Repeated Message: Need More Good

It seems every day I get hit with more messages telling me the same thing, we need more good, not just less bad. We can do things that not only benefit ourselves, but also leave everyone and everything else better. Transactions where each side just trades goods, is not enough, our transactions must have positive ripples. Even President Biden’s plans seek to “Build Back Better”.

Overall, I am continually learning we can be better when doing good. For example, last week I saw, “Kiss the Ground“, a movie that demonstrated how farmers, food, nourishment and society can be better through better methods. My wife shared something that makes her life better and also improves our world. I also read an excellent journal article by Ilona Kickbusch, PhD, Visioning the future of health promotion , that explained there are better methods needed for the future and was how she was visioning this for the future. I keep hearing we can do more good, not just less bad.

When I say it must be more good, not just less bad I mean the more sustainable, selfish, selfless, synergistic way of doing. For example, my wife changed from dairy creamer to almond milk creamer and she prefers the almond creamer, its better – selfish. Choosing almond rather than a dairy based creamer is good for the environment and animals – Selfless. My wife, getting a better morning brew and the opportunity to feel good about herself in a better environment means she can have a better day and help more kids – she teaches – synergy. Only when it is more good, will we stick with changes and only then will we want to look for more ways to be more good, not just less bad.

Kiss the Ground” is a movie about better soil, which makes better food, enables farmers to earn more money, can capture more carbon and makes better food. The food nourishes us more, which means we want more of this food that the farmer feels good about selling, because he knows it also benefits the environment, so he wants to make more of, etc. etc. it goes round and round of more good, not just less bad.

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Halbert Dunn devised of the concept of Wellness. He explained wellness must be:

Strong enough to activate devotion of time, resources, and energies toward understanding and culturing health in a positive sense

Halbert Dunn (1959, High Level Wellness for Man & Society)

As he stated, Wellness, which I define as progress, (See Experiencing Wellness = Progress Toward Desired) must be strong enough to devote time, resources and energies toward it development. I think he meant that its achievements should mean enough to us that we want to work toward its achievement.

For example, the 2021 JAMA article, Association Between Structural Housing Repairs for Low-Income Homeowners and Neighborhood Crime by Eugenia C. South, MD; John MacDonald, PhD; Vincent Reina, PhD, showed fixing up house, not only gave people a better place to live and a better life – the better community also had less crime. Could it be because people watched out for their neighbors, had more pride of ownership, or other reasons. Yes! More good, is has more of an impact than less bad.

In my own way, it has been my focus to Create More Good, Not Just Less Bad as I explained in this 17 minute presentation I made to my university’s sustainability committee.

Creating more good was also what McDonough and Braungart highlighted in their book Upcycle (see Concept: Create More Good, Not Just Less Bad). Seventh Generation CEO Jeffrey Hollander also emphasized less bad is not enough to generate more good.

Over and over evidence continues to document that we should focus on how to create more good, not just less bad. To make things better, we have to also fix what we broke. Either way, it is the best thing we can do because we will be making a contribution, Selfish, that others will benefit from, Selfless, and then there will be a better world, Synergy. #SelfishSelflessSynergy

I continue to work to generate comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions from which everyone and everything benefits because it makes my dash – , valuable. The Dash is the poem written by Linda Ellis where the dash represents the time you were alive (i.e. like for my dad, 1932-2019) He made his dash valuable.

I am hoping these posts will inspire you to make your Dash even better by engaging in selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions that help everyone and everything. Please share how you generate #SelfishSelflessSynergy!

BeWell’r,

Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

#SelfishSelflessSynergy

Please share your thoughts and questions below.
Contact me: BeWellr@gmail.com

Conventional not Organic Farmers Should Pay a Premium

To practice paneugenesis means to generate comprehensive improvements by creating pervasive, reciprocal, selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.  Incumbent with these efforts means we will also be redesigning reality.  To redesign reality this means we need to build a better system that supports, encourages, nurtures and reinforces improvements.

To build a better system, a system must have multiple interdependent parts that can function as much on their own as possible while also contributing to making the whole system better. That means that each part contributes to the whole system and does not take from, or is a detriment to it.

This past week I attended the first East Carolina University Sustainability Symposium.  It was excellent.  While being inspired by speakers and from discussions with colleagues, we realized a way we could help redesign reality to improve the system and encourage paneugenesis.  A discussion with Anna Martin, Program Coordinator at the Water Resource s Research Institute, led to this post. The symposium and related discussion yielded these ideas to generate improvements…

Currently, organic farmers pay a premium to grow and sell organic food – while conventional farmers pay nothing additional.  This also translates to a higher cost to consumers for organic food.  Thus it is a deterrent from buying or growing organic food. Despite the premium costs associated with organic foods, reports suggest purchases of organic foods are growing dramatically, over 100% per year.

From a systems perspective, organic farmers are a positive contributing interdependent component of the whole system.  Organic farmers improve the system while contributing to it, by providing healthy food to humans, without taking away from the whole system.  Conventional farmers on the other hand are not able to function without getting external inputs in the form of petroleum fertilizers to be able to produce their output.  The fertilizers then hurt the whole system in many ways such as contributing to climate change, leaching carbon, and by hurting other species such as bee’s and in many other ways. (see figure below)

Assessment of organic farming relative to conventional farming in the four major areas of sustainability.

Assessment of organic farming relative to conventional farming in the four major areas of sustainability. Source: Nature Plants 2, Article number: 15221 (2016) doi:10.1038/nplants.2015.22it

Obviously, having contributing organic farmers pay a premium while damaging conventional farmers pay nothing does not make sense.  After thinking about it, we realized a simple change would yield a better system.  Instead of having organic farmers pay to grow their food, have conventional farmers who pollute the land, water and air with petroleum based insecticides and herbicides pay the premium. Currently conventional farmers defer those costs to consumers and citizens who pay for it with damaged water, air, and land which leads to a lower quality of life and additional disease care costs for all.  In addition this situation creates a system that nudges or encourages people to make unwise choices.

Despite a system that gives organic food a disadvantage, consumers are choosing organic foods and science indicates it is better for the people, land, water, and air.  To improve the system, shouldn’t the polluters, so-called conventional farmers, rather than the organic food producers, be the farmers who pay the premium?  Costs to grow organic food are rightly used for inspections and the certification process.  It seems it would make more sense to charge farmers who choose to pollute the food and land to pay for inspections and certifications.  This then means they could avoid that premium by growing food organically instead of growing food by adding ecologically damaging petroleum based herbicides and insecticides.

If  polluters paid a premium, the system would change from encouraging the use of polluting methods to supporting, encouraging, nurturing and reinforcing health promoting practices.  Such a change could have dramatic positive effects on the quality of our personal and planetary health. This change would also make organic, not petroleum laced food, the less expensive and natural, or default choice.

Contact your senators and the USDA to advocate for smart policies like this that support, encourage and reinforce agriculture practices that contribute to healthier personal and planetary health. Thank you.

Be Well’r,
Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

The GMO Question

As noted in previous posts here and here, my thoughts about genetically modified foods have changed. It seems all food we eat are genetically modified in some way as Pamela Ronald makes clear here in her TED Presentation: The Case for Engineering Our Food:

This presentation, like many others seems to avoid the big question, what about patented seeds that allow certain plants to withstand more pesticides and herbicides such as Round-Up Ready Seeds. Some data I have seen documents the need for more pesticides and herbicides, not less as Pamela suggests in her presentation.

My stance remains as it was and as Stewart Brand suggests, I am for open source non-patented genetically modified seeds that lead to better nutrition and or enhance our ability make life more livable. I am against any patented seeds that lead to the use of more problematic farming methods that introduce more toxins.

As I learn more, I will post that information. My hope is the information about genetically modified foods will not be so one sided. If you learn more, please share. Thank you.

Be Well’r,

Craig M. Becker, PhD

Lets all make life more livable for all by generating comprehensive benefits by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits.