Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Why I'm Fasting for Action on Climate Change

Fast for the Climate is a group of people who are fasting for action on climate change this year. I am joining them. Here is more about the group action from the website: 

2014 is a crucial year in shaping our response to climate change. Climate change meetings throughout the year, including the Climate Leaders Summit in New York, are building up to the crucial UN climate talks in Lima, Peru in December. The UN climate negotiations in Lima this year, part of a negotiating process started in 1995, will be the most important climate change meeting ever yet, and will lay the foundations for binding agreements next year in Paris. Throughout the year there are significant moments in the climate change calendar and we are linking our monthly fasting on the first of each month to this process.
When I was first invited to this movement by food blogger ZeroWasteChef, I admit I was skeptical.  Could this action really influence decision makers?  It is a once a month fast, not a hunger strike. After thinking about it for a day or two, I realized that I could still make a difference in a small personal way no matter what the outcome of these fasts. 
I am fasting to show solidarity and support to those who believe in this effort.  I am also fasting, because I know that there is a problem with the diets and health of North American's like myself, which lead to over consumption of food. Food production, processing, and distribution are energy intensive, and we need to be mindful of that in the context of climate change.  USDA growing zones have changed.  Farmers are having to experiment with different salt resistant rice varieties in India and Bangladesh due to flooding.  Wheat production is down in the US due to drought. Olive oil production is down in both California and Europe due to record drought. The standard high sugar, high carbohydrate American diet leads to cravings for more and more of the same as well as insulin and leptin resistance. The body can 'forget' how to use it's own fat stores, leading to increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The person stuck in the sugary processed food diet gets caught in a cycle of eating too much food, even though they may have the fat reserves to power their body. Fasting can help break the cycle of dependence on factory processed high sugar and carbohydrate foods; food which requires more energy to produce than simple whole locally grown foods.  During fasting the body 'relearns' how to use its fat reserves as fuel, because the quick energy from sugary high carb foods are no longer available.
I am a big fan of intermittent fasting which I learned about from Dr. Joe Mercola. His website had many good articles on the topic. Going without food for just a 16 hour stretch (regularly skipping either breakfast or dinner) can help trigger the body to switch over to fat burning mode, signaling the body to use the energy stores that it already has. I did a fast last week before the official first of the month fast, just to make sure I could do it for 24 hours. I found that I needed to slow down my activity a bit and stay hydrated with tea and water, but I was fine. Toward the end of the day I had a bit of a dull head ache. I believe the relative ease at which I was able to complete the fast can be credited to my occasional intermittent 16 hour fasting that I was doing during the summer, as well as having around 25% body fat. I feel this percentage is too much even though that percentage is considered normal for women on a lot of charts.
Last week I saw a heckler making fun of an overweight woman on twitter who was wearing an #Ifastfortheclimate T-shirt. I applaud that faster, and I dare that heckler to try it themselves. It's not as easy as an ice bucket challenge, hmm?  I wish everyone who is participating success with their personal fasts, and success in influencing positive action by UN decision makers in Lima Peru this year. Thanks also to blogger You as a Cook for mentioning us in her blog post about why she is fasting for climate change.

Cory Trusty, president
Aquarian Bath
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