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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Regionalization of Big Food

As corporate growth slows, companies are trying to appeal to a broader audience by reaching out to millions of people in developing countries to purchase their products. Will this form of regionalization be beneficial to the people or is it “Big Food” profiting over corporate responsibility?

Nestlé Corporation, the world's largest food company, recently launched a barge called Nestlé Até Você a Bordo– or Nestlé Takes You On Board. It is an 18-day voyage along the Amazon River in Brazil to reach the poor through a movable supermarket bringing more than 300 Nestlé brands to the people of the Amazon.

Ivan Zurita, Nestlé Brazil's spokesperson, said, "the barge will service the population of the Amazon whose streets are lined by the river." Zurita continues by stating that Nestle's project is part of the company's concept of "Regionalization, based on different profiles of consumers, where we deal with each region as adifferent area."

Nestlé’s interest seems to present a public health problem. The Amazonians live in an environment with nutrient packed plants indigenous to the area. Various fruits, seeds and plants used for medicine have been the mainstay for the local industry and have provided the people of the Amazon with healthy food choices. Many of Nestlé’s products contain synthetic ingredients. Shouldn't it be the responsibility of Nestle Corporation to expose brands that are compatible with the Amazonian dietinstead of introducing brands containing fake additives, providing no health benefits to the consumer, and could potentially be harmful to the people of that area?

The Amazonians have lived off an ancient culture and can continue without prepackaged, processed Maggi soups and seasonings or Ninho (packaged milk). Nestle's contention that it will help eradicate poverty by selling the products and also help develop the communities, is questionable. Employing thousands of urban women who are in many cases the main source of income for their family's is going to benefit the community, but using them as a vehicle to hawk unhealthy food is not going to benefit the people of the region.

Many people are aware of the natural products from the Amazon, which some companies have turned into branded health products (Acai being one of them) and have helped the indigenous cultures along the way. The bountiful gifts we have been given helped us to become a healthier society. Nestlé, the largest food company, should take the responsibility to return the favor.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A natural immersion from an urban aversion. Peaceful existence- Gaia's transition

When surrounded by nature, we can truly become immersed with peace in the here and now.

Living in the city limited me to a purest manifestation of nature. Visiting the Bronx Botanical Gardens, Central and Prospect park was the closest thing to a functioning natural world yet being surrounded by concrete, the time spent in nature quickly evaporated after a few hundred feet placed me on the subway again. Despite this struggle, learning to function in the city has still served to be incredibly useful with helping me transition into a more suitable lifestyle, based on sustainable principles. I can celebrate the fact that my footprint has been drastically reduced.

Over the years, I have tapped into an amazing urban community in Brooklyn. There have been people who have taught me how to work on an urban rooftop farm, grow food on rooftops, compost and bee keep. I was able to stay true to my sustainable practices; I shopped at the farmer's market and shared CSA's, I connected with local food bloggers, cooked with foodie friends, pot lucked, ate at restaurants that changed its menu to local and seasonal ingredients regularly, learned about herbalism and how to craft wild herbs in NYC parks. I also tried to bike everywhere, supporting critical mass despite the risks confronting cars. This lifestyle became ingrained in my mind but I always felt that this existence had not been cultivated naturally- Everything I did needed to be planned and came at a cost.

I want to offset the costs of the nagging planned ritual I had to cope with, just to function in NYC. I want to learn how to integrate my existing career path in environment and social governance with movements such as permaculture. I want to take a more holistic approach at looking at transitional societies and where all the moving parts function to create a new society.

This summer I have exposed myself to a pragmatic group of people in upstate NY. I no longer feel this sense of a fragmented, transient community that exists in NYC and have easily transitioned into the new lifestyle. My exposure to groups like Global Zen, Living Mandala, Gaia University, Fingerlakes Permaculture Institute, Farmland Trust are taking on the same initiatives and are growing into the roles of advocating for sustainability quite well.

Social networking, meetup groups and blogging has made it easy to connect with others: take the Transition in Action Social Network-everyone who is interested in this lifestyle should join this to connect with a growing community that is starting to integrate into mainstream. You will see that this can happen in both rural and urban environments.

My research has been bountiful. I have based it off of my interests in the back-to-the-land movement and intentional communities-a phrase which loosely defines coops, communes and ecovillages. The groups mentioned are not necessarily living off a utopian desire, like the commune in the movie Easy Rider. There are amazing communities that have existed since the 1960's. The Farm is one of them. The Ecovillage in Ithaca (Est. 1992, the oldest in NY State) is another functioning community. You can access this information by finding a location form the Intentional Community website.

Even taking time to exist in community has helped me borrow from this transition into sustainability and take from it what I could for my next journey to a new area. I have been able to witness how certain communities incorporate brilliant, pragmatic and passionate people who have hopes for a sustainable future but also the professional skills to back it up. I see more young, cerebral individuals (in their 20s and 30s) moving into farming, learning the trade that has built our agrarian society. My new work in communications will be advocating for young people transitioning into farming as a profession.

What a task at hand I have been given. I have been granted the honor of supporting those who work off the land, who put in hard labor to till the earth and plant, until harvest, when they can share with their community the love and abundance that comes from Gaia.

Nature-the purest form of existence, connecting to the highest being that humbles our very existence. What an amazing way to live, in company with other earthly bodies who connect to such a heavenly delight.

Integral Permaculture

As quoted:

we are now creating

inside of the

collapsing society

the rational relationships

& structures

that will be there to replace it

once its opressive structures

have stopped functioning


western post-modern society

is now in a chrysalis

transforming itself

& there are many,

small & colourful

evolucionary butterflies

already working

from time

fertilizing and beautifying

dancing & creating

this Great Transition

join us