SONY DSCAs a middle class hipster vegetarian, you would think that I’d be all over quinoa because of the fact that it’s high in protein and I’m not so much… Quinoa has been growing in popularity within the US and other wealthy countries over the past few years because of the fact that it is seen as a superfood with the fact that it’s nutritionally dense, gluten free, and again, high in protein. The Rapid City Journal stated in an article about quinoa that in addition to protein, quinoa also offers a healthy dose of vitamin B and E, minerals like calcium and iron, and many other nutrients.

But the thing about quinoa is that up until it started getting popular within the US and other wealthy countries, the superfood was mainly eaten by poor rural communities in countries like Bolivia. And the rise in popularity within weathier communities and countries means that the communities and farmers in Bolivia that have depended on quinoa for nutrients can no longer afford to buy it. Joanna Blythman wrote about the impact of quinoa’s popularity on food security and how that with the rise in price for the staple grain resulted in the grain being too expensive for many poor Bolivians to afford:

The appetite of countries such as ours for this grain has pushed up prices to such an extent that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia, for whom it was once a nourishing staple food, can no longer afford to eat it. Imported junk food is cheaper. In Lima, quinoa now costs more than chicken. Outside the cities, and fueled by overseas demand, the pressure is on to turn land that once produced a portfolio of diverse crops into quinoa monoculture.

So with the popularity there are issues and concerns about malnutrition,  land disputes, and water scarcity. Dan Collyns wrote about the land disputes and other issues with quinoa for The Guardian, saying like what’s already been said that less quinoa is being eaten in the countries of origin (Bolivia and Peru) and how:

Bitter battles are being fought over prime quinoa-growing land. Last February dozens of people were hurt when farmers fought with slings and sticks of dynamite over what was once abandoned land.

More than anything I think it’s important to recognize and acknowledge the ways in which wealth and trends influence global food security. And with the increased enthusiasm over quinoa, particularly in wealthier areas, I wonder if there is a way to balance food security (and providing a staple to the diets of poor and rural communities) and finding protein and nutrient rich foods for other parts of the world.

Parents and Trans Children.

I tweeted last night about a Buzzfeed article with a video showing a very emotional moment of young trans girl finding her first dose of hormones. And it got me thinking about the importance of supporting children experiencing gender variance and dysphoria and the societal gender norms that pressure so many to conform.

Gender, particularly the gender binary, is socially constructed, learned at a very young age, and assigned at birth based on what doctors see between your legs. (And if they can’t really tell? Doctors will preform surgery on intersex newborns to make sure every one conforms – something that has been gaining controversy, especially with intersex activists.) So often we as a society see gender and sexuality as a binary system, where you are either male or female and that determines a lot about who you will become before you can even begin to understand yourself.

Seeing the rise in trans youth and the parents who accept them unconditionally and respect their autonomy makes me so unbelievably happy. The support that Erica Maison gives her trans daughter Corey is so amazing because there’s always the unfortunate possibility that LGBTQ+ children  and youth might be thrown out and experience homelessness.

Maison isn’t the only person who has been supportive of their trans or gender nonconforming children. Frida Berrigan wrote about how her son loves to wear dresses and how we need to let children have options and fluidity with gender. Tasha Sanders wrote about how she’s been navigating gender norms with her transgender daughter and how there’s still so much more work to be done to make society more accepting.

#sHellNo update

I’ve written about the protests against the Shell that happened in both Seattle and Portland before and recently big news happened with the oil rig that was headed up to Alaska. Shell has decided to abandon the Arctic drilling plan for the foreseeable future!

Shell cited disappointing results from a well drilled in the waters north of the Bering Straight and the federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska. The company has invested roughly $7billion in this specific project but the Arctic has been said to be a very risky and expensive place to explore and develop.

Today, something amazing happened: after $7bn spent on mounting an operation to drill in Alaska's remote Chukchi Sea, SHELL OIL ANNOUNCED THAT THEY WILL ABANDON PLANS TO DRILL IN THE ARCTIC FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE!!!! This also means that it is highly unlikely that any other oil company will attempt the same! While Shell publicly stated dissatisfying test drill results as their reason, they have admitted off the record that the mounting pressure from protests and the bad publicity that came along with it, also contributed to their decision! This means that every person who took to exercising their RIGHT TO PROTEST, on land, on water, hanging off a bridge ❤️, should feel extremely vindicated right now!We had the honor and privilege to paddle side by side with indigenous folks, @greenpeaceusa activists and good folks from all around this bio-region at the protest that kicked it all off this spring #paddleinseattle for #shellno And let me tell you: IT FEELS GOOD TO BE A SMALL PART OF A MOVEMENT THAT ACTUALLY MADE A DIFFERENCE. I'm also here to tell you that beyond whimsical forest photos and #dreamy country life of "authentic" living, being part of the climate movement is an actual, real way to enact positive change in the world, and find meaning in the frightening, complex era we find ourselves living in. The Earth is not some filtered image, or an emoji, and nature is not a place we visit for photo shoots; IT'S OUR ONLY HOME! Explore #climatechange #climatejustice read #thischangeseverything join @greenpeace @350org support indigenous efforts to keep oil companies off their land #idlenomore and most importantly: BRING YOUR BODY PEACEFULLY TO A PROTEST! More thoughts on blog, link in profile ❤️🌏❤️

A photo posted by 🍃🌲Milla Prince🌲🍃 (@thewomanwhomarriedabear) on

Accessibility and Ableism.

It took me a really long time to see the ways in which many spaces (including activist and feminist spaces) aren’t always the most accessible in different ways and how accessibility has to mean more than just talking the talk. And accessibility can be more than just about disabilities (although that’s a huge factor) because issues like class also matter.

I wrote several months back about how activism has changed in the technological age and how every person’s activism differs. Not everyone has the same abilities; not everyone is able to walk in marches, to attend protests, or the like. And that can be for a plethora of different reasons – physical disabilities, economic barriers, etc. Kai Cheng Thom wrote about some of the ways in which we can make social justice movements less elitist and more accessible because so many spaces are often  inaccessible and very elitist.

Feminist spaces, like many spaces within society, have unfortunately been home  to everyday ableist encounters and language. There are so many ways in which ableist language is normalized within society but the fact of the matter is, there are so many alternatives to what we’re trying to communicate. Sara Whitestone wrote about how mainstream feminism continues to perpetuate ableism (including the usage of ableist language) and how we can change that to make our communities more inclusive.

It’s also important to remember that not all disabilities are going to look the way that able bodied people want them to. Sara Whitestone also wrote about being an ally to people with invisible disabilities and opens up about her experiences with one:

My condition reacts to a variety of factors, so my symptoms vary on any given day. Some days, I have to use a wheelchair with powerful motorized wheels for mobility. Other days, I can walk with ease and agility. There are also days when I can’t get out of bed at all.

So when we talk about accessibility, we need to understand the different ways in which people come to the table and make social movements more inclusive, including for those who are neurodivergent. We have to realize that ableism is ingrained within society and that accessibility means more than just lip service about disabilities. It’s providing child care or transportation, it’s realizing the roles of service dogs to their owners, it’s celebrating age diversity within communities, it’s not participating in ‘inspiration porn’,  it’s realizing that not all disabilities look the same and that every person is differently abled and contributes to the movement in different ways.

Things I wish I knew.

Alternatively: dear me in senior year of high school.

The things I wish I knew years ago:

  • You’re not straight and that’s so okay.
    • Dad will cheer when you come out, Mom will ask if you’re in love, and your sister will already know. You’re not good at keeping your queerness a secret as it turns out.
    • There are words and identities for you.
  • You also don’t have to be super feminine
    • you’re also kinda trans and spend a lot of time thinking about gender
  • Don’t go into nursing. trust that instinct that you don’t want to spend your life doing that.
    • Also your grades aren’t going to be as great in college as they were in high school
  • That guy you really liked and dated for a couple months is so not worth your time.
  • Do something about that massive forehead you have. Try a different hair cut maybe?
  • You have depression and anxiety but you are not broken because of it.
    • That constant irritability and frustration and anger you feel is because of the depression
  • Please go to a coffee shop other than Starbucks. The coffee there sucks and you’re better than that.
  • You’ll make mistakes and that’s also so okay. Learn from them.

Honestly I feel like I’m in a significantly better place and know so much about myself now than in high school. There’s the saying that high school is the best four years of your life but that was so wrong for me. It did get better (as cliche and annoying as that is to admit).

US Imperialism and Immigration from Central and South America.

Immigration has been a hot topic over the last couple years within the US, with the Obama Administration deporting the most amount of undocumented immigrants in history, Trump consistently making ignorant remarks about immigration on his campaign trail, to Pope Francis’ immigration remarks last week in Philadelphia.


But the thing that never seems to be discussed in mainstream media about immigration and unauthorized migrants is the role that the US and our imperialist history play.  Roque Planas wrote about several different ways in which US imperialism has caused Latinx Immigration to the US to increase, talking about the numerous times the US has colonized, invaded, occupied, and overthrown governments in Central and South America. (Like how the US took over half of Mexico in 1848 after the Mexican-American War and the border literally crossed over numerous people of Mexican origin.) As Planas wrote:

…the truth is that the US government has historically made life in Latin America harder by overthrowing democratically elected governments, financing atrocities, and pushing trade policies that undermine Latin American industries, dealing blows to local economies.

Plus, the application of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the early 1990s helped to devastate local economies in Central and South American countries. With NAFTA, markets in Mexico were flooded with cheap meat, vegetables, and other imports from the US, which caused many small farms in Mexico to go out of business and many farm workers to leave the countryside for big cities or even the US. David Bacon wrote about how US policies (like NAFTA) helped fuel migration from Mexico to the US and wrote in particular that:

NAFTA lifted the barriers on Smithfield’s [a US pork slaughterhouse] ability to import feed. This gave it an enormous advantage over Mexican producers, as US corn, heavily subsidized by US farm bills, was much cheaper. “After NAFTA,” says Timothy Wise, of the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University, US corn “was priced 19 percent below the cost of production.”


Mexico imported 30,000 tons of pork in 1995, the year after NAFTA took effect. By 2010 pork imports, almost all from the United States, had grown more than twenty-five times, to 811,000 tons. As a result, pork prices received by Mexican producers dropped 56 percent. US pork exports are dominated by the largest companies. Wise estimates that Smithfield’s share of this export market is significantly greater than its 27 percent share of US production.

Basically, NAFTA and other policies have allowed the US to export extra farm productions to countries like Mexico. And because many farm productions (like corn) in the US are heavily subsidized by the government, the food and imports are cheaper than what’s being made in Mexico. The cheaper availability of US food has caused so many farmers in Mexico to lose their farms and sources of incomes.

52ec7e5a49ecccb0d1dd8b0056154173It’s so important in discussions about immigration within the US to remember the ways in which we as a country have participated in making things worse in other countries. And it’s also important to remember that humans are not illegal and that the terminology of “illegal immigrants/aliens” can be dehumanizing and criminalizing.

the last couple years.

Today I was thinking about the last couple years with this blog and how far I’ve come. I initially started ContagiousQueer a couple years ago after a particularly stressful college semester trying to fight for equality and justice on my alma mater’s campus. I was angry, hurt, isolated, alone. I felt betrayed by the people who called themselves allies or friends but seemingly had no trouble throwing me and others under the bus to get what they wanted.

85730It was that span of a few months where my most revolutionary transformation into the activist I am today began, where I learned about the structural institutions of racism, heterosexism, classism, and more. And I saw firsthand the interpersonal experiences and impacts of all those isms through my friends and mentors.

I know that there are plenty of people who would easily gaslight me over the experiences I had while at my alma mater but I know what I felt and when I started ContagiousQueer, I knew I couldn’t keep still anymore. I needed a place to vent, to be vulnerable, to learn.

And it was more than being angry and frustrated over the things I experienced or heard – I also felt like my own education was severely lacking in anything but the sociological classics (read: white cis straight men, the very definition of privileged). I felt like I learned more about society and the sociological imagination from the more marginalized and it was through learning about society from the people who actually experience oppression that I felt like I was learning more about myself as well.

So here I am. A little over two years after starting this project and it’s definitely grown into something that I love creating. Depression and life makes it difficult to write every day and this isn’t the biggest blog out there but it’s mine and I’m proud of that.