The Whole Bolivian Army
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A photo essay

thinking about it

On Feb. 4 of 2011, we played Jamnesty, a benefit for Heifer International and a handful of other aid organizations, at the Ground Zero Teen Center.

Mary Beth Kite, The Whole Bolivian ArmyWe try to donate our music to good causes, but with so many worthy ones out there, it's hard to know which one(s) to make a priority.

Which ones deserve our support? How can we have the most impact?

How can we save the world, damn it!?!

The Whole Bolivian Army, nude with fruitWell, it has slowly dawned on Mary Beth and me that the most radical thing we can do also happens to be the simplest: change the way we eat. Which we have. We make exceptions for the occasional treat or night out, and we try not to be too dogmatic about it. But when we're sticking to our guns, we eat only small portions of meat and hardly any sugar or white flour. And we treat any kind of processed food, whether of the salty, sugary, or fast-food variety, like the plague that it is. That means no store-bought cookies, chips, etc. No soda, frozen meals, or canned soup. No late-night dashes to the Doublemeat Palace.

applesWhether tortillas or Thai dishes, we make almost all of our meals from scratch (when I say "We," what I really mean is "Mary Beth," since she does the lion's share of the cooking around here). We also bring our own reusable bags to the grocery store, including little muslin bags for produce, nuts, etc. We stalk the perimeter of the grocery store - the produce department, the bulk bins, the natural food aisle - and we buy organic and local whenever possible. As a general rule of thumb, that means we eat a colon-inspiring amount of raw fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts every day (with the scraps ending up in the compost bin and eventually our garden). And man, do we feel good.

As it turns out, food tastes better once you start eating, well, you know, food.

real food makes us strongBut the impact goes beyond our taste buds and our health. Fewer animals (including humans) suffer in factory farms. Less packaging ends up in the landfills. Less farmable land is dedicated to high-intensive farming practices. Less energy/fuel/clean air is spent transporting food long distances. Less chemicals end up in the food chain and in our water supply. The list goes on and on. On a personal level, we spend more quality time together as a family, whether in the kitchen or around the dinner table, laughing, talking, and enjoying each other's company.

apple?Can you think of another act that has such far-reaching consequences? By eating right, we're living right. We're not the first people to think of this, of course (see Food Matters or Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, among other books on the subject). And the transformation for us is still very much a work-in-progress.

let them eat grapesBut this latest revelation dovetails nicely with an idea put forth in Peace Is Every Step, a little book I recently came across: peace will not be established collectively but individually. Each of us, by simply taking control of our own actions and living mindfully, has the power to change the world.

Stepping off my soapbox,

- Matt
nice bite pattern