Tag Archives: food

Russia scandal forces Sam Clovis out of a top USDA position.

Poor dumb turtles and fish, always chomping on the ubiquitous plastic in the water by accident — or so the story went, until a handful of recent studies suggested sea creatures may actually be choosing to eat plastic.

In one of these experiments, researchers took single grains of sand and particles of microplastic — both around the same size and shape — and dropped them onto coral polyps. The tiny creatures responded to the plastic the same way they would to a tasty piece of food, stuffing the bits of trash into their mouths like so many Snickers Minis.

“Plastics may be inherently tasty,” Austin Allen, a study coauthor and marine science doctoral student at Duke University, told the Washington Post.

Coral polyps rely on chemical sensors — taste buds, essentially — to determine whether something is edible or not. And they were repeatedly chosing to swallow plastic during the study. Only once in 10 trials did a polyp make the same mistake with sand. In fact, the cleaner and fresher and more plastic-y the plastic was, the more readily the coral gulped it down.

While the long-term effects of the plastic-saturation of the planet are still unknown, this research suggests that accidentally tasty microplastics could pose an extra hazard to already beleaguered corals around the world.

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Russia scandal forces Sam Clovis out of a top USDA position.

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Is Your Honey Loaded with Pesticides?

Honey is honey, right? Not so fast. The honey you find in your local market can range from a highly processed toxic sweetener no better than high fructose corn syrup to delicately sweet, medicinally nourishing, golden goodness. But you probably already knew that. So you buy organic, raw or local honey. But is it really as clean as you think?

Recent research has confirmed that up to 75 percent of the world?s honey supply is contaminated with pesticides. That?s a real issue. Not only are these dangerous pesticides, like neonicotinoids, harmful to our health, but they are killing off bee populations in unprecedented numbers. Honeybees are endangered and our incessant pesticide use is one of the main causes. If bee populations decline enough, the entire world’s food system will be affected. In fact, certain foods, like almonds, will be wiped out entirely. Bees are too important, so we need to buy foods that have been grown organically.

Related: Without Bees, You Can Say Goodbye to These Breakfast Foods

So?you’re safe if you buy organic honey, right? Not quite. Organic honey is incredibly difficult (sometimes impossible) to ensure. Since bees are foragers, truly organic honey would require at least 16 square miles of organic plants surrounding the hive. In agriculture-rich areas, that can be a hard thing to come by. Furry little bees also excel at picking up airborne pollutants. Furthermore, any chemicals used to prevent invasive mites or diseases within the hive must meet strict organic standards.

Unfortunately, beeswax has a knack for holding onto chemicals for years. This becomes an issue when new organic beekeepers buy convenient wax starter combs from suppliers, 98 percent of which are tainted with some sort of chemical residue. It is almost inevitable that chemicals will sneak in somewhere down the line between starting a colony and harvesting honey. While truly organic honey may?still exist in wild pockets of the world, it is becoming harder and harder to come by. So buying organic honey may not be worth the money.

Realistically, the most important thing for us as consumers is to do some research and buy honey that is as clean and minimally processed as possible. Pasteurization destroys the beneficial enzymes within honey, so be sure to look for ?raw? on the label.

Wondering how warm is too warm for honey??According to Empowered Sustenance:

?The temperature of an active hive, therefore, is about 95?F (35?C), and the honey is stable and ?alive??or rather, the enzymes in honey that give it the nutritional and beneficial qualities are alive. As long as the temperature of honey does not significantly rise past 95?F/35?C, the honey has not been pasteurized.?

Great, so raw is the way to go. But what about unfiltered, pure, local and organic? All this honey jargon can get confusing, so here?s some clarification:

Organic honey: Honey made from flowers that have not been sprayed with chemicals. It is extremely difficult to find honey that is entirely organic, since bees forage great distance from their hives and wax starter combs can contains chemicals many beekeepers use to prevent mites.

Raw honey: As long as the harvested honey is not heated/pasteurized, even if it has been strained and filtered, it is considered raw. Some raw honeys are very smooth while other, more ruggedly raw honeys may be a little chunky, with healthful bits of beeswax, propolis and royal jelly in the mix.

Unfiltered honey: Honey can either be strained or filtered. Straining honey simply traps?big chunks of beeswax and the like, allowing beneficial buts like pollen to flow through. The filtering process, depending on how extensive, can actually filter out beneficial and nutritious components like pollen. In that case, you might as well drink simple syrup.

Local honey: This is honey that has been harvested within 50 to 100 miles of your town. It is not necessarily organic, raw or unfiltered, but you can speak directly with the beekeeper to learn how and where the honey is made.

100% pure honey. This means relatively little. It just means that the honey hasn?t been cut with other, cheaper products. The honey has likely been pasteurized and ultra-filtered unless otherwise noted. It is definitely not local. In fact, it could originate from the other side of the world from places like China or India.

While buying organic honey is great, buying raw, unprocessed honey is way more important. The amazing people over at Beekeepers Naturals go the extra length to audit their suppliers and scout the surrounding areas to make sure the honey they source is as close to organic as possible. Bees need our support. By buying quality bee products from companies who use safe, bee-enhancing practices, we are saving the endangered bee (and ourselves) from an ominous fate.

The more we support ecologically-concerned companies like Beekeepers Naturals, the more demand there will be for cleaner, organic food in general. Of course, it is also important to switch it up once in a while and support your local, clean beekeepers, too. Just make sure your honey?is always raw, unfiltered and as clean as possible.

Bees Saved This Woman?s Health, And Now She?s Working to Save Them
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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Is Your Honey Loaded with Pesticides?

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Hurricane Maria crushed Puerto Rico farms. This activist wants to grow resilience through food.

Puerto Rico’s local food movement was in revival mode. While the island struggled with an ongoing debt crisis and a shrinking population, farming was finally growing after a century of decline. More than 1,700 farms opened up since 2013, boosting agricultural jobs by 50 percent. The number of farmers markets tripled over five years; young people were moving back to open up restaurants and food trucks.

Rodríguez Besosa


Isabel Gandía, NYC/PR

Then, Hurricane Maria hit. With 80 percent of the island’s crops ruined, farmers face huge losses from their stripped fields, not to mention their damaged homes.

Tara Rodríguez Besosa’s sustainable restaurant was wiped out by the hurricane. As the local food advocate deals with her own losses, she’s coordinating relief efforts through the Puerto Rico Resiliency Fund to send food and seeds to farmers devastated by Hurricane Maria. In the long term, she’s collaborating with different organizations to create a national sustainable farming proposal plan for Puerto Rico.

The local food movement was fighting against the tide even before the hurricane. Like many islands today, Puerto Rico depends on imported food, which accounts for 85 percent of what residents eat.

I spoke with Rodríguez Besosa to learn how farmers are coping and how Puerto Rico can rebuild its food system with resilience in mind. The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Q. How are farmers doing right now?

A. They just lost their jobs, they just lost their houses. We’re still, even after weeks, getting in contact with them and getting them out of their houses. There have been landslides, there are fallen trees all over, there are bridges that are completely erased. They are not doing so well.

Obviously, we are still in the emergency relief situation, but food takes time to grow. And so we really, really need to see this as an immediate issue. How do we get farmers back to farming? How do we get a roof over their heads? How do we get them seeds? How do we get them tools? Because it takes a while to not only be happier, but to be more autonomous.

Q. What should people should know about sustainable food in Puerto Rico?

A. Just like most everything else, sustainable food is fighting colonization. At the end of the day, the issue is that we are a colony of the United States. And not even most people in the United States know that. The hurricane is unveiling an already humongous problem. We’re dealing with the Jones Act. We don’t vote for the president of the United States. A whole bunch of issues surface once something like a natural disaster happens.

It’s all about creating resilient communities, about creating autonomy, about having power over our food. You know, food is a really powerful tool. So how can we use food to gain independence? We don’t want to receive aid just as much as Trump doesn’t want to give it to us. But we need to grow our own food to be able to get out of this.

Vegetables canned by the Queer Kitchen Brigade in Brooklyn wait to be delivered to farmers in Puerto Rico.Tara Rodríguez Besosa

Q. Other than the warming-worsened hurricane, how have farmers in Puerto Rico felt the impacts of climate change?

A. We’re an island, so the whole coast of Puerto Rico has definitely been impacted by climate change. If we’re talking about food, the seasons have completely changed. A lot of farmers are finding it very drastic, the changes in atmosphere and climate.

And this is not going to be the last hurricane, right? We just got hit by one hurricane, and then completely destroyed by another one two weeks later.

Q. Tell me about your restaurant.

A. It wasn’t profitable, but it was great! The best ingredients ever!

It was an experiment. I was 26 years old and super-frustrated that restaurants weren’t supporting farmers in the way that I thought that they could. Our kitchen started as a way to prove that you could have a restaurant that used only local, sustainable produce.

But the restaurant was completely flooded during the hurricane and then it got broken into a few times. The restaurant right now is on pause. We decided, let’s focus now on getting these farms back on track.

A community garden that worked with the restaurant was wiped out by Irma and Maria.Tara Rodríguez Besosa

Q. One farmer I spoke with mentioned the idea that local, organic farms in Puerto Rico could be “hubs of resilience” for communities going forward.

A. They already are, to be honest.

One of our proposals is to start these small community food hubs all along the island, so different farmers can have access to a walk-in cooler with a place where they can sell their food, with a community kitchen that can cook that food and then reach out to the community.

That’s part of a more elaborate plan. Because again, we’re still dealing with a really immediate emergency situation. A whole bunch of deaths have been going on because people are drinking contaminated water. People in the middle of the mountain towns don’t have access to food. A lot of my farmers can’t get out of their homes. We’re trying to get chainsaws through so that people can move trees away. In Puerto Rico in general right now, people are doing it themselves with very little means and very little food.

Q. How are you doing, given everything you’re doing and what’s going on?

A. I’m getting hundreds of emails a day. We’re receiving donations, coordinating fundraising events, coordinating groups of people to go see farms. We’re emotionally drained.

If you work with sustainable food, one of the major things is: “Why do we feed each other?” We feed ourselves and we feed each other this food because it nourishes us and it makes us happy. So how do we give farmers the kind of attention that right now they need? And how do we nourish them during a time when they are doing more physical labor than before?

It’s a long way ahead. Just imagine that a match was dropped over Puerto Rico and it just went poof! all over the place. To have something like this happen really shakes you up.


Hurricane Maria crushed Puerto Rico farms. This activist wants to grow resilience through food.

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Wildfire smoke adds apocalyptic hellscape to Disneyland’s attractions.

Sorry to ruin the party, but a report from the Food Climate Research Network casts doubt on recent suggestions that pasture-raised cattle could sequester massive amounts of carbon in the soil.

By nibbling plants and stimulating new root growth, the old argument goes, cows can encourage deeper root networks, which suck up more carbon. Proponents of grass-fed meat have embraced these findings, saying that pasture-raised livestock could mitigate the impact of meat consumption on the environment.

The new report — cleverly titled “Grazed and Confused?” — acknowledges that pastured cattle can be carbon negative, but this depends on the right soil and weather conditions. In most places, according to the report, grazers produce much more greenhouse gas than they add to the ground. It is an “inconvenient truth,” the authors write, that most studies show grass-fed beef has a bigger carbon footprint than feedlot meat. “Increasing grass-fed ruminant numbers is, therefore, a self-defeating climate strategy,” the report concludes.

Fortunately, grass-fed beef is not the only solution being bandied about: Research shows that a small dose of seaweed in livestock feed could drastically reduce methane emissions. And if you really want to reduce your impact on the climate you could, you know, stop eating meat.

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Wildfire smoke adds apocalyptic hellscape to Disneyland’s attractions.

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World hunger rises after decades of decline.

“Clearly, our environment changes all the time,” the Republican leader said after touring Irma’s devastation. “And whether that’s cycles we’re going through or whether that’s man-made, I wouldn’t be able to tell you which one it is.”

It’s good to see Scott pondering those wacky ideas we’ve all heard floating around: Human-caused climate changemore intense hurricanesrising sea levels, etc. Coming to terms with climate change is a journey we all must pursue at our own pace! It’s not urgent or anything.

So what is Scott feeling sure about? Let’s hear it:

This is a catastrophic storm our state has never seen,” he warned on Saturday before Irma hit Florida.

“We ought to go solve problems. I know we have beach renourishment issues. I know we have flood-mitigation issues,” he said in the wake of Irma.

“I’m worried about another hurricane,” he shared with reporters while touring the Florida Keys this week. We feel ya, Scott.

Big ideas! Perhaps a fellow Florida Republican could illuminate their common thread.

“[I]t’s certainly not irresponsible to highlight how this storm was probably fueled — in part — by conditions that were caused by human-induced climate change,” Florida congressman and Grist 50er Carlos Curbelo said this week.

In fact, it just might be necessary.

Read this article – 

World hunger rises after decades of decline.

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Hurricane Irma flattens homes and causes power outages in the Caribbean.

One would think that the demise of ticks and tapeworms would be cause for celebration (especially if your introduction to parasites was, as in my case, an encounter with zombie snails at a mercilessly young age).

But hold the party, say researchers. After studying 457 species of parasites in the Smithsonian Museum’s collection, mapping their global distribution, and applying a range of climate models and future scenarios, scientists predict that at least 5 to 10 percent of those critters would be extinct by 2070 due to climate change–induced habitat loss.

This extinction won’t do any favors to wildlife or humans. If a mass die-off were to occur, surviving parasites would likely invade new areas unpredictably — and that could greatly damage ecosystems. One researcher says parasites facilitate up to 80 percent of the food-web links in ecosystems, thus helping to sustain life (even if they’re also sucking it away).

What could save the parasites and our ecosystems? Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “Reduce carbon emissions.”

If emissions go unchecked, parasites could lose 37 percent of their habitats. If we cut carbon quickly, they’d reduce by only 20 percent — meaning the terrifying (but helpful!) parasites creating zombie snails will stay where they are.

More here – 

Hurricane Irma flattens homes and causes power outages in the Caribbean.

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After farmed salmon break-out, Washington state says: “Please, go fishing.”

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative announced yesterday that it plans to curb power plant emissions by 30 percent between 2020 and 2030.

The participating states — Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont — will finalize the agreement on Sept. 25. According to the Washington Post, Massachusetts wanted to set the bar higher by “reducing carbon emissions 5 percent a year. But Maryland balked and threatened to pull out of the pact, saying it would lead to higher energy costs for consumers.”

The agreement caps the emissions from the power generation only (unlike California’s system, it does not include other industry, transportation, or agriculture), and allows those electricity generators to buy and sell emissions rights. This latest move simply lowers the cap.

Even though Washington, D.C., tends to suck up all the oxygen in the conversation, local and regional leaders are trying different approaches to suck all the carbon out of the economy. In these statehouses, it’s a lot less hot air, and a lot more action.


After farmed salmon break-out, Washington state says: “Please, go fishing.”

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Biology Through the Eyes of Food – J. José Bonner


Biology Through the Eyes of Food
Biology of Food
J. José Bonner

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $38.99

Publish Date: January 6, 2016

Publisher: J. José Bonner

Seller: Jose Bonner

Food .  Who doesn’t like food?   We all like food — but why make it so difficult for students, teachers, and the general public to visualize and understand the processes that happen inside us when we eat food, or the ecological impacts of food production, or the evolutionary histories of humans, plants, and animals that have produced the present-day “food landscape?”  Traditional biology textbooks tell us the facts, but rarely relate these facts to the world as both teachers and students experience it.  Traditional biology texts and the teaching methods that support them lead far too often to students thinking that biology is “just something you do in school,” divorced from the Real World. It doesn’t need to be this way. The author has been fortunate enough to have spent a dozen years working with non-biology majors at a large state university.  This textbook has grown out of a concerted effort to make biology more accessible and more clearly relevant to the world outside the classroom.  Using students’ writing as a window into students’ thinking, the author sought to learn what conceptions students developed as a result of different teaching strategies.  Similarly, the author sought to discover alternate conceptions that students brought with them to the classroom, and whether those conceptions were built from prior teaching or from popular culture.  Not surprisingly, developing scientific understanding depends strongly on seeing why learning it matters.  The relationship to food helps provide this link.  Scientific understanding also depends critically on visualizing scientific processes — just as understanding a novel depends on visualizing the setting, the characters, and their actions.  It is challenging, however, to visualize processes that occur on a molecular level, and are far too small to see directly.  It is similarly challenging to visualize processes that occur far too slowly to be perceived.  It is, perhaps, even more challenging to link multiple processes together to build the Big Picture, when human working memory is limited to manipulating only a handful of items at one time. For challenging topics, the author tested alternative teaching strategies, in an effort to develop a strategy that would foster more-accurate and more-durable student learning.  Frequently, this meant discarding the traditional teaching methods and creating something quite different.  Therefore, the reader may find strange (even heretical!) the order of presentation, the methods of presentation, and the relative emphases of topics, compared to traditional biology textbooks.  The effect, however, proved to be successful for a great many of the author’s students.  Many remarked that, for the first time, biology made sense. It is hoped that this textbook can offer insights to high school and college biology teachers, and inform their own searches for more-effective teaching methods.  It is also hoped that students will find it a useful resource, and that anyone interested in food and biology enjoys it. Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t. Polonius, Hamlet , Shakespeare

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Biology Through the Eyes of Food – J. José Bonner

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How to Share Extra Bounty from Your Garden with the Community

You?ve frozen, dried and canned all the fruit and vegetables you can use over winter. But your garden keeps on producing. Now what?

Your extra fruit and veggies can easily find a loving home. And there?s good reason to make sure your entire harvest makes it to someone?s table.

About 50 percent of all fruits and vegetables grown worldwide go to waste. This staggering number is especially tragic considering that one in nine people in the world suffer from chronic undernourishment, including one in approximately 650 people in developed countries.

You can make a difference in your community by using some of the following suggestions to share the food you grow.

Donate to Charitable Organizations

Many different organizations will welcome your extra fruit and vegetables, such as food banks, homeless shelters, community or seniors? centers, spiritual groups and churches, or home-delivered meal programs.

AmpleHarvest.org has an extensive listing of different organizations throughout the United States that will accept extra produce. You can search for one near you on their website.

FeedingAmerica.org also has a searchable listing of food banks throughout the U.S.

Contact Your Local Gleaners

Gleaning is the act of collecting fresh foods from farms, gardens or other sources to share it with those in need. Many communities have a gleaning group that can come to your home and collect your excess produce.

Food Rescue has a listing of groups you can contact in the U.S., or you can search the internet for groups in other countries.

Can?t find any gleaners near you? The United States Department of Agriculture has published a good guide on how to start your own gleaning program.

Put Up a Stand

A simple table on your front lawn with some veggies and a ?Free? sign on it should encourage most of them to find a new home.

A more elaborate option is to build a stand or booth to shade your fruit and vegetables. You could also add a basket or lockbox for donations to your favorite charity in exchange.

Feed It to Your Pets and Livestock

Your animal friends don?t need to miss out on your harvest. Many pet birds, rodents, horses, goats, reptiles and other animals would appreciate your extra produce. It?s even been shown that some vegetables are healthy for dogs.

Related: Best & Worst Fruits and Veggies for Pets

Advertise Your Bounty

RipeNear.Me is a great site designed for home growers to share their overabundance with others. You can choose to give away your produce or charge a fee for it.

You can also advertise to trade, give away or sell your extra fruit and veggies in your local newspaper, community newsletter or online at sites like Freecycle.org, Kijiji.ca, EbayClassifieds.com, or Craigslist.org.

Community sites like Nextdoor or your community Facebook page are other excellent places to post.

Organize a Group Cook-off

Cooking big batches of food is a fun excuse to get together with friends and try making something new. And the best part is, everyone has some healthy meals to take home for later.

Check out MamaBake.com for suggestions on organizing group cooking and some big batch recipes.

It?s also a great idea to donate extra prepared food you make to a neighbor in need.

Host a Meal

This can be as basic as inviting a few friends over for a meal featuring lots of your home-grown fruit and vegetables.

If you?re interested in something a bit more ambitious, try hosting a pop-up restaurant. You can register on sites like EatWith.com that matches up hosts and diners to share meals worldwide.

Swap with Other Gardeners

Ask your friends, neighbors and around your community to find people interested in trading their excess fruit and veggies with yours.

You can also throw a produce swapping party and invite guests to bring their overabundance to be redistributed.

Check out programs like Food Is Free that helps communities grow and share fresh food.

Donate to Animal Rescue Organizations

Certain animal shelters can use excess fruit and veggies to feed plant-eating animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, parrots, iguanas and turtles. Check with your local shelters to see if they have these types of animals before bringing over your produce.

Save Your Seeds

It?s not a loss if your crops have become over-mature or gone to seed. That?s a great time to keep them for harvesting seeds for next year.

You can also give your seeds to organizations like Seed Savers Exchange or Seedsave.org, who work towards saving and distributing non-GMO, heirloom and organic seeds for now and into the future.

Another option is to start a seed library for your local community. Shareable has detailed instructions on how to create your own seed lending library.

Recycle Your Produce

There?s no shame in rounding up your bolted lettuce and the zucchinis that somehow grew 3 feet long, and tossing them on your compost pile. All their goodness will go towards nourishing next year?s bountiful crop.

9 Mistakes to Avoid When Planting a New Vegetable Garden
10 Hot Ideas for a Drought-Resistant Garden
Edible Landscaping: A Delicious Way to Garden

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.


How to Share Extra Bounty from Your Garden with the Community

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Arkansas just banned the weedkiller that damaged hundreds of farmers’ crops this year.

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Arkansas just banned the weedkiller that damaged hundreds of farmers’ crops this year.

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