Religion is for people afraid of going to hell.
Spirituality is for those who have already been there.
Spirituality is for those who have already been there.
So, it's been quite some time since I posted anything on the blog or updated our website. Due to a personal injury that left me unable to use my left arm for several months ... again (really bad as I'm left handed), and the resulting constant pain (I won't take prescription pain meds) and lack of quality sleep. Then I was trying to catch up on house work and yard work, along with repairing the damage caused by a helper last fall (in 10 minutes he managed to tear 2 raised beds all to pieces and it took me over 6 hours to rebuild them). I've also been putting in swales next to all of the beds in the front yard, plant a backyard orchard, get seeds in the ground, deal with chlorosis on 5 plants (alkaline soil and buffered city water with a pH of 8.5) and get bind weed under control. Whew, I'm tired just thinking about it.
So here at long last are my thoughts on the topic of "Organics". Thanks for your patience and ... Enjoy.
"Organic" has become one of the great buzzwords for modern Americans, with many people willing to pay considerably more for farm products that they believe to be safe, healthy, and chemical-free. Unfortunately, as I discovered, this is not the reality.
Now , before you lose your cherub-like demeanor and start calling me all kinds of unpleasant names, I just want to say I'm not opposed to organic farming. After all, encouraging farmers to rotate crops, avoid acres and acres of monocropping, and investigate and use more environmentally safe practices is great in my book. I just want the actual practice of organic farming to be closer in truth to the spirit of what most people believe to be organic, and I'm pretty sure you share that sentiment.
So, let's look at what organic really means.
First, "organic" is a trademarked name that is owned and controlled by the US government. They set the guidelines on what is organic, and have representatives that collect sizable sums of money from farmers for testing and certification. This should be your first clue that everything you believe may not be true.
When dealing with the government, their legal-speak, double-talk, techno-babble and outright misdirections are well documented. In many cases they'll write it off as "spin" in an effort to downplay the fact that we are being misled or outright lied to. The "Affordable" Healthcare Act is just such an example where many Americans were told everyone would be covered and that it would lower the insurance rates for healthy individuals, only to have health insurance premiums double or triple in cost and fines imposed on those who could not afford to pay those rates. In my book, that's not affordable.
As one friend of mine put it, "Americans believe in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, while the government believes in the Land of the Fee and the Home of the Slave." If we take his viewpoint, organic certification is a moneymaking scheme to increase government revenue and place more bureaucratic burden on Americans. I can see his point with annual certification starting at $500.00 and going up from there with additional administration fees, document handling and processing fees, as well as agent travel expenses for on site testing.
We also need to remember that where there is legalese being spoken, there are loopholes in the background. A 2014 article in the Mother Earth News blog highlights one of these loopholes. The pesticide, Retenone, is a natural compound from the roots of particular plants that is allowed for use under organic guidelines. The problem is, it causes damage to the mitochondria of cells and has been banned by the EPA for most farming uses. As M.E.N. author Lindsey Fernandez-Salvador pointed out, if produce is grown in another country where Retenone is not banned it still falls under USDA organic standards and can be sold as organic in the U.S. without you being aware of the dangers to your family.
But wait, that's not all!
Secondly, organic does not mean "all-natural".
According to the USDA website on organic guidelines: "In general, synthetic substances are prohibited for crop and livestock production unless specifically allowed and non-synthetic substances are allowed for crop and livestock production unless specifically prohibited."
Wait just one minute - synthetics are allowed? How is that "organic"? Once again the American public has been put in a spin cycle of rhetoric.
Their regulations do allow a considerable number of synthestics to be used under the name "organic" as we can see in the Code of Federal Regulations Title 7 - Subtitle B - Chapter I - Subchapter M - Part 205 - Subpart G - Section 205.601 - now if that's not a mouthful, I don't know what is. Not only do they list quite a few "allowed" synthetics, they also import whole lists from the EPA, some of which are labeled as "of unknown toxicity". If you cross reference EPA list 4 you will end up with a PDF document that is 11 pages long of chemicals and substances.
I'm not sure how long it would take to research how safe all of these substances are (and we know how reliable the published research of chemical companies are), bit just on genreral principal none of that is what I picture when I think organic or natural.
According to an article written by Christie Wilcox for Scientific American in 2011 many of the reasons that people buy organic is actually based on myths that don't hold up to scientific testing. Even though she is in favor of putting the organic compliant chemicals into GMO plants as opposed to on them, it's good to know and understand what is myth and what is real.
Don't Despair, we have an plan that many of you can use. Grow your own.
Now I can hear some of you grumbling, "but I don't have __________ - time, land, energy, know how, etc., etc.
Well, as my Pawpaw (that's grandfather for those not fluent in Southernese) used to say, "Won't never would and can't never could; which is to say just give it a try. You're already at NO, so you can only get better.
Do you have flowers in your yard or in pots? Then throw a couple of pepper or tomato plants in the mix. Now my hubby can't eat raw tomatoes (bad allergy), but the first time he smelled the tomato I was eating like an apple in the garden, he almost wept with wanting to take a bite. He said it smelled so good, his mouth was watering. You don't get that with even the best store bought organic.
Have kids you want to have do something besides play video games, watch TV or constantly texting? Let them pick out some seeds from the store and help you plant and take care for them. My youngest granddaughter has a fairy garden with herbs, flowers and strawberries. She is always out there happily playing with her fairies and eating her strawberries.
Don't have a yard or a space that gets enough sun? Talk to neighbors or family members that might let you garden at their place, especially elders. You get garden space and they get to share your company. Even better, make a club of it and share the time, talk, and work.
New to town or you don't have family or friends nearby? Check out community gardens in your area. If you have to be put on a waiting list, ask if you can start a garden spot at your work or sneak a few plants into the landscaping (with your boss's permission, of course).
Check with your church, your school or your kid's schools, senior centers, libraries, local colleges, where ever there is a flower bed, wide grassy expanse, or vacant place. After all, the worse they can say is "No" and you're already there, so you can only win no matter what they say.
And above all - Educate yourself. Research the latest, greatest popular trend and see what the truth or the pros and cons are. Learn to compost - with and without worms. Learn to plant, grow, and preserve your own produce. Learn to cook, bake, start an urban homestead, set up a window farm, create a baby aquaponics, plant lettuce in a window box, start sprouting microgreens.
There are so many ways you can empower and enhance your life. As the Nike shoe slogan says "Just Do It".
Well, fall is officially here, and in the Salt Lake Valley, we just had our annual Pagan Pride Day.
What? You don't know about Pagan Pride Day or why those pesky pagans want to be proud os devil worshiping and going to hell? Well read on so I can explain a few things to help you and others understand the what's and why's of this celebration.
So, let's start with a definition for "pagan" and "paganism"
I'm sure if your look it up, you'll get a lot of the learned history of the word, simply pagus or paganus was a country dweller and a term that equaled calling someone a "bumpkin", "hillblilly" or rustic. Not a nice thing to say, and may have been used to point out to others that a certain person or group of people were not acceptable.
When I was younger (in the '60's) it generally meant someone who wasn't Christian; and by Christian, they meant Protestant; because Catholics have all of those Saints and they pray a lot to the Virgin Mary or Virgin of Guadalupe But, if you asked a Catholic about pagans they would point to the Muslims, Jews, Romani, Hindus, Buddhists, Africans, etc. Now granted the Hindus do have a huge list of deities, and the Buddhist have the Buddha, Taras, Quan Yin, and such; but neither group wants to be listed as a pagan religion. And if you call a Catholic a pagan, you had better be prepared to defend yourself from a very upset individual. Oh, and you didn't bring up the Indians - Native Americans, especially in the south. Even into the mid 1990's, they were not to be mentioned at family gatherings (many southern families have N.A. ancestry hidden in the blood), and you dang sure didn't go to ceremonies and pow wows to dance. "It's just not done".
I looked up the definition of a pagan online and found that it has changed to being anyone who is pantheistic, polytheistic, and/or not being a member of one of the major monotheistic religions.
So, looking at the term and thinking about it while I sat in the shade at Pagan Pride, I think maybe a better definition would be along the lines of honoring the ancient Spiritual Traditions of some of your tribal ancestors; and you probably have quite a choice on which tribes that would be. In doing my genealogy, I have ancestral ties to about 20 different tribes throughout the Americas, Europe and the northern Mediterranean. Now that's quite a variety to choose from. Then we can add in the more modern regional influences of Southern California New Age, Southern Conjure, Hoodoo, and Root-working, as well as tips and tricks that have been shared from many other traditions including the Buddhists, Jewish, Braucherei, Heathen, and others.
So what is a pagan? I think that as we progress as a society, we will start to understand that it is simply someone who is following a spiritual path that works for them, be that as a Methodist psychic medium, a Odanist with Toaist teachings, a Vasatru Hoodoo Momma, or a priestess of a Semitic goddess grove. Or like myself, a Pipe Carrying, Wisdom Holding, hedge riding, root working, energy wielding stavkona. Oh, and don't forget ordained minister with a PhD and a D.D. just to round things out.
You are you, and your path to the divine is from your heart. Walk it with honor and allow others to walk in their truth. Or maybe hold hands and dance along singing a song and enjoy the journey.