Sunday, February 28, 2010

Trash in the Air

Mom was reading me an article this morning she found in the New York Times about the airline industry and recycling. I've never been in an airplane but I assumed that the airlines were like every other industry and that they recycled. Oh boy was I wrong.

Did you know that 75% of daily trash is recyclable yet only 20% makes its way to a recycling center? 20%? What's wrong with people? This low figure embarasses Mom and makes her wonder why in the year 2010 people still don't recycle.

Since I don't fly, I don't know what goes on in airports. Mom and Dad tell me about their trips but they usually leave out the airport antics unless something really cool happens. One such happening occured a couple years ago while Mom was passing through Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport. She was sitting at the gate when she saw a man and a woman sneak into the family restroom. I never heard what happened next because as soon as she started the story I put my paws over my ears. That was not the type of cool airport thing I wanted to hear about. I want to hear about the restaurants, the people, and the recycling efforts. Especially the recycling efforts.

Mom tells me there are recycling containers throughout all airport terminals. Some containers are single stream and others are multi stream. There's really no excuse not to recycle at the airport as opposed to other public places where recycling containers don't exist, yet some people still throw empty plastic bottles in the regular garbage. So if recycling containers exist in airports, surely there are recycling containers on the airplanes themselves, right?

I couldn't believe it when Mom told me that most airlines don't recycle. Say what? No recycling all those soda cans and little whiskey bottles? No recycling all the newspapers and magazines people leave in the seat pockets? What a disgrace? Mom has been known to stuff her carry-on bags full of used trash just so she can recycle it at her destination but most people just leave in on the airplane for the cleaning crew to throw away. Shame on them!

So why don't the airlines recycle? Mom tells me it's because of money. The airlines have faced serious financial issues since 9/11 and some have yet to recover. Bankruptcies and reorganizations have no doubt pushed any thought about recycling programs to the bottom of many to-do lists. But clearly there is a cost savings to the airlines to recycle, isn't there? And in this crazy economic climate where every passenger is courted to fly this airline and not that, wouldn't it seem like recycling programs could affect a passengers decision about which airline they fly? As usual, I have more questions than answers.

Apparently each airport has its own way of handling garbage. There are so many, how can I say it, hands in the proverbial pot when it comes to airline operations. There are the airlines themselves, the airports, port authorities, waste companies, security agencies, etc., each with their own agenda. Getting buy in from all to create a recycling program seems like a task too monumental to undertake. Until recently.

Some airlines, like Continental Airlines, have been recycling for a few years. Items like oil, antifreeze, and maintenance products are among the things that are being recycled. This is great news but it begs the question what did the airlines do with these items prior to the recycling program? I know there are laws in place for disposing of such hazardous materials like antifreeze but who knew it could be recycled? They also recently started collecting cans, bottles, and boxes from passengers on board to recycle. Finally! I'm so glad to hear that the next time Mom flys Continental she won't lug all her trash off the airplane herself.

But what prompted Continental to start a recycling program?
It was their customers and employees that spoke up and thankfully Continental listened. You know you have a voice and you know you can use it to speak up, get your thoughts heard, and sometimes, yes sometimes, people actually listen and take action. Imagine that!

Since initiating a recycling program in 2003 and then stepping it up again in 2004 by adding food scraps to the program, Oakland International Airport (CA) has diverted 37% of its waste from landfills. That's incredible! Imagine if every major US airport had a similar program in place.

One really sore spot for recycling in airports is at security checkpoints. Passengers still try to go through security with liquids in their luggage despite the posted signs that practically hit you in the face. All those liquids, typically in bottles, are thrown in the garbage unnecessarily and end up in landfills. Mom cannot even look at the security garbage cans because she just cringes and shakes her head. She's oftened wondered why there aren't sinks available to empty the liquids out of the containers and then a recycling can in which to put the empty containers. Well, it looks like the powers that be at the Portland International Airport (OR) wondered the same thing too and installed liquid dumping stations at security checkpoints. Duh! Hopefully more airports will follow Portland's lead soon.

So what can you do to help the recycling efforts of airlines beside recycle your own trash? Green America just started a campaign to get airline passengers to pay attention to how trash is handled on flights. According to Green America, some airlines claim they have recycling programs but that employees don't always recycle. In an effort to hold airlines accountable to their recycling policies, they are asking passengers to ask flight attendants about what will be recycled from the flight. Passengers can then complete this form which will then be used to publish a report to the airline industry.

I doubt I'll ever fly on an airplane because I'm old and the pressure would hurt my ears, but I know a lot of you fly. By participating in Green America's campaign you can change the way the airline industry does business. You can make the difference between successful and unsuccessful airline recycling programs but only if you participate. Use your voice, take charge, and make a difference.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bottled Water PSA

I'm posting this cool graphic from Online Education because the bottled water situation is not getting any better. Mom sees people carrying bottled water at the college and buying bottled water at the store all the time and it makes her crazy. Are people unaware of what bottled water does to the environment or don't they have access to drinkable water at home? Or is bottled water the ultimate convenience? Let's face it, it's really not convenient, at least not for the environment. Everyone in our county has access to drinkable water either via a municipal water supply or well. I think the problem is that most people just don't have a clue about the effects of bottled water on the environment.

This graphic doesn't need any explaination so just read it, learn from it and pass on what you've learned. Information is power so use your powers wisely.

The Facts About Bottled Water

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What Is Your Impact?

Mom was back at the library last week and decided to finally bite the bullet and check this book out. She told me about the book when it was first published but for some reason she didn't want to read it. The book has since been made into a movie but instead of seeing the movie Mom has decided to read the book. I just don't get.

No Impact Man is not just a book and a movie, it's a movement. A movement that started as an offbeat project to live without making any net impact on the environment for one year. Think about what this means. No net impact means no trash, no carbon emissions, no plastics, no nothing. How is this possible? Is it possible?

Colin Beaven was just an ordinary guy who one day looked in the mirror and questioned the impact his life was having on the environment. Have you ever done this? You know that Mom has and does, probably more then she should. If everyone did this I wonder what the results would be. Would people care more or care less? Continue to live their lives the same or make changes? Or would they go over the edge and become No Impact Man?

The fact that Beaven decided to do the project is one thing but when you consider his location you'll wonder how he did it. Beaven, his wife, young daughter, and dog live in New York City. The biggest city in the US is where Beaven realizes he lives a life of convenience that isn't very convenient for the planet. Our lives are wrapped up in convenience from single use items to take out food. All that convenience has a huge impact on the environment.

But how to start the project? Jump in whole hog and eliminate everything? Go from riding the elevator, taking taxis, ordering take-out, drinking out of plastic water bottles, etc. to doing none of the above? Now that would just be crazy, even crazier than the project. Instead, Beaven decides to make changes in stages. Stage one: live without making garbage. Hmmm. How could that possibly be done? And for a whole year?

The entire project was documented on Beaven's blog. Step by step, changes were made, impacts lessened, and lessons learned. And then the movement started. People followed the blog, took actions similar to Beaven's, and spread the message. Then the book was published and more people joined the party. The movie soon followed and what started as a crazy idea has become a movement. A movement with a lot of impact.

Mom hasn't finished the book yet and she doesn't want me to give too much away. I will tell you that one of the first chapters is about garbage which is right up Mom's alley. The throwaway lifestyle that we've been leading cannot really been thrown away, can it? The garbage in your garbage can may just be garbage to you and I but if you look closely you will see resources. Resources thrown away, tossed aside. Everything we toss out is created using finite resources that can never be replaced. But how can we change?

Baby steps, right? Beaven's light bulb moment of the first day of the project occurred when he got up in the morning to blow his nose. He reached for a paper towel and realized that he couldn't create any garbage. After much soul searching, he understood the true impact the paper towel had on the environment. It's wasn't just a matter of creating garbage anymore, but a deeper understanding of the entire impact of using a single use item. One of Mom's favorite paragraphs occurs right at the end of the garbage chapter. I had Mom read it to me several times because it had such an impact on me.

Once I knew the facts, what I blew my nose on in the morning didn't feel so trivial to me anymore. To me, the paper towel began to represent my throwaway lifestyle. It represented the fact that we are trashing the planet's resources for conveniences that turn out not even to be convenient. It represented the fact that I had been, for years, using throwaway products that I'm not sure have really made me happier and certainly haven't made the planet happier.

Even though I don't blow my nose, I realized that this was my message. Once you know the facts, how can you not make changes? What is preventing you doing what you know is right? If we're all in this together, and you know we are, why aren't we trying to make the planet happier?

From buying recycled content toilet paper, to using reusable bags, to joining a CSA, there are so many little changes that we can make that will have huge positive impacts on the environment. Even though we've been taught to not sweat the small stuff, it's the small stuff that snowballs into big stuff. The big stuff gets bigger and before you know it we are in crisis mode. And no one wants to be there, trust me.

I know each and everypug out there can make changes. You guys have shown me that you care about each other and the planet. You care enough to read my blog and so many of you have made changes and taken actions based on what I've posted. Please don't ever forget that every little bit helps. The impact you make, be it positive or negative, is felt by everyone today and will be felt by everyone in the future.

The purpose of No Impact Man is to get us thinking, thinking about our impact. Thinking hopefully leads to making changes, which leads to a better lifestyle, which leads to a happier self. Mother Earth thanks you in advance for caring about each other and for caring about her. We can make her happier, I know we can.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

It's Not My Fault

I'm so mad! I have been slacking off on blogging lately but it's not my fault. I'm not going to take the blame for this slackiness. Nope. I'm putting all the blame on Mom and the Olympics.

Flash back to 1980. For some of you, you can't flash back that far because you weren't born. I wasn't born yet either but I Mom tells me it feels like 1980 was just yesterday. Um, okay. Whatever you say Mom. Why are we flashing back to 1980? Because the Winter Olympics that year were pure magic and Mom was glued to the tube back then like she is today.

Everyone has heard about the Miracle on Ice from the 1980 Winter Olympics. Hearing Al Michaels scream "Do you believe in miracles?" still brings goosebumps to Mom's rms. The cheers in Lake Placid when the US beat the Soviets could be heard around the world. Even though it was just the semifinals, the victory was just what the US needed to believe in themselves, as a team and as a country.

Another story of the Olympics were America's sweethearts Tai Babilonia & Randy Gardner. They were poised to bring the crowds to their feet and win the hearts of those who didn't even like figure skating, but it was not to be. They had to withdraw prior to the competition because Randy was injured. Mom was devastated. Crushed. Despondent. And that was on top of the fact that Mom had pulled a muscle in her neck right before the start of the games and had to watch a week of the Olympics with her cheek on her shoulder. Figure skating takes on a whole different level when viewed sideways.

But what does all that have to do with today? Good question. Mom had not planned on watching the Olypmics this winter because she just wasn't interested. Her interest in figure skating has waned over the years and she's not a big fan of the other sports. Then the games started and she just can't get enough of them, but this time it's not figure skating she's obsessed with it's curling.

Dad thinks that Mom must be part Canadian. I doubt it because her peeps are either Native American or from the old country. Mom does have a French sounding name but she's not French at all. She had never even watched a curling match until earlier this week and now she won't even leave the house because curling is on tv all the time. Back in the old days the Olympics were on one tv channel, ABC, but in 2010 they are on everywhere. All day and all night long.

What is it about curling that Mom is drawn to? I wish I could explain it but I can't. There's not much action, the matches are kind of slow, and all the American athletes say 'aye' all the time. What gives? I don't really know but my only guess is that old people curl and since Mom is old maybe she thinks she can curl. How dumb is that?

I'm getting a little concerned about Mom because all of her attention is on curling and not on me. She claims that I'm just as obsessed with curling as she is but that's just Mom trying to divert the madness off herself. I like curling, I really do. I like the strategy involved and the outfits. But I have a blog to update, blogs to visit, and a belly that needs to be rubbed.

I'm trying to think of a way to get Mom out of her curling obsession. Should I have her hypnotized? It works for smokers so maybe it will work for a wannabe curler. Should I break all the tvs? Probably not a good idea. With no tvs there wouldn't be any curling to watch but Dad would die without the tv so he would probably kill me. Break the cable boxes? Cut the electricity to the house? There doesn't seem to be a good solution for Mom's addiction.

My one saving grace is that the Olympics will be over in a week and then Mom will be back to normal. Well, as normal as she can be which isn't very normal. Mom watches most of the matches in the family room where my Valentine's Day cards are so I get to look at them all the time. Thank goodness for that! I refuse to take them down until the madness ends. And if it doesn't end, we will just have to find another place to put the Christmas cards.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Please Leave The Fish Alone!

I worry about a lot of things. It's true. I don't think I'm a born worrier because I'm a Taurus and most Tauruses don't worry. I think my worrying comes from Mom. She shows me stuff on the Internet that causes me to lose sleep at night and the thing I worry about the most is what we are doing to our planet.

I know people like to eat fish. Fish has been a staple in many cultures around the world for a long time. Fishing is how many people make their living. All of this wouldn't be a problem if there were enough fish for everyone which there isn't. People always talk about sustainable fisheries but is there really such a thing? Mom doesn't think so, at least not in today's world. If you step back and think about the word sustainability for a minute you'll see what Mom means. From an ecological perspective, sustainability means living today in a way so that you can meet your needs while preserving the natural world for the future. Are we doing this? Not with the six plus billion people that call Earth home pushing it's resources to the limit. There are a finite amount of resources for an infinite amount of people. This worries me.

Something else that worries me is Trader Joe's. Or should I say Traitor Joe's. They are deceiving the public with the fish they sell in their stores and this is not only morally wrong it's also bad for the environment.
Mom shops at Trader Joes for certain items. She likes their tofu, black bean burgers, and soup. She also likes their nuts and trail mixes, and will occasionally buy sweets there too. One thing she won't buy there is produce because so much of it is wrapped, really overwrapped, in plastic. Unnecessary plastic. Produce doesn't need need to be wrapped in plastic - duh! I'm not sure why Trader Joe's feels it's necessary but many people have issues with it. People also have issues with the seafood they sell, which is why Greenpeace created the mock website Traitor Joe.

The purpose of the Traitor Joe site is to raise awareness of the red list seafood Trader Joe's sells.
According to Greenpeace, Trader Joe's is the largest US grocer operating on a nation-wide scale that refuses to substantively respond to Greenpeace's inquiries regarding its sustainability policies and practices. Huh? What does that mean exactly?

If you are unfamiliar with the term red list it comes from Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program. The program helps consumers and businesses make wise choices about the fish they purchase to ensure healthy oceans for today and the future. You can practice sustainable seafood eating if you follow the guide. Red listed fish is a no-no, yellow is okay, and green is the best. You can download a copy of Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Pocket Guide here. This guide will help you choose ocean-friendly seafood wherever you live.

Back to Trader Joe's. Greenpeace did a survey of fish sold in Trader Joe's stores and found that they sell 15 of the 22 red list seafoods. Two of the big species they sell are Chilean sea bass and orange roughy ( I won't even get into why people even eat these types of fish but let's just say it's all marketing). Why would Trader Joe's, a store that sells natural and organic food, sell red listed fish? This is the same store that is so careful about labeling all their private label products as vegan, vegetarian, kosher, etc. Why are they so careful about letting consumers know about some products and not about others, specifically fish? And why in some stores are there labels above seafood freezers touting their fish as coming from sustainable sources? False advertising or malicious intent? I think you know the answers to these questions.

So what can you do? If you shop at Trader Joe's, don't purchase their fish. If you feel strongly enough about their false advertising and poor seafood practices you should consider not shopping there. Another thing you can do is take action by sending a message to Trader Joe's VP of Merchandising Matt Sloan here. Because Mom cannot be part of these practices, she is no longer going to shop at Trader Joe's and is also sending a message to Matt Sloan

We decide what we will and won't buy each time we walk into a store. We make decisions to buy items based on several factors. Please let one of your factors be sustainability. We have the power to demand changes through our actions. Let your actions be seen, heard, and felt by doing the right thing.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

ValenPug Party!

I was totally clean and ready to roll this morning when I got out of bed. I knew I was going to finally meet some friends in person today at the Northern Illinois Pug Rescue ValenPug Party. I paced and paced through the house all morning until Mom and Dad were finally ready to go. I was so excited when Mom picked me up and loaded me into the car for the short drive to the party.

Mom told me that the party was so close to our house that if there wasn't any snow on the ground she would have hooked my buggy up to her bike and we would have rolled there. Luckily for me there's lots of snow on the ground so Dad drove us to K-9 Playtime for my first ever Valentine's Day party.

Even though K-9 Playtime is right by our house, I've never been there. Lots of dogs go there for daycare but I've never gone to daycare. The place was really cool and there was lots of room to play. We got there five minutes after the party started and there were already at least fifteen dogs there.

Look who's here? It's Rainy and her mom Karen. I was so excited they came to the party. I've wanted to meet them for so long and here they were. They drove all the way from the city to attend the party. Isn't Rainy adorable? She's teeny like Tweedles.

Mom said it was hard to get a good picture of Rainy because she was running around like a crazy pug. She had lots of puppy energy and she loved to jump in peoples' laps.

Dad tried to get a good picture of me and Mom but of course I didn't want to look at the camera. Don't I look cute in my sweater? I got lots of compliments on it and I told everyone that Emmitt's mom Melissa made it especially for me. Next time we attend one of these events we are going to get Melissa's business card to hand out instead of just telling everyone the website.

There were lots of pugs at the party and Mom and Karen were petting all of them. There were also pug wannabes in attendance, but we didn't get any pictures of them.

Dad and Karen were chilling with Rainy and I or maybe it's the other way around. This was one of the rare occasions that Rainy was sitting still.

I met some new friends at the party too. This is Josie and she was at the party with her parents and siblings. Isn't she sweet? She lives in Elgin which is where my aunt Colleen lives.

Josie is mature like me and we really hit it off. Josie can't really walk and her parents carry her everywhere.

I know that Betty has been flirting with me and O'Mally is kind of sweet on me, but I need a girl who lives close to my house. I might have found just the right girl in Josie.

Josie, will you be my Valentine?

That's Josie's mom sitting on the floor talking to Mom. Mom looks like a pug magnet, doesn't she? Don't worry, she didn't want to take puggies home.

I was chillaxin' with Dad when this pug ran over to us. He was an old guy like me so Mom called this area the old pug's home.

As soon as the old guy left this guy showed up. Sheesh puggies! I know my dad is lovable but give him some space!

I was ready to go home after a half hour but Mom insisted we stay because some of my other friends were on their way.

Can you tell where the food was located? Right behind this fence. There were hot dogs and all sorts of yummy treats. These guys were trying to figure out how to get to the food.

I don't know where this lady came from but she got right in Mom's face. Her name was Isabel and even though she was very photogenic she wasn't really my type.

All of a sudden Dad came over to Mom and told her that Gen and The Foo had arrived with their mom Peta, her Honey, and Honey's daughter. Look at Gen looking all cute in her dress. Peta was so smart to put name tags on her ladies.

Here's The Foo! Her and Gen had matching dresses and the dresses were definitely the hit of the party. The Foo was a real social butterfly. She checked out everything and everyone loved her.

The Foo even hung out with me, Dad, and Karen. The Foo loves the scratches!

I wasn't a total wallflower. I wanted to visit with the puggies and make friends but sometimes all the excitement is just too much for me. I can't run and play like I used to, so I take things nice and slow.

I finally warmed up to all the excitement in the corner and introduced myself. The puggies and people were very welcoming.

I had such a great time at the party. I'm so glad I got to meet Karen and Rainy, and Peta, Gen, and The Foo. I felt like I already knew them but it was great to finally meet them in person.
I'm so exhausted from the party that I'm sure I'll be sleeping in late tomorrow. I sure hope I get to go to another party soon while I'm nice and clean. Maybe I can talk Mom into having a party at our house. Hmmmm. I'll put that on my to do list this week.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I Did This For Rainy

I was taking my TGIF nap today when all of a sudden Mom rushed into the family room. I heard her calling my name but I ignored her thinking she would go away. I had no idea what she wanted and unless I smell food when someone walks into a room I want nothing to do with them. Mom did not have food and was not talking about food so I just laid there pretending to be asleep.

Apparently, Mom couldn't take the hint that I was sleeping so she got right in my face and started talking to me. I was only half listening because I was still a little groggy but I did hear a word I always dread hearing - bath. Mom told me that I was a hot mess and that there was no way she was going to let me meet Rainy until I took a bath. The next thing I knew I was in the car, headed to you know where.

I'm attending the ValenPug Party on Sunday hosted by NIPRA (Northern Illinois Pug Rescue and Adoption) and Rainy and her mom are going to be there. I tried to tell Mom that Rainy would like me better with my funky smell but she wouldn't listen to me.

I don't think I'm a hot mess. I had a bath last year and I'm still pretty clean. Just look at me. Here I am giving Mom the sad eyes but it didn't work. Dad turned on the water and then the real fun began.

I hate being wet. I don't like water on me and everyone knows that, but unfortunately it doesn't stop the powers that be from torturing me with it. I couldn't get far enough away from the sprayer and I nearly choked myself trying to hide from the water.

Instead of helping Dad wash me so that I didn't have to spend forever in the tub, Mom decided to take some video of me. Please ignore the squeaky, baby voice. Mom thinks I'm still a baby.

Once the water torture was finished the air torture began. Since we were the only group in the dog wash, Dad grabbed a dryer and I was hit with a double whammy. I hate the drying part almost as much as the washing part but usually one person dries me while the other person brushes me. I know Dad just wanted me to dry as fast as possible but the dryer scares me.

I was shaking because I was so cold. I don't think the heat was working because I nearly froze to death.

I'm not sure why Mom took another video of me, but she thinks I look cute with the air blowing all my fur around. I made sure to shake some on her just to get back at her for all the torture. That'll show her.

I just couldn't take the dryer any more so I cried until Mom unhooked me. I was so mad that I turned my back to her.

I was so ready to go home. I didn't care that I wasn't dry. I didn't care that I would get Mom's lap all wet on the car ride home. I just wanted to get the heck out of the dog wash. Can we leave now? I'm as clean and dry as I'm going to be.

I knew Mom wouldn't be able to resist my pitiful face so she picked me up and carried me to the car. I was sure I was going to get a Happy Meal after what I had been put through but Dad drove us straight home. Sheesh! I guess I'll have to drive myself to McDonald's after I'm completely drive. I sure hope Mom doesn't mind a pile of pug fur in her car. Ha, ha Mom. The joke's on you!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Now This is Sweat Energy!

What if I told you that you could generate usable electricity just by working out on an elliptical machine? You could, but you'd have to be working out at a club that has ellipticals and treadmills retrofitted with the ReRev system. ReRev is short for Renewable Energy Revolution and it's a way to help the environment while helping your body.

When you work out you create kinetic energy. The energy you've create doesn't get used and that's a shame. All energy has the potential to power things and energy you create is no different. This little explanation from the ReRev website explains the process the best.

Climb aboard an elliptical machine or a treadmill, start moving and pretty soon you are creating energy. Kinetic energy is energy of motion and this motion gets converted to DC (Direct Current) that is sent to the ReRev system.

The ReRev system takes the DC and converts it to AC (Alternating Current). AC is the form of energy most homes and businesses use.

Once converted, the AC is sent to a power grid and can be used to power anything in the health club where you're working out. How cool is that?

But how much power can you generate? According to the ReRev website, an elliptical machine that is used regularly at a gym will generate one killowatt-hour of electricity every two days. That's enough energy to power one laptop for 24 hours or a vacuum for 45 minutes. Working out for just 30 minutes will generate enough energy to power a laptop for 1 hour. Just think of all the energy that could be generated by an entire health club!

There are over 180 machines around the country using the ReRev system, primarily in university health clubs. There aren't any close to us but I'm sure they're on their way. It cost about $300 to retrofit each machine and at some universities this cost is paid for by the students via funds earmarked for renewable energy programs. Displays on each machine show every watt hour generated by a workout so instead of watching the time or miles pass you by, you can actually watch energy being generated.

The system was developed by 23 year old University of Florida graduate Hudson Harr who got the idea for ReRev while working out. He's in talks with major US gyms and it's just a matter of time before people everywhere are generating energy the ReRev way. ReRev is only one of a handful of renewable energy businesses this entrepreneur is involved in and he's wasting no time in getting the renewable energy message to the masses.

Just think of all the kinetic energy you've been wasting. You could be powering your computers, cell phone chargers, ipods, and more. I know Mom has wasted and is wasting a lot of energy and if she could get her hands on one of these machines I think she'd work out more. If I know Mom, she would probably even put me on the treadmill and hang Popeyes in front of me to get me walking and generating energy. Keep your paws crossed that this doesn't happen because as much as I love Popeyes, I love napping more than exercising. Energy or no energy, I need my sleep or I won't have any energy.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Must See Film!

When Mom showed me the dvd she brought home the other day I was totally psyched. I love cows and figured I would like a film about them. Boy, was I wrong.

I was having a very peaceful nap last night when Mom woke me up to tell me the film was starting. She knew I didn't want to miss the cow film so I wasn't mad that she woke just as I was dreaming about going through the drive-thru at Popeyes. Nominated for an Oscar this year for best documentary, Food, Inc. tells the story of where our food comes from. Simple and to the point, right? Think again.

This film was unlike any other we have watched. It was well filmed and beautifully narrated. It's hard for me to describe but the opening sequences were beautiful and it was like we were watching a regular film. I admit that there were some scenes that I couldn't watch. I covered my eyes while Mom covered my ears because I don't like to see or hear animals being hurt. Mom tells me that this film contains only mild farm scenes and since I didn't want her to go into detail I didn't ask what she meant.

I really liked the first couple segments of the movie because they showed how we got to where we are today. How did we end up with factory farms, producing mass amounts of food for the cheapest cost possible? Who or what was behind it? I can't tell you the answers to these questions but we've all played a role in it, even me. Yes, even a pug is to blame for the mess we are in.

Did you know that corn is present in most of the packaged food in the grocery store? The film really delves into the Farm Bill and corn subsidies though they only present one side of the story. Like everything in life, you must do research and decide for yourself whether actions like these are the right thing to do for the greater good. The bottom line is that corn is king and soybeans are queen. Without these two crops we would starve because so much of our food production is tied up in them.

Factory farming is never pretty no matter how you spin it. The film takes viewers to chicken farms, to a chicken processor, and to the largest hog processing facility in the world. Some of the scenes are graphic but again if you want to know where your food comes from, you have to be prepared for the truth.

Mom thought one of the most interesting aspects of the film was the human factor. Not just the farmers and others interviewed in the film but the segment on the workers that work in the hog processing plant. It is eye opening (my eyes were open for this part) to really understand the cost of cheap food. Cheap food to the consumer means that all along the farm to table line and beyond, there are many costs to be paid by producing cheap food. No one should be treated like the workers in the hog processing plant yet this inhumane treatment continues as I type this. Big corporations treat workers like they treat the meat those workers process but I bet the cost to workers lives are never a consideration to most people who eat meat.

Environmental issues abound in the film as they do in every film about food. The production of food is to blame for a host of environmental issues. Is food a basic human right? I don't think anyone would argue that but is destroying the environment while producing food a right as well? That shouldn't even be up for discussion because there are right ways and wrong ways to do everything, including food production. Only time will tell the real costs to our one and only planet from producing food the cheapest way possible.

I don't want to give away too much of the film but I do want everyone to see it. It's important to know where your food comes from and to establish a connection with it on a natural level. Those that grow their own food do so not just because it tastes good and it's less expensive than purchasing it in a grocery store, but they do so to get back to their roots (literally) by working the very soil that has provided for so many over the years. The experience of growing food seems like one of the most things anyone can do.

If you cannot get this film, either from the library, by purchasing it, or renting it, the film will be shown on April 21 on PBS. I'm sure it's no coincidence that this film is being shown the day before Earth Day. The film is just another reminder of where we've been and where we're headed. We have lots of work to do to change policies, ignite fires under big businesses, demand better legislation, and to decide what we will and will not eat. We hold the golden ticket. We speak volumes with our purchasing power; every dollar we spend sends a message to food producers. Like Mom always says we come a long way baby and we ain't there yet.

Food, Inc. on POV