seeds-of-change-barOMG, the post about the guy living in a cave will have to wait. I want to stop and do a little dance around this blog because my ever loving Iuval just returned from running errands in civilization and, despite pressuring me for days not to crave them, he brought me two of my favorite organic chocolate bars!

I discovered this bar about a month ago at Saubel’s, the nearest locally owned grocery to Heathcote Community. Saubel’s has an extensive “organic marketplace,” sort of a health food store inside a conventional grocery.

Since I live in an intentional community, I don’t have to do grocery shopping. I am a member of a food coop and most of what I eat is grown in our gardens or delivered wholesale once a month to the mill, our main building and conference center. I have my own kitchen at Hina Hanta, my little homestead. But for breakfast and lunch I prefer to climb down the wooded path to the mill and eat in the common kitchen. Most dinners are community meals, members taking turns cooking their vegetarian specialties. (I’m known as the sauce queen.)

So walking through most groceries is a surreal experience for me, the once or twice a year I need something therein. Sugary this, over packaged that, the lighting, the colors, the muzak; If I ever need surgery again they could just wheel me into a  grocery store with all that hegemonic stimulation and I’d be anesthetized.

But I manage to keep my wits about me in Saubel’s “organic marketplace.” I wander there for the occasional homeopathic drops or herbal flea remedy. That’s probably how I discovered this chocolate bar. It is dark milk chocolate, 40% cacao, with puffed grains, not rice crispies, but oats, wheat, rice, rye, barley and millet.

The brand, Seeds of Change, donates 1% of it’s “net sales to advance the cause of sustainable organic agriculture worldwide,” hopefully planting things other than more cacao…

I’ve been a connoisseur of such chocolate for years. I hear people using colorful jargon to describe fine wines or even beers and bourbons. I am a chocolate snob. I appreciate it’s “nose” and “bouquet.” Despite living only 56.99 miles, one hour and four minutes away from Hershey, Pennsylvania, I have little use for that town’s famous watery, over sugared brown stuff.

terra-nostra-organic-rice-mill-chocolate-barBrands picked up by health food stores are often themselves the kind of consumers many of us try to be, making informed choices about labor, trade, ingredients, packaging, etc. There are often many vegan bars to choose from. I used to buy a vegan milk chocolate bar, made with ricemilk (left). Usually organic and/or fair trade, such bars are often “fruit juice sweetened,” not “cane juice” or sugared.

Click this link to read just a few of the environmental problems with the sugar industry, even in America. The article doesn’t mention air pollution from the seasonal burning of the sugar cane fields, which I observe every time I visit relatives in Florida. (This is one more senseless hit for the Everglades, a priceless ecosystem, half of which has already being drained.) A Brizilian study found a 21% increase in respiratory illness in the elderly, 31% for children, during their burning season. Sugarcane used in Coca-Cola has been revealed to be harvested by child labor.

When I indulge in a muffin from a bakery, it is so packed with sugar my teeth hurt. When I make sweets at home, I usually use 1/2 or 1/3 the sugar called for (or use honey), and can’t tell the difference. Why grow so much sugar in the first place?

Health food store chocolatiers understand that they’re not selling you a sugar flavored candy bar. They let the sweetener step back and be a supporting instrument in this symphony. And they understand that the melody is sweeter when the golden rule is applied to all.

Like many such companies, Seeds of Change combines entrepreneurship and sustainability. Celebrating their 20th anniversary, “Seeds of Change was born in 1989 with…a pretty ambitious two-pronged mission: To preserve the biodiversity of the world’s food supply by creating the largest and most diverse organic seed stock ever propagated, and to advance the cause of sustainable agriculture around the globe.”

Great work! This particular bar I’m in love with, Isle of Skye, with dark milk chocolate and grain puffs, is currently made with sugar. How about fruit juice or honey, folks? The work is a journey…

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The Inner Life of Cows?

Wren on July 28th, 2009

black-and-white-cow-3Iuval is frustrated with me because I won’t share his shrimp lo mein at the Chinese restaurant. For the fourteenth time he whines, “I wish you ate fish,” to which I chirp, for the fourteenth time, “I wish you didn’t eat fish!”

“There’s a hierarchy,” he explains. “Fish aren’t sentient beings! They don’t feel pain!” I remind him of the study that was in the news recently, proving just the opposite. We are in a loop, fashioned by us, two people who are going to go right on eating (or not eating) what we want, and justifying our choices with whatever’s handy.

Now, I’d get on board if Iuval were claiming cows aren’t sentient beings, not that I want to eat one. I base my food choices on the handy bumper sticker, “I don’t eat anything with a face!” But cows have never impressed me. Maybe it was my childhood, visiting my grandparents’ dairy farm. Whenever I looked a cow in the eyes, and I checked often, I felt fairly sure that there was utterly (udderly, couldn’t resist) nothing going on in that head. Absent, blank chewing.

Maybe I had some issues with how my grandfather would name each cow some variation of his seven grandchildrens’ names. I’d walk up and down the isles of the milkroom reading my name repeatedly butchered on the chalkboards above several of the automated milking stations. This is weird when you’re eight.

My younger sister Heather had a different reaction. She grew up to have some affinity for cows, even though she eats them. She also decorates her home with cow knick knacks and black and white blotched Holstein motifs. Mrrrr. Cute.

Cow fans may commence commenting now…

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Summer Camp Shiny Things

Wren on July 22nd, 2009

I’m forty-three and I just got home from summer camp. I attended Summer Camp East, put on by Network for a New Culture and my friends at Chrysalis Community. I didn’t go canoeing or swimming. I didn’t ride horses, although I did hear some rumors about another camper, “Mustang Sarah…”

Here is a starting list of (PG-13) shiny things I collected at camp:

trees rooted around boulders the size of my car

a stick the exact length of the rainfly pole I forgot

a raccoon who thought my tent was a 24 hour convience store

a racoon by the dome

a raccoon who sat at my table at lunch

my tie dyed sheets

genderfluid; gender fluids

“The handwashing stations are now in place.”

the little red “dress”

“The middle is open for shares of any length.”

47 ways to wear a sarong

things to do with a sarong once you’ve taken it off

“Wren’s personal mug–DO NOT USE. I have cooties. More mugs are on the way”

women standing to pee (not covered under gender fluids)

men having to lift their skirts to pee

men in skirts

meal circle song dissenters–”I don’t ‘Fah Who Foraze’”


Complete lyrics to that syrupy Whoville anthem:

Fah Who foraze, Dah Who doraze

Welcome, Christmas, come this way

Fah Who foraze, Dah Who doraze

Welcome, Christmas, Christmas Day

Welcome, Welcome

Fah Who Rah Moos

Welcome, Welcome

Dah Who Dah Moos

Christmas Day is in our grasp

So long as we have hands to clasp
Fah Who foraze, Dah Who doraze

Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer

Fah Who foraze, Dah Who doraze

Welcome, all Whos far and near

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