BlackFish – Have You Seen It Yet??

by Tiffany in Environment


I recently sat down to watch the movie BlackFish again. It made me just as angry watching it the second time as it did the first time. The first time I watched I had to keep leaving the room because some parts were very upsetting to me. This time I made myself watch it. I cannot believe that Sea World still has patrons. I cannot believe that anyone who has seen this movie and lives in the vicinity of one of these parks has not been going to them and picketing or laying down in the entrance ways to prevent people from entering. The stuff going on in these parks is horrifying.

One of the worst things they are doing IMO is lying to the public and calling it “education”. There are videos of Sea World employees telling visitors that the average age of an Orca is 30-35 years in the wild and that they live much longer in captivity. This is a bold faced lie. Orcas live as long as a human, anywhere from 60-100 years old. In captivity they live on average 30 years so Sea World is essentially robbing them of more than half their life and that short life is spent living in prison like conditions. Employees also “educate” the public that the dorsal fin of Orcas collapses in 80-90% of all male Orcas no matter where they live. Again this is a lie. Their fins collapse when in captivity. This happens in the wild only a measly 1% of the time.

Die hard supporters of Sea World and places like it claim that they are important because they provide education. As seen in this movie that education is hugely flawed and sprinkled with lies. There goes that whole argument. They also claim that kids will not come to love or appreciate animals like dolphins or Orcas if they don’t see them in captive situations. Again, I call that a load of steaming you know what. As my husband pointed out while watching he thinks kids will find more to love and appreciate about Orcas from watching this film than they ever would attending a show at Sea World. I agree.

The movie goes into a long history of attacks by frustrated Orcas in captivity (as in 70+). The former Sea World trainers who worked with these whales never even knew about most of them, even when they were working with the exact same whales who had attacked at other facilities. They are not told because their employers really don’t want them to know. How that is not seen as criminal is beyond me.

The movie is creating change though. Sea World’s profits have plummeted 15% and OSHA imposed rules upon them declaring that trainers cannot openly swim with the whales anymore but must have a barrier between them. Sea World appealed and was denied just a few days ago. A court in California also stated recently that they are launching a year long investigation into whether or not to ban Orcas in captivity. We have to keep the pressure on to make sure that happens.

No person should avoid seeing this movie. If you do, you are choosing to bury your head in the sand when it comes to this HUGE issue of animal cruelty and corporate profiteering. It was filmed with the greatest of intentions and to quote a great man “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”. Endorsing Sea World and supporting them in any way is being silent. It makes one culpable.

I have been to zoos and aquariums where the goal is species protection and rehabilitation. Sea World does not even begin to qualify as one of those. For instance the aquarium near my home in Ohio has manatees. All of them were hit by boats in the Florida region. They get medical care and rehab and then they go back to the ocean. They are never made to sing for their supper. Maybe they are not capable so that is why they are not cared for in their own home state by (ahem) Sea World??? I don’t know but it sounds fishy.

Sea World has been under fire for decades for their practices. They ignored these concerns and kept up with business as usual. Now we are supposed to feel sorry for them because the backlash got too big?? No. If they wanted to do the right and honorable thing they would announce a plan to use ALL profits (after expenses) to revamp every single habitat to one of proper size and condition. They would no longer make animals perform like baffoons and endanger themselves and trainers. And they would promise to never, ever take a healthy animal from the wild again and instead house animals that are sick, injured, or endangered with a plan to rehab and return ASAP. Only after they made such statements (and backed it up with ACTION) would I consider supporting them with my money.

If you haven’t seen this movie yet…watch it, with your kids. It is so important.


A Fierce Green Fire – Watch it On Netflix

by Tiffany in Environment

fierce green fireOver the weekend I enjoyed a new movie added to the Netflix lineup recently. It had been a while since I really browsed what they have to offer, thinking I have watched just about every eco documentary on there. I really wanted to spend my Saturday out in the yard and actually I got up at about 6:00 am (hours before anyone else would wake) and headed outside to do just that. One misstep on my back deck though resulted in a horrifying popping sound from my leg and a wave of intense pain. So I spent my weekend on the couch hoping that rest would resolve it (we shall see!)

I was so impressed with the first movie I watched though that I had to share here. It is A Fierce Green Fire. It is a fascinating look at the environmental movement and its various “chapters” that lead us to where we are today. Each chapter is narrated by a different person such as Robert Redford, Ashley Judd, or Meryl Streep. Environmentalism in my mind really never became a thing until our local environments were actually threatened by something that had the power to destroy it on a large scale. That didn’t happen until the industrial age. The birth of environmentalism according to this narrative is said to have really started with hunters and fishermen. They were among the first to start sounding the alarms that big businesses and industrial “progress” was destroying nature. It was so very interesting given the slant we see from plant based diet supporters and animal activists that it was hunters who really were the first environmentalists and in fact still are among the most outspoken and active in protecting animals and local habitats.

These first pioneers started to see the destruction of habitats and the decimation of animal species to make nutty things like bird feather hats for affluent women. Then they turned their attentions to dams that were being built, cutting off water supplies to numerous habitats and effectively killing them. I was enthralled with a bit of history I had no clue about. I spent most of my life living in Arizona and never knew that developers attempted to build two dams in the Grand Canyon that would have essentially drained it. I cannot even imagine the Grand Canyon with no rivers to raft down but it almost happened. It was a burgeoning Sierra Club that stopped it and then spurred the movement to create National Parks that would be protected always.

In another chapter the movie delves into the lack of regulation assigned to the chemical industry and the Love Canal fiasco where a company buried 21,000 tons of waste near a sleepy town in New York.  The end result was that 56% of the children born subsequently had birth defects (extra ears, toes, fingers, rows of teeth, etc). Numerous children were sick and others were stillborn or born so prematurely they died. It was a group on moms who came together and forced the government (after a long drawn out battle) to declare it a disaster zone and pay for everyone to relocate.

It tells the story of Greenpeace and all the work they did and the splinter groups that formed and did various good work such as stopping the whaling industry. This particular part of the movie was deeply disturbing though I must warn you…. sounds of screaming whales, seals being hit in the heads with axes and so forth. I watched it and it made me all the more angry about the Sea World business going on right now and how people are starting to wake up a little after seeing the Blackfish movie. Why people in states where a SeaWorld resides aren’t laying down in the parking lots of these places to block visitors daily baffles me. Many are boycotting but MORE action is needed. Greenpeace got stuff done because they took dramatic and effective action. Just sayin…

Yet another chapter involves deforestation and it highlights the story of Chico Mendes who pioneered the world’s first tropical forest conservation initiative. He lived in the forest and worked in the forest and saw it being sold off to ranchers and loggers who decimated it. He fought until he was able to make the area where he lived a protected area where the indigenous people were not squatters but the rightful owners. His story is beautiful but also heart wrenching.

There is also no shortage of political stuff in the movie. If you are conservative you probably won’t like it because well, frankly conservatives are on the wrong side of this issue and MOST of the horrendous, stupid, no-good, bad decisions that ended in devastation to our environment were made by Republicans. They lay a lot of blame on Reagan specially who actually targeted environmentalists and started calling them radicals. One of the first things the guy did was remove the solar panels from the white house and cut funding to alternative energy development. The guy had a huge axe to grind with environmentalists getting in the way of what he thought was progress. As a result of that (one of  MANY) we are getting spanked by many other nations when it comes to alternative energy ideas and solutions.  That said the movie also takes shots at Clinton, Gore, and Obama for essentially doing nothing to take legislative action on climate change even though they promised they would.

I highly recommend this movie. If you don’t like politics you can always skip that chapter and instead revel in the history of good people doing amazing things for our one home and be inspired to continue the work they started…

here is your country


Get the Scoop, on Genetically Modified Foods

by Tiffany in Environment

In the mid-90s something called a Genetically Modified Organism was introduced to our food supply. A GMO occurs when the genes of one animal or plant species is artificially inserted into another animal or plant. One side of the debate supports that studies showed a 61% decrease in herbicide usage on GM Cottons. However, the other side rebutted that because of the speedy spread of Super-weeds, resistant to herbicides, even more chemicals would be used to compensate.

When it comes to the GMO controversy, all sides are set on full fire, with no signs of burning out. Maybe you’re reading this saying “Yay, Go GMO!” Maybe you are on the other side of the river, ranting about GMO destroying the world. Then again, Maybe you are thinking, “GM…What!?

So, what’s the scoop? Are Genetically Modified Foods the answer… or are they just a harmful ploy of science? Do GM crops increase or decrease the use of herbicides? Does genetic modification have a significant impact on crop yields? Are the impacts on yield positive or negative? Does genetic modification place a heavy impact on a farmer’s social and financial stability? Most importantly, are GM crops held to the same standards and regulations as all other foods, or do they seriously cause dysfunction to vital organs such as the immune system, liver, pancreas, and spleen?

In the end, no matter what side you stand on, the story is far from black and white. In this controversy of greys, it is best to be educated on the good, the bad, and the in-between. It’s time you dig deeper in the soils of this Genetically Modified Food Fight. Take a look at this infographic provided by Carrington.edu for more information.



Paleo For the Planet – Why Carnivores Can Have a Positive Impact

by Tiffany in Environment

Reasons Why Paleo Diets are Sustainble and Planet Friendly

A few months back I wrote a post about going paleo for health. I mostly wrote it as a visceral response to a blog post I read that tried to debunk the paleo diet as unhealthy and elitist. I think I did a pretty good job trouncing all of the reasons they claimed the paleo diet was so gosh darn awful. One of their “issues” with paleo though went unanswered by me though. I thought I would write a follow up post within a few days but just never got around it. The article, from way back when, claimed that going paleo was bad for the planet because meat consumption in general is not good for the planet.

This idea is nothing new. We hear it all the time from vegetarians, vegans, and the part timers who think that a Meatless Monday will help with the planetary impact of meat as a food choice. We hear it all the time because it is rooted in truth. Meat consumption can and often does have a very negative impact on our planet. This is all very true. Though we must also insert a big BUT here if we are being genuine and honest. The keyword is that meat consumption CAN have a negative impact…this is not always the case and there are many conscious meat eaters out there who are creating change and eating with minimal impact. It can be done and I think most paleo and primal diet enthusiasts fit that description, or they are attempting to. Paleo, when done right right, can be a huge boon to human health and it can be done sustainably and without damaging our planet further. How so? Below I outline some of the reasons why meat eating doesn’t have to be unstainable…

Factory Farms are Unsustainable – Not Paleo – The thing you have to understand is that when anti-meat crusaders start talking about the negative impact of meat production, 99.9% of the time they are referring to factory farming. They are talking about the huge lots with hundreds and thousands of cows, pigs, and chickens that are kept in dirty cages, fed unhealthy and unnatural foods, and overwhelm the area with massive amounts of toxic waste. I do not argue that these systems are hugely problematic and harmful to our planet. This is NOT the type of food that modern day cavemen want to eat though.

Paleo enthusiasts support small, local farms that pasture their animals and allow them to eat the healthy and natural foods that they are designed to eat. Most of the time these farms are diverse and they do more than just produce cows or chickens for meat. They might also grow fruits and veggies, keep bees, and utilize the waste that their animals produce to feed and nourish their plant based crops. An example of a system like this can be found in the Polyface farm owned and run by Joel Salatin. We paleo eaters don’t like factory farmed, unsustainable meat any more than the militant vegans do and as much as we possibly can, we avoid it at all costs. So when the anti-meat parade starts talking about how meat is unsustainable they are talking about factory farming and when you consider the meat sources that paleo eaters endorse and support than you know you are comparing apples and oranges.

paleo versus not paleo

Plant Based Crops Can Be Just As Harmful – Where I live in Ohio I need only drive a few minutes to be completely surrounded by corn, soy, and wheat fields. Most if not all of it probably GMO. Monocrops such as this are devastating to the planet. Growing the same thing over and over means pests and bugs are rampant, which means stronger and stronger chemical pesticides and herbicides must be used to create successful crops. These chemicals go down into our groundwater to slowly poison us and they harm our bee populations.

Now a HUGE part of this is tied to factory farmed meat (I admit) because these crops are grown for them to eat. This is another reason why paleo eaters don’t support factory farming! The animals are fed unhealthy foods that make them diseased and sickly. Cows are meant to eat grass, not corn. BUT these huge monocrops are not ONLY for factory farmed animals…they are also for human food. The kind of food that vegans and vegetarians eat. You see it is much cheaper and less labor intensive to grow one crop. The soil however is depleted because one thing is grown over and over with no biodiversity. This means that massive amounts of chemical fertilizer must be used to even get the crops to grow. Add to this the pesticides and herbicides and you have a yummy chemical cocktail on the your tomatoes, salad greens, strawberries, spinach, grains (for flour, bread, processed foods), soy (for soy protein), beans, lentils, and much more.

For more information on why a plant based diet is FAR more unsustainable than we are typically lead to believe I highly recommend reading The Vegetarian Myth. It exposes the destructive history of plant based agriculture  – causing the devastation of prairies and forests, driving countless species extinct, altering the climate, and destroying the topsoil.

No Junk Food Crops – Modern day cavemen don’t support the junk food crops like soy, corn (for HFCS), beans, and grains because we generally don’t eat that stuff. If someday every person on the planet went paleo… which let’s face it, is a bogus argument… imagine how much land we would have to tinker with if we stopped growing all those nutritionally devoid junk food crops. When you argue against paleo foods as a sustainable option, you are really arguing against REAL FOOD being a being a sustainable option. If real food isn’t sustainble than we do indeed have very big problems.

Paleos Supports Local Food Economies – Paleo folks are excellent supporters of small local farmers and food producers and as such as also great supporters of their local food economies. It is because they want pastured, ethically raised meat that they seek out local producers. It is cheaper to get these items locally and they like to get to know the farmer producing their food so that they know exactly how it was raised/grown. They are tuned in to the local foods scene around them and typically this is where they end up sourcing the majority of their food…from local producers who grow things with an eye on sustainability, health, and biodiversity. They basically have to. It is a very rare grocer that offers things like grassfed beef and free range chicken and eggs from chickens not fed soy. By necessity we paleos become local consumers who eat in season.

Paleos Eat Far More Than Meat – For some reason the paleo/primal diets become synomymous with carnivores…like we sit around and gnaw on raw steak all day. There are plenty of meals though where meat does not even make an appearance on my plate. We eat a variety of foods, only some of which are animal products. If anything my range of veggies and greens expanded when I went paleo. I eat more fruits and veggies (variety and quantity) after going paleo, than I ever did as a vegetarian.

Paleos Like To Grow Their Own – Okay this might be an over generalization but in my experience, paleo folks like to take charge of some aspect of producing their own food, even on a small scale. Perhaps it is because they have such rockin relationships with their local farmers and they want to try it themselves. Maybe costs motivates them. I don’t know, but most of the paleo/primal folks I know do something… whether it be raising animals for food or vegetable gardening in their own home or through a community garden.

Paleos Are Hunter Gatherers – This point ties in closely to the one I just highlighted. One more way in which we can take charge of our food and not rely on big agribusiness is to learn about wild food foraging and hunting. It is not unusual for paleo dieters to include deer, rabbit, squirrel, and other wild caught  meats and fish to their diet. Some of the busiest booths at my local farmer’s market are the small scale sellers and hunters who sell these exact items. You cannot tell me that deer, rabbit, and squirrel are not a sustainable way to add more meat to the diet.

Paleo Are Very Conscious Eaters – Just as ethical vegans are more conscious of their impact on animals when they eat, paleos are also very conscious about their choices and the impact. It just goes with the territory. When we start out on this journey we look into why grains are bad for our health and soon it becomes clear that growing grains is also bad for the planet. When we start to eschew factory farmed meat we learn a ton about how meat is produced, how animals are treated, how healthy they are, and the impact they have on health and planet. When you learn all about these issues you cannot help but WANT to make the best choice on all fronts. You fall down a rabbit hole into a whole new world and it changes you…for the better.

In short these are just some of the reasons why the argument that paleo/primal eating is bad for the planet… are just plain running out of gas. What do you think?


World Changing Dreamers (IF WE Challenge)

by Tiffany in Environment

Love this video. Apparently there was a world changing dreams contest called the IF WE CHALLENGE and contributions were collected globally. This video illustrates three of the dreams collected…one from India, one from the US, and one from Canada.

The third one was a bit out there…kinda made me think of Wall-e. The first two though, I was wondering why in fact we don’t already have something like this in place. Great ideas. What do you think?

IF WE can ask the right questions, we can change the world.