An NYC Photo Album

This past weekend I attended Rotary Day at the United Nations headquarters in New York. I’ve always wanted to visit the UN headquarters — and I’m so glad I went. The overall goal of the organization – to have a peaceful world – is one that I admire and believe in wholeheartedly.

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Rotary UN Day 2016

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Nonviolence sculpture in front of the United Nations, New York.

I also had a few days to explore the city and went to the Museum of Modern Art, Central Park and 5th Avenue the next day.

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The Museum of Modern Art

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A special exhibit on refugees and displaced peoples around the world by artist Reena Saini Kallat.

After the MOMA I headed down 6th Avenue and stopped at Magnolia Bakery. I had no idea, but this bakery is apparently quite famous and was even featured in Sex in the City and the Devil Wears Prada. To be honest, the cupcake brought back memories of my cake mix days in high school — so I was sort of let down by the caramel cupcake  I chose.

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Inside a Magnolia Bakery.

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A cupcake from the busy Magnolia Bakery

After that I headed to 5th Avenue — I walked past the Rockerfeller Building and Saks 5th Avenue — two famous landmarks in the Big Apple.

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Police on horses near the Rockefeller Building (and those famous yellow cabs).

And then I continued  on to 5th Avenue and stumbled upon some protesters in front of Trump Tower. Not everyone is happy about the outcome of this year’s election.

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Demonstrations on 5th Avenue in response to the outcome of the 2016 election.

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Demonstrations on 5th Avenue in response to the 2016 election.

On the next day I did a tour of the UN. Anyone can go – you just need to sign up online, bring your passport and go through security about an hour beforehand. A vibrant mural inside bore the words “Do Unto Others As Your Would  Have Them Done To You”.  I thought about how if we all lived be this saying, our world would very likely be a more peaceful and just place.

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Mural, United Nations HQ

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United Nations headquarters in NYC.

A New Online Store for Peace ☮

About a month ago I launched an online store for peace. I wanted to do more for peace than just blog and research about it. I luckily met a talented designer and we’ve been working together to create designs for t-shirts (for men, women and children), bags, postcards and more.

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I BELIEVE IN PEACE TANK TOP – available in four sizes. Smooth and soft cotton. Click here to view this in the shop.

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FLAMINGO ME TANK TOP. Also smooth and soft cotton. Click here to view this in the shop

So far it’s been an exciting venture. I have decided to create a Foundation for Food and Peace and have 10% of all profits go to this Foundation to support food security (access to the right food is a necessity for peace), peace and peacebuilding. The plan is to support charities and other organizations on the ground that are involved with peace education and conflict resolution. I wanted to provide people with a way to truly support peace — through both their clothing and through giving.

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YES PEACE TOTE BAG — durable and unique! Click here to view this in the shop.

Check out the store and let me know what you think!

Yours in Peace,

Mary

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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!

 

Slow Food International Writes about “Food and Peace”

About 7 months ago I started to write on Food and Peace. I bought the domain over a year ago, but it wasn’t until I moved to Washington, DC, this past summer to start a contract for the Food and Agricutlure Organization of the United Nations when I became inspired to do something with the site. For now I use it to share stories about – you guessed it – food and peace.

I don’t have huge news for you this week, but I did find out something very exciting!!! I was doing a Google search for “food and peace”, a somewhat usual routine of mine, when I came across a search result on page one of the Google search results from Slow Food International.

If you don’t know what the Slow Food movement is all about, you can read about it here. Started in Italy by a man named Carlos Petrini, the movement came about to “prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat”.

I’ve known about Slow Food for quite some time and I’ve even started to volunteer with the Toronto chapter recently. It’s been a great venture!

Anyways, on November 20th, 2015, someone writing from a South Korean Slow Food group posted about food and peace. The post highlights a recent Slow Food Asia Pacific Conference where food and its connection to peace was a major topic of interest. The post’s author provides a number of quotes from notable individuals who pointed out how food security is the foundation for peaceful societies, and how food plays a big role in conflict situations. This does make me think of the French revolution: hunger and starvation and high food prices lead to protests and revolt against the established rule in the late 1700s.

The Slow Food International post is interesting because it also provides examples of people using food as a catalyst for peace, like a woman from Beirut who started a project called Soup for Syria – a book with a collection of recipes from chefs around the world whose proceeds will be donated to the UN’s Refugee Agency.

I also enjoyed reading this post because it shows how business or what we do does not have to be solely about profit, but rather it can be a way to create change and build equality. Each of us doing our part can have an impact in this regard. It’s great to see other large, global organizations paying attention to the link between food and peace.

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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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.

lovely fish tacos

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!

The United Nations: So Young Men Would Never Have to Face a War Again

My heart sizzled as I watched this short video. The United Nations (UN) was founded in 1945 by men and women who experienced the devastating effects of war first hand. Our generations (those born after then) have heard their stories and felt their pain. That pain lead to a desire for change and peace around the world, and their vision for peace and international cooperation lives on today.

In this video, American Wendy Sherman, the current Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (State Department), shares her story and  the importance of multilateral diplomacy on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter in San Francisco, California.