The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.

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Meet Deborah Szekely, a 91-Year-Old Wellness Warrior

Reposted from The Atlantic

The nonagenarian just started her “project for the next decade.”
Organic food may be a fad of the 21st century, but Deborah Szekely, 91, has been organic farming since 1930. In her nine decades of life, she has run for Congress, managed a federal agency, and served as a delegate for UNESCO. Now, she’s back to where she was in 1940: Rancho La Puerta, a 300-acre property in northwestern Mexico that’s part commune, part spa, and part farm. I talked with her at The Atlantic Meets the Pacific about her thoughts on health after nine decades of life – the conversation below has been edited lightly for length and clarity. Continue reading

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Farm Workers Get Help To Be Their Own Boss

Kirk Siegler featured a piece on ALBA Organics on Morning Edition at NPR.  You can go here for the broadcast.  Although ALBA concedes that not everyone will make it, this still gives migrant farm workers an opportunity to become their own boss.  Here’s an excerpt from the story:

Northern California’s Salinas Valley is often dubbed America’s salad bowl. Large growers there have long relied on thousands of seasonal workers from rural Mexico to pick lettuce, spinach and celery from sunrise to sunset. Many of these workers seem destined for a life in the fields. But a program that helps field workers, like Raul Murillo, start their own farms and businesses is starting to yield a few success stories.
Murillo leases a 3-acre strawberry farm from a cooperative called ALBA Organics. It trains longtime workers in organic farm management and helps with things like fertilizer and irrigation tools. Continue reading

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Western-Style Diet Makes Mexicans Sick

In Civil Eats, Judy Bankman writes about the nutritional transition that Mexico has made from a healthy natural foods diet to a “western style” diet of high protein, high sugar and highly processed food.

On a visit to southern Mexico in 2008, I was shocked to see Coca-Cola billboards dotting rural highways, and roadside tiendas selling bottles of Coke along with local produce. Mexico consumes more gallons of sugary beverages per year than any other country. It’s certainly not coincidental that 9 million people in Mexico are suffering from diabetes.Mexicans also just surpassed the U.S. as the most obese nation in the world, with an astonishing prevalence rate of 32.8 percent. Mortality rates due to heart attack, diabetes, and high blood pressure have increased significantly along with the spike in obesity rates. The main driver of these troubling health concerns is the energy-dense, nutrient-poor “Western” diet, which has already changed the food landscape in Mexico, pervading areas both urban and rural.

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Become a WWOOFer and Travel The World For Next to Nothing

WWOOF — an acronym for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms — offers you a way to travel the world for next to nothing. (Normally, you pay only to get there.) At the organization’s website, you can search the database of organic farms around the world to see who’s looking for someone to help out.

WWOOF hosts are those with farms or gardens that need tending or other types of work. They don’t pay volunteer workers, known as Wwoofers. Instead, they typically offer free meals and accommodation, which can range from rustic to luxurious. Wwoofers needn’t have any serious experience. But a willingness to take on agreed-upon tasks is a must.

Besides planting, tending, or harvesting organic gardens, Wwoofers may be asked to milk goats, build chicken coops, or in the case of small hotels, help with cooking, cleaning, or with guests.

WWOOF requires that hosts and volunteers agree in advance on the details: time commitment, type of work to be done, accommodation, etc. You pay a minimal fee to join one of the 50 WWOOF independent country organizations and gain access to databases. For example, a Costa Rica membership costs just $16/year. A joint membership that gives you access to opportunities in Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Belize costs just $33/year.