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The Sea Shepherd: “Are you willing to die for a whale?”

“All systems of oppression need to be challenged,” said a speaker at the Bali Vegan Festival in Ubud, Bali last month.   Doing just that since 1977, Sea Shepherd,  a non-governmental, non-profit environmental organization, has been using direct action tactics [along with lots of media attention]  to protect marine life [and to educate consumers].

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Sea Shepherd seeking poachers

If you want to volunteer on a Sea Shepherd crew, you will be asked that question, “Are you willing to die for a whale?”  The boats carry no guns but use film and public education to achieve incredible  change.  Their important work continues.

Sea Shepherd claims responsibility for damaging or sinking multiple whaling ships, through sabotage or ramming. The group has attempted to intervene against Russian, Spanish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Makah, Faroese, and Japanese whalers in multiple campaigns around the globe.  Those actions have included scuttling and disabling commercial whaling vessels at harbor, using limpet mines (a type of naval mine attached to a target by magnets) to blow holes in ship hulls,  ramming other vessels, throwing glass bottles of  butyric acid (stinky rancid butter) on the decks of vessels at sea, boarding of whaling vessels while at sea, and seizing  and destroying drift nets  at sea.   Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson has said that the organization has  destroyed millions of dollars worth of equipment.  The Sea Shepherd media extravaganzas have highlighted whaling, long-line fishing nets, and shark fining to get people everywhere informed and conscious of the destruction of life in our oceans.

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Scalloped Hammerhead Shark – over fished, few regulatory guidelines

Some shark populations have decreased by 60-70% due to shark fisheries.

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Scalloped Hammerhead Shark

 

image from:       http://knowledgebase.lookseek.com/Scalloped-Hammerhead-Shark-Sphyrna-lewini.html

Gary Stokes, Asia Director for Sea Shepherd, has spent the past 10 years on documenting, investigating, and exposing the shark fin trade. He was a guest speaker at the Bali Vegan Festival in Ubud last month.  Indonesia is the #1 exporter of shark fins; Spain #2.

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Shark fin    Image from <ocean-news/shark-finning-sharks-turned-prey>

There is much economic pressure to ignore the international bans on shark finning.

Fishermen often choose to keep just the shark fins—only one to five percent of a shark’s weight—and throw the rest of the shark away rather than have the less valuable parts take up space on the boat. The finned sharks are often thrown back alive into the ocean, where unable to swim properly and bleeding profusely, they suffocate or die of blood loss.  Shark meat sold to restaurants and markets is often used in seafood curries and stews.

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Shark fin soup – a sign of status at $100 U.S. a bowl.

Image from: http://ocean.si.edu/ocean-news/shark-finning-sharks-turned-prey

Gary says that now 60% of the fish and seafood in our oceans are in terrible condition. Global fishing fleets are now at 2.5 times the sustainable level.  Just one poaching boat, the “Lafayette” which works the waters off Chili and Peru around the Faroe Islands processes 1,500 tons of fish a day!!    Much of that is Chilean tooth fish; in restaurants, it’s called “Chilean Sea Bass.”  😦  Much of caught sea food goes to animal feed.

“Chilean sea bass”/ tooth fish

A result of Sea Shepherd and other activists groups like Greenpeace and loud voices, many people now know to make conscious choices.

According to a National Geographic article, we now know to “look for the blue eco-label of the Marine Stewardship Council, or ask where in the world the fish comes from. . .[to] help you find the best and avoid the rest”

http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2013/04/12/chilean-seabass-goes-from-take-a-pass-to-take-a-bite/

Stokes reports that forty percent of the tuna that comes into the U.S. is from illegal, unreported fisheries in Thailand.  And forty percent of all fish caught is used for animal feed. 😦  If the world continues to consume and destroy marine life at the current rates, Stokes says that by 1948 there will be no fish!

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The Sea Shepherd Fleet now has nine ships including the Steve Irwin, the Bob Barker, and the Brigette Bardot.

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Shark products.   Ask where, how, and by whom the fish were caught.

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Sea Shepherd goes after ships that  fish illegally

Recently, Sea Shepherd Asia had a hiatus, a year off, when Japan temporarily halted whale hunting.   Gary and his team got to go after other notorious pirate fishing vessels.  For 110 days, a Sea Shepherd ship chased the “Thunder” – #1 on the Interpol list of pirate fishing vessels.  Finally, the captain of the “Thunder” sunk his own ship rather than be caught with the incriminating evidence of illegal fishing!!    But while part of the Sea Shepherd crew was saving the “Thunder” crew, other Sea Shepherd volunteers entered the sinking ship in time to collect computers and other evidence that has the captain and crew serving time in a Nigerian jail.  [It would seem the owners of the pirate ships should be in jail too].  The photo above shows what has happened to other illegal fishing boats that Sea Shepherd has targeted.

Gary says of the ocean marine life, “We are losing everything.”  We must all learn and act.

So why was Gary invited to speak at the Vegan Fest?  The people who volunteer for the Sea Shepherd crews are ardent animal activists.  Many are vegans.  Since 2002, all Sea Shepherd vessels serve only vegan meals.  It would be hypocritical, says Gary, to eat meat while chasing people who are killing marine life.   Gary has been a vegetarian since 1980.  When he first started going out on Sea Shepherd missions, Gary was more worried about what he would get to eat than about the possible confrontations the crew would meet.  But, he has learned that the vegan meals are delicious, healthy, and accommodate everyone on board, and all religions.

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Vegan meals on the Sea Shepherd

The Sea Shepherd logo – a pirate to protect marine life:

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“If the oceans die, we die! We cannot live on this planet with a dead ocean,” said Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson

Watch the following documentaries; you will likely cry, cheer, and laugh.

Paul Watson: The Whale Warrior: A Pirate for the Sea

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nzbTsrOUxw

and

Confessions of an Eco-Terrorist – a full documentary film

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOSo_LHZeTw

Seafood Watch has a free app for iPhone and Android that’s updated as recommendations change.

Please be ocean-friendly when you shop for seafood.  Even better, eat vegetarian/vegan.  Think about it.  And tell your friends.  Do what you can do.

Remember that ardent animal rights Sea Shepherd crews don’t have guns.  Gary Stokes says that even one pissed off vegan is a force to be reckoned with.

Full steam ahead, Sea Shepherd.  We need you now more than ever.

Aloha, Renée

Let’s Get Cooking – Bali: Mango and Chickpea Tabouli

This recipe from Ayu Spicy is loaded with protein and keeps for several days refrigerated – where it just gets better.

Mango & Chickpea Tabouli – Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

coconut-yogurt

Coconut yogurt from Chef Simon Jongenotter

  • 1 tsp. orange zest, grated – just the orange part not the white pith
  • 1 cup cooked rice or quinoa
  • 1 can (439 g, about 16 oz) garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 ripe mango cut into 1  1/2 cm x  1  1/2 cm pieces (under 2 inch cubes)
  • 2 Tbl. coriander leaf, chopped
  • 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

Directions:

In a medium sized bowl mix the orange and lime juices, the curry powder, yogurt, and the orange zest.  When this is well mixed add the cooked rice or quinoa and stir again.

Now add the garbanzo beans and raisins, mixing well.  Finally add the mango pieces and the chopped coriander leaf and mix gently.

Set the tabouli aside, covered, for at least an hour for the flavors to mix and mature.  When you are ready to eat, turn it onto a serving dish and garnish with the toasted almonds.

This tabouli keeps well in the fridge.  If you plan to have leftovers, don’t sprinkle all the almonds on at once but save some for when it comes ot of the fridge an sprinkle on just before serving.

Enjoy your meal!

“Salamat makan,” Renée

from: “Food Glorious Food” Bali Advertiser, 12-26 Oct. 2016, 45)

Image from: <https://theflexitarian.co.uk/recipe-items/mango-tabbouleh-vegan/

What Do You See?

Especially when traveling, you see how other people do things differently.  One wonderful aspect of Bali is there are no homeless people.  I know that is a sweeping generalization, but I haven’t seen one person sleeping on the street!   I wish I could say the same for Maui, the U.S., many other places in the world.   Everyone has a home here mainly because they live in family compounds and take care of each other.  Much of Bali land is government owned or controlled by the villages, so those who live in a family compound can’t sell the land.  Even when they were colonized by the Dutch for 350 years, the Balinese kept control of their land, so they had their family home and family fields for shelter and food – for everyone.

In about 1930, Balinese began importing tin roofs (instead of using the grasses and having their neighbors help them thatch it – thus creating roof that would last 15-20 years – for free).  Then they started importing cars – and needing money.  Until that time, Bali could be considered one of the richest places on Earth.  Because this traditional society was controlled by the village and temple laws, there was not much difference between the richest and poorest people in a village.  Everyone got water for their family fields  (a real “trickle-down” theory in practice).  The system was so efficient that most people needed to work only four months a year to sustain themselves and their families; the rest of the year was dedicated to their art, temple, and family!

How’s that for a terrific idea that we could use?

(Source Hickman Powell’s The Last Paradise: An American’s Discovery of Bali in the 1920’s).  <https://www.amazon.com/LAST-PARADISE-AMERICANS-DISCOVERY-1920s/dp/B01LMJYTBI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1476854387&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Last+Paradise%3A+An+American%27s+Discovery+of+Bali+in+the+1920%27s&refinements=p_72%3A1250224011>

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Balinese temple – the center of community life.  rr photo

Even now that they have to work year round, most Balinese are artists: dancers, musicians, painters, carvers, mask makers,  weavers . . . .  We could learn much from the Balinese.

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The carved door to the kitchen at Agus Ayu Cottages in Ubud! Beauty and art are everywhere here. rr photo

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Carved statues, wooden plank tables, embedded stones at Nick’s Restaurant on Jalan Bisma. rr photo

But since an outsider can often see what a local does not,  I’ve noticed since I was last here in 2014, the trend in Bali to keep caged birds.  Bali is tropical; birds are everywhere.  Just look out your window.  Farmers in the rice fields are chasing birds away from the ripe grain.  If you want more birds, you can just put out some bird seed.  On Jalan Bisma, sometimes a van of tourists come to bird watch.

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Birders on Jalan Bisma. rr photo

Why would you cage them?

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Caged birds at a tourist home stay.  rr photo

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Do you need a caged bird to entertain you while you eat a pizza? rr photo

While I’ve been here in Bali, I’ve read that although Balinese don’t eat dog meat, other people do. “Dog theft here is rampant, be it by agents of the dreaded . . . dog meat restaurants, or by thieves looking to sell a breed dog . . .  at the famous ‘pasar burung’ in Denpasar where many breed dogs are sold on. . . In desperation to retrieve their beloved stolen pet, owners offer a considerable financial reward on posters and flyers which sadly can encourage further theft (though the owner is left no choice really but to go down this route).  Even if dog meat thieves are caught, they are seldom punished with any severity – and as long as they keep getting away with it, they will keep doing it ” (Pet Care” Bali Advertiser, 12-26 Oct. 2016 p. 50).

Also while I’ve been here, I’ve seen the New York Times, “Big Food Photo Essay”:

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Calves  – a herd animal –  are kept from their mothers.

Product: Dairy calves
Facility: Calf Source
Location: Greenleaf, Wisc.
Capacity: Approximately 10,000 calves at any given time

Newborn females arrive from local dairies and spend their first 180 days at Calf Source — first in one of 4,896 hutches, like the ones seen here, and then in larger group pens. Trucks pass down each of 72 rows, dispensing water and milk. After a transfer to Heifer Source, another facility owned by the Milk Source company, the cows are inseminated and then returned — seven months pregnant, and just under 2 years old — to the dairies they came from.

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What’s life like for these turkeys? What about the worker?

Product: Turkeys
Facility: Gary’s Gobblers
Location: Northeastern Iowa
Output: 150,000 turkeys per year

During its busiest season, Gary’s Gobblers might have up to 60,000 turkeys living on five acres of its 160-acre facility. The worker seen here is spraying an antibacterial solution into the turkey pens to prevent disease.

Calf and turkey photos and text from:  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/09/magazine/big-food-photo-essay.html?smid=fb-share&_r=0

During the Bali Vegan Festival, I attended the talk, “The Plight of the Bali Dog.”  The facts about the dogs were bad – but also hopeful with information about what organizations such as BARC are doing to meet the challenges.  What surprised me the most was what a young woman from India attending the talk said in response to my question about the Balinese Hindus offering animal sacrifices to their gods.

I know India is a complex country, the world’s most populous democracy, the land of Gandhi, and ahimsa (seeing the spark of the divine within each person).  India is a country where you are confronted with big questions about glittering wealth and abject poverty – and where the Hindu majority religion respects the lives of animals.  Indians  make up two thirds of the world’s population of vegetarians – and Indian food is healthy and delicious.

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Young woman originally from India at the Bali Vegan Festival

What the Indian woman told me was very surprising to me:

1) Today – vegetarian, respect for animal life – India is one of the biggest exporter of beef cattle in the world!!!    According to a 2015 CNN news report, “India was the world’s top beef exporter last year.  That’s because India exports large quantities of meat from water buffalo — a member of the bovine family classified as beef by the USDA. . . .  Meat now earns India more export dollars than basmati rice. . .

India’s buffalo meat — a chewier and cheaper alternative to beef — mostly ends up on plates in Asia and the Middle East, where rising wealth is spurring demand among diners for animal protein. . . .

The cow is revered in Hindu culture, the religion observed by roughly 80% of India’s 1.3 billion people, and restrictions on cattle slaughter apply in most states. . .

Still, the $4.8 billion annual export trade has almost developed by accident — the animals are needed to keep India’s huge domestic dairy industry going, said Rabobank analyst Pawan Kumar.

This is unique among countries with large bovine exports, Kumar said. It also means buffalo meat from India is cheaper. That helped the country generate record export earnings from the beef last year, although growth is moderating from the 30% annual rate seen between 2010 to 2013.

Here’s where it all goes: Vietnam is the top importer, with Malaysia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia other key markets.

Then there’s China, which may actually be the largest consumer of the meat, according to Rabobank’s Kumar. Some 40% of Indian buffalo is sent to Vietnam, before large quantities make their way across the Chinese border.

http://money.cnn.com/2015/08/05/news/economy/india-beef-exports-buffalo/

The Indian woman told me a second fact shocked me even more than the first:

2) Some Hindus offer animal sacrifice to their gods – as a gift of the best food.

According to the November 2014 Daily Mail  article, “Animals are being lined up for slaughter as Nepal embarks on a two-day religious festival where buffalo, birds and goats are sacrificed to appease a Hindu goddess.

Millions of Hindus flock to the ceremony, which is held every five years at the temple of Gadhimai, the goddess of power, in Bariyarpur, Nepal, near the Indian border. . .

In 2009, more than 250,000 animals were killed, according to animal rights organization PETA, who is campaigning to put a stop to the practice.”

The meat from the slaughtered animals is usually given to meat eaters (but how long does it take for the meat of those thousands of buffalo killed in a field to be refrigerated?).
Since 2009, activists have been working with the government to stop the sacrifices but although there were fewer animals slaughtered in 2014, the ritual still continues.
What do you see where you are?
Wherever you are in the world, there are practices that we might want to emulate.
For instance, can we ensure that everyone has shelter and food as the Balinese have done so well for hundreds of years?  Can we change our frantic pace of striving for  more and more money and more and more things to have time to develop our artistic abilities and to spend time with our family and community as the Balinese do?
And what behaviors can we help change?
Look around. Be aware.  What can you do to make the world better for others – and yourself – wherever you are?
Aloha & Salam, Renée

Let’s Get Cooking – Bali: Mushroom Filled Tempeh-Potato Patties with Lemon Aïoli

As a great appetizer or a vegetarian main dish, these patties are high in protein – and tasty.  Plus you can vary the taste by your choice of mushroom. And you can choose just to make the mushroom sauce and lemon aïoli if you have prepared veggie patties.

Makes: 30 small patties or 8 big ones.

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe of Tempe Potato Patties uncooked (http://baliadvertiser.biz/potato/) – see below or  buy prepared tempeh patties from you local health food market
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill

Ingredients for the mushroom filling:

  • 1 Tbl. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 100 g. (3/4 cup) fresh shitake mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 200 g  ( 1  1/2 cups)fresh portobello mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 Tbl. crumbled dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • salt and pepper – to taste

Ingredients for the Lemon Aïoli

  • 4 hard-cooked egg yolks, save the whites for another use
  • 3 Tbl lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 pinches of ground cayenne
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest, finely grated
  • 1 small clove of garlic, pressed
  • 5 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Make the recipe for Tempe Potato Patties up to the point where you form the patties or – as I would do – open up your Life Foods veggie patties.

If you love cooking, you can make your own patties:

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Tempeh patties

Tempe Potato Patties from http://baliadvertiser.biz/potato/
Serves 4

Ingredients for Potatoes :
– 350 gr. (about 1.4 cups or 12.34 ounces) potatoes
– ½ tsp. salt
– ¼ tsp. cumin powder
– ¼ tsp. coriander powder
– 1/8 tsp. cayenne or red chili powder
– 1 clove garlic, pressed
– 2 Tbl. celery leaves finely chopped
– pepper to taste

Ingredients for Tempe :
– 100 gr. (3/4 cup or 3.53 ounces) tempe
– 1/8 tsp. salt
– 1/8 tsp. cumin powder
– 1/8 tsp. coriander powder
– cayenne or red chili powder to taste
– pepper to taste
– 1 egg beaten in a small bowl
– ¾ cup bread crumbs on a small plate
– Canola oil for frying

Directions:

boiled-potatoes-their-skins-raw-parsley-39400568

Boiled potatoes

Boil the potatoes in their skins until soft. Set aside until cool enough to handle and then remove the skins. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher. Once they are evenly mashed add the salt, cumin, coriander, chili powder, celery leaves, and pepper. Mix well. Set this aside.

Boil the tempeh for about 10 minutes or until done. Mash the tempeh. Add the salt, cumin, coriander, chili powder, and pepper. When this is well mixed add the potato mixture and mix very well. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Make patties about 6 cm in diameter and 2 cm thick from this mixture. You should have about 8-9 patties.

Or – if you don’t have time or the passion for cooking, buy quality veggie patties such as those from Life Foods:

Bfst-Mesquite-&-Thyme-6-pack.png

or

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Life Foods has other great veggie choices

http://www.lifefoodsinc.com/

Whatever your choice, cook the patties:

Heat about 1 Tbl. canola oil in a non-stick frying pan big enough to hold all the patties in one layer. (You can also do this in two batches – it is important that they are in one layer.) While the oil heats, take a patty and dip it in the beaten egg and then in the bread crumbs, coating both sides of the patty. Do this with the remaining patties. Fry the patties until golden brown and then flip them over and brown the other side, adding oil as needed. These are most delicious when well browned and served warm.

Set this aside.

Make the mushroom filling by heating 1 Tbl. olive oil in a frying pan.  When the oil is hot add the garlic and shallots, stir frying until the shallots are limp.  Crumble in the dried thyme leaves, giving it a good stir and then add the shitake and Portobello mushrooms.  Stir fry these over a high heat until they start to brown and release their juices.  Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper and continue stir frying until most of the juice evaporates.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

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Sauté the mushrooms until most of the liquid is gone.

If you are making appetizers, take a spoonful of the Tempe Potato Patty dough and flatten into a 5 cm disk.  Make another one the same size.  Put 1 tsp.of the mushroom filling on a disk and top with a sprig of dill.  Take another disk and lay on top of the mushroom filling, pushing down to flatten and pinching the sides closed.  Continue like this until you have used all the tempe potato dough and the sautéed mushrooms.  You should have about 30 small filled patties.

If you want to eat this as a vegetarian main course make the patties bigger and fill with a larger amount of sautéed  mushrooms.  You should have about 8 large filled patties.

Keep the patties warm in the oven until ready to serve.

As you are cooking the patties, make the lemon aïoli.

Put all the ingredients for the lemon aïoli, except the oil, in blender, food processor, stick blender container or a deep mortar with a pestle.  Combine the ingredients until smooth. Slowly add the oil while continuing to mix.  Taste and correct for salt, pepper and lemon juice.

You can either drizzle the sauce over the patties or serve it in a bowl for each diner to dip into.

AddHerbs.png

 

Bon Appetit!

Recipe by Ayu Spicy in “Food Glorious Food” from Bali Advertiser, 14-28 Sept. 2016, p. 44

http://baliadvertiser.biz/mushroom-filled-tempe-potato-patties-with-lemon-aioli/

Enjoy – and as they say in Bali, “Selamat makan,”  Renée

Images from: <http://www.justpaleofood.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/garlic-roasted-sauteed-mushrooms.jpg&gt;; <http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-J3C2dwY3n0w/R5EQPDZomwI/AAAAAAAABeg/2t44EYXSWeg/s640/tempeh2.jpg&gt;; <http://www.epicurus.com/food/recipes/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/AddHerbs.png&gt;; <https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/m/boiled-potatoes-their-skins-raw-parsley-39400568.jpg&gt;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barry’s Gleanings: The Herbicide Atrazine

One of the great things about being on vacation is catching up on reading – especially The New Yorker magazines that I never seem to finish.  This article although from February 2014 is pertinent since atrazine is still being used in the U.S.

In The New Yorker, “A Valuable Reputation: After Tyrone Hayes said that a chemical was harmful, its maker pursued him” by Rachel Aviv reports on Hayes’ experiments with the herbicide atrazine, which is applied to more than half the corn in the United States.  After his experiments indicated that the pesticide causes birth deformities (especially in males), Syngenta  tried to discredit Hayes.

 

Below are excerpts from the article:

“Syngenta, which is based in Basel, sells more than fourteen billion dollars’ worth of seeds and pesticides a year and funds research at some four hundred academic institutions around the world. When Hayes agreed to do experiments for the company (which at that time was part of a larger corporation, Novartis), the students in his lab expressed concern that biotech companies were “buying up universities” and that industry funding would compromise the objectivity of their research. Hayes assured them that his fee, a hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars, would make their lab more rigorous. He could employ more students, buy new equipment, and raise more frogs. Though his lab was well funded, federal support for research was growing increasingly unstable, and, like many academics and administrators, he felt that he should find new sources of revenue. “I went into it as if I were a painter, performing a service,” Hayes told me. “You commissioned it, and I come up with the results, and you do what you want with them. It’s your responsibility, not mine.

Syngenta Headquarters, Basel, Switzerland:

headquarter_basel

Syngenta

Atrazine is the second most widely used herbicide in the U.S., where sales are estimated at about three hundred million dollars a year. Introduced in 1958, it is cheap to produce and controls a broad range of weeds. (Glyphosate, which is produced by Monsanto, [- which we in Maui know about too much] is the most popular herbicide.)  A study by the Environmental Protection Agency found that without atrazine the national corn yield would fall by six per cent, creating an annual loss of nearly two billion dollars. But the herbicide degrades slowly in soil and often washes into streams and lakes, where it doesn’t readily dissolve. Atrazine is one of the most common contaminants of drinking water; an estimated thirty million Americans are exposed to trace amounts of the chemical. . .[my emphasis].

The E.P.A. approved the continued use of atrazine in October [2004], the same month that the European Commission chose to remove it from the market. [It’s been banned in Italy and Germany since 1991, according to http://www.toxipedia.org/display/toxipedia/Atrazine+Regulation+in+Europe+and+the+United+States].

The European Union generally takes a precautionary approach to environmental risks, choosing restraint in the face of uncertainty. In the U.S., lingering scientific questions justify delays in regulatory decisions. Since the mid-seventies, the E.P.A. has issued regulations restricting the use of only five industrial chemicals out of more than eighty thousand in the environment [my emphasis]. Industries have a greater role in the American regulatory process—they may sue regulators if there are errors in the scientific record—and cost-benefit analyses are integral to decisions: a monetary value is assigned to disease, impairments, and shortened lives and weighed against the benefits of keeping a chemical in use. Lisa Heinzerling, the senior climate-policy counsel at the E.P.A. in 2009 and the associate administrator of the office of policy in 2009 and 2010, said that cost-benefit models appear “objective and neutral, a way to free ourselves from the chaos of politics.” But the complex algorithms “quietly condone a tremendous amount of risk.” She added that the influence of the Office of Management and Budget, which oversees major regulatory decisions, has deepened in recent years. “A rule will go through years of scientific reviews and cost-benefit analyses, and then at the final stage it doesn’t pass,” she said. . .

To redirect attention to the financial benefits of atrazine, the company paid Don Coursey, a tenured economist at the Harris School of Public Policy, at the University of Chicago, five hundred dollars an hour to study how a ban on the herbicide would affect the economy. In 2006, Syngenta supplied Coursey with data and a “bundle of studies,” and edited his paper, which was labelled as a Harris School Working Paper. (He disclosed that Syngenta had funded it.) After submitting a draft, Coursey had been warned in an e-mail that he needed to work harder to articulate a “clear statement of your conclusions flowing from this analysis.” Coursey later announced his findings at a National Press Club event in Washington and told the audience that there was one “basic takeaway point: a ban on atrazine at the national level will have a devastating, devastating effect upon the U.S. corn economy.”. . .

Hayes was confident that at the next E.P.A. hearing there would be enough evidence to ban atrazine, but in 2010 the agency found that the studies indicating risk to humans were too limited. Two years later, during another review, the E.P.A. determined that atrazine does not affect the sexual development of frogs. By that point, there were seventy-five published studies on the subject, but the E.P.A. excluded the majority of them from consideration, because they did not meet the requirements for quality that the agency had set in 2003. The conclusion was based largely on a set of studies funded by Syngenta and led by Werner Kloas, a professor of endocrinology at Humboldt University, in Berlin. One of the co-authors was Alan Hosmer, a Syngenta scientist whose job, according to a 2004 performance evaluation, included “atrazine defence” and “influencing EPA.”

After the hearing, two of the independent experts who had served on the E.P.A.’s scientific advisory panel, along with fifteen other scientists, wrote a paper (not yet published) complaining that the agency had repeatedly ignored the panel’s recommendations and that it placed “human health and the environment at the mercy of industry.” “The EPA works with industry to set up the methodology for such studies with the outcome often that industry is the only institution that can afford to conduct the research,” they wrote. The Kloas study was the most comprehensive of its kind: its researchers had been scrutinized by an outside auditor, and their raw data turned over to the E.P.A. But the scientists wrote that one set of studies on a single species was “not a sufficient edifice on which to build a regulary assessment.” Citing a paper by Hayes, who had done an analysis of sixteen atrazine studies, they wrote that “the single best predictor of whether or not the herbicide atrazine had a significant effect in a study was the funding source.”

In another paper, in Policy Perspective, Jason Rohr, an ecologist at the University of South Florida, who served on an E.P.A. panel, criticized the “lucrative ‘science for hire’ industry, where scientists are employed to dispute data.” He wrote that a Syngenta-funded review of the atrazine literature had arguably misrepresented more than fifty studies and made a hundred and forty-four inaccurate or misleading statements, of which “96.5% appeared to be beneficial for Syngenta.” Rohr, who has conducted several experiments involving atrazine, said that, at conferences, “I regularly get peppered with questions from Syngenta cronies trying to discount my research. They try to poke holes in the research rather than appreciate the adverse effects of the chemicals.” He said, “I have colleagues whom I’ve tried to recruit, and they’ve told me that they’re not willing to delve into this sort of research, because they don’t want the headache of having to defend their credibility.” . . .

Syngenta denied repeated requests for interviews, but Ann Bryan, its senior manager for external communications, told me in an e-mail that some of the studies I was citing were unreliable or unsound. When I mentioned a recent paper in the American Journal of Medical Genetics, which showed associations between a mother’s exposure to atrazine and the likelihood that her son will have an abnormally small penis, undescended testes, or a deformity of the urethra—defects that have increased in the past several decades—she said that the study had been “reviewed by independent scientists, who found numerous flaws.” She recommended that I speak with the author of the review, David Schwartz, a neuroscientist, who works for Innovative Science Solutions, a consulting firm that specializes in “product defense” and strategies that “give you the power to put your best data forward.” Schwartz told me that epidemiological studies can’t eliminate confounding variables or make claims about causation. “We’ve been incredibly misled by this type of study,” he said.

In 2012, in its settlement of the class-action suits, Syngenta agreed to pay a hundred and five million dollars to reimburse more than a thousand water systems for the cost of filtering atrazine from drinking water, but the company denies all wrongdoing. Bryan told me that “atrazine does not and, in fact, cannot cause adverse health effects at any level that people would ever be exposed to in the real-world environment.” She wrote that she was “troubled by a suggestion that we have ever tried to discredit anyone. Our focus has always been on communicating the science and setting the record straight.” She noted that “virtually every well-known brand, or even well-known issue, has a communications program behind it. Atrazine’s no different.”

Haynes

Tyrone Haynes

See the whole article at –

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/02/10/a-valuable-reputation

How does atrazine compare to glyphosate (Monsanto’s choice)?

Glyphosate (commonly sold as RoundUp) will kill everything. Atrazine will kill much of what it touches but in small amounts.

However, there is hope for the future.

In an update from Sustainable Pulse in a March 24, 2016 article:

“The Environmental Protection Agency will analyze the impacts of atrazine and glyphosate — the two most commonly used pesticides in the United States — on 1,500 endangered plants and animals in the United States under the terms of a settlement reached today with the Center for Biological Diversity. The EPA will also analyze the impacts of propazine and simazine, two pesticides that are chemically similar to atrazine. It has committed to completing the assessments by June 2020” – from http://sustainablepulse.com/2015/06/28/epa-forced-to-study-impact-of-atrazine-and-glyphosate-on-us-endangered-species/#.VvRLnVKerBU

Although the EPA assessment results are years away, we are becoming more aware of the dangers of atrazine and other pesticides thanks to Tyrone Haynes and other scientists who have spoken out for years about the results of their experiments.

Healthy plants grown in healthy ways - at the UGA sustainable farm in Costa Rica

Healthy plants grown in healthy ways – at the UGA sustainable farm in Costa Rica

Learn about the food you buy for your family.  Let’s make good choices.

Aloha, Renée

Ubud, Bali: Overview 2015

Barry and I were in Ubud again – because we love it there.

One of the great pleasures of being in Bali is the fresh coconuts – everywhere!  For a little more than $1.00 U.S., you can enjoy this mineral-rich, hydrating treat.

Coconuts!

Coconuts!

.

Not only can you drink the coconut water, you'll find coconut in many dishes.  Here - at the Yoga Barn cafe.

Not only can you drink the coconut water, you’ll find coconut in many dishes. Here – at the Yoga Barn cafe.

Coconut trees are everywhere.

Coconut trees are everywhere.

A stop at Sari Organic for a coconut treat (note the straw is of sustainable coconut too).

A stop at Sari Organic for a coconut treat (note the straw is of sustainable coconut too).

Art is everywhere in Bali.  Some of the streets in Ubud have patterned pavement.

Decorated pavement.

Artistic pavement.

Ubud street.

Ubud street.

Walking down an Ubud street, you will have visual treats everywhere you look.

These concrete slabs

These donated concrete slabs allowed the Ubud street to be paved.

For this concrete work, the close-by greenery will leave a pattern.

For this concrete work, the close-by greenery leaves provide a beautiful pattern.

Even the shower floors are beautiful - at Dewa's.

Even the shower floors are beautiful – at Dewa’s.

A wall next to Nyomen's where we buy many of our gifts from Ubud; her husband carved these faces just to decorate the wall

A wall next to Nyomen’s where we buy many of our gifts in Ubud.  Nyomen’s husband carved these faces just to decorate the wall

Eating is a treat in Ubud.

One Sunday night, we tried this buffet  in a family compound.   The cost - 35,000 Indonesian rupiah = about $  xx.

One Sunday night, we tried this buffet in a family compound. Good and the cost?  35,000 Indonesian rupiah  = about $2.65 U.S. 🙂

After walking through rice fields, we came to Sari Organic ?? or Down to Earth ?  and its tasty lunch.  Note the ecologically correct glass straw.

Dessert at Bollerro's - a favorite.

Dessert at Bollero’s – a favorite.

Food choices – from street cart venders to top five-star chefs – are part of the Ubud scene.  We often just stopped in at Umah Pizza for a huge green salad – and yes, pizza; it was down the street from our home stay.

Warm volcano chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream - yum - at Bollero's.

Warm volcano chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream – yum – at Bollero’s.

One of Barry's favorite dishes at Bollerro's - Lemon grass, coconut chicken.

One of Barry’s favorite dishes at Bollero’s – Lemon grass, coconut chicken.

One of my favorites: vegetable/pineapple skewers  at Warung Boga Sari

One of my favorites: vegetable/pineapple skewers at Warung Boga Sari

A feast at Dewa's family compound

A feast at Dewa’s family compound

With friends at lunch at Bali Buddha

With friends at lunch at Bali Buddha

Bollero has old Balinese photos decorating the walls.

Bollero has photos from the  past decorating the walls.

This caramel, peanut butter, chocolate pie was as good as we remembered it!  At the Indian restaurant - xx

This caramel, peanut butter, chocolate pie was as good as we remembered it! At the Indian restaurant – Bumbu Bali

Usually we make friends as we hang out at Nick’s pool.  This year,  two Mainland friends came to visit us: Gail from near Seattle and Chris from Chicago.

Lunch at Nick’s with  Gail and Chris – and Barry

Enticing walks lured us through the rice fields and all around Ubud.

A shaded walk.

A shaded walk.

Rice field.

Rice field.

Growing rice.

Rice glowing in in the sunlight.

Terraced rice fields.

Terraced rice fields.

A big hotel is in the background, and tourists throng through the Ubud Palace, but you don’t have to go far to be away from the crowds.

Husked rice set in the fields to dre

Husked rice set in the fields to dry

Volcanos in the distance.

Volcanos in the distance.

Shaded walks.

Shaded walks.

Plants familiar - and in this case not - but beautiful!

Plants familiar – and in this case not – but beautiful!

Rice field

Rice field

Flowers are spectacular.

Rice field and volcano

Rice field and volcano

Planting

Planting

We love the Balinese.

Two of our favorite Balinese: Krishna and Rama.

Two of our favorite Balinese: Krishna and Rama.

Dressed up for a temple ceremony, another cute Balinese boy

Dressed up for a temple ceremony, another cute Balinese boy

Spas are abundant in Ubud and nearby.

Naya Retreat & Spa - lovely

Naya Retreat & Spa – lovely

http://www.nayaubud.com

Barry and Chris at Naya - they came willingly to the Kundalini event :)

Barry and Chris at Naya – they came willingly to Rebecca’s  Kundalini event 🙂

Of course, we see monkeys

Of course,  monkeys

You'll see them especial in Monkey Forest

You’ll see them especial in Monkey Forest

Everything has a reason in Balinese homes.  The guards at the gates symbolize the positive and negative aspects of everything.   In order for the head of the household to make wise decisions, the guards share both perspectives.

Guardians of the doorway

Guardians of the doorway

Ganesha, remover of obstacles, is in the middle of this doorway with the guards on either side of the opening

Ganesha, remover of obstacles, is in the middle of this doorway with the guards on either side

You'll see classical - and quirky art

You’ll see classical – and quirky art

Traditional carved puppets

Traditional carved puppets

The painter of beautiful, intricate wooden eggs

The painter of beautiful, intricate wooden eggs

Friendly painter.  Barry met him on a walk through the rice fields near Ubud.

Friendly painter. Barry met him on a walk through the rice fields near Ubud.

For the first time, we saw a cremation, an important rite of passage for the Balinese Hindus who believe in reincarnation.

Only the frame of the bull remains - and the ashes of the deceased

Only the frame of the bull remains – and the ashes of the deceased

We went out almost every night for dinner, music, shows . . . Ubud has a range of entertainments within walking distance of our great home stay, Vera Accommodation <http://www.balicheapaccommodation.com/en/Cheap-accommodations/Indonesia/Ubud-Bali/Studio/Vera-Accommodation/1542>.

Stories of the Ramaxxxxx come to life

Hindu stories of the Ramayana come to life

The blackened feet of the trance dancer

The blacken feet of the trance dancer – he pranced through burning coconut husks!  In the front row, I kept backing up so I wouldn’t get burned!  How does he do it?

At Bar Luna: an entertaining and informative talk by two Western women who have married Balinese men

At Bar Luna: an entertaining and informative talk by two Western women who have married Balinese men

Music almost every night.  Here we are at Bar Luna.  The performer made his instrument of bamboo - amazing

Music almost every night. Here we are again at Bar Luna. The performer made his instrument of bamboo – amazing

After Chris rescued a kitten, we went to Villa Kitty, an animal shelter just outside Ubud

After Chris rescued a kitten, we went to Villa Kitty, an animal shelter just outside Ubud

Elizabeth (from Australia) is the moving force behind Villa Kitty

Elizabeth (from Australia) is the moving force behind Villa Kitty

When we were there, for the Sunday fundraising buffet, Villa Kitty had 140 rescue cats of all ages and conditions and about 20 dogs.   Elizabeth and her staff do wonderful work of rescuing animals as well as educating Bali residents.

Fellow Villa Kitty visitors

Fellow Villa Kitty visitors

Chris and Villa Kitty rescue cats

Chris and Villa Kitty rescue cats

This Villa Kitty resident looks much like the kitty that John and Sigrid got for us here at the Maui Humane Society - cute cat

This Villa Kitty resident looks much like the kitty that John and Sigrid got for us here at the Maui Humane Society – cute cat

Shopping is always an option in Ubud

Shopping is always an option in Ubud

Friendly faces, great prices

Friendly faces, great prices

We enjoy being in Bali – especially in Ubud, a town rich in Balinese culture and religion.  I also love all the yoga from very well-trained teachers offered in Ubud.   My choice is The Yoga Barn almost every day!  http://www.theyogabarn.com 🙂 .  The Balinese and the visitors we meet there are wonderful, interesting people.   Barry and I are sure to return.

Bye to Krishna, Rama and Ayu - until next time.

Bye to Krishna, Rama and Ayu – until next time.

Aloha & Sanpai jumpa, Renée

Let’s Get Cooking: Cashew and Coconut Cream Cheese from Chef Simon Jongenotter – in Bali

“Cashew cream cheese is rich, slightly tangy, and incredibly satisfying,” notes Chef Simon.

Cashew and Coconut Cream Cheese (gluten free, dairy free, & vegan)

Ingredients:

– 2 cups ( .47 L) of cashew nuts. Soaked in ample water for 12 hours. Drained and rinsed.

– 2 cups ( .47 L) of coconut milk

– 1 teaspoon (4.47 grams) of soy sauce

– 1 teaspoon (4.47 grams) of sea salt

– 1 teaspoon (4.47 grams) of agar agar (a seaweed based thickener, available at Asian grocery stores). You can play around with this quantity. The more you use, the firmer your cheese will be.

Process:

In a blender, combine cashews, oil, 1 cup of the coconut milk, (if you have coconut yogurt, you can use 1 cup of this instead to result in a more tangy cream cheese), plus the soy sauce and salt. Blend at high speed until very smooth.

In a saucepan, combine the other cup of coconut milk and agar agar, bring to a boil while stirring. Boil for 2 minutes.

With the blender running, introduce the boiled milk/agar mixture to the rest of the ingredients. Do this while the mixture is still hot and runny. When completely combined, pour into a container and allow to set in the fridge for several hours.

Chef Simon says that recipes such as this one aren’t replacements for cow’s milk. Instead, they are worthy for the most discerning foodies out there, vegan or not. “If their creaminess, tanginess, and plain satisfaction factor remind you of dairy, well, lucky you” (UbudLife Vol. 21, Dec.-Feb. 2015, p. 43).

Enjoy.

Aloha & Sanpai jumpa, Renée

Let’s Get Cooking: Coconut Yogurt from Chef Simon Jongenotter – in Bali

According to Chef Simon, this coconut yogurt is just as delicious as the most amazing Greek yogurt – and it’s simple to make.

Coconut Yogurt (gluten free & optional dairy free)
– 1 litre (4.227 cups) of good quality coconut milk
– 1 spoon of live yogurt
– 4 250 ml (1 cup each) screw-top jars – or any other packaging, which stores a litre of yogurt. Preferably use glass.

Make sure you use a coconut milk with a reasonably high fat content (a real coconut would be best- about 3 grams of healthy fat, the boxed kind perhaps not so good. Check). This will guarantee deliciously rich and creamy yogurt.

If you want your yogurt to be completely dairy free, you’ll have to use a spoon of existing dairy free yogurt, such as soy yogurt. Non-dairy culture starters are available too.

The live yogurt or dairy-free starter is for the probiotic bacteria to turn our coconut milk into yogurt. If you’re okay with a trace of dairy, use plain unsweetened live yogurt. Check the list of ingredients; it should mention the bacteria cultures it contains (and say “live culture.”)

In a thick-bottomed pan on a low heat, bring your coconut milk to a gentle boil. Let it bubble away for about five minutes – stirring occasionally.

Turn off the heat and let the coconut milk cool down to about 40 degrees Celsius (112 degrees Fahrenheit). If you’re not sure, stick your clean finger in the milk. If you’re able to keep it there for at least a minute, you’re on the right track.

Now introduce your bacteria to the milk by stirring it in.

In another pot of boiling water, boil your jars and lids for two minutes to sterilize. Allow them to cool down before pouring in your yogurt mixture. Screw the lids on tightly.

If you’ve got access to a warm place, simply storing these jars for 24 hours will be sufficient to create yogurt. If not, you can use a cool box. Line up the jars and cover them with 40 degree Celsius (112 degrees Fahrenheit) water. Close the cool box and leave for 24 hours. By then, your yogurt should have cultured and can be kept in the fridge for at least another week (but it tastes so good that it’s not likely to last that long).

Enjoy.

Aloha and sanpai jumpa, Renée

Let’s Get Cooking: Creamy Cashew and Vanilla Milk from Chef Simon Jongenotter – in Bali

Vanilla cashew milk

Vanilla cashew milk

<http://ohmyveggies.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/cinnamon_vanilla_cashew_milk.jpg&gt;.

In Bali, not only can you eat wonderful Balinese and Indonesian foods (think peanut sauces and chili, coconut and lemongrass and pineapple), but also a wide range of delicious food, especially in Ubud, for health-conscious yogis.

One good example of someone creating healthy, tasty choices is Chef Simon, a whole foods chef, energetic healing practitioner, and a permanent resident at Bali Silent Retreat. In his article, “Dairy and Beyond,” he writes, “There’s no surer way to feel deprived than eating or drinking a watered down, gluten free, dairy free, cruelty free alternative of a glorious food product. Most dairy alternatives are a great example. . . .

Milk was once stored in bags made out of a cow’s stomach. Allegedly an ancient cowboy left his bag lying around in the sun for too long and thanks to an enzyme in the cow’s stomach called ‘rennet’ this produced, solely by chance, the first cheese. It took generations of sheer brilliant invention, luck and determination to create the dazzling range of cheeses that the world knows today. . . . The Europeans are still leading . . . to create alluring nuggets of salty, crumbly, creamy and often plainly addictive cheese. . . . [Although] moldy cheese is mainstream, I’m not sure whether Mediterranean maggot cheese will ever make it to the supermarket shelves though.

I digress, as this is not about dairy. Nor is it written for people who somehow are deprived of dairy. These are recipes that are delicious. They don’t involve animal products. They are super-healthy. I prefer to drink cashew milk; it somehow feels fresher.

Creamy Cashew and Vanilla Milk (gluten free, dairy free)

– 1 cup (236.6 ml) of raw cashews, soaked in plenty of water for 2 to 6 hours, drained, rinsed

– 4 cups (946.24 ml) of water

– 1 teaspoon (4.5 grams)  sea salt

– Stevia or sugar to taste. Suggestion, 1 tablespoon (14.3 grams) sugar or the stevia equivalent

– 1 vanilla pod, scraped.

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth and creamy. This may take a few minutes depending on your blender. Taste and make sure you can’t detect any bits. Serve cold. Or use as you would use milk in any recipe. (From: UbudLife,  Vol. 21, Feb. 2015, p. 44-45).

Enjoy.

Coming soon, Chef Simon’s recipes for coconut yoghurt and for cashew and coconut cream cheese. Aloha and sanpai jumpa, Renée

Glimpses of Old City Dali, Yunnan Province, China

Barry and I traveled to Dali, Yunnan Province, home of many Chinese ethnic minorities; we found sunny blue skies, friendly colorful people, and interesting history.   Because we liked it so much, we got stuck there, staying longer than we had intended.

Sunset over the mountains outside Dali.  The tree is loaded with clementines.

Sunset over the mountains outside Dali. The tree in the neighboring yard is loaded with clementines.

We awoke to see snow on the mountain tops and warm sunshine.

Snow on the mountains, but warm temperatures in Dali.

Snow on the mountains, but warm temperatures in Dali.

The food was varied and good.

Our new friend Nature helped us find the Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant where we ate many times.

Our new friend Nature helped us find a vegetarian restaurant where we ate many times.

The Lovely Lotus Delicious Vegetarian Restaurant was a favorite.

We liked the selections - and the friendly staff.

We liked the selections – and the friendly staff.

Our friendly Muslim noodle man.

Our friendly Muslim noodle man.

Yummy!

Yummy freshly made noodles!

Restaurants of all kinds.

Restaurants of all kinds.

We loved walking the narrow streets of the Old City Dali.

Old City Dali

Old City Dali

The streets teemed with life.

The streets teem with life.

Catholics, Christians, and Buddhists have centers in Old City Dali.

Dali Christian Church

Dali Christian Church

Although this site is now strictly a cultural site, we heard chanting from other buildings, and the Buddhists provide free daily meals to those in need.

We went to the Three-Pagodas  one afternoon – and stayed so long that we had to climb over a fence in order to leave 🙂

Although this site is now strictly a cultural destination, we heard chanting from other buildings in Dali and learned  that the Buddhist community provides a  free daily meal to those in need.

A temple to Confucius.

A temple to Confucius.

The opening of a Belgium waffle shop involved chanted blessings (and free cigarettes and tea).

The opening of a Belgium waffle shop involved chanted blessings (and free cigarettes and tea).

The Dali residents dress in a variety of ways.

Some women in ethnic dress, some in modern clothes

Some women wear ethnic dress, some  modern clothes.

Colorful foreigners too.

Colorful foreigners are here too.

Old City Dali pedestrian street.

Old City Dali pedestrian street.

Many shopping choices line the Old City Dali streets.

Shopping choices.

Shopping choices

Farmers bring their produce to sell in the streets.

Farmers bring their produce to sell in the streets.

Beautiful vegetables.

Beautiful vegetables.

Peanuts, scarves?

Peanuts and scarves

Shoe repair shop on the street.

Shoe repair shop on the street.

Hair braiding/threading  shop.

Hair braiding/threading shop.

Dali is known for its beautiful stone.

Dali is known for its beautiful stone.

Shops in colorful, historic buildings.

Shops in colorful, historic buildings.

Stylish women's dresses.

Stylish women’s dresses.

Beautiful choices.

Beautiful choices.

Cafés, coffee bars, and restaurants line the walking streets.

Cafés too.

Cafés 

Varied restaurant experiences.

Varied restaurant experiences.

A good place for an afternoon coffee.

A good place for an afternoon coffee.

Cool doorways –

Old City Dali

Old City Dali

Some entrances are humble.

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Stately entrances

Some have stately entrances.

Some entrances are new.

Some entrances are more modern.

White walls, black tiles

White walls, black tiles

Walls of color too.

Walls of color too.

Beautiful gates and doors in Old City Dali.

Beautiful gates and doors in Old City Dali.

Some gates are hundreds of years old.

Some gates reflect ancient styles.

Beautiful windows too.

Beautiful windows.

Old stone walls.

Old stone walls.

Old City Dali gates:

Old City Dali gate.

Old City Dali gate.

North Gate

North Gate

Local women outside an Old City Dali gate.

Local women outside an Old City Dali gate.

Old City Dali offers entertainment of many types.

Games on the street.

Games on the street.

With the name Johnny Hawaii, we had to go see this "Paper Presentation".

Because his  name is Jonny Hawaii, we had to go see this “18th Performance with Paper Reading.”

Would Jonny Hawaii do a dramatic reading?  I was hopeful his presentation would  be in English.

Jonny in the foreground; Rachel read.

Jonny in the foreground; Rachel reading.

We were warned that Jonny’s  presentation would be loud.

Many of us held our ears because of the screeching that accompanied Jonny's performance.

Many of us held our ears because of the screeching that accompanied Jonny’s symbolic performance.

Innovative Education in Old City Dali:

We discovered “The Living School” when we met Joy, a teacher, and his students selling challa bread one afternoon in Dali.  Fourteen Dali families have joined together to “homeschool” their children.  Instead of the traditional Chinese school of long hours of memorization, these children study academics in the morning and then develop their own passions (music, art, crafts) during the afternoons.  The school   encourages innovation and hands-on learning.  The students learn to cook and garden and make mud bricks and develop new skills.

Lunch with The Living School students and Joy.

Lunch with The Living School students and Joy.

The school also invites  Couch Surfers to stay at the school and share their experiences.  One  evening I saw a program presented  by Eurate & Sam who have been traveling for 2 1/2 years – by bicycle! Coming overland from the Basque region of Spain, they are on their way to  New Zealand – and they have had many adventures.

Sam & Eunate, Couch Surfers, who have been bicycling from Basque region in Spain toward New Zealand.

Sam & Eunate explain how they handled the laws of Iraq that don’t permit touching between men and women.

Sam showing the bicycle route from Spain to Dali, China.

Sam showing the bicycle route from Spain to Dali, China.

The Living School kids, their teachers, and Eunate.

The Living School kids, their teachers, and Eunate.

Eunate says all you need to travel is a smile.  She says money causes trouble, so she and Sam have traded work for places to stay and food wherever they have gone.  I love their spirits and sense of adventure.

Joy and his students singing a thank you song for Sam & Eunate's presentation.

Joy and his students singing a thank you to Sam & Eunate.

Barry and I loved our stay in Old City Dali.  Our Dragonfly Hostel with its friendly staff, comfortable rooms, rooftop garden, and reading/music room became our home in Dali.

Our Dragonfly Hostel room.

A Dragonfly Hostel room.

Old City Dali - a mingling of the traditional and the new.

Old City Dali – a mingling of the traditional and the new.

Zaì jiàn, Renée

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