Tuesday, January 14, 2014


“The bleached, gassed, and colored remnants of the life-giving grains are roasted, toasted, frosted with sugar, embalmed with chemical preservatives, and stuffed into a box much larger than its contents. Fantastic amounts of energy are wasted by sales and advertising departments to sell these half-empty boxes of dead food – money-back coupons, whistles, and toy guns are needed to induce…women to lift these half-empty boxes off supermarket shelves. [take them home and feed the contents to their children].”  William Dufty, Sugar Blues, 1975

     I get real nervous when I see a baby reaching for Cheerios. I get shivers when I see that baby putting Cheerios into his/her innocent mouth. Moms are proud to announce Baby’s First Cheerios on their blogs like it’s some sort of development milestone. Apparently, General Mills has been promoting Cheerios’ cute little donuts as a good transitional food for baby from baby food to solid food.
     Recently, General Mills announced that Cheerios would be GMO free. To quote Forbes: “The move was relatively easy. Cheerios are primarily oats, and there are no GMO oats. The comparatively small amounts of sugar and cornstarch in the mix required nothing more than a switch from beet sugar to non-GMO sources.”
     But GMOs are not the only reason to not eat Cheerios. Or any other refined breakfast cereal.
     Cheerios are dead food. In fact, the whole row of breakfast cereals in garish boxes going down your grocer’s aisle are dead unless they still contain whole oats, steel cut oats or a true whole grain (even if the box says WHOLE GRAIN, it’s not) that has NOT gone through the process of extrusion, that is, the forcing of the breakfast cereal mud through the molds that turn the slush into miniature donuts, fish, charms, or flakes. Extrusion requires a high heat that kills any nutrient left in the grain, including the artificial vitamins added, which the human body cannot process anyway. Good riddance. Moms, your baby, who desperately NEEDS real food in order to develop and grow, is NOT getting fortified with vitamins.
     The worst thing about dead food is that it doesn’t just fill you up and make you feel good for a while and then get chucked out of your body via your natural elimination process. Nope. The worst thing about dead food is that your body has a hard time digesting it, if it can digest it at all. Dead food that does not get eliminated, gets dumped into the body as fat or something worse, tumors.
     No, I take that back, the worst thing about dead food is that it takes from your body. Yes, your adult body. But, taking nutrients from the body is especially dangerous when talking about growing children and babies.
     You’ve heard the jokes, “You’re better off eating the box!” Well, unpublished studies have been done wherein the rats that ate the cereal box actually lived longer than the rats that ate the cereal. In fact, before they died, the cereal-eating rats became weirdly vicious, acting out in strange violent tantrums against each other. Sound familiar?
     We all know by now that breakfast cereals have a lot of added sugar in them. Studies have been done about sugar that have told us sugar takes nutrients from the body. Again, anecdotal and unofficial - People who have been lost and forced to eat candy bars or toothpaste have been much less healthy when found than people who only drank water. Dr. Lindsey Duncan ranks sugar up there with drugs and alcohol as taking nutrition from the body: “Overall, I’ve been studying, researching, practicing and living nutrition for the past 30 years, and if you asked me to pick 3 things that destroy and age the human body faster than anything else on the planet they would be: 1) Sugar 2) Prescription & Recreational Drugs and 3) Alcohol.  And the reason why is because they rob you of your life force, of your nutrition, of your immunity, your positivity and your overall wellbeing.  They are the ultimate thieves in the night!”
     Now, think of that when your baby reaches for Cheerios! I think about it.
     What can we do?
     Well, a baby should be eating Mama’s milk until being weaned on to soft baby food. Baby food has to be the easiest thing in the world to make. I made my own baby food. I began with brown rice cream. Brown rice made with four times the water, then blended till smooth enough for a baby with no teeth. I made enough for two days. My daughter was nearly two years old when I weaned her. I also made green vegetables and other vegetables (organic, when possible) by boiling the veggies in spring water until soft (maybe 4-10 minutes depending on the vegetable), then blending the veggies with the cooking water until smooth enough for baby. Thus, baby is getting fresh, warm nutritional food with every meal.
     As for adults, like baby, we should be eating real food. I like organic eggs for breakfast, but many macros eat brown rice cream, miso soup, green vegetables, tofu omelets, really the variety can be endless.
     I stopped eating flour products years ago. Again, dead food. The occasional cookie, pancakes, bread, scone or muffin won’t do too much harm, if you really need to eat baked goods, but the only nutrition is coming from the milk, butter, eggs, that are added to the recipe. Milled grain begins to lose its nutritional value immediately after being broken down. If you want to get real food value out of your whole wheat, you can buy a hand grinder for anywhere from $28.00, $128, to $1,200. I wish I had a photo of my dearest friend, Joan, as she clamped her stainless steel hand grinder on to our kitchen table, sat down, planted one barefoot and ground ONE CUP OF FLOUR for her recipe! I think it took her 5 minutes. And, we got as much nutrition as we possibly could from the wheat berries she ground. Plus her loving human energy added to the food! Real food, real love!

     I also have a personal theory about flour products and all baked goods. After many years of macrobiotics, I suspect baked foods, or as Michio Kushi used to call them, (I can hear his accent, plain as ever, emphasizing HARD!) “HARD BAKED foods” of causing some cancers. Cancers in particular that form in the lower parts of the body, and, often, in the smaller organs like the cervix and the prostate. Scientists do not even consider what macros know about the quality of the energy of the food effecting the human body, as in "hard baked." Again, only my humble informed opinion after years of observation.
     What can we do?
     The human body needs a balance of foods that grow up and foods that grow down, like leafy greens and whole grains (up) and root vegetables (down). Science will never believe this idea. The closest they will come to recognizing the dangers of hard baked foods is saying, “Keep hydrated.” Yes, hard baked foods are very dehydrating. And, dehydration is very sneaky. It has many, many symptoms, some very serious, and yet, dehydration is so simple to solve. Drinking water is not enough. You have to begin by not getting dehydrated in the first place. Balance is the only way. Whole foods that grow up and down.
     How did I get here from babies eating Cheerios?
     Simple! Dead food. Sugar. Hard baked foods. Dehydration.
     Your baby sucked dry of nutrients. I could say, “Cheerio!”

     But, it’s not funny.

©Patricia Goodwin, 2014

Patricia Goodwin is the author of several books of poetry, and two historical thrillers, When Two Women Die and its sequel, Dreamwater. She has enjoyed the macrobiotic lifestyle for 40 years and has written many articles about GMOs and food. Please visit patriciagoodwin.com to read these articles and see other work, including videos of events and poetry.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What Roses Taught Me

Something about the sun stopping
to light up one side of the yellow flesh
now shriveled up, the orange and scarlet lips
now crisp at petal’s edge

Yes, it was the sun catching as it did
the yellow to make bright glow
the sun was Mama, she said, Yes, I bless this yellow with my light
this grandchild who took these yellow roses (Mama’s favorite flower)
from my grave

and brought them home

(nieces and sisters-in-law took pinks away)

I learned as my stolen yellow roses too, dried
from Mama’s sweet, plump flesh to crackling petals and lips
lined as the desert sucking life from their tenderness
as yellow lit up everything else
and softly glowed with acceptance
Mama’s light told me, “Here is my special affection for you
here is my yellow glow
here I am, this yellow

and, I am there with grandchild

with niece and nephews,
with aunt and sisters-in-law
(I glow pink with them)

and with brother, who took no roses
but his memory of my kiss

with daughter, who nursed me
I died in her arms

with grandson who brought trays and trays of sweet pastries
to make everyone happy

that’s what I wanted!

I am laughing in Heaven with my husband, in the pulsating blue sky.”

What roses taught me
when the dried yellow twinkled back at me
the deep folds of her love held together now
with the desert’s last drop of moisture

was simply this

she glowed yellow as the sun
but she did not love me alone

Gemini, chameleon
She would shift her colors with abandon
blithely throwing off one for the other
perfectly merging
perfectly immersed
I watched helpless to hold her to me

she belonged to everyone she loved and lighted

she loved us all.

©Patricia Goodwin, 2013

Patricia Goodwin is the author of When Two Women Die and Dreamwater. She includes her mother, Lena in each book - in WTWD Lena is a caretaker, in Dreamwater, a very cute, noisy baby. Patricia gave her mother's red curls to her character, Rosie Low, mother of the pirate, Ned Low.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Adore: Trapped in Paradise

(Spoiler alert!)

One of my favorite scenes in Anne Fontaine’s film, Adore, is when Saul, Lil’s (Naomi Watts) dogging admirer, shows up uninvited and unannounced at her home. Roz (Robin Wright) is there. Saul is trying to have an intimate conversation with Lil, who has been avoiding both Saul and his affection for the whole film. There’s a stunning moment after Saul declares his undying love, when the two women, who have been friends all their lives, simply look at each other. No words are exchanged. The two actresses carry the communication off perfectly. Their eyes lock, then move, then move again, ever so slightly. As someone who has had that kind of communication, I was thrilled. And, I was thrilled again by Saul’s reaction. “Oh, I see! So, that’s how it is!” Saul’s undying love promptly dies. The two women are grateful to be mistaken for lesbians, considering what’s really going on, and they allow Saul to keep his misconception. They have a good laugh at his expense. (I also love the way Naomi pronounces “Saul.” Her attitude has such a lovely sneer to it.)

For me, that silent moment between the women defines the film.

Saul just doesn’t get it. In fact, no one does. Except the four people involved.

Let’s just put the sex aside for a moment. Even before the boys were grown, the four people, Lil and her son, Ian, Roz and her son, Tom, are in their own world. Another great silent scene shows the four standing together in their mourning clothes after Lil’s husband dies. Roz’s husband is looking on from the window as the two women and their sons mourn quietly together, gazing out at the endless blue sea which is their great comfort zone, symbolized by the raft to which they all continuously swim where they can float and simply be.

The film begins with Lil and Roz as little girls, bursting with life, breathlessly giddy with running and then swimming effortlessly to this raft, where they have a stash of treasures, one of which is a flask of liquor. There, the two little girls drink of the forbidden alcohol and get a bit high on the day and on themselves.

That’s it. They are high on themselves.

It’s happened before. Blue Lagoon. Again, sex aside - remember the part where the two young parents decide to turn their backs on the rescuing ship and return to their island life with their new baby? In Out of Africa, where natives said that white people went quite mad from the altitudes of Kenya, the expats created their own kingdom. Cheri – why, oh, why couldn’t Lea and Cheri just be together? I mean, as a prostitute, Lea lived in an alternate reality where she could have made her own rules. No, instead, the prostitutes pretended they were respectable. It simply wasn’t done. Cheri had to marry and Lea had to be alone. Right, that worked.

In real life -The Brontës had it. The Alcotts had it.

Of course, having it means that you cannot exist outside of it. The air outside of the small kingdom by the sea in Adore is not breathable for the four main characters. They tried it. Thinking they should, two young men actually broke out of their dream life, went out into the “real world” and married women their own age. The part of the film I hate ensues – I like to call it – the monkeys. I fast-forward through monkeys. (Like Julie and Julia – anything that’s not about Julia Child’s life is about the monkeys. I fast-forward through it. They should have just made a biography of Julia Child. But, I digress.)

Now, let’s talk about the sex. Here’s where most people bring their own children into the discussion. Why? “I would never do such a thing!” Of course you wouldn’t and you’re missing the point. You and your children are not in this story.

At the risk of being too simplistic - Sex is a natural part of the natural life. I could watch this movie all day if these healthy, beautiful characters only ate and drank, laughed and danced, swam and surfed, and slept chastely. I am a voyeur of life. The sex is a part of that. But, no more important to me than the whole natural way of life portrayed in the film, a way of life – sans sex with a friend’s son - I would adore.

Adore is a heightened reality. The cinematography portrays a sunny, stunningly blue world. The air is brightly fair or misty blue. Critics have wondered if the raft is symbolic of the womb. Sure, if you could stay in the womb. I think the raft is a symbol of their isolation. For me, the ocean is a sort of womb that you can stay in. The ocean creates the life they live. Surfing alone is an insular life in which surfers must concentrate their entire beings around the waves; they must become one with the ocean in order to ride its back successfully. The four are creatures of the natural world and cannot leave it for long, except for short bursts of work. (The Brontës also suffered when they left each other for the outside world. The Alcotts brought choice persons from the outside world into their inner one.) Lil and her son work at a yachting company. Roz runs an art gallery. Tom is a director of plays. By the way, in reality, those are the jobs that are in paradise! Some critics have also suggested that the four need to “grow up,” “move on,” “get with the program.” Ah, no, actually that’s the point. They have already arrived. The four are in Heaven. There’s nowhere else to go. When Roz’s husband wants her to put paradise behind to follow him to his new job in Sydney, he feels he is a traitor. “No one thinks that, Harold!” is her reply. But, she and her son simply cannot leave.

There's also a bit of The Garden of Eden to the situation, like Eve and her sons. Or Mount Olympus, two goddesses discussing the "young gods" they have created.

The only thing I don’t understand is the title. Yes, the two women adore their sons. And, the sons also adore both their mothers and their respective lovers. However, I don’t get the feeling that their adoration is absolute. I think they all have a very clear knowledge of who they are and who their sons and lovers are, faults, weaknesses, strengths, fears, et al.

They all adore paradise.

I think they also know, deep in their hearts, without speaking it, that the four of them are trapped in paradise, as exemplified by the very last scene when all four are stretched out, floating on the raft without relaxing, without smiling, without touching.

Patricia Goodwin is the author of Dreamwater, a thrilling novel in which people who live by the sea try to achieve their dreams.

Note: This author did not refer to the Doris Lessing short story, The Grandmothers, upon which the film, Adore is supposedly based. She wanted to write about Adore on its own.