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Bye, bye, Year 2009. You have brought us many changes, moments of overwhelming joy … and sheer terror. (Remember the Mashed Rutabaga with Cauliflower?) I have discovered my pyromaniacal tendencies and started to play with fire in the kitchen on a regular basis. Knives excite me just as much.  Bring it on, Angelina! Who knew? All that led to turning our house into a science lab of food making. There have been plenty of experiments (steaks from a toaster oven is just one example), and so far Jason hasn’t complained.

We have serious reason to be concerned about the future of our kids on this planet (Koyaanisqatsi), but there’s still hope with the growing trend of getting fresh produce from local farmers (Feeling Peachy) and turning to alternative energy sources. We can get healthier with every bite of real food we put in our mouths and what we feed to our offspring. Preparing hearty meals with a variety of vegetables is not that difficult, and never boring. Every time I look at the photos of the Butternut Squash Risotto I made for dinner one night, or my Brussels sprouts on a Bed of Quinoa with a layer of Caramelized Onions, I experience such intense drooling that Jason is inclined to run for a stack of towels to cover the floor around me.

Do you want to hear about the best part? I lost about 15 lbs over the last year WITHOUT DEPRIVING myself of any food. There’s no diet plan, no counting calories, NO STRESS! Sometimes I may overindulge a tad, but who wouldn’t when served those scrumptious Veggie Balls over a bowl of Spaghetti Marinara? Duh! I eat whatever the hell I am in the mood for, and whenever my tummy screams HUNGRY. I hate fast foods with a passion. I avoid processed food products like the plague. However, I am on good terms with a bit of butter here and there. Cream poses no threat to me either. There are no sweets lying around the house, but it doesn’t mean I won’t occasionally get in the car and drive to the bakery for a piece of crunchy pastry when the craving strikes.

What I wish for myself, and for every single one of you, in 2010 is to live more in balance with Nature, stress less, laugh louder, breath lighter, and to age slower. Also, let’s not forget to bring the inner monkey out to play more often.

May all of us see a major shift in the collective consciousness and finally learn how to live symbiotically with Mother Earth so our kids and future generations get to experience the joy and innocence we were granted when growing up.

Thank you for being a part of my 2009. I hope we’ll be able to share and interact more in the upcoming year, and beyond.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!

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All conceivable circumstances considered, this is the most important article I have and ever will write. And if I were never to write again (Although, I really hope I will!), I would be content knowing this piece was my last. The significance of the matter is stupendous, and -frankly – intimidates me. Who am I to tell you how to live your life? How to go about your days? How to evaluate your priorities? How to step out of your comfort zone and see past the conveniences of every day living? And yet, here I am…

Last night, we took Cosmo for a long walk down Sunset Boulevard. The night was warm, and traffic slowed down. While treading back to our nest, we decided to stop by Blockbuster and pick up a movie since we had nothing else planned for the evening. While I counted cracks in the pavement outside of the movie gallery and kept Cosmo company, Jason rummaged through the countless shelves inside the labyrinth of isles until he suddenly stumbled upon a movie called “Home”.

home_filmplakat

It’s creator – Yann Arthus-Bertrand – first became a household name, I think, when his photographic exhibition “Earth from Above” traveled around the world and was seen in over 100 countries. Jason was one of the millions awed by his magnificent art, and has been a fan ever since. Hence, choosing a movie became a no-brainer for my man.

The description on the back cover didn’t reveal much, and so all we expected to see was some spectacular footage of Earth seen from a bird’s eye view. And indeed we did.

The photographer took us on a whirlwind tour of the globe, showcasing its most beautiful areas – the magnificent patchwork of the blue and green and orange and yellow and red – the marvelous painting that is, Earth. The music score was brilliant – moody and taunting tunes interlaced, followed by ethnic pride and elegance all captured in one woman’s voice. The combination of the breathtaking images with the accompanying music was a concert on viewers’ emotions. It was a concert that the director played as skillfully as a virtuoso operates his Stradivarius. Our chests filled with awe; our eyes – overwhelmed by the beauty – glossed over with tears.

Earth

Glenn Close narrated. Led by her calm voice, we traveled back to the origins of life, to the beginnings of evolution. We were reminded of the most tedious work committed by Earth over 4 billion years. It took baby steps, millions of years apart, to have eventually allowed for the birth of Homo sapiens, circa 200,000 years ago. (And really just a wink, when you grasp the Earth’s perspective of time.)

While images of ever moving blue waters, and sky-reaching green tree tops, and herds of wild animals pressing through dry savannas, and the earliest human villages flashed in front of our eyes, Glen Close retold the story of the human genius. Over those 200,000 years, we humans learnt how to hunt and gather, then plant and collect crop. Next we built cities around organized agriculture, and thus we became civilized.

Flash forward to the 20th century that marked the technological revolution in our history. The images kept coming, more familiar, more recent, but the music changed forecasting severe weather, and hinted pain and sorrow. Suddenly, Jason and I were bombarded with numbers that terrified us and dropped such weight on our shoulders that we fell short of breath.

In only six decades since 1950, the world population has nearly tripled. Mass food production has been taken to a new level, and yet nearly 1 billion people around the world goes hungry every day. In the US, a population of 300 million, there are only 3 million farmers left, but collectively they produce enough food to feed 2 billion people. Over 50% of it, however, goes into the creation of bio-fuels and meat production. (To get a better understanding of the food industry in the USA you should watch the recently released “Food, Inc”.)

“Home” took the whole of humanity under a microscope and pointed out the hasty exploitation of non-renewable resources and their reckless expenditure.

Dubai was profiled in the movie as the most visible example of that waste – a city with artificially created islands and skyscrapers highest in the whole world, all paid for with oil money, the city with such abundance of sunlight and not a single solar panel. Las Vegas, with its millions of inhabitants, is one of the largest consumers of water in the world. It all screams EXCESS!

The air pollution is catastrophic. Ice cap is thinner by 40% than it was 40 years ago. Three quarters of fishing grounds are exhausted. 13 million hectares of forests are cut down every year. 40% of the total arable soil of the planet is damaged.

As Glen Close continued to list the scars we caused to the Earth, Yann Arthus-Bertrand fed us images of eroded hills of Madagascar that looked as if they were bleeding.

Mountain

Next, we were taken to cities like Shengzhen that just within just 40 years grew from a small fishing village to a multi-million population. In Shanghai there were 3000 towers and skyscrapers built in 20 years. Hundreds more are under construction today.

Lands depleted of water, plants, and animals forced their farmers away in search of food and survival. Over 2 billion people have migrated from villages and countryside to urbanized world. In consequence, the overcrowded megacities became plagued with poverty, more hunger, and diseases.

The natural balance between humanity and the planet has been disrupted. It’s been estimated we have only 10 years left to reverse the trend causing the climate change before we enter the darkest era for the humanity. We have the knowledge and solutions. We know what to do. Now it’s just the matter of doing it.

The Sun

Those of you familiar with Godfrey Reggio’s “Koyaanisqatsi” (which in Hopi Indian language means “Life out of balance”) will probably agree with my Jason that “Home” is the same cry for help on behalf of Earth, another plea to our consciousness to stop the greedy madness and destructive exploitation of the planet. “Home” is just more vocal and armed with most recent numbers and statistics.

We thought we’d picked up a movie highlighting a talent of our favorite artist. We hoped for a little creative stimulus before bed and food for the soul in the form of photographic exhibition on film. It turned out the movie we chose, by pure chance, was a story about us – you, me, our siblings, neighbors, your children, my grandkids, and all people within any degree of separation.

When the movie was over, I was so overwhelmed by sadness I cried. I couldn’t sleep feeling as if I was wasting time.

Al Gore’s “The Inconvenient Truth” may have shaken millions of people. And it wasn’t the first time we heard about global warming and pollution, hunger and poverty, and the overall devastating effects on the planet our oil-dependent society has wrought. But how many of us still remember to turn the lights off behind us, and to shut the water off while brushing our teeth, and unplug chargers that continue to eat up the energy while not in use?

Please, allow yourself to be moved again! Watch “Home” and be reminded once more, if that’s what it takes, that you are part of the BIG PICTURE. What you do matters. Please watch it and then tell all of your friends. Talk to your neighbor about it. Spread the word. Lets not go back to our comfort zone and be complacent with the status quo.

It is NOT that big of a deal to adjust some of our daily habits in order to help the Earth breathe.

Do I feel like I sacrifice anything by bringing my own totes to a grocery store, instead of having my goods packed in 20 plastic bags that will be trashed 5 minutes later? Do I feel like I sacrifice anything when instead of in zip-locks I store leftover food in plastic containers that I can later wash and reuse? Is it a sacrifice to turn off electronics when we don’t use them? No! It was so easy to replace extension cords in our house for the smart ones. And we certainly can have a meatless day once or twice a week, while still getting a full, satiating and healthy meal. Let’s cut down on the meat consumption to reduce the demand. As consumers let’s ask for more of the healthy, organic choices. Let’s support local farmers to not only cut down on transportation costs, but also to encourage competitive pricing.

Those are small adjustments, and easy to accommodate in our daily lives when we become mindful of the ENORMOUS impact our little actions make. Remember, we all have the power to change. When one becomes ten, and ten becomes a thousand, and that turns into a million we are a force of Nature.

Please, join me on the quest of bringing the awareness BACK to everyone’s minds. Let’s be compassionate for our planet, and mindful of our actions and their affects on the surrounding us NATURE. Let us recognize and cherish its Beauty. Let us selfishly fight for its preservation – for ourselves, for our kids, for the future genius of humanity. LET US BE PASSIONATE ABOUT LIFE.

Agi - the Tree Hugger

You can watch “Home” right HERE.

However, if your Internet connection is slow you may want to just rent a DVD for an undisrupted viewing experience.

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