Wednesday, April 30, 2008

SLAH - wasted

attended another SLAH seminar this evening. Sustainable Living At Home: this week the theme was waste and recycling. oh dear! some of the stats are downright depressing. we heard annie leonard speak on The Story of Stuff. she reminded us that our continuous consumption is robbing the planet of resources.
75% of the world's fisheries are fished out. 80% of the forests are gone (less than 4% of the US is forested). that low! in two decades we have managed to use one third of the world's natural resources.
as i said, it is depressing.
the good news is research shows that only 6% of people are inspired to change their behaviours by hearing bad news. 20% can be convinced by data and facts, whilst 70-75% are inspired by conversations with peers. so ignore what you just read in the last paragraph and let's start a conversation!
forget recycling. by then it is already too late. instead avoid consumption unless absolutely necessary. that's what the compacters do.
this means persistent attention to every detail of what you buy or use. say no to plastic bags, to packaging. share stuff. borrow and lend rather than buy. simplify your life. we all have too much "stuff". it can become a creative game of ingenuity, working out ways of living lightly on the planet without the addictive consumption patterns that seem to grip us. start to notice it around you. everywhere we go - even so-called "sustainable" events - there are subtle (and not so subtle) exhortations to buy, to consume.
on a lighter note, Nick Dunstan spoke about waste and recycling. We, the residents of the City of Port Phillip have managed to recycle 40% of our waste in the last year. the government would like us to commit to 65% in five years. there's a challenge. and mattresses; i didn't know they could be recycled.

One small action - the juice

finally, one small action we each could take to reduce waste. one person said they'd take their mug downstairs to the cafe for a coffee at work, instead of getting a disposable cup each time. this sustainability idea is not new and Geoff, our SLAH seminar facilitator makes mention of the mug project on his blog.
"The Mug Project is a community of individuals and organisations that advocate the use of the mugs to reduce waste caused by single serve beverage containers".
Hey, i could do that when i go order a juice. In fact, i have been known to take my thermos into the juice bar for a takeaway. i was astonished to learn that some cafes won't serve it to me in my own container. Health & safety regulations don't allow it - apparently. This requires more investigation. Anyone else experienced this?

food for thought

phew! it's done. i have written a document containing observations, thoughts, and suggestions for the Food Coop governance framework. this is my contribution to supporting the coop through this challenging period.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

more on the BM food coop | an ex-Director speaks

i've just returned from 10 days in the blue mountains where the food coop situation has been developing on a day-by-day basis. to summarise, the petition was successful. another example of online advocacy. 500 signatures were gathered in two weeks using the website and gathering signatures by hand outside the coop.
in response to this campaign, the Board held an information meeting on 26th march. on 28th march the "save our food coop" group submitted the petition to the Board requesting that a General Meeting be called. the Board have responded and called a General Meeting for thu 8th may.
on 20th april, the "save our food coop" group submitted four resolutions to the Board, calling for the current Board to step down and for the re-election of a new Board of Directors. Margot Turner submitted resolutions (see insert above) to the Board on 25th april, calling for open dialogue and the swift election of a fully operational Board.

meanwhile, the Board and Management of the food coop continue with the change management intiative started late last year when external change management consultants were engaged facilitate the process. on sat 19th april a change management workshop was held with staff (i want to say more here, but this post is already turning into an essay).
following the information meeting, another group formed. this was initiated by Dianne Jacobus who felt that something more needed to come out of that meeting. this group is calling itself "friends of the food coop".

i attended a couple of the "friends of the food coop" meetings and felt that although there are tensions between the various groups (board, staff, members); significant break-ups in communication (and an erosion of trust); and, a lack of transparency with some practices in the current management of coop, there is a genuine intention by the board, staff, coop membership and the community, that the food coop continue to exist and thrive - and a desire on all sides to see a positive outcome.

my observations are centred around the need to review the governance structure and address issues contained in the current structure that make it inherently difficult for the current (or any) board to function in true cooperative spirit (that is, following cooperative principles). put bluntly, the food coop has grown significantly from one part-time shop coordinator and a handful of staff, to a team of about 20 staff, including coordinators with specific roles in marketing, stock ordering, financial, and overall management. there are some varying views amongst the membership and the Board about how the food coop needs to address this growth (management structure, active member participation, etc.). this divergence was present when i was on the Board 5 years ago. there are also some changes that have been made to policy and rules in the last few years that i don't believe are in the interests of the coop.
these and other governance issues will be the subject of the paper i am writing for presentation at the 8th May meeting. it will suggest some positive ways of taking this forward without moving into an adversarial (us and them) or blaming approach.
it is worth noting that in amongst all this, the current board has 4 members, of which 2 have resigned (to take effect from 31st May). No matter what else happens, the present Board is barely a quorum and therefore, as Margot's resolution states, it is imperative that a full Board be established with the requisite skills and diversity of views to adequately represent the coop's members as soon as is practically possible. Coop members with those skills, and the desire, need to step up now :-)

raw foodies talk :: matt and angela in melbourne

When I first heard that Matt and Angela were coming to Melbourne I did what most people do and googled them. After watching Matt’s vids on YouTube, and reading about Angela on her blog. I was doubtful about spending an entire afternoon listening to a young guy from California, sporting dreadlocks and a tanned body, talk about his great adventures eating raw. Angela; well, her story sounded good, but I didn’t have a weight problem and have always been wary of D*** word.

How glad I was then to have decided to go after all. OK, so I am already eating 100% raw, but have only been doing it for a short time. Matt is into his eighth year of eating only raw foods, and Angela has been eating raw for six. I wanted to find out what to expect whilst going through those first few years of transition. I knew, from having given up alcohol in my late twenties, that it doesn’t just stop the day you have your last drink. I suffered immediate detox, but for up to 12-18 months later my body continued to release toxins.

in his search for more information, Matt turned to the work of Dr Fred Bisci, who has been 50 years on a raw food diet. Dr Bisci, now in his 80’s spends most of his time supporting people healing from degenerative diseases (cancer and the like). The transition diet that Matt recommends in his first book is based on Dr Bisci’s work.

Matt and angela are examples of two completely different approaches to going raw. Matt, a self-admitted extremist ( I would count myself in that category), went 100% raw overnight. He said it happened after he read Dr Norman Walker’s book, Becoming Younger. I’m a fan of Norman Walker as well, and his juicing book is my juice bible.

Angela on the other hand, started eating raw when her weight reached 120kgs. For her the detox effect was so great that she slowed her transition by eating about 70% raw. Even whilst eating 30% cooked food, she lost 50kg in her first year of this diet. Mind-boggling. That is equivalent to my current bodyweight! Angela now eats 100% raw, having transitioned gradually on a combination of raw and cooked foods.

Matt Monarch
Matt’s key message was “you don’t have to eat 100% raw to achieve the benefits of a healthier body”. And angela underscored this with “you don’t get a halo for eating 100% raw”. Yes, it is easy at the beginning to think that anything less than 100% is failure. Being a perfectionist, that was my initial thought. At the beginning I really did think that a completely raw diet was too big a mountain to climb. But taking one step at a time has given me an opportunity to enjoy the journey along the way.

The Food Groups
These are the groups that Matt explains in his most recent book, Raw Success.

  • Refined sugar (as found in sweets, bakery items, cakes, biscuits . . . you know)
  • Animal protein
  • Processed starches (the most common are bread, pasta, cereal)
  • Dairy
  • Raw vegan foods (fruit, vegetables, nuts, sprouts, seeds)

Interesting to me (a vegan who understands the dangers of animal protein; read Colin Campbell, The China Study), Matt’s view (and Dr Fred Bisci’s) is that the TWO most damaging food groups are refined sugar and processed starches.

Matt gave us three core principles for raw food eating. These come from his own experience and from studying Dr Fred Bisci’s methods.

What you leave out of your diet completely and without exception is the way to ultimate health
In other words, even if you ONLY cut out (completely) refined sugar and processed starches from your diet, and didn’t eat entirely raw foods, Matt believes you will still see significant health benefits. This is important. I realise now I learnt this in one of my dietary adventures 3 years ago, but didn’t recognise it at the time.

Colonic irrigation
Essential when on 100% raw diet to assist with removing the build-up of waste. This has to be the most useful message I got from the afternoon’s talk. People on 100% raw food diet are detoxing quickly and waste is being eliminated at a cellular level from the entire body. Years and years of waste and toxins. The body’s normal elimination channels – the skin, bowel, lungs – are not capable of clearing the toxins out of the body fast enough. So we need a little help in the form of colonics. This prevents us from becoming ill and experiencing the side effects of de-toxing, or autotoxic (forcing the body to re-absorb its own waste) reaction. Read matt's article on "the missing link".

Green vegetable juices
Being an avid juicer for several years, this was not news. Fresh organic vegetable juice (in particular the green juices) is the way to ensure that the body receives enough minerals to remain completely nourished and keep the system alkaline. On a raw food diet, it is simply not possible to get that level of nourishment from eating the vegetables. Juice goes straight to the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive process. Smoothies vs juicing is an interesting conversation that raw foodies have, and matt’s views of this are in his article "juicing vs blending". Norm Walker followed this principle and I tend to agree. I experience the vitality and health that comes from drinking juice daily.

This is just the summary of matt’s talk. Woven into these core principles matt also discussed enzymes, the cleansing properties of fruit, use of supplements, some good juice combinations, the gas diffusion principle (explained fully in raw success), bowel bacteria, water and much, much more.

There are many reasons for eating raw, and for most, it is focussed around better physical health, which of course is a good place to start. One of the beautiful outcomes of eating more raw food is that it raises the body’s vibrational levels and increases awareness of and receptivity to nature and our spiritual being. Personally I was glad to hear Matt talk about the spiritual changes in his life, including the opening of his third eye and solar plexus chakras. Joe Alexander (a blatant raw foodist) also makes reference to this in relation to his creativity. As a visual artist, he discovered that eating raw food sharpened his sense of colour and enabled him to draw more vibrant and lively compositions.

Angela Stokes
Angela’s story of morbid obesity began with an underactive thyroid at age 11. After transitioning to raw food, she is now half the size she was, and certainly twice the person. Angela’s skin literally glowed with health. She talked about how so many people try eating raw, often jumping in to 100%, then hit some kind of detox wall . . . only to go back to cooked food. Her philosophy is to start with where you are, but more importantly: start NOW! By start, she means at least 50% raw. Eating at least 50% raw is all you need to do to see some benefits.

What does 50% raw mean?
Percentages are rife in the raw food community. Angela explained thus. If you have a dinner plate, and half of the plate has spaghetti and meatballs on it with the other half containing a few leaves of lettuce, some tomato, and cucumber, let’s say. That is 50% raw by VOLUME. But the spaghetti and meatballs weight more than the lettuce leaves. So when we talk about 50% raw, it means by WEIGHT.

Top ten tips for going raw
Angela gave us her top ten tips for going on to a raw food lifestyle.

  • Start now
  • It is a lifestyle, not a diet
  • Eat whole foods
  • Do it for yourself. There is no need to convert other people
  • Have a supportive social network
    (raw food communities are popping up everywhere – even Melbourne!)
  • Dry skin brushing helps remove dead skin and stimulates the lymph system, aiding elimination
  • Chew your food well (matt talks about Fletcherising in his book raw success)
  • Have your greens (1 green juice every day)
  • Structure – recognise it is always changing (what Angela eats now is different from what she ate 18 months ago, 6 months ago)
  • Seaweed is important for minerals; sprouts are the best form of live food; and, water, drink plenty of it and as pure as possible (matt discussed the benefits of distilled water)

Angela talked about her recent Juice Feasting experience, eating (drinking) nothing but raw juices for 92 days. There’s a global movement (excuse the pun) of juice feasters. This is something I’d like to try. One day. According to the geneticist on, it is possible to change your genetic structure within 90 days.

Thanks Matt and Angela. I’ve come away from this talk inspired to make some micro-adjustments to my current raw lifestyle. 1. Start the colonics next week. My body is wanting it. 2. Today I started straining my juices – and wow, I can really taste the difference. 3. Attempt to avoid snacking between meals and no eating late. This has always been hardest for me, but I know the benefits. 4. Go back to doing a green juice in the afternoons. I gave that up over a year ago when I returned to full-time work. It’s a chore to clean out the juicer twice a day, but now I have so much more energy . . .

And wow, it was so great to meet other rawfoodies, plus one or two familiar faces from our rawfood meetup group. Check out Joanne's postings on the rawmom website.

Friday, April 25, 2008

i love my worms

i've arrived home to find that the caterpillars are still ravaging my green herbs, the neighbour's cat has been using the lettuce patch as a toilet (and dug up the mizuma seedlings), and i have two ripe roma tomatoes on my flailing tomato plants. margot has given me back my worm farm and i have lovingly transported it in the car from katoomba to melbourne. and lo, the worms survived the journey, but not without a damp patch of worm wee in the boot. never mind. it is wonderful to have worms again. they are my pets :-)

Friday, April 4, 2008

food facts

Food consumption makes up 20% of an individual's greenhouse emissions.

At a NSW State and Regional Development Seminar on
"The Future of Food" last night the focus was on urban agriculture and the fact that more than 20% of an individual's greenhouse emissions are related to their food consumption - mainly because of things like food miles and packaging. The increasing price of food was also discussed with the price of milk going up 31.7% and bread up 23% in the last 4 years.

from Liz Bastian's blog, A Year In A Day - 3 Apr 2008 19:53

Thursday, April 3, 2008


From Liz Bastian's blog, this delightful hypno-chicken video shows that yes, it is true! you can hypnotise a chicken and it will lie on it's back with it's little feet in the air. Liz's blog, A Year In A Day, is all about taking small steps along the path to living sustainably on this planet. Every little thing we do does count. Even hypnotising chickens.