25 May 2010

Food is Power (excellent read)

Excerpt from The Vegan Reader

Food Is Power

The great humanitarian and farmer, John Jeavons, once said:

"Food is Power…Are You In Control Of Yours? "

As an American and an inheritor of the legacy of a system that has valued money over brotherly love, I know my people, poor people, innocent people, unthinking people, simple, decent people have been burned one too many times by corporations that have marketed ‘progress’ and ‘convenience’ to them.

In this country, many of us are beginning to realize that when we traded in our own skills for the convenient agreement of others doing our work in exchange for money, we won ourselves a world of pesticides, polluted skies and water, contaminated food and foreign sweatshop labor. We stopped living like the incredibly skilled American Indians, or even the early pioneers, nearly all of whom knew how to grow food, make fire, build shelter, find water, craft clothing and feed people. We have become a nation of unskilled workers who pay others to do everything we need for the very basics of being alive, and those we have given our money to have failed to resist the temptation to increase profit by casting care for human and environmental health aside.

Food is power, and by taking the control of it back into your hands as much as you possibly can, you are strengthening yourself as a human person. I realize, few of us are going to be able to create a rice paddy in our backyard, but we can get as deep down on the chain of events as possible. We can purchase rice that is grown without chemicals and is processed as little as possible. We can cook our own rice, and we can make our own milk from it to feed our dear ones well.

You can retrieve your power, your authority over your own life in the steps and stages that feel comfortable and reasonable to you. Today you have learned how to make rice milk – and if you try it, I think you’ll decide it’s absolutely delicious. More than this, though, I think you may feel that you’ve really accomplished something good. Maybe for you, this is a bold act of defiance against the corruption of the Organics industry with big, moneyed, dirty corporate players. Maybe it’s the thougthful act of the gourmet cook who insists on having fresh foods instead of processed ones that have been sitting on a supermarket shelf for who knows how long. Or, maybe it’s just a new way to take better care of yourself by taking the time you deserve to prepare wholesome foods. All reasons are good reasons if they help you to act with diginity and discernment in your daily life.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this reskilling lesson. Let us know if you give making your own rice milk a try.

03 May 2010

Dreadlock wearers brush off stereotypes


Crystal Bowersox rocks, it's plain to see. The folksy guitar-slinger from rural Ohio has dominated this lackluster season of "American Idol" with her vocal prowess and easygoing stage presence.
So why, then, are so many people hung up on her hair?
Via blogs and message boards, fans have issued proclamations on the long, blonde, ropelike dreadlocks that Bowersox, 24, sports. Some love them, but some deride them with a passion.
Venomous adjectives such as "dirty, filthy and trashy" have been used to describe them.
All this vitriol underscores the many stigmas and stereotypes attached to a hairstyle that dates back to ancient Egypt and, more recently, is often associated with reggae artist Bob Marley.
But even though such mainstream celebrities as Whoopi Goldberg, singers Lenny Kravitz and Adam Duritz, baseball star Manny Ramirez and author Alice Walker, have sprouted dreadlocks through the years, it's a hairstyle that remains highly misunderstood.
Loretta Green-Williams, 56, and Jordan Aiken, 23, have their own tales of dreadlocks woe. Green-Williams, a Pittsburg, Calif., resident, notices how people "talk down" to her and question her intellect -- never mind that she holds a master's degree from University of San Francisco. Aiken, a recent graduate of UC Berkeley, recalls how sororities and certain clubs shunned her.
Like others who favor dreadlocks, Aiken has seen them arouse curiosity in friends and strangers. A lot of people want to touch them. She has also dealt with what might be the biggest misconception about dreadlocks: that they're the unclean, unkempt byproduct of neglect.
"They're not dirty. I wash my hair. I really do," she says, laughing. "No one ever says they smell bad or anything."
Indeed, Michelle Robinson, who specializes in locking (or knitting) hair in her Oakland, Calif., salon, Naturally Yours Hair Care, insists that the hairstyle actually can be very high maintenance, with some dreadheads spending several hours a week on grooming and upkeep.
"There's a lot of ignorance out there. What we're basically talking about is just a larger strand of hair," says Robinson.
One issue concerning the hairstyle is tinged with tension: Who should wear them? For Rastafarians, dreadlocks are a symbol of inner spirituality. For many blacks, dreadlocks represent a vivid rejection of assimilation and an expression of racial pride. That's why some regard Caucasians with locks as "culture vultures."
For the record, Bowersox, who has had her locks for four-plus years, has said in various interviews that she has no intention of snipping them off just to please the "Idol" voters.
That sentiment draws a hearty cheer from Aiken, who has sported her blonde locks for a similar amount of time.
"It's a singing competition. They should probably focus on her voice," she says. "If she loves her locks, I think she should just rock them and ignore what the people are saying.
"They're probably just jealous anyway."