Letters to the Editor – May 2011

Dangers of Compact Fluorescent Lights

Dear Helke,

First of all I want to let you know how much I enjoy reading your articles in every issue. In addition to your great article “The Damaging Effects of Electropollution,” you can also write about the dangers of Compact Fluorescent Lights. I just read this article by Gary Friedman.

It makes me think twice about using CFLs. In fact, I am sure I will not be using CFLs in my house, but what about CFLs in our workplaces and our schools?

Jasmina, via email 

The Benefits of “A New Model of Economics” (Dec 10/ Jan 11)

Great read. You have done a real service by providing information about this issue and information about Elinor Ostrom and her Nobel Prize. We are on the apex of the previous economic system and NOW we need all information we can get as to how better organize ourselves.

John Law, via Web

Why Don’t We Know Where Our Food Comes From?

Time and again, when I talk with both farmers and consumers about local food and supporting farmers, I am asked why we have such a poor labelling system for food grown and produced in Canada.

As citizens, we have the right to know where our food comes from. We also have the right to know that the food we eat is grown and processed to the standards we have here in Canada. By choosing food grown and processed in Canada, we not only support Canadian farmers, but we help create a more diversified local food system, we keep processing jobs in Canada, and we reduce food miles. However, a visit to a supermarket quickly reveals how confusing our labelling system is.

So why is it so difficult for our politicians to put in place a Product of Canada labelling system that makes it easy for us to choose Canadian food? Could it be that the large retailers, processors, and distributors do not want us to know where the food we buy was grown or processed? They know Canadians want to buy Canadian food – that is why they put the small quantities of local food they carry at the front of the store and why they develop their own brands with names like ‘Farmers Market.’ However, while they spend some marketing dollars to make it appear that they are supporting local farmers, at the same time these corporations are busy looking for the cheapest food to stock their shelves. Cheap food for supermarket shelves usually means importing food from countries where standards are lower, and labour is cheaper because workers live in poverty or the environment is being destroyed to grow cheap exports.

The National Farmers Union has asked that Product of Canada labelling be made mandatory for fruits and vegetables which are 100% grown and processed in Canada. In addition, food products processed in Canada with imported ingredients should specify the origin and the percentage of the imported ingredients. To avoid consumer confusion, we recommend that the country of origin be clearly and prominently displayed on food products which have grades like ‘Canada Fancy’ and ‘Canada Choice.’ The NFU also supports the use of Product of Canada and country of origin labelling on meat as a way to re-localize the Canadian food system and reduce our export dependence.

If you want to know where your food comes from, and if you want to support Canadian farmers when your buy food, make sure that you ask the political candidates in your riding how they would support Canadian family farms through labelling. Then once the election is over, be ready to remind the winning candidate about the need for a meaningful Product of Canada labelling system.

Ann Slater is an NFU Region 3 (Ontario) national board member who farms near St. Marys, Ontario.

Contact: (519) 349-2448 or aslater@quadro.net

An Amazing Kidney Failure Recovery Story

This is a story of an incredible comeback from end stage kidney failure and defying the odds to becoming a whole person for the first time in my life. In February 2008, I developed a persistent cough that would not go away. In addition to that I started experiencing twinges in my chest and my fingers tightening up even worse than the worst case of arthritis. Also, my stomach was starting to protrude like a turkey on thanksgiving. Lastly, and the most debilitating, was the grotesque shape my private area had become. To a bodybuilder like myself, this was a dehumanizing event.

It wasn’t until June of that year that I finally realized that if I didn’t go to a hospital soon, I was not going to make it. As It turned out, I was probably a day away from dying and needed a blood transfusion to start functioning normally again. It was in the hospital that I realized that dialysis was to become part of my daily routine. Meanwhile, during my 11 days in the hospital, I became aware of the shocking truth that I had lost the ability to walk. While lying in the hospital, this gave me plenty of time to chart out what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I was just 45 when I developed this illness. I decided I was going to do whatever it took to rebuild my body and make it better than ever. I took this on as a challenge to show that you can come back from any illness. I had to become whole as a person. When you have a disease it means that you are fragmented and not comfortable truly in your skin. So, this was the time that I developed the blueprint for living successfully with this illness. I called it the Ten Commandments for Healing.

The first step was to start walking again and build up my cardiovascular health. I started with one minute and added a minute every day until I was walking one hour a day. I soon realized that because of the amount of calories I was taking in, I needed to add a 2nd hour and that gives me the endurance I need to keep busy all day.

The second building block was to eat organically and feed my body with only healthy foods. This is where I incorporated super foods, including fruits such as blueberries and vegetables such as broccoli. I also eat only grass-fed meat, free-range chicken and wild Alaskan salmon. These are all foods that digest well in the body and are not filled with artificial substances.

The next challenge was doing military-style exercises four days a week. Being a personal fitness trainer, I knew that doing exercises like push-ups and sit-ups would help to strengthen my body and develop lean muscle tissue.  Miraculously, my physique started coming back gradually.

The fourth strategy was tai chi, an ancient form of exercise to breathe life energy back into the body. It consists of slow, methodic movements that work the whole body to keep it calm and relaxed. When you have an illness like this, being at peace is of utmost importance. I do this exercise in the morning and at night.

The fifth commandment was meditation. Being able to completely shut down and do nothing else but focus and concentrate on being at one with yourself is of extreme importance to self-healing. I usually have classical music on when I am sleeping and fall asleep to nothing but positive and uplifting images. When I wake up the next morning, I am raring to go and all I am filled with is positive reinforcement.

The next step was prayer. When you are faced with a life-threatening illness and uncertain about what the future is going to bring, it is of vital importance that you put yourself in the hands of some spiritual guidance. I have seven different prayers that I say daily, but the one that motivates me the most is the 23rd Psalm – The Lord Is My Shepherd. Saying these prayers every day gives a spiritual foundation to live your life with enthusiasm.

The seventh building block was journalizing. This gives me the freedom  each day to write about a past, present, or future situation. One of the reasons why I developed kidney failure was to due high blood pressure and not being able to verbalize the fear and anger that I had from my childhood. In my journalizing, I go back to my childhood and express to my parents what I was feeling as a child growing up in a three generation Jewish household. In many ways I was sheltered and I was never really able to express myself. Journalizing allows me to be me daily.

The eighth commandment was practicing creative visualization techniques daily. This technique allows you to see yourself in a positive way in the future and use that thought as a predominant mantra to live your life. My creative visualization technique I think about the most is overcoming this illness completely and being kidney-failure free by June 2012. If that does happen, it will be four years since I developed this illness, and what a story I would have to tell then. When you live your life with hope, anything becomes possible.

The ninth step was filling my day with inspirational and motivational material. I have developed a concept called Inspourri, which is a potpourri of famous daily inspirational quotes. An example of this is my favorite saying by Henry David Thoreau – “If you advance confidently in the direction of your own dreams and endeavour to live the life that only you have imagined, you will meet with a success that is unexpected in common hours.” Also, I have developed daily an ideology I call Purr-Rhyme•Thyme, which are rhyming catch phrases such as an “attitude of gratitude.”

The final building block, and my favourite, was practicing the metaphysical. One of my favourite examples is walking daily by the beach barefoot and reconnecting with the earth. It is a technique called “earthing.” Practicing the metaphysical (which is beyond the realm of the physical) daily makes you see the world in a different light. Even just being able to track your energy daily and move it in the right direction can lead you toward a more peaceful life.

As my story shows, if you conduct your life in such a way and treat it like it is your own business, you will develop within yourself latent talents that will come to the forefront and make you into the person you always wanted to be. I hope my story motivates you to never feel sorry for yourself and to live your life to the fullest. If you would like to contact me, you can e-mail me at: cwachtel@tmo.blackberry.net

Charles Wachtel

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