Bite sized wisdom: winter is here

Dear Friends,

We are deep into winter. Leaves have fallen, birds have flown, and as I scribble down these words snow is making its second appearance. The beauty of snow is that it falls out of the darkest skies, on the gloomiest of days. It reminds us that some magic requires shadows to be seen.

This is true of our own magic and creativity. We as humans are made up of happiness and sadness, health and sickness, positivity and negativity, and yet we always seem to think that one is better than the other. It’s not. To fully appreciate the light we need to go as deeply into the darkness. I think this is why we have our own winters.

Usually winter makes us feel cold and bare. Many plants and animals are nowhere to be seen so we start believing that we are surrounded by something negative. We are not. While things may seem dead, they are actually re-energizing, planning and preparing for a new life ahead. Why do you think spring is one of the most colorful seasons? It’s because after conserving all the energy, the flora and fauna is ready to be reborn and appear in all its glory. I’d like to think this is also the reason we celebrate the New Year and the ‘new us’ during winter.

saynotofoodwaste.winter.season.shadow.light.living.life.happy.joy.future.adventure.2

On a personal note, as is evident by lack of activity on the site, I’ve been fully immersed in my own winter. Though my winter came earlier than it did for others, I believe that come spring I will be more energized to create and give back than I have in the past.

After all these years I’ve learned that taking things slow and being constant is more important than rushing ahead in bursts of energy. One of my personal goals for 2016 is to stay constant. I will commit myself to writing at least one blog a week. The reason I’m sharing my personal goal with you is because having a support system as we go through life, or an outlet into which we can pour our thoughts and get back new perspectives, will help us grow better and stronger than if we do it alone.

I’m going back to basics and learning to live simply. A lemon tree produces just one sort of fruit all its life, but it does it so well! Instead of trying to be everything and nothing, because I get overwhelmed with all that I need to do, I’m allowing myself to focus on just one thing and perfecting that art as I go.

Life is short, and we should experience as much as we can, but we shouldn’t sacrifice on quality just so that we can increase the count. I’ve come to know that more is not always better. So, I’m getting behind nature and learning to take my sweet time because I know that when the time comes the fruits of labor will be that much sweeter!

Happy New Year!
Hokuma

A Liquor Love Story: Humanity’s Relationship with Alcohol

sustainability.safety.happy.drinks.alcohol.newyear.love.give.care.saynotofoodwaste.food.foodwaste.sustainability.happy2With all the celebratory drinking going on over the holidays, it’s interesting to consider how and why people began consuming alcohol. After all, alcohol is a toxin, as anyone who has ever had a hangover can attest – so, what motivated humans to ingest, much less deliberately manufacture it?

Evolutionary biologist Matthew Carrigan has found the answer 10 million years in the past, before ‘humans’ had even been evolved. As their forest habitats were being affected by climate changes, animals began eating fallen fruit off the forest floor. To safely eat fermented fruit and use its sugars, vitamins, and proteins for energy, animals developed enzymes to break down the alcohol’s calories. By 10,000 BC, humans – the evolutionary descendants of these animals – had started fermenting beverages for themselves, unknowingly relying on the enzyme ADH4 to allow them to drink.

Over time, alcoholic beverages became appreciated throughout the world for a wide variety of uses in addition to pleasure. Firstly, they were actually a far safer means of quenching thirst than water, since water was unfiltered and lacked alcohol’s microorganism-killing antioxidants.

High levels of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and vitamins also made alcoholic beverages valuable nutritional supplements, and their medicinal and therapeutic uses trace as far back as Sumer, 2000 BC. Ancient Egyptians revered Osiris for bestowing the world with wine and beer (which was considered a life necessity), included alcohol in their offerings to gods, and stored drinks in tombs to be enjoyed in the afterlife. In ancient China, “alcohol was considered a spiritual (mental) food rather than a material (physical) food” (Hanson); drinking took place during memorials, ceremonies, and celebrations and before battles and even executions. Alcohol was embraced for practical, pleasurable, and ritual purposes worldwide.

sustainability.safety.happy.drinks.alcohol.newyear.love.give.care.saynotofoodwaste.food.foodwaste.sustainability.happy1Even though alcohol was prominent in all early cultures, drinking in moderation seems to have always been the norm. The adverse effects of drunkenness were recognized as shameful, if not dangerous, and alcohol was considered too precious to be irreverently imbibed in excess. Given how widespread drinking and intoxication is today, one might be tempted to say that those principles were lost to history – but that really doesn’t seem to be the case. Fact is, whenever drunkenness is seen in the media, be it in fiction or the news, it’s portrayed as something to be ridiculed, pitied, or learned from.

Modern society still values moderation, but we focus on the consequences of inebriation rather than the ‘preciousness’ of alcohol. Instead of being told to cherish drinks as holy gifts, we get reminded that the penalties of getting drunk range from making a regrettable decision to ending up in the hospital. We also have more sympathy for alcoholics, though, recognizing them as sufferers of a disease rather than vile sinners. Today’s variety and availability of alcohol has developed with an important understanding of how to take advantage of it responsibly.

So, drink up! Or don’t! There is neither shame in sobriety nor in controlled drinking. If you take advantage of those prehistoric enzymes and the delicious beverages that have been perfected over the course of history, just don’t take it too far. Alcohol is a toxin, but it’s a very enjoyable one in the right quantities.

Wishing everyone a wonderful New Year, regardless of whether or not you’re guzzling champagne,

Eva

Sources:

‘80 drinks’ graphic credit: wineinvestment.com, Joe Shervell

Barclay, Eliza – Our Ability To Digest Alcohol May Have Been Key To Our Survival

Hanson, David J. – History of Alcohol and Drinking Around the World

Maynard, Lynnsay (NPR) – What Would Jesus Drink? A Class Exploring Ancient Wines Asks