I won't be able to write my usual longer intro since I am in the midst of packing up my house and moving! Hope you enjoy this issue of the Almanac Newsletter!
I had a great chat with EWG President Ken Cook, who is one of my heroes, so it was an honor to be featured in the EWG site. This past March, EWG shared the great news that General Mills has announced that it will begin labeling GMO ingredients in all their products! This is an incredible victory for consumers everywhere, and it wouldn’t have happened without you. You’ve raised your voices, and Congress and corporate giants are listening. They’re remembering our nation’s founding principle.
No, it’s not “E Pluribus Unum.”
It’s: The customer is always right.
Many of the foods we eat depend on pollination from honeybees. But bees are in trouble, and so are beekeepers — replacing lost hives is expensive. Some have come up with a new source of funding: Adopt A Beehive - Save a Beekeeper. Read the whole story here.
The stylish and cool lifestyle designer Jenni Kayne interviewed me for her Rip and Tan blog. In it, you’ll see photos of my house, which is now almost all packed up, including the large Peter Keene polka-dot piece hanging in my living room. Read it on Rip and Tan.
Have you been hearing about forest bathing recently? Forest bathing is a way to support well being through sensory immersion in forests. Go for a long walk in the woods!
Read all about it here: Forest bathing.
I’m passionate about reducing the amount of waste my household creates, so I’m always trying to come up with creative ways to repurpose or reuse the waste, whether it’s glass wine bottles or yogurt jars. I recently published a blog about Repurposing and I shared in it some of my own efforts and many great ideas from other sources.
I like Dr. Glen Barry, and the fascinating and inspirational essay he wrote titled “On Ecology and going back to the Land.” Please take a few minutes to read it.
Just like birds and many other animals who spread seeds wherever they go, so can we… by using Biodegradable coffee cups embedded with seeds that grow into trees when thrown away!
Watch the video at Preciousplastic.com which shows this completely wonderful innovative idea about how to recycle plastic by allowing people, anywhere in the world to transform plastic waste into valuable things.
Do you know about the site What is Missing? Designed by artist Maya Lin as her last memorial to create an awareness about the present sixth mass extinction of species, connects this loss of species to habitat degradation and loss, and emphasizes that by preventing deforestation, we can both reduce carbon emissions and protect species and habitats. What is Missing? is a wake-up call and a call to action. It shows how we can help protect and restore nature, reimagine our relationship to the natural world, showcasing how we could live in ways that balance our needs with the needs of the planet.
In the works: Congress is considering a law that would standardize expiration dates, potentially saving tremendous amounts of food waste.
Do you want to laugh?! Before continuing onto the next sections of the Almanac, have a look at a blog I posted of some favorite eco & animal cartoons. They have all made me laugh and I hope they make you laugh too! Many of them are from the wonderful New Yorker magazine.
Have a wonderful next few months including a great summer!
All the best,
The innovative Mr. Trash Wheel gets help from nature to clean up Baltimore’s polluted inner harbor. By combining old and new technology, the wheel harnesses the power of water and sunlight to collect litter and debris flowing down the Jones Falls River and into Baltimore’s harbor.
The river’s current provides power to turn the water wheel, which lifts trash and debris from the water onto a conveyor belt, which then deposits it into a dumpster barge. When there isn’t enough water current, a solar panel array provides additional power to keep the machine running. When the dumpster is full, it’s towed away by boat, and a new dumpster is put in place. The trash collected is then incinerated which generates electricity. Since 2014, Mr. Trash Wheel has removed 420 tons of trash (plastic bottles, polystyrene containers, cigarette butts, glass bottles, grocery and chips bags) from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor!
Featured on the right is a remarkable photograph that shows how much of an impact the water wheel had already made after a year in service.
Mr. Trash Wheel could be a solution for cleaning trash pollution in waterways around the world. Dozens of countries have asked for help in creating their own wheels. Among them: India, for its garbage-laden Ganges River, and Brazil, which is hosting Olympic events in Rio de Janeiro’s trashy Guanabara Bay.
Terra - An Ode to Humanity
TERRA tells the story of life. Yann Arthus Bertrand and Michael Pitiot reveal the incredible saga of our living planet. From the first lichen to the gigantic forests, monkeys of the jungle to the mythic animals of the savannah. Over barely 10,000 years, life on Earth has been profoundly affected by the incredible development of humanity. But mankind is now increasingly isolated. How have our relations with other living beings changed so much? What do we still see, or notice, of the living world around us? TERRA is a journey through the history of life forms, a quest for the animal within us. For true humanity.
TERRA is not a wildlife documentary. Nor is it a militant investigative documentary. TERRA is an essay, in the literary sense, on the human species and its relationship with other living beings.
By proposing that we once again treat wildlife with the respect it deserves, TERRA shows its credentials as an ode to the human species, a humanist and deliberately positive film, openly advocating that humanity is still capable of “getting back to basics”.
The film is available on Netflix
Seeds of Time
The documentary Seeds of Time, directed by Sandy McLeod, features agriculture pioneer Cary Fowler as he races against time to protect the future of our food. Seed banks around the world are crumbling, crop failures are producing starvation and rioting, and the accelerating effects of climate change are affecting farmers globally. Communities of indigenous Peruvian farmers are already suffering those effects, as they try desperately to save over 1,500 varieties of native potato in their fields. But with little time to waste, both Fowler and the farmers embark on passionate and personal journeys that may save the one resource we cannot live without: our seeds. With a passion few possess, Cary sets out to build the world’s first global seed vault — a seed collection on a scale larger than any other. The vault, located in Norway, is an unprecedented insurance policy for the crop diversity of the world. In an extraordinary gesture of support, the farmers of the Potato Park become the first indigenous community to send samples of their potato diversity to the vault for safekeeping. As the stakes of maintaining a secure global food system continue to rise, adaptation will become a requisite for our own survival. How can we best maintain the diversity that still exists for our food crops? How do we create new diversity to adapt our fields to a changing climate? The answers are as complex as the system they intend to fix. And it will require a combination of efforts: from scientists, plant breeders, researchers, farmers, politicians, and even gardeners.
Seeds of Time is available on Itunes, Amazon and Netflix
Nick Brandt is an English photographer who photographs exclusively in the African continent, one of his goals being to record a last testament to the wild animals and places there before they are destroyed by the hands of man. In his latest book Inherit The Dust Three, he returns to East Africa to photograph the escalating changes to the continent’s natural world. In a series of epic panoramas, Brandt records the impact of man in places where animals used to roam, but no longer do. In each location, Brandt erects a life size panel of one of his animal portrait photographs, setting the panels within a world of explosive urban development, factories, wasteland and quarries.
In urgent response to the escalation of poaching in Africa due to increased demand from the Far East, Nick Brandt founded the non-profit organization called Big Life Foundation dedicated to the conservation of Africa's wildlife and ecosystems. With one of the most spectacular elephant populations in Africa being rapidly diminished by poachers, the Amboseli ecosystem, which straddles both Kenya and Tanzania, became the Foundation's large-scale pilot project. Headed up in Kenya by renowned conservationist Richard Bonham, multiple fully equipped teams of anti-poaching rangers have been placed in newly built outposts in the critical areas throughout the 2-million-acre (8,100 km2) + area, resulting in a dramatically reduced incidence of killing and poaching of wildlife in the ecosystem.
To support Big Life Foundation visit biglife.org.
Previously featured artists in the news:
Winona LaDuke is an American activist, environmentalist, economist, and writer, known for her work on tribal land claims and preservation, as well as sustainable development. In 1996 and 2000, she ran for vice president as the nominee of the Green Party of the United States, on a ticket headed by Ralph Nader.
“Honor the Earth was created to raise awareness and support for Native environmental issues and to develop needed financial and political resources for the survival of sustainable Native communities. Honor the Earth develops these resources by using music, the arts, the media, and Indigenous wisdom to ask people to recognize our joint dependency on the Earth and be a voice for those not heard.”
Winona embodies a number of critical issues: sustainable food systems, indigenous rights, first-nation movements, oil and gas extraction, and climate change. She’s pushing forward the frontline, and we all benefit when Winona succeeds.
A mini documentary titled FOOD AND WATER | EARTH, directed by Suez Taylor, was shown at the United Nations where it was featured during the Commission of the Status of Women. Just recently, Winona received news that it will be in the permanent collection of the Mille Lacs Native American History Museum.
Did you know that there is a connection between the Moon and the tides, and planting and gardening? Planting according to the phases of the Moon is the oldest form of gardening known to man. When planting your garden, the Moon’s position has an impact on how well your seeds will germinate, grow and develop based on how much moisture is in the soil.
Understanding this and timing your gardening chores according to the phases of the Moon is the basis of Moon gardening. Calendars are available here for June, July and August, including what to buy in season at your local farmer’s market and suggested vegetables to plant.
The Human Economy by Wayne Pacelle
A major new exploration of the economics of animal exploitation and a practical roadmap for how we can use the marketplace to promote the welfare of all living creatures, from the renowned animal-rights advocate Wayne Pacelle, President/CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and New York Times bestselling author of The Bond.
In the mid-nineteenth century, New Bedford, Massachusetts was the whaling capital of the world. A half-gallon of sperm oil cost approximately $1,400 in today’s dollars, and whale populations were hunted to near extinction for profit. But with the advent of fossil fuels, the whaling industry collapsed, and today, the area around New Bedford is instead known as one of the best places in the world for whale watching.
This transformation is emblematic of a new sort of economic revolution, one that has the power to transform the future of animal welfare. In The Humane Economy, Wayne Pacelle explores how our everyday economic decisions impact the survival and wellbeing of animals, and how we can make choices that better support them. Though most of us have never harpooned a sea creature, clubbed a seal, or killed an animal for profit, we are all part of an interconnected web that has a tremendous impact on animal welfare, and the decisions we make—whether supporting local, not industrial, farming; adopting a rescue dog or a shelter animal instead of one from a “puppy mill”; avoiding products that compromise the habitat of wild species; or even seeing Cirque du Soleil instead of Ringling Brothers—do matter. The Humane Economy shows us how what we do everyday as consumers can benefit animals, the environment, and human society, and why these decisions can make economic sense as well.
The Human Economy is available from my store.
Foraging and Feasting: A Field Guild and Wild Food Cookbook by Dina Falconi
Foraging & Feasting: A Field Guide and Wild Food Cookbook celebrates and reclaims the lost of art of turning locally gathered wild plants into nutritious, delicious meals - a traditional foodway long practiced by our ancestors but neglected in modern times. The book's 50 beautiful, instructive botanical illustrations and over 100 enlightening master recipes offer an adventurous and satisfying way to eat locally and seasonally. Readers will be able to identify, harvest, prepare, eat, and savor the wild bounty all around them. The mouth-watering recipes have been developed with flexibility in mind. They taste great when made with cultivated fruits and vegetable too. They also cater to various dietary restrictions: gluten-free, casein-free, dairy-free, grain-free, and sugar-free. Thousands of recipe variations arise from the master recipes. The easy-to-use reference charts collate the information found throughout the book, helping to locate the harvest and use it tastefully. The botanical identification pages focus primarily on plants that are wild, abundant and very common. Many of them are ubiquitous and can be found in various temperate zones of the world: North & South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australasia. However, Dina was unable in her research to pinpoint the exact world range for each plant. Note: Dina has included a few plants that start as cultivated specimens where she lives (Northeastern U.S) that then freely spread themselves, becoming wild in the landscape. They are wild in other parts of the world. The featured plants grow in various zones, ranging from 2 to 9, with zones 4 to 8 being more typical. By the way the Kitchen Arts cookbook section will be useful anywhere in the world. The recipes are designed as master templates so you can plug in a variety of wild plants or cultivated ones for that matter.
Foraging and Feasting is available from my store.
Children's Book for the Summer:
Who will plant a Tree? by Jerry Pallotta
A squirrel buries an acorn. A dolphin pushes a coconut into an ocean current. A camel chewing a date spits out the seed. What do they all have in common? Each one, in its own way, has helped to plant a tree. In myriad ways and diverse environments, Mother Nature is given a hand in dispersing seeds that eventually grow into trees. From the apple seeds falling off the sticky fur of a black bear to the pine seed carried by an army of ants marching to their anthill, creatures great and creatures small participate in nature's cyclical dance in the planting of a tree.
Who will plant a Tree? is available from my store.
Here are some favorite eco products that have been added to my store recently: a handy reusable laundry bag with instructions on how to practice water and energy conservation, static eliminator reusable dryer sheets (I use these and love them!) and a garden shovel made from recycled steel. See all the rest of them on my Pinterest page.
Recipe from Nutrition Stripped Via Odacité
This is easy to make, healthy, delicious and soothing and wonderful either for breakfast, or in the evening. Turmeric milk is high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and healthy fats, especially when you use almond milk. As an added bonus, it also comes with a good dose of manganese and iron (found in turmeric). Including peppercorns in your recipe actually enhances the absorption of curcumin (the main compound in turmeric) in our bodies. The ingredients in this recipe work in synergistic fashion!
Ingredients used are organic
2 cups of unsweetened Organic Almond Milk
1 Tablespoon local raw honey
1 Teaspoon ground Turmeric (I used fresh organic turmeric)
Small pinch of black pepper
Small pinch of fresh peeled and grated ginger
1 Teaspoon organic Ceylon ground cinnamon (or cinnamon stick)
- Pour all ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce heat and drink warm.
- You may also consumer it chilled, but warm is best.
- Strain it if you have used large pieces of ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and peppercorns.
*These organic ingredients are available in my store: Almond Milk, Raw Honey, Ground Turmeric, Black Pepper and Ceylon Cinnamon.
From the Garden School Foundation
Nasturtiums are one of my favorite flowers growing in the garden. They don’t need much attention to thrive and yet they still provide the garden with vibrant reds, oranges, yellows and greens. In addition to being beautiful, the flowers and the leaves are edible, and are full of Vitamin C. You can add them to salads and also eat nasturtiums in a pesto. This pesto can be spread in sandwiches, used as a sauce for pasta, a marinade on chicken or fish, or a fun addition to breakfast eggs.
2 cups of packed nasturtiums leaves, plus a handful of nasturtiums flowers-rinsed and dried
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup of Walnuts or Pine Nuts
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1/2 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pinch of salt and pepper
- Put everything but the salt and pepper into a food processor and mix until smooth.
- Add salt to taste and pepper.
- This pesto freezes, well for future use
Nopales cactus is found along U.S. roadsides in the desert southwest and throughout its native Mexico. Nopal has several health benefits from treating diabetes, to high cholesterol, and obesity. It’s also touted for its antiviral, anti-inflammatory properties, and anti-oxidant properties. The June 2009 issue of “Plant Foods for Human Nutrition” reports that when tested against colon, liver, breast and prostate cancer, nopal’s phytochemical compounds inhibited the growth of cells in all four cancers without affecting the healthy cells of the body.
To prepare fresh cactus leaf, carefully scrape the spines off and slice into string bean size pieces. In a cast iron skillet, sauté for five to ten minutes in a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil.
Eat it on it’s own, or as a side vegetable with eggs, salad, chili, and stir-fry dishes.
So delicious! The nopal featured here was picked from my own garden. Use caution when picking it as they are covered with tiny and large prickles. I used tongs to hold them when I cut the paddles off the plant and also when I cleaned it.
Many popular brands of cleaners and other household products have been linked to serious health problems and chronic diseases such as cancer, asthma, and autism. Make your own homemade cleaner with water, white vinegar, and a few drops of organic essential tea tree or/and lavender oil or use an eco-friendly product that is free from these harmful chemicals: phthalates, ammonia, chlorine, triclosan and butoxyethanol. Get Theives Oil here.