Thursday, February 26, 2015

New Reads

I have a book habit, and I hope I never kick it!

My husband teases me for that "just one more" package arriving with books. Sometimes it's because I needed one more item for free shipping. Other times it was just the thirst for understanding a particular subject.

In a search for inspiration in my work, today I started Tim Keller's Every Good Endeavor and continued reading Conscious Capitalism, coauthored by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia. I can already sense each writer's commitment to a higher purpose and the good of society, and I look forward to reading more.

Tim Keller seeks to heal some of the rift between church and society, making sense of the myriad of faith-filled perspectives on work. I expect he will integrate these motivations, such as social justice, personal evangelism, or generosity to charity. So far I enjoyed the story in the book's introduction of J.R.R. Tolkien's struggle with time in creating his epic Lord of the Rings universe. Keller describes Tolkien's short story "Leaf by Niggle" and illustrates how we long for a more perfect world than what we can maybe realistically create in one lifetime. I am grateful to my friends Jesse and Emily for recommending this book.

The authors of Conscious Capitalism provide an interesting contrast between their holistic business approach and Corporate Social Responsibility, emphasizing how a consciously operated business creates value for all systems involved. This is something that grows from its core, not simply tacked onto the side of operations (or to defend its public image), but an ethical motivation that pervades the entire business culture. For this read, I am grateful to Whole Foods Market for having a 25% off sale on books last September.

Also on my list this year:

As You Wish by Cary Elwes
A Loving Life by Paul E. Miller
The Fight by John White
Prayer by Tim Keller



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Easy Ways to Eat More Vegetables

Looking for some inspiration to eat your vegetables? I just discovered a Whole Foods Market blog post with some great ideas! Five Ways To Eat More Veggies

This week I'm planning a lentil soup with collard greens.

What are your favorite ways to eat veggies?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Foods To Heal the Mouth

So we've all heard what NOT to eat when it comes to oral health, but are there foods that actually help the body maintain and heal the gums and teeth?

I am planning a trip to the dentist, but figured she would not be trained to advise me in nutrition (sadly), so decided to Google and find the answer today (Then I can also ask my dentist and see if or how her answers compare). Update: while I was writing this, the dentist office called to say they don't accept my dental insurance, so I will have to find another dentist.

Turns out there is a company promoting Whole Person Dentistry. Here Dr. Hokmabadi recommends ten things we can eat or drink to prevent bacterial growth and fortify bone and gum tissue.

Some were obvious, like using water to rinse. Others were more surprising, like celery (basically a natural floss!) and cheese, which helps balance pH.

It also makes sense that foods high in vitamin A (sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkin, broccoli) or vitamin C (most fruit, but kiwi is highest) would be good for gum tissue, and that calcium-rich foods strengthen bones in the jaw. I didn't realize sesame seeds contained calcium, nor that chewing them combats plaque buildup.

Both the above article and another source recommend green tea and raisins for their antibacterial effects. It seems many plant foods have similar properties, like onion, horseradish, and cashews. Other fibrous foods help mainly by increasing saliva flow and so are called "dental detergents."

How wonderful that the simple act of eating can promote even the health of tissues doing the work!

I might go drink a cup of green tea now. :-) 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Urban Farming

The need for healthy, affordable food in our city is huge. Drive through our streets and you'll see crowded residences, cars parked to the max, and healthcare facilities filled with the sick and dying. Just next door to me, a grocery store is threatening to close, the only one in the neighborhood. Another nearby community is classified as a food desert. Not everyone can afford weekly trips to the local Whole Foods or Giant Eagle stores.

Over the past couple years I've been discovering urban agriculture and sustainable living initiatives, mostly through the internet. I've been inspired by rooftop greenhouses, school programs and community farms. Friends and family have introduced me to the ideas of Earthship Biotecture and Permaculture techniques. But I've struggled to envision how this could apply in my dense urban environment and lack of land ownership.


Today I discovered a wonderful individual, Curtis Stone, entrepreneur of Green City Acres. In this video he describes some of his inspiration and experience. "We're way stronger than we give ourselves credit for."

Better World Shopper ranks farmers markets and CSAs as the best (most socially- and environmentally-responsible) sources of fruits and vegetables.

Will we join the movement?

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Turtle Conservation

Our turtle came to us in the late fall of 2012. Over the previous winter and throughout that year, I had been struck with the thought of caring for a turtle and had begun looking into rescues. A young cousin finally purchased a red-ear slider hatchling from a reptile show and surprised us with this little creature we now call Remy.

I was further surprised the following summer when I learned a new neighbor kept two turtles. Then a friend married a scientist who had kept turtles for years. I continued to meet people who had some connection with or interest in turtles. 

Tonight I was thinking about the turtle trade, watching Remy swim in his simple tank and wondering if he would ever enjoy a more natural environment, even just a trip outdoors or on vacation with us in a warmer climate. 



People take their dogs with them across country, but they wouldn't release a carefully bred pet poodle into the wild. I've read that releasing captive turtles has caused invasive species situations down south. I wondered if Remy would introduce foreign pathogens or microbes to a new habitat, even if we were just walking him in the grass. 

So I googled "turtle trade US" and found a reputable article entitled Conservation and Trade Management of Freshwater and Terrestrial Turtles in the United States from a 2010 workshop hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Here are some interesting and some alarming facts:

General Info

  • Scientists recognize 451 taxa (species and subspecies) of turtles and tortoises worldwide. The United States is home to 89 of these.
  • Turtles are considered "indicator species," sensitive to environmental changes.
  • Turtles tend to mature more slowly than other animals. This, along with high nest mortality, restricts their ability to adapt to exploitation.


Threats

  • Several assessments show that 40-60% of turtles are threatened with extinction (Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable).
  • Exploitation and trade threaten 55 species in Asia and 7 in the USA.
  • Turtle habitat loss results from human activity including wetland drainage, sand-mining, dam and reservoir construction, water pollution (industrial and municipal sources, surface runoff), deforestation, and road fragmentation.
  • Accidental mortality occurs in fisheries and road traffic, while other turtles are traded as pets and used for entertainment, consumption or medicinal purposes.
  • Demand for turtles in Asia largely influences the U.S. turtle trade. Other factors include wild availability and regulatory actions.

Legal Action

  • A 2009 summit in Atlanta, GA assessed laws and regulations for more sustainable use of reptiles and amphibians across states in the U.S.
  • Commercial turtle harvesters may be prosecuted by state and federal law depending on the species targeted and restricted areas.
  • In 2006 the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation launched Operation Shellshock, an investigation into the illegal trade of protected native reptile species, uncovering operations in multiple states. After educating many innocent enthusiasts, in 2008 they charged 18 individuals and companies with felonies and misdemeanors related to the commercialization of wildlife. They reported a 100% conviction rate.
  • People began to exploit terrapins in the Chesapeake Bay region as early as the 16th century. A grassroots effort recently succeeded in enacting a law to close the terrapin fishery.

Further Conservation Efforts
  • Projects to protect turtles in the Southeastern U.S. were most successful when given dedicated funding, partnerships, conservation designation and priority, and involvement of "champions" and authorities.
  • The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Service developed methods to manage snapping turtle populations, requiring monthly reports from commercial turtle harvesters.
  • A treaty called Convention of International Trade of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), enacted in 1975, protects all native marine turtles and land tortoises in the U.S. The number of freshwater turtles listed is limited, though exports have increased over recent years, including the common snapper, Florida red-bellied turtle, Florida and spiny softshells, and spotted turtles.
  • In 2010, map turtles and alligator snappers were listed under CITES, and nine other freshwater turtle species were being considered for protection.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversees the registration of farming operations to monitor exports, but this cannot tell harvest rates.

It appears that several groups are committed to the conservation of turtle and tortoise species in the U.S., and their success stories may inspire future actions at the local, state and federal level.

How might you educate your community or promote other efforts to protect native wildlife?


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Lonely Online Space

I keep logging into Facebook only to learn:

1) yes, the world is still ablaze with murderers
2) new moms use it mainly as a forum to discuss babies' habits
3) so many weddings I was not invited to
4) so many strong opinions on everything from politics to food
5) most of these people are not really my friends- at least, we don't really go out of our way to acknowledge each other

I miss the days when I looked forward to logging into my email account for personal news from a friend. Now, it is mostly advertizing and administrative things from my church (admittedly, many of these lists I joined voluntarily). When did the depersonalization of my online experience begin?

There is an acute loneliness that stares back at me from the screen.

Is it my fault for not cultivating more intentional relationships, content to sit on my couch in the dark instead of reaching out to connect outside internet space?

Am I overly invested in volunteering and the relationships that are "required" of me as a leader in an organization, that I have too little down time for close friendships to develop?

Can I blame a work schedule that leaves me exhausted at the end of most days? A new stage of life, marriage, keeping a home?

Too much analyzing. I don't want you to read my thoughts, because I don't know you. Because I never asked to spend time with you, and you never ask to spend time with me. Because we were too busy staring at our computer screens.