BUY AMERICAN by Beth Rankin

BUY AMERICAN by Beth Rankin

Early in my blog writing a woman who I really didn’t know messaged me “don’t yell. No one listens to someone who is shouting at them.” Or something like that. She became one of my best friends and I trust her judgment often and always.

But it is apparent that many people don’t listen to anything that involves thinking and change.

I will try again, though, I am Taurus = stubborn!

So we have the start of the growing season here. The earth is warming and food crops are being planted in large mechanized commercial farms, much of planting can be done by machines with one worker covering a large field. And some food crops can be harvested mechanically also. However, many require hands-on. And that needs a work force. Part of our national history is the transition from an agrarian economy to an industrial and now a post-industrial economy. Almost 200 years ago most people living in the United States were involved with farming. You can see what has happened over time.

 

In the past twenty years more and more of these farm jobs have gone empty until filled by migrant workers. Many are Latino and here in the Williamette Valley of Oregon we very much recognize that our vineyards, orchards and large commercial food farms need these workers.

It’s hard work. I know. I took a farm hand job three summers ago. Me. At 60 years of age, overweight, arthritic and with a bad back. The high school worker was heading back to school in August and the farmer needed someone until the end of the season. I never had done this kind of work and my body let me know. But this is not impossible work. So anyone who can walk, can bend, can use their hands, can do this work. However, it seems that in most areas of the country, white people do not want to do this work so much. And so, others fill in. They are not taking jobs away. They are helping feed us. Some are not legal workers.

 

Trump ran for President hollering (hey! he yelled and people listened…or maybe they didn’t, but that’s a different blog) that it was important to put America first. That we needed to get rid of all the bad hombres and that was translated into all people who are here without full legal status, no matter the agreements in the past. Trump supporters have not yet woken up to the fact that when the work force is removed, something will happen.

In this case, it means the food raised here on large farms in the United States most likely will not be successfully harvested. One farmer we know lost his work crew last year when the blueberries matured early. His strawberries matured late. All that is because of the weather. But it meant his picking crew went off to attack the blueberries, which are easier picking than strawberries. He lost thousands of dollars and many of his strawberries rotted on the plants because there was no one to pick them. This situation will happen again more and more in more places, not necessarily because of the weather but because of a shortage of willing workers.

Trump’s policies are convincing many people without family roots to head back south to their native lands. The risk of imprisonment and deportation is high. So, many people are leaving. There are also many people who are not leaving because they have been here for 20 or more years. Part of their family was born here. Others may have legal status. The undocumented workers are still here, but there are fewer than before and many are not taking jobs because of the risk of being arrested.

As this situation will exist in the coming months everyone, including Trump and his supporters are going to feel it. They may be cheering now, but the time is going to come when they realize there may have been a better way. They’re already feeling it in southern California and in Florida where harvests happen several times during the year.

How?

Prices will go up. To keep your business and their profits supermarket chains will contract for produce from other countries.

Flavor will go down. That long distance produce gets harvested a bit early, a bit green or immature, to give time to the transportation process before it starts to rot. Flavor just does not develop that way. If you buy produce from overseas, you miss the flavor of how it really should taste. [Editor’s Note:  My wife and I are still trying to buy a tomato that tastes like a tomato during tomato season here in Kentucky! This year we planted two large pots of tomato plants next to our walkway.  It’s worth a try!]

Farmers here in the United States will not be able to continue to farm. Or at least to farm food. (Much of the Williamette Valley farmland is used for wine grapes, hops, hazelnuts and landscaping plants.) Farms will fail financially, and the land will go fallow. That will have a ripple effect on the economy.

So, Southern and Central California are where the bulk of supermarket produce is grown. And harvested. Or not harvested…and then not shipped to your grocery store.

So, why do I say BUY AMERICAN when I am also saying food raised here in the US is going to have smaller harvests and higher prices? Because if we don’t support American farmers we are going to see our food production, like our manufacturing, move offshore.

There are ways to buy produce at affordable prices, but it means a commitment to changing your shopping pattern. Only you can decide if giving your children and grandchildren a chance to buy American food is important.

Am I exaggerating? Unfortunately, no. I remember my parents complaining that it was getting harder to buy American-made when they replaced our black and white television with a color model in the late 1960s. At that time, Magnavox was only one of a few and they are still in business today. All the other TVs that are manufactured here are by Asian corporations who have built factories here to save on shipping and other costs. How did this happen? Simple–we consumers like to buy based on price, not patriotism!

Yet, I bet you believe you are a patriotic American. Demonstrate it by investing in America’s economy! This is a consumer-driven industry! Buy locally raised food. Go to a website like localharvest.com to identify when your farmers markets are, where the farms are near you that offer CSAs, where you can pick your own produce. Perhaps this whole discussion is meaningless as most Americans do not eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, but if you do try to eat in a healthy way, this will affect you unless you happen [not likely] to grow your own food.

And get those teenagers to take summer jobs working on farms. They’ll buff up, tone up, and get a great tan!

WE ALL MUST RISE by Beth Rankin

WE ALL MUST RISE by Beth Rankin

This morning my Facebook feed is full of “He is Risen!” I understand the ritual and passion for this Easter Sunday, but once again, I have a perspective as a Jew attending church with my husband for ten years that may never occur to most of you.

All this declaration of Christ as your Savior appears to be meaningless gibberish for most people. Something they say by rote, without thought. Like my ex-husband who wanted to eat the foods on Jewish holidays but he had no understanding of the symbolism of those foods. Many people I know profess to be Christian but are walking a pathway that is full of trimmings but no substance.

I spoke of this at Christmas also. The adoration of Baby Jesus and all the promise He represented goes no further than grabbing presents from under the tree for most people.

I am NOT espousing that someone needs to be strict in their daily observation of religion…ANY religion…in order to be a good person. In fact, with ISIS attacking Muslims who do not believe as they do, with fundamentalist Christians destroying rights and freedoms in this nation, with any ultra-conservative branch of any religion, we see they have very narrow definitions of what is right. That is NOT what Christ taught.

I confuse a lot of people when I say that I am closer to Christ than they are because I practice the same religion that Jesus did. He observed the rules better than I do but he also broke them from time to time. Most of the time, he broke social conventions and was a dissenter, attracting followers and scaring the establishment. But generally, overall, his message was one of “love one another.” Treat people the way you want to be treated.

The Bible Belt where I lived for over 17 years has a preponderance of Christians who believe that Christ died for their sins, that they are saved. It may be a coincidence that that section of the country overwhelmingly voted for Trump, not necessarily because they liked him, because many did not like things about him. They voted for him because he promised delivery from things they perceive as evil. I believe their training as an obedient flock for their churches lead them to have faith without using any common sense about the promises made. But their minds, like all good sheep, are befuddled by those promises. They have not learned the ways to solve problems. They are stuck in a rut of tradition that means there is only one right way. And that includes following the shepherd.

Why am I picking on Christians? I just came from an Easter service when the Praise Band was singing and moving. The congregation, for the most extent, clapped as requested but there was no joy, no smiles. Did the words they learned as children not reach their adult ability to analyze? Are the praises they sing empty words without their hearts. (In order for you to understand that I feel the same way about Jewish services where everything is in Hebrew, I will let you know that my Haggadah this past Monday’s Seder had limited Hebrew. I wanted the participants at my table to understand the story and the reasoning behind the holiday. To chant in Hebrew when you memorized it as a child and have no idea what the meaning is…has NO meaning.)

People often forget this commandment to love one another applies to everyone, everywhere. Not just people you know. Not just people who live near you. Not just people who speak like you, live like you,

worship like you do. All people.

When does the message hit the heart? When does it become part of the soul? When it does, you will rise.

Walking in the spirit is a pathway by people of any or no practiced religion. It means, simply, loving your neighbor as yourself. The rest is

 

BIT BY BIT…NOTICING THE SMALL CHANGES by Beth Rankin

BIT BY BIT…NOTICING THE SMALL CHANGES by Beth Rankin

Last year we purchased an inflatable hot tub. Oh boy! It was an immense pleasure to once again ease into the hot water and feel it work on my aches and pains. In West Virginia we built a screened room around a 6-person hot tub and it became a nightly routine for us to sit and chat about the day and coming things to do and other odds and ends. Some days we were just silent. What a soothing part of the bedtime routine.

The inflatable was a great option since we are renting here and it will be easier to move if and when we do. However, it does not have the power to keep the temperature as constant as the conventional hot tub. It  has a four degree variance with 104 at the top end. 104  is a bit hotter than I like…but easing in slowly gets the body acclimated and then the warmth goes deeply into the joints. Ahhh. But 10 minutes is about all I can take at that heat.

On the other end, 100 is almost too chilly. Easy in but it just does seem to help the aches as well and we end up staying about 10 minutes because it is not warm enough, particularly now in winter.comfortzone

I like 103. A bit slow to get in but not as slowly as 104 and pretty equivalent deep comfort. Ahhhhh and I can relax for 15-20 minutes. Sweet comfort zone for me. 

Last night I got the idea that this might be an understandable metaphor about how the rise in sea water temperature is causing all kinds of issues with the climate. Graham, being a scientist, felt it was too superficial a presentation. He wanted me to delve into the facts.  I think the climate change deniers don’t consider the facts and never will consider the facts. But they might consider the FEELINGS.

Perhaps you don’t have a hot tub and know your ideal temperature but most people know how they feel with the outdoor temperature. 70 degrees is a point of comfort for many except people in Florida who think it is still cool. People in the UK go to the beach at 65 but I feel better about swimming when the air temp is closer to 80.hottub

We each have a point where it feels right. Above or below that temperature, our tolerance is tested. So, too, are all the life systems affected by the rise in sea water temperature.  I’ll leave it there. Just please think about it.  If that premise is one you can accept, you might be willing to look a bit deeper into the issue. Please be willing to consider scientific facts and join the millions of people who are trying to make small changes in their life that can help our planet sustain us.

[Beth Rankin is one of our favorite people.  Beth lives in McMinnville, Oregon along with her husband, Graham. She is a housewife, mother, entrepreneur, adventurer and writer. She is gracious to allow us to re-print many of the articles she publishes in her blog.  Please visit Beth in person at her blogsite at www.goingplaceslivinglife.wordpress.com and subscribe to get her articles fresh and first-hand.]

SECULAR CHRISTIANITY IN AMERICA by Beth Rankin

SECULAR CHRISTIANITY IN AMERICA by Beth Rankin

Believe it or not there are over 300,000 churches in the United States, with affiliation to about 217 different Christian Protestant denominations. While about 60% of people say they attend church each week, the number is really about 20%, thereby showing us the first crack: not “walking the walk.” After all, the Ten Commandments includes Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness…..in other words, DO NOT LIE.
BETH RANKIN

BETH RANKIN

So, what we have here is a situation where a lot of people claim they are Christian, but in reality do not even attempt to walk the walk. A lot of people claim Jesus as their Savior but few attend church any time other than Christmas and Easter and even then, attendance is not as full as in past decades.

America is no longer a Christian nation. It is a Secular Christian nation.

We have a lot of people storming the stores and knocking down anyone in their way on Black Friday to capture the deals, the better to pile presents under the Christmas tree.  We have people who know one verse and the chorus to Christmas carols but not the subsequent verses nor the story of the origin of the song.  We have a lot of people who have elaborate trees and lighting, not realizing these are traditions that are based in other belief systems. We have millions of people who truly believe the baby Jesus was born with cows looking over Mary’s shoulder and Mary, of course being perfect, did not have labor pains. Oh, they probably never thought of that.

We have people who stuff candy treats into baskets for their kids on Easter.  We have millions of kids who love the Easter Bunny and have no idea that anything else is being celebrated that day.

We have people whose comprehension of their religion is limited to the Sunday school stories they were told when they were little.  They don’t have the time or inclination for any Bible study and might really be amazed to try to reconcile the differences in the gospels if they ever did a side-by-side evaluation.

There are many people who believe there is a war on Christians because over the past few decades there has been a rising awareness that not everyone here in the United States is Christian. There are Jews. There are Muslims, There are Buddhists. There are Jehovah Witnesses. There are Mormons. There are (gasp!) atheists.  And in recognition of those other people, some communities realize that pushing JUST the Christian symbols is not the right thing. And so, Happy Holidays, which has been a saying that has been a part of American culture since the late 1800s, has recently become a nastygram to many. We have some people who believe snowmen on coffee cups

COLORFUL CHRISTMAS CUPS

COLORFUL CHRISTMAS CUPS

are a sign that Corporate America is the Devil…it may be, but red and white décor is not the sign of that. 

Why are Christians feeling under assault where there is no problem?  I have no idea…maybe an inferiority complex that starts with color and sexual identity and goes on into church attendance and understand Jesus’ teachings.

Okay, who am I to be calling the kettle black right now? I am a secular Jew who has been attending church for 10 years with my Christian husband.  When he asked me if I would go with him I told him I would as long as I was respected. And his response was perfect, “If you are not respected we are in the wrong place.”

In the past 10 years I have attended 4 churches with him. One for 6 months when we were on sabbatical in Pueblo, Colorado was my big introduction. There the choir members welcomed us and helped me understand the rituals. I focused on the similarities of the mass and of course, it made sense; Judaism is the root. If any church misses the Jewish root in their practice, they are not practicing anything close to what Jesus did.

The next seven years was in a church in Huntington, West Virginia. There were a few people who were a bit hesitant accepting me, but over a short time they saw I was not there to mock. The priest, when I attended a class, misinterpreted that I would want to be baptized afterwards. I told her learning is part of life, but did not necessarily mean complete acceptance of doctrine.

When we moved to Oregon we started in one church but moved to another because there was a lack of music as well as no real warmth of community. We found it more comfortable with another congregation across town.

So, four different settings. I’ll bet you I pay attention more than many. It is rote to most other congregants.

I have learned enough to be “dangerous”. I have attended about ten different study groups where I have caused lively conversation because my viewpoint is different. I have been told we are all imperfect so I should not expect people to “walk the walk” all the time.

I don’t expect people to be perfect. But I do expect people who loudly and publicly profess to be Christians to at least be NICE.

In reality, I have met only a few people I feel live their faith. They exhibit true acceptance and understanding of others without imposing their viewpoints on others.

However, I have also been told I am doomed to Hell by more than I care to count. My husband has been pulled aside and told he is responsible for saving my soul.   This is not the message that wins. This is a message that alienates.

And it alienates more than me. It alienates other people who claim to be Christian but just do not do something exactly as someone else thinks they should. And so, people stop attending church.

Numerous studies in this country indicate the biggest reason that Christianity is losing membership, active or passive, are the behavior of the “do it my way or you are doomed” people, most of them fundamentalists.

And many of them do not know the soul of their religion. They can spout chapter and verse but cannot find the love.

And so, pass the fruitcake. The eggnog is ready.  Christmas is here. religions

 

[Beth Rankin lives with her husband, Graham, in McMinnville, Oregon.  Beth is a mother, entrepreneur, writer, and consummate seeker of truth.  She is the CEO of Can-Do Foods.  Her blog site is www.goingplaceslivinglife.wordpress.com.  We encourage readers to go to Beth’s website, and we are especially grateful that she allows us to re-print many of her articles.  Happy Hanukkah, Beth!]