Friday, February 26, 2010

"Feeding the Hole in the Soul"

Just stumbled upon an incredible article on The Huffington Post that suggests that a spiritual malady, a "hole in one's soul" if you will, is the deepest and truest cause of addictive eating and dieting for so many Americans. In preparation for Eating Disorders Awareness Week Dr. Judi Hollis writes:

"...Despite our extensive knowledge of calorie counts, food combining, pulse rates and fat content, we keep putting on more weight. Instead of focusing on food plans, our time would be better served in FEAR ... Face Everything and Recover. Cultural expectations of unnatural thinness have created this national epidemic. Yes, advertisers have contributed to the anorexia-bulimia-obesity continuum, but there is more to it than the model culture, fitness crazes, heart disease, diabetes, or arthritis.

We are facing a spiritual crisis, where striving and competition are our mantras. On national television shows, we pit obese sufferers against each other, to tragically compete at weight loss...

...Overeaters are the "miner's canary" for a society trying desperately to ignore it's softer side. When excess eating is curtailed, senses are heightened, and we feel and notice in a much deeper and more vibrant way. But, many would rather keep focusing on dieting....

...Even though we have a super-sized appetite for fast foods, the national malady has more to do with our spiritual connections: how we live, who we are, how we think, how we fight, how we love, how we face fear, how we die. Genetics might load the gun, but environment pulls the trigger.

Simply put, it's not a battle, but a surrender. It's a surrender to a more spiritual way of living. But, the spiritual life is not for sissies. Some think that wearing Birkenstocks or lighting incense gets it. You can't just hang out with the "metaphysical maniacs" for six months, become your own personal prom queen, and then get back into the fray.
Spirituality is not thinking less of yourself. It's thinking of yourself less..."

I urge you to read the entire article here. These excerpts offer an overveiw but the message weaved throughout Hollis' words is too important to skim. Hollis has a remarkable grasp on addiction.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Ninja Deer"

Another fun pic. This one is circa 2003 National Geographic but has popped back up on the feeds today.

Just for fun

Saw this pic at Wild Birds Unlimited today but pretty sure I see this squirrel daily...

Toxins: Not Just in Plastics Anymore

If you've spent much time here on JustSaying, you already know that plastics marked "7" are a big no-no. And if you've spent much time shopping or sharing space with yours truly, you already know that perfume is a no-no (and have likely had your eau de toilette yanked out of your hands and heard, "Don't use that! That stuff is carcinogenic with a capitol "C." The perfume industry is going to go down in history like the tobacco industry. Just promise you'll at least stay away from it when your pregnant?!")

So why do I bring this up today, you wonder? Because Nicholas D. Kristof wrote a must-read Op-Ed in response to the rise of autism disorders, an article posted in Current Opinion on Pediactrics linking the rise to environmental exposures experienced prenatally, and the Environmental Health Perspectives article about suspect chemicals called phthalates (unregulated and commonly found in fragrances, nail polish, cosmetics, etc).

Read Kristof's Op-Ed here.

Our advice: Do some research on your beauty products before slathering and spraying them onto your body, and keep your distance from plastics marked 3, 6, and 7.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Diggin' Stew Leonard's

Stew Leonard's has been in the dairy biz since 1921 and praised by the press for decades now, yet somehow JustSaying only learned of the Connecticut-based, family-owned, fresh food grocer because it was featured on the History Channel's Modern Marvels episode "The Supermarket."

In 1960, brothers Jim and Stew Leonard inherited Clover Farms milk delivery business and nine short years later they opened their first store in Norfolk with two registers and seven items. In the following decades a little advertising (and some trademark cow trucks equipped with "moo" horns) went a long way. Their product line expanded to include meat direct from Colorado, an in-store bakery and our fave: Newman's Own Salad Dressing.

Now they've got a store in New York, a wine shop, and a steady position on FORTUNE magazine's "Top 100 Companies to Work For."

And as far as food safety goes, Stew Leonard's mottos is: "If you wouldn't take it home to your mother, don't put it out for our customers."

While I obviously admire their practices and natural/organic product line, truth be told, it was the happy cow costumes and giggling children that really sold me. As pointed out in the Modern Marvels episode, so many supermarkets use calming music and dim lighting to create a certain type of desired shopping experience but Stew Leonard's is rather the opposite. They're the Southwest of supermarkets - fun, lively, and uber-customer-focused.

There are only a handful of Stew Leonard's stores so far (three in CT and one in NY), but with revenues hitting $300 million a year expansion is in the works.

Check out their website for more information (and the awesometastical live Cow-Cam!) and join me in suggesting they expand right on down the East Coast!!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"These are a few of my favorite things..."

Frogs and dinosaurs!!! A reconstruction of the dino-eating, beach ball sized armored devil toad (Beelzebufo ampinga) based on the fossils unearthed in Madagascar by paleontologist David Krause, is on display in the lobby of Stony Brook University Medical Center on Long Island in hopes to raise public awareness of science and draw attention to Dr. Krause’s non-profit - The Madagascar Ankizy Fund - that finances health clinics and schools in rural Madagascar.

Perhaps this isn't the kind of frog I'd like to find, bring home and snuggle for days on end but nonetheless - they were freakin' cool creatures.

The NY Times reports:

“This was undoubtedly the heaviest frog ever, we estimate about 10 pounds,” said David Krause... “It probably ate any available prey — lizards and snakes and mammals. It was large enough to maybe even eat hatchling dinosaurs.”

(Photo by Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Additional consequences of winter weather

My sister sent me the link to this article about the unfortunate toll the recent storms have taken on the tens of thousands of Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania children who rely on the nutrition from reduced-priced school lunches, and I've been meaning to post it.

(thnx Bec)

somewhat topical...

Apparently the sales of CJ Corporation's snack sausages are on the rise in South Korea because they are close approximations of the human finger and therefore make for a great stylus for iPhone users unwilling to remove their gloves in cold weather. Ew. Real all about it on

Not so cheery, cherry trees

With little more than a month until the kickoff of the 2010 Cherry Blossom Festival in the District, damage from record breaking snowfall this winter is causing concern. National Park Service spokesman Bill Line told WTOP that the recent storms have caused "the worst damage to the cherry trees that he has seen in nine years."

Although there are reports that branches as thick as six inches have snapped and others are still pinned down by remaining snow cover, the festival is slated to kick off March 27th as planned.

(thnx Neeks)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dogs in China

Adam Minter wrote an interesting albeit disturbing article for Foreign Policy about the newest class struggle in China between rich dogs and poor dogs. The debate on whether to care for or to eat dogs pits younger, educated pet owners against the traditional rural Chinese. I am far too biased to offer an opinion on this issue but nonethessless it is a topic worth following and if you can stomach it, find the article here.

10th Annual Bald Eagle Festival at Blackwater Wildlife Refuge

Ten years ago, the folks over at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in association with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began celebrating the sanctuary’s birthday by hosting what has become their most popular event: The Annual Eagle Festival. This years’ festival will be taking place on Saturday, March 13th so bird-watchers, mark your calendars!

While the yearly celebration honoring the well known birds of prey is a fairly new occurrence, the refuge has been observing and protecting a variety of feathered friends, namely migratory water fowl and smaller birds, since 1933. In fact, Blackwater Wildlife Refuge was primarily established as a waterfowl sanctuary for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway and their initiatives to protect and enhance the eagles’ habitat is one of many focuses undertaken by the refuge as more and more native species become threatened or endangered.

“The Chesapeake Bay area has always been a big spot, a heavy concentration for eagles,” commented Tom Miller, a Ranger who works with Visitor Services at the sanctuary. “But they are slow reproducers. Only one of two babies a year. They need to put a lot of time and effort into their offspring. We haven’t had to do a whole lot of active management, [rather] just protecting areas and buying land and their numbers increased.”

Protecting their nests has certainly made a difference though. Staff, volunteers, supporters and visitors of the refuge have much to celebrate since the Department of the Interior officially removed the American Bald Eagle from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants in the summer of 2007. Of course in some parts of the country, the eagles are still not at the desired numbers, but on the grounds and wetlands of the refuge, the bald eagle is considered a recovering species alongside once endangered Delmarva fox squirrel and the delisted peregrine falcon.

The refuge is currently home to more than 250 bird species and encompasses more than 25,000 acres along Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Visitors are certain to see a variety of wildlife and likely to witness an eagle catching fish out of the water, stealing a fish from fellow dwellers the osprey, snatching smaller birds in flight, or even dining on a deer perishing on the side of the road. “Eagles,” as Tom Miller puts it, “Are opportunistic eaters.”

So what else can festival attendees expect to see at the 9th Annual Eagle Festival this March? Birds, birds and birds of prey!

Experts will give educational talks alongside a live eagle, falcon, or other feathered friends hourly. Visitors are encouraged to arrive in the morning for observational bird walks and stick around throughout the day to hear Native American musician Ron Warren playing traditional Native American flutes. Food, live bird exhibits, and wildlife exhibits will be available all day, from 8:00am – 4:00pm. Kids can plan on constructing their very own bird box and watching a puppet show. Details, directions, visitor information, and the full schedule for festival day can be found on the Blackwater Wildlife Refuge website.

And if you’re anxious to see one of the majestic birds in one of their authentic nests before the festival, check out the Live Eagle Cam or visit the refuge any day between dawn and dusk for a walk or bike ride along one of Blackwater’s four land trails, a drive along Wildlife Drive, or even a paddle on one of the three water trails.

Visitor Information:
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
2145 Key Wallace Drive
Cambridge, Maryland 21613
Telephone: (410)228-2677

Admission fees:
Private Vehicle: $3.00
Pedestrian/ Bicyclist: $1.00
Commercial Van/Bus up to 20 passengers: $15
Commercial Van/ Bus 21 passengers or more: $25

Friday, February 12, 2010

Forests are growing faster!

Ecologist Geoffrey Parker and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute postdoctoral fellow Sean McMahon have discovered that, on average, the forest is growing an additional 2 tons per acre annually (which is the equivalent of a tree with a diameter of 2 feet sprouting up over a year). For more than twenty years, Parker has tracked the growth of 55 stands of mixed hardwood forest plots in Maryland and after an estimated quarter of a million measurements, he believes he has found evidence that forests in the Eastern United States are growing faster than they have in the past 225 years.

The paper, published earlier this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focuses on the driving forces accelorating the growth: Climate change i.e. higher temperatures, longer growing seasons and rising levels of atmospheric CO2. From ScienceDaily:

"During the past 22 years CO2 levels at SERC have risen 12%, the mean temperature has increased by nearly three-tenths of a degree and the growing season has lengthened by 7.8 days. The trees now have more CO2 and an extra week to put on weight. Parker and McMahon suggest that a combination of these three factors has caused the forest's accelerated biomass gain."

Hmph. Perhaps Mother Nature does have a way of self-regulatiing?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

District of Snowlumbia Humor

The family of Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, one of the foremost skeptics regarding man-made global warming, poked fun at climate change crusader Al Gore by building an igloo near the U.S. Capitol and writing the following messages on either side of it:


(thnx Dad... she types begrudgingly)

Bagged Salad - Still Not So Clean

Recent testing by Consumer Reports revealed that "prewashed" and even "triple-washed" salad greens sold in bags contain unacceptable levels of fecal contamination and bacteria that are common indicators of poor sanitation (coliforms, enterococcus, etc). Brands that they tested included Dole, Earthbound, Farm Organic and Fresh Express. Read more about the results here and how to best care for your greens and prevent cross contamination here. Most importantly, wash greens yourself regardless of packaging claims, keep them away from raw meat that could easily cross contaminate, and opt for bags that are the farthest from their use-by date.

(thnx DW)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How are we going to help these homeless toads?!

Great article in the NY Times about the critically endangered and homeless Kihansi spray toads. The toads and the dam that diminished the waterfall in which they resided to 10 percent of its original size exemplify the larger conflicts between conservation and economic development. And although their story raises "questions about how much effort should go to save any one species," I'm completely convinced that a toad born fully formed yet smaller than a pinhead is worth fighting for - which is why I will absolutely be making my way to the Bronx Zoo sometime in February to love on these little fellas.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"Walk me through it. Bum me out."

Steven Colbert talks to Jononthan Safran Foer about his latest book Eating Animals. Succinct lesson. Typical Colbert. Watch it here thanks to hulu (who, by the way, is a big supporter of charity: water).


Here we go again... more snow...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

"Whattaya you guys think about plastic bottles now?!"

Fantastic Article

We here at JustSaying have keep meaning to recommend this superb article from the September 2009 issue of NatGeo, Love and Lies: How do you spread your genes around when you're stuck in one place? By tricking animals, including us, into falling in love so perhaps now that Valentine's Day is just around the corner, it will be some fun seasonal prose for our readers.

(Masdevallia Orchid photo by Christian Ziegler for National Geographic)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Let's get ready tooo pupppppy boooowl!!

Been so busy with "Snowmageddon" I almost forgot about the big game tomorrow!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Heintz unveils (apparently long awaited) ketchup packet redesign

AP Reports: The new design has a base that's more like a cup for dipping and also a tear-off end for squeezing, plus it holds three times as much ketchup than a traditional packet. "The packet has long been the bane of our consumers," said Dave Ciesinski, vice president of Heinz Ketchup. "The biggest complaint is there is no way to dip and eat it on-the-go."

I don't even know what to say about this. Disposable ketchup packets, like single serving yogurt containers, apparently haven't been convenient enough for the on-the-go crowd and Hientz has "finally" revamped the way they package ketchup.

I suppose Matt Kurtz, the founder of  "Prop 57" - a facebook group started by  to "draw awareness" to the packets' shortcomings - hasn't driven and Gogurted yet??

(thnx Bec)

Fantastic summary of MP's message

Jane Brody wrote an excellent article about "Food Rules," why we all need to follow them, and the bullet points of MP's crusade thus far. I highly recommend reading it. Find the article here. It's short and sweet. It's everything I try to say in dinner conversations. And it highlights the S rule, which is pretty great.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Some bad news from Captain Obvious

A recent study on the "nutritional" contents of movie theater popcorn has revealed "an alarming amount of fat, salt and calories in even the smallest sizes." These shocking findings actually come from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. You can read all about the study in this post up on the NY Times Well blog or face the reality (that you already know deep down in your arteries) by way of the following highlights/factoids:

REGAL CINEMAS: A large bucket holds 20 cups of popcorn and has 1,200 calories, 980 milligrams of sodium and 60 grams of saturated fat. The medium size, which comes in a bag, contains the same amount as the large. And the small, at 11 cups, delivers 670 calories, 550 milligrams of sodium and 24 grams of saturated fat. Adding a tablespoon of butter adds 130 calories.

AMC: A small size from AMC containing 6 cups of popcorn, had 370 calories, "enough to justify sharing with a friend and eating one kernel at a time to make it last the length of a movie."

CINEMARK: Fares slightly better than its competitors because it pops its popcorn in nonhydrogenated canola oil instead of coconut oil (which is 90 percent saturated fat). Their large tub contains 17 cups of popcorn with 910 calories and 4 grams of saturated fat, as well as 1,500 milligrams of sodium.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Green Themes in LOST??

I admire the concept of this Treehugger post placing green themes in LOST, but sorry Mairi Beautiman from Berlin, Germany. LOST isn't Avatar. I understand the desire to bring these two wonderful things together, LOST and Environmental Conservation that is, but it seems like a bit of a stretch, don't you think? To me the show has always been about all the real things in this world that we can't actually see but can only see expressions of. The human condition. The greenest theme this blogger has pulled from LOST is that the force of nature is far stronger than humans and will undoubtedly win out in the end.

Sure the island sits on some sort of energy source, there is some sort of science going on, and the survivors' relationships with the jungle and world around them evolve but just saying... the seven green themes in Beautiman's post haven't exactly left any footprint on the fan forums.

But then again, maybe there is something in store in these last 18 episodes that will make me eat these words. Thoughts?

GM tomato boasts 45 days of freshness

This is being presented as a good thing but I'm not so sure. The Daily Mail reports that researchers at the National Institute of Plant Genome Research in New Dehli have discovered that surpressing two enzymes, known as A-Man and B-Hex, in tomatoes can extend their shelf-life to upwards of 45 days. I suppose this is good news for farmers who lose chunks of their harvest due to rotting but on the other hand, these genetically modified seeds/organisms will undoubtedly be controlled by some corporation (we hate), will be expensive for farmers, fuel the industrialized food market, and their use could lead to tougher tomatoes with further diminished taste and nutritional value. Ugh.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Joel Salatin interviewed by The Guardian

Since being highlighted in Eric Schlosser's film Food, Inc, local food movement hero Joel Salatin is bringing much needed attention to horrors and human arrogance of industrial farming and then to the chemical-free farming methods Michael Pollan praised him for in The Omnivore's Dilemma.

The Guardian recently interviewed Salatin and oublished an incredible article. Find it here. Here are some highlights:

From The Guardian's Gaby Wood:

" the 1970s, the top five beef packers controlled 25% of the market; now the top four control more than 80% – meaning that if ever meat is tainted by bacteria or chemicals it has the potential to reach vast numbers of people; in 1972, 50,000 food safety inspections were conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration, and three decades later that number had gone down to 9,164; 70% of all processed foods have some genetically modified ingredient; in 2007, E coli from food affected 73,000 Americans – something the film correlates directly with the increase in consumption of processed foods and the scale and cleanliness of the country's huge industrial slaughterhouses."

And from Salatin:

[Quotes Joel Arthur Barker on paradigms] "...every paradigm, he says, exceeds its point of efficiency. Agriculture is always the last sector to join the new economy, because farmers are very conservative. So only now has the industrial paradigm in agriculture come to the end of its workability, Salatin explains. "What happens is all these things we're seeing – campylobacter, E coli, mad cow, listeria, salmonella, that weren't even in the lexicon 30 years ago – that is the industrial paradigm exceeding its efficiency. So these Latin squiggly words that we're learning to say – bovine spongiform encephalopathy – are nature's language screaming to us: ENOUGH! And the question then is: what will it take for us to listen? And my contention is that Wall Street is still wearing conquistador mentality and uniforms, and nobody is listening to the pleadings of nature saying: 'Enough.'"

And Salatin's five reasons why we should eat his meat:

1.) "'s safer from a bio-security standpoint. If you eat our stuff, it's gonna be only sold real close right here. There's a short chain between field and fork, and the shorter that chain is – the fresher, the more transparent that system is – the less chance there is of anything from bio-terrorism to pathogenicity to spoilage. You wanna get diarrhoea? Eat industrial food." 2.) "Number two is what I would call your own personal immune system." The more antibiotics are given to the animals we eat, he explains, the less responsive we become to antibiotics when we need them for medical reasons. "You've been drugging yourself at dinner every day." 3.) "Thirdly, he goes on, they've had their meats checked, and they are unequalled in their nutritional density and power, however you want to measure it – "Omega 3, omega 6 ratios, riboflavin, polyunsaturated fats, vitamin A…" 4.) "It tastes better." 5.) "It's better for the environment. It's a very landscape-therapeutic production model."

(Thnx MP)