Everything’s connected: US Election results

The phrase “everything’s connected” is often used within the spiritual community to describe their feelings and experiences on a higher level of consciousness. Ecological and Environmental Scientists also frequently use the phrase in reference to the cause and effect relationships between plants, animals, microorganisms, chemicals, climate, and many other factors that play a role in the web of life. This phrase also applies to Ayurveda, preventive medicine and human health. Recently, a visitor to this website commented on what he perceived as a lack of focus regarding the topics posted here. I appreciated this critique and interpreted it as, there is a lot of information being offered here beyond what you might find from a typical health site. In this fast paced modern world people are overwhelmed with information and they need to find quick and easy advice, so I understand his criticism. Posting an article about the US elections results may at first glance seem to be another out of focus topic, but hopefully the following will demonstrate that everything really is connected, including human health and American politics.

 

GMO Labeling campaign contributor Dr Bronner's

GMO Labeling supporter and campaign contributor Dr Bronner’s. From Facebook.com/drbronner

 

GMO Labeling

Some might say that if voters can’t approve GMO labeling in the foodie paradise that is Oregon then it can’t pass anywhere. However, the story is not that simple, specifically Monsanto and other agrichemical companies outspent their opponents by 12 million dollars and saturated the TV with their advertisements. Just as in Washington, surveys showed support for labeling in the weeks prior to the election, but in the end the Oregon measure lost by only 1%. What does it mean when corporations spend millions more than their opponents yet barely win? It demonstrates the power corporations have influencing important decisions that affect our food and health, and it also demonstrates that this fight is certainly not over. I imagine Bob Marley singing about Monsanto when he says:

 

“If you are the big tree, let me tell you that, we are the small axe, sharp and ready, ready to cut you down, to cut you down”

Lyrics for Small Axe, performed by Bob Marley

 

Bob Marley

From bobmarley.com

 

Recreational Cannabis

Speaking of Bob Marley… the pioneering spirit of the Pacific Northwest motivated voters there to blaze a new trail for the rest of the nation to follow, as they often do. The momentum generated by Colorado and Washington State continued as citizens in Oregon, Alaska and Washington DC voted to legalize the recreational use of Cannabis. Whether or not you decide to partake should be your decision alone, and not that of the government. Let’s be honest here, this is only a plant, and for a country to criminalize the consumption of Cannabis, yet declare itself “the land of the free, and home of the brave”, is quite simply ridiculous. Not only is Cannabis a plant, but it is also believed to have many medicinal properties. In this case the will of the voters prevailed partly due to a lack of major corporate opposition. Citizens in 4 US states now have safe and legal access to a natural plant medicine that has potential to replace pharmaceuticals and their associated harmful side effects. More importantly they can do this without having to get a prescription from a doctor which empowers them to take control of their health.

 

“So you’ve got to legalize it, and don’t criticize it, legalize it, yeah, yeah, and I will advertise it”

Lyrics from Legalize it, performed by Peter Tosh

 

The urban blues

The US map Wednesday morning looked like it was completely painted red, with a few blue dots where the major cities are. The red Republicans took control of the congress from the blue Democrats. How is this change of power connected to health and preventive medicine? A quick analysis of the Republican’s environmental philosophy should help answer that question. Common sense tells us that without a clean environment we have nothing, no air to breathe, water to drink, or food to eat. Yet the Republican philosophy seems to be the opposite; “remove the burdensome environmental regulations that prevent us from growing the economy” is their rallying call. Sure, we all benefit from a strong economy, but growing the economy while destroying the environment is a recipe for disaster. I suppose it all boils down to whether you believe that in the end technology will save us. Should we pollute our clean rivers to make money, and then spend that money building machines to clean our drinking water? This is the political party that calls climate change a hoax, this is the party that blocks the designation of wilderness areas, and this is the party that fought a national health care system until the bitter end. I might sound like a frustrated Democrat (I’m actually independent), but all I really want to know is why a party that calls themselves conservative seems to understand very little about conserving the natural resources that we all depend upon. Yes, everything is connected, and the people you vote for will either protect our environment or sell it to the highest bidder. The League of Conservation voters, not to be confused with the league of conservative voters, is a great resource this time of year. Their scorecards tell you exactly how the incumbent candidates previously voted on important environmental legislation.

 

“Tell me man, can you eat your money?”

Lyrics from Money, performed by The John Butler Trio

 

Was Agent Smith a Republican?

Was Agent Smith a Republican?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sattvic Nation?

Admittedly, the scope of this site can be quite wide at times, and while politics may seem completely unrelated to preventive medicine, this past election shows us that everything really is connected. How we vote determines whether we are eating GMO foods, have access to potentially medicinal plants, and choose leaders who are good stewards of our natural resources. We are what we eat, and yes we also are what we vote for.

 

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Apple 2.0 (the fruit) versus iPhone 6

 

 

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What color is a Sattvic Planet?

Seriously???

Seriously???

 

Red?

Sherwin Williams seems to think the answer is red. At first glance this logo appears to be a vintage sign from the 1940s. This is one of those logos that make you think how ridiculous people were to believe what they believed back then. It reminds me of the old advertisements touting the health benefits of smoking cigarettes, spraying DDT, or any other product that has not survived the tests of science and time. However, this logo is the same one that they use today, in fact just a couple miles from my home they have a store with multiple large signs in front displaying this exact logo. Perhaps I’m overreacting, but I am amazed that in the year 2014 there is a major corporation with a logo advocating that we cover the planet with synthetic chemicals. All you can really do is laugh at the absurdity of their goal, but I probably shouldn’t be too surprised given the state of the world today. The Japanese atomic energy agency initiated the covering of the Pacific Ocean with nuclear radiation 3 years ago at Fukushima. British Petroleum was busy 4 years ago covering the Gulf of Mexico with oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. For the past 20 years Monsanto has been on a mission to cover your dinner plate with genetically modified organisms; see The difference between Apple 2.0 (the fruit) and iPhone 6 for my view on GMOs. When we see those vintage signs, logos and advertisements from an earlier era and wonder how our ancestors could have been so foolish, we should probably pause for a moment and ask ourselves if anything has really changed. The truth is that it has not. One chemical gets banned, while 100 new chemicals get invented and enter the market. You might feel good about your newly purchased BPA free product, but has anybody stopped to wonder what are the health effects of the new chemical they used to replace BPA? Enough of all that; let us move on to a lighter subject.

Earth Day

The title of this post asks what color a Sattvic Planet would be? The answer of course is GREEN! Earth Day was last Tuesday, so I’m a few days late, but on a Sattvic Planet every day would be Earth Day. I know that may sound cliché, but think about it, every action you take and every purchase you make has an environmental health consequence, and a personal health consequence. Don’t just ride your bike to work one day per year, ride as often as possible because it not only improves the air quality, but it also improves your quality of life.

In Ayurveda…

Sattva is a Sanskrit word derived from Sat which means Truth, and Tva which means Your, so sattva refers to Your Truth. The word sattva is used in Ayurveda to describe a state of mind that has many desirable qualities including: clarity, intelligence, balance, purity, and truthfulness. In Ayurveda attaining a sattvic mind is accomplished through a meditative process that simply involves looking within and discovering your truth, or your purpose. A Sattvic Planet is a concept of a world that we could all create together if as individuals we all began to attain a sattvic mind. In other words, global change starts at the individual level, and we can’t expect to solve society’s greatest problems until we achieve true personal health. On my About page I stated that you can’t have personal health without environmental health, and you can’t have environmental health without personal health. Since Earth Day was this past week I thought now would be a good time to revisit that statement, and remind people to stop and think about the current condition of the environment and what impact it is having on us. Also, think about the current condition of you and what impact you are having on the environment. Stay tuned for a future post where I discuss charismatic farmer Joel Salatin and his vision of creating a greener planet. Until then,

HAPPY EARTH DAY!

 

GMO Apple and iPhones

Most people know that Apple releases a new and improved version of their iPhone every year into the electronics marketplace, but how many people are aware that a small Canadian company is in the process of releasing a new GMO (genetically modified organism) apple into the environment? As iPhone fans eagerly await the release of version 6 later this year, what kind of expectations do they have? Perhaps the new phone will have a larger screen comparable to Samsung, a battery that will retain a charge for longer, or a processor that results in faster performance. As for the GMO apple, I call it Apple 2.0 in the title of this post because like the iPhone, it is a human creation meant to be an improvement over version 1.0. In this case Apple 1.0 is the fruit we have been eating and cultivating for thousands of years. If you haven’t already heard, the improvement this company hopes to make is to genetically engineer the fruit to resist turning brown after slicing. At this point you may be wondering what the problem is. We can make new and improved phones using electronics technology, so why can’t we make new and improved apples using biotechnology?

The debate over GMOs can be very confusing, but without going into great detail the GMO debate can be reduced to a simple question; do you seek natural products, methods and systems as much as practically possible, or do you believe the ingenuity of humans will be able to create products, methods and systems that are superior to those we find in nature? I know there are some out there who may be wondering what exactly natural means since at this point in history nearly every square meter of the planet seems to have been modified or degraded in some way by humans. We could spend years debating about the environmental, economic and health risks and benefits of growing and eating GMO foods. I believe this conversation is worth having, and it is starting to happen across the nation, but for the purpose of keeping this post concise we need to zoom out here and focus on the big picture. I think it will take years and even decades before we reach a scientific and societal consensus about the use of GMOs. Until that consensus is reached we need to make decisions about whether or not we will buy and eat GMO food.

So why do I question our ability to create new versions of food in the same way that we improve upon old versions of electronics? First, let’s start with the obvious; we eat food while we do not eat our phones. Your body needs to digest food and convert it into energy and tissues, but will your body be able to recognize and therefore properly digest these foreign man made materials? The answer is that I don’t know. What I do know is that in Ayurveda there is a term called ama, and ama basically refers to improperly digested food that over time is responsible for a wide array of health problems. This is one of the reasons that digestion is considered so important in Ayurveda, and this is why we should be skeptical about this biotechnology. Second, will there be any side effects or allergies associated with eating GMOs? I don’t know that answer either, but I do know that modern medicine in the form of pharmaceuticals is infamous for having side effects. I use the example of pharmaceuticals, but I could have easily mentioned any other synthetic food additive we have invented that produces undesirable side effects including aspartame, olestra, hydrogenated oils, or anti-biotics. It seems that every time we try to create a new health or dietary product in the name of convenience and progress we are left with the same result, the corporations win and the people and planet lose. The bottom line here is that we don’t know what the long-term health effects of eating these foods are, and so unless you want to be part of an experiment with unknown consequences you would be wise to simply avoid GMO foods. These are only a couple of health factors to consider about eating GMOs, but I just as easily could have mentioned the unintended consequences that growing GMOs can have on the environment that we all depend upon.

It is challenging to write this article because with every sentence I can’t stop thinking about all the counter arguments and the hundreds of small details involved. This is a very complicated and interconnected world we live in and we seem to be creating problematic situations faster than we know how to manage them. That is where the application of Ayurvedic principles enters the picture. Ayurveda existed thousands of years before the existence of modern technology and it serves as a guide that helps us make decisions about how to live and attain optimal health. The ancient Ayurvedic practitioners learned how to thrive without the use of modern technology, which brings the question of why we can’t do the same. If you want to take the risk of eating Apple 2.0 then that is your decision to make, but why take that risk when we already know that optimal health is easily attainable by simply eating version 1.0. As for the iPhone 6, let’s hope that they come out with a bigger screen next fall!

Again, I was trying to be concise, but if you do wish to expand on this topic, or any of my posts, please submit a reply.