Saturday, May 7, 2016

This little fellow looks just like the picture (out of focus) I took of the bee on my walk.
It cane from the web, credit to

 It's been a long time since the last post. Lots of reasons, none of them particularly good.

It appears that the weather is going to be less than perfect again this year. Is my memory of spring accurate? Was it so much better when I was a child? So much more delineated as a season in my youth? I think it was. For sure, the bees weren't dying off then.

I found one on the front walk today. A honeybee dead. Was it lured out with the little bit of warm weather we've had and then not able to find enough food when the weather turned cold and rainy again? Or was the bee killed because the firm that takes care of the lawns uses a toxic herbicide? Or is there some sort of infestation in the hive where the bee resided? Whatever the reason, it was sad to see.

Spring is when things are  supposed to start blooming and thriving. Not dying. I hope it isn't a precursor of what's in store...

Monday, February 8, 2016

The difference between immoral and illegal

Source: Wikipedia "Junk food" page. This image is a poster at 
Camp Pendleton’s 21-Area Health Promotion Center that describes
the effects of junk food that many Marines and sailors consume.

I've been scratching my head for a while about this. If profiting from misery is immoral, and being malnourished is misery, then those who produce unhealthy ("junk") food are acting immorally.  Right?

What is the difference between immoral and illegal? According to Dictionary. com, immoral is defined as "not conforming to the patterns of conduct usually accepted or established as consistent with principles of personal and social ethics." On the other hand, illegal is defined as "forbidden by law or statute."  While society is involved in both as one reflects "social ethics" and the other is the result of societal action, from a spiritual standpoint, being immoral may result in a condemnation in the next life; breaking a law may result in a conviction in this one. 

Today, unhealthy food is not only legal, it is profitable.  It's profitable because its produced cheaply, easy to prepare/consume, accessible and - dare I say it - addictive. In the minds of many, producing junk food is in the process of becoming - or already is - immoral. What is unhealthy food? My definition is: most anything that's processed in a factory rather than cooked in a kitchen if it contains lots of salt and/or sugar and high levels of fat and/or things I don't recognize or can't pronounce.

Chances are unhealthy food will be legal for a long time. However, it's legal because we allow it to be. And sadly, because some of it really tastes good. We can work to change laws or, as the Mayo Clinic suggests, tax the potentially bad stuff. The tax money could fund research on epidemics that have been linked to food (e.g. diabetes) or education on recreating more self sufficiency in producing and preparing food. Slowing down the pace of life wouldn't hurt either...

A long time ago, a commercial featuring a man answering tough questions (tongue in cheek) hit the nail on the head. When asked what the difference between ignorance and apathy was, he, for once, quite wisely said: "I don't know and I don't care." Can the difference between immoral and illegal can be summed up similarly?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Deconstructing grocery shopping

I went grocery shopping
Grocery shopping still conjures up images of me 50 years ago accompanying my mother to multiple stores, all small by today's mega-store standards. We would go up and down the aisles and she would purchase thing things that spanned a variety of categories: produce, fruit and meat (typically fresh), milk, ice cream, cottage and other cheese (even though we lived next door to a dairy farm and had previously had milk delivered), bread (typically day old because it was less costly), canned foods (beans, tomatoes, soups, etc. because they could be kept and used quickly - e.g. no soaking beans overnight), cake and pizza mixes, frozen TV dinners and pot pies (it was the time convenience foods were getting a foothold in the stores).  Rarely if ever do I recall purchasing fish other than during Lent and the fish were frozen sticks. I didn't like them. Although my mother cooked from scratch, canned and preserved it never occurred to me to question that these new, sometimes tasty, labor-saving foods might not - in the long haul - be good for all us eaters. We humans have a little problem with thinking about "the long haul." Over time food producers of all kinds researched the heck out of what we wanted (not thinking about what we might need) and food became saturated with synthetic (as well as natural) preservatives and additives that led to foods that were high in flavor and calories and low in nutritional value. I may be a member of the last generation to remember the groceries that primarily stocked other than highly processed food rather than fresh ingredients.

Fast forward to today. The choices are often mega-stores or specialty stores (like Trader Joe's). Then there are health food stores (which I'm sure were around 50 years ago but they were mostly vitamins and supplements, not food.) If you are in a progressive area, you may be able to shop at a co-op and get largely organic, vegetarian and vegan food with an emphasis on health. And then there are farmers markets. These have always been there but often obscure from visibility and perceived as for people with money. People have offered food items for as long as they moved away from everyone hunting and gathering on their own. It was only with the advent of the industrialization, mechanization and concentration of food growing and production that this practice began to wane. But it's rebounded as people want to know more about what they eat and are rediscovering the difference between a tomato bred for shipping and a tomato bred for flavor.

It didn't come from Walmart
So, rather than going to mega-stores for the convenience of one-stop shopping, or buying highly processed "industrial" foods that abound, I'm drawn the small shops that celebrate the skills and flavors that I almost let slip away from me as I grew up. When I ask about an item I find myself often listening in awe to young people who create or grow food using skills that I might have dismissed as too much work or beyond my abililty. And I remember my elders and am grateful.