Wednesday, September 5, 2012

No more the hoard!

I've lately become addicted to the Hoarders shows on cable. You know the ones where treasure trash is piled waist deep in all rooms of the home and no emergency rescue personnel could ever get in to save people and pets if the time came? Yeah those shows. I have hoarding tendencies, as is evidenced by my dear husband's summer drive to 'declutter' our basement. He has made beautiful progress, and I'm even on the bandwagon trying to get stuff out of the house that I've held onto for too long and for no good reason.

I sympathize with the people who proclaim they can't stand to throw away something that might be useful by 'someone.' I have many of my own 'treasures' from childhood, and so many more stored at the house in which I grew up. I come by the tendency honestly. My grandmother is a child of the Depression (note, the big 'D'.) She definitely has the school of thought that we throw nothing away until it is worn out and has no foreseeable, just-in-case use. Hence, I am using my breaktime at work this month to digitally scan moldy, musty newspapers. Ugh. Still, they have documentation of my academic successes as a child. To whom am I wanting to prove those long-ago, and mostly-forgotten achievements? Certainly, no one will have a use for those papers, right?

This morning in my email blast, I was pointed to this beautiful piece of scripture which calls us to consider why the townspeople might want to keep Christ to themselves, rather than share his healing and teachings with others: 

After leaving the synagogue Jesus entered Simon's house. Now Simon's mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked him about her. Then he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them.
As the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them. Demons also came out of many, shouting, "You are the Son of God!" But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Messiah.
At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, "I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose." So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea.-- Lk 4:38-44
Now, you might be asking what that has to do with the hoarding tendencies I described above? I wouldn't have drawn the conclusion myself, so thankfully the scripture came with a reflection written by a Notre Dame alumna:

The Kingdom of God is a call to seek a “we” that extends beyond our borders—psychological as well as geographical. Whatever we hoard, be it money, access to health care, environmental resources, even medals at the Olympics, we are taking away from another.
So the way I see it, I'm taking away from others when I hold onto the bed frame from my childhood, or keep the fondue pot that has seen daylight outside its original box exactly once. The list can go on, and it does. My worst/best hoard right now is my mom's clothing. She died in May 2011, and I collected her clothes, discarding the worn and stained, knowing that Goodwill would not accept them. I bagged the rest and brought them home, with the best intention of pulling select items to use to make memory quilts for my brothers and me. For over a year the clothes languished on my front porch. Now, I have sorted them by type, and have sent some on to Goodwill. I must begin to cut and plan the quilts, and I especially hope to be finished by Christmas, Mid-March when my brothers have birthdays, latest.

I talked with my husband about the clothes. I laundered in hot water and used fabric softener--they still smell of my mother, which in his mind is a good thing, and something perhaps only I can detect. He says it's driven by good memories and a heart that misses her deeply. He's right. So, as you're thinking about what you need, what you need to keep to yourself, ask yourself the reflection questions that were part of my email this morning:

What do I want to keep for myself rather than share with others for their betterment? Where does my definition of “we” end? 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Doing the body good - are organic foods all they're cracked up to be?

A friend of mine who knows I focus on buying organic (and paying more for the luxury) gave me a 'thought for food' over his lunch hour today. The NPR article he provided suggests that organic food may not be healthier for people. Take a look and let me know what you think. Here's what I thought back to him while he was away for lunch. I've cleaned up my stream of consciousness chat to make it more readable here.

The NPR article cited some recent research with its roots in a 200 article literature review of various research outputs on organic food and health. "They found that the vast majority of conventionally grown food did not exceed allowable limits of pesticide residue set by federal regulations." Well, look what happened to the townspeople portrayed in the film Erin Brockovich. The film had something to say about contaminants and allowable limits. Without supportive, ongoing studies, one cannot be sure that what is allowed today won't have negative repercussions tomorrow. 

I'm taking a class that just completed a research unit. Longitudinal studies are likely to be needed to confirm--I'm a little impressed by the 100 year study that is being quoted. What I like is that the authors recognize the shortcomings of the research in the literature.

Where I draw the line, though, is thinking about the less than 100 years of genetic engineering and pesticide use and increases in disease and mortality. Certainly changes in longevity during the 20th Century have lead to more people living longer, and therefore having more time to exhibit chronic illness and disease. My family on my Dad's mother's side had a natural longevity, and it's likely due to reliance on natural foods. That changed in the 1960s I think. I grew up with a family garden. While we didn't have a lot of money to use on weed or insect control, I don't recall that we really thought twice about using Ortho fertilizer and bug control around our garden--until our Siamese ate grass that had been in the path of the neighbor's bug powder. After ingesting the chemical, the cat died a horrible death.

Pesticide use and Genetic Modification are relatively new technologies that impact the foods we ingest. I understand the impact they have for our farm producers on volume, and therefore ability to bring substantial food to market. I bless the farmers for helping to make it affordable to keep food on my table, and the majority of tables within our United States. However, the use of pesticides and the impact of processed foods laden with chemical substitutes have likely had a biological impact that will be difficult to understand. I have weight and reproductive problems that I still wonder at in relation to the foods I consumed as a child. Due to my health concerns and personal interest in treating the earth well, I have grown up challenging my thinking on what's for dinner.

I will continue to focus on buying organic for the 'dirty dozen'. There is a lot to be said about 'feeling good' and good health. I do wonder when it comes time to balance my checkbook if it makes a difference. For me and my house, I say it does.