Thursday, December 22, 2011

Why We're Unemployed and How We Can Fix It

I am not an activist, in fact, I like to joke that my partner is the activist in the family; but I think perhaps I was stuck in a perception that one could only be a political activist in the classic sense. I was short sighting myself to the other forms of activism. If you've been reading this blog for any time, you know I get quite peeved about the chemical cocktails in our food, drinks, personal care products, the things we commonly use every day...right down to the grocery receipts we're handed at the register! (Which is why I frequently don't take my receipt, but more about that later)

I firmly believe that it's up to us to change the world as we can. For some, that means writing letters to our various elected officials, for others it means spending our money politically. Shopping at companies and stores that share our ideals, or shopping at stores that support the same causes we do (fair trade coffee and tea, no animal testing, natural resource protection, etc). But it all has to start with research, which I'm  learning never ends. For everything I learn about, the more questions. Consider the recent move by meat product producers to offer "natural" meats, free of preservatives, sodium and the like. Just last night, my wife and I were watching a commercial for such a product, and I commented to her that it would be interesting to compare two hams, one a new and improved "natural" selection and the other a standard ham.  I would like to compare the ingredient list, note what's missing from the "natural" ham, and then do the research to see what those ingredients did to our bodies. In this way, we could get an accurate picture of what was removed and what we were putting in our bodies. Are we truly getting less sodium, less preservatives, less chemicals that are spelled with half the alphabet? But if there is truly less in these "natural" products, why are the stores and manufacturers charging more at the register? More importantly, why the hell are we forking over (pun intended) our hard earned  cash for something they should have been offering anyway?

Humanely raised meat, with less antibiotics, less preservatives and no growth hormones are becoming more readily available, even to those in the city. Sometimes all that's needed is a stroll through the yellow pages, or a visit to your local natural foods store can often point you in the right direction. If they don't carry the meat you're looking for, they might very well know where such meat can be found. The same goes for milk. Organic milk, either from cows or goats can be more easily found and purchased than you might think. But the first step is research. Get out there and start asking if these are available in your area. If not, ask why. Make it clear that you would support the producers and retailers of such products. The same methodology can be applied to not just beef and milk, but also chicken, pork, cheeses and the like. Even coffee, tea and..well, you get the idea.

To cary this thought one step further, why not apply the theory of the 100 mile diet to our other shopping as well? Stop buying from far off countries that have shameful human rights practices. Yes, I know socks are cheaper at Wal-Mart, but while my own country has a nearly non-existant textile industry, it's hard to shop for Canadian made clothing. I understand this all too well. So, I challenge you to find clothing made closer to your own country, wether that's the U.S.A, Canada, Mexico, Iran, Ireland, Scotland...where ever YOU live, go out this week and find clothing made closer to your country. My own country has a nearly non existent textile industry because the clothing manufacturers have all outsourced jobs to other countries that do not have to pay their workers a fair wage. This point came to light when we hosted summer Olympics recently and all the athletes clothing was revealed to be made in a far off country! A lot of folks, myself included started asking why. The bottom line was money. As a result, Canada does not have the clothing industry we once did. Our designers are hidden in the shadows, our textiles are made outside our borders and as a result, pretty much the only thing we can find that's Canadian made is winter boots. This is wrong.

We wonder why our unemployment numbers are so high...THAT'S the reason folks! We (both the U.S and Canada) have outsourced so many jobs because of monetary savings, that we have put our own people out of work so our rich can be a little richer. Our governments need to start taxing even more the companies that want to outsource their labor. Penalize them for furthering our country's unemployment! If they take initiative to create jobs here, or use raw materials from our own country, or start programs in-house to treat employees better, or more fairly, or increase efficiency without lay-offs, reward them with lower taxes for the next fiscal year. Yes, this will require "minders" for branches of industry, or by region. If you need "minders", then you'd better hire some. More jobs! Those minders will need staff of assistants, clerks and people to keep track of the numbers. More jobs! They'll need supplies, computers and various other tools to get the job done. They'll need to order those tools from suppliers. The more local the suppliers, the better. More orders at the suppliers means more bodies needed to fill the orders right? More jobs!
This is a simplified solution, and a small one, but it's somewhere to start. The unemployment numbers will not drop overnight, and it will take work, but it's a start. At least it's something. It is one way our governments can put their money where their mouth(s) is/are when they start going on about fixing unemployment. Until they start doing something, it's all hollow words. Why would we vote for so-called leaders who blow smoke up our collective orifices?

Do something. Spend your money politically. Spend it wisely. Support businesses closer to home. Write to your elected officials. Suggest ways they can start supporting local business so that our family, friends and neighbors remain employed. If they don't listen, don't vote for them next election.

If we don't do something to fix the mess we're in, no one else will.
Time to get off our butts!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Apple Cider To Keep The Doctor Away, And The Vet!

Recently, we've had reason to try an old remedy for a couple of common ailments, one being the common cold and the other being a bladder infection. Now before you start telling me that a bladder infection is nothing to mess with, let me agree with you and tell you the whole story.
First the common cold. We've all had it, we'll probably all get it again. It sucks. But, I'm here to offer you inexpensive relief. Because we here in our small apartment do not drive, any trip to the drugstore involves buses. Sometimes 2 one way, totally four and time away from home. I'm a homebody, I don't often want to go out, so if I can avoid a trip out, I'll do it. On top of that, we all know how expensive cold relief can be. The last time I had a cold, I had to work, I had no choice. So I had to suck it up, medicate and move on. Except my go-to cold relief wasn't working. WTH? When I got home, I googled and discovered I was not alone. Lots of people were finding their cold meds just weren't working. Then I came across a suggestion that rocked my world. The suggestion was to drink half a glass of diluted apple cider vinegar at the first sign of a cold, and the sufferer would be better the next day. Well, for me it was too late at that point; I thought. But when my better half started feeling a scratchy throat soon after, she tried the tip. She braved the half glass diluted apple cider, well, as much as she could swallow anyway, and the next morning, felt 100% better! No expensive boxes or bottles, no runny nose, no coughing, no trips to the drug store full of other cold sufferers! Just like that, BAM!

Late one night, we came across a small doggy-accident in the hall. We knew who the guilty party was just by the size of the puddle, and that in itself was rare. But rarer still was the streak of pink in it. Our little Chihuahua seemed to be peeing blood! We knew it was a bladder infection, but it was late and no vet's office in our neighborhood was open. Back to Google.
Guess what we found? Apple cider vinegar! Another Chi owner said her little guy had the same symptoms and suggested a tiny bit of apple cider vinegar multiple times a day. The next morning, only 5 hours later, there was no blood! A couple of days after that, he was back to his usual self! No expensive vet bills, no meds, no bus ride!

There is a growing "no 'poo" movement that is mind boggling. Folks all over the world are not reaching for shampoo and conditioner, but instead for baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Why? Here is an excerpt from Nature Mom's blog that talks about just a few of the chemicals found in your shampoo...

Alcohol, isopropyl (SD-40) is a very drying and irritating solvent and dehydrator that strips your skin’s moisture and natural immune barrier, making you more vulnerable to bacteria, molds and viruses. It is made from propylene, a petroleum derivative, and is found in many skin and hair products, fragrances, antibacterial hand washes as well as shellac and antifreeze. It can act as a “carrier,” accelerating the penetration of other harmful chemicals into your skin.
It may promote brown spots and premature aging of skin. A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients says isopropyl alcohol may cause headaches, flushing, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting, narcosis, anesthesia and coma. A fatal ingested dose is one ounce or less.
FD&C color pigments are synthetic colors made from coal tar, containing heavy metal salts that deposit toxins onto the skin, causing skin sensitivity and irritation. Absorption of certain colors can cause depletion of oxygen in the body and death. Animal studies have shown almost all of them to be carcinogenic.
Mineral oil is a petroleum by-product that coats the skin like plastic, clogging the pores. It interferes with skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders.
Propylene glycol (PG) and butylene glycol are petroleum plastics which act as surfactants (wetting agents and solvents). They easily penetrate the skin and can weaken protein and cellular structure. Commonly used to make extracts from herbs, PG is strong enough to remove barnacles from boats!
So, it really is in our best interest to look into using apple cider vinegar for our conditioner. I'm willing to try it. No matter how it turns out, I'll post the results here. After all, in this day and age, if we can save all kinds of money on personal care and reduce the chemicals we allow into our bodies, all the better!