Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
*Note: I feel terrible about this, but I can't recall if her name is Dolly or Darlene or something else with a D - so I went with Dolly. If anyone knows, please feel free to comment.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The real tipping point that took folks to the taverns was rum. An import. That which they couldn't produce at home. So I got to thinking: For those of us who don't grow barley or tend to a vineyard, what's the most eco-friendly alcoholic beverage? Biodynamic wine from Australia? California wines? What about those of us on the East Coast? Should we stick to Sam Adams? Yuengling? Some other locally brewed beer I don't know about?
The truth is, I don't drink so this isn't a topic I've investigated much further. I do, however, read Slate's Green Lantern and it just so happens that Nina Shen Rastogi has addressed this very topic in her recent post. It turns out that there are a lot more factors to picking your poison than I had expected. For instance, the decision between glass and aluminum depends on the quality of your local recycling program. And the synthetic cork you may think is better for the environment isn't exactly endorsed by the WWF.
If you are a libation lover, read the entire Lantern post here. And then consider setting snobbery aside and purchasing wine in a box.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Sorry about the first few unrelated topics in this clip, folks. Please skip ahead to the 2:10 minute mark if possible. I know Maher can be a little direct, but he makes some excellent points about Obama's Surgeon General appointment and Burger King while noting obvious contradictions in the naysayers.
Or have they??
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The Tierney Lab put up a great post about the late Norman Borlaug, the "father of the Green Revolution." If you aren't familiar with Borlaug's achievements, initiatives, legacy and influence, I highly recommend spending a few moments reading about him (here).
Monday, September 14, 2009
On September 25th, National Geographic will be premiering their latest and possibly greatest reality show following an unlikely group of animal activists: tattooed, motorcycle-riding "tough guys" who call themselves Rescue Ink.
" . . . In a metropolitan area with more than 20 million residents, thousands of animals — dogs, cats, and even chickens and piranhas — are neglected, abused, hoarded or housed illegally. A few years ago, eight tough guys from the mean streets, who frequented hot rod shows and tattoo parlors, discovered their strongest bond was actually a passion for animals — and they formed a rescue organization like no other. Some have violent and turbulent pasts, complete with run-ins with the law, but all are seeking redemption and solace in their mission to save animals from human abuse.
. . .They’re not cops, animal experts or even animal control. They’re just big guys with even bigger hearts and a desire to save animals from deplorable living conditions and abusive or simply misguided owners . . ."
Sunday, September 13, 2009
". . . According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three-quarters of health care spending now goes to treat “preventable chronic diseases.” Not all of these diseases are linked to diet — there’s smoking, for instance — but many, if not most, of them are.
We’re spending $147 billion to treat obesity, $116 billion to treat diabetes, and hundreds of billions more to treat cardiovascular disease and the many types of cancer that have been linked to the so-called Western diet. One recent study estimated that 30 percent of the increase in health care spending over the past 20 years could be attributed to the soaring rate of obesity, a condition that now accounts for nearly a tenth of all spending on health care.
The American way of eating has become the elephant in the room in the debate over health care. The president has made a few notable allusions to it, and, by planting her vegetable garden on the South Lawn, Michelle Obama has tried to focus our attention on it. Just last month, Mr. Obama talked about putting a farmers’ market in front of the White House, and building new distribution networks to connect local farmers to public schools so that student lunches might offer more fresh produce and fewer Tater Tots. He’s even floated the idea of taxing soda . . ."
Read the entire Op-Ed here. Please. It's excellent and addresses everything going through your mind right now.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Dr. Friedman, of the University of Colorado, Boulder, has documented the transition and does not think it was a coincidence that flowering plants underwent an evolutionary explosion after gaining an extra set of genes in their endosperm. It is possible, for example, that with extra genes, the endosperm could make more proteins.
Other experts agree that the transition took place, but they are not sure it is the secret to flowers’ success. “I don’t know why it should be so great,” Dr. Doyle said.
As Dr. Friedman has studied how the extra set of genes evolved in flowers, he has once again been drawn to Goethe’s vision of simple sources and complex results.
Flowers with a single set of female DNA in their endosperm, like water lilies, start out with a single nucleus at one end of the embryo sac. It divides, and one nucleus moves to the middle of the sac to become part of the endosperm.
Later, a variation evolved. In a rose or a poppy, a single nucleus starts out at one end of the sac. But when the nucleus divides, one nucleus makes its way to the other end of the sac. The two nuclei each divide, and then one of the nuclei from each end of the sac moves to the middle.
Duplication, a simple process, led to greater complexity and a major change in flowers.
“Nature just doesn’t invent things out of whole cloth,” Dr. Friedman said. “It creates novelty in very simple ways. They’re not radical or mysterious. Goethe already had this figured out.”
Monday, September 7, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
"Slow Food USA's Time for Lunch campaign officially kick-offs on Labor Day with a National Day of Action featuring more than 280 scheduled Eat-Ins in all 50 states. There'll also be a virtual march on Washington with citizens encouraged to send a clear message to Congress to protect children against food that puts them at risk. The campaign seeks to have Congress update the Child Nutrition Act, which is up for reauthorization later this month, to get legitimately nutritious food into school lunch programs. Slow Food USA chapter leaders have been working diligently to reach out to schools, PTA groups, churches, legislators, and community and fraternal organizations to bring as many people as possible to the table on Labor Day. More than 40 percent of local Eat-Ins are being organized by other organizations – or concerned citizens – that support the goals of the campaign."
Check out Rothberg's entire post discussing the political and social aspects of food here.
Otherwise, it's really just added confusion. The NY Times reports:
Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group, was part of a panel that helped devise the Smart Choices nutritional criteria, until he quit last September. He said the panel was dominated by members of the food industry, which skewed its decisions.
“It was paid for by industry and when industry put down its foot and said this is what we’re doing, that was it, end of story,” he said. Dr. Kennedy and Dr. Clark, who were both on the panel, said industry members had not controlled the results.
Mr. Jacobson objected to some of the panel’s nutritional decisions. The criteria allow foods to carry the Smart Choices seal if they contain added nutrients, which he said could mask shortcomings in the food.
Despite federal guidelines favoring whole grains, the criteria allow breads made with no whole grains to get the seal if they have added nutrients.
“You could start out with some sawdust, add calcium or Vitamin A and meet the criteria,” Mr. Jacobson said.
Nutritionists questioned other foods given the Smart Choices label. The program gives the seal to both regular and light mayonnaise, which could lead consumers to think they are both equally healthy. It also allows frozen meals and packaged sandwiches to have up to 600 milligrams of sodium, a quarter of the recommended daily maximum intake.
“The object of this is to make highly processed foods appear as healthful as unprocessed foods, which they are not,” said Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University.
As always, I agree with Marion Nestle and return to good ol' MP's advice that real, whole foods typically don't come with nutrition labels.
Friday, September 4, 2009
“We could not use the same trick to make food webs circular,” he went on.
So they used another trick, he said. Since all organisms die and decompose, they created a “detritus pool” that all species link to. The pool also links to primary producers in a food web, which make use of the decomposed matter.
Their algorithm differs also in that it determines the relative importance of species through reverse engineering — by seeing which species make the food web collapse fastest if they are removed. The researchers found that the algorithm produces results that were as accurate as much more complex (and computationally costly) software that builds webs from the ground up, simulating evolution.
The next step, Dr. Allesina said, is to refine the algorithm so that it will work with more complex webs. There are many other factors that affect extinctions, including pollution and habitat loss. The goal is to create an algorithm that can take these and other elements into account as well.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
SweeTango and Honeycrisp were developed at the University of Minnesota. The new apple has Honeycrisp's crispness and juice but kicks up the flavor and adds an intriguing note of fall spice. It was made by crossing Honeycrisp with Zestar!, another University of Minnesota variety.
"It inherited Honeycrisp's texture, and that's a rare commodity, and it actually has more flavor than Honeycrisp," said David Bedford, the university apple breeder who helped develop Honeycrisp and SweeTango. (AP)
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
You've gotta admit this house looks pretty darn cool. And the mortgage is less than $300 a month! Read all about Mr. Phillips and his company, Phoenix Commotion, here.