Food Inc came out in 2009 but still to this day is one of the best films about the business side of our food system. You will get an eye opening picture of how farms, Big Food, Big Ag, special interests groups, and our government actually work within our food system…and it is not in the best interest of the higher good of people, animal, or planet.
Food Inc. came out almost a decade ago and what is frightening is that not much in our food system has changed. In fact, some of the issues raised in Food Inc have gotten worse particularly the influence of special interest money on politics.
After watching Food Inc in 2010, I stopped eating chicken.
There is an official “Food Inc Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It,” available at Amazon* in paperback or Kindle which answers questions brought up in the film in more depth through essays by leading experts and thinkers. This book will encourage those inspired by the film to learn more about the issues, and act to change the world.
Here is the trailer:
*There is an Amazon affiliate link attached to the hyperlink. Through your purchase, we get a small percentage to help fund The Flexi 21 work. Thank you!
After I saw Food Inc and learned more about the business side of our food system, I was motivated to change my eating habits so the next film I watched was Forks Over Knives.
If there ever was a movie that could get you to start changing your eating habits and eat more plant-based, Forks Over Knives is the film to do it. For me the most impactful part was seeing the stories of everyday people talk about their experience before and after going plant-based. It is pretty remarkable!
Out of all the movies we have recommended to watch, Earthlings is the one to watch for last mainly because it is the hardest one of them all to watch. Joaquin Phoenix narrates the film and Moby provided all of the music.
Earthlings is the shocker film as in it will shock you into reality but it will help educate you more than any other film out there about the truths of industry standards for animals bred for pets, food, clothing and to be used for entertainment and research purposes.
This is the stuff we intellectually know and hear of but keep out of our consciousness because in all honesty if we acknowledge what is happening, we must also accept how we are contributing to this treatment of animals through our economic choices.
However, if you are ready to learn everything about our food system and how your meat was raised and produced, then Earthlings will help give you a fuller picture. I do recommend that you emotionally prepare yourself before seeing this film.
Many people cannot watch the film all the way through the first time. The first time I saw Earthlings, I had to stop it about 1/3 into it because I was crying, it was too much. I am very sensitive to seeing video of animals in factory farms mainly because the empath and HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) in me starts feeling physical pain just from watching. Eventually, I was able to watch all the way through because I wanted to know.
Much of the video is undercover video. You are seeing the real thing not dramatizations. Appalling, is that there are actual laws in our country that consider this type of exposure eco-terrorism. Four states now have Ag Gag laws preventing this kind of footage from being taken and shown which is a testament to how powerful the meat special interests groups are.
Because Earthlings is too much truth for the mainstream, you will not find the film steaming on any of the main video sites like Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, or Google. You can watch the full film online at the Earthlings website and all the proceeds go straight to the filmmakers. There are also translated versions of the film in French Canadian, German, and French.
Here is a stimulating 35 minute interview of Earthlings Director Shaun Monson where he talks more in depth about the making of Earthlings and the impact the film has made.
OMG! You guys, this is a big deal. I think the change is starting to happen for my mom, the avid meat-eater! Yesterday morning, I walk into the kitchen and mom is sitting at the table watching Bobby Deen on the Cooking channel make vegan dishes.
I know. I had to do a double take.
Bobby was making a vegan Creme Brulee which immediately got my attention. Here is the recipe. Going to have to try this one!
I swear I felt like I was in a parallel universe, first, seeing Bobby Dean, son of Krispy Kreme bacon burger making Paula Deen, cook vegan food, and then seeing my mom watch him cook.
I sat with mom and watched the show. This was kind of a big deal too because I normally do not watch regular TV. It was some nice bonding time with my mom, and I was feeling a bit closer to her because I felt like she was taking a genuine interest in something that means so much to me.
I was all excited about mom watching a vegan cooking episode, and then this morning, I walk into the kitchen like I did yesterday and mom is cooking. I say to her, "Morning mom! That smells good. What are you cooking?"
She says, "Oh, I'm making Mungo beans vegetarian style. I'm experimenting."
*My jaw hits the floor. I'm frozen in gleeful disbelief.*
I look around the kitchen and seriously wonder if we got transported into another timeline the other night while we were sleeping. Normally, when mom is cooking, I'm always telling her that she needs to eat more veggies especially leafy greens, and she just mostly appeases me with, "Yeah, yeah, sure," and I walk away saying not a word back to my room to work, business as usual.
But today, was different. I did the positive encouraging thing and responded to mom with joyfulness,"Really?! WOW! That's so cool mom. I can't wait to try it when it's ready. I'm so excited that you're experimenting with vegetarian Filipino food. YES!"
My friends, her dish was EX-CELL-ENT!
Of course, I took a picture of her experiment. She did use patis, the fish sauce, so technically the dish is pescatarian. Traditional Filipino Mungo Beans are made with pork and shrimp (or just pork by itself.) Just the fact that my mom took it upon herself to try and make a veggie version of one of our favorite Filipino dishes was HUGE in my book. In fact, it's a ginormous step!
These are the moments that remind me to stay hopeful about creating a better food system. Change can happen, one dish at a time.
(I asked her for the recipe. When I get it, I'll share it.)
I LOVE taking food photos on my iPhone! Been snapping away since the 3GS in 2009.
Truthfully, I’m kinda obsessed. The upside to that obsession is that it led to the idea for Vibrantly.
I created Vibrantly because I wanted a way to create stunning food photos in one tap like what you can do on Instagram. My goal is for Vibrantly to be able to edit iPhone pics at Pinterest-level kinda good which is a pretty high bar if you are an avid food pinner.
With Vibrantly, in one tap, your ice cream shots will look bright and creamy. Your turkey burger will look juicy like IRL, and your friends will be able to see the details in the nori and eel in your beautiful Dragon Sushi Roll.
Here is the back story on how the Vibrantly photo fliters came to be and what the inspiration was behind each of the filters because it’s a fascinating story about how apps are developed and how I wanted to create an experience that makes you feel creative and happy.
I myself learned so much during the process of creating the first phase of Vibrantly that I thought it would be fun to share since most developers don’t tend to let people peek into the app kitchen often.
Vibrantly was born out of my frustration as a food blogger having to use 1-3 mobile photo apps like Camera+, Snapseed, and Photoshop Express to edit my food pics, or saving the photos on my laptop and using Photoshop and PicMonkey to edit. I wanted my food photos to get the Stephanie-look in one tap so I could spend more time eating and focusing on my friends than looking like an obnoxious iPhone foodie editing photos on her phone.
Vibrantly saves you time.
What used to take me 90 minutes to do in photo editing now takes me 10 minutes.
I cannot code my way out of a paper bag, but I am an artist (writer, photographer, cook), a designer ( I have a BS in Industrial Technology: Product Design), and I have a good idea for look and feel. Plus, I used to work in the 3D graphics and the gaming industry at NVIDIA. That experience understanding how computer games are made helped me in the development of Vibrantly.
One of the key things before building this app was finding the right developer to work with. This is everything because if you don’t mesh, the magic cannot happen. I found Lavacado via looking at photo-editing apps I liked and looked up who the developer was. Lavacado has built apps for Trey Ratcliff of Stuck in Customs. Trey is one of the best HDR photographers in the world. The app that caught my eye was 100 in 1 Cameras.
Right away, I felt a good synergy between myself and the guys at Lavacado, and although it took awhile to get started on my part, we ended up actually starting at THE perfect time. We started working on Vibrantly literally the day Apple announced iOS7 in June. Really, the timing could not have been more perfect!
I am SO grateful that we could build Vibrantly integrating iOS7 features like the new look and feel plus Air Drop and texting photos straight from the app. I was blown away the first time I saw Vibrantly in iOS7.
Here were some of the challenges we had with the app:
High quality bar
The level of quality I was shooting for was Pinterest-level good looking. Now that is a really high bar especially for mobile photos. But hey, why not shoot for the moon, right? Food is one of the hottest categories on Pinterest, and the food photos on there are stunning.
To get pinned, repinned or better yet repinned by a top pinner, your food photos have to look Martha-Saveur-Food and Wine-level-approved or they have to be interesting as hell. I don’t know the exact numbers but by my guestimation most good food photos on Pinterest by top pinners are taken on DSLRs. I have rarely seen Instagram filtered photos on Pinterest mainly because Instagram does scenery, selfies, fashion, pets, and moody clouds really well, but not food.
With the Vibrantly filters, I was gunning for Pinterest-level hot looking because I thought how cool would that be if we could get top food bloggers and pinners to use Vibrantly edited photos for their pins. In version 1 of Vibrantly, I believe I got pretty darn close to that level, but we’re not quite there yet. BUT, I am confident we’ll get there real soon also because the camera on the iPhone is getting better with every generation.
The main reason the default cropping in Vibrantly is a rectangle, both portrait and landscape is because rectangle is the most commonly repinned shape on Pinterest. Rectangle for food photos also looks better on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr because you have more visual real estate.
Translating filter recipes
When I started talking to Lavacdo, our original plan was for me to give them the recipes of how I made my photos look the way they do. Basically, each recipe was a step-by-step of which software I used and in what steps I created each look.
My favorite orange is the Cara Cara. I love it because it’s sweeter than your typical navel orange, and I love the deeper color of its flesh.
It’s been a great run! The Vibrantly – Pretty Food Photography was my first venture into building a native iOS app and it was a great experience.
Between wanting to build more apps related to food and climate change, and the cost to run the Vibrantly photo app behind the scenes, the cost became much more than planned. It was a good learning experience, and I am grateful for all the people who bought my app and helped to support an indie publisher going for the dream.
The app will be shutdown on December 30, in 30-days. The app has been removed from the Apple store and is no longer available for sale.
For our customers, what this shutdown means is that any photos you have stored in your account will be discarded after December 30 as we shut down all operation on the app. If the app stays saved on your phone or laptop, it will no longer work after December 30.
Unfortunately, we did not design a bulk download in order to download all your pics at once. You will have to save each image you want to save individually by clicking on the photo and choosing “Save Image” in the photo options. This will save the image to your Camera roll on your phone.
I am very grateful for your business and support. Please, let me know if you have any questions. Our email is support at vibrantly dotco.
I am very proud to introduce Vibrantly, the iPhone app that let’s you create pretty food photos in one tap.
With Vibrantly, you can shoot, edit, and share a beautiful food photo to your social networks in less time than it takes to make a piece of toast.
With Vibrantly, you get to spend more time eating and enjoying your company than editing food photos on your phone.
The Problem and Solution
As a professional food blogger and iPhone food photographer, I personally wanted a way to create great food shots in a couple taps like what you can do on Instagram.
I looked high and low for an iPhone photo editing app that would give me the ability to make food photos look GOOD in one tap, and alas I could not find that app, so I made one.
Before Vibrantly, editing 20 photos would require 1-3 iPhone apps and or 2 programs on my laptop taking at least 90 minutes of my time. Now, with Vibrantly, I can create those same 20 food photos at Stephanie-level quality in 15 minutes.
And so can you!
This is the inaugural version of Vibrantly, v1 as I call it, which focuses solely on simple food photo editing. In v2, we will add more filters and custom editing features.
Here is a quick run down on the current featured filters in Vibrantly.
There are currently 5 photo filters in Vibrantly. Each of the filters were thoughtfully named related to food reflecting similar characteristics of what the filter does to your photo complementary to qualities of its namesake like refreshing, brilliant, pop, luster, smoldering and romantic.
We had so much fun naming these memorable filters!
Here is each filter in action. You can create these beautiful effects on your raw iPhone photos in one tap!
Yes, we are purposeful and touchy-feely all about the love. Isn’t it time more companies operated this way?
Vibrantly is a #worldpositive startup. We are techies, artists and changemakers who love food, people, animals and the planet. We create from a place of love, the most powerful force on the planet, to help advance the higher good of all.
The vision of Vibrantly is to help rewrite the food system OS (operating system) by growing the Good Food economy.
We envision a food system that is whole-serving. I used to think that our food system was broken when in actuality, it’s not broken, it just has an operating system that has become outdated. The current OS is self-serving designed to drive shareholder return on investment unfortunately too much at the expense of people, animals, and the planet leading us to a moment of truth.
Millions of us are in pain from chronic illness crying louder and louder for mercy. Mother Earth has had to bear the brunt of prolonged exploitation of her resources and she is weakening asking for grace. The animal kingdom has been under assault far too long, and is howling for compassion.
Everything and everyone is connected. What impacts one affects the whole.
Instead of focusing on the doom, this is a call for us to no longer accept these standards and demand better. As Albert Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” In that context, we cannot change the food system using the same OS. We have to create a new operating system.
You and I have been given an invitation to elevate, and create a food system based in a consciousness for the higher good of the whole. We create through purposeful, whole-focused activity.
Vibrantly’s part in helping rewrite the food system OS is to build tools that give consumers more power to support and buy from Good Food brands and businesses that operate in alignment with their values like locally sourced, sustainably farmed, humanely raised, GMO-free, Fair Food Program and B-Corp Certified. The more consumer dollars that flow into the Good Food economy, the more the food movement gains momentum.
What is Good Food?
Good Food is a trifecta of: Food that tastes good, is good for you, and is made and sold by companies that do good – are socially responsible, give back to their communities, and pay fair wages.
It’s time to pioneer a new story for our food system. Here is a glimpse of what we imagine in the new OS:
An emphasis on stakeholder return on investment benefiting the whole system – whole-serving
More fresh, whole, organic foods are affordable and accessible to everyone
A re-imagination of industrial farming of animals eliminating inhumane practices or eliminating the need for animals at all in future food products
Minimal food waste
Full transparency on where food comes from, what’s in it, and how it is grown, made, and sold
A Farmacy in every hospital where food is thy medicine as Hippocrates imagined
Patents and technology shared openly and royalty-free like open source seeds and what Tesla and Toyota are doing in the auto industry to help advance transportation innovation
What would you like to see? I open the call to you as well to imagine what a new food system OS would do because it’s going to take all of us.
Yes. This is asking A LOT! But, it’s not impossible. The emergence of a new food system OS is already underway, and here are some examples:
Chipotle was the first fast food chain to label GMOs for transparency and made a commitment to go as GMO-free as possible. Their stock in the last month of 2014 hovered around $650 per share. CMG was higher than Google’s at $510. Shake Shack, the sustainable ingredients, humanely-raised beef burger and shakes chain has filed for a $100 million IPO.
Plant-based food manufacturers, Hampton Creek Foods, re-imagining the egg, and Beyond Meat, re-imagining meat, have both received funding from top Silicon Valley venture capital firms and two of the wealthiest people on the planet – Bill Gates and Li Ka-Shing.
In 2014, the Open Source Seed Initiative launched.
We can make this change happen.
You and I have the right to a well life: to eat well, feel well, and live well. We have the power through our purchases and voice to demand better standards from our food system, and make the world a better place.
We have the ability to create good by eating good.
I’m one of those “half-full” people that believes everything happens for us versus to us. As an example, my friend Darya at Summer Tomato wrote this great post about transformative gifts:
A transformative gift is any circumstance or event that feels negative in the present moment, but ultimately reveals itself as a gift that benefits your life tremendously.
These gifts help us become a better human being. Often, we don’t recognize these gifts at first because they can come in the form of tragedy, loss, or disappointment. When we begin to see the why of something, the a-Ha happens. This scene in Evan Almighty, one of my favorites, best expresses what’s happening.
My biggest transformative gift came in August 2001 in the form of a nervous breakdown in the HR lady’s office at my fancy Silicon Valley job.
I’m not kidding when I say that I lost my shit and had an epic meltdown at work.
I was put on medication and forced to go on medical leave for three months.
Back then, I self-identified being the strong, perfect, super woman who would never dare show signs of weakness or vulnerability. I was competing in male-dominated Silicon Valley so I was the gladiator.
I pushed myself to unrelenting expectations…just so I could get ahead.
Sound familiar? Can you relate?
With a mentality like that, you don’t willingly go take care of yourself because that would appear weak. You have to be taken out at the knees so you’re “forced” to go. So, that’s what my body did. She took me down! She got drastic for my own good.
I was given many signs and opportunities to change, but did not.
I was arrogant and ignorant.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I was able to see my transformative gift, that this breakdown was really a breakthrough. This gift of going on medical leave not only helped me learn about healing, and surrender, but it helped me find my life purpose.
Before medical leave, often, I would stare out the airplane window on my latest work road trip and look at the clouds and the earth below and get existential. I would ask God why I was here.
I believed I could get a better answer because I was in the sky closer to God.
I wanted to know what was the point of my existence. On the surface, I had a life many people were envious of, but deep down, I hated the person I had become.
I love reading the HONY (Humans of New York) stories so here’s the backstory HONY-style on what happened during medical leave that helped changed my life for good.
When did life as you know it change?
It was a week after 9/11. I was on medical leave from my high-paying Silicon Valley job. I came home from a doctor’s appointment and collapsed on the couch drugged out from new meds.
I dropped my bag on the floor and everything fell out. My eyes focused on the letters W,T,F on my pill organizer.
I didn’t see Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. I saw What The Fuck.
Looking up, hypnotized by the spinning ceiling fan in my drug-induced state, I thought, “What if I died suddenly like all those people in 9/11?”
Clarity struck. I decided, fuck this. My legacy will not be a depressed, pill popping, corporate servant.
I want to feel alive.
First step. No more pills!
I was determined to get off the meds. I hated the side effects. I didn’t feel better. I felt worse. I went to see a naturopathic doctor for the first time in my life to see if alternative medicine could get me off the pills. This was a big deal because I grew up believing that Western medicine was the only way to heal.
It’s the first time I saw empathy in a doctor’s eyes. My ND figured out the true source of what was making me sick, and she got me off all the pills.
That’s when I learned the difference between creating health and disease management. That’s when I learned that food could be a source of disease as well as a source of healing. That’s when I was grateful that I trusted what my body told me.
I am well. I have been pill-free since 2002. I want to be pill-free when I’m 75.
That clarity was righteous indignation. I just absolutely refused to accept that pill popping was my future. That way of life was unacceptable. I didn’t care what those doctors in my fancy hospital told me.
When I was a kid, I dreamed about becoming a pilot or an architect. It never occurred to me that one of my life goals would be being pill-free. Why would it?
Look at what our culture has become today. We’re Generation Rx where pill organizers are becoming as common as having a water bottle.
Here’s a simple question. How many people do you know who are pill-free? How many people over the age of 60 do you know who are pill-free?
Let me start with my physical health issues, and then I’ll share the emotional/mental health issues.
I had Adrenal fatigue, Irritable bowel, Leaky gut, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. I suffered from hives and big patches of eczema that would appear on my body and never go away. I always felt tired even though I’d sleep 8-10 hours.
Turns out the source of my physical health issues was food allergies, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and metal toxicity. The pills my Western doctors were prescribing me were actually useless at healing me.
I started to see the light. We don’t have a healthcare system. We have a disease management system.
Although, I had a bad experience with meds, I am not anti-pills. Many meds help people and save lives. Pills are not the problem. It’s the business model behind them. What disturbs me is the profit made off keeping humans in a perpetual state of unwellness.
There is no profit in wellness in a disease management system.
The Naturopathic doctor was the first doctor to ever test me for food allergies, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and metal toxicity. I had some of the best medical insurance and was going to one of the best hospitals in the Bay Area, and not one of my doctors tested me for any of these things. It turns out I was allergic to over a dozen foods. Dairy and eggs were the worst.
Egg-white only omelettes and organic cottage cheese, foods my trainer and nutritionist told me would do my body good, turned out to do my body bad.
I was highly deficient in tryptophan which is a key building block of serotonin which monitors our moods. Getting my tryptophan level back up to speed so my body could produce the proper levels of serotonin was key in helping me get off the SSRI I was taking for depression.
I was toxic in mercury, lead and tungsten. The high levels of mercury were because of all the farm-raised seafood I was eating like salmon, tuna and tilapia. Through doing elimination diets, I also discovered that my body reacted negatively to artificial and highly processed ingredients like food dyes, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, and food thickeners.
Like many, I bought into the low-calorie, low-fat story. I focused on calories of food versus the quality of the food.
The industrialization of our food system has turned food into a significant source of disease where it should be a source of vitality. I want to live in a world where no one suffers from disease or sickness like I did because of the food they eat. Getting sick from food was insight into my life purpose work.
It’s time to end Generation Rx and create generations of Wellenials.
Now, onto what was happening on the emotional/mental level.
Here I am on a yacht I rented for my birthday party, four months before I went on medical leave.
I had the glamorous life I worked so hard to get. I had a high-profile marketing job at a successful tech startup that went IPO and made all of us rich. I lived in a swank apartment. Bought my Mercedes with cash. I traveled all over the world, ate at the finest restaurants and partied at the coolest clubs. I could shop and buy what I wanted and never look at the sale rack.
I had it all.
That’s what I told myself. Inside was a whole other story.
Here’s the beautiful smile masking the pain.
Oh, and there was A LOT of pain.
I suffered from things that have shame and stigma attached to them. Coupled with the physical issues, this is why I ended up on medical leave:
Panic and anxiety attacks. I worked in an environment that was highly toxic and combative. I was constantly living in fear and anxiety about when I’d get attacked or thrown under the bus. Working in a predominantly male industry, I also had to deal constantly with men making sexual advances and inappropriate behavior.
Eating disorder – bulimia
A boyfriend sexually assaulted me several years prior to me going on medical leave. I told no one and tried to rationalize it in my head that it never happened, and buried myself in my career thinking I could work it away, but yeah, no dice.
PTSD from the sexual assault
Alcohol abuse – I was self-medicating to numb my pain and it got to the point of me blanking out and not remembering what I had done or said that night.
Agoraphobia – Had a mild form of this for about 3 years after medical leave. I would go out but only to my regular places where I felt safe like my gym, the grocery store, gas station, Target or to the homes of friends and family.
So yeah, long story short, I was effed up. Not even going to sugarcoat it. Straight up, it was like VH1 Behind The Music BAD.
Along with my naturopathic doctor, to help with my emotional and mental health issues, I also saw a great therapist, and tried a whole bunch of alternative healing treatments like reiki, breathe work, past life therapy, chakra therapy, hand analysis which taught me plenty about why I was depressed in my career, crystal energy work, and a whole bunch of other things.
I kind of went on a metaphysical safari trying out all these new agey treatments mainly because I was just so fascinated with it all. Much of it was kinda hocus pocus, but there were a few that wow healed me faster than anything I experienced in any western hospital. I’ll save all that for another post.
I started blogging in 2005 and shared my experiences because I wanted to help bring some light to health issues that have shame and stigma attached because there is no need to hide, to deny, or to feel embarrassed or ashamed.
The more we talk about this stuff, the better it gets.
I want you to know that if you are early on or in the middle of your healing process, that you can and will come out the other end better. You can thrive.
For me, the work of healing looked daunting and overwhelming in the beginning, so believe me if you feel like it’s too much, I totally get it.
There will be some really shitty, ugly cry, painful-ass days where you will feel like you got the beat down of your life from Apollo Creed like Rocky in the ring, not going to lie. But, you can get through this and come out victorious.
I love the final fight scene in Rocky because it perfectly embodies metaphorically my experience, and was an inspiration while I was in the healing process. Medical leave was the fight of my life for my health and future. It was time for me to reach into that warrior spirit of mine, get back on my feet and not give up.
Kris Carr refers to cancer as teacher. I relate to that. Since I am a Sci-Fi lover, I refer to my health issues as Jedi mentor, the Yoda to my Luke Skywalker.
When I returned to work from medical leave, I resigned after 5 days. I chose my health, my life. Many thought I was crazy for giving up security; a paycheck, pre-IPO stock options, and medical benefits especially since 9/11 happened.
I reasoned, I can always make money. I cannot get time or my health back.
So, I quit. I was done pretending to be happy.
Leaving my job made all the sense in the world. And 9/11 was a slap of reality for me that life was too short. I wasn’t going to waste any more of my precious life for a job that literally made me sick and was killing my soul.
What I didn’t know at the time, my resignation was the end of my corporate career. I was beginning my life as an entrepreneur, and a changemaker.
I have been pill-free since 2002. I dropped 40 lbs and have kept that weight off since 2008. I no longer diet. I just eat. I learned what my body needs to be well.
Going on medical leave, my transformative gift, I came to see that you are not given the life you want, but are given the life you need. Things don’t happen to you. They happen for you.
I am grateful for the blessing of my gift.
For more details, I wrote a book about my medical leave experience called, “Death of a Road Warrior,” available on Kindle for $2.99 or free if you’re a Prime member.