The next food revolution

Activist chef Jamie Oliver talks about the future of food — cooking, eating, and farming.

Obesity is on the rise in neighborhoods around the world — and so are the rates of diabetes and heart disease. Can a small bit of nutrition education make a big difference? Activist chef and 2010 TED Prize winner Jamie Oliver thinks so. (Watch his talk, Teach every child about food.) His TED Prize wish was to help kids understand where food comes from, how to cook it, and how it affects their body — and to support better nutrition education for all, Oliver created the Food Revolution. Below, Oliver’s current thoughts on the future of food.

By 2040, even fast food will contain a much bigger rainbow of fruits and veggies.

What do you think people will be eating more of in 2040?

I reckon it will be the norm to consume everyday food — even fast food — that contains more whole grains, less…

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Following Intuition

Have you ever felt like you are battling yourself when you are trying to make a decision? Half of you is thinking of the future and the other half is thinking of the present. One of my biggest weaknesses is the fact that I think of others way too much before I consider myself. I think of how my decisions will affect everyone else, and the last person I consider is myself. As a result, I have found myself oftentimes in situations where I feel trapped. How do you make a decision that is the best for yourself, but that can negatively affect others? At what point are you sacrificing too much of yourself that you are no longer able to see the clear picture, and to what extent are you manipulating yourself into feeling guilty. I believe we all feel this way, it is a vicious cycle we get yourself caught in for fear the unknown and for fear of being perceived as disloyal.

I am at yet another crossroads of my life, having a choice to move in the direction of the current, or deviating and taking a risk that has no certain outcome or security. My only way to make the right decision at this point is to listen to intuition and as flaky as this make sound, but to my heart. It come down to that instinct doesn’t it? When you feel your heart pulling you a different direction… Most of the times we ignore this, or we convince ourselves that their is promise/hope/success/future in the safer option, yet when we fail to take the risk we can only look back in regret. One thing is for certain, I do not want to regret anything anymore. We all have regrets, and sometime we deal with them but other times these regrets chase us unless we make decisions to change the course of our future. According to this daily mail article, following the heart is the right way to go.

So these are some questions that come to mind when making sure to take the safer choice or riskier choice, maybe these can guide those of us living in a bit of uncertainty. I welcome all comments and suggestions to this post.

1. Am I happy on the current path my life is taking me?

2. What is missing from the current scenario that you feel could make this better?

3. Is the grass always greener on the other side?

4. What are the positive aspects of taking the risk? The negative?

5. How does my risk affect other and to what extent?

6. Can I plan change to make easier transitions?

6 ideas from creative thinkers to shake up your work routine

For the days our mind wanders too far away and cannot seem to sit still!

To improve your ability to think creatively, try one of these changes to your work routine.

Every seven years, designer Stefan Sagmeister (TED Talk: The power of time off) closes his New York design studio for a year-long sabbatical. During each sabbatical, he pursues “little experiments, things that are always difficult to accomplish during the regular working year.” The effect on Sagmeister’s studio has been profound. “Basically everything we’ve done in the seven years following the first sabbatical came out of the thinking of that one single year,” he says.

Don’t think you can take a year-long sabbatical? Below, 6 easier ways to recharge the creative spirit.

Keep to a schedule.

Willa Cather wrote for three hours a day. “I don’t hold myself to longer hours; if I did, I wouldn’t gain by it,” Cather once said. You might need to put in 8 hours a day at the office (who doesn’t?), but it helps to think…

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Seasons and Change

The changes in the weather are just like changes in the lunar cycle. I have had a very lucky summer, which seems to just linger on as I transition from Canada to France and has finally dissipated these past weeks. As the cold settles in, peoples demeanor’s begin to change, we become more introverted, less active and more sullen. This is definitely a generalization, but its evident even in superficial conversations. “Hey, how’s it going?” – reply “It’s cold, I just want to stay inside!”. That’s a pretty typical response I receive at the office. The mood it creates, seems to spill over us like a wave we can’t fight. So what about changing our perspectives and trying to deal with these weather symptoms more positively, but how?!

So in yoga there are many types of philosophies and practices, including those which follow the lunar cycle. There are also those which follow changes in the atmosphere which work and opening and reaching those areas that we shut off when we encounter change. We have to approach this in our daily life. We have to fight through this reluctance to embrace the weather changes and find the joy in a cold day.

Start by doing the things that you have placed on the back burner, like sorting through your closes and throwing/giving away STUFF. I speak for myself in this case, but when I feel less clutter around, somehow my life just seems clearer. Make space in in your own so that you can create a place for the new to come in.

Take moments to cuddle! I don’t mean in a romantic way, but just even by yourself. You can just indulge in a good book,have a warm bath or a hot tea and value that time to feel warm. Feel happy in your surrounding and find joy in the presence of simple moments.

Find clarity. On the way to work, my view is always a bit smoggy, whether it be rain or morning dew, it seems a bit blurry. Trying to see through the grey tones of the winter is essential. For some reason,I find that a blue sky during the winter is so pristine, it reminds me of the ocean, and that thought could be the opening to more positive outlooks throughout the day.

As humans we block ourselves, we refuse to see the light, to feel the warmth and making sure we don’t shut down half the year should be essential. Embrace the lightness of being* and find comfort even in these colder moments.

For the Love of Horses

Often in life I have the sudden urge to want to escape. Sometimes physically and sometimes just mentally. The way this need manifests itself is different for all of us. I personally find that I escape best when I am moving, not necessarily traveling, but more like moving from one place to the next. My favorite disconnect, aside from yoga which I’ve previously discussed in being in the company of horses.

I’ve been riding since I was seven and spent most of my teenage years competing (show jumping) on weekends and riding everyday during the week. While many of my friends stayed out late and somewhat experimented with their youth, I knew that my experimentation could only go so far because I needed to be fully concentrated and ready for an early competition/ride. My trainer was a ferocious Cuban man, who uncannily resembled Fidel Castro (even though he left Cuba as an exile). Despite his notorious and very intense training methods, he taught me how to be disciplined, committed and above all fearless. I grew a very thick skin  as a result of his approaches, which most of the time has worked to my advantage but occasionally I recognize the need to soften, which is something yoga helps foster.

Riding was always my release, whether through an adrenaline filled moment flying at top speed through an obstacle course or simply sitting in a field with my horse next to me grazing in the sunshine. The presence of simply being on the close company of an animal of this size and power was pacifying. I could spend hours lying on my horse’s back and feel the same sensation I do after doing a 90 minute yoga class. I got my first horse, Ron (yes, the Cuban named him) in Costa Rica when I was 11, and he was my best friend, my companion and my partner. I flew through courses at speeds that when I was in the arena, most people, including myself, would hold their breaths for. They were my most precious moments of solitude despite being in front of a crowd. We won several regional Central American Competitions but our greatest accomplishment was our bond. He taught me the value of a partnership, he trusted me and I trusted him with my life. He passed away when I was 16 and my heart didn’t fully understand loss nor was ready to cope. I still remember the moment I found out and my first memory of true and absolute heart-break. My second horse, Valentino, was the gentlest and sweetest creature to ever live on this planet. He was a struggle at first, because he was afraid of almost EVERYTHING, but throughout the years, we succeeded together in conquering our fears and reaching a consistent presence on the podium. He also passed some years ago and yet, I still feel his gentle character watching over me every time I’m on a horse I haven’t ridden.

Every time I go back to Costa Rica, the first thing I do getting straight off the plane (even with transatlantic jet-lag) is get straight on the saddle. The first moment of being on a horse after spending months away from them is surreal. Everything else seems meaningless and all I can think of is connecting to this animal who is holding my life literally on their back. There is a reason horses are now used for therapy, because they emanate such a serene yet powerful presence that is immediately calming. Their ability to sense your emotions, be it fear, joy or sadness allows you to release and let go of judgments.

Most horse-lovers are crazy horse people, but I feel my most normal in the company of these four-legged friends than anywhere else.

Wildlife Views

Continuing on the same note of my previous post, my life mantra is to treat the earth kindly – meaning I also believe that how we treat the species we share this earth with is essential for our existence and personally, I believe it will contribute to our karma. I think sometime humans forget that this planet gives us beautiful miracles and over the past century and even more-so in the past 50 years, these miracles are threatened. Species of wildlife are being extinct, the rainforests are being destroyed, our oceans are polluted, there is even a term for trash in space called “space junk”. This may come off as some hippie lifestyle preachy sermon, but the reality is that our world, our climate and the ecosystem we rely on is changing rapidly.

As I have mentioned, I work in Environmental Security however my views on living sustainable and in respect of the planet are independent from my job. Although I have to admit that my work sometime pushes me further towards encouraging this type of mindset because of the extreme abuses I witness. I will never be incentive to an image of a live rhino having its horn cut off, or an elephant dying with its tusk missing and a tiger chained to the ground will having its skin torn off. The video that first sparked my interest in the illegal wildlife trade was a photo-documentary by Patrick Brown, which showed the many sides of this horrifying black market trade.  

We need to be aware that this is happening, that humanity is losing itself in greed. So first of all, let me address the wildlife trade and environmental crimes. Then we can talk about some way that you can become more active in fighting these issues.

In a nutshell, “wildlife crime is the illegal exploitation of the world’s wild flora and fauna, while pollution crime is the trading and disposal of hazardous wastes or resources in contravention of national and international laws” (Environmental Crime).

The World Wildlife Fund also identifies the illegal wildlife trade “as one of the biggest threats to the survival of some of the world’s most threatened species. In fact it’s second only to habitat destruction as a cause of loss for many species”.

Wildlife trafficking is among the three most profitable illegal trades in the world. It is closely ranked amongst drug, arms and human trafficking- and they are all connected. This should ring alarms! Many politicians, government officials and even law enforcement practitioners dismiss wildlife crime and even debate whether this should even be considered a crime-type however the evidence and financial figures attached to the profits and links with other crime types are staggering. The mere fact that profits obtained from this trade serve to fund terrorist networks as well as other transnational criminal syndicates should be sufficient for everyone to pay attention and take seriously enough to find way to deter this trade.

Sometimes it takes something so little like supporting a non-profit or actively informing yourself about the products you are buying in order to make a difference. For example, I love long necklaces, simple, without much bling; and for a long time I really loved horn-charms – without even thinking of it. For as long I can remember I have had an aversion to any fashion statement that promote the use of animal skins or products, so I never buy any fur-lined jackets or animal print clothing but I never associated a small horn pendant with this philosophy until recently and I have now equated it with being just as bad as wearing a cheetah print… We sometimes don’t realize the effect of our choices. This refers to my previous post because if we paid more attention to how we promote certain products then maybe we could address the reality behind these statements and the needless waste of precious creatures such as rhinos.
My heart broke last week because one of the last living white rhino’s, Suni, died in a sanctuary in Kenya. This species is disappearing in front of our eyes and for what reason! The worst part of all is that the rhino in its various species; the black, the sumatran, the javan, the one-horned and the white, are disappearing because poachers (part of greater criminal networks) are killing them for their horns. The value of a kilogram of rhino horn is approximately $65,000, all because of ideas surrounding its medicinal value and luxury appeal. The same goes for elephants, whose populations in Africa have halved since the 1980’s, whereby in June 2012 CITIES, the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, identified the illegal trade in elephant ivory as reaching unsustainable levels – this was an understatement long waited for. I could go into each species, but as you can imagine the same scenario is occurring for countless of worlds most beautiful animals, including gorillas, snow leopards, cheetahs, tigers…. and I haven’t even mentioned marine life – all I can say its that the reefs are drying up and sharks are killed for similar reasons as elephants and rhinos, except for their fins.
There are many international organizations, bodies, conventions and agreements that are aimed at fighting this criminal act against our environment. Below I provide you a link to those I find most notable, and hope that you will take a look to see ways in which you can sign a petition, donate, become part of the cause or just simply inform yourself more about these issues. This shouldn’t be something that is happening so senselessly in our world. Humans should take pride in the treasures Mother Nature has shared with us.

Sustainable Living

A really important part of my life mantra is to treat the earth kindly. I think sometimes we as humans forget that this planet gives us beautiful miracles and over the past century and even more-so in the past 50 years, these miracles are threatened.The way we consume is no longer sustainable and our resources are becoming more and more limited. Aside from the fact that this is affecting the global climate and environment, it is also affecting out bodies.

So let me ask a few questions? When you go to the supermarket and choose a product, do you ever look into ingredients and its origins? Do those crazy 10 syllable chemicals sound healthy? What about those of you who have children, I am sure that when you buy a toy for your kids you are conscious of making sure it is free of dangerous chemicals? Then how come for our foods we hold a different standards? I find that more and more so, people are becoming more conscious of their consumer decisions, particularly in Canada where choices for green/organic/free trade products are so easily available, even if sometimes they come at a slightly higher price. I know it can’t be affordable at all levels, but lets face it, we come from a developed country with unlimited restraints to knowledge, we should be making better consumer choices. Take a look at the National Geographic Greendex tool to see how we compare as Canadians to the rest of the world. In an effort to not continue preaching about going green, the Office of Consumer affairs provides us with a list of Common Environmental Labels and Claims in Canada that can help us make better and more sustainable consumer choices.

We then have no excuse for ignoring more sustainable choices and in fact, as far as energy efficiency is concerned, these choices are in the long-run also more cost-saving. I hope this short lecture blog will open people eyes to new ways of buying, because even using a few more sustainable products in your daily life can make a difference to your health and to that of the earth’s.

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