Working with thought leaders on shaping their speaking platform is an incredible privilege. And one of my speakers, Ingrid Oscarsson, is having an impact on the climate crisis, by inspiring action through performance. As an environmental activist and singer/songwriter, Ingrid encourages and fosters unity by recognizing how we divide each other through labeling. She wants to reveal and highlight our commonalities rather than where we differ and her goal is to unite us, so we work together for lasting global change.
Tricia: Ingrid, you are a singer/songwriter and former therapist and registered yoga teacher. Have you always championed this cause along with all the other gifts you bring into the world?
Ingrid: It’s something that I’ve been aware of for a long time. That our current way of life has an environmental impact. I was a biology major in college before shifting to psychology. I loved chemistry and biology to understand what happens at a micro and macro level, not only in the body but in our environment. I remember being in a college biology class the first time I heard about the greenhouse concept. I was around 20, so we have known about this for a long time. And we still have not done anything about it. There is an article I saw recently about how Exxon knew 30 plus years ago about the effects of fossil fuels on the environment, but decided to exploit the earth by extracting fossil fuels regardless of the devastating effects. Not to single out Exxon. All of the fossil fuel companies are responsible for our current situation.
Tricia: Al Gore’s Ted Talk on climate change was one of the very first Ted Talks. And An Inconvenient Truth, the Oscar winning documentary, was made in 2006. That’s how long this has been mainstream.
Ingrid: Yes, it’s not that it has not been talked about, but corporate media will negate any progress forward in revealing inconvenient truths. I watched this movie The Biggest Little Farm recently.
It was released in 2018 and is a documentary about this couple, John and Molly Chester, who bought a farm about an hour outside of Los Angeles. The land had been completely stripped of nutrients and minerals from years of growing various mono-crops. Mono cropping is growing one crop; maybe two, using chemical fertilizer herbicides, and pesticides. When they arrived at the farm, they picked up a piece of earth, and demonstrated in the film how it dropped to the ground like a rock. They had lived in an apartment in Santa Monica. John was a filmmaker and Molly was a personal chef. They had this rescue dog, Todd they adopted, and he barked all day when they were not home. Eventually they were evicted, so they had to move. They moved out to the country and decided they wanted to have a farm. They wanted to grow food in a healthy and balanced way. They hired Alan York, who used to work in the wine industry and he helped them to grow the right crops in a very specific way; a regenerative and sustainable way. It was a long process. They still had to figure a lot out for themselves since Alan ended up passing away while they were still working with him. Bottom line, they got things in balance, but it’s a continual process for them. Being a filmmaker, John Chester documented their progress, and created this beautiful film. It was so inspiring for me to see. It makes me want a farm!
There is another farm in Georgia called White Oak Pastures that has shifted to regenerative practices within the last 20 years, which allows them to store more carbon in the soil than the cows emit throughout their lifetime for a negative 3.5 pounds of carbon per pound of beef produced. This debunks the myth that cattle farming is contributing to global warming. If it’s done right, we can heal our soil by keeping carbon in the soil instead of being released in the air. We NEED animals. I would invite vegans to look at how meat alternatives like almonds and soy are grown in a conventional way. Soybeans still have a net positive carbon emission. Grass fed beef is the only protein source with a net negative 3.5 emission level. Eat what you want but know the facts.
I agree with the Vegans that conventional factory farming is the worst. But it’s not the entire truth. In regenerative farming, the animals graze and then they move to another area. The soil is treated in a regenerative and sustainable way through the use of rotating animals to create optimal soil.
A lot of people are talking about fossil fuels, and that’s definitely something we need to work on but healing the soil is a powerful opportunity to effect tremendous change to the health of our planet and humans through healthy food. The soil really scares me. The farm that the Chesters bought had been several mono-crop farms, until all the nutrients and minerals were stripped and the land was arrid. We are stripping the soil of nutrients, minerals, and everything that we need to grow food. We’re doing that with mono cropping and factory farming of animals. The answer is not simply to be a vegan. That is not only misinformed but simplistic. Whether you choose to eat animals or not, they are part of the equation in healing the soil. Dr. Mark Hyman, author of Food Fix, says that “The way we grow food is destroying our ability to grow food in the future.” The truth is we have only about 60 harvests left. Each harvest will have less and less nutrients until there won’t be any left. No food, no humans. Is that the kind of world we want to leave future generations? Of course not, but most people are unaware of this fact.
Tricia: How did the couple in The Biggest Little Farm fix the soil?
Ingrid: They healed the soil by introducing animals and compost into the soil. They also continually rotated the animals to new pastures to graze, and balanced their farm with the adjacent wild areas. They used cover crops to absorb rainwater into the soil. All of this allowed birds and pollinators to return to the land. They had to work out how the pests also played a role, by shifting, for example the ducks so they could eat the snails from the tree trunks. The film has beautiful footage. The land is gorgeous now. It’s so fertile. The aerial shots of the farm are gorgeous. It looks like paradise.
Tricia: It really is a delicate ecosystem. And it sounds like taking the time to understand it could really turn things around for this planet. Talk to me about the responsibility we have to study and to learn more and to not just read newspapers and watch the news.
Ingrid: Mainstream news is controlled by corporate media. We have to read beyond corporate media. They are invested in convincing us “nothing to see here” by distracting us with all kinds of irrelevant stories so we are not aware of what corporations are doing, which ultimately allows corporations to make money by exploiting the earth. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves about what is really happening in the world. An alternative news source that is 100% reader-funded is Truthout.com Also, books by Naomi Klein, Rebecca Solnit, Bill Mc Kibben of 350.org (Falter), David Wallace-Wells (The Uninhabitable Earth), and Drawdown edited by Paul Hawken. Dr Mark Hyman’s new book Food Fix is also a great introduction to how we can heal our food, our climate and ourselves by healing the soil.
Tricia: Thank you for these amazing resources. And talk about why healing the soil matters.
Ingrid: Because our food is losing all of the nutrients. Much of our food is already junk food out of the ground. They grow these mono crops of corn and soy, a lot of it’s GMO and this scorches earth with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and they are growing corn to feed cattle but cows don’t eat corn, they eat grass. Corn is also grown to make fructose corn syrup used mainly to manufacture soda, but is found in a lot of processed food. Grass fed beef is not just some trendy thing, it’s normal. And so many companies grow corn and soy for the ultra- processed food on the market along with the cattle feed. This is not optimal food for any ruminating animals.
Tricia: And just to be clear, GMO’s are Genetically modified organisms in food crops that have been engineered to increase yields, hardiness and resistance to herbicides. This genetic engineering creates plant, animal and bacteria food groups that do not occur in nature. This is not organic.
Ingrid: Exactly. It’s like that meme that went around a few years ago. Try organic, or as your grandparents called it: food. Before chemical pesticides and fertilizers and GMO’s everything was “organic.”
Tricia: What can we do, Ingrid?
Ingrid: First is to educate yourself about what is really going on, and what you can do to shift what is happening through your daily action and where you choose to spend your money. Do you know where your food comes from? Start there.
The soil issue is vitally important in solving our food problem and our climate crisis. With all the runoff from fertilizer used on the monocrops, and methane from factory farming of animals our waterways become polluted and destroy fish. There are numerous dead zones along the coast that are killing fish because of chemical run off. It sounds overwhelming, but it’s something that we can fix if we would just take the time to understand it. I am reading Dr Mark Hyman’s book Food Fix, where he discusses all of this. This book is a gem. He goes into detail about all of this. This is fixable. As Marie Forleo’s book title says, (Everything is Figureoutable) it’s figureoutable. What Dr Hyman discusses in his book, has already been figured out, now we just have to act. Also watch the interview where Marie Forleo interviews Dr. Hyman about his new book.
Tricia: This is hopeful. What else?
Ingrid: I also talk about composting a lot, since it’s something I do, even though I live in an apartment in Manhattan. I think it’s important to do small things. Especially if it’s something so easy, you should definitely do it. And of course, buy less plastic. If you do buy it, separate it out. We have so much plastic that we have to do something with it. It’s in our oceans. There will soon be more plastic than fish.
Write to your elected officials about your concerns. Although we focus way too much of our time and efforts on who we want to be the next president of the US, we do need to stay politically involved and make our voice be heard. The discussion of presidential candidates is another example of corporate media instigating infighting with people and using labels to divide and conquer. Dig deeper and look at what the candidates really stand for and don’t rely on corporate media to tell you. They are invested in maintaining the status quo and not changing our current system. Once we are aware of this we can choose to stop excessively interacting on social media about who the best candidate is. Vote yes, and share your opinions avoiding labeling others, but spend your precious time on creating and living the changes you want to see in the world. By focusing only on who the best candidate is, it implies how we create change; by voting someone in who will act on our behalf. We the people are billions and have way more power than any political candidate.
Tricia: As a speaker, artist and advocate, you want us to talk about this, support the small farms, understand the science behind cleaning up the soil and get informed.
Ingrid: Yeah, and these farmers, they also need to come together too and be a big cooperative so they can have a bigger impact and get us these healthier foods more efficiently.
Tricia: You compost. What does that mean for people who may have not heard of this? Or think it’s gross!
Ingrid: Composting involves taking all your food scraps, and even paper like I can take paper towels that I wipe spills with, and any organic matter, and you get a bio bag or you can use one of those composting pails. When I use the word organic here, I am using it in the broader sense of anything pertaining to living organisms, plants; essentially carbon-based; even if they have been grown conventionally. Everything from coffee grounds to avocado skins.
For those of us who live in New York City, we can walk over to any Green Market with a composting site three, four blocks away, and dump it there. This service is provided by Greenmarket.com There are several locations throughout NYC. In my neighborhood they collect on Sundays, but other neighborhoods collect on different days. If you have a house and a backyard, you can do it yourself. Or you can go to GenPak.com and find a location near you.
Tricia: I’m picturing you walking on Sunday with your bag of compost.
Ingrid: It feels good to know that I’m doing something positive. I’m empowering myself.
Tricia: What else can you share that people can start doing today to make a small difference in saving the world and helping reverse climate change?
Ingrid: Well, another small thing that I talk about a lot which costs nothing is to just switch your search engine to Ecosia.
Tricia: And why is that important for environmental activism?
Ingrid: They plant trees with their profits, from advertising dollars. They have planted over 85 million trees so far. Also, buy from new designers who don’t mass produce. This is important because the fashion business is really one of the biggest polluters. Their dyes (made from petrochemicals) go into our rivers and waterways. The other thing is, that mass produced clothing is also often made from petrochemicals (fossil-fuel based). Silk, wool and cotton are less common now. It’s kind of a rarity. Even things that I think, “Oh that looks like a silk blouse.” Then I read the label, and it’s not. Becoming educated is how we take our power back and change things. Lemongrass essential oil can remove nail polish. We don’t need nail polish remover really. And cleaning products. That’s another component to my environmental activism. I have gotten rid of about 90% of my cleaning products. Also a lot of shower gels and lotions and stuff like that, it’s all based on petro-chemicals. What did we do before they made all this crap? We still cleaned things. Baking soda is great. Even before I added essential oils, I used baking soda and vinegar as household cleaners; you can make products with that. They can also be used to wash your hair and brush your teeth.
Tricia: Can really we heal the planet?
Ingrid: I think we can because the more people that know about this and understand this and are willing to make changes, the more power we have to effect real change. There are billions of people on the earth. These companies are 1%. We are the rest of the 99 and if we all come together, we have the power.
Tricia: And you also have the power as a singer/songwriter. Entertaining is one of the most effective ways to inspire change. What are you currently working on, as an artist, that’s going to contribute to telling your story to more people so that we all feel empowered?
Igrid: Well, through my one woman show, The Cage, I am getting this message out. I am linking the violence of patriarchy with the violence to the earth. It’s connected. How you do one thing is how you do everything. Violence has permeated into our culture at all levels of society. Here is where we often get caught up dividing ourselves into men vs. women. The patriarchy hurts men and women, by dividing us. Love and connection is what will heal. The first step is becoming conscious of this power.
I am recording a soundtrack too, so that people who aren’t able to make it to the show, can listen to what it’s all about and understand the message I also think it’s important for everybody to tell their story. We have given our power away. So I think it’s important for everyone to tell their stories and that’s why I also plan to create a song writing retreat to help people write their stories even if they aren’t a songwriter or don’t have a background in music. When you start telling your story you become conscious, and start to access your soul. You are waking up to what’s really inside of you, which is ultimately love.
Tricia: Using the power of our voices for collective healing. Wow. What do you desire for the planet in the next twenty years Ingrid?
Ingrid: I want us to shift from factory farming and to have more regenerative and rewilding happening so that we can heal our soil. To gain traction here, we have to come together, which means to stop labeling and judging by blaming and shaming. Educate ourselves as to the root of the problem, and consequent solution, which is to heal our soil. It’s more accessible than saying we are going to stop fossil fuels,” however we can do that as well, by lowering our consumption of fossil fuels by decreasing the amount we fly; use public transit, car pooling and/or using an electric car.
My show is meant to entertain and educate. I’m providing information and suggesting alternatives to our current way of life. I think that’s the biggest gift I am offering; more than the entertainment piece, which is, of course, why people want to come initially.
Tricia: That’s amazing. So, in addition to the composting links and the search engine, what else do you want to share to empower the reader?
Ingrid: Get a glass or metal water bottle today! I have a Klean Kanteen, but any metal or glass. Klean Kanteen also sells steel straws. American’s use upwards of 38,000 straws in their lifetime. You can get laundry detergent pods called DROPPS, self-contained with no bottle and even toothpaste. There’s a company that makes these little tablets called Chewtab, you chew in lieu of using toothpaste so you don’t have a tube to throw away. We can actually make a difference as the 99% and come together as a Global community. Greta Thunberg is simply using her voice to speak the truth, to shine a light on the facts. These aren’t my opinions or Al Gore’s opinions or Jane Fonda’s opinions about the Global Climate Crisis, these are the facts, and I am amplifying them with my voice.
In addition to both being advocates for Mother Earth, Greta and Ingrid are both Swedish. It’s a small planet! Ingrid Oscarsson is a singer-songwriter, storyteller and activist. After writing a one-woman show connecting the violence of the patriarchy with the destruction of our earth, her love of nature blossomed into environmental activism. Ingrid’s EP titled Break Free was released in the Fall of 2018. She’ll be premiering the soundtrack along with her one woman show, The Cage on September 11th in New York City at the Triad Theater.