Friday, May 14, 2010

Blue Gold

I, unfortunately, have some familiarity with dehydration. Due to the medication I take and the conditions I have I am constantly reminded by doctors, "Drink plenty of water," or "You should ALWAYS have a bottle of water with you," and, finally, "Nicole, when you don't drink enough, you lose your precious electrolytes - it can be VERY dangerous for you." I heed their advice, of course, but there are times when I simply can not keep up with the chemical or physical imbalance my body presents on a particular day or two and those times I find myself thirsty, weak, dry and, most of all, fragile.

It seems to me, especially tonight, that I would be remiss in my search for true sustenance without taking at least one blog moment to discuss that from which all life spews from: WATER.

Why tonight, you ask? It began with a thunder clap, then I heard the downpour. This was in the middle of my husband and I searching through Netflix to find something to rent. This did not matter to me, though, when I hear a deluge, there is only one thing I can do: run to the front door, with my two dogs to watch. It is a wonderful sight, smell and experience at this time of year. When the rain hits the cement a small fog evaporates, only in the first minutes of the downpour, then the smell finds you - a clean, fresh smell of the earth getting a clean rinse. Then, finally, I love to watch the trees sway in the wind, rocking back and forth ensuring every leaf gets a shot at its very own raindrop, they look just like the ladies in the shampoo commercials. And, then, shortly after, it quiets. Not that the storm ends, but the water is calmer now, the winds have slowed, because the tempest is tamed and falls into a rhythm. At that point, my show is over...

As I get up from sitting in front of the door I think to myself, I wish I had some buckets out there - that was so much water! I have been reading the special edition of the National Geographic on Water this week and, needless to say, it has raised some concerns.

And so, it was with this on my mind, that I came back to the couch, where my husband had a movie suggestion, "What about this one?" on the screen was, Blue Gold: World Water Wars. Does this man have the ability to read my mind? I instantly start spewing facts that I had read from the National Geographic, "Did you know that 97% of the water on Earth is salt water and, therefore, undrinkable? Did you know that of the remaining 3% of water only 1% IS drinkable?!" I pulled out my iPad, "You have to see these pictures of people buying baggies of water! Or spending FIVE HOURS A DAY walking to get dirty water!" He insisted I stop and we watch the movie, but there was one more thing I wanted to show him, one page of the National Geographic that just struck me - not a picture, but a few statements, here they are:

(National Geographic, April 2010)

"Wow, that's scary," he said, I agreed and we watched the movie. And, as for the movie - Wow, that was scary. This is another MUST SEE. Put it on your list with Food, Inc. This is a very important movie to see (or maybe you would rather read the book?). While Food, Inc. opened my eyes to the sins of industry, Blue Gold slapped me (HARD) in the face with them. I am forever in awe of the world created in the post World War era. I pray that we are not too far gone to grasp some semblance of sanity (or at least my version of it (: !!) again.

I am still processing much of what I saw in the movie, but I know this: water is not free, fresh and sent to us from the skies - it has been privatized on a scale so much larger than I ever imagined. Water is being traded on the stock market. People are dying because of water, not just because polluted, diseased water, but because of assassinations, suicides and gunshots in a water wars all over the world. I know that bottled water is a joke, but that joke is no longer funny. I know that we won't see ads about this problem, we probably won't hear anything on earth day about this... The powers that be have already begun their game of chess - strategies have been made, pieces have been placed, pawns will be sacrificed and too many of the players are still living by the mantra, "the man who dies with the most toys wins" without a care in the world about the devastation left in their wake. What does it mean when a dollar is more valuable than water? In other words, what does it mean when a dollar is more valuable than life?

So here's your homework:

1. Warm yourself up by watching The Story of Bottled Water. This is a short film on the Internet made by The Story of Stuff people (you should probably watch all of their videos if you haven't already!)

2. Check out the April 2010 Special Issue of National Geographic on Water. As usual, the pictures are breath taking, but the articles are also worth the time. Barbara Kingsolver wrote one article on water that I truly enjoyed (I always like her writing).

and, of course,

3. Watch Blue Gold: World Water Wars. It was originally aired on PBS, so you might actually find it re-run on there. We got it through Netflix, but you may find it in the library, too!

Extra Credit: Take the time to stop whatever you are doing to watch the next rainstorm you hear!

Drink up, enjoy, satiate your thirst, but be mindful. Appreciate your blue gold. :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Avoiding GMOs - There's a Guide!!

I don't know how I missed this before in all of my web-trolling about food, but, today, while researching phytoremediation research (the study of plants fighting toxins and bad things in the air, the soil and, basically anywhere in the environment - yes, yes - I am home SICK AGAIN!) I, somehow, fell upon The Center for Food Safety which is simply amazing! On the home page of the site is
  • the latest news in the food safety fight, as well as 
  • a link for you to join the "True Food Network" in order to stay connected with their doings - I, of course, signed up!

Along the top of the page are a number of tabs (all of which I have not yet explored), one of which I simply could not ignore: "Non-GMO's Shoppers' Guide". Here is a snippet of their description of the guide:

After a long wait, we are pleased to announce the arrival of our updated, portable pocket shoppers’ guide to help you find and avoid GE ingredients wherever you shop. Our guide gives you valuable information on common GE ingredients, brands to look for, and look out for, and common sense tips to keep you in the know.
[UPDATE (3/30/2011): There's an APP for that now! The guide has bee made into a mobile phone application for iPhone and Android phnes as well.]

The guide is well-organized and has a "Non-GMO" and a "May Contain GMO" listing for each category. It also has, at the end of the guide, a list of "Invisible GM Ingredients" - those ingredients that may have been created using some GM product. All-in-all, I think this is a handy reference for anyone that is concerned about genetically modified food (as I am!!!), but should, as it all should be, be taken with a grain of salt. The sad, true fact is that the GMOs are out there growing and, as all of us who saw (or read) Jurassic Park know, "Life finds a way." I say this in response to the sobering "special note" found at the end of the guide:

SPECIAL NOTE: This guide was compiled based on company statements, not genetic testing. Any product labeled as Non- GMO indicates that it’s manufacturing process is designed to avoid GMOs, but consumers should be aware that GM contamination is possible due to natural pollen movement, weather events, seed contamination, or human error. Hence there is no guarantee such products are 100% free of GMOs.

...and so I am left wondering: are there or will there ever be any products free of GMOs? Terrifying thought.

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