Over the last ten years I must have seen hundreds of movies. Some for pleasure, some out of curiosity.
I have made some mistakes thinking that I was going to enjoy a movie or learn something from it only to walk away disappointed. Much to my wife’s dismay, I even went to the manager of a theater to ask for my money back since I thought that one flick should never have been released. I cursed the trailers that contained outtakes of the only two good scenes in the movie.
But every once in a while a movie comes along that may not be as entertaining as you though it would be, but surprises you for it’s intellectual value.
Sometime around my fiftieth birthday I wanted to see the movie “Super Size Me.” I had heard enough about it to pique my interest.
I know many of you are not going to believe me when I say that it has been five and a half years since I have eaten a beef patty hamburger cooked anywhere but at home.
So when I tell you about the movie directed and portrayed by Morgan Spurlock a young man who proves that he is healthy by consulting with doctors before taking a journey through the fast food world. Actually it’s just one fast food chain that he decides to patronize.
Before he goes on this fast food binge his doctors send him through a battery of tests to make sure that he is in good health. And all the tests showed that indeed he was in good health.
Morgan ate every meal for one month at McDonalds. All meals included a soda, hamburger and French fries. If the sales clerk asked him if he would like to super size he would say yes. No matter how long it took him he would have to eat all the food that he ordered. During several of his meals he actually got sick and expelled - sometiomes violently - the food he had eaten.
There were a few times during the movie where he was placed his order and I prayed that the clerk would not say those dreaded words: “Would you like to super size that?”
Until the day I saw this movie I had been drinking at least six Dr. Peppers per day. On my way to work, (7:00 am) a Dr. Pepper. As soon as I arrived (7:30AM) a Dr. Pepper. After getting the crews on their way (8:30AM) a Dr. Pepper.
I could then go on for at least two hours before drinking a Dr. Pepper. (10:30AM). At lunch I would drink a Dr. pepper with my Subway sandwich (12:30PM). And as soon as I returned to work (1:00pm) I would have another Dr. Pepper.
Now on a good day that was my last soda, and from that point on it was water only. However, on a bad day, when problems arose or I was to busy to have lunch, I would drink up to thirteen Dr. Peppers in one day. THIRTEEN!!
During the movie “Super Size Me” I learned that I was consuming more the nine pounds of sugar a week. And that was just from the sugar used to make the sodas that I was drinking. That did not include any of the desserts, other foods or the ice cream that I enjoyed every night.
The movie ended with a bang. The bang was the impression that it left on me.
Morgan, this young, healthy, and (obviously) intelligent man was actually cautioned by his Doctor to discontinue this fast food diet. The doctor actually feared that irreversible damage and or long term health problems could arise if he continued with his diet.
I was not a specimen of health, even though I looked like I was. I started wondering what my doctor would find if I dared have a complete physical. BANG!
I scheduled a physical to help me celebrate my fiftieth birthday. To my surprise I was in fairly good shape, no high cholesterol levels, no irregular breathing or irregular heartbeats. For that matter I was in better health then most regular guys my age. At least that is what the doctor told me and I had no reason to doubt him, buy I still decided that my Dr. Pepper drinking days were, for the most part, over.
Even though I made the decision to not drink another soda again, I did not realize that my caffeine dependency would force me to partake occasionally. Of course the hardest part was the first few days. The headaches that came sometime made me nauseous until I drank a DP.
I still drink DP’s occasionally, sometimes two or three times per week. Some weeks, I don’t even think about one at all.
It is amazing that just five or six months after I quit drinking Dr. Peppers that people actually noticed that I was loosing weight. The only part of my diet that changed was the discontinuing of sodas. Of course, I drank more water and even started drinking two glasses of ice tea per day, but the sugar was gone as well as all the additives that came in the soda.
I also wondered about the aluminum cans that held my six to thirteen cans of soda. Would I be better off as I grow older, would I have a better chance of avoiding Alzheimer's by drinking fewer sodas?
Here we are, August 2006. I’d heard about a movie that some guy named Al Gore made. Remember him? I think he became famous for inventing the Internet and for as he says: “For not being the next president”. I asked Sandra to come with me to see the movie.
She asked me “Is it rated X?”
“Is there any frontal nudity?”
“NO!” I answered louder than the first No!
“Are there any car chases and or bloody fights until death?”
“NOOOO! This movie is a documentary about the environment!”
“A documentary? Well in that case I do not want to go.”
After trying to convince our wives that not all movies need to have gratuitous sex and violence to be worth watching, my friend Chuck and I decided that we should go without our wives.
What a movie! Or documentary or what ever you want to call it.
“An Inconvenient Truth” Bang! This documentary woke me up from a mild nap in my journey through this borrowed time on this borrowed planet.
How many times have I written about conservation of water? How many times have I implored others to change their ways and try to help this planet fight for it’s survival?
I am by no means trying to become an equal with Rachael Carson, Al Gore or Howard Garrett. I talk to four or six people a day about organic fertilizers, about water conservation, composting or the use of plants best suited for the Metroplex.
The three people above have been able to send their messages to thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people around the country and around the world.
I consider myself to be somewhat of a tree hugger. Somewhat concerned about the future and as I have said before I know that my time here is limited and what I do or what I leave behind can impact the lives of my children and grandchildren.
So, here I am on August 2, 2006, just one day after seeing “An Inconvenient Truth”. I feel that even though I try and do my part for conservation, even though, through my business I am around the knowledge everyday of my life that something can and should be done to improve the health of this planet…all I can do is think of the documentary.
How much did I really learn yesterday? How much of the documentary that I saw will change my life? How much of what I learned or was re-acquainted with will help me make decisions that will help others change their lives?
How will all this save our planet for those who have not yet come to live on it?
During the movie I wondered about the skeptics, you and me and those who are doubtful that it is the human race that is ruining the earth - causing global warming, deforestation and death of thousands of species of plants and animals. I am skeptical about a lot of things, but as Howard Garrett has said “the proof is in the pudding. Do your own test and experiments and make your own conclusions.”
Look around your neighborhood; compare your eco-zone to those skeptics who think that nature can be changed. Look for subtle changes in colors of grass, in size and quantity of blooms. When you see these subtle differences point them out to your neighbors - those that still use the chemical fertilizers that pollute their soil and leach through to the water table. How long will it take for them to wake up?
Look at areas where your neighbor’s runoff is harming your soils. Look at the color of your grass on either side of that stream where the water runs freely, taking the path of least resistance. Compare the soil compaction between your organic lawn and that of your neighbors. Can you scoop up soil from your property and crumble it with in your bare hand? an you do the same with your neighbors?
One of the best things that has happened in our area is the mandates from the surrounding municipalities: Water restrictions level 2, level 3 or level 4.
People are finding that the plants that they have in their landscapes may not be the plants that they should have installed in the first place. Plants that are imported from far away states or nearby counties with different soils or water requirements are not surviving as well as native or proven well-adapted plants. When the heat and drought conditions have passed, are they going to run back to the nurseries and buy the same plant that just died or will they do their homework and replace the plants with those that can live in our soils and our climate?
When the drought is nothing but a bad dream are we going to forget how the plants survived with one watering a week? Are we going to forget to fix and maintain our sprinkler systems and leave the hose running while we wash our cars?
Call a landscape architect or designer that has worked with native plants for quite some time. A lot of people say they are expert’s event though they just got in to native plants last week. When they planted one native plant.
I still think that I am so lucky to be able to work with Carol Feldman. Carol Feldman is one of the few landscape architects in Dallas that has gone out of her way to specialize in native plants. As president of the Dallas Chapter of the Texas Native Plant Society, she has been able to spread the word to hundreds of garden enthusiast.
Throughout her travels in Texas she has been able to find what plants that can be as beautiful in a residential setting as they are in the Big Bend area or the Hill country. Hundreds if not thousands of homes, commercial properties and even municipalities have literally “flourished” with her skillful and tasteful designs.
You can also bring in photographs of your landscapes to our store and set up an appointment with Sally Sutton. Sally is our in store designer. You can schedule a time with her Tuesday thru Saturday. Sally has helped hundreds of our customers convert their gardens over to more drought tolerant landscapes.
The human race is capable of doing whatever we want with our land and our future. It is up to each individual to take responsibility for both, to learn from our mistakes and pass on to others our knowledge so that they do not make the same mistakes that we did.
To learn more about native plants, SmartScapes and organic gardening, join us for one of the following meetings:
Garland Organic Gardening Club
Refreshments begin at 2:00 pm, speakers starts at 2:30 pm and lasts about one hour. Meeting concludes with door prizes provided by the attending members and guest.
August 6th 2006 - MARIAN BUCHANAN
Marian has been a Master Gardener in Dallas County since 1988. Her special interests are herb education and habitat gardening. Marion is past chairman of the local unit of the Herb Society of America, and a current member of the Herb Association of Texas. Her home garden is a Certified Butterfly Habitat. In addition to giving programs for our Speakers Bureau, she is busy volunteering at Texas Discovery Gardens - the first certified organic public garden in Texas.
Marian’s presentation is "Some Like it Hot" - just when our gardens are wilting at summer's end, we can still enjoy the beauty, vigor, fragrance and flavor of so many herbs. These useful plants come from all over the world - the Mediterranean, Africa, Southeast Asia, Central and South America - places that have something in common with our brutally hot climate. We will look at some of these plants and discover ways to grow and use them effectively in our landscapes.
The Native Plant Society of Texas, Garland Chapter
It’s almost time for fall planting. Come learn everything you need to know about Fall Planting from David and Christy Ilfrey owners of Native Dave’s a Nature-focused design & landscape service.
2:00 PM, Sunday, August 20, 2006
In the red schoolhouse at Rohdes Nursery and Nature Store
1651 Wall St.
For more information contact Antonia at 972-635-2757.
The Online Newsletter from Rohde’s Nursery and Nature Store and Green Sense Fertilizers