April 30, 2010

The Smell of Baking Bread

"No yoga exercise, no meditation in a chapel filled with music, will rid you of your blues better than the humble task of making your own bread." - M.F.K. Fisher

Surveys often list the smell of baking bread in the top 3 of respondent's olfactory preferences. I enjoy this smell often while I bake all our bread products at home.

The Smell Report states, "Our olfactory receptors are directly connected to the limbic system, the most ancient and primitive part of the brain, which is thought to be the seat of emotion."

The smell of baking triggers pleasant emotional responses. I always think of my grandmother, herself a baker extraordinaire, who was as warm, comfortable, and life-giving as rising dough. Feelings of comfort and security wash over me every time I smell freshly baked bread.

Realtors have been known to advise house sellers to bake bread before showing their home to prospective buyers. It makes a house feel more like a home.

Baking is one way we can learn to participate more fully in the preparation of the food we eat. The satisfaction of developing self-reliance is a fringe benefit, and it saves us money. It is also nice having a very short ingredient list consisting of things that are wholesome.

I kept track of my last bag of whole wheat flour in order to record everything that I made from it. I currently pay about $6.00 for 10kg of flour. The products I prepared would be worth well over $100.00 if purchased at the store.

Some will point out that this is not as cost effective as it seems because you have to figure in the price of your labour. I disagree with the need to put a dollar figure on every micro-second of our time. It may be costing me time to bake my own breads, but it pays dividends in so many other ways. If my home baked bread were costing me the same as store bought I would still bake at home.

It takes a vigorous kneading to convert that flour into dough, and this repetitive exercise can be very meditative. The divine smells linger long after the bread is done, as does the calm, centered feeling. A day of baking forces one to be mindful throughout as there can be several stages that need to be timed. It is an excellent excuse to slow down and attend to this enjoyable single purpose for a morning or afternoon.

Today I am making pita bread to eat with Mediterranean dishes. Also known as Arab bread, pita is fun and easy to make. In the oven it puffs up into pillow-y perfection in about 5 minutes. Pita is great warm and fresh when ripped apart for dipping into hummus with olives. We will also use some to make pockets to fill with falafel, pickles, onions and lettuce.


Goods I Baked With 10kg of Flour

14 loaves of bread
2 dozen green onion cakes
3 dozen tortillas
12 servings pancakes
3 dozen spice cookies
2 pizza crusts
1 chocolate cake
12 chapatis
13 samosas


There is a net benefit in undertaking this basic and ancient activity, and I highly recommend it. It is a skill worthwhile learning, and the independence you gain is guaranteed to reduce the angst you may be feeling in troubled times. Your taste buds, digestive system, and emotional state will all be better off.

April 29, 2010

Make It Last - Item #2: Underwear


We should make the items we use last as long as possible looking at things from a conservation perspective, as well as from a budgetary point of view. This is pretty straight forward when considering something like a tool or a vehicle. But talk about underwear and you are going to witness some degree of controversy. Just how long does the frugal person keep a pair of underwear in active circulation?

I am not sure of the answer (undoubtedly there are gender differences), but considering the quality of some of the underwear being manufactured in recent years I would have to say "not as long as they used to". Some underwear coming from overseas is darn near disposable as far as I can see. Anything more than a few weeks of use and a pair of these light-duty garments is ready to throw in the compost pile.

As with most things, buying quality to start with helps - it makes sense to spend more for quality undies that will last rather than buy a 10 pack of cheapos with a limited life. But last how long? While a cheap pair might have lifespan of a few weeks, what about a well-made pair? Is there some sort of hygienic best before date that I, and most other men, are unaware of? Or do you keep your underwear until it is as described by George Orwell in his essay, The Spike?

"All the indecent secrets of our underwear were exposed; the grime, the rents and patches, the bits of string doing duty for buttons, the layers upon layers of fragmentary garments, some of them mere collections of holes held together by dirt."

So just how long can one keep sturdy underwear in circulation? Weeks for sure. Months, perhaps. Dare I say years? Or am I stretching the limits of frugality here, like a double strength Fruit of the Loom waistband?

A quick web search revealed some answers to this pressing question. Responses ranged from 3 months to several years. One wise commenter said that you keep underwear until your partner throws them out, and that is a pretty good yardstick - if your underwear is making you or your partner uncomfortable, they have probably reached that nebulous but noticeable best before date. To the compost pile! Or upcycle them by shredding and making home made paper (this stationary made with 100% post-consumer underwear).

As long as my underwear isn't a "collection of holes held together by dirt", and the elastic is still robust enough to keep them from sagging down to my knees, I figure the efficient, frugal thing to do is keep them in use.

And if you are worried about ending up in the hospital, or worse - the morgue, wearing underwear that is older than some of your kids, you can always reserve several special pairs of undies for hazardous activities outside the home.

April 27, 2010

Nature Meditations Cure Nature Deficit Disorder



Being somewhere peaceful, quiet, and close to nature makes possible mindful moments as well as restorative ones. With more and more people living in urban conditions, exposure to nature becomes more difficult. Richard Louv has warned us of what he calls Nature Deficit Disorder.

An essay by Paul Cooper stated that, "We are now just beginning to understand that the growing disconnection between kids and the natural world is an increasingly serious social problem." He states that, "Children who spend more time inside than in the wilderness experience poorer health in adulthood", and concludes that, "We must let them roam free." But it is not just kids. We all need to roam free.

NDD is a serious problem afflicting modern people young and old who spend most of their time indoors, usually in front of glowing screens. Humans need to feel their connection with the biosphere, to remember their dependence on other living things and processes. We must be in nature to develop a deep compassion for all life. The result of exposure to nature is an strong urge to do the least amount of harm and protect the natural gifts that we rely on. Another benefit is a feeling of calm centeredness.

Visit a natural area near you whether it is a park in the city or somewhere farther removed. Try the process focus meditation below.




"As you visit a natural area, shift your perception so that you see the objects around you as processes.

See a tree, for example, as just one moment in the life-cycle of a process that changes continuously, every season, every day, from seed to tree to rotting log.


See a mayfly not as a thing, but as a point in a changing cycle that, at this moment, has wings and flutters before you.


If you see a boardwalk, realize that at one time it was not there, and someday it will be gone.


At sunrise, imaginatively perceive that the sun is at a particular moment in the immense life-cycle of a star--changing.


Think how many of our fundamental ways of understanding reality--such as scientific laws--have changed over the centuries, and are changing now.


Know how you yourself have changed.


Realize that nothing you see before you has ever occurred in quite the same way. And the moment that is happening now will never return.


Feel what a privilege, what a mystery, what a miracle it is, to be here, on this earth, under these slowly-changing stars, with these dear people--now.

Breathe."

Feel your nature deficit disorder improving - this is the antidote. You may feel an intense urge to protect the earth. You may feel peaceful and content. This is completely natural. Do not be afraid.

Repeat often.

April 23, 2010

Think Globally, Act Globally




Are we overly concerned with small, individual actions to the detriment of paying attention to the Big Issues looming on the horizon?

Individual actions have a transformative effect personally and globally. We can't underestimate the power that lies there. However, many of the issues we face are global in nature and will require us to act collectively to create a planet that works by making big changes. Baby steps are good to start, but we need to baby step quickly, then learn to walk, and soon after that, run.

Worldchanging is a "bright green", award-winning environmental website. Its focus is solution based and positive. A year ago they ran a post called 10 Really Hard Things We Can Do To Save The Planet where they proposed "ten big, difficult, world-changing concepts." I don't agree that "there are no simple steps worth caring about", but I do agree that if we don't learn to cooperate to solution the necessary big issues, the little ones won't matter in the end.

Here, then, is Worldchanging's list of ten concepts toward creating a sustainable world that works for everyone:

  1. Eliminate nuclear weapons.
  2. Stabilize the poorest billion.
  3. Create a globally transparent society.
  4. Be prepared, globally.
  5. Empower women.
  6. Enable a future forward diet (less meat and dairy).
  7. Document all life (to maintain biological diversity).
  8. Negotiate an effective climate treaty.
  9. Build green cities.
  10. Build no new highways.

We often feel stymied by the intractable nature of these bogeymen - it is too scary on an individual level. So much so that we are stunned into inaction because we are not sure our personal efforts will matter. But we have to learn to walk before we can run, so the initial simple steps do matter.

But we must be quick learners and problem solvers on a global scale. Be prepared to move beyond simple steps to cooperate and participate in revolutionary ways of thinking and living. It will be challenging, but it will be engaging, interesting, and fun as well.

Best of all - we can do this thing. We have the money, we have the technology, and we are starting to crank up our will to create a better world. It is exciting that we can both think and act globally - it is an opportunity we can't let pass.





Image from: http://borderbuster.blogspot.com/2008/10/learn-to-think-globally.html

April 22, 2010

We Can Make Earth Day Obsolete


I celebrated Earth Day for most of my life, but no more. I am finished with it, and I think that the planet is getting a little sceptical, too.

Earth Day began 40 years ago with grand intentions, but did Senator Nelson and the 20 million Americans that participated in that first year really intend it to be around 4 decades later? Surely they wished to make such an obvious and critical day obsolete as soon as possible. They were responding to a perceived environmental crisis, after all, and time was of the essence. A TV show that first year called Earth Day: A Question of Survival, would not be out of place on our wide-screen plasma TVs today.

The goal was to increase awareness in government and corporate board rooms of the importance of sustainability so that environmental crisis could be averted. Now here we are 40 years later trying to do the same thing, except now we, the people, are co-conspirators in the environmental mess. We vote with our dollars, and since 1970 we have been voting for consumer items and luxury rather than for appreciation and respect for the planet and its other life forms.

Earth Day has been a positive force for change, but it has ultimately failed to wake us up to any truly meaningful change. Not to say that there haven't been worthy changes since 1970, but most of them pale in comparison to the devastation that we continue to inflict. Our environment is in as much of a crisis as it was in 1970. Earth Day is unfortunately as necessary today as it was 40 years ago.

Let's do what Senator Nelson and the initial organizers of Earth Day must have envisioned in their most optimistic moments - that their special one day a year would soon become obsolete as changes were made and the planet healed itself. We can do this thing.

Let us make it obsolete by immediately becoming as non-destructive and sustainable as we can possibly be at this time. Let every day be a day that we focus on our appreciation and respect for the planet that sustains us. Let this 40th Anniversary be the (B)Earth of a new way of living more gently in cooperation with each other and everything else.

Let's give Nelson and the Earth something to celebrate.

April 19, 2010

No Mischief Monday



Native American Prayer




Now Talking God

With your feet I walk

I walk with your limbs

I carry forth your body

For me your mind thinks

Your voice speaks for me

Beauty is before me

And beauty is behind me

Above and below me hovers the beautiful

I am surrounded by it

I am immersed in it

In my youth I am aware of it

And in old age I shall walk quietly

The beautiful trail.




April 16, 2010

We Can Do Better Than This











As I was reading the newspaper the other day I noticed two images similar to the ones above side by side in a features section. Were they intended to be juxtaposed in order to jolt our reality chip, or was it just a sick mistake? It reminded me that the gap between rich and poor continues to widen.

If we were starting from scratch, is this really the kind of world we would design for ourselves? One in which a few have multiple homes including hundred-room mansions on acres of park-like gated property, while millions live in mud and squalor?

"Unlit highways run past canyons of smouldering garbage before giving way to dirt streets weaving through 200 slums, their sewers running with raw waste. So much of the city is a mystery. No one even knows for sure the size of the population – officially it is 6 million, but most experts estimate it at 10 million – let alone the number of murders each year [or] the rate of HIV infection.

Lagos, moreover, is simply the biggest node in the shantytown corridor of 70 million people that stretches from Abidjan to Ibadan, probably the biggest continuous footprint of urban poverty on earth.
" http://www.ranadasgupta.com/notes.asp?note_id=31

And the problem is not getting any better in spite of developed nations paying plenty of lip service to the elimination of poverty in recent years. The "State of the World's Cities - 2010/2011" report by the Nairobi-based UN-HABITAT shows that the number of slum dwellers has been increasing due to unequal access to peace and prosperity for an increasing number of the world's citizens.

Number of slum dwellers skyrockets
By Bradley Brooks, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


SAO PAULO, Brazil - The number of people living in slum conditions increased by 51 million during the past 10 years, despite global efforts to halt poverty, according to a United Nations' report released Friday.

The report by the Nairobi-based U.N.-Habitat said that the number of slum dwellers rose to 828 million in 2010, while also noting that about 227 million people were able to escape such conditions in the past decade - double as many forecast in the U.N. Millennium Goals set in 2000.

"Success is highly skewed toward the more advanced emerging economies, while poorer countries have not done as well," said Habitat executive director Anna Tibaijuka. "For this reason, there is no room for complacency." http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/World/2010/03/19/13295831-ap.htm


The following statistics on Poverty and Inequality highlight a system that is not working for a majority of humanity.

  • "While global GNP grew 40 percent between 1970 and 1985 (suggesting widening prosperity), the number of poor grew by 17 percent.

    UNDP reported in 1996 that 100 countries were worse off than 15 years ago.

    In 1998, that 20 percent of the world's people living in the highest-income countries accounted for 86 percent of total private consumption expenditures while the poorest 20 percent accounted for only 1.3 percent. That's down from 2.3 percent three decades ago.

    These related phenomena led UN development experts to observe that the world is heading toward "grotesque inequalities," concluding: "Development that perpetuates today's inequalities is neither sustainable nor worth sustaining."

    UNDP calculates that an annual 4 percent levy on the world's 225 most well-to-do people (average 1998 wealth: $4.5 billion) would suffice to provide the following essentials for all those in developing countries: adequate food, safe water and sanitation, basic education, basic health care and reproductive health care. At present, 160 of those individuals live in OECD countries; 60 reside in the United States.

  • The wealth of the three most well-to-do individuals exceeds the combined GDP of the 48 least developed countries.

    The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) reported in 1998 that the world's 225 richest people have a combined wealth of $1 trillion. That's equal to the combined annual income of the world's 2.5 billion poorest people." http://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/218/46377.html



    We created this unjust and unequal system and we can create a new one which is more equitable and inclusive. The lives of billions depend on us doing the right thing. Will we disappoint them yet again, or is now the time we are going to take actions to start living right on this planet?

    April 13, 2010

    Simple Pleasures: Hot Water


    When one lives a slower, more mindful life there is time to notice things. More importantly, there is time to appreciate things. In my former life so much was passed by in a blur of activity. I had reached Peak Speed. How can one appreciate what is going on in ones life when one can barely make sense of the frantic busyness? This is not the way it was meant to be.

    Life is full of wonderous events, moment, after moment, after moment, if only we have the time to notice. And when our awareness increases, so does our sense of appreciation. Soon even the most simple event can trigger a deep sense of beauty and gratitude. Small things matter in a big way in such a life.

    Every moment contains a wealth of gifts when we stop to see. It can be a robin pulling a worm from the ground, or an eagle soaring on the wind. The smile of a passing stranger. The possibilities are endless.

    One of my most delightful simple pleasures is hot water. I am a big fan of water overall, but hot water is a thing to behold. My favourite is natural hot water as in hot springs. British Columbia happens to have many natural hot springs, due to its tectonic activity, and I have been to several of them. Heavenly and highly recommended.

    Almost as magical is the hot water that spills forth from my faucet at home upon demand. To me it seems an almost unbelieveable luxury to be able to enjoy energy-laden hot water upon my skin. Doesn't matter if it is for washing hands, or dishes, or bathing and showering, hot water is always welcome.

    Stop to notice and appreciate the beauty of hot water, or anything else in your life. What simple pleasures do you appreciate?

    April 11, 2010

    Caffeine: Gateway Drug To The Fast Life

    "Widespread caffeine use explains a lot about the twentieth century."
    - Greg Egan

    One of my 2010 resolutions was to quit caffeine, coffee in particular, and I have been largely successful in meeting that goal. But try not buying any caffeine in our energy-obsessed culture, and you will discover that it is more difficult than you imagine. 90% of North American adults consume caffeine on a daily basis - we love the stuff!

    It is no wonder. We need a substance to help us fuel our full tilt 24/7 lifestyle because no one wants to be left behind like they're in slow motion. Slow is the enemy so grab a coffee, tea, hot chocolate, cola or energy drink. Boost your competitive edge and launch yourself firmly into the established order of consuming so much more than just a drink. Caffeine is the perfect (legal) drug to act as a gateway to the glittery, sparkly fast life of endless buzz, stuff and excitement.

    Caffeine can also increase your motivation to do tasks and work. The half life of caffeine in the body is four hours so "coffee breaks" have been conveniently scheduled into your work day in order to keep up your dose and your motivation. I have observed that malls frequently have coffee shops, obviously to help motivate you to do what people do in malls.

    Caffeine is humanity's favourite psychotropic drug, and it finds its way into a variety of beverages. A dose as small as 10mg can cause behavioural changes in sensitive individuals, including increased heart rate, agitation and anxiety.

    A standard brewed cup of coffee contains about 180mg of caffeine. Decaffeinated coffee can have anywhere from 5 to 15mg (that's right - caffeine in decaffeinated coffee), a standard cola beverage about 35mg, a Starbuck Grande Coffee about 330 mg, and a Jolt energy drink about 280mg. Japanese green tea has about 25mg (if you dump the first infusion and immediately brew a second, the second infusion will be decaffeinated - it is not necessary to purchase decaf green tea).

    The website energyfiend has an excellent list of the caffeine content of beverages, many that are popular with children. The highest caffeine content on the list is the jitters-inducing 500 mg found in 5150 Juice. Although they do recommend 83mg servings, such a delivery vehicle makes abuse likely. The advertising proclaims that 5150 is good for a variety of (vulnerable, young) target groups such as bodybuilders, students, night shift workers, and all night partiers. It is, apparently, the answer to all your energy needs.

    What about getting a good nights sleep, eating properly and living a low stress lifestyle? What happened to these natural and healthful ways of ensuring an adequate energy supply to get you through the day? Seeing this socially sanctioned method of inducing dependence in the populace makes me even more resolved to quit using caffeine.

    About 300 mg a day is thought to be somewhat of a threshold at which point the benefits of coffee (temporary mental alertness and increased physical performance, and antioxidant properties) are overcome by the negative aspects associated with this drug (rebound fatigue, shakiness, anxiety, panic attacks, irritability, insomnia, and decreased motivation for tasks/work). It is possible to overdose on caffeine (just ask Foo Fighter front man Dave Grohl). In severe cases, death may result from convulsions or an irregular heartbeat.

    Not only do we form a physical dependence to this stimulant, but we become psychologically addicted as well; we feel we NEED our favourite beverage or there is going to be trouble. There is truth to this as if you quit cold turkey you are likely to at least experience a mild to severe headache. Other symptoms include nausea, fatigue, anxiety, and depression lasting several days.

    One way to quit caffeine is to decrease the amount you ingest by 50% each day, while another is to keep ingesting the same amount, but gradually increase the amount of decaf until it reaches 100%.

    For me dependence is the key word, whether we are referring to drugs like amphetamines, cocaine, caffeine, or consumerism. We all depend on other people, but problems occur when we become dependent on things such as drugs, products, or corporations. That leaves us open to being preyed upon and we risk becoming drug and stuff-addled zombie serfs going through the motions for the benefit of the elite. I am working at reducing my dependence on things whether drugs like caffeine, or corporations and the stuff they push. Such dependence is unhealthy, and increases our feelings of angst and unease.

    I have to wonder about a legal drug that increases your motivation to get your job done like a proper drone, plus enables all your fast life proclivities including consuming, being high energy and sparkling brighter than all the sloths you are leaving in your dust. Is what everyone is getting hyped up for worthwhile?

    Drugs that induce users to relax or question authority (like The Truth) are not universally condoned, and certainly not at the workplace.


    I say, "No" to the fast life and its lubricant, caffeine, and this has freed me from the mass artificial speed mania that prevails in mainstream society today.
    Quitting caffeine has made me feel more awake, alert, and aware. I have more energy through the day than when I was using caffeine. You too may come to realize that you feel much better after you break your dependence on the caffeine habit.

    Caffeine is all about an artificial non-stop go, go, go, and fitting in to the established order of things. The alternative life of living with less is about slow, slow, slow, and living according to your dreams, ideals and values - naturally. Good riddance caffeine, and your promise of eternal energy.

    Try quitting the fast-life gateway drug. Who knows where such a change in your life would lead?

    April 6, 2010

    Make It Last - Item #1: Cast Iron Skillet



    A big part of not buying anything is making what you have last. If an item is not broken or dangerous, keep using it. Pay no mind to fashion or fad. It is the best way to lower the cost per use of any item - make it last, use it many times. A cast iron frying pan is a good example.

    We have had a cast iron skillet for over 20 years, and that was after Linda's mom used it for decades before gifting it to us. It is as good as new. With proper care cast iron cook wear can last several generations. It doesn't get much more cost effective than that.

    Cast iron boosts the iron content of cooked foods, especially acidic foods like tomato sauces. When seasoned this versatile cookware is as non-stick as chemical-coated fry pans. Lard is often recommended as a good agent for seasoning cast iron.

    Over the years we have used our trusty skillet to make nachos, hash browns, omelets, grilled sandwiches, pancakes, fry bread, stir-fries, tomato sauce, soy sauce/sesame seed tofu and more. In our meat eating days we made nice blackened fish with the cast iron fry pan on a medium to high burner. Our bomb-proof, heavy fry pan has gone camping with us, although not backpacking for obvious reasons.

    There are many good cast iron frying pan and dutch oven recipes on the net. I found the following recipe for Indian naan bread that works well in a heavy skillet:

    Nann Recipe

    Ingredients

    • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
    • 1 cup warm water
    • 1/4 cup white sugar
    • 3 tablespoons milk
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
    • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (optional)
    • 1/4 cup butter, melted

    Directions

    1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.
    2. Punch down dough, and knead in garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
    3. During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat.
    4. At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.


    Enjoy your naan bread, and remember to put your cast iron skillet in your will for the next generation to enjoy.

    April 5, 2010

    No Mischief Monday

    Photo by: Ira Block, Quakers collecting ice in Vermont


    "Simple living choices can be part of a lifestyle of nonviolent resistance. The more you examine your economic behavior, the more you learn of your entanglement with the military-industrial complex and of your power to untangle yourself.

    You can help build parallel economic systems based on cooperation and sustainable choices rather than on consumerism, resource depletion, and exploitation. By participating in such alternatives, you live the revolution in values that is necessary for peace with justice. Each economic choice you make can be a witness to your values."


    From the pamphlet: Low Income/Simple Living as War Tax Resistance

    April 1, 2010

    Voluntary Simplicity Sweeping North America



    Voluntary simplicity though hardly popular, has never left the American consciousness, but now it is sweeping the continent as people turn their backs on consumerism in droves. The simplicity revolution has begun, and Henry David Thoreau is smiling from above.

    2010 was off to a great start with the North American International Car Show that had a distinctly green theme. Trucks and SUVs were tucked into back corners, if they were shown at all. Up front were the micro-compacts, many of them electric powered.

    All the major car makers agreed that the time had come for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, and that they were responding to consumer demand for sustainable transportation. 97% of attendees reported that their next car would be an electric powered subcompact.

    In addition to smaller vehicles, recent statistics show that tiny homes are in. Executives are turning their homes into convention centers, B&Bs, and affordable apartment blocks for low income families. They are ditching mcmansions for smaller homes made of sustainable materials.

    "I love my new 600 sq ft cottage", one CEO said. "I didn't know what freedom was until I went small and sustainable! Everybody wins." He proceeded to show off the solar power and hot water systems, along with green roof, grey water system, and wind generator. "The humanure processing is just back there in the corner. My garden loves the resulting nutrients that would otherwise be wasted in municipal waste water treatment plants."

    At the grocery store encouraging trends are showing up as well. Shoppers hungry for real food are avoiding the middle aisles of grocery stores having wizened up to the fact that that is where the fake food is, or the most processed and least healthy (and most expensive).

    Instead, savvy shoppers in increasing numbers are choosing fresh fruits and vegetables and whole foods to put in their carts. Many are asking questions about the origins of their food, as well as their ingredients and how they are prepared. Farmers markets are reporting record crowds as people look to local growers and organic fare.

    The biggest trend is in the workplace as more and more people give up the pursuit of the almighty buck as they seek out an increased quality of life. Workers in increasing numbers are choosing alternative work schedules such as job sharing and part time work. Many others are quitting the corporate world entirely and living their dreams, even if it means drastic cuts in income.

    The government is supporting its citizens by increasing taxes on industry that exploits our valuable resources. In the first quarter of 2010 the government has raised so much revenue that the Green Party is considering implementing a minimum income for all citizens, freeing them to follow lifestyles that are light in material goods, and rich in experiences.

    It is predicted that once freed from mental slavery, citizens will experience a great creative burst of energy. It is expected that this creative wave will enable individuals and cooperative non-profits to solve many of our most pressing issues.

    The Green Party is also in consultation with various stakeholders in order to implement a zero-growth sustainable economic system. In regards to this agenda, they will soon bring a bill forward that will effectively make the entire advertising and lobbying industries illegal. It is thought that such a system will reduce, and eventually eliminate meaningless mass consumption and the resulting depletion of our air, water, and land-based resources.

    A fringe benefit that is also being reported is that the gap between rich and poor that has been accelerating in recent years, is beginning to close as the poor take their rightful place in our post-industrial world. Inequality, hunger and poverty are doomed.

    A new, functioning, hopeful world is beginning to emerge, and it is simple and sustainable with promise for all. Who will stand in its way?
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