Occupy Christmas

International Day of Action – December 25

Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Occupy Christmas taking ground

Posted by troublemaker on December 23, 2011

Our contribution to the Occupy Christmas movement has asked shoppers to buy local and avoid huge chain stores. We have tried to avoid using the term “Buy American” because we believe the idea behind supporting local economy is valuable beyond the borders of just one country. We have not called for a boycott of imported goods. Instead, the idea is that you should first attempt to produce your own goods (the family garden comes to mind), then rely on your neighbor, your municipality, your county, your state, your country, neighboring countries, and then the global market. Our motto has often been “Think global but act local”. If you live in Canada, you should buy Canadian before buying American. That said, we are seeing a tremendous growth in the movement here in the United States where ‘Buy American’ is becoming a selling point. The message behind Occupy Christmas is catching on and the media has taken note.

“New Occupy Christmas movement sweeping USA”. (1)

From an article decorated with an American flag, reporter Elizabeth Cate from WJXT, Channel 4 in Jacksonville, Florida.

While covering the Occupy Christmas movement, reporter Elizabeth Cate visited a store in Jacksonville, Florida to do research. While we would have encouraged her to find gifts produced in Jacksonville, Florida she was unable to find many items made there or anywhere else in the United States. She did mention she was able to find gift wrap paper that was made in her country. While shopping, she briefly interviewed fellow shopper Linda Dan.

“I do care if it’s made in America; I like to buy stuff that’s made in America. Why? Just because that’s where we live and that’s what I want to support,” shopper Linda Dan (1)

Elizabeth Cate isn’t alone in wanting to promote the message behind Occupy Christmas. ABC News has begun its own buy local campaign. Centered in the United States, ABC news has established a list of gift ideas from US companies who proudly sell products made in the United States. (2) The list is the result of asking for input from viewers and readers as part of their “Made in America Christmas” campaign. (3)

“The average American will spend $700 on holiday gifts and goodies this year, totaling more than $465 billion, the National Retail Federation estimates. If that money was spent entirely on US made products it would create 4.6 million jobs.” – ABC News (3)

CNN reports that more and more Americans are taking the Occupy Christmas (4) by taking the Buy American pledge offered by one of the Occupy Christmas Facebook pages. With only 166 likes at the time of this article, CNN is right in saying the site has a small group of followers. However, the very fact that CNN reported on the site shows that the Occupy Christmas movement as a whole is much larger than anyone could have predicted just a few months ago. It seems the message behind Occupy Christmas is spreading well beyond the holiday season.

“Perhaps the clearest sign of its growing popularity is the recent proliferation of websites, blogs and Facebook groups dedicated to setting the record straight. Among these communities, it’s common knowledge that quintessential American brands like Levi’s and LL Bean are mostly made offshore, and the latest news about Wal Mart’s labor policies tends to generate heated discussion.” – CNN Reports (4)

Local Harvest, a community based organization which promotes community supported agriculture (CSA) and a focus on local economy, explains that American grown produce travel and average of 1500 miles before reaching an American grocery store. (5) While Local Harvest explains the distances are vastly larger when produce originates outside of the US boarders, even that 1500 miles will shock most Americans. They warn that the current model for food production and delivery simply will not last forever. If for no other reason than rising fuel prices, Local Harvest and common sense warns that the system will collapse under its own weight. Although this might seem like fear mongering, the banks that were said to be too large to fail did just that not long ago. So did the automotive industry, stock market, the housing market, and many other financially centered institutions. In the face of the global economic downturn, entire nations have declared bankruptcy. Is it really that hard to believe the food industry would be any different?

With the global economy in a global crisis, developing local economy seems to be the logical alternative. If things continue to go as they have for the past few years, a conscious effort to develop those micro economies might no longer be a matter of sending a message to big business during the holiday season. It might be a survival mechanism. We urge you to Occupy Christmas well beyond the holiday season. Making that conscious decision may very well be the best gift you can give your family.


  1. Elizabeth Cate: New Occupy Christmas movement sweeping USA
  2. ABC News: Made in America Gift Ideas
  3. ABC News: Made in America Christmas
  4. CNN: Holiday shoppers pledge to ‘Occupy Christmas’ and buy American
  5. Local Harvest: Why buy local?

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What am I eating: Part 1

Posted by Press on December 22, 2011

We as Human Beings need to be more conscious of not only how we spend our money in terms of who we spend with, but also what we are buying. In the past sixty years, less than a century, we have gone from a relatively healthy eating lifestyle to one of lethargy. Obesity is up, depression is up, heart disease, and the list goes on and on and on. We all know the benefits to eating a healthy diet are huge, but there are so many ways the big food industries still try to cover up harmful food practices so they can make more money.
Raw, Pasteurized, or ultra-pasturized?
I do want to make sure people realize, I am not against pasteurization.  I think it was a brilliant invention that has saved a lot of lives.  I also think it has been taken advantage of, like most brilliant ideas.

For years we have been told not to drink unpasteurized animal or plant products. We have become so conditioned that we don’t really understand what we are eating anymore. For starters, what exactly IS pasteurization? Pasteurization is a process of heating a food, usually liquid, to a specific temperature for a definite length of time, and then cooling it immediately. This process slows microbial growth in food. It has been used in China since the 1100’s as a way of preserving wine, but the modern version was created by Louis Pasteur in 1862 (1). There are two reasons for pasteurization 1) to kill harmful bacteria that may be present and 2) to lengthen the shelf life of the products, up to 16 days longer than raw (2). In fact it would have saved 2 lives, and 191 hospitalizations in the past ten years (6), but we still need to educate ourselves.
What are the disadvantages to pasteurization? Not only does it kill the bad bacteria, but it also kills the good bacteria. “Raw milk does contain antimicrobial properties which are destroyed with the heat of pasteurization, along with many of the vitamins within the milk itself. Raw milk has also been shown to have a protective effect for those who have asthma, hay fever, and atopic sensitization.” (1). As those of you who have experience with breast feeding know, and if human milk is any indication of how milk in general takes care of it’s purpose, milk is an amazing super food meant for nourishing young through it’s most delicate stages. Not only does it provide nourishment, but it can also cure just about anything. Ear infection? Put milk in it. Rash? Put milk on it. You get the picture. Somewhere along the way of all this processing, the milk we consume has lost all properties except for nourishment.
How about ultra-pasteurization? To put it lightly it’s an unneeded process which yields tasteless food that can stay on your shelf for months, and they can run large quantities very quickly. In the process it kills pretty much everything in the product, but also gives it a “cooked” taste to it, and destroys the elements that give the product its flavor and texture. To compensate the companies add products to it, in the cause of milk they add guar gum and carrageenan for texture. The worst part? It doesn’t even make the product any safer for consumption, it’s purely for the profit of the company. (3) Ultra-pasteurization also means that once a food is packaged it doesn’t have to be refrigerated until opened (4), which explains why some milk products are not in the refrigerated isles. Gross right? One has to wonder what this does to your body, and at this point, is it even food?
I can only infer from my background in biology and various research that we are creating a world of people who are no longer immune to things we used to be immune too. We are causing ourselves to be sick. The way the immune system works is that we get antibodies from our mothers, our food, and our exposure to the environment. Our immune systems take in this information and create antibodies, so even if we don’t get sick from something, as long as we were exposed to it through one of those ways we have antibodies to defend ourselves. We also have good bacteria that live in our bodies that we usually get from our food sources. If we kill every bacteria we could possibly come in contact with and surround ourselves with antibacterial everything we leave our bodies defenseless when there is an outbreak of something we could have protected ourselves against. Also, to put this into perspective, from 1998-2008 (a ten year period), there were 449 deaths from lightening strikes in the US (5). You are 224% MORE likely to die from a lightening strike than you are from drinking raw milk. It’s a scare tactic to get consumers to purchase goods that they wouldn’t otherwise produce themselves.
When we purchase from our local dairy farmers most of the time you are getting pasteurized milk, which is still very much ok, but sometimes you can get raw milk, and fresh cheeses that haven’t been overly processed. You will get more good bacteria and antimicrobial properties and you may actually feel a little better. Try it, you may actually like it!  If you are concerned about the bacteria, pasteurize at home by bringing the milk to a temp of 161 in a double boiler for 15 seconds, then place on a bed of ice to cool quickly. It’s that easy!
Here’s a thought for you to take with you, do you know we used to have to shake milk? Most people don’t even know that NORMAL milk separates.
Next up: Fruit, why it’s better to buy local.
(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pasteurization
(2) http://www.foodsci.uoguelph.ca/dairyedu/pasteurization.html
(3) http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/food-science/food-science-whats-the-deal-with-ultrapasteurization-082428
(4) http://www.befoodsmart.com/blog/dairy-dairy-quite-contrary-how-does-your-bacteria-grow/#more-491
(5) http://www.infoplease.com/science/weather/lightning-deaths.html


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What is Orange Juice?

Posted by troublemaker on December 18, 2011

From the beginning of the Occupy Christmas movement, the central theme has been economic. We have encouraged our readers to buy local and to avoid funding huge corporate control of our democracy. What better way to send a clear message to the huge retail stores than to spend our Christmas savings locally? If money is the only language they speak, we will give them a little silence. Today, we share an everyday example of why this message is valid well past the holiday season.

What is fresh 100% pure fresh orange juice?

Let’s first look at the word “fresh”. While some huge food companies are a bit more honest in using the term “fresh squeezed” rather than simply “fresh”, both terms reference a product which is pasteurized and stripped of its oxygen so it can be stored in million gallon tanks for up to a year. Due to the heat of parturition, stripping of oxygen to prolong storage, and likely the storage itself; the product is no longer either flavorful or colorful. To bring that flavor and color back to something consumers will believe is “fresh 100% pure orange juice” flavoring is added prior to being bottled. Because the product is mostly tasteless prior to the addition of flavoring, food companies can control the unique taste of their brand. Minute Made, as an example, has a distinctly sweet flavor as a result of the recipe they use for their flavor booster.

“Kristen Gunter, executive director of the Florida Citrus Processors Association, confirmed that juices are blended and stored and that flavor packs are added to pasteurized juice before shipping to stores.” (1)

The flavor package is derived from a combination of peel, pulp, and the “volatile compounds” which would otherwise escape during the heat pasteurization process. Essentially, the heating of orange juice drives the essence of orange into the air; it is captured and then used in the flavoring combination. We imagine the peel, pulp and volatile compounds of this year’s batch are added to last year’s flavorless liquids prior to bottling such that year after year the process could continue.

Although the process does not mean the major brands are serving up something created by blending artificial chemicals in a laboratory, the term “100% fresh orange juice” does not properly describe the product which is flavored year old juice.

Huge food corporations treat our food this way because it is the only way they can process, store, and ship such a large volume. They deceive the consumer with terms like “fresh squeezed” because it is the only way they can compete. If they were honest and called it “fresh squeezed up to a year ago”, how many people would purchase their mass produced food product?

Although we do not all have orange groves in our areas, we can look at the example of orange juice to see a reason to purchase as much local produce as possible. It should also serve to illustrate the reasons for eating in season, a concept I will touch on later.

.1) http://abcnews.go.com/Health/orange-juice-moms-secret-ingredient-worries/story?id=15154617#.Tu4kxPLjq9K

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