Archive for July, 2010

Your Food Supply #5


Concina Linda Works with Local Farmers

Your Food Supply #4: Healthy Lard?


Good Lard, What is it and Why Should I Care?

Your Food Supply: Travel Note


Posting While on the Road
We’re currently on the road, writing today from Kanab, Utah. We’ll be posting more of Your Food Supply within a day or so, so stay tuned. Also we got some… “interesting” footage of Grand Canyon’s air space, its use and abuse,  also: Tourists in Nature, which we think you’ll like.

R. Richards

Your Food Supply #3: Ancient Corn


Cocinca Linda Explains Corn Grinding, The Ancient Way

Your Food Supply #2: Passionate Restaurateur


Meet a Passionate Food Supplier

"Made by Hand, From the Soul of Mexico"

After our drive through corn fields, cattle feed lots and processing plants of the of the great American prairies complete with narration on CD of “An Omnivore’s Dilemma” we arrived in Durango for our week of House sitting. When looking for a restaurant which served local food, we found Cocina Linda, run by an energetic and passionate woman to whom we both took a liking. Below is the first post in a series from our informative interview with her. Stay tuned for more the next few weeks.  Watch this video to see why we love Linda and her good food.
Image: Cocina Linda’s Logo

Your Food Supply #1.2: You’re Kidding, Right?


Do you know how many different cows are in one hamburger?
Feed Lots in Kansas, USA
Question #1: When you are eating a hamburger, you’re not eating beef from one cow, you’re eating a beef mixture from how many cows? Let us know your answer and we’ll tell you after we get 20 responses.

Question #2: Why do you think there is a hedgerow of trees along the feedlot bordering the highway?

A North American Feedlot, Kansas

MSI Needs Your Support…


Mountain Spirit Institute needs your support!


Mountain Spirit Institute,, is a 501-(c)-3 non-profit organization dedicated to helping people better connect to themselves, each other and the natural world with a greater sense of joy and peace.

Richard Louv in his book “Last Child in the Woods” coined the term ‘nature deficit disorder’, which describes people’s lack of contact with the natural world, and the drastic results of what happens to individuals and society when this happens. MSI not only addresses this issue but instills a sense of place, compassion, and responsibility impelling our participants to take action towards a more holistic and sustainable lifestyle.


  • Learning about other cultures, Peru

    We have been in existence for over 11 years, offering a variety of programs, including the Kearsarge Wilderness Experience, a Peruvian/USA Folklore music exchange and tour, regular educational programs to Peru, The Art of Living shamanic studies program, a film series and author lectures plus other exspiritiential* education programs that support our mission.  (*This is a term coined by MSI to summarize our mission).

  • We give back to the local community by hosting the Sunapee SunFest and continue to offer the Sunapee High School/Outward Bound MSI Scholarship Program.
  • Our website and popular blog have a worldwide audience sharing global ideas about community, holistic lifestyles and sustainability.
  • Getting the word out

    100% financial giving by our directors to MSI as well as gifts in kind, and volunteer hours. The founder’s belief in the mission is illustrated by his loan of over $24,000 over ten years for start-up costs.  We earned our official non-profit status in 2005, but in some ways we are still a start-up.   We have conducted many successful programs over the years, and made a significant and positive impact on people’s lives in the region and beyond. Our programs have paid for themselves, showing strong administrative leadership. We’ve existed without major outside funding from individuals or grants.  In order to move on to the next stage, we are seeking donations to not only fulfill our mission but to be a sustainable organization.


Our Board of Directors has held two retreats to assess our place in the world, and to determine where our energy should be directed this year.   The MSI Board is committed to continuing its mission by creating new energy and relationships, not only within the organization, but with all who are coming in contact with us – participants, facilitators and donors alike. We are paying attention to aligning our work in a practical way for the betterment of our world.   These goals and programs are the epitome of our mission and we would be honored to continue our work with your help. Just a few of our upcoming programs are:

H.A.W.K program: Healing, Adventure, Wilderness and Kamping: a healing bereavement wilderness experience to provide a sense of community, contact and communication for teens and adults who have lost a loved one. More info here.

Snatam Kaur Fundraising Concert: featuring an artist whose ethics and message align with ours.  We will be introducing Snatam Kaur’s music to the Upper Valley/Lake Sunapee regional audience ( when she performs at the Lebanon Opera House on September 1st 2010.  Snatam’s internationally acclaimed music has been presented at yoga and personal development retreat centers throughout the world, and is the epitome of heartspace music. Learn more here. More info here.

Peru 2011: An important program, (our first was conducted in 1998), has the fundamental mission of expanding Americans’ view of the world through experiencing the compassion of the Peruvian people, and the stunning spiritual landscape of the Andes. Giving back and service are important aspects of this program. More info here.

Kearsarge Wilderness Experience and Solo: These programs serve to directly help participants realign their internal compasses in today’s busy lifestyle by finding vital time to connect with nature, with themselves and thereby be of better benefit to the world around them. More info on KWE here, and on Solo, here.


Specifically, we are seeking funds to build a solid foundation to increase our capacity to deliver more programs, and to be a truly sustainable organization. We realize these are difficult times and that there are many competing organizations seeking your support. Check out our website and blog, talk to a Board member or a former participant.   Learn more about the difference that Mountain Spirit Institute makes in the lives of individuals and communities. Your tax deductible contribution will enable us to continue to make that difference.

We need to raise $5,000.00 by AUG 15th in order to continue to offer the cultural and exspiritiential programs that distinguish us from other adventure-travel or outdoor organizations.  All those able to attend/participate in Mountain Spirit Institute events and programs will be grateful for any contribution you feel you can make, whether it is $25, $50, $100, $200 or more, toward our unmet needs.

You may contribute financially to our annual fund, by sending a tax deductable donation by mail to:

Mountain Spirit Institute
P.O. Box 626, Sunapee, NH 03782
or, to make a donation using PayPal, click here.

Thank you to all our past and present supporters of MSI. See a list of them here.

On behalf of Mountain Spirit Institute’s board of directors, thank you for considering donating to Mountain Spirit Institute.

D.R. Richards, Founder
Mountain Spirit Institute

Your Food Supply #1


The first in a series of video posts about Your Food Supply

#1 The Trip West: An Experiential Rude Awakening
By Randy and Amanda Richards

This was Amanda’s first trip across the U.S., so we thought we’d drive. Destination? Colorado, where we would house-sit for a fellow Mountain Spirit board member. We thought we’d stay off the interstates, instead, crossing rural routes, starting  with Indiana Route 24, then Missouri Route 36 west of Macon.  Shortly after departing we decided to listen to The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a book on tape by Michael Pollan.


Want to know what’s in your food?

As we traveled through Indiana, Missouri, and then Kansas, the book narrated our trip with views of tightly packed cornfields, and more corn, and then more corn. It turns out, about the only thing the U.S. is growing  is corn, at least from what we saw.  Sure there are apples in Washington, and spinach, avocados etc, in California, but in the Midwest, there’s corn, and a lot of it. We did see some soybean fields, but nothing much else than corn.  We certainly didn’t see many pastoral scenes of cows grazing on open pastures. But we did see lots and lots of corn. As we listened to Pollan’s book, we were shocked to learn where all this corn is ending up in the food supply, plus how many bushels per acre of corn the farmers were squeezing out of the land. Read his book for the stark details of our homogenized food supply, and as you do, imagine seeing it in front of your eyes, passing by the window of your car. It was eery for us.  I’ve driven across the U.S. probably over 45 or 50 times, and each time I’ve felt grateful to do so, and very cognizant of my impact by doing so.

I won’t go into detail about all we learned in Pollan’s book. Buy his book. However, one of the major topics he covered was how corn is not only a food, but a commodity, that is in almost all our food in a wide variety of forms. Corn drives the modern industrial food machine, being sent to beef feedlots where cows are forced to eat corn. Grass is their natural diet. Monsanto’s Roundup Ready genetically Modified Corn was another scary thing we learned about, plus how our farmers are forced work for fewer and fewer dollars, while ADM and the other monopolies make the money.

So starts our video series, rows and rows of corn, somewhere in Kansas on Route 36, but it could be anywhere in the Midwest. Stay tuned for Your Food Supply #2,  for a feedlot and processing plant scene west of Dodge City Kansas, which may shock you.

The Mountain Spirit


Book Retroactively Inspires our Organization’s Name

Book inspires my mission

While house-sitting here in Durango, at fellow Mountain Spirit  board member Bob Stremba’s house, I ran across a book on his shelf entitled “The Mountain Spirit”. Naturally I was intrigued. It looked like an old publication, and indeed, it was published by Overlook Press in 1979.

It’s an anthology with authors Georger Steiner, Galan Rowell, Dogen, David Roberts, Evelio Echevarria and Jeff Long and more.  Some of the chapter titles are: A History of Imagination in Wilderness, The Isolated Mountain, Alaska and Personal Style, Cairns, Modesty and the Conquest of Mountains, Bouldering: A Mystical Art Form, and Mountains in Early Taoism.
From the book’s back cover:
” The past few years have seen an extraordinary growth of interest in mountaineering all over the world, especially in North America. Until now, there has been a marked tendency among writers to concentrate on only the sporting aspects of mountain climbing.

The Mountain Spirit is the first work to explore the spiritual realm of mountains and mountain climbing in a philosophical, poetic, and even religious context. Bringing to the reader the excitement of heights and distant perspectives i, this book presents original material from an eclectic writing community and a unique approach to the aesthetics of the mountain experience”.

Reading through the pages, I was to see the book giving more expression to what I already felt but up till now, hadn’t expressed in the mountaineering aspects of this book. I’ll be ordering my copy today, and will see what I can do to get extra copies to fellow board members.
Our organization was founded on the idea of helping people to connect to themselves, each other and the environment. Mountaineering, and being in the power of mountains, is a natural ingredient in spiritual growth. We hope you’ll check out this book, and come with us on an adventure of the spirit in the mountains.

D.R. Richards, Founder
Mountain Spirit Institute

Conscious Eating


Food Matters

Food Matters – A Guide to Conscious Eating

In this book, Mark Bittman explores the links among global warming and other environmental challenges, obesity and the so-called lifestyle diseases, and the overproduction and overconsumption of meat, simple carbohydrates, and junk food. It offers a plan for responsible eating that’s as good for the planet as it is for your weight and your health.

Sustainable Eating

With over 75 recipes and meal plans, this book will help you became accustomed to a style of eating that will cut back on your greenhouse gas production and teach you how to become less reliant on animal products and nutritionally worthless food.

To find out more, go to Food Matters.