I have been working all week on an intense project and ideas for this particular topic have been swirling through my head. Sometimes they gel into a cogent statement, buttressed by facts from all the sources that spin past me each day and at other times, they just drop into the pool of ideas that I hold in memory over many years of thinking about this subject. When I want to be technically accurate, I refer to the notes I take in a spiral notebook on the coffee table in the family room so I can jot down names, figures, book titles and ideas as they come to me. But this week I am also starting a pullover for Geoff (finished my Noro cardigan) and using my notebook to chart the pattern (something I have learned to do after thirty-something years of knitting), so I am too lazy to leaf through it for more data.
That is a long way of saying, I will just wing this. I was laughing to myself that I could probably have a permanent tab on this blog, riffing on this word and at some future date, I will share all the punning variations that immediately came to mind, each for a particular topic that gets my Irish going.
What prompted this post (in addition to a few recent developments in these areas, in the news last week) was seeing the two links below. Their connection may make more sense later in this post or in a future one. In any case, the first one is a must-see. Make sure you watch the whole thing (it’s only a few minutes).
Everything in my background conspired to create a person who cares about people, this planet and every single living thing (and resource) on it. I am a child psychologist because I sincerely believe (and can prove by sound evidence) that everything we become is founded in the first seven to eighteen years of our life. The first three are the most critical, then the next four, the next five (with a critical developmental stage around the age of 12, i.e., puberty, etc.). So, lest anyone think that I care more about other things, than people, you need only look to my education and work to know that isn’t so.
However, I love the rest of the living things on this earth, especially animals. But almost as much, the resources and abundant treasures we inherited. It seriously pains me to see it destroyed. I was happy but not satisfied, for example, to see Ed Schultz come around to condemning the Keystone Pipeline and getting his head out of the tar sand. If for no other reason than this toxic, noxious-gas-emitting, carcinogenic sludge would likely leak into the Ogallala Aquifer, the second largest fresh water body in the United States, and destroy the mid-Western bread basket, responsible citizens must see to it that this potential disaster doesn’t slip across the Canadian border. I hope Canada will leave it in the ground where it belongs. It will go to China, not us. It would be a mistake of epic proportions to extract and ship it.
I was also thinking of the wonderful bread basket of Northern California where Geoff and I lived, in the East Bay, before we moved down to SoCal. We could go to Berkeley Bowl, a hypermarket for fresh produce in Oakland, and choose from hundreds of fresh, unique and healthy fruits and vegetables, among many other incredible delicacies. People whose diet is heavily weighted toward animal products and processed or fast foods, have no idea what a magnificent experience for the senses, a plant-based rainbow diet of fresh food is and how it revolutionizes one’s menu. In fact, there is a new series on PBS on Scandinavian cooking that is worth DVRing, if you can. If you want to find a fresh, healthy, mouth-watering cuisine, you will find it in the wild-food based diet of the Norwegians, Swedes and Danes. For pastry, the Danes rival the Austrians, too. Our diets are comparatively dull, tasteless, and frankly, deadly. When I was in high school and still eating meat, I found out that the rest of the world eats cows, chickens and pigs that actually move around and live a decent life outdoors in nature — and the meat has flavor, I experienced it over and over again, first hand, during extensive travels. Americans just don’t realize that ours does not. Until you compare it for yourself, you will not understand or believe me. If you have been to Holland, as just one among many examples, you will realize that our meat and cheese pales by comparison.
Our food in America isn’t live. It is all produced by agribusiness, giant corporations whose only concern is profit — lots of it. We are sick and fat and narcotized, as a result. It doesn’t have to be this way, but, we are sheeple and have been thoroughly indoctrinated. There is nothing wrong with enterprise, but I don’t want a CEO to rake billions off the ill-health of the population and vital resources of this earth. All you have to do is pay attention to the news of toxic spills, millions (I am not exaggerating) of pounds of recalled contaminated meat from factory farms where the diseased and miserable animals are squeezed into tiny spaces and spend their whole lives living in their own waste before being dragged to their death, sick, fallen and suffering, if you want to know what is really going on. Why would anyone want to eat that? Just because it is sexed up with chemical flavors, dyes, and extruded into the shape of something that reminds us of the diet our ancestors used to eat before the runaway industrial complex took over our food supply.
Animals feel, think, understand, reason far more than we give them credit for. Because most of them cannot speak. I live with two animals. One of them speaks, English, understands what she is saying, and expresses herself in a large vocabulary that she has learned to combine into novel sentences that indicate true cognition and ratiocination. There is impressive research on parrots to support this (look up Dr. Irene Pepperberg and her world famous work with and on Alex, pictured right). And, we all know that the great apes and large water mammals can perform similar communication marvels. We wouldn’t be so quick to put live turkeys in shredders if we all knew this to be true, as I do, from my reading and first-hand experience. Crows are almost as smart, but don’t have voiceboxes and the musculature to produce speech, the way all parrots do, to a greater or less degree, African Grey’s being the best at it.
I get just as upset when trees are needlessly destroyed. My next door neighbor, an attorney who is renting the house with a backyard adjacent to ours, separated by a high stone wall, had a party two weeks ago. She apparently convinced the owner to “prune” two magnificent trees that provided shelter, shade and beauty to our backyard, as wells as hers. I stood outside and guided the “gardeners” in Spanish, to save as much as I could but they butchered those two gentle giants anyway. Now we are trying to figure out what we can plant along that wall, that will grow quickly enough, to shield our eyes from their carcasses, that were left in plain sight of our property. I was furious but there wasn’t a thing I could do. Wanton destruction and stupidity were at work. Our national parks suffer the same fate from ignorant, short-sighted and greed-driven programs.
Our honey guy has finally thrown in the towel. We go out of our way to buy our produce at the local farmer’s market every week. He had been in Valencia (and surrounding towns) for 20 years. There are just not enough bees left for him to stay in business. Why? Because Monsanto needs to have jacked-up crops that are drowned in pesticides. Frogs and bees are disappearing, all over the earth. I could shield myself from some of it, but I have noticed too that bumble bees no longer come to my yard, all my lady bugs (not only pretty, but practical as they feed on harmful insects) are gone. Very few butterflies, despite my putting out trays of fruit for them.
I was encouraged to hear Russell Simmons — someone with the clout and finances to make a difference — talking to Joy Reid about the fact that there are 40 billion animals in factory farms emitting enormous amounts of methane, far more dangerous to global warming and the ozone layer than carbon from the fossil fuel industry (especially fracking and coal burning). Those 40 billion pigs, cows and chickens are eating material that could feed all the hungry people on this planet, many times over, end starvation and spare the lives of these helpless creatures in the process. We need more people to get on board with eating lower on the food chain.
I could probably cite more examples that are my particular pet peeves in this area, but instead, I will leave you to visit these two links that I think bolster my arguments, at least on the topic of animals. Thank you for indulging me as I ambled (and ranted?) through this stream of consciousness, and feel free to give me your thoughts, too.
To be continued in future posts …
Images: atlantic.com, youtube.com, nyt.com,huffpost.com, berkeleybowl.com, fr-treepictures.com, kcrw.com