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Saturday, March 31, 2012 @ 07:03 AM
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A PACE OF GRACE

THE VIRTUES OF A SUSTAINABLE LIFE

LINDA KAVELIN POPOV

A PLUME BOOK                2004

PART 2

 

INTRODUCTION (Cont.)

During the next year, following these Ten Rules for health literally saved my life. While they contain specific practices given to me for my personal condition, I believe the principles within them can serve as a catalyst for anyone who wishes to emerge from the fog of energy depletion or joyless hyperactivity. To be wise, consult your own physician and health practitioners about the Ten Rules, to make certain they are right for you. They are meant to serve as a reference and a tool for you as you read A Pace of Grace, supporting you to become a loving steward of your own energy and providing a step-by-step approach to a more graceful way of life.

The Ten Rules, a list of which follows, consist of simple but radical lifestyle changes. In following these rules, my energy has returned tenfold. I am now living sustainably for the first time in my life and have been strengthened in subtle ways that have taken my life and relationships to a deeper level of joy and mindfulness.

One year after following the Ten Rules as faithfully as I could, my health was dramatically improved. I had a follow-up appointment with the post-polio specialist. He looked at me and said, “You’ve certainly come a long way. How did you do it?” I showed him my Ten Rules for Health. “This is the best energy-restoration program I’ve ever seen. Where did you get it?” I smiled and told him about my prayer experience. He asked me if he could share the Ten Rules with his other patients.

Others asked me to share the energy-conservation practices in the Ten Rules, and they were published on the Internet on a post-polio network and on The Virtues Project Web site. I decided to develop a new workshop called “A Pace of Grace” in a few cities in Canada and the United States. People with chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and burnout, as well as individuals with what I call the “E-Type” personality – “Everything to Everybody” – flocked to the workshops to learn how to live a sustainable life. One day it struck me that a book would make these simple tools accessible to even more people.

  • Too many of us have suffered a severe loss in our quality of life amidst the stress of terrorism, war, and economic stability that keep us on edge, wondering when something else will happen to shatter our world.
  • Too many of us have fallen into a lifestyle that feels crazed and out of control. We find ourselves overwhelmed by pressures to go faster and do more.
  • Overdoing has become a way of life, and we have created the most time-stressed era in history.

Yet there is hope. More and more people are heeding a wake-up call in the midst of troubled times. We are reevaluating how we spend the currency of our lives in light of the values we care about. We no longer take for granted the simple pleasures of life – a laugh with a friend, fishing at sunset, snuggling into a deep, welcoming couch with a good book and blanket on a rainy Saturday, performing an act of kindness for a stranger. Yet we don’t make much room for these small blessings. The workaholic lifestyle we have created too easily sweeps us back into a pace of life that fails to sustain our grace.

Now is the time to ask ourselves how we can take back a sense of control over our lives in order to live in a spiritually and emotionally sustainable way. We need to discern how we can preserve our ideals and create islands of peace in our lives and relationships. How can we be the calm in the wind?

  • In the years that I have been practicing the Ten Rules for Health, I have moved into a deep current of inner joy. I feel as if the aging process has reversed.
  • It is possible – and I believe essential – to live more gracefully in the midst of a world that is out of control.

A Pace of Grace gives you a simple four-part program that supports you to purify your life, pace yourself, practice spirituality, and plan a sustainable life. Through these simple practices, you will be able to redesign your life to integrate a deeper level of grace. Each chapter ends with an Exercise of Grace for sustainable, more balanced living. You will discover a wide variety of ways to cultivate a pace of grace, from creating a daily routine of reverence to being active peace builders in all your relationships, and enhancing your inner sense of order by reshaping the order and beauty around you. It offers steps for sustaining soul satisfying relationships and creating genuine community, as well as examining ways to play and experience joy.

  • We structure the practice of the virtues around five spiritual life-skill strategies that have come to light in the years my family and I have stewarded the Virtues Project.

Living by our virtues is the key to leading our lives, rather than following old habits of mindless living that leave no space for a spiritually centered, well-balanced life. The virtues allow us to live each day lovingly, purposefully, reverently, joyfully, truthfully, moderately, and gracefully. I truly believe that the cultivation of our virtues can guide as to the highest expression of our selves, individually and collectively.

  • The health crisis in my life has been a great gift, as all tests are if we are ready to receive the lessons they contain.
  • Moderation – until recently an unfamiliar virtue – is my new best friend. I accomplish more in less time. I savor every moment of every day.
  • My hope is that A Pace of Grace will be a helpful companion in discovering your own path to a more sustainable rhythm of life, day by day and moment by moment.

I have one caveat. You can’t enact the virtues and practices of sustainability described in this book through teeth-gritting determination. Rather, they invite a gentle shift in your spirit. I know that many of you are much like I was. “I’m going to work so hard at not working hard, so that I’ll be the most grace-filled person on the planet.” I know people who go to the gym religiously to reduce stress. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but you can’t always sweat and strain you way to serenity. Luxuriate in these practices, try them on, bask in them with the knowledge that they can refill you and enrich you. I invite you to do the exercises at the end of each chapter as you read along. Take your time. Keep a pace of grace. Fill your own cup and you will have an overflowing sufficiency to give to everyone you love and anything you do. If you choose to cultivate the virtues of a sustainable life, I promise you they will enrich the quality of your life forever.

Linda Kavelin Popov, October 2003

 

Ten Rules for Health

The Five Strategies of the Virtues Project

Virtues: The Gifts Within

 

PART 1: PURIFY YOUR LIFE

Chapter One: How Are You? The Virtue of Truthfulness

Chapter Two: Purify Your Body. The Virtue of Purity

Chapter Three: Breathe Easy, Breathe Deep. The Virtue of Discernment

Chapter Four: Purify the Language of Your Life. The Virtue of Peacefulness

Chapter Five: Forgive. The Virtue of Forgiveness

Chapter Six: Heal Your Finances. The Virtue of Thankfulness

Chapter Seven: Create a Space of Grace. The Virtue of Order

 

PART 2: PACE YOURSELF

Chapter Eight: Create a Pace of Grace. The Virtue of Moderation

Chapter Nine: Support Yourself. The Virtue of Acceptance

Chapter Ten: Set Clear Boundaries. The Virtue of Assertiveness

Chapter Eleven: Play! The Virtue of Creativity

 

PART 3: PRACTICE THE PRESENCE

Chapter Twelve: Pray. The Virtue of Prayerfulness

Chapter Thirteen: Give the Gift of Presence. The Virtue of Compassion

Chapter Fourteen: Create Community. The Virtue of Unity

 

PART 4: PLAN A SUSTAINABLE LIFE

Chapter Fifteen: Put Your First Passion First. The Virtue of Joyfulness

Chapter Sixteen: Plan for Grace. The Virtue of Purposefulness

 

Afterword

Bibliography

Resources

Index

Sunday, March 25, 2012 @ 08:03 AM
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A PACE OF GRACE

THE VIRTUES OF A SUSTAINABLE LIFE

LINDA KAVELIN POPOV

A PLUME BOOK                2004

PART 1

Back cover

From the author of the bestselling Family Virtues Guide comes a program

for restoring grace, sanity and vitality to our lives

In today’s anxiety-ridden, stress-infused world, even a moment of quiet reflection has become a time-consuming luxury most of us just can’t afford. How did we reach this point? How did we lose our direction and sense of control? And, most importantly, how can we reclaim our lives?

Linda Kavelin Popov asked herself these same questions after the pressures of her own workaholic lifestyle nearly destroyed her. Now, as cofounder of The Virtues Project International, she helps others achieve a pace of grace – a pace for our lives that can balance and sustain us physically and spiritually.

Through a four-part program, A Pace of Grace offers lessons to rediscover the essential elements of a life well lived. Complete with Linda’s ten rules for health, this comprehensive guide is the first step in rediscovering the joy and vibrancy inherent within each of us.

Front cover

A Pace of Grace contains vivid examples of how to make our daily lives meaningful. I offer my prayers that those readers who sincerely put them into practice will achieve that inner peace that is the key to lasting happiness.”

The Dalai Lama

About the author

Linda Kavelin Popov is the author of The Family Virtues Guide, and is one of the founders and directors of The Virtues Project International. She travels around the world in support of the project’s initiatives, speaking to communities, businesses, and governmental organizations. The United Nations Secretariat has honored the Virtues Project as a model for global reform for people of all cultures. She lives in the Gulf Islands near Victoria, British Columbia.

The Five Strategies of the Virtues Project

These strategies help us live more reverent, purposeful lives, raise morally conscious children, create a culture of character in our schools, and enhance integrity in the workplace. They are being used worldwide to build safe and caring communities.

v  Strategy 1: Speak the Language of Virtues

v  Strategy 2: Recognize Teachable Moments

v  Strategy 3: Set Clear Boundaries

v  Strategy 4: Honor the Spirit

v  Strategy 5: Offer Spiritual Companioning

“Great spiritual nuggets for a healthy spiritual pathway.”

Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D., author of Love Is Letting Go of fear===

INTRODUCTION

 

Affirmation of life is the spiritual act by which man ceases to live unreflectively and begins to devote himself to his life with reverence in order to raise it to its true value.

Albert Schweitzer

Until life caught up with me, I was a dedicated member of the Stress Generation. I didn’t mean to be. It just happened. A few weeks before September 11, 2001, I struck up a conversation with an East Indian cabdriver in Vancouver as he drove me from the airport to a downtown hotel where I would be speaking at a conference the next day. We chatted about how he felt, living so far from most of his family. He told me he longed to have them here but that his relatives had no wish to come to North America. When I asked about it, he said, “When I go home to India, it is pure peace, no worries. People still have bills, they still pay the bills, but they are not busy – overdone – as people are here.” Overdone. I blushed in recognition. What an apt description of the typical stress-filled North American lifestyle, I thought, and the perfect word to describe what had led to my own collapse several years before in 1997.

After a lifetime in the healing professions, I lapsed. I had no idea how far I had been swept into the swift current of stress until a life-threatening health crisis literally knocked me off my feet. Like so many others in this era of excess, the demands of my life had outgrown my capacity to sustain it. I had drifted from a gentle path of reflection, reverence, and service to a fast-paced life of constant international travel and an attempt to manage a growing global project, which had become an all-consuming passion. I felt like the goddess Kali, all of her arms busy juggling, but without her steady knowing gaze of serenity and grace.

It all began with a simple desire to be of service, yet there I was careening toward a vortex of exhaustion. I know full well I’m not alone. Too many of us are constantly overdoing because we have overextended our lives, our financial resources, and our personal energy supply. Most days, we don’t even stop to breathe. And now, watching the nightly news has become a health hazard. The turmoil in the world seems worse than ever, the economy is uncertain and unpredictable. The deepening world conflict set in motion after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11 has cast an unsettling shadow of anxiety and insecurity over an already overwhelming way of life. We are engulfed in an epidemic of stress in a culture of chaos.

I have always been privileged to pursue the work of my dreams – fulfilling a passionate prayer I uttered while circumambulating our backyard garden at age five: “God, please let me help people when I grow up.” I worked for decades in community mental health, consulted government leaders in the halls of Washington, companioned the dying at a hospice, conducted healing retreats with indigenous and inner-city communities, yet even the best of intentions didn’t protect me from burnout.

You see things and you say, “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say, “Why not?”

George Bernard Shaw

In 1990, my husband, Dan Popov, my brother John Kavelin, and I founded The Virtues Project. It began one April morning in 1998, over brunch at the stately, ivy-covered Empress Hotel overlooking the inner harbor in Victoria, British Columbia. John was enjoying the final day of his week of respite from his frantic career as a show producer for Walt Disney Imagineering in Los Angeles. He began to talk about wanting to be of more direct service to the world. The three of us experienced a crystalline, life-changing moment as we feasted on scones and salmon. We were discussing the state of the world – the rising tide of violence, the school shootings, the growing hole in the moral ozone – and one of us (I don’t recall who) said, “Someone should do something about it.” Suddenly we looked up from our plates, gazed deep into each other’s eyes, and in that moment the dream of serving together was born.

John moved up to Victoria, and we began working together. It occurred to us that violence was a symptom, and meaninglessness was the disease, therefore the cure would have something to do with the meaning of life. So we set off to find it. For years, Dan had studied the world’s sacred texts. He pointed us toward the six thousand years of spiritual guidance contained in the Jewish, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, and Moslem texts. He researched those and more. We were startled by the luminous simplicity of the answer that emerged.

Running through the great spiritual teachings of all cultures, like a silver thread of unity, are the virtues, described as the qualities of the Creator and the attributes of the human soul. Love, justice, courage, joy, and peace are the essence of who we are.

The virtues are God’s grace to us, a gift in our lives. What we do with them is our gift to God. They are both our spiritual legacy and our destiny. Many sacred traditions also describe the virtues as a very high order of angels, pure expressions of the Divine nature, higher than the archangels.

We found that virtues are at the heart of the value system of every culture on earth and are expressed in the oral traditions of the First Nations. They are a universal vocabulary of character, a context that enables people to integrate spirituality into everyday life, whatever their belief system. Several years after we initiated The Virtues Project, a First Nations shaman in northern Canada told me, “Linda, The Virtues Project is the bridge between the cultures.” On our second trip to the Solomon Islands, Dan and I were invited to meet with the prime minister. We were surprised to recognize him as a participant in a virtues workshop two years before. He told us that he had attained his position after receiving the Virtues Card of service in that workshop. “It set the course for my life,” he told us.

In 1990, in a converted garage beside the home we shared on a five-acre property, we self-published The Virtues Guide, a kind of handbook to help parents to morally and spiritually mentor their children. The book offered simple ways to awaken the virtues within ourselves and our children, describing fifty-two of the three-hundred-plus virtues we discovered in the world’s sacred texts. To say we published a book sounds a bit too lofty, given the fact that we were photocopying it onto three-hole paper and Saran wrapping it for shipment. Within two months of completing the guide, we received orders from more than twenty countries, where news of the book had spread by word of mouth alone. In 1997, to our amazement, the book caught the attention of all the major publishing houses in New York and was put up for auction. Penguin republished it as The Family Virtues Guide (this time with binding!), and Oprah Winfrey invited me to present it on an episode of her show in 1998, “Doing the Right Thing.” It has become a international best seller.

The Virtues Project has evolved into a grassroots movement in more than sixty-five countries. In 1994, the International Year of the Family, the United Nations Secretariat recognized it as a model global program for families of all cultures. Suffice it to say the project took over our lives; seven years after we started it, my life was completely out of control. I found myself sinking under the weight of an unsustainable lifestyle, and finally I crashed.

  • I experienced a profound shock when the fatigue of post-polio took over my life. The world had been my pasture. Now I could no longer drive, had difficulty walking some days, and often could only concentrate and hold my head up for a couple of hours a day.
  • Darkness greeted me on that winter morning when I opened my eyes. When I attempted to get out of bed, my legs went out from under me, and I plunged into a dark inner place of hopelessness and fear.

I struggled out to my prayer corner in the living room by holding on to furniture and leaning on walls. I literally fell to my knees, sobbing, and cried out, “Help me, God! I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to live like this.” I anticipated silence, expected no response. Suddenly, the familiar voice of Spirit spoke: “I will give you ten rules for health. Write them down and follow them.” The commanding power and clarity of this inner voice startled me, but I immediately pulled myself up to my prayer chair, grabbed my journal, and began to write. It felt like taking very rapid dictation.

When it was over, I read through the Ten Rules. They were simple, practical, and surprising – demanding a radical change in my lifelong habits of overdoing at the cost of self-neglect. The first rule was Purity and Cleanliness. It contained detailed instructions about purifying my diet – what foods to eat, the required amounts of water to drink, and the necessity of immersing my body in water each day. The meditation ended with the tenth rule: Plan a sustainable life. That morning, this phrase utterly mystified me. I had absolutely no idea what the word “sustainable” meant. I had a vague understanding of the words “sustain,” meaning to support life, “sustenance,” which means food, and “sustainable,” something that endures over time. Although the phrase baffled me, I did have an alarming sense that if I failed to follow the Ten Rules, I would probably not survive.

To be continued.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012 @ 02:03 PM
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THE SEARCH FOR A JUST SOCIETY

JOHN HUDDLESTON

GEORGE RONALD                       1989

PART 14

 

PART III: THE FUTURE

 

Chapter 26: Where Do We Go From Here?

The human race is rightly proud of its achievements in the arts and sciences. How the human spirit is raised by the beauty of music, painting, architecture, sculpture, literature, the theatre – all the arts and crafts in their variety and cultural diversity! So too is the mind expanded by contemplation of advances in science and technology, especially in the last two centuries.

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty!

Shakespeare, Hamlet

There is less pride, however, in achievements in political, social, and economic relationships, in large part because of the shock and horror of events in the 20th century when apparently strong and civilized nations descended to the most barbaric behaviour. It has been a principal purpose of first two parts of this book to draw attention to some of man’s achievements in these fields and, while acknowledging the many failures, to show that here too there is much which merits our pride. The just society has by no means been achieved, but slowly over time, there has been considerable progress in the right direction.

Although there is widespread scepticism today about the value of religion, especially in Western society, there is undeniable historical evidence that much of what has been achieved in moving towards the just society should be attributed to the direct or indirect impact of the world’s great religions. They have immensely broadened man’s vision of the universe and provided a sense of meaning, purpose and direction to life, encompassing such themes as the brotherhood of man and noble ethical standards of behaviour and thought. Undoubtedly this positive influence has been obscured because religious institutions have frequently led communities in directions which were contrary to their own principles and teachings; as a result some of the most terrible events in human history have been attributable to religion. Nevertheless, the vision and principles which the great religions have brought are never entirely forgotten, and they have served as a standard by which people instinctively judge the behaviour of individuals and communities.

Though civilizations were frequently brutal and cruel, they produced the first examples of themes essential to the just society. The great empires of the past (most notably those of China and Rome) gave proof of the benefits that flow from the maintenance of peace over a long period of time and over large areas. Ancient Greece provides an example of what can be achieved in a relatively free society where public issues can be openly discussed and a significant part of the population has some role in affairs of state. The revolt of Spartacus and the slaves of Rome was a milestone in the evolution of the collective consciousness of civilization. It is true that slavery would continue to be a recurring feature of civilization for another 2000 years, but it would be associated with a sense of unease. There was an unspoken awareness, sometimes weak, often fearful, but always there, that society could not be truly stable, peaceful and fruitful whilst it was built on the denial of the most basic freedoms to a part of the population. Similarly, the revolt of the Jews against the heavy-handed rule of Rome, though unsuccessful, showed that in the long run peace involves giving all peoples a right to express themselves freely through their own culture, a right to self-determination.

Slowly, over the centuries, man’s consciousness of the idea of the just society and its basic requirements evolved. Then quite suddenly at the beginning of the 19th century the pace began to quicken, in step with technological innovations which made possible a great increase in the material wealth of mankind and the linking together of all communities into one world society. Progress towards a more just society was made on a series of interconnected fronts.

Political and social equality was the first. In the perspective of history, perhaps the most impressive advance will prove to have been the voluntary and almost total abolition of slavery, after thousands of years when nearly every major society considered it essential to the well-being of civilization. The widespread emergence of the national state, in which people are able to live according to their own culture and free of alien rule, took mankind another step forward. Of great significance, too, has been the replacement of authoritarian forms of government in many parts of the world with those that are constitutional and democratic, where ordinary people are not treated as children but are given an opportunity to participate in the management of their own public affairs. The growth of constitutional government has had reverberations even in countries where authoritarian forms of government remain, in the sense that these are increasingly sensitive about appearing, in the view of world opinion, to be oppressive and acting against the interest of their people, especially with regard to such issues as human rights.

The second ‘front’ where the pace of advance towards the just society has quickened in the last two centuries concerns elimination of poverty and a move towards greater equality in the distribution of material resources and services. These achievements in the economic sphere have come about partly as a result of a vast increase in total wealth, benefiting much of the world population, and partly as a result of the conscious effort of various movements – trade unions, cooperatives, socialism and the welfare state – to ensure greater economic justice and equal opportunity.

The conduct of international relations is the third arena where there has been considerable progress. International organizations have been established with the goal of bringing about world peace through such procedures as agreements to observe law in relations between states, collective security, disarmament, mediation of disputes, and negotiation of armistices between warring powers. Nations have taken steps to coordinate their policies concerning a whole range of economic and social fields for the benefit of all, and in particular to give financial and technical assistance to those countries that are economically less well off. For the first time in history there has been formed an international civil service, whose loyalty and outlook is governed  to some degree at least by concern for the interest of all the nations of the world, not just that of their own countries. A multitude of non-governmental organizations, some with the highest professional and technical qualifications, have mobilized public support both to urge official bodies to maintain and increase levels of international cooperation, and to provide them with supplementary assistance. One of the greatest successes of the non-governmental organizations has been the development of a growing consciousness of and interest in the protection of basic human rights around the world.

Great as has been this progress toward the just society, there can be no question that far more has to be done, and done quickly, if there is not to be disaster on an unprecedented scale. In the political field the movement towards national self-determination, although nearly complete, has left a few areas where there is still enormous resentment against what is considered alien rule. In such situations, a sullen population will often give passive support to a passionate minority who engage in terrorism to publicize their feelings. Many nations which have achieved independence have allowed legitimate patriotism to become corrupted by greed and prejudice into a myopic chauvinism, leading to unnecessary conflict with internal minorities and external neighbours. Impressive as has been the advance of constitutional government, the majority of nations in the world still live under authoritarian forms of government, and many of those that are formally democratic are hampered by large-scale corruption and deep internal divisions. In some cases government has lost the power to maintain even minimal law and order, and the armed gangster rules the streets. Though democracy is undoubtedly an advance over autocracy, even the most advanced and well-established of democracies suffer from characteristics which detract from the well-being of their own people, not to speak of the well-being of the peoples of other nations. In particular there is a general tendency to a short-term perspective (i.e. a focus on the next election) and to promote sectional interest as a way of obtaining office. Though the foreign policy of the democracies is to some degree influenced by long-term ethical considerations, the major motivation is still short-term ruthless self-interest, and is often morally indistinguishable from the foreign policy of dictatorial governments.

These political failures are often linked to immense social and economic problems. Democracy does not easily survive today in conditions where there are large disparities in economic wealth within a nation. This is the case in many Third World nations, which despite all efforts are becoming poorer in relation to the rich countries. One aspect of the problem in these countries is a rapidly growing population amongst whom a virtually static level of resources has to be distributed. Another is the growing unwillingness of the rich countries to make the sacrifices necessary to help them, because of perceived failures of assistance given in the past, and, more important, increased concern for their own problems: high levels of unemployment, inflation, wastage of resources, pollution, and all the side effects of unadulterated materialism. The latter include widespread alcoholism and drug addiction, increased crime, and the breakdown of a sense of public duty and responsibility. Such symptoms of materialism are common to capitalist and socialist countries alike.

These political, social and economic problems come to a head on the international stage where the greatest failure of our time has been the continuation of armed conflict between nations despite the establishment of the United Nations. In the last year or two there has been a distinct cooling of international tensions, mainly as a consequence of improved relations between the two superpowers. Several wars have been stopped and there are better prospects for an end to the armaments race than at any time since 1945. Nevertheless, it should be cautioned that the foundations of the present détente are still far from firm. Until these foundations are permanently strengthened there will remain real risk of catastrophe on an unprecedented scale, either from conflict between the superpowers, accidental or otherwise, or as a result of the actions of the dozen or so other powers that have or may have access to weapons of mass destruction.

To conclude, humanity today faces challenges greater in magnitude and complexity than at any time since the beginning of civilization. Perhaps in the short run, with luck and good sense, we have a chance of muddling through and avoiding major disaster. In the long run, however, pragmatic muddling through in the traditional political fashion is not likely to be enough. The end result at best may be changes which are too modest and too late. There is a clear need to start thinking about a more thorough-going response to the great challenges – a response which will be needed over the long haul. The question is not just one of simple survival but of moving forward to a civilization which is prosperous and enlightened enough to provide every human being with the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. What is needed is a revival of that movement of progressive forces which has achieved so much in the past but which is now divided, directionless, and lacking in power because its supporters have dropped away out of weariness, disillusionment, and vulnerability to the seductive call of the materialistic philosophy which focuses on short-term selfish interest. Such a revival would involve:

  1. A unification of progressive forces, especially between those that put most emphasis on a free society with a democratic form of government and those which give the highest priority to the removal of the obstacles to human development that come from extremes of wealth and poverty;
  2. A comprehensive programme which will give direction to the progressive movement and will respond to the major issues which face mankind today; and
  3. A great awakening of popular enthusiasm and sustained commitment for such a programme, to provide the necessary power for its goals to be reached.

 

How can all this be achieved? The summary review of the most well-known progressive movements of the day in Part II of this book suggests that no one of them alone is able to fulfil all these requirements. There remain two alternatives. One is the development of some new movement, perhaps a syncretic philosophy, which will pull together all that is best from the movements of the past. Experience suggests that this will not work. It would no doubt involve, if taken seriously, some sort of international committee, which even with the best will in the world would take perhaps decades to come to a conclusion. And such a conclusion (if one were ever reached) would almost certainly represent a patched-together compromise representing the lowest common denominator by the time all the political bargaining had finished. This is not the type of programme likely to provide a real answer, or to arouse the long-term enthusiasm and commitment of a large part of the world’s population.

That leaves the second alternative, which is to review the possibilities of progressive movements which have not so far been discussed. In taking this course the one movement which must surely attract immediate attention is the Bahá’í Faith. At first sight this may seem a strange choice, in view of the small number of its followers (about 4.7 million worldwide), its comparative obscurity until recently, and the fact that religion still has negative connotations for many. The suggestion is not made lightly, however; it is based on several reasons which it is believed have weight. Quite apart from the general point noted earlier that religion in its pure form has been the key progressive force in history, there are several specific aspects of the Bahá’í Faith which are relevant in this context. These include the comprehensiveness of its progressive approach to all the main problems which face mankind today, the great diversity of its adherents who are drawn from very nearly every nation in the world, and the fact that it is the oldest and most well-established movement for world peace and unity. In an age of instant communication the present small number of Bahá’ís is not necessarily a handicap. A movement in tune with the times cannot but attract millions when the issues become clear. In the light of these thoughts this book would be incomplete without a brief review of the Bahá’í Faith and its credentials as a progressive movement.

The Bahá’í method is not shrill and demanding; rather, it is in the manner of a gift offered to a king. In looking at this religion the peoples of the world are invited to strive for intellectual integrity, to make an independent and objective investigation to see if it makes sense and if it is the answer to the problems of the world. Unfettered investigation means being detached from views propagated by normal authority: tradition, the family, institutions. It means working matters out for oneself with all the tools available: reason, observation, intuition, meditation and prayer.

It has to be recognized that this is indeed a difficult task and requires a great deal of concentration, especially to escape from the prison of time and place, for we are all deeply affected by the culture in which we have been raised. One example of such bias is the present-day common view of communism in the capitalist states, and vice-versa. Another is extreme scepticism about religion in a materialistic society.

The brief review of the Bahá’í Faith which follows has four parts. First, there is an examination of its broad vision of the universe to see whether this is likely to motivate change and improvement in society. Second, there is a summary of the Faith’s programme of action as applied under present conditions to see if it is a practical approach to the building of a just society. Next there is a brief sketch of the long-term goal of the Faith, which is a new world society. Finally there is a short overview of the history of the Bahá’í community, to see what effect the Faith has on ordinary men and women in practice and whether this offers hope for the future.

In making this review some use will be made of quotations from the Bahá’í Writings. Many of these are from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), the Founder-Prophet of the Bahá’í Faith. Others are from the writings of Bahá’u’lláh’s eldest son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921), whom He appointed to succeed Him as supreme guide of the Bahá’í community; and from Shoghi Effendi Rabbani (1896-1957), ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s grandson whom He in turn appointed as His successor to the leadership of the Faith, with the title of Guardian. Following the death of Shoghi Effendi the world Bahá’í community has been directed by the Universal House of Justice, a world assembly elected by the international community every five years by secret ballot.

Chapter 27: The Big Picture

Saturday, September 24, 2011 @ 08:09 AM
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FORMULA FOR LIFE

THE DEFINITIVE BOOK ON CORRECT NUTRITION, ANTI-OXIDANTS AND VITAMINS, DISEASE PREVENTION AND LONGEVITY

EBERHARD KRONHAUSEN, Ed.D. &  PHYLLIS KRONHAUSEN, Ed.D.

WITH HARRY B. DEMOPOULOS, M.D.

QUILL WILLIAM MORROW                  1989

PART III

 

Chapter 3: why people give up on vitamins

In this health conscious age, half the people you know may be trying to take better care of themselves – and perhaps you are among them. These people may have modified their diet or taken up exercise; they’re almost certain to have tried taking some vitamins.

  • We try to get people to take anti-oxidants and co-factors, many of which also happen to be vitamins.
  • We use vitamins in much larger but safe dosages to scavenge and quench the dangerous oxygen-derived free radicals in our bodies, stop their potentially lethal chain reactions, and prevent the rancidification of our body fats.
  • The vitamins have to be absolutely pure and taken in the right combination and strength to do the job.
  • Some people who have taken vitamins have reported side effects ranging from upset stomachs, headaches, and diarrhea to skin rashes and other allergic reactions.
  • Most have discontinued taking vitamins because they produced no discernible benefits.

When you add to these problems the controversy among various authorities over the value of vitamins in the first place and the correct dosages in the second, many people simply throw up their hands and walk away.

In counseling our clients we always take the whole human being into account – body, mind, and life-style. Our recommendations are based not only on a person’s physical problems and emotional state, but also on such factors as relationships, home environment, diet, recreation, sex life, degree of physical activity and exercise, even moral values and philosophy of life. It is only in this wider context that a health-maintenance and life-extension program based on anti-oxidants and vitamin co-factors can realize its full potential.  It is no different from what a good doctor does –treat the whole person.

We have established certain priorities in our program:

  •  
    1. to minimize those life-style factors that are most damaging, primarily drugs, alcohol, dietary fats, and smoking
    2. to guide you to optimally healthful nutrition according to the most recent knowledge; and
    3. to encourage at least a minimum amount of daily exercise.

It is in the context of these objectives that we urge you to take anti-oxidants and vitamin co-factors.

The problem of impurities

The major drawback with many mass-market or off-brand vitamins that sometimes find their way even onto the shelves of respectable health-food stores and drugstores is the amount of potentially harmful substances they contain. Many of these cheaper vitamins are made from raw materials that are only food grade rather than USP pharmaceutical grade.

  • Pharmaceutical-grade vitamin materials are ten times more expensive than food-grade materials.
  • The process of forming vitamins into tablets or capsules can add a sinister host of additional contaminants to the end product.
  • Not surprisingly, when some people take these twice-contaminated vitamins, they get sick.

 

The degradation process in vitamins

 

Chapter 4: How Anti-Oxidants can Supplement Good Diet and Exercise

A “prudent diet” like the one promoted by the American Heart Association – based on a modest cutback to 30% of calories from fat (far too modest, from our point of view) and encouraging greater consumption of complex carbohydrates, with less emphasis on meat – is certainly a step in the right direction.

The same is true for similar diets advocating greater consumption of fresh vegetables, fruits, and grains while drastically cutting back on fats. The most severe of these remedial diets is the one originated by the late Nathan Pritikin, a brilliant electronics engineer and inventor who devised it primarily to save his own life when he had advanced coronary heart disease.

  • If you eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables – especially raw – along with unprocessed grains, you’re probably fairly safe without extra vitamins.
  • While traditional nutritionists see little need for supplemental vitamins and other micronutrients, given what they call a “well-balanced diet”, we see many good reasons for such supplementation, such as our contaminated environment.
  • We need not tell you about the polluted air most of us have to breathe, or about the many noxious substances in our water supply and our food.
  • But we can tell you with a high degree of confidence that the supplemental anti-oxidants and vitamin co-antioxidants we recommend can be good insurance against all these environmental contaminants; at least, they have been so proven in many animal experiments.
  • And even though there is as yet no absolute scientific proof that they work well with humans, we prefer to play it safe and take our chances with them rather than do without them.

Let’s not delude ourselves. Even the vegetables, fruits, and grains on the best of diets are not free from pesticides and chemical fertilizers, or possible contamination by radiation treatment used to keep produce fresh longer. In addition, plants generate their own chemical defences against insects and fungi, some of which can be very toxic even to humans (see the section “Toxicities in Natural Foods”).

Meats, poultry, and seafood have of course their own toxicity problems: The growth-stimulating hormones given to cattle, the antibiotics in both cattle and poultry feed, the pollutants such as lead and mercury found in lakes, rivers, oceans – and fish. Here again there is good reason to believe that anti-oxidants provide at least some measure of protection from these chemical assaults.

There is legitimate hope too that anti-oxidants and their vitamin co-factors are able to blunt the destructive impact of the kinds of toxins most of us are voluntarily inviting into our systems. We need only mention the combustion products of tobacco and the metabolic products of alcohol – to say nothing of even more destructive substances.

Last but not least, there are equally inescapable stresses and strains associated with living in a highly competitive, high-tech, high-pressure society. They also call for anti-oxidants and vitamins in very specific ways that should be understood in order to appreciate fully how they can help us deal with all kinds of physical and psychological stress.

  • Any kind of stress causes the release in our brain of a group of chemicals called catecholamines. Once the crisis is resolved they must be removed from our system as soon as possible. If they are not, the consequences are usually serious and sometimes fatal.
  • The dynamic involved in this destructive process is, once again, the production of free radicals.
  • While nature has equipped us to handle the occasional release of small amounts of catecholamines and the free radicals generated thereby, too much is too much, and some damage to nerve cells and other tissue will result.
  • Here again the need for anti-oxidants to neutralize the free radicals released by the stress-induced production of adrenaline.
  • Another result of mental or physical stress is the release of an additional group of brain chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins function as tranquilizers, helping us to cope with stress.
  • What’s worse, the excess endorphins also become immunosuppressive: They weaken our resistance to disease. The tragic consequences of destroying the immune system are all too visible in the disease AIDS.

Still another result of the overproduction of endorphins and similar substances under stress is hormonal suppression. Our endocrine system is incredibly complex, consisting of delicate checks and balances among the various hormones. Upsetting this balance can have serious physical and mental consequences, including emotional disturbances, as well as sexual dysfunction and even cancer. All this is well known and amply documented in the scientific literature.

  • Taking all these factors together, their most outstanding and most visible effect is on mental health. If we need any further evidence of this, we have only to look at Valium sales in the United States.
  • In all situations of emotional stress and mental fatigue for which people take legal and illegal drugs – and which frequently have far-reaching, devastating personal and social consequences – does it not seem reasonable to give anti-oxidants and vitamin co-factors a chance to prove their mood-enhancing and revitalizing capacities?
  • As if all this were not reason enough for taking anti-oxidants, medical experts estimate that 85% of all human cancers are in effect self-inflicted. Of the 1,000 cancer deaths that occur every day just in the United States, 350 are the direct result of tobacco and alcohol use or abuse.

In the chapters that follow, we will be telling you which anti-oxidants and co-factors we recommend for our daily anti-oxidant Menu, in what dosages they could be taken, the different safe ways in which you can put such a micronutrient Menu together, and the reasons why each anti-oxidant and co-factor is included.

Sunday, September 18, 2011 @ 03:09 PM
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FORMULA FOR LIFE

THE DEFINITIVE BOOK ON CORRECT NUTRITION, ANTI-OXIDANTS AND VITAMINS, DISEASE PREVENTION AND LONGEVITY

EBERHARD KRONHAUSEN, Ed.D. &  PHYLLIS KRONHAUSEN, Ed.D.

WITH HARRY B. DEMOPOULOS, M.D.

QUILL WILLIAM MORROW                  1989

PART II

 

Chapter 2: why don’t we take better care of ourselves?

We are taking good care of ourselves. That’s what we would have said ten years ago. And, in a sense, we would have been right. We were eating “good” food. We weren’t smoking tobacco, or anything else, for that matter. Yes, we were drinking wine rather freely, but then we were living in Paris at the time and the wine was practically free. Besides, half a bottle of wine with lunch or dinner, in France, put us in the light-drinker category.

We were eating extremely well by most standards. Food prices were so low in Europe that we could buy the best meats, cheeses, seafood, vegetables, and fruits from our neighborhood markets on the Left Bank.

It is true that the wonderful cheeses, the meats, the cream sauces, the rich pastries, had pushed our cholesterol right into the critical zone for stroke and heart attack. And it’s also true that today – older and wiser and much healthier – there are times when we still miss the terrines and pâtés, and especially the soft, scented cheeses that went so well with a nice red wine. All this means is that while we still love wonderful-tasting food, we are not willing to die for it. Especially since we now know there is wonderful-tasting food that doesn’t kill you.

Box 1

One in 5 American adults suffers from some type of disability. Difficulty in walking is the most common disability. Over 19 million people can walk as little as ¼ mile only with some difficulty; 7.9 million cannot make such a walk at all. 18 million people say they cannot even climb 1 flight of stairs without stopping to rest; 5 million report they cannot make such a climb at all.

The New York Times, December 23, 1986

  • American family life and social life often revolve around the outdoor barbecue. Barbecued ribs are black soul food.
  • It’s hard to imagine an American child without cookies and soda, a Frenchman without cheeses and wine, Germans without sausage and beer.
  • Given such deeply ingrained eating and drinking habits, one doesn’t win popularity contests by informing people that their traditional ways of eating are loading their arteries with atherosclerotic plaque or will give them cancer.

People are likely to think they are taking pretty good care of themselves, and are more likely to resent being told otherwise. They perceive health activists like us as overly interested in their private affairs and overeager to impose their own values on the rest of the world. We find this attitude quite understandable – since ten years ago we felt the same way.

Box 2: Health-promoting attitudes

  1. Healthy people feel that they are in control of their lives, rather than victims of circumstances beyond their control.
  2. Healthy people do not underestimate or overestimate their capacities. They are aware of their physical and mental limitations and accept them, but continually strive to improve themselves to realize their potential.
  3. Healthy people make personal decisions on the basis of rational rather than emotional considerations.
  4. Healthy people are not prejudiced, but are open to rational argument.
  5. Healthy people are not stubborn or willful, but proceed in the light of the most logical course of action.
  6. Healthy people are not overly flattered by praise and recognition, nor unduly influenced by lack of recognition and criticism.
  7. Healthy people have a strong, personal value system and are therefore immune to corrupting influences and greed.
  8. Healthy people have a realistic appraisal of human frailties and shortcomings. Such realization does not prevent them from readily entering into trusting and meaningful relationships with others.
  9. Healthy people have interests and concerns beyond their own personal welfare and happiness, or that of their immediate family and circle of friends. They see themselves as members of the larger world community and accept the responsibilities this entails.
  10. Healthy people conduct themselves in full knowledge of their ultimate mortality and have come to grips with it emotionally. These people do not harbor a morbid fear of death or dying, but are sustained by a strong sense of the underlying continuity in the perpetual changes and transformations observable in nature.

 

  • Denial of the facts of aging and the ill effects of certain lifestyles on health are especially prevalent among younger people.
  • This reluctance to apply unpalatable truths to themselves is one of the biggest obstacles in motivating people to modify their lifestyles.
  • Getting onto a life-extension program such as ours requires reshuffling our financial priorities. Both extra savings and extra expense are involved.
  • A shift from steak and chocolate cake to an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, and grains saves money, as does cutting out cigarettes and booze.
  • Better health means lower medical bills and less time lost because of illness.
  • In schools, colleges, and universities, health education that seriously covers sound nutrition is all but unheard of, while greasy hamburgers are served in the school cafeteria.

One could make a very long list of examples and reasons why most of us are not taking better care of ourselves. Basically, as we have tried to show, it all comes down to a single fundamental principle: conditioning. This forming of dietary habits and the adoption of certain life-styles begin very early in life. In America they are perhaps more pronounced and accelerated because of the intensive advertising of food, alcoholic drinks, cigarettes, and over-the-counter drugs. This kind of bombardment with commercial propaganda makes eating the wrong kind of foods, then taking nonprescription drugs for heartburn, upset stomach, diarrhea, or constipation, seem the most natural thing in the world. At the same time, it glamorizes and trivializes unhealthful life-styles that involve smoking and drinking.

Besides early conditioning, there is only one other reason why people who are genuinely concerned about their health may find it hard to get off traditional foods and onto a healthier diet: it is not easy to find or prepare a variety of healthful foods that really satisfy them the way cheese and chocolate and hamburgers or steaks “satisfy.”

  • Here we only want to acknowledge the deliberate effort and enormous mental energy it takes to go against the culture and overcome long-established dietary patterns.

For all these reasons, we entertain no illusion that any more than 1 in 1,000 people reading this book will actually follow our recommendations all the way. We’ll be happy if 10% of our readers go only part of the way with us on diet but faithfully take the anti-oxidants, adhere to a minimal exercise program, and dedicate themselves to cultivating positive mental attitudes.

Our hope is that more and more people – however unthinking they may have been in the past – will never have to say, “I wish I’d taken better care of myself.”

 

Chapter 3: why people give up on vitamins

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 @ 04:09 AM
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FORMULA FOR LIFE

THE DEFINITIVE BOOK ON CORRECT NUTRITION, ANTI-OXIDANTS AND VITAMINS, DISEASE PREVENTION AND LONGEVITY

EBERHARD KRONHAUSEN, Ed.D. &  PHYLLIS KRONHAUSEN, Ed.D.

WITH HARRY B. DEMOPOULOS, M.D.

QUILL WILLIAM MORROW                  1989

PART I

 

Preface by Harry B. Demopoulos, M.D.

Drs. Eberhard and Phyllis Kronhausen have written a comprehensive treatise on practical health matters that touch virtually everyone. They have combined their own in-depth, professional experiences, their personal experimentation, and knowledge from an impressively wide spectrum of disciplines to produce a scholarly work that anyone can understand.

This is their book. They did the work. Yhey thought, interviewed, wrote, rewrote, revised, haunted the libraries, stuck microphones into people’s faces to get their ideas recorded, and put it all together to benefit mankind.

As a medical consultant, I have attempted to provide some guidance in several areas.

The recommendations made by the Kronhausens are responsible and are generally accompanied by words of caution. In particular, we all agree that before any of the recommendations are followed, the reader consult with a physician who has an interest in such matters and seek advice.

Some areas, which just a few years ago were avant garde, have been entering the mainstream of medicine. This includes dietary restrictions of fat, sensible fiber intake, high consumption of fruits and vegetables, moderate exercise, abstinence from dangerous habits and addictions, and even the use of high doses of safe, broad-spectrum anti-oxidants to fight off the incessant, insidious free-radical attacks that cause so much infirmity and disease.

The Kronhausens bring to the reader the background knowledge, the rationale, and the practical approaches that they have dubbed “Formula for Life.: it is a valid, scholarly work that can reshape your life.

PART I: WHAT MAKES OUR PROGRAM DIFFERENT

Chapter 1: Why this Book?

We decided to write this book because we had news too good to keep to ourselves. And we came to it after reaching and passing the age when most people resign themselves to a progressive decline in their abilities and capacity for enjoyment. Remember the mythical Fountain of Youth? People entered on one side bent over, decrepit, full of aches and pains; they came out the other side standing tall, happy, healthy, and smiling. Well, we don’t expect you to believe us right away, but the fact is that what we’ve discovered over the past few years has come very close to producing exactly these effects in us.

It wasn’t that way ten years ago. At that time, we were no better off physically and mentally than most people our age. Eberhard, fourteen years older than Phyllis, logically showed more signs of aging, but Phyllis was far from content with her own physical state.

There were two circumstances that probably prevented matters from being worse than they were. One was that a few years earlier we had stopped eating meat, not so much for health as for philosophical reasons. (We were, however, still eating high-fat cheeses, butter, sugar, and salt, and drinking wine with most of our meals.)

The other thing was that although Eberhard had now reached retirement age, we had no pension to retire on. This meant that we had to keep busy making a living – a circumstance we now feel amounted to a blessing in disguise. We had seen too many friends in our same age bracket retire and promptly start deteriorating.

Having decided that a total change in life-style might be an adventure to keep us young at least in spirit, we recklessly bought some land in Costa Rica – a place most people go to for retirement, not for a career – and proceeded to build up a little farm.  Whatever else it did for us, this new venture certainly provided a lot more adventure than we had bargained for. Much of it came in the form of manual labor, an automatic exercise workout that lasted from dawn to dusk.

Things weren’t exactly easy for us those first years as we tried to build a new life in such a different environment. But there was one redeeming feature that made things more tolerable than they might have been otherwise: Despite a lifetime of not precisely health-conscious living, neither of us was plagued by any of the major degenerative diseases that make their appearance after the age of fifty or so. We were and are profoundly grateful for that. On the other hand we were not spared the usual minor symptoms of advancing age – our bodies tired far more quickly than they used to and, much worse, our minds weren’t firing on all cylinders. Eberhard especially was becoming progressively forgetful. And the process of learning anything new – such as a foreign language (Spanish), not to mention tropical agriculture – turned out to be much slower and more difficult than we had anticipated.

Most dispiriting of all was the prevailing, undermining assumption that all of this was “only to be expected” at our age. In the past we had been able to cope much more easily with whatever problems had come our way, even the most serious ones. Now, however, even relatively minor problems often seemed beyond our ability to cope. And all we could see ahead at the end of this tunnel was another tunnel, and another, and another.

Without exaggeration, we say that we had definitely arrived at the most serious crisis point in our lives. We had already done what we could to improve our outward circumstances, which remained difficult, to say the least. Now we were telling ourselves: If only we were physically stronger; if only we could still depend on our good minds; if only we had more energy; if only we were up at least as much as down, and so on. If piled upon if, while our spirits sank even lower.

As mental health professionals we were of course perfectly aware that this sort of outlook wasn’t going to solve anything or get us anywhere. We had to try to find out what, if anything, might be done about the decline we were experiencing so painfully.

The message of traditional medicine – like that of conventional wisdom – was loud and clear: Stop kidding yourselves; there is no Fountain of Youth; you’ve reached the age when your body’s deterioration accelerates, and your mind simply isn’t going to work anymore the way it used to. That’s life, like it or not.

  • Neither of us was inclined to take such a hopeless verdict lying down. We kept improving our diet, bit by bit. As our diet improved so did we.
  • We began to tap into the life-extension movement. We met scientists, listened, asked questions and immersed ourselves in scientific literature.

The implications were exciting indeed: If we combined the high-complex-carbohydrate, low-fat (about 20% of total calories), high-fiber diet we had adopted by then with the anti-oxidants and vitamin co-factors these scientists had been experimenting with for a number of years, we’d have a winning combination. It definitely had the potential to maximize the benefits of sound nutrition, while adding the protective and therapeutic effects of the anti-oxidants and vitamin co-factors.

Anti-oxidants are natural or man-made substances that prevent oxidation; vitamin co-factors are vitamins that help the anti-oxidants (most of which are technically also vitamins) do their job better and perform specific therapeutic functions, all of which we shall discuss in this book.

Why do we need anti-oxidants, since oxygen is absolutely essential to life? Because oxygen is also a highly toxic gas whose destructive effects can most easily be seen in the corrosion of metals – iron, copper, and many other substances can be totally destroyed by “rusting,” the popular term for oxidation. And so all living organisms – plants and animals and human beings – need anti-oxidants so as to be able to live in the oxygen-rich atmosphere of our planet.

It is with great difficulty that the body controls such a highly reactive substance. For instance, after playing its necessary role in important metabolic processes, oxygen may keep on burning, oxidizing, and breaking down our cell membranes and the molecular structure of all our vital organs.

Oxygen causes this damage by generating still more destructive and reactive compounds called free radicals, about which we will have a great deal to say later on. For now, let it suffice to emphasize that our system has a critical need for anti-oxidants to prevent destructive oxidation.

  • Only Dr. Harry B. Demopoulos – a distinguished professor of pathology at New York University, who was to become our chief medical consultant – had researched extensively enough to determine the right combinations and dosages of anti-oxidants and vitamin co-factors for a safe and effective life-extension program.
  • More conservative in his approach than most others working in this field, Dr. Demopoulos had ruled out all substances – however promising – that could possibly cause trouble.
  • The leading researcher, then and now, in what is known as “free-radical pathology,” Dr. Demopoulos set out to put his twenty years of research to work, creating Health Maintenance Programs (HMP) to ensure a readily available source of the right combinations and dosages for each of the essential metabolic micronutrients required for any serious life-extension program.
  • Adding anti-oxidants and vitamin co-factors to our basic diet and physically active life-style had a dramatic energizing, stabilizing, antidepressant, and positively mood-enhancing effect on both of us. The changes in our mental functioning have been quite wonderful.
  • Our physical health has improved so dramatically that our friends can hardly believe we are the same people. Neither of us has had a severe cold or flu for the last two years because of our improved immune systems.

This happy outcome, we are convinced, is the result of having combined a scientifically worked-out spectrum of anti-oxidants and vitamin co-factors with sound nutrition, gentle but effective exercise, and a generally health-conscious life-style. How to do this with minimal effort – but to maximum effect – is the message of this book.

Chapter 2: why don’t we take better care of ourselves?

Saturday, June 4, 2011 @ 06:06 PM
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THE EARTHSCAN READER IN SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE

EDITED BY JULES PRETTY

EARTHSCAN          2005

PART I

 

PART I: AGRARIAN AND RURAL PERSPECTIVES

 

Introduction to Part 1: Agrarian and Rural Perspectives by Jules Pretty

  • Part 1 of this Reader in Sustainable Agriculture focuses on seven agrarian and rural perspectives on agricultural sustainability by Albert Howard, Aldo Leopold, Wendell Berry, David Orr, David Kline, Wes Jackson and Cornelia Butler Flora and Jan Flora.
  • Albert Howard is seen by many as the founder of the modern organic movement. In his most influential book, An Agricultural Testament, he set out many of the scientific principles for organic farming while in Farming and Gardening for Health and Disease, he makes an early critical link between the state of agriculture and the health of the public.
  • Aldo Leopold is widely acknowledged as one of the most influential conservation writers of the 20th century.
  • Wendell Berry is one of the best known writers on agrarian pasts and presents in the US. He is a practicing farmer, poet an author of many books. In this excerpt from his 1976 book, The Unsettling of America, he tells the story of the change in culture and agriculture in a few short generations of frontier invasion, spread and modernization.
  • David Orr is professor of environmental studies at Oberlin College, and author of a number of highly respected books on the relations between people and nature.
  • David Kline is an Amish farmer and author of many books and articles drawing on his experience of farming the rolling hills of southern Ohio. In his essay, he reflects on his community’s rootedness to the land. His careful use of sensitive, or sustainable, farming methods has resulted in nature being restored on his farm. He uses divers rotation patterns, grows and raises many crops and animals, and still farms with horses.
  • Wes Jackson is the founder of the Land Institute on Kansas, and has written widely about rural communities and the land. In this excerpt from his book, Becoming Native to this Place, he describes what is left of Matfield Green, a town of some 50 people in the rural plains of Kansas.
  • In the final article of this part of the reader, Cornelia Butler Flora and Jan Flora, both of Iowa State University, succinctly set out how social capital can be created in Post-industrial communities.

 

Perspective 1: The Post-war Task by Albert Howard

  • The problem of disease and health took on a wider scope. In March 1939 new ground was broken. The Local Medical and Panel Committees of Cheshire, summing up their experience of the working of the National Health Insurance Act for over a quarter of a century in the county, did not hesitate to link up their judgement on the unsatisfactory state of health of the human population under their care with the problem of nutrition, tracing the line of fault back to an impoverished soil and supporting their contentions by reference to the ideas which I had for some time been advocating.
  • Their arguments were powerfully supported by the Peckham Health Centre and by the work, already published, of Sir Robert McCarrison, which latter told the story from the other side of the world and from a precisely opposite angle – he was able to instance an Eastern People, the Hunzas, who were the direct embobiment of an ideal of health and whose food was derived from soil kept in a state of the highest natural fertility.
  • By these contemporaneous pioneering efforts the way was blazed for treating the whole problem of health in soil, plant, animal and man as one great subject, calling for a boldly revised point of view and entirely fresh investigations.
  • By this time sufficient evidence had accumulated sor setting out the case fpr soil fertility in book form. This was published in June 1940 by the Oxford University Press under the title of An Agricultural Testament. This book, now in its fourth English and second American edition, set forth the whole gamut of connected problems as far as can at present be done.
  •  In it I summed up my life’s work and advanced the following views:
  1. The birthright of all living things is health.
  2. This law is true for soil, plant, animal, and man: the health of these four is one connected chain.
  3. Any weakness or defect in the health of any earlier link in the chain is carried on to the next and succeeding links, until it reaches the last, namely, man.
  4. The widespread vegetable and animal pests and diseases, which are such a bane to modern agriculture, are evidence of a great failure of health in the second (plant) and third (animal) links of the chain.
  5. The impaired health of human populations (the fourth link) in modern civilized countries is a consequence of this failure in the second and third links.
  6. This general failure in the last three links is to be attributed to failure in the first link, the soil: the undernourishment of the soil is at the root of all. The failure to maintain a healthy agriculture has largely cancelled out all the advantages we have gained from our improvements in hygiene, in housing and our medical discoveries
  7. To retrace our steps is not really difficult if once we set our minds to the problem. We have to bear in mind Nature’s dictates, and we must conform to her imperious demand: (a) for the return of all wastes to the land; (b) for the mixture of the animal and vegetable existence; (c) for the maintaining of an adequate reserve system of feeding the plant, that is we must not interrupt the mycorrhizal association. If we are willing so far to conform to natural law, we shall rapidly reap our reward not only in a flourishing agriculture, but in the immense asset of an abounding health in ourselves and in our children’s children.
  • These ideas, straightforward as they appear when set forth in the form given above, conflict with a number of vested interests. It has been my self-appointed task during the last few years of my life to join hands with those who are convinced of their truth to fight the forces impeding progress.
  • The general thesis that no one generation has a right to exhaust the soil from which humanity must draw its sustenance has received further powerful support from religious bodies, contained in one of the five fundamental principles adopted by the recent Malvern Conference of Christian Churches as follows: ‘The resources of the earth should be used as God’s gifts to the whole human race and used with due consideration for the needs of the present and future generations.’
  • Food is the chief necessity of life. Real security against want and ill health can only be assured by an abundant supply of fresh food properly grown in soil in good heart.
  • The first place in post-war plans of reconstruction must be given to soil fertility in every part of the world.
  • Land must be raised to a higher level of productivity by a rational system of farming which puts a stop to the exploitation of land for the purpose of profit and takes into account the importance of humus in producing food of good quality.
  • The electorate and they alone possess the power to insist that every boy and every girl shall enter into their birthright – health, and that efficiency, wellbeing and contentment which depend thereon.
  • One of the objects of this book is to show the man in the street how this England of ours can be born again. He can help in this task, which depends at least as much on the plain efforts of the plain man in his own farm, garden, or allotment as on all the expensive paraphernalia, apparatus and elaboration of the modern scientist.
  • A healthy population will be no mean achievement, for our greatest possession is ourselves. The man in the street will have to do three things: 
  1. He must create in his own farm, garden, or allotment examples without end of what a fertile soil can do
  2. He must insist that public meals in which he is directly interested, such as those served in boarding schools, in the canteens of day schools and of factories, in popular restaurants and tea shops, and at the seaside resorts at which he takes his holidays are composed of fresh produce of fertile soil
  3. He must use his vote to compel his various representative – municipal, county, and parliamentary to see to it: (a) that the soil of this island is made fertile and maintained in this condition; (b) that the public health system of the future is based on the fresh produce of land in good heart.
  4. One lesson must be stressed. The real Arsenal of Democracy is a fertile soil, the fresh produce of which is the birthright of nations.

 

PART II: AGROECOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES

Saturday, May 28, 2011 @ 05:05 AM
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Book Review

Introduction

In Part 3 of Manifestos on the Future of Food and Seed we learn that: “In India we deeply believe that this amazing universe, this amazing planet, this amazing earth is connected through the web of food, the web of life.” “In India we have an Upanishad that says, ‘If you give bad food you sin.’ The highest karma is the production of food in abundance and the giving of good food in generosity.” “Food has become the place for fascism to act. This fascism is seen where the seed is patented and turned into a monopoly property of a handful of corporations – 95% of genetically modified (GM) seeds are controlled by one corporation, Monsanto.” “In India, as the new GM seeds have moved in and as the corporations have started to control the seed supply, hundreds of thousands of farmers have become indebted and ended their lives with suicides. More than 150,000 Indian farmers have been driven to suicide. Monsanto’s profits are becoming more valued than human life. We must change that.” “Terra Madre is a source of freedom, and that is what is so beautiful about Terra Madre as an event. Here you will not find three corporations sitting with three governments and telling the world that from now on seeds will be the intellectual property of Monsanto and that trade-related intellectual property rights agreements will govern the world.” “Instead, in open dialogue, we proclaim freedom. Freedom of the seed; freedom of the farmers to save seed; freedom of farmers to breed new varieties; freedom from privation, patenting, and biopiracy; freedom of farmers to exchange and trade seeds – because seed is a commons, meant to be exchanged, meant to be shared; freedom of access to open source seed, seed that can be reproduced and regenerated; freedom from genetic contamination and GMOs – which means GMO-free zones in agriculture at the regional level, the national level, the earth level. That’s where we need to move.

 

MANIFESTOS ON THE FUTURE OF FOOD AND SEED

EDITED BY VANDANA SHIVA

SOUTH END PRESS                       2007

PART III

 

Chapter 3: Farmer, Chef, Storyteller: Building New Food Chains by Michael Pollan

Chapter 4: For the Freedom of Food by Vandana Shiva

FELLOW EARTH CITIZENS, children of Terra Madre, I’m sure all of you feel like I do that we are creating another world. We are creating a world beyond the Washington consensus, which we should call the Washington fiction. A fiction that says the $3 trillion of fictitious money moving around the world is real wealth. A fiction that assumes that creating war undemocratically is democracy.

In India we deeply believe that this amazing universe, this amazing planet, this amazing earth is connected through the web of food, the web of life. Food – everything is food, and everything that eats that food is someone else’s food. That’s what connects us. We are food: we eat food, we are made of food, and our first identity, our first wealth, our first health, comes from making, creating, giving of good food. In India we have an Upanishad that says, “If you give bad food you sin.” The highest karma is the production of food in abundance and the giving of good food in generosity.

Terra Madre is the birth of a new freedom movement. Nothing should be able to push human life to indignity, degradation, and extinction. We are being pushed into, and in many places living in, a food fascism. Food has become the place for fascism to act. This fascism is seen where the seed is patented and turned into a monopoly property of a handful of corporations – 95% of genetically modified (GM) seeds are controlled by one corporation, Monsanto. Monsanto then uses the fictitious democracy that created the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the financial conditionalities of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to force us to give up our freedoms, to give up our biodiversity, and to deny the richness of our resources – reducing us to biodiversity serfs.

In India, as the new GM seeds have moved in and as the corporations have started to control the seed supply, hundreds of thousands of farmers have become indebted and ended their lives with suicides. More than 150,000 Indian farmers have been driven to suicide. Monsanto’s profits are becoming more valued than human life. We must change that.

But food fascism isn’t just in the seed; it’s in the methods of production as well. You cannot not use GM seeds. I was told by a farmer from Germany that a potato seed called “Linda” is being banned just because companies can’t make profits from it anymore. Instruments of seed registration, licensing, seed replacement, patenting – there are all kinds of new fascist rules. Europe made the choice to be genetically modified organisms (GMOs)-free, and the WTO was used to tell Europe, “You will have to grow and eat this rot.” But the WTO itself, as we know, is dying; it’s in intensive care. Russia has said it won’t join. We need to use this moment of WTO weakness to tell that fictitious world capital, “Your immoral rule – whether it is farmers being prevented from growing their crops or distributing their seed – is over.” And we need to look deeply at the issue of food safety and how it is being used. Take the avian flu: it is identified with wild birds and free-range birds, but that is not where it started. These birds were the victims of a disease that emerged from factory farms. And yet instead of addressing the breeding ground of the disease, we have these people around the world in moon suits, going out and grabbing chickens from women’s backyards to kill them. This is another element of food fascism – the fear of the small, the decentralized, the local, the free.

In fact, I would say fascism is about fear of freedom. And we are about love of freedom – passionate, deep, uncompromising love of freedom – the self-organized freedom that Terra Madre is about.

 Today Brasil has become the biggest producer of genetically engineered soya beans. We need to tell President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva: “Stop the destruction of the Amazon, and stop converting your country into the cutting edge of food fascism.” What we have been building in Terra Madre is unique. It’s unique because it is the defense of the local through a global alliance. It is a defense of diversity through a joining together. And I think one of the self-organized contributions that has propelled some of this process has come from the International Commission on the Future of Food.

  • If the next step of food freedom is to be taken, eaters of food and producers of food, ecological movements, and movements of gastronomy have to come together.
  • The commission’s new report, the “Manifesto on the Future of Seed,” is, I believe, the manifesto of Terra Madre.
  • It is diversity that we celebrate in the “Manifesto on the Future of Food.” We celebrate and protect diversity of our cultures, the diversity of innovation and knowledge. Terra Madre is also a source of freedom, and that is what is so beautiful about Terra Madre as an event.
  • Here you will not find three corporations sitting with three governments and telling the world that from now on seeds will be the intellectual property of Monsanto and that trade-related intellectual property rights agreements will govern the world.

 

Instead, in open dialogue, we proclaim freedom. Freedom of the seed; freedom of the farmers to save seed; freedom of farmers to breed new varieties; freedom from privation, patenting, and biopiracy; freedom of farmers to exchange and trade seeds – because seed is a commons, meant to be exchanged, meant to be shared; freedom of access to open source seed, seed that can be reproduced and regenerated; freedom from genetic contamination and GMOs – which means GMO-free zones in agriculture at the regional level, the national level, the earth level. That’s where we need to move.

But the most important freedom of seed is the freedom to reproduce – that’s what seed means. Seeds are the embodiment of the future, the unfolding of life, the potential to keep reproducing, and yet new technologies, like the “terminator technology,” like hybrid seeds, are designed to prevent seed from giving rise to seed. The freedom of seeds to reproduce means we will not accept terminator seeds and sterile seeds, which cannot grow.

The seeds of slavery have been bred to respond to chemicals. They have been bred for the convenience of giant machines that need huge amounts of oil. They have been bred for corporate profits. The seeds of the future will be bred by the food communities and the scientists gathered at Terra Madre, and those whom we will work with, and by women – because women are the keepers of the seed. We will breed them to eliminate toxic inputs, to eliminate dependence on fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases. We will breed seeds not for uniformity and monocultures, but for diversity and, most important, for freedom. That’s what we are sowing – the seeds of freedom. I hope all of you will join this manifesto – will you?

Thursday, April 7, 2011 @ 03:04 AM
posted by admin

Book review

In Part 3 of Feeding People is Easy, Colin Tudge points out that: “Industrialized farming makes maximum use of mechanical power and industrial chemistry; and although industrial farming is the Johnny-come-lately, it is already commonly called ‘conventional farming’. It is conventional only insofar as it makes use of western methods, and is geared to the western, industrial economy.” “Enlightened agriculture as I envisage it is very like modern organic farming, but begins from a slightly different base. The organic movement was not founded to provide good food for everyone forever. It is, however, the prime agenda, from the outset, of Enlightened Agriculture. Enlightened Agriculture would allow itself to be more catholic in its choice of technology, than organic farming is. Agriculture becomes truly enlightened only when it keeps all the balls in the air – biological, social, moral – with the general aim of creating a world that is good for everyone forever, and for other creatures too.” “In principle, it really should not be difficult to supply everyone who is ever likely to be born with great food, forever; and to do so without wiping out other creatures, and generally wrecking the fabric of the Earth. Present day agriculture is not directly geared to human well being, and takes virtually no account of biological reality. It is designed to make money, in the apparent belief that the maximization of disposable wealth is both necessary and sufficient. How this works, why it is so destructive, and how this perverse state of affairs came about, is discussed in the next two chapters.”

FEEDING PEOPLE IS EASY

COLIN TUDGE

PARI PUBLISHING                                    2007

PART III

Chapter 3: Great Food and Enlightened Agriculture: The Future Belongs to the Gourmet (Cont)

Postscript: Enlightened Agriculture and organic farming.

  • The world population when large-scale farming first began around 10,000 years ago is estimated at a mere 10 million. Since numbers were approaching three billion by the 1930s, when high-tech farming first became widespread, we can see how successful craft-based, traditional farming has been.
  • It produced a three-hundred fold increase in human numbers since hunter-gathering days – and has contributed a great deal to the further increase, since the 1930s, when the population has doubled again.
  • It simply isn’t true as some zealots of modernity seem to think, that farming was floundering until science and high tech came on the scene. In truth, agricultural science has achieved the successes it has only because it had such a firm – traditional – base to build on.
  • Industrialized farming makes maximum use of mechanical power and industrial chemistry; and although industrial farming is the Johnny-come-lately, it is already commonly called ‘conventional farming’. It is conventional only insofar as it makes use of western methods, and is geared to the western, industrial economy.
  • Organic farming is like traditional farming insofar as it makes no – or minimal – use of industrial chemistry. The modern organic farmer actively rejects the industrial methods: it’s not that they are not available.
  • Organic farms also tend to be more traditional in structure than industrial farms: more craft-based, and more labour intensive; and organic farmers apply ‘tender loving care’ as a matter of philosophy.
  • Organic farmers make tremendous use of modern science, often of the most intricate kind, to ensure that soil is maintained in the best possible ‘heart’ – finest texture, highest fertility, high organic content; and to explore means of containing pests by ‘biological’ means.
  • Enlightened agriculture as I envisage it is very like modern organic farming, but begins from a slightly different base. The organic movement was not founded to provide good food for everyone forever. It is, however, the prime agenda, from the outset, of Enlightened Agriculture.
  • Enlightened Agriculture would allow itself to be more catholic in its choice of technology, than organic farming is. Agriculture becomes truly enlightened only when it keeps all the balls in the air – biological, social, moral – with the general aim of creating a world that is good for everyone forever, and for other creatures too.

 

So where have we gone wrong?

  • In principle, it really should not be difficult to supply everyone who is ever likely to be born with great food, forever; and to do so without wiping out other creatures, and generally wrecking the fabric of the Earth.
  • Present day agriculture is not directly geared to human well being, and takes virtually no account of biological reality. It is designed to make money, in the apparent belief that the maximization of disposable wealth is both necessary and sufficient. How this works, why it is so destructive, and how this perverse state of affairs came about, is discussed in the next two chapters.

 

Chapter 4: The Rot Sets In: Farming for Money

  • We are failing, miserably, to feed ourselves properly. Along the way, we cause huge collateral misery while wrecking the fabric of the world itself. If we go on as we are then life will be impossible for our own children and grandchildren. Why are we behaving so perversely?
  • The logistics of power favors wickedness in the highest places because the people who are most likely to acquire the most power are the ones who are most focused on power: and the desire for personal power seems largely incompatible with the primary virtues of respect for others, and of personal humility.
  • Rich and powerful people include some of the most intelligent of all and some of the best: people who really do want the world to be a better place, and seek to benefit humanity as a whole.
  • Such people still exist in particular in India among people from both a mercantile and a Hindu tradition. In the West the Quakers, steeped in Christian morality, have been serious commercial players – and of course you don’t have to be either a Hindu or a Christian to be humanitarian.
  • The fault does not lie primarily with wickedness, or stupidity. It lies with error. We have contrived by degrees to create a world economic system that is bad for humanity in general and disastrous for agriculture in particular – the thing we absolutely have to get right. How come?

 

What’s gone wrong?

  • To people brought up in the Cold War, the world’s economy is clearly divided into Communist and capitalist. The West is conceived to be capitalist, and those who feel that the present western economy is not what the world needs, are still liable to be called “Commies”, and banned from serious further discourse.
  • The kind of economics that Communism traditionally embraced is now rare. As first envisaged by Karl Marx, the people own “the means of production.”
  • Many conclude that the ideological war is over. All the world’s economies – all except those eccentrics that have kept themselves to themselves or have been shunned – subscribe to the global free market, presided over by the World Trade Organisation, based in Geneva.
  • Since everyone is a consumer, the system is innately democratic. Anyone who isn’t capitalist these days must be an idiot, or (as George W Bush put the matter), “evil”.
  • Doubters must be the enemies of democracy, and world unity, and therefore the enemies of humankind itself.
  • What this simple-minded but alarmingly common view of the world significantly fails to register is that there is a huge, deep, ideological and practical division within capitalism itself.
  • On the one hand we have the global, allegedly free market, which now prevails. On the other hand, we have capitalism as envisaged, and espoused, by the founders of the modern United States – Ben Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and the rest – at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th.
  • The difference between the two capitalist models is profound.
  • People like me who feel that the global free market in its present form is a disaster are not necessarily “Commies”, or religious “fanatics”, or hippies or weirdos. On the contrary, I see myself as a good Jefferson.
  • The United States was the greatest social experiment ever undertaken, breathtaking in brilliance and moral sure-footedness, and if only the US had continued as it began, the world would now be very different and a far better place.
  • I hate the present system – we have to stand up to it – but in hating it, I claim to be a better capitalist than its modern practitioners.
  • I argue, as many do, that capitalism is really about free trade, markets, and personal ownership, and as such it seems to be as old as humankind.

 

In the beginning

  • Adam Smith, in The Wealth of Nations of 1776, explained why the free market could meet the needs of humanity. Customers could go elsewhere and cheats would go out of business. An “invisible hand” would ensure that honesty and justice prevailed.
  • However, the invisible hand could be relied upon to dispense justice only if there was an infinite number of traders, competing on level terms; and an infinite number of consumers who each had perfect access to all traders, and perfect knowledge of what was going on.
  • If any trader had a monopoly, or groups of traders – or consumers – ganged together to form cartels to put pressure on the rest, or if information was concealed or misrepresented, then the invisible hand could not work its magic.
  • The market would simply be dominated by the strongest players for their own particular benefit. The founders’ vision has been horribly betrayed. Jefferson must be spinning in his grave.

 

The end of the invisible hand

  • Since the founders’ day there have been three key changes.
  • The first is that the market has been taken over and controlled by corporates, shifting investment according to what is most profitable.
  • The world’s most powerful governments now depend on those corporates and so does the global market.
  • The modern global economy is not the dynamic, restless interplay of infinite components that Smith envisaged. It is a ponderous clash of titans.
  • In such a system, the invisible hand that is supposed to create social justice, does not come into play.
  • The second shift has been the rise of monetization. The creation and the generation of wealth – almost by whatever means – is thus justified on moral grounds.
  • The moral excuse for extreme personal wealth is provided by the notion of “trickle down”. Up to a point this is true. Rich people can employ poor people, and entrepreneurs who are truly socially inspired can create fine industries that give rise to and support entire communities.
  • But wealth doesn’t necessarily “trickle down”; the rich may use their power to maintain their ascendancy. As economists at the merchant bankers Goldman Sachs recently put the matter: “The most important contributor to higher profit margins over the past five years has been a decline in labor’s share of national income.”
  • Thom Hartmann records in What Would Jefferson do? that since 1981, when Ronald Reagan became president, the USA has grown richer and richer while the real income of the middle class has declined by 10% and the minimum wage of the poorest people has fallen by 17%.
  • 80% of American homeowners of low and moderate income now spend more than half their income on housing, and half of the ever-spiralling tally of bankruptcies are brought about by medical bills.
  • Such is the faith in “trickle down” that Britain’s Tony Blair and Gordon Brown believe that salvation for African countries lies with foreign companies (notably corporates) setting up shop within their boundaries, and making money.
  • Governments measure their success in terms of increase in GDP – gross domestic product. – or economic growth.
  • Nations that are “growing” fastest are deemed to be the most successful, and those with little or no growth are perceived as lame ducks or even as “failed states.”
  • GDP has very little to do with wellbeing. War is extremely lucrative, which is one reason why there is so much of it.
  • Crime in the US in particular is a huge industry: all those prisons, prison officers, policemen, lawyers, clerks, cleaners, drivers, and manufacturers of safes, burglar alarms, guns, truncheons, and cop cars contribute wonderfully to GDP.
  • Nowadays, it seems, the richer people are, the more admirable. One of the Russian Oligarchs who effectively stole the wealth of his entire country now owns England’s leading football team, and is one of our modern heroes.
  • The third shift in emphasis is perhaps the most pernicious. In the modern global economy, morality itself is defined by the market.
  • In modern markets, in this age of moral relativism, what is “good” is taken by definition to be whatever people are prepared to pay for.
  • In reality the poorest people with the greatest needs cannot afford to buy anything at all, and if the market is all there is, then they are sidelined.
  • Neither could the market, left to itself, produce the kind of society that most sane people would find agreeable. Many people are prepared to pay a fortune for child pornography and for child prostitutes, but no one that I know would defend either on market grounds.
  • Worst of all, the particular moral message that emerges from the modern market is that material success is all, and that material success depends on ruthless competitiveness. Winning is all that matters.
  • The inbuilt moral restraint that Adam Smith envisaged – the “natural sympathy” – has been overridden.
  • The richest calculate whether it is more economical to obey the law, or to break it and pay the fine. If they are really rich and powerful, they can buy the law itself.
  • In The War Against Nature Robert F Kennedy tells how he sued an American meat company whose piggeries were polluting several if not most of the rivers of North Carolina. After a decade’s endeavour, he brought the company to court. He won. Then he lost – for the company appealed, and by the time the appeal was settled, two years later, the law had mysteriously been changed to enable them to dump their ordure with impunity.
  • To many, including many in the highest places, this kind of behaviour is perfectly acceptable.
  • Winning is the name of the game and whatever wins is good by definition. Might is right. The winners write history. Everyday mottos capture the point.
  • For my part, I claim to be a good capitalist, and am sure that an economy that can truly serve the needs of humanity must be fundamentally capitalist.
  • But we need a new model of it; far closer in spirit and to some extent in detail to the vision of Thomas Jefferson, than the world of the modern corporates. As briefly discussed later, some people are on the case.
  • The present system does produce some things efficiently – big aeroplanes and big ships; possibly motor-cars and computers – and perhaps this is good for humanity.
  • I do claim, however, that the present economy, the globalised clash of corporates and of corporate-dependent governments, is disastrous for agriculture.

 

Agriculture is just a business like any other

Wednesday, April 6, 2011 @ 04:04 AM
posted by admin

Book review

In Part 2 of Feeding People is Easy, Colin Tudge points out that: “The task before us is to provide good food for everyone, forever; at the same time to create agreeable ways of life for farmers, and for everyone else involved in the food chain – and for all humanity; to do this without cruelty to livestock; and to ensure that the world as a whole remains beautiful and secure, and that as many as possible of the other species with whom we share this planet continue to thrive and to evolve.” “Modern policy-makers have fallen hook, line, and sinker for the myth of monetization – the belief that if human beings simply set out to make as much money as possible, in all the spheres in which they operate, then somehow or other everything will turn out all right.” “The powers-that-be are forever lecturing protestors like me about the need to be ‘realistic’; but the only reality they recognize is the political-economic, commercial-military power game that they happen to be engaged in, and which makes them rich.” “The world is suffering, possibly terminally, from a huge irony: that the powers-that-be live in a fantasy world of their own devising, blind to every observation that is any way inconvenient, yet they believe that they really do know what they are doing, and that they alone are the realists. We are dying of their illusions.” “We (humanity) must now take matters into our own hands – and, I believe, it is well within our power to do so.” “The world’s food chain could supply the thing that has been lacking this past few thousand years – the vehicle for true democracy.”

FEEDING PEOPLE IS EASY

COLIN TUDGE

PARI PUBLISHING                                    2007

PART II

Chapter 3: Great Food and Enlightened Agriculture: The Future Belongs to the Gourmet

  • The task before us is to provide good food for everyone, forever; at the same time to create agreeable ways of life for farmers, and for everyone else involved in the food chain – and for all humanity; to do this without cruelty to livestock; and to ensure that the world as a whole remains beautiful and secure, and that as many as possible of the other species with whom we share this planet continue to thrive and to evolve.
  • Farming is the key to all this – or at least it is the thing we really have to get right. It is the source of the thing that we need in greatest quantities, and without interruptions; and it is the principal interface between humanity and the fabric of the Earth itself. The kind of farming that would do all that is necessary I call ‘Enlightened Agriculture’.
  • Modern policy-makers have fallen hook, line, and sinker for the myth of monetization – the belief that if human beings simply set out to make as much money as possible, in all the spheres in which they operate, then somehow or other everything will turn out all right.
  • Never in history have the powers-that-be had the wherewithal to operate on the global scale as they do now.
  • Never have they been able, as now, to take the whole of world farming by the scruff of its neck and ram it into a structure and a philosophy that are so alien to its purpose, and so at odds with the needs of humanity and the biological and physical constraints of the world.
  • The powers-that-be are forever lecturing protestors like me about the need to be ‘realistic’; but the only reality they recognize is the political-economic, commercial-military power game that they happen to be engaged in, and which makes them rich.
  • They have a great deal of ‘data’, which they collect and publish selectively, and manipulate with the aid of lawyers and other rhetoricians, largely for our bamboozlement.
  • The world is suffering, possibly terminally, from a huge irony: that the powers-that-be live in a fantasy world of their own devising, blind to every observation that is any way inconvenient, yet they believe that they really do know what they are doing, and that they alone are the realists. We are dying of their illusions.
  • We (humanity) must now take matters into our own hands – and, I believe, it is well within our power to do so.
  • The world’s food chain could supply the thing that has been lacking this past few thousand years – the vehicle for true democracy. (The last chapter.)
  • For now I want to look at Enlightened Agriculture: what it looks like; what it is.

 

A lightning course in nutrition

  • Food provides us with the raw materials from which to construct our own flesh and with energy called kilocalories or kcals. It also supplies a miscellany of bits and pieces which, broadly speaking, oil the works.
  • The components of food that meet all these requirements are roughly classed as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, which can be called ‘macronutrients’; plus a very mixed bag of minerals, vitamins, and other recondite organic molecules, which are known collectively as ‘micronutrients’.
  • Human beings need between 1500 and 4000 kcals per day depending on whether they are children or adults, growing or not growing, men or women, lactating or pregnant or neither, sedentary or sweat-of-the-brow labourers, and also on whether they naturally metabolise rapidly or less rapidly.
  • In most human diets, carbohydrates are the chief sources of energy, and as they provide roughly 420 kcals per 100 grams an average person could get all his/her daily energy needs from about 500-700 grams (a pound-and-a-half) of carbohydrates. The chief carbohydrate is starch, found mainly in the seeds and tubers of plants.
  • From 1970 nutritionists agree that ‘roughage’ or ‘dietary fibre’ is an important component of diet even though it provides virtually no calories.
  • Since there is a limit to the amount that people can eat, fibre helps to limit total intake. Indeed it is the greatest ‘slimming’ food of all.
  • Grossly obese people are typically pop-swiggers. White sugar provides 394  kcals per 100 grams; wholemeal bread 216; potatoes 80 – but chips or fries 250. Coca-cola and Pepsi provide 175 kcals per 100 ml (100grams). You can drink a litre – 1750 kcals – in a day without suppressing appetite before you even start eating, adding 50% to your required daily intake without noticing.
  • It became clear by the 1970s that human protein needs had been greatly exaggerated. Healthy adults get by perfectly well on 5 grams or less.
  • In the days when we were supposed to need boundless protein, it seemed essential to raise as much livestock as possible, giving rise to intensive livestock systems.
  • People can get all the protein they need from cereals and pulses alone; and while getting their protein, they would also get most of their energy, with a liberal dose of fibre too.
  • Meat and other animal products provide essential minerals that plants cannot provide in sufficient amounts so don’t write them off. But don’t build the whole diet around them either.
  • The shift in nutritional theory could and should have transformed the face of agriculture, but of course it did not because livestock can be highly lucrative.
  • Currently we feed 50% of the world’s wheat and barley to livestock; 80% of the maize; and well over 90% of the soya. By 2050, on present trends, when the population numbers 9 billion, our livestock will be consuming enough grain and pulses to feed another 4 billion.
  • When the factual truth is inconvenient to the powers-that-be, they simply ignore it, or find some tame scientist who will say whatever he or she is paid to say. But I will come to that.
  • The last broad category of essential foods are classed as ‘micronutrients’ that may be considered under three headings: minerals, vitamins, and ‘paravitamins’.
  • Our need for vitamins became apparent in the 17th century when it was realized that scurvy was caused by nutritional deficiency and sailors should eat citrus fruit.
  • By the 19th century it was clear that the essential ingredient was vitamin C – alias ascorbic acid, now known as one of the body’s many ‘anti-oxidants’.
  • More and more vitamins have been identified, all very different chemically, all essential, all leading to disorder that could be fatal if present in too small amounts.
  • If paravitamins are lacking, this does not necessarily lead to overt disease, but if they are present they seem to be health-promoting.
  • We need to acknowledge that it is logically impossible to identify all the paravitamins our bodies might need: only by eating many different things can we be reasonably sure of covering all bases.
  • If people were simply encouraged to grow herbs, there would be no profit for food processors. We are told that the only way to obtain essential ingredients is by buying particular foods produced by particular companies with particular bands of shareholders to answer to, at huge cost.
  • This is the way of the modern world: not to do things that are merely sensible and beneficial; but to do those things – and only those things – that bring profit to big companies and at the same time increase the power of the political parties who are financed by those companies.
  • Biologically speaking those huge companies are redundant. This is the nonsense we have to escape from.
  • The powers-that-be revel in complexity and the more we apparently depend on experts; on the powers-that-be, who alone are able to handle the knowledge. Obfuscation and esotericism has been the con trick of charlatans through the ages.
  • The underlying simplicity of modern nutritional theory can be summarized in 9 words: ‘Plenty of plants; not much meat; and maximum variety’.
  • That’s it. All the thousands of textbooks and diet books and healthy eating books that occupy miles and miles and miles of shelf-space in hundreds and hundreds of libraries and book shops can be expressed in this one brief adage: ‘Plenty of plants; not much meat; and maximum variety’.
  • Let’s ask the next biological question: How can we best produce the food that we really need?

 

A lightning course in good farming

  • Farmers seek efficiency, a slippery concept.
  • Traditional farms making no use of artificial pesticides or fertilizers, and using only muscle power of people or animals, in general produce about 10 kcals of food energy for every 1 kcal of energy expended on cultivation.
  • The industrialized farm expends 10 kcals, largely in the form of fossil fuel, for every 1 that is created in the form of food energy.
  • Traditional farms are therefore about 100 times more efficient.
  • British- and American-style agriculture is ‘efficient’ only in cash terms. Oil has been absurdly cheap. Industrial farmers have rarely paid for rivers and offshore reefs that they have ruined, or for the fisheries that their endeavours have wrecked in passing.
  • Hundreds of millions of people have been thrown off the land in the cause of cash efficiency.
  • Success in modern agriculture, like everything else in the modern world, is gauged entirely by cash – as if cash was a perfect mirror of reality. But of course it is not.
  • As human misery mounts, and other species die out, and soil disappears, and the lakes dry up, and the climate grows warmer and more violent, we might have hoped that even the powers-that-be would realize that money alone is a very dangerous yardstick by which to measure success in any endeavour.
  • Agriculture must be judged by criteria quite detached from present-day cash: criteria that have to do with morality and justice and with bedrock biology; with matters not of personal wealth and the mirage of ‘economic growth’, but of survival.
  • Agriculture is what we need to stay alive, and to keep the world habitable; and we are in serious danger of messing it up, irrecoverably.
  • If we are to maximize biological efficiency, what should we be growing, and how and where, and who should be growing it?
  • Our task is two-fold: to devise agriculture that really can feed us; and by-passing or neutralizing the present-day powers-that-be.

 

Biological efficiency

  • Maximizing biological efficiency means producing as much food as possible per acre or hectare, by means that are minimally destructive – preferably by means that leave the soil and the waterways better than we found them.
  • From all that has been said so far it’s clear that we can reasonably focus on the macronutrients – energy and protein; and if we also strive for maximum variety we will take care of the essential fats and of the micronutrients in passing.
  • It is now clear that we can get all the protein we want, as well as the bulk of our energy, from plants: more particularly from the crops that are generally called ‘staples’ – cereals, pulses, tubers, and also various oilseed crops which can be major sources of calories.
  • Grow these in sufficient quantities and where people actually are and the problems of feeding people is all over bar the shouting. Feeding people, looked at in these simplest terms, really is easy.
  • By far the most important staple crops are the cereals – the seeds of wheat, rice, maize (corn), barley, rye, oats, sorghum, millet, and teff.
  • The pulse crops are the beans – soya, the various kidney beans, and broad beans; peanuts (groundnuts); chickpeas; pigeon peas; lentils; and peas.
  • Some other non-grass seeds serve as grains: quinoa, amaranth, ‘wild rice’, rapeseed (canola), sunflowers, olives, coconuts, and palm oil.
  • Peanuts, maize and soya also serve as significant oilseed crops. Nuts also are seeds and can be very important locally.
  • The worlds most important tubers are the potato, plus cassava, yams, taro, and sweet potatoes.
  • Of all these staples, by far the most important worldwide are wheat, rice, and maize.
  • All we have to do to ensure that the world is at least adequately fed is to grow staple crops in the places where they grow best. They are the priority.
  • An all-staple diet would leave us short of some essential fats; some minerals; some vitamins; many paravitamins. We need two more classes of agriculture to run alongside or amongst the arable: horticulture and pastoral.
  • Horticulture is the art, science, and craft of growing fruit and vegetables, herbs and spices. Pastoral farming is the art, science, and craft of raising livestock.
  • Cattle, sheep, and goats can feed on the kinds of vegetation that we cannot feed on. The specialist herbivores thrive in the kinds of territories where we cannot readily raise staples or practise serious horticulture – notably in cold/hot hills and semi-deserts. Pigs and poultry can be fed on leftovers and/or crop surpluses, or crops of inferior quality.
  • Guided by such principles the structure of the farm defines itself. All march to the drum of their local ecology. Although landscapes and climates vary enormously the fundamental principles of ecology are the same, just as the laws of physics are the same.
  • In short: farms that are designed with sound biology in mind – with respect for the physical needs of human beings, and of the crops and livestock, and the restraints of landscape and climate – produce plenty of plants, some but not much livestock, and great variety.
  • The output of farms that march to the drum of sound biology exactly matches the nutritional needs of human beings as defined by modern nutritional science: Plenty of plants; not much meat; and maximum variety.

 

The future belongs to the gourmet

  • Great chefs are extremely well paid. They stress the things that matter: fine, fresh ingredients, prepared as simply as possible. Great chefs also emphasise that the very finest cuisine, all the world over, is rooted in traditional cooking.
  • What are the basic ingredients of traditional cooking, all the world over?  Plenty of plants; not much meat; and maximum variety.
  • In short, we can’t lose. Farms that are designed to feed people for ever – deliberately tailored to conform to the bedrock principles of human, animal, and plant physiology, and to the demands of ecology – produce exactly the right foods in the right proportions as recommended by modern nutritionists; and these in turn are precisely what is required to produce the world’s finest cooking.
  • All serious cooks need is plenty of staples, a mass as various as possible of other plants in season – leaves, fruits, roots – and whatever meat, eggs, milk and occasional fish as may come their way, and they can live as well as any royalty.
  • Enlightened agriculture is what used simply to be called good husbandry. Enlightened agriculture requires truly agrarian communities – the very thing that ‘modern’ governments are seeking to eliminate.
  • If we really care about our future; if we really want to ensure that our grandchildren have enough to eat, and live in tolerable societies, and have other species to share the world with – and that their children and grandchildren can in turn enjoy the privileges of this astonishing Earth – then we need to acknowledge that the future economy of the world needs to be agrarian. Behind Enlightened Agriculture lies the new Agrariansim.