Can Your Diet Make You Happy?

A recent study using data from the UK shows that a healthy serving of fruits
and vegetables everyday can have a positive effect on your mental well-being. 
A recent study from the UK says yes!

by douglas reeser on June 21, 2013
A good friend of mine in Belize recently started working a new job. The job is with a family business, and requires long hours 6 or 7 days per week. I could see the toll the hours were taking, and urged her to be sure to take care of herself, especially by keeping up with a healthy and nutritious diet. I knew that eating well during a time of stress would help her tired body, and I found myself wondering if a healthy diet would also have an effect on her mental health. I know physical health, mental health, and diet are all entangled, but I wondered if diet could directly affect your mental well-being - can your diet make you happy?

After a few days, this question continued to linger in my mind, so I decided to do a little research. My own anthropological research has focused on health and diet, and so I had a few places to look, but I didn't find anything specifically about diet and happiness. I broadened my search and came across an article from 2012 in the journal, Social Indicators Research, a social-science journal that focuses on quality of life measurement. The article I found was titled with the very question I was asking: "Is Psychological Well-Being Linked to the Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables?" It turns out that few studies have actually been done on happiness and health, and perhaps none trying to tease out diet as a factor in our happiness.

First Friday Picture Show: Imaginative and Otherworldly Drawings by Jon Carling

Recycled Minds Picture Show
by Jon Carling on July 5, 2013
Future Shaman
Our July Picture Show features the drawings of Oakland-based artist Jon Carling. Carling’s work has been described as imperfectly precise and otherworldly. Childhood imagination haunts his drawings, as they often swing from pure fantasy to dry terror. Working only with pen and pencil (and the occasional spot of color), he weaves creatures and environments that recall 19th century book illustration, while incorporating transcendent and sinister themes.

“I want people to have an emotional response to my work that reminds them of being a child. When certain details are left out of an image, you use a very special part of your brain to fill in the spaces, and I think that is the key to engaging the viewer, let them write the story for themselves.”
Moving the Triangle
Since graduating in 2002 from Oakland’s CCA with a degree in illustration, Jon’s work has been featured in numerous gallery expos and publications, either in solo exhibitions or alongside his contemporaries in cities across the United States and Italy. Along with those exhibitions, he has made  animated videos, multi-media projections, posters and album art for bands such as The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Entrance Band, Meho Plaza, Agent Ribbons, Magic Castles, Noceans, Voice on Tape, The Lovely Eggs and Ema and the Ghosts. Visit Jon Carling online at

Continue reading to view the rest of the show >>

United Natures: a Film for Gaia

June 18, 2013

"When you think of the declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, the concept and practice of Earth Democracy that we are building in India - these are all contributions towards building an Earth Community, thinking of a United Natures - a United Nations of all Species" - Vandana Shiva

"I think it's about the rediscovery and recreation of new indigenous culture, that is our cultural task."

Check out the trailer to this important new film and ponder the implications of the project...

Visit for more information. 

Thinking Socially: a Way Forward Out of this Capitalist Mess

Can we find a social solution to this capitalist mess?
Image courtesy of the Socialist Organizer.
by douglas reeser on june 10, 2013
My recent return to southern Belize has been a pleasant and productive revisiting to a place where I spent nearly a year and a half working on my dissertation research in anthropology. I've written much about this place and Belize more generally, and while I am plumbing the depths of my experience here in an effort to complete my dissertation, I continue to find inspiration for shorter musings and reflections. One such experience occurred the other night while I was having some drinks with some non-Belizean friends of mine. 

We were out at a local seafood restaurant, popular with expats and tourists. It's a place with good food and character, an old wooden building sitting on stilts out over the Caribbean Sea, with a large outdoor deck perfect for star-gazing and enjoying the cool sea breeze. It's also the center of social life for the younger ex-pat community, where you can run into any number of young foreigners, here doing research, volunteering or interning at local NGOs, or working in efforts to relocate to Belize. I was there with some archaeologist friends, one of whom I did my Master's schooling with, and some researchers who work with a local conservation organization, talking about different issues that come up in the world of "development."

Soon, a mutual friend walked up to say hello before leaving for the night. She runs a local company that helps to produce and export agricultural products, and has helped to develop a program that sources the product from local farmers, and connects them to "ultra-premium" producers in the US and elsewhere. It's a model in the vein of fair trade, and provides farmers with a decent price for their product, and more importantly to some, introduces a level of competition in a field that was previously dominated by one company that dictated prices and terms to the farmers. We asked her how her business was doing, and before long, I was engaged in a short conversation with one of the conservation people I was sitting with. 

This is a Global Resistance Movement. Obviously.

The road ahead is not what you are used to. It is not developed.
It must be created. Collectively.
by douglas reeser on June 3, 2013
The world has changed. It happened while nobody was looking, and in a way few thought would matter. The prominence of the nation state has receded, and taking over its place has been the multinational corporation. The global triumph of capitalism has led to unbridled confidence and blind following of the market doctrine. When capitalism won, nations lost, people lost, and the interests of multinationals were granted the power to drive policy in even the most powerful nations on the planet. It has gotten so that the multinational corporation has infiltrated not only our political system, but also our social life, our everyday. People often care less what it is to be a citizen of a nation, or what it is to be a human being, and more with the latest, greatest, fastest, coolest... product. And this change is global. In the US and other "developed" nations, such has been going on for decades now, but the penetration of the product (the many flags of the corporation) into social life has now reached every corner of the globe.

And what are the implications of this shift in attention that has become so pervasive all around us? I would argue the result is what "development" has become in the modern world: the constant erosion of the collective, the community, the whole, and the unreasoned acceptance of the individual as the point of primary concern. "Developed" society has led us to a point in history in which it is socially acceptable and desirable to promote your own interests over those of others. The capitalist ethos of competition, and the drive for profit has now been translated into a guide for action. "Do what you have to do to get that new smartphone, damn the rest." The intense rule of the product is especially pervasive in the world's youth, who are less well equipped to be critical of the constant promotion and advertising of the new rulers. It also important to remember that these new rulers - the multinational corporations - no longer have the interests of the nation in mind when calculating their next steps. Their interests are solely self-interests, primarily the drive to increase profit. No matter the cost.

All is not lost, however...

First Friday Picture Show: Maya Resilience by Kristina Baines

Recycled Minds Picture Show
by Kristina Baines on June 7, 2013

~ Keep Moving ~
Turning sesame seeds toasting on the firehearth.

Our June 2013 Picture Show is by Kristina Baines, an ecological/medical anthropologist who has been taking, developing, and thinking about photos for over 20 years.  She has a strong interest in corn, how what we do in our environment makes us well, and using innovative methods to make anthropology relevant and accessible to a wide audience.  You can find out more about how these interests translate into projects and pursuits at or by contacting her at   

~ Simiona's Shop ~
Rice to be sold if the mill is buying.
I made this set of photographs in 2011 while I was living in Santa Cruz, Belize conducting my dissertation research. A traditional Mopan Maya village in many ways, Santa Cruz continues to be in flux, its residents actively negotiating the changes brought about by new opportunities and stressors - road paving, new schools, changing politics… These photos capture both the adaptability and the resilience of the community’s residents, and their landscape, to these changes, highlighting the subtleties, and beauty, of everyday life that continues in their midst.

Continue Reading to view the rest of Kristina's show.