Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pollution is Not Sexy

The National Surfrider Foundation commissioned a mock swimsuit calendar to remind everyone that sexy photo shoots on the beach will be a thing of the past if we don't clean up our act. I think they're talking to you, BP. Just saying. What do y'all think?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Recycling is so cool

If you think the recycled tire park at Patapsco Valley State Park is cool, check out the super-sized version I just found out about (via mental_floss) that has been providing fun for Tokyo residents and tourists since 1982. The 3,000 spares donated by the Kawasaki motorcycle company have been reincarnated as tire robots, dinosaurs, bridges, tunnels, dragons, slides, mountains and of course swings for the Nishi-Rokugo park. Love it.

Check out some more pics here.

Visiting Butterfly

Mystery Critter

While outside with the camera snapping a few pics of a visitng butterfly, I came across another interesting insect. Anyone know what it is? Not a caterpillar but not yet a butterfly?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Grilled Cheese Burger Melt

Friendly's isn't going to stand by and let the KFC Double Down steal customers of theirs. Nope. No way. Instead they are launching this 1,500 calorie, triple sandwich thingy. Wow. Read more here.

"Nutritional" information: 1500 Calories, 870 Fat Calories, 79g Total Fat, 38g Saturated Fat, 180g Cholesterol, 2090mg Sodium, 101g Carbs, 9g Dietary Fiber, 4g Sugar, 54g Protein

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Why did the red squirrel cross the road?

Because a quarter of his habitat was destroyed by a wildfire back in 2000. Or perhaps the declining population of his peers left him lonesome. Or because he was trying to keep his buddy from becoming road kill. Ugh.

It is no secret that we here at JustSaying are for squirrels. Red ones. Gray ones. Brown ones. Black ones. Even the dirty little ones living in our nation's capitol. So when the news stations started reporting about the proposed $1.25 million dollar budget for 41 squirrel bridges - to help the endangered Mount Graham red squirrel population cross streets safely in southeast Arizona - we were thrilled (despite the criticism). But as usual, the citizens of Arizona are only concerned about their own kind and made a big enough fuss about what they deemed an improper allocation of resources to get the project cancelled.

The bridge would have helped save at least five squirrels a year. Five may not sound like many but with a dwindling 250 left, the lives of a few yearly could help the species numbers multiply significantly over the next few decades. Hear all about it in this video:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Shopper's Guide to Pesticides (via EWG)

Consuming even small doses of pesticides can cause lasting health damage and is especially dangerous during fetal development and early childhood. Lucky for us, the Environmental Working Group is always workingb for our safety and has identified what they are calling the "Dirty Dozen" list of produce with the highest likelyhood for pesticide exposure. This doesn't mean we shouldn't consume those fruits and vegetables, but rather that we should buy them organic or try to grow them ourselves. Download their shopping guide here, here or find the iPhone App here.

In case you have trouble downloading the guide, here are the dirty dozen:

1.) Celery
2.) Peaches
3.) Strawberries
4.) Apples
5.) Blueberries
6.) Nectarines
7.) Bell Peppers
8.) Spinach
9.) Kale
10.) Cherries
11.) Potatoes
12.) Grapes (imported)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jimmy Dean

A reader wrote in asking is we'd be doing a tribute to "sausage magnate"Jimmy Dean in honor of his recent passing. Due to time restrictions this morning, the best we can do is direct you to Buzzfeed's breakdown of the best comments on various JD products found on jimmydean.com. Find it here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

How did we fall for this to begin with?

If the toll on the environment isn't enough to turn you off bottled water and get you turning on the tap, perhaps a little summer reading on the subject will do the trick. We're adding MacArther Fellow and freshwater expert Peter Gleick's new book to our summer reading list. In Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water, Gleick chronicles how water went from a free natural resource to one of the most successful commercial products in less than a century. Read The Washington Post review on it here and find a great deal on a used copy or Kindle download here.

And of course we highly recommend adding Peter's blog to your feed.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Orchard History: Part Two

A few weeks ago I posted a picture of my great grandmother and her dog Whiskey, who bear a remarkable resemblance to yours truly and our JustSaying mascot. Since that post, my mother tracked down the above photo of she and "Wikki" taken on a visit to England when my mother was just two years old. We tried to replicate it at my grandmother's this past weekend with my little niece but somebody (with four legs and fur) was a little too hyper to sit still for a portrait. Apples to apples to apples!

Fearless Squirrel Friend

Most squirrels on The Clover scatter when a person (or a black and white dog) walks up the side walk near this feeder but this guy just chills... maybe moves up the tree a little higher.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Great interview with MP

No, JustSaying didn't get to interview Michael Pollan (yet) but Simon Schama did for Lunch with the FT and it is fantastic. Lots of factoids about Pollan's passions, lifestyle, belief system, and career in here (not to mention a review of sorts on London's Acorn House). From the article:

One part of Michael Pollan is in awe at what agribusiness has achieved: the delivery of low-cost food on an unprecedented scale. But the better part of him is appalled. “What’s happened is Walmartism: the reverse of Fordism,” he says. “Ford raised the pay of his assembly line workers so they would buy his cars. Walmart pays low wages, knowing workers can always get bad, cheap food.” The result is a burger and jumbo-sized cola addicted population. No one is better than Pollan at giving the devil its due, conjuring the unmistakable, almost narcotically addictive “fry-fragrance” to which junk food junkies helplessly gravitate. It is, he thinks a kind of ersatz “home”: some imagined smell of childish security in that oily-crunchy, burgery squishy provision – as if fast food momma was one gigantic American tit on which the infantilised masses of America placidly suck.

Anyone who has read Pollan’s coda to The Omnivore’s Dilemma, called “A Perfect Meal”, knows he is not just a historian and prophet of food but a hell of a cook too. So I ask him about the paradox of our time in which the obsessions of food – celebrity chefs, food columns in every paper and magazine, the marketing of gourmet kitchens – has somehow coincided with people cooking less not more. Television cooking we both think has became a kind of manic gameshow, in which star turns of charismatic rage and an emphasis on feverish speed has made it harder, not easier, for family cooks to transfer what they see to their own kitchens.

The one exception to the bleak outlook is the rise and rise of local farmers’ markets, and what Pollan calls “Big Organic” stores such as Whole Foods Market where accurate source labelling is crucial to shopping decisions. From his perch in Berkeley he is under no illusion that somehow this salutary revolution is going to reach the mass of American people in recessionary times, but Pollan is tired of hearing from the better off that the reason the hired help defrosts yet another pizza, or lugs the kids off to a Happy Meal – while the gourmet trophy Viking stove goes begging – is shortage of time. The average amount of time spent on cooking, eating and cleaning up a meal, he says, is 31 minutes; the average daily non-professional time at a computer two hours, and in front of a television three hours.
Pollan sighs. “You know, we have been drilled to believe that only in the workplace do Americans produce something. But when we cook we are producers too. It’s sad that we are supposed to be just consumers.”

And... umm... How could I go this long without knowing about and reading Second Nature (Pollan's first book)!?!? O.M.G. Schama met Pollan for the first time soon after its publication in 1991 and summarizes it as, "An epic battle with a woodchuck that was treating Pollan’s garden as his personal canteen. The struggle for supremacy between resolute gardener and resourceful rodent builds to a titanic climax with the Man of the Soil emptying cans of gasoline down the varmint’s burrow and setting light to it like some deranged garden Nazi bent on a backyard Götterdämmerung."

Thursday, June 10, 2010


A few weeks ago, we heard from a loyal reader and recycler who turned us on (pardon the pun) to a eco-concept we'd yet to discover: Certified Recycled Adult Toys.

Sure, "sexstainability" is a little frisky of a topic for this blog, but after spending some time reading about the company, Scarlet Girl, surveying friends on facebook, and talking with my gal pals, it became clear that a lot of people use adult toys and a lot of plastics are being used to make them. And instead of filling landfills with expired or unwanted toys and their (gasp!) batteries, this particular company offers a $10 dollar store credit for used toys and sends the parts off to a processing plant that sterilizes and breaks down the materials into plastic confetti for future use not only in toys but in lots of other consumer goods (think dishwasher handles).

Apparently this is a big business, folks. And why shouldn't it be? We're talking about plastic materials that come into contact with the most sensitive of human places - likely at higher temperatures than the average bottled water reaches. A BPA-free, reusable water bottle carrying, granola-crunching girlfriend of mine shared her experience: "I've actually heard that adult toys are making green a big deal -- like rechargeable, instead of batteries, and even the materials they are made of -- like no bad plastics, and even the oils/lubes are better for your body. This chick I worked with was throwing a party for her girlfriends. I guess it's the new Tupperware party. The girl that came with all the goods was quite knowledgeable!"

It turns out that several years ago Greenpeace issued a warning about sex toy toxicity explaining the dangers of phthalates AND Treehugger even dedicated a post to sustainable sex one Valentines Day - which means people have been greening the bedroom for years unbeknownst to us!

Lucky for us, the Internet has plenty of suggestions. Here are a few that appear to be tested and true:
Of course the decision to invite tech support into the bedroom is a private one... but like so many topics here on JustSaying, making a sexstainable choice is not only safer for you, but better for the landfill. If you aren't sure about the plastic on your pleasure pistol, send it into a certified program to be recycled into something else and use your credit towards a safer, rechargeable or solar option.

(Thnx, Vicki)

Another one bans the bags (almost)

NPR reports, CALIFORNIA: "Plastic bags may have become victims of their own success. Their very ubiquity — an estimated 90 billion plastic bags are used in the United States each year — has led to a small but growing number of jurisdictions discouraging their use through fees or outright bans. Last week, the California Assembly voted to approve the first statewide ban on both plastic and paper 'single-use' bags. Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he'll sign the bill if it makes it to his desk. The state Senate is expected to act on it by August."

Meat Vending Machine

That's right, folks. Vending machines aren't just for DVDs, bathing suits, sodas, and pizza anymore. Butcher shop Izarzugaza in Northern Spain decided it was time for 24 hour service. Read all about it here.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Black bear, Black bear

Photo submitted to The Baltimore Sun by10-year-old Jack Ferguson in Westminster

Apparently these little fellas are popping up all over the state of Maryland. The Baltimore Sun reports:

"...The latest sightings began Saturday in Federal Hill, in north-central Harford County. That was followed by a call from Freeland, in northern Baltimore County, and a third on Sunday from Shiloh Road outside Hampstead in northern Carroll County. On Tuesday the bear was sighted near Wheelers and Belfast roads in Sparks. And on Wednesday, the DNR took another report from Cockeysville...

...Total reports of Maryland bear sightings (outside of Garrett County) have increased from 82 in 1998 to 121 in 2009, Spiker said. The number of reports outside the four counties where bears breed has also gone up, from 6 in 1998 to 86 in 2008. As many as 72 of those 2008 reports can probably be accounted for by multiple sightings of just two bears – the one captured in Arbutus, and the New Jersey bear caught on Maryland's Eastern Shore. But the numbers do reflect the increasing frequency of bear-human encounters in the suburbs, occasions that can delight, or imperil, all concerned. And if (or when) bears get established in Baltimore's suburban counties, those encounters would surely increase. But it will likely be a few years before the bears become permanent neighbors. The Pennsylvania counties that adjoin Carroll, Baltimore and Harford counties have the lowest bear densities in the state. And female bears breeding in Frederick County will be slow to find dens farther east..."

No. No. No.

This just in from a loyal reader: Burger King Fries to Hit Your Grocer's Freezer

The new line of frozen fries includes not only the traditional crinkle-cut variety, but also "healthy" BK Fresh Apple Fries, King Kolossalz extra large fries, and King Wedgez seasoned potato wedges in the fall. From the article:

"...This is on top of a recently launched line of snacks that include ketchup and fries potato chips, crispy onion ring-flavored snacks and crisps that taste like Burger King's famous French toast sticks. Inventure Group has already shown it can successfully bridge the gap between restaurants and grocery stores with its line of TGI Friday's snack foods. As the recession cut into consumer spending, sales dipped at many restaurants as consumers looked to keep down their costs and prepare food themselves. In order to tap into that stream of cash many restaurants have opted to cash in at the grocery store. Take recent offerings of Starbucks ice Cream, bottled drinks and more meant for retail sale outside its coffee shops...."

Is there no place safe from these fast food corporations?!

(Thnx, B)


Bloom, a grocery store in the Food Lion family, unveiled one of the nation's first scented billboards last week in Mooresville, North Carolina. The sign emits the "scent of freshly grilled steak" most strongly in the morning between 7am and 10am and in the evenings from 4pm to 7pm. Watch the local news report here.

No Sh*t

Tomatoes…. Earliest ever… It's only June 9th. Will probably pick first one in a day or so if the squirrels don’t get to it first!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Heaven on earth with an onion slice?

Congratulations to the idiots behind this record-breaking, 198-pound, vomit-inducing burger. Gross. Four men in an Australian cafe spent 12 hours cooking and flipping the 178-pound patty and managed to beat the previous record, 185 pounds, set in Michigan. Read all the juicy details here. Eww. Ick. Bleh.

The burger will be on the menu at the cafe for the next year (in order to meet the conditions required by the Guinness World Record) at a bargain price of $1,220 American dollars.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

New to the Farmers Market Scene?

Great Huffington Post by Darya Pino about the top ten mistakes made by farmers market newbies. Find the details here and subheads below.

1.) Arriving too late
2.) Forgetting to bring your own bag
3.) Buying staples instead of being adventurous
4.) Not asking questions
5.) Forgetting cash
6.) Focusing on fruit
7.) Forgetting meat and dairy
8.) Bringing pets
9.) Trying to negotiate
10.) Not shopping around

Michael Pollan is a Twitterbug lately!

In case you guys don't follow MP's tweets, here is all the news fit for his stream of late:

Pepsi Teams up with White House to Whitewash Worthless Snacks and Sodas

Important petition drive on school lunch reform

A journalism student has done a very nice photo essay based on Omnivore's Dilemma

Good literature review on the question, "Can organic feed the world?" Answer appears to be: Yes.

A Baltimore blogger won my heart around this time last year

Okay okay... that last one was... well... imaginary. But the rest are important so definitely check 'em out.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Slumdog Brazilianarre

The NGO Sociedade Amiga dos Animais (SOAMA, Friends of Animals Society) built about a thousand of these little houses for abandoned dogs and cats in the slums of Caxias do Sul, Brazil. These areas, called "favelas," are home to millions of poor urban and rural job seekers and plagued by violence - mostly linked to drug trafficking. Animals that used to roam helpless and abandoned in the southern city may now find shelter in these shacks. Incredible.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Backyard Garden Pics

Green Beans Starting to Bloom
Swiss Chard and Onions
Zinnias with Onions
Tomatoes by July 4th
Salad Garden: Lettuce, Chives, Tarragon

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Little Orchard History

In my humble opinion, being an apple that falls close to the family tree is nothing short of an honor and a privilege. I can't count the number of times that I've exchanged giggles and glances with my sister when one of us does something particularly reminiscent of our mother and the other says, "You're such an apple." I imagine, as my sister is now a mother herself, that these occurrances will become more frequent with age and that perhaps we are and always have been even closer to that tree than we realize.

I say all this because of a few fantastic photos my mother recently passed along to me (accompanied by stories of course) that reminded me of how our apple seeds get planted.

Meet my great grandmother Dorothy (pictured with her pup in the cottage garden in England). On the back of the photo she wrote:

"The duchess with her pet? dog: Whiskey. The swine so named because he is black and white - not because he is [posh/food], like the beverage. His right leg is still in the plaster cast. The other leg is naturally white. The duchess had somehow got her skirt caught up - showing a lot of her leg, but she is not usually so brazen. Not much! Hydrangea at the back of me on my right. Both plants have been a picture this year."

Who knew that the inclination to bring a little black and white, trouble-finding dog into the family, give him a name that may or may not have something to do with libations, and take photographs with him in the garden was genetic?

Another gene often expressed in apples from our orchard is visible in these photgraphs of my mother with her gerbils, Alfie and Linus, in she and my father's attic apartment in Illinois in the early seventies. (I am confident that the pic of the little fella in the pot was for fun and scale only, by the way.)

Not long after Alfie and Linus passed on to gerbil heaven and Jenny and Greg (two female cats) had joined the family, my mom heard the cries of an abandoned baby possum and loved him dearly through his short life. The spirit of the unconditional love given to Punky the possum surfaced in my own heart just a few short months ago with the lovely little rat, Templeton. Perhaps the tendancy to love what nature (red in tooth and claw) sometimes deems less-lovable is quite possibly written into our DNA as well.

I could go on and on about out family's pet history... CJ: the sweet, shy and mangey dalmation puppy my sister and I adopted off the back of a truck parked outside our then place of employment: CJ's Pub. Tackle and Ziggy: tabby cat brothers that kept us company throughout our teens. Jesse: the next door neighbor's dog we treated like one of our own... But I suppose the point is that pets not only bring love and affection into our homes and hearts - they become a part of our family history, our folklore, and remind us that love comes in all shapes and sizes and while their lives may not be as long as ours, their memory most certainly can be.

And to have the capacity to love like the apples before me - like I said - is an honor and a privilege.

Lookout, KFC

McDonald's may be getting some of that fast food market share back.

How can they compete with the KFC Double Down, you ask?

McRibbles. Bite-sized McRibs.

Creative Anti-BP Movement on the Internets

Greenpeace UK is calling for a logo-redesign for "better petroleum" that better reflects their business of late. Check out all the submissions here and check out our faves below.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Rosemary Said to Reduce Toxins in Grilled Meat

A study published in The Journal of Food Science indicates that the higher the concentration of rosemary in "muscle meat" during grilling, frying, broiling or barbecuing, the greater the reduction in heterocyclic amines, toxins created by cooking meat at high temperatures that have been linked to some cancers.

So definitely add it to your marinades, meatarian readers.

Summer Reading

If Michael Pollan calls it "a searing, and utterly convincing, indictment of modern meat production," you better believe it is jumping right to the top of the summer reading list! The book is Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms by attorney, environmental advocate and livestock rancher Nicolette Hahn Niman and I can't download it to the Kindle fast enough.

(Thnx Amy L.)