What is a Sustainable-arian?

A few people have laughed and others have just smiled, while others still have inquired further, and these are the ones I am writing for. The ones who ask “What is a sustainable-arian?”

 

I made this decision to become a sustainable-arian as I learned more about the truly unsustainable practices that we presently practice in obtaining food. Namely, the practice of raising animals for meat is one that poses threat not only to our environment but to our resources of freshwater, our resources of clean air and can impact global climate change. Furthermore, many of the manners in which we catch particular seafood, such as shrimp, which are caught through bottom trawling, is unsustainable. Not only does bottom trawling (which is dragging a weighted net along the ocean floor to catch the desired fish) kill habitats and destroy critical marine ecosystems, but it also has the highest rate of by-catch out of any form of fishing. Up to 90% of the trawl’s catch is often by-catch: sea-turtles, fish, marine birds and even marine mammals. By the time the nets are dragged up, the by-catch is already dead having been dragged along the ocean floor, and the habitats are destroyed.

 

As for the land-dwelling creatures, it can require 518 gallons of water for one pound of chicken! How much did that quarter pounder from a fast food joint cost? 461 gallons of water! And for a whole pound of beef it costs 1,847 gals of water. Where does this gallon count come from? Primarily, they come from the amount of water needed to grow corn and grasses in dry climates that feed the beef over it’s lifetime, as well as the costs of it’s drinking water and the cleaning and processing of meat. The impact of meat goes beyond the water, and we have all heard that “going Organic” is better, but it’s hard to control secondary consumers. What I mean is this: while you can pick organic produce to put in your diet, cows cannot and do not, therefore the feed they are given is not always certified organic (though it CAN be), but the runoff from chemicals that are sprayed on the feed can effect ecosystems and organisms further along than we realize when we bite into that burger. Make sure you do your homework and think before you buy or eat and with listed stores and details on what qualifies as organic a good place to check is http://www.organic.org/home/faq.

 

Lastly, I want to say, I’m saying trying to be a dirty hippie, and I’m sure there are many more ways I can take steps to be more sustainable (and I’m open to suggestions!) but more than anything else it’s empowering to make a statement with my diet. I have some suggestions too, eat organic, wild-caught or if we’re feeling adventurous consider eating an insect or two (thousand?), they use far less water, energy and have higher protein content! Some foods that are far more sustainable that may appeal to you more include: Wild Caught Salmon, Mussels, arthropods or fishhook caught or farmed, for more details on sustainable and safe seafood choices visit http://www.seafoodwatch.org or http://www.fishwatch.gov.

 

Whether it’s vegan, vegetarian, organic eater or sustainable-arian is to know that you have a large impact based on your choices.   It’s empowering to be conscious of the choices I make at the grocer or going out, and when people notice and ask, it’s a chance to educate about conservation and making positive, sustainable impact. Because when you have the power to choose what’s on your plate, why not pick something that makes an impact far longer than the taste lingers on your tongue?

 

Springing Forward

This semester has began again and is moving faster than the last, but simultaneously slower. I wake early, eager for my 8am. It’s ground school and as the next step to becoming a pilot, how could I not be excited! The rest of my day is filled with oceans, and microscopes, organisms and new friends. Even the bitter cold weather can’t chill the warmth of this semester, the joy of things yet to come, the delight of things that are.
And I feel a beautiful nostalgia, as I Skype with one of my best friends, Canada, and we laugh over nights spent wandering around Tokyo, and talk over NGOs in Africa, about boys and the dreams of our future, I realize how content I truly am. It was a year ago that I was on my way to Hawaii, the sunshine growing warmer as the MV Explorer glided into the South Pacific, but I don’t long for that again. Sunshine? Yes. The friends and adventures? Certainly. I will never cease to seek those things, but I am not nostalgic for a repeat of the past, I am not eager to climb back aboard a ship where I was so naive. I’m ready to go as the girl who stepped off the ship in London, who grew from every interaction, who will never stop dreaming of going, but for now must be in one place. I am the girl who will rendezvous with adventurous wild ones at a United Nations Conferences in New York, at a Worldwide Conference in Miami, where we take our next steps to even grander adventures. The girl ready and eager to fly a plane, study cancer and travel to the ends of the earth.
I don’t want what I can’t have because what I have now is so incredible, the momentum I found once again propels me to greater things. And as I fill out a plethora of research abroad applications for the summer, and get sidetracked by the cost of hostels in Pakora ($3/night!!), I’m so content, theres nothing left to do but smile. 🙂

 

The Surreality of a Cinderella Life

Tuesday February 17, 2015

This night last week I sat in the elegant maroon seats of the Westin Hotel in New York City, among CIA Agents, Entrepreneurs, Investors and Inventors, I sat among the elite, the brilliant, the Harvard Graduates and Business sharks of New York. My hair was curled, my make-up perfect and I was dressed to the nines, in true New York Socialite fashion. Wine flowed freely as we discussed which young, new entrepreneur to fund. The food never stopped coming, even as plates of fine cheeses and rich, creamy pastas, fresh salads and sizzling, spiced meats lay full before us. I barely noticed the server, let alone the busser.

Tonight I ran around the restaurant in my bussers uniform: black slacks, a men’s small shirt and a tie, my hair pulled back tight, not pretty, merely practical.  I bustled around serving fine steaks to robust business men and wine to women in heels and perfect styled hair. Clearing plates, cleaning tables, dishes and tending to the needs of the servers and guests, throwing away pounds upon pounds of untouched food. I work hard, I have to just to keep up with the guys, it’s typically a man’s job. And just as I barely noticed anyone below my realm of fancy people, all night I went unnoticed save for the one time I accidentally bumped a customer.

The surreality of my life feels like Cinderella, dressed and sparkling one night, covered in ashes and food scraps the next. But unlike Cinderella, I won’t get to the palace through  a prince, I’ll get there on my own volition. I will know what it’s like to be on both sides of the table. I will work my hardest to be the very best, but never climb without remember those who helped me there. I will find happiness not in the money I can spend on that dinner out, but with whom I have to share it, and end the end of the day, I’ll cherish the beautiful ball gowns and comfortable life, because I know the nights spends cleaning dishes and studying late after work that it took to get there. And sometimes I wonder if those already there see the value of the castle they’re already in.

Graduation Day- Round One

(I’m behind on my writing updates!)

Today I skipped across the stage, and was handed my first of many colllege diplomas, I’m starting a collection. It was an odd sensation being back in the world of Columbus State but so reminiscent of the many changes.
Laura, Meredith and the STEM Club wasn’t there as they were the spring before last, it wasn’t the anticipation of going to Ohio State suspending in the air, but a mild anxiety of my OSU finals this coming week. And I wasn’t sitting there with old friends from two years of CSCC, I made new friends in the seats beside me and my best friend sat in the stands beside my mother cheering for me, picking me up to spin me around when it was over 🙂

As my sister and I both obtained our Associates, it was a moment of togetherness that I hadn’t felt since she was married. And as Dr. Harrison spoke with pride of my accomplishments, and hugged me before shaking my hand, a wave of confidence was reinstilled within me. I can do this. Whatever this is, I can do it. I have done it before and I will do it again.

The feelings were different but the moments just as precious, joyful, delightful. It’s the people we meet, connect with, and interact with, at the end of the day, at the end of two years (or more) of work, it’s the hugs you get that day from the people you love that matter more than the piece of paper 🙂

Another One-Way Ticket, Another Song :)

About the same time last year, I bought a one way ticket out West, and I’ve done the same thing this year. Last year, I planned to climb aboard a ship that took me around the world, and this year, I’m doing the same.

Just kidding, mostly.

I do have a one-way ticket out West, but it’s to Arizona to spend Christmas with my dad and visit my childhood home of Flagstaff, Arizona. (*insert overwhelming squeal of excitement here!*) How will I get home this time? Driving. I’ll be getting a car and my best friend and I will be trekking the few thousand miles between AZ and Ohio and wherever we find interesting along the way(Mexico? New Orleans? Who knows!). Who’s up for an epic winter road trip? And with these gas prices? Yes please! With SASers to see along the way and several weeks before classes start, it’s anyone’s guess where we’ll end up.

It’s been a long adventurous semester and I don’t think anyone puts it better than Orla Gartland in her song “Roots”;

http://youtu.be/8E75QtyFFJU (credit for finding this incredible song goes to Shelby Stillwell)

Sights set to the sky/sick of standing by/ getting itchy feet
New some new places/meet some fresh faces/No one left to please

Let’s get a ticket for those tracks/Don’t say a word and don’t turn back
Let’s get out of here/let’s get out of here
We can lost between the rails/ we’ve never been afraid to fail

After being in, mostly, one place for a whole semester, it’s time to move again and seek adventure! Tomorrow at 9:30, as I walk victoriously out of my Organic Chemistry final, I’ll exhale the stale air of this fall semester and inhale the crisp winter air of adventure.

Study Break

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During a study break, I went to buy a cup of tea, and after it cooled I took a sip and was whirled straight back to Kyoto. On a particularly chilly, rainy morning, we discovered a tiny cafe, more of a house, really, that we happened upon in the backstreets of that stunning old city, with a beautiful garden and koi pond. Before going in, we removed our shoes and sat upon the floor at a small table as they served the best Macha in the world, with tiny, green tea cakes. We sat in peace and serene joy as the raindrops pattered against the room above us.

The flavor of Macha was the one that drew me straight back to that chilly but perfect morning in Japan, and amidst the struggles of studying, I found a peace that came from thousands of miles away. Peace within this cup of steam that holds more memories than molecules of water 🙂

One Year Bloggiversary

What a sensation of coming full circle. One year ago today, I wrote my first blog post about the beginning of my journey around the world, and it truly was the beginning of a journey, but not one that has or ever will come to an end. Perspectives change throughout life [see the post on turning points], and I now know that life itself is a journey. Yea, it sounds super cheesy, but I’ve finally seen how true it is.

As one who used to be so focused on a single goal, seeing that life itself is a journey can be life-changing. Instead of making every choice and seeing every opportunity as a resume builder for medical school, I see each opportunity as a unique goal in and of itself. Instead of everyday of the school term being entirely dedicated to study to the exclusion of fun, I’ve made a point of delighting in each day and making fun a priority. Because at the end of the day, you don’t want your smile to be a function of what’s going to happen tomorrow or what happened yesterday but for the moment you are in, here, now, today.

The Proposal: A Story of Survival

Bus rides are truly powerful. They can be times of great contemplation, of delighting in music, making a new friend, of falling in love with the scenery around you, or falling in love with the stranger next to you. So goes this tale for the young man sitting next to me, but before you stop reading in order to seek out something far less cliche, let me begin by introducing you to the gentleman. He is a young, Syrian man seeking asylum from his home just outside of Damascus that was being bombed.

Bus rides are generally quiet, but after recently leaving my raucous study abroad group for adventures on my own, I sought camaraderie and friendship, and the ride from London to Cardiff was four hours long. The first thing I noticed was this young man reading Arabic and so I inquired about where he was from and if I could practice some Arabic with him( I had recently been in Morocco and the lovely Arabic call to prayer still echoed in my mind with the clarity of the sunset that it serenaded).

He obliged with a smile, eager for a friend of his own. And we began to share our stories, though he divulged his with hesitance, for it was nowhere near the study abroad trip I had recently completed. It was a story of survival. He told me of his family back home, his mother and father still living in their beautiful village in the countryside of the city he has fled. He told me of the date-groves near the house, and grapevines that gave the most wonderful fruit. His words painted a picture for me of the home that his heart so ached for.

When we arrived at our destination we continued the conversation over coffee, and this is when heartbreaking details began to reveal themselves. Over the next two days, he would share with me of his temporary asylum in Greece and sneaking over the border into the Balkans three times and being sent back twice. He told me of the nights spent in the frozen forests walking through France, of the many illegal passports he purchased just to reach the UK, a safe place to stay and one that would not deport him to the violence of Syria . He told me of the weeks without food as he and a group of four others who sought asylum walked across the European continent in search of safety.

He told me of the reality of the conflict in Syria, in words and from eyes that I’d never seen it before. I was ashamed for my ignorance. He showed me, with pride, the raffle ticket for the US visa which they award 50,000 of worldwide, each year, and my heart swelled with tears as I thought upon the US passports in my backpack. Here in Wales, he waited, he was safe but not free. He could not work, could not go anywhere but London and Cardiff, as he awaited his UK ID, he could not hear from nor write his family, and in all this heartache, he managed to give and to share with me. I was undeserving of the kindness of this man.

As we talked, he showed me around Cardiff, and invited me to make Syrian dinner (it was his night to make dinner for his roommates (four other asylum seekers, only one of which he could fully communicate with)). As he hunted down the food for the meal, he taught me new Arabic words that he used in the Halal butcher’s shop, and the small Syrian market.

In his house, I once again felt the overwhelming kindness of these strangers, even in the midst of their stories. Each of them has struggled to get to this place of safety, leaving behind families, friends, loved ones. One of the individuals there was a Kurdish activist and he endeavored to share with me his story, too. This man’s name was Kiwa, and he will be a story of his own.
Dinner was enjoyed with a mixture of several languages and lots of laughter and smiles, card games ensued and the night was full of smiles and delight. And at the end of the night, he walked me home or, to my hostel for that evening. We talked as we had the past several days, but there was mournfulness, I was to leave the next day, and so new words began to enter the conversation.
“Girlfriend”, “visiting parents”, “wife”, “marriage”, words unfamiliar to this bond of friendship we had formed, and I saw a longing. A longing for a friend to spend time with, to pass the endless days of waiting for a visa, a longing for the freedom that being American ( even if by marriage) meant for him and his family. A longing to see his family again, a longing to have a family, a longing to have someone to stand beside as you watched your home fall to pieces, watched your family trapped in the storm of war. The proposal was gentle, casual but heart-wrenching. It was a proposal that sought survival and happiness within the survival. We all fall in love with the happiness that comes in the stranger sitting beside us, whether we’ve never met them and their smile brightens our day, or their eyes echo the love of a the years of life behind you both. The instinctual pursuit of what we all seek in life, to be happy, to be loved, this is what we need to survive.

Turning Points

With the plethora of political turmoil around the world, one can’t help but feel a certain thrill. The world is alive when freedoms are being fought for when there are protests for human rights, when there are demands for democracy, as there are in Hong Kong, and free literature conferences that take strides toward free speech, as there recently were in Burma. And I feel a part of these things, I walked the streets in Hong Kong where these protests are happening and the strain on faces standing their ground aren’t all unfamiliar. The beautiful Burmese handwriting and smile of Aung San Suu Kyi brings back memories of warm days seeing the lovely Burmese script through Yangon and near Suu Kyi’s very home. But it’s more than these physical connections that make me feel akin to this pulse of change across the globe.

These moments, these events are turning points. A fair analogy, for anyone who’s taken chemistry (even if you’re not a chemist, bear with me, I have a point) would be an endothermic chemical reaction. This process starts off slowly and takes time to overcome the activation energy, but once the activation energy is reached, we get to a tipping point, then the chemical reaction begins and chemical change happens, molecules are manipulated and new products are formed. It’s at this point that you can’t take away the heat, or stop the reaction, because it’s already been set in place.

These tipping points happen on the atomic level, with chemical reactions, on the macro-level with countries and political structures and in our own lives.

We are creatures of constant change, and our journeys aren’t swift processes. They take time and there are often catalysts, agents of change that bring us to pivotal points in our lives. These turning points can be anything from re-evaluating dreams, changing relationships, seeing new goals, finding your place in the world or losing the place you thought you had. They can be a new friend, new job or an old dream. These moments must be embraced, seen for all they are worth and allowed to occur.

These turning points are the same moments that can spark revolutions for an entire country. Imagine what these moments can do in your own life.