The Next System Project

Next System Project

If you believe, as I do, that there is a way out of the mess we’re confronted with in our country and our world, then take a look at this new initiative – The Next System Project.

The challenging realities of growing inequality, political stalemate, and climate disruption prompt an important insight. When the old ways no longer produce the outcomes we are looking for, something deeper is occurring.

It is time to explore genuine alternatives and new models—“the next system.” It is time to debate what it will take to move our country to a very different place, one where outcomes that are truly sustainable, equitable, and democratic are commonplace.

The stakes are too high, the time to get involved is now!

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Defensive Omnivore Bingo

Defensive Omnivore BingoAll the greatest hits from your meat-eating friends and family are here. If the comments you get aren’t here, check out Defensive Omnivore Bingo II. This has been on the Internet for some time, but I thought it was worth sharing.

If you are having a hard time reading the image, here is a table version of the Bingo card.

Game On!

DEFENSIVE OMNIVORE BINGO
“If God didn’t want us to eat animals, then why did he make them out of meat?” Begins to wax sentimental over some variety of meat that they could never give up. Asks where you get your protein. Brings up PETA. “I didn’t climb to the top of the food chain to eat plants.”
Explains how they tried vegetarianism once and it didn’t work out. Argues that humans are different than other animals, and therefore eating them is morally justified. Argues that humans are no different than other animals, and therefore eating them…Lions eat zebras, right? Asks what would happen to the cows if we didn’t eat them. Feigns concern. Expresses concern for plant suffering.
Preaches to you about how preachy vegans are. Wonders how we’d grow enough food to feed us all if everyone went vegetarian overnight. Bingo! Asks why you care more about animals than human beings. Describes some highly unlikely hypothetical scenario in which you’d be forced to eat meat to survive.
Points out that some object you own contains some infinitesimal amount of animal product. “Do you eat fish?” Tells you all about the vegan somewhere who once did something wrong. Concludes all vegans are hypocrites. Mentions canine teeth. “Vegetarian: Indian word for ‘bad hunter’”
Describes the happy farm animal they once saw somewhere. Expresses a completely unrelated concern for starving children somewhere. Something irrelevant about cavemen. Wonders why you don’t make better use of all that time you waste not eating animals. Describes a vegan they once knew who suffered from some random ailment. Concludes it was caused by lack of meat.

 

Make Your Voice Heard – Dietary Guidelines – Updated

USDA-HHS logosFollowing up on my previous post about the Dietary Guidelines, I wanted to give you more information about submitting comments.

I created this one-page sheet (Update – submission period has been extended to May 8) with information about the new Guidelines and why it is so important to submit comments.

I heard author and nutritionist Marion Nestle interviewed on KPFA (Up Front, Feb. 25) last week. She talked about how critical it is that the public weigh in on these guidelines. Ms. Nestle blogs at Food Politics, her latest post is not very reassuring:

Yesterday’s Hagstrom Report (daily ag newsletter) quotes USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack’s comments to the Commodity Classic on the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee:

The “folks who put those reports together … have freedom. They are like my 3-year-old granddaughter. She does not have to color inside the lines.”

His 5-year-old grandson, he said, “is learning about coloring within the lines.”

“I am going to color inside the lines,” Vilsack said.

Sounds like the USDA has no intention of doing what the DGAC recommends.

For those of you who don’t want to follow the link to find out about the Commodity Classic, I did, so you don’t have to.

Commodity Classic is where America’s farmers meet with success. Commodity Classic is open to all friends of corn, soybeans, wheat and sorghum—from growers to member associations to agribusiness to farm media.  It’s a one-of-a-kind convention and trade show—farmer-focused and farmer-led.

I also found this quote from a Republican Senator from North Dakota in an article titled What’s the beef with meat? in the Dickinson (ND) Press.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said in response to the USDA’s guidance that the committee should focus less on environmental impacts and solely on nutritional value of meals.

“The USDA should only focus on nutrition here. No extraneous factors should be taken into consideration,” Hoeven said. “We all want to have a healthy diet, especially for our children. That’s the main point. That’s what we need to be focusing on here.”

Please distribute the information about submitting comments widely. Big Ag, the ranchers and their congressional pawns are not going to give up without a fight.


I also wanted to point you to an online form created by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) related to another part of the Guidelines and recommendations about cholesterol. PCRM is headed by Dr. Neal Barnard, author of many books including Power Foods for the Brain.

The report has also reversed decades of warnings against cholesterol. Decades of science have conclusively linked dietary cholesterol to cardiovascular disease, which kills nearly 2,200 Americans daily. The Physicians Committee is urging the USDA and DHHS to exercise its authority to reiterate prior federal recommendations that Americans limit their cholesterol intake.

In a petition filed today to the USDA and DHHS, the doctors group asks that the DGAC’s findings stating that “[c]holesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption,” be disregarded because the DGAC deferred entirely to a 2013 report by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology and one meta-analysis of egg consumption. The reliance on the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology report does not comply with the spirit of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which sets standards for bias among federal advisory committees.

Please take the time to fill out their online form.

Cowspiracy Joins the Chorus for the New Dietary Guidelines (Updated)

CowspiracyThe producers of Cowspiracy have written a sample letter to use to submit to the USDA and HHS regarding the new recommended Dietary Guidelines.

Update – Their letter is longer that the 250 word limit in the instructions for submitting, but the online submissions form accepts 5000 characters and this letter is well within that number.

You can submit comments on the Health.gov website.

Here is the beginning of the letter

Dear Secretary Vilsack and Secretary Burwell,

As a citizen and a taxpayer concerned about the sustainability of our health and our planet, I applaud the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) for including the major findings represented in Chapter D.5: Food Sustainability and Safety regarding plant-based diets as more health promoting and associated with less environmental impact than the current U.S. diet.

In late 2014, the international affairs think-tank Chatham House released a study which concluded that it is unlikely global temperature rises can be kept below two degrees Celsius without a radical shift in global meat and dairy consumption. However, they found that there is a striking lack of efforts to reduce consumption of meat and dairy products due to not least, government’s fear of backlash to pursue policies that would shift consumer behavior. The absence of attention afforded to the issue among policy-makers contributes to a lack of research on how best to reduce meat and dairy consumption, which the health of our nation and our planet can no longer afford.

You have until May 8 (submission period has been extended) to submit comments. Make your voice heard on this issue.

 

Sign the Petition – Give Californians the #1 water-saving tip!

Got Drought?

I found a great website – Truth or Drought – that is making the connection between animal-based diets & the devastating water shortages.

They have created a petition on Change.org to get California’s statewide water-saving program Save Our Water to address the #1 way residents can actually save the most water – not eating meat or dairy products.

Despite their hashtag #EveryDropCounts, their water-saving tips focus only on household use, which accounts for 4% of California’s water footprint. But a whopping 47% of drought-stricken California’s water footprint is associated with meat and dairy products, per Pacific Institute’s 2012 report California’s Water Footprint. “Almost half of the average Californian’s water footprint is associated with the consumption of meat and dairy products.” Their report also clearly shows that animal feed has the greatest water requirement of any crop in California, far more than almonds and avocados, as well as any other human use.

They created a graphic showing how much water is used for animal feed, more than any other activity. This graphic doesn’t show how much water is used for feeding, slaughtering and processing the animals this feed goes into. One dairy cow consumes up to 20 gallons per day.

CA Total Water Use
The good news is that some California water districts are addressing this issue.

State water districts and public utilities companies are finally addressing this. The Municipal Water District of Orange County has posted a graphic on their Facebook page showing that meat products are the top water wasters, as well as a tip to adopt Meatless Mondays to save water. San Francisco Water Power Sewer created a lesson plan specifically about the need to reduce meat product consumption to save water: “The lower we eat on the food chain (i.e. the more plant-based foods we eat versus animal-based foods) the less water, energy, and other natural resources we use.”

If #EveryDropReallyCounts our State needs to tell its citizens the truth about animal agriculture and its impact on the drought.

That starts with you signing the petition and sharing it with your friends.

 

Parkinson’s Disease Linked to Statins

pillsA new study conducted by researchers at Penn State College of Medicine and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) found that long-term statin use can increase the risk of Parkinson’s Disease.

A recent article titled Statins Maybe Not a Wonder Drug for Parkinson in Neurology Times

The new study was conducted over a 20 year period and shows that long-term use of statins can produce some detrimental side effects. However, the study also suggests cholesterol may have a vital role in protecting the brain and nervous system.

In late 2013 I wrote about new heart disease and stroke prevention guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology. These guidelines suggested doubling the number of persons who take statins. I suggested at the time that maybe we should just put statins in the water.

About 43 million Americans take statins or are statin therapy candidates, and the American Heart Association estimates that number will soon increase to 56 million or even more. Guidelines recommend that even persons who do not have high cholesterol but have other risk factors also take statins.

Following the release of this report, some public health officials are reconsidering the widespread use of statins for people with low risk of heart disease.

Dr Xuemei Huang, who led the research on the link with Parkinson’s disease, recently published in the journal of Movement Disorders, expressed concerns about the widespread prescription of statins.

The professor of neurology at Penn State College of Medicine in Pennsylvania said: If we blanket prescribe statins to people we could be creating a huge population of people with neurological problems.

I think doctors are over-enamoured with statins and think it is a cure-all.

Eating a vegan or whole-food plant-based diet will keep you away from statins – the “wonder drug” that might not be so wonderful.