Archive for the ‘Things that matter’ Category

A reader of my blog emailed me last night asking that I post something about an accident that happened in Los Angeles back in June.

16 year old Carissa Bodner was with a large group of bicyclists late in the night on June 16th when a drunk driver evidently plowed right into them, sending Carissa and I believe several others flying. Carissa survived the crash but her and her family are now facing monstrous hospital bills and the road to recovery is still very long ahead of them. Below are links to a more in-depth blog posting, news reports and other information regarding this incident.

The family is asking for help raising the $3,000 they need to pay “co-pays” in order for the insurance to pick up the remaining tab. From what I’ve read so far, the police report/ investigation is taking some time to conclude so many things are still unclear and unsettled – such as if the women driving the car had insurance or not.

I do not know Carissa, her family or the woman who emailed me and asked that I re-post. I decided to re-post because it seemed the least that I could do to help. I am not asking that you donate to the cause – if you decide to do so that is entirely up to you. I am simply asking you to take a minute and look at what has transpired. Drinking and driving is a major problem in this country. People don’t ever intend to go out and get hammered and then jump in their car and crash into people on the way home, but it continues to happen all the time.

Personally, I am also a biker. Portland is a very bicycle-friendly town but it’s still scary out there riding beside cars when you’ve got nothing around your body to protect you. I don’t often bike at night because I am afraid of exactly what happened to Carissa happening to me; this whole thing hits very close to home for me. It wasn’t me this time but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be tomorrow. So everyone, be careful out there. Go out, have fun, drink away, but don’t drive home. Take a bus, a cab, the light rail – anything but your own car. You never know what’s going to happen.

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It’s nice to see the next generation realizing what’s going on and speaking out about it. I think if I had been more aware of farm and animal conditions growing up that I would have made changes in my eating habits a long time ago. But I don’t recall anybody ever talking about it. It seems like there was, and still is, a huge disconnect in our food, where it comes from and what’s in it.

You can find a bit of information about Birke Baehr here. We need more kids, and adults, like this.

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Don’t forget to go get your sweet tooth fix today! Bakesale for Japan is happening at Barista on NW 13th and Ristretto Roasters on N Williams. Bakers from all over Portland have donated their time, sugar and flour to help raise money, so get over there between 10am and 2pm today!

My cupcakes will be at Barista. The snickerdoodles are quite pretty but the others aren’t nearly as cute as I had hoped, but they still taste fantastic! And they’re VEGAN! (of course, I wouldn’t know what to do with an egg if I had one).


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Next Saturday, April 2nd, at Ristretto Roasters on N Williams and Barista on NW 13th there will be a bake sale to help the people of Japan. It’s not limited to professional bakers so all of you who piddle around with yummy goodies at home (like me) can contribute!! More information can be found at Portland Food and Drink. What will you make???

Email pdxbakesale@gmail.com to sign up! And if you can’t bake you can always buy!

Here’s the direct website for Bakesale for Japan.

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I’m not sure what the hell is going on in this country but I’m starting to get pissed off.  Well, I’ve been pissed off.  I’m starting to get pissed off enough to do something.  Or at least try.  I think that’s the problem with this place.  We the people have the ability and numbers to make a difference but none of us, aside from Michael Moore, feel empowered enough to do so.  For example, I just found out last night that I can actually go and speak with my state senator face to face, or call him on the phone.  I’ve never thought I was allowed to do that.

You know I watch movies like Food Inc. and Forks Over Knives and I get so irritated and outraged and even scared about what’s happening to America that I just can’t believe what I’m seeing.  I think everybody in America should watch Food Inc, but most of the people who really need to see it won’t ever pick it up.  We are numb to our political environment and how it’s slowly poisoning us.  I’m not the person who needs to be informed about our food supply, yet I’m the only type of person that goes to see these informative documentaries.  I already know they’re contaminating everything we eat.

Did you know that in most countries in Europe GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) aren’t legal?  You can’t scientifically engineer corn and sell it to the masses.  You can’t feed it to cows so that you don’t have to make sure they have grass to eat.  You can’t make a chicken grow 5 – 10 times the normal rate, and size.  You can’t strip natural cane juice out of every thing in the supermarket and replace it with high fructose corn syrup.  But in the USA, you have to read the label of every damn thing you buy to make sure that it doesn’t contain something that one day might give you cancer.  But the labels aren’t even truthful.  Trans fat, for example, is the worst fat out there.  McDonald’s even brags about not using the crap.  But the FDA doesn’t necessarily make manufacturers put it on the label if it’s below 0.5 grams per serving.  That’s right, it will say ZERO but still be there.  The only way to avoid it is to not buy anything with partially hydrogenated fats in it.

The other day my husband posted a link on Facebook talking about GMO’s.  Evidently the government doesn’t think that needs to be on a label either, even though most of us, even the perceived non-concerned people, are scared of them.

And once you get past the actual ingredients in the food itself (most of which you can’t even pronounce) you see a little blurb that says, “BHT added for freshness.”  What is that?  I don’t pretend to be a scientist but it’s some sort of antioxidant that keeps foods fresh, among other things.  The problem is that its safety to our health is still being debated.  I had a friend in Arkansas years ago who told me she won’t buy anything with BHT in it.  I hadn’t even heard of the stuff at that time.  You can basically find it in almost any non-organic boxed food you find on the shelves.  I haven’t been checking the organic boxes though, so maybe I need to.

Companies like Monsanto are taking over are food sources.  Something about farmers being forced to use specific seeds….  Seems a little wonky to me.  And supposedly there has been more biotech crops approved in the last few weeks that we should all be concerned about.

Anyone with open eyes can see that something is awry in this country.  Look at the skyrocketing levels of Diabetes.  According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million Americans have diabetes and 79 million have prediabetes.  That’s a lot of freaking people.  They also say that the cost of diabetes in 2007 was $174 million.  I guess we can all debate the cause of diabetes, and there is likely more than one culprit, but I’d be willing to bet that a good deal of it can be attributed to the crap we are feeding ourselves.  How many millions of people eat McDonald’s food every day?  What about Burger King?  Wendy’s?  KFC?  Taco Bell?  Jack in the Box?  Sonic?  I could go on.  This food is not made to nourish your body.  It’s made to fill you up momentarily and then leave you wanting more.  Did nobody watch Supersize Me?  We are training our children to be addicted to junk food – something that one day just might kill them.  If I were a parent I wouldn’t want that on my conscience.  But that’s just the problem isn’t it?  We don’t think about it.  And when our kids die of obesity or cancer or some other yet to be known result of the shit in our food system we won’t point the finger at ourselves; we’ll find somebody else to blame.

It makes me really sad when I see an 8 year old kid walking down the street that weighs more than me.  Children should NOT be obese.  How can we set a child up to fail so early in life?  How do we not draw a connection with what we put in our bodies to what happens afterward?  Cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease – these things shouldn’t be such a big problem in our country.  But they are.  And I think it’s directly linked to our food.

You know, I’m really sick and tired of going to the grocery store and not being able to afford the organic food and being too scared to buy the non-organic food.  And even when I do buy the organic food I have to check the country of origin because most of what I see comes from Mexico.  Not that I have anything against Mexico, I don’t, but I hear they have no regulations or very slack regulations when it comes to food production.  How do I know that banana is really safe for me to eat?  Is it really organic or did Dole just stick a cute little “Organic” sticker on it?  I shouldn’t have to be leery of anything in a Kellogg’s box.  I should be able to buy a box of crackers without scouring the label for hydrogenated fats and potentially poisonous preservatives.  I should be able to buy a single organic bell pepper for less than what Joe Schmo down the street is paying to get a super value meal.

I got married recently.  Not that we are going to have some kiddos right away or anything, unless the government succeeds at stripping the funding from Planned Parenthood of course.  Did you hear about Planned Parenthood?  The Grand Ole Party thinks they aren’t necessary.  Not only will they NOT let us have universal health care (which should be a basic human right) they don’t want the people who help all the women without health insurance – like me – to be able to help anymore.  A lot of people in, dare I say, God’s country see Planned Parenthood as a death camp for unborn children.  While yes, they help women in trouble deal with the problem in that way if they see fit, but they do a lot more.  Birth control is vital.  Annual check ups and pap smears are pretty damn important too.  If I get a urinary tract infection, guess where I’m going to go?  That’s right, Planned Parenthood.  It’s the only place a job seeking, loan burdened college student like myself can afford to get health care.  But the Republicans think it’s unnecessary.  I’d say that if they are looking for some extra cash perhaps they can address the outbreak of diabetes in this country – that might put $174 million back in their pocket.  If you disagree with them please go to this page and sign the letter to urge congress to pull their heads out of their asses.

So what happens when one day my husband and I have children?  What will I feed them?  I couldn’t live with myself if I gave them the crap that everyone is feeding their kids right now.  I joke about wanting my kids to be born in another country, but I’m not so sure that’s really a joke anymore.  I want my kids to grow up feeling safe about eating an apple or spinach.  I don’t want them to have to check the country of origin on every banana or tomato.  I don’t want them to be exposed to this fast food nation that cares more about its bottom line than the health and well-being of all those contributing to it.  I don’t have all the answers or even half of the facts.  But I am going to start finding them and start bitching to somebody that can hopefully start doing something more than sit on their ass and let everything go to the dogs.  I encourage you to do the same.

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The vegan club evidently has a strict “all or nothing” policy and since I do not fall into this “all” category I am evidently not vegan.  At all.  Not even an inkling.  Assolutamente niente.  At least not as far as some vegans are concerned.  For some odd reason I had it in my head that people who care about the earth, about animal cruelty, etc, you know – vegan people, were kind, considerate, understanding, and accepting.  For it seems to me they were/ are people who have seen the larger picture and thus live in somewhat of an, I dare say it, enlightened state.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I never thought they were all miniature Buddhas running around smiling at everyone, but at least smiling a little.  And I never thought them to be so critical and exacting a demographic as a few of its members are now pointed out to me to be.

There’s this nice vegan lady in New York City who likes to cook and blog about it.  I read her blog quite often (as you should too as she does a damn fine job).  Well lately she’s taken to posting some “how-to” sort of posts for people interested in/ currently making the transition to the big V who need some help and encouragement.  Which is splendid because some people are frightened at first as they think their whole gastronomic world is coming to a screeching halt.  Well, the other day she posted a “How Vegan Are You?” post which simply discussed some of the not blatantly obvious un-vegan items, such as white sugar, honey, shoes, etc.  Ok.  Fine.  So at the end of the post she asks “How vegan are you?” and invites you to comment.  I commented.  A couple other people commented.  I went to sleep.  Went to school the next day.  And just after dinner I retook my seat in front of my PC and thought I’d go have a look-see and find out what other people had to say.  &*^$((@%($()#)  Evidently during the interim from when I placed my comment and coming back again she received a whole rash of comments, mainly between a couple people, that weren’t exactly of the peaceful disposition I thought vegans would, in general, have; at least in regard to veganism and others interested in it.

These comments were rude, chiding, spiteful, mean, and quite frankly unacceptable.  It’s one thing to voice your opinion, as everyone is entitled to one, but it’s a whole other ball of wax to open fire on someone, especially one of your own.

I’m not typing this all out to point fingers or get the last word.  I’m typing this because this sort of elitist “all or nothing” attitude towards veganism is likely something that scares people away from it.  While it would be grand if we all just stopped eating meat one day, it would at least make a difference if lots of people just cut some of it out of their diet.  You know, a penny saved is a penny earned sort of thing – a steak not eaten is a cow that’s alive and water and grain that’s not being wasted and kids in remote countries that get to eat now…  We shouldn’t all get carried away with trivial issues like one’s definition of veganism versus another, or one’s reasons for living vegan are better than somebody else’s, or that you shouldn’t label yourself a vegan if you happen to have one piece of clothing in your apartment that wasn’t made in an animal friendly fashion.

When I decided to be a vegan it was on a whim.  It was because I’d been playing around with the idea of vegetarianism and stinking Google posted a PETA ad on my screen one day that I happened to click on.  Two words for you: factory farming.  Yuck!  So I changed my lifestyle, for the most part.  I didn’t go into veganism with an all or nothing attitude and I still don’t see it that way.  I don’t think anything is ever black and white and certainly not something that has such a profound impact on your life and its quality.  To each their own is all I think anyone can ask for something such as this.

So, if you’re out there and you’re considering hugging a cow versus cutting one, don’t feel like you have to do it all at once.  Don’t feel like you have to follow a strict code of conduct.  Do what you feel is right for your life and your values.  And ignore those inconsiderate nincompoops who tell you it’s their way or the highway; they don’t represent the whole of the vegan community.

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If your mind took a sharp turn south you can now retrieve it from the gutter.  🙂

The quarterly blood drive at PSU is coming up on October 19th and 20th from 11am – 4pm.

It’s a simple matter really.  You come, sit down, read of bunch of fine print, testify that you don’t possess anything vile which can be transferred, sit (or lie in my case – I tend to faint) in a chair, let a kind volunteer who hopefully has a cheery disposition gently prick your arm with a tiny little needle, do some more sitting, get a neon colored bandaged wrapped around your arm, and eat free cookies.  That’s right, f-r-e-e cookies.  Granted they aren’t monster sized, gourmet cookies from a local, organic bakery, but they’re still free.  And that’s not the point anyway.  The point is that people need blood.  We have a little extra lying around.  We should give it.

So go sign up and help save a life!  Go here, and type “Portlandstate” in the search box.  Pick a day and time.  Voila!

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