Category Archives: volunteer

Yum Yum Colostrum: A Volunteer Experience at Coonridge Organic Goat Dairy

Prior to volunteering for a month at Nancy Coonridge’s Organic Goat Dairy, my only experience with cheesemaking was a tour at the Tillamook cheese factory. I figured at Nancy’s, I would be the guy who filled the cheese jars for eight hours a day.  In reality, the only consistent work was gathering chicken eggs and milking and feeding the goats.

Cheese production only went into full swing a week before fairs, and turning the milk into cheese was rather easy. The way Nancy has her facility set up, if a person can follow instructions and use common sense, the process was enjoyable.  The cleaning process can be tedious and long, but once the cheese has been made and the cheese room clean, the rest of the time a person can be called upon to work on a wide variety of projects like rescuing a goat from a mud puddle, chasing the chickens toward a pile of maggots, or trying to clip the hooves of a surly goat in the afternoon sun.

The Drive

The 4.5 hour drive from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Coonridge Organic Dairy in the wilds of New Mexico begins with learning the conversational styles of our new friends, Dave and Kita.

Dave drives in silence.  Occasionally his mouth opens wide enough to slide in a camel stud.  As we leave the paved road, Dave murmurs something.  I ask him to repeat it.  He doesn’t take the cigarette out of his mouth.  Unintelligible words become louder.  Smoke escapes along with sounds.  People say the sun always shines in New Mexico — not true when there’s a big cloud of cigarette smoke hovering over the driver’s head.

I wonder how safe it can be to travel into the desert in an unfamiliar state with total strangers.  Is this how young women from Eastern Europe wind up in the sex trade — by answering goat cheese ads on the internet?

Kita, the co-pilot, lives under a brilliant rainbow.  For a person with no teeth, she has the most beautiful smile.  She has a contagious laugh and an inquisitive mind.  She tells us stories of her Native American punk rock days including the Sex Pistols with Sid Vicious.

The last five miles of the drive takes the SUV on a slow climb through an arroyo to the top of an 8000 ft mountain.  Kita explains that the arroyo becomes impassible in the monsoon season or during an occasional male thunderstorm.  Within minutes raindrops can collectively turn the dry arroyo into several feet deep of rapidly moving water.

Accomodations

The arroyo opens up and Nancy’s house comes into full view.  In front of the house there are goats in the shade chewing their cud, barking Maremma dogs, chickens scratching the dirt, and cats humping.  French speaking women come out to the car to greet us and we wave good-bye to Dave and Kita. Our new friends are fellow volunteers at the goat dairy and fully aware of the long drive.  They take us to our cabin built on the ledge of a mesa that overlooks the valley.

View from our cabin

rain water catchment and solar panel

Bucket with a toilet seat

painted the milk container flat black

In a beautiful French accent we are told to relax and the cabin has everything needed to make a month go by comfortably.  The off the grid studio cabin has a water catchment system, electricity from a solar panel, and heat from a wood stove.  If we choose to poop in front of each other there’s a bucket with a toilet seat.  To bathe we use water heated on the wood stove or a homemade solar shower.  The cabin has all the comforts and energy needed to work on Earthworm Envy projects, read and listen to music.

The mornings are cool and cozy with natural light filtering through the cabin windows.  This sort of blissful reality makes a person stay in bed till their bladder becomes painfully full.  The outhouse has been built down the trail near the main buildings.

With my Maremma protector, I never felt afraid to use the outhouse

A large white Maremma dog whose bloodline can be traced back to the times of Caesar has taken to guarding the goats and the outhouse.  The dog starts to bark the bark that will make a bear flee.  My body says run in the opposite direction, but I keep advancing, listening to my brain that says the dog has never attacked an innocent pooper.

The main house has a large common area complete with a gas stove and refrigerator.  The goat-food lovers paradise awaits in the fridge:  goat milk, goat cheese, goat yogurt, goat hamburger. One wall has been lined with shelves that hold a plethora of dried foods and a library that contains a large selection of Tony Hillerman and Wendell Berry books.

hanging cast iron and mugs on nails

I fed my belly radishes and my mind Wendell Berry

Outside there’s a large garden that serves up leafy greens and radishes.  Free range hens that sleep in a tree instead of a henhouse lay eggs inside and around the barn.

Although there was never enough water to wash the truck, float on a plastic orca in a swimming pool or grow a palm tree, we bathed, cooked and hydrated with carefully managed rainwater.

Solar panels harnessed enough electricity for internet research/communication, to charge ipods along with travel speakers, power a laptop to edit video, and plenty of light to read.  There was not enough electricity to power small refrigerators full of Coke placed strategically throughout the ranch or to run an entertainment system to watch the newest Transformers movie on an HDTV, with surround sound, and enjoy Blue Ray disc features.

Without a microwave and processed food, meals couldn’t be consumed in minutes.  Instead, dinner could take an hour or longer. The kitchen became our classroom about all things goat related including entertaining stories about Nancy hitchhiking with her goats, goats eating someone’s marijuana crop, and a peg legged man trekking from the ranch to Albuquerque.

Daily Life

Around 9AM Nancy would start formulating the days plans which were always a new adventure. Here are a couple of examples of a workday:

Nancy and I help a fellow co-worker

One time while taking a tour of the property, we found a goat stuck in a huge mud puddle.  We rolled up our pant legs, and Nancy pushed and I pulled until the scared little goat got loose.  Another goat was not so lucky, and we had to pull the goat carcass from the mud puddle with a tractor. The tractor got stuck in the mud, so we had to walk back to the house to get a truck to pull out the tractor.  Nancy then buried the goat.  Several days later an awful smell surrounded the grave.  The ground had sunken in, exposing the goat to the air, and maggots had started to make a meal out of the flesh.  We chased the chickens into the grave area, and I have never seen such happy chickens.  They jumped and clucked around like little kids in a candy store.

Another time Nancy and I played cowboy to a cow that wandered onto the ranch.  The strategy: she would take the high rocky ground in her socks and I would take the relatively flat low ground in my shoes.  She kept that cow from wandering further into the ranch by chasing it at full speed and somehow avoiding sharp rocks and cactus.  Why was Nancy wearing socks?  This is one of the many Coonridge mysteries.

One day Nancy left the ranch with a truck full of cheese, a puppy, and a couple who couldn’t handle the beauty of the ranch.  Around mid-afternoon we saw Nancy walking up the road toward the house.  The truck had broken down several miles out in the arroyo.  Luckily, there was a spare truck, but it needed a battery.  We then took a battery from an old bus and placed it in the spare truck.  Three volunteers went with Nancy to help transfer the contents from the broken truck into the spare truck.  The rest of the afternoon we spent exploring arroyos, peaks, and cliffs as we walked back to the ranch.

At Coonridge, I got to meet and work with other goat lovers.  An interesting quirk about this goat-loving work crew is that we didn’t all take the same university classes or have similar cultural or socio-economic backgrounds.  Planting lettuce turned into an education about starting a small soap business in French speaking Canada.  Laying pipe turned into a hilarious story about the best place in Nicaragua to get a root canal.  Burying a dead chicken turned into a conversation about hair and culture.

The Goats

Click on the photo to watch the video GOAT WALKING in NEW MEXICO

The goats became some of my favorite coworkers.  Now, I am sure some readers are asking themselves what the hell is he talking about?  Yes, I know a goat can’t buy you a shot, smoke you out, sign a check, tell a funny story, or write a letter of recommendation.   A goat’s personality has mysteries that cannot be explained by medication or family histories nor can it be coaxed out after a couple of drinks or several I love you statements.  Those eyes can see into your soul.  Out in the middle of the desert, once a goat has you one-on-one, you do start talking, and suddenly a goat that you have just met knows more about your life story than your partner of seven years.

The goat has been the only coworker I have helped hold down while its throat has been cut, the only coworker I have cooked up in cast iron, the only coworker I have ever had to help bury, the only coworker I have not been grossed out by when their tits are slightly scabby, the only coworker I have seen survive a rattlesnake bite, the only coworker I have happily drank its bodily fluid, and the only coworker I look at and think yum yum colostrum.

fresh out of the womb

Not until working at a goat ranch did I realize why there is such a low turnover rate in hospital labor and delivery departments.  The joy of being around healthy mothers and babies puts a smile on anyone’s face.  Never once did I yawn at the news of baby goats being born.  No matter what was going on, planting veggies or filling water tanks, everyone drops everything to go and say “howdy” to the newborns.

An unexpected perk was the need for baby goats to bond with humans.   Part of the room and board compensation was for the chore of playing with baby goats.  At no time did Nancy have to say, “I’m not going to feed you till play with the baby goats.”

If you too want to gain a better understanding of the homesteader goat cheese industry and to purchase cheese check out Nancy’s website, www.organicgoatcheese.com

Special Thanks to Nancy

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Vangviang Organic Farm located in Vang Vieng, Laos

Journey to the Source of the Mulberry Leaf Omelet

Nutritious and delicious, the mulberry leaf omelet at the Organic Farm Café takes the omelet experience directly to my body in a nourishing and satisfying sort of way. After a few bites of speckled green omelet, I’ve fallen in love and want to meet the mulberry leaf’s source of goodness, similar to how couples who are in love become curious about the source of their partners’ good looks. After asking around, I find out that my omelet’s mulberry leaves’ tree parents live only 3 km from town at the Vangviang Organic Farm.

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From the restaurant, I walk across the street to a bike rental shop. Ten bikes are lined up on a patch of dirt accompanied by a ‘bikes for rent’ sign. I hand the man a dollar (the dollar is one of the many currencies accepted in Laos), and the popular LA brand bicycle is mine for the day.

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My route takes me through the center of Vang Vieng a.k.a. Tube Town. While riding, it dawns on me that the challenge of travel is how to maintain a familiar level of comfort while in a foreign culture. Here, it’s easy. Countless bars serve up a mind-numbing cocktail of drugs in milkshakes or on pizzas, TVs show constant reruns of Friends, and low tables surrounded by pillows invite one to lounge the day away.

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A few blocks from the bar scene, the Nam Song River flows through town. The popular tourist activity is to tube the river while wearing small amounts of clothing. Most of the men are shirtless with sculpted hair. The women wear big sunglasses that hide part of the forehead, eyes, and upper cheeks. It seems the women like to show off everything but the upper part of their faces. The bright bikinis make up for the lack of eye color.

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I leave the tourists in Tube Town behind, and continue on the road toward the farm. The road is a transportation utopia – shared by foot traffic, bicycle traffic, motorcycles and trucks. Everyone appears at ease with everyone else. This feeling of serenity must come with knowing the motive behind what you are doing. American drivers always seem perturbed when they drive. I think a lot of that frustration comes from driving without a real purpose.

A conversation between an American motorist and himself:
Self, “What the hell am I doing by myself in this gigantic Humvee driving to the store a mile away from home to buy a can of soda?”

Inner Self, “You look good in a Humvee! You can afford a Humvee, so it is your god given right to drive a Humvee!!”

Self, “This stop-and-go traffic sucks!! This street needs to be widened from two lanes to four. Look at those trees taking up valuable driving space.”

Inner Self, “You should be able to drive freely, and nature ought to be caged in national parks.”

Self, “There are no parking spaces close to the store. Why can’t the store be longer so there can be more storefront parking? I hate walking.”

Inner Self, “Leave the walking to the four-legged critters who don’t have the sense to drive, but you still want to maintain a healthy look. Don’t drink regular soda. You need Diet Coke Plus!”

Self, “I know, I drive by the billboard so many times, I have it memorized. Each 8-ounce serving of Diet Coke Plus provides 15% of the daily value for niacin and vitamins B6 and B12, and 10% for zinc and magnesium – but I only have a coupon for regular soda. I promise I’ll eat a chewable Flintstone vitamin as soon as I get home. Maybe go to the gym?”

Inner Self, “You always break promises. You feel ugly and guilty.”

Self, “I’m going to take a drive in the country to relax.”

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A Lao truck driver would never ask himself why he’s driving a gigantic truck, because the answer is obvious – the 10 chatting people in the back or the sound of a mooing cow.

When I arrive at Vangviang Organic Farm, I find more than mulberry trees. I find a business built on the philosophy of preserving ecological diversity and providing locals with accessible and sustainable technologies to earn a living. Someone here must realize that you can grow a vegetable from chemicals, pesticides and big industry, but you can’t create a salad from thousands of acres of corn.

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Even with the success of the mulberry business, the owners want more than just a mulberry tree empire. At the farm, there are goats, guest houses, and a beautiful vegetable garden. There is also a volunteer program to help build community centers, teach English, feed baby goats and many other projects. The goal of the farm is to grow a healthy community.

As I pedal back to town, I wonder what it would be like to order an omelet in Boise, Idaho and use the omelet as a guide for a bicycle adventure. For instance, would the hash browns be made from local potatoes within bike riding distance? If so, would I get run over by a Humvee along the treeless four lanes of Fairview Ave on my way to the farm? When I arrive at the farm tucked away between the suburban sprawl of Meridian and Boise, will I be greeted by a business that provides a local product and supports local people? Or will I find a dusty field growing one crop only and the topsoil blowing away in the wind?

Thinking of the traffic and monoculture farm practices makes drugs and reruns of Friends seem like a bright future. Actually, I think the future is all ready here. How many times a day can a person watch Friends reruns on network and cable TV? How easy is it to get prescription drugs? Hmmmmm….

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This blog post sponsored by Local Grub.

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Click on the logo to learn about Local Grub

Valentine’s Day (short film)

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click on photo to watch: Valentine’s Day

To make your travel experience more meaningful, try volunteering at a school. The kids will LOVE you for it. We found our volunteer gig through helpx.net. Thanks, Aidan, for starring in our video.

If you’re interested in reading more about our month at Ban Kumuang School, check out:
First Environment, Then Education
Why are you trying to make me FAT? (omelet review)

First Environment, Then Education

Throughout Thailand, I’ve seen a lot of streets, villages and schools littered with garbage. In the United States, I’ve seen students trash their schools knowing that it’s the janitors’ jobs to clean up after them. I’ve seen adults trash the environment thinking the government or some environmental group will clean up after them. It seems people don’t realize it’s EVERYONE’s responsibility to care for our environment.

At Ban Kumuang School in rural Isaan, Thailand, the students work together each morning to clean the school. While volunteering at the school for a month, I loved watching the students start their school day by caring for their environment with their friends.

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In the United States, children repeat
the pledge of allegiance
at the beginning of each school day.

However, unconditional love for one’s country
is not sufficient
to guide one’s education.

We need to learn from the example set
by the faculty and children at Ban Kumuang School.

The environment should be a person’s moral compass
to determine how to properly use one’s education.

It is education without regard for the environment
that has created
some of the 20th century’s most heinous crimes.

It is the educated
who created the atom bomb,
weapons to sell to third world countries,
the U.S. freeway system and oil addiction!

When the U.S. becomes
NOT the largest arms exporter
BUT the largest exporter of green technology,

then the U.S. can rightfully claim to be a country of educated people.

Not Lost in Cambodia

For those of you who haven’t heard the word, we’re not lost in Cambodia. Actually, we’re lost in California and slowly making our way back to Idaho for the summer. Even though we’re no longer in SE Asia, we’ll be adding more SE Asia omelet reviews and short films to earthwormenvy.com, then turning our attention to Pacific Northwest omelets and adventures. SE Asia omelet reviews will be available in book or zine form mid-summer.

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Not lost in Cambodia
Boiseans work, document six-month trip to Southeast Asia

By Jeanne Huff – Idaho Statesman
Edition Date: 04/15/07

A little more than six months ago, Boiseans Brandon Follett, 31, and Amy Johnson, 30, set out on a journey to Southeast Asia. They chose a destination they didn’t know much about. Neither knew the language well, although Johnson studied some guidebooks for often-used phrases and numbers so they could keep track of how much things cost.

Before their trip, the two had produced and sold videos to Current TV and had published poems, articles and reviews for a variety of publications. While on the road, they continued selling videos and publishing articles. They also worked their way through southeast Asia as volunteer farmers, English teachers and construction laborers.

Follett and Johnson are spending their last weeks abroad in an ocean-side bungalow in Ko Chang. They’re due to return to Boise on May 7.

I recently chatted with Follett and Johnson via Skype (a cool way to phone overseas on a dime) and then followed up with these questions via e-mail. What follows is an edited version of our phone and e-mail conversations.

What made you decide to go to Thailand? Why for so long?

Amy: Brandon wanted to go to Thailand to explore a culture that wasn’t as Western-influenced.

Brandon: And Amy can be talked into going pretty much anywhere. (Laughs.)

Amy: The first month everything is new and fun. After three months, the place starts to feel like home.

Things that caught our attention when we first arrived start to feel like everyday. The fish eyeballs on the table no longer freak me out. I no longer wonder why everyone’s wearing yellow shirts on Mondays, and we actually have two yellow shirts each to wear in honor of the king.

In the restrooms, I no longer bother looking for soap or toilet paper, and riding on the back of a motorcycle feels safe and comfortable.

How have you kept yourselves going there? How do you make ends meet, stay alive? Where do you stay?

B&A (e-mail): We volunteer to stay alive. It’s a way to meet people and keep ourselves entertained, to give some sort of meaning to our travels, and it’s also a way to support ourselves since we’re traveling on very little savings.

We found some volunteer farm gigs though World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and a volunteer English teaching job through helpx.net.

We get around by public transportation. Mostly buses and one overnight train ride. Thailand has a good bus and train system. During our one month volunteer teaching (job), the director of the school let us use his motorcycle.

Brandon: We rented a motorcycle for a few days in Cambodia.

Amy: We usually stay at the cheapest guest house we can find that still fits our minimum standards of cleanliness. We made a short film about our first guest house experience — “Guy Guesthouse, Trat, Thailand,” it’s on our Web site.

Brandon: I find volunteering more rewarding than sitting in a swimming pool looking at the ocean from a hotel.

Tell us a little about your filmmaking in Thailand, your blogging, your omelet reviews.

Amy: We started our filmmaking and omelet reviews last summer while still living in Boise in preparation for documenting our world travels, which began in June 2006 when we left Boise to live in Moscow, Idaho, for five months. We started writing omelet reviews as something fun to do on Sunday mornings while exploring rural Idaho, and it’s turning into a genre of its own. All of our omelet reviews are on our Web site. We posted our first guest omelet review last week, and we know of a few other travelers currently writing omelet reviews to add to our collection.

An Omelet in Phnom Penh” has been published by Gumption magazine and Tales of Asia Web site. “Kraft-inspired Omelet” was published in Gumption magazine.

B&A (e-mail): In Thailand, everything is new to us here, so there are lots of interesting things to film, like cockfighting and a barber shop named after JFK. People back home seem more interested in films about eating bugs in Thailand than picking huckleberries in Idaho.

However, The Discovery Channel is interested in both the bug film and the huckleberry film for the “Show us Your World” series. We’re waiting to hear final word from them on when our short films will be aired.

Our blogs are mainly our omelet reviews and short films. Some poems and other travel stories are also mixed in. We don’t update on a daily basis, but we’re continually writing and editing, so we add new posts when we have something that’s quality.

Our “Honda Dream” travel story about renting a motorcycle in Cambodia (was) published on GoNomad Web site in March.

Haggard and Halloo published the poems “I’m still Poor, Eating like a Yuppie who shops at the Boise Co-op,” and “Cockfight.”

What do you like the most about Thailand?

B&A (e-mail): Combined businesses/residences — a restaurant/small store/laundry/etc. in front and the family living area in back or upstairs. We’ve seen many examples of this all over the country.

We like the direction some of the farmers are going with sustainable agriculture.

We like the respect that people show to their elders and how families take care of each other. “Mai pen rai” attitude, which translates to something between never mind and no worries. It’s about not getting upset about anything, rather an acceptance of whatever comes along, knowing that it, too, will soon pass.

What is hardest about living there?

Amy: The visa/immigration regulations.

Brandon: Remembering not to use the local water.

Amy: Remembering not to point the bottoms of my feet at people because I’m used to sitting with my feet out in front of me, but in Buddhism the feet are considered the lowest and dirtiest part of the body and shouldn’t be pointed at other people. The head is the highest and you shouldn’t touch people on the head.

Buying deodorant. All of it is advertised as “whitening.” Thai people spend a lot of money on whitening products. We find it ironic because we know people back home who spend a lot of time and money on skin-darkening products.

What do you do for fun there?

B&A (e-mail): We play rummy. We’ve been playing for the past few years. Current score: Amy 45,930, Brandon 44,090. We talk to other travelers. Make films and write omelet reviews. Play music. Read books.

Is it hard communicating when you basically don’t know the language?

Amy: Sometimes. Only if we’re in a hurry. If we have a lot of time and patience, then it’s easy. Example: when we ended up at the police station because the name of the police station was the same name as the road our hotel was on.

We’ve learned to write things down in the Thai language to try to make ourselves understood. We carry around the Thai word for vegetable fried rice, and that usually serves us well. I know the numbers and enough Thai to try to negotiate lower fares for tuk-tuk (taxi) rides and things that we buy at the markets.

That’s another fun part about Thailand travel — in many places, the prices are not set, and it’s part of the culture to discuss between buyer and seller to establish a price.

What is the most interesting food experience you’ve had?

Amy: Many places have English menus. I once tried to order from the menu by pointing to a picture that looked good. I only tried that once because it didn’t work very well for me.

Brandon: Most interesting food experience: Disco dancing shrimp that crawl off your plate toward the water. This is the most interesting eating experience because usually I have someone else kill the creatures that I eat.

There’s nothing more psychologically interesting than letting the little shrimp get within an inch of freedom then snatch it up and kill it with a swift chomp by the molars. I do not swallow the shrimp whole because that seems a little inhumane to let them be slowly digested alive.

I eat fried insects whenever I get the chance. We made a film about eating bugs called “An Afternoon Snack” that the Discovery Channel is interested in and almost made Amy’s aunt hurl.

Amy: I am not as adventuresome when it comes to eating insects. I was able to eat some fried ants when I wrapped them up in a leaf and made the effort to not think about what I was eating, then they were actually quite flavorful.

The disco shrimps were a bit more challenging. They jump off the plate and wiggle around on the mat (we’re sitting cross-legged on bamboo mats to eat), and they jump off the spoon if you’re not quick. I was able to eat two small ones to satisfy my dinner mates, but I couldn’t bring myself to touch the chicken foot that Brandon put on my plate when I wasn’t looking.

Any advice for others who might want to travel to an exotic land, spend very little money and not know the language or much about where they’re going?

Amy: Don’t do it. (Laughs.) Know yourself well and do what fulfills you, not necessarily what’s listed in the Lonely Planet as the top 10. Make your own top 10. Do your best to learn the language, even if it’s difficult. At the very least, know how to say hello and thank you, and knowing the numbers is very helpful, too.

English is becoming a world language, but don’t expect everyone to speak English.

Above all, travel with respect for the people and the environment of the place you are visiting. Try to see beyond your own culture. You’ll see many different practices and customs, recognize them as different from what you know but not necessarily better or worse. Withhold judgment and take the opportunity to learn about other ways of being. Call home and e-mail travel updates and reports.

Brandon: Don’t go as a tourist.

To offer story ideas or comments, contact Jeanne Huff at jhuff@idahostatesman.com or 377-6483.

Ban Kumuang School located in rural Isaan, Thailand

Why are you trying to make me FAT?
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My belly is getting bigger. Not that it’s news worthy that an American is getting fatter, but never thought I’d gain weight as a result of eating rice, eggs, fruit and vegetables.

I always figured it was fast food and processed food that made people fat. I thought people got fat from slurping down soda, licking sugary ketchup off their fingers, wiping the fat from burgers off their lips, and pretending white bread with some injected vitamins has nutritional value. When these people couldn’t get enough fast food, they would then super size meals, call Domino’s Pizza, buy a Twinkie at the convenience store, or lose themselves in the isles of processed food found at the supermarket.

All my life people told me to eat healthy by saying no to processed food and yes to fresh and local. While volunteering Ban Kumuang School in rural Isaan for a month, I ate breakfast and lunch with the teachers, and dinner was at the home of the director and his wife. With no processed food in sight, I didn’t think twice about watching my waistline.

Within a couple of days of starting my job, the Thai teachers noticed the chicken feet and spoon-sized frogs left uneaten on my plate. I’m vegetarian, I explained. Then next day, and for the rest of the month, eggs became the substitute for meat. The omelets became like the endless soda machine at Taco Bell. I never felt a minute of hunger while staying in one of Thailand’s poorest provinces.

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Getting fat off eggs, vegetables, fruit and rice came as surprise. I told the Thai teacher, “In the U.S., food corporations and fast food restaurants treat me the same way you indulge me. They try to get me to stuff myself with product. You put omelets in front of me and say, ‘eat, eat, eat.’ Then when I’m full, you put more omelets in front of me and say, ‘eat some more.’ Food businesses are always trying to get me to eat more than my stomach can handle. The food and drink marketers use coupons, two for one specials, happy hours, super size, buffets, and sexy women to sell large quantities of merchandise to make a profit. You, on the other hand, push food and drink on me with the same intensity as the corporations, but you don’t make me pay. Why are you trying to make me fat?”

The teacher replies, “Thai hosts are happy when you get fatter. It means they are taking good care of you.”

Luckily, my weight gain was not the cause of someone trying to make a buck off my consumer-dulled mind. My weight gain is a testament to our Thai hosts’ generous hospitality.

Thai Sticks (short film in 3 parts)

It’s not uncommon to see four people on a motorbike in Thailand, so we thought we’d give it a try while filming a commercial for bundled bamboo drumsticks. Along with two other volunteer WWOOFers, we filmed “Thai Sticks” during our recent stay at Farm Ken outside of Chiang Rai, Thailand.

Click on the photos to watch.
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Special thanks to Tine Maenhout, Christine Ferriter and Ken Albertsen for their photography, filming, editing, acting and good humor. To read the complete story about the making of the film, go to Thai Style at Farm Ken.

For more drumstick info: http://www.wonderfull.com/stix.htm

photo album of the filming of Thai Sticks

Democrat Nicole LeFavour eats an Omelet

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I never thought politics, omelets, Republicans, and Democrats would mix at the Sunrise Cafe. On Saturday, the mind and the belly joined forces with the support of representatives in the Idaho Legislature, Democrat Nicole LeFavour and Republican Kathy Skippen. I first met Nicole through poetry and then had the pleasure of helping during her 2004 campaign. My favorite memory of the campaign was giving Nicole a pump on my bicycle through District 19. Since Nicole is running unchallenged this fall, it has allowed her to help other candidates seeking reelection, like Kathy Skippen, who is, to my surprise, a Republican. Despite the walls built by Rush Limbaugh and his equivalent on the Democrat side, Nicole and Kathy demonstrate that the well- being of Idahoans comes before rhetoric. After omelets, a crew of about 15 supporters of what-makes-sense-for-Idaho went on a lit drop. Please check out Nicole’s website at www.4idaho.org. I hear Nicole and Carol are in France unionizing. Best of LUCK!!!!

If peace talks ever do begin between the world’s evil doers, I hope the discussions start off over omelets. George W. Bush would bring the eggs from his ranch; the Israelis and Palestinians would bring olives; the Iranians would bring oil for the grill; Osama Bin Ladin would bring goat cheese. If the evil powers can come together, make omelets, and eat at the same table, maybe there is hope for a global society.

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Sunrise Cafe
200 East Main
Middleton, Idaho
(208) 585-9700