Monday, April 30, 2012

on my mind monday 4.30.12

news | photo: mconnors
It's never the same two weeks in a row.  A collection of what I find interesting in health, nutrition, and holistic living.  Read what's on my mind.

Beef Cattle Become Behemoths - Antibiotics are not the only dangerous thing being fed to our livestock (dangerous because the overuse has negative physical effects for us such as helping to breed disease resistant bacteria).  Many conventional farms also feed animals hormones and other drugs to make them grow faster, grow fatter, and push their development all in the name of profit.  Many countries around the world, such as those in the European Union, do not allow this because of concerns about it's effect on the people that eat the meat from treated animals.  When that animal is slaughtered all the hormones and drugs do not go away, they stay in the meat and the fat.  If you eat it you then are consuming those products as well.  Building " bovine Schwartzeneggers" is not in the best interest of anyone other than the company that sells these drugs.  Now it looks like in addition to co-opting medical schools with research dollars and propaganda, pharmaceutical companies are, and have been, doing the same with agricultural schools.  Don't get me wrong, there are many good pharmaceutical formulations and they can have great benefit.  I just don't believe that this type of drug oversale is an appropriate usage, nor do I believe it is healthy for the animal or for those that consume it.

Watermelon's Wild Cousins - A watermelon that grows in the desert?  And provides reasonable nutrition?  Who knew such a thing existed.  This article highlights the Tsamma melon which grows, amazingly enough, in the Kalahari in South Africa.  The description of use and nutrition in this family of melons highlights why we need agricultural diversity and not genetically modified commercially motivated mono-cropping.  This idea is further highlighted by a recent article I spotted about Vietnamese farmers changing melon crops due to drought conditions.  My take from reading the article is that they were choosing a different type of melon rather than a GMO melon; an agriculturally and environmentally positive choice. - A wonderful guided meditation site with fabulous audio/video presentations.  Two minutes that can lower your blood pressure, re-center you, and help you to feel better.

Feeding a city is something that we don't often think about. But as we move to cities our diet changes, demand for meat and dairy goes up. And there's food waste and food imbalance (larger and larger number of starving people as well as those that are overfed). This video highlights how food moves into a city and looks at ways to help solve some of the problems that cities face when it comes to their food.

Four Foods You Probably Waste - I bring this topic up a lot.  Food is more than just access to good, clean, nourishing products.  It's also about proper utilization of what we have.  That means not wasting it.  Even though rotting food can be thrown into a compost heap to be turned into beneficial compost, isn't it best to eat it?  After all, you paid for it.  Here's a few simple and delicious looking recipes to help you avoid throwing out some of the most commonly wasted foods.

What I'm Reading

Make The Bread, Buy The Butter - I picked up the copy at my local library.  By the top of the second page I was hooked.  I like her writing style, we think the same way, and I have already bookmarked several recipes to try.  I was most impressed with her bread which uses 3 1/2 cups of whey.  That's awesome.  I have lots of whey hanging around from straining yogurt; although I use it, I confess sometimes it gets fed to the dogs because I have too much.  I am occasionally tempted to make ricotta cheese from leftover whey.  The trick is you need 16 quarts of the stuff and if I tried to squeeze 16 quarts into my side-by-side refrigerator I'm pretty sure my family would be upset due to the lack of space for food.  And that 16 quarts of whey?  It yields less than 2 cups of ricotta.  I haven't gotten to that part of the book but I'm guessing she recommends buying it.  This bread however looks to be a great use for leftover whey.  And I'm planning a tea party just so I can make my own clotted cream.  I'm also looking forward to reading the rest of the book which is definitely on my "to buy" list.

disclaimer -

Friday, April 27, 2012

making mayonnaise

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about, among other things, making my own mayonnaise.  Sam asked for the recipe.  It would have been very simple to just give you the recipe but I decided it would be more fun to wait until I needed to make it and then take a few pictures.

I began making my own mayonnaise probably about 15 years ago after a visit to my husband's grandmother, Mamie.  She made her own mayonnaise.  All of it.  I'm not sure she ever bought a jar in her entire life.  During this particular visit she happened to need mayonnaise while we were there so she assembled all of the ingredients and made it.  I was delighted to see how easy it was.  Homemade mayonnaise is so much creamier and more flavorful than store-bought, my family was hooked.

The recipe that I use is a modified combination of the recipe from Joy of Cooking (page 363 in my 1975 edition if you care to look it up) and the way that Mamie made it.  Quick, easy, and delicious; I make it all the time.

The ingredients are simple:

1 egg
3/4 t. dry mustard
1 t. sea salt
1 cup olive oil
3 T. tarragon vinegar

I confess that the tarragon vinegar doesn't look so hot in the bottle so I staged that by adding a few leaves of fresh tarragon to the pre-measured amount in a glass.  Tarragon vinegar is made by putting a bunch of tarragon into a bottle of white wine vinegar and letting it sit "for a while."  If you don't like tarragon, don't use it.  I have also made this recipe with raw apple cider vinegar when I didn't have any tarragon vinegar on hand.

The eggs are an issue for some people.  I'm lucky enough to have a friend that I can get fresh eggs from.  If I don't see her often enough I also have three farmer's markets where I can buy fresh, pastured eggs.  So I'm okay with the idea of using uncooked eggs.  It is, however, up to you.

Place the egg, 1/4 C. oil, salt, and mustard into a container.  Blend well.  I use a stick blender which I think is one of the best kitchen gadgets ever invented.  You can whisk this together if you don't have a blender however it takes a long time and when it starts getting really thick it's a bit of challenge.

When this is all well blended drizzle in another 1/4 C. olive oil and blend well again.  Then add the tarragon vinegar, blend well.  Add the remaining 1/2 C. olive oil slowly and blend well a final time.

The end result is a delicious, creamy mayonnaise.  It's a little thin at first but after it sits in the refrigerator it firms up quite a bit and is just fabulous spread on sandwiches, in dressings, or any other way you choose to use mayo.  My particular favorite is for tomato sandwiches.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


water with lime | photo: o0o0xmods0o0o

Those of you who read my Facebook Fan Page know that I regularly remind people to start their day with an alkalizing drink.  This invariably brings up the questions, what is an alkalizing drink and why do I need to drink it?

Second question first. Our bodies do better when they are in a more alkaline state.  If you remember from high school biology, a pH of 7.0 is base or neutral.  We should be somewhere between 7.2-7.4 in order to be healthy.  When our bodies are in a more acidic state we can potentially be prone to illness.  Maintaining an acidic body state for a long period of time can cause a wide variety of illnesses such as headaches, inflammation, bloating, acne, and possibly even hair or nails that break easily.  Because the body seeks balance if it is too acidic it will pull minerals from our bones and from muscle tissue.  This is not an appropriate solution as eventually there can be a depletion of minerals.

Our modern diet is very acidic.  Especially if we eat a diet that is high in processed foods and animal products.  This makes it a good idea to include more more alkalizing foods which are primarily vegetables and most fruits (specifically those with less sugars).  In addition to making sure we add alkalizing foods to our diet it is often a good idea to start the day with an alkalizing drink.

So back to question number one...what is an alkalizing drink?  A glass of water with 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar is a great choice. Many people may have to work up to 2 tablespoons as it may be too tart if you are not used to it.  Adding greens powder to water or a morning smoothie is another way to get an alkalizing beverage into your day.  Another option would be to drink kombucha or water kefir, another great start to the day and one that has the added benefit of probiotics to further support gut health.

If you want to test to see whether your specific body state is more alkaline or more acidic you can purchase Ph Test Strips.  These strips test either urine or saliva (urine is generally considered to be a better indicator).  If you are interested in changing your diet you could also consider getting a copy of The Acid Alkaline Food Guide.

And to answer the unasked question.  "But vinegar and lemons are acidic so how can they be alkalizing?"  It's one of the odd properties of acid-alkaline balance.  Yes, we do consider them to be acidic however their ash, or residue after they have been broken down, is alkaline.  That makes them an alkalizing food.  This alkalizing effect is also found with limes and grapefruits however not with oranges.

So start your day with an alkalizing beverage and drink to your health.


Monday, April 23, 2012

on my mind monday 4.23.12

news | photo: mconnors
It's never the same thing two weeks in a row.  This is a snapshot of what I find interesting; health, nutrition, and holistic living.  Here's what's on my mind.

The mother who stood up to Monsanto in Argentina - Monsanto and their agrochemicals are not only problematic here in the US, but are having a hugely negative effect around the world.  We often don't hear much about what is happening in other countries, sometimes leading us to believe we are the only ones fighting.  Sofia Gatica plans to take on Monsanto not only in Argentina, but all across South America.

Canadian nutrition labels often misleading - This is, to put it bluntly, extremely frustrating.  Calories, fat, sugar, were all potentially understated.  And positive ingredients were possibly overstated.  This means that some foods looked far healthier than they actually are.  If you can't rely on the nutrition label to accurately relay the facts of the food it becomes even more difficult to make appropriate choices.  Whole food still is the best way to go.  However we live in a real world and that does include the influence of other foods.  The label is one way to help you navigate prepared or processed foods.  Unfortunately it appears that this was widespread across a wide variety of manufacturers.  Kraft and Heinz were included, but so were companies such as Eden Organic, Kashi, and Amy's Kitchen.  While the issue will hopefully be resolved, this situation does beg the question, what about the other locations where these companies sell their products.  Like the United States.

Football fields to farms - Given how committed many schools are to their football teams this article caught my eye.  Becoming partners in the community and helping to support agriculture in an area that was classified as a food desert, the college is making a difference.  Even better they have added farming as part of the curriculum so their students can learn how to take care of the land.  Knowledge that they will surely take with them when they graduate.

A week in the life of a food stylist - I've always been interested in food photography and food styling.  I'm not very good at it and really appreciate the beautiful work of those who are.  But the truth is sometimes a little sad because the food isn't always how it appears.  "1:40pm: We got some sad mangos today. It happens. I had to give them a soak in water with a little bit of food coloring added to so that I could boost the color and "mango-ness" of them." Artificial colors...rats.

Fermentation - that's on my mind a lot as I make fermented foods such as kefir and fermented vegetables.    I was really pleased to come across this BBC Radio 4 program on The Fermentation Revival which included some members of the UK chapters of the Weston A. Price Foundation, an organization which promotes traditional foods, as well as an interview with Sandor Katz.

Here's a video of Sandor Katz demonstrating making fermented saurkraut.

Two books on fermentation that have recently come out which need to go on my purchasing list:

Wardeh Harmon is a wonderful and knowledgeable traditional foods expert who I met at the Wise Traditions Conference 2011 in Dallas.  It was great to get to spend a little bit of time with her at the conference and I've enjoyed following her online.  The book looks great and is sure to be a wonderful addition to any traditional, nourishing foods kitchen.

If you're going to get into fermenting foods I strongly recommend that you purchase a set of pickle weights made by my friend Sandy Der.  I bought mine two years ago and love using them.  They're cute, functional, and work very well.

And if you want to get serious about fermenting foods you'll need to pay a visit to the nice folks at Cultures for Health, they've got just what you need to get started.  My water kefir culture, also known as tibicos, came from them and is going strong.  I'm thinking about separating some of them to try to make ginger beer which my husband used to drink as a kid and loves.


Friday, April 20, 2012


basil leaves | photo: Paul Goyette
Bay-sil, bah-sil, whatever you call it, it's one of the most fragrant and delicious herbs around.  High in vitamin K, basil also has some healthy properties to it's oil which is anti-bacterial and also highly anti-inflammatory.  These properties combine to make it a very heart-healthy herb to include in your diet.

Yesterday I went to The Arbor Gate nursery and took their Basilmania class.  Starring Chef Chris Crowder and Herbal Expert Ann Wheeler it was an information packed event.

It turns out that there are a vast number of different varieties of basil.  According to Ann there are 64 native species of basil, however we now have hundreds of varieties because it is a "promiscuous cross polinator."  I also learned that pepper basil is the only one which does well in the shade.  Three years ago I was given a gift of pepper basil from my friend Paula and it has indeed done well on the shadier west side of my house.  Now, due to rather mild winters, it's still going strong.  And it does indeed taste like a pepper plant.  The one basil which I was really taken with while at the nursery was the lime basil.  It is so powerfully fragrant and the leaves so deliciously citrus-y that I kept wanting to nibble at it.

In addition to talking about basil, there were demonstrations of different recipes using it.  Recipes mentioned included adding basil to tartelettes, a bellini, a vegetable mousse and more.  Here's one recipe created by Chef Chris Crowder from The Arbor Gate website:

Frozen Basil Strawberry Mousse

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup sugar plus 1/3 cup
3 cups quartered strawberries
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin, or 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup sliced strawberries, for garnish
1 tablespoon chiffonade of fresh basil, for garnish

Process the basil and the 1/2 cup sugar in a blender or small food processor and pulse until combined, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed. Place quartered strawberries in a medium bowl and sprinkle with the basil sugar. Allow the mixture to stand for 20 minutes.

Cut parchment paper into 5 long strips, about 2-inches wide and 12-inches long. Wrap one strip of parchment around the top of a 3-ounce ramekin and secure with string or tape to form a collar that extends above the top of the ramekin. Repeat with the remaining 4 strips and ramekins. Set aside.

Whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form and refrigerate until ready to use.

Combine the lemon juice with 3 tablespoons of water and the gelatin in a small bowl. Allow gelatin to soften, about 5 minutes. Place the macerated berries and sugar in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Pour mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and press to release the juices; you will need about 1 1/4 cups of the strained juice. Discard the pulp and seeds.

In a small, heavy saucepan, combine 1/4 cup of the strawberry puree and the 1/3 cup sugar over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Just before the mixture begins to boil, remove the syrup from the heat and stir in the gelatin mixture until well incorporated and dissolved.

Combine the gelatin mixture with the remaining strawberry puree in a medium bowl. Set the medium bowl inside a large bowl filled with ice water. Stir the strawberry mixture until cooled and syrupy.

Fold the reserved whipped cream into the syrup mixture, gently but thoroughly, until well incorporated and the mixture is one solid color. Fill the prepared molds with the strawberry mousse, cover, and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Allow mousse to stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving. Remove the parchment paper from the molds and garnish with fresh sliced strawberries and basil.

However you pronounce it (and whether you think it's an -erb or a herb) basil is a delicious plant which definitely deserves to be made into more than just pesto.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


fast food | photo: cohdra
McDonald's has just launched something they are calling the McDonald's Nutrition Network.  Yes, THAT McDonald's.  The one that sells fries and burgers and other foods that are generally not associated with a healthy diet.  The company is offering $5,000 grants in the New York/New Jersey area to fund nutrition programs.

Their claim?  They are simply trying to better serve their clients.  My take?  If you have read Appetite for Profit: How the food industry undermines our health and how to fight back (and if you haven't you should, it's a great book) you'll understand that McDonald's is simply creating a great opportunity to do some self-promotion, misdirection, and try to make themselves look good in the eyes of the general public. By creating this type of a program they can claim to be doing all sorts of good things; to be responsible partners in providing nutrition education, support health programs, etc.  It's the nutritional version of green-washing (making things appear greener, or more eco-friendly than they really are).

I'm sure there are strings attached to those $5,000 grants.  I'm also sure that McDonald's isn't going to change how they do business.  They will continue to sell these unhealthy foods because, at the end of the day, that's what makes them money.  These grants are a drop in the bucket, one that they can afford to drop because of the positive publicity and public image they are hoping to create.

If McDonald's really wanted to make substantive changes to support nutrition and nutrition programs they would change the food they have in their restaurants.  They would change where they source their food from.  They would create a new, environmentally conscious, health conscious, nutritionally balanced menu.  They have the world's greatest delivery system and deepest, most entrenched global business model.  They could be agents for amazing change.  But they won't.  Because the bottom line is about profit.

So before you get all excited about how they appear to be in supporting nutrition, stop and think about if they're really making any changes.  Don't listen to what they're saying, look at what they're doing.

Monday, April 16, 2012

going walden

I spent the weekend in the woods.  Maybe not really "going walden" but certainly headed in that direction.  It was a holiday of sorts, a get-away from my often hectic and over-scheduled life.  It was amazing, restorative, thought-provoking, and, most importantly, fun.  I disconnected from technology leaving behind my laptop, connectivity tools, news feed, and all social media.  While I did bring my cell phone that was for practicality reasons and I chose not to take or make any calls all weekend.  What did I do?

I laughed more in those 48 hours than I believe I have laughed in the last three months.  We're not talking polite chuckles or giggling either.  We are talking deep belly laughs, huge guffaws with a group of women all similarly roaring with laughter.  We were the noisiest campsite there and we were not constrained.

I reconnected.  Many of the women on this trip are friends who I adore.  They are fascinating, interesting, vibrant, intelligent, amazing people.  But we are all so busy with the demands of our modern lives that we promise ourselves in passing we will get together for that lunch or tea or whatever.  And yet somehow we don't manage to find the time.  This weekend we had nothing but time.

I ate very well.  Hats off to Colleen, our organizer and her sous chef, Natalie.  With four gluten-intolerant campers and one vegetarian out of nine women they pulled off a tasty, delicious, satisfying menu for everyone.  They did it without going overboard either.  It was simple, delicious, and unfussy.  While we all know food tastes much better around a campfire, I am a firm believer that it also tastes much better when it comes from whole foods.  Our menu was dinner: taco bar, breakfast: scrambled eggs and fruit, lunch: veggies and dips with fruit and gluten free cookies, dinner: cuban beans and cornbread with gluten free smores (gotta have those), breakfast: leftovers and fruit.  Yes, there were M&M's and chips and other foods there as well, but the menu was predominately simple, whole foods.

I reconnected with nature.  I had forgotten how restorative this is for the soul.  Yes, I go out in my garden, yes I take my dogs for walks through the woods, yes I look for opportunities to put my feet in the dirt.  But this was in the middle of a gorgeous state park with no distractions, hardly any traffic, and a quietude that just does not exist in my backyard.  There was wildlife all around us (we were fortunate to have Helen with us who is a birder and quite knowledgeable) and we saw deer, turtles, alligators, birds, bunnies, interesting bugs and more.  There was a lot of tree hugging (literally and figuratively) going on; I even had the opportunity for a most delicious, restful nap under a sprawling tree with a light breeze.

I remembered my appreciation for the basics.  Sleeping on a mat on the floor reminded me that I am fortunate enough to have a bed at home (and a quite comfy, large, well decorated one at that).  Having a public restroom available I was appreciative for the running water in the toilets, the sinks and the showers.  I was appreciative for all of the tax dollars and use-contributions that pay to maintain the state park system.  I also appreciated the quiet, the lack of distractions and the ability to slow down, even if just for that moment.

This is part of holistic living.  We need to find that balance; to find those moments in our lives that speak to us.  To be more than a particular aspect of our being -- wife, mother, daughter, committee-member, professional, caregiver, insert-your-hat-here.  To let go of some of that, even if just for a short while, and plainly be ourselves.

And how was your weekend?

on my mind monday 4.16.12

news | photo: mconnors
It's never the same thing two weeks in a row.  This is a snapshot of what I find interest; health, nutrition, and holistic living.  Here's what's on my mind.

Fertilizers causing global warming - according to scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, there is now ample scientific evidence pointing at fertilizers as a significantly affecting the environment.  The scientists figured out how to "fingerprint" the nitrogen isotope ratio and highlight it's changes to greenhouse gases.  The study does not recommend stopping all fertilizer use, sadly, however it does recommend significantly changing how fertilizers are used in the agricultural industry.

Six reasons to switch to reusable bags - I'm a big proponent of reusable bags.  If pictures of the Trash Vortex are not enough to convince you, consider that it takes 12,000,000 barrels of oil to make the plastic bags we use in the U.S. each year.  I not only use them at the grocery store, I have started taking them into other stores as well.  While my family is not 100% plastic bag free, we are certainly far reduced from what we were and week by week we get better and better.  We've even started using reusable produce bags which are great, especially in the bulk bin section.

Another great TEDx presentation - this one focuses on how agriculture is changing the face of the planet.

Salsa - October was National Salsa Month but this is the time of year when I love to eat it the most.  Especially with "chips" made out of fresh veggies such as zucchini or yellow squash slices and sweet bell peppers.  Salsa with a splash of olive oil is also a great way to top of a delicious spring salad with some of the yummy greens that are coming into season in my area.   The link is to a previous posting where I share my delicious basic salsa recipe.

Food Book Fair 2012 - This is such a neat idea that I'm finding it hard to believe it has not happened before this.  I'm also really sad that I will not be able to go as I'm sure it's going to be a really neat event.   I am, of course, making note of all of the books listed by all of the speakers and will have to figure out a way to shoehorn those into my current reading list (which is far too full as it is).  I plan to keep an eye on this event and see what sorts of news and food activism items come out of it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

on my mind monday 4.9.12

news | photo: mconnors
It's never the same thing two weeks in a row.  This is a snapshot of what I find interesting; information about health, nutrition and holistic living.  Read what's on my mind.

World's Largest Rooftop Farm - Farming is changing and no is no longer only the traditional large acreage farm.  Bringing fresh food to the city by utilizing spaces differently is a great idea.

Michigan calls heritage pigs invasive - It's beginning to look like BigAg is trying to control your food even further by potentially driving small heritage pig farmers out of business. Not content to allow these smaller farmers a share of the market they've found a way to class their pigs as part of an invasive species and to get the government to buy in to it.  I hope that this is overturned...we need genetic diversity in all populations and I am a firm believer in preserving heritage breeds.

Food Adulteration - Food adulteration has been around for millenia.  It is a sad truth that when someone makes money selling a food product the temptation to make more money by stretching the product is there. Some examples include:

  • using cheaper oils like corn in premium, more desirable products such as olive oil
  • honey, there is a huge adulteration of honey, often with high fructose corn syrup
  • coffee can be stretched through the use of chicory, roasted corn, and even legumes
Because the adulterants are not listed on the label it can be difficult to know what you are getting.  Sadly the Food Fraud Database is difficult to use and results are not clear. This once again highlights the need to know where your food is coming from and to, whenever possible, know your producer.

Gleaning - There appears to be a growing number of gleaning operations as a way to finish off the harvesting of fields with the food collected often going to food banks and soup kitchens.  In many places that I have traveled in the US I am often startled to see food going to waste.  A recent trip to Austin, TX revealed loquat trees bursting with fruits that were falling off the trees and rotting on the ground.   Many homes in California have citrus trees and don't use them all, to the point where the food goes to waste. Farms often leave the last bit of produce because it's not worth the effort to go get it.  Yet the ability to deliver fresh food to those in need is a priceless gift.  It does however require labor to collect and distribute the food.  Finding gleaning organizations where you can donate your extra produce or labor can be a little difficult to find.  Here is one, you can also run a local search to look for more in your area.

This is a fascinating idea. Being still relatively new to Texas I find that I have a difficult time growing vegetables in my backyard (we seem to be doing okay with fruit trees so far which is great) and would love a concept like this where someone who knows the area could help. The video is from a few years ago but Your Backyard Farmer is apparently still going strong in the Portland, OR area.

To read:

I just heard about Make the Bread, Buy the Butter and am adding it to my get-and-read list.  I'll be interested to see what the author recommends.  It's true that there is a lot we can make but is it worth the effort and do we want to take the time to do it.  Fermented foods are high on my list but I truly can't see myself making butter.  I do make pickles and jams but not nearly as much as I used to (mostly because we don't go through them as fast now that the kids are grown).  What I've always found fascinating is how many things can be made by hand that we've forgotten or lost the art of doing.  One of my little cooking friends was astounded one day when they were visiting and we made pudding together.  In their experience pudding always came from a box.  Part of my interest in this book is not only about the time however.  Some things I make, such as mayonaise, because I object to the added ingredients and homemade is a way to avoid that.


Monday, April 2, 2012

on my mind monday 4.2.12

news | photo: mconnors
It's never the same two weeks in a row.  This is a snapshot of what I find interesting; information about health, nutrition, and holistic living.  Here's what's on my mind.

Light It Up Blue - Today is World Autism Awareness Day.  With rising rates of autism, which many believe has strong ties to chemical influences in our food and environment, it is important to be more understanding and supportive of those families affected by this disease.  I'll be wearing blue today to show my support.

Beekeepers say we're running out of time - There appears to be more evidence that pesticides are behind the tragic decline of bees.  Bees are so important to our agricultural system, without them there is no pollination, and without that many crops cannot reproduce.  A recently filed lawsuit claims the EPA violated   the law on several counts.  We need to think more about what is good for the planet rather than concentrating only on the bottom line.

Kale is not chikin - Chick-Fil-A continues to press it's lawsuit demanding that Bo Muller-Moore, a t-shirt artist in Vermont, cease and desist in the creation of his t-shirts.  This multi-billion dollar company apparently feels that they own the rights to the words "Eat Mor" and that folks will be very confused when presented a choice between his "Eat More Kale" t-shirts and their Eat Mor Chikin campaign.  I'm happy to say Bo is going to make a documentary about this corporate bully.  I'm also happy to say that I helped to fund this documentary and I'm looking forward to watching it when it comes out.

Artichoke - I've just planted one and am looking forward to seeing how it grows in my Texas garden.  Aside from being delicious, artichokes are a great source of vitamins, K, C, and folate.  They're also a good source of magnesium, manganese, and potassium. One delicious artichoke also provides a lot of  fiber.  For those of you just starting your gardens or starting seed for later crops, here's a neat tip on making your own bio-degradable plant pots.

Governors supporting pink slime - leaving aside the financial contributions that BPI has made to these political leaders who are trying to put a positive spin on this product the fact remains that this is not a good food choice.  It is the leftover bits that the company is trying to eke a profit out of an then hitting up with ammonium hydroxide.  In many countries this product is only considered fit for dog food.  I don't even think it should be fed to animals.  The original term Lean Finely Textured Beef makes it sound like food however it doesn't override the fact that now consumers know what it is and THEY DO NOT WANT TO EAT IT.  I know I'm shouting there but I find it very frustrating when companies feel that their corporate profits are more important.  I choose not to eat this product, I encourage others not to eat it and I'm thrilled that fast food restaurants and grocery stores are bowing to consumer demand and removing this product from their shelves.  Now we need to get it out of the school system and out of the food supply.

Hopping for health - I confess that I no longer have a gym membership.  I never made it to the classes because my schedule never seemed to work out and I get bored by the machines after a while.  For some people gyms work well and that's great.  I've been using walking, bike riding, yoga, and strength exercises at home as my form of exercise.  I know that I'm not getting enough impact exercise which is important for bone health and to help prevent osteoporosis.  This looks like a lot of fun and I'm going to make one on my patio and see how I like it.  Either that or start borrowing neighborhood kids and playing hop scotch.

Luckily we had a very mild winter.  My eggplant and pepper plants did really well and managed to last through the winter.  Now they're loaded with blooms.  I'm going to try to help it along by pinching, as he suggests.  My hot pepper is already producing lots of peppers and I'll let that go, but my bell peppers and eggplants will get a trim.  We'll see what happens.