Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Human Milk in Human Foods- Brilliant or Barbaric?

PETA wrote a letter to Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Co. urging them to replace the cows milk in their products with human breast milk. Before you get disgusted at the thought of your beloved Phish Food being tainted with the lactations of a 17 year old kid, who got knocked up by a good for nothing who left her at the words 'missed period', who's just trying to make a dime to pay for her one-month old baby, but can't find a job with the hours she needs to pick up said baby from daycare or pay enough for all the diapers... before you get lost in that thought- think about why it is so shocking, assuming it is as shocking for you as it was for me.

You can either say its ok to consume human milk or its not ok to consume human milk (beyond your own mothers milk when you are a baby of course). In our society it is quite unheard of to consume human milk in any form except when we are babies and it is from our own mother. When discussing the issue with a friend, she described it as too close to cannibalism to be ok. While I don't see it as cannibalistic, it is similarly wrong. The sharing of bodily fluids is intensly personal, and to be drinking of another seems somehow.. sacriligious. It is unclean. Worse yet, it monetizes a human bodily function. If this practice were to take hold in the US, it would again be another source for large corporations to gain more capital by feeding off those in the lowest socio-economic status (who would be willing/ forced out of circumstance to sell their milk for money).

As Ben and Jerry's did not jump on the 'Breast is Best' band wagon, whats most important about this letter is to consider the state of animal treatment. If you are not ok drinking human milk, are you ok drinking cow milk? This answer is different for everyone. Are you ok drinking cow milk after hearing that they are forced to be pregnant for most of their life (which allows the cows to continually produce milk), while being caged in tiny stalls, then slaughtered for meat when they can no longer produce milk.

America has made so many innovations in food and farming, and mass production in general. This allows us to walk into a super market and have access to pretty much anything we could need. But at what cost? Next time you walk into a store, think about where each of those products comes from. The fruit and veggies are grown somehwere, the processed foods are made and packaged in a warehouse... the meat before being put in that package used to be an animal living some kind of life. Think about where it comes from. Ask. Ask the store manager, your butcher, etc, where it came from or who his supplier is.

Not having to deal with the daily aspects of survival (like finding and producing food, creating shelter, finding water etc), has allowed for innovation and creation and our way of life. Its easy to be ignorant of the processes that happen behind the scenes in America. But not paying attention and apathy allows processes to become subpar. There are few people who advocate harming animals (ie I haven't heard of any groups or organizations out there) and cited an gallup poll that 96% of Americans think animals should be protected from cruelty. If this is so it seems rather sad that we have let the animal industry get as pathetic as it has. Animals are treated quite horrifically at these 'meat farms' and most Americans turn a blind eye.

I went to an ice cream shop once that ha"d its own dairy farm out back. This is one of the places that is supposedly better at cow treatment? The babies were seperated from their mothers upon birth and CHAINED in these littled huts, ALONE, for 8 WEEKS. Supposedly it limits disease, but how is that humane? All the patrons would get their ice cream and chow down, and some would wander out back to the barn area to see the cows. A few were on display like a zoo, then there were the little calf silohs, just stuck their all alone in their chains. Everyone just stared like it was not a problem.

So ask yourself... what are you ok with? Will you eat anything no matter where it came from, no matter how it was produced? Will you buy anything no matter how it was produced? Or will you become aware. Learn about the process before an item lands on the shelf. If you so choose, and you are inspired to do so, say or do something if something is not right. As Gandhi said, "Be the Change you want to see in the world. "



Friday, September 19, 2008

How Much Do Ads Really Influence What We Buy?

Most of us would swear we are not affected by advertising. But if it did not work, companies would not spend billions of dollars each year trying to get their company name and logo 'branded' into our brains and hearts. Its as simple as walking in to the drug store and being faced with a wall of toothpaste- which do you buy? The one you've always bought? The kind your mother buys? The one your dentist recommends? Is it based on taste (and if so have you really done a taste test of more than a few, and did it venture beyond the big name brands)?

The majority of Americans buy Crest and Colgate. Do they really work any better than the brands on the bottom shelf that no one has heard of- of course not! While flipping through Consumer Reports last year, one of those cheaper, less heard of brands (UltraBrite) was ranked as one of the highest quality pastes. I would venture a bet that many have never even tried it.

Whats worse about advertising is it plays on our innate tendencies and uses them to promote products that may or may not live up to the hype. Humans in general fear the unknown and we are drawn to familiarity. Just by having heard the name Crest 100,000 times growing up, especially if it sat on the sink in our own bathroom, we have a much higher likelihood of buying Crest today when faced with that wall of paste. Even now having heard UltraBrite was ranked higher in Consumer Reports, most will still reach for their normal brand next time they toothpaste shopping because that little box on the bottom shelf is new and scary. Maybe they've never heard of it besides this one article, or cheaper must mean not as good (which is untrue), or they don't like that its lower or higher on the shelf.

Ironically the branding makes you feel a connection to it, because you have always used it, its familiar to you.. its your toothpaste (or coffee shop, soda, or shirt). In a country where we are lacking the bonds of a strong community, we seem to derive bits of identity from the brands that we use most often. And advertisers LOVE us for it! We are their pieces of clay that they continue to mold with each passing season.

So how do we live in a world so influenced by advertising? Is there a way to avoid it completely? The simple answer is of course not. To act like advertising does not influence you is to be as naive as those completely ignorant of the power of advertising. But you should be aware of it. Go home and look in your cupboards and on your shelves, notice what you buy and ask yourself why. You have to buy toothpaste, and you have to buy many other neccessities that have multiple brand choices. Sometimes buying a more expensive brand is worth the purchase because it makes a difference (it lasts longer, has a more potent effect, has a truly better taste determined after trying many options, etc). Sometimes its fun to go out and try a brand you've never heard of and you will be utterly and pleasantly surprised!


Monday, September 1, 2008

Welcome to No Sheeping!

Welcome to the No Sheeping Blog! An idea long in the making, spurred on by the constant sheeping that can be seen every day in our country- en mass and small scale in ourselves.

I once read an article of a sheep herder who watched helplessly from below as one of his sheep fell off a cliff. Then the sheep next to the first one followed suit, doing as sheep do, and took the plunge as well. The shepherd watched in horror as more than 100 of his herd copied their fellow compatriots and hurtled off the ledge to their bloody death. It seems horrific… barbaric. You might wonder, as I did, why the sheep would commit suicide? Why would the shepherd not stop them… not save them?

But we must realize the sheep did not know the ground would vanish beneath their feet... they were just following the herd as they always do. The shepherd saw it happening from afar, flabergasted I'm sure. How do you stop an entire herd, more powerful than multiple MACK trucks as they move together as one.. minds made up and as simple as 'we're going this way!'.

People in groups are oftentimes similar to sheep. It’s easier not to fight, to be agreeable, to go with status-quo. Sometimes this is fine. If what you agree with is good, loving, and causes no harm- agree away! The key point being to think first before nodding your head, as opposed to looking around to make sure everyone else is nodding as your sole reason for bobbing your head too. Sometimes there are rights being denied in our society, wrongs being grossly perpetrated, atrocities being ignored, media and ads manipulating the thoughts and beliefs of our culture at large without discourse, or the herd seems to think that apathy is an acceptable option because an issue doesn't directly affect them (but I promise... if you live in this country.. the issues of America affect you- now, tomorrow, indirectly, or in-your-face harshly).

No Sheeping is born of the idea that we should all look around our lives, our communities, our country… and think about what is going on! We are a community of thinkers, compassionate and passionate, who do not follow the crowd blindly, who do not agree with everyone just to fit in, but rather question what is right. No Sheeping is a community of those searching for truth, rights for all, love of humanity, and independent thought.

We are all different people, and I guarantee we will not agree on every issue. This blog is a sister to the T-shirt site, allowing more of a forum for ideas and articles, and allowing me to give commentary on some of the ideas behind the T-shirts. I will not be offended if you do not agree with all of our NO SHEEPING ideas, articles, and shirts- in fact I applaud you for supporting the idea behind the brand enough to wear one whose message you support even though there may be one you don't agree with! This is the power of not being a sheep- free thought, open minds, and respect for each other!

So how do you change a herd? One new idea, one discussion, one thought… one person at a time.

With Love and Respect.


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