Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Milk Dilemma

"Should grown-ups be drinking milk at all, much less the milk of another species?

Mammals are named after the milk-producing glands that developed as a way to feed babies, but only humans continue drinking mammary secretions after infancy -- and no other species drinks the milk of another. Today, dairy consumption is at the center of several interconnected social, economic, and health crises. Maybe it's time to reconsider our relationship with dairy."

A recent episode of the Diane Rehm Show, a nationally broadcast left-leaning radio program, assembled a politician, a dairy industry advocate, a farm advocate, and a USDA undersecretary to discuss problems facing dairy. Most of the conversation focused on federally-funded bailout options for the dairy industry, but one caller made a futile attempt to frame the problem in a larger context. Voicing concerns that milk isn't good for adults and that dairy production creates a lot of greenhouse gas, she was disconnected mid-sentence.

After a moment of audible snickers among the guests, Ruth Saunders of the International Dairy Foods Association gave a limp response: "the dietary guidelines for Americans have always had as one of their key recommendations three daily servings [of dairy]."

Saunders didn't mention that these recommendations largely exist because of intensive lobbying efforts by organizations like hers. But scientific research that's not in the pocket of Big Dairy tells a different story. According to the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, "approximately 75% of the world's population loses the ability to completely digest lactose after infancy." And Harvard researcher Ganmaa Davaasambuu, M.D., Ph.D., has found that dairy intake correlates with ovarian cancer, testicular cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and other so-called "hormone-dependent" tumors because of the high levels of estrogen in cows' milk -- especially in milk from pregnant cows, which are routinely milked in large dairy operations.

Meanwhile, the disconnected caller had a valid point about the cattle industry's greenhouse gas emissions, which constitute 2% of the national output. When fed soy-rich diets, as most large dairy herds are, cows belch methane, which traps 20 times more atmospheric heat than carbon dioxide.

While the lifestyle-changing crisis afflicting dairy farmers is creating heartbreaking stories, perhaps for the greater good this is an opportunity in disguise. There are other ways to make a living off the land, and instead of federal price supports, maybe that money should be spent on re-tooling dairy farms. Despite what the food pyramid says, we don't need milk after we're babies. Maybe it's time to wean ourselves from cow tits and grow up."

This article in its entirety can be found at:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Adventures Galore

Over the next five weeks I will be traveling quite a distance working on a special project. I may add a few posts during this time but apologize in advance for another prolonged absence. Nonetheless, farewell for now!

Keep your eyes on the skies,

- Teddy Grahams

Waking Up

"Every society clings to a myth by which it lives. Ours is the myth of economic growth. For the last five decades the pursuit of growth has been the single most important policy goal across the world. The global economy is almost five times the size it was half a century ago. If it continues to grow at the same rate, the economy will be 80 times that size by the year 2100.

This extraordinary ramping up of global economic activity has no historical precedent. It’s totally at odds with our scientific knowledge of the finite resource base and the fragile ecology we depend on for survival. And it has already been accompanied by the degradation of an estimated 60% of the world’s ecosystems.

For the most part, we avoid the stark reality of these numbers. The default assumption is that – financial crises aside – growth will continue indefinitely. Not just for the poorest countries where a better quality of life is undeniably needed, but even for the richest nations where the cornucopia of material wealth adds little to happiness and is beginning to threaten the foundations of our well-being.

The reasons for this collective blindness are easy enough to find. The modern economy is structurally reliant on economic growth for its stability. When growth falters – as it has done recently – politicians panic. Businesses struggle to survive. People lose their jobs and sometimes their homes. A spiral of recession looms. Questioning growth is deemed to be the act of lunatics, idealists and revolutionaries.

But question it we must. The myth of growth has failed us. It has failed the two billion people who still live on less than $2 a day. It has failed the fragile ecological systems we depend on for survival. It has failed spectacularly, in its own terms, to provide economic stability and secure people’s livelihoods."

Article continued at:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Crazed Brilliance

"Who in the rainbow can draw the line where the violet tint ends and the orange tint begins? Distinctly we see the difference of the colors, but where exactly does the one first blendingly enter into the other? So with sanity and insanity."

- Herman Melville

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Unknown Journey

Throughout my life I've found myself walking alone in a forest. My destination has always been unknown, but I continuously try to figure it out. In result, I venture deeper and deeper into the wooded, dark abyss, seeking a worthy locale to spend my future at. Unfortunately, it is extremely dark, and the sun's nightly vacation from the skies has made it difficult to see anything. I thought carrots were supposed to increase night vision, but my experiences have proved otherwise. Each step I take results in a thorn in my leg or a branch in my face. I am lost. My journey is a mess.

But oh! Through the treacherous, shadowy landscape emerges a wonderful friend of mine! In my friend's hand is a flashlight, the beacon of brightness that can clearly and presumptuously show me where I am headed towards. After a quick physical embrace, my friend gives me the light and I hold it in my hand. I think for a moment and then point it back towards my friend who looks at me puzzled, and while squinting asks why I am not using it to move deeper into the forest. After a moment of silence I explain.

The flashlight cannot help me with my journey. I may be in the middle of a darkened wilderness, but the true journey exists within myself, spiritually and emotionally. Where I end up geographically is of secondary importance. I shine light on others because it is they who guide me through danger, instill me with inspiration, and most importantly, brighten my life, everyday.

On this night, for my friend, I am returning some of the light that I have received for so long.

- Teddy Grahams

Monday, July 13, 2009

Social Revolution

"Don't just be the change, mass-produce it. We need, through brilliant innovations, bold enterprise and political willpower, to make sustainability an obligatory and universal characteristic of our society, not an ethical choice. We need to remake the systems in which live. We need to redesign civilization."

- Alex Steffen,

Changing More Than One's Personal Lifestyle

"WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.

Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.

Or let’s talk energy. Kirkpatrick Sale summarized it well: “For the past 15 years the story has been the same every year: individual consumption—residential, by private car, and so on—is never more than about a quarter of all consumption; the vast majority is commercial, industrial, corporate, by agribusiness and government [he forgot military]. So, even if we all took up cycling and wood stoves it would have a negligible impact on energy use, global warming and atmospheric pollution.”

Or let’s talk waste. In 2005, per-capita municipal waste production (basically everything that’s put out at the curb) in the U.S. was about 1,660 pounds. Let’s say you’re a die-hard simple-living activist, and you reduce this to zero. You recycle everything. You bring cloth bags shopping. You fix your toaster. Your toes poke out of old tennis shoes. You’re not done yet, though. Since municipal waste includes not just residential waste, but also waste from government offices and businesses, you march to those offices, waste reduction pamphlets in hand, and convince them to cut down on their waste enough to eliminate your share of it. Uh, I’ve got some bad news. Municipal waste accounts for only 3 percent of total waste production in the United States.

I want to be clear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply. I live reasonably simply myself, but I don’t pretend that not buying much (or not driving much, or not having kids) is a powerful political act, or that it’s deeply revolutionary. It’s not. Personal change doesn’t equal social change."

Article continued at:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hooked on Growth

This is a trailer for an upcoming documentary examining the cultural barriers that have been keeping us from becoming a sustainable civilization.

Population Ignorance

"July 11 is World Population Day, as declared by the United Nations in 1989 to raise awareness of global population issues. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of awareness out there. Of the 6.77 billion people on the planet, too few have either the courage or the awareness to weigh in or do something about the subject. Overpopulation is the proverbial elephant in the room, and it is a big one.

There is widespread agreement among scientists that we are in overshoot. According to Global Footprint Network, 1.3 planet Earths would be required to sustainably meet the needs of our current population at present levels of consumption and waste. If we continue current upward trends in consumption and population, by 2035 we’ll need 2 Earths. This means we are not acting sustainably. We are using up stuff that we, and/or future generations, are going to need.

The rate at which we use up stuff is commonly represented in the famous IPAT equation developed by Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren. Simplified, it states that human impact = per capita consumption X population. It doesn’t take a mathematical genius to figure out from this equation that perpetual increase in either consumption or population would require a like decrease in the other in order to avoid increasing human impact on our ecosystems and resource base.

Or maybe it does. Because all too often we do ignore population’s role in the equation. It’s not politically correct to suggest humankind and the world we live in would benefit greatly from stabilizing or even reducing our total population. We will do anything to avoid addressing that subject. We’ll flush our toilets every other day, breathe toxic air, destroy fisheries, and take our chances with nuclear power or "clean" coal. We’ll pour millions of dollars into efforts to restore rivers and streams, protect endangered species, or develop alternative energy sources. But we won’t even spread the word that voluntarily limiting family size would be a prudent and effective way to move toward sustainable equilibrium. That is a shame."

Perceptive Nature

"If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen."

- Henry David Thoreau

In Memoriam, One Last Time

Michael Jackson at his best.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Every morning I wake up and I look into the mirror.

The mirror tells me that I am crazy to think outside of the box. It says my views are too extreme. The mirror tells me I must change my ways if I ever want to be successful in life. The mirror scoffs in disgust when it sees what I have become. The mirror does not agree with who I am. The mirror does not think I can accomplish my goals.

Every morning I wake up and I look into the mirror,

and then I walk away.

Never trust a mirror; it sees no heart and waters down the soul.

- Teddy Grahams

Beyond Money

I love this short story/video. It accurately debunks the myth of the modern day American Dream.

The Truth Behind Your Food

Dare to find out?

This is just a trailer for the documentary. The official website can be found at


"What exactly is the nature of the transformation in which machines now pump our water but we go to other machines to engage in the act of pumping, not for the sake of our bodies, bodies theoretically liberated by machine technology? Has something been lost when the relationship between our muscles and our world vanishes, when the water is managed by one machine and the muscles by another in two unconnected processes?"

- Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking


I have returned!