Saturday, 9 May 2009

Veggie Krisha saves the day

Just a short walk from the colourful Camden market with its bright T-shirts, fancy dresses and Bob Marley music, the poorest of the poor queue in the rain without any obvious reason. Tired looking men in their forties, punks who drink out of a bottle in a Sainsbury’s bag and old women with muddy jumpers pull miserable faces while standing in line with their look straight ahead. Suddenly, a van stops and the faces light up.

Camden Town is one of the stops of the Food For All-van that distributes free vegetarian food to people suffering from homelessness, poverty, unemployment or mental or physical disabilities.
This much needed help is organized by London’s Hare Krishna, a religious movement that has its roots in Hinduism. In this movement, meat, fish, eggs, onions, garlic and mushrooms are avoided because of the belief that certain kinds of nutrition affect the consciousness in a bad way. “You are what you eat,” says the head of the charity, Peter O’Grady. “Whatever you eat, affects your consciousness.”

Strangely, most of the homeless people are not vegetarians. Even though there are many soup kitchens that offer meat for lunch in London, some people prefer to stand in the cold and eat their vegetarian food on the street. Mara, a homeless old woman, admits: “No, I am not a vegetarian. But the food is good. I come here every day.”

Ralf, a member of Hare Krishna, who distributes the free food in the van, explains: “People with health problems come to the van, because the food is digested easily.” After handing out a plate with rice and beans to a young man with red long hair and a dirty leather jacket, he continues: “People come here very ill, eat the food and get healthy again. Food is so powerful when it is made with love and devotion. Some people even give up their old lifestyle.”

Peter O’Grady says that he serves God by giving out free food. However, he does not feel the need to kill animals. “In fact,” he goes on, “I believe that there is a connection between bad karma and killing animals.” According to his belief, vegetarian food is “blessed food”. By giving out this food to homeless people, he blesses them.

Apart from his religious reasons to avoid meat, Peter O’Grady is also an economical vegetarian. He explains that “the meat industry uses ten times more crop than human beings eat. Without the meat consumption there would be ten times more crop to feed people.”

The van stops in Kentish Town, Camden Town and at Kings Cross for an hour each. Together with two rickshaws that supply students with a vegetarian meal on two university campuses, Food For All feeds 800 hungry mouths every day.

The charity picks up food products from supermarkets that have been over produced, gone out of date or wrongly packaged. The meals are cooked every morning in the kitchen of Watford’s Hare Krishna temple.

The charity has won the city award of 2007 for their successful green community based project. That this act of “love and devotion”, as Peter O’Grady calls it, is much needed, expresses one homeless person by saying that: “I don't get money from social security and there is no where I can get food from. I completely rely on the centre for my food and if it wasn't here I would probably die.” Another claimed: “If it were not here I would be begging money from cash points and shop lifting to earn money for food.”

Friday, 8 May 2009

Are you what you eat?

Thousands of people die because of their medicine’s side effects each year. Since 1996 the casualties through medicine has doubled. Doctors prescribe more and stronger drugs, which can lead to more side effects. The pharmaceutical industry sells £600 billion of drugs a year, says Patrick Holford, nutritionist and author of 35 books. In America one in nine women take anti-depressants. But is this all necessary?

“All of today’s major health issues can be solved by simple, radical changes in the way we live and eat – not by more and more drugs,” says Patrick Holford. In case of depression, he recommends getting omega 3 fats, zinc and magnesium into one’s system. A lack of these nutrients can contribute to feeling low.
A headache could be caused by dehydration, blood sugar problems, allergies to food and a lack of Vitamin B. Just a change of diet could cure a chronic, annoying headache.
Hazel Courteney, an award-winning health writer, who has worked as a columnist for the Daily Mail and Sunday Times, says that cutting down on alcohol, coffee, high fat and sugary processed foods and drinks can often help cure acne in most young people. She explained that these foods overload the liver, which is the organ responsible for breaking down and eliminating toxins and excess hormones, which are usually the trigger for acne in the young. If the liver becomes overloaded, then toxins remain in the body, triggering a host of conditions including acne, as toxins end up being “dumped” in the skin.

However, people should not rely on food as medicine at all times. Most nutritionists point out that a health food shop should not replace a doctor’s office. Melanie Flower, a nutritional therapist, says that nutritional medicine “is best used as a lifestyle choice to prevent future chronic health conditions. Orthodox medicine is fantastic at dealing with medical emergencies.”

But to cure chronic degenerative diseases, there is often no need to swallow hundreds of pills. All you need to do is change your diet. Doctors keep prescribing drugs, because they hardly know anything about the healing effect of the right diet. Patrick Holford says: “A young GP’s training is hopelessly inadequate and covers virtually nothing on nutritional medicine. If your doctor is over the age of 35, then the chances are, in seven years training they will have had six to 12 hours education in nutrition, most of which is very basic.”
Suyogi Gessner, who practises ayurveda, an alternative medicine native to India, gives another explanation. According to her, a patient expects a doctor to perform a miracle and cure as fast as possible. Food is a medicine that takes time to cure, whereas drugs work very fast. For patients, it is easy to take a pill, because they do not have to change their diet and can continue living their lives the way they did before, without changing their diets. What they do not realize, is that their illness might have been the result of a wrong diet.

“Prevention is far better than cure,” says Hazel Courteney. “Your body is made of food molecules, your body is literally made of what you eat, plus light, air and water.” Apparently, as much as 75 per cent of all chronic degenerative diseases are triggered by a poor diet, lacking in sufficient nutrients. Most cancer cells feed on sugar. But even if you inherit a specific cancer gene, you can help load the generic “dice” in your favour by eating anti cancerous foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Patrick Holford recommends an intake of around 30mcg of Vitamin D a day to achieve the lowest cancer risk. A human being can take in 15mcg of Vitamin D by eating plenty of oily fish and eggs as well as 30 minutes of sun exposure. The other 15mcg have to be supplemented.

A lot of people think that supplements are just a rip-off. The number of supplements and suppliers is inestimable. Nutritionist therapist Melanie Flower says: “Some supplements are a rip off and some are extremely valuable. There is a lot of variation in what is available today. It is always best to see the advice of a qualified nutrition practitioner before taking supplements.” Hazel Courteney emphasizes the importance to eat enough vitamins, minerals and essential fats. “Supplements should never be used as a substitute for a healthy, balance diet,” she says. But supplements are better than nothing and maybe necessary, since nowadays
many fruits and vegetables contain lower levels of nutrients than they did 50 years ago.

Especially in the spring it is very important to eat a lot of fresh vegetables in order to achieve an optimum vitamin intake. The spring is the time of rebirth. The nature reawakens. Not only our houses, but also our bodies need a spring clean. Suyogi Gessner says, the body needs to get all substances out of its system that has been accumulated during the winter. We should eat easily digested food, such as rice and fresh prepared soups. She also recommends going on a fast for 10 days eating vegetables and mung bean soup.

We should not underestimate the curing effect of nutrition. “If medicine was meant to be used on a daily basis, nature would have let it grow on trees,” says Michael Gehler, a non-medical practitioner. A good place to start changing the diet is reading “The Optimum Nutrition Bible” by Patrick Holford. He said: “This stuff should be taught in school.”

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Der Tod von Radio MultiKulti - auch die Öffentlich-Rechtlichen haben Leichen im Keller

Foto: Lutz Schramm

Artikel erscheint im Blicklicht, Februar 2009

Darwin hat mal wieder Recht behalten: Der im Kampf ums Überleben am besten an seine Umwelt angepasste überlebt. Fressen und gefressen werden. Radio MultiKulti wurde einfach zum Frühstück verputzt. In der Silvesternacht hat der multikulturelle Radiosender den letzten Ton von sich gegeben.

Grund dafür ist eine Sparmaßnahme des RBB, dem 54 Millionen Euro im Etat für 2009 fehlen. Die Öffentlich-Rechtliche Rundfunkanstalt wird zwar von GEZ-Gebühren finanziert, jedoch sind 14,5 Prozent der Haushalte in Berlin und Brandenburg wegen Sozialhilfe von den Rundfunkgebühren befreit. Der RBB-Sprecher Ralph Kotsch sagte: "Wir wollen nicht mit dem Rasenmäher gleichmäßig alles beschneiden. Stattdessen könnten einzelne Elemente vollständig entfallen.“ Mit einem Marktanteil von 0,8 Prozent, also täglich 37.000 Hörern, war Radio MultiKulti das schwächste Glied und musste gehen.

So unbekannt war der Radiosender dann aber doch nicht. Ein halbes Jahr lang wurde das Aus des Senders in den nationalen Medien diskutiert. Sogar bis nach London reichte sein Bekanntheitsgrad. Roza Tsagarousianou, Dozentin an der University of Westminster in London, sprach in ihrer Vorlesung über Multikulturalismus und Medien über die Vorbildfunktion von Radio MultiKulti, da es so ein Format in Europa kein zweites Mal gebe.

Radio MultiKulti sendete seit 1994 in 21 verschiedenen Sprachen. Am Tage war die Moderatorensprache jedoch deutsch, um eine „beidseitig befahrbare Brücke zwischen dem deutschen und nichtdeutschen Publikum“ zu bauen. „Integration ist keine Einbahnstraße“, so die Chefredakteurin, Ilona Marenbach. Das deutsch der Moderatoren war allerdings oft nicht akzentfrei, um weiterhin multikulturell bleiben. Ab 17 Uhr ging es dann auf englisch, französisch, sorbisch, türkisch oder anderssprachig weiter und ab 22 Uhr gab es dann die „Weltmusikspezialsendungen“ verschiedener Hörfunksender. Die Musik war vielseitig und stammte aus der ganzen Welt. Es sollte ein Programm für alle sein.

Von einem Programm für alle träumte schon John Reith, der Gründervater der BBC – ein Konzept, das ein Vorbild für die Öffentlich-Rechtlichen Rundfunkanstalten war. Als Reith den ersten Öffentlich-Rechtlichen Rundfunk der Welt plante, hatte er die Vision, ein Programm zu entwickeln, welches bildet und unterhält und zwar alle. Durch Gebühren sollte sichergestellt werden, dass auch Minderheiten auf ihre Kosten kommen und ihre Sendungen nicht aufgrund von kommerziellen Wettkämpfen gestrichen werden müssen. Doch was John Reith vor über 80 Jahren zu verhindern versuchte, ist jetzt mit Radio MultiKulti geschehen. Trotz GEZ-Gebühren wurde ein wichtiges Integrationselement wegen finanzieller Probleme einfach ausgelöscht. „Keine Ausländer-raus Politik beim RBB“ hießen die Forderungen von Politikern. Die Staatsministerin für Integration, Maria Böhmer (CDU), sagte, die Schließung des Senders wäre „aus integrationspolitischer Sicht das falsche Signal“. Doch jetzt sind die deutschen Medien wieder monokulturell.

Auf jedem Sender kommt das gleiche Pop-Gequake. Daran ändert auch das Funkhaus Europa nichts, das als Alternative zur Verfügung gestellt wurde. Dem Sender des WDR, mit einer Zentrale in Köln, ist es nicht möglich, regionale Informationen an die Berliner und Brandenburger weiterzugeben. Radio MultiKulti war für die Metropole Berlin perfekt zugeschnitten – der neue Sender, Funkhaus Europa, ist da nur ein Abklatsch. „Einige Formate von Radio Multikulti wurden übernommen, nicht jedoch sein Geist“, schrieb Anetta Kahane im Tagesspiegel Anfang Januar über den Ersatz. Akzente gibt es beim Funkhaus nicht. Und Politik erst recht nicht. Beim Radio MultiKulti waren andere Ansichten erlaubt, es wurde viel gestritten und diskutiert. Die gesetzten Schwerpunkte waren ungewöhnlich, es wurde gegen den Strich gebürstet. Das Funkhaus Europa ist dagegen einfach nur langweilig.

Ein kleiner Trost: Einige ehemalige Mitarbeiter des Senders führen Teile des Programms im Internet in der Plattform Multicult 2.0 weiter. Doch das bringt Radio MultiKulti trotzdem nicht wieder zurück. Anstatt ein paar Programme der 0815-Sender zu drosseln, musste ein einzigartiges, aber leider zu unbekannter, Sender weg. Auch bei den Öffentlich-Rechtlichen geht es nur um Geldmacherei. Schade, denn „Radio MultiKulti war die ganze Welt in einer Nussschale – ein tönender Globus, auf dem man im Bruchteil einer Sekunde von Alaska nach Patagonien reisen könnte“ um es mit Henryk M. Broders Worten im Tagesspiegel auszudrücken.