Tag Archives: Canada

Breaking Relative Silence

It has been an interesting couple of months for me personally.  I am filled with enormous gratitude for life, my faculties and the love, courage, and greatness I witness every day.  The many wonderful people who have supported me with beautiful words and encouragement I thank you.  There is so much I have wanted to share recently.  From “I Am Steve Marsh” to the Terrible TPP to some inspiring people and events (including my mom Ratana who was recently awarded the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada).  Although I have been posting some Style-Diet Shots, I am otherwise breaking silence.

Through social media (as the mainstream media is still rubbing its eyes, wondering if it should wake up), US state after state and several counties are presenting both labelling bills and GE or GMO Free resolutions.  Clearly, this is one of the biggest issues of our times.   Canada and the US are the only developed countries who do not legislate some kind of labelling of GMOs.  So today I write with a happy heart that we can do something (activism and clicktivism) right here and now today in Canada.  Our collective clicks will become a force for change.  Our voices a sea of myriad droplets rushing in 100 foot waves (Dustin Barca can surf ’em) . So much good has come lately.  Food Babe and Robyn O’Brien and Moms Across America, our Hawaiian siblings and so many others have successfully managed to eke great changes to N. American food recently.  We still have a huge mountain to climb.  But the journey of a thousand miles begins with one single footstep.  Robyn O’Brien talks about the moral compass.  Let’s keep True North.  Let’s hold the corporations to their better angels.

For those who are still confused about whether GMOs are good or bad, I will explain why you should be wary and cautious about GMOs and employ the precautionary principle, apart from the facts that:

1. GMOs have contributed to a massive increase in toxic pesticides and herbicides.

2. GMOs have contributed to the creation of superweeds.

3. GMOs are now being considered by the USDA to be sprayed with 2,4 D also known as Agent Orange.  Since Round-Up (Glyphosate) isn’t working any more, the big chemical companies are resorting to even more toxic applications of the GMO technology.  It appears that the USDA is leaning towards approval despite common sense screaming against it.

4. GMOs have been approved by the government, based on short-term studies done by the same companies selling them.  Every independent, long-term study has shown cause for alarm.

5. Despite the hype about Bio-enhanced foods, most – 90% of GMOs are designed to withstand the herbicide glyphosate also known as Round-Up.

Most North Americans do not know whether they are consuming GMOs since the chemical giants and others like the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association have lobbied against consumer’s right to know, spending millions upon millions to suppress this basic necessity.  Imagine how many hungry people they could have fed instead?  They continue along this tragic path of concealment despite allowing customers elsewhere around the globe this right (about 5 billion see previous post https://thedeepersideblog.com/2013/12/09/gmos-by-nation).  These people in 64+ nations are buying the very same products reformulated without GMOs and or labelled.

There are two things not commonly known about GMOs that I learned from former GMO scientist Dr. Thierry Vrain (youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQkQXyiynYs).  The first is that, when scientists insert foreign genes (usually to resist the antibiotic Round-Up), the process is imprecise and nobody knows where in the DNA of the modified organism this toxic gene ends up.  The second thing is scientists don’t know how many copies are being inserted.  Messing with the DNA of an organism is problematic since biologists continually discover just how intensely, mind-blowingly complicated DNA is.  Even this past December an article in Science turned the original one protein-one gene DNA theory on its head:

http://www.washington.edu/news/2013/12/12/scientists-discover-double-meaning-in-genetic-code/

Nearly every study not conducted by the handful of chemical companies controlling this technology shows serious health and toxic effects on animals and ecosystems.  As famous environmentalist and geneticist (also an alumnus of my alma mater The University of Chicago) David Suzuki has famously said, “Any politician or scientist who tells you these products are safe is either very stupid or lying.”

So what can you do here in Canada?

Today you can effect change with a two pronged approach!

The first is an online petition.  With one click below, you can support the new Federal Labelling Bill M480 “Right to Know” put forth by Murray Rankin, an MP and Lawyer championing people and the environment.  It is wonderful to have an elected official listening to the people, for the people.  Like in the US, we in Canada want GMOs labelled.  And this is no small minority.  Well over 90% of Canadians and Americans consistently polled want GMOs labelled.  We of the over 90% feel it’s a right, given that fat and sugar and even the contents of our mattresses are labelled.  Even those who believe GMOs are good (or can be) still want to know what they are feeding themselves and their families.

Murray Rankin first introduced this bill in Ottawa this past December 2013.  Please take a minute to sign and share and send as widely as you can.

http://petition.ndp.ca/the-food-you-eat

Secondly, if you are convinced like many multitudes, that GMOs have no merit except for fairy tales and real red flag warnings, then you can support a recent campaign to Stop the GM apple.  This apple doesn’t brown when cut.  And remember, the scientists themselves don’t know what processes are being disrupted in the insertion of foreign genes in the process of making this un-necessary apple.  What you can do is speak up against the GM Apple.  Remind your stores where you shop that the apple is using dangerous technology.  Tell them you wont buy it.  Explain how the process of creating GMOs is imprecise and disrupts the DNA of the Apple. Plus once released into our countryside, it will contaminate our other apples.  Quote David Suzuki and Dr Vrain.  Inform them about Dr. Vrain’s Ted Talk and his cross Canada tour to enlighten the public.
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I’ve been reading about Abraham Lincoln who led America at the time of the civil war.  He refused to let the slave states secede at a time a weaker man might have let the US just split into two or allow slavery to perpetuate into the new territories.  Whilst reading, I can’t stop marvelling that people used biology, logic and religion to justify slavery. When such injustice is perpetrated, we are morally obligated to speak out and up.  With right comes might and a sense of noble purpose.  Please ask me if you want more petitions to sign and I’ll dig them up.

Well, Gentle Readers (feeling Victorian after immersing in some Romantic music yesterday), please forgive my ramblings, mistakes, and typos.  I hope to be back again as soon as possible.  In the meantime, thank you for reading.  Thank you for your comments.  Thank you for your commitment to the Earth and each other.  A presto…

Two Great Events coming up in Vancouver

Two Great Events are coming up in Vancouver that I wanted to share with y’all. If you can’t attend, send positive vibrations.

OCTOBER 2nd

The goal of The Deeper Side Blog is to inspire change. What better way to embrace change than by celebrating it? How else to celebrate women who are making the step to live clean and sober than by making them queens for a day? In anticipation of their forth-coming nuptials? How about gifting them designer, custom wedding dresses? Custom made Jewellery? How about a day at Zazou Spa?  How about those dresses be none other than upcycled wedding dresses from Pure Magnolia Eco-Bridal Boutique?  Welcome to the ReVamp Gala.

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Celebrating the triumphant struggle of brave women, in front of the beluga whales at the Vancouver Aquarium, Pure Magnolia Eco-Bridal designs will be upcycling wedding dresses.  Specially crafted jewellery will be gifted to the brides by Mirror Mirror Bijoux by Pamela Chang, a local designer. (I have pair of earrings I love by Pamela Chang.) And there will be a fashion show to celebrate.  All proceeds from the event will be donated to YWCA Crabtree Corner (assisting pregnant women with addictions). http://www.puremagnolia.ca/2013/09/inspiration-tuesday-the-ywca-crabtree-corner-brides/

OCTOBER 4TH

Second event is the TORCH OF LIFE is a huge media event, including press conferences, film screenings at VGH and Walk for Life Organ Donation.  https://www.facebook.com/events/510954582320796/

I was a living liver donor 2.5 years ago (yes, my liver grew back). Most people who need organs die on the waiting list waiting for someone else to die (yes it’s a weird feeling being on the wait list waiting for someone to die). If laws were changed then many people who were in my position will be spared the ordeal to save a loved one. Canada currently has an organ donation program where we opt in. This means that unless you have signed up to be a donor, you wont be one. The upshot of Canada’s current system is that most organs are lost to those who need them because, unintentionally, they didn’t sign up. Uruguay Mexico, Columbia and Singapore have recently implemented presumptive consent for organ donation. Presumptive consent means that the default is that you opt out. So if you don’t want to donate your organs, you don’t have to donate your organs.

Torch of Life
Karen Hurd Stacey, in a loving gesture, donated her “Blood Money” to help others. Given a transfusion of tainted blood many years ago, she developed liver disease.  Given compensation by the government and turning a tragedy to triumph, Karen used the money to set up the Stacey House. See my post https://thedeepersideblog.com/2013/05/21/livers-and-givers-karen-stacey/

Karen works tirelessly in the hospitals, volunteering and advising and supporting those people who desperately need an organ. She recently told me about a young man in intensive care who’s barely hanging on, hoping against hope, racing against the clock.  Karen has put together an amazing event to raise awareness for organ donation.  Two films will be shown: stories to touch you: one is about a Palestinian boy killed in the crossfire. His organs went to Israeli children.  In Nicholas’ Gift Nicholas killed while on holiday in Italy.  His parents saved multiple lives donating his organs.  Nicholas lives on.  This makes me cry just writing about it.

To celebrate life and miracles we are given by modern medicine, please come out, see the film, hear what Doctors, donors and recipients have to say and Join the short Walk for Life from VGH to Vancouver City Hall.  Seating is limited for the film.  So get your tickets before they are gone.

Cool stones on Horby

When I saw these rocks on Hornby, sentiments stirred inside me.  Curiosity, beauty, wonderment. These are as fantastical and thought-provoking as the best of modern art.  There is such value in these stone formations, aesthetically.  I wonder if the First Nations have legends about them.

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 Hornby Island: Mother Nature’s Art Gallery.

My Speech at the March Against Monsanto Victoria

“The Right to Know what’s in our food is going to define our generation”

– Me (Today)

For the first time today, I gave a speech at a Protest Rally.   I spoke to a crowd covering the lawn in front of Victoria’s Parliament Buildings.  The energy was insane and I kept getting interrupted with applause.  Having been so moved since hearing Dr Vandana Shiva talk, it was motivating and inspiring to march with others, demanding our rights to know what’s in our food.  Several people afterwards asked me if I could email my speech to them.  I figured maybe it would be better to post it so anybody can find it.  I’ve also been asked about where to sign  petitions.  I am going to find that out put that information out too.  Meantime, here is my talk.

“I speak to you as a friend and as a mother who is sick to her stomach with this GMO madness. My Grandparents and great- grandparents farmed here on Vancouver Island. Grandpa Rupert said “Always leave the Soil better than you found it”.

I am here today because I met Dr Vandana Shiva, winner of the Alternative Nobel prize and heard her talk here at UVIC. I was so upset that evening, I couldn’t sleep. I was inspired and inflamed. I was so perturbed and disturbed about the current state of affairs, I wanted to get up and shout, tell people about it. We have a right to know what’s in our food. There is not enough evidence that GMOs are healthy for us. The ever-growing evidence is that GMOs are poisoning us and destroying our planet.

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First of all, GMOs stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. These are plants and animals not found in nature, created in laboratories. Once they are released into nature you can’t recall them, like opening the lid of Pandora’s Box, My Dad Arran said in 1990s, “There is no wall high enough to keep out GMOs”. There are two main types of GMOs. One type has insecticide toxin spliced into their genes. The other type is spliced with a pesticide resistance gene. So when you plant it in a field and saturate that field with pesticides and herbicides, Everything in that field dies (in theory). Everything, except for the Genetically modified plant.

We first heard about GMO foods in the 1990s with the Franken tomato with fish genes.  From then until now independent study after independent study has shown serious health and environmental and social consequences.

Animal studies show that GMOs cause : cancers, ulcers, acute signs of early aging, reproductive and growth problems.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg. GMO toxins are in our bodies. They even cross the placenta. In a 2011 study from the Scientific Journal Reproductive Toxicology, 93% of fetal blood tested contained GMO toxins. This is dangerous and as a Mother, I find this terrifying.

What is worse is that more than eighty percent of all food sold in Canadian supermarkets contains these GMOs. Eighty percent! And nobody knows about it because they are not labelled!

64 countries require GMO labeling or outright ban GMOs. 64 countries including such “Progressive Nations like China and Russia – require GMOs to be labelled. Why not US?

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My family has been at the forefront to label GMOs in North America. We are Canadians, living here in Victoria and Vancouver but so far, the fight to label has been in the US. GMOs are a problem affecting everybody, everywhere. You coming out today is a sign that Canada too is waking up.

Let me tell you about a grandmother called Pamm Larry in California. Pamm presented a proposition to label GMOs called prop 37. My family heard about this contributed 660, 000 to help her spread the word. Other companies and individuals joined us and we raised 3-4 million dollars for prop 37, the right to know. Californians wanted GMO labelling and the proposition was going to pass with a landslide. But guess what happened in the last 6 weeks of that grass roots campaign? Monsanto, Dow, Coca cola, Syngenta, Post, DuPont, Bayer, Pespico, Cascadian Farms, Kelloggs, Kashi and others donated almost 50 million dollars to defeat labelling. Those big companies and big companies posing as little companies do not want consumers to know what we are eating. They outspent the grassroots pro-labelling initiative by 10 to 1 after waging a dirty, fearful, and deceitful campaign. But guess what? they didn’t win the vote by tenfold. The final vote came down to 48.5% for labelling GMOs and 51.5% against. It wasn’t a win for Consumer Rights this time BUT it was a victory in that 6,000,000 people voted FOR labelling. That represents a ten-fold increase in awareness of this dangerous and unsustainable technology.

We are awakening and we are the droplets of water in the tides that are turning. Just this past week in Connecticut, the house approved a pro-labelling bill that went to the senate who also voted to approve it 35 to 1: Democrats and Republicans together. Concerned Citizens in Washington State and Vermont have bills on the table as we speak.

Let me tell you something neat. Scientists have come up with a way of measuring life in fields. They take this box contraption which has cameras and sensors in it and lay it in a field. It counts every time a bug or creature crawls or slithers or buzzes through it. In an organic field, there will be hundreds of insects going through there in 24 hours. Now take the same box and put it in a GMO field and guess what happens? In one 24 hour period, in that GMO field, there will only maybe one or possibly 2 insects passing that box. The animals and insects know to stay away from GMOS – or have been killed -but we don’t. ?

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I thought the Canadian government was supposed to protect us citizens.  Don’t we have the right to know what we are eating?  We must teach ourselves where to shop, how to shop, and what to buy. Tell your schools and your work places about GMOs. Make you voice heard, ask your local elected representative for help. In a world where voting with your money can be an act of protest, buy from your local farms food you trust. If you want to be totally and utterly defiant, plant seeds, grow your own food.

It’s confusing out there in the supermarket. We are being misled and confused and deliberately so. What should you eat? What should you trust? What should you avoid? Here are some shopping rules:

Avoid “Natural” if that’s it’s only claim. By itself, “Natural” means nothing nowadays. Natural means it can have pesticides and herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, and GMOs.  It probably does.  There are no rules or laws regulating the term ‘Natural”.

Foods bearing the Canada Organic Seal can be trusted.  Organic is a legal definition and a traceable system with the force of law behind it.

There is a new label called Non-GMO project verified. It is third-party certified at a threshold of 9/10 of a percent contamination. If you see it on packaging, that means the food has been tested and has no GMOs. It is a step in the right direction. However, it is not all that great. Harmful and unsustainable pesticides and Herbicides are still allowed, just not the ones in GMO production. This label is being used as Greenwashing by some companies. It certainly is not as good as organic.  Organic certification has never allowed GMOs.  Never.

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When in doubt, if in doubt, buy certified organic. Organic automatically means that it’s GMO FREE PLUS it’s grown sustainably. Organic is quantum leaps better than all the other labels combined. Certified organic is the Gold Standard: No harmful pesticides, no harmful herbicides. Buying organic is safe for you and is the only way we can keep our waters and lands and soil pure.

Think of that GMO field – barren of bees and insects, silent except for farmers in biohazard suits spraying toxic chemicals on the crops. Now see an organic one. See a world where the bees are buzzing and the soil is naturally replenished. See the world where food is democratic, where the seeds are free and grow again and again and again. When you buy Organic, you support this.

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Demand GMOs to be labelled. If China and Russia and 62 other countries have done it, we can do it too. Nestle just recently caved into consumers in South Africa who demanded that its baby food be GMO free. Why did Nestle do this? Because a concerned group of citizens demanded it. Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Like in S. Africa, we can do the same thing here in Canada. We must do the same thing! We are the voice! We have the right to know what’s in our food! What do we want: Labelling When do we want it: Yesterday

Dr Vandana Shiva said, “The growing of our food should be an act of love.”

And as Grandpa Rupert said “Always leave the soil better than you found it.”

Thank you.”

The Style Diet Shot – The Beginning

“On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

– Thomas Jefferson

I have been following The Sartorialist (www.thesartorialist.com) for years now, watching him highlight people with unique style in fashion capitals around the world. When I lived in Florence, I regulary wondered if I’d bump into Scott Schumann at the Pitti or the Duomo. When we moved back to Canada, pictures of Florence’s stylish hotties (of all ages) helped heal my homesickness for Italy.

I discovered a Vancouver equivalent to The Sartorialist when my friend Edith popped up on Style Quotient http://www.stylequotient.ca/2010/03/31/no-288/. Edith is a beautiful singer with a silken voice and wicked sense of style. (If you’re lucky, you might catch her dulcet tones at Cheesecake Etc one fine evening)

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Julia Roberts in 2001, wearing Vintage Valentino. The designer has said that dressing Ms Roberts for this event has been a career highlight.

What we wear cannot but echo part of our philosophy. I love fashion but want to celebrate common sense and sustainability. Yet style too. Is it possible? You bet your second-hand Fleuvogs yeah! Had to have a think and yay…

… I got a brain flash!

Wouldn’t it be awesome to show stylish peoples wearing a main item of clothing acquired according to the Stephens’ Sisters Shopping Diet Principles?!! Organic, local, sustainable, second-hand, ethically made. If none of the above, then clothes from countries with stellar human rights records. Quality, so you replace your stuff less often.

To kick off, here is Jyoti at the office. Her dress is Value Village Vintage.

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I acknowledge that some people don’t want to clothe themselves in the energy of strangers. My mother, born in India, is one of those people. She asked me to say this when I told her I would blog about The Diet. In India, there is a taboo about buying other people’s cast-off clothing. Fortunately, being born in Canada and being half English, I laughed off that cultural idea when I was young. Wearing clean, second-hand clothes that fit your style can be super cool, sustainable, hip and exciting to shop for. The quality of many well-made vintage clothes is such that they have lasted decades. Clothes back then were were made to last years, not a season.

I hope to make The Diet Style Shot a regular – if not frequent – section of my blog to celebrate those people who can rock your grand-dad’s clothes.

And look incredible.