It’s week one of my internship at Farm Sanctuary in Orland, California, and, I have to say, I am already having the most incredible experience.
There are many animal welfare organizations that I admire, but Farm Sanctuary has always been at the top of my list. In addition to their advocacy and making great strides in improving legislation for farm animals, Farm Sanctuary has a reputation for a successful hands-on approach to rehabilitation, healing, and providing refuge for injured farm animals. And seeing it happen firsthand — and being part of it — is a phenomenal experience.
It is now day seven of my Ayurvedic retreat at the Ayurveda Yoga Retreat and Hospital, nestled in hectares of tea plantations in the province of Tamil Nadu in southern India, and I have finally settled in enough to give an update.
The retreat is located north of the city of Canoor, roughly 1800m (5,900ft) above sea level in the famed Nilgiri Hills, boasting roughly twenty-four peaks above 2000m (6,560ft). These hills are part of the Western Ghats, a mountain range on the southwestern edge of the Deccan Plateau. The area is world renowned for its teas.
After a long forty-eight hour journey to get here (yes, I offset and I know it really doesn’t make a difference!), and a gut-churning drive up the mountain (the car, truck, motorcycle, scooter and Tuk-Tuk drivers utilize some indecipherable system of horn honking and light flashing to pass each other on an extremely narrow winding road), I ended up with a lethal case of jet lag and a bit of altitude sickness. However, I did learn that eucalyptus is great for helping with altitude discomfort and thankfully grows in abundance in the area. The jet lag passed and you eventually get used to the roads and wild driving conditions, which are just a little different to the sleepy Canadian island driving I am used to.
If you know anything about Monsanto then you know they suck. My personal opinion is that they are one of the most psychopathic, dangerous and controlling companies on the planet. But, ironically, in spite of their might or because of it, they keep an extremely low profile in North America where many of their genetically engineered crops are grown.
I am not big on conspiracy theories, but I find it surprising that there is so little coverage of Monsanto in our mainstream media (and so few people know who they are) when genetically engineered organisms remain an extremely hot and controversial topic in countries like India, Hungary, Haiti and the European Union. Mass protests, crop burnings and direct resistance against Monsanto is happening on a global scale, but we hear almost nothing about it in North America.
If you don’t know who Monsanto is, you need to get up to speed– there is a great movie called “The World According to Monsanto” by French filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin (available on YouTube in its entirely) and our filmmaker friend Jeremy Seifert, (director of the amazing Dive! Living Off America’s Waste) is also in the process of making a documentary about genetically modified organisms. The current working title is The GMO Film Project (Untitled). If you are interested in supporting Jeremy’s work then please contact him as they need supporters to help finish making this important film.