GMOs and Factory Farming – Their effect on your environment, your food and your body

As part of my study of plant-based nutrition with Cornell, we were required to write a PSA (of approximately one minute) in relation to GMOs and factory farming. I thought it might be a bit of interesting content for this blog. My apologies if its a little dry, but check it out and feel free to leave your comments below!

It is not uncommon for the health conscious to be wary of GMO’s, however the repercussions run far deeper than just their effect on your individual health, and often work hand in hand with other various consequences of agribusiness. All of which contribute significantly to climate change and the degradation of the Earth, through various avenues; increased methane gasses from ruminant digestion/manure decomposition, large scale deforestation, and the pollution of water bodies to the point of near-complete toxicity. The FAO estimates that a minimum of 18% annual green house gasses are produced by livestock worldwide, whilst the World Watch Institute estimates that the contribution is actually closer to 51% 

The crops that we use to feed livestock are largely genetically modified (eg, corn, and Soy). The chemical run off from these crops (produced via fertilizer, pesticide excess, herbicide excess) leech into the local water systems, effectively poisoning them. The nitrogen and chemicals that these fertilzers contain has a direct causal link with increased toxicity of the water, as well as algal blooms, which in turn contribute to water de-oxygenation. The EPA estimates that over 50% of rivers and streams in the USA are now unfit to support aquatic life. To make matters even worse, industrialised fishing further assaults the marine ecosystem; with bottom trawling, and long line fishing having huge repercussions; Mr Latham articulates that 70% of the marine life caught via trawling is not the intended catch, and so is dumped as dead marine life: a pointless decimation of an already delicately balanced ecological system.

It is clear that our consumption of the earth’s resources is far outpacing the earth’s ability to replete them. The available water that we use for irrigation of crops, watering livestock, and treating agribusiness is putting extreme pressure on our water supplies; a pressure that desperately needs to be relieved. The toxicity of water and the pollution of the air through green house gasses is progressing at a rate that threatens our very existence – with atmospherical green house gas being retained in the atmosphere for around 10,000 years after release, we are approaching the limit we can exude before the climate of earth changes so dramatically that the human population is wiped out. It was established in Mr Latham’s lecture that a 4degree cooling of the earth was responsible for a complete ice age, and that a 2degree increase from our current climate would result in the complete collapse of human food and water sources, leading to our extinction.

The IPCC predicts a bleak outlook for the future production of crops, and suggests that a global move towards plant-based diets may be necessary to prevent world hunger. Drawing from an interview with Howard Lyman, we can deduce that up until now the focus of agribusiness has been leading us to our deaths, through climate change, environmental pollution and lifestyle diseases, and that in order to recover our health, and our earth, we need to work with nature and move towards a plant-based diet.


Kidney Stones – what gives?

As a young 24 year old vegan, kidney stones were the last thing that I expected myself to get struck with. From what I’ve read so far, it appears that they are typically caused by only a few different things;

  1. A high protein, low fibre diet
  2. Chronic dehydration
  3. Genetics
  4. Stress

And as someone who does not consume any animal products, rarely consumes alcohol, has no family history of kidney stones, I certainly did not see them coming. Chances are, you may not see them coming for yourself, either.

When it comes to preventing kidney stones, some recommendations from the Kidney Stone Clinic in Sydney Australia include;

  1. Decrease protein intake
  2. Increase fluid intake – it is important to drink 8-10 glasses of water (2.5L) every day, spread out through out the day.
  3. Decrease salt intake.

If you think you may already have kidney stones, (your doctor will probably diagnose you stones through an ultrasound (which is what happened to me)), there are a few ways to treat them – if they are small enough, you can just pass them naturally, however if they are larger you may be given medication from your doctor to a) stop any pain you are feeling b) prevent any muscles spasming throughout the process and c) to help break down the stones themselves, that you CAN pass them.

They may not be fun, but with a few tweaks to your diet and lifestyle should set you back on track and help prevent them in future.




Expat Wellness

A lot of people think that health and wellbeing are centralised around diet and exercise, however that is a somewhat limited view; although diet and exercise are a key foundational tool to creating a healthy and fulfilling life free from disease and illness, there are much more factors at play.

Stress levels, emotional stability and support, along with mental health are other areas which dramatically affect your overall happiness and vitality, and through that, your bodily, psychological and physical health.

As an expatriate, I have seen many individuals overlook the internal measures of health; instead focusing on the drinking habits, takeouts, and exercise (or lack thereof). Sadly, there is an underwhelming level of understanding on the importance of feeling included, of belonging, and of being emotionally secure.

Living in a new place is scary. Be it in a new job, a new city, a new country; change can be terrifying, or at the very least intimidating to the best of us. However, taking the plunge and taking that step in your career can be a wonderful slip lane into a much more advanced role and lifestyle. What it is important to remember, however, that while you are living abroad (in my case) and working on your career advancement, that you should not forget to invest in yourself. Establishing a grounded and solid support system on the ground in your new location is just as vital as maintaining your relationships with family and friends back home.

Mental health is not something to be taken lightly; as part of a balanced lifestyle and self-love policy, you should endeavour to make just as much time for your mental health as you do for your physical health. Taking the time to meditate, get a massage, or speak with a counsellor or close friend when in need are wonderful tools you can utilise to release stress and check in with yourself. Taking a few minutes each day to invest in this way will ensure that the rest of your time is even better spent – how many times have you found that being in a bad mood or stressed has affected your eating habits? Your attention span at work? Every part of you is interlinked, and each part of you is just as important as any other. So rather than focusing just on your external  appearance and image, try instead to build yourself up from the inside out, through self-love, enrichment, and placing appropriate value on all aspects of who you are; if you approach your health in a wholly rounded way, the results are sure to speak for themselves.

Because at the end of the day, what use is a great career if you don’t have the health or state of mind to enjoy it?

Ginger Garlic Soy Stirfry

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures, by last night I made a huge stir fry for me and my boyfriend. He is on the health food wagon, and so I’m playing with meal plans for the two of us, as well as experimenting a bit more with recipes.

He is a meat eater of note, and so he had a steak to accompany this meal. I had some rice. It was delicious, nutritious and a good way to use up the odd range of vegetables in my fridge. Plus, the added benefit of using no oils at all!

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The Starch Solution

I have downloaded and read 80/10/10 on my kindle, however I have been completely unable to find The Starch Solution online anywhere! My kindle is registered to Australian Amazon, and I really don’t want to change that… Can anyone recommend a place that I can find it online to read? I would order the book in hard copy, however I’ve tried to order from Amazon once here, and I’m still anxiously awaiting delivery.

Oh the joys of living in a developing country – we have no registered addresses really, no public postal system worthy of mentioning. All mail here is done via courier services, and unfortunately Amazon do not send via courier.

Alternatively, if anyone is willing to mail me a PDF version of the book, or provide a link to the breakdown of fundamental points, I would be so grateful!