April 24, 2014

Organic Food vs. Conventional Food: a goverment conspiracy?

Why Is Organic Food More Expensive?

Most people assume that organic food cost less to produce. Why wouldn’t they be? Isn’t organic food grown on organic farms that are free from chemicals and pesticides? How expensive could it possibly be to cultivate a farm using the most basic elements that earth supplies – soil, rain and sun? It would be nice if growing organic food was truly this simple. However, it’s a lot more complex than this. The agricultural businesses are heavily subsidized through our tax dollars, whereas organic farms do not receive any government help.  This is the reason that conventional foods are far cheaper to buy. Our tax dollars underwrite a substantial part of the financial burden that conventional agriculture incurs.

This ludicrous situation was birthed out of an honorable intent by the American government to help ease the severe food shortage of the Great Depression in the 1930’s. In a desperate attempt to prevent further wide-spread starvation and famine, President Roosevelt introduced the subsidies to help sustain the farm industry.  Albeit the subsidies, were predetermined as a temporary solution, the allocation of them persisted far beyond the Depression, developing into the multi-million dollar political platform that it currently is.

Organic food is also more expensive by virtue of agrichemicals that are created to make conventional farming methods cheaper to practice. The agrichemicals agricultural industry was developed with one purpose in mind – to make mass production of food cheaper and quicker. There was never any forethought on nutrition, health or the environment in the design of agrichemicals.

So, has the government conspired against organic food?

I’ll let you answer that question for yourself. Despite the fact that agribusinesses receive government subsidies, there is another vitally reason that hikes up the cost of organic foods – supply and demand. You, as a consumer, tell the government what you are willing to pay for food and what quality of food you want on account of your purchases. Since the demand for conventional food far outweighs the demand for organic food, the government will continue to subsidize traditional agribusinesses thus maintaining the high costs of organic food.

While the demand for conventional food is higher than that of organic food, the issuing of government subsidies to the conventional agricultural industry is an archaic policy that should be defunct. Or at the very least these subsidies should be open to organic farmers as well. Subsidies that are issued to agribusiness are creating an excessive food surplus that is simply disposed of each year. Over 100 billion pounds of food is wasted in America each year and this is largely in part to food production that can’t possibly be eaten. Hunger should not be an issue in America because there is far more food produced in our country than can be consumed. The disturbing fact is that a very small percentage of this surplus actually goes to food banks and organizations that help the needy.

Government subsidies would be better served by helping small local farmers, organic farms, community supported agricultural programs, food co-ops, etc so America can eat healthier and have better quality foods.

Ana Gazawi

Ana Gazawi

Single mom of two boys trying to live a greenier, crunchier life. Lover of life and all things that bring good people, great conversation, and lasting memories together.

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Sweet Tea Tuesday: Straight trippin’, Boo

Saturday morning, the leading man and I set out on a road trip to the California coast, sans children. This is the first time we’ve been away from the child/ren since 1997. (We were still a party of three until 1999.)This does not include them ditching us for slumber parties and the like.

There’s been much talk of weddings lately, and very little about making unions work, whatever the method of conjoining. This trip, although a business trip on the surface, was a study on why we’ve worked for 22 years and why we’ll work for many, many more.

Joseph and I talked for hours (Please give my darling husband a huge round of applause, this was quite the feat for him.) about everything from Katy Perry on Sesame Street to theories on the methodology of U.S. Border Patrol. These lengthy exchanges of thoughts and theory are an integral means for keeping communication open and healthy. Even in discussing and debating the most seemingly superfluous topics, we strengthen our ability to take on and tackle things that bring weaker unions to peril.

We mingled. We don’t get out much, er…okay we don’t leave home much, by choice. We’re fairly introverted, but something about getting out, even for a short spell recharges us. Admittedly, there’s something pretty flattering about watching women flirt with my husband, or with me for that matter. Nobody, and I don’t care what you say-wants someone that nobody else wants. So, in short, it feels pretty damn good to still “hook up” after 22 years.

We missed the children. I called. He texted, probably because it was more discrete than my incessant calling. Laughs. Although we were frolicking about this strange city, and melding nicely with the other frolickers, we were still grounded in this thing we started. There’s often the misconception among single folks that married people miss the lives we once had, this simply isn’t true. Balance in everything is key.

We had fun doing absolutely nothing. Whether walking down the street people watching, or sitting in the car each other watching, a smile, at times even a burst of laughter was just within reach. The energy was palpable, the space between the next word and the last was filled with the beautiful silence that people in love share.

That energy is still palpable, as is the joint pain from sitting in the car for hours, then dancing-of course, with added alcohol-induced flexibility, and back in the car for hours. And, totally worth it, every second, every acetaminophen- if nothing more than to slow it all down long enough to realize that all these years later, you’re still straight trippin’ over your “Boo”.

This week, make it a priority to seize a moment, light a spark, ignite a flame.

See our road trip at a glance on my personal blog: Tea & Honey Bread.

T. Allen-Mercado

T. Allen-Mercado

T.Allen-Mercado is a mixed media artist, award-winning essayist, student of anthropology, blogger, wife and, mother of two.

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No Wedding No Womb

Maybe you are old enough to remember Grease 2. Hopefully you remember the Fallout Shelter scene in which Louis tries to convince Sharon to sleep with him. He sings to her, urging to “…do it for your country” and promising that “your mother will approve.” His musical attempt fails as she realizes that he is setting her up.

I often think what would happen if Grease 2 was remade today. I imagine Tyler Perry rewriting the movie and turning Sharon into a “Baby Momma” who is being tempted to have unprotected sex with the man who will inevitably become “Baby Daddy” number three.

It’s not too far-fetched of an idea. It’s impossible to believe that it is when staring at a glaring statistic such as 70% of children born in the Black community are born out-of-wedlock. The status is glorified in movies, in videos, and by newspapers and other media outlets. We have to admit that having children out of wedlock has become so synonymous with Black women, that it is assumed we all wear the title of Baby Momma  even when we don’t. Remember the  FOX- First Lady Michelle Obama drama during the campaign?

But how do we change this? What do we need to do as a community, a culture, to ensure that our children do not repeat the damaging behaviors of their elders? How do we protect our children when we are so lax in protecting ourselves?

These are tough questions, I suppose. Single-parenthood is not new nor is it isolated to the Black community. The stigma, however, is gone and what we have gained is a legacy of negative statistics that have plagued the Black Community more than racism ever could.

The fact is that we have been fostering a culture of “love ‘em and leave ‘em.” We encourage our young Black boys to play the field and to explore. We tell our young girls that they are responsible for their own sexual actions as well as those of their male counterparts. Butfinding someone to blame is not important.

What matters most are the children. What matters most is that children need two parents to guide, love, and provide. They deserve to feel love from those who created them. They deserve to have a chance. If we want to escape this cycle of poverty and anger, we have to stop the cycle of acting without thought.

This is OUR problem.

Check out the No Wedding Now Womb Movement. It only takes a spark …

Kristina Daniele

Kristina Daniele

Kristina, Founder and Oz of We of Hue is one of many doing it across hues-homeschooling, wifing, mothering, and business building. She is a web designer and social media consultant with a love of building communities on line. She looks forward to intelligent conversation that is eye-opening and statement-making.

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Black women’s health: Fibroids

I was watching a documentary on infertility recently. My heart just wept for some of these couples that desperately wanted babies. I was particularly saddened by a black couple that had put a second mortgage on their home to help cover the costs of infertility treatment only to be left with a massive debt and no baby. Years before the husband and wife had met each other, the woman had suffered from large fibroid tumors that had to be removed surgically.

I thought about my own journey to have children. I was a young 22 year old college grad. I was engaged to a man I thought was my prince-come. He was incredibly handsome, my a gorgeous mahogany man. He was smart and ambitious and had two degrees in both mechanical and electrical engineering. As soon as I graduated I dashed off to Belize so that we could be wedded in marital bliss and begin our lives together. We didn’t want to start a family for several years so the decision was made that I would go on birth control. His sister-in-law took me to the pharmacy where she purchased her pills and I soon discovered that buying birth control in Belize is no different than buying a pair of shoes. You look at the selection available on the shelf, pick one, buy it and move on with your life.

That decision nearly cost me my baby making parts. A few weeks into taking those pills my life began to crumble – literally. The guy I thought was my prince-come ended up being my prince not-at-all. In the midst of dealing with my deteriorating relationship, I also started having massive bleeding issues. A Belizean doctor told me that I needed to continue taking the pills so that my body could adjust to the new hormones. I didn’t agree with his advice so I quit taking them. By this time my relationship with my ex-fiance was over and I flew back to the US.

A few weeks after returning to the US, the bleeding started again, so I consulted with a gynecologist who prescribed an ultrasound. It was discovered that I had developed fibroids. For the next year different attempts were made to reduce the fibroids, but they continued to grow. Eventually, the doctor decided that a myomectomy was necessary.

Just before my 24th birthday the surgery was performed. At my first doctor’s appointment following the surgery, the doctor solemnly told me that I might not be able to have children. At the time it didn’t seem like a big deal to me, since I wasn’t interested in having children. I had decided to throw myself full throttle into an international career. A good friend and I were making plans to move to the Europe in a couple of years for a French and Spanish language immersion program so that we could be recruited by foreign aid groups such as CARE, UN, CARICOM and UNICEF. This type of career choice wasn’t ideal for a woman with children anyway, so I accepted the bleak prognosis with a stiff upper lip.

Long story short, 4 years later my girlfriend flew off to Europe alone to begin her international humanitarian career with the UN and got married in the early part of the year and had a bouncing baby boy by the end of the year. My pregnancy was a huge unexpected surprise and happened with no effort. However, I recognize my story could have been very different.

Fibroids are a common health issue among black women and most of us know someone who has suffered with them. According to the WomensHealth.org black women are at a greater risk to developing fibroids than white women. The cause of fibroids is unknown, nor is it understood why the prevalence of this abnormality is higher in black women.

Despite the obscure facts about fibroids and black women we do have some level of control over our risk and the following list dictates some of the actions we can take:

  • Be informed about fibroids and all health conditions common in black women so that you will know what questions and tests to ask your doctor
  • Know your family medical history so that you will know if you fall in a high risk category
  • Maintain regularly annual check up with our gynecologist
  • Limit your intake of red meat and increase your intake of dark green vegetables
  • Manage a proper diet and exercise regime

At this time medical research has not found a way to prevent fibroids. However, the good news is that early detection by a doctor, in some cases, can lead to a treatment course that will cause fibroids to shrink on their own, thus bypassing surgery.

Ana Gazawi

Ana Gazawi

Single mom of two boys trying to live a greenier, crunchier life. Lover of life and all things that bring good people, great conversation, and lasting memories together.

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Sweet Tea Tuesday: Peer pressure for parents

I’m sure we’ve all been there at one time or another, visiting with friends or family who don’t exactly subscribe to our parenting ideology, yes? The day is idyllic, the children are frolicking about in sheer jubilance, when from your well-trained periphery you see someone else’s child approaching you. Now, let me digress for a moment to ask if any of you know the method to the have-the-other-child-ask-your-mother-something-of-which-you-know-damn-well-she’s-going-to-answer-with-a-resounding-no madness? Why did we/they do that? The jury is still out on whether it’s actually worked before. Perhap, it is some retaliatory payback scheme for the “pushy kid”, as your mom shuts him down with the seamless and simultaneous execution of the side-eye, lip purse, teeth suck, 360 eye roll, segued into the “Jedi death stare” which holds you both paralyzed whilst she untangles her hand from her purse strap to deliver the stern index finger finale accompanied by the unapologetic and painstakingly curt, “No”. Then , you smile over on the sidelines thinking, “Go on ask her again, I double dog dare you”. Miss, [Insert your child's name] wants to know if he/she can go/do/see/eat _______ with all of us. Sigh.

But, what happens when the other parents chime in and offer their opinions? “Oh let ‘em go, my children go all the time”. “Girl, nothing is going to happen to them kids”. Then there’s the one parent who volunteers the supervisory services of her child whose antics you and your significant other (or not) have already discussed at great length. Raised eyebrows. Yeah, that child. So, what do you do?

I’ll tell you what I do, see above reference for coinciding body language directive. I say, “No”. Then, I assertively, albeit politely…Okay, well I’m still working on the politely, but have gotten better. Boy have I gotten better. -ask them not to undermine our plan, because I know my child/ren. And, it works! But, y’know, I’ve seen some times when it hasn’t worked; when an attempt to stand firm isn’t even made, when solid parenting falls victim to peer pressure.

There are two main ways this plays out. The first is textbook transference: when the other child approaches, the parent immediately turns to their own child and sternly states, “You know we do not do_____”. When the other parents chime in the parent becomes increasingly frustrated but still directs the statement to their child, the co-pressuree rather than at the parents who are now the co-pressurers. You do see the pattern here, yes? Lead by example, parents.

Then the second way, and equally as likely to play out in these instances, is the blame game. The parent will initially say, “no”, followed by a reticent, “yes”, either at the behest of the other parents, children, or, a combination of the two; with their own child’s puppy dog eyes thrown in for good measure. You caved, and when your child returns/experiences some level of the horror you imagined would come of the experience, you blame everyone up to and including The First Family. You bet, equally uncool.

Has this happened to you? Someone you know? Did you even notice it happening or realize that parents do indeed experience peer pressure at some level? Please share your experiences, or take heed if you’ve yet to experience it, peer pressure for parents is undoubtedly coming to a family/friends gathering near you.

T. Allen-Mercado

T. Allen-Mercado

T.Allen-Mercado is a mixed media artist, award-winning essayist, student of anthropology, blogger, wife and, mother of two.

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Clean your room!

As kids, we have grown up being told to keep our rooms clean.  As girls, it was imperative to have a tidy room because females aren’t supposed to be messy.  That was a statement my mom always told my sisters and I.  I guess that’s why she always by-passed my brother’s room.  As a mom of three girls, I use that statement all of the time.  However, their room continues to look catastrophic. It’s not that their room is dirty, they just have an abundance of stuff that needs to go.  From clothes, to toys, to books my girls have so much stuff, no matter how clean the room it never looks clean enough.  My oldest  has gotten the point and her room, I must say is immaculate.  But my two younger ones share a room and between the two of them there is a toy store full of things to play with,  clothes to last a lifetime, and books everywhere.  I’ve tried helping them get rid of things only for them to tell me with each thing I  pick up, that they NEED this and CAN’T GET RID OF that.  So we end up with a load of things not used in the box in the corner of their room. I have even tried getting rid of some of their things while they were away at school and I still don’t get very far.

The kids never want to get rid of their old junk.  They some have toys from their first birthdays, and past Christmases, toys from friends, and toys of friends.  I am begin-ing to think they are becoming  hoarders, I’ve seen that show and it’s not pretty.   I have decided that as soon as the kids go back to school, I am going to take a weekend to wash clothes and toys and gather the books they do not need any more and donate them.  I think that if they give their toys and old clothing to children in need it will make them feel better about getting rid of their old stuff. They will also feel good about their room looking and actually being clean.