Crude: The Human Price of Profit

Posted by Leah Bergman Friday, December 11, 2009 0 comments

In the 80’s, there was a popular song by Loverboy who’s chorus began with, “Everybody’s working for the weekend.” That particular line stands out because it has a ring of truth to it. The majority of Americans are working hard during the week so they can have some free time to pursue an activity or hobby, relax, and enjoy time with friends and family. What if the lyrics were changed, and they now just said, “Everybody’s working just plain working.” What if someone came into our culture and took away our free time, and our cultural norms. Would we be angry? What if employees were met at the water cooler not by fresh, clean water, but by a putrid smell emanating from the now cloudy water? Does this seem ridiculous? Maybe, but this is the plight Ecuadorian families face daily. A plight brilliantly documented in the new award winning film “Crude” directed by Joe Berlinger.

Joe was first introduced to this story by a Harvard lawyer named, Steve Donziger. Steve’s account was compelling from a human interest side as a news story, but Joe did not initially see how it could be translated into a film. It wasn’t until he agreed to travel to Ecuador to see the devastation for himself that the possibility started to ignite. Of his first encounter, Joe said, “This image of indigenous people being forced to eat canned tuna deep in the heart of the Amazon rainforest spoke deeply to me.” He saw first-hand how the rivers have been poisoned, and the smell of noxious fumes filled the lush green jungle. He spoke to many families who have no clean water to bath in or even drink. He heard how they mourn for the time when they were free of disease, and lived a beautiful life in a paradise. He witnessed first-hand how the Amazon, which has been untouched for millenniums, is now full of toxic goo. The devastation is so massive that it expands over an area about the size of Rhode Island, and affects over 30,000 indigenous and colonial Ecuadorians. He describes that when he returned home, the images and the magnitude of suffering and disease haunted him. “How could I go home and return to my pleasant life of directing television programs and commercials,” states Joe, “ without trying to help these people get some fresh water through wider exposure of their story, regardless of who won the lawsuit?”

In lieu of all the mass suffering, it would have been easy to create a one-sided film that only focused on the evils of big business, namely Texaco which is now owned by Chevron, and corrupt government; however, Joe decided to let the story speak for itself. He leads the viewer on a journey through the biggest lawsuit of the century by presenting both sides of the issue without ever forgetting the people who it is affecting. “I believe the best way to serve the truth is to explore a situation from all sides without overtly revealing the filmmaker’s viewpoint, allowing each audience member to come up with his or her own conclusion about the events they are witnessing onscreen,” declared Joe. The viewer is introduced to courageous, inspiring people, and is also confronted with poignant questions. Questions of who is at fault, and how can reparations be made? How can an indigenous people retain their traditions when their environment has been irrevocably damaged? How do you put a cost on human lives? This is a riveting film that fully explores a court case that could change how international business is conducted in the future; a film that should be supported because what is happening to one part of the human family affects us all.

Check out their website to see where it is playing near you: The website offers opportunities to participate in helping the plight of the Ecuadorian people. One way is to purchase a t-shirt by contacting All of the proceeds go to The Water Project. You can find out more information about The Water Project, which is headed by Trudie Styler (Sting’s wife), by following this link . The link also lists a variety of different organizations that are helping with this cause. See the movie, and get involved.

Nature’s Nectar- How to Easily Make Your Own Fresh Soy Milk

Posted by Leah Bergman Monday, December 7, 2009 0 comments

Soymilk has been enjoyed in the east for thousands of years. The fist document of its usage is a mural engraved in stone depicting its production in a culinary scene. There have been references made in a diary by the Shinto priest Nakaomi, and in cooking books dating back to 1782. This exotic nectar has now captured the west and graces restaurants, stores, and kitchens throughout America. I was surprised to see how easy it is to make it yourself, and gladly took on the challenge. This way I could cut out all the sugar, oils, and emulsifiers, and just enjoy it in its purist form. Here is the recipe:

1 lb of organic soy beans
1 gallon (16 cups) of filtered water.

1. Soak the soybeans for 10-16 hours

2. Knead the beans and flush with water to remove the hulls. This will make the extraction process more efficient and removes some of the phytic acid.

3. Heat the soybeans in a pan to remove the “beanie flavor” (Optional)

4. Put the beans and water in batches into the blender. Filter out the bean puree from the liquid with a sieve or cheese cloth. (The left over bean puree is called okra. The okra can be used in recipes to make bread, croquettes, etc)

5. Bring the liquid to a boil, and boil for 5-10 minutes. When it has cooled, it is ready and can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days. (I like to put in a pinch of salt and 2 tbs. of agave nectar to flavor.)

Enjoy the soy milk by itself, in a smoothie, with cereal, or as traditional Chinese breakfast, Dou Jiang which can be either salty or sweet, and is served with bread

You can also purchase a soymilk machine to do the work for you.