Food, Inc. is a 2008 American documentary film directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner.The film examines corporate farming in the United States, concluding that agribusiness produces food that is unhealthy, in a way that is environmentally harmful and abusive of both animals and employees. The film is narrated by Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser.
This film caused me to re-think most every meal I consumed from 1980 to present. Beef and poultry as we know it (today) are NOT healthy. Period. Food, Inc. tells the true story behind poultry and beef production. Chickens raised in a grow-out houses (injected with ?, and fed questionable grain) are not a healthy food choice. Beef production is horrifically bad and processed beef scares me. Shock and awe worked. Food, Inc. arrested our attention and we heard the message. Yes, we heard the message, and we decided to take action.
Twenty minutes ago my wife cleared the pantry of processed foods, and cleared out almost half of what was stored in the refrigerator. The remaining items contain 5 ingredients or less.
Ok then. We’re not vegan but we’re eating vegan dishes. We’re not vegetarians but we’re eating vegetarian dishes. We’re not whole food Nazis either but we’re eating whole foods as if we live on a farm (from the early 1900’s before chemical companies took over the food industry). We switched to organic poultry, seiten, and ahi (wild caught), and organic turkey breast.
In summary, sourcing truly healthy foods is challenging. This type of transformation means we are reading labels, and taking time to research questionable ingredients. It also means we’ll review scientific data behind food claims, all of which are interesting. We believe we’re on a better path forward. Let’s hope so. More so than ever, we believe you are what you eat.
Four years, one hundred and three days ago I had dinner with the author of this book. Fictionally speaking of course. The dinner was nice – a tad bumpy – but ended with a hug and ‘friendly’ kiss. I wasn’t convinced then, but I am now, that redheads are Jesus freaks. I know, I’m about to marry one. Figuratively speaking of course.
Four years is just about the right amount of time to wait … to marry. When I met Amy I was given some advice from a cousin whom I call an aunt who said, “live at least one season of life with her (Amy) and then you’ll know.” I decided to live four years of four seasons. To make sure – that she is sure (HA!). I once commented that if we’re still dating after four years will you be around … and her response, “probably not.” Then again, this is the same woman who would have turned and ran if I met her with a half-sleeve tat. Or, if upon meeting her kids that I would have suggested, much less encouraged, that we watch Dog the Bounty Hunter as a family unit (NOTE for the ‘other’ parents: it’s an educational show!).
Fast-forward the TIVO box. In March of this year I traveled to Moloka’i, Hawai’i for some recon work. I leveraged my spring break visit to Moloka’i as means for surveying the island as a possible wedding destination and/or honeymoon location. After my first full day on the island, I was convinced I would marry my Jesus freak on this island in the middle of the Pacific.
Upon my return home I mentally bookmarked the experience, but didn’t do anything. I mean, I thought about the idea and kicked it around in my head – but that was all.
Ask yourself the question, why get married?
Over the past few months when mentioning the topic (of marriage) to friends and colleagues, most often I received a simple response – why? Typically the follow-up question is, “how many couples do you know who are truly happy.” Sure, we all know couples who appear to be happy, but which ones are faking it?
Marriage counselors and therapists often define “good relationships” as being “good” 50% of the time (together). Define “good” however you wish. Recently I read somewhere that divorcees who do not remarry within two years of the “decree” are 87% less likely to marry again in their lifetime.
Ok then – why? If you know, tell me.
Honestly, these bits of interaction have been stumbling blocks to my thought process.
In late July I traveled to north Georgia for a speaking gig and had the opportunity to break bread with some colleagues within the professor ranks. During the course of dinner each of us took time to share life stories. When it was my turn, I’m not sure what happened but I blurted out, “I’m getting married at Christmas in Hawai’i.” A hearty congratulatory round of cheers was followed with, “give us some details.”
I had a sketch but no details. I told the group that I hadn’t proposed, I didn’t have a ring and I wasn’t going to ask my girlfriend to marry me until we arrived on the island of Moloka’i. I basically said, “I’m going to propose on the first night and suggest that we marry while staying there.”
The responses immediately fell into two camps:
Camp A: Wow – that’s very romantic.
Camp B: Why?
The facial expressions were priceless. Half the group gave me the “you’re crazy” look backed with a dazed you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me-eye-roll.
Camp A (mostly women) smiled (beaming) as if to say, “we approve.”
The leader of the group basically said, “that gave me goose bumps. I’m going to call my husband when I get back to the room and tell him your story.”
Yeah, it gave me goose bumps too. I felt like I got married at dinner and I hadn’t answered the “why” question.
Press pause on the TIVO box for a moment. Does someone contemplating marriage need to answer the “why” question?
You most certainly do.
If you do not answer the “why” question honestly, you will make a mistake. Trust me on this point. I didn’t answer the “why” question the first time (first marriage) and I made a huge mistake.
Push the TIVO button and zip over to September. In a meeting with my intern group I casually mentioned that I was getting married and the team responded with – “you’re engaged?” My response (literally), “was that a Camp A or Camp B question?” No one understood me so I blurted out, “I’m getting married in Hawai’i at Christmas on the beach – and no I don’t plan on asking her to marry me until we arrive.”
In unison – Camp B facial expressions.
Then the conversation unfolded:
“Have you bought a ring?”
“Why don’t you let her pick it out?”
“It wouldn’t be a surprise.”
“I’ve never heard of such a thing. What about your family and hers …”
“It’s not about them, it’s about us.”
“What if she says no (giggles)?”
“She would say yes today.”’
“Then why don’t you ask her and then get married there?”
Ahh, the “why” question!
My simple response, “because we’re already married – and the ceremony only affirms what we already know.” Then I fielded more Camp B responses. With Pandora’s box open, I had no choice but to cut it off. I then asked the ladies to Google wedding dresses based on some wedding photos I found (beach weddings taken on Kaua’i and Moloka’i).
You guessed it. Major Camp B responses. You’re going to select her wedding dress?!?!?! The looks included a touch of WTF, BTW.
In order to keep this post somewhat readable I’ll summarize by saying this: the intern group was engaged as the official wedding planners after I shared the “why” (which I’ll do later in this post).
In the back of my head one thought emerged, “where’s my jet pack?”
Zip the remote and review the footage from October. On my birthday all the interns took me to lunch. A few of them went along just to meet my girlfriend and others to consume margaritas. I was there to celebrate another year of life. The wedding planners were there to ensure the dress size was correct, and to execute recon work related to style.
Late in October I focused on rings, event wedding planners and process. My checklist grew from a few simple to-dos to an all-out event list. Think about it. What does it take to execute a wedding? A location, a place to honeymoon, a minister or JOP, a license, music, a photographer, flowers, witness(es), Champagne, cake, etc. Seriously, the list is substantive. I could spend countless paragraphs sharing the details of event planner selection, dresses, rings, my clothes, the flower choices, photography stylists, etc. Just rest assured, all details were covered (except one, and I’ll get to that in a minute).
Zip the TIVO box to early December and the intern event planners review the actual dress, they survey the clothes I intend on wearing, the wedding planner’s flower selection, the beach/locational images, the actual rings (no one was allowed to wear it; they observed), the watch … and my ring. My ring? Well, yes …. I realized that on short notice Amy wouldn’t have a ring to give me, so I bought one for the occasion. The inscription reads, “Me Ke Aloha * Moloka’i * 12/24/10.” Me ke aloha translates to, with love.
Let’s focus on the “why” for a moment.
Why? Here’s why: Amy is the best friend I’ve ever had in my life. Really. She’s loving and kind – not in a motherly way but in a partnering way. She tolerates me and let’s me figure out that I’m wrong when I’m wrong.
Amy doesn’t yell at me. Ever. She doesn’t pick fights and rarely is miffed about anything.
She’s got my back (I’ve got hers too).
She’s very kewl. How many girlfriends – or wives – or friends do you know that would get out of bed at midnight and drive to the airport to jumpstart your dead battery? I only know one person.
Amy doesn’t do drama, sagging hearts or deliver bullshit when she’s wrong. She doesn’t ever turn the tables.
Amy is ready to go with or without the makeup. No kidding. You can actually touch her hair when she’s gussied up.
She’s perfectly willing to get on the scooter and motorpace me in the rain. Truth.
Amy is smart and intelligent. When in doubt don’t Google it, ask Amy. As a financier, her numerical and statistical aptitude is surpassed only by her ginormous vocabulary, grammatical skills and knowledge, and her literary knowledge. Whew.
On the other hand, she understands what duct tape and a Leatherman make. A toolbox.
She is kind and loving with her children. Naturally it’s one of the reasons why they are such great kids (the other is that their dad is a good father).
Amy is mentally tough and resilient. When pressure mounts, she stays cool.
There is never any pressure to do, go, get or buy. In fact, we both can drive Benzes and certainly we can afford “the house” – but she and I both agree, why?
Amy tolerates me listening to Hawaiian music every day. When I’m home that’s the music that we live our lives by … Aloha. The Hawaiian quilt she’s been working on for the past 18 months+ was started because I asked her to consider it. Amy didn’t start with a pillowcase. Nope, she started with a king-sized quilt of Hawaiian breadfruit (the traditional starting point for Hawaiian women – otherwise knows as the beginning).
Every morning we hug and kiss – and she always says, “have a good day, I’ll call you later.” And she does exactly that. She reaches out. Amy actually makes the whole process of “relating” easy. It’s void of fussy interaction. Amy sees the bright side of life and the glass is nearly full all the time.
She likes vintage Five-O, and even though she’s fair skinned (with red hair) she loves the beach, the hikes, the lava, and the Sandwich Islands as much as I do (this is our third trip and our fourth is planned for March of 2011).
Amy is everything I ever dreamed of in a mate. Our inner sanctum is our own. We respect that and each other. She doesn’t ever bandwagon when others kid me. In fact, she’s not too keen on people funning around to test our relationship.
I’m inspired being with her. My heart is lifted and my days (and nights) are brighter. When you add it up (Forrest Gump said it best): “we goes together like peas and carrots.”
Let’s answer why? Because I truly love Amy. Because I have her trust; she has mine.
Get this, I have the “relational license” to plan a secret wedding without her knowledge and know that she’ll say “yes.” How many women do you know that would be thrilled? I know of only one – and I am moved by that woman.
So, if you’re not doing anything on Christmas Eve, we’ve got lots of room in our palace and on the beach. BTO.
PS – I forgot to share the one item I didn’t snag and ship in advance: a strapless bra. I looked in her storage area but didn’t find one. This is a significant oversight, but I believe we can procure such a garment in town later this week.
PSS – do not call her, she’ll reach out in due time. Remember, this is a surprise.
If you ask the average college student about their career aspirations, you’ll hear a range of answers. Some of which are expected. On a rare occasion you’ll obtain an answer that is refreshingly honest – along the lines of, “I don’t know!”
When I have the opportunity to stand up and share my personal chapter and verse, I cut through the fluff, the pomp and the circumstance. My story is usually brief, “I was kicked out of UTK and now, after 11 years teaching at a college level, I’m making a difference. And no, I’m not enrolled in a work release program.”
College students of my era weren’t blessed with outsider views. Academia was the only view we witnessed on a daily basis. My 1984 collegiate window was small, inwardly focused and while optimistic, it was clouded because the real-world was blocked.
Looking in the rear view mirror – thousands of miles later, 78 speeding tickets later, five agencies later, five cities later … I know my life would have evolved differently had someone taken the opportunity to share their story. Ergo the reason I do so today.
Would life be different? Would my career path have changed courses? What if?
Given the opportunity, I stand up and share the good, the bad and the not-so-obvious. Had someone told me to define my “A Plan,” I would have chuckled because I didn’t have a “B Plan nor a C Plan.” I had a get-a-job-plan. Funny how life scares you into making decisions.
Ha! Sometimes the message hits home.
“Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.” Bertrand Russell
Did someone say, “SHARK!”
I’m excited that my work-related life is so challenging at times. Although I want to take a break and escape for an hour each day, I enjoy the fact that my desk holds it altogether … ha! Even when the world seems to be crashing around us, the universe continues moving. Take time to offer gratitude when the computer continues to work even though the platform has ceased to hold it.