Thursday, November 28, 2013

Be an Earth Steward


Steward: a person whose responsibility it is to take care of something.
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” (Albert Einstein)

I feel more and more that this beautiful earth is our sustaining mother, who provides all that we need in a most natural, supportive sense – fresh water, nutrient-rich food, healing medicines, shelter.  We are a part of her and this diverse interconnected circle of life.  I am amazed and humbled by this beautiful tapestry of plant and animal life and life-sustaining soils and waters..

My desire is to live a life that is harmonious with the earth and this circle of life, and so I consider myself a steward of the earth.  Will you join me friends in becoming an earth steward?

The industrial era largely fractured our natural connection with the earth, and ultimately compromised environmental (air, soil, water), animal and human health.  I feel this time on the planet is an opportunity for us to create in innovative and sustainable ways focused on long term solutions.  The old model of businesses focused solely on profit is over.  The development principle now must embrace a triple bottom line approach - people, planet, profits, in order to create in healthy and sustainable ways for the earth and all beings.  This is the new way forward, and requires a shift in consciousness, moving out of old constructs and ways. 

Becoming an earth steward means increasing awareness of our daily choices and their impact on the earth, and invites us to live in simpler, lighter ways.

This is my invitation:  for the next 30 days commit to 3 things you can do to live more simply and with a lighter footprint on momma earth.  Become more aware of the impact of your daily choices (food, transportation, etc) and use your voice to speak up for what you believe in (eg., GMO labelling, right to know).   Individually and together we can make a big difference!

Awhile ago I committed to some simple 30 day intentions, which I have continued : ) (read original post  http://irenabliss.blogspot.ca/2011/08/i-love-momma-earth-30d-challenge-little.html):
  1. Eliminate all plastic bottle and paper cup use. 
    I found an easy solution was simply to use a stainless steel double-jacketed drinking bottle for water or hot teas as I move about my day.  Many people are unaware that plastic drinking bottle and paper cup use for our 'convenience' generates a huge waste stream with associated health and environmental impacts.  I've also expanded this intention to eliminate all new plastic bag use. 
  2. Commit to eating a diet that is 90%-100% organic.  Whenever possible I buy and eat only organic food.  This is becoming increasingly available in North America and elsewhere.  I put my money where my mouth is : ) and commit to investing in earth friendly and sustainable agricultural practices.  Note:  Food that is certified organic cannot intentionally include GMOs, and organic food production practices are much friendlier/healthier, i.e., avoid hazardous chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, etc.  As I’ve learned more about GMOs my commitment to supporting organic food production has grown even stronger. 
  3. Pick up litter whenever I’m outside (3 -5 pieces : ).  Doing this helps to take care of our momma and sets an intention to keep our natural spaces beautiful. 
  4. Commute primarily by bicycle, walking or public transit.  I also use an autoshare program and rent a hybrid/ electric vehicle for longer trips. This has been convenient and easy-peasy : )

All of these practices support me in feeling good, healthy inside and out, and are now an easy ‘normal’ way of life!

A ‘hot topic’ these days is GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and GM (Genetically Modified) or GE (Genetically Engineered) foods.  I am drawn to sharing some basic information below, including links to an insightful documentary GMO OMG, a Non-GMO Shopping Guide, and avenues to take action for labelling and right to know.  Let’s educate ourselves about our daily choices, and invest in healthy organic food production.  Our voices and choices do make a big difference!

Currently, about 64 countries around the world require labeling of genetically engineered foods.
  Unlike most other developed countries – such as 15 nations in the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia and even China – the U.S.and Canada have no laws requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods.  Canada currently only requires 'voluntary labelling', and so far there has been no labelling of GM foods on this basis.  And while Canada is one of the world’s largest producers of GE crops, the system for regulating food biotechnology is weak.

GMOs
are crops that have been engineered, not simply bred, to contain DNA from entirely different organisms so that the crops then have traits that could not be gained through traditional plant breeding. For example, many crops have been engineered with special bacteria or viral DNA to make them herbicide resistant or lethal to insects. 
For example, GM sweet corn is engineered to be toxic to particular insects. The GM technology therefore transforms the corn plant technically into a pesticide.  Five main GM commodity crops are corn, soy, cotton, sugar beets and canola.  Typically >85% of these crops are GMO in North America.  They also have by-products, such as high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, vegetable oil and canola oil, in an estimated 75% of processed foods sold in grocery stores.

GE/GM food has been in grocery stores since around 1996, but no long-term tests have been done on the impacts on human health.
Potential health risks include the development of antibiotic resistance, allergic reactions, nutritional changes and the creation of toxins. GE crops also threaten plant diversity.  They also harm the ecosystem due to the use of herbicide/pesticide sprays etc.

A recent poll conducted by MSNBC showed that 93% of consumers want to know if they were eating GM foods.
Commercial foods are already labeled extensively with nutritional information, country of origin, and information about their production. It is time to add a label for GM/GE contents.  People want labelling of GM/GE foods so consumers can make informed decisions.

GMO OMG film
http://www.gmofilm.com - Director and concerned father Jeremy Seifert is in search of answers. How do GMOs affect our children, the health of our planet, and our freedom of choice?

Non GMO Shopping Guide
http://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/

JUST LABEL IT 
http://justlabelit.org/

RIGHT TO KNOW
http://www.righttoknow-gmo.org/

Organic Consumers Association
http://www.organicconsumers.org/

Food Democracy Now
http://www.fooddemocracynow.org/

Center for Food Safety (USA)
http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/

CANADIAN Biotechnology ACTION  NETWORK
 
http://www.cban.ca/Take-Action 
(great site to get informed and take action in Canada)

David Suzuki Foundation (Canada) -
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/queen-of-green/faqs/food/understanding-gmo/

FB Campaign - Right to Know Canada Bill C-257 Mandatory Labeling of GMO's
https://www.facebook.com/AlbertansAgainstMonsanto

Some recent earth-friendly developments:  
Mexico banned genetically engineered corn. Citing the risk of imminent harm to the environment, a Mexican judge ruled that, effective immediately, no genetically engineered corn can be planted in the country. This means that companies like Monsanto will no longer be allowed to plant or sell their corn within the country's borders.

The County Council for the island of Kauai
passed a law that mandates farms to disclose pesticide use and the presence of genetically modified crops. The bill also requires a 500-foot buffer zone near medical facilities, schools and homes -- among other locations.

The big island of Hawaii
County Council gave preliminary approval to a bill that prohibits open air cultivation, propagation, development or testing of genetically engineered crops or plants. The bill, which still needs further confirmation to become law, would also prohibit biotech companies from operating on the Big Island.

Washington state
had a close result on Initiative 522, which would mandate the labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), i.e., vote results were 51% No, 49% Yes.  This was close, and as one state passes GMO labelling, many others will likely follow.

Please join me friends - please commit to being an earth steward and living your "I love Momma" intentions and supporting healthy, sustainable solutions.  Together our actions ripple out to create positive change in the world.  Let us take good care of our home and each other. 

namaste,Irena 

Honor the Earth, our Mother.
Honor the Elders.
Honor all with whom we share the Earth: - Four-leggeds, two-leggeds, winged ones,
Swimmers, crawlers,
plant and rock people.
Walk in balance and beauty.
(Native American Elder)

The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
(Wendell Berry, American novelist, poet, environmental activist, cultural critic, farmer)