Monday, June 27, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Ahhh... the unmistakable smells of summer: honeysuckle, a backyard barbecue, freshly cut grass and fried Kool-Aid? Yep. It exists.
It's hard to imagine that anyone could surpass the creativity displayed in previous years of deep frying "items," but sure as he fried a Mars bar, Charlie Boghosian of Chicken Charlie's is at it again. Deep-Fried Kool-Aid. Add it to more than 100 "original deep-fried items" coined by Charlie, who has become quite famous frying liquids - like Coca-Cola.
At opening weekend of the San Diego County Fair, Charlie sold 1,800 five-piece orders, requiring 150 pounds of Kool-Aid. The recipe is simple: flour, water, and cherry Kool-Aid mix. The batter is scooped and dropped into extremely hot oil then fried until they are lightly browned with a crisp outer layer.
Learn more about Chicken Charlie's and other fried "items" sweeping the nation here and here.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
As many of you are already aware (via dozens of Facebook posts, Flickr uploads and tweets), I think that grazing goats for invasive weed control is the greatest idea since solar power and have the continued pleasure of working with the great folks and herd at Eco-Goats throughout the summer. Yesterday, I got to welcome the newest member of the herd, pictured above in her first hour of life, on site in Historic St. Mary's City. As tempting as it is to post dozens of pictures of the little cutie, I like to make sure posts on Just Saying are not only entertaining, but also serve to educate our readers. So please enjoy the following information courtesy of the Eco-Goats website:
It is easy to see that our roadsides, open fields, woodlands and backyards are becoming overrun with invasive species and other unwanted vegetation. Machines often can't get to problem areas, humans hands are very labor intensive, and herbicides are dangerous to our waterways, soil, and desired vegetation, not to mention animals and humans.
If left alone, invasive plants take over our woodlands, strangling valuable trees and threatening important diversity. Open grasslands and neighborhood backyards become overrun, creating a loss in farming productivity, habitat for birds and other wildlife, and enjoyment of outdoor space. Enter Eco-Goats!
When it comes to clearing unwanted vegetation, goats can provide an ideal alternative to machines and herbicides. They graze in places that mowers can't reach and humans don't want to go (yes, they love Poison Ivy). In fact, goats eat a wide range of unwanted vegetation, which on the East Cost include Kudzu, Oriental Bittersweet, Ailanthus, Multiflora Rose, Japanese Honeysuckle, Mile-A-Minute and more.
Goat Grazing Facts:
- Goats were one of the first animals to be domesticated by humans about 9,000 years ago. Today, there are some 200 different breeds.
- Goats have been used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Forest Service. State, county and city contractors (such as the city of Seattle) have also used goats for weed and invasive species control.
- Goats love broad leafed material, which means brush and invading field vegetation are consumed. But they don't prefer grass, so it is left to flourish.
- Corporations such as Google are using goats for vegetation management. Google wanted a clean air alternative to noisy gas powered lawn mowers and didn't want toxic chemicals for their weed control. Since the cost of using goats was about the same as mowing, using goats allows Google to show their commitment to low-carbon, non-toxic alternatives.
- Goats are agile and light on their feet, so they can be gentler than machinery when working on historical sites and other areas that need special consideration.
- Herbicides seep into water and soil, affecting other vegetation, animals and humans. They also can encourage mutations among vegetation, creating greater and greater problems instead of solving them.
- Goats will graze all day, going through very dense material at about a quarter acre per day per 30 goats (this can vary widely, depend on many factors including density, location and vegetation species).
- Goats respect electric fences, making this an easy and effective source of mobile containment.
- Grazing goats are very effective at eating the kinds of excessive weeds and brush that pose a risk of unwanted fires.
- Goats can be stubborn, but they are docile. When effectively led and fenced, they go only where you want them to go.
- Goats have a narrow, triangular mouth that allows them to crush what they eat, so seeds that might otherwise get passed through to fertilization are not viable. This is a true advantage, since machine cutting only encourages further growth in the next growth cycle.
- Goats fertilize as they graze, then trample the fertilizer, so that the wanted grasses and other vegetation left behind are given a natural boost!
- Goats have special enzymes in their guts that allow them to eat plants that are poisonous to other animals.
- Goats have been used to graze as small a plot as 12 x 60 foot backyards and as large as 20,000 acres.
- Goats don't like water, so it is a natural fence.
- Goats can climb, allowing them to reach invasive vegetation that grow in hard to reach places. And, since they eat vines and stems, they can graze at a lower level of a tree covered in invasives and as a result, either kill the vines systems that reach higher into the trees or reveal them so that they can be cut.
- Goats eat year round, but the best time to use goats depend on the vegetation to be removed.
- Goats will eat Christmas trees after the season has been celebrated.
For more information, check out the website and click here to see a few 'before and after' videos of the Eco-Goats in action.
I will speaking at this lecture series on behalf of Allison Lilly and The University of Maryland Public Health Garden. Representatives from Grow Annapolis, Local Food Beat and attendees will discuss how the local food and sustainable agriculture movement is impacting out health, community, economy and ecosystems. My lecture will highlight the University of Maryland's participation in the movement.
The Benefits of Eating Green
The 7th Installment of Quiet Waters Park Environmental Lecture Series
Thursday, June 16th, 2011 @6:30pm
Blue Heron Center, Quiet Waters Park, Annapolis, MD
Speakers include: Joel Bunker of Grow Annapolis, Sharon New of Local Food Beat and Allison Lilly/Deborah Dramby from the University of Maryland Public Health Garden. Admission is free thanks to event sponsors: Friends of Quiet Waters Park. For more information, visit the event website or contact Natalie Nucifora at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, June 10, 2011
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Just came across this disturbing infographic (on grist.org but from Information is Beautiful) revealing the declining biomass of popularly eaten fish. Popularly eaten fish measured include: bluefin tuna, cod, haddock, hake, halibut, herring, mackerel, pollock, salmon, sea trout, striped bass, sturgeon, turbot. Many of which are now vulnerable or endangered. Note that the graphic only measures to the year 2000 so... yikes.
Click on the image to enlarge and here to learn more about the data collection and study.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Just had my first firefly encounter this season and was instantly reminded of that great NY Times article published a few years ago: Blink Twice If You Like Me. In it, Carl Zimmer highlights research on flash patterns and mating rituals done by Dr. Sara Lewis, an evolutionary ecologist at Tufts University. I highly recommend reading or re-reading it.
Fun fact to remember: Fireflies flashing in the air are all males. The females sit down in the grass observing, looking for flash patterns of males of their own species. They will sometimes respond with a single flash of their own, always at a precise interval after the male’s.
Sunday, June 5, 2011
The USDA's answer to the "complicated" Food Pyramid: a simple plate, place mat, drink and fork. Here's what people are saying:
"This is a quick, simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods that we’re eating. We’re all bombarded with so many dietary messages that it’s hard to find time to sort through all this information, but we do have time to take a look at our kids’ plates. If the filled plate looks like the symbol, with lots of fruits and vegetables, it’s as simple as that." - Michelle Obama
"It’s better than the pyramid, but that’s not saying a lot." - Marion Nestle
"It's such a recognizable image. Everybody has seen a plate, used a plate. It's much easier to visualize when it's something we use on a daily basis. It's about choosing the right things, not so much about avoiding." - Toby Smithson, R.D., a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association
"The new 'food icon' was designed to help slim Americans’ expanding girths: Two-thirds of American adults and one-third of children are overweight or obese. The costs associated with obesity are enormous.” - Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary
“It’s brilliant in its simplicity. It’s something the average American can look at and get a visual feel for how they can fill up a plate at a meal.” - Robb MacKie, Head of the American Bakers Association
"The plate image does not suggest portion sizes, only the ratios in which foods should be eaten." - Various Nutritionists
We here at Just Saying are curious to see how the meat industry will react to being relegated to the purple protein portion of the plate - that does not appear to require a knife or spoon. As always, reader thoughts and comments are welcome.
Stephen Colbert weighs in: "A plate? For Food? What's the connection? Americans don't use plates anymore. Our food comes from cases, bags, cans, tubes, and envelopes made of themselves." Watch the entire Colbert clip here.