There was a time when I lived in a 1500 square foot condo on a golf course. It had a very big kitchen with nice cabinets. We also drove this car:
Maybe the title of this post is a bit of an oxymoron, but in our culture movies are a very important social media (and I really love movies, lol). Not all children's movies are created equal, however. Many, many movies are specifically made to instill consumerism and unhealthy attitudes in our children, and if you are like us and you have a very unique lifestyle, it can be tough to expose your kids to other kinds of attitudes in an educational way. For example, my girls love Disney princess movies (or would love them if they had seen more of them) but after having to explain to them why a woman would want to marry a stranger, why all of their family members are so mean and filled with anger, why all of their friends have Disney princess Barbies... etc. etc. I just got tired of it. For a while, I think I will only have some movies that teach children to be out in nature, take on responsibility, work hard, homeschool, and/or be free of the need of consumption. Here's my list of kid's movie DO's and DON'Ts according to our family values (some need explanation, some don't):
Babe - This is such a cute movie, and does champion vegetarianism if that's what you are into. I personally feel like it might be unhealthy to anthropomorphize animals, and the children in the movie are atrocious.
The Lion King - You would think I would like this, right? It's that animal thing again... and the Nazi imagery during the hyena scenes. There's a strong political message and lots of consumer aspects to this movie.
The Little Mermaid - As a child I LOVED this movie. But this movie is not ok on so many levels. Ariel basically sells her soul for a stranger and then that big octopus lady bursts giant-breasts-first out of a dress.
The Princess and the Frog - There are several moments when the characters have to make choices. The first choice the girl makes is to sell herself for money. I still don't quite understand why they have a Voodoo shadow man following them - the story is a bit confusing. I like the New Orleans culture in the movie, but the story is weird.
The Fox and the Hound - This was another favorite movie of mine, but now I realize the political agenda behind it and it's not so nice. This was a film about segregation.
Milo and Otis - Remember the cute little cat and dog? Well, it turns out that this was filmed in Japan and it was sort of a documentary about putting two house pets in the wild and seeing how they would react to bears and other hazards. Animals WERE harmed during the making of that movie.
Hannah Montana - Argh! I actually like some of Miley's music and she's so talented. This movie failed in it's attempt to promote small-town values over big-city consumerism.
The Black Stallion - I haven't watched this in a while but all I can remember is beautiful images of a boy riding horses and surviving on an island on his own. Lovely!
Fiddler on the Roof
The Iron Giant
A Little Princess - I loved this movie, which is actually quite different from the book. The little girl is free, responsible and strong, and stands up to injustice.
Little Women - The 1994 version is my all-time favorite movie.
Hook - A man realizes he's become lost in the rat race and returns home to reclaim his own childhood and enjoy his children. What's not to like?
The Princess Bride
The Secret of Roan Inish
Swiss Family Robinson
The African Queen
Nim's Island - A homeschooled girl gets left alone on their sustainable island home and survives quite happily by keeping out the tourists.
Mulan - This is probably the one Disney movie that I can't find too much fault with. She doesn't sell out, she's not a princess, and there's not a lot of licensed products for it.
The Neverending Story
War of the Buttons - This is a movie about to warring factions of Irish children who run wild and have very little supervision.
Spirited Away - This is a little bit like watching a child's bad dream and then watching that child become independent and strong and beat the nightmare.
Where the Wild Things Are - The monsters are alarming, exactly like in the book. I loved it in the exact same way that it freaked me out a little when I was a kid.
What other movies are missing from the list? What movies do you hate?
This is going to be a long post. I have a book, printed in 1989, Country USA: Photographed by 102 of America's Best Photographers/24 Hours in Rural America that is basically a coffee table book of photos of farms and landscapes and country people. It is currently out of print, and so I feel pretty lucky to have it. I checked it out from the library when I was about 13 and then found it a couple of years ago at a library book sale.
It has been 21 years since the book came out, and I wondered how many of the farms were still around, and why. Here's what I found:
Maybury Farm, Northville, Michigan: This farm is now under the management of the Northville Community Foundation but they are desperately raising money to try to keep it in operation.
Greg and Merri Lynn Fisher Farm, Baltimore, Ohio: I couldn't find anything on this farm. Either it changed hands or doesn't exist any more.
Bye Farm, Pomeroy, Washington: This farm is still going and raising wheat.
Chennault Plantation, Lincoln County, Georgia: This plantation was for sale and the land subdivided and sold individually.
The Trout Farm Bed and Breakfast, Santa Ynez, California: I couldn't find anything on this farm, so it probably has changed hands. All the working farms in the the valley seem to be wineries, so this has either turned into one of those or is a private residence.
Konza Praire, Manhattan, Kansas: This is a nature reserve owned by KSU that was a part of a cattle ranch at one time. It is used for research.
Leo Cremer Cattle Ranch, Central Montana: This fourth generation cattle ranch is now known as LC Cattle Company and is still a working cattle operation, but it now offers vacation cabins and dude ranch activities.
Kraling Dairy Farm, Harmony, Minnesota: I couldn't find this farm, but the top result was an article from 2003 that forecast that Minnesota would lose 40 percent of their dairy farms in the next four years. With those odds, I doubt the Kralings are still in business.
Diane and Roger Koller Farm, Mayview, Washington: They are still farming, but they are running their farm differently. Now called Cabernet Cattle Company, they have been raising Red Angus beef cattle for 4 years, and just built their website.
T-Bar Ranch, Augusta, Montana: They are still raising Red Angus cattle.
Engel Dairy, Hampshire, Illinois: They are still a working dairy farm, and it is actually called Luck-E Holsteins.
Devling Farm, Plattsburg, Missouri:They only had five cows at the time the book came out. I wonder if they still homestead?
Wilson Farm, Leaf River, Illinois:They had a flock of sheep, but I can't find them now.
Stewart Farm, Waverly, Iowa: Stewart's Duroc Farm is actually two very large hog farms which does intensive genetic development. These hogs are penned up quite tightly.
Branson Farm, Baker, West Virginia: This was a large turkey farm back then which had the turkeys packed tightly into houses, and as of 2003 they were still collecting large farm subsidies, so this farm is probably still going.
Vermillion Gator Farms, Abbeville, Louisiana: According to USA Today, this farm was going as of last year, but alligator ranching is starting to fade. They may not last long.
Musk Ox Farm, Palmer, Alaska: This is a non-profit organization that is raising musk ox to bring in income for the native Alaska people.
Eldredge Cranberry Bog, South Carver, Massachusetts: I'm not sure what this farm is, but most of the cranberry bog area is owned by a theme park called Edaville. The president of their bog is named Eldredge so it is probably the same.
Houtz Winery, Santa Ynez, California: This was bought by the Beckmens among other adjoining properties and turned into a biodynamic organic vineyard.
Cremer Stock Ranch, Melville, Montana: This is still a huge cattle operation.
Stewart Pumpkin Farm, Presque Isle, Maine: This farm still looks pretty much the same and still sells pumpkins.
Peterson Dairy Farm, Grantsburg, Wisconsin: Called Four Cubs Farm, originally this was a young family that had a growing dairy operation and the book had a very detailed section about them. This is the champion family farm that has been passed down through several generations and now is starting to be taken over by their sons. They seem to be introducing some environmentally-friendly initiatives.
63 Ranch, Livingston, Montana: This was always a horse/dude ranch, but they are still going.
Doggett Farm, Windsor, Virginia: This was and appears to still be a large peanut farm.
So now to break it down... out of 24 farms, I was surprised to see how many still exist, but disappointed as to why. 4 of the farms don't exist as businesses. Even though it's possible I can't find them on the internet, almost every farm is listed in the white pages, so either they have changed hands or been sold. According to statistics, they have probably been sold and aren't working farms anymore. Of the remaining 20 farms...
2 are on the brink of shutting down. Maybury Farm and Vermillion Gator Farm are both struggling to make ends meet.
3 are owned by non-profit organizations. Maybury Farm, Konza Prairie and Musk Ox Farm depend on grants to stay afloat.
5 are crop farms, and all over 50 acres.
1 crop farm processes their crop, just the vineyard.
1 farm is diversified, only the non-profit Maybury farm. All the rest focus on one thing. Three of the 4 farms that are gone were diversified, small farms.
9 are livestock farms, 5 of them large cattle ranches that are free range over hundreds or thousands of acres. 2 of the 9 are factory farms. The other 2 are exotic livestock.
2 are dairy farms. 1 of the 4 farms that went out of business was a dairy farm.
8 of the farms offer something to attract tourists and charge for services and/or products to farm visitors.
Only 1 farm, the vineyard, transitioned to organic.
If you look at this cross section of family farms over the last 20 years, the ones that survived were the biggest, or the ones that attracted the most tourists. You could see with a few that there is a very slow shift to sustainability, but the focus of a farm that simply wants to produce food has to be to produce as much as possible. There is no middle ground. Small farmers are forced to supplement their income through the tourist industry. Why don't small farmers have enough market to survive? Probably because they don't have the distribution to compete. They also don't have the volume to make enough income either. This means that while there is a huge demand for local food, the big producers don't want to deal with it and the little producers can't sell enough to make ends meet.
I had been wanting to watch Food, Inc. for a while, but I guess I put it off because I knew it was preaching to the choir. It's sort of like watching a movie that you know what the ending is going to be. I finally got around to it last night, and I wanted to share my thoughts (warning: SPOILERS!!!) on it.
Factory farming is something I think most of us are aware of now... even though producers are trying to hide the way animal products come to be, it's getting tougher for them to keep it a big secret as more and more consumers become educated on the far-reaching effects. I appreciated the film's attempt to educate people that the problem with our food is not really a business problem, or a problem with the organic food industry (the powers that be would have you believe that the organic industry simply can't produce enough), but a political problem. I suspect that this political problem may also be strictly drawn by party lines, but I have not been able to research that fully yet.
I love the rants of Joel Salatin, the grass-fed beef farmer featured in the movie, who owns Polyface Farms. I have seen him before on YouTube, talking about how his pigs live naturally and root in the soil with their noses like any good pig should do. Doing a simple search there will find you tons. Food, Inc. demonstrates the difference between a farmer butchering their own meat, and sending them to a government-regulated slaughterhouse. Joel talks about how he fought against the government shutting down his butchering operation, which is an issue we have dealt with here in BC as well. In BC there has never been an instance of a home-butchered chicken causing anyone sickness, and yet the government decided that this was no longer acceptable. It has been demonstrated over and over that a large assembly-line style slaughterhouse is simply a breeding ground for every possible bacteria, whereas open-air home butchering is much cleaner.
The film also highlighted Stonyfield Farm, which is a brand of organic dairy products that is now found in most stores, and the film has a very interesting scene with a couple of clean-cut Wal-Mart executives showing up at what is supposed to be Stonyfield Farm, to talk about purchasing their yogurt. The farm is idyllic and it seems like an amazing thing. Cheap, organic yogurt at Wal-Mart? Who can complain about that? The film leaves it up to you to compare the difference between Stonyfield Farm, which tries to mass market to the big wig markets, and Polyface Farm, which has customers driving 100 miles to pick up their beef. Stonyfield was bought by Danone (just like many other organic brands which are bought by Coke and Nestle, etc.), and if you go to their website they have a farm cam where you can look at a beautiful old-style dairy farm. Me, ever the skeptic, looked up Stonyfield and found a BusinessWeek article about how Stonyfield now has an industrial facility like everyone else. So that other farm is just for show, I guess. They have to import much of the organic yogurt ingredients from places around the world, and it is compiled together just like any other processed food.
Which begs the question... what was the point of the movie? I wish they had made it a little more clear that Stonyfield is a sell out, that the real hero was Joel Salatin. Companies like Stonyfield are even more sinister because they say organic, but there's no ethics involved. USDA organic means nothing and there are all kinds of loopholes for labeling items organic and natural. Joel should have been the champion, but I interpreted the film as demonstrating two equally viable organic farm strategies... which then made me wonder if Wal-Mart produced the movie. Well, besides being sponsored by a fast-food restaurant, I couldn't find any proof. But Wal-Mart part of the solution? I don't think so.
This is a 10 minute video about a young Mongolian couple trying to preserve their traditional nomadic way of life raising yaks for butter and milk. I thought it was interesting that they started out butchering their own meat but they felt too guilty about it and now they sell butter and buy the meat in town. They have a young baby girl and they want to have more kids but the wife is sick and pregnancy is dangerous for her. It's hard to tell from such a short video, but she says that it is much more difficult for women in such a lifestyle because they do more work, and she looks at her daughter and she hopes for a better life for her, with education. She also feels sad she can't hold her baby more because she's working so much.
They are a cute family and I admire that they are not doing this out of necessity, but rather for the sheer preservation of it. But you can see things changing anyway.
You can do whatever you want with your life, but one day you'll know what love truly is. It's the sour and the sweet. And I know sour, which allows me to appreciate the sweet. - Vanilla Sky
I was going to write a post about the time I didn't wear shoes for six months, but I was reading the news, and I thought this stuff was way more important.
After the incredibly shocking Supreme Court decision that corporations are now considered people, I was just waiting for a company to either seriously take advantage of the implications of such a ruling, or to illustrate how stupid the decision was. Murray Hill, Inc. is the first corporation to run for Congress, and it's either a tongue-in-cheek demonstration (which I think it probably is - I hope) or a serious attempt that blatantly illustrates how the American political system as it was originally set up is effectively dead. They are a liberal PR firm that is running Republican, so I'm thinking that this is a stunt, and a genius one at that.
But, then I read a great story about a community in England that is reclaiming their local food power. The parish of Martin was surrounded by farmland but everyone had to go to the supermarket to get food from hundreds and thousands of miles away. They effectively organized themselves and dedicated the farmland to a communally run food cooperative that grows most of their food for cheap, and it's organic too. What I thought was amazing was the logistics... for approximately $8 US per year each, 126 families receive meat and vegetables, which is 60% of the families in the village. They don't have to pay if they volunteer 7 hours of labor, and the coop still makes money enough to employ four workers. This completely destroys the argument that organic food will always be too expensive for the regular consumer, and demonstrates that organic food is only expensive because companies know they can charge that much.
I'm thinking it's time people started taking some action, don't you?
Take a look at my
© All Rights Reserved. DeliberateLife.com