goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


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Synergy is Amazing

It is conference season now….a very good thing for the winter as I spend the growing season in the kitchen and shuttling raw produce from and finished products back to the farms involved with my business, Can-Do Real Food.

Two weeks ago I attended the Northwest Food Processors’ convention in Portland with my husband Graham and my friend Jana. They have both been an integral part of providing their own expertise to this process and there are business cards being printed as I write this that names them as Vice Presidents of the business. That and $3.50 will get you a latte. LOL

Early this week I joined my daughter Lisa in San Francisco for the Fancy Food Show. Lisa is a promotional marketer and has been hired the past three years to work for a vendor. She suggested I attend last year but it was scheduled the same as the Portland event. So this year I got to go and saying OMG! is a dramatic understatement.  Not only is it a visual and gastronomic orgy of delectable foods of all types, but the amount of expertise in those humongous rooms was vast. For the most part, if they were not chatting with someone who might mean business to them, just about everyone was very willing to spend 5, 10 or even 30 minutes talking with me, answering questions.

These are the goodies I brought home

These are the goodies I brought home

For example, we have been working to produce a culinary syrup made from raspberries and lemongrass. The raspberries had been frozen…..no issue there. The lemongrass had been dried and while we got an amazing flavor, the clarity was not pretty. I chatted with about 5 vendors who produce lemongrass products and got a variety of suggestions…..and one worked superbly. Three cases of syrup processed this morning!IMG_0363

I met one vendor that I revisited twice more to make sure I let him know how much our interaction meant to me and to say goodbye.  He did not have any food….basically he helps develop packaging and he said he will send me info but that was not our discussion, really. It started like this:

Me: Good morning.

Him: How are you?

Me: Fantastic…this is an amazing show!

Him: I am so happy!!!

We both cracked up. We sounded high and I guess we were. On the positivity that was around us. In the synergy that was flowing. The fact that we were in the middle of amazing food products and I, more than him, was slowly by surely, teaspoonful by teaspoonful, tasting my way figuratively around the world.

But what made this guy stand out is that is all the conversation was about. Choosing to live by finding and feeling the joy in life. When I asked what he does, he waved his hand a bit derisively saying, “pretty packages” .

I look forward to the info he sends.

 

 

 

 

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Who Needs Help Like This?

Going through my email this morning, one subscription, which usually provides info like “the 10 best burgers in the country” or “Asian restaurants you MUST try in Portland” offered a different kind of temptation today.

The 27 Best Bad Decision Bars in AmericaYou know that bar down the street that has board games and does British comedy trivia every Wednesday night? The one your Mom called “quaint?” These bars wipe the floor with that bar. Here are the 27 best bad decision bars in America — all places you’re guaranteed to do something stupid in.
Really? Like we need that kind of marketing?
No thanks, I’ll get into trouble all on my own….and no, I will not provide the link.


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America’s Shameful Legacy

Imagine you have been travelling overseas for a while and you wander into a local supermarket in Europe. As you shop for your dinner you encounter the foreign food aisle in addition to Asian or Latino foods, there is a section for American foods! This is what you see.american-food

How sad. This is our gift to other cultures. That and

Mc Donalds restaurant in Parisand KFC in China

There may be some Americans who thing this is great…they can eat the food they are used to when they travel to Paris or Beijing. Personally, I enjoy eating authentic French or Chinese food and when I travel I want to eat food prepared well and native to that culture.  I sure wish the people in those countries would not be thinking that processed food and fast food is what we eat……but maybe it is for most people. What a shameful thing we are teaching others about us.


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Making Connections

Graham and I have been in Oregon for almost a year. We arrived September 1, moved into our rental house about a week later when the truck arrived and I made my first new friend here when I posted our  boxes to be picked up on Freecycle.  Jana needed a few boxes to store books and we sat on the porch rockers for about an hour sharing stories. Hearing I wanted to learn to can, she invited me to her farm and under her tutelage, I learned to make and love tomatillo salsa. DSC_0012

Shortly after that Graham’s high school buddy Charles (they reconnected on Facebook a few years ago) who lives in Salem hooked us up with another friend and Tina taught us all how to pressure can tuna. I was very much enjoying the bounty that this area offers!

Shortly after that I attended a meeting of farmers in a nearby town and started making connections with this region’s complement of wonderful farmers.  And so it went. Over these past 11 months we have made some wonderful new friends and our circle continues to grow. But it never would have happened if we didn’t take a first step out. DSC_0001

This past Thursday we attended a gathering of people primarily because we knew the host. One of the farmers we have gotten to know and love, Ranee Solmonsson of Sunshower Hill Farm was hosting an event. She said she would be speaking about her farm and Heidi Lindell of Yamhill Valley Grown also would explain how the farmers in this area connect with consumers.  I work with Heidi, visiting farms and writing the Yamhill Valley Grown blog.

It turned out to be a great evening,   organized by Om Sukheenai of Chehelem Insurance Associates as a way for people in the community to network  The people who attended were people who have businesses in the region between McMinnville and Portland and wanted to share their passions.   They included Nicole SensabaughBookkeeper, Cristina YenA Yen for Chocolate,  Mary Beth Mac NultyStudio 601,  Paola RoselliTravel Agent/ Alpaca Rancher,  Jeanne BiggerstaffBiggerstaff Vitural Business Assistance,   Carr BiggerstaffOwner of Biggerstaff Vitural Bussiness Assistance,  Heidi LindellYamhill Valley Grown,  Lynn DeraniaPolar Bear Yogurt,  Maggie YuSherwood Family Practice,  Saj JaivanjeeArcher Vineyard.  Vida IceArbonne InternationalGraham told about CreationsByBG and his woodworking and I spoke more about my passion to share information about the bounty the local farms produced and get more consumers on board.

DSC_0003DSC_0006We gathered first on Ranee’s deck where she presented a few edibles prepared from food her farm produces, and a bit of wine. We then enjoyed the evening by sitting in a circle on the grass, enjoying getting to hear about each other passions and then to share.

The synergy I saw, the connections being made was amazing. Here we had 15 people; some knew each other a bit, some not a all. By the end of the two hours we had several connections being made for new business opportunities, and more importantly, for new friendships.DSC_0007

So many people comment about the fact that we have made so many friends here already. The secret to replicate that is to GET OUT. Leave your house and act on your passions. Find people with similar interests and make time to make the connections. Talk and listen, share in the knowledge and excitement about life. DSC_0012


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Choosing Your Words

When I worked at the Vanderbilt Laser Sight Center in the 1990s we were told not to use the word “surgery” but to explain to patients that they would be having a “procedure.”  The word choice supposedly diminished the seriousness of the activity and people, eager for clear vision without glasses or contact lenses, lined up. (Me too. I was first in line in fact.)

The concept of word selection to entice people has long been a part of marketing. Getting people to accept a concept starts with overcoming emotional hurdles with words that reduce the concern.cat-woman

So, now a days surveys have indicated that over 96% of the American public approve of labeling on food packages to inform consumers about GMO content. The fight to label in California lost 49% to 51% and the loss last November in Washington was even narrower. This November the people of Oregon will have a chance to vote on a referendum for labeling.

You can vote in favor for labeling even if you personally do not think GMOs are of concern. There are many people who believe there is no reason to worry. Even so, most agree a label should be able to be provided so others, who are concerned, can have information to make choices for their own eating.choice_color_word

The industry fighting the labeling are those that believe labeling will raise a concern where none should exist. They believe that many people who really don’t know much about food being genetically modified for the past 20 years might think something is wrong. And not buy their food. And they will lose profits.

They use arguments like “it will cost to change the packaging and that cost will result in higher food costs to the consumer” which is bogus, since they change packaging all the time. They want to scare you about something that is meaningless so you don’t get scared by something important. That is keeping your right to know for you.

So we now have leadership joining in. The concept of choosing the words came up June 25 at a BIO international convention in San Diego. “….How do you create a different vocabulary to talk about GMOs……” Hillary Clinton mentioned in her talk and then suggested that explaining the technology would help plants improve drought resistance would convince more people that it was a great improvement over nature.

Yes, it can resist drought better. It also does not get affected when sprayed with heavy doses of weed killer. It also kills insects that bite into the plant. The technology works but sometimes not to the success hoped for. That is not the issue.

green sickOne issue is we are tired of people with power trying to dupe us.  The issue is that we, many of the people who have eaten genetically engineered foods, are uncomfortable with the potential effects that are unproven.  We don’t want to be a science experiment any more. We want to know through labeling.  We are intelligent enough to understand the issue and we want to be able to chose.

I wonder what Hillary chooses to eat.

 

 

 

 

 


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Where are We Going? Who Are We Becoming?

Is your inbox as full as mine? It seems that everyday there are more and more petitions to sign, new concerns to investigate, horrors to try to fix. It’s too much. There are too many things that are not right with this world. And it seems like everyone wants my attention and help.online-petitions-movement-010

Each of us has only so much energy. How do you select which concern gets your attention and effort?  I am assuming you are involved in some way to fix something in the world that you know is not fair, is not right. If you are not, if you are completely self absorbed without any thought to your world and the creatures that live on it, you are missing an opportunity to grow. Being a part of the society in which you lives gives you the chance to help make it better, and that makes what affects you better.

Here are things that bother me:

1. FOOD: The food we eat today in the United States is not the same as it was when I was a kid. Farming has become a booming industry during the past 40 years, and as such, efforts are made to produce more food faster to make more profits. That mean chemicals are used to keep bugs and weeds away, to help animals grow faster, to make all the tomatoes look pretty so you will buy them.  But what is that doing to our bodies? There has to be some correlation, no matter what the USDA tells us, between all those chemicals and the increasing obesity, diabetes, and other health issues we have. You are what you eat…and you can make a small change that can have a huge impact.veggies

The most recent farm census indicates that 91% of all farms are small. That means that not only does most of the food you find at the grocery store only come from a new farms,  most farms in the US earn less than $10,000 after all the hard work they do.  That means that your local farmer, the one who is passionate about raising healthy food to eat, has to work another job off the farm to provide enough money to the family to live. That means your local farmer is not being supported in what s/he does well. If each of us spent only $15 a week buying directly from a local farmer through a farmers market, CSA, or direct sales, the shift would be profound.  And the food will be healthy for you, better than what you find in the supermarket. And YOU will be healthier. There are local farms everywhere, even in major metropolitan areas. Go to Local Harvest to find available healthy food choices near you.

2. ANGER: “I want what I want when I want it and I don’t give a flipping care about you. You get in my way, and I am going to get you out of my way, whatever it takes. You say you believe in something different, you are so wrong, have no sense, I can’t even be bothered to speak to you calmly to discuss our differences. I don’t care. You’re just wrong. And an idiot.”  Sound familiar? I sure hope it’s not you with that attitude, but maybe it is. Why are people so angry? Why have we moved, as a society, to more polarization?  And how can that attitude mesh with people who believe they are good people, religious people with strong moral convictions?  I read something a year ago that anger and lack of self control have increased dramatically in the years that GMO foods have been on the market and consumed. That there is some chemical component (and it may be the absorption of the herbicides more that the GE itself, that is the cause) in our food that is causing this to happen. Back to #1 to change that in your diet.anger_management

Regardless of the cause, it has to stop. We have become a society where few assume responsibility for their actions. From the time the jury awarded a million dollars to the woman who put the hot McDonalds coffee cup without its top between her legs while she was driving , people have started to blame others for the choices they make. Each action you take is a decision, even if you spent zero time thinking about it. Each action you take has consequences. Own up.  Think about how your actions are going to affect your life path as well as other people. Be considerate. Back when I was in first grae my teacher, Mrs. Hibbard, rewarded us for self control with one of those little sugar hearts with sayings on them you find at Valentines Day. What little treat can you use to reward yourself when you are nice, when you control your temper?

3.  GUNS: This whole “Obama is going to take them away from you so you better buy a gun now while the buying is good” seems to me to be a great marketing strategy by gun manufacturers.  And lots of people who might never consider havign a gun have fallen for it. Seriously, for all of you who think you will need to protect yourself from a government running over your Constitutional rights, how many of you voted in this past primary?  How many of you participate even at a local level in your government?  If you don’t at least i.e.,vote or work locally to make your town or city better, you are not doing your part as a good citizen to make the government run the way you would like.  Sitting on your butt bitching is not participating. It goes back to that anger issue.feel safe

My concern is that it won’t be people versus a horrible government that gets into a gun battle. It will be angry people versus angry people.  It doesn’t take much imagination for me to see that if we get into a shortage (i.e.,water, food, electricity) that we are in for some bloodshed here as people with guns will be going to get stuff they want and people with guns will be barricaded protecting what they have.

4. EDUCATION: We have become a society which has definitely dumbed down. We have short attention spans. While we holler we are the best nation in the world, only 30% of our population reads. Oh, we have a higher literacy rate, but not a literacy lifestyle. When companies like Wal-Mart put up signs like this walamart-expressit signifies the problem on two levels—that selfishness I talked about above (see #2) as well as the fact that some people can’t read the word “fifteen”. Really? So we watch tv and listen to the talking heads telling us what to think and get angry. We know what the latest movie is and which movie star or singer has done whatever.  But do we know how to take care of ourselves? To better ourselves?  Most people can’t develop a plan of action. We know we don’t like our lifestyle and the fact that we don’t have enough money but we can’t come up with a budget or a way to improve it.

New curricula are developed which have major flaws.  New tests are designed to show that children are learning but those kids can’t read, can’t multiply, don’t know the story of our nation’s history.  Many of us would find it impossible to past the test that naturalized citizens have to take.  We say we are proud to be Americans but many of us have no idea what that really means. Yet our education system seems to be falling further and further behind while the costs are rising higher and higher.

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These are just a few things that are really bothering me.


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Desire for Change

The world’s largest democracy is in the middle of a huge election that is expected to make major changes in the nation. India, which became a republic in 1947, has over 500 million voters.  As the country is large and polling places are located within 2 kilometers of every registered voter even in rural areas, it takes a while for the process to be completed.  This map shows when the various states have held their election and since much of the voting is processed with paper ballots, it is expected we will hear the results in July.

source: Maps of India

source: Maps of India

With a population where only 25% of people can read, campaigning is beginning to increase with the use of television ads. The expected winner of the prime minister election, Nerendra Modi, started a couple of years ago so his name would be recognizable.  He has traveled the country more than any other candidate as well, with over 430 public meetings, 1400 telecasted rallies and  4000 ‘chai pe charcha’ (chat over tea) at small local tea stalls, making sure the voters got his message for change.

source: namomantra.org

source: namomantra.org

Modi’s campaign message has appealed to many people as he has argued that the current and prior governments have been corrupt and funds for improvements that would make life better for most have been squandered. His mass appeal to the working and middle classes has resulted in about a 60% voter turnout.

source: The Guardian

source: The Guardian

Because of the low literacy rate, all candidates are clearly identified with a symbol throughout the campaign process.

INdian votingVoters receive an indelible dye mark on the base of one fingernail. It takes several weeks to fade and thereby eliminates voting fraud.

We visited Delhi and Agra during voting days and noticed political rallies and parades. We passed one large rally location and also noticed the presence of a couple of television news trucks at one place we visited; Arvind opined that they were setting up early for a photogenic shot of a candidate.

DSCF5850

 

Once more, the people and process in India, while somewhat different in specifics, have dramatic similarities to our own desires and frustrations here in the States. No matter who the ruling party is, the mass of people generally feel left out of the process and the hope for improvement is a continuing desire.