Food for thought…

Posted on September 26, 2015 by Liesl Ulrich-Verderber
51 Minutes
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Introduction

In this circle of four articles, we trace a train of new thoughts about food. Explore how people are disrupting the status quo in our food systems, questioning everything for a healthier future. These article have some fascinating fun going on!

Guerrilla Gardener Takes on South Central LA

Posted on July 3, 2015 by Dr. Lynda

You’ve heard of Gorilla Glue and Guerrilla Warfare? Both are a response to problems, but they are not always productive. Have you heard of the Guerrilla Gardener of South Central LA?

Image: Ron Finley standing on the curb of a street-side garden holding some key gardening essentials
Source: ALTERNATIVE APPAREL

Here’s what is said on the beautiful website about his amazing project:

Ron Finley is a man who will not sit still and watch a problem take root. Having grown up in the South Los Angeles food desert, Ron is familiar with the area’s lack of fresh produce. He knew what it’s like to drive 45 minutes just to get a fresh tomato. In 2010, he set out to fix the problem. Outside his front door, that is. Ron planted vegetables in the curbside dirt strip next to his home. And quietly, carefully, tenderly started a revolution.“I wanted a carrot without toxic ingredients I didn’t know how to spell,” says Ron.

His was an exceptionally creative, cost-effective and simple solution; however, it was also an act of spirited rebellion that led to a run-in with the authorities. The City of Los Angeles owns the “parkways,” the neglected dirt areas next to roads where Ron was planting. He was cited for gardening without a permit. This slap on the wrist did little to dissuade his green thumb. So Ron fought back. Hard. He started a petition with fellow green activists, demanding the right to garden and grow food in his neighborhood – and then, the city backed off. This caught the eyes of creative leaders and media voices that lauded his courageous act of ebullient defiance. Ron has continued to share his story and vision with the world, giving a TED talk and planning many exciting ways to continue his involvement in mitigating Los Angeles food deserts.

Image: Ron Finley at a streetside garden
Source: TED

His dreams have been reshaped into a thriving garden of pumpkins, peppers, sunflowers, kale and corn. But more than being a guerilla gardener, Ron is a community leader. Determined to change South Los Angeles from food desert to food forest, he wants his actions to be educational, inspiring, and nutritious. He wants kids to grow up with the option of healthy food, instead of fried, fattening staples. He wants to sweep up and transform his street, his hood, the city of LA and communities everywhere. 1

Now wait until you hear Ron speak for himself. A more compelling speaker would be hard to imagine. Here’s a story of finding the tools for transformation.

Even if you are not a gardener at all, this video is so moving and full of possibility that you will still be amazed!

Via: TED 2
Image: A man carrying a shovel and a basket of cabbages in front of a graffitied brick wall next to a wooden pink planter box full of ready to pick cabbages
Source: HOLLY WALLACE PHOTOGRAPHY

I love this particular fellow for his candor, passion and genius. You can see much more about this project at RonFinley.com. It made me appreciate the potential in my own gardening knowledge and realize how far people actually are from their food. What if more public places were reclaimed by the public and used to grow food and flowers? I suspect that could be a paradigm shift that could take society many new places. From what I could tell in a brief google search, guerrilla gardening movements are springing up all over the world.

Here’s a great photo I found of one of these “Guerrilla Gardening Midnight Missions”:

Image: Midnight mission for guerrilla gardeners. Planting in the dark only lit by street lamps
Source: BLUECANVAS

The video we shared today is one of my favorite TEDtalks for the simple reason that this guy is “real”. There’s either too much cheesy or brutal “reality” on the web these day, or there’s not enough.  But this one hits the sweet spot that seems to strike at a common thread in all of us.

Image: rainbow over pond on a sunny day
Source: Dr. Lynda Ulrich

Since we are starting to see EWC articles used in school settings, I want to let you know that both those videos do have a little profanity, so if that hurts your ears, or if you have teens that have never heard bad words, you may want to moderate the pieces. I will say though, we only publish things with profanity on EWC if it is an integral part of the message or sentiments, and that is the case in both of those TEDtalks. Both have such powerful new insights and we suspect you’ll agree.

And I have one other great suggestion for another article to take a look at. Last summer I walked around our local farmer’s market and had the best time chatting with folks there. There’s a surprise ending you won’t want to miss! Take a look at Farmer’s Markets: Local, Unique, Delicious and Fun! 

Lastly, some of you know that we have a new TEAM of creators behind us now at everwideningcircles.com (Thanks guys… I haven’t slept this well in months!) and we have charged them to keep the newly designed website very “real”: not too slick or trendy. We want it beautiful, friendly and a globally great experience. If you have feedback about what you love or want to change on this website, shoot me an email to let me know.

Image: Dr. Lynda and sunflowers
Ever Widening Circles founder: Dr. Lynda Ulrich with some flowers from her own garden.

I will pass your ideas on to the team working on the re-design which will take us into the future together. It’s your EWC community. Join us! Give us some ideas and help in the new design!

WANT TO SEE MORE POSITIVE NEWS, FUN, OR INSIGHTS?

Head to our homepage to check out our latest articles, circles, and archives! Even better, subscribe below to receive the latest from EWC right to your inbox!

Or just scroll down to the bottom of this page where you’ll find a few more incredible articles like this one!

Meanwhile, stay open, curious and hopeful!

~ Dr. Lynda

 


 

Creative Disruption in Food!

Posted on May 8, 2015 by Dr. Lynda

Most of our food production is happening in places more like factories than farms, but there is something new and inspiring the immediate horizon!

First some perspective: you may have heard that we might not really want to know where our food comes from these days.

With every passing week, it seems there is another headline about problems with health related to the food we eat.

But how can we change that?

Some thought-leaders suggest we have to think with an entirely different mindset. Maybe we will have to break a few eggs and just start over.

Image: Hampton Creek Plant Eggs
Source: CODY PICKENS/HAMPTON CREEK FOODS

Today on EWC we are going to share with you the work of some innovators who are doing just that!

We decided to feature this group as their work might be a pathway that any of us could bring to the complex problems in our work or homes.

What is Creative Disruption in Food, or any place, for that matter?

Here’s a business term that is very popular in the world of “Start-up” ventures: Creative Disruptors.

That’s how folks in the business world describe insightful people who turn problems upside down, often pushing the envelope of our comfort zones. Today we feature some innovators – the founders of Hampton Creek – who have taken a new approach that fundamentally changes the direction of food production.

Here’s what can happen when thought leaders use a radically different starting point in problem solving. Take a look!..

 

So what’s next? I think you’ll see from the creativity of this next video, that these folks have a mindset that actually can change the world. Even if you don’t worry about the product they are promoting, you gotta admit the artistic impulse in this video is really fun. Take a look at this creative juice…

Both those videos left me with more questions than answers, so I turned to a new friend,  Adam Force, at Blue Dot Post. By permission from Adam, I’ve copy/pasted his article about Hampton Creek. It helped me understand the scope of this. Here’s what Adam has to say…

“About 1.8 trillion eggs are laid every year around the world, and most come from places that are destructive to the environment and pretty brutal on animals,” explains Josh Tetrick, Hampton Creek’s co-founder and CEO. So, what is the mission of Hampton Creek?

Direct from their website, it states:

    “Hampton Creek is a company dedicated to making it easy for good people to do the right thing. Whether you’re a hip college student or a single mom raising two kids, everyone should be able to eat delicious food that’s healthier, sustainable, and affordable.”

This is what we here at The Blue Dot Post love to see and share with the world. People with good values, doing the right things for the right reasons. It’s not always easy to do when playing by the rules of today’s game.

This SanFrancisco based startup began in 2011 and has been making waves as one of the most disruptive food and beverage companies out there today. Currently, CNBC’s 2014 Disruptor 50 list ranks Hampton Creek as number 36. Not bad at all.

just-mayo

Their first two egg and dairy free products, Just Mayo and Just Cookiesare available in mom and pop shops but also have distribution deals with major stores such as Whole Foods, Costco, Safeway, Amazon and now Kroger. This fall, Just Mayo, plans to hit the shelves at Walmart, which will be a huge potential boost reaching the masses. Their products are also now in ParknShop stores in Hong Kong, representing the company’s first international distribution deal.

Tetrick invented Just Mayo because he believes intensive agriculture is damaging to animals and to the environment. But he has carefully avoided using such arguments to market his product. He wants to appeal to more than just the natural food store set. Tetrick says they always recommend that retail partners sell it for less than the category leader. Thirty ounces of Just Mayo costs between $3.99 and $5.49 with all of its retailers.

The lower price tag is important to Tetrick, who wants his offering to be accessible to as many people as possible. He thinks people do the wrong thing for their bodies and the planet because it’s the easy and cheap thing to do, not because they don’t care. “We’re trying to do is flip that on its head and make the right thing the better thing for the body and sustainability and the planet the ridiculously easy thing by making it affordable, by making it taste really good, by making it convenient,” he says.

photo-2

The three-year-old company is also gaining scale with a just-finalized agreement with a large food service company that will get Hampton Creek cookies into cafeterias. “When people have our cookies, we don’t want them obsessed with, ‘Oh my God, this cookie is better for the world’,” Tetrick says. “We just want them to enjoy a nice chocolate chip cookie, but we like that that has an impact in making things a little bit better.”

Coming down the pipeline is a new plan to launch an alternative to scrambled eggs in the first quarter of next year, 2015. Tetrick acknowledges that the roll out of what the company is calling Just Scrambled could be more challenging for consumers from a psychological perspective since it’s a replacement for an actual egg, not just the egg as an ingredient. The company is considering launching Just Scrambled in Asia, where the environment is ripe for an egg replacement because of concerns around Avian flu.

Tetrick also claims Hampton Creek has found a plant variety that is “just a hyper-efficient source of protein.” He says there’s no timeline to commercialize the product, but he and his team are thinking about the possibilities. One notion would be to distribute it through the World Food Programme or in emerging markets where people live on less than $2 a day.

Tetrick says this is all just the start. So we look forward to seeing what else comes out of this amazing startup who are doing things for the right reasons that benefit everyone.

A thumbs up for Hampton Creek in the name of progress! 3

No wonder Hampton Creek has organizations like ABCnews and Bloomberg interested in their story.

Thanks to Adam for getting the details for us. If you liked this story you might really enjoy his website. I have to tell you his is the first website we’ve stumbled upon at Ever Widening Circles, that meets our high standards for citing sources, fact-checking, lack of advertising chaos, and consistently solid content. Really! I was so impressed that I reached out to Adam and we hit it off immediately. He publishes once a week for now, but it’s clear his concept will have long legs!

It’s clear Adam cares about the wider world and is helping us all to be better stewards in it! Click here to have a look around at BlueDotPost.com.

And the Mayo?.. Well, it’s wonderful. I just bought a jar today at a rather fancy local health food store and it was priced exactly the same as the most popular American brand. Then, I made the most remarkable buffalo chicken sandwich with this beautiful, healthy mayo. Delicious.

So now we know: we don’t need the chicken to have the best of the egg!

As for Hampton Creek…

Einstein once said,

“We cannot solve our problems with the same kind of thinking that created them.”

What tired, chronic problems might we each solve at work or in our homes if we can creatively disrupt outdated systems?

Something to ponder tomorrow at work!

Want to see a few more insightful articles?

Here at EverWideningCircles.com, we are changing the negative dialogue about the future.

To accomplish that, we write one carefully fact-checked article each day to demonstrate this is still an amazing world. All our pieces are featuring current innovations that are lost in the chaos of our mass media.

You’ll find thought-leaders in science, the arts, technology, business, culture, sports, music, nature and every other field you can think of here.

collage malala

To see a few more articles that will put a spring in your step, scroll down to the bottom of this page to find some pieces I can recommend.

Or head to our homepage to scroll down there through dozens of inspiring topics.

Feeling adventurous?

Try our new “Surprise Me” button!

Surprise Me!

Stay open, curious, and optimistic.

~Dr. Lynda

Dr. Lynda is a dentist, artist, global traveler, and philanthropist who looks for potential and shares it with the world.

Notes:

  1. Hampton Creek. “Hampton Creek Foods: Egging on an Industry.” YouTube. Thegatesnotes, 21 Mar. 2013. Web. 8 May 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L04DdQMhL5w>.
  2. Hampton Creek Manifesto. Dir. Hampton Creek. Hampton Creek. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 May 2015. <https://www.hamptoncreek.com/>.
  3. Force, Adam. “How Hampton Creek Is Changing the Food and Beverage World [videos].” The Blue Dot Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 May 2015. <http://www.thebluedotpost.com/how-hampton-creek-is-changing-the-food-and-beverage-world-videos/>.

 


 

Antibiotics: No Longer the Superheroes

Posted on June 26, 2015 by Dr. Lynda

As some of you know, my husband and I have been dentists in Vermont for 25 years.

We’ve made a very special effort to keep expanding our knowledge base and that quest leaves me reading scientific journals and keeping up with the latest research in medicine.  I thought I had a real handle on the scope of antibiotic therapies until we recently attended a continuing education course where the speaker explained our shared future surrounding the use and misuse of antibiotics. I was astounded.

Image: handful of antibiotics
Source:REUTERS/SRDJAN ZIVULOVIC

Here are a couple statistics that stopped me right in my tracks: Every year in America, 23-thousand people die and eight-million are hospitalized as a result of antibiotic resistant infections and the “super-bugs” causing the infections come from the fact that 80% of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are being fed to livestock. 1  Apparently, making antibiotics a part of the daily diet of meat animals is common practice, but certain kinds of bacteria that live on livestock are mutating ahead of our efforts to control them. I had no idea!

Today on EWC we shed some light on this problem but we won’t leave you fearful and glum like the negative 24-hour news cycle. Stay with me and you’ll be the smartest person in the checkout line this week. This story has a bright spot of possibility: we can make some simple choices at the supermarket and turn this ship around fairly easily.

If we don’t, the advent of the “superbug invasion” will be upon us, and it is certain to touch many of our lives completely at random in the up coming decades. Here’s a great graphic that will give you an overview of how feeding antibiotics to meat animals eventually causes the growth of “superbugs”, and then how those dangerous bacteria reach our families…

Image: Antibiotic pathways from our meat supply
source: GAO.ORG

What’s worse, as the lecturer in our course pointed out, is that drug companies are not investing in new antibiotic research. Not many (if any) new antibiotics are in the pipe-line. The money for pharmaceutical companies is in developing drugs that fight chronic illnesses that cause people to need medications forever. It’s not profitable to invest in the research and production of drugs for conditions that need medication only episodically. This makes the dark clouds on the horizon even more ominous. Here’s a graph to demonstrate the magnitude of the problem:

Image: Antibiotic research declining shown in a bar graph
Image source: MEDICAL PROGRESS TODAY

Fortunately, this subject may be reaching a tipping point and as consumers, we could push things over to a healthier world. Just weeks ago I heard this on NPR,

Tyson Foods, the country’s biggest poultry producer, is promising to stop feeding its chickens any antibiotics that are used in human medicine. It’s the most dramatic sign so far of a major shift by the poultry industry. The speed with which chicken producers have turned away from antibiotics, in fact, has surprised some of the industry’s longtime critics.” 2

Click here for the rest of that story.

Sounds like people are voting with their wallets on this one. I suspect that if we all started consciously selecting meats labeled “antibiotic free”, we would quickly send a message to meat producers and the law of supply and demand would prevail: meat produced without antibiotics would become the norm and the prices fall.

Is it really that big of a deal? A quick google images search brought up one of the longest specific list of reference articles, on one narrow subject, that I have ever seen. I look at a lot of single word searches and this was really extraordinary. Something like this image went on for dozens of pages:

Image: Search for Antibiotics and Superbugs

The bottom-line is this: Overuse of antibiotics in healthcare AND the use of antibiotics in our food production, are both contributing to an increase in “superbugs” (bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics we need when we have an infection.)

I’m conscientious about finding an up-side to our stories and this didn’t take long. I looked at dozens of videos to share on this subject and there are a lot of tips to leveraging our power as consumers. First, lets get some background on the subject from a few short videos that will get you totally up to speed, and might inspire you to make those shopping changes…

Here’s a news piece done just a few months ago in the U.S, published on Apr 6, 2015 by Nashville Channel 5.

Wow! Resistant bugs in 40% of our chicken, 50% ground beef,  60% of pork and 80% of turkey! That’s just mind-boggling!

And then of course, we have to realize that we bring those raw meats into our homes, get them out of the package and into our cooking pans and cutting surfaces with our bare hands. Are you scrupulously treating that meat like it’s infected with a deadly bacteria. It might be! In fact, it’s more likely than not for the ground beef, pork, and turkey. Yikes!

This means that we could be starting colonies of super-bugs on our kitchen surfaces, drawer handles, sinks, garbage containers; anything we may touch after not washing our hands meticulously. Hmm? This peaked my interest. So I thought we might nail down a foundation of knowledge before we going flying off to our kitchens in a hazmat suit.

First, here’s a short animation that I thought was a great little crash course in the subject: How Do Antibiotics Work?

OK, now that we know a little about how an antibiotic works, let’s see why overuse can be a huge problem. I loved the simplicity of this next clever animation video:

So we’ve deployed our best weapons against bacteria and the problem is, they keep changing (mutating) to meet the next challenge. They are staying just ahead of us.

Now here’s some information about a solution by WXYZ-TV Detroit | Channel 7. This is a great report we found that gives us some shopping tips that are a snap! Take a look..

An important point to remember is that there are some new FDA guidelines on this issue but they are not binding; they are completely voluntary recommendations to meat producers. I’d like to offer that WE – as consumers – can be the catalysts in what comes next on this issue. If many or most of us start buying our meat from companies that are making efforts in the right direction, then the industry would naturally move there in order to follow the dollar.

I love a problem with a solid, doable solution!

If you are a reader, and want more information, click here to see The Atlantic Magazine’s fabulous piece on this subject.

Have a great day, and I’ll see you tomorrow with something completely random, and completely wonderful about our world again. We publish one article a day – on any subject under the sun – to remind everyone it is still an amazing world.

WANT TO SEE MORE POSITIVE NEWS, FUN, OR INSIGHTS?

Head to our homepage to check out our latest articles, circles, and archives! Even better, subscribe below to receive the latest from EWC right to your inbox!

Or just scroll down to the bottom of this page where you’ll find a few more incredible articles like this one!

Stay open, curious, and stay hopeful!

~ Dr. Lynda

 

 


 

Rotten Food is GOOD for Us?

Posted on May 9, 2015 by Dr. Lynda

Now here’s a reach for most people: rotten food is good for us. Stay calm and explore the concept of “rotten” with us, and you will be expanded!

By the time we get to a very funny video-share for you, you’ll know why you can’t toss a gluten free cookie these days without hitting a probiotic food label. (per our video’s narator – SciShow’s Hank Green) 

We will turn the whole subject on it’s head for you and you might even come out craving a little yogurt, beer, and sauerkraut!

What's good about rotting food

Here’s an interesting Life hack

The trick we’ve learned for handling almost anything that scares us: get more facts.

Everything is easier to take once you eliminate uncertainties by getting your facts strait.

Take the fear of spiders for instance, or public speaking, or moving to a new city. Once you do some serious study, your wild imagination has less to work with and you can walk through spiderwebs, meeting rooms and unfamiliar streets with confidence!

But I digress.

So let’s get back to what we think of when we hear the word “rotten.” It can conjure up images of rotting food and we will circle back to that initial mental image, but let’s start with a little tour of the positive aspects of “rotting…”

Did you realize that “rotting” is one of the most important parts of the cycle of life?

Image: Young people in dark glasses questioning thingsMost living things grow into being with the same general formula: take a few starter cells from mom and dad, add some basic building blocks, infuse with an energy source and before you know it, you’ve got chickens, oak trees, barnacles and people! Then after the life force energy is gone (in death), the assembled parts simply come apart, and things break down into their original, basic elements?

Rotting is simply decomposition.

Whether we are talking about a fish carcass on the beach, a basket of strawberries in the fridge, or a loaf of bread, turned blue and fuzzy on the counter-top.

Rotting is a form of recycling the elements that make up our world and that’s a good thing! Imagine what the planet would be like if every plant, animal, person and microbe that had ever lived was still here in their assembled body.

Now most of us relate the smell of rotting food to disease, and there was a good reason for those mental connections: when we were evolving as a species, we had no way of knowing that there were “good germs” and “bad germs,” and the bad ones were so bad that we could not risk eating something that was questionable. We still equate a rotten smell with bad news, and steer clear.

But what about a great Stilten Cheese, a fantastic Asian Fish Sauce, or that jar of homemade Kimchi a neighbor dropped off? Well, technically, they are “rotting” foods in the beginning stages of the decomposition process. Tiny microbes are thriving on them and have begun to change their structure. These are examples of “living foods,” or rather foods that have living cultures of microbes (germs) in them and at some stage in that process, things can actually taste pretty good, and be good for us! Really!

We now know there are tremendous benefits from eating the “good germs” and we are reminded of that every time we see a food labeled “Live and Active Cultures.”

Rotting food 2

These are foods with active microbes breaking down the food and essentially we are eating it after these tiny creatures have “pre-digested” the food for us.

“Hmmm? Yuck!” you might say. And I’d agree.

I haven’t been able to explain this whole subject nearly as well as Hank from an incredible YouTube science channel called SciShow. Let’s let Hank have a whack at turning your “Yuck!” into “Amazing!”

Via: SciShow 1

So… feel a little better about the word “rotten?”

We may not have convinced you to completely leave your evolutionary fears behind you, but maybe tasting that neighbor’s kimchi might not be so scary!

Want to see a few more insightful articles?

Here at EverWideningCircles.com, we are changing the negative dialogue about the future.

To accomplish that, we write one carefully fact-checked article each day to demonstrate this is still an amazing world. All our pieces are featuring current innovations that are lost in the chaos of our mass media.

You’ll find thought-leaders in science, the arts, technology, business, culture, sports, music, nature and every other field you can think of here.

collage malala

To see a few more articles that will put a spring in your step, scroll down to the bottom of this page to find some pieces I can recommend.

Or head to our homepage to scroll down there through dozens of inspiring topics.

Feeling adventurous?

Try our new “Surprise Me” button!

Surprise Me!

Stay open, curious, and optimistic.

 

Have a great day!

 


 

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber is a camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—yoga lover. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV