(Arifa, a single mother of three children, and a garment worker I met while traveling in Bangladesh)
One moment Reshma Begum was sewing. The next she was falling from her station on the second floor into the basement of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Savar, Bangladesh.
She lost consciousness. She awoke to cries of help that gradually silenced. Her clothes were shredded, everything was dark, and her hair was stuck in the rubble. She ripped her hair free and scavenged the dark crevices on her hands and knees finding four crackers, a small bottle of water, and the occasional puddle to quench her thirst. She probed her surroundings with a pipe for pockets of air.
Earth Day marks the second anniversary of the first edition of WHERE AM I EATING? Writing a book on the global food economy opened my eyes to the impact man and agriculture have made on Earth. Here are three stats from the book that every American should know:
The ecological footprint of an average American is 23.6 acres. That means we consume what 23.6 acres of our planet can produce. If all 6.5 billion earthlings were Americans, we’d need five planets!
One American consumes as much as 32 Kenyans.
According to Jared Diamond, the bestselling author of Collapsed, if the world were made up of all Americans, it would be as if we shared the planet with 72 billion people.
And in case we don’t get our shit together and start lessoning our impact on our planet, here is a video John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight team put together to mark the end of our species and planet. [Warning: You could be sucked into a vacuum of cat videos]
“What do you think about this new law in Indiana?” The man in the white hat asked.
I was on mile 9 of the Charlottesville half-marathon. And although I had spent much of the previous week speaking about the RFRA law my home state had passed and even more time dealing with people boycotting the state (and an organization I’m a part of), I did not want to talk politics.
You know, I really don’t like to talk politics with strangers at any point in time, but most definitely not while I’m running up a hill during a half-marathon for which I only ran five training runs. Another runner near me wasn’t sure what the man…
“I wish I could do better by you,
’cause that’s what you deserve
You sacrifice so much of your life
In order for this to work.
While I’m off chasing my own dreams
Sailing around the world
Please know that I’m yours to keep
My beautiful girl”
- City and Colour
I’m in Northfield, MN, 636 miles from Muncie. Tomorrow I’ll stand on a stage and share my stories with a few hundred students at Carleton College. None of it would be possible without the girl.
I could be the King of Sap and rule over Sapland with all of my sappiness, but I try to avoid that. Annie is “the girl” for me and she knows it. She allows me to chase my dreams, sail around the world, and I’ll always be hers….
These are my winter/spring dates so far. A few other events are pending. If you are nearby, stop in and say hi. I’ll buy you a beverage of your choice unless there are like 15 of you and then, well, I’ll sit beside you.
I’m going back to college! Well, at least for a week. I’ll be chatting at and with students each night, and I’ll be living among them. Fingers crossed that I get my own bathroom. I still suffer nightmares involving the bathroom in my freshman dorm. I’ll be talking about both of my books, how I got started, the Facing Project, and about the Axis of Awesome.
Who wants to go to Costa Rica? Yep, like everyone.
This summer I’ll be joining a Ball State Class from May 21-28 to visit banana, pineapple, coffee, and cocoa farms in addition to just soaking up all that Costa Rica has to offer. The class is a Summer I program and will include a few weeks of class using my books WHERE AM I WEARING and WHERE AM I EATING as the course texts.
Seriously, this is like the best class ever.
The last time I was in Costa Rica, I spent all of my time working on a banana plantation and visiting with banana workers. I met some great people, but there is so much of Costa Rica I didn’t get to explore. So…come and explore it…
Gone are the mid-decade milestones: the 16s, the 21s, and the 25s (rental car). Now it’s all about the decades, until social security, which will be at least 67, but probably later.
I used to tell my Grandpa Wilt that I graduated college and then retired. That I was living life backwards and traveling while I was full of questions, curiosity, energy, and the capability to sit and stand in one place on buses, planes, and boats for obscene amounts of time.
And when I was working, I was SCUBA diving. I joked that I was going…
In her book Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety, Marion Nestle refers to the current food regulatory system in the United States as “breathtaking in its irrationality: 35 separate laws administered by 12 agencies housed in 6 cabinet-level departments.”
Nestle calls the fact that more of us aren’t dropping over with food-borne illnesses “nothing less than miraculous, a tribute more to our immune systems, the benefits of cooking and food preservation, and plain good luck than to federal oversight.”
Our food system is a mess. Don’t even get me started on imported food. We inspect barely 2% of the food that enters our country. Organic anything from China is laughable. So, something needs to change.
President Obama’s new 2016 $4 trillion federal budget seeks to address this:
Last week I was the guest-in-residence at the University of Illinois’ Allen Hall. In other words, I lived in a dorm.
The last time I moved into a dorm was half my life ago. I turn 36 on Friday, and I was 18 on my last move-in-day. On that day, Mom and Dad moved me into a quad with three other guys. It was cozy, if not awkwardly tight. Our beds nearly touched when we pulled them out of the wall.
That year I played my first drinking game and attended my first frat party. I politely turned down my first joint. I walked in a herd with fellow freshmen because that’s what freshmen did….
I was driving the family to South Haven, Michigan, for a family vacation when the right side of the world disappeared. It just gradually faded away to nothingness. I decided it would be best if Annie drove.
I sat in the passenger seat, closed my eyes and imagined all the ways I was going to die. Surely it was a stroke. If not that, then an air bubble from the time I got the bends while SCUBA diving had broken loose and was about to kill me.
And then it got better and we were on the beach in Michigan in August, which means we were wearing sweatshirts…