Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Pepsi”

Healthy Sugar – Roger Ingalls

Yesterday I engaged in a food experiment completely by accident and ended up learning something. My wife left me a can of caramelized roasted cashews on the kitchen counter to take to work. Around 2:30 in the afternoon I decided to try some of these nuts. They were quite tasty and I found myself going back to the can over and over again. All of a sudden my stomach felt a little queasy and my brain said you better quit eating those sweet things before you make yourself sick.

I was puzzled by the ill feeling. Why is it that I can eat normal nuts all day but not ones with baked on candy and why can I drink sweet soda by the Gulp without issue? After reading the can it was apparent that these were high-end naturally flavored nuts that used real ingredients including natural sugar. Then it hit me; my body was recognizing what I was eating.

picture form motherjones.com

picture form motherjones.com

The body is a chemical machine that has evolved over a couple of million years and the brain detects, through receptors, enzymes as a result of foods breaking down (approximate definition of the body’s process). The body recognizes natural foods that have evolved with us but doesn’t chemically comprehend man-made foods. This is why I felt a little ill from eating too many cashews coated with naturally sugar but can drink a gallon of cola without feeling sick. High fructose corn syrup has been used in sodas since the 1980s and this man-made substance is slightly different (chemically) than real sugar so the body doesn’t know when enough is enough. If we still used real sugar in food, obesity and diabetes would probably be less prevalent in society today because our bodies would tell our brains to quit consuming so much.

For my next study, I think a comparison of Mexican Coke made with real sugar vs USA Coke made with corn syrup would make a good experiment. Supposedly, Mexican Coke is an extremely satisfying drink when a small quantity is consumed. If true, it makes a big statement for natural foods and ingredients.

Creating Coalitions Pt. 2

Following on from Monday’s post, I have been summarizing Mark Bittman’s excellent article in the NYT. Mr. Bittman stresses the realization of “an oligarchy in this country, one that uses financial strength to gain political power, one that fights and bullies for its “right” to make money regardless of the consequences to the earth or anything on it.

Exxon will do all it can to prevent meaningful climate change legislation; Cargill and Pepsi will fight any improvement in agriculture or diet that threatens their profits; Bank of America would rather see homeowners go under than discuss changes in financial structures. And so on.”

Mass movements have begun to emerge as one method to break this ring of influence and the Occupy Bank Transfer Day is an outstanding example. To organize at both the personal and local level can have a resounding effect. 

The second focuses on voting. Very few Presidents, our present one might be an exception, initiate change. Again, Mr. Bittman: “Does anyone believe that Lyndon Johnson wanted to combat racism, or that Richard Nixon cared about American troops or Vietnamese citizens? No: they were forced, respectively, to support civil rights legislation and to begin ending the Vietnam War. Forced by masses of Americans marching, yelling, demonstrating, sitting in and more — Americans driven by their conscience, not by profits.”

This makes the organization and coordination of huge numbers of citizens absolutely critical. We need to identify politicians who are willing to shun corporate money and pressure in favor of reflecting the needs of their constituents. This is so much more difficult than taking several million dollars to support your campaign.

We can sit around and complain of the blatant undemocratic process of corporate sponsorship of politicians or we can focus on establishing a list of candidates that are true to their principles and will rely on mass support from the street. The alternative is to create our own big interest PACs, and this has its own scary elements to it.

A few weeks ago, I bemoaned the idea of ‘playing their game,’ but now I am not so sure that we can create a sustainable framework whereby politicians are elected and held accountable by their voters.


Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (@alonshalevsf).

Learning From Steve Jobs

There has been a lot written about Steve Jobs since he passed away and while I read many articles at first, I seem to just flip through them now. But one article that I not only read, but returned to, was written by Carmine Gallo, I feel there is a lot in here for me to learn.

I want to give Carmine’s bio here as I do lean heavily on his article. The list is his, any comments are mine. Carmine is a communications coach, a popular keynote speaker and author of several books including The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs and The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs. His latest is The Power of Foursquare (McGraw-Hill, 2011).

1. Do what you love.  Carmine offers two quotes here from Jobs.

“People with passion can change the world for the better.”

“I’d get a job as a busboy or something until I figured out what I was really passionate about.”

I consider myself very lucky in this respect. The only time that I have ever held a position I didn’t enjoy was temporary and for a specific purpose (earning money quickly to fund travel in my younger days). But more importantly, I love writing novels that highlight social injustices and, yes, I hope that maybe my novels might just contribute to a better world.

2. Put a dent in the universe. I love the quote that Carmine provides. Apparently, Steve Jobs once asked then-Pepsi President, John Sculley, “Do you want to spend your life selling sugar water or do you want to change the world?”

This is all about having a vision that can make a difference. Is it really enough to have a solid product like Pepsi, a lucrative career that benefited no one but yourself?

A friend recently asked me why I don’t write thrillers or romance models. His hypothesis was if I kill more characters and add more sex, I would sell a lot more books. While he is probably correct and my bank account would appreciate the change, I love what I write. I truly get passionate about the social injustice issue or the characters that I create. I could write “Pepsi novels,” but it just wouldn’t be me.

Still Learning From The Master

3. Make connections. Jobs believed in a broad life experience: to travel, read, learn from everyone and everything. Then return to your vision and use these experiences to achieve what you are setting out to do. In Judaism we are taught that wherever we wander (and Jews sure wander) we should immediately seek out a teacher. Today, with the explosion of social media, we are all connected to everyone. But do we take the time to listen enough to learn from each other.

4. Say no to 1,000 things. Carmine recalls how when Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he cut 340 products from the company, leaving them to focus on only 10. In doing this, he focused only on those products that could fulfill the vision that he had for Apple.

5. Create insanely different experiences. Everything about Apple is different. Everything is unique and clearly part of a carefully engineered brand. Just think of the experience, sensory and practical, of entering an Apple store. It is simply entering a different world. We look forward to going to the store in a way that we don’t experience with any other company.

6. Master the message. This is absolutely crucial. You must be able to communicate your message clearly, quickly and in a way that inspires the person/people who are listening to ask more questions, or to want to act/react in the way you want. If the response to my telling someone that I write political fiction is a request to pass the cheese, then I need to reconsider my message (though I might want to pass the cheese first).

7. Sell dreams, not products. I think this is an important concept and one that we are prone to forget in the hectic day-to-day. How often do we get bogged down in the small details of our books, or products, or political platforms, and forget why we are doing this.

Finally, Carmine leaves us with the pearl of Jobs’ ethos, and I will leave you with this.

“See genius in your craziness, believe in yourself, believe in your vision, and be constantly prepared to defend those ideas.”

Steve Jobs passed away last month, but his lessons will stay with us for many  years, and may well help us create a better world: one built on the concept of excellence.

Thank you Steve.


Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/ and on Twitter (#alonshalevsf).

Socially Responsible Investing Proxy Power

It might not be enough to just invest in a socially responsible portfolio, In an article by GreenBiz.com, a new report is reviewed that highlights a rising number of shareholder resolutions that focus on improving various companies’ social and environmental performance.

“Nearly 400 environmental and social shareholder resolutions were filed in the latest proxy season for issues ranging from labor and human rights to supply chain impacts and recycling, according to Proxy Preview 2011. The seventh annual report was published by As You Sow, the Sustainable Investments Institute and Proxy Impact.

“I think the critical difference proxy voting makes is to signal to companies that these issues are important to significant institutional investors,” said Leslie Lowe, an attorney and senior program strategist to As You Sow.”

The phenomenon of shareholders getting involved in this way has seen a steady growth in momentum as more conventional investors have begun to embrace Socially Responsible Investing with a growth of 55% of proxy filing in the last 10 years.

Examples of  environmental resolutions include those related to natural resource management and toxics. Companies such as Bisphenol, Yum Brands, and Dentsply International, IBM, Pepsi, and Target have been filed and are pending. according to the report.


Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com/

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