Greta Thunberg, Malala, Anne Frank… Out of the Mouths of Children

“My message is that we’ll be watching you. This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school, on the other side of the ocean. Yet, you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.

And yet, I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering, people are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. All you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you.

For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you are doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.

You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil, and that I refuse to believe.

The probability of cutting our emissions in half in ten years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control. Fifty percent may be acceptable to you, but those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops or additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of equity, climate justice.

[What are equity and climate justice? In short, rich countries pollute more, therefore have more responsibility to clean, but try to push the burden into the treaties of newly developing countries. Read a quick explanation here.

Also, our dictionary has the word “unpolluted” but not “unpollute.” Something can be cleaned, but linguistically, there’s not a verb associated with cleaning pollution specifically. Without a verb, there can be no subject. Our language removes the person, and with it, the possibility of responsibility, credit or simply a connection to the action.] 

They also rely on my generation sucking hundreds of billions of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist. So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us, we who have to live with the consequences.

To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5 degree global temperature rise, the best odds given by the IPCC, the world had 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit back on January 1st, 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatons. How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just business as usual and some technical solutions.

With today’s emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone in less than eight and a half years. There will not be any solutions or plans in line with these figures here today. Because these numbers are too uncomfortable and you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is. You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say, we will never forgive you.

We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now, is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming whether you like it or not. Thank you.”

-Greta Thunberg, September 23 2019, United Nations Summit

Video in this article: Greta Thuberg Condems World Leaders in Emotional Speech to the UN. Best to hear it from her.

Thank you Greta, for your sobering clarity, passionate care and expectation of adults to be loving. I think a child sees best the gaps in an adult’s capacity to care. They expect us to be whole for them.

But we so often cannot be whole for them, even when we will ourselves the hardest. In fact, that kind of pushing usually pushes out space for the adult to accept their humanity, mistakes, imperfection, and for the child to do the same, resulting in less love for a child and oneself. Whatever the reason that one may not be meeting a child’s expectation, I perceive the best cure to be compassion.

I believe most of us are stuck in our own need for validation, continuously searching for our own parental love. No judgment there. To me, searching for love from unavailable people is a common and natural cycle that, unless tended to, continues. Searching via success, money, outside validation… These can be motivators of adults who need to prove their worth and do this without looking at long term consequences for others or themselves (they won’t notice that the validation can be fleeting). I see these motivators as the foundation of climate change.

I find that as I consciously spend a large percentage of my life learning how to work through my need for validation, my behavior becomes more mature. When I am more gentle and compassionate with myself, in tandem with learning how to matter to myself more, I accidentally help others more, and more deeply, in the process.

It is slow-moving, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. What an ironic phrase in this context. Whew. Thankfully, learning to love myself more helps me help the world.

I hope we can heal our hearts enough to make decisions as adults and give the future generations the love we are so often seeking.

P.S. It was pointed out to me that 16-year-old Greta is in good company. Joan of Arc was 18 when she led the French army to victory over the English. Malala was 11 when she started blogging for the BBC about the Taliban banning girls from school, 15 when she was shot in the head by the Taliban and 17 when she won the Nobel prize for her “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”

Anne Frank was 13 when she first began writing in her journal, a heart-ringing time capsule shedding light on the atrocities of the Nazi occupation. Anne, who was Jewish, was in hiding for two years and after being discovered, passed away in a concentration camp at fifteen. This loving child who couldn’t go outside remembered the real blessing that nature is:

The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be.
Anne Frank,
The Diary of a Young Girl 

Her certainty that nature will always exist pulls at my heart even more right now as we see it might always exist, but not in the way we know it. Her words remind me how that kind of change would have an even deeper consequence. A large number of humans find their connection to God through nature. When we respond to climate change passively, not only are we gambling with the air we breathe, the food we eat, the place we call home, and our safety, we’re wagering our pathway to spirituality, something that for some brings the deepest peace, understanding, and enjoyment of existence.

How What Where to Compost Part 2: Bins & Piles

If you’ve gotten the basics in How What Where to Compost Part 1, below are tips on how to compost in a bin vs. a pile. “Bin” in this context means an enclosed plastic bin.

It can be as simple as a trashcan with holes drilled in it…

Or a more expensive stationary bin that may be open on the bottom, allowing bacteria, worms and other goodies to help the compost accelerate…

Or it may be one that can rotate in place…

Click the images for more info. Bin-wise, I’ve only used a trashcan with holes drilled in it, so I don’t have experience with the other items. I thought they’d be fun to share to get ideas flowing if you’re bin-curious. And here are some more types.


17.5.11 TheWholeRuth Compost

  • EQUALITY: Put in an equal amount of “green” and “brown.” It doesn’t have to be at the same time, but within a few days of adding food scraps or green, add brown.
  • ADD BROWN: Be sure to put in “brown” stuff. Only adding food, without carbon-rich dry brown items, makes the bin too nitrogen-rich, which is stinky and doesn’t make the chemical reaction that creates compost.
  • WATER: Also, while water is usually added to compost, it’s sometimes possible for enclosed bins to use the moisture of the green ingredients to help cook the compost. But if things get too dry, try gently adding in some water when you turn the bin.
  • MORE INFO: If you need more info, read How What Where to Compost


  • NOT TOO HEAVY: Make sure it doesn’t get too heavy to turn. Turning the bin gives the compost the oxygen it needs to work.
  • ROLLING IT AWKWARDLY IS FINE: When we were using a plastic trashcan with drilled holes, we’d slightly tip it and “steer” it, rolling it along the drive-way at an angle to rotate the contents inside.
  • TARP OPTION: If the type of bin you have is stationary or isn’t rollable, an option is to dump out the compost onto a tarp, turn it and then put it back in the bin.
  • MOVE-IT OPTION: If your bin is open to the ground at its base, some people pick up the whole bin off the compost, put it down in a new spot, then return the compost.
  • PITCHFORK OPTION: You can also use a pitchfork to repeatedly push into the pile and lift it straight up. This is hard for me to do.
  • MIXING TOOL OPTION: Some people use a handy compost mixing tool, designed only for turning stationary compost bins! Stick the bottom in and twist the handle to aerate the pile. People say they work wonders. Click to read their good reviews:


  • 1 CUBIC YARD: One cubic yard is the magic size for the pile to really heat up.
  • OUR EXPERIENCE: The following tips are how we make a pile at The Hollywood Orchard:


  • BROWN + GREEN + WATER: Make a layer of green, about an inch thick, then a layer of brown, same thickness, then mix, gently water the layers the whole time you’re mixing, repeat until done.
  • MIX EACH LAYER: To reiterate, instead of mixing it all at the end, we mix each layer. Doing it slowly lets it be thoroughly mixed which helps it cook. It’s physically more manageable to me too.
  • HOW TO MIX: We use a pitch-forky hoe. (I’m sure that’s the proper name.)


  • GLUE: Watering while mixing lets the moisture go deep into the layer to hold it together like glue. This lets the pile get really tall and reach a cubic yard.
  • NO MOISTURE, NO HEAT: Without watering each layer, it apparently doesn’t cook!
  • SPONGE GOAL: The pile should be saturated to where you could wring the compost out like a sponge. But if water is trickling down the sides, it’s too much.


  • Next to the pile, have a second space as large as the one that holds the pile. 
  • Shovel the top layer onto the empty spot and repeat the same watering/ mixing for each layer like before. 
  • The top layer will become the bottom layer and the bottom becomes the top.
  • The top layer will have cooked the least because it was exposed to the air.
  • The inside will be more cooked, even ashy sometimes, or still steaming!
  • So flipping allows the whole thing a chance to cook evenly. 
  • More new green or brown can be added every time a pile is flipped.
  • At the end, cover everything in a layer of brown to reduce smells.
  • For a visual, in the photo above, we moved the pile from the left space, where the pitchfork is, to the right. 
  • (I thought we would flip the pile in place, which seemed hard, messy and confusing. Putting it next to where it was, made it so easy to flip! That may seem obvious, but living in apartments for most of my life has apparently made my brain not think of space as an option. Having a 2nd spot blew my mind!)
  • If you don’t have an extra plot to flip the pile, some people dump out the compost onto a tarp, turn it and then put it back in its original spot. Or you can try the pitchfork or mixing tool options above.


  • Turning or flipping a pile can be done once a week.
  • Turning it every 3 weeks or whenever is fine too, it’ll just take longer for the pile to be “finished.”
  • A pile can be turned as often as every three days to finish the project more quickly.
  • Whether it’s every 3 days, once a week, or however long, turn the pile 3-4 times for it to become “done.”


  • Horse poo really has a hard time breaking down. (Another gardening friend recently said that chicken poo or sheep poo work wonders! And cow poo, too, because their four stomachs break the food down more than a horse’s stomach.)
  • We still use horse poo though.
  • If we see something that is stuck in a clump, we break it up with our hands.
  • The Hollywood Orchard doesn’t worry about avocado pits or too many acidic fruits. Our philosophy so far is that it’ll all break down eventually.
  • Remember to chop up whatever large things go in the pile, food, twigs, etc., to help it “digest” more quickly. What does large mean? A whole orange is better halved or quartered, a branch is better in 3 inch pieces or at least smaller than it started.
  • We usually use sheers to chop the ingredients. Whatever container holds the ingredients beforehand, a bucket, a trashcan, or whatever, we stick the sheers in and just chop around crazy until it feels like the right size. Or until we’re too tired to keep chopping.


This option is sort of a mix of the other two. It’s like an open-air pile in an enclosure. I don’t have experience with this, but will soon! We’re currently making one. I’ll update as we learn more. Below are some examples (click images for info). Here are more.


Would love to hear how you do it.

For general composting info, check out How What Where to Compost.

Need inspiration? Maybe this will fluff your muffins: Why to Compost

My favorite context for the word “bin” (at 4:10): Life in Quarantine After 55 Days

Compost by faisalovers from the Noun Project

How What Where to Compost

These guidelines are true for any compost, whether it’s done in a bin, in a pile, or in the ground. (More info: Compost Bins vs. Piles)

  • Compost needs about 50% green ingredients, 50% brown ingredients, oxygen and water.


  • “Green” is anything with moisture. It can be any color. Food scraps, grass, leaves, coffee grounds, (non-pet) manure…
  • Green is nitrogen-rich.
  • If there is too much green, it will get very stinky. If this is happening, add more brown. (Also, too much green means too much nitrogen, which means it could burn plants if it was used as fertilizer in this stinky form.)


  • “Brown” is anything dry. Dry leaves, brown paper bags, wood chips, egg cartons…
  • Brown is carbon-rich.
  • It helps to cover the compost with a layer of only brown to keep the smell enclosed.


  • The compost needs oxygen to work. That’s why it’s important to turn bins or flip piles when making compost, to let oxygen reach different parts of the compost. Also, make sure there is air circulating around the compost.


  • The compost needs moisture, so add water to give it more oxygen and help it cook.


  • No: No meat, dairy, fish, or animal food oils can go in the compost, unless it’s bokashi (More info: Compost Indoors or Meat & Dairy = BOKASHI). No pet waste because sometimes it has bacteria that can survive the heat of the pile.
  • Shrinkage: Whatever size the compost starts out, it will end up being much smaller when it’s done. (Sort of like cooking fresh spinach)
  • Organic: If you’re trying to make organic compost, make sure yard trimmings you use (fresh grass, brown leaves, etc) come from a yard that doesn’t use pesticides. Anything that is non-organic, we still compost in our city’s green bin.
  • Chop it: We chop up twigs and branches with shears before adding them to the compost. Making everything into smaller pieces helps the compost digest more quickly and easily, like chewing for our tummies.


A few years ago, a farmer friend of mine taught me that compost piles get hot and they are actually cooking the carbon-rich brown & nitrogen-rich green scraps. They get so hot, about 140 degrees, that the creatures one might worry about staying inside the pile (bad bacteria, bugs and any rodents who might smell tasty treats inside the pile) can’t live there anymore. It’s too hot so they leave. Pretty cool, huh? (Pun inaccurate and not intended.)

When a pile is flipped, sometimes there is ash inside. A pile covered in winter snow will still cook and sometimes steam will still rise off of the covering snow! The Hollywood Orchard hosts a 6th grade field trip for the local school and a few days before the kids come, they put an egg and potato inside the compost so when the kids arrive, they can see the egg is hard-boiled and then play hot-potato with the weird stinky potato!

When the compost has been turned a few times to allow the whole thing to cook, there will be only good bacteria and healthy, nutrient-rich compost.


  • No meat, dairy or animal products (bones, butter, fish skins) or pet waste

Nitrogen/ “Green”:

  • Fruits & veggies
  • Peels, skins & cores of fruits & veggies
  • Herbs & spices
  • Nutshells
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Egg shells
  • Pits & seeds
  • Grains & beans
  • Tea bags without the staples
  • Chemical-free hair
  • Chemical-free fingernails
  • Feathers from the down sofa or birds outside
  • Fresh house plant leaves
  • Store-bought flower bouquets (only for the city green bin if your goal is organic)

Carbon/ “Brown”:

  • Shredded brown paper bags
  • Paper egg cartons
  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Brown, dry leaves (you can get them from parks sometimes, ideally they’d be from a pesticide-free yard)
  • Vacuum cleaner or sweeping dust
  • Ash from a firepit that used wood
  • Dry house plant leaves
  • Wood chips (ideally chemical-free/ non-treated)


Collect your food scraps in the freezer or fridge, so they don’t smell or attract bugs. You can keep them in glass or plastic tupperware, or you have regular plastic bags, you can use those and wash them out and re-use them. Or use compostable bags. Or to create less waste, you can keep them in a bowl with no lid or a brown paper bag that can be tossed in to the compost.

You can also collect scraps in a smell-absorbing compost bucket on your counter-top. (We use this one. During the summer ant-parades, we keep it in the fridge.)


When you’re ready to compost, put your food scraps and brown compostable waste in:

  • your yard in a compost pile above ground
  • a pit in the ground with or without doors to seal it
  • a fenced in compost area
  • a plastic compost bin that turns
  • a wooden compost bin that allows for air circulation
  • a homemade compost trashcan with holes drilled in the sides

More information on this part of the process: How to Compost in Bins & Piles


  • your green or brown bin from the city
  • your indoor or outdoor worm bin (no acidic food or oils)
  • an indoor bokashi compost bucket
  • your friend’s compost
  • the compost collection of a community organization, farmer’s market or restaurant that accepts compost. (See more info below)
  • a compost hub
  • a compost co-op

For folks in Los Angeles:

  • LA Compost collects food scraps at:
    • The Atwater Farmer’s Market, every Sunday 10am-2pm (double check the LA Compost site)
    • The Los Feliz Farmer’s Market, 1st & 3rd Sundays 9am -1pm (double check the LA Compost site)
    • A slew of community hubs listed on their website
    • Community co-ops


It seems like it’s possible that everyone can participate in some part of the compost cycle. But getting started may be difficult without seeing the magic in action. In my experience, composting can a passionate team sport or an invigorating ice-skating solo. Reading about it may be all you need to start on your own, but it can also be helpful to find some experienced folks who will let you watch their process or answer questions about how they do it. You could also find a free class or offer to temporarily help a community garden with their compost. I learn so much by helping flip the pile every so often at our beloved Hollywood Orchard.

If you want to do it in a group, there may be compost hubs or compost co-ops near you that you can join.

Whether working with others or solo, I suggest trying to get comfy with the idea that trial and error is part of the process no matter what, and it can be exciting and beautiful.

For folks in Los Angeles:

  • The City gives some free workshops and discounted compost bins and worm bins.
  • Kiss the Ground also has free compost workshops sometimes, listed on their FB page.
  • Grow Good gives free classes from time to time. This LA Times article has more info.
  • The Burbank Recycle Center has a free compost workshop the last Wednesday of every month from 6-8pm from March – November, you just have to RSVP.
  • The Hollywood Orchard in Beachwood Canyon offers opportunities to work on their compost pile where the compost-curious can learn via hand-on practice. Join the Hollywood Orchard mailing list and ask to be informed of when we get together to work on our compost pile, then come play in the dirt with us!


Why to Compost


Whenever you’d like. Composting can seem tricky, but I feel like you’ll know when you’re ready. To me, love is the main ingredient. Add some to the compost, and some to yourself. It lets you keep trying until you figure out what works for you.

heart ruth signature

Compost Story infographic


Why to Compost

Carbon dioxide in the air is pollution. Carbon in the soil is healthy… Anything that is alive is made of carbon, including us.

When we sweep leaves away from our lawns, we’re sweeping away that area’s food. Those leaves, flowers, seeds and natural debris, that are often seen as mess, would normally stay and break down into food for the soil and become food for the plants in that space.

It is often said to rotate crops because one type of plant will eat certain nutrients in that spot and another type of plant would eat other nutrients, letting the depleted nutrients build back up for a while. But naturally, a tomato plant drops its seeds in the same place and grows again. Why? My guess is that a tomato plant would normally die in its spot, make green & brown waste, mix with rain or snow and other fallen leaves, and become its own food next year, replenishing the soil’s nutrients. Without humans taking away their “mess,” they feed themselves. It seems the seeds would ride the wind or in the belly of an animal and end up popping up in new places too, but they’d have peace-of-mind knowing they carry a cycle of food with them where ever they go.

But why do we care about feeding the soil to feed plants? Firstly, because CARBON.

When the soil is depleted, it can’t pull carbon into itself or keep it there. Carbon dioxide in the air is pollution. Carbon in the soil is healthy. It becomes food for the soil’s bacteria. Anything that is alive- plants, animals, soil- is made of carbon, including us. There was a balanced cycle of carbon dying and becoming new life, but we added too much carbon to the atmosphere with fossil fuels and took away the ground’s ability to absorb carbon with our agriculture practices. This combination is creating pollution that is killing the planet that keeps us alive.

Ryland Englehart, co-founder of Kiss the Ground, a non-profit in LA, shares that between carbon extraction via fossil fuels and our agriculture practices, “We’ve moved 880 giga-tons [880,000,000,000 tons] of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which is heating up the planet and destabilizing our climate. Now, the oceans have absorbed a lot of this excess carbon which is resulting in ocean acidification and accelerating a mass extinction of sea life… Where do we put this excess carbon to get this cycle back into balance? The answer is literally… under our feet. It’s the soil.”

When plants photosynthesize, they pull carbon out of the air and turn it into sugars that go into their roots feeding bacterial colonies, mycorrhizal funghi, and aggregates. These creatures increase the root capacity by the thousands, turn the sugars into nutrients for the plant and create an environment that can store carbon for decades. “Plants pump it in and soil stores it. Nature’s living technology is amazing!”

Making our own compost and returning it to the land, pulls more carbon into the ground which helps heal climate change. (More info: watch this Kiss the Ground video.)

Also, putting the missing link back in the cycle by composting creates less landfill trash that would become methane gas.

When compost is added to an edible garden and the soil gets richer, the plants in the healthy, bacteria-rich soil don’t need pesticides or chemical fertilizers. They can be next to plants with disease and not get sick. It’s like our human immune systems: we need good bacteria (probiotics), nutrients and minerals for our organs to fight off disease. When our immune systems are strong, we’re less likely to catch something that would infect a less healthy person. Plants are the same way.

And the same way that we have to continuously eat nutrients to maintain our health, so do the plants. As we keep eating and creating food scraps, plants keep needing the scraps. Their need keeps landfills thinner and eventually, our bellies fuller. All while eliminating the need for hormone-disrupting, pollution-causing chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

Helping the plant’s immune system ends up helping ours too. The garden food ends up having more nutrients for us, tasting better, and ultimately providing healing and prevention for many of our chronic diseases.

Plus plants in healthy soil need less water, which saves water. And people composting on their own land also reduces their city’s need to collect yard waste, saving more resources.

Lastly, if you are able to turn a pile, studies show that being around soil bacteria reduces depression (It’s the probiotics in the soil). And I believe any nature calms us in some way, from being around a lush forest to being around one fruit from one tree, even putting its peel-scraps in a bucket in my kitchen.

Overall, all pieces of the cycle benefit people, soil, plants, animals and the planet.

These are just my reasons though, why do you compost if you do?

How What Where to Compost


Just Cause for Eviction Bill AB 1481

Please call your legislators this morning (Tuesday April 30) and ask them to support AB 1481 the Just Cause for Eviction Bill they vote on today!
From Yesenia Miranda Meza at the Alliance of California Community Empowerment:
“We passed a statewide rent cap out of the first committee! Last week, ACCE members staged a two day sit-in at the capitol in support of the Keep Families Home bill package…”
Photo by TheWholeRuth
“Two of us, Mari Sanchez and myself [Yesenia], even stayed overnight inside the Governor’s office the night before the hearing.
For many of us, the #KeepFamiliesHome bill package is about actual survival. We did legislative visits, made countless calls, sent thousands of emails, voiced your concerns on social media, and tried every “appropriate” channel to urge our legislators to choose tenants over corporate landlords. And when all of those tools failed, we used the only tool we were left with: our bodies. We were forced to physically sit in and demand to be heard.
Our efforts made a big difference…
One of the key bills, AB 1482 to stop rent gouging statewide, passed out of the first housing committee with 6 to 1 votes in support! Unfortunately, AB 36 the bill to expand rent control was pulled off the committee agenda and is sitting back in rules committee.
One hurdle cleared, next up: we need to get statewide Just Cause for Eviction protections out of the assembly judiciary committee: Call 3 Key Legislators voting tomorrow to urge them to support AB 1481!”
Click here for help with a calling script from Housing Now.
Or simply call:
Maienschein, Brian
(858) 675-0077
Chau, Ed
(323) 264-4949
Petrie-Norris, Cottie
(949) 251-0074
“Tomorrow the Judiciary Committee votes on whether or not to support AB 1481 to prevent landlords from evicting families unfairly – requiring them to have a just cause for the eviction like failure to pay rent, vandalizing the property, etc.”
“Call Ed Chau, Brian Maienschein and Cottie Petri-Norris NOW to urge them to support AB 1481 – Just Cause for Evictions tomorrow!
Californians know that it is simply unfair for a tenant who has done nothing wrong to be evicted arbitrarily by a landlord for the sake of profit. With homelessness on the rise and displacement crisis deepening every day – we need eviction protection now more than ever.
Make 3 quick calls to key legislators on the Judiciary Committee to urge them to vote YES on AB 1481 tomorrow!
Last but not least, pressuring these legislators costs money. Money to send members from San Diego to Sacramento. Money to text voters to let them know whats happening. Money to run ads on facebook letting the public know this is happening. Please chip in what you can to help us push the #KeepFamiliesHome bills over the final hurdle!
In solidarity,
Please share this ❤️
Last year, the opposition spent $70 million to convince California to vote against the rent control bill on the ballot. We have a chance to stand up for ourselves and for others by letting our voices be heard for free.
Read AB 1481
Read AB 1482 (the one that passed out of the first committee!)
Instead of the 10-200% increases currently happening, AB 1482 would make it so that each year, rent can only be raised by 5% plus the percentage change in the cost of living, which was 2.4% in this past year.
Read Consumer Price Index where the change in cost of living is calculated yearly
Read The Sac Bee for bit of info about the bills being proposed
Photo by TheWholeRuth


Trusting My Own Touch

The Whole Ruth Trusting Touch
Photo by The Whole Ruth | icon: hands by Diego Carneiro from the Noun Project
“…the ability to distinguish between self and others is extremely important. During the first period of life, new-born children develop an understanding of where their own body ends mainly through being touched by those who care for them. Problems with the self-concept, such as the ability to recognise one’s own actions, are common in several psychiatric disorders. Most people cannot tickle themselves, but some patients with schizophrenia can, suggesting that their brain interprets sensory perceptions from their own body differently.”
“We saw a very clear difference between being touched by someone else and self-touch. In the latter case, activity in several parts of the brain was reduced. We can see evidence that this difference arises as early as in the spinal cord, before the perceptions are processed in the brain”
“The researchers showed that the ability to experience simultaneous sensory perceptions was damped when the participants stroked their own arms. Maybe this phenomenon can explain why we, for example, rub our arm when we bump it against a table.”
Fascinating. What I get out of this is that our brains are less scared of our own touch. When it is not us, we’re immediately working harder to understand what is touching us. Is it a bug? A snake? A human touch? Is it safe? Is it welcome? WHAT IS IT.
It seems to me that familiarity with something, knowing what it is, gives a feeling of safety. I think that’s why we so often try to repeat the same experiences with the expectation of the same positive outcome.
I think it’s so beautiful that we can comfort ourselves with our own touch. It’s like one less thing in the world we need to figure out. Except for when our arm falls asleep on our chest in the night and we wake up like WHO’S ARM IS THAT.
I wonder how the brain looks when we are being touched by someone we know and love.
Looking at the study itself and not the article, it says: “It remains unclear how the brain differentiates self- and other-produced slow, light skin-to-skin touch—the kind of touch people use to stroke their loved ones.”
But it goes on to say that even though they don’t know what the brain looks like during this loving touch, behavioral studies suggest that both touch from others, especially the loving kind described above, and/or self-touch “contribute to establishing the bodily self.”
Establishing the bodily self. Amazing. It’s like touch reminds me I’m alive. That’s wild. Firstly, that I need a reminder, and secondly, that touch is a potent reminder. Loving touch from others feels this important to me as it’s happening, but I’ve never included my own touch as something powerful for myself.
I recently went to a meditation workshop about self-compassion that reminded the attendees that we have the option of soothing ourselves by the simplest actions- maybe resting our loving hand on our chest, our belly, or our arm. If a negative emotion comes up, we can be there for ourselves. It’s new and foreign to most of us, and most of us have to get past the obstacle of the fear of judgement. But it was nice to be reminded and to practice in a room of others being that accepting and loving with themselves too.
I think of the brain calmness that comes with self-touch as a natural reassurance, like “If it’s me touching me, I must be safe.”
But then… I think of a person who cuts themselves, or of a person who takes their own life. In those times, there is a lost trust of ourselves, and a false trust in our own touch. In some ways, suicidal people may perceive those last touches as their only form of comfort. Or in the case of cutters, those cuts are in some way a release of or a distraction from the mental pressure and pain being experienced.
Even when those feel like the only options, there are a slew of others. Ones that return us to trusting that we can exist in this world, ones that renew a true trust in our own touch. Often, we haven’t experienced these options enough, or at all, to believe in them or trust them at first. But they’re there.
As I do my own therapeutic work, I’m learning to have a better relationship with myself. And with that comes a trust in myself I never had. I feel like when self-trust is more thorough, addiction, depression, anxiety and harmful habits lessen. That has been my experience.
It’s nice to know my brain and spine already feel comforted by my own touch. I love the idea that before my brain registers who I am, my body intuitively already knows. Somewhere, my heart is starting to listen, to know me too, and to trust me.

Distinction of self-produced touch and social touch at cortical and spinal cord levels | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

I’m Noticing

The Whole Ruth Rain LeafThe rain is freaking me out. So is the cold in the rest of the country.

The special features of Children of Men in 2006 had a scientist who shared that as the planet gets warmer, the polar ice caps will melt and for some amount of time, we will get colder in response to things getting hotter. This stayed with me because, while I don’t like global warming, I do get distracted by the loveliness of warmth- but I am terrified of the cold. It was motivating to me.

When we first moved to LA, I was a farmer in Silverlake. I learned the patterns of weather in 2011 & 2012 because I was out in it and it affected our job. When the rainy season, winter, came in December and January, we couldn’t always work. We bought seeds and worked on finances over lunches indoors.

But over the last eight years, the rainy season has shifted. Last year, it seemed to rain more in February and then it rained a lot in March, which was noticeably different. The plants bloomed and blossomed bigger than they usually do because the combination of water and spring sun gave them more of a chance to thrive. But then they were too tender too close to the scorching summer and the edges of many plants burned and the extra growth died back.

I went home to Tucson for the holidays and it rained in December. The Tucson desert doesn’t rain in December. It has a monsoon season in the summer where it pours storms. But this was a heavy rain, smack in the middle of the wrong season.

The rain in Los Angeles this season is also different than I’ve ever seen. It’s colder and longer. I see on the yearly and monthly almanac that there are random years with more rain. But this feels so different to me.

People are excited for the Super Bloom. I was so happy to go to it in 2017 after the drought for so many years. But I feel like it may be a response, this year, to global warming. I don’t know how to feel about it yet. Some part of me wishes I could enjoy it. It seems like it will feel like cake may taste to a diabetic: sweet and daunting.

LA has so many transplant residents that it might be harder for people here to notice the yearly weather patterns. I feel like many humans tend to be in a car or on a phone or computer instead of outside on the ground developing a relationship with the cycle of life happening around them. Without that connection, it seems easy not to take action.

I keep trying to think of ways to start a big-small movement, where, while people are working on political protections for the environment, even more people can do small effective actions together. I understand that big actions are needed. But I think we each have so much power to make small change.

I think our society often looks for fast, complete success and can get impatient with, or not notice, small growth. So we don’t keep on going to let the small growth add up. But if we got excited to believe in our individual capability, and trusted that slow manageable change is very powerful, we could really make a difference!

And I believe the practice of loving ourselves leads to this type of trust and belief.

I dream of hashtags that we all can participate in-

  • #SundrySundays Have one day a week where we don’t use laundry dryers (dryers release a lot of unregulated pollution and use a lot of energy)
  • #WalkingWednesday Take public transportation for a day and don’t drive
  • #OneThirdPlantBased Eat one vegan meal a day (the pollution from raising animals for dairy and meat contributes more to global warming than cars and all transportation combined, and it’s methane from their farts which is 23 times more planet-warming than CO2 from cars)
  • #2HoursADay Spend at least 2 hours outside each day, to get away from the screens, in order to notice what is around us
  • #WhatIDo List each action you take to do your own part
  • #SmallSustainableCommitment Commit to one or two small green actions that can be sustained over a year, without judging the size, with pride for the action
  • #EarthCareIsSelfCare A daily action to be kind to the earth and in turn, to be kind to ourselves
  • #MentalHealthLeadsToRealWealth Take time and space in our lives to learn to love ourselves, through therapy, free group therapy or whatever fluffs our muffins, because when we come from true self-mattering, we value the nourishing world around us and believe we’re worth whatever effort it takes to care for ourselves

My true hope is for a movement to organically happen. (That sounds like a poop metaphor. Poop metaphors and animal farts… It’s the first time they’re not funny to me.) But if you are a teacher or a leader, or a person who hides from the world, or both or any type of person that would want to share these hashtags, or talk about getting together to spread an idea, or who is already part of an environmentally-healing movement that you’d like to share, please let me know.

Writing this out makes me realize what’s really resonating with me:

I’d love to hear the stories of other people who are noticing the weather and world around them. It would help me feel less alone, and safer, because when we all see the same problem, we’re more likely to act in ways that heal it.

What is your connection to the land, sky, wildlife and water around you and have you noticed those things changing?

#imnoticing  #myconnection


Taking My Own Hormone Advice

The Whole Ruth Taking My Own Hormone Advice
Photo by The Whole Ruth | icon: menstruation by Karolina B from the Noun Project

The links below are good summaries of how often we’re exposed to pesticides and how pesticides affect us as endocrine disruptors, which are hormone-disrupting chemicals. Endocrine disruptors can negatively impact any organs affected by hormones, causing imbalances in the thyroid, slow metabolism, sex-hormone related cancers like breast cancer and prostate cancer, infertility, birth defects, developmental disorders and sexual development problems.

Often the small amounts of endocrine-disrupters we’re exposed to add up in different places like our cleaning products, make-up, pesticides and plastic materials that have entered our food chain, etc. And those combinations plus our own levels of stress can accumulate and cause problems for us.

In aquatic animals, who absorb more quickly than humans, studies show when they’re exposed to endocrine disrupting chemicals, they have lower levels of serotonin and the males have increased feminization. Some male frogs in the pesticide-filled run-off water from farms have multiple sets of babies. I watched a special about it on PBS and was shocked. Years later, Amazon’s The New Yorker docu-series did a follow-up on the scientist who was on the PBS special and they shared how the chemical companies were trying to discredit him because he made them look bad. I was so grateful that PBS and later, The New Yorker, were using their platforms to share important truth.

If you’re having any hormone-related problems, or you’re interested in long-term self-care in this way, eating organic gives us a less exposure to these chemicals. Using natural cleaners around the house like baking soda and vinegar and getting rid of chemical cleaners can help too. And learning how to regularly detox our bodies helps to clean out the inevitable intake of endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

I’ve been learning about these things for years, but have had a hard time taking actions and committing to a consistently cleaner lifestyle. I think it’s hard to do without therapy. They may seem unrelated, but I emotionally eat, so whenever I’m overwhelmed, the clean diet goes out the window. I tend to only take care of myself when I get in enough pain. And I seem to be able to walk around in pain for a decade or so before I reach my level of “enough”.

Luckily, I’ve been doing a lot of therapy. And it’s helping so much. My relationship with myself, and with food, and with Shane, and with my family, and with life in general, has changed for the better.

Last year, four loved ones passed away. I gave myself permission to comfort-eat. And I’m glad I did. But a blessing in disguise has arrived from it… I gave myself a little health problem.

I had an easy lady-cycle until I was 21. Then I became a vegetarian and ate a lot of soy, dairy, sugar and wheat for 6 six years. Then a nutritionist let me know my body doesn’t want soy, dairy, sugar or wheat. When I eliminate those things for about a month and a half, my cycle is easy again.

But when I don’t, all hell breaks loose. It’s been over a decade of monthly problems, but I seem to have amnesia about it each month and continue my behavior.

Grieve-eating was important for me to do. And now it’s given me the gift of more physical pain. Which is actually what I needed to finally bring my hormonal problems into the light and work to heal them. I’m grateful for a medical problem I’ve developed and hope it’s enough inspiration to slowly change my self-care habits over the next six months.

I’m also grateful for my past medical problems that have led me down an unplanned path of learning that so many health problems can heal. The hope and power in that knowledge is spectacular to me, and the slowness at which it’s possible and the honesty with oneself that it requires, keeps me connected to a vulnerability and groundedness that I adore, but would otherwise naturally avoid.

I tend to focus on telling others what to do, on “helping” by giving unsolicited advice to people who often aren’t interested in it (thus the unsolicited part!), and on hyper-researching as a way to numb out and never focus on myself. So thanks for letting me start this as some sort of PSA. I think I’m basically writing it for the one person who is actually asking for this help and advice… me. Ha.

I repeatedly return to focusing on myself through out each day. It’s not a habit for me. Trying to save everyone else is my habit. A friend of mine has been using the phrase “closed feedback loop” a lot and I like it. My closed feedback loop of thought and action used to circle around from focusing on others back to focusing on others. Now, at least sometimes, it starts with them, but ends with me. So I’m glad I did it again. Any way that I can remember to include myself is great, even if it’s messy and flailing. I just want to be patient with my growth. Slow and steady seems to be the only effective thing. And there is no race at all. (Inhales, exhales… )

Sending love and light to us all as we walk this journey of life!


Monsanto’s Toxic Chemical Glyphosate Found In 100% Of California Wines Tested | Live Love Fruit

Endocrine Disruptor | Wikipedia

Reducing Pesticides Risk: A Half a Century of Progress | Environmental Protection Agency Alumni Association

Progress in Environmental Research by Irma C. Willis p.175


My Relationship with Cleaning

Marie Kondo
Photo from Netflix | icon: cleaning by Douglas Santos from the Noun Project

liked reading the Vice article ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’ is Inadvertently About Women’s Indivisible Labor and The Guardian comic within the article. They’re part of a conversation I hadn’t heard before and I think it’s an important one.

I have a mental catalog of where every object is in our house, just as this article discusses. It’s nice to hear that it takes energy to keep that catalog. It helps me to honor my reality, that sometimes I’m doing more than I give myself credit for.

I remember living with my sketch comedy group, a house of guys, after college and being so surprised that they couldn’t see the cobwebs and giant dust-bunnies in the stairwell. I remember, once, picking up the pubes off my roommate’s toilet while he, knowing I was cleaning his bathroom, leaned back on the sofa in the other room and sighed, saying loudly, “Ohhhhh, I’m sooooo boooorrrrred.” I remember family coming to visit and saying, “Ruth, this house is so dirty. Don’t you feel ashamed? You’re the only girl! Can’t you do something?” One roomie said, “I wish I could have a girlfriend so I wouldn’t have to clean.” Another’s sister let us know that his mother would teach her to clean, but follow him around picking up his socks. People would say things like, “Ruth, you’re Wendy, taking care of the Lost Boys!”

I knew to let these ideas hit an invisible wall in front of me and fall with a thud, abandoned on the ground.

But it still seemed so strange and confusing to me. I wasn’t Wendy. I wasn’t taking care of them. We weren’t on an island and they weren’t orphaned ageless animal-onesie-wearing children. (Well, we did all wear animal-onesies in sketches at some point. But…) We all worked. We all didn’t have kids. We all pursued the same comedy dream. Why did I need to be the live-in maid?

Cleaning was hours of work that the guys could spend writing at a diner. I opted to go with them.

But I also always wondered why, not only did people have this expectation of me, but why did I notice the dust, the dirt, the tiny spider-egg sacs on the table cloths, but the guys didn’t?

I was ignoring the dirtiness. They seemed, honestly, to not see it.

This article talks about how this is what we’re both taught. And, later in life, women don’t feel comfortable asking for it to change. Or they don’t know how to ask. I think both sexes unknowingly perpetuate the ideas by living within these roles and then teaching our kids to repeat the cycle.

It’s years later now and those guys and I are all still friends. I love them a lot.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that I spoke my truth during those years about 1% of the time. I wasn’t being honest about anything that bothered me or what I wanted.

I was terrified, to the bone, to be considered “a nag.” I unknowingly picked up the idea that women were hated by men, that they were a “ball and chain,” that men thought women were trying to seduce them and then make them have babies and pay for the babies’ college, that women were manipulative and vain and annoying, or even worse- that word again- nags.

I picked up that being liked was equivalent to being safe, like in a wolf-pack kind of sense. So I really wanted men, and everyone, to like me.

I picked up that men were what was valued by society. I also picked up that being sexual was very bad. So instead of choosing to have value by my side, I chose to be like a man as my way “in.” I wanted to prove I could be like them. But although they were valued, they seemed to be given an ultimatum. They receive value, in trade for their vulnerability. It’s not a fair or healthy trade. But I didn’t know. And my perception now is that they didn’t either. Because that’s what just seemed to come with the territory of being valued, I accepted the lack of vulnerability. So to never nag, or really, to never have wants or needs, to play it cool, to entertain with humor and prove my commitment, those became my goals, and I met them.

But I carried a loss of self, and part of that was the joy of home. I wanted to live somewhere clean, healthy, comfortable, and inviting. I hated that I wanted that. I thought it was “nesting” and “female” and I tried to swallow it down.

Now I see how much I was hurting myself in so many ways. But at the time, I didn’t know any other options. I like that this article says Marie Kondo’s show gives more options. I like that I’ve already learned more options too.

I finally have empathy and understanding for my roommates. They came from households where there were worlds of reasons for them to have the behaviors that they did. Same for me. We were all doing the best we could with what we knew. No one was trying to hurt anyone. We were all just walking responses to upbringings that were also not trying to hurt us. And then we tried to live together.

In the present day, things are different. Lots of growing. I think we’re closer to our true hearts. I don’t know my all of my old roomie’s new living habits, but I do know two of them…

Thank you to my partner for helping cook delicious meals and clean dishes consistently and do laundry, out of a love for your home and yourself. I’m grateful to live in a house where we don’t keep tabs on each other, where we can say, “Look, I did this chore!” and the other will say “Thank you,” where we have done enough therapy to mostly know how to ask for our wants and needs, to know gratitude doesn’t take away our worth, to feel safe and valued so we can be vulnerable, to mostly know when to trust the other person, to mostly accept them for them, and to mostly still speak up for ourselves too. And to understand that “mostly” is realistic and great.

I think it’s fun that we get to live with each other. I’m grateful for you, baby.

I’m also excited to watch this show. I wrote all of this and haven’t even watched the show yet.


‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’ is Inadvertently About Women’s Indivisible Labor

Prop 12 Defines “Cage Free” in 2022 as 1 to 1.5 Square Feet

The average chicken wingspan is 2-3 feet. There is a current California law that says egg-laying hens must be able to open their wings fully without touching an enclosure or another hen. 

California’s Prop 12 will take away space for these hens to move around, but it will also take away their cages.

I wanted to know which option was better, but in my research, I learned more than I expected: There is a second current California law that contradicts the first in many ways. Both are being used by farmers now.

How do we know how to vote on Prop 12 if we don’t know which law to compare it to, or if the second law will continue to stand?

Prop 12 is misleading in layers, like a confusing and un-delicious croissant. But I love croissants and even the the worst croissant is still a croissant, right? Well, it’s really up to each person’s tastebuds. I can see why anyone would want a croissant at anytime, but I seem to have lost my appetite.

Here is a top layer | Hiding the Definition of the Prop

Prop 12 says there will be a temporary time where hens are confined to 1 square foot of space, with that time ending in 2022 when hens become cage-free.

But Prop 12 uses a definition of cage-free that means 1 to 1.5 square feet of space.

And the definition is technically left out of the proposition. Instead, Prop 12 says in 2022, the hens will become cage-free based on The United Egg Producers 2017 Guideline’s definition. If the public doesn’t look up the guidelines, the definition is very rarely mentioned in the press and will most likely go unnoticed.

And while people who want a more-free-type-of-cage-free may not be aware of the content of the vote, the LA Times is telling the public that one-square foot is exactly what those people want:

“The new initiative sets the standard initially at 144 square inches per bird — one square foot — which is the level at which a hen is considered by activists to be cage free.”

Although it took me two days of researching to come across Prop 12’s cage free definition, it is in one obvious place: The CA Official Voter Information Guide. It’s in the fine print, but there nonetheless (see the little letter “c”):


Below is a visual of a chicken in various sizes of space. The graphic is from The San Francisco Chronicle 2016 article “What is does cage-free mean, exactly?” about Proposition 2, proposed and approved in 2008.

The part of the graphic that estimates 1.5 square feet as the Prop 2 requirement is incorrect. Prop 2 requires enough space for an egg-laying hen to open their wings without touching an enclosure or another egg-laying hen, which is larger than 1.5 square feet.

I think this graphic still helps bring some visual clarity to the discussion. Please note that organic egg-laying hens get 3 total square feet: 1 inside, and 2 outside on soil.

SF Chronicle 2016 egg-laying hen info from Humane Society

More layers | Prop writers working with former Prop opposers

Prop 12 is written by the Humane Society who wrote Prop 2 in 2008. (Prop 12 is simply edit suggestions for Prop 2.) But the Humane Society misled the public by marketing Prop 2 as cage-free, when they knew it didn’t have wording in it that addressed cages (because they wrote it).

The Humane Society co-wrote this new 2018 prop with The United Egg Producers, but the United Egg Producers opposed The Humane Society’s original “cage-free” prop in 2008.

The UEP is “a cooperative that represents members with 95% of the egg-laying hens in the United States” according to The Gianni Foundation of Agricultural Economics at the University of California.

It is the UEP’s definition of cage-free that Prop 12 is using. Using the guidelines for cage-free from a group that opposed the original cage-free bill feels wrong to me.

More layers of Prop 12 | The differences between the new prop & what we have now

  • When Prop 12 says “hen,” it refers to a duck, goose, chicken, turkey or guinea fowl, which are all different sizes and have different spatial relationships given the same amount of space: 1 square foot. For example, an average chicken hen has a 2-3 foot wingspan, but a smaller turkey’s average wingspan is about 4.9 square feet. Neither of them could open their wings in one square foot of space, but the turkey would be even more cramped. On the contrary, Prop 2 says they would all be able to open their wings and turn around.

5 hen types CA 2

  • Prop 12 will undo the ability for hens to spread their wings and fully turn around, laws that Prop 2 established. After Prop 2 passed, egg producers sued saying Prop 2 was “unconstitutionally vague” because it decided spatial requirements based on a hen’s wingspan and ability to turn around. But the Superior Court of California and the Federal District court said Prop 2 is not vague, is measurable, and enforceable, and just because plaintiffs didn’t like it didn’t mean it was unconstitutional. I’m paraphrasing, but the judge really was that sassy about it. The court also said:

 “All Proposition 2 requires is that each chicken be able to extend its limbs fully and turn around freely… Because hens have a wing span and a turning radius that can be observed and measured, a person of reasonable intelligence can determine the dimensions of an appropriate confinement that will comply with Proposition 2.”

  • Prop 12 adds temporary times where the hens can be cruelly confined (no more than 24 hours in a month). Prop 2 doesn’t have temporary times.


  • Prop 12 names someone who would enforce the prop, unlike Prop 2, which named no one. But the two new groups enforcing Prop 12, The Department of Food and Agriculture and the State Department of Public Health, wouldn’t announce their rules of how to implement Prop 12 until September 1, 2019. So we’re voting to agree on rules that don’t exist yet.noun_Question_759832
  • Prop 12 would give the hens scratch areas, perches, nest boxes, and dust bathing areas. These are vital to the bird’s health, not extra amenities. But Prop 12 doesn’t specify how many of these items will be added per amount of birds, or at all. The dominant birds get protective of these areas and if there aren’t enough areas added, it can cause fighting, anxiety, and attacks which sometimes lead to death. I think it’s important for us to know what we’re agreeing to… How many areas are being added? Some chicken farms in California have thousands of hens. How many perches for the whole farm?noun_Bird_548198
  • With Prop 12, if a buyer says they knew a seller tried to sell them products from animals that were cruelly confined, that seller can defend themselves with a good faith certificate from their supplier that says the products weren’t cruelly confined. This doesn’t sound very ethical to me.


Here’s a deeper layer of misleading that is currently happening, which confuses me the most | CCR 1350

I was feeling like Prop 2 was the better option, but then I learned that it may not be being enforced, and not just because no one was appointed to enforce it.

In 2013, five years after Prop 2 passed with 63% of the public’s vote, the California government created California Code Regulation 1350, which covers the same subject as Prop 2, and is contradictory to it.

CCR 1350 defines spatial requirements based on amounts of space instead of animal behavior. It allows 8 hens to be in one cage and receive 116 square inches each, which is less than a square foot, which means they can’t open their wings, which means it contradicted Prop 2, even though Prop 2 had already been approved.

But CCR 1350 also has 8 options of spatial amounts. 1/8th of those options may comply with Prop 2, depending on the size of the hen. But the other 7/8ths do not comply with Prop 2. (The full CCR 1350 is below in the extra reading section)

Prop 2 and CCR 1350 went into effect on the same day, January 1, 2015.

Both laws are being used at the same time even though they are contradictory. (One says they have to have space to spread their wings, the other doesn’t leave them space to spread their wings, except in one of its eight options.)

Is the government allowed to write a law that contradicts a law that the people voted in?

This simultaneous-laws-concept seems to be left unchecked because people who voted for Prop 2 haven’t heard about it. Also, maybe because they wouldn’t know what to do about it if they did.

Also, because the California Department of Food and Agriculture, in charge of CCR 1350, says that 1350 isn’t contradictory to Prop 2, but that they can’t really check because they’re not in charge of regulating Prop 2.

But no one is currently in charge of regulating Prop 2.

And, ironically, these are the very people who will become in charge of regulating Prop 12 if Prop 12 passes.

It is disheartening to me that the California Department of Food and Agriculture who wrote the second law (CCR 1350) which undermined the one on which the public voted (Prop 2) would potentially regulate the new law (Prop 12). It is also disheartening that there are two separate conflicting laws that egg farmers can use right now. Instead of the public being shown that the prop we voted to pass can be ignored, we are being offered a new prop.

But since Prop 2 and CCR 1350 already co-exist, isn’t it possible that Prop 12 could also co-exist with CCR 1350? It seems possible. If you know the answer, will you share it with me?

I’d like to keep Prop 2’s freedom for the hen to move around, vote to eliminate CCR 1350, vote to take away cages, add a specific ratio of nesting boxes, dust-bathing areas, scratch areas and perches per amount of hens, add an enforcing agency to Prop 2, and vote on the rules of implementation.

The present vote | Comparing Prop 2, Prop 12 & CCR 1350

If I compare Prop 12 to Prop 2, I don’t think Prop 12 is as good. I really like moving around. If I were a hen, I could still get a little jail workout with Prop 2. I might be in a pen with some assholes that aggressively won’t let me work out. But Prop 12 still would feel worse to me because I’d be even more claustrophobic, potentially with the same assholes.

If I compare Prop 12 to CCR 1350, I would still get more space with Prop 2, because it in itself is the rule that I’m guaranteed to have enough space to spread my wings. Everything else isn’t that guarantee.

But the problem is that I don’t think egg producers aren’t abiding by either law right now. The CDFA is supposedly enforcing CCR 1350, and the courts said that any law enforcement is capable of and allowed to enforce Prop 2, but in the almost 4 years that Prop 2 has been in effect, it’s only been enforced once.


Last couple of layers | Controlling Out-of-State Farmers

There are other parts of Prop 12 that are also weird, like telling out-of-state egg farmers they can’t sell in California unless they use our rules. That is weird to me because it seems to be illegal to tell other states what they can do. But also because Gov. Schwarzenegger already signed Assembly Bill (AB) 1437 into law in 2010 and it tells out-of-state egg farmers they have to abide by Prop 2.

Prop 12 is literally just edits to Prop 2. So why pretend we’re adding this new idea about out-of-state, when it already exists? What’s the difference between having it as a separate law with Prop 2 or as part of Prop 12?

One might think the reason is so that if people fight the validity of the out-of-state part of Prop 12 after it is in effect, and it turns out not to be valid, that the whole prop would become invalid. But it says right in Prop 12 that if any part of it isn’t constitutional, they’ll cut that part out and the rest will stand. Also, maybe no one but me was thinking that except me. But I’m happy I checked.

Six states are currently suing to fight the validity of Assembly Bill (AB) 1437. The out-of-state part of Prop 12 and AB 1437 seem like a waste of time, money and mental/ emotional/ spiritual resources to me.

I’d like us to focus on what we do have the legal ability to change for the better.

What that is is unclear to me.

What to do

I really can’t tell which is better, to vote yes or no, only because the whole thing has been so surprising that I wouldn’t be surprised that I’m missing something. I feel like people who are going to the chicken farms and can see what the farmers are actually doing (vs. what they’re supposed to be doing on paper) would know the best next step. If you’d like a trustworthy source on why to vote yes, I enjoyed this blog: Yes on Proposition 12.

This seems like a Lesser of Two Evils situation. It seems people will vote based on their philosophies about that philosophy. One may try to vote for the less of the two evils. Another may think the opposite evil is less. One may be really confused about how to tell which is less in the first place.

But my current philosophy about this philosophy uses the metaphor of relationships. If I’m in a bad relationship, it is unhealthy for me to think, “This is as good as it gets.” If I think, “I haven’t dated, I don’t know if there are better options,” I may never leave to see if there are better options. And staying gives my brain and heart practice with the lesson that trying to live a full life is off-limits. It’s not a healthy muscle to strengthen because then I end up applying it to other situations.

I’m learning to matter. Part of that lesson is learning that when someone gives me two choices, there are probably more options, I just have to give myself permission to ask for them, or to say no to the two choices and trust that in the unknown future, a better option is waiting.

The other part of that lesson is noticing when someone is trustworthy. And knowing that their trustworthiness can change. It’s pliable, so I have to stay mindful and aware. I used to be someone who wanted to have a switch flip and know everything will be okay. But now I see that I need to continuously be mindful about my relationships to keep myself safe and connected. I used to think that was exhausting. Now I see that being mindful is like eating: it’s normal to have to keep doing it.

In this metaphor, I’d be deciding whether to continue a marriage with Prop 2 or get divorced and start dating Prop 12, but find out CCR 1350 got a marriage license with me- even though we’d never met. Whether I stay or go, I’ve got to do something about this weirdo who keeps telling people we’re together when we’re not. Or in non-metaphor words:

Whether I vote no or yes on this prop, the California government has shown they are untrustworthy by undermining the result of the people’s vote. Other laws are upheld with seriousness. The 63% of the people who voted Prop 2 into law didn’t just have their law ignored, they had it defied. As far as I understand, this can happen again. My main take-away from all of this is that I want to continue to pay attention past the vote.

That’s great, but seriously, what do I do?

To conclude, my opinion is that I support everyone in going with their gut. And the most important part is finding out if the government will uphold the vote afterwards.

If you’re like, f-this, I think there should be no cages no matter what, I totally get it. If you’re like, no way in hell, they need more space, I totally get it. If you’re like this is a shitshow, I still don’t know, AAAAA! I totally get it. Even if you’re like, I don’t care, emotionally, I understand how people can come to that conclusion.

This all seems like a giant distraction with no real change occurring within the government.

Where the change is clearly growing and being nourished is within the public’s level of caring and education. Good on us! That’s hard to do with all of the other parts of life swirling around.

I’m grateful to have learned a lot about the history and present regarding the welfare of the egg-laying hens in California.

This is a living document, meaning, I was passionate about sharing what I’m learning, but will keep adding to it once it’s published because it’s too much information and I’ll never share it otherwise.

If you’d like to read more details about how I got this information, there are more resources, stories, and more of an in-depth background in a longer version below…

I wish you self-care, love, gentleness and nourishment. May we all trust that doing the simplest acts of kindness towards ourselves, like receiving a long-slow breath, can add up to a life we feel grateful to live. Politics isn’t the only answer. The little positive things really can add up.


The extra sections below are for folks who would like more details.

  • A Letter From A Famous Farmer
  • A Misconception About the Humane Society
  • Who Doesn’t Like the Humane Society?
  • Federal District & Superior Courts Decide Prop 2 is Clear
  • Measuring the Birds
  • Two Current Law Options: Prop 2 and/ or CCR 1350
  • Current Law #3


I wrote to a famous farmer, at least famous to me, who humanely raises animals for meat. I trust this farmer and value their opinion so even though they live out of state and they won’t be voting on Prop 12, I asked their opinion. They have never met me and we’ve never communicated, so I figured they wouldn’t write me back. But they did. They said I can share their response:

Their response was that the HSUS has been in the pocket of big agriculture from the start, that way HSUS gets a seat at the table. It didn’t surprise this person that a slight of hand is occurring over this issue. They said to look at who is for the Prop: the HSUS who they know to be fraudulent and Big Egg (the United Egg Producers), who are trying to protect their turf.

The farmer’s philosophy is that we don’t need laws to protect animals, we just need people to think about their food source as much as they think about entertainment. Then the demand for humanely-raised food would naturally happen, and the other types of food wouldn’t be produced anymore.

I agree with this most of this idea, especially the part about thinking more about our food sources. But we’ll come to a crossroads when trying to vote with our wallets if the labels we go by are misleading us to think animal welfare is happening when it isn’t. It made me wonder what the definition of cage-free means on the current boxes of eggs in the store.

But the main point now is that it was beyond good to hear from this farmer. It let me be more open to the idea that the Humane Society of the United States might not be an angelic as I had assumed.


Many people think the Humane Society is affiliated with the Humane Societies in their town, like an umbrella organization for local chapters. I learned from researching that the Humane Society of the United States isn’t affiliated with local humane societies. On the HSUS website it says clearly, “Local humane societies and SPCAs are independent entities and are not run by the HSUS or any other national entity.”

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) does work with local chapters on training, evaluations, publications and other professional services.

But it does stand out to me that they seem to give the public the impression that they are affiliated with local chapters. Again, it seems misleading, which is a pattern of behavior at this point to me.

The Humane Society’s goals are more about preventative animal protection through legislature. That sounds good, but it may mean that they end up being focusing on fundraising for lobbying, which can be so important, but can also sometimes lead people down the distracting path of greed.


This one is a hard one for me. I think it’s hard for humans to discover that things that make us feel safe aren’t always what we think they are. Endorsers trust the Humane Society to protect animals. Opponents say that the Humane Society is scandal-ridden.

I’ve learned that Big Meat sure doesn’t like HSUS. And I learned that Big Meat exists. I guess I had thought about it with dairy, but that’s all. Anyway, it’s easiest to learn negative information about HSUS through meat lobbyists.

But PETA is opposing this HSUS Prop too. And I learned that it’s naive of me to think that PETA and HSUS would be on the same side of every issue. I’m learning that no one is ever on the same side of every issue.

I found a No Kill Shelter advocate who is doing a very honest and informed job of exposing the truth about HSUS’s behavior in regards to no-kill shelters. Nathan Winograd and his wife have written the All American Vegan cookbook and run the No Kill Shelter Advocacy.

In a blog about a Minnesota vote that was upcoming, that would grant animals the protections he describes, he speaks soberly and with great experience on his website

“Publicly, HSUS has stated that it is against the gas chamber, against heart sticking , for rescue rights, believes in transparency, supports bifurcated holding periods, and that all animals should be held for a period of time… Of course, those public statements are designed for just that: public consumption. And public consumption means donation dollars…

But when it comes to its private actions, when it comes to meetings behind closed doors with legislators where taking a stand has a life and death difference, HSUS sides with those who want to continue killing with impunity. And if they get their way… that is exactly what will continue to happen: animals will continue… to be killed when there are empty cages and despite rescue groups willing to save them. And they will continue to be marched from the front counter where they are surrendered straight to the kill room…”

He shares that HSUS has stopped bills like this one multiple times. And he shares his experience where a HSUS employee told him the non-profit was going to start voting for no-kill shelters, but lied:

“Despite the fact that HSUS had worked to kill similar bills in Texas, New York, Florida, and elsewhere, I was more optimistic about shelter reform legislation succeeding in Minnesota because two HSUS representatives—a Board member and Jennifer Fearing, the person in charge of sheltering policies for HSUS—personally assured me at a meeting in San Francisco just over a month ago that the days of HSUS claiming “neutrality” …but then working to kill shelter reform legislation were over. They shook my hand, looked me square in the eye, and promised it would come to an end, only to violate that promise a few weeks later at the first opportunity…”

Later while reading about Prop 2, I was surprised to see that Jennifer Fearing was the campaign manager on the “Yes on Prop 2” campaign.

There is a great interview with her in the Capitol Weekly from 2008. She seems like she loves animals, especially her sweet dog. But the language in the interview brings up the next idea I had researched…


This is important to me because if the HSUS deceived the well-meaning public with a proposition last time, it speaks to their level of trustworthiness. More info coming…



The argument against Prop 2 is that because it doesn’t specify exact amounts of space, it’s too vague and therefore too difficult to enact.

In 2012, egg producers went to the courts to prove that Prop 2 is unconstitutionally vague by filing the lawsuit Cramer v. Harris et al in the Federal District Court for Central District of California. On February 4, 2015 Prop 2’s constitutionality was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In regards to Prop 2’s level of enforceability, the court said:

“Proposition 2 establishes a clear test that any law enforcement officer can apply, and that test does not require the investigative acumen of Columbo to determine if an egg farmer is in violation of the statute.”

The court also said that just because the egg producers don’t like Prop 2 doesn’t mean it’s not constitutional:

“The mere fact that Plaintiff dislikes or disagrees with the policy or language of Proposition 2 is not sufficient to sustain a Constitutional challenge.”

That same year, 2012, another group of egg farmers filed the lawsuit ACEF v. California et al in the Superior Court of California, County of Fresno, also claiming that under the California Constitution, Prop 2 is unconstitutionally vague. But in 2013, the Superior Court dismissed the case, but granted leave to amend. Their response was:

“The fact that the statute defines confinement limitations in terms of animal behaviors rather than in square inches or other precise measurements does not render the statute facially vague.”

The courts were saying Prop 2 is possible. Measure the birds.


There are five species covered in the Prop, and each of those species has hundreds of types.

I spoke with a family farmer at the Hollywood Farmers Market who sells humanely-raised meat, and raises chickens for eggs, but only uses the eggs for her family. She taught me that most commercial egg farmers use one kind of hen to maintain uniformity. They often use White Leg Horn chickens for white eggs, and the larger Rhode Island Red chickens for brown egg production.

Wikipedia chicken types
A few of the many types of chickens

I thought it seemed possible for the farmers, who know what breed they’re using, to evaluate the breed’s wingspan and make space accordingly. But I still wondered if maybe it really was as hard as farmers were saying to find out how to measure the birds.

My family farmer friend said that smaller farms tend to have multiple breeds together free to roam on grass and they have so many less chickens that it would be easy for them to get the breed measurements. She let me know about the websites where she buys her chicks. This little detail made me realize it would be insane for someone to be in the business of egg farming and not know basic information about their product.

It also seemed that going by the size of the different hens would be in the best interest of the hens. I am a human, and so is my friend John, but he is more than a foot taller than me. So with this in mind, going by the wingspan leaves room for different breeds to have space, but also for different sizes of the same breed to have space, for the Johns of the chicken world to have equal wingspan treatment as the Ruths.

I think we live in a society that is used to a one-size fits all mentality. Diet books are for everyone, even though our immune systems, environment, stress-levels, hormones, and genetics are all different. When it comes to care for living things, a one-size-fits-all rule isn’t often realistic or effective. It disrupts the “care” part.

In the case of a Prop 2, I could seeing a chart working though, if they wrote out a slightly above average amount of space for each of the species and each of those breeds.

What I hadn’t thought of was that this animal-behavior based idea could also fit into a chart using math. Joy A. Mench and Richard A. Blatchford, both at the Department of Animal Science and Center for Animal Welfare, University of California, Davis, authored a paper published in Oxford Academic’s Poultry Science in April of 2014, eight months before Prop 2 went into law.

In “Determination of space use by laying hens using kinematic analysis,” the authors share the math formulas for determining the space for a hen to stand, lie down, turn 180 degrees, their wing span, wing flap, and wing flap with a little more give.

I don’t understand math well enough to understand what it is saying. But I’ll share it here anyway. And there is much more info at the link above.

Table 2.

The floor area [cm2 (in2)] used by hens when performing particular behaviors, as well as the height [cm (in)], wingspan [cm (in)], and wing flap floor area [cm2 (in2)] with 2.54 cm (1 in) added to the length and width of the hen

How to Determine laying hen measurements stand turn wingspan wing flap


The common misconception of cage-free is a beautiful idea of hens walking freely on grass, but it is different than the actual definition we’re voting on, which is: 1 to 1.5 square feet of concrete space in a building with no enclosures where hens can’t open their wings or turn around freely.

The grassy chicken freedom many of us are imagining as “cage-free” is fueled by the ads and even the logo for the Yes on 12 campaign that depicts chickens walking on grass:



According to the CA Voter Information Guide, Prop 12 would consider the following illegal:

(1) Before 2020, any amount of space where laying hens can’t spread their wings

(But they can still be in a cage.)

(2) Between 2020 and 2022, any amount of space less than 1 square foot

(Even though now they wouldn’t be able spread their wings and they can still be in a cage.)

(3) Any amount of space less than 1-1.5 square feet and it’s called cage-free, even though it’s similar to what was happening in 2020 and 2021, because it’s not in a cage

(Even though they can’t spread their wings.)

Can’t spread wings or turn around Can be in a cage Limited to one-square foot Limited to one or one and a half square feet
Now until 2020 yes
2020-2022 yes yes yes
2022 on, cage-free yes yes


I thought that the definition of cage-free was the most surprising part to me, but now the “current law” part is the most surprising. Really, the whole thing is a bag of surprises.

Prop 2 doesn’t write out exact spacial requirements, but it says it’s illegal to confine “a covered animal in a manner that prevents the animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending the animal’s limbs, or turning around freely… ‘Fully extending his or her limbs’ means… fully spreading both wings without touching the side of an enclosure or other egg-laying hens.”

I was surprised to find out that in 2013, California wrote out exact numbers of space requirements into the Official California Code of Regulations as CCR 1350. The regulations don’t comply with Prop 2 so I don’t understand how they are legal.

Also, it’s disturbing to me that the Voter Ballot Guide doesn’t mention these CCR 1350 regulations.

A list of other voter guide sites that discuss Prop 12, but do not mention these CCR 1350 regulations: the Easy Voter Guide which is a collaboration by the League of Women Voters Education Fund and the California State Library;; the Democratic Socialists of America LA’s voter guide; the CA GOP voter guide,, Fox News’ A Guide to the Propositions on the Nov. 6 Ballot in California, LAWebsite.Net made by LA Podcast, the League of Women Voters Presents Pros and Cons 2018 State Propositions Video, the Knock L.A. Progressive Voters Guide.

Many of those voter guides have been so incredibly helpful in other ways, but the only voter guide where I saw CCR 1350 mentioned was I also saw it in the San Francisco Chronicle, but not the LA Times.

The California Code of Regulation 1350 has a graph with amounts of space and the number of chickens that are allowed to be housed on that space. It ranges from 9 chickens living in 2.23 square feet of space or 1 living in .8 sq feet of space, which would mean none could open their wings. And these regulations of space are allowed to be in a cage. Here is the graph:

§ 1350. Shell Egg Food Safety.


Commencing January 1, 2015, no egg handler or producer may sell or contract to sell a shelled egg for human consumption in California if it is the product of an egg-laying hen that was confined in an enclosure that fails to comply with the following standards. For purposes of this section, an enclosure means any cage, crate, or other structure used to confine egg-laying hens:

(1) An enclosure containing nine (9) or more egg-laying hens shall provide a minimum of 116 square inches of floor space per bird. Enclosures containing eight (8) or fewer birds shall provide a minimum amount of floor space per bird as follows, using formula 322+[(n-1) x 87.3]/n, where “n” equals the number of birds:

Number of Birds Square Inches Per Bird
1 322
2 205
3 166
4 146
5 135
6 127
7 121
8 117

(2) The enclosure shall provide access to drinking water and feed trough(s) without restriction.


For a moment, I’ll refer to Prop 2, the current law that was voted on in 2008, as Current Law #1, and CCR 1350, the current law that was added in 2013, as the Current Law #2.

Current Law #1 was passed in 2008, but was enacted in 2015.

I had originally tried to make sense of it all by wondering,”Maybe Current Law #2 that happened in 2013 stopped being the law when Current Law #1 went into effect in 2015.” But this didn’t end up being the case, because they both were enacted on the same day in 2015.

I couldn’t understand why the CA Voter Ballot Guide refers to Current Law #1 and left out Current Law #2, or why the majority of the arguments about Prop 12 also only use Current Law #1.

I also wondered why The San Francisco Chronicle and BallotFYI bring up Current Law #2 when the others didn’t.

BallotFYI’s only mention said, “California did eventually land on a number for hens: 116 square inches [0.8 sq feet].” But they linked right to the actual law.

If Current Law #1 is in effect, Prop 12 gives much less space, but takes away cages.

If Current Law #2 is in effect, Prop 12 gives more space to birds crammed 5 to 8 in a space, and takes away cages, but gives less space to birds sharing 1-4 in a space, and takes away cages.

The San Francisco Chronicle said of Prop 2, “The animal welfare movement contended [Prop 2] meant space equivalent to the bird’s wingspan — 2 to 3 square feet — but the state Department of Food and Agriculture interpreted it as less than a square foot.”

But the Prop really does say wingspan. It wasn’t an interpretation. How did the Department of Food and Agriculture “interpret” a clear guideline incorrectly and get away with it?

Also, why do singular hens receive the most space? Based on the other misleading, my first instinct is to ask, “Is that to distract the public with positivity about something that rarely happens because the common practice is to put as many as 8 in one space? Why are we still allowing multiple hens in one cage? And again, which law are we using?”

The answers to these questions seem like a huge foundation of what we’re voting on in Prop 12.

I only had an answer to the last one: I hadn’t thought about that Prop 2 says they need to be able to spread their wings without touching another hen, but it didn’t specify that they couldn’t all be in one cage, thus allowing multiple hens in one cage.


The Animal Welfare Institute had another answer: “Currently, producers are using all three interpretations of the law.”

Sigh. A third law? There was Prop 2 and California Code Regulation 1350, and a third law, California legislature AB 1437, added in 2010, which said people selling out-of-state eggs to California had to abide by Prop 2. All three laws went into action on the same day, January 1, 2015.

Quick Review because our heads are going to explode:

  • Prop 2 = spread wings, turn in circle, in a cage, with other hens
  • CCR 1350 = 1 to 8 hens in a cage, different amounts of space for each group
  • AB 1437 = out-of-state producers have to comply with our state laws

The AW Institute also shared, “California’s Department of Food and Agriculture, the entity responsible for enforcing CCR 1350, has stated that it believes CCR 1350 meets the standards of Prop 2, but cannot state this definitively as it is not charged with administering Prop 2.”

Of the eight options in CCR 1350, only one meets the lowest option possibility for Prop 2. If there is one hen in a cage that is 322 square inches, that equals 2.23 square feet and if that hen is the type whose wing span is 2 square feet instead of 3, this scenario meets the standards of Prop 2. The seven other options in CCR 1350 are too small for the average hen wingspan of 2-3 square feet.

Since the California Department of Food and Agriculture is stating they cannot be definitive because they’re not currently in charge of Prop 2 (although if Prop 12 passes, they will be), it’s important to me that they don’t make guesses because that is misleading.



Proposition 12 in full, PDF |

United Egg Producer’s 2017 Cage Free Guidelines, PDF |

Archive of Proposition 2 from 2008, PDF |

California Proposition 2 | Ballotpedia,_Standards_for_Confining_Farm_Animals_(2008)

1350. Shell Egg Safety Food Safety | California Code of Regulations site maintained by Thomson Reuters Westlaw 


Stop the Rotten Egg Initiative |

Yes on 12 |


“Minimum Space Requirements Under Current Law and Proposition 12” | The California Official Voter Information Guide

Proposition 12 – Farm Animal Cages | Voter’s Edge


“Yes on Prop 12. Let’s get rid of cages for hens for real.” | LA Times |

“Live in California and buy eggs? If Voters approve this in 2018, they’ll need to be from cage-free hens” | LA Times |

“The Chronicle Recommends No on Prop. 12” | The San Francisco Chronicle |

“What does ‘cage-free’ mean, exactly?” | The San Francisco Chronicle |


“Why We Oppose California’s Farmed-Animal Initiative and You Should Too” | PETA |

“California’s Egg Regulations: Implications for Producers and ConsumersAgricultural and Resource Economics Update” | Gianni Foundation of Resource Economics | Universitiy of California |

“California Mandates More Space in the Cage for Egg-laying Hens” | Animal Welfare Institute |

“Prop 2 Timeline” | The Humane Society

“Hens Behind Bars, Viva! Hen Laying Factsheet” |

“What does the Humane Society Do?” | The Humane Society

Animal People Newspaper p.12 |

“How Much Space Do My Chickens Need?” | McMurray Hatchery

Criminal Charges brought against California hen factory farm | The Humane Society

Choices in Hen Housing | The United Egg Producers


Bird by Viktor Ostrovsky from the Noun Project

Paper Note by Ben Markoch from the Noun Project

Time by BomSymbols from the Noun Project

Question by Iconika from the Noun Project