of mainstream knowledge, and know that eventually health, balance and well-being will prevail.

Thanks Lauren!

Your Vote Counts… At Least On A State Level

On November 6, 2012 Californians will vote on prop 37. If passed, California will be required to label all GMO-containing foods. The “vote no” on 37 commercials that imply family farms will be jeopardized is appalling- all 37 does is strip Californians of their right to know what’s in their food supply chain. Over 50 countries worldwide currently require GMO labeling.

Does all this GMO talk make you want to start growing your own food? Check out the Seed Savers Exchange Here- they’re (a non-profit) dedicated to saving and sharing heirloom and open-pollinated seeds (No GMOs of course).

National Nutrition Month at Garden Eats!

Photo by Ron Dressel

March marks National Nutrition Month here in the US. With nutrition finally having turned into a cool thing people want to be involved in, we’re going to be blogging all month long about how to make nutrition a lifestyle at Garden Eats!

Garden Eats will be highlighting a collective consciousness of chefs, specialty nutritionists and foodists, easy ways to incorporate a kitchen garden into your home or yard, a very tasty foodie give-away featuring local businesses, our new community fruit pick-n-share initiative, yum-tastic ways to get kids involved in the kitchen and we’re even going to show you microwave lovers out there that the stove is in fact, a much cooler invention!

What’s Planned for this Week?

Think you need acres and acres to raise your own food? Farm-fresh eggs made simple right here in So-Cal at the Puffer household!

How-to obtain the right seeds to keep local varietals from extinction and growing in your back yard

Visualizing nutrition: stressed out by weighing your food, dividing it into perfect portions and counting calories? Top foodists chime in on how-to get exactly what you need without all that stress!
Drop us a line here at Reaching Beyond Now or pop by Garden Eats to get-in on the give-away!

Gone Bananas?

Usually, I leave the hardcore watch-dogging to other folks, but with recent health headlines making my head shake, I invited my traveling cousin and bff to share what she’s seeing before her very eyes down in Central America. If you’re a person that likes big brand names or likes to stay close to home, this story is for you!

Give her story a read and tell us what you think. And yes, some of you will read and roll your eyes, maybe say, “it’s just the way it is” and move on. Some of you just might take time to consider what’s really going on around us throughout the world and re-consider buying, growing and eating locally!

Gone Bananas

…While traveling thru Central America, it’s common to pass by banana plantations along the way. The first ones that I really remember are early on in our travels, on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, traveling from Puerto Viejo to the Panamanian border at Sixoala. These plantations are Chiquita owned & operated.

Chiquita – a name known & “trusted” by millions… Chiquita, a company run by some suits in corner offices in Cincinnati, Ohio who go home every night to houses that cost more than some will ever see in their lifetime. The people that work on these banana plantations, doing the hardest work of all, live in structures that are basic wood frames with windows & doors only covered by fabric, if anything at all. Most, if not all, sit on stilts & don’t have electricity or proper plumbing systems.

And their housing situation is the least of problems. Most men that work in the unrelenting heat all day are sterile from over-exposure to these poisons. Woman that work in the packing plants complain of rashes while processing the harvested bananas. It’s enough to make one never want to spend another penny on anything with the Chiquita brand seal on it. And enough to make one think that if they did stop doing that, then how would these people on the plantations make any money at all? As it is, they barely make any money to begin with.

To put it into even greater perspective, Chiquita pulls in around $3.5 billion a year, give or take, employing 23,000 people & operating in over 80 countries.

All of that without even mentioning the dangers presented to the consumers paying for these bananas from far off places.

These bananas that have been saturated with various poisons. I can assure you that the water that “washes off” these pesticides before packing & shipping is not much better than the poisons themselves, contaminating not only people, but the air & the soil as well. All of that without even mentioning the blue plastic bags used to cover the bananas that litter the countryside. Waste management & the excessive amount of single use plastic is a conversation for a different time though.

Here’s a couple of links with some more detailed info not provided above.

Looking at Chiquita’s site after seeing what I’ve seen is nauseating. It may be time to reconsider what makes us “trust” in one company over another.

I wish that I had taken photos of that particular experience because what you see on Google is not a clear picture of reality, but I was too caught up in all of it as we drove thru to be concerned with where my camera was.

What can I leave you with?.. I would say the next time you’re thinking of slicing a banana on top of your Cheerios, make sure that you know where it came from.

Shannon left New York City and the corporate life to get out in the world, live a little and relax. She’s been traveling through Central America since January this year having the time of her life. Soon Shan will be returning to the states and wonders how well she’ll re-adjust to American life.

In the Garden

Mom's Organic Vegetable Garden

Took advantage of the sunny upstate New York weather and got hoeing in the garden with mom this past Sunday. Starting will all organic seeds and compost, we planted full rows of kale, red and green swiss chard, baby and king spinach and broccoli.

Stay tuned on the progress as I suspect the harvest is going to end up on some of your kitchen tables out there at home!


Grow to Love

Photo by Wollombi


Dilemna: You dream of planting sprawling organic gardens, but live in a 400 square foot studio apartment. Once you tried hanging a container garden from your window to save space, but the squirrels ate it for their afternoon snack. You want to turn your thumb a more fruitful shade of green, but don’t know where to start with the limited living quarters… If you’re already doubling your dryer for a kitchen table (like some other urban dwellers I know) then I’ve got the perfect negotiation for you!

Solution: I consulted Dr. Orna Izakson, director of Celilo Natural Health Center and my favorite permaculturalist to share her seasoned insight on this dilemna. Dr. Orna, once an urbanite herself knows the tricks of negotiating small spaces. When I asked Dr. O. what we could make flourish in tight quarters she replied, “I tell people to plant something they will literally grow to love.” If you’re pressed for space and new to gardening, choose a plant you will connect with. As you learn to care for your new indoor friend, you will truly come to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

So, what to plant then? “An olive tree is beautiful and will reward you as it grows,” offers Dr. O. An olive tree! Why didn’t I think of that? Cool!

Olive trees can be grown relatively easily from their seed state.

What you’ll Need:

  • Olive pits (olive tree seeds)
  • Large pot
  • Sandy, fast-draining organic potting soil
  • Organic compost
  • Spray bottle

Do It:

  • In a shallow container place a thin layer of compost and drop seeds on top of the compost. Moisten entirely with a spray bottle.
  • Next you’ll want to find a sunny spot to place your seed mix. Be sure to keep the mixture continuously moist. Patience is a virtue… Seed germination may take several weeks.
  • Once your seeds have begun to sprout it’s time to transplant them. Fill a large pot with sandy, quick-draining soil. This sandy soil can be achieved by mixing 1 part normal potting soil with 3 parts cactus mix.
  • Now it’s time to look at your space and pick a semi-permanent sunny home for your new friend. Be sure to love your tree by watering it well!
  • Encourage your olive tree to grow tall by pruning the lower leaves as it begins to grow.
  • Be sure your olive tree likes the spot you’ve chosen. Water only after the soil in the pot feels dry to the touch.

Want to learn about harvesting the fruit of your labor? Check out Glenda Minty at The Olive Press to determine when your fruit is ripe for the picking!

Dr. Orna is a naturopathic physician and permaculturalist living and practicing near Portland, Oregon. When not seeing patients you can find her in the garden or speaking around town. Want to drop by her garden, but not in Portland, no problem! See it blooming now at Garden Medicine.

No Bag Please

Home Farming Unit

Grocery Shopping

Last month while visiting Rochester, I popped into the local market my parents have shopped at my entire life. Only having purchased 3 items, but realizing I’d forgotten my re-usable shopping bag, I opted to go bag-less and carry my stuff out. Before I could get the words, “no bag thank you,” out of my mouth, the young man behind the counter had begun dropping my stuff in a plastic bag. I quickly said, “oh no thanks, only 3 things, no need for a bag, give it to the next person.” To my astonishment he pulled my items out, handed them over, and threw the un-used bag into his garbage!

I can’t wait until the chap behind the counter asks, “hey, how are ya?” instead of, “paper or plastic?” like some robot-drone! Excess packaging and the waste associated with it simply causes my skin to crawl! When I first moved to California, a decade ago, it was amazing how much organic produce was readily available at all times. I was continually baffled at the plastic mess it was packaged in though.

Reaching Beyond

While reading the future thinking Dec/Jan issue of Dwell magazine I lit up to their piece, The Future of Groceries. Here reviewed were three brilliant, yet simple processes to enhance our entire method of procuring and storing the foods we love. Summing it up, creative concept idea machine, Marti Guixe says, “food design, if properly done, should eliminate superfluous packaging.” Complimenting this sentiment is Food Probe’s Home Farming Unit, a biosphere containing live seafood with the ability to grow vegetables. Imagine how wonderful it will be to maintain just what you need, excess free!


Until then though, consider every action you put forward with whole conscious thinking. Buying organic? Great job! Now consider, where am I purchasing my food; from a sustainable source? Go online or ask neighbors where the local farmer’s markets are located. Some area farmers offer a twice monthly service you come to pick up at the farm, chock full of the season’s best.

The next time you’re shopping, or if you’re a letter writer perhaps; compliment your grocer on what you see them doing best. Politely suggest they offer re-usable shopping supplies or perhaps leave produce un-wrapped, free of plastic packaging.

Don’t forget to get an update from your waste management company of the items you may recycle each week with your other trash. At the end of the week our recycling bins are absolutely over-flowing. Almost all materials you consider garbage can and should be recycled. If your company doesn’t take certain items, find an alternative resource for your garbage. We save any plastic bags that might come into the house via guests to be later taken down the street, where our local market will recycle them for the public.

Thanks Be To Jam! Guest Post

Anarchy in a Jar

It’s been a little touch and go for some this year. Despite the socio-economic air here in the US, I’m thankful to see, hear, and taste the creativity that still surrounds me.  Anarchy In A Jar exemplifies just that!

Coming to New York City from the Napa Valley, Livia Manfredi knows how local deliciousness can be tastefully purveyed. With her partner, Laena McCarthy, these two have infused their culinary magic into kitchens and cafes of Brooklyn and surrounding New York with their mouth watering selection of jams, jellies, chutnies, and preserves. Calling upon mostly local hand-picked organic selections of fruit; these ladies make a mean jam! Livia or Micol will even deliver these delights to your door via their trusty bike, Bluebell, one eco-chique gal!

Livia shares with us what she’s thankful for during this abundant season

What I am thankful for

“Fall brings with it not only beautiful colors, pumpkins spilling out of each corner store, and a crispness in the air, but also an energy I find invigorating. Fall smells of change and I have found that scent intoxicating and a very powerful force of renewed creativity. I am thankful for this season’s bounty and the opportunity to try out new recipes and experiment with new spices and flavors. I am thankful for the friends and family that I am able to share these recipes with. I am thankful for the last few weekends spent in t-shirts picking apples and savoring the colors of the surrounding hills. I am thankful for the last few days of dappled sunlight through golden leaves as I make my way home. I am thankful for the crunch of fallen leaves under my boots. Fall makes me happy!”


Anarchy’s new fall flavors:

This month the jam queens continue to use the amazing variety of local heirloom apples and pears at their fingertips and turn them into jams, preserves, and sass!  We are experimenting with a pear/jasmine tea preserve and will continue to produce what has become one of our fan’s favorites, hot fireman’s chipotle pear!! We also plan to incorporate pomegranate and of course cranberries into our menu–perfect compliments to all of your thanksgiving favorites! The beauty of using fruit that is local and picked in season is that the flavors marry perfectly with other seasonal favorites! Roasting a chicken? Slather on some apple sass. Gingerbread pancakes? Perfect with our hot fireman’s spiced pear preserve. You get the picture!

The fall is the perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy those last few weekends of warm weather. We have been lucky enough to have spent several fall weekends at both the new Greenpoint Food Market and the classic Dumbo Flea. Both of these markets offer us an excellent opportunity to connect with customers-both new and old, but perhaps the most rewarding part of the experience are the conversations with other vendors. Sharing our knowledge, whether it’s where to find a sticker printer, where to source fruit, where to buy paper products in bulk–these are the important conversations of the day and the aspect that makes it exciting to be a part of the growing Brooklyn food scene.

the jam queens

The Jam Queens!

Thanks Be to Jam!

Picture This: What’s in a Label?

Latest in Labeling Standards

If it’s going on your skin or in your bod:

Certified Naturally Grown Logo

Upholding the most stringent standards without the USDA associated price-tag

USDA Organic Logo

Strict labeling ensuring the product is at least 95% organic

Products with at least 95 % natural ingredients and no synthetics suspected of causing health risks
Committed to organic, fair trade, and sustainable agriculture


The International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movement represents global unified standards expressing the principles of health, ecology, fairness, and care of organic agriculture

You want to build something durable and long lasting that:
  • Is non-toxic
  • Has been sustainably or locally harvested
  • Is recycled, packaged bio-degradeable
  • Was transported without burning a ton of fossil fuel

C2C upholds high ecological standards aimed at designing products that will be forever circulating, never making it to a landfill

brand.gif (200×200)

Ensuring consumer confidence that the purchase of their paints, cleaners, paper products, and windows have met rigorous eco-ethical guidelines

Keep your eyes open for these seals of approval state-side and abroad

Making a List, Checking it Twice

A friend brought my attention to a study today noting that organic foods may not be any healthier than their conventional counterparts. Not only was the study subject pool small, it was a ridiculous study! The point of buying food organic is not the promise of un-limited nutrient composition, but that your food won’t be laden with nasty cancer-causing chemicals! Eat organic to fore-go pesticides in your food, soil and water supply!

The USDA and Environmental Working Group agree these should always top your organic shopping list… With summer on it’s way, take advantage of your local organic strawberries, grapes, peaches, raspberries, apples, nectarines, pears, cherries, limes, bananas, kiwis, pineapples, cantaloupe, tomatoes, spinach, potatoes, corn, green beans, and carrots.

Create a free website or blog at
The Esquire Theme.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,229 other followers