In 1990, Monsanto submitted rBST, a genetically engineered bovine growth hormone, for approval to the Canadian government. The process appeared to be a matter of paperwork. They had already undergone review and received approval in the United States. Monsanto’s assurances that the rBST treatment of dairy cows “poses no human health risk,” supported by the reputation of the FDA, was expected to seal the deal across the boarder.
Monsanto convinced Canada’s Chief of Human Safety Division to forgo the prevailing protocols for long-term experimentation, as the FDA had done. But high-level staffers cried “foul!” The opposition resulted in the formation of an internal review board. At first, the team consisted of several high-level “volunteers” who had already demonstrated their “wink and nod” relationship with Monsanto. But continued objections reached the ear of the Director General. He appointed a non-political and diverse team of well-respected and independent scientists to look at the evidence. He then asked two external committees to review the findings.
[Spoiler Alert!] The anticipated Canadian approval of the rBST hormone was denied. And the regulatory processes of the United States FDA were revealed to be fraudulent.
The team found the data package submitted for review to be “extremely scant and sketchy.” The report noted “the usual review procedures, which apply to all other new drug submissions, does not appear to have been followed.” The adverse effects to the rBST treated animals are well documented. There are statistically significant increases in cancer, birth defects, incidence of mastitis and mastitis-induced antibiotic resistance. The fact that rBST is deleterious to herd health and used only for economic benefit calls for more restrictive scientific data analysis, not less.
More alarming, the process appears to completely disregard any concern to human safety. The is no evidence to support the conclusion that “rBST poses no hazard to human health.” There is no logical rationale for waiving the requirements for human studies that measure oral absorption, hormonal and immunological effects, chronic toxicity or potential allergenicity. In fact there was a study uncovered that revealed rBST elicits a primary antigenic response (igG antibodies). But the significance of this finding was not further investigated. The information was stamped as irrelevant and buried.
Additionally, reports revealed that Monsanto pursued aggressive marketing tactics, compensated farmers for veterinary bills associated with rBST use and covered up negative trial results.
Canada is now investigating the senior officials who may have employed “unauthorized influence against subordinate staff” with personal “conflict of interest. America needs to do the same. The FDA has some explaining to do.
Empowered: For years, I used Lent as an opportunity to try out life as a vegetarian. I didn’t actually want to give up meat and cheese; I wanted to loose some weight before spring break and figured this was my best bet. For 40 days, I would survive on pretzels and Diet Coke, and slide into Easter weekend ready to go on a killing spree. When I accidentally woke up vegan, I took a different approach. And since I’m still (mostly) vegan 5 years later, and you couldn’t PAY me to go back, I must have stumbled upon the secret to success.
I didn’t over-think it, I just decided to do it. Immediately. And I focused on where I was going, not what I was leaving behind. Because I was done with the insanity. I spent hours in the gym each week (I was an instructor and a personal trainer! I was supposed to know what I was doing!) read all the magazines (Self, Shape, Fitness, Oprah…) promising big results with a few quick changes. I was gaining what my mother termed “middle-age weight” and my face looked puffy in pictures.
I invested in inspirational cookbooks, watched documentaries, wrote shopping-lists and planned meals. I recognized the truth and I immediately felt the results, even getting excited to go through detox symptoms.
Five years later, my journey has included many bumps, and I’ve questioned the wisdom of an all vegan diet. I firmly believe it is the best way to eat, and I’m done with dairy forever. But I’ve come to that conclusion that different life phases might require different choices. I’ve watched my 16 year son struggle to maintain his raw vegan status for 2 years. And he’s just not getting everything that he needs, and my mothering instinct trumps my book knowledge that the vegan diet is complete. Maybe it is for me, but even as he drinks various vegan protein powders and uses more supplements than I can afford, I feel like the obvious and most simple answer for him is to eat a small amount of organic meat a few times a week. But the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, and he’s stubbornly sticking to his beliefs.
MSG: Is it a preservative or a vitamin? John Erb, the author of The Slow Poisoning of America writes that MSG is added to food for the addictive effect it has on the human body. Remember that – addictive effect. MSG actually addicts us to eating more.
Did you know that many food manufacturers have websites of their own? They explain that MSG “is added to food to make people eat more.” Why is that important? Because, they state, a study of elderly people indicated that people eat more when MSG is added to their food. The Glutamate Association lobby group – yes, MSG has its own lobbyists – say eating more benefits the elderly. But what is it also doing to the rest of us? Especially now that obesity has become an even bigger problem than smoking in America.
No wonder we’ve become a country of overweight citizens. The MSG manufacturers themselves admit that their product addicts people to eating more of it that they would if the MSG was not added. This addictive substance has been scientifically proven to cause obesity. You could call it the nicotine of food.
These are the names for food additives that always contain MSG : Monosodium Glutamate, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein. Hydrolyzed Protein, Hydrolyzed Plant Protein, Plant Protein Extract, Sodium Caseinate, Calcium Caseinate, Yeast Extract, Textured Protein (Including TVP), Autolyzed Yeast, Hydrolyzed Oat Flour, Gelatin, Glutamic acid, Monopotassium glutamate, Yeast food and Yeast Nutrient.These are the names for food additives that frequently contain MSG: Malt Extract, Malt Flavoring, Broth, Bouillon, Stock, Natural Flavors or Flavoring, Natural Beef or Chicken Flavoring, Seasoning, Barley Malt, Carrageenan, Enzyme-modified substances , Maltodextrin, Pectin, Protein-fortified substances, Soy protein, Soy protein isolate or concentrate, Soy sauce, Soy sauce extract, Vegetable gum, Whey protein and Whey protein isolate or concentrate.
Is beef safe? Take a look behind the USDA regulations, and you might feel the need to cover your rear end….
We all have our chosen vices. Let’s not even name them, as living in sin if easier if grandma doesn’t know. But usually, naughtiness begins by age 2. Most people try to off-set the no-no’s with positive and healthy choices so that in the end, drinking a beer and getting naked on a boat are balanced with vegetable juice and an appropriate work wardrobe.
Which is why NOT knowing the consequences and the effects of a choice is all the more problematic. When your pros and cons list isn’t complete, it’s a wasted piece of paper.
The golden rule is one most of us understand as simple Karma. But take the rose-colored glasses off, and you might find more of a bullshit-brown tint. The real golden rule in America is “Whoever has the gold makes the rules.”
And those aren’t the kind of rules that are meant to be broken. Just ask Oprah. In 1996 she was sued by the “Cactus Feeders” and other representatives of the beef industry. They accused her of slander following her on-air a review of American meat production that included possible links between dimentia, Alzheimers and mad cow disease.
What was the slander that started the scandal? That the information linking mad cow disease to American beef had “stopped her cold from eating another hamburger”.
That comment cost Oprah millions of dollars and 6 years worth of legal nightmares. Although her case was dismissed in both state and federal courts and was barred from going to the Supreme Court, it still created a culture of fear. And since 2002, 13 states have passed “Ag-gag” laws designed to silence those who expose unsafe and abusive slaughterhouse practices. It’s even illegal to take photos or video inside many factory farms.
Meat producers rightly understand that if we don’t test for food-borne pathogens, then an illness can’t be traced to it’s source. And if no one sees the reality of animal agriculture, then marketing campaigns with healthy cows will never be connected to hospital beds with sick and dying people.
There are powerful, influential and enormously wealthy industries that stand to lose a vast amount of money if Americans start shifting to a plant based diet. Their financial health depends on controlling what the public knows about nutrition and health…. And the entire system–government, science, medicine, industry and media–promotes profits over health, technology over food, and confusion over clarity. And this is done in completely legal ways by unsuspecting and well-intentioned people. (The China Study)
Can You Spot the Conflict of Interest?
The USDA serves primarily two functions: to promote domestic agriculture and to provide the public with nutritional education and guidelines. And unfortunately, many of the most influential decision makers in the USDA acquire their on-the-job training by working their way through the ranks of food industry and it’s lobbying groups.
For example, in a 2004, USDA spokeswoman Alisa Harrison, worked hard to spread the message that mad cow disease is NOT a risk to American consumers. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Harrison was the director of public relations for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the industry’s largest lobbying group. Among several notable accomplishments, she was successful in stopping a large-scale government program that would test our nations cattle for mad cow.
Food for thought: we currently test only 20,000 of the 35 million cows we consume (that’s .06%) for mad cow, though nearly 3% can’t even walk at the time of slaughter.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, humans can contract mad cow when they eat infected beef. And ‘beef’ becomes infected when the cow eats infected food. That is simple supply chain logic. Yet, according to a 2001 study by the General Accounting Office (GAO), large numbers of cattle feed producers do not have contamination prevention systems in place, and called the FDA’s inspection data base “so flawed” that “it should not be used to assess compliance”. Indeed, many producers were shown to not even be aware of the required FDA prevention measures.
Is beef safe to eat? If you eat beef, you can’t avoid the risk. Cattle are slaughtered in large processing plants from multiple suppliers, and the ground beef you’re eating often doesn’t come from one cow…it comes from a vat of lots of ground up cows….assembly line style. An ABC “Good Morning America” expose in 2009 found that burger patties made with 100 percent ground beef, purchased at a Seattle major supermarket chain, contained on average the DNA of 4 cows, and sometimes up to 8. Chew that in your cud for a bit.
The Centers for Disease control estimates that there are between 6 and 81 million food-borne illnesses in the U.S. each year, and up to 9000 deaths. And the CDC admits that non-reported cases are inestimable. And many of the greatest pathogens of concern didn’t exist 20 years ago; identification is a constantly changing and incomplete process.
Are you ready to accept or at least consider that we’ve been massively misinformed?…or shall I unleash Jack Nicholason’s awesome “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”
What can you do about this? Vote with your dollars. Buy and eat more plant products, support local farms, and when you do eat meat, meet the farmer first.
Want to know more? Check out The Reality Behind the USDA Dietary Guidelines… and Dimentia, Alzheimer’s and Mad Cow Disease.
Going organic doesn’t have to break the bank. A few tricks of the trade will help you save money on organic food.
Everyone would “Go organic!” if it was easy. Green is a pretty color, and no one wants to admit they are part of the problem. But cost, seasonal supply, weather related shortages and in-store BOGO offers on name brands just make decisions a little more complicated. You can save money on organic food if you know what you are doing.
First, accept the fact that change takes awareness and effort. It’s OK to work harder for a little less (in the beginning). Resisting the effort it takes to create new habits and try different things will keep you from success. There is nothing wrong with a little idealism. If we want to be healthier, save the planet and live to tell the story, it’s going to take leg action, elbow grease, and trial and error. On the upside, doing the right thing helps you sleep better at night.
Full disclosure: Organic food is not cheaper than conventional or processed food unless it’s a bit rotten or a tad misshapen. Adjust your expectations. But any extra money you spend need not be considered an indulgence. It directly impacts and supports the farmers, little and local artisans and even (gasp) large national corporations that are risking their own bottom line in pursuit of the greater good. Though it’s not a legal tax write off, it’s a moral investment.
Here are a few things I’ve discovered on my organic journey.
1. Buy grains, legumes and beans in bulk.
Not only will you save money, but you’ll reduce consumption of unnecessary packaging included with the brand name labels. And with the money you save, invest in a rice cooker. I’m NOT kidding. You can cook everything from quinoa, couscous and oatmeal to lentils, black beans (Don’t forget to pre-soak!) and split peas. It’s magical. Oh, and feel free to splurge on a cheap one. The high-end varieties are heavy, counter space stealers. I bought mine three years ago for $17. I use it almost every day.
2. Focus your meals around seasonal produce.
Get out of your conventional grocery store where acorn squash sits next to lettuce, and strawberries are next to the apples. Go outside to a farmers market or local farm and you’ll learn that there are differences between spring, summer and fall that are not all about footwear and party themes. Get to know your food like you know your holidays. And if you can tell me schedules for off-season, pre-season, playoffs and championships, you certainly have room to know that asparagus is not a summer squash.
3. Look for reduce-priced produce, on the downside of ripe, for canning or freezing.
You don’t have to have a commercial kitchen or live with your grandma to do this. Literally, throw those strawberries in a freezer bag (that you will re-use) and enjoy them for up to 6 months. Now, technique can make a difference. Freezing fruit is best done at the peek of ripeness, washed, dried and frozen individually on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, you can combine in a bag. Vegetables need to be blanched (dipped briefly into boiling water) to stop rotting enzyme action, keep color bright, and retard the loss of vitamins. See
The National Center for Home Food Preservation for specific instructions.
4. Don’t be afraid to buy frozen or canned items during the off-season.
Organic foods have no pesticides or unnatural preservatives (maybe a little organic salt!), they’ve simply been minimally and properly processed to provide food for the winter.
5. Shop online.
I use companies like Vitacost.com and Green B.E.A.N. Delivery because this is what works for me. They deliver baking supplies, bulk, dry and spice products and even produce right to my front door. Many of them have for vegan, gluten free and other limited diets, making your shopping experience simple! Though price points of their local products seem higher, my grocery bills are significantly lower since I made the transition because I no longer go to the grocery store on a regular basis. And that’s not a figment of my green-colored imagination. According to a J.D. Roth, more than half of in-store grocery purchases are impulsive. And half of us make “quick stops” at the store three to four times per week, spending, on average, 54 percent more than we planned. As everyone who’s been domesticated already knows, in most relationships, there is a Coupon Clipper being undermined by a Budget Blower.
6. Adjust your spending in other areas.
I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but supporting the organic movement is part and parcel of saving the world. You can’t expect it to always be easy. According to the USDA, in 2009, Americans spend less than 7 percent of their budgets on food. If we continue to keep the quality of our food in such low priority, the monetary costs of sick care, healthcare, pollution and a toxic environment will continue to rise exponentially and be the least of our concerns. You get what you pay for. What are you buying?
7. Clean up your diet.
Buy and eat less crap. Instead of 2 for $5 bags of twenty oz potato chips, buy 1 fourteen oz bag of organic (The salt and vinegar variety are food art!) for $3 and let everyone have a handful. Why the hell would anyone need that many chips? You don’t even notice more than the first few. The rest of the process is only mechanical hand-to-mouth and jaw action. Yes, that sounds bad. And it is.
8. Communicate with your neighbors.
Share your bounty and your leftovers with your friends. Leave a comment here about what works for you. Supply, demand and price are intricately interwoven, and we must work together to right the system.
I love to invest in beautiful recipe books filled with impressive pictures, interesting techniques and inspiring ideas. But following directions isn’t necessary for normal, every day meals. The ingredients, tools and timing are developed with experience, and become the ‘easy’ dishes that we create for comfort and convenience. As I have learned to cook vegan, my recipes have evolved in to a ‘formula’. Simply put, though every meal is one-of-a-kind because I use mostly fresh and seasonal produce, my routines are predictable. I can create worldly cuisine, inspired by Italian, Mediterranean, Thai, Indian or Mexican flavors, or throw together a pizza with more veggies than I’ll ever admit to my kids. My methods are predictable. Once I discovered the framework for success, it became easy to plug and chug the variables.
Vegetables are so low in calories and rich in nutrients and fiber that the more you eat, the better. And if weight loss is your goal, the more vegetables you eat, the more weight you loose. Antioxidants in plants are the colors you see, and the key to disease prevention, health and happiness.
- Green vegetables have more protein per calorie than meat.
- Include a rainbow of color in every meal.
- Buy organic, fresh, in-sesason and local– but don’t be afraid of frozen.
- Try new things. Why use a red pepper when you can add orange? Potatoes come in purple. Rainbow chard tastes similar to Swiss, but it’s prettier. Shitake mushrooms are chewy, and much more fun than boring button. White asparagus looks yellow and leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard, mustard greens, collard greens and bok choy offer as much PROTEIN PER CALORIE than red meat!
A note on veges….The more the merrier. And if your kids ‘don’t like them’, put your lightly cooked assortment into the blender and hit “puree”. Add a jar of spaghetti sauce, salsa, baked squash or scheese sauce and everybody’s happy. Win/win.
All types of rice, quinoh, couscous, polenta, millet, oats, kasha and bulgur. Pastas, tortilla shells, breads and even chips count too!
Beans and Legumes
Kidney, northern, black, chickpeas (garbanzo), navy, pinto, adzuki…I buy the organic canned variety as it just doesn’t get any EASIER than that. But it’s cheaper to buy dry, soak, and cook. Don’t forget to check out the wide variety of colored lentils!
These are the meat substitution products, and the reason the word vegan leaves some people with a bad taste in their mouth…because when done wrong, they leave a really bad taste in your mouth. But when you have kids, or you are transitioning from a carnivorous palette, these can be a great way to bridge the gap. There are such a wide range of products out there, starting with tofu, tempeh (my favorite) and moving to ‘fake’ chicken cubes, ‘fake’ beef crumbles, not dogs, shamburgers”, soy sages, facon, and so on. There are also wonderful brands of vegan cheese like Daiya and Follow Your Heart that melt (almost) as well as dairy varieties.
As many of these are processed, it is essential to buy high quality, organic brands. And don’t worry if you don’t like them; you certainly don’t need them. In fact, the longer you eat a plant-based diet, the less you’ll use them.
Oil for Satiety
Olive and canola oils are classic, and can be used in just about anything, as long as you keep the heat medium to low. If higher heat for searing or breading, try coconut oil (btw, popcorn loves coconut oil!) or peanut oil. My Asian dishes usually get sesame or safflower oil. Mediterranean flavors lend to grapeseed oil, and black truffle oil is THE BOMB. I like to rub it on veges and broil/grill. My absolute favorite is from butter infused olive oil from the Olive Twist.
Seeds, Nuts and Sprouts
I love adding sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds, slivered almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, or walnuts to whatever I am making. These add salt, healthy fat, essential amino acids (aka: protein), depth of flavor and a little crunch. You can crush into a powder or whip them into a delicious cream sauce. Some dishes just naturally lend themselves to sprouts…which I grow at home, having heard too many lysteria contamination stories to feel comfortable with grocery store varieties. It’s so easy, grown in a jar next to the sink…new batch every four days. Getting that started is another blog.
Seasoning and Flavor
Seasonings do not just come in a jar from the spice isle. Your best bet is to get what you can fresh. Garlic is number one. Buy it in bulk and use it in everything! If your wondering, the difference between chopped garlic in a jar and fresh garlic you chopped is the equivalent to black and white TV vs. high def digital. Yep. Chopping garlic is a skill, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll look for reasons to ‘hit’ one more clove.
Grow your own herbs if you can, but stock your pantry with as many dried spices as possible. More natural flavor means less salt.
My favorite “stand by” is a simple balsamic glaze.
Of course sauteing requires liquid, and you don’t want to use too much oil. Supplement with anything from water to wine, various vinegars, cooking sherry, beer—mmmmm, soy sauce, vegetable broth and more. If you do want to use oil, add it after you turn off the heat. Oil that gets too hot denatures into unhealthy trans fat.
So if these are the variables, what is the formula?
1. Get the tools.
2. Open a bottle of wine. Select a playlist.
3. Find favorite knife, cutting board, and raid produce bin or garden for whatever looks good. Ask kids to pitch in as you prepare, and they’ll be more inclined to eat.
4. Choose a grain. Options include pasta, rice, quinoa, dough, bread, and even tortilla chips.
5. Saute veggies to desired texture. Turn off heat when colors are the brightest for optimum antioxidant and enzyme retention. Add fresh herbs after removing from heat.
6. Add canned/prepared beans, seeds, sprouts and/or nuts.
7. Get creative as you pull it together. (With kids, a blender is a great way to introduce new flavors and textures!
8. Serve with love.
Everything tastes even better the next day, so be sure to keep leftovers for lunch. You’ll never eat fast food again once you taste your own potential.
Today is my daughter’s 13th birthday. In honor of our time together, I reflect on the gift her life is to me.
- Grades are game tokens. Anna reads between the lines. In the 6th grade, her common sense surpassed the institution. “I get the material, mom. Why do I need to do extra work? I mean really, who cares about grades?” Well, babe, it depends on what you want. Society agrees that grades reflect intelligence. In reality, grades reflect the ability to follow the rules. So it just depends on what game you want to play. Play to win, my dear.
- Real girlfriends don’t do drama. “Who cares who sits next to who at lunch? I mean, really, Sally (not her real name) came up with a schedule to make sure everyone has a turn sitting next to each other. Who makes time to do that? And what is this ‘group’ thing about? I like a lot of people. I don’t care who I sit next to, or even which table I sit at.”
- Mindcraft skills do not transfer to the real world. Anna can spend hours, days, (Ok, maybe months) creating cities, partnering with friends to enhance communities, utilizing natural resources and fostering a healthy economy. However, she and her sister cannot do the dishes without engaging in all-out war.
- Personality trumps hair. Anna got the hair I’ve always wanted–thick, long, gorgeous hair that will do whatever she wants. Fixing it reminds me of the mannequin head that I used to practice braiding as kid. Because I couldn’t practice on my own thin, fine hair. It boggles my mind, that, with hair like that, she wears a hat. Everyday. But I get it now. People who are bigger than their hair don’t need their hair to speak for them.
- Quietly flying under the radar is better than loudly buzzing the tower. Most of us seek attention. We positively or negatively reward each other for behavior and we drive each other crazy by taking too much of another person’s space. Anna doesn’t seek attention. She likes her own space. She is not the squeaky wheel. She doesn’t constantly ask me for things. She self-entertains. And the older she gets, the more that works in her favor. I joke that at some point, she’ll walk in the door, having Uber’ed to Chicago and back with friends. I will not have noticed she was gone. And she will not have thought to tell me where she was going.
- In order to see, you have to look. Anna takes tons of pictures of nature. She notices the background of life and the little things those of us on center stage tend to miss. She’s awestruck by the deep blue auras of sunrise, and admiring of the wicked purples and reds of dusk. She notices the shadows, patterns, angles and textures that create dimensions. “Well-played, Mother Nature, well played,” she often says. Yes, indeed.
- Curiosity is never bored. Boredom is the bane of a mother’s existence. “I’m bored,” is a cry of war on a peaceful day. How can anyone be bored? The only place I get bored is at Disney World. The cure for boredom is curiosity. Boredom is an insult to every person on the planet who has to work for the next meal. Anna is never bored. She is learning a new language on an app she just found, reading an entire novel in a day, learning how to edit pictures on her phone, or philosophyzing with the cat. She is happy doing nothing because she’s always doing something.
- If you don’t like homework, don’t do it. Anna hates doing homework. Not really, she just hates doing schoolwork at home. When missing assignments were taking a toll on her grades, we strategized and came up with a plan: she’d stay after school until her assignments were done. No more homework. She does her schoolwork at school, and when she gets home, she reads, talks to the cat or plays outside. Of course, this solution required that I pick her up instead of having her riding the bus. But the time spent in the car celebrating her accomplishments trumped the headaches of the homework dramas.
- Moustaches are funny. Life is fun when you wear a moustache, especially if you change up the color and size. Moustaches were a “thing” with Anna for over a year, adorning folders, bracelets, birthday cards and faces. The more moustaches, the better. And why, moustache (must-I-ask), not?
- Hair bows hold you back. Anna is a free spirit, unfettered by the insecurities that I struggled with as a kid. When I was in 7th grade, I got up 2 hours before school to wash and curl my hair, apply make up and change my clothes 5 times. Anna gets up, slaps on a hat, waits patiently as her brother finishes his hair, and races to the school bus.
- The fewer battles you pick, the more you win. Anna is very easy going, until she’s not. She doesn’t throw down over much, but when she does, I let her win if it’s possible. Because she doesn’t throw down over much, get it?
- Our children are not a reflection of ourselves. I am not responsible for my kids’ failures or success. I cannot give them happiness—only show them how I find happiness. Anna can do things that I never could (or thought I couldn’t), think of things I’ve never thought of, and see opportunities that I’ve missed. The less I try to direct her (um…control her), the more delighted I am by her unique perspective. I ask for just as much advice as I give.
- Try lots of new things. Anna came into this world with the belief that she can do anything (except chores—those are too hard). I think she weighed 42 pounds when, at the age of six, she nailed the double-back-handspring-back-tuck in gymnastics after 4 weeks. “Wow,” the coach said, “she’s got talent. She’ll go far.” But by the end of the season, she was ready to try something new. A few years of soccer and basketball prepped her for the softball and lacrosse teams. She enjoyed track—until the Robotics team appeared on her radar. She started playing the drums in 6th grade, and then learned the ukulele using an on-line app. She doesn’t ever ask for lessons. She doesn’t need them. She’s a player in life. Her motivation is simple: Be happy and do things that bring you joy.
Happy Birthday, babe. You bring me so much joy. I love you.