New Year’s Resolutions in La Paz
I suppose it is fitting that I am ringing in the New Year in a city whose name translates to “The Peace.” I really hope that for my family, friends, and self, 2014 is a year of both peace and prosperity, though the latter is a rather ambiguous term that I would prefer to associate with happiness and contentment instead of the traditional materialistic meaning. I have transitioned to La Paz, Bolivia from Bhutan after an exhausting 5 days of traveling. I still feel jetlagged, tired, and of course, altitude sick, coming from Lima, Peru, which is basically at sea level. I’ve moved in with a family and am taking Spanish classes with the father for two weeks. So far, it’s been a less than appealing situation. I’ve been quibbling with him over money, feeling that he is way overcharging me for lessons, room, and partial board. I miss India and Bhutan dearly, there things were cheap and people housed and fed me for free. Even the poorest of farmers refused to take my money. I felt that I didn’t have to question the authenticity of these interactions and rather that people were helping me out of the goodness of their hearts. So far, I cannot say the same about Bolivia. I hope it changes once I get out of La Paz and into the countryside. Moreover, my homestay mom has been telling me various stories of how four people who lived with them at different times were all victims of the same scam: a fake tourist and fake police officer collude to rob them of all their belongings. Needless to say, I am nervous about going out alone around the city. I feel a bit trapped in the house and it’s almost reminiscent of my time in Tanzania where going out on the street alone was stressful. The adjustment has been a rough one as well because of the language barrier. It is strange and doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I almost feel more isolated here where I can understand some-most of what is said and respond in a somewhat limited capacity. It is extremely exhausting trying to decipher the words of rapid speakers and reply in broken Spanish 24/7. In contrast, in Tanzania, India, and Bhutan, I did not master Swahili, Hindi, or Dzongka respectively, so trying to listen and understand seemed fruitless and in some ways, I knew that I could tune it out. And while I know I missed out on a significant amount of the dialogue in this countries, I knew I could always try to default back to English. Simultaneously, however, it is exciting and empowering to be in a country where I can understand the street signs, hail a [radio] taxi, and bargain in the market with my limited language skills. I can make more small talk with the family than in many of my homestay situations in other countries, which should also feel more unifying. I guess only time will tell.
Despite the wonderful celebrations of Diwali in India and National Day in Bhutan, for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, this has been the most lonely holiday season I’ve ever experienced. Spending them in a low quality Indian hotel, navigating various airport connections, and a partying in a famous backpackers’ hostel in the massive and aloof city of La Paz respectively has made me miss my family and friends more than I could have imagined. Although I was surrounded by people on all occasions, they were not the people whom I love and value. In a room full of people, I felt inexplicably lonely and isolated. Thus, in terms of resolutions for 2014, I am really starting to understand what makes me happy. I now know more than ever that I enjoy spending time with loved ones and people who have similar values, interests, and aspirations in life. In contrast, I have spent some time with backpackers, albeit limited, and I realize how much I don’t see eye to eye with them. I am not bouncing around various party hostels getting drunk every night with other foreigners or taking organized buses to the most popular tourist hotspots. In contrast, I enjoy and want to spend time with families and immerse myself in the nuances of the local culture, preferably in rural settings. Thus my resolutions include wanting to dig even more deeply into my project and the various cultures if that’s possible. I want to spend less time on social media and more time in real conversation. I want to exercise regularly, eat better, sleep more and just generally take care of myself – my body and my mental wellbeing. After all this exposure to Buddhism, I should know that happiness comes from within and is all about attitude. Even though La Paz has felt like anything but home over the last four days and it’s been nothing but rain, I am hopeful that if I just try to apply a more positive mindset, then things will improve.
And to wrap up this post, I will share some inspirational and fun quotations from a list-serve email I recently received:
“Happy New Year! Time to make 2014 the stuff of legends
This is it. Your moment is here.
All it takes is a little inspiration and motivation to go after what you want. Try it this year. We’ll cheer you on every step of the way. In fact we’ll start right now:
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” (Confucius)
“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” (Ayn Rand)
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” (Coco Chanel)
“The more I think about it, the more I realize there is nothing more artistic than to love others.” (Vincent Van Gogh)
"Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn." (Harriet Beecher Stowe)
“Life is very interesting… in the end, some of your greatest pains, become your greatest strengths.” (Drew Barrymore)
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. (Harriet Tubman)
Here’s one more quote to sweeten your day: “You’re only human. You live once and life is wonderful, so eat the damned red velvet cupcake.” (Emma Stone)”
Here are also some New Year’s resolutions related to sustainable food from Food Tank – The Food Think Tank, based in Chicago:
“As we enter 2014, there are still nearly one billion people suffering from hunger. Simultaneously, 65 percent of the world's population live in countries where obesity kills more people than those who are underweight. But these are problems that we can solve and there's a lot to be done in the new year!
2014 was declared the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Food Tank is honored and excited to be collaborating with FAO around highlighting how farmers are more than just food producers--they're teachers, innovators, entrepreneurs, environmental stewards, and change-makers!
And negotiations are continuing around the new Sustainable Development Goals that will replace the Millennium Development Goals. It's our hope that the new goals will help not only reduce hunger and poverty, but find ways to improve nutrient density and improve farmers' livelihoods.
In addition, the issue of food loss and food waste is gaining ground thanks to the U.N.'s Zero Hunger Challenge, which calls for zero food waste, as well as the good work of many organizations including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Feeding the 5000, the U.N. Environment Programme, and WastedFood.com who are showing eaters, businesses, and policy-makers solutions for ending waste in the food system.
And youth are taking the lead in pushing for a more sustainable food system. Young people like Edward Mukiibi, who is helping Slow Food International's 1,000 Garden in Africa's program gain momentum. In addition, the Young Professionals for Agriculture Research and Development (YPARD) is helping connect agronomists, farmers, researchers, and activists around the world. Food Tank will also be announcing some exciting work around mobilizing youth in 2014!
Through concrete action, hope and success in the food system is possible.
As Nelson Mandela said, “sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great.”
Together we can be that generation and find solutions to nourish both people and the planet!
Here are 14 food resolutions for 2014:
1. Meet Your Local Farmer
Know your farmer, know your food (KYF2) aims to strengthen local and regional food systems. Meeting your local farmer puts a face to where your food comes from and creates a connection between farmers and consumers.
2. Eat Seasonal Produce
By purchasing local foods that are in season, you can help reduce the environmental impact of shipping food. And your money goes straight to the farmer, supporting the local economy.
3. End Food Waste
More than 1.3 billion tons of edible food is wasted each year. Tips to reduce waste include planning meals ahead, buying ‘ugly’’ fruits and vegetables, being more creative with recipes, requesting smaller portions, composting, and donating excess food.
4. Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
Many diseases are preventable, including obesity, yet 1.5 billion people in the world are obese or overweight. Promote a culture of prevention by engaging in physical activity and following guidelines for a healthy diet. Gaps in food governance must also be addressed to encourage healthy lifestyles, including junk food marketing to children.
5. Commit to Resilience in Agriculture
A large portion of food production is used for animal feed and biofuels--at least one-third of global food production is used to feed livestock. And land grabs are resulting in food insecurity, the displacement of small farmers, conflict, environmental devastation, and water loss. Strengthening farmers' unions and cooperatives can help farmers be more resilient to food prices shocks, climate change, conflict, and other problems.
6. Eat (and Cook) Indigenous Crops
Mungbean, cow pea, spider plant...these indigenous crops might sound unfamiliar, but they are grown by small-holder farmers in countries all over the world. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that approximately 75 percent of the Earth’s genetic resources are now extinct, and another third of plant biodiversity is predicted to disappear by the year 2050. We need to promote diversity in our fields and in our diets!
7. Buy (or Grow) Organic
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that at least one pesticide is in 67 percent of produce samples in the U.S. Studies suggest that pesticides can interfere with brain development in children and can harm wildlife, including bees. Growing and eating organic and environmentally sustainable produce we can help protect our bodies and natural resources.
8. Go Meatless Once a Week
To produce 0.45 kilograms (one pound) of beef can require 6,810 liters (1,799 gallons) of water and 0.45 kilograms (one pound) of pork can require 2,180 liters (576 gallons) of water. Beef, pork, and other meats have large water footprints and are resource intensive. Consider reducing your "hoofprint" by decreasing the amount and types of meat you consume.
In Michael Pollan’s book “Cooked,” he learns how the four elements-fire, water, air, and earth-transform parts of nature into delicious meals. And he finds that the art of cooking connects both nature and culture. Eaters can take back control of the food system by cooking more and, in the process, strengthen relationships and eat more nutritious--and delicious--foods.
10. Host a Dinner Party
It’s doesn’t have to be fancy, just bring people together! Talk about food, enjoy a meal, and encourage discussion around creating a better food system. Traveling in 2014 and craving a homemade meal? For another option try Meal Sharing and eat with people from around the world.
11. Consider the ‘True Cost’ Of Your Food
Based on the price alone, inexpensive junk food often wins over local or organic foods. But, the price tag doesn’t tell the whole story. True cost accounting allows farmers, eaters, businesses, and policy makers to understand the cost of all of the "ingredients" that go into making fast food--including antibiotics, artificial fertilizers, transportation, and a whole range of other factors that don't show up in the price tag of the food we eat.
12. Democratize Innovation
Around the world, farmers, scientists, researchers, women, youth, NGOs, and others are currently creating innovative, on-the-ground solutions to various, interconnected global agriculture problems. Their work has the great potential to be significantly scaled up, broadened, and deepened—and we need to create an opportunity for these projects to get the attention, resources, research, and the investment they need.
13. Support Family Farmers
The U.N. FAO has declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming, honoring the more than 400 million family farms in both industrialized and developing countries, defined as farms who rely primarily on family members for labour and management. Family farmers are key players in job creation and healthy economies, supplying jobs to millions and boosting local markets, while also protecting natural resources.
14. Share Knowledge Across Generations
Older people have challenges--and opportunities--in accessing healthy foods. They're sharing their knowledge with younger generations by teaching them about gardening and farming, food culture, and traditional cuisines. It’s also important to make sure that older people are getting the nutrition they need to stay active and healthy for as long as possible.
You can share this awesome list with friends and family by following this link: http://foodtank.org/news/2013/12/fourteen-food-resolutions-to-bring-in-the-new-year?utm_source=Food+Tank%3A+The+Food+Think+Tank&utm_campaign=aa0d51d624-14+Resolutions&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c6d5c4b977-aa0d51d624-12452989
Sunset over Holland from Alitalia airlines
Welcome to Juliaca, Peru!
"Your smile decorates my day"
First views of Lake Titicaca
At the border between Peru and Bolivia in the town of Desaguadero
Welcome to Peru...except we were going towards Bolivia ;)
Woke up to the breathtaking views of La Paz from my hotel window
"I wish that everyone smiles and is happy"
One of the many incredible murals sprinkled throughout La Paz
My homestay brother with alpacas in the city
My visit to "Moon Valley"
With my homestay brother Jose
Spirit of the Andes
Jose and I :)
Care for your planet
Cholitas and angry birds...
"La Paz: the force of the revolution, example of transformation"