Monday, June 11, 2012

Wealth through Stealth!

We’ve written in this space before of our grave concern at the outrageous global proliferation of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs and of the power over consumers exerted by the companies that produce them. As each year passes there are more and more indications that this path is not supportive of healthy ecosystems.

Why are we so concerned you may ask?
• Consumers were never informed that GMOs were being introduced into the food system;
• We are still left in the dark as to the presence of GMOs in our food due to the complete lack of labeling requirements;
• GMOs have never been adequately tested in the field nor in the human population (thank goodness!);
• GMO crops are failing globally at a fairly high rate;
• GMO crops and the chemicals used to protect them from pests are creating super weeds & super pests that unfortunately will require more powerful & dangerous chemicals;
• Virtually every aspect of a genetically modified seed is covered by a patent, meaning you can never save your own seeds and must always return to the multi-national corporation to buy seeds each & every year in perpetuity;
• GMO crops will cross-pollinate with wild and organically grown plants thereby contaminating them;
• Most of these GMO crops are heavily subsidized the government thereby putting the cultivation of organically grown crops at a severe economic disadvantage;
• Isn’t that enough?!

What can we do about it? Is this not a great opportunity to prove to concerned consumers that supporting organics is the best way to protect ourselves and our families from harmful chemicals and GMOs? We think it is!
Supporting organics means that you are supporting chemical-free agriculture that respects both the land and the consumer. It also means our rivers, our air, our drinking water and our food will not be contaminated with extremely harmful chemicals.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Becoming Aware

We are sure you are all at least a little bit aware of the recent newsworthy "discovery" that the Kashi products contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It seems to us as though this is akin to the "discoveries" made by europeans when they first began exploration of this vast continent. So many "new" places, animals, people and things were "discovered" that not a day seemed to go by without something new turning up! Funny thing is, all of that was there before they found it! So, for folks to realize that Kashi contained GMOs and for it to become such a big news story was a bit overblown. However, if a vast new awareness of the utter pervasiveness of GMOs is what results from this, then Hurray!!!!

We are of the mindset that from the standpoint of advertising, Kashi did nothing wrong. They never falsely claimed to be organic or non-GMO. They merely used the all-to-common word natural in selling their products. Completely legal, albeit a somewhat shady approach, much like the ads that make the claim that their products are artisanal.

Do we like what Kashi has done to raise their profile amongst health conscious consumers by claiming to be natural for all these years, no. We also do not condemn them for practices that we, as consumers, have allowed them to engage in for the sole purpose of profit at the expense of our health and the health of our planet. The main dynamic we see that is wrong and that must be changed is the way consumers get educated and access knowledge and then act on such knowledge. Any consumer with basic knowledge of GMOs would know that if it is not organic and it is made from soy (91% GMO in US) or corn (85% GMO in US), the likelihood is extremely high that it will contain GMOs. In fact, it is estimated that over 70% of all processed foods in the United States contain GMOs.

GMO crops are rapidly failing on a global level, creating super weeds and super pests, and they are unproven regarding their safety for consumption. Additionally, the risk of cross-pollination with organically grown crops is potentially very damaging to that industry's integrity, not to mention the integrity of the crops themselves and the eco-systems they grown in!

What can consumers do? Get informed, make smart choices and make noise when something bothers you!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Organic Battleground

If you follow the conflicts between organic agriculture and manufacturers of GMOs, you may be aware of the grave concerns organic farmers have of protecting the integrity of their crops. The way the law currently views this dynamic is that organic farmers are the ones responsible for protecting themselves from possible contamination by GMO crops. The patents they hold on these seeds provides for this protection. Now, that is akin to telling a child who is being bullied by one or more larger and more powerful children that s/he is solely responsible for protecting her/himself with absolutely NO support or protection from the school or any other adult! Sounds a bit imbalanced, doesn't it?

Well, there has been movement by some of those organic farmers to take a stand. These small, but very important efforts must be embraced by the industry leaders in organics and by those who consume those products. If left uncontested, companies like Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta and other behemoths in the biotech industry will take their already massive influence to levels that will make them impenetrable. At some point, there will be no way to avoid ingesting GMOs in any foods as they will have become so prevalent and completely protected that the basic essence of nature will have been irreversibly altered.

Visionary Values will soon have our database in place so that people can see the linkages between these global biotech giants, our food systems, our politicians and our health. We think you will be amazed at just how few control so many and so much. It really is unimaginable what we have allowed to take place! This is a matrix of control that is, at the very least, criminal! Stay tuned!!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Permaculture to the White House – Please Take Three Seconds to Vote!

It looks like you can vote up to three times total and all your votes can go for one project! It is so EASY - Just a single click and you are DONE!

Maybe this is just the shake-up President Obama needs to understand the web of life and how dangerous GMO$ are!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The hidden beauty of pollination

Sustainability on Our Backs

There are so many ways in which sustainability is and should be part of our lives. In fact, we believe that it must be a foundational piece of how we live. Sustainability doesn't need to be difficult or inconvenient either. If we look closely at the systems we have in place for sourcing, producing and consuming it becomes clear that subtle modifications can have huge positive impacts on our collective quality of life. The systems work, they just are misused!

We've got a huge opportunity if we'd just be more cradle-to-cradle in our thinking. Systems thinking is essential to improving our current lives in ways that do not negatively impact our futures!

Take the article we've linked to for this discussion for example, which shows that there is a great demand for sustainably grown cotton. Opportunity to change!! Clothing, and cotton in particular, is a pretty dirty industry.

Some facts: (taken from Wikipedia)
  • The U.S. cotton crop was 93% genetically modified (GMO) in 2010;
  • The Chinese cotton crop was 68% genetically modified (GMO) in 2009
  • The cotton industry relies heavily on chemicals, such as herbicides, fertilizers and insecticides;
  • The 25,000 cotton growers in the United States are heavily subsidized at the rate of $2 billion per year;
  • Many farmers in developing countries receive a low price for their cotton;
  • Some countries are criticized for employing child labor & damaging workers' health by exposure to pesticides.
This is an industry that impacts ALL of us! There are multiple levels of its production where there are opportunities to make the industry better without breaking the bank and with higher quality all around. Making oneself aware of how our consumption contributes to degrading and improving our environment and our quality of life is important.

Visionary Values is getting very close to the unveiling of the first level of our consumer sustainability database that will enable everyone to see these complex processes in much more detailed and more easily accessed formats. We believe in the transparency of processes and in giving consumers the information that can help them make choices of all kinds that benefit our planet, ourselves and the species we share this beautiful life with! Stay tuned!!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Farmers against Monsanto

This is a battle that needs to involve everyone who cares about the safety, integrity and control of our global food systems. It is a basic rights issue. We have reached a point where governments have given large corporations far too much control over our economy. However, WE have been the ones responsible for giving our governments that power and not holding them accountable! It is only when we recognize this and do something about it that we can expect good things to happen more regularly.

The most recent backlash against the biotech giants of the world, especially Monsanto, is a social indicator of many things. The Occupy movement is encouraging a concerned populace to change economic dynamics from elitist to inclusive. We must require this of our food producers as well. Many well-intentioned farmers are stuck in cycles of destruction that is encouraged by government and industry alike.

So, we are here to say that these brave farmers who are standing up to Monsanto are also standing up for us! Let's give them some help and make those changes in ourselves as consumers and demand GMO labeling to start with. Then, let's be better shoppers and purchase products that do less harm and more good!

Here is a link to an article reporting on the farmer lawsuit against Monsanto.

This is a great Tedx video of an eloquent young man speaking his mind on the issues of GMO$:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Celebrating Bob Marley's Birthday

Get Up Stand Up

Most people think great God will come from the sky

Take away everything and make everybody feel high

But if you know what life is worth

You would look for yours on earth

And now you see the light You stand up for your right


We’re sick and tired of your ism schism game

Die and go to heaven in Jesus’ name

Lord, we know when we understand Almighty God is a living man

You can fool some people sometimes

But you can’t fool some people all the time

So now we see the light

(What you gonna do?)

We gonna stand up for our right.

Jah, Jah, Jah

Get up Stand up, co-written with Peter Tosh, demonstrates an anti-imperialist, strident and militant tone, that acts as the rallying cry for oppressed people to fight back and in the spirit of Marcus Garvey’s self-reliance philosophy do something about their own situation.

Celebrate the spirit of Bob Marley and his philosophy with this video:

Friday, February 3, 2012

Perhaps it is time to return to the blog!

So many pieces of the social media pie! We will do our best to keep this palette colorful and informative enough to keep you coming back! In the meantime, enjoy this video:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Small is Beautiful and Vital!

We came across an excellent article today by the venerable David Suzuki speaking to the importance of small-scale agriculture to global food security. He points out that healthy ecosystems, of which agriculture is an integral part, must maintain a level of balance and biodiversity that large-scale agriculture is incapable of providing. Sounds most logical!

In contextualizing his perspective, Suzuki points to a paper in the Agriculture and Human Values journal authored by Michael Jahi Chappell and Liliana LaValle entitled Food security and biodiversity: can we have both? The journal article points to the tendency of industrial agriculture to try to correct mistakes by devising "new crutches" to tackle them, such as more powerful pesticides, soil manipulation, etc. This ever deepening hole is now consuming us!

The post WWII and green revolution argument that industrial agriculture is the only way to feed our burgeoning global population is losing its lustre in light of obvious shortcomings. Increasingly, concerns by citizens that perhaps governments and corporations might not have their best interests at heart are predominating.

Suzuki closes his article with the following quote from Chappell & LaValle:

If it is ... possible for alternative agriculture to provide sufficient yields, maintain a higher level of biodiversity, and avoid pressure to expand the agricultural land base, it would indicate that the best solution to both food security and biodiversity problems would be widespread conversion to alternative practices.

We at Visionary Values agree 100% and will continue to present these issues to those around us. Let's take on the challenge to recover our connection to the land and our communities and ensure that future generations have the opportunity to eat healthy foods grown in sustainable ways!

Check out David Suzuki's website for more great information!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

State Your Food Sovereignty

How can "ordinary citizens" take back control of basic rights in today's world? One way to send a message is to do what several states and towns have done recently: Demand Food Soverignty!

What does this mean exactly? Well, if you start with the concept of "you are what you eat," then a great first step is to find out what is IN what you eat. On a global level, we no longer have the sort of direct control over our decisions that our ancestors had. Increasingly, the foods we eat are genetically modified and sprayed heavily with chemicals. Many of us believe that this is not a good thing! However, our government, in its dangerous dalliances with companies like Monsanto and Dupont, have essentially stripped its citizens of the choice to not eat genetically modified foods that are chemically enhanced. Our world is an interconnected web of life and any interference or manipulation in the laws that govern it will produce cascading effects that we do not understand, nor can we predict.

So, food sovereignty declarations, though essentially "toothless" in the eyes of our legal system, can send strong messages to our lawmakers that we are watching them and that we are very concerned that our rights are being taken advantage of. For a brief overview of ways in which you can begin to build a movement in your town or state, click here.

For a link to a more globally focused statement, click here.

To be successful we must first be knowledgeable and educated. We also must work together. Let us know what you and your communities are doing to protect your food supplies.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Organics Losing Ground!

Where do you stand on the issue of GMO alfalfa? We don't like it!

However, our feeling is that regardless of which side of this issue you stand, the discussion of choice and rights is key. For those who believe in and wish to eat organically grown foods, the options are becoming more seriously compromised every day! Our democratic way of life is intertwined with the whims and fancies of big corporations that now have those same rights and privileges as each one of us! Not good!

Questions to ask:

Can we stop the wind from blowing?
How about controlling the paths of pollinating bees?
Do we know the impact of animals eating the alfalfa and then pooping out viable seed somewhere? Perhaps to be used later in compost?
Do you want your food supply in the hands of a corporation such as Monsanto?

Contact the Organic Trade Association to make your feelings known at the White House.
Also, here is a good place to "plant" yourself for awhile if you'd like to read some discussions on the many sides of the GMO alfalfa issue. Beware, many of them are on the technical side!

Friday, January 14, 2011

“Earth to TransFair: Fair Trade is a Movement Not a Brand!”

It seems as though the waters of certification are trending to muddier and consumers will definitely be left with more reason(s) to question the self-appointed overseers of "ethics."

Recently, TransFair USA has applied for a name change and essentially a trademark on the term "Fair Trade USA." Why? Who really knows, but what is important is maintaining the concept of fair trade unencumbered by institutional whims and fancies and keeping its nose as clean as possible. After all, fair trade is a peoples' movement, one that must offer the consumer the best possible confirmation that its principles of dialogue, transparency and respect for humanity are completely upheld.

Check out the controversy and who supports the petition by linking to the title of this post. Then, sign the petition! Help us keep the oversight in the hands of consumers!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sustainability in Rural Mexico

With six years under its belt, Bosque Village (near Patzcuaro, Michoacan in Mexico) a self-proclaimed combination of a campground, a rustic retreat center, a permaculture farm, and a forming ecovillage, has come a long way!

With its roots in the desire of founder Brian Fey, an expat from Washington State, to experiment with sustainability, a large and diverse collection of creative and enthusiastic individuals have come together to create a confluence of ideas and action. Bosque Village is a concept under perpetual development and a place to inspire and communicate the message of walking lightly on our earth.

Sustainable living is key to the foundation of this magical place. With no water available other than that collected from rainfall, no reliance on outside electricity (all solar powered), Bosque Village returns the gifts nature has bestowed. Propagating and planting native plants and trees is an ongoing process as is the documenting of local flora and fauna. They even grow the beautiful and important agave plant directly from seed!!
We will be communicating with folks at Bosque Village to facilitate the sharing of success and challenges folks around the world are having in implementing similar projects. If you know of other projects such as this, please get in touch with Visionary Values and also, if you wish, directly with Bosque Village.

We encourage you to check them out! We also want to let you know that it is not a dangerous place to visit! We have recently returned from a long-term visit in the state of Michoacan and encountered nothing to fear!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Recovering an Island Tradition

I recently returned from a bit of touring on the islands of Trinidad & Tobago in the West Indies. Although not specifically there for Visionary Values research, I can never stop myself from looking around wherever I am for signs of sustainability.

Now, I knew that T&T had a long tradition of growing cacao or cocoa, but I was unaware that this has essentially been on the decline for many years now. Trinidad holds most of the 1.3 million population of the twin island nation, but Tobago seems the be the island holding on to its historical traditions a bit more strongly. This may be due to the heavy reliance on tourism and the need to preserve the natural beauty for visitors.

Tobago is home to the western hemisphere's oldest protected rainforest which occupies 14,000 acres in the center of the island. This designation came on April 13, 1776! A very smart decision! In many of the islands coastal communities the residents still rely very heavily upon fishing and do so using methods such as poles and nets.

I had the opportunity to visit a place called the Tobago Cocoa Estate which was begun by a well traveled native Tobagian by the name of Duane Dove. A sommelier by training, his well developed taste buds are put to work on this fine estate. His goal is to recover the tradition of producing the highest quality cocoa and to do so using sustainable farming methods. Now, I still need to investigate further, but the claim is that he is producing his cocoa in a "chemical free" process. I need more details and will present my findings on our website in 2011.

Moving along though, Mr. Dove has produced Tobago's first single origin chocolate bar from his cocoa and it has received some very solid reviews! This means that the chocolate bar he has had produced (small manufacturer in France) contains only cocoa from his estate, whereas many bars have mixed sources. As I understand it, once his estate begins to get more solid footing, he has plans to actually produce the chocolate himself rather than ship it overseas. This is a process that is already underway at another island grower called Grenada Chocolate Company on the nearby island nation of Grenada.

Needless to say, growing cocoa on these islands, and in particular at the Tobago Cocoa Estate, is very difficult work! The inclines are great and the difference between the two seasons, dry & wet, present very challenging logistics. Visionary Values will present the challenges of these cocoa growers in 2011 when we unveil our overview of the chocolate industry. What you don't know will surprise you!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Great Tool For Sustainable Sourcing!

Came across this recent post on Triple Pundit. Tools such at the one developed by can be tremendously useful in opening dialogue on unsustainable processes as well as moving dialogue forward when sustainability is in need of some pushes forward. Many certifications of sustainability are not all they claim to be and yet, they are the best we have available. We believe that a full process exchange of needs and desires can benefit everyone! They should be strengthened until they improve or until they prove themselves inadequate. Consumers must make the push to move this forward.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Conscious Coffees - 2011 Micro Roaster of the Year!

Congratulations go out to our friends at Conscious Coffees here in Boulder, Colorado! Earning Roast Magazine's Micro Roaster of the Year is a great honor, doing it by adhering to stellar standards of sustainabiity is quite another. Check out the magazine's article in the most recent issue

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Moving Forward!

We haven't been idle between posts, just BUSY! Our side project of developing websites for sustainable businesses has begun to take root. We love to consult with these folks and see up close just what they are up to regarding making the best efforts to operate lightly on the planet. Now that we have a space for deep breathing, we are hard at work putting the Visionary Values website together. We are genuinely excited about what we have to offer. We will also have the companion Facebook page together with our twitter account to complement the website.

Stay tuned!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Moving Forward!

Our efforts to document sustainable businesses and endeavors is in motion now! We are currently in edit mode and should have some excellent interview segments to share with you. Over the past few weeks we have conducted interviews with three businesses: Licious Organics in Boulder, Colorado and Karma Balm and Interiors Green in Bethlehem, New Hampshire. We are very excited to get this project underway!!

Additionally, there has been extensive video documentation of a build site here in Boulder featuring Artesano Plasterers Ryan Chivers & Phil Metzler. This project also features a living roof installed by Andy Creath of Green Roofs of Colorado. We look forward to conducting interviews with these folks as well down the road.

Visionary Values believes that by sharing inspiring stories of individuals and companies working more in harmony with our environment and supporting sustainability, we can encourage others to do the same. After all, we share this beautiful world and all of our challenges must also be shared!