Environment

Attack of the Vegans!!!!!!!!

Posted on March 11, 2011. Filed under: Environment, For foodies | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

                                                          

Yes they are here and we better get used to it! THE VEGANS ARE COMING!!! And ready to tear you down and preach the no meat word of gospel! Put down the fried chicken and pork chops because animals have rights too!! Stop eating that slave food and start eating sensibly! Processed foods are the DEVIL!!!

Bit much? I’m kidding…

Nothing wrong with veganism. In fact, I actually admire them and raw foodists because there’s such much that they give up in order to live a healthier lifestyle with all of this temptation around them. They actually helped bring to the forefront food advocacy, corporate practices, and food safety. Many of them on the outside seem like pot smoking, patchouli smelling, dirty f*cking hippies who are activists, food, political, or otherwise, oh, and are white liberals. Ok, I know that there are plenty of black vegans such as the author of Vegan Soul. It’s not so rare anymore that one would find those. They seem to be just popping up everywhere these days with their cookbooks and their body care products and their blogs and vegan information sites. And I do find vegan food, well most of it anyway, to be not only nutritious and fulfilling, but very delicious, and not bland and flavorless like most people would think.

What’s a vegan? Who would want to give up the big piece of chicken? Veganism is more than just not eating meat. It is a lifestyle. The term came from Donald Watson of the UK who founded the British Vegan Society in 1944 and by H. Jay Hinshah in 1960 who founded the American Vegan Society. They avoid meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, cheese, pretty much anything that had a pulse. There are a variety of reasons why people go meatless, one of them being caging and sanitary conditions of how the animals are kept. Free range – hormone free chicken simply means that the chickens are not caged up so close together and are able to roam free. They are not injected with a bunch of hormones and steroids to prevent disease and make them fatter. Why is this important? Because one, whatever they are injected with ends up in our food supply and will eventually make us sick. Wild caught salmon or other fish means just what it means. Salmon that is not farm raised and feed stuf that is harmful and eventually ends up harming us. Another reason many vegans have given up on meat products is because corporations have laced our food with too many additives and chemicals that make us sick anyway. I mean, really, most food that seem harmless such as chicken nuggets from fast food restaurants have like 50 damn ingredients in them, and a lot of it comes from chemical preservatives. And does anyone remember the Mad Cow scare? And finally, animals are killed inhumanely in this country. They are taken to slaughterhouses such as these and are kicked, beaten, and their throats slashed. Yeah, the cow scene alone was pretty disgusting. And then it ends up on your plate. Yes, I understand.

Vegans also stay away from products that are tested on animals. Products labeled cruelty free, are not in any way shape or form tested on rats, mice, rabbits. They don’t wear anything made from animals such as leather, furs from chinchilla, rabbit, fox, no gators, snake skin and pretty much every expensive bag from Prada and Gucci. They also don’t use anything that has beeswax, lanolin, emu oil, musk, and carmine in its products. Who wants to see lipstick on a pig anyway? But there are downsides to going vegan. One being that you could end up being deficient in certain vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin D, iron, protein, vitamin B-12, and omega-3 fatty acids. That is why it is recommended by the Vegan Society and the Vegan Outreach to replace these vitamins with supplements are with foods such as seaweed and leafy green vegetables. Their diets mainly consists of tofu, tempeh, seitan, vegetables, legumes, and fruits. Another downfall to going vegan is that people in the community tend to ostracize those that don’t want to eat meat anymore. First we stopped eating pork, then red meat, now no meat? What type of bullsh*t is this? Actually this was talked about over at A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight loss . As I have said before, it would benefit us if we ventured outside the box and tried something unfamiliar to us. As much as we like our food seasoned and flavorful, vegan food does not have to be bland and boring. It does not mean that you are any less black than your peers because you chose to give up the big piece of chicken for, well, chik’n. Don’t worry about what the crabs think; you are the one that lives in you skin and are affected by what you put in your body.

But I have a beef (for) vegans. It’s a peeve of mine when folks want to get in my business about what I’m eating and what I put in my body. I’m being hypocritical some might say because I talk about healthy eating all the time, and yet, I’ll indulge every now and then. Hell, I’m not depriving myself; I tried that and it just doesn’t work for me. I still like meat, I just know my limits and have definitely limited my intake because I want to be healthy for me, and not for some animals that will kill me anyway. In other words, I still live a happy and healthy life and the people who are in the same boat as I am are living just as comfortable. So no, you’re not better than me. Another peeve of mine is when there tends to be a disregard for human life over an animal. I love animals too, hell I’ll even say that I don’t wear fur and wear fake leather(rarely folks)…Guess what? Between a me and a chicken, I’m at the top of the food chain. If I were to swim in the ocean or go on a safari in the African jungle, I’d be somewhere in the middle. If I were to get eaten  by a shark or a lion, hey, it is what it is. And it’s a personal choice that people make when it comes to what they put in their bodies. Through food advocacy, you job is to educate the public about going vegan, what the benefits are, and what they can do to protect the environment and help keep our food supply safe. If I wanted to be preached to about why I am an animal killer and how I will rot in hell, I’d find this sexy:

 and go hard in the paint that PETA threw on me

The movement is certainly growing and while I would love to join in on the fun and exciting world of all things non-meat, my love/hate relationship permits me not to. at least for right now. Vegans are a growing movement and people who have identified themselves as vegan make up about 1% of the nation. As for the black community, as much as we hear about heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension, going vegan seems like a viable option. What we don’t need to do is to treat one of our own like a freak of nature because they are giving up meat. But the food’s great.

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Gas is Too Damn High!!!

Posted on March 4, 2011. Filed under: Environment, Politically Incorrect | Tags: , , , , , |

No it isn’t…

In fact, we get our gas on the cheap. If one were to travel to Europe, they pay double the rate we pay here. In countries such as Italy, Norway and The Netherlands, they pay as much as $6.49*. Gas there is taxed heavily, often taking up about %75 percent of the costs. One of the reasons why some countries pay more than other’s depends a lot on government policy. Other countries such as in Latin America and the Middle East have much cheaper prices for gas, but it’s all government controlled.

Remember back 10 years ago before 9/11 when gas was about $1.59? Remember when $10 got you a little over half a tank a gas that lasted about a week? Those were the good ole’ days, but I highly doubt we’ll ever see those again. Back in 2008 gas got up to as much as over $5 dollars in some states as California and Hawaii and $4.89 here in parts of Maryland. So why are gas prices so high? There are a number of factors, one being high crude oil prices. On the news, you’ll often hear about the price of crude oil rising. That’s the stuf we get our gas from. Crude oil accounts for about %55 of our gas, the other %45 come from taxes and distribution. It has now risen to about $99 dollars a barrel. We were at over $100 a barrel during the Iraq War and during the Summer of  2008 and 2009 to about as much as $145** a barrel.  To put it in basic economic terms, oil prices go up when demand is higher than supply. They also are expected to rise during the summer when people tend to drive more.

Another reason why they tend to rise is because of commodities traders speculating on oil futures contracts. What is a commodity trader you ask? All they do is buy or sell contracts and assets such as oil, agriculture, livestock, bonds, or gold and trade them in an open market and guess what the prices will be. They then lock in those prices and deliver those goods in the future. In this case, oil prices change daily and are affected by investors who trade on what the price of oil should be in the future and assume risk. When the price of oil will go up, investors bid higher and the price of oil rises higher. They even drive up the price of oil when supply is high and demand is low. Sounds to me like they’re playing a game of craps with gas prices. For those of you well versed in the financial meltdown of 2008, this is something similar.

Oil prices also rise due to unrest in oil-producing countries, concern for pressure from countries such as China and India to meet demand and the declining dollar. The middle East has erupted into turmoil lately, due to political unrest. But in countries such as Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, where most of the uprisings have occurred, they only account for about %2 of oil exports. The US actually get’s most of its imported oil from Canada, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Mexico. The dollar has been on the decline for the past 6 years and oil is traded in dollars.

The law of supply and demand tells us that prices rise when demand is high and supply is low and prices fall when demand is low and supply is high. Usually during the fall, gas prices tend to drop because demand is low. But during the summers of 2008 and 2009, the price of oil was at an all time high even during the recession. How the hell did that happen? Commodity traders driving up the price. In an interview with 60 Minutes, Dan Gilligan, President of Petroleum Marketers Association, notes that prices were driven, not because of the recession, but by speculators. “Approximately 60 to 70 percent of the oil contracts in the futures markets are now held by speculative entities. Not by companies that need oil, not by the airlines, not by the oil companies. But by investors that are looking to make money from their speculative positions,” Gilligan explained. But while being questioned in front of congress, Lawrence Eagles, banker at JP Morgan, said this,  “We believe that high energy prices are fundamentally a result of supply and demand,”  So wouldn’t this go completely against the law of supply and demand? And how is it that the only people who seem to benefit from this are investors and oil companies that tell us that the reason oil prices are high is because of supply and demand? Or political upheavals? Or hell, the BP oil spill? How convenient that now that we have the Middle East popping off, that gas prices, and with everything else such as food, goes up even though supply and demand may suggest that it has nothing to do with it. Remember this guy?  He made off with a $400 million dollar retirement package when gas was at an all time high due to “supply and demand”.

IMHO, markets are not always driven by fear, but by greedy motherfuckers. I believe that the high price of oil is driven by speculators running a craps show on the market. And they are piss poor middlemen too. So what can we do? Not really a damn thing. We could drive less, but products made from plastics and other everyday materials come from oil, so a gasoline boycott wouldn’t really put much of a dent. But it can help us environmentally. Commodities markets such as this, should be regulated and I will update any information in the Energy Plan Post. This thing doesn’t pass the smell test and I could be wrong, but if anyone has a different opinion then me, Please feel free to leave a non-asshole-ish comment below explaining commodities trading and bubbles.

http://money.cnn.com/pf/features/lists/global_gasprices/

http://useconomy.about.com/od/commoditiesmarketfaq/p/high_gas_prices.htm

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/gasprices/FAQ.shtml

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/01/08/60minutes/main4707770.shtml

http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/company_level_imports/current/import.html

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It’s not easy being green…

Posted on February 1, 2011. Filed under: Environment | Tags: , , , , |

  Green Afro Diva

Many people have asked me if I was truly green and if my company was really eco-friendly and I always give them the same answer: I’m green enough. Because let’s face it, I don’t think that anyone can truly classify themselves as eco, organic or green because we are surrounded by pollutants and some of the activities we do such as drive to work, or eat non-organic food is not considered green. As I noted on www.cluesscurl.blogspot.com, it’s the little things that count to going green such as turning off the lights when you’re done using them, taking shorter showers, and walking most of the time instead of driving. Never let anyone accuse you of being a hypocrite just because you’re not some dreadlock – wearing, vegan loving hippie. I don’t promote one extreme over the other, just awareness and education.

Now to my second topic. So I want to delve a little deeper into what my company is about and why I’m doing this. I’ve never heard of too many black people caring about the environment so maybe I’m just the first one? Well, there have been news lately that the ice shelves in Antarctica have broken off, one a couple of years ago the size of Jamaica. And that’s due to global warming. Why is this important? The ice shelves in the north and south poles help cool our planet. The suns’ rays reflect light off the ice(known as permafrost) and bounces back into space. Permafrost normally melts and freezes back up but the problem is that the permafrost is melting at a faster rate than it should. Therefore, it’s causing the ice shelves to snap and break off leaving the ice to float away and melt as it reaches warmer climates. Sea levels will rise affecting about 10% of the population( roughly 700 mil people). So what does this mean? It means that with less ice and more ocean, the sun’s rays are absorbed into the ocean thus making the earth hotter and more unbearable for us. Try wearing a white shirt out in the sun and then wear a black one. You know that old saying about black folks generating heat? It’s kinda like that(lol). I don’t care what the naysayers say, the jury is back on this one and we are passed the tipping point. Remember last year when we had all that snow and it literally took months before all of it finally melted away? Then this past summer we had that killer heat wave that seemed like it would never go away? Didn’t seem like we had much spring or fall weather neither. And I noticed that it’s been like that for some time now. Just last fall I mentioned the same thing. 2 days of fall and 6 months of winter. No transition period.

So why do I care? Well I hate being out in the heat(I lived in Arizona and been to Texas; it’s no joke). I think that we in the community can do so much more. We already know how to be somewhat eco-friendly right? Have you ever heard of your mom telling you to turn off the tv or the lights if you’re not using them? Or to keep the door closed so the cool air won’t escape out? Sure, it was more about not paying a sky-high bill, but she was on to something. When I was little, we used to use old jelly jars as cups and my mom even washed plastic forks to reuse. It’s funny now, but then, I thought it was something you just did. It’s the small things that we can do to make this place, our earth, livable for the next generation. Buying flourescent bulbs; recycling glass bottles and plastic; cut tv and computer time; never ever use styrofoam(or at least limit your use severely) ;drive less…more tips can be found under Tips on How Not to Shit on Mother Nature. Some corporations and many lobbys(Corn Sugar lobby, I’m looking at you) IMHO don’t care much for environmental issues and try to downplay it because it threatens their bottom line and way of doing business. They try to use poor, low-income people(code for black) as their little wedge to pressure the government against reform. I hope that the administration is doing what it can to crack down on these practices. That is why we must become vigilant and educated on what’s happening around us. At Green Afro Diva, the  main focus will be overall health and well-being as well as learning to be green. The blog is used to explain things such as what a carbon footprint is, what’s happening in other countries like africa and here at home, ingredients in our hair and body products, the food we eat, spirituality, and sexual intimacy. I also market apparel such as shirts, mugs, handmade bath and body products and can be seen at the Baltimore Farmer’s Market on Sundays starting in April. Talking about environmental awareness should not be meant to scare the shit out of you. It should make you aware of the things that’s happening around us and hopefully motivate you to get up and do something. As the company progress, there will be neighborhood cleanups, seminars(freebies given), planting of trees, and any other ideas that I can think of.

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Tips on How Not to Shit on Mother Nature

Posted on January 8, 2011. Filed under: Environment | Tags: , , , , , |

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Baltimore wants to lead the charge on a more cleaner and greener city. If you happen to live in this area, one would notice that stores such as 7-eleven and Rite Aid are all now using paper bags instead of plastic. That is upon request. Anyway, I’ve come up with a way to be cleaner/greener using some pretty basic tips:

1. PULL THE PLUG

Unplug any appliances, lamps, and other electronics that are not in use. And if you have a habit of falling asleep with the tv on, set the timer to 30 minutes(it takes roughly 15 min for the average person to fall asleep). it makes a difference on your next bill.

2. STRUT YOUR STUFF

Walk everywhere within a 2.5 mile radius. I live downtown so i walk everywhere even down to the harbor. It’s about a mile away and I get good excercise. plus, I save gas. now I know a 2.5 mile radius seems hard…hey, I used to run that in 20 minutes, but look at how much gas you’ll be saving and not to mention the money you’ll save by not buying crap you don’t need. If you don’t live in the city, find a park or your nearest strip mall and walk with a friend just to be safe.

3. THE WATER WORKS         

If you have a large family and at least 2 bathrooms in your home, then you might want to invest in a tankless water heater. These are widely popular in Europe and Asia and are starting to make a splash here. How it works is it turns itself off when you’re not using it and you set the temperature to a certain degree, thereby the water never gets too hot. Your whole family can use it without running out of hot water. Only problem is that you can’t take a shower and run a dishwasher at the same time because it might stretch the heater to it’s limit. There’s whole house heaters and one might even get 2 tankless heaters to combat this problem. for more information and brands, go to www.tanklesswaterheaterguide.com .

4. EAT TO LIVE      

FPS- fried, processed, and sugar are some of the foods to avoid when wanting to lose weight or become healthier. Here are some others to avoid:

  1. Hydrolyzed wheat, soy, or corn protein- when something is hydrolyzed, it is broken down with the help of an acid and a base into amino acids. The wheat, soy and corn are broken down using a caustic acid and then neutralized with sodium hydroxide or lye. The resulting brown scum is dried and used in many flavorings. We know it as the seasoning packet in ramen noodles
  2. Enriched bleached flour- these are the sneaky carbs found in many deserts and pastries and I, for one, am guilty of indulging.
  3. Partially hydrogenated oil- these contain trans fatty acids which I will explain in point 4. Some companies have opted to remove the trans fat from the oil and still continu to use the oil.
  4. Trans fat- this type of fat is the most dangerous, more dangerous than saturated fat. This fat doesn’t melt at room temperature and creates a plastic like film around your arteries, hardening them and setting you up for heart disease. AVOID THESE FATS WHEVER POSSIBLE
  5. High fructose corn syrup -this syrup is used to ehance the flavor of food from savory, to sweet. It fools the body into thinking that it wants more food, thereby causing you to eat more. this is usually the 1st or second ingredient in food so avoid whenever possible.
  6. GMO’s(genetically modified food)- this mostly pertains to fruits and vegetables that have ben given food with addictives to make the food grow bigger, meanwhile the plants chemistry has been modified. if eaten, these chemicals could have adverse affects on our own bodies. it’s best to purchase produce from local farmer’s markets or grow your own.

 

5. HAVE A HOUSE OF PLANTS Click to show "Blooming House Plants" result 4

House plants make wonderful additions to your home and greener living. Not only could they be used for decor, but they help get rid of toxins in the air. If you’re like me with high ceilings in an apartment, try not to use the hanging plants, but instead keep them at a level where you could water them. That way, you won’t forget to water them because they’re too high and you can check how they’re growing. Most small house plants sell anywhere between $3.99 and 9.99. The taller tropical plants sell anywhere between $14.99 and 32.99.

6. PAY THEM BILLS ONLINE

Comcast has a new feature where you can opt to pay online and not receive a paper bill in the mail. You can request other companies to do the same such as electric, water and gas, or even you bank statements. Think of the millions of trees you’ll save by this simple excercise.

7.  TAP WATER VS. BOTTLED WATER

If you’re like some people I know and like to buy bottled water, then this section is especially for you. Why keep buying bottled water when you can use a filter that does the same thing and still taste great? Plus, you’ll be saving money because you can drink as much water as you want without going to the supermarket everytime you run out. And using a filter attachment also creates less waste. Brita sells filters for about $25 dollars and they last up to about 6 months. The refills are cheaper-$16. Here’s a tragedy for you..most bottled water, especially Deer Park, is actually tap water.

                                                                                                                           

 

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Your Carbon Footprint

Posted on January 6, 2011. Filed under: Environment | Tags: , , , , |

I want to attach a post I did a while ago about the carbon footprint. I wrote it in 2009 when I started my very first blog. It has some good information about what exactly a carbon footprint is and I even included some basic tips on how to lessen your impact on the earth.

                                                      

The Carbon Footprint..What is a carbon footprint? It’s not the new sneaker store opening in PG plaza or Mondawmin. A carbon footprint is a measure of greenhouse gases that you emit during your daily activites that affect the planet. Things like how much you drive your car, or how much electricity you use have an effect on our enviroment and contributes to global warming. If you go to www.carbonfootprint.com , you can actually take a test to measure what you carbon footprint is and even has steps to lessen it. I scored a 5.39 tons of CO2 per year which is really low(and quite good), but it can be better. Most of this comes from the fact that I use electricity in my home instead of gas, and I drive to work instead of catching the bus(this is mostly for safety reasons; it’s b-more people). And it also measures other things like how much organic food you eat and how much packaging is in the things you buy. I eat my fair share of organic food, but we are in a recession and I had to buy the generic (but still healthy) stuf. I didn’t realize this but packaging also has a direct effect on our carbon footprint. The more packaging a product has, the more waste we create, thereby filling up landfills with more waste. And most packaging is non biodegradable so that means that it has no way of breaking down and becoming a renewable source. These things(mostly plastics) end up in our rivers, oceans, and forests and can have devastating effects on our wildlife. I shop a lot too, but most of the things I buy like clothes and shoes are usually given away to the thrifts stores or other charitable organizations. I know that the point is to buy less to create less waste and only buy things that you need. I’ll stretch a little on the last point to say that it’s ok to splurge every now and then, but do know what you’re buying, what ingredients are used, and if the packaging is recycled and biodegradable. The average carbon footprint in the US is 20.40 tons per person. On the webiste, it looks like Shaq’s shoe size compared to mine. But that’s huge and it’s very worrisome. Average industrial nations use about 11 tons of CO2 per year and the world as a whole uses 4 tons. The world target to combat climate change is at 2 tons per year. Do I think that the average American is willing to make sacrifices for the greater good our planet to make this achieveable? Maybe, but honestly I doubt it. But think about it like this..we already know how to cut back on energy so that it doesn’t make a huge dent in our wallets by keeping the lights off when we’re not using them or not using the heat/ac when it get’s hot or cold. Most of us who don’t own a car already catch the bus or subway. And since being broke is ‘in’ these days, not too many of us are buying a lot of stuf. So why does it seem like I’m so pessimistic?

Because next to money and sex, people who have cars love them to death and even give them names like stacy, and lucille and would not walk to the corner store even if it means it will save them gas. I know people who go joyriding just to get out of the house. A couple of years when gas was almost $5/gal I knew of someone who was set in their ways that they had to just go out for a ride because this person was bored. Nevermind the fact that this person went out during the daytime where you burn up more gas anyway and where there’s more traffic. I’m pessimistic because as obesity grows and becomes more and more out of control, more and more people are becoming lazy. I work for a retail store and I promise you that everyday that I’m up there, there are customers, (who could sure use the excercise) don’t want to walk from point a of the store to point b because they think it’s too far. So they sit and complain because the store is ‘too big’ and some even walk out without paying/returning their purchase. When I was pregnant, I took the bus/rail to work and had to walk over a mile to work from the bus stop up until I was 7 months pregnant. I just don’t get the excuses. Of course, it doesn’t help when on every corner you go to, there’s a fried chicken joint, a liquor store, and SAVE A LOT that doesn’t offer healthier options. Oh and btw good luck on the 50 million pound challenge that sheila dixon is trying to get the city into because I’m really curious at how she’s gonna accomplish that(Note: this was written in 2009, so Shiela is out, but I’m not sure if Stepahnie Rawlings-Blake is still pushing this program). And I’m more pessimistic because I feel that we in the community feel empowered when we have material things, especially things we don’t neccessarily need. As I’ve said before, buying things, a lot of things, especially things we don’t need, this creates too much waste, attracts vermin, and is simply not good for our planet. Sure the city or county officials can step up their game a bit on trash pick up, but has anyone really asked us was we can do? And are we really that serious?

All of this has a major impact on our carbon footprint and our contribution to climate change. The key word here is SACRFICE. What are we willing to sacrifice so that our next generation can live on a sustanible planet. This is about our survival as a species and if we continue to go about business as usual, then it can have devastating affects on not just our planet but our livelihood. Basic ways to lessen out carbon footprint would be to drive less, carpool(it’s hard, I know) and recycle. But also, buy in-season produce, organic produce, local food, buying new clothes when you need them, and to try to get less items with less packaging.

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