Archive for the ‘Fair Trade’ Category

Your Food Supply #5


Concina Linda Works with Local Farmers

Your Food Supply #1.2: You’re Kidding, Right?


Do you know how many different cows are in one hamburger?
Feed Lots in Kansas, USA
Question #1: When you are eating a hamburger, you’re not eating beef from one cow, you’re eating a beef mixture from how many cows? Let us know your answer and we’ll tell you after we get 20 responses.

Question #2: Why do you think there is a hedgerow of trees along the feedlot bordering the highway?

A North American Feedlot, Kansas

Your Food Supply #1


The first in a series of video posts about Your Food Supply

#1 The Trip West: An Experiential Rude Awakening
By Randy and Amanda Richards

This was Amanda’s first trip across the U.S., so we thought we’d drive. Destination? Colorado, where we would house-sit for a fellow Mountain Spirit board member. We thought we’d stay off the interstates, instead, crossing rural routes, starting  with Indiana Route 24, then Missouri Route 36 west of Macon.  Shortly after departing we decided to listen to The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a book on tape by Michael Pollan.

Want to know what's in your food?

As we traveled through Indiana, Missouri, and then Kansas, the book narrated our trip with views of tightly packed cornfields, and more corn, and then more corn. It turns out, about the only thing the U.S. is growing  is corn, at least from what we saw.  Sure there are apples in Washington, and spinach, avocados etc, in California, but in the Midwest, there’s corn, and a lot of it. We did see some soybean fields, but nothing much else than corn.  We certainly didn’t see many pastoral scenes of cows grazing on open pastures. But we did see lots and lots of corn. As we listened to Pollan’s book, we were shocked to learn where all this corn is ending up in the food supply, plus how many bushels per acre of corn the farmers were squeezing out of the land. Read his book for the stark details of our homogenized food supply, and as you do, imagine seeing it in front of your eyes, passing by the window of your car. It was eery for us.  I’ve driven across the U.S. probably over 45 or 50 times, and each time I’ve felt grateful to do so, and very cognizant of my impact by doing so.

I won’t go into detail about all we learned in Pollan’s book. Buy his book. However, one of the major topics he covered was how corn is not only a food, but a commodity, that is in almost all our food in a wide variety of forms. Corn drives the modern industrial food machine, being sent to beef feedlots where cows are forced to eat corn. Grass is their natural diet. Monsanto’s Roundup Ready genetically Modified Corn was another scary thing we learned about, plus how our farmers are forced work for fewer and fewer dollars, while ADM and the other monopolies make the money.

So starts our video series, rows and rows of corn, somewhere in Kansas on Route 36, but it could be anywhere in the Midwest. Stay tuned for Your Food Supply #2,  for a feedlot and processing plant scene west of Dodge City Kansas, which may shock you.

“Your Food Supply” Blog Series


Coming soon: New series of blog posts  will open your eyes.
Keep an eye out for a new series of video and text posts starting here in a few days. We think you’ll like it.
We’ve just traveled across the U.S.A,  listening to an Omnivore’s Dilemma by Micheal Pollan. It was experiential education at its best, and a sobering experience.

What’s more it led to some great footage and interviews here in Durango, CO with local farmers and restaurateurs.
Stay tuned for this informative series of blog posts on your food supply.

America’s World View


The U.S. citizens’ perspective of the world might not be quite as bad as depicted in this map, but I feel it may be close. While although “we are all one”, and Americans have the best of intentions, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

In a recent NPR interview, a few large truck and SUV drivers were asked if there were any connection to their driving habits and the Gulf oil spill, and, did they feel any remorse. They said “no”, they still needed “to get to work, and deliver the farm goods”.  We’re all part of this problem, even the Amish, most of  who don’t drive. They still need and send deliveries sent by truck.  As Tolle asks, “Are you cleaning up the mess or contributing to the problem?

Back to the American perspective. This map illustrates the longstanding isolation and provincial perspective that seems unique to the USA. Just across the border in Quebec, the world view is, more worldly. The U.S. is  a young country full of many, but not all, who still think we’re on top of the world. It’s understandable. Our continent stands alone, our controlled media* and corporatocracy has perpetuated a tunnel vision for many years that is catching up to us. This narrow vision that has been sold to us,  effects not only our global view, but our environmental abuse, and our imperialistic tendencies.

At Mountain Spirit Institute, our mission is to broaden the American perspective. See our programs on Peru and the USA/Peruvian Music Exchange where a bit of Peru was brought into the schools and communities in the Northern U.S.

What do you think about this map? We invite your comments.
*“Cause when they own the information Oh, they can bend it all they want”. John Mayer
Thanks to Amanda Richards for sending this map my way. She was a little apprehensive about my posting this, but I thought, “Heck, our readers have a good sense of humor”.

Ausangate Traditions and Weavings


Weavers: Willoc, Peru

Dr. Andrea Heckman an expert on Quechua weavings, will show a documentary film at the South American Explorers Club in Cusco, Peru on Thursday June 10th at 7 p.m.  The film tells the story of Quechua villagers near the sacred peak of Ausangate.

Set against a backdrop of high Andean lakes and mountains, it shows a harsh existence but also a deep interconnectedness with the natural forces and their ritual relationships to the mountain, revealed in various festivals, weaving and other traditions.

If you’re in Cusco, and want see the film, contact the SAE in Cusco.

Meatless Mondays hit South America


Guevara's Granddaugther for PETA

In the last few years, interesting graffiti has been popping up through out South America. “Vegan Straightedge” and “Vegan Revolution” can be found on street corners if one searches. It’s a fascinating movement and even more intriguing that it is spreading through South America.

“Meatless Mondays” have caught on in the United States and may be making a jump down south. Che Guevara’s granddaughter (left) showed her support for the cause last year by posing for a PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, ad.

Image: The granddaughter of Cuban revolutionary leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara is at the forefront of another revolution — for vegetarianism. Read more..

Fake Accounting, Greed and Oil


By John Perkins
Sent by email, also published in the Huffington Post

John Perkins

While countries around the world continue to watch their economies collapse, and Goldman-Sachs leaders testify to Congress about how they manipulated both their shareholders and the American public, we are also faced with a tragic oil spill on our most fragile coastlines.
The sad truth is that oil, greed and fake accounting work hand in hand to empower those who have — and significantly disempower those who do not.
In my book, Hoodwinked I talk about the 30,000 Ecuadorians who filed a lawsuit against Texaco (since purchased by Chevron). The company destroyed vast sections of rain forest and the toxic wastes from its operations allegedly killed many people and made many more chronically sick. (more…)

Excellent Book on Peruvian Textiles


Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands

Handwoven Fabrics: Living History
Handwoven fabrics are the living history and cultural treasure of the Peruvian Highlands. The weavers who create these extraordinary textiles are the keepers of the culture and sustainers of a noble but difficult lifestyle in tune with the earth.  This book, Weaving in the Peruvian Andes celebrates their authentic, well-crafted work by showing varied and distinctive styles of traditional clothing, the basics of how fabric is created from spinning to dyeing to weaving,  the way traditional crafts are passed from one generation to another, the names and meaning of the myriad textile designs that reflect the culture and history of the people, and the rituals and celebrations in which woven fabrics play such an important role.

N.C. Alvarez

Author Nilda Callañaupa Alverez is founder and director of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco. She has established weaving associations through the Andean highlands to preserve a tradition of handmade textiles and to promote economic development. She lives in Cusco and in her native community of Chinchereo, Peru.

All proceeds from the sale of the book benefit the Center of Traditional Textiles of Cusco.

Mountain Spirit Institute focuses on weaving during our educational programs in Peru.  Learn more at

MSI Updates Fair Trade Webpage


Boots from Peru

Handmade Peruvian boots and textiles have been added to Mountain Spirit Institute’s Fair Trade Webpage.  In addition,  easy-to-use checkout and “Add to Cart” buttons have been added. This webpage and sales are a fundraiser for this non-profit organization.

Handmade Peruvian Textiles

MSI has lowered the prices of all smaller sized boots to $80.00, and custom-made boots will be the same price as generic except for the cost-share of shipping from Peru by DHL.

All of Mountain Spirit Institute’s  products are sold with the original producers in mind, and are purchased and sold with fair trade practices.