Saturday, October 29, 2011

Stirring the Pot

A recent post on a Star Journal (stars meaning the planets and constellations, not the entertainment kind) stated that the 2010-2011 cycle of heavenly movements were similar in nature to those of 1917. For people who pay attention to more than "E" TV, 1917 was a great year of social revolution throughout the globe. One of the more tragic outcomes of this revolutionary mode was the onslaught of darkness that enveloped Eastern Europe. While the people correctly rose up to challenge the great inequalities of the day and sought to dismantle the monarchies at that time, much of what filled the vacuum we are still recovering. One of the most tragic consequences of this "un-recovering" is that many of the inequalities of the past in terms of monarchies and secret societies have been replaced with economic entities that are creating similar tensions that inspired past revolutions.

The United States of America is unique in that it's founding was actually quite well planned. The heroes of that day were scholars, professionals and farmers. They studied culture, history, their environment and tried to redress their injustice with civil discourse and reason. When they were repeatedly rebuffed, they took to civil disobedience, protest and ultimately violence. After the war, they filled in the power vacuum with a well thought, consensus driven, researched and astute document that we now call our constitution. For the first time in human history, a power structure of the elite was overthrown and replaced by a democratic one based on reason and equality of the common man, for the good of the community a commonwealth.

Democracy has always been quite tedious at best, and certainly a hindrance for those who wish to come about power in unscrupulous ways. The pervading ideal in America is that we are all equal and have an equal chance to be the best we can be. Freedom, Equality and Fraternity are the core values of The American Revolution and Republic. I equate the word "fraternity" to community. Creating a community of free and equal human beings is the constant experiment in America. We are actually the model for all other modern democracies on Earth, for the deepest stirring of the human heart regardless of geography, culture or race is to be free, equal, and living within a community. The only way to actually bring the values of freedom, equality and community is through deep respect and caring, and high moral principles. I would add two other qualities, empathy and compassion for the other as the way to deep Democracy.

Human nature such that it is can often be tempted to  value only freedom of self at the expense of others. Freedom to consume regardless of the consequence to resources, other human beings, institutions and community, freedom to act, express and take, these are seen as freedom in many people. We witness this throughout history with tired repetitiveness. We are witnessing it now, but with a new tact of endless media and web coverage, (often funded by those who only value freedom but not equality or community,) but with the benefit of being able to access documented history as no generation has ever before. We need laws and policies mainly because we lack moral courage. We would not need laws and policies if our moral development had kept pace with our intellectual development as a civilization.

It is stunning to witness an entire propaganda machine that parades itself behind so called bastions of religious morality. We hear cries for a "moral values presidency" that will adhere to so called "Christian Values." As one moderator declared, "do you want a moral upright person or do you want a Christian as your President?" I think we can have both, but I would like to see the morality of such a Christian President to adhere to the Sermon on the Mount in his or her policy, to ask the question each and every day, "How will this affect the least of my brethren if I enact this policy?"

Our budget priorities reflect us as a people, they reflect our values. Under the guise of freedom, (I would add freedom from responsibility to anything other than continued campaign coffers) a super committee has been nominated to decide where to cut expenses in order to balance our federal budget. Of course, living within our means as a nation is vital to our security and health. But we were founded on principles of consensus that will create a union of free and equal beings within a community. It is always an amazing event to witness how quickly we can rally around war (mechanized slaughter of the other and maiming of our own) never a question or a blink of an eye as to how to fund such endeavours, but argue endlessly and cut mercilessly food from the mouths of our children, education for our youth, care for our elderly, and preservation of our air, land and water. Where is real security? Is it through the murder of people on foreign soil, or the feeding, education and health of future generations? Is is through stockpiling of weapons or ensuring we have continued harvests, and access to clean water for generations to come?

We are in this budget mess because our priorities are immoral, they do not reflect the core triune values of our nation. We raced into two wars without a shred of credible evidence, mainly to keep our petroleum access going for the benefit of the very very few in our nation. Remember weapons of mass destruction? We found out in less than a year that there were none, but still we wage on, 4 trillion dollars later, and the welfare mothers are apparently to blame for the budget deficit. We have to pay for that now, and those who have profited mightily pay no taxes, shelter their incomes off shore, either fire their workers or pay them substandard wages with no benefits, and pirate their pensions for the corporate bonuses of the few. The party that lied us into these wars, that did not put the price in our budget, now wants to take away all aspects of our culture that make life good: education, infrastructure, clean air and water because "we spend too much we need to live within our means." Pretty undemocratic if you ask me, and downright immoral. Kicker is, most of those who are profiting from budget priorities are probably Christian heterosexuals in heterosexual marriages, making sure that the rest of us (through their media domination and bought for politicians) are focused on gay Muslims trying to get married so they can collect welfare benefits .

What does all this have to do with food you may ask......... A lot actually. In addition to gutting environmental and educational programs, medicare and veteran benefits, Agriculture is on the chopping block for the super committee.  This super committee that was formed at gunpoint by the Republican dominated House of Representatives, as basically an abdication of responsibility by the entire legislative branch of government. They either did not want the responsibility of completely devastating the welfare of the nation, or to stand up to protect it. The Republicans on the committee are committed to non- negotiation under any circumstances, (ie non American principles,) and the Democrats are insisting on a combination of cuts and tax revenues.

We in the Food Movement would like to suggest the following to the super committee: Lets keep programs in Agriculture that are focused on health of humans, land and animals. Lets gut what makes land, humans and animals sick. The amazing thing is that cutting what makes us sick is actually where all the waste is going in terms of Agricultural subsidies.

Our current Agriculture program was born out of many impulses. The dust bowl and depression, and subsequent social unrest that followed created an atmosphere where legislators rightfully wanted to prevent any sort of repeat of those catastrophes. Another impulse was to view nature and her crops as "Commodities" A majority of farm subsidies goes to the top five "commodity" crops, surprisingly the leading two are corn and soy. These two crops are used for live stock feed, fuel, and are ubiquitous in processed foods (mostly junk if you ask me) they are also the most genetically modified crops on our land, both of which have been rejected by foreign trading partners in both seeds and exports due to fears of "Genetic Contamination." 14 - 25 BILLION dollars goes annually to corn and soy commodities subsidies. Less that one percent of federal subsidies, that 1% folks, goes to fruits and vegetables.

What makes us sick as a people? We are the fattest people on earth. Junk food aka corn and soy make us sick. What makes us healthy? Fruits and vegetables make us healthy. Most money goes to foods that make us fat and sick, because they are cheap to the end consumer, but very very very expensive in terms of tax subsidies, destruction of land and waste pollution of water. Where are our priorities? If fruits and vegetables were less expensive to the end consumer, what would we all look like? I would wage a bit thinner.

A large portion of our federal agriculture subsidies go to permanent disaster relief. Crop failures due to drought and flood are considered in such relief. What is not discussed is that most of the crop disasters occur on "marginal land." We keep paving and developing our prime farm land in order to build houses and strip malls, and pushing our farms to land that actually should not be farmed. We should subsidize farms on good land.

The super committee also wants to cut land preservation, school lunches, conservation and sustainable ranching practices. Simply put these are the things that make our nation healthy. A blip in the national media was that the last of our chemical stockpile weapons were destroyed in Oregon last week, but sadly, jobs were lost keeping these agents of destruction in store. Again, where are the priorities? A community economy that is based on chemical weapons is a non-sustainable one, let alone immoral. Weapons kill people, chemical weapons maim and destroy for generations by polluting the land and water. What kind of moral people spend money on that? Why not put those people to work preserving the land, tending the harvests, feeding our nation?

These are great times of Revolution. The stars are in alignment and the people are in the streets demanding justice. We are different than our ancestors in 1917. We know history, we have technologies and education as they did not, and our youth are passionate, college trained, tech savvy and informed. We all want the community that our founding fathers drafted a few centuries ago, a community of free and equal human beings, based on respect, compassion and morality. Such a community, such a truly American Community needs a commonwealth approach to how we structure our civilization. Throughout history, the health of the land and agriculture meant a healthy nation state. Let the super committee know how you want Agriculture to be funded. Let your legislator know (The Republicans have slated about 10 days of work on the hill next year, so you should be able to talk with your Republican representative since he or she won't be in Congress much) how you want our national priorities to be shaped. True morality, true values, true Christian values are beliefs and practices that create healthy communities for all including the least of our brethren. Our priorities as a nation must be our land and our food. If you cant go to occupy something, then write a letter, make a phone call, write an editorial, Facebook, twitter, what ever you can. For more information go to sign the pledge and pass it on. Our future, our security, the status of our very souls are at stake.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Occupy your Kitchen for Food Day!

Hi All,

Hope you had a delicious week. This Sunday will be a treat as we have a field trip to the New Frontier Family Farm. Nestled in the heart of big ag dairy and beef land in Ontario, New Frontier Farm is a model for the new food based economy. Husband and Wife Dave and Heather Fikel take us on a tour of their Poultry farm, which will soon be an organic vegetable CSA and Beef CSA. Tune in this Sunday to see how they are doing sustainable farming, and how this all relates to the upcoming Food Day on October 24. If you cant make it to NYC or Los Angeles, you can fill your plate with delicious chicken that is being grown outside the normal economic confines of larger farms. CHeck them out at


Monday, October 17, 2011

Quite a Weekend

Hi All,

For most of those paying attention, the weekend of October 15 and 16 was quite the event across the nation. The Occupy Wall Street movement has spread across our country, with mostly a festive flair. If one pays attention to the posts, the food is quite good, and any sort of requests the protestors have is filled pretty quickly by those who can not participate in the occupation with their physical bodies.

But there where other things happening this weekend that did not get the press, but were no less important to our continued struggles as the world's oldest democracy. The dedication of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Monument in the Capitol, the Millions Against Monsanto Right to Know March, which started in New York City and ended in Washington DC, and the Slow Money Alliance national gathering in San Francisco. I see that they are all connected, and of course, I will tell you why.

In the attempt to fully organize Slow Food USA, there were site visits to the regions in 2008. These were delightful gatherings where staff and the then Executive Director of Slow Food USA met with leaders from chapters all over the nation. I had the deep honor of meeting with leaders from Hawaii and Southern California as I was part of Slow Food OC at the time. All the insights and suggestions from other chapters around the country were distilled into some key concepts. The one that mostly stayed with me was that Slow Food USA was deeply committed to changing our US Food Systems.

The Food System that is in want of change encompasses the following things:  basically to relocalize access, growing, processing and distribution of food. What we are doing now is basically insane, it is heavily dependent on petroleum from growing and transportation of foods,  in the hands of too few big agriculture corporations, and is basically loosing (if it has not already lost it) the connection between food, growers, producers and consumers.

The case in point of loosing the connections:  most young American children think food comes out of a box, and are actually quite intrigued when you show them it comes from the land or animals. A friend of mine who is a Geology Professor at a major University here in Southern California recently took a group of grad students to an international conference in Chile. One of his students asked to borrow money for food. When asked why she was spending so much when their research quarters had a kitchen and was located near grocery stores, she replied"I have been to those stores, all they have is ingredients, and only Ice Cream in the frozen food section." So, we can see that there is much to be done, but more than education about where food comes from, the reconnection we need to have with our food is what it actually costs to raise it. And those with the money are determining who has or gets the food.

For generations, our food systems have become "commodities." When something is a commodity, it looses a relationship, because it becomes something one buys and sells. Of the top three grossing commodities on earth, two of them are foods. ( They are Oil, Coffee and Chocolate for those of you who want to seem like you know a lot.) When something only has a bottom line of profit, then anything done to maximize the profit is seen as fair game in the scheme of things. We have treated people, the land and food as commodities for too long. The banking crises is also a crises of agriculture and food, because it affects who can grow, harvest, produce and sell food. The Banks and how they lend money has been a leading cause of the decimation of our farm land and the catastrophe of modern agriculture.

In the last 50 years, America has lost farm land at an alarming rate. Here in the Inland Empire we have witnessed it in a dramatic way. Small farms could not compete with large Agribusiness, and had to sell their land to developers just to pay off loans. It was deemed that housing brought more money and revenue to the area than food. Rich cropland filled with grapes and citrus, wheat and vegetables has been turned into now vacant malls, houses and meat and dairy farms.  MOst farmers have a full time job to support their families so they can farm! It all came back to banking, who could get the loans, who could afford them, and well you know the rest of the story. It is in the realm of the angels the knowledge of exactly who owns the mortgages, and they are actually split up and sold to numerous interests all over the world.

While the brave and boisterous Occupy Wall Street protestors have done a great deed to our national consciousness, lets go a step further.  Genetically Modified Organisms produced by Big Agriculture Multinationals are seeking ways to force their products on the global commodity markets. These products are touted as a way to "feed the world" but are actually designed to produce sterile foods (no seeds so a farmer has to continually buy seeds instead of saving some from each harvest for the nest one) and are also designed to withstand to the same companies pesticides, forcing farmers to buy such pesticides. It is brilliant marketing and product development, but really not great for the environment or the economy. Farmers in India are committing suicide at an alarming rate because they are loosing their land to the banks who lent them money for the GMO seeds and their pesticides. Farmers here are forced into practices they do not want to do (utilizing lots of pesticides hormones and such) because they can not make a profit otherwise, or can not get loans. It costs more to do Organic because there are more jobs involved in the maintenance of the land, jobs cost money, and well, you know where that goes.

In the many, what I think are coherent, demands of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, what stands out is that we the people are tired of being last in any equation. I would add that the land that sustains us should also be part of the discussion. We are searching for new ways to fund our lives. In the beginning, banks were set up to facilitate a community enterprise. Now, they are nameless faceless entities that have more rights and access to our democracy that do our citizens. How this is marxist I do not understand, this is actually pro-life stuff, recognizing the rights of the born over the corporations, sounds pretty religious to me.

The Slow Money Alliance is a movement that was inspired by Slow Food. The same principles apply, to relocalize and humanize the system, but in this instance, it is money and banking. The goal is to get people to invest up to 50% of their investments in life giving enterprises, mainly small local food growers and producers. The key word is a "nurture economy" instead of an economy that enriches the few on the death of the many.  This and many other ideas were the focus of last weekends gathering in San Francisco.

It is truly amazing what is going on in the world today. The people are rising up, non-violently and effectively against the absolute immorality ( and global suicide actually) of a system that creates wealth by sterilizing our food, decimating our land,  destroying and withholding our water and shoving farmers off their land. It is immoral that weapons producers and the merchants of war are "making a killing" off of our young and foreign lands. It is immoral that we have been dug into debt to kill, and have to pay off the debt by withholding education and health care from our citizens. It is immoral that we have paid to absorb all the risks of our banks, and yet they will not invest in "life" with OUR money. Slow Money is educating all of us, and inviting us to invest as if fertility of the land and our farms mattered, invest only within 50 miles of your home.

Our youth are fantastic, the youth of the world are the greatest generation ever. They have the education and the technological skills, along with the moral forces of courage, consensus and community to solve the terrible problems we all face. I think Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream is actually being fulfilled, maybe that is why the dedication was postponed until this past weekend. His vision of linking justice, poverty, war and racism was correct. He said we should be somebody within the beloved community of life. As we witness the festivals inviting people to engage in radical democracy for the good of our community here in America,  as the visionary bankers and investors meet through Slow Money, as citizens demand that their food sources not be owned by corporations who do not pay taxes, and defile our democracy with their lobbyists, shifting our laws to give them unregulated access to our food, lets take a small step in making that a reality, where all actions are done for the benefit of the community. Can't occupy a city, well, you can "un-occupy" the Banks who are investing in the death balance sheet;  start investing in life, start investing in the land. Buy local, go to a farmers market, get to know the people who manage money and your food, pull your money out of death and put it into life. The great thing, it is delicious and fun!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

October 16th Show

Hi All,

This weeks guest will be quite entertaining. David Cohen of the San Bernardino Sun will join Real Food Empire to talk about his recent tour to Italy. He will also tempt us with his upcoming dinner, designed and presented with his wife Doreen; a Hungarian Feast. This will take place on November 5th, so make sure to tune in to get all the details on how to participate. David and Doreen host suppers throughout the Inland Empire featuring international cuisine. They are both accomplished chefs in their own right, and offer unique perspectives on what ever theme will be presented. The last time David joined Real Food Empire, he was promoting his Southern Themed Supper, and had both Christina Benjamen (my screener) and I drooling by the end of the program. Maybe David will bring something for us to sample this time! David also writes for Cucina Italiana and Inland Empire Magazine on, what else, Food! We hope you can join us, and as always if you can't listen live, you can always podcast the production at, under Sunday Programs Archives. David and Doreen Cohen are shining examples of incredible local culinary talent, you will not want to miss the October 16th Show. Tell a friend!

See ya then!


Monday, October 10, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

Hi All,

I've been away for a while from the Blog o sphere but I am back again! This past year has been an amazing discovery of delicious joy as to all the wonderful happenings in the Inland Empire. I will be expanding this blog to include updates, reflections ideas and resources. COming soon to your ethernet will be a video blog posting so you can learn more about how to eat for the health of your body, your soul, the land and community. Thanks to all of you who listen each week on KCAA 1050 am from 9 - 10  in the morning. We are working hard to bring you more up to date techno saavy stuff so you can hear us any time, any place. Let me know what you are wanting to hear about.

Till later, may all your meals be locally grown, hand made and delicious!