Breastmilk! With Less Melamine, Glass Shards and Other Contaminants than that other “stuff” that is cleverly marketed to make people think it is baby food!

I feel sorry for every baby who never experienced or never will experience the warmth and satisfaction of a mother’s breast and the gift of human nourishment that mothers have been endowed with since mammals began to walk the earth nearly 200 million years ago (yes, during the age of the dinosaur).  It strikes me as a little crazy that we could practically abondon it and think so little of it. The breast is not just a nutrient dispenser for the baby…it will shape the pattern of the bonding between mother and child.  The act of breastfeeding is a repetitive behaviour that begins from the early minutes of a newborns life and lasts for several years in most cases, under natural circumstances.  

If established as it should be, breastfeeding is a pleasurable and rewarding experience for the mother and the baby…imagine the relationship that forms between the mother and breastfed baby…life beginning as a series of pleasurable and rewarding experiences!  The baby learns about human touch, trust, warmth and nurturing…the mother is empowered by her body’s ability and gains confidence as a woman and mother. These are the early stones in the foundation that will build a child, a human being a family and a community. It should be our societal goal to reestablish this birthright of babies. Our focus should be to build support for this innately human activity for the sake of children, mothers and our human species.  We are selling out our own humanity to do any less.  

As World Breastfeeding Week approaches, we are reminded by INFACT Canada  about this year’s theme “Mother Support: Reclaiming our Breastfeeding Culture.”, and that ensuring a culture of support for breastfeeding is everyone’s responsibility. World Breastfeeding Week in Canada runs from October 1-7 this year. 

Lets think about that “culture of support”.  If we think about what that really means it is a very tall order.  A true culture of support would not be letting babies and mothers down. Workplaces would encourage it and mothers would be given extended parental leaves to accommodate it…fathers would be advocates for their children and their wives.  Breastfeeding would be the logical option and would be the dominant way to feed newborns…exclusively for their first few months! “Formula” would become just a memory or history book name that connected it to the “dark ages” of infant care.    

GONE INSANE

Finally…I might as well say it.  Its pretty obvious to me that people have gone insane…as a society for sure and even as individuals. We have lost the ability to see and act on the totally obvious.  We have lost the ability to distinguish what is truly important for our own species…some may claim to but then fail to demand it for themselves or their loved ones.   We are ignorant of our gifts, wasting them while denying our offspring what has been essential to our success and development as human beings.  We are fixated on bullshit most of the time… and like a village idiots we waste our time on earth.  New cars, vacations to exotic places, 40 pairs of shoes, cell phones, our use and consumption of most electronic media are diversions to pursuing our own fulfilment. OK sometimes I like to rant. But think about it.  Why would a mother, driven by millions of years of biological programming,  forfeit her own breasts and motherly instincts to feed her child for use of some smelly, cheesy, factory made mystery goop with a scary reputation?  When someone has a better answer let me know.

If you want answers about breatfeeding though, you can find support and answers…just don’t make your local medical practioner, nurse, or health unit experts your primary sources of information…to a large extent these are the people responsible for perpetuating the formula feeding culture we now live in.  If you care about babies, women, family or humanity you owe it to yourself to champion the cause of breastfeeding. Here are some places to start:

La Leche League International:  http://www.llli.org/ to find support networks in your community

The Infant Feeding Action Coalition, Canada www.infactcanada.ca/

Breastfeeding.com,  http://www.breastfeeding.com/ a collection of everything related to breastfeeding but most importantly a live Q and A line with IBCLC lactation consultants.  IBCLC or International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants can also be found at the International Lactation Consultant Association site http://www.ilca.org/ .

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Conservative Blue + Yellow = Green

First Chicken then Feeling the Heat!

First Chicken then Feeling the Heat!

Canadian voters can be sure of a very colourful campaign this fall! Harper embraces Green in the television leaders debate…but not until his “blue” party showed thier “yellow” side.  I think he realized how it made him look…afraid!  The Green Party is a party that embodies a new global consciousness and conscience about our planet.  To have Elizabeth May in the televised election debate will be as irritating for Harper as ants in his pajamas!  All the candidates will have to sharpen their skills and shift toward the greens platform or experience the full force of the Greens.  All candidates probably know that the polls after the debate will deliver sobering news to them about the Greens boost in popularty.  For the other candidates, it would have been good to keep the Greens down…but then they realized that looking like cowards was worse!

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Become a Vegetarian

I could wax on about my own journey into the Beauty and Diet a Coincidence?vegetarian lifestyle but…OK, maybe I’ll wax on a little, since you asked so nicely.  Before I do though, might I just say it is the best and easiest decision I have ever made!

In 1996, my family lived next door to a tri-athlete who was a family man in his mid 30’s.  Our families became friends.  We soon discovered that he was also a vegetarian.  My wife and I had always been interested in becoming vegetarian but we were unsure about what to do…surely it couldn’t be as easy as cutting meat out of our diet!  Well, Clive, our neighbour seized the opportunity to feed our curious nature and lent us a book called Diet for a New America, by John Robbins.  It changed our life.

Was becoming vegetarian as easy as eliminating meat from our diet?  My answer is yes.  That is precisely what we did.  A bit at a time we started to eliminate meat.  One of the first things we discovered from our friend and from reading was that our society eats way too much protein and that by eating some grains, vegetables and beans in place of meat, you still have ample protein in your diet. For the first 3 or 4 months we ate meat once or twice a week.  As we learned  more ways to cook with beans, rice, and other alternatives we eventually eliminated meat…after a couple more months.  We did not however, eliminate milk and eggs; we did cut back though. 

Another book that helped us on our way was Becoming Vegetarian  which I have posted on my vegetarian website; it gave us dietary confidence and reassurance that our choice was healthy for us and the planet.  You will also find the “Diet for a New America” , on my  Becoming Vegetarian  website.

There are a lot of things one could do for the planet.  Becoming vegetarian trumps almost any other single decision you might make to reduce your negative impact on the planet.  It is also perhaps the healthiest single decision you can make for your own life, effectively reducing your risk of dozens of cancers and other ailments.  What are you waiting for…just go ahead and make the best and easiest decision in your entire life.  And you can learn as you go, like my family and I did!

To see my other site and find my best book picks on becoming a vegetarion click here… LETS GO

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Food Security and Canadian Schools

I’ve always thought of Canada as a world leader.  Our innovation sets us apart from many other nations, especially when you consider our low population.  Historically, zippers and national health care and in more modern times the Canada Arm on the space shuttle.  In terms of humanitarian effort we do pretty well; our legacy of peacekeeping for instance, and foreign aid to countries in need.  I’m sure we are a leader in education in some respect and in helping to feed a hungry planet; but the challenge that lies ahead for our planet will require us to blend innovation on both of those fronts.  For various reasons (lets not get into all of them here), crops have failed and are failing in many crop growing regions of the world,  a few multinational corporations are producing and controlling larger and larger proportions of the worlds food supply and the human population of the earth is increasing.  If recent food prices and forecasts for astronomical food prices aren’t putting some fear into you then you should give yourself a pinch.  I don’t want to dwell on the images of a future where we have failed to act, my time and yours is better spent on taking action and getting others to take action.  My answer is to grow food. 

Growing food for yourself (and others) reduces some of the demand on the worlds food supply.  Schools can take a lead role in this by reviving a spirit of self sufficiency in their school community and setting up a program to grow food. It doesn’t have to be a lot, just some; enough to “feel” significant for the students. Enough for students to feel like they can make the world a better, healthier place.  Enough to spark students’ imaginations, to plant the seeds of innovation that they, and we, may need to realize a healthy and secure supply of food for our planet’s population.  

Administrators and teachers are always looking for ways to make students recognize the consequences of their actions and to take responsibility for them…well…growing food is a great place to start! I don’t want to sound too much like a teacher, but think of the cross curricular learning potential!  Science…too much to cover here; Social Studies…study a country or culture and try growing a representative food; Art…sketch it, paint it;  Language Arts…journal it, record it, read about it, talk about it!  The possibilities are almost endless.  And then there is the impact of…Growing a living thing.  Just saying it or reading those words carries weight…do it and you are forever changed.  You become nurturer, parent, aware.  Your plant responds to you and the world around you.  You make an investment in, and become connected to life; your labour; your plant, your food. Suddenly you are connected to the plants and foods of the planet.  If you are an educator, then you know I am right about this.  There are published examples of the impact of gardens and plants grown by kids and adults in schools and communities and time after time it brings about poitive change to those people and their communities (Good link here is Evergreen Foundation).

The only question here is “why”.  Why are we not doing something now?  It would have been better to do it 30 years ago, but now is what we’ve got.  And I would suggest that tomorow…no…today, we need to start growing with our children to enculture a future with citizens capable of not just surviving, but thriving.  A future where Canadian innovation in *self sufficiency in food production is a model for the world, and a future where global food shortages is not going to threaten them or their children.

 

*self sufficiency…just a note:  genuine self sufficiency is a sustainable activity.  If my “self sufficiency” depletes or poisons the earths resources over time then its only a facade.  I could grow enough to feed my village if I intensified my use of pesticises and fertillizers, but now I’m increasingly dependent on other resources not to mention the fact that I’m destroying the system that allows things to live in the first place.  The same holds true for Genetically Altered Crops, except for them we are placing a high wager on the success of a vary narrow gene pool…a pool of one set of genes in fact!  

Below are the titles of some literature that would make excellent reading for those interested in learning more about this topic.  But don’t read them before you start growing…JUST DO IT! I’ll put some links in later so come back!

The Hundred Mile Diet

Monocultures of the Mind

Diet for a New America 

Tragedy of the Commons Garret Hardin (an essay)

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Household Hazardous Waste? Grass Roots Action…Do It!

Its a repugnent but undenialbe truth about the products that we use everyday…they come with a serious environmental price tag that we are barely paying the interest on!  Any number of toys or electronic devices that have rechargeable batteries pose a serious risk to the ecosystem and of course our health when they are improperly disposed of.  The stuff in those batteries is Hazardous Waste.  Heavy metals in these batteries can leach from landfill sites where they enter and remain in the food chain, contaminating the bodies of everything they enter, causing cancers, birth defects, and a number of other serious health and environmental problems. 

Now consider this fact: In a Statistics Canada report form 2005-06, an estimated 450 million batteries were sold in Canada in 2004, of which 348 million were thrown out with regular household waste. (The above statistic was cited in the March 29, 2008, Windsor Star, in an article by Sharon Hill.  Sharon’s article also reports on the problem of prescription drug disposal and the problem of these drugs showing up in our drinking water).

Another Fact:

The current system for helping these products find their way to Hazardous Waste facilities is so impractical that it doesn’t feel accessible for even the “Green Oriented” Folks in our society.  Take my  community for example,  the household hazardous waste collection depot is a 30 minute drive from my home in a remote location, and it only accepts waste on sporadic occasions (to be fair they have a callendar, but the days and times are few and far between).  So, I’ve got my batteries in a bag hanging in my laundry room.  They have been accumulating since I moved here 9 years ago!  While it may be true that if I really made the effort I could have taken them their already, but why would I?  True, I have had other Hazardous Wastes that I was saving for propper disposal but the stores where they were sold offered to take these back (paint, tires and motor oil in these cases), and my local landfill site took my old refrigerator ( they have a contract with a service that pumps out the refrigerant).

Some Questions:

Why don’t businesses take back the waste from products like batteries and small electronic devices for proper disposal?  I realize that some do, but more don’t.  If companies don’t have a foolproof plan take care of this aspect of the stuff they sell, then should they sell it?

Some of My Answers to This Problem:

  • Refuse. Either refuse to buy products that are associated with serious environmental contamination or refuse to buy from companies that don’t have an effective program to deal with the Hazardous Wastes that their products generate.

  • Reduce. Find ways to reduce your demand on consumer products that cause these problems. Can you borrow something or rent it only when you need it (considering the rental agency has a disposal plan). Can you find other ways to do things?  Make a personal plan to reduce the number of things you have and the amount of time you spend using them (consider that it may improve the lifespan of the product and/or batteries).

  • Grass Roots Community Action: Talk to your neighbours; ask if they have any hazardous waste.  Educate each other and make sure everyone understands what is at stake and that this waste should be stored safely at home until taken to Hazarodous Waste Depot. Make a plan to take turns taking waste to facilities.

 

  • Lobby government and local business. Tell them you won’t shop where there is no plan to deal with this waste.  And you will only support candidates, political parties and governments that have a transparent and thoughtful environmental agenda.

  • Demand It: “Disposal Service for What You Sell Plan”, where businesses would need an effective waste program to handle the discarded products that they sell.  If a company didn’t have a program…then they wouldn’t be able to sell it; if consumers don’t put on the pressure to drive the change, then legislation must be considered. 

Industry’s Answer:

I think Industry is on the right track with the Rechargeabe Battery Recycling Corporation and its Charge Up to Recycle Program. Its a licensing program that allows businesses that comply with the program to carry the “Charge Up to Recycle” logo.  In a market driven economy they have realized that it makes good sense to be green and tell people about it. To be fair their are and have always been industry people who have been concerned with the environmnetal impacts of their activities just because they are good citizens.  To read about the Charge up to Recylce Program and its success click here: Rechargeabe Battery Recycling Corporation press release  .   http://www.rbrc.org/call2recycle/releases/archived/11.3.98.html . 

Better yet,  to find a “Charge up to Recycle” centre call:  1-800-8-BATTERY or by go on-line at www.rbrc.org.

A Final Note
I’m not sure about the effectiveness of the above program in practice and I’m not clear about how they gaurantee that participants comply with the program.  Nor do I know about other quality control measures in place to ensure that recycling of returned batteries actually gets done.   Is it empty green marketing or the real deal?  And who pays for it?  I would feel better if I could tell people the answers to those questions.   There are other programs out there and we should be aware of them and there should be accountability that addresses the questions above…and I’m sure my list of questions is far from comprehensive but its a start.

Consumers have power!  We all have a lot at stake.  Our children, our health, the quality of the food, water and air that we put into our bodies and of course there’s the planet.  Lets do something to make a difference.

If you know of an innovative program, other readers might like to know!

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Moon Condos For Rent: Perfect for Wealthy Dimwit

Tonight my son reminded me of an idea that I thought would be fading fast in a world where people are starving and whatnot. The idea; Building a “Moon Station”.  I don’t even want to know how many billion dollars it would cost, but someone should let the children at NASA or the Nations that support this kind of bologna that people should get thier crap together on earth first and use the $ to take care of each other. What’s your opinion?

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Snowmobile Amnesty

I wonder if snowmobilers would trade in their machines for something better?  Would they line up to trade them in for a recreational replacement that would do much less harm to the earth while also  nourishing their bodies and souls.  The replacement I’m refering to, is of course skiing.  Any kind of skiing.  Cross-country would offer the best body and earth benefits, while alpine skiing or snowboarding might give the thrill seeker a spiritual lift!  Any way you carve it,  anything that could get people off snow machines would be a step toward better health for everyone.  Snowshoes are fine but skis might be the best fit since the joy that comes from controling a board or boards on snow with your own body is a type of natural high that snowmobilers have no doubt missed out on,  otherwsie that is what they would be doing instead of driving their machines blindly around.  While its true that skiing is a skill and is harder to learn than pulling a throttle;   and while its true that for those who need it most, it may be difficult to get off the seat,  the fact remains that part of the joy in skiing comes from improving yourself, from learning and changing your body for the better.  Senses are awakened and the participant is intimately engaged in the fragrances, sounds and sights in their environment.

Would ski resorts and ski manufacturers offer a snowmobile amnesty?  You know, trade equipment,  lift tickets and/or trail passes for each snowmobile that gets turned in?  Imagine what a world it could be if they did… 

Here are some of the benefits: 

  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
  • Conserves fuel for more necessary pursuits (reduced demand on resources reduces cost )
  • Improves ground level air quality from reduced *VOC emissions
  • Reduces noise pollution
  • Improved fitness, vitality, mobility
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Feels Good
  • Saves lives
  • Spend time doing something more worthwhile
  • Personal Satisfaction of taking charge of your body and health
  • Personal growth and satisfaction of learning a new skill
  • Feeling that you are improving yourself and the world around you
  • And snowmobilers would save a lot of money that they could use for a lot of other things, even after buying new skis!

O.K.  That’s not likely to happen, not by tomorrow at least but there is something that might help bring on the change…Skiers! If you are a skier, you have power!  As skiers we can extend the olive branch to a snowmobiler and offer to take them skiing…to teach and mentor them.  And its in our best interest to do so since the snowmobile is contributing to the global warming that is melting away our winters!  Start close to home, with family,  neighbours or friends. Be vocal and share this idea and who knows what might happen!  There are other benefits to our communities and tourism initiatives that could be realized if local facilities were developed and networks established.

 *VOC  stands for volatile organic compound.  In terms of snowmobile emissions, VOC’s are the smelly unburnt gas and oil emissions that are spewed from the engines exhaust. It can make you choke and your eyes water (it is also a toxic mix of chemicals that damages living tissues, and contains heavy metals, benzenes and other chemicals, many of which are carcinogenic). 

Here is one of my personal experiences with snowmobile exhaust:  While out for a jog down my gravel road one evening in the early spring of last year, I was passed by a procession of snowmobiles.  Their noxious smoke brought water to my eyes; I could taste it on my tongue and could barely breath.  Needless to say my jog was over.  I walked for several minutes after they passed hoping the air would clear so I could get back to my run. Unfortunately though, on this calm night the smoke hung over the road, trapped between the forest on either side, until I had walked all the way back home (a 10 minute walk from where I stopped running).  When I came into the living room of my home, my wife and kids asked me why I smelled of gasoline. 

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