Dear Friends,

Can you name this Beautiful Creature?

Let’s face it—there absolutely is no acceptable excuse for hunger in the world. It is a problem that we can fix worldwide, so that no human being is without goodfood and clean water. We just have to make it our priority, that’s all—and we haven’t. It is all about social change and environmental practices (my PhD path).

I’ve been around long enough to experience the 50s where no one in the mainstream was at all concerned about the health effects of smoking. In fact, cigarette companies had “scientific studies” proving that cigarettes were not in the least harmful to ones health. Ads on billboards, in magazines, on the newly emerging TV commersials that featured medical doctors in white coats—smoking—and being asked the question, “What cigarette do you smoke doctor?” (watch this old clip and realize—we used to believe and trust these ads).

Perhaps you saw the 1999 movie, The Insider, with Russell Crowe, as a former tobacco scientist who violated contractual agreements to expose Brown & Williamson’s inclusion of addictive ingredients in cigarettes, revealing his industry’s lies about nicotine addiction to a worldwide audience on TV’s “60 Minutes”. This movie documents the entire event of this true-life historical case. The ramification of this exposé eventually led to a court ruling of approximately $250 BILLION against the tobacco companies. However, as Mitchell Gaynor MD points out: “It was not until a landmark scientific paper published in the mid-1990s, demonstrated irrefutably how benzopyrene, a dioxin chemical in cigarette smoke, knocked out a tumor suppressor gene called P 53, that an irrefutable, cigarettes-are-bad statement could be made. Finally, the cigarette company executives could no longer deny that smoking caused lung cancer.” (Nurture Nature Nurture Health—Your Health and the Environment, 2005).

Who would have thought that you could win against big tobacco? One brave human being did make a difference, and today ads for smoking are banned on TV and on billboards (although sadly, ads still can be seen in some magazines). Increasingly all public spaces are smoke free zones as it is recognized that second hand smoke is just as dangerous as smoking. It is just not cool to smoke anymore. Of course I am talking about America here. It hasn’t caught on in most of Asia, but it will.

The other day I saw a pear-shaped, obese individual walking down the street, drinking a supersized soft-drink. Think about the ads on TV and on every available media outlet—motivating us to enjoy the good life, the fun life, with good old junk food. Where are the medical groups standing up against this? Have you noticed that it is these fast food establishments that become virtually the only convenient source of food in the poorer neighborhoods? There is no doubt that this kind of dieting, snacking constantly on refined food and pop, is a major causatic factor in obesity and chronic disease in America. Where is the scientific community’s warnings, outrage and active campaign against these illness producing foods? And where is the government’s accountability? Many in the global North may be overeating—but our bodies are starving for nutrients. There is also the fact of real hunger in America.

Joel Berg, the executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger and a longtime activist, states that obesity costs the American Health Care System 90 billion dollars a year, and that we could cure obesity in America for around 20 billion dollars. We know that there are 800 million (and growing) people in the world who are starving. STARVING! But what about America? Joel Berg, in his new book,”How Hungry is America?”, states:

When people look at the facts for themselves, they discover the shocking reality: hunger amidst a sea of plenty is a  phenomenon as American as baseball, jazz, and apple pie. Today in the United States—because tens of millions of people live below the meager federal poverty line and because millions of others hover just above it—35.5 million Americans, including 12.6 million chilcren, live in a condition described by the federal governement as “Food insecurity,” which means their households either suffer from hunger or struggle at the brink of hunger.

Berg takes to task politicians who remain inactive; the media, which ignores hunger except during holidays and hurricanes; the food industry, which makes fattening, artery-clogging fast food more accessible to the nations’ poor than healthy fare; and ordinary citizens for thinking that food pantries alone can fix the problem.

His book offers a simple and affordable plan to end it for good. It is a spirited call to action. Get “How Hungry is America?” and let’s get started together. As Berg says, our success could be a template for the rest of the world.

Howard-Yana Shapiro who has written a phenomenal book with John Harrisson called, “Gardening for The Future of The Earth”, provides an important part of the answer we need to solve the food crisis worldwide. Yana states,

When I first moved to El Guique (Northern New Mexico) over eight years ago, I counted only 28 species of birds. Since then, I have made a consicous effort to preserve and create biodiversity and to use sustainable practices to maintain and improve the health of the soil and the purity of our water [Yana has gardened and farmed this particular area for eight years]. It is no coincidence that today I can count 140 different bird species, and as a treat, migration [of birds to his land] occurs every year … I am amazed at what a simple act of habitat preservation and construction has accomplished.

His statement caused me to reflect on my own neighborhood. I have definately notice over the last 5 decades that as our little town became an urban sprawl of Seattle with sky scrappers to boot, the number of birds and bird sounds have dramatically diminished, not to mention the vast reduction of species. I have decided, in my own effort to be more observant, that I am going to get a bird book and take an inventory of the birds around our porch, courtyard and condo complex, to be compared down-the-road as I increase our gardenable spaces. Will be very interesting.

David Suzuki in his book, “Good News, For a Change”(2002), states,

The Adirondack Park is one of humanity’s first attempts to legislate the protection of an entire ecosystem and everything in it, to conserve biodiversity. That word has many meanings. First of all, it refers to the entire bioshphere, the thin skin of air, water and land stretched over the surface of, where life as we know it exists in interlocking, interdependent sets of systems. These systems include all the billions of genes within species, across the face of the planet. That bewildering diversity of life—from the varied geographic habitats covering the earth, to the gene inside a one celled organism—is all termed biodiversity.

We now realize that biodiveristy actually produces life. All these various interwoven life forms continuously replenish, clean, nurture and create conditions amenable to yet more life forms. We have been amazed to discover, only very recently, that it is life itself, living organisms, that create water, the atmosphere, soil and all forms of energy except the sun; even winds depend to a large extent upon vegetation patterns across the globe. (p. 90)

Suzuki in this chapter goes on to describe the corridor concept—that of creating wilderness pathways between parks. There is now an Algonquin-to-Adirondacks initiative underway between New York and Ontario’s Algonquin Park. There is also a plan, called the Appalachian Wildlands Project, to stretch the same corridor south all the way to Florida. All of this is great steps for life in the right direction.

Finally back to Yana Shapiro and Harrisson and their book—I will end this newsletter with this thought. This book devotes itself to a practical explanation and brings together, for the first time, the techniques of the masters of organic gardening, showing us how to create natural bounty in our own backyard. Their ultimate agenda for teaching the leading edge systems of permaculture, biointensive, biodynamic and kinship gardening, is for the purpose of saving our planet—through creating a prototype that can feed all humans on earth abundantly with real, live, local foods. Now here is the thought for the moment: Howard-Yana Shapiro PhD, is not only a gardener but he also created the largest organic seed company in the world—Seeds of Change. However, after a little over a decade, he sold his seed company to the Mars Company. Yes!— the Mars Company— the one that makes M&M’s and Snickers. He is now their global director of plant science and external research. He says that Mars bought Seeds of Change because it saw a future in ethical production. He states further:

If you’re interested in the future, scale is one of the things that’s critical. I am interested in not having any hungry people in the world. I am interested in changing the lives of a many people as possible.

Because of Shapiro’s willingness to work with Mars and Mars willingness to work with Shapiro, Mars as the world’s biggest chocolate company, is committing itself to sustainable sourcing of the whole of its annual cocoa, worth well over a billion dollars of cocoa. This will be purchased from peasant farmers all over the world who are farming organically, sustainably, and who are getting living wages. Mars is fully commited to environmental quality, social equity and sustainable economy. Remember in the last few weeks we have been talking about becoming activists—working together to accomplish greater goals. This is one way. There are many more. We will
talk more about this next week.

Keep thinking: how can we be better activists?

Sincerely yours,

Seann Bardell

Clinical Note: Practitioners often ask us why we created so darn many different probiotic formulas? Can’t you give us just one good one? Our answer usually goes something like this: We’ve given you seven good ones. The purpose is to get excellent, proven, effective and safe probiotic organisms into your gut. Just as variety in foods is important, (and everyone differs in what may be best for them), we feel the same way about bacteria. We are offering you a nice variety of therapeutic Food combinations so your patients can expereince different bacterial foods. It is good to have two and three bacterial foods to rotate in the menu. For more knowledge, look at the ingredients in each of the synbiotic formulas, read the bullet points on the website, and read the library dossier. And, of course, give us a call any time.


The Last Quiz Answer: This amazing fish is called a Gernog. It is an Indonesian reef fish that hunts for small fish to eat within the coral, aided by troups of sea snakes hunting together with them.

Feeding A Hot and Hungry Planet: The Challenge of Making More Food and Fewer Greenhouse Gases. A one-day symposium and a two-day conference, April 29th to May 1st, 2009 held at Princeton University—seeking to explore the scientific, policy and ethical questions presented by the need to greatly boost food production to feed a growing world population while reducing agricultures contribution of about 30% of the world’s greenhouse gases.