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Summer 2015 Newsletter

SUMMERTIME

By Mary Anne

While some might debate if the “livin’ is easy” we have to admit that summertime is the season for swimming, picnics, barbeques, vacations and, festivals. Here at Mariposa Market we spend a lot of our time preparing for the influx of visitors for a variety of music festivals starting with Sierra Nevada, and spinning through Kate Wolf, Northern Nights, Reggae on the River, and Enchanted Forest. The lineups of talent available in this county during the summer months are indeed incredible. In preparation for the season, Mariposa‘s deli is gearing up for more “to-go” options, perfect for picnics and “take-home” on a hot summer evening when it’s too hot to fire up the stove. Our produce department is bulging with the wonderful fruit that makes this time of year so exciting. With the exception of apricots, which were a little disappointing, the fruit has been exceptionally sweet and juicy. We have been selling through two bins of watermelons every week, most of which have been delicious. Grapes, cherries, melons, kiwis and mangoes are rounding out the stone fruit selections of peaches and nectarines with sumptuous flavor.  Strawberries are still very reasonable with raspberries and blueberries starting to come in at better prices. The sweet corn this week is truly exceptional and we hope we can continue to have it on our shelves. The lack of water has caused several organic farmers to cut out their corn crops. Also, sadly, Filigreen Farms, which grows the extremely popular local blueberries, will not have a crop this year due to the drought. California tomatoes are starting up, and green beans, cucumbers, zucchini and eggplants are also from our state. Bell peppers are still from Mexico and are sometimes in short supply, especially the most popular reds. Boxes of freestone peaches like Elegant Lady and O’Henry will be starting to come in in the next few weeks. Look for the sign out on the road which will indicate when they come. Or check Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MariposaMarket).  Have a safe summer, spend some time with friends and families chilling out, and remember to conserve water.   


Green Lawns; Green Waters

By Cailean

The scene of a white picket fence enclosing a lush emerald hued lawn is, for many, the idyllic scene of the American Dream. The perfectly cut and kempt lawn has become ingrained in the psyche of what makes us American, up there with guns and trucks. To suggest that lawns are harmful and unnecessary could cause you to be ostracized by your friends and neighbors. As the syndicated columnist Dave Barry said, “The average American home owner would rather live next to a pervert, heroin addict, or communist pornographer than someone with an unkempt lawn.” The truth of the damage that lawns cause to the environment and economy is quite staggering. You may think you have a small lawn and that the little water, fertilizer and pesticides you use are a trivial thing, but when combined with the millions of acres of lawn’s across America it adds up to a very large problem. Here are a few findings in a study from: “Redesigning the American Lawn” by F. Herbert Bormann, Diana Balmori, Gordon T. Geballe, Yale University Press, 1993

 

·        A lawnmower pollutes as much in one hour as does driving an automobile for 20 miles.

·        30 to 60 percent of urban fresh water is used for watering lawns (depending on the city).

·        $5,250,000,000 is spent on fossil fuel-derived fertilizers for U.S. lawns.

·        67,000,000 pounds of synthetic pesticides are used on U.S. lawns.

·        60,000 to 70,000 severe accidents result from lawnmowers.

·        580,000,000 gallons of gasoline are used for lawnmowers.

·        $25,000,000,000 is spent for the lawn care industry.

·        $700,000,000 is spent for pesticides for U.S. lawns.

·        20,000,000 acres are planted in residential lawns.

Those are some big numbers! And that was in the early 90’s, when water was more plentiful and people less densely populated. While these are great quick reference numbers, they don’t tell us the amount of fuel spilled during refueling of equipment (around 17 million gallons a year, more oil than the Exxon Valdez spilled), or that the average home owner uses 10 times the amount of pesticide and fertilizers per acre on their lawns as farmers do on crops. The majority of these chemicals are wasted due to inappropriate timing and application. These chemicals then runoff and become a major source of water pollution. Most of this water is also wasted due to poor timing and application.

Many of these problems can be reduced, or completely eliminated, by planting California native plants, that require very little maintenance and water. It is possible to have a beautiful landscape just outside your door that, after completion, will actually save you money due to using less water and no fertilizers. Stone paths and bark or pebble coverings around the plants are a great alternative to thirsty grasses. Another overlooked benefit of a multicultural lawn is the great source of nourishment for the many insects that travel for pollen and other food sources. It has been known for some time now that bees are dying en mass from a wide range of causes such as pesticides, lack of diverse habitat, removal of natural habitat and invasive species. A traditional green lawn is sterile to an insect, offering no edible parts. If you still prefer to keep your lawn, or feel it is too much work to completely redo the yard, think about lining the edges of the yard with seasonal flowers to add color and provide nourishment for our insect friends. Using electric yard tools cuts down on emissions and petroleum use, while also protecting yours and your neighbor’s ears from a known cause of hearing impairment over time.

Overall the benefit of a native landscape that is ecological and economical is an intelligent way to put your land to work for you.

 

WALKING

By Mary Anne

It was 6 to 7 million years ago that Sahelanthropus tchadensis, one of the earliest hominids was thought to be the first of our ancestors to walk on two legs. About 5 million years later Homo erectus emerged with longer legs and erect posture. Walking shaped our bodies and our brains, and forged the path to becoming the species we are today. A brisk walk offers a plethora of benefits. It gives our heart, lungs, and muscles a good work-out and helps to prevent osteoporosis. And, being a natural movement, it also carries a much lower incidence of injury. For most people walking is an easy form of exercise. It requires no gym membership or trainer. It costs nothing. Our bodies are naturally hard-wired to adjust to changes in speed, surface conditions, and other environmental factors. In many ways it is an ideal form of exercise.

Unfortunately, with the modern presence of cars, walking has taken a back-seat to convenience. This has done nothing for our physical bodies as witnessed in rising obesity rates and diseases directly related to inactivity. In fact, one survey found a 6 percent increase in obesity for each additional hour people spent in a car each day. Earlier in the 20th century most folks walked several miles every day. In 1969, 48% of children walked or biked to school. Today that figure is 13%.

Walking not only benefits the body but also frees up the mind. The walker’s world is much more detailed and fine-grained. We have evolved to take in the characteristics of the world around us and to notice the interactions of other people as we ambulate through our environment. Like “slow food” walking can be “slow transit”, a time to observe our surroundings and process problems, meditate, and free our minds from clutter.

Walking, like any exercise, can be more effective by following a few simple instructions. Relax your arms, letting them swing naturally. Maintain good posture by keeping your back straight and your head up. Walk briskly enough to cause an increase in your breathing and heart rate, especially if you are aiming for some aerobic activity. As you increase your speed, pump your arms in rhythm with your stride.  And, control the length of your stride to reduce impact on your feet.

Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen spiritual leader, suggests this simple verse for a walking meditation, taking an in breath and an out breath every few steps:

Breathing in: “I have arrived”; Breathing out: “I am home.”

Breathing in:  “In the here”; breathing out: “In the now.”

Breathing in: “I am solid”; breathing out: “I am free.”

Breathing in: “In the ultimate”; breathing out: “I dwell.”

 

Say Cheese!

By Josie Hunter

Who doesn’t love cheese? Here at Mariposa we have an exquisite cheese selection that appeals to all cheese lovers. We have sheep, cow, goat, mixed cheeses and even vegan cheeses. We have it all! We strive to bring you the best organic cheeses, with minimal processing, from happy livestock. We love supporting our locals like Tres Bien and Shamrock Ranch, but we also love bringing new products with the same great qualities, that aren’t so close, like our newest products from Face Rock Creamery in Oregon.

Tres Bien is a family owned and operated business from Ridgewood Ranch (home of Seabiscuit) for the last 25 years, and counting. Founded in Penngrove by Keith and Adrianna Johnson, with their 3 daughters, it all began as a family 4-H project that turned into a 400 livestock family farm with happy, free range, grass fed livestock. They specialize in cow cheeses, goat cheeses, and cow/goat mixed cheeses, with over 50 different flavors to choose from, that are far from bland or boring. When they needed a new location, they found Ridgewood Ranch. They do custom cheese tables and tours. They also have a MESA program, urging others to experience and become a part of a great family owned and operated cheese loving business. You can taste the passion this family has for cheese in every bite. Support your locals. Pick up some and experience it for yourself!

Face Rock creamery has a bit of a different history to it. Starting in the 1800’s in Bandon Oregon, burning down in 1914, and again in 1936 and then demolished in 2000, to then be brought back to life in 2011. Now, Face Rock is once again thriving. Partners with the Scolari Family Dairy, they have been producing milk since the 1930’s in Coquille Valley in Oregon, on their 600 acre farm. The Scolari’s, just like Face Rock Creamery, are committed to doing things the correct way, without adding any artificial ingredients. The dairy is only 15 miles away from the Creamery, ensuring that the milk arrives at its peak condition. It’s new, and it’s worth a taste. Let us know what you think!

They are just two of our products. All of our cheeses come from creameries that have great stories and backgrounds. Look into them, and please let us know what you think. Mariposa can get cheesy!

 

Remember to Recycle

By D. Hall

Recently a group of Mariposa Market managers paid a visit to Solid Waste of Willits. We wanted to tour the recycling facility to learn how we could improve our recycling program at the store. Solid Waste of Willits is a locally owned company that has been in operation for 40 years. They now cover the entire north and southwest parts of Mendocino County. For recycling they accept: tin, aluminum, plastic, glass, paper, cardboard, electronics, motor oil, wood waste, yard waste, as well as construction and demolition debris. In Willits we now have a single stream recycling program. What this means is that you put all of your recyclables into one bin and the MRF (Materials Recycling Facility) at Solid Waste separates it all out using a combination of manual and mechanical sorting. The sorted recyclable materials are baled up to travel to their next destination. What can and cannot be recycled depends if there is a market for the recycled materials. We learned that PET plastic, the kind used in soft drink bottles labeled with a 1 in the recycling symbol, is ultimately recycled in the US and used for textile fibers like t-shirts and fleece jackets. We were told that there is no market in the US for the recycled plastic that bears the 2-7 recycle label. These plastic bales are shipped to China where they can be processed cheaper. We learned that the paper towels we use to dry our hands can be recycled with paper.  Some materials like fishing line, wire, needles and plastic bags wreak havoc with the MRF. The whole operation needs to be shut down to untangle to obstructions they create. Please be sure to never put these items in the recycle bin! Although the Willits facility cannot accept aluminum foil for recycling at this time, you might be surprised at the materials that can be recycled like plastic toys, plastic hangers, five gallon buckets and lids, plastic flats and 6 packs from flower starts, to name a few. You might consider taking a tour for yourself or take group of kids. For recycling questions or to arrange a tour, call Willits Solid Waste at 459-4845.


Fantastic Fungi in the Bulk Herbs

By Alecia

Mycoformulas is a new line of mushroom supplements we are now carrying at Mariposa.  There are three formulations that blend different species of mushrooms, to achieve immune response, improve mental clarity, and to naturally sustain endurance.  All the mushrooms are grown organically in sterile and controlled laboratory conditions.  By adjusting the environment throughout the life cycle of the mushrooms, conditions can be imitated to reproduce their natural habitat, therefore increasing the medicinal quality of the mushrooms.  All mushrooms are third party analyzed to measure concentrations of targeted compounds. They are packaged in glass and have no fillers or flow agents, including magnesium stearate.  The exciting part is that Mycoformulas uses a full-spectrum cultivation technique.  According to them; “the industry standard simply collects the mycelium and can miss the values in the fruit bodies and secondary metabolites that are included in our products.” This enables them to harness the unique compounds produced by the mushrooms throughout their entire life cycle.

Our bulk herb dept. will be carrying all three of the formulations: “Memory”, “Endurance” and “Immune”, as well as 2 individual mushrooms: lion’s mane and chaga.

Lion’s Mane is one ingredient found in MycoFormulas “Memory” blend.  More than a billion people worldwide are affected by the more than 1,000 brain-related diseases and disorders. Changes over the last 30 years such as the surge in electronic devices, the rise of background radiation (PC’s, cell phones, microwaves), and the massive amounts of neurotoxins in our food and household products including hormones, antibiotics, heavy metals, pesticides, additives, colorants, and GMO’s all play a big part.  With this onslaught of toxins, it’s no wonder that neurological diseases have not only been on the rise, but disturbingly, younger and younger people are being affected.  Lion’s mane stimulates nerve growth by increasing proteins, called nerve growth factors, in the brain. Molecules in this mushroom are found to be small enough to cross through the protective sheath that protects the brain in a way that no other conventional medicine has been able to. This amazing superfood is a rich source of protein, iron, and potassium as well boosting white blood cell count, regulating blood sugar, cholesterol, and reduces overall body inflammation.  The “Memory” formula also contains reishi, maitake and cordyceps.

Cordyceps are the main mushroom used in the “Endurance” blend.  This parasitic mushroom, also called caterpillar fungus, uses insects as hosts. They were originally found in the highest altitudes of Tibet and China on the backs of caterpillars.  Once a spore lands on the caterpillar, it literally consumes its host from within.  Sounding like the beginnings of a sci-fi movie, cordyceps were originally thought to be a worm.  The word means “hope” and “big money” and is one of the most exclusive foods in China.  (When sold, the mushroom must contain the caterpillar carcass to guarantee it’s not a fake. Louis Vuitton’s bags are not the only thing of which the Chinese will make a knock off!)  Having been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese and Tibetan medicine, it has been thought to cure almost everything.  They have been found to be beneficial in all sorts of ways; cordyceps can improve respiratory health, enhance immune function, reduce cholesterol, balance blood pressure and blood sugar, support heart and liver function, and are effective antibacterial, antioxidant, antitumor, antiviral compounds as well as, being known as a sexual performance enhancer for men. Professional athletes have been using cordyceps to improve aerobic capacity, to increase endurance and speed up post work out recovery.  Western culture really didn’t become aware of the benefits of cordyceps until 1993, when 3 of China’s athletes set 5 new world records for long distance running at the national games. The coach revealed the secret, that he had been including cordyceps in the team’s diet for the natural benefits of improving energy, and stamina.  Cordyceps increase oxygen in blood cells and the synthesis of ATP, energy for our muscle cells.  The “Endurance” formula also contains reishi, and chaga.

The “Immune” blend combines ten mushrooms that work synergistically to modulate the immune system.  Mushrooms are one of the few species that can either regulate immune response up or down.  Many things can only stimulate the immune system, which is not recommended for people with auto immune diseases. Research has shown mushrooms have a direct anti-cancer effect.  Chaga, which is now in our bulk section, has more antioxidants than acai berry, and makes a wonderful tea.  The beneficial components are copious and has been called the anti-cancer superstar.  Here is a recipe to try:

Chaga Chai

4 oz. of chaga

1 tsp maca powder

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp dried orange peel

1 tsp cardamom pods

1 tsp dried rose hips

Blend the dry herbs together and store them to have on hand.  When it’s chai time, boil 4 tablespoons of the chaga blend with some fresh ginger in a quart of water, till it turns black.  Strain and serve with some raw milk and honey.  You can reboil the same mixture a bunch of times, and feel free to adjust the herbs to find the flavor you like.

References:

1. Restrepo, Margarita. “The toxins that threaten our brain”. Naked Food, 10-5-2015, pages 45-49

2. “Mycoformulas”. Product information and Training Manual    

 

From our Customer Suggestion Box

Tapatio Hot Sauce:  Unfortunately this contains Sodium Benzoate, so we will not be carrying it.

Bulk whole oat groats:  The groats are now available as a special order only due to low sales volume.

Blue Lotus Rooibos Chai Powder:  We have carried this in the past, however it was not that popular (low sales).

Suja Organic Carrot Crush:  We are currently researching this line.

Thank you to the employee (Marta) that ordered the Marshmallow Root in Bulk Herbs:  You’re welcome!!

Sweet Leaf Peach Tea (in the cooler):  We are currently carrying the three most popular flavors to make room for new tasty beverages! 

Imagine Soup, Celery:  We checked with our distributor and it is currently not available, but we will keep it on our watch list. 

Bacon bits:  After much searching we found “Bac-Uns”.  However, we are unsure of the source of soy being used and are still researching. 

Synergy Raw Kombucha Third Eye Chai: Sorry, but it is not available thru our distributor at this time. L

Bhakti Chai:  You were reading our minds!  There are now 3 flavors of Bhakti Chai in the cooler.      

California Pepper Sauce from Gilroy:  This product looks good, but it is not available through our distribution channels. 

Rivino Chardonnay:  We will make shelf space for this as soon as we can get it! 

Surf Sweets, Watermelon Rounds:  These are on the shelf right now!! 

Epic Bar; Liver, Lamb & Beef:  We have Epic Bars and also Tanka Bars!

Xochitl Blue Corn Chips:  Our distributor had discontinued this, however they have been recently re-activated, so we’ll check out the possibility of making room for them again. 

 

Ayurvedic Self-Massage

By Gaea Bogue

Recently I’ve been drawn to start an early morning series of healthy rituals as a way to ease myself awake, center, and prepare for the day ahead. When I create time for consistent self-care, I find that I move through the day feeling lighter and more at ease. I’m partial to yoga and meditation, but have been curious about Abhyanga (Ayurvedic self-massage) as an addition to these practices. It is not necessary to spend a lot of time each day on these. I find that 20-30 minutes total, for all 3, is enough. Also, Abhyanga need not be practiced daily, 2 to 5 days a week is thought to be sufficient.

Before I introduce Abhyanga, I feel that I should share a brief history of Ayurveda. I am drastically simplifying for this article. Ayurveda originates in India, and is the traditional form of health care. It is thought to be the oldest system of preventative and curative health care in the world, dating back thousands of years. There are three forces called Doshas, which incorporate a lifestyle that is healthiest for each person’s individual make-up. Optimal well being is attained when the body, mind, senses, and spirit are in balance. An Ayurvedic practitioner can determine what your Dosha is in order to create a series of practices. The three Doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Specific to your Dosha, you will learn the best diet, exercise, herbs, and more, suited to you specifically. Self massage is one of the regular practices incorporated into an Ayurvedic lifestyle. The amount of time, and number of days per week to practice Abhyanga can be determined based on your Dosha. I found a short quiz which can be fun, but not as thorough as seeing a practitioner. http://www.earthbody.net/blog/55-news-category/219-the-dosha-quiz.

Abhyanga, when practiced regularly, can bring about a sense of balance and well being. Taking the time to nourish yourself has many benefits! Some improvements may be a smoother, softer complexion, increased circulation, lubrication of joints, and detoxification, due to stimulation of lymph nodes, calming of nerves, better sleep, and increased stamina. Below I’ve included instructions for self massage from www.chopra.com. If you know your Dosha you may choose the appropriate oil, or use Jojoba, Shea, or Coconut which are suitable for all three. We also carry a line of Ayurvedic inspired oils by Earth Body, and bulk Ayurvedic oils by Banyan Botanicals.

Abhyanga Routine:

  • Warm approximatey ¼ cup of oil, make sure the oil is not hot, only warm
  • Sit or stand comfortably in a warm room
  • Apply oil first to the crown of your head and work slowly out from there in circular strokes—spend a couple of minutes massaging your entire scalp
  • Face: Massage in circular motion on your forehead, temples, cheeks, and jaws (always moving in an upward movement). Be sure to massage your ears, especially your ear-lobes
  • Use long strokes on your arms and legs, and circular strokes on elbows and knees. Always massage toward the direction of your heart
  • Massage the abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise, circular motions. On the abdomen, follow the path of the large intestine; moving up on the right side of the abdomen, then across, then down on the left side
  • Finish the massage by spending at least a couple of minutes massaging your feet. Feet are a very important part of the body with the nerve endings of essential organs
  • Sit with the oil for 5-15 minutes if possible so that the oil can absorb and penetrate into the deeper layers of the body
  • Enjoy a warm bath or shower. You can use a mild soap, avoid vigorously soaping and rubbing the body
  • When you get out of the bath, towel dry gently. Blot the towel on your body instead of rubbing vigorously

I encourage anybody interested to research Ayurvedic practices, and I hope you find it as fascinating, and enlightening as I have!

Information sourced from www.earthbody.net; www.chopra.com; www.banyanbotanicals.com; http://www.healthandhealingny.org/tradition_healing/ayurveda-history.html


SOME ORGANIC FOOD TRENDS IN AMERICA

By Kevin, Grocery Manager

WHERE WE EAT

USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) estimates total food expenditures for all food consumed in the United States was $1.24 trillion in 2010. Food purchased for home consumption accounted for $646.8 billion, or 52 percent of the total. Of the remaining $594 billion, (48%) restaurants, both full-service and fast food, accounted for about three quarters of all food-away-from-home sales. According to the National Restaurant Association, U.S. adults purchase a restaurant snack or meal 5.8 times per week. The United States has 970,000 restaurants and foodservice outlets. The National Restaurant Association projects 2012 sales at $632 billion, up from $379 billion in 2000. 

ORGANICS

Growth

Organic agriculture, a worldwide growth industry, can be a profitable, sustainable business for agricultural producers interested in going through the certification process necessary to enter this market. Organics have continued to expand during the last few years, and industry experts are forecasting steady growth of 9 percent or higher (Organic Trade Association, OTA 2012).

Growth in the organic sector has highlighted issues that need to be addressed: shortages of organic raw materials such as organic grain and organic sugar and competition from food marketed as “locally grown" or "natural." A shortage of affordable organic ingredients or products, such as corn and soybeans for livestock feed, left organic producers unable to meet market demand.  (ERS 2009)

The U.S. organic market is relatively new, with the USDA only adopting national standards for organics in October 2002. The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) regulates all organic agriculture in the United States.

Production
According to the 2008 Organic Production Survey (NASS 2010), the United States has 4.1 million acres used for organic production. Of that amount, 1.6 million acres were planted with organic crops and 1.8 million acres were organic pasture or rangeland. Figures for the previous year, reported in the Organic Agriculture: 2007 (NASS 2009), stated that the nation had 2.6 million acres used for organic production.

The number of certified organic farms, ranches and processing facilities in 2011 totaled 17,281, a 240 percent increase since 2002 (NOP 2012). While there were organic farms or ranches in all 50 states, nearly 20 percent, or more than 2,500 of the operations, were in California. Other states with large numbers of certified and exempt organic operations were Wisconsin (1,124), New York (842) and Washington (737). 

Sales
In the United States, systematic collection of price data for organic products is limited. There have been a few studies of farm-level, wholesale and retail organic price data, and these have shown significant organic premiums for most fruits, vegetables, grains and milk (ERS 2005).

The total value of farm-level organic sales reached $3.2 billion in 2008, up from $1.7 billion in 2007. Organic crops accounted for $1.9 billion in sales and organic livestock, poultry and their products accounted for $1.2 billion. California led the nation in organic sales, with 36 percent, or $1.2 billion, of all U.S. sales. According to the 2008 Organic Production Survey (NASS 2010), other top states in terms of organic sales were Washington ($282.0 million), Pennsylvania ($212.7 million), Oregon ($155.6 million), Texas ($149.3 million) and Wisconsin ($132.8 million).

According to the OTA’s Organic Industry Overview organics showed the following:

  • As of 2011, 4.2 percent of all U.S. food sales were organic.
  • The organic food sector grew by $2.5 billion during 2011; close to 50 percent of that growth was contributed by fruit and vegetable sales.
  • Meat, poultry and fish sales experienced the fastest growth, increasing 13 percent from 2010.
  • Organic dairy captured nearly 6 percent of the total U.S. market for dairy products.
  • Over $2 billion worth of organic fiber, cosmetics and household products were sold in 2011.

The 2008 Organic Production Survey (NASS 2010) also found that most U.S. organic producers sold their products locally, with 44 percent of sales taking place less than 100 miles from the farm. Nearly 75 percent of sales were either local or regional (that is, more than 100 miles but less than 500 miles). According to an ERS survey of organic handlers (2008), more than 50 percent of organic sales in 2004 were made either locally or regionally.

In terms of sales outlets, the majority, or 82.6 percent, of organic sales were to wholesalers, including processors and distributors. Just 10.6 percent of sales were to retail operations, including supermarkets and natural food stores, and only 6.8 percent of sales were direct to consumers via farm stands, farmers’ markets and community supported agriculture.

Some parts excerpted from:

Marsha Laux, content specialist, AgMRC, Iowa State University,www.mlaux@iastate.edu. Updated November 2013 by Diane Huntrods, AgMRC, Iowa StateUniversity.

Meditation, Body Awareness, and Pain Management

By Nan

The Buddha, after gaining enlightenment, shared his realization in the form of the Four Noble truths. The First Noble Truth is there is suffering. It’s that simple. There’s no way to avoid it. Everyone experience sickness, and if you live long enough old age, then of course death. From that simplistic, yet profound statement, come all the variations nature and circumstances can throw our way.  Pain and suffering are limitless.  What I find interesting is how we instinctively try to avoid this truth when it presents itself, particularly with regard to pain. There is a billion dollar industry built on our aversion to even the slightest hint of pain or discomfort, but try as we may, we never completely rid ourselves of some form of pain for long.  Granted we have good days where we kick up our heels, frolic about, enjoying the freedom of movement within the confines of a body, but invariably we either run out of energy or stub our metaphorical, if not literal,  toe  in the process.  If it’s true that what goes up must come down, it’s equally true that whatever feels good will eventually change into a condition that is not so agreeable to us. Suffering is based on this duality.

Last year I experienced lifestyle altering pain in the form of a ruptured disc in my lower back. I’ve always been pretty resilient, but this experience took me to a level of body awareness that even my two natural childbirths didn’t address. My initial response was the typical avoidance approach of someone who wants the pain to go away. I tried all sorts of things, including what my physician recommended, to get relief, but nothing helped for more than a few minutes, and then the pain was back. It was unrelenting and it went on for months. I was fearful and impatient. What ultimately helped me manage the pain was meditation.  Having had a meditation practice for years, I already understood, to some extent, the body/mind relationship. Our thoughts have a tendency to override the reality of what the body is experiencing. Often we solidify our bodily sensations into problems, by not accepting what’s happening moment by moment. By wanting things to be different than they are, we often create more suffering for ourselves than we would if we just accepted our condition as it is. Our tendency is to struggle against the pain. “I don’t want this, why is this happening to me, I‘ve got to do something”. All of these thoughts were going through my mind as I squirmed, trying to get to a place of comfort. It was only when I fully accepted my condition that things became more manageable.

One of the advantages of meditation is that it slows the thinking process down so that what is arising and passing through our consciousness is more accessible. Meditation also accesses states of consciousness that are not always available to us as we go through our routine daily existence. This is true for pleasurable states as well, however, severe pain really grabs our attention, not allowing us any wiggle room. Pain keeps us squarely in the moment and can be all consuming. It’s no wonder we want it to cease. What I found when I fully gave the pain my attention, by using meditation as a foundation, was how impermanent it actually is. The pain was coming and going in manageable waves that I could experience without resistance if I was willing to give it my time and attention. In this way it was not unlike childbirth but without an end result in sight.  I also found that physical sensations I labeled as pain, shifted in location and intensity.  If I was able to focus my attention on my breathing, I was not as bothered by it, I simply experienced it.  Of course there are 24 hours in a day, and dealing with pain at this level was not always possible for me. I also learned I could use simple breathing and concentration techniques when the pain became unmanageable, and other solutions such as drugs or distraction were out of the question. Eventually I got into the habit of checking in with what was happening in my body, including the pain and my breathing. Because I was a captive audience, unable to escape into my normal routine, this became my routine, and since I didn’t know if I would ever be” back to normal,” I learned to accept my condition and deal with it as if it were permanent. 

Fortunately, I recovered. It took me several months to jump through all the medical hoops before I was able to get an appointment with a surgeon. By the time I did, I was already healing on my own. Things got better slowly and the pain volume began to dial back to tolerable. Ultimately I didn’t need surgery. The whole situation has left me with new concept of pain and an appreciation for the amazing powers of the body to heal, without surgical intervention, if given time and proper attention. Many of the mindfulness and breathing practices I fine tuned during those long months of recuperation I’ve carried with me into what I call my “new normal.”  My reason for writing this personal account is to offer encouragement to anyone experiencing acute or chronic pain and to pass on a simple, yet effective exercise to help manage pain. 

Exercise:  Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and get as comfortable as possible. I recommend lying flat on your back, if you can manage it, as this allows you give up any resistance to gravity. If you need extra support, place pillows were they are needed. The point is to be as comfortable as you can be.  If you can’t get out of bed, lie on your back in bed, and get as comfortable as possible. Close your eyes and put your attention on your breathing without trying to control it. Just breathe in and out enjoying the flow of oxygen into your body and the release of carbon dioxide as you exhale. Stay with your breathing as much as possible. You can count the breaths if this is helpful. Breath is the gift of life and one of the most pleasurable experiences we have to draw from.  When pain arises try not to resist it, but observe the quality of the pain. You can name it, if you like. Is the pain hot, throbbing, sharp, erratic, heavy, etc?  Is it constant, or does it come and go in measurable intervals like waves? As much as possible, just observe what is occurring and try not to identify it as belonging to you. Observe your thoughts with regards to the pain and try to see the thoughts and the pain as separate. I know this might seem like a stretch, and maybe the last thing you want to do if you are in pain, but it is possible with practice. If you can’t manage that, at least try not to resist what is happening to you, as this just creates another layer of tension. Be kind and gentle with yourself, you’re in pain after all, and this time spent with yourself is intended to be nurturing. As with other meditation practices, keep returning to the rhythm of the breath.  Give yourself all the time it takes to heal. Being impatient is not helpful.

 

Corporate Owned Media

(Part Three)

By Todd Hall

Introduction

It is an important function of the mainstream media to obfuscate the truth in their service to the elite interests that dominate them to “manufacture consent” to programs that serve these elite interests. When we speak of elite interests, we mean corporate interests. In this article, we are going to take a look at trade agreements, their basic structure, objectives, and the potential effects on our planet and its inhabitants. Seemingly, the appetite for corporate greed is insatiable. The trade agreements that we are about to discuss make it possible for companies to expand this greed on a global scale. As we will observe, media coverage relating to the activity of these trade agreements is suspiciously abysmal and clearly biased.

The TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership)

“If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing, or invest; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs”.

Jolian Assange: Founder of WickiLeaks

During the Clinton administration, the President aggressively succeeded in implementing NAFTA (The North American Free Trade Agreement) and GATT. (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) Simply stated, these trade agreements allowed corporations to expand their frontiers to obtain resources to maximize company profits. NAFTA and GATT successfully removed the barriers of environmental regulations and labor laws to make this possible. The TPP currently has 12 member nations, including the U.S.

 The TPP is essentially a more up to date treaty which implements similar principles and goals as NAFTA and GATT. Much like Clinton, President Obama is pushing hard for fast-track approval of TPP. (With no on-the-floor debate or amendments) The TPP would encourage further out-sourcing of jobs and tax revenue loss. It would further weaken labor’s bargaining power. Passage would also weaken food and consumer safety standards and restrict internet freedom. The TPP also would provide windfalls for the wealthy, while reducing government revenue for social spending. This is a re-run of the 1993-1995 experience with NAFTA, where Clinton ran roughshod over his Democratic majority in order to serve corporate interests. Like NAFTA, TPP executives conduct negotiations in secret. Mainstream media outlets consistently fail to provide any substance or details concerning TPP activity. The widespread negative effects of the TPP would certainly cause substantial resistance and outcry from citizens, which could prove to be a threat to the TPP. In fact, multiple polls confirm that over 68% of citizens are altogether opposed to the TPP. Obama, who has referred to himself as “transparent”, has again reduced his “transparency” by trying to jam through an agreement that will damage and threaten public rights, without public knowledge or debate. “Free trade” sounds more virtuous than “investor’s rights”, so for PR and mainstream media, the TPP is referred to as a “Free trade agreement”.

Do you like war? The TPP is also user friendly to our “permanent war system”. (Thanks a bunch, George H.W. Bush) The TPP would allow continual feeding to gigantic military budgets, even in the face of serious gaps and needs for the domestic citizenry.

The many chapters which include detailed specifics concerning the TPP are lengthy and difficult for the average person to understand. (For those readers who might be interested and have patience to spare, TPP chapter details are available via the internet. Simply Google search, TPP/WickiLeaks). So, what does all of this mean for us? How does this affect us? The ways are vast and intricate. Naturally, space does not permit an in-depth study; however, we should take the time to examine how our personal purchases can potentially affect our planet and its inhabitants. As a general rule, it’s always a good thing to support local businesses and organic farming. Many of us are fond of Goodwill and the Farmer’s Market, and yes, Mariposa Natural Foods. We are fortunate that in Mendocino County, there are an abundance of opportunities for trading and bartering as well. Voting with our wallets on a local level is one way to help disempower multi-national corporations. Another way is to phone or write your Senator and voice your opposition to the passage of the TPP. (Time is crucial)!

The WTO (World Trade Organization)

The WTO is a 169 nation member global partnership allowing “free trade” of labor and resources. The principles and mechanisms are strikingly similar to the TPP. The primary difference is that the WTO operates on a world-wide scale, with far more participating nations. For these reasons, much of what we observe concerning the WTO can be held largely true for the TPP.  Unlike the TPP, whose future is pending legislation and uncertain, the WTO is an established and recognized entity.

The policies set by the WTO impact all aspects of society and the planet. Contrary to WTO claims, it is not a transparent, democratic institution. WTO rules are written by and for corporations, with inside access to negotiations. Countries who are WTO members may trade, purchase and/or transport labor and resources without those “pesky” environmental and labor regulations getting in the way. It is corporate profiteering on a grand scale. Corporations may strategically locate where labor and resources are cheaper to maximize their profits. The WTO encourages a “race to the bottom” in wages by pitting workers against each other rather than promoting and adhering to internationally recognized labor standards.

The WTO is the most powerful judicial body in the world. By promoting the free trade agenda of multinational corporations above the interests of local communities, working families, and the environment, the WTO has systematically undermined democracy around the world. Unlike international treaties, WTO rules can be enforced through sanctions. This gives the WTO more power than any international body, and even eclipses national governments. For example, the WTO has ruled that it is illegal for a government to ban a product based on the way it is produced, such as child labor. It has also ruled that governments cannot take into account “non commercial values” such as human rights, or regulate practices of companies that do business with vicious dictatorships (such as Burma) when making purchasing decisions.

The WTO allows privatization of essential services. Public assets such as radio airwaves, schools, child care, sewage and garbage, park maintenance, telecommunications, transportation, shipping, tourism, and postal services can be sold to corporations for profit rather than the public good.

Conclusion

Understanding global commerce and labor is difficult. Not all of us are Bankers and Politicians. Global trade agreements make it more difficult for citizens to support local businesses and farmers. Coupled with the convenience of internet shopping, these companies can now reach a vast audience.

Meanwhile, mainstream media does their part as a continual voice which promotes elite business interests. (Imagine how many people would have attended the demonstrations at the WTO meetings in Seattle if global trade received the unbiased news coverage it deserves) Those who understand the role of mainstream media are not surprised by this; it’s just business as usual. In our next article, we will provide a list of some dependable alternative media sources. It is my hope that they provide you with useful information, which mainstream media consistently ignores, and understandably so, for they are an integral part of corporate power.

References:

Book-“The New Media Monopoly” by Ben H. Bagdikian

-TPP information from Z Magazine, June 2015 issue

-WTA information from www.globalexchange.org

-The phrase, “manufacture consent” borrowed from Noam Chomsky

 

No Time to Wine about the Drought

By Debbie Mac

With the drought in California lasting three years, it only makes sense that many areas would be affected.  Along with beef, produce, and nuts, wine and beer production are also affected. The California drought has officially gotten scary. 80% of California’s water supply goes to the state’s agricultural needs. When water supplies are limited, so are the products.  California is also responsible for producing 89% of the wine made in the United States.

Unlike vegetables, such as tomatoes and lettuce, that have shallow root systems and dry out quickly, grapevines have a typical lifespan of 40 to 50 years. There are Zinfandel vines over 100 years old growing in California today. With less water, the vines can stress and produce less leaves and grapes.  Even though the yield is less, the grapes are more concentrated, with a greater potential for exceptional flavor and aging. Compared with other crops, grapes are drought tolerant. All the forecasts aside, drought and warmer weather actually have some upside for wine harvests, at least short term. The warmer the region, the earlier the fruit ripens. It affects the skins and sugar content of the grapes and ultimately the flavor of the wine. Many vintners agree that there are many exceptional wines made during drought years.

Some wineries partake in “dry farming” which means they let nature take control. They don’t irrigate. When grapes aren’t irrigated, the roots grow deep and can tap into the aquifer deep down. They don’t get as many grapes, but the grapes they get are high quality. For farmers who depend on selling the grapes by weight, that could be a financial strain. When grapes are irrigated, they depend on water. The roots are shallow and need water to survive. These grapes are more water dependent. But any vines can only last so long without rain.

The beer industry is also affected. California is home to more than 400 craft breweries, the most in the country. Combined, they sold $47 billion in beer sales in 2012.  Small brewers worry that they could have trouble meeting thriving demand with limited water supply. Lagunitas in Petaluma and Bear Republic in Cloverdale, who both get their water from the Russian River, have had to limit production due to water regulations. Lagunitas has cut their water usage by 10% in the last couple of years, but doesn’t want to compromise the taste of the beer by doing so. (The Russian river water has a special quality. Using different water sources could possibly affect the taste of the beer produced.)

The big beer industries have also scrambled to use less water by making changes inside and outside the factories, to help save water consumption.  Several beer producers have extended operations in other states where water isn’t a problem. It takes a lot water to produce beer, and when making beer is your business, you either conserve or go to where the water is, or perhaps both.

Hopefully, the drought will come to an end and we will return to normal production.  It is never a given that we will have normal rainfall, so it is always in our best interest to be responsible stewards of the Earth.  We can understand a lot from the hard years, even better farming practices.  Hopefully we can learn, produce, and enjoy all that our agricultural state has to offer.

 

Strawberry Salsa

½ med red onion—diced

½ red bell pepper—diced

½ green bell pepper—diced

¼ cup fine shredded fresh cilantro leaves

½ pint (1 cup) or more fresh strawberries—sliced

¼ cup fresh orange juice

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

Mix all together---great on white fish

 












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