Big Eyes

rootsphoto-1422393682802-921122338109 (1)

We were joined at the hip Habonim and I. My formative years were ‎garbed up in my red laced blue shirt and faded Levi jeans. It was my ‎fashion statement.

I belonged. I was part of the of Habonim, the labor ‎Zionist youth movement.

But nine years old was I, when I spent my ‎first summer at Camp Miriam. It was an all or nothing thing, as I found ‎myself climbing up the rungs of the movement. At camp and at the ‎‎“ken” (the movement’s un-summer city nest), at seminars and other ‎trainings, I did it all: chanicha (camper) and madricha (counselor). Of ‎course my gap year was spent immersed in Israel on “Workshop”, ‎exploring and experiencing the culture and the life of Israel first hand. ‎Everything was done by the book. ‎

Ameliem? Check√ Chotrim? Check√ Tzofim? Check√ K’m Beit? Check√ ‎

All camper groups completed and accounted for. I did my stint as a ‎counselor both at camp and in the “ken”. I came back from Israel to ‎begin university and suddenly found myself milking cows at a nearby ‎Washington dairy to save up money for my last and final stint.‎

Like I said, I did it all, part and parcel, and found myself embracing the ‎movement’s ultimate calling: I made Aliyah to a kibbutz in Israel.‎

the point mb

‎“If you will it, it is no dream”…‎


My path is a vision.‎

Once I was a bulldozer, now I am but a rake…‎

I was hard. I would not allow any ideas other than mine to permeate. ‎Hard is fragile, solitary. I wanted more so I embraced change.‎

I softened. I actually listened and lay down my arms. Lo and behold, I ‎discovered that the world is not two-dimensional. Not everything is ‎black and white: Fifty Shades? Well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. ‎The vision may be perfect, but the people sure aren’t…‎

Many beautiful memories from our life on the kibbutz remain. ‎Although, at times, life on a kibbutz felt like a huge extended family ‎complete with the gossip, the petty fights and the drama.

Kibbutz was ‎a lesson in socialism: “From each according to his ability, to each ‎according to his needs.” At times, however, it was more along the ‎lines of “what is yours is mine and what is mine is mine”…

Kibbutz life had its unique systems. One such example was the free ‎goods distribution. Kibbutz members were free to help themselves to ‎produce from the communal refrigerator and from the self-service ‎food carts in the main dining room. In the early days of the kibbutz ‎such things as cigarettes, sugar, salt, bread, eggs, fruit and vegetables ‎were freely available for all to take.‎

In the beginning there was trust. It was clear that each member would ‎only take according to his needs.

Big mistake!‎

Unfortunately, the needs and the boundaries are as clear as the ‎collective integrity.‎

In time, the distribution method changed and allotments per member ‎or family size were instituted. For example, a family of five would ‎receive three baskets of fruit while a couple would receive only one. ‎Alas, this system also had its faults.‎

Not all members wanted fruit. Some preferred to snack on other ‎foods. There was no choice, no alternative provided.‎

Even if there was a preference for a different type of fruit: there was ‎no choice, no alternative provided. ‎

My share – My take!‎

What a waste!‎

I recall my adopted kibbutz father passionately repeating the ongoing ‎saga of “The Fruit at Mom’s”.‎

He came to visit his parents. He opened the refrigerator and was ‎immediately accosted by fruit, lots of fruit. He turned around and saw ‎fruit, lots more on the table behind.‎

Astonished, he confronted his mother. “Ema (Mom)! The fridge is ‎overflowing with fruit. Why did you bring more?!”‎

His mother answered deservingly: “It’s mine! Why should I not take ‎it?!”‎

It turns out that a utopian society needs perfect people. The big guy ‎upstairs appears to have messed that one up…‎

Free has a price tag!‎

As a child, my family dined out frequently. We especially liked buffets. ‎We were free to pick and choose again and again. It was conquer and ‎destroy, a battle zone in our wake. We escaped weary and breathless, ‎heavily burdened with our exploits.‎

Later as parents, we too preferred a good buffet. Frequently we would ‎also seek out hotels with a buffet. There were food choices for every ‎palate, no opportunity for the kids to complain. Everyone walked ‎away happy (except, of course, the cleanup crew…).‎


The fast food industry discovered many marketing incentives to get us ‎in the doors. For a pittance, they offered to enlarge our meals. They ‎gave us large soft drink cups with free access to endless refills.‎

Big Eyes


Our appetite is insatiable. A wedding would not be complete without ‎tasting the whole spread. A spectacular find at the clothing boutique ‎would not feel right without a multiple color purchase. ‎

There is an easy payment plan available for every dream. So what if ‎you can’t afford it!‎

One of the first concepts taught in Economics 101 is the “elasticity of ‎demand”. This concept measures the percentage change in product ‎demand as compared to the percentage change in price.‎

When the elasticity of demand is inelastic, one will purchase the same ‎amount of a product regardless of its price. Household salt and tap ‎water are two good examples of products with a relatively inelastic ‎demand.‎

Another example of inelastic demand is a diabetic’s need for insulin. A ‎diabetic will continue to buy the same amount of insulin every week ‎regardless of its price as his demand for the product is fixed.‎

On the other hand, however, the demand for organic bread is quite ‎elastic. As its price drops it is more than likely that many will prefer it ‎over ordinary bread, however, when the price is high few will ‎purchase as there are many lower priced alternatives to organic bread.‎

Nothing is Free!‎
A tiny price tag comes at a HUGE cost…‎

Take government subsidies for example. A government spends money ‎to lower the price of essential goods. Is this decision a reflection of the ‎government’s intent to aid the producer or rather the weak ‎consumer? On which product is the emphasis focused? Does it ‎become an attempt to find the easiest and cheapest way to feed the ‎weak, regardless of the havoc it will play with our health? Would it be ‎so wrong if whole food plant choices were the standard? It is all too easy to ‎push the substandard white sugary choices. Really, is white bread ‎and lot fed flesh what the doctor ordered?‎

It saddens me to see bumper crops dumped and burned to keep ‎market prices up. What a wonderful world it would be if there were ‎fruits and vegetables freely available to hungry families…‎

When I travel I love to explore farmers’ markets. The vibrant colors, ‎spectacular flavors and unique handcrafts will draw me in time and ‎time again. Just before we came home from this summer’s trip we ‎stopped to explore the Union Square Farmer’s Market. Some official ‎signs aroused my curiosity and I went up to the booth to understand ‎to meaning of what I read. It appears that eligible food stamp holders ‎may choose to exchange their food dollars for market coins. For every ‎five dollars of food stamps exchange the bearer will receive seven ‎dollars of market money. Simply stated, this provides the bearer with ‎an extra 40% value which can be used on all food and beverages ‎‎(solely) in the market! Talk about added value…‎

5 dollars 2 dollars

It excites me to see the abundant health initiatives of the mayor of ‎N.Y.C. Besides the market money program, he is responsible for ‎creating an upper limit for soft drink beverage cups, prohibiting the ‎sale of foods with trans fats, designing a healthy teacher’s training, ‎creating school gardens and school salad bars.‎

Salad Bars?‎

Can you imagine if we had a salad bar in every school, work place, ‎play place and well place? Despite being a “less is more” kind of gal, I ‎would LOVE to see more of this!‎

Let’s talk about it!‎

I would like to thank you for your patience in reading this post to its end.‎

If you liked what you read and you are not on my mailing list, you can sign up ‎here.‎

Finally I would like to request that you please share my post which precedes the ‎release of my animated clip (soon, I promise). I am so excited! Please share this ‎post…

Thank you and have a great week!‎


You tell your future! The power is ours!

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Hila Gozani
Hila Gozani
6 years ago

Hey Paula

Obesity and chronic disease are rampant. The NYC Food Bucks is a government incentive to fight it. I invite you to learn more at I also found this interesting

Don’t you just love the new creative efforts to push us back to healthy?! Happy to give you food for thought. Please pop in sometime and I will give you more than that

🙂 Helene

Paula Graham, Health Coach
Paula Graham, Health Coach
6 years ago

I like what NYC is doing from what I hear too. Not sure I understand the reason for trading in $5 food stamps for $7?

Fun to see you’re evolution… you give us much food for thought Helene.