In each issue Vegetarians in Paradise presents the 24 Carrot Award to an outstanding person or organization that endeavors to practice or promote education, natural health, wholesome nutrition, and ecology techniques for the mutual benefit of humans, animals, and the earth.
Danila Oder wants to make sure the food you and I eat is safe. To achieve this goal she has spent the last ten years in activist causes attempting to make the public aware of the dangers in the world's food supply. In recognition of her efforts on the local and national level to protect our nation's food sources, Vegetarians in Paradise proudly presents its 24 Carrot Award to this enterprising individual.
Her efforts have brought her into prominent roles in three organizations: EarthSave, Campaign for Food Safety, and BioDemocracy and Organic Consumers Association.
Danila, originally from Chicago, came to Los Angeles in 1991. She joined EarthSave, serving as secretary and newsletter editor from 1993 to 1995. EarthSave is an organization that promotes "food choices that are healthy for people and the planet." Their goals are to "educate, inspire and empower people to shift toward a plant-based diet, and to take compassionate action for all life on earth."
At that time her efforts were focused on the McLibel Trial in England. The trial came about because London Greenpeace distributed flyers accusing McDonald's of harming health, animals and the environment, and exploiting women and children. Greenpeace was sued by McDonalds for violating the British libel laws. In Britain the defendant has to prove his statements are true. Unlike previous critics, activists Dave Morris and Helen Steele did not retract their statements. In the ensuing case, the two defended themselves, called hundreds of witnesses, and drew McDonalds into a lengthy and expensive trial that is now being appealed to the European High Court. Information on the case can be found at http://www.mcspotlight.org.
After the decision, Danila organized a demonstration in Santa Monica, wrote press releases, and penned an article for Health Freedom News. One of Danila's proud accomplishments in EarthSave was finding a location for a vegetarian Thanksgiving. The vegetarian Thanksgiving potluck at Rancho Park has become an annual tradition, attended by live turkeys and hundreds of ex-carnivores, and is always covered by the local media.
She herself became a vegetarian in 1990. When she thought about becoming a vegetarian for health reasons, she was convinced it was the right path after reading Diet for a New America by John Robbins, the founder of EarthSave. She was working in a vegetarian restaurant at the time and says that support she found there was extremely helpful.
"I always counsel people who are vegetarians or interested in vegetarianism not to expect to do it alone. Find a support group. Go to potlucks and learn recipes. Read a vegetarian or animal rights magazine. The more you know, the easier your commitment will be."
Danila's family did not follow her vegetarian example, but her mother validated her daughter's activist efforts by saying, "I'm proud that you make the world a better place." Her omnivore brother has brought his cholesterol down by following her advice, "Make friends with beans."
When the EarthSave Los Angeles chapter withered away in 1996, Danila moved in other directions. She feels the chapter folded because it could not find a free central meeting place large enough for potlucks and educational events.
Food issues became her primary focus when she joined the Campaign for Food Safety in 1997. The activist organization deals with issues like genetically engineered food, food irradiation, bovine growth hormone, organic standards, food slander, and mad cow disease. The Campaign for Food Safety changed its name to BioDemocracy and Organic Consumers Association in 1999.
More recently Danila has decided "to educate myself on food irradiation." She currently is Irradiation Coordinator of BioDemocracy and Organic Consumers Association. Information on irradiation can be found on the group's web page at http://www.purefood.org/irradlink.html. "Food irradiation is primarily about protecting the profitability of the factory farming system, " she says. "Irradiation would give factory farmers and inhumane slaughterhouses a few more years of operation before irradiation-resistant bacteria put meat irradiators out of business. By creating a much 'cleaner' product, irradiation shields the consumer from recognizing the source of the meat. Without irradiation these companies would have to face the consequences of their dirty business sooner."
Danila is currently working as an academic secretary for doctors. As part of her job she has an opportunity to review federal studies, which she finds interesting. During her working career she has found herself in restaurants as either a sous chef or chef. She considers herself a good cook and shares this expertise when she volunteers her time each month to prepare meals at a homeless shelter .
When Danila is not working or involved in activist projects, she enjoys cooking, walking, and exploring the city. High on her list of enjoyable activities are making vegan chocolate and ice cream and listening to Middle Eastern music.
In the future there are a number of projects calling to her. She would like to write and publish nonfiction essays. She has written a children's book that has not yet been published. Another consideration is starting a business.
Whatever choice she makes, she will no doubt devote herself to humanitarian causes that need her.