Friday, July 30, 2010

"The Big Fat Lie" August 2010 Community Focus



- Do the choices you make at the supermarket support the ethical treatment of animals? Do you know? Dairy and egg industries are notorious for abusive practices. Don't be fooled by the label on those products that boast words like 'natural', 'farm-raised', 'cage-free', or 'free-range'. Those terms are advertisements used to evoke down-home images that play on our ideals. Upon seeing such labels, most of us envision green pastures with happy cows grazing on grass and chickens clucking merrily, going about their daily business of pecking at bugs as nature intended. The farm life most of these dairy cows and laying hens are living is stark in contrast to that pristine image.

You may assume that because you purchase organic you are exempt from participation in the abuse of animals. Not so. Disturbingly, many organic farmers have found loopholes that allow them to meet the bare-minimum criteria in order for their products to gain the right to use that label. This month, do your research. There are farms that have cruelty-free practices. It can be a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack, but they're out there.

Here are some tips to get you started in your search for dairy and eggs raised in a humane way:

1. Get educated about what really goes on behind the scenes to bring dairy and eggs to your table. After doing your research you can make an informed choice about whether or not you want to support these practices. You can begin your research by visiting the Farm Sanctuary site. I have provided a direct link below to their "Truth Behind Labels" campaign.

2. Find out how your current dairy supplier scores both in terms of meeting organic standards and the ethical treatment of animals. Visit the Cornucopia Institute to view detailed reports and see your dairy's scorecard. The Cornucopia Institute's mission is to promote economic justice for family scale farming and humane practices. I have provided a direct link to their "Dairy Report and Scorecard" article.

3. Take advantage of the worldwide web. Do online research and explore animal welfare websites that can point you in the right direction to find ethically produced animal products. To get you started, I have supplied some helpful links below.

The American Humane Association has been protecting animals and children since 1877. By utilizing their search feature and entering the words 'dairy' and 'eggs' you can find extensive information about farm practices and those that have been approved by the AHA.

By utilizing the link below you will be led to the Animal Welfare Approved "Farm Profiles" page. Click on the region you live and get a listing of all Animal Welfare Approved farms in your area.

4. Nothing is as telling as seeing a farm's practices firsthand. Many farms offer public tours where you can actually see what goes on in a working day, allowing you to interact with both farmhands and animals. Seek out a local farm in your area that boasts humane practices and see if they not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. If you do find farms that hold themselves to a high-standard of cruelty-free practices, be sure to give them a shout out here on the comments section of this post. Whistle blowing is important and necessary but we also need to celebrate those who are doing good work in the world.


- Write a letter to your body. This is something I did recently and it was very cathartic for me. I have posted my letter here at "The Big Fat Lie" so you can see how I approached this exercise. This is a statement of ownership of your body. We only get one earth suit and its care is our responsibility alone. This letter is a way for you to acknowledge the current state of your relationship with your body.

Does your body need more attention? Have you been listening to your body and respecting its needs? Is your body hungry for love, affection, pampering, creative outlets, nurturing food, fresh air? Have you neglected your friend? Do you owe your body an apology? What do you plan to do to make amends?

This exercise may also highlight some stuck places. Through writing this letter you may recognize the need for more attention to self-care, yet not feel ready to make the commitment to yourself that is required to make this change. Allow your truth to emerge, whatever it may be. This is about getting real and owning where you're at. Allow space to explore feelings of resistance, fear, concern, or insecurity that may arise.

It's an act of power to own your experience... to claim full responsibility for your quality of life. If you do become aware of present limitations, give yourself a break. Judgment and guilt are useless emotions. View this exercise as an opportunity to raise awareness around areas that may have escaped your attention. This can be a potent catalyst for change. Never underestimate the power of truth-telling. Accept where you are presently. If you decide you want something better for yourself you can move forward from your current reality with intention and consciousness.

Periodically, you may want to renew your commitment to care for your body by writing follow-up letters. This will reflect the evolution of your healing path. The road to wellness is often a long, winding one with many twists, turns, and detours along the way. Such is the nature of any journey. Writing these letters can become like landmarks, highlighting your progress.

Keep these letters in a special place. When you feel stuck and like you've run out of options you can reflect back on their messages. You always have the power to chart a new course. Your path is never static. It moves and breathes right alongside you. Even when it feels like you are spinning your wheels, getting a whole lot of nowhere, there is movement happening. It's just that sometimes it's an inner movement, not yet evident to the outside world. This doesn't make it any less valuable. Progress is progress. These letters can become like a road map to the express route back to you.

- Take a summer stroll down to your local library and check out a cookbook that tickles your fancy. Think outside your recipe box. Choose a cookbook that peaks your interest and features cuisine outside your norm. Maybe you'll want to explore vegetarian cooking. Perhaps you'll be drawn to more worldly flavors like Indian, Thai, or Cuban cuisine. Each week for the month of August whip up one of the recipes from the cookbook. Go ahead... live on the edge and try something new. Variety is the spice of life and in terms of nutrition, a varied diet nurtures health. Enjoy exploring new tastes. You may discover what will become favorites for years to come.


- Nothing fills the well of your soul like giving back. What cause is near and dear to your heart? Where do you feel more awareness needs to be raised? This month, volunteer your time and energy to a worthwhile pursuit. Become a champion for a cause and receive the joy of service.

There are many ways you could go about doing this. You could volunteer your time at a center. You could hold a bake sale to raise money for donation. You could start a blog to become a voice for an issue that is important to you.

"In giving you are throwing a bridge across the chasm of your solitude." 
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Wisdom of the Sands

Reach out, make the connection and touch another soul today, finding your own renewed.

Feel Your Connection to Nature:

- Now is the perfect time to go camping. Pitching a tent in the elements is a great way to experience the simplicity of  being without the distraction of all the modern technological trappings. There is something about feeling that close to nature that reminds us of our connection to the wild wonder of this planet. It's also a great way to support your state parks. This gives back and provides services that protect our natural resources. Plus, it's fun! Who doesn't enjoy huddling around a campfire, roasting smores, and laughing the night away with good friends? You can even enjoy the adventure of a moonlit hike.

I know, I know, I hear the protests. Some of you would prefer a five star hotel to a night spent under the stars. When was the last time you gave it a try? Maybe you could be open to an overnighter. No major commitment required there. At the very least, gather together some loved ones and head out to a local state park to enjoy a full day of earthy fun. You can always call it a night in the comfort of your own bed.

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