Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Awesome Examples of Urban Farming

Growing Power is a national nonprofit organization and land trust supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food for people in all communities. Growing Power implements this mission by providing hands-on training, on-the-ground demonstration, outreach and technical assistance through the development of Community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market and distribute food in a sustainable manner.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Wicked smarts for a complex life

We are all faced with a series of great opportunities–brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.
John W. Gardner

Do you ever get tired of health experts? You know, those know-it-all pundits who appear in major media with simple solutions to difficult health and lifestyle problems? Did you ever get the impression that these commentators live in an artificial wonderland of unlimited time, money and resources?

Maybe you’re right to be suspicious. After all, matters of health and lifestyle can be maddeningly difficult. Modern life is a balancing act filled with tough, even impossible choices; our lives are messy, dynamic and often out of control.

Take your typical out-of-town business trip. These days, it’s a body-hostile, jet-lagged, sedentary, stress-saturated experience, fueled by edible-food-like-substances, tainted water, caffeine and cortisol. On your return, you’re light-deprived, sleep-deprived, movement-deprived, nature-deprived, family-deprived, cranky and grouchy. You need to sleep, exercise, prepare good food, get outdoors, meditate and spend quality time with your friends and family, but there’s not enough time for any of it, much less all of it. At this point, the expert advice is not only worthless, it’s ridiculous.

It’s not so much that the experts are wrong or misinformed, it’s that we’re failing to appreciate the nature and magnitude of today’s challenges. That is, modern lifestyle is not a linear, one-dimensional problem that can be solved with a spreadsheet and a checklist. Instead, it’s an immensely complex, multi-dimensional challenge of shifting, overlapping dilemmas and excruciating choices. In other words, our modern lifestyle and public health challenge is not just a difficult problem, it’s actually a wicked problem.
This phrase first came to my attention in a book called This Will Make You Smarter, edited by John Brockman. According to Jay Rosen, professor of journalism at New York University, wicked problems have these features:

“It’s hard to say what the problem is, to define it clearly, or to tell where it starts and stops. There is no “right” way to view the problem, no definitive formulation. The way it’s framed will change what the solution appears to be. Someone can always say that the problem is just a symptom of another problem, and that someone will not be wrong. There are many stakeholders, all with their own frames, which they tend to see as exclusively correct. Ask what the problem is and you will get a different answer from each. The problem is interconnected to a lot of other problems; pulling them apart is almost impossible… It gets worse. Every wicked problem is unique, so in a sense there is no prior art, and solving one won’t help you with the others.”

Does this sound like a spot-on description of your own life? Of course it does. Every day is a balancing act of competing demands, shifting priorities and razor-thin judgment calls. There are hundreds of ways to look at food, exercise, and most especially, stress. Is your evening meal a source of biochemical fuel or is it a cultural celebration of earth and community? Is today’s workout an efficient way to burn calories and lose weight or is it a spiritual gesture of animal exuberance? Is this traffic jam a major threat to my career path or is it simply a trivial annoyance in my quest to live in the moment?

And if personal health is a wicked problem, public health can only be described as hyper-wicked.

Obesity, diabetes and industrial agriculture bring us face-to-face with dilemmas of free will, public good, social class, equity and responsibility. For every assertion, there’s a valid counter-argument. For every proposed solution, a downside. For every side, a flip-side.

Even worse, our 21st century presents us with an avalanche of wicked problems: education, environment, human relations, child rearing, technology and criminal justice to name a few. Increasing complexity, ripple effects and dynamic relationships are everywhere; we are embedded in a world of wicked problems, wrapped up in other wicked problems.

Unfortunately, few of us are trained in the art of recognizing or dealing with wickedness. Standardized curriculums are built on the fantasy assumption that problems are linear and solvable with straight-ahead smarts and, if necessary, brute-force calculation. But today, this knee-jerk style of linear analysis is out-dated and ineffective. When a problem is truly wicked, conventional “solutions” make us blind to complexity. Using the wrong tools only makes things worse.

Einstein was well aware of this challenge. As he put it, “You can’t solve a problem at the same level it was created.” In other words, we can’t solve wicked problems with linear, analytical ideas or tools. Instead, wicked problems call for wicked intelligence.

wicked smarts

But what would such an aptitude look and feel like? Well, let’s fit the aptitude to the challenge. The way I see it, wicked problems call for an intelligence that’s holistic, systems-oriented and ecological. It’s not enough to be a master of biochemistry, biomechanics or any individual discipline. Rather, we need to become adept at multi-disciplinary studies and keep a comprehensive view of our bodies and lives in context.

Second, wicked intelligence would not operate in the head as some sort of neuro-calculator. Rather, it would be fully embodied and highly physical. The entire body, we now know, participates in sensing habitat, people, emotion and meaning. The skin, the heart and the gut all contribute to our total intelligence. In this sense, our bodies are our brains.

Wicked intelligence would be organic and mimic the qualities of nature. It would branch and flow, lie still like a mountain and then blossom forth in an explosion of exuberant growth. It would be cyclic and seasonal, waxing and waning with the rhythms of habitat.

Wicked intelligence would not reside in the experience of isolated individuals. Rather, it would be intrinsically social. The diversity inherent in teams and mixed groups is vital to finding wicked solutions. Likewise, wicked intelligence is conversational, both explicitly and implicitly. It is always engaged in dialogue with diverse stakeholders and philosophies.

Naturally, wicked intelligence would be creative, playful and innovative. It reaches beyond conventional, single-plane approaches and prefers lateral movement and multi-plane solutions. It is curious about novel recombinations, especially those that cross traditional categories and disciplines. It relishes humor and is tolerant of risk, ambiguity and insecurity. It is willing to live in the midst of messy uncertainty without impulsively reaching for quick “solutions. In this process, aesthetics are vital.

wicked culture

Of course, our intelligence–wicked or otherwise–is powerfully linked to culture. And when we take a broader look at human history, we see that this thing we’re calling wicked intelligence sounds a whole lot like Paleo cognition. That is, native peoples in Africa, Australia and North America have all used their primal intelligence in a similar way: organic, holistic, relational, habitat-based, social and physical.

In fact, this kind of wicked intelligence actually seems to be the norm in human history. It is only in the last several hundred years that Western culture has diverged from holistic intelligence, creating a unique form of cognition that is powerful but also deeply flawed. Today, our conventional intelligence is mechanical, technical, reductionistic, disembodied and completely divorced from habitat. It solves some problems handily, but fails in the face of complex, wicked challenges.

wicked practice

As for the nature and nurture of wicked intelligence, it’s hard to say where it all begins. Undoubtedly, some people are born with a holistic sensibility and inclination towards organic creativity. But for most of us, some sort of practice is necessary to develop our wicked proficiency. This aptitude, like any artistic training, must be developed through experience and training.

We begin with the fundamentals in a single discipline, but this is simply a starting point for our journey into complexity. We learn the basics, but as we build our competence, we prepare ourselves for our encounter with the messy insecurities and ambiguity of wickedness.

This is where the art begins. Instead of defending ourselves against the uncertainty and chaos of wicked problems, we do better when we immerse ourselves in the insecurities that they offer. Instead of relying on the power of calculating machines, spreadsheets and the advice of experts, we dive into the dynamism of our lives. As we accept and embrace the messy insecurity of our experience, our wicked intelligence begins to express itself. The more we live in ambiguity, the better our skills at dancing with it.

So forget the boilerplate formulas and the rote lifestyle prescriptions. Instead, start dancing, juggling and exercising your whole-body judgment. Inhabit your predicament. Take the craziness, not as a problem, but as the raw material for your craft. Feast on the ambiguity and turn it into a work of art. Seek a harmony of elements and relationships between them. How does your food, movement, sleep, work and social relationship hang together? Is there a balance? Can you make it beautiful, even in the midst of wickedness?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Top 5 Most Repeated Health Myths | REALfarmacy.com | Healthy News and Information

Top 5 Most Repeated Health Myths | REALfarmacy.com | Healthy News and Information

Myth #1

Conventional medicine and the healthcare system helps sick people.
Perhaps the biggest health myth today is the public’s misconception that mainstream medicine and the healthcare system helps sick people. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The freedom of people to choose natural healing, alternative medicine and methods of disease prevention could soon be threatened by corporate lobbyists who will do anything to protect their wealth at the expense of your health.

Promoters of conventional medicine claim that all the drug studies, approvals, surgical procedures, all other treatments are based on scientific evidence. But is it really science? What passes for “science” today is a collection of health myths, half-truths, intellectual dishonesty and fraudulent reporting to help serve higher interests. Science is not really science anymore.

90 percent of all diseases (cancer, diabetes, depression, heart disease, etc.) are easily preventable through diet, nutrition, sunlight and exercise. None of these solutions are ever promoted by conventional medicine because they make no money.

No pharmaceuticals actually cure or resolve the underlying causes of disease. Even “successful” drugs only manage symptoms, usually at the cost of interfering with other physiological functions that will cause side effects down the road. There is no such thing as a drug without a side effect.

There is no financial incentive for anyone in today’s system of medicine (drug companies, hospitals, doctors, etc.) to actually make patients well. Profits are found in continued sickness, not wellness or prevention.

Almost all the “prevention” programs you see today (such as free mammograms or other screening programs) are nothing more than patient recruitment schemes designed to increase revenue and sickness. They use free screenings to scare people into agreeing to unnecessary treatments that only lead to further disease. Mammography is a very good example. Chemotherapy is another.

Nobody has any interest in your health except you. No corporation, no doctor, and no government has any desire to actually make you well. This has served the short-term financial interests of higher powers in the west very well. The only healthy, aware, critically thinking individuals are all 100% free of pharmaceuticals and processed foods. CONTINUE

Friday, June 14, 2013

How Stress Can Make You Stronger

man leaving Melaleuca wheelbarrow


You can’t live with it, and you can’t live without it. And, much like the question of whether having eggs for breakfast is a good or bad idea, the debate over stress is an ongoing bone of contention. Some say stress causes everything from the common cold to cancer, and some say stress does for the mind what weightlifting does for the body—it helps build strength and resilience.
Which argument should you believe? Is there a healthy way to deal with stress?


Life is stress

stressOne thing for sure—if you are alive, you are experiencing stress. In a sense, life is stress; each day subjects us to changes in the weather, unexpected challenges and requests, deadlines to meet, news (whether perceived as “good” or “bad”), disagreements, disappointments, fear and the like—and all of these bring on stress.
Researchers commonly understand “stress” as anything that disrupts your normal routine and elicits a reaction. If you are stepping out into a crosswalk and someone yells “Look out!” just as a car speeds by, the stress of the moment was helpful. It caused you to stop and look instead of walking in front of an automobile. There are other types of stress, though, that wear your defenses down and can lower your resistance to disease.


The worst kind of stress

Stress that arises, but soon dissipates, can help keep us on our toes. Most people enjoy the thrill of a ride at the county fair or the exhilaration of listening to a motivational keynote speech.
When the stress settles in for the long term, though, and when the underlying situation seems to be completely out of our control, stress can turn on us—tearing us apart from the inside out. The loss of your spouse, being blocked from advancement at work, chronic health problems—all of these are types of stress that can destroy a person. They can rob the joy from life and bring on (what can seem to be) an endless stream of insurmountable problems in their wake.
changing jobs


How to fight back

Those who suffer stress-related symptoms—irritability, tiredness, headaches, skin rashes, lack of motivation, outbursts of anger and such—often try to place the blame elsewhere, instead of looking squarely at the problem. After all, the situation seems uncontrollable and the ramifications seem overwhelming.
Left unaddressed, these situations set the sufferer up for certain failure—maybe even for psychological problems or attempts at suicide. The first thing to remember when the cloud of distress begins to settle is that there are options. You are not stuck without hope.


For instance:

  • Get up and get going. Exercise invigorates the body, giving tangible proof of your ability to endure and to move on.
  • Breathe. Under stress, the breath becomes shallow and interrupted. Much benefit can be derived from simple breath exercises. Breathe in hope; breathe out anxiety. There are many books and teachings on breath management that can help.
  • Change to a different job–one where you are appreciated. Look at the options: Are you an entrepreneur at heart? Who needs your talents?
  • Find faith and meaning. Life can be overwhelming and life can be scary. There is much in the world to fear. Denying that fact does not help one cope with reality.
  • Embrace the change, or embrace the potential for change. Consider the timeless maxim, “This too shall pass.”

The value of remembering purpose and letting go of your (imagined) control

Those who believe life has meaning can survive calamities that cause others to give up and die. The work of Dr.Viktor Frankl poignantly bears this out, especially his detailed descriptions of what it was like to be a prisoner in the Nazi concentration camps of WWII.
Any method of dealing with stress, though, begins with recognizing stress and agreeing with yourself that something can be done to either alleviate or endure the situation.
You can probably pick up a large stone without much difficulty. You can even hold it straight out in front of you. After a short period, though, your arm will grow tired. It won’t be long before the muscles start to quiver. And at some point, your ability to hold the stone will collapse entirely.
That is the way it is with stress. You can’t hold it for long. Don’t try. Do something about it. Tell someone about it. Fight back. Like Dr. Frankl, you may find the insurmountable problem really was there to help make you stronger, not to punish you or break you or hurt you.
Life is a school, my friend.


Listen and learn.


Source: The Melaleuca Journal

Think Good Thoughts

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Modern Fruits and Vegetables Are Less Nutritious

Modern Fruits and Vegetables Are Less Nutritious

By Dr. Mercola

This is an area that has absolutely captured my passion and attention. The last six months I have been devouring as much information as I can about high-performance agriculture using natural methods.

As you know, I have been one of the leaders in warning of the dangers of GMOs but I am now convinced that we need to offer the world a safe and superior alternative to GMOs. I am convinced that this is not only possible, but also less expensive both in the short and long term.

Part of the reason for this is that the nutritional content of the conventional food supply has been rapidly declining for the last 50 years as a natural consequence of increasingly poor soil conditions on modern farms, and it is getting worse.

But food has actually been getting gradually less nutritious for far longer than that, as a direct result of humans’ preferences for sweeter, starchier and less colorful fruits and vegetables.

As written in the New York Times:1

“Unwittingly, we have been stripping phytonutrients from our diet since we stopped foraging for wild plants some 10,000 years ago and became farmers.”

I believe that natural high-performance agriculture techniques such as optimizing soil microbiology through composting, and mineral balancing and the use of sea solids in the soil are exciting alternatives, and I plan on updating you soon on this project.

Sweeter Plants Were More Appealing to Ancient Farmers…

Ancient wild plants provided an astounding level of phytonutrients that are largely absent from our modern cultivated fruits and veggies. For instance, wild dandelions contain seven times more phytonutrients than spinach, and purple potatoes native to Peru contain 28 times more anthocyanins than commonly consumed russet potatoes.2

In general, you can identify the healthiest superfoods simply by looks and taste: the more bitter and the more colorful a natural food is, the more potent antioxidants and other phytochemicals it’s likely to contain.

But disease-fighting bitter or astringent foods, such as arugula, mustard greens and Brussels sprouts, are often avoided by consumers today,3 and they were similarly avoided by our ancient ancestors as access to sweeter foods increased. So, too, was the case with colorful foods, which have slowly fallen out of favor in many cases.

The evolution of corn provides one of the most telling examples. The richly colored “Indian corn” now mostly used for holiday decorating was once widely consumed, and contained far more disease-fighting antioxidants and less sugar than today’s popular pale yellow sweet corn.

The New York Times explains it well:

“Throughout the ages, our farming ancestors have chosen the least bitter plants to grow in their gardens. It is now known that many of the most beneficial phytonutrients have a bitter, sour or astringent taste. Second, early farmers favored plants that were relatively low in fiber and high in sugar, starch and oil.

These energy-dense plants were pleasurable to eat and provided the calories needed to fuel a strenuous lifestyle. The more palatable our fruits and vegetables became, however, the less advantageous they were for our health.”

Even Fruits Are Sweeter and Less Nutritious Than They Used to Be

The wild fruits consumed by our ancestors were smaller and resembled most closely what a blueberry is today. Modern cultivated fruits are much larger, which means they have a lot more sweet pulp inside and less skin. The sweet "pulp" or "flesh" of the fruit is where most of the fructose is, whereas the skin holds the antioxidants. CONTINUE ARTICLE

Monday, June 10, 2013

You Were Born Love

Deepak Chopra explains why we need to look past the limited views of ourselves to feel completely loved.* Do you feel completely loved and completely lovable?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Health Care Reform - Article Round Up

From: Kim - Real (& mostly) Balanced Ideas for Real Life

When I first started investigating Health Care Reform a few months ago there wasn't really much information out there.  Now it seems that as we barrel closer to January 1, 2014, it's coming faster and faster.  A few articles crossed my path recently that I thought would be helpful to just pass on to you:

Let the IRS implement Obamacare? Are we nuts?

Are we really prepared to put our health insurance system under the same agency that, as we’ve learned from the targeting scandal, took 1,138 days to approve just one non-exempt group’s tax application?  Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/05/28/let-the-irs-implement-obamacare-are-we-nuts/#ixzz2Uh088iZl

Health Insurance Reform: Steps to Take Now to Prepare

Open enrollment, both for private health plans and for the new insurance marketplaces established by the law, starts Oct. 1. That’s sooner than you may think, given the complexities of the law, says Meredith Olafson, senior policy advisor in the Small Business Administration’s office of entrepreneurial development. “Every business owner is going to be impacted differently,” Olafson says. “They need to know the facts and information to plan for what’s ahead.”
Here are five important ways to ready yourself for health reform: 
Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226782#ixzz2Uh27E5PM
Find more on the Affordable Care Act/Health Care Reform/Obamacare HERE.

I am truly non-partisan in this and pretty much all politics.  If you sense a slant or leaning in one direction or another, it's not intentional.  Feel free to share your insights and perspectives by commenting below.

What are you doing to prepare for Obamacare?  Or are you just not worried about it?


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Eat Right Tips: Eat In Season

Thank You: Green Alerts: Eat Right Tips: Eat In Season:

Pix: Harrison Eastwood / Istock

Why eat in season?
There's a reason “Locavore” was the 2007 Oxford Word of the Year. Eating fruits and vegetables at the time of harvest means you're eating them when they're fresh, have traveled less and have been stored less.

That means a tastier food that has typically required fewer resources to reach you. For instance, a blueberry in April (from Florida) to September (from Michigan) will arrive fresher -- and cheaper -- than its counterpart flown in from South America during the winter.

Eating in season saves cost.
When produce is in season locally, the relative abundance of the crop usually makes it less expensive. It’s the basic law of supply and demand, and when crops are in season you’ll be rewarded financially by purchasing what’s growing now.
For food in season, its taste also count.
For most of us, the taste of the food we buy is every bit as important as the cost, if not more so. When food is not in season locally, it’s either grown in a hothouse or shipped in from other parts of the world, and both affect the taste. Compare a dark red, vine-ripened tomato still warm from the summer sun with a winter hothouse tomato that's barely red, somewhat mealy, and lacking in flavor. When transporting crops, they must be harvested early and refrigerated so they don’t rot during transportation. They may not ripen as effectively as they would in their natural environment and as a result they don’t develop their full flavor.

According to Susan Herrmann Loomis, owner of On Rue Tatin Cooking School in France and author of numerous cookbooks. “Foods lose flavor just as they lose moisture when they are held. Fresh, locally harvested foods have their full, whole flavors intact, which they release to us when we eat them,”. “Foods that are chilled and shipped lose flavor at every step of the way – chilling cuts their flavor, transport cuts their flavor, being held in warehouses cuts their flavor.” It’s hard to be enthusiastic about eating five servings a day of flavorless fruits and vegetables and it’s even harder to get your children to be enthusiastic about it.

Easting in season not only saves nutrient and flavor, but also saves gas.
According to Brian Halweil, author of “Eat Here: Homegrown Pleasures in a Global Supermarket,” “If you harvest something early so that it can endure a long distance shipping experience, it’s not going to have the full complement of nutrients it might have had.” In addition, transporting produce sometimes requires irradiation (zapping the produce with a burst of radiation to kill germs) and preservatives (such as wax) to protect the produce which is subsequently refrigerated during the trip.

Therefore determine what’s in season right now and dig in. You’ll be rewarded with high quality produce, packed with nutrition, at a lower cost. And your taste buds will definitely thank you for it!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

World Thyroid Day Webinar

From: Kim - Real (& mostly) Balanced Ideas for Real Living
World Thyroid Day was observed Saturday, May 25.  Thyroid advocates Dr. Alan Christianson  and actress Gena Lee Nolin offered this webinar  in honor of the day.  As a long-time thyroid patient, currently going through flare-up, this information was helpful, insightful and easy to absorb. If you or someone you know might have thyroid disease, it is well worth your time to watch, listen and learn.  I'll be meeting with my doctor next month with some new ideas and strategies for managing my health.

Welcome to the Webinar

Just one fact I learned from this webinar......  Thyroid disease is more prevalent than heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses.

What is your experience with Thyroid disease or disorder?