Food Waste: Throwing Away More Than Food

“As much as 40% of all the food produced in the United States never gets eaten according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council… Americans throw away $165 billion dollars worth of food every year. That’s about 20 pounds per person, every month… The US Department of Agriculture says Americans throw away enough food every year to fill 730 football stadiums… US per capita food waste has increased by about 50% since 1974.” John Oliver just taught me so much about food waste in America. This is basically a recap of the episode. If you have time to watch it, he’s much funnier than I am! If not, here are some things I learned, plus some experiences and research he inspired me to share.

We’re throwing away that much food while at the same time, according to the USDA, “in 2013, 49.1 million Americans lived in food-insecure households.”

Throwing away this food not only keeps it from hungry families, it results in landfills creating methane gas, wasted money we spent to buy the food, wasted money paid to the people who grew it, and wasted water and resources used to make the food. For example, throwing away one egg wastes 55 gallons of water.

Some food is thrown away because we usually won’t buy the last few fruits or veggies because we think the last options have something wrong with them. But if it’s made it as far as getting on a shelf, it has already passed strict USDA standards for pretty produce. So there is most likely not anything wrong with the lonely, pretty produce on the shelf. Where does the non-pretty produce go? It’s labeled “#2 Produce” by the USDA and as soon as that happens, “It can lose 2/3 of its market value to a farmer.” So it usually goes into the trash.

Also, confusing food-date labels cause many people to throw food out before it’s gone bad. “Except for baby food, the federal government doesn’t require any food to have a safety date on it. The states have varied laws about it, with nine states not requiring labels at all.” The food-date labels we see are put on by the manufacturing companies, but aren’t as official as we think. Some could be putting earlier dates to encourage us to buy products more often or to protect themselves from lawsuits. Or some could be putting accurate dates. Either way, “many grocery stores throw out food before its sell-by date.” And they don’t donate it.

I’ve was told in 2008 by friendly employees at Whole Foods that they used to donate food to homeless shelters at the end of each night, but now they don’t because they got sued by homeless people who got food poisoning from their donation. I have repeated their words a few times over the years. I believed them and I think they believed themselves. John Oliver thought that too! But he found out that “there has never been a case where a food donor has been sued.” And he found out that that’s because the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act covers “any food donated to a charity by saying you can not get sued if you make a food donation in good faith.”

But donating costs companies money and time because of overhead like boxing, storing and delivery coordination. Oliver suggests tax breaks to incentivize companies to donate. Large companies already get those tax breaks, but small companies are written into the tax code in a way that Congress has to continually renew their donation tax breaks. So local restaurants and local farms may not know if they will get the break at the end of each year.

In 2015 (when this video was released), the Fighting Hunger Act of 2015 was proposed to make the tax breaks permanent, but it eventually became the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 and all food donation language was removed.

In researching it, it would have increased the deficit by $1.9 billion by 2024. It also gave the same tax breaks to any corporation whose gross income from the business of farming was more than 50% of their gross income. The executive director of the Coalition Against Hunger said the bill didn’t “carefully separate the farmers who would be able to give away more food from big corporations that are just going to get another tax break.”

Nonetheless, it seems like this shouldn’t be tabled and our government should be spending time and energy on finding ways to help small businesses more easily help the hungry in our country.

And there are many other efforts being made to reduce food waste. Smithsonian Magazine said in 2015, “The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency recently called for a 50-percent reduction in food waste by 2030. Meanwhile, Portland launched a citywide composting program a few years ago, and at the retail level, the former president of Trader Joe’s recently opened a store near Boston that sells surplus food donated by grocery stores at rock-bottom prices.

Even simple changes can have big effects. A few years ago, college cafeterias across the U.S. began to go trayless. Carrying two plates at most rather than trays piled high with all-you-can-serve and all-you-can-eat daredevilry forced students to think about what they really wanted to eat. The seemingly simple move, which more than 120 colleges chose to adopt, helped reduce food consumption and waste by 25 to 30 percent in some colleges.”

Oliver proposes solutions from: “Resolving to eat uglier fruit, to taking expirations dates with a pinch of salt, to no longer worrying about getting sued by high-powered lawyers representing the hungry… We all have to address our relationship with food waste.”

I think the best expiration date decider is my nose.

Also, I found a new company called Imperfect Produce in Los Angeles that can deliver a small box of organic imperfect fruits and veggies to my door for $15-$17. (www.imperfectproduce.com)

And I volunteer at the Hollywood Orchard (www.hollywoodorchard.org), a nearby non-profit that collects free fruit from neighborhood trees and donates it to local charities. Food Forward, Food Finders and many others are in LA. There are also many non-profits across the country like Feeding America who act as delivery-middlemen between food vendors (grocery stores, restaurants) and food providers (soup kitchens, food banks). (Here is a blog where I got to celebrate the joys of Hollywood Orcharding…)

Shane and I also rarely waste our own food. We keep our leftovers at restaurants. And we eat them. We keep other people’s leftovers, with their permission of course. And we eat them. We buy in small, fresh portions from the grocery store and buy in small, fresh portions again. We try to use up what we have, but if we can’t, we compost what is left. We also compost the peels and pits and extra bits that come off of what we do use. We make up new meals with whatever is there. We get it wrong sometimes, but that is part of the freedom of putting our health first. Having fresh food is worth it.

 

We try to eat seasonally and it teaches us that we aren’t in charge. We try to flow with the food and we learn from it. We try to make decisions to live in a way that leaves time to make our meals, go to the store often, chop the contents of our CSA box, and know what is in the fridge, pantry and garden. It’s taken a long time to clear time for that time. But we are grateful for the growth over the years and we’re still growing.

Watering our garden, learning which plants like what amount of light and what kind of soil, learning the organic way to keep pests at bay, watching our garden grow… Picking our own olives and curing them for weeks and weeks… Growing a tree from seed knowing that it won’t make its own fruit for seven years… Learning that you can dip a branch in a hormone powder, stick it in the ground, and it will grow a tree, because plants have and need hormones in order to create just like us… Seeing that the difference between a fertile gerbera daisy seed and a non-fertile one is that the fertile one is swollen… A male butternut squash flower is a cone, but the female is swollen… They can get pregnant like we can. And it takes time for them to bear fruit, just like we do.

And all the beautiful creatures that are involved in making one fruit, the bees, the hummingbirds, the earthworms, the bacteria in the soil, the minerals in the rain water, even the gas from decaying sea plankton that has evaporated into the clouds and rained down has something beneficial for the plants…

When we waste food that goes into a landfill instead of composting back into the circle of food, we waste all of these things. We waste the time, the light, the water, the creatures, our time and energy used to earn the money we wasted to buy it; we waste the nourishment, the extension of our own existence, and the delicious and delightful experience it comes in.

I hope you and your family, or just you, are able to make steps toward enjoying and using each bit of food you have. Thanks John Oliver & Co. for this new knowledge and inspiration.

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Resources:

Food Waste: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver | Episode at top of the page

Fighting Hunger Incentive Act of 2015 Passes House http://www.borgenmagazine.com/fighting-hunger-incentive-act-2015-passes-house/

Why Don’t Some Grocery Stores Donate Food to Poor People http://www.businessinsider.com/why-dont-some-grocery-stores-donate-food-to-poor-people-2014-10

This Is How Much Water You Waste When You Throw Away Food http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-trashing-food-wastes-water-too-180957239/

Why I March Alone, With You

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This morning, I ended up writing to my friend Jenna about the march and why I’m going. Thank you Jenna for helping me hear my feelings. I was feeling them, but I couldn’t put them into words. Thank you for inspiring me…

I’d like to share my reasons for going to the Women’s March. I have the strong intention of going with others so that I feel safe, but at the same time, I intend to have a very individual experience.

It wasn’t until the last year or so that I realized that I’m the only one who is living every moment of my life with me. And there have been lots of moments in that amount of time. So my opinions are very specific and detailed. When I’m at the march, maybe some of the people there will agree with five opinions I have and maybe someone else would agree with five of my other opinions. But to find someone who agrees with all of my opinions would be strange, because they haven’t had the experiences I have had. And I have not had theirs.

Accepting this individuality lets me feel joy that I hadn’t allowed myself to feel for most of my life. I had it in my head that the only experiences that mattered in my life were the ones that related to other people. So if I didn’t have someone who related to my memories that were wonderful, joyful, I wouldn’t talk about them. For like 20 years. But they are my reality and they matter to me. Now, even if no one else was, or is, there for a past or present magical moment, I can embrace the outpouring of my own positive feelings. Or even if someone is there, but they don’t like something I like or don’t feel joy while I do, I feel it. And I’m doing the same thing with negative experiences I had too. It is beyond difficult to look at them, but it is healing not to be afraid of them anymore. They are relevant, to me. And no one else has to relate for that to be true.

This doesn’t make me feel lonely. It did at first because I only knew how to receive love through relating. Now nurturing myself with love is a byproduct of my honesty with myself. Acceptance of my reality makes me feel a fullness inside myself. I know myself better than I did a year ago and I like to hang out with myself. My self-love is new and can be pummeled by old punishing habits, but the teeter-totter is slowing switching sides.

Because of where I am in my journey, I’m not going to the march to join with the opinions of others or to have my experience feel large. Tomorrow is about me being enough.

If I could go naked, I would. I know that’s illegal. And that it also makes people think of sex, which isn’t what I mean. But I like how it could represent being vulnerable by shedding my layers, shining a light on the core of who I am and being content with that core. I mean it in a bare, open, simple way.

And as for the sex part of it, I feel like embracing my sexuality, as opposed to getting caught in caring about society’s many judgments of sex, has helped me embrace my whole self, my needs and my intuition. Someone once told me, “My sexuality is divinely connected to my spirituality.” It helped me see that my intuitive flow would hit my judgment of my sexuality and get blocked. I couldn’t be honest and spiritually full until I celebrated my whole self.

But, I will be at the march with clothes on because I’m just happy that I’ve been able to clarify to myself what my intentions are. And again, I like honoring the truth of my opinion and I don’t feel that tomorrow is a day where I can express it visually in an honest way.

There will be people there whose truth tomorrow is to do the opposite of what I’m doing, to tell vibrant visual stories and create clarity with color and meaningful art. I’m so grateful for them. I’ll just be doing something slightly similar in a slightly different way.

I guess I mean that just me quietly being there is enough. Showing up in whatever way feels good and possible tomorrow is enough. Maybe it will be bright. Maybe it won’t. (Watch, tomorrow morning I will wake up excited to wear hot pink glitter everything…) But giving myself permission to keep it simple is new for me. Anything more will be an added treat. Today I’m enjoying the honesty of discovering the present in the present. I guess there’s no other time that one would discover the present.

I also will be marching knowing that I am keeping some of myself for myself. I had never done that until recently. I was “all or nothing” and in turn gave my all and had nothing left for myself. I feel that it’s encouraged and rewarded to over-work or over-give. And that we’re only familiar with overdoing so those words shorten to become simply “work” or “give.”  I think it is a common thread among women. But I see that men do it too, in a different way. And often we’re both left with an emptiness that we might think the other doesn’t have.

My dearest aunt passed away last month and her memorial is the Saturday after the march. I know that in the past I would have not heard my inner voice saying that I want to be emotionally present with my family. I would have stepped into the wonderful whirlwind energy of the march and gotten whisked away and later resented myself for not noticing my needs. I would have given my all. But my “all” has changed. It’s still my all, there’s just less budgeted for other people now. “I need to be present at the memorial, to feel through the sadness of this experience, for my health and my heart. I need to grieve.” And I feel that marching in a way that leaves space for me, for my life after the march, is another way to stand up for myself as a woman. I’m allowed to matter: my past feelings, my present feelings and my future ones. Protecting space in the world for myself is kind.

It’s funny to me that to stand up for myself as a woman, I need to stand up a bit less for women tomorrow, but in doing so, take a stand for women by treating myself as I wish all women were treated.

Living this way looks a bit less exciting from the outside, but it makes my life on the inside much richer. And that is what I’m hoping tomorrow’s act and others like it will help make possible for women everywhere.

I feel the same way for men too. I think in a society where they are told they are weak if they have feelings, they say things like, “We don’t talk about that.” And their silence is a way of staying safe in the society they live in. In the same way that I didn’t embrace negative and positive feelings in the past and the present, it was eating me alive. I think it would be easy to resent the feminine in females because they are taught to resent it in themselves. I resented it in myself for so much of my life because I fell for the same story they are often told.

I am grateful that I’m able to now stand more often in my truth. I wish that blessing for all the humans on the planet.

So what am I doing tomorrow? I’m standing in the opinions I already have and saying that someone else doesn’t get to tell me that I’m less-than. We are all of value. It’s nice to get to be with others who will be standing in their own opinions too. I’m standing up for the fact that we all get to have different opinions and I like that.

So whatever opinion you go to the march with or don’t go to the march with, whatever way you express it, whatever point you are at in your journey, I’ll be standing up for it. I believe we are all here alone, together.

#whyimarch #womensmarch #womensmarchla #alonetogether #respect4sisters #respect4all #weareallofvalue

www.womensmarch.com | Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

https://www.womensmarch.com/sisters | There are 673 simultaneous sister marches worldwide

www.womensmarchla.org | Women’s March in Los Angeles, C.A.

womensmarchla

The life’s work of these two men, [David Bowie & Alan Rickman] for me, represented the ying and yang of everything I have ever wanted to be as an artist. Works that were universally emotive and meaningful without losing a sense of fun and wonder. Works that never took themselves too seriously. Works that didn’t give everything away…

Our job as artists is not to convince, it is to inspire.

To inspire curiosity, to inspire thought, to inspire learning…Support things and people that inspire. Strive to inspire yourself.

Jessica Berson

We’re Only as Sick as Our Secrets

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“We’re only as sick as our secrets…” I’m so grateful to see the other side of speaking shame out loud. I was raised with the good intention of respecting humility and somehow, claiming tiny, or large, shames seemed too selfish.

I like that this man talks about his friend who considered suicide a better option than speaking his truth. I rarely hear people talk about what a life-or-death situation silencing oneself can be. Being our true selves is more important than how society may judge that truth.

For a long time, I wanted to live in a world where society is more respectful of truth than judgmental of it. Now I see that it was me who was falling for the judgement. And slowly accepting all of my imperfections gives me a fullness inside that doesn’t need to search as often for the opinions of others.

Although, ironically, in my sharing my fears, I was blessed with people who were doing the same thing and are very encouraging. I think people’s lives would be saved, and richer, if the message in this video was spread more often.

#gratefulfortruth #evenifitfeelsscary #progressoverperfection

Freedom To Be Myself On Stage, and Off

My mom gave me the July issue of Elle magazine for my birthday. It is about women in comedy and I wish every magazine was just like this one. I read Bridget Everett’s article about her comedy icon, her mom. I only know Bridget’s work through rave reviews and photos in Time Out New York magazine. They never took us off of their mailing list after we moved to LA and we kept getting them for free! It was our only bathroom reading for the first three years in LA and our regular bowels made it very hard to detach from NYC. My quiet toilet time would be a magic portal to New York art, music, literature, dance, theatre and other-worldly fearless night talent.

So I weirdly love Bridget’s raunchtastic cabaret shows and volcanic personality without ever seeing her perform! I recently got to see her move and speak as Maria Bamford’s best friend in Maria Bamford’s genius Lady Dynamite on Netflix. Bridget was hysterical as expected, so was Maria, as expected, and the whole show, as expected. Go watch that show. Anyway, all that being said, I was excited to read Bridget’s article in Elle:

My mom is an 82-year-old retired schoolteacher who raised six kids largely on her own, and she has no idea how funny she is. For starters, she always walked around the house naked, which was pretty wonderful growing up because she’s a big woman. It showed me that it’s just a body; it’s no big deal. She would go to the grocery store without a bra, so we’d call her “Beaver Tails.” She just didn’t care! But she’s totally beloved in my hometown. She’s turned into this old lady who rides around on a Jazzy with a cane, going through Kmart poking soldiers and thanking them for their service, then trapping them in conversations.

There’s so much in my performance that’s performed by her. Not wearing a bra on stage. Interacting with the audience. She was a music teacher, and when I was younger, my older brothers and sisters would all get shitfaced, and we’d stand around the piano singing songs from Barry Manilow and Lionel Richie and our favorite show tunes. That’s basically what I do for a living now.

When I moved to New York to sing, the only real singing I was doing was at karaoke bars, where I would just go crazy. It was mayhem. Literally ripping my shirt off, grabbing guys- it was the only outlet I had, but when I was doing it and getting reactions from the crowd, I thought, Oh, maybe I can take this to a legitimate stage and do crazy covers of songs and tell crazy stories. It’s a shamelessness and a freedom, which definitely came from my mother.

She came to my show at Joe’s Pub once, and I was so nervous. I mean, I sit on people’s faces and motorboat them. But there she was cheering the whole time, and at the end she came up to me and said, “That was freedom in motion.” It was the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.

This inspired me. It made me cry. It reminded me that what I want most, what I have always wanted but didn’t realize until recently, is freedom to be myself. I looked for it and found the freedom part in improv. I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted, but only as a character. And so, after doing it on and off since I was ten, I stopped improvising. It perpetuated my addiction to pleasing others, to the fight or flight chemicals in my body, to getting a high from rescuing or fixing. And it gave me a false sense of freedom.

Once I saw that freedom was what I lacked and craved, I wanted to transfer that feeling I get on stage into my real life. It was mind-blowing, awe-inspiring, dumb-founding to imagine that I could simply have that wild abandon in my life. Not just on stage. I’m so happy on stage. I can taste the joy. The only times I had felt that in life was when I was helping others to the detriment of my own life. I only knew it as a high from a distraction. From creating a false, unreliable reality. A reality that kept me stuck in the same place, without progress or real growth. Alive, but chock full of old fears and confusion, which meant I was chock full of sadness too.

So I am retraining my brain to listen to itself. To learn that there are many things, people, outcomes I want to control so that I feel safe. But that not trying to control them leaves just me. And even then, I am learning not to control myself. I used to spend every millisecond of every day telling myself no. No, do it later. No, do it in a different way. No, do it more efficiently. All of these things usually led to it never getting done at all. I watched my life pass by. There were so many times I could see that because of my procrastination, I clearly missed opportunities.

I will say this next part in the past tense, although I am still currently practicing changing it in the present: My procrastination came from perfectionism, which came from fear of not doing it well, which came from fear that people won’t love me unless I’m perfect, which came from experiencing abandonment as a child, which gave me a fear of being left behind by the pack and dying. So I was used to being in fight or flight, all the time. The fear of death was a daily motivator and I had no idea.

So now I am learning to rely on what god is to me, my instinct, my higher power, a thing all around me that is also my inner voice. It looks out for me. Then when I remove controlling others or myself, there is not an emptiness, there is a flow to life. A momentum that is peaceful as a breeze in the summer sky. It moves forward. Naturally, organically, and truthfully. (This is not my default setting yet and is an uphill struggle. But neuroplasticity means that any-age dogs can learn new tricks. And happiness is a worthwhile treat.)

I’m getting to know myself better and am excited to put my newly-discovered calm motion into what I want to do. I thought that I needed to take myself out of improv because art didn’t let me be myself. But there is art that does. And there is improv that does too, I just wasn’t doing that kind. I’m excited to allow that freedom for myself in writing and creative aspects of my life. It’s new for me to see that I can have both freedom and be myself and it can exist in an artistic space too. I’ve only known being other people for so long. On stage and off. But art is expansive and we create our space within it by existing, in any way we want.

Thank you, Bridget.

And Bridget’s Mom.

And my Mom 🙂

The Hollywood Orchard & Green Wish

LOVELY LEMON VERBENA LOQUAT JAM

Shane and I hosted a mini jam-making session in our backyard yesterday! Delightful Chef Minh Phan, of Porridge & Puffs, was our fearless leader!

Photos by Katie Fritchel, Minh Phan & Ruth Gamble

ABOUT HOLLYWOOD ORCHARD

Since 2011, we’ve been part of the Hollywood Orchard, a beautiful community who collects fruit from neighborhood trees, preserves it in pop-up kitchens with the help of loving chefs, and then donates the remaining harvest to local food banks. In one afternoon, about 50 people can pick up to 2000 lbs of free fruit that would have otherwise gone to waste! The Orchard was founded by caring community leaders, and lovers of fruit, Bill & Tamara Pullman.

Photos by Bridie Macdonald, Kyle Soehngen & Ruth Gamble

OTHER ORCHARD ACTIVITIES

Orchard Supply Hardware sponsors us and we got to be at the ribbon cutting for their new store on La Brea!

We also have musical shows where Orchardistas play and sing and share their talents. And sometimes artists come and draw the shows.

LOQUAT PICK

Back in April, the Orchard picked and froze 7 gallons of loquats, a fruit that I see on trees in town all the time, but I never knew was edible!

Photos by Bridie Macdonald

JAM

Yesterday this little team used that harvest to make 60 jars of delicious Lovely Lemonverbena Loquat jam! It was a peaceful and laughter-filled day.

Thank you to Orchardistas Tamara Pullman, who helped set it up, Allison Brooker for designing lovely & educational labels, and Angela Gygi, Katie Frichtel, and newest addition, my old friend Jenna C. Johnson for all their hard work and for jamming out with us in our yard!

Photos by Katie Fritchel & Ruth Gamble

WHERE WILL THE JAM GO?

Who gets to eat this lovely, lip-smackety creation? Guests at a fundraiser dinner, Friendsgiving, hosted by Green Wish and Union Restaurant in Pasadena!

WHAT IS GREEN WISH?

Green Wish is a local green non-profit who sponsors other local green non-profits. It’s packed full of environmentally-passionate people like Raphael Sbarge, Scott Harris, Ed Begley Jr., Rachelle Carson-Begley, Fayna Sanchez, Libby Ewing, and Sharon Lawrence. We are honored to be included in the group of charities they are supporting along with the great  HoneyLoveMuir Ranch, and Food Forward. Friendsgiving dinner will raise money for all of us!

Here is a little story of how Hollywood Orchard came to be friends with Green Wish…

THE L.A. RIVER

My fiancé grew up in a small town in Ohio. His littlest sister was (and still is) best friends with Chelsea Peters as a kid. Chelsea now lives in LA. She introduced me to her amazing friend Fayna. Fayna said she was helping throw an event. It was the screening of the documentary A Concrete River, about the LA River. I didn’t even know we had a river in LA! So I figured I should go watch it and learn.

It was a beautiful documentary, directed by Raphael Sbarge, who is also on Once Upon A Time and Murder in the First! I learned that the large divot in the ground filled with cement and a sliver of water that I see whilst atop bridges is our river! The river rises with the rainy season and when the Native Americans lived along the edges of it, they would have to move their huts if it rose into a flood. In the 1938, when non-Native Americans lived along the edges of it, a severe flood happened and they couldn’t move their infrastructure. Over five-thousand buildings were destroyed, 15oo buildings were damaged and many roads were washed away or buried in debris. One-hundred and fifteen people passed away.

So the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers channelized the river by digging deeper along the riverbed and putting in miles of cement. It has helped with the floods since then, but even the floods of 1964 and 2005 were too big for our man-made fix. But there are downfalls to channelization. It kills wetlands and their wildlife, which also have a natural cycle that keep surface water clean. It also straightens the path of the river which makes the water flow faster and can therefore cause more soil erosion and flooding in the sections downstream from the channelization. And it reduces fish population.

These may not seem like such a bad thing, but they make so much of a negative environmental impact that the government has mostly stopped channelizing rivers. If they do it, they must create wetlands somewhere else to offset the damage. And in many cases where channelization was put in years ago, the government is going back and removing the concrete they laid in the first place! I find it amazing that they are able to be objective, humble and honest about their well-intentioned yet harmful behavior.

And that’s exactly what happens in A Concrete River. Ironically, the very same U.S. Army Corp of Engineers that put the cement in is ready to take 11 miles of the cement out! The film shows how people who have been fighting for the river’s wildlife for 25 years and the government are working together to get the project approved. They are 2/3 of the way there.

If you ever want to spend time with the river, there are bike paths along it and you can even kayak! The same people who are in talks with the Army Corp help L.A. locals learn about and experience the river. They are a non-profit called the Friends of the Los Angeles River, led by river-lover Lewis MacAdams. He is a warm soul and extended an open invitation to The Frog Spot.

In their words, “Located along the breathtaking Elysian Valley bike path, the Frog Spot is Friends of the Los Angeles River’s summer gateway to the LA River. At the Frog Spot, visitors to the river can take a break for a poetry reading, take a yoga class, learn about the about the river’s history and ecology, enjoy a cup of coffee, or see live music every Saturday night.”

MEETING GREEN WISH

It was wonderful to learn about our precious local resource. And wonderful to meet so many kind souls who have been caring about it and for it for so long! During the talk-back, we learned that Green Wish sponsored the film and that they help green non-profits raise money, market themselves and find volunteers.

I ran into Hollywood Orchardista Jodi Long at the event and we both thought Green Wish would be great for the Orchard. But Jodi luckily said, “Well, let’s go talk to them!” They said they were interested in us and said that we could apply! I went and thanked Fayna and told her about the Orchard and that maybe Green Wish will give us a grant. She replied that she’s on the board of Green Wish! I had no idea! At the very end of the event, I was starting to understand where I was, ha!

So, long story long, I was excited to be a teeny cog in a series of wheel people who helped the Orchard apply for a grant. With the intense efforts of Emilee Moeller, Becky Waer, Angela Gygi, and Larry Markes, the Orchard recently received a grant from Green Wish! Thank you to Fayna Sanchez, Jodi Long, Libby Ewing and Victoria Bogner, for bringing Green Wish into our lives!

MEETING UNION RESTAURANT

Green Wish and Union Restaurant Pasadena are hosting the Friendsgiving dinner fundraiser for all of the charities. It will be the first of many Green Wish fundraiser dinners there. The jam we made in the yard will be a treat for the guests in their gift bags. We’re also donating Hollywood Orchard’s hand-squeezed tangerine juice to be used by Union’s chef, Bruce Kalman, who is incorporating food from each charity in each course of the meal. (Fun fact: Chef Kalman has been on Beat Bobby Flay and did indeed do that!)

Our first meeting for the dinner was at Union Restaurant. Even being there in the day when it’s closed, I could feel the passion and love they have for food! That meeting was also when Green Wish presented us with our first check. Such an honor! And Muir Ranch owner, Mud Baron, brings the most beautiful homegrown flowers with him everywhere and takes photos of people with flowers on their heads! Sounds silly, but it’s an instant joy-causer! It made the meeting even more special. Enjoy more flowerjoy on his Instagram! #flowersonyourhead

#GREENWISHUNION FRIENDSGIVING DINNER

Here are some Greenwishers at the Pasadena Farmers Market prepping for Friendsgiving: Chef Bruce Kalman, Ed Begley Jr., Sharon Lawrence, Scott Harris, & Raphael Sbarge

Photos by Jules Exum

Friendsgiving dinner is Sunday, November 15th. It’s going to be a magical, and tasty, night.

#GreenWishUnion, To join us: http://bit.ly/1MoY4Ky

Thank you to Katie Frichtel, Minh Phan, Bridie Macdonald, Jules Exum, & Kyle Soehngen for your gorgeous and sincere photos!

“Doormat and Boots”…a love story

everything this woman says is exactly what i’ve been working on for the past year. each word resonates with me and feels warm to read. i’m mid-this. but i feel so much better already. i have more inner presents to open and wrestle or acknowledge or celebrate, but growth is happening and i’m grateful.

Basically Well

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Being a doormat, at its roots, is the same as being the dirty boots.

One lays there and takes on All, while the other wipes off an ugly collection of experiences. Neither are balanced and both love from a deep place of pain, in a very selfish manner, out of control and self preservation. Underlying, in both, are similar wounds that cause a fictional story to rerun in their minds, with titles like: “You are not enough” or “You don’t matter” or “You can’t do anything right” or “You are insignificant” and “Prove your love” The titles might be slightly different, their circumstances of origin slightly different, but, the central moral of the story is always the same. It is those old, often used, yet, absolutely true words “You cannot fully love another unless you’ve truly loved yourself first”.

Now, these are merely my words, written out of observation, personal…

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Can’t Sleep? Have Anxiety? Relax with this drug that will ERASE YOUR MIND! AAAAA!

thewholeruth benzos

Can’t sleep so I’m reading about insomnia. Just discovered the sleeping pill my mom’s been taking for insomnia for 5 years has an 84% chance of giving her Alzheimer’s. Great way to calm myself before bed. Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Restoril and Klonopin, to name a few, are not to be taken lightly. Or more literally, they are.

My 85 year-old Nana, mom’s mom, whose mind is like a whip, informed me about this article. Mom’s doctor has never mentioned it. He knows she shouldn’t be on it long term but has never brought up dementia as a reason.

He keeps her on the drug because the only antidepressants that are slightly effective for her give her insomnia. So the sleeping pill is to fix a side effect of the antidepressants. Her doctors have spent 24 years unable to find the right mix of antidepressants to help her mind stay balanced, yet those half-way effective antidepressants have led her doctors to give her benzodiazepines which could lead her mind to stop working.

Also, did I mention she’s been forgetting significant things in the past two months? (Or did I forget to say that? Get it? Not funny.) This happens on certain drugs she’s taken over the years and usually goes away with a medicine change, but it’s relevant each time and was what made me curious about the article in the first place.

Most importantly, I know there are natural ways to heal her brain. So it doesn’t feel as hopeless as these statistics sound.

I just wanted to share this article and let off some fresh steam. This isn’t just about mom. Lots of people take “benzos” regularly the same way people drink alcohol to forget their troubles. Benzos might let people hide their anxiety from themselves temporarily, but long-term they could be sadly hiding themselves entirely.

“The authors of the study created an index that gauged the intensity of a participant’s benzodiazepine use and found that at the end of a five-year period following an initial prescription, Alzheimer’s risk mounted steadily. Those who took the cumulative equivalent of daily doses for three to six months over a five-year period were roughly 32% more likely than those who took none to develop Alzheimer’s. Those who took the cumulative equivalent of a full daily dose for more than six months were 84% more likely to do so.

International medical guidelines recommend the use of benzodiazepines as treatment for anxiety disorders and transcient insomnia, but caution that they are not meant for long-term use, and should not be taken steadily for more than three months. But many patients continue to take these drugs for years.”


Update: Mom told her doctor about this article and he immediately took her off of her sleeping pills. So grateful she wants to be well and actively participates in her health. And that Nana helps too. And that her doctor listens and continues to learn. And that her entire support system listens and continues to learn too, me included 🙂 Her tenacity and ours keeps her safe. It took a while to find something that would help her sleep, but they did. And while that is almost keeping her afloat day to day, she is working long term on doing things that will give her the best chance of reversing her chances of Alzheimer’s. But that’s another story.

Full LA Times article below:

la times alzheimers benzos

Drugs used for anxiety, sleep are linked to Alzheimer’s disease in older people

September 9 2014, by Melissa Healy

Older people who have relied on a class of drugs called benzodiazepines to reduce anxiety or induce sleep are at higher risk of going on to develop Alzheimer’s disease, new research finds, with those whose use of the medications is most intensive almost twice as likely to develop the mind-robbing disorder.

Benzodiazepines — marketed under such names as as Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Klonopin — are widely used to treat insomnia, agitation and anxiety, all of which can be early signs of impending Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly. But the current study sought to disentangle benzodiazepines’ use in treating early dementia symptoms, probing instead the possibility that heavy use of the medications may permit, cause or hasten the onset of Alzheimer’s dementia.

The study compared the pattern of benzodiazepine use in 1,796 elderly people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s with that of 7,184 similar people who had no such diagnosis. Such a study design, conducted by French and Canadian researchers and published Tuesday in the journal BMJ, cannot by itself establish that more intensive use of the medications causes Alzheimer’s disease. But it does strengthen such suspicions.

Among the study participants over 66 who were living independently in the Canadian province of Quebec, those who took low-dose benzodiazepine medication, or who took higher doses but very briefly or infrequently, did not see their Alzheimer’s risk go up five years after they were first prescribed such a medication. But the picture was more worrisome for those who frequently took long-acting benzodiazepines, who frequently took high doses, or who took any such drugs regularly over several months.

The benzodiazepines specifically considered by the researchers were the short-acting anti-anxiety medications alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), oxazepam (Seresta) and diazepam (Valium), and the longer-acting anti-seizure and “hypnotic” drugs frequently used to treat insomnia: clonazepam (Klonopin), flurazepam (Dalmane), midazolam (Versed), nitrazepam (Mogadon), temazepam (Restoril) and triazolam (Halcion).

The widely prescribed prescribed medicines marketed as Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata (generically named zolpidem, eszopiclone and zaleplon) are “atypical benzodiazepines” and were not included in the analysis.

The authors of the study created an index that gauged the intensity of a participant’s benzodiazepine use and found that at the end of a five-year period following an initial prescription, Alzheimer’s risk mounted steadily. Those who took the cumulative equivalent of daily doses for three to six months over a five-year period were roughly 32% more likely than those who took none to develop Alzheimer’s. Those who took the cumulative equivalent of a full daily dose for more than six months were 84% more likely to do so.

There’s already strong research evidence that frequent or regular benzodiazepine use degrades memory and mental performance in humans and animals. And some research suggests that with regular use of this class of drugs, the receptors to which they bind in the brain become less active. And lower activity of those receptors has been linked to cognitive decline.

“In view of the evidence, it is now crucial to encourage physicians to carefully balance the risks and benefits when initiating or renewing a treatment with benzodiazepines and related products in older patients,” the authors wrote.

International medical guidelines recommend the use of benzodiazepines as treatment for anxiety disorders and transcient insomnia, but caution that they are not meant for long-term use, and should not be taken steadily for more than three months. But many patients continue to take these drugs for years. In addition to their cognitive effects, benzodiazepines are widely implicated in the national epidemic of opioid pain medication overdoses and fatalities that result from mixing them with alcohol and opioid drugs.