Tuesday, September 30, 2008
As msnbc points out, it is an economic and environmentally friendly alternative.
(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Monday, September 29, 2008
I couldn't be happier about this as a friend and I constantly discuss the need to reconnect children (and adults) with the garden and an appreciation of it.
The assumption was that chytrid fungus wiped out the species but alas, the little Robbers prevail!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
A little bit goes a long way - in many senses. Check out these simple suggestions from the Environmental Disease Fund to learn some small steps you can take to help.
And if you are really interested in the topic, calculate your carbon footprint on conservation.org OR calculate how many trees you would need to plant each year to offset your footprint here.
Friday, September 26, 2008
WAL-MART AIMS TO CURB PLASTIC BAG USE
"Wal-Mart Stores Inc will give out fewer plastic shopping bags, and encourage shoppers to reuse and recycle them, as the retailer aims to slash its plastic bag waste by a third worldwide by 2013. The plan is expected to cut the equivalent of 9 billion plastic bags from stores each year, and eliminate more than 135 million pounds of plastic waste globally in the next five years. The world's largest retailer said on Thursday it aims to reduce plastic bag waste by 25 percent in its U.S. stores and 50 percent in other countries. "If we can encourage consumers to change their behavior, just one bag at a time, we believe real progress can be made toward our goal of creating zero waste," said Matt Kistler, senior vice president for sustainability at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart's U.S. stores will begin selling a new 50-cent reusable bag in October, and its baggers will be trained to pack bags more efficiently. Earlier this month, its Mexico stores introduced reusable bags that cost one-third less than the previous ones." Read full article here.
A few weeks back I posted about some retail giants installing solar panels - so I am happy to hear about this news as well, although some critics are saying that this is a rather small effort. I absolutely believe that any action is better than inaction.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Friend, mentor, journalist, loyal blog-reader and clearly talented photographer, Jonathan Bor, sent me this awesome picture recently taken in his backyard and I can't get over how close he was able to get to this critter. After a few shots like this one, Jonathan actually pulled the blade of grass and moved him to a clay dish and the little fella let him do it!
There is a secret passageway (also knows as: a space desperately in need of some caulk) from the hose faucet outside our house into some plumbing apparatus on the opposite wall inside our little half bath, through which many a critter like these have found there way into our home. Every once in a while, the house guest is a sweet young grasshopper (as opposed to wolf spiders the size of my hand and crickets that look like something from the Mesozoic era) and I gotta tell you... they are pretty hard to catch with a cup or a net let alone a camera.
Thanks for sharing, Jonathan!
Monday, September 22, 2008
Granted, I know Australia and New Zealand are leaders in the organic and biodynamic farming fields, I was just surprised (yet again) that so many of these supermarket chains continue to ship in these varieties bred to survive travel and provide little in terms of taste and nutrients when there are certainly plenty more local resources.
So... as I looked around and saw asparagus, spinach, pineapples, lettuce, sugar cane and every other product of a plant you can imagine I was reminded of "The Vegetannual" that Kingsolver uses as a guide to lead those of us who are, eh hem, agriculturally-challenged, through the growing season. So many of us have grown so used to picking up a bunch of bananas at the grocer we don't even consider the fact that they have traveled far and wide so that consumers worldwide can enjoy some tasty potassium anytime they please. It's rather greedy of us to expect to have this vast selection year-round, don't you think?
So I departed the shop with my paper goods and drove over to this wonderful stand at the intersection of Route 99 and Bethany Lane, where I found some delicious peaches that offer a unique pinch of pucker with their sweetness. Perhaps I have persuaded you to visit a local farmers market and stick to what is in season right now? Here's what you can expect to find:
This is a great time of year for shopping your local farmers market. Admit it, that is a pretty tasty selection listed above!
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
In this article in The Washington Post on Monday, Steve Sanetti, the president and chief executive of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, wrote about the 15-20 million often-overlooked population that have lived an eco-friendly, sustainable lifestyle long before "organic" and "renewable" became all the buzz. It is an educational read and I'm glad to see the topic written about. I even have to admit that I love Sanetti's closing line: "For us, the amusing irony is that American society, which has looked down its nose at hunters more sternly with each passing generation, is discovering that camouflage has been a primary shade of green all along."
Check it out here.
And because I couldn't locate a permalink, here is the recipe:
3 cups flour, sifted
1 1/2 cup salt
6 teaspoons cream of tartar
3 1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons oilfood coloring
Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a large pot until no lumps remain. Whisk in the wet ingredients (except for the food coloring) and stir until no lumps remain. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes until a dough forms. Separate into several portions and add food coloring, kneading until uniform in color. Store in airtight containers.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Thankfully, a loyal reader sent me Slate's Green Lantern's response to the latest coffee quandary: to use polystyrene/paper cups and dispose or to re-use ceramic/stainless steel and wash. Re-use and wash, right? Duh! Styrofoam is in landfills... like... forever! Well... yes it is but no, it isn't that simple. Both options have environmental consequences. Some more severe than others depending on what matters most to you, where you reside, and how often you feel the need to clean your coffee/tea mug.
Get the details from the green lantern here.
If your office is one of those eliminating disposable cups and opting for a "bring your own" policy, think about taking this guy's advice and washing with cold water. In case you are wondering where I stand on this, I use a ceramic mug (pictured), wash it no more than once a week (sorry, Mom) and like to think that the global warming discussions it provokes may change the habits of others and in turn balance out the environmental impact of my tea drinking.
(thnx Bec, for article as well as mug last Xmas)
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
A new brand of peanut butter, Zap, is imperceptibly fortified with powdered beets, carrots and bananas. NutritiousChocolate, a new product from Gary Null, a health-food marketer, includes the usual ingredients of chocolate: cocoa butter, cocoa beans, cane sugar, vanilla. Oh, and broccoli, cranberries, nectarines, parsley, pomegranates, watermelons, kale and more — a total of 30 additional plants, all in powdered form. But whether the nutritional benefits of the original foods survive in additive form is still to be determined. "Whether a tomato is good for you, that’s one thing,” Dr. Kessler said. “Whether the lycopene in a tomato is good for you, that’s another. And then whether synthetic lycopene and microencapsulated lycopene are also good for you, that’s yet another thing.” ... Eating the right nutrients is a complicated question, one that nutritionists say could most easily be solved by eating a wide range of basic foods. Dr. Lichtenstein of Tufts says that the recent setbacks and surprises in nutrition research have made her rethink the whole model of adding nutrients to the diet, despite the effectiveness of vitamin fortification. Maybe the true benefit of eating a lot of fish is that you are actually eating less of something else, like steak,” she said. “Maybe a subtraction model is the key. We have a long way to go to find out.”
(fun photo from NY Times, by Lars Klove)
Monday, September 15, 2008
Here are the six mistakes:
1.) Sending children out of the kitchen
2.) Pressuring them to take a bite
3.) Keeping good stuff out of reach
4.) Dieting in front of your children
5.) Serving boring vegetables
6.) Giving up too soon
As a former (famously) picky eater of a child I have to say, these are good tips. Absolutely read the entire article though. The experts cited have some really great ideas based in some solid research.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I'm not going to criticize Sally's advice because it is good advice. What I am going to criticize, however, is the Store Directory. I understand that this is targeted at parents of overweight or obese children and therefore it contains some quasi-healthier alternative kid-friendly foods, but just saying... if you really want to help the kids out, how about eliminating frozen french fries, frozen pizza, and cookies from your shopping list? Are Nabisco Cinnamon Teddy Grams really the best choice?
A friend of mine introduced her little boy to the miracle of growing his own tomatoes. Imagine the life lesson you are sharing with your children by making a pizza from scratch sans some mozzarella cheese. How great is that!? And what kid doesn't want to bake cookies? Or instead, maybe some blueberry muffins?
I know that time is a big factor but what is more important than teaching your children to make healthy choices. I'm just saying... perhaps this interactive feature could have focused a bit more on whole foods and less on processed.
So what is going into the compost pile? Animal manure, rock phosphates, fish emulsions, guano, wood ashes, etc. Doesn't sound so bad to me. James E. McWilliams' conclusion, as he wrote about in Slate, is that we should read the organic labels with more skepticism. But here's the thing, scientists have not conducted enough research to say that organic soil has higher counts of these heavy metals than conventional. I get the sense that the news here is that there is still a presence of these metals in organic soil and products and people should be aware of that. Thankfully, the Organic Trade Organization and the Organic Materials Review Institute are keeping a close eye on the issue.
As far as I'm concerned, it is hard to know exactly what we are putting into our bodies but I do know that the environmental impact of conventional industrialized farming is reason enough to opt for local, organic foods. I also like to believe that my Chinese foot detox patches pull excess metals out of my body regardless of how much heat I take for using them.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
The director of the energy and sustainable development program at Stanford University and an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, David G. Victor, calls the book a call to arms for an American-led green revolution in his recent NY Times article. It's hard to tell if that is his endorsement or criticism. From the article:
Mr. Friedman’s strength is his diagnosis of our energy and environmental nightmares. But blind spots appear when he turns to remedies. One is renewable power. Like most observers, Mr. Friedman assumes that the road out of today’s mess is studded with wind turbines and solar plants. Maybe that’s true, but maybe not. Such renewable resources account for only a tiny fraction of current power supply, and when the titans of today’s energy industry think about cutting carbon dioxide, they are more likely to imagine building carbon-free nuclear power plants or advanced coal plants that safely bury their pollution underground.
Victor's mention of carbon-free nuclear power plants has sparked my interest for the book he himself is writing on these subjects at hand. My father did a series of lectures across the country back in the 70s about nuclear energy that I'd hoped to retrieve the transcripts of but, unfortunately, I get the sense he's not too interested in jumping into eco-politics these days.
Gregg Easterbrook is less impressed with the book and takes a poke at Friedman's doomsday attitude in his review for Slate. But critics are by nature critical, right?
So thanks to the NY Times, you can read the first chapter of Hot, Flat, and Crowded here
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Good news about some species in New Zealand though - reported by Carl Zimmer in the NY Times. Not all biological invasions are created equal. Read a bit of the debate about the softer side of invasive species: the naturalized species and hybrids, the evolution and diversification versus the potential "infestations," extinction, climate change and habitat loss in Zimmer's article here
What's upsetting about this campaign is that it only addresses the end-user aspect of widespread HFCS use and consumption - those who have only just begun considering the immediate impact on their bodies and are blissfully unaware environmental repercussions of the soda they are drinking.
Eviana Hartman wrote a great article for Eco Wise in the Washington Post back in March explaining the energy-intensive processing, abundance of fertilizers, soil erosion, and resulting dead zones in the corn crop monoculture and production of HFCS. It's a quick read that quotes Michael Pollan and that I recommend in the face of this nonsense campaign.
Check it out here
Here is another one:
Washington Post reporter Jennifer Huget weighs in on HFCS. Check it out here
Monday, September 8, 2008
Anywho... Baltimore Sun reporter Kelly Brewington wrote an article last week about the $9.7 billion dollar vitamin/supplement industry in the U.S. ($ total from 2007) and what advice, if any, may be worthwhile. To give you a few highlights:
- There isn't enough evidence against the practice to tell people to stop taking vitamins but there also isn't really enough to tell people to start taking them.
- Many experts agree about the benefits of Iron for women at childbearing age and calcium and vitamin D for post-menopausal women.
- A lot of the "evidence" can be biased because the vitamin-takers are already leading a healthier lifestyle.
- The bottom line however, is that eating whole, healthy, local and seasonal foods and exercising will serve your body better than any vitamin/mineral supplement.
Check out the article at: www.baltimoresun.com/news/health/bal-to.hs.vitamins08sep08,0,4530283.story
*Note: This post of course reminds me of a devastating fact about one in seven children in Africa either going or being born blind from a Vitamin A deficiency (that I will have to look up to report and source properly). I mention this because I'd like to point out that I understand the devastating consequences of a limited diet in certain parts of the world and in no way intend to diminish the importance of a balanced diet. What I am blogging about, and what Kelly Brewington is reporting about, is the supplement industry targeting the health-conscious market in America: a supposedly undernourished yet clearly over-fed population.
Friday, September 5, 2008
The answer (other than diabetes, high cholesterol and other western diseases) is: Crap like "goghurt."
Ellen Degeneres explains it best:
(thnx Alissa, Dennis)
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Nitrogen is part of all living matter. When plants and animals die, their nitrogen is passed into soil and the nitrogen in the soil, in turn, nourishes plants on land and seeps into bodies of water. Dr. Giblin is pursuing her research because as the Arctic warms, the tundra’s permafrost will thaw, and the soil will release carbon and nitrogen into the atmosphere.
When an ecosystem has too much nitrogen, the first response is that life blossoms. More fish, more plants, more everything. But this quickly becomes a kind of nitrogen cancer. Waters cloud and are overrun with foul-smelling algae blooms that can cause toxic “dead zones.” Scientists call this process eutrophication, but the laymen’s translation is that the water gets mucked up beyond all recognition. A recent such plague bedeviled China when its Yellow Sea was smothered in algae at Qingdao, the planned site of Olympic sailing events this summer. More than mere inconvenience, such problems routinely threaten many coastal areas and riverside communities.
Nancy Rabalais, executive director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, is known as Queen of the Dead Zone. She cruises around the Gulf of Mexico every summer in the research vessel Pelican to look for damage from nitrogen-rich river flows into the gulf. This year, she expects a dead zone that will beat the Massachusetts-size 8,500-square-mile bloom of 2002.
Read Morgan's exploration of "the nitrogen dilemma" in his most recent article:
Beyond Carbon: Scientists Worry About Nitrogen’s Effects
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
But what do y'all think? www.yoghund.com
Green beans: 100
Fresh Figs: 91
Canned Tuna, oil, drained: 67
White rice: 57
Canned kidney beans: 52
NY strip steak: 44
Vanilla yogurt: 43
Skinless chicken breast: 39
Canned peaches: 37
Enriched white bread: 29
Whole chicken with skin: 28
Hamburger (75% lean): 25
Peanut butter: 23
Swiss cheese: 17
Center-cut bacon: 13
Dark chocolate: 10
White bread: 9
Cheese Puffs: 4
Apple Pie: 2
Regular-cut bacon: 2
Saltine crackers: 2