Thursday, July 29, 2010

New Apple!!

After 20 years of cross-pollinating, Swiss fruit grower and apple breeder and Markus Kobelt has developed a unique red-skinned, red-fleshed, tomato-lookin' apple called the Redlove. Spokesperson for the seed and sapling company, Suttons (who secured exclusive rights to the fruit trees in Britain), say their apple has "a delicious sweet and tangy taste with a hint of berries to it if eaten raw."

On top of claims that the apple flesh will not brown when sliced and left exposed, the Redlove is said to have a higher antioxidant content.

I guess we'll just have to wait until the Redlove hits American stores next year to find out if the flavor is as dazzling as its appearance. So far, two varieties of Redlove have been produced. The Era, which can be harvested from September and enjoyed until Christmas, and the Sirena, harvested in August and enjoyed until October.

The Big News in Baltimore

The famous blue neon wave on the south side of the National Aquarium the Inner Harbor will be replaced with an energy efficient LED. The good news is: Light Emitting Diodes will cut the wave's energy use by 70 percent. The bad news is: The original architect of the building and the aquarium's first board chairman aren't thrilled about it. The Baltimore Sun reports:

"It's a signature element of the building," said architect Peter Chermayeff of the original neon wave. "It's not a sign. It's a work of art. It's an important part of the architecture."

"It's a piece of Baltimore history, and it's easily recognized by people everywhere," said Frank Gunther Jr., the aquarium's first board chairman. When there's a nationally televised football or baseball game in Baltimore at night and the camera pans across the city skyline, he said, "you can see the wave on the side of the building and know it's the aquarium."

But aquarium representatives say the replacement wave will be the same size, shape and color as the 350-foot-long wave that has illuminated the building for nearly 29 years, and they're confident it will have a similar visual effect. If anything, they say, the new wave will be even bluer than the original. They say the LED system was selected because it looks like neon but uses less energy, and being energy-efficient is part of the aquarium's mission and message these days.

"We are well aware of and we cherish the iconic nature of this wave," said Tim Pula, senior director of capital planning and facilities for the aquarium. "It's one of the most recognizable features on the city skyline. It's good advertising for us. We're not looking to re-invent the wheel. We're just trying to change the medium that transmits the light, to make it more energy efficient…It's a repair and replacement of what is there with a new technology."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vitamin Water is Officially Unhealthy

Last week a federal judge ruled that Glaceau Brands (aka Coca Cola) has been falsely advertising Vitaminwater as healthy. The Consumerist reports:

"...Vitaminwater will not, as its labels promise, keep you "healthy as a horse." Nor will it bring about a "healthy state of physical or mental being". Instead, Vitaminwater is really just a sugary snack food; non-carbonated fruit coke disguised as a sports drink. Because it's composed mostly of sugar and not vitamin-laden water, judge John Gleeson held that Vitaminwater's absurd marketing claims were likely to mislead consumers."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

And in local bug news...

...just stumbled upon this grasshopper piggy-back ride. Originally thought it was a mom and baby but now that I look at the picture... hmmmm....

Friendly Flutterbug at Chesapeake Beach

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

I realize that this is a wee bit off-topic but I can't help the fact that thinking about dogs enjoying ice cream on a hot summer day fills my heart with joy.

The Daily Mail reports that the truck will debut this Saturday at the Boomerang Pets Party in Regents Park, London. They'll be serving up two cleverly created flavors: Dog Eat Hog World (ham and chicken sorbet topped with a biscuit and served in a cone) and Canine Cookie Crunch (a simpler combination of various dog biscuits and ice cream).

Can you guess what tune the truck plays? Scooby Doo theme song. Yeppers. Anyone else wishing they could take their canine there?!

Using More Than Our Share

Annie Leonard's The Story of Stuff Project is getting lots of attention lately and we here at JustSaying LOVE IT. Sure, they're a little reminiscent of a UPS commercial and Annie works hard to speak in a language and tone understandable by all ages (AKA kids) but considering this blogger learned that plastic comes from oil via a children's book, we're tipping our hats to Annie and recommending her videos to our readers young and old. Even if you have read every book on our recommended list and every post to date, you will learn something from these videos and be moved to consume less (or feel like a total sucker). Check it out:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Elizabeth Hurley's Organic Farm

The Daily Mail reports that Elizabeth Hurley will be opening up the gates of her 400 acre organic farm in Barnsley, Gloucestershire to a reality tv crew. 

What a great way to turn reality tv into something positive and educational. Love it.

Wag of our finger, COSTCO

It has come to my attention, thanks to my fellow activists in the Greenpeace network, that Costco continues to stock their freezers with fifteen of the twenty-two red list seafood items flagged by the EPA. Help us take action by writing CEO Jim Sinegal (via this online form) to request that the company stop selling unsustainable seafood starting immediately with orange roughy and Chilean sea bass.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Second Nature: On Composting

Having only recently discovered an early, critically acclaimed gardening book by none-other-than Michael Pollan, I feel compelled to share interesting and educational passages from it as I encounter them. The book is called Second Nature: A Gardener's Education and the following is MP's take on composting circa 1991:

"Some gardeners, and even some garden writers, talk about compost as if it were fertilizer, but that is only part of the story, and it is somewhat misleading. It is true that compost contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash (the principal ingredient of fertilizer), but not in terribly impressive quantities. The real benefits of compost lie in what humus - its main constituent - does to the soil. Consider:

1.) Compost improves the soil's "structure." Soil is made up of clay, sand, silt, and organic matter, in varying proportions. Too much clay or silt, and the soil tends to become compacted, making it difficult for air, water, and roots to penetrate. Too much sand, and the soil's ability to retain water and nutrients is compromised. An ideal, friable garden soil consists of airy crumbs in which particles of sand, clay and silt are held together by humic acid. Compost helps these particles form. 
2.) Compost increases the soil's water-holding capacity. One experiment I read about found that 100 pounds of sand will hold 25 pounds of water, 100 pounds of clay will hold 50 pounds, and 100 pounds of humus will hold 190 pounds. A soil rich in compost will need less watering, and the plants growing in it will better withstand drought.
3.) Because it is so dark in color, compost absorbs the sun's rays and warms the soil.
4.) Compost teems with microorganisms, which break down the organic matter in soil into the basic elements plants need.
5.) Because it is made up of decaying vegetable matter, compost contains nearly every chemical plants need to grow, including such trace elements as boron, manganese, iron, copper, and zinc, not often found in commercial fertilizer. Compost thus returns to the soil a high proportion of the things agriculture takes out of it."

The book is fantastic, folks. Everyone who has ever worked on, played on, owned, tilled, raked, fertilized (**cringe**), seeded, mowed, plowed and otherwise enjoyed or despised any piece of land will appreciate Pollan's insights and reflections.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Note From Our Sponsor

Hello Friends,

Due to the exhausting nature of my new job (with pre-schoolers), I have not been able to post to the blog as frequently or eloquently as I'd like. While I continue to adjust to the transition into a work day sans Internet access and down-time, I urge you to browse through past blog posts for valuable information and topics that may have been discussed prior to your discovery of this little ol' blog.

The Google search tab embedded on our page allows you to search topics within JustSaying. Simply type a word like: organic, sustainable, vegan or recycling and dozens of links to previous in-depth posts will populate your page.

In the past few weeks, loyal readers have sent me the following links:

Nut? What Nut? The Squirrel Outwits to Survive
Sweet Honey on the Block
In a World of Throwaways, Making a Dent in Medical Waste

Enjoy these articles and be sure to come back soon as we get into the swing of uber-early and late-evening posting.

Deborah Lakowicz-Dramby

And now for some real food (and a cute little bee)

Pics from DW's garden:

Foot-Long Cheeseburger

Apparently a fast food joint out on the left coast called Carl's Jr is testing out this foot long cheeseburger - which is really just several cheeseburgers on a sub roll - to see if it should become a regular part of their menu. Is it just me or does it seem like there is a competition on which chain can win the title of unhealthiest sandwich ever?

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Candwich??

Mark One Foods has literally canned convenience. I think Eater said it best:

"Like a cross between a Little Debbie and a cold Hot Pocket, but also in a can, the Candwich is the next batsh*t crazy convenience food hitting shelves. Although it's targeting the pre-school, camping, and construction worker demographic, it seems more like a novelty or a military ration than something anyone would actually eat on a regular basis."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Oil Reaches Underwater Cartoon Friends

**Insert sad trombone here**

Perhaps not the best way to explain the oil spill to your kids. Click here for a better way. The National Wildlife Federation also published a Guide for Parents and Teachers.

Free 4th of July ecards from WWF

I did not know that people sent cards for the 4th of July but for those who do, the Word Wildlife Fund has a nice collection of ecards for no cost to you or the environment. Find 'em here. Happy Birthday, America!

New 2010 Dietary Guidelines

There is a lot of good stuff in here but it is a bit on the scientific side for a casual read so here are highlights from the 2010 Report of the DGAC on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans:

1. Reduce the incidence and prevalence of overweight and obesity of the US population by reducing overall calorie intake and increasing physical activity. A focus on life-stage approaches (pregnant women, children, adolescents, adults, and older adults) is necessary nationwide to help Americans meet nutrient needs within appropriate calorie intake. To achieve this, Americans should:

• Know their calorie needs. In other words, individuals need to know how many calories they should consume each day based on their age, sex, and level of physical activity.
• Significantly lower excessive calorie intake from added sugars, solid fats, and some refined grain products.
• Increase their consumption of a variety of vegetables, fruits, and fiber-rich whole grains.
• Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages.
• Consume smaller portions, especially of high-calorie foods.
• Choose lower-calorie options, especially when eating foods away from home.
• Increase their overall physical activity.
• Have access to improved, easy-to-understand labels listing calorie content and portion size on packaged foods and for restaurant meals (especially quick service [i.e., fast food] restaurants, restaurant chains, and other places where standardized foods are served).

2. Shift food intake patterns to a more plant-based diet that emphasizes vegetables, cooked dry beans and peas, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. In addition, increase the intake of seafood and fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products, and consume only moderate amounts of lean meats, poultry, and eggs.

3. Significantly reduce intake of foods containing added sugars and solid fats because these dietary components contribute excess calories and few, if any, nutrients. In addition, reduce sodium intake and lower intake of refined grains, especially refined grains that are coupled with added sugar, solid fat, and sodium.

4. Meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

If you have a few minutes, definitely read the whole report.

The CAFO Reader

I know it's 4th of July weekend and everyone wants to have their barbecue and ignore its environmental cost too, but we've found a new book for the summer reading list and it's all about CAFOs. The who's who of the sustainable food movement got together and penned a fearless collection of essays on factory farming for The Cafo Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories. Favorite of ours, Anna LappĂ©, contributed a chapter on the link between livestock and the climate crisis. Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser contributed as well.

The University of California Press summarizes:

These essays analyze and vividly depict the devastating impacts and current conditions in and around factory farms. The collection also provides a compelling vision of  “putting the CAFO out to pasture,” in which food systems become more healthy, humane, and sustainable. The CAFO Reader will quickly become an invaluable educational resource in the battle to reform the tragic state of industrial livestock production. It will also inform and influence the growing public movement of activists, farmers, policy makers, and consumers who are aiming to make our food healthier for ourselves and the planet.

Word on the street is that a larger photographic volume fit for a coffee table will be out this fall.

My Little Composter

Before sending empty cardboard six-pack cartons to the recycling bin, I've been letting my littlest critter (who already nests in bedding made from recycled material) have some fun climbing, chewing and digesting them. Calling Agent Juarez a composter is a stretch but... c'mon... is she cute, or what?!? Too bad they don't make "silent spinner" wheels out of recycled metal or BPA-free plastic.