A Great Quote

I watched Tony Robbins speak on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday — and he said a beautiful thing:

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There is also a documentary about him on Netflix. It’s called “I AM NOT YOUR GURU”. I recommend checking him out. He really inspires me, and I hope to meet him someday.

Tony teaches us to follow our passions, to be strong, to be hopeful and to just get off our buts and do something!

Thank you, Tony

 

 

Peace Photos from Europe

I’ve been back to Toronto for almost a month after my amazing two-month journey through Europe. Today I thought I’d share some signs of peace I found along the way — While I was in Geneva, there was a photo exhibit at the Palais des Nations showing people standing up for their basic human rights around the world. In some of the photos, it was obvious that people are longing for peace, especially in countries where human rights are not upheld (the captions are included are those that I found on the plaques underneath the photos).

These photos may not cheer you up — they may even make you a bit sad. I don’t want you to be sad, though :). I’m just trying to show what is out there in the world and give a voice to the voiceless through my writing and documentation. At the end of the post, you will see some happier peace photos.

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“Kurdish demonstrator in traditional outfit.” 

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“Demonstration for peace in Venezuela.” 

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“Global Day of Action against military expenditure.”

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“… two Palestinian mothers demanding the release of their sons and 4,750 other prisoners.”

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“Demonstration by Kurdish women who traveled from several European countries demanding their rights.”

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I met an awesome girl from Nice. She let me stay in her top-floor bachelor apartment in old Nice for a week. I walked in and saw this hanging from her low ceiling. 

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A Willy Wonka impersonator who ‘peaced me’ in Madrid. 

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This giant joker caught my attention – he was in Madrid – inside what looked like some kind of gambling place, I’m not sure. Nevertheless, he made me smile.  

 

Enough Food For Everyone

Hi Friends,

Nothing too grandiose or full of prose tonight.  I just wanted to share this 2013 video about world hunger  that’s “really on to something”. The video was created for the Enough Food For Everyone Campaign in Britain, which resulted in governments and industry pledging millions for global hunger. A great success! Three years later, though, hunger is a still a problem that needs to be solved. Perhaps my next post will cover my thoughts on how to solve hunger!

 

Lester B. Pearson: FAO Father & Peace Visionary

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is turning 70 this year. The organization is headquartered in Italy and has deep roots in the commitment to end global hunger and poverty. More than 190 countries are a part of this organization.

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While digging into the history of FAO, I came across Canada’s role in the founding of this organization — mainly through the leadership of Lester B. Pearson. I found a website called peace.ca and read up on Canada’s 14th prime minister. My heart tingled as I learned how he was/ is the only Canadian to have ever been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

Lester Pearson attended universities in Toronto before he began teaching history at the University of Toronto. In 1927, he began a career as a public servant though the Department of External Affairs as first secretary. For the next 20 years, he served mainly in Ottawa, although his special missions took him to other capitals throughout Canada.

In 1942, Pearson got involved with the United Nations as a member of the Canadian delegation to the Hot Springs Food Conference, which laid the foundation for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. In July 1943, he became Chairman of the United Nations Interim Commission on Food and Agriculture, which was appointed to prepare the plans for the permanent organization of FAO.

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Lester Pearson speaking at the first FAO conference held in Quebec City, Quebec, in October 1945.

70 years ago, in October of 1945, he was the Chairman of the first FAO conference in Quebec City, Canada. Pearson hosted many men from around the world who came together to lay the road for the very first United Nations agency in history.

Although Pearson was asked to be the first director general of the FAO, he is reported to have declined the position. While he enjoyed deliberations and bringing people together, agriculture was not the man’s utmost passion.  It seemed, rather, that Pearson’s path was that of a promoter of peace and justice, of countries working together, of harmonious international order and non-violent ways to solve conflict.

From 1948 – 1957, Pearson served as Canada’s foreign minister.  Pearson won the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1957 for organizing the United Nations Emergency Force to resolve the Suez Canal Crisis, which earned him the title of the father of modern peacekeeping.

And then Pearson was voted prime minister of Canada in 1963. During Pearson’s time as prime minister, his Liberal minority governments introduced universal health care, student loans, the Canada Pension Plan, the Order of Canada and the new flag of Canada. According to UN historical records, Pearson was “courteous, clear, and frank in his dealings with the press”. He was known to have loved reporters, and the reporters to have loved him.

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Lester Pearson. Photo: Vancouver Sun

Well, I won’t make this post too long. I’ve learned the Pearson wrote a book called Peace in the Family of Man (available online here) and I’m going to delve into the life of someone I now consider one of our greatest leaders and peace visionaries. Not only did Pearson advocate for international harmony, this leader also had a true gift for making it happen.

 

Peace and the 2015 State of Food Insecurity in the World Report

In 1948,the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) recognized the right to adequate food as a part of the right to a decent standard of living.

However, in 2015, it’s no secret that everyone around the world does not have access to enough food. Some would even say that even though some people have access to food, it’s not necessarily the right kinds of food, either.

This summer the Food and Agriculture Organization released the 2015 State of Food Insecurity in the World report. This report comes out every year and summarized the global situation when it comes to hunger and food security. It’s basically a report card on world hunger for the planet.

The numbers are out

Today, according to the report about 800 million people around the world are food insecure. That’s better than before; overall the percentage of those who are hungry is declining.

Yet, while the report points out how many of the developing countries have reached targets to reduce hungers, those countries also have stable political conditions and economic growth and policies and programs targeted to vulnerable population groups.

What does that mean?

It means that peace is important. The report uses the words “political stability” a lot, which I refer to as peace. It’s pointed out how food insecurity can both cause political problems and be a result of political unrest. For example, removing food subsidies can lead to increased food prices, which can cause civil unrest (which the report says happened in the Arab Spring in 2011 when government reduced subsides for bread).

In short

Food = happiness. Peace = happiness. There is enough food on the planet to feed all of us to today, yet to truly reach 0 hunger we also need to stop violence and political unrest.

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Foreign Policy and the 2015 Election in Canada

Today I’m watching the first debate with the four leaders of Canada’s major political parties, including the Prime Minister Stephen Harper. I was most interested in the part of foreign policy as I’ve always been passionate about international and humanitarian issues.

What “gets me” is the fact that most of the debate on foreign policy surrounds whether or not any Canadian government should be sending troops to combat. That seems to be the central question when it comes to foreign issues. And, yes, the leaders don’t all agree. One party leader says that a UN mandate is needed before sending troops afar, another says that not always. A few times the word “peacekeeping” has slipped out of the leaders’ mouths.

And it’s not just federal debates. When I went to look up foreign policy in a book I have on Canadian Politics (Canadian Politics in the 21st Century, Whittington and Williams, 6th edition), I found the words “Foreign policy, see also military policy”.

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My heart aches as I think of the people around the world being killed and hurt by their governments — by governments that have weapons and they use to control people with. How did we form a world like this, I ask myself. And when is military intervention necessary to protect innocent, trapped civilians?

These are undoubtedly important questions.

As this blog is about Food and Peace, I thought I should write a post about this. Of course peace to me is living in a state of freedom, a world where people don’t have to fear being shot or controlled. I also thought the topic of humanitarian assistance and international aid should have been covered during the debate. It was shocking that foreign policy revolves around the topic of military and combat, when it could revolve around assistance and peacekeeping efforts.

So where is the balance? What should we do?  I think that as a peacekeeping nation we should not be spending any money on efforts that involve weapons or warfare. But then, who losses in the short term?

I hope we do reach a world without war, a world with peace and love for one and other. Freedom and stability.

Here’s the link to the debate video if you are interested. The topic of foreign policy starts at about 1:26 (an hour and twenty-six minutes) into the debate.

Delicious Memories from Mexico

Today I’m thinking about the time I spent in Mexico this past April. The food was nothing short of delicious, but really what did I expect? I love Mexican cuisine — the spicy spices blended with the zest and freshness of lemons and limes. I attempted to seek out the most authentic food possible, yet even in places catered to tourists I felt I was being served the real thing. My experience surely expanded beyond tacos and nachos, even though I did eat tacos a few times. I’m brought back to a spicy fish taco dish I tried that was served with two kinds of salsa – one spicy and the other not. They were also served with a light beer, the perfect way to balance the spice and refresh in the Mexican sun.

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That was on the gorgeous Isla Mujeres, which is very close to Cancun – so close that you can catch a glimpse of the legendary city across the Caribbean Sea.

Isla Mujeres, Mexico

At a hotel I stayed at (really it was a bed in an open-air cabin) I had some really great food. I remember meeting this baker who was beaming with joy while busily kneading the dough for the breakfast bread. They served lovely yeast rolls with jam and dulce de leche – a caramel-like paste that is quite popular all around Central and South America.

The hotel was near Tulum, a lovely tiny town in the Mayan Riviera. I met a friend there and we talked about the horrendous human rights abuses that have been happening in Mexico over the past decade. I felt sad for the lovely Mexicans I was meeting, sad that they have to live amidst such crime and violence. Can’t we all just get along?

At the restaurant, I finally tried mole – a sauce that’s been made in Mexico way far back – even by the Aztecs and Mayans likely. It’s typically made with cocoa, almonds, chillies, sesames and more and used to flavour meat, especially chicken. If you’ve never tried meat prepared with cocoa (the main ingredient in chocolate),  I highly recommend it.

I do hope to travel to Mexico again someday – the dining alone there is just such a pleasure! Like the culture, the cuisine is full of zesty flavours and spice that wake up your mouth and spread through your body. Be careful though, if you see salsa on the table it’s most likely very hot and spicy and should be used oh-so sparingly!