EAT LOCAL OR GLOBAL?

Recipe Slice Publishing 3

EAT LOCAL OR GLOBAL?

By Carol Crenna 

First we fretted over what was more important: to eat local or to eat organic, in regard to food’s nutritional value and environmental cost.  

Though it’s still debated, it was generally resolved that organically-grown local food was best. Whether or not we felt healthier or more conscientious eating it, we definitely felt smug buying it.

CULINARY CONFUSION

Now controversy brews over what’s better, local or global, after new books including Just Food: Where Locavores Get it Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly, by James McWilliams, argues points made in earlier pro-local books like The 100-Mile Diet and The Omnivore’s Dilemma. 

DINING DILEMMAS

Though we may have once been scolded for playing with our food, we’re now preoccupied with dissecting everything on our dinner plate.

That’s not a bad thing. Investigative journalists have opened our eyes to the dark side of why it’s possible to buy cherries in January, why once-rare treats like macadamia nuts and fresh figs are now fairly commonplace, and why chicken has become so curiously inexpensive. 

As writer Marian Scott states, these books have raised disturbing questions about the seamy underbelly of our global food system, and inspired a quest for nutritional redemption that has sent consumers scurrying to farmers’ markets.  (The Vancouver Sun, January 2, 2010)

LOCALLY COOKED?IS IT WORTH EVERY BITE? 

Now with every mouthful, we consider: carbon footprint – fossil fuel used and pollution created to produce/transport it; food miles – the distance and time it took to get to our plate; nutritional value – whether there’s much left in it after depleted soil, days on a truck and destructive processing denature it, and what’s in it that we don’t want – preservative and addictive chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics and GMOs.

MAYBE GLOBAL IS BETTER 

Just when we thought local was better than international, Just Food: Where Locavores Get it Wrong says, not necessarily. The author argues that field-grown indigenous crops imported from warmer climates are less energy intensive than hothouse produce grown locally, and the energy we use to prepare food at home equals twice as much as its transportation footprint. 

He says agonizing over food’s origins has made us lose sight of global poverty. The problem of adequately feeding billions using sustainable production methods should be a major consideration.

He asks, which is worse, using technology and GMOs to increase yields on land that’s available to grow food, or destroying more tropical rainforests and building environmentally disastrous water pipelines to feed locals? 

POVERTY VS. PLOWING UP RAINFOREST 

Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia face extreme food shortages. Soaring prices in 2008 sparked riots in 30 countries, with food inflation pushing an additional 100 million people into deep poverty, on top of a billion already starving.

Two-thirds of India’s 1.1 billion people depend on farming for their income, but cultivatable land has dropped by one fifth in the past year due to dwindling water supplies, deforestation, and a changing rainy season.

China faces great shortages — Beijing bought huge tracts of arable land in Africa to grow crops for consumption back home. (AFP News, September 08, 2009) Where does that leave Africans? 

If we don’t stop getting cheap produce from China, what other options are left them? 

THE BEST OPTION 

Eat local and focus improvement efforts on global.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE TENORS’ FRASER WALTERS: On Home, His Music Travels, and Having It All

Fraser WaltersInterview with Canadian Tenors’ Fraser Walters

By Carol Crenna

Singer-songwriter Fraser Walters is a handsome and angelic-voiced member of The Canadian Tenors foursome – now called simply The Tenors – that has experienced overwhelming success in the last five years. (With the new CD release, Lead With Your Heart, the quartet has dropped its first name “Canadian.”) 

In five years, they have gone from performing in small venues to entertaining the Queen at Windsor Castle.The group was featured on Oprah with surprise guest Celine Dion, received rave accolades on Dr. Phil, sang for President Obama and G20 Summit leaders, and performed in Tel-Aviv with Andrea Bocelli. 

They opened for Bill Clinton four times, toured with David Foster and, after a performance at a Foster  party, were booked to sing at the Emmy Awards. They are now performing or recording about 300 days a year.

Walters is the group’s de facto leader. Here Walters talks about health, happiness and home, which is where the heart, and his piano, is. 

CAROL: Where is home for you?

WCL_CanadianTenors_430x242FRASER WALTERS: When you travel constantly, it’s a challenge to know where to call “home.” Home is where ever we’re staying. I am in Toronto today but leave for Boston tomorrow, and just came back from Halifax, Los Angeles and Portland.

Now I won’t be back to my apartment for over a month, or maybe longer if I add a trip to Australia to see friends and family there. To try to keep up with everyone is a challenge when we’re so busy.

When we began, Toronto was much more of a home base because we were building our name in Canada. But since our first album went platinum in Canada, we’ve been to many countries including Japan, Philippines, Indonesia and Australia.

But since I’m originally from Vancouver, and my family still lives there, BC truly feels like home. Eventually, though, I would like to have a home bases in a couple of different countries. 

CAROL: You bought a condo in Toronto.

FRASER WALTERS: Right now, it’s nice to come “home” to a condo I can call mine in Toronto’s entertainment/fashion district. I bought it in 2005 when I was in the Lord of the Rings theatre production, and stayed when the Canadian Tenors were formed. We’re all officially based here.

It’s here that I have my piano; and that is where I do a lot of music arranging with an M-Audio digital system.

 CAROL: Do you play your piano there at night? 

FRASER WALTERS: Though I’ve had one or two late-night knocks on the door from neighbours, the concrete building is quite soundproof. The piano is in the loft overlooking the living space near my bedroom, and I look out the window at the view when I’m arranging, playing and singing.

CAROL: What does your condo look like?

FRASER WALTERS: I chose it because it’s a two-storey loft, and is a corner suite. It is modern, with an exposed concrete ceiling and concrete support beam running through it. There is lots of natural light with 17-foot ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows. I painted the walls myself with a rich, earthy green that reminds me of British Columbia, and orange for a funky twist.

CAROL: You said you have a couple of pieces of art. 

FRASER WALTERS: My favourite art piece is a large poster of a brewery photographed in 1908 that our family owned a generation ago in New York City called the David Stevenson Brewing Co. The colours on my walls complement it. 

I searched modern and vintage stores on King St. East (Toronto) for unique furniture during time off from rehearsals. I found a beautiful refinished dark wood table with a round base that used to be in a bar, and great secondhand chairs.

My contemporary couch is comfortable enough to have a nap on, not so narrow and “plastically” modern that you don’t enjoy sitting. It has a dark wood frame, chocolate leather base, and light coffee fabric. 

CAROL: What does your kitchen look like; and do you cook? 

FRASER WALTERS: The kitchen is easy to work in, but without typical granite counters and stainless steel appliances. I love cooking, and since months can go by that I’m not here, when in Toronto I prefer to cook at home rather than going to a restaurant. Sometimes I entertain friends, and we’ve even cooked here and taken it to their space.

CAROL: Are you a healthy eater? 

FRASER WALTERS: If I had a yard, I would have a garden with herbs and vegetables. I prefer cooking with organics and shop at organic grocers like Whole Foods, and Kensington Market just around the corner from my condo. I buy natural foods from quinoa to wild fish and raw almonds — yes, I like to eat healthily. 

CAROL: How do you de-stress?

Fraser Walters singingFRASER WALTERS: Good question. I sing in the shower. Who doesn’t? I have workout space in the living room with exercise bands and chin-up bar, which comes apart to take to hotels. 

I love outdoor exercise – I surf and wakeboard, whether in BC or North Carolina, and hit the trails mountain biking, and ski in the Alps. I grew up skiing at Whistler. My condo’s contents reflect this. It stores golf clubs, tennis rackets, a mountain bike, and well-used running shoes… my best companion on the road. 

CAROL: Where do you run? 

FRASER WALTERS: Running to explore a new environment becomes the highlight of travel during time off. I was in Halifax a couple of days ago and had a beautiful run along the ocean; I was in Los Angeles on the weekend running on the beach and on trails overlooking the Hollywood Hills; I was also in Portland, Oregon and there was a beautiful trail in the hills with massive trees.

I also work out at a gym and I have also done yoga. 

CAROL: Athletics have always been a part of your life.

 FRASER WALTERS: I was on the national track and field team at the Pan-American Jr. Games, and played varsity soccer while at the University of BC. 

CAROL: What other aspects of health are important to you? 

FRASER WALTERS: It’s important for singers to hydrate properly – to drink enough water – and to schedule vocal rest for recovery. Also, all of the Tenors take oil of oregano at the first sign of throat irritation. 

CAROL: What is a favourite memory while travelling? 

FRASER WALTERS: We played for 300 people at the Igloo Church in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Seeing elders from many different bands was an unbelievable experience, especially when we knew that they don’t hear this type of music often.

CAROL: You were on Oprah with Celine Dion. 

FRASER WALTERS: The Oprah Show was an incredible experience since she has such international reach. We still get feedback from it from Egypt to South Africa to Australia.

Having Celine Dion perform with us was a total surprise – we had no idea why people started clapping when she came from behind and started singing – and it took everything I had just to stay standing and remaining calm to perform. 

CAROL: You enjoy the charity work.

FRASER WALTERS: It’s always been a part of our mandate to give back since we know how fortunate we are to have success. Through the gift of music we have been able to meet world leaders; yet it’s another thing to actually use those political contacts to create positive change.

We have been to Swaziland, Africa to check the progress of the work done since we began our charity involvement for the Bulembu project in 2009. It was fulfilling to see children who are now very proud of their new homes and their first beds. We were in a concert that raised $1.3 million for the Voices for Bulembu. That is life-changing work ─ for them and me.

This original article by Carol Crenna was partly featured in Canada Wide Media’s BC Home Magazine and BC Living website

 

 

Pamela Wallin: On Success, Strength, Surviving Cancer, and Being a Senator

Pamela Wallin 

Pamela Wallin ─ On Success, Strength, Surviving Cancer, and Being a Senator 

By Carol Crenna

The honourable Pamela Wallin, former broadcaster and Ottawa bureau chief, and New York Consul General, is now a well-known Senator, appointed to the Senate of Canada in 2008. She is Chair of the National Security and Defence Committee, serves the Special Committee on Anti-terrorism, and is a member of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs & International Trade Committee.

Pamela received the Order of Canada, six honorary doctorates, and recently became an honorary colonel. She has written books including Speaking of Success: Collected Wisdom, Insights and Reflections, based on past interviews, and a bestselling memoir Since You Asked.

She was diagnosed with and survived colon cancer in 2001, and became a spokesperson for it. I spoke with Pamela about her lifestyle, colon cancer diagnosis, and views about having a career in politics.

CAROL: You’ve come along way — from being a social worker in a penitentiary in Wadena, Saskatchewan to covering wars as a journalist on the front lines to becoming an international diplomat and politician.

PAMELA WALLIN: (Laughs) Sometimes I don’t think I’ve come that far. When in New York as Consul General, for example, I still saw a lot of people on Wall Street heading off to jail. 

CAROL: Where do you get the strength to continue reinventing yourself?

PAMELA WALLIN: From my upbringing. I was the only kid I knew whose mother worked outside the home professionally. I had a rare experience then of growing up thinking that women did it all, and that I had to take care of myself. 

In grade 10, I lived with my grandmother and managed her entire household. When I got into the world and was told that “women don’t do these things,” I felt motivated because it made no sense to me.

We had an intellectually inquisitive family and were allowed to speak freely at the dinner table. My father would ask a question, and if we didn’t know the answer he wouldn’t offer it, but would tell us to look it up, not knowing he was creating a journalistic mind. 

CAROL: I’d like to ask you the same question you once asked Rick Hansen. If you had the chance to change life’s circumstances – not to have had cancer, or not to have been so publicly fired from Prime Time News – would you?

PAMELA WALLIN: No. I don’t want to sound trite, but not even the cancer. Cancer isn’t a good experience, but I think any challenge teaches you a lot about yourself.

You let yourself get so busy and mistakenly think that the world wouldn’t turn without you doing exactly what you do; you forget the greater scheme of things. It made me dig deeper.

CAROL: Have you changed your lifestyle since your cancer? Especially since that cancer is thought to be so closely linked to lifestyle?

PAMELA WALLIN: Having cancer changed the way that I dealt with mortality. I thought, like everyone does, that I was invincible. When it first happens to you, you deal with immediate factors of treatment and survival.

But then you have to decide what else you’re going to do about it.

CAROL: What about diet and exercise?

PAMELA WALLIN: I still live a very busy, high stress life because I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t. I try to be healthy, but in my job I eat professionally ─ I have to ‘do’ breakfasts, lunches, dinners and cocktails. 

Yet I have now learned to listen to my body, and am sensitive to when I’ve gone beyond my limits. I was too busy to listen before so I missed symptoms that told me when things weren’t right. 

I’ve always been a migraine suffer, for example, and I now know when one may be coming so that I can take precautions. I try to incorporate walking into daily life, but I don’t do rigorous exercise. 

CAROL: You had your cancer operation in mid September (the same week as 911) and were on your book tour by late October. Why did you get right back at it without giving yourself time to rest?

PAMELA WALLIN: You need to bring back a comfort zone when this happens, and for me that was work. Yet more important, my doctor told me that other diseases had been taken up as causes by Hollywood, yet no one wanted to be the poster girl for this unglamorous, potentially embarrassing one.

I was shocked to learn its prevalence and my level of ignorance about it. If a well-informed person who works in the media with access to all kinds of information is ignorant, what about most people? I had the chance to talk to thousands of people on my tour so I decided to use it for the cause.

CAROL: Some believe that cancer is a symptom that something is out of balance, spiritually, emotionally and physically. Do you agree?

PAMELA WALLIN: I don’t know the cause of my cancer, but I believe it meant that there is something out of balance. It didn’t come from nowhere, and stress and lifestyle exacerbate it.

It is a wakeup call for those who survive, and it’s incumbent to them to make changes. How lucky can you be to get a second chance?

CAROL: And you took advantage of that chance. 

PAMELA WALLIN: Cancer made me appreciate what I had, and be open to  opportunities. It also made me realize that I had to take life and everything that it offers. It’s the reason I’m here; when I was asked if I wanted to take on a new life challenge, like moving to New York or working in the Senate, I knew that I had to say yes!

Sometimes we don’t see the opportunities in life because we make ourselves too busy to stop and think.

CAROL: You once said that by facing a crisis you are forced to go inside and see what’s there. What did you find when you went inside?

PAMELA WALLIN: I found unanswered questions. What is it that I’m doing this all for? I love working very hard, but I had to stop and find out, for what end? You need the frame on a picture to help you focus and define what you’re looking for or else the picture would go on endlessly and seem meaningless. You have to do this in life, too, because you can’t do everything.

My focus is about making my efforts matter. I want someone to change their mind about something they have always believed. That takes getting to know people more deeply, rather than superficially.

CAROL: Do you feel Canada-US relations have improved?

PAMELA WALLIN: For too long we have operated on stereotypes; we think we know what Americans are like, and they think they know similarly about Canadians. But the world has changed dramatically, and we need to rethink on both sides how to help each other and deal with our scars. 

CAROL: What are you learning about relationships as a diplomat and politician?

PAMELA WALLIN: I learned that everything you learned when you were six years old about relationships is the same lessons you need to relearn throughout life. I think that everything, no matter what you do, is about relationships.

And whether it’s a love relationship, friendship, boss, employee or between two countries, it’s more about how you get along during the bad times than good ones. That’s achieved through operating on trust.

CAROL: How do you find balance?

PAMELA WALLIN: Life balance is built on relationships, too, because friends and family give balance. If you try to look for life balance as some intangible achievement, it won’t work if these pieces of the puzzle don’t fit right first. 

CAROL: You are so focused on your mission. Do you have any advice for those still searching for direction in their career? 

PAMELA WALLIN: Find what makes you truly happy. 

CAROL: Do you miss interviewing the world’s newsmakers?

PAMELA WALLIN: No. I now have those interesting people at my dinner table instead of in front of a camera, so in many respects the conversations can be more frank.

 

Article by Carol Crenna, featured in VISTA Magazine and in the new cookbook Breast Friends Inspire Health

 

 

GOING RAW: Is Raw Food Better?

 

Tomato Recipe by Slice PublishingGOING RAW

By Carol Crenna

Are you considering kicking the cooked food habit, like a growing number of North Americans?

RAW! RAW! RAW!

Rejecting your grandparent’s cooking traditions is not meant to be fanaticism, but a turn away from the denatured, overly cooked fare that threatens our culture. It’s about providing the body with the nutrients it needs from whole, fresh vegetables picked from the garden, rather than trying to get them from processed pasta with limp grey veggies covered in sauce.

Raw foodists promote that it alleviates chronic health problems, improves digestion, reduces allergies, increases energy, lessens PMS and menopausal symptoms, and may heal the very ill.

IS RAW BETTER THAN COOKED?

Yes. And no. Some experts say it’s debatable. Cooking destroys 10 to 25 per cent of vitamins; lighter cooking results in fewer losses. For example, 100 grams of broccoli has 93 milligrams of vitamin C when raw, and 75 milligrams boiled, 71 micrograms of folic acid raw, and 50 micrograms boiled.

There are exceptions such as tomatoes which increase nutrients after cooking; and nutrients in potatoes, legumes and grains are easier absorbed after slight cooking. Research shows that cooked beans, for example, are two to 12 times more readily digested, depending on preparation, than when soaked or sprouted. Proper preparation is the key.

SPROUT SAVVY

Sprouting, another possibility, changes nutrient amounts – sprouting dehydrated grains increases protein and vitamin content, but sprouting fresh grains decreases them. Other raw food techniques such as fermentation and pickling improve digestibility.

MINERAL MYTHS

Only tiny amounts of minerals are lost in cooking, but are leached into water if boiled, so steaming or low-temperature stirfrying is better. (The claim that minerals are converted to an inorganic form by cooking which can’t be absorbed isn’t true. The human body has both organic minerals, like iron, and inorganic ones, like salt; and the body can use inorganic minerals, like iron from cooking pots.)

Eating some cooked foods increases mineral intake by helping you get the high volume of food you require for adequate minerals. Green vegetables are an excellent source of minerals, for example, but few are able to chew and swallow one pound of raw broccoli every day for adequate amounts. (Mountain gorillas spend 40 per cent of the day chewing.)

ENZYMES FOR ENERGY

Raw foodists also promote that enzymes in raw food carry the “life force,” which can be transferred to the body, enhancing vitality and longevity. You only need to examine food before and after cooking to believe this.

Enzymes in raw foods, which are destroyed by cooking, are important to digestion, and raw foodists believe that lacking them forces the body to produce more of its own enzymes. There’s no question that food enzymes aid digestion — anyone taking nutritional enzyme supplements will attest to that.

Research is mixed on whether cooking demands more enzyme production by the body. Since 90 per cent of nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine, digestion there relies on bile and pancreatic enzymes because most food enzymes are destroyed in the stomach prior to reaching the intestines.

But you may not get all available nutrients from foods before they’re eliminated (through your colon, I mean) without those initial food enzymes breaking food down.

Very healthy pizza from the cookbook "Slice: Health Inspired Food"

Very healthy pizza from the cookbook “Slice: Health Inspired Food”

TOSS THIS AROUND.

A study confirms that people who eat salads and raw vegetables have more nutrients in their bloodstream, and increased chances of meeting recommended daily nutrient amounts.

Researchers at University of California analyzed raw vegetable intake of 9,400 women and 8,200 men. People who ate more salads and raw vegetables had higher blood levels of folic acid, vitamins C and E, lycopene, alpha and beta carotene.

COOKING CAN CAUSE ANTINUTRIENTS

Raw food not only gives more of what we should be eating, it avoids what we shouldn’t.

While cooking destroys antinutrients so that certain foods previously toxic become edible, research shows that it can also do the opposite. There’s a direct link between acrylamide – produced in roasted, fried or baked food (especially potatoes and bread) and uterine and ovarian cancer.

THE RESEARCH 

The University of Maastricht found that women who consumed 40 micrograms of acrylamide a day (the same as in a small bag of chips) had double the risk of cancer than women who didn’t. Cooking also often leaves toxins undestroyed, and the result of cooking is that you eat more of that food than if it were raw. For example, there are several antinutrients in grains including phytates which deplete the body of minerals.

WHAT ARE OUR BODIES BUILT FOR?

Raw originally, but then partly cooked — research about when ancient hunting-gathering humans started cooking varies from 50,000 to 100,000 years ago. Many aboriginal tribes have cooked for millennia because conditions of living off the land (even in tropics) provided limited amounts of edible raw plants but abundant roots/tubers to get the energy they required.

And we modern hunter-gatherers may be too busy to find and eat the needed amounts of raw to fulfill requirements. What do I mean?

WANT TO AVOID TIME IN THE KITCHEN?

While you might jump at the chance to not have to cook meals, eating raw doesn’t mean less prep work. Ask any raw foodie, and they will tell you that preparing a raw meal takes just as much time as cooking one; I’m not talking about throwing together a salad, but preparing gourmet wonders like raw lasagna or raw pad Thai.

WEIGHT LOSS ON RAW

You’ll pack the most fat-fighting nutrients into the least amount of calories by eating vegetables raw. There are only 20 calories in a tomato, 10 in a cup of spinach, 15 in an 8-inch cucumber, 20 in a 4-ounce serving of green beans, 22 in 4 ounces of carrots, 18 in a cup of mushrooms, 26 in a cup of eggplant, and 15 in a 4-ounce serving of broccoli. That’s a lot of food for 140 calories!

Raw vegetables have lots of fiber and water which help to make you feel satiated (full). And they burn more calories during digestion to help you to lose weight.

GLYCEMIC INDEX AND RAW

You probably know that glycemic index diets promote that foods which keep blood sugar levels steady make it easier to lose weight. They are often based on broad assumptions, black-listing all high glycemic – high sugar content – foods. They also usually make little distinction between healthy ones, like carrots and fruit that are full of life-giving nutrients, and unhealthy ones like processed pasta and sugar.

What does this have to do with raw food?

These diets often don’t discuss the difference between cooked and raw foods; cooked carrots, for example, have different amounts of available fiber and enzymes so are absorbed differently than raw ones. The fiber in raw fruits and veggies makes the available glycemic amounts low because we don’t digest and absorb the sugars easily when fiber is present. It is overly cooked and/or processed foods that have highly available glycemic amounts.

FARMER FORAGING

If you don’t have year round access to a variety of fresh raw fruits and vegetables to get all of the nutrients that different plants provide, you may be a little malnourished. In port cities, we revel in year-round imports, but if you are struggling in midwinter to survive on local cabbage and grains, meals can become ho-hum.

WHAT ABOUT MEAT?

No, blue-rare steak isn’t considered “raw food” by most enthusiasts. Meat-eaters say it can be an efficient way to eat: cows eat grass – a leafy green vegetable – and corn – a high protein/starch vegetable – so therefore steak is a mechanism to get raw veggies into your body. But it’s obviously a weak argument.

 SHOULD YOU TRY AN ALL-RAW DIET?

You have tried the all-carb diet, the all-meat diet and the all-fruit diet and they all didn’t work (especially if you did them all at the same time). Try the all-raw diet if it feels right.

My advice: Eat raw. Eat cooked.

A combination of 50 per cent raw and 50 per cent slightly cooked (without processing) provides optimum nutrients. But there is no one-size-fits-all answer. For example, traditional Chinese physicians advise that if you have a cold body type (cold hands and feet, and get chills easily), eating hot foods is healthier, particularly in winter. And the elderly sometimes have a difficult time chewing and digesting raw food.

Try tossing shredded carrots and cabbage on top of stews and stirfries before serving; add sliced cucumber, spouts and tomato to a protein (fish, chicken, egg) in a sandwich; start a meal with a spinach salad, or munch on broccoli and carrots with a dip as an appetizer.

WHEN YOU COOK

Cook vegetables only slightly so they’re still brightly coloured and crisp. Don’t cook them until they’re soft. You like things cooked soft? My response: remember that if food goes in soft, it comes out hard. But if it goes in hard, it comes out soft; healthy bowels are a top priority for vitality and disease prevention.

For more information on raw vs. cooked: see www.beyondveg.com and http://www.living-foods.com.

 

ROBERT BATEMAN: On home life, health, helping wildlife and his art muse

ROBERT BATEMAN: On home life, health, helping wildlife and his art muse

Robert with 'Egrets Sacred Grove'

 

 

 

By Carol Crenna

Consummate Canadian artist Robert Bateman has been painting and protecting wildlife for over 65 years. His signature realistic style is showcased in international galleries and the homes of Prince Phillip and Prince Charles, and has garnered him the Order of Canada and 11 honorary doctorate degrees.

Yet his love of art is equaled by his love of nature, and as an internationally respected environmentalist and naturalist, Robert lives by his convictions. I spoke with him about his health, his home, the environment and art.

CAROL: You started painting as a young child.

ROBERT BATEMAN: All children paint, but when they usually stop I didn’t. By the time I was 16, I had painted every hawk and owl in North America. After being an Impressionist, Cubist, and an Abstract Expressionist, I was influenced by realistic artists including Andrew Wyeth in the late 50s and I haven’t changed my style since.

It doesn’t take more skill to paint hundreds of strokes rather than one right stroke but it takes more patience.

CAROL: You’ve also been lecturing about nature for years.

ROBERT BATEMAN: I never thought that I would support myself with art — everyone in the Group of Seven had day jobs. I became a geography teacher so that I could get free field trips into the wilderness to paint.

At the same time I was an ardent naturalist, learning from experienced naturalists and studying field guides, and I taught at the Royal Ontario Museum. When teaching others about nature, the details of each plant or animal are important.

 CAROL: Why are names for wildlife  important?

ROBERT BATEMAN: One of the great tragedies in our civilization is that people don’t know the names of their neighbours – plant and animal species that share their neighbourhood. If you don’t know the names, you don’t care about them and can’t protect biodiversity.

CAROL: You mean it’s like making a friend — when you know their name, rather than just recognizing them when you pass by, you care more?

ROBERT BATEMAN: You begin paying more attention to what you’re seeing. You think, “What happened to all of the olive-sided flycatchers that I’d see each year at the pond?”

Terrible losses occur if you don’t pay attention to what‘s happening to the canaries in the coal mine. I am doing what I can to alter that. Too many people feel the way that Ronald Reagan did when he said, “You’ve seen one tree, you’ve seen them all.”

CAROL: You have a very healthy diet.

ROBERT BATEMAN: We eat wild fish, following the Sierra Club and Ocean Wise lists, and sometimes eat organic, free range chicken and eggs. We buy locally from markets on Salt Spring Island where we live, and grow our own food. It’s a dilemma considering the distance food travels — my wife Birgit went through agony recently buying sparkling water.

 Since we don’t like products in plastic, she found the closest glass bottled brand from Quebec. We stopped eating pumpkin seeds, which are from China, and switched to sunflower seeds grown in Saskatchewan. Birgit is the household conscience and has been using fabric bags and bringing her own mug to coffee shops for 25 years.

CAROL: You had a health concern a few years ago.

Robert Bateman 3ROBERT BATEMAN: I had a cancerous tumour on the outside of my baby finger on my right hand, the hand I paint with. I’ve had a lifetime of covering my hands with paint and other chemicals and I sign a lot of prints on chemical paper.

Two younger colleagues – oil painters – died from strange forms of blood cancer. The tumour was removed and hadn’t spread to other areas. I think like I am cured so I don’t worry about it, but I act like I still have it, continuing to increase my health through diet, exercise and a healthier home.

CAROL: In 2005, you volunteered for a medical assessment that detected amounts of toxins in your body. The assessment found 32 carcinogens, 19 hormone disruptors, 16 respiratory toxins and 42 reproductive toxicants.

ROBERT BATEMAN: They also found that mercury and lead were high in my body, which are not a danger unless I am young or still want to reproduce.

CAROL: How do you manage your worries?

ROBERT BATEMAN: During my cancer procedures, I managed my worries well ─ doctors considered amputating my finger. My advice is: don’t worry. I know that’s easier said than done so my second piece of advice is: procrastinate. I don’t mean be a shirker about duties, I mean procrastinate about worrying ─ think, “I am OK at the moment so I will worry about the problem later.” Then time will likely take care of everything. I focus on what is happening in “the Now.”

Some of the worst things in your life may never happen so why increase cortisol (stress-induced) hormone and blood pressure and shorten your life for them?

I do a three-breath meditation. If you find yourself worrying, go outside, take three breaths, address a tree and quietly say, “Thank you.” If you can’t find a tree, a dandelion will do. Japanese “forest therapy” takes stressed office workers for a half-hour walk in the woods. Their cortisol and blood pressure decrease and their immune system improves. Nature is magic. 

CAROL: You say that painting for you isn’t relaxing; it’s work.

ROBERT BATEMAN: Art is challenging and frustrating but I don’t linger in it. I work on five paintings at a time so if I’m frustrated I put one down and begin another. A muse comes down from Mount Olympus and changes my attitude, cheering me up – it’s an inner intuition, suddenly giving a breakthrough to be able to move ahead.

CAROL: Do you exercise?

ROBERT BATEMAN: I take two walks up hills each day, and bike ride each morning. I also have an exercise bike to increase my heart rate. My wife and I have been going to a personal trainer for weights and balance twice a week for 10 years. My balance has improved tremendously and the weights decrease my age. I only feel 52, not 82.

CAROL: What are your philosophies for saving the environment?

ROBERT BATEMAN: We all know what to do: pay attention and pay for it. Pay attention to what is going on by reading news and watching current affairs programs. And pay for it by not being so cheap. Most of us don’t want to pay more for organic vegetables grown close to home, or for environmentally friendly electricity.

For the last 10 years, my talks have focused on three big bad F’s – industrial fishing, industrial farming and industrial forestry – which are destructive to nature.

CAROL: Is there a way out?

ROBERT BATEMAN: Former chief economist with CIBC, Jeff Rubin, who wrote Why the World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller, says the world will completely change when oil is $100 a barrel.

When that happens, local economies will be more viable than global economies because it won’t make financial sense to ship tankers to North America. That means we will have to change our diet and how we live. There will be many more jobs in farming and local manufacturing. 

CAROL: You have five environmentally-minded children!

ROBERT BATEMAN: Yes. My lectures now focus on the fact that kids don’t play outside enough. Young people spent time outside for hundreds of thousands of years until 15 years ago.

The book Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Kids from Nature Deficit Disorder quotes a 10 year old kid saying, ”I like to play indoors because that’s where the electric outlets are.”

It cites recent research proving that if kids play outdoors, not organized sports but unsupervised climbing trees and building forts, they have less obesity, attention deficit disorder, suicide, alcohol abuse and bullying, and have higher marks.

There are movements in progress to redesign areas of cities to have wilderness, not parks, for kids to play on their own.

CAROL: What about dangers?

ROBERT BATEMAN: We need adult supervision inside, not outside the house. TVs and computers are dangerous babysitters. In talks I gave in the 60s I said that kids then hadn’t seen real family life other than TV shows so based their knowledge on it from them.

Now those kids are parents who don’t teach their children family values because they didn’t know them, and expose them to violent TV, video games and internet predators but are afraid to let them go outside.

CAROL: How can we change kids’ mindsets today?

ROBERT BATEMAN: It should be mandatory that every child in junior high and high school spend a week in the wilderness every year. As a teacher, when we took groups to Algonquin Park, we saw “idiot yahoo kids” at the beginning of the trip be transformed by nature into caring human beings.

In school, kids learn more about the problems of the Amazon Rainforest than about the wooded area at the end of their street – it’s not more courses; its experience.

CAROL: Let’s talk about the house you designed.

Bateman homeROBERT BATEMAN: The home is a labour of love. It was designed by myself, with Birgit and my son-in law, who’s an architect. Our home is on acreage and has lovely views of a little 1930s farmhouse, distant hillsides with grazing sheep, and a lake teeming with wildlife — it’s protected because we own half of it and Ducks Unlimited owns the other half.

 We always have our breakfast in bed, sitting side by side gazing out at the view with our binoculars. We built the house six years ago to provide more studio space and to create a healthy environment. Our other home had views of the ocean, and we had installed solar and wind power there. But we were conscious of electromagnetic frequency waves since it faced electric towers on nearby islands. 

We decided to start from scratch and build the exact house we wanted before I got any older. It is a sensual pleasure to walk through its open spaces and differing forms.

Our bedroom is at the far end of the house from the studio but I never resent the walk; I love it because it offers different views of the home’s art collected from around the world. Esthetic pleasure is not to be taken lightly; it’s very important for the spirit and therefore the health. 

CAROL: Your home is environmentally friendly.

ROBERT BATEMAN: We built it with less off-gassing in wood and other surfaces, and no fluorescent lights. The new home has geothermal heating; it is very comfortable, reliable, and the right thing to do for the environment.

Solar power wasn’t an option here. We live in the Siberia of Salt Spring; there is a huge hill between us and the electromagnetic field-emitting towers which is good for our health but we don’t get any sun in winter.

CAROL: Where is your favourite place?

 ROBERT BATEMAN: My favourite rooms are the bedroom and studio. The studio is where I am all day and where my creativity takes place. It has many north windows – an artist doesn’t want direct light – and looks out onto heritage apple trees.

The master bedroom has a beautiful view of the terrace. I was involved with the landscape architecture; I made faux rocks by using a cement mold and painting them to create cliffs, caves and a pond with waterfall.   

CAROL: What art does your home display?

ROBERT BATEMAN: It is dominated by tribal art from Nigeria where I taught school, from New Guinea where we’ve traveled, and by Canadian Haida pieces. My own art is either on exhibition or owned by other people!

I do have earlier work displayed which there wasn’t a big market for — it isn’t realism. It’s Impressionist or Abstract Expressionist. Birgit is a professional photographer and we have many of her photos on display. I prefer to hike in nature, give lectures, or be with family when not working.

CAROL: What more would you like to accomplish? 

ROBERT BATEMAN: I would like to follow healthy practices so that I may continue to be healthy for a long time. I want to take advantage of the years that I have left to travel, but I also love being home. 

When you get to be my age, you begin to count how many Mays you have left – the best time of year for flowers and birds in North America. Last May I went to Point Pelee National Park on Lake Erie to watch the migration, and joined Margaret Atwood for a “bird-a-thon.”

 

Original articles by Carol Crenna, part featured in VISTA Magazine, and part featured in Canada Wide Media’s BC Home Magazine

 

 

DOES SOCIETY MAKE YOU SICK? Cultural habits that aren’t good for you

 
Relax when with othersDOES SOCIETY MAKE YOU SICK?

By Carol Crenna 

“Culturogenic diseases” have nothing to do with the type of disease passed from one person to another. It refers to everyday social habits you take for granted that can make you sick.

Although we’re born as human animals, we become domesticated, packaging ourselves into a culturally acceptable form that defines how we dress, eat, function and interact. 

Many of these behaviours aren’t healthy because they aren’t natural.

LET IT ALL HANG OUT.

Did you know that women who don’t wear bras have very low rates of breast cancer occurence? There are several studies showing that poor circulation and drainage of fluid in the breast is a factor in breast cancer.Not wearing a bra has been used to successfully relieve chronic breast pain and cysts.

I’m not suggesting you stop wearing a bra in social situations, but consider one that isn’t nearly as tight, conforming and without an underwire.

Take your bra off as soon as you get home to give your body a break. Breast massage can also help drain fluid. 

POWDER ROOM DILEMMA.

What do you do when you have to go to the bathroom and there is none nearby? You hold it until later when it’s “more convenient”. This can lead to incontinence, bladder infections, kidney stones and prostate enlargement. Make your body functions a priority.

Urine is a waste product that the body needs to quickly eliminate from its system to stay healthy. Avoid a “too full” bladder feeling, and never sit for long periods with a full bladder since this compresses it into other areas (such as the prostate, if you’re male).

And don’t avoid drinking water simply because you have to urinate a lot, since most people are chronically dehydrated. 

WHAT GOES IN MUST COME OUT.

Some people have insecurities about bowel movements which leads you to hold in your waste until you are in a comfortable, safe environment. This often leads to constipation and contributes to diverticulitis and many other problems since the toxins back up into your system. 

When you have the urge to defecate, don’t ignore it or your body will eventually stop giving you those signals and serious, chronic challenges occur. Poor bowel function, for example, has been closely associated with colon cancer.

SQUIRM WHEN YOU SWEAT? 

While antiperspirants are a lifesaver in certain situations, in many they can be eliminated or at least replaced by a natural deodorant (that covers the odour rather than stopping the perspiration).  If you try to hold in any type of toxic waste, including perspiration, you can make yourself ill.

This may be particularly important for women suffering from PMS and menopausal discomfort. It is recommended to perspire more during menopause to eliminate toxins that increase hot flashes and spontaneous sweating.

Take a daily sauna or hot water bath, and then replenish fluids. Sweating during exercise is not a substitute since it creates its own toxins that need to be released.

Relax in publicYOUR MONTHLY VISITOR.

Having your period a century ago was a very different experience ─ women then would be allowed to rest quietly and even spend more time alone for a few days. Our culture no longer allows women to set aside quiet time while menstruating. 

The demands of your lifestyle require you to manage menstrual flow while keeping up your normal hectic pace. This is a fairly traumatic physical process for your body that you need to appreciate. 

Allow your body to recuperate. If you don’t, the result may be exaggerated PMS symptoms, vaginal yeast infections and cervical dysplasia. Try switching from tampons (which act like a stopper to hold the flow inside) to more natural unbleached pads or a menstrual cup instead.

WE’RE UPTIGHT.

Fashion makes us that way. Whether it’s from a flattening sport bra, form-fitting jeans or elasticized socks, the resulting constriction can cause circulation troubles that affect your lymphatic system.

This network of vessels removes fluid, toxins and debris from your tissue, carrying the material to your lymph nodes which are filters and producers of white blood cells that combat infections and diseased cells.

This is your immune system’s pathway, and interference with its routes causes fluid buildup and toxins that destroy tissue. 

SHOOT THE BREEZE.

Certain natural functions aren’t done in “polite” company. Not allowing yourself to pass wind in public, for example, can contribute to diverticulitis and digestion problems. 

Some gas is an important, natural part of digestion. Food travels through the intestine in segments. Gas between these segments helps to propel digesting food forward. However, excessive gas can be diet or stress related, and can be easily and naturally rectified.

If you’re in the company of others, remove yourself from the area, and if you noticeably expel gas, it’s not a sin. We all do it. Just excuse yourself, as you would a burp.

References: 1. Centre for Culturogenic Disease Control, http://www.selfstudycenter.org 2. Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras, by Sydney Ross Singer and Soma Grismaijer

Original article by Carol Crenna in Vista Magazine

 

 

 

 

MARIO LEMIEUX: On hockey, home life, health and his higher purpose

Mario Lemieux

MARIO LEMIEUX: On hockey, home life, health and his higher purpose

By Carol Crenna

In 1993, hockey legend Mario Lemieux was enjoying the greatest season of his career. Then he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Hockey fans will fondly recall Mario’s courage in overcoming the disease in the middle of the 1992-93 season. On the morning Mario finished his last radiation treatment, he took a plane to Philadelphia, scored a goal and an assist against the Flyers, and then led his team to a 17-game winning streak, establishing a new NHL record.

Mario, who won six scoring titles and three Most Valuable Player awards, also fulfilled a dream in 2002 when he returned to the ice and defeated the US to lead the Canadian Olympic hockey team to its first gold medal since 1952.

Mario staged another type of comeback when he purchased the near bankrupt Pittsburgh Penguins with investment partners and became chairman, and the once failing franchise has won three Stanley Cups with top players including Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.  

Although Mario has been cancer-free for 21 years, his experience in overcoming Hodgkin’s has led him to devote much of his time to the Mario Lemieux Foundation.

Founded in the same year he developed the disease, he continues to raise funds to help reach another type of goal: a cure for cancer. Mario discusses his home life, his health and his foundation with me.

CAROL: Your life and career have been all about comebacks. Where do you get your motivation and drive from? Did your upbringing have anything to do with it? 

MARIO: I have always had high aspirations in hockey and in life, and I credit that drive to my parents.

CAROL: Is it true that you are still married to your high school sweetheart?

MARIO: Yes. Nathalie and I met at my cousin’s wedding and have been together ever since. She is the best wife and mother you could ask for. She is also quite an athlete — she plays paddle tennis and has a great golf game!

CAROL: Has there been any “positive” aspect in your life that has come from the experience of having cancer? 

Mario Lemieux 2MARIO: Having cancer did change my outlook… It is the reason I started the foundation. My battle with Hodgkin’s disease made me realize how fragile life can be. It also helped me see how fortunate I am to be involved in the greatest game in the world.

But I know there are many people who are not as fortunate as I am. That is why the Mario Lemieux Foundation continues to be important to me, and why I devote time to raising funds for it.

Our foundation’s tag line is “Giving others a chance to win,” and that’s exactly what I want to do: give others in unfortunate situations a chance. And I think our researchers are doing just that. Their findings provide patients with opportunities to live longer and enable them not to have to experience the treatments that I had during my own time with cancer.

I’m just happy that Nathalie and I are able to give back.

CAROL: The type of cancer that you were diagnosed with is considered one of the most curable forms. What do you think has enabled that to be true?

MARIO: The research being conducted on Hodgkin’s, and the progress they have made even since I had cancer, is remarkable. I’m certain that one day a cure will be found.

Our researchers in the Foundation lab at the Hillman Center (part of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute) are working on progressive treatments, cancer vaccines and gene therapy. It’s very fascinating to see the progress.

CAROL: What are the highlights of working with The Lemieux Foundation? And challenges of working within the non-profit sector? 

MARIO: The challenge, of course, is to continually raise funds to support our initiatives. In this economy, charitable giving is always the first thing cut out of a budget.

However, we have many long-standing sponsors and supporters who have been very generous. Highlights include hearing so many stories from cancer survivors and their positive outlook on life.

CAROL: The Lemieux Foundation donated millions of dollars to establish the Mario Lemieux Centers for Patient Care and Research. What is the “patient care” part of this facility?

MARIO: The Mario Lemieux Centers for Patient Care and Research is really a centre without walls. Cancer affects the entire family and not just the patient. Our areas within these centres are tailored to provide assistance to the entire family, such as in our Austin’s Playrooms. 

CAROL: Your Playroom Project sounds wonderful. How did this concept come about?

MARIO: My wife, Nathalie, actually came up with the idea. Our son Austin was born prematurely at just 26 weeks old and spent 71 days in the NICU. This is stressful enough with just one child, but we had two older daughters at the time. 

As Nathalie and I were taking care of Austin, there was no place, or no one, to engage the lively minds and provide a comfortable calming environment for Austin’s sisters Lauren and Stephanie. It was then that Nathalie thought of the idea to raise funds for playrooms at hospitals in western Pennsylvania.

The Playroom Project was established and seeks to benefit families and improve the quality of a child’s hospital experience whether they are a patient or a visitor. Nathalie serves as Chair of The Playroom Project, and each room is called Austin’s Playroom. I’m very proud of her efforts; we now have 23 playrooms. We also have a Sibling Center and a Family Center.

CAROL: Are any located outside of Pennsylvania?

MARIO: All of the playrooms are in Pennsylvania, however someday we hope to bring them to hospitals in Canada.

CAROL: Do you think that diet, exercise, stress reduction and developing close relationships plays an important role in cancer prevention? 

MARIO: I think that a healthy lifestyle has proved to be helpful in preventing many forms of cancer, but there are exceptions. Prevention is a key, but I also think that screening and early detection is critical to long term success. If you are going through cancer, a support system including friends and family are the most essential.

CAROL: How do you maintain your health now, after retiring from playing hockey, since your career has gone from a very physical one to a corporate one? You must have been very fit.

MARIO: Yes, as a professional athlete, I was in great shape back then. I have tried to maintain that after my retirement. I try to work out as often as I can and I do pay attention to what I eat. I play a lot of golf; it’s a great game and is always a challenge. And Nathalie and my four kids keep me busy!

CAROL: Back issues have been troublesome for you. How have you been able to deal with them?

MARIO: As I said, I’m a big believer in staying fit, and I regularly stretch so as to avoid further back problems.

CAROL: You have traded your stick for a club. Do you still play hockey for fun?

MARIO: I am the “assistant” coach for my son’s amateur hockey team, which gets me on the ice frequently. 

CAROL: Did having children change your point of view about health issues?

MARIO: I’m very involved in my kid’s lives. So being healthy is extremely important to me. I want to be around for them for a long time. 

CAROL: Your golf tournaments have been overwhelmingly successful at fundraising, raising over $12 million. Could you give some highlights of your private tournament?

MARIO: My golf event, called the Mario Lemieux Celebrity Invitational, is held at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Pennsylvania in June. We play two days of Pro-Am golf and one day of celebrity-only golf.

They  play a very intimate round of golf – playing as a twosome with their celebrity. And, of course, all of the proceeds benefit the foundation. Some of the guys playing have included Brett Hull, Sidney Crosby, Jerry Rice, Marcus Allen,  Michael Jordan, Dan Marino, Jerome Bettis, Emmitt Smith, Ben Roethlisberger, Marcus Allen, Eric Dickerson…

CAROL: Is it true that if you didn’t become a hockey player you would have been a golf pro?

MARIO: Sure! 

CAROL: Do you still have ties with your Canadian roots? 

MARIO: Definitely. We try to get back to Canada whenever time permits. Both of our families are still there, so those are very strong ties.

Original article by Carol Crenna, featured in VISTA Magazine