Saturday, January 01, 2011

Do You Know Any April Fish?

By James J. Gormley

Pope Gregory XIII
In 16th-century France, the start of the new year was observed on April 1st. It was celebrated like our New Year’s Eve is celebrated today. In 1562, however, Pope Gregory introduced a new calendar for the Christian world, and the new year then fell on January 1st.

There were some people, though, who hadn’t heard about the new date for New Year’s, or who didn’t believe it. They continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1st. Other people thought that this was worthy of fun, and so played tricks on those April New Year’s revellers, calling them "April fools." The New Year’s cognoscenti would send their supposedly less-enlightened friends on a "fool’s errand" or would try to make them believe that something false was true.

Gregorian Calendar
In France, today, April 1st is called "Poisson d’Avril," or April Fish. French children try to fool their friends by taping a paper fish to their friends’ backs. When the "young fool" discovers the trick, the mischief maker yells "Poisson d’Avril!"

I often look at those agencies or organizations which will not recognize the power of nutritional healing as April fools. The world has changed, so they should get with the program! In the last century, especially after World War II, science and understanding of nutrition have grown by leaps and bounds.

Unfortunately, there are still those holdouts — some of whom sit on the Food and Nutrition Board, some of whom serve as public health officials, some of whom direct national heart- and diabetes-focused organizations, and some of whom claim to be science-based but are bought and paid for by big business.

I sometimes wonder what it could conceivably take to convince these holdouts as to the power of nutrition and holistic strategies to improve the health of the world. How many thousands of studies need to be done?

Will there ever be enough data for those whose livelihood, in some cases, seems to be tied to a market that promotes a sterile/unwholesome diet, that promotes the saturation of our earth with toxic pesticides and that prefers synthetic/invasive approaches to "health" over effective self-care options?

While we can’t change these attitudes very easily, we can commit ourselves to be among those who are aware that January 1st is considered New Year’s Day to much of the Western world, in other words — to be among those committed to a way of life that gives more credence to trusting ourselves and proven nutritional/herbal science over those who still buy into what can be called the school of illness care promotion, what is euphemistically termed "healthcare" by some.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Never Stop Dreaming

By James J. Gormley
As I live through the sometimes dark and blustery, often cold and inhospitable, New York days of winter, I feel down sometimes, which is a feeling I know is universal to human experience, although knowing that doesn't make momentary blues easier to bear.

The other night, though, as I stopped at a street corner in the Bronx, where I live, I had a cosmic epiphany, of sorts. Those who know me would be surprised at my sudden adoption of terms that are so often labeled "New Age."

In this magical moment, as the ink black sky was dominated by stellar diadems, as the Little Bear twinkled knowingly in the seemingly close farness of celestial majesty, everything made sense. As I wrote in a poem in the 1970s, called "Weightlessness," it all seemed part of "the Great Cosmic Affair."

Everything fit together. All was right. It felt as if an ultimate, benevolent power was embracing me for an instant that seemed a lifetime, in a forever moment of unimpeachable grandeur.

As the richness of the feeling receded to a warm glow, I slowly made my way back to my house. I began to reflect on the seemingly long-ago bitterly frigid winter days of my youth, when I would sit outside in the backyard of the old house.

I would be in a chair, with a 60x Tasco telescope my portal to the moon, the stars, and to all the infinite beauty that reminds me now why, grounded in earth's soil, we still can't stop dreaming of moonbeams and fairy dust, shiny stars and the wonder of the heavens, a happier life and a better world.

We will lose our footing, from time to time. We may, at times, feel weighed down by gravity, responsibilities and the passage of years. We might even forget to look up, now and again.

But then something will cause us to cast our vision skyward. Some small grace will be bestowed on us, some simple blessing will make itself known. Then we're back in the joy of knowing that hope, like the universe, is endless.

Dreams, like the horizon of space, are boundless. Love, like the capacity to wonder, is as spacious as our hearts allow it to be.

Hope, then, will always flourish as long as we believe in ourselves. As long as we believe in the life-giving power of love. As long as we have faith in out ability to conquer, or transform, any obstacle that's in our path.

Never stop dreaming of moonbeams and fairy dust, shiny stars and the wonder of the heavens, a happier life and a better world.

Monday, December 27, 2010

"Food Safety" Bill In Desperate Need of a Presidential Veto

By James J. Gormley

As you may know, the so-called Food Safety and Modernization Act cleared the U.S. House of representatives by a vote of 215 to 144 less than two days after Senate Republicans gave a surprise “victory” to the legislation’s advocates by allowing legilsators to move the package by questionable, legislative sleight-of-hand, otherwise called unanimous consent.

"This legislation is the product of a flawed process," said Rep. Frank Lucas, the top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, as reported by "It gives the Food and Drug Administration lots of additional authorities with no accountability.” (Listen to Congressman Lucas’ comments here.)

Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia, the ranking GOP member on the appropriations subcommittee that oversees the FDA, told The Washington Post that the number of cases of food-borne illnesses in the country does not justify the $1.4 billion the new law is estimated to cost over the first five years.

"We're going to have to evaluate everything and set priorities at a time of reduced appropriations for all the different discretionary programs," Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) told the Post.

Latham serves on the FDA appropriations subcommittee and, along with Kingston and the panel's two other Republicans, voted against the food safety bill. The food safety legislation "is going to have to compete with everything else," he told the Post.

The Act would cost American taxpayers $825 million in 2011 alone ($1.4 billion over the first five years) and does not even touch the root causes of the U.S.’s food safety problems — such as factory-farming — which were highlighted in both a 2009 campaign by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) and by a letter to 99 U.S. senators by the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF USA).

In fact, the legislation, at it stands now, is saddled with an extreme overreliance on a risk algorithm-based approach to food safety, referred to as Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point (HACCP) and an under-reliance on old-fashioned, on-site physical inspections.

This bill, despite its name and intent, would not make this country's food supply more safe, but less safe.

If this bill were to become law, it would be a multi-billion dollar boondoggle that would make our food safety system much more complex, more focused on hazards analysis than on physical inspections and no less beset by dirty factory farms and filthy slaughterhouses than it was before.

Please ask President Obama to veto this legislation so that consumers — not industry lobbyists and agri-business cronies — can develop a true food safety bill that will improve this country’s food-safety system, not bog it down with paperwork, smoke and mirrors.
The Gormley Files - Blogged