The Modern Kale Debacle: Bo’s Fight

The man behind the t-shirts that started a war with fast food giant Chick-Fil-A

Bo Muller-Moore is attempting to trademark “Eat More Kale,” a slogan that he has been printing one-at-a-time on t-shirts for over a decade. Chick-Fil-A, a fast-food company that sells over 800 chicken sandwiches a minute, has sent Bo a cease and desist letter and is also attempting to block Bo’s application for a trademark, claiming he is harming their Eat Mor Chikin campaign.
Steven Roux is an organic farmer/writer who works by day for acclaimed Microgreens grower Good Water Farms.

Steven: You’ve described yourself as a “Neolithic stencil artist.” Since I first ordered a shirt from you and received a signed photo along with it, I’ve thought of you as a chill dude living in Vermont who designed an Eat More Kale t-shirt that evolved from a comical decree to eat more nutritious super foods into a mantra for conscious living.  The signed photo of you, Bo, genuinely beaming with a hand written thank-you, was great personal touch that resonated with me—I was living in Brooklyn at the time and everywhere I wore the shirt, complete strangers complimented or made funny remarks to me, in which I would retort with a question: “Have you heard of these shirts before? And the debacle the designer is having with Chick-Fil-A?” For every time this happened, for every time I explained the Cease and Desist letter and Chick-Fil-A’s claim that your harming the intellectual property of their Eat Mor Chikin campaign, I not only made whomever stranger I was talking interested in your case, I made them visibly upset by the ordeal.

Bo: It’s a universal thing. I’m grinning because I’m lucky to hear stories like yours all the time. Last week it was my friend telling me how he was down in Miami where everyone was more beautiful than the next person, and he was walking along the boardwalk, getting more looks than he’s ever had, and he starts wondering—“Wow is it my hair? Is it my tan?” Then he realized—“Oh it’s my goddamn shirt!”

Steven: The Kickstarter campaign for Jim Lance’s film about your case,  “A Defiant Dude,” raised almost $15,000 more than its goal of $75,000 back in March. How has production been? Are we basically waiting for the outcome of the case?

Bo: Yes. Some might think he could have the film three quarters of the way finished, but the filmmaker—Jim, it’s his film—assures me that he needs to have an ending before he can craft the rest of the film. He does have over 300 hours worth of footage, he literally crossed the United States twice last summer with a film crew interviewing everyone from lawyers and intellectual property specialists to moms and pops, real people in various businesses being affected by corporate bullies. I haven’t seen too much of the footage, but it’s real American heartland stuff, you know, not left wing rebellious hippie stuff. The trademark office is supposed to come up with a ruling this month. They’ve had six months to respond to our final argument that we submitted on September 26th.

Bo hard at work screening in his Vermont shop.

Bo hard at work screening in his Vermont shop.

Steven: And you’ll receive the trademark?

Bo: I’m not fighting at this point to win a trademark. For the last two and a half years I’ve simply been fighting to get my application in the game, to be considered for a trademark. In this case, before I even make it to the public arena for debate, Chick-Fil-A sent a letter of protest saying, ‘Hey trademark office, this trademark is so egregious he doesn’t deserve the due process.’ They don’t want a public debate; they’re trying to stop me at the starting line.

Steven: And they’ve stopped others before.

Bo: They sent me a list of 40 businesses that they’ve shut down.

Steven: Eat more goat, eat more broccoli…

Bo: One was a race car team call Eat More Gas… When you get that cease and desist letter, it looks so official most people’s first thought is either to shut it down or go talk to a lawyer for $400 an hour. If it wasn’t for our local lawyer agreeing to do it for free and immediately soliciting the help of the University of New Hampshire’s law school, I wouldn’t have been able to do this for a minute.

Visiting the Good Water Farms Team (FOND Client and Day Job of the Writer, Steven Roux)

Visiting the Good Water Farms Team | From Left: Isaac Algarin (Good Water Farms Grower), Brendan Davison (Good Water Farms Founder), Nicole Delma (FOND Founder), Steven Roux (Writer and Good Water Farms Grower)

Steven: In the trailer for the film you acknowledge your awareness of Chick-Fil-A’s aggressive and victorious history with like-minded trademark seekers in the past, but you clearly remain undaunted toward their corporate advantage. Perhaps it’s because you have an enormous amount of support by Team Kale devotees from State Governors to Anderson Cooper that believe this is corporate bullying and that Chick-Fil-A should try eating more kale-slaw.

Bo: I was kind of in the perfect storm; I think I’m the perfect character to fight back. I grew up on the south, the way the Chick-Fil-A family did… I don’t know them personally but I’m from the same cut of fabric as them. On the face of this, everyone sees a chubby hippie from Vermont fighting God-fearing southern folks but in reality we know the same language, we wrestled at the same schools, water skied in the same lakes… I’m not that different from them, we grew up within miles of each other.

Steven: The first t-shirt you ever designed was your classic “Cheese” print you made on a silk screen you received from your wife as a gift….

Bo: Yup, it was Valentines Day, 1999.

Steven: How did you first become interested in printing shirts?

Bo: I was working at a high school in Montpelier, I had just moved to Vermont and was working in the Learning Services Department, the Special Education Department, and this was when Gap and Old Navy were huge, and all the kids had shirts with brands across the front, and the individual in me started to go crazy…. it was also the time we started to learn about sweat shops and conscientious shopping. That and I used to doodle in my notebook during meetings and my wife saw them and said that’d be cool tattoos or shirts.

The screen that started it all. Shop Eatmorekale.com for these and other styles, stickers and to donate to Bo's legal fund.

The screen that started it all. Shop Eatmorekale.com for these and other styles, stickers and to donate to Bo’s legal fund.

Steven: Along with working on the film, you’ve just launched a new website with sweet new merch like aprons, beanies, even Eat More Kale yoga mats. Also new to Eatmorekale.com is a wholesale section, where you can order larger quantities of shirts or hoodies for entire families of veg-heads or even to sell at a local farmers markets. There’s also a “Design of the Week” now, will these designs be exclusively by you, Bo, or will other local artists be involved?

Bo: My family will make them, the one that’s up this week my 8-year-old daughter made, and the one I’m posting next week my wife made. In the past ten years I’ve cut 450 stencils and people used to really respond to them at my booth, but when I made the site it wasn’t practical to have so many in addition to the popular EMK shirt. So I whittled it down to some best sellers, but it dawned on me to have a design of the week for some deeper cuts. Variation is fun.

Steven: You’ve also described yourself as a folk artist. Have these last two and a half years of legal distress tarnished the lyrics from Willie Dixon’s’ ‘Back Door Man’ for you? The song later covered by The Doors…  In both songs the lyrics: “I eat more chicken, Than any man ever seen” are bellowed.

Bo: I hasn’t ruined the song, but you know what is has kind of ruined? I used to like a good fried chicken sandwich, at a nice southern diner. Maybe a local chicken breast fried up would be okay… But the EMK guy doesn’t eat chicken sandwiches anymore.

Steven: Has your struggle been worth it so far? Would make that first Eat More Kale shirt all over again if you had the chance?

Bo: A typical thing I hear from people—and it really hits the spot—is, and I’m paraphrasing: “It must feel all encompassing sometimes, and we’re here to remind you that this is a fight that’s really worth fighting.” So on the days when I wish I’d never heard of Eat More Kale, and that doesn’t happen very often, but just when you start thinking that, that’s when you get an 80-year-old in a nursing home in Kentucky sending you a check for your legal fund…. I’d for sure make that first shirt over again.  When we were at Bush gardens last week, I had 5-10 people approach me while I was wearing the shirt, and most knew of the shirt but didn’t recognize me as the maker, but 2-3 people knew who I was and my 8 year old was thrilled. To be a rock star in the eyes of your daughter is worth it right there… I’ll be a real zero to her in a few years when she’s a teenager, but that night I tucked her in she was still talking about the people who knew me.

 

A special thanks to both Bo and Steven who put a substantial amount of time and heart into bringing us inside this perplexing story. Your hard work is appreciated.   –Nicole Delma, FOND Founder
 
Support Bo’s Cause and SHOP or DONATE NOW: 
Kale Sale

SHOP OR DONATE AT EATMOREKALE.COM

 
 

The James Beard House Kitchen Cam Live with Daniel Boulud

By John Figlesthaler

Since 1986, the James Beard Foundation (JBF) in New York City has been the premier institution at the peak of the gourmet high ground. A culinary sanctuary for chefs pushing gastronomic boundaries, reinterpreting tradition and simply cooking the best food out there, there is no place like the James Beard House.

Starting Monday, March 31, 2014, the FOND Group is bringing the world a candid look into this eater’s paradise through the JBF Kitchen Cam. Live streaming from three intimate camera angles, the JBF Kitchen Cam will share true culinary artistry, in real time, capturing the painstaking preparation, calculated intensity and the ensuing splendor.

We invite you behind the closed doors of one of the most celebrated kitchens in the world with the launch of the JBF Kitchen Cam. Offering a rare look into this culinary epicenter, we are honored to be joined by none other than Daniel Boulud for the unveiling of the JBF Kitchen Cam with the sold-out “Dinner with Daniel.”  Boulud will draw inspiration from his latest cookbook and memoir, DANIEL: My French Cuisine.

Photo by Daniel Krieger

Photo by Daniel Krieger

Whether an aspiring chef, die-hard gourmand, or someone who simply enjoys fine food, the JBF Kitchen Cam offers an inspiring glimpse into the world of James Beard. On over 200 nights a year, the world will now be able follow the feed to watch celebrated chefs from far and wide as they create unforgettable meals in this illustrious kitchen.

The JBF Kitchen Cam is the brainchild of the FOND Group’s own Josh Elkes and his father, Steven Elkes, who have also created The Elkes Family Culinary Scholarship, supporting aspiring chefs who are pioneering the future of the way we eat.

Get to know past scholarship winners here.

In addition, chef Boulud will be participating on a live Twitter chat on Thursday, March 27th at 11:00 a.m. EST. If you’d like to join in the conversation, use the hashtag #ChefChat and follow @BeardFoundation  @DanielBoulud @fondgroup

See Full Press Release on the JBF Kitchen Cam Launch .

Disposable straws are for suckers

Every time I head out the door with my Simply Straws mason jar and reusable glass straw, I can count on at least a few people stopping me to ask where I got it. Like environmentally conscious bees to organic honey, people flock to ask about this simple but totally practical drink carrier…

“Wow, is that a GLASS straw?”
“Oh my gosh, is that a mason jar?”
“So, COOL! Where can I get one?”

More than once, I’ve actually had people try to buy the very jar and straw I am drinking from (full of my half drank smoothie) right out from under me. Hands off people!

Get Yours! While I’m not so quick to part with mine, I am really excited to team up with the awesome folks at Simply Straws to offer this colorful Glass Straw Trio and Carrying Sleeve (valued at $50) for one of our awesome readers this month.

The giveaway, pictured below includes:
1 – Simply Straws 3 Straw Sleeve in Denim
1 – Simply Skinny 6 inch straw in Clear
1 – 
Simply Classic 8 inch straw in Teal (with straw cleaner)
1 – Simply Wide 10 inch straw in Vibrant Blue (with straw cleaner).    
Enter at the Bottom of the Page. You are welcome.

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The Simple Skinny.

Why Simply Straws are so amazing: 
A family owned business, Simply Straws was founded 2011 with the goal of offering a superior product that would solve a need in the dental space while addressing associated issues such as a reduction in toxic chemicals (like BPA) and elimination of environmental waste.  Comprised of some truly impressive individuals including a Pro-Snowboarder and Environmental Activist (Chanelle Sladics), a Dental Hygienist of 31 years (Cyndi Sladics), a lifelong skilled Craftsman (Steve Sladics) and an EMT and glassworker (Trent Sladics), the Sladics family operates the company in accordance with core values such as honesty in marketing and environmental activism. In short, you can trust that you are getting a quality product that is good for you, good for the environment, ethically produced and sourced and that the money you spend goes right back towards supporting more good stuff. Read more on the Sladics here.

Why you should care:
An estimated 500 million plastic straws are used and disposed of daily in the US alone. Individually, plastic straws seem pretty harmless but collectively Americans throw out enough straws each day to fill 147 40-foot long school buses. That is 46, 400 school buses full of nasty plastic straws every year! Unacceptable.

Schoolbuses

The Benefits of Glass Straws:
Too many to list but here are a few…

  • Non Toxic – regular straws are laden with carcinogens such as BPA 
  • Dentist and Hygienist Recommended to reduce staining and sensitivity
  • No more plastic waste
  • Kid friendly
  • Customizable for special occasions, awesome branding opp!
  • Dozens of cool colors, shapes, sizes to choose from
  • Family-owned business where you know your $ are going back to support good things

In love with Simply Straws but can’t wait to win?
Email us at info@fondgroup.com and we are happy to answer any questions you have on commercial or bulk orders including custom engraving and to put you in touch with the right folks at Simply Straws. You can also go direct to the SimplyStraws.com Website to browse and place individual order. So many awesome products and colors to choose from, here are a few:

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And finally, ENTER TO WIN!
Sorry, this contest has ended. Please check back for future giveaways and follow FOND Group on Instagram to stay in the know!

 

Immunity is Yours this Fall – FOND’s Fire Cider Giveaway

Last spring, I discovered what I now refer to as ‘My Secret Weapon’.
This fall, I’m giving it to you.

“Here’s to feeling good, All the time.” — Fire Cider

While in Africa this past March, I exposed my body to a slew of immunity threats by visiting the slums of Johannesburg, working with kids at orphanages in Alex, going on a down-and-dirty safari in Zimbabwe and running a 35 mile Ultramarathon through harsh wind and rain in Capetown. Though I managed to stay healthy the entire trip, all of that adventure combined with the 19 hour flight home left me feeling pretty ragged and beginning to succumb to the grips of a nasty head cold.

Within 24 hours of my return home, that cold was full-on but I had a ton of work to do and could not afford to be laid up. Out on Long Island for a client meeting, I decided to stop by Naturally Good, a favorite health foods and juice shop in Montauk to see what kind of magic I could find to get my body back on track.

Determined to get back in the swing of things without taking any gross over the counter cold meds, I commiserated with Emma, the adorable girl who works the counter and asked her what juice was best for immunity. She offered a green juice but also insisted that I had to try Fire Cider , THE cure-all that all of the local surfers and fisherman used fight off colds and flues throughout the exceptionally harsh winter season. (Hurricane Sandy, remember?) I took her word for it and downed the $4 a shot concoction.

BAM! One potent mouthful of tangy, vinegary goodness later and I knew I’d just done something very good for my body. Immunity was mine!

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As shocking as the taste was, it went down smooth with a sweet honey aftertaste that made my entire body just say, ‘ahhhh’. Our bodies know what is good for us and a shot of this rare brew seemed to alert all those feel-good senses — waking up my immune system and instantly jolting me from suffering mode to battle mode. I could feel a difference in my head right away – eyes opened up, my throat was clear and smooth and my sinuses dilated allowing me to breathe normally again. It’s hard to explain but the best analogy I can think of is that it’s literally like punching a cold in the face. TKO.

The flavor filled Fire Cider elixir is based in apple cider vinegar and jam packed with powerful natural immunity boosting agents including  garlic, honey, citrus fruits, ginger, hot peppers, turmeric and onions. Many of these ingredients are not-so-surprisingly also found in the age old remedy of homemade chicken soup though Fire Cider is a whole lot faster, more potent and doesn’t involve the use of animal products for those who are averse. What’s more, you don’t have to shoot it straight, it works just as well if used in other foods such as salad dressings, sauces, even cocktails. (We snuck in a couple snapshots of recipes from the prize pack below).

It isn’t like other immunity boosters I have tried such as Vitamin C or Echinacea in that you don’t take it and then sit back and wait to see if it makes a difference.  You feel the difference right away.  It’s a mix that fires like a bolt of lightening – immediately helping to clear the head, soothe the throat and bring dulled senses back to normal again. I’m sure I sound a bit like an infomercial here but this stuff really is the goods.  I was so impressed by my experience with Fire Cider that I immediately bought a couple bottles – one for the remainder of that cold and one to keep on hand should any other germs decide to wreak havoc.

In addition to actually really working to keep sickness as bay, the Massachusetts based makers of Fire Cider employ a very conscientious approach to its production to ensure there are plenty of other reasons to love the stuff. It comes in a beautiful and reusable bottle with hand drawn art and cartoons as well as the charming handwritten history behind the brew. Fire cider is also crafted with organic and local ingredients so It’s pure and you know exactly what you are putting in to your body and why the ingredients are good for you. Best of all, there are no side effects except feeling better. How many other effective cold treatments can say that?

Since then, I have gifted a number of bottles to friends and struck up a conversation with Amy Huebner, one of the company’s founders to see how I can help spread the word. Cue Giveaway! Fire Cider generously offered to give away a prize pack for a lucky FOND reader and I am thrilled to be able to share out ‘My Secret Weapon’ with everyone. After all, the healthier you all are – the healthier I am!

Whether you win it or buy it, it is certainly worth the investment ($12 for 8oz.) to keep a bottle of this magical stuff on hand as we get into cold and flu season. Oh, and rumor has it, it’s a miracle hangover cure as well so maybe hang on to a bottle as holidays (and inlaws) roll around.

With Fire Cider, be well.

ENTER TO WIN BELOW!

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ENTER HERE to win a Fire Cider Prize Pack Including:

  • 8 oz bottle of Fire Cider
  • Fire Cider Signature Shot Glass
  • Fire Cider Original Recipe Book
  • Fire Cider T-Shirt (we will ask your size when you win)

WE’RE SORRY, THIS CONTEST HAS ENDED AND THE WINNER IS BEING NOTIFIED. PLEASE CHECK BACK FOR OTHER GIVEAWAYS OR SIGN UP HERE to JOIN OUR EMAIL LIST AND GET NOTIFIED OF FUTURE AWESOME POSTS!

RECIPES!

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THE GOODS

"Here's to feeling good, All the time."

“Here’s to feeling good, All the time.”

IMG_6124 IMG_6137 Fire Cider Cook Book

Kauai’s Struggle for Health by Amanda Brower

Health and the environment have become the number one issue with GMO operations on Kauai. 

FOND NOTE: During my stay on Kauai, I was presented with an onslaught of information regarding the GMO debate and much of it was downright shocking . What had seemed like a straightforward argument between Chemicals/Genetic Engineering versus No Chemicals/No Genetic Engineering was anything but.  There were and are layers upon layers of history, loyalty, information, misinformation, politics, employment issues and tradition factoring in to the debates taking place on beautiful Kauai.  As I did some digging (which I will elaborate on in a future post), a friend shared the below summary with me of the local issues specific to Kauai – arguably the US capital of GMO industry. I am still doing my own research (as I encourage you to do) but this post by Andrea Brower, originally run on Civilbeat.com on July, 17, does a great job of covering the key issues. Mahalo to Richard Diamond for allowing me to share and Andrea Brower for authoring. — Nicole Delma

By Amanda Brower

Born, raised and educated on Kauai, I was brought up with an ethic of care for this land, its future, and the people of this aina. I was also taught that we have kuleana to stand-up for what is right, just, and in the service of the common good — and that sometimes we must struggle for what is pono.

The movement on Kauai to protect our land, water and communities from the impacts of the agrochemical-GMO industry is reflective of this deep sense of responsibility that my generation feels for our home and one another. We know that the decisions being made today will shape our future and that of many generations to follow.

Despite what they would like us to believe, the global agrochemical-GMO industry — corporate giants Pioneer DuPont, Syngenta, Monsanto, Dow, BASF — did not show up in Hawaii merely because we have a year-round growing season. They came because they saw us as an exploitable community, left with an economic void when the sugar plantations exited, and challenged to think outside of the box of plantation agriculture after 150 years of it.

They saw a community of mostly working-class people, already conditioned to accept an industry that exports all of its profits and leaves behind nothing but pollution, health bills and unsafe, low-paying jobs. They came because, despite our enlightened state motto and constitutional mandate to protect the environment, we allow them to get away with doing things that they wouldn’t be allowed to do in other places.

Since GMO testing began in Hawaii, over 3,000 permits have been granted for open-air field trials, more than in any other state in the nation. In 2012 alone, there were 160 such permits issued on 740 sites.

Kauai has the highest number of these experimental sites, which are associated with the use of 22 restricted-use pesticides in the amount of 18 tons of concentrate each year. Syngenta, BASF, Pioneer DuPont and Dow occupy nearly all of the leased agricultural lands on the westside of Kauai — over 12,000 acres in close proximity to schools, residences, churches, and hospitals.

Kauai residents currently do not have the right to know what is happening on these agricultural lands, or how these activities are affecting our common air and water. We do not know which pesticides are being used where, in what amounts, and what their cumulative impacts might be. We also know nothing about the experimental GMO crops being tested. Even when the federal government determines that new pesticide-GMO crop combos significantly affect the quality of the human environment, as the USDA did in the recent case of 2,4-D and Dicamba resistant crops, we have no way of knowing whether they were tested here and what their impacts might have been.

Kauai County Council Bill 2491 on pesticides and GMOs seeks to correct this obvious oversight. It is a highly reasonable bill that is applicable only to the five corporations who use tremendous amounts of restricted-use pesticides each year.

The bill establishes people’s right to know about the chemicals that are being used, and sets up a buffer zone between the spraying and schools, hospitals, residential areas and waterways. It also requires that the county conduct an EIS so we can better understand the impacts of the agrochemical-GMO operations on our island, and in the meantime puts a moratorium on new operations. And it mandates that experimental pesticides and GMOs be tested in containment rather than in the open-air.

The pesticides this bill pertains to are not the type you purchase at Ace Hardware. They are “restricted-use” pesticides because they are recognized as extremely dangerous to human health and the environment. Chemicals such as Atrazine (Syngenta), banned in the EU and known to cause birth defects, cancer and reproductive issues, and to contaminate ground-water. Lorsban (Dow), known to cause impaired brain and nervous system functions in children and fetuses, even in minute amounts. Other pesticides being used are shown to affect brain cancer, autism, and heart and liver problems.

Pioneer employees who were bussed by DuPont County Council meeting for hearing on Bill 2491 to regulate GMO company pesticide use on Kauai Photo by Juan Wilson.

Pioneer employees who were bussed by DuPont County Council meeting for hearing on Bill 2491 to regulate GMO company pesticide use on Kauai Photo by Juan Wilson.

Atrazine, chlorpyrifos (Lorsban) and bifenthrin have made it inside Waimea Canyon Middle School, almost certainly the result of drift from the chemical-GMO operations around the school, which is a violation of federal law. Bill 2491 is about our right to know where these highly-dangerous pesticides are coming from so we can determine how they might be affecting human health and the environment. It has nothing to do with whether we are for or against the science and technology of GMOs.

While it would be great if we could count on the state and federal governments to adequately regulate, the fact is that they haven’t. And this issue cannot wait. People are sick now. We need to know now. Our state and federal governments have spent the last decades putting the interests of these transnational corporations over the interests of the common good.

The US government’s own Accountability Office concluded that the EPA is severely lacking in its implementation of laws relating to pesticides. It is up to us on Kauai, the people who have direct experience of the industry’s impacts, to take the necessary action. This bill has been reviewed by many local and national attorneys, and we at the county level have the right to protect our health, safety and environment.

Rather than be responsive to reasonable concerns, the chemical-GMO companies are doing everything they can to fight this bill. They are some of the largest and most powerful corporations in the world, and infamous for their fierce opposition to any kind of disclosure and regulation. This is not a matter of “bad” people doing bad things. These corporations are legally mandated to make profit for their shareholders at other expenses.

Beyond the rhetoric of their well-paid marketing, they do not care about the places where they operate. They may have a few friendly and concerned managers who live locally, but the economic structure that they operate within does not prioritize environmental and human health. That is why this issue requires a structural response — actual policy that will limit these corporation’s ability to externalize their costs onto us.

The industry is using the unfortunate tactic of threatening workers that if this bill passes, their jobs will be lost. While the claim of these incredibly wealthy corporations that they can’t afford to be more responsible in their chemical usage seems exaggerated, if not absurd, we need to be compassionate and sensitive to the position workers are being put in.

If in fact the industry does decide to leave simply because we’ve asked them to be transparent and responsible, then we must generate new agricultural jobs that are higher-paying, less hazardous and long-term. Jobs that express who we are and are integral to our local economy rather than those dependent on the whims of transnational corporations who can get up and leave at anytime.

As an island dependent on barges coming from at least 2500 miles away for 85% of our food, one obvious place for job generation is in developing our sustainable agriculture industry. There are huge possibilities. Half of the lands used by the agrochemical-GMO industry on Kauai are state lands, which could be made more easily available to real farmers. Water that is currently being hoarded by the private chemical industry could be returned to streams and agricultural users, in line with state water law. Subsidy support and research could be consistently put towards sustainable and locally-appropriate agriculture.

By privileging the chemical-GMO companies’ use of our resources over local agriculture, we are paying the high costs of missed opportunities. Sustainable agriculture to service local needs would generate local revenues and stimulate the economic multiplier effect, plug economic leakages, support a wide variety of other small businesses, employ far more people, insure food security, add to the resilience of our economy, distribute benefits more equitably, and be a real draw to tourists.

While we do face structural challenges to building our local agricultural industry, some of which are national or global, there are innumerable creative and immediate solutions. These include a variety of socially responsible enterprises, cooperatives, food hubs, land trusts and ag parks, land use policy in favor of local ag, farmer training, and research funding for sustainable ag. The public will to proactively create and support these solutions keeps growing. Young people especially are looking for opportunities to farm, to be stewards of the aina and feed their communities.

By regulating these transnational corporations, we are supporting the possibility of local agriculture and food security. By protecting our fragile, limited and precious resources, we protect the possibility of real agriculture (that actually feeds us) thriving in the long-term. This is a turning point in the island’s history, one which will determine the type of path we will take.

On Kauai we take pride in our values of care and responsibility for one another and the aina. Now is our moment to lead the state and show the nation how a small community can stand-up for what is obviously moral — putting people and nature’s rights ahead of corporate profits. When it comes to the health of our population and environment, we must demand self-determination. The world is watching, and we will send a clear message, one way or the other.

Andrea BrowerAndrea Brower is doing a PhD on the politics and economics of food and agriculture. She has a Masters degree in Science and International Development from the University of Sussex.

Please visit Civilbeat.com to view the original article and browse more great content.

YOGA + SCIENCE, DISCOVERING THE ANATOMY OF WELLNESS WITH MICHAELLE EDWARDS

HOW I LEARNED TO RETHINK MY BODY BACK INTO ITS RIGHTFUL POSITION

When I visited Hawaii this past spring, I was told stories about a very special woman living up in the hills of Kauai named Michaelle Edwards who had dedicated her life to helping people get repositioned in their bodies so that they could enjoy them as they were meant to be used. This intrigued me on a personal level as I had often felt as though I wasn’t sitting quite right in my body and had great difficulty doing anything that required me to remain still for any length of time. More than just your average restlessness, my body actually brought me tremendous pain if I was forced to be still and, while this predisposition served me well in sports and running very long distances, it also prevented me from pursuing other activities I was curious about such as yoga or meditation.

Regardless, I had tried Yoga only to be chastised by teachers who insisted it was the restlessness of my mind that was causing my physical pain (viable, I thought) or forcefully tried to ‘straighten me out’ and pressure me in to positions my body wasn’t ready to accept. Strangely, not one teacher had ever suggested the reverse – could it be that the positioning of my body might actually be agitating my mind? What’s more, as a trained massage therapist versed in anatomy and physiology, I found it very disturbing that some of my teachers didn’t even know the various parts of the body or the mechanics of how they were connected yet they were bold enough to sit on me to try and get my body where they thought it should be. There had to be a better way to work with my body, I thought.

The view from Michaelle's property in the hills of Kauai just outside Hanalei.
The view from Michaelle’s property in the hills of Kauai just outside Hanalei.

While reading Michaelle Edward’s book YogAlign, which was gifted to me by one of her former students, Pro Surfer Rochelle Ballard, I read something that quite possibly changed my life. Using detailed attention to anatomy and physiology, Michaelle explained that the Psoas muscles, which connect your spine to your legs, have a direct connection to your emotional state and that connection goes both ways. You see, the Psoas are somewhat of the ‘fight of flight’ muscles that respond directly to stress and are linked to the proactive tightening of the tissues around our torso/major organs that occurs to protect our most vital parts when danger or a threat are imminent (an approaching predator, for instance). The thing is, improper positioning or stress on these muscles and associated nerves can actually cause the agitation in the centers the brain responsible for the ‘fight of flight’ response to stay on well after the perceived threat is present and when there is no threat at all. Hence, a physically rooted cause for a restless mind. Aha! This was a light bulb moment for me and I at once contacted Michaelle and arranged come and study/work with her for a week at her home and studio on Kauai.

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As I got to know her, I learned that Michaelle Edwards has spent the better part of her 60 years studying the human anatomy, the dynamics of movement, the brain/body connection and various disciplines of yoga and bodywork and applying that knowledge to her own unique method. Over time, that method evolved into a specific set of exercises or adapted Yoga poses aimed at freeing that stress on the Psoas and thereby relaxing the mind and just generally shifting us into a more peaceful place at home within our bodies. Her technique, called YogAlign is the embodiment of much of her life’s work coupled with her own personal practice and that of the hundreds of students she has worked with over the years. Understanding the intricacies of human anatomy, its connection to our brain and our spiritual and emotional well being is Michaelle’s passion and, after spending a week with her, I could clearly see was also her calling.

Out front of Michaelle's property, an ample supply of surfboards, snorkels and fresh bananas.

Out front of Michaelle’s property, an ample supply of surfboards, snorkels and fresh bananas.

I arrived at Michaelle’s amazing green property just outside of Hanalei in early July where I was housed with Katrina, one of her advanced students who teaches YogAlign in LA and was there helping her to shoot some informational videos to post on YouTube. The property is nearly completely sustainable and she and her students can subsist on the fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs and coconut water naturally provided from her land with little need for anything from the outside. As I came to learn, this is not unique on Kauai and is part of a growing movement to help keep out GMO yet, for Michaelle, it was just a way of living she had acquired nearly 40 years earlier to stay in sync with the natural environment around her. This pure diet is likely one of the reasons she looks substantially younger than she actually is and is literally exploding with energy.

Michaelle at work with a student in her studio.

Michaelle at work with a student in her studio.

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Our days together mainly consisted of an hour of YogAlign group class in the morning, an hour or two of swimming in Hanalei Bay early afternoon (in which she always swam twice as fast as me), running on the beach or on the trails above her home followed by a natural lunch and then 2-3 hours of focused practice working on my own unique ‘posture challenges’ and learning a specific combination of exercises, breathing, bodywork and mental techniques I could use to reset and realign myself to a more natural and dynamic positioning. As Michaelle explained it, our bones are really just ‘strung’ together by our fascia, muscles and ligaments – all of which are soft tissue and can be coaxed back to their optimal positions. When we are aligned, motions and proper posture take far less effort as the natural human form is quite efficient by design- just watch a toddler move sometime and you will see how effortless their motions are before their posture begins to get compromised.

Daily swimming is part of Michaelle's healthful regimen. The waters of Kauai are said to be curative.

Daily swimming is part of Michaelle’s healthful regimen. The waters of Kauai are said to be curative.

Michaelle absolutely blew my mind with her knowledge and I genuinely felt as though I was sharing time with someone who had indeed ‘figured it out’ and was on to something remarkable. After one week, I could see a marked difference in my posture and actually measured a full inch taller in height as a result of the release of the pressure on my spine that was being imposed by a wound up Psoas from years of suboptimal posture and overconditioning. What’s more, I felt so different. I was sleeping better than I had in months, my eyes and sinuses were clear and my energy levels were steady and strong. At 60, Michaelle still ran circles around me in terms of her energy level but I got the sense that she had tapped into some inner knowledge of health and longevity that others had not.

The studio where we practiced daily. Michaelle hosts regular retreats and training on her property: Manayoga.com

The studio where we practiced daily. Michaelle hosts regular retreats and training on her property: Manayoga.com

We took before and after photos, measurements and careful notations on things I would not otherwise have looked at such as the distance and positioning between my toes. Realizing that my little toes being crunched up had a direct connection to pain in my neck was eye opening, literally. There were techniques she showed me which actually changed the way my face looked by altering and releasing the stresses that pulled on my eyes and jaw and positioning of my head to my body. We sat together and went through photos of her previous students who had even more dramatic results after spending weeks with her and even my skeptic’s mind started to change. Perhaps the secret to ‘straightening out’ my body had nothing to do with forcing through painful positions and stretching muscles to the point where I was hot and throbbing in pain. Perhaps the key to evoking lasting change in my posture was actually in these very subtle movements coupled with focused breath and mental techniques. (You can see some before and after photos here on Michaelle’s site Manayoga.com. )

Since leaving, I have kept up with the practice and continue to see added benefits and results. I look and feel taller, lighter. My core is toned and elongated all the way around. My running is better than ever as I now feel as though my legs and hips are moving efficiently in an anatomically correct gait. I would not go so far as to say that I am a Yoga devotee but, when it comes to YogAlign and the techniques and theory I learned from Michaelle, I can say that I have unquestionably received tremendous benefit and that the quality of my life has improved as a result.

Michaelle even taught me how to sit correctly (though she is the first to explain how most of our human health woes seem to have evolved out of our sitting culture). As I sit and write this, I am pain free and thinking of my next run – a 22 miler and considering I might actually bump it up a day as the need to recover from yesterday’s 18 miler just doesn’t seem to be there the way it used to be.

Thank you Michaelle for helping me to find a pain-free way to be within my own body – in stillness and in motion. I can’t promise I will sit still any time soon but, at least it is good to know that I now can 🙂

Mahalo!

Nicole

MICHAELLE IS COMING TO NY! – SEP 21, 2013This Fall, Michaelle is making her way to New York to teach her first ever clinic here: Change Your Posture, Change Your Life. The class will take place on September 21 and I will be sure to be there and will post more information on how to sign up as it becomes available. If you are interested, feel free to email me at nicole@fondgroup.com and I will alert you when I have those details.

The view of the studio from above, nestled in the green hills.

The view of the studio from above, nestled in the green hills.

The GMO controversy came up a lot during my time on Kauai - a heated local and global debate.

The GMO controversy came up a lot during my time on Kauai – a heated local and global debate.

Michaelle cracking open a fresh coconut for me post-class.

Michaelle cracking open a fresh coconut for me post-class.

Her beautiful chickens that provide much of the protein for the property.

Her beautiful chickens that provide much of the protein for the property.

The chicken coup.

The chicken coup.

Daily greens with equally vibrant views were a part of the wellness routine at Manayoga.

Daily greens with equally vibrant views were a part of the wellness routine at Manayoga.

View from a hike above the house.

View from a hike above the house.

The stunning hidden bamboo gardens Michaelle took me to.

The stunning hidden bamboo gardens Michaelle took me to.

Mangoes and papayas fresh from the trees were in constant supply at the house.

Mangoes and papayas fresh from the trees were in constant supply at the house.

An accomplished musician, Michaelle treated us to an impromptu jazz performance after dinner one night.

An accomplished musician, Michaelle treated us to an impromptu jazz performance after dinner one night.

Hanalei Farmer's Market was easily one of the best I've ever experienced. Fruits and veggies you've never seen before and GMO free!

Hanalei Farmer’s Market was easily one of the best I’ve ever experienced. Fruits and veggies you’ve never seen before and GMO free!

The view from the backyard never got old.

The view from the backyard never got old.

Hanalei sunsets were spectacular every night.

Hanalei sunsets were spectacular every night.

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