Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Canary of the Canary - The Great Lakes and Climate Change

The lakes they are a-changin'... NYT Energy & Environment story here details how The Great Lakes are indicators of climate change severity.

Also, to follow more energy and environment news from the New York Times, check out The Green blog.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Dubbed a hero, Allen looks to take farming to the skies

It's hard to imagine a five-story farm in the middle of a city, but if Milwaukee urban farmer Will Allen is behind the idea, anything's possible.

After all, Allen is a world hero, according to an issue of Time magazine that hits newsstands Friday. He's among 100 individuals and small groups picked by Time editors for the annual "Time 100: The World's Most Influential People," which honors ideas, innovations and actions that are "shaping our world."

Friday, April 16, 2010

A New Twist on the Hidden Costs of Fast Food

The fast food industry has been taking quite a bit of heat lately. It isn't difficult to find articles that scrutinize the meager nutritional content of a drive-thru meal. Some studies have even shown that fast food is as addictive as heroin, like this one here. A recent Newsweek article discusses the conditioning that we humans have experienced with fast food labeling. The article asserts that we have learned to associate fast food labels, like the golden arches, Wendy's red hair, the Arby's hat, etc. with convenience and time-saving measures. While this might not seem like the worst thing in the world, if you believe this study, it is another contributor to our culture of "instant gratification". It makes me feel a little like Pavlov's dog, personally.

Read the article here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

UW Experts Weigh In on Food Issues

If you've ever thought to yourself, "Michael Pollan makes some interesting and potentially valid points, but who is he to tell us how to eat (or shop, or farm, etc.)?", you are certainly not alone. The most recent issue of Grow, a magazine distributed by UW's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, features twelve ideas for changing the food/farming industry by actual experts. Read mini-articles on topics from food processing and safety, cooking and food production, to farming and crop reform. Check it out here, if you haven't already.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Recycle your Cell

If 130 million cell phones are discarded on an annual basis in the U.S. alone, there is a lot to be said for tracking where these phones end up. National Public Radio's Elizabeth Shogren recently featured this topic in an attempt to raise awareness about the issue. Read and/or listen to the story here.

As the comments on the website suggest, there are many reasons to be cautious about who one may give their old phones to and where those phones end up. Whether it's privacy concerns over information stored in old phones or public health issues regarding the dismantling of old phones (by third world youth?), one should know what a third party intends to do with the phone before handing it over.

On the Energy Gap and Climate Crisis

I just noticed that a friend of mine and fellow Madisonian posted a well-received note on the New York Times - Dot Earth blog, moderated by Andrew Revkin. As usual with blogs, the comments following an original post can be as much or more enlightening than the original post. Not only is this post from good old Madison, it offers an interesting perspective on the "live simply so that others may simply live" bumper-sticker plea.

Have you thought about an energy gap? What about the Knowledge Gap when it comes to climate crisis information? These are concepts that environmental journalists wrestle with and try to overcome in their "on the ground" capacity to provide accurate information about these complex issues.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Can Science and God Co-exist?

While most scientists surely agree that the movie "Angels & Demons" is, by and large, not credible, it did provide a 'sneak peek' at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) that is currently in use at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland. The LHC, which has finally recovered from a few major setbacks, began proton smashing on March 30, 2010. CERN is attempting to recreate the 'Big Bang' on a much smaller scale by proving the existence of, or lack thereof, the 'God Particle', also known as the Higgs boson.

This massive project at CERN has raised some interesting concerns, among them that the LHC will create a black hole that could swallow up the earth (like 'Angels & Demons' on steroids). Regardless, the experiment is an interesting one. Click here to read an article by Eben Harrell on time.com about why the LHC experiment is important. Don't worry, Tom Hanks will surely be there to save the day.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

COMING SOON: The Man Who Planted Trees

If you're young at heart, like living green and have an extra $20 laying around , this upcoming show at the Overture Center may be right up your alley.

Read more about
"The Man Who Planted Trees".

A killer in the bat cave

In 2006, scientists began tracking a mysterious white fungus that was affecting bats and rapidly reducing bat populations in the U.S. In 2009, the fungus was identified by researchers at the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, WI, and the fungus's corresponding disease was given a name: white nose syndrome. As the WNS epidemic spreads (a WNS-related bat die off was recently confirmed in Canada), there is growing concern among wildlife health experts about the future of bat species.

By Shaoni Bhattacharya
In New Scientist

CORPSE upon corpse they lie, a carpet of emaciated, fungus-ridden carcasses. Where once healthy animals hung in slumber from the cave roof, now there is a mass grave on the floor. It is a scene that is repeated throughout the eastern US, from Vermont to West Virginia. America's bats are in crisis, under threat from a mysterious killer.

The first sign that something was up emerged in February 2006, when a caver photographed hibernating bats with white muzzles at Howe's Cave in Albany, New York state. Soon afterwards bats were observed behaving strangely - waking from hibernation early and in a state of serious starvation. Some even ventured out of their roosts during daylight to search for food. Inside the caverns, the floors were littered with bodies, most with the characteristic fuzzy white mould growing on their noses, ears and wings. So far, about a million bats have succumbed to this fate, an affliction dubbed white nose syndrome (WNS).

Continue reading...

Spooky creature endangered by superstition

Call me crazy, but I find these creatures to be adorable. The aye-aye is a tiny mammal that resides in Madagascar. They are friendly and harmless, but because they aren't the most "attractive" things around (see the freakishly long middle finger) locals fear them and consequently kill them on sight. So sad.

To read a bit more about the aye-aye, click here.

Also, here's a brief clip of an aye-aye at the Duke Lemur Center.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bottled water industry combats anti-green perceptions with fake journalism

Where do all the empty bottles go? Ummm....

Huffington Post's Jason Linkins reports on an attempt by the International Bottled Water Association to pass off an internally produced promotional video as real journalism. Is it true that the IBWA has stopped beating its dog? Get the not-so-straight answers to all the not-so-tough questions, right here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Fast food, frighteningly slow decay: Mother keeps McDonald's Happy Meal for a whole year... and it STILL hasn't gone off

Here's an example of deduction: Real food will decay when left out on a shelf for a year. A McDonald's Happy Meal does not decay when left on a shelf for a year. Thus, a McDonald's Happy Meal is not real food.

From Daily Mail UK

Glancing at the two McDonald's Happy Meals pictured here, you may feel they look pretty much identical.

Astonishingly, however, this is the same meal, photographed 12 months apart.

Where any other food might be a mouldy, decomposing mess after a year, the McDonald's meal shows few signs of going off apart from the beef patty shrivelling and the stale burger bun cracking.

Continue reading...

Scientists Use Sex-Crazed Bugs as Alternative to Toxic Pesticides

Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem are hoping that the genetically-tweaked, sterile male insects they are releasing into the wild will serves a "green" population controllers that will reduce/eliminate the need for harmful pesticides on crops.

From Inhabitat

In today’s “gross news” category, some female insects might be getting lucky. As an alternative to toxic pesticides, scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have created “super-sexed” sterilized male leafhoppers to knock bug boots with females in the wild. Yes, that means that the female bugs will miss out on the joys of motherhood, but if the research proves successful, we may be able to eliminate a lot of the harmful and very ungreen chemicals that we currently use to keep food crops pest free.

Continue reading...

The Story of Bottled Water: Fear, Manufactured Demand and a $10,000 Sandwich

Here's a simple video about a not-so-simple product: bottled water. After watching this, maybe you'll be more inclined to head to the tap the next time you're thirsty.

From: The Huffington Post

Imagine I was trying to sell you a sandwich. It's shrink wrapped in plastic that may leach toxic chemicals, but don't worry about that. Mine's still healthier than a sandwich you could make at home, what with all those impurities in your fridge. Now, I've got no proof of that, and actually, some people have tested my sandwiches and found that sometimes they have more bad stuff in them than the ones from your own kitchen. But never mind that. Mine's more convenient. Tastes better too. I swear.

So here you go: one plastic-wrapped, waste-producing sandwich that isn't any healthier and doesn't taste any better than the one from your own kitchen. That'll be $10,000, please.

Continue reading...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Making Science Fun?

One way to lure people in and educate them on science topics is to make it fun. And what's fun for scientists? Taking a quiz! The folks at Pew Research have developed an interesting and quick science quiz to measure science knowledge. You can also compare your results with a thousand or so randomly selected others.

Deep Conversation equals Happiness?

Taking a look at this study from the University of Arizona, as reported by Roni Caryn Rabin of the New York Times, one may or may not come away with questions regarding its findings.

The subjects were college students (not uncommon) but the report goes on to mainly highlight a single "happiest" person. Does this article do a good job of explaining both the results of the study and its inherent limitations? Do the results suggested here align with your personal experiences with "deep" vs. "superficial" conversation as related to your own happiness?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Robots: friends or foes?

I have to admit, I'm prejudiced against robots. I think they're terrible actors.

I know that's not fair. As a bald, white dude who doesn't like to shave very often, I'd hate for people to judge me based on Jason Statham's body of work.

Robots actually have very active off-screen lives as well. Among other things they perform surgeries (fun!), execute military and rescue missions that are far too dangerous for humans (hooray!), and conduct menial manufacturing tasks that used to provide family-supporting income to human workers (boo!). In this film, which was heavily promoted during yesterday's NCAA basketball tournament selection show, Honda suggests that we all cancel our robot insurance policies and give robots a second chance. After all, they're not all Austrian, bodybuilding, good/evil killing machines turned California governors.

(photo: Google images)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Why Making Healthful Foods Cheaper Isn't Enough

Here is an interesting article featured on NPR about healthier food choices. Encouraging healthier eating is proving to be a complex issue; NPR takes a look at the economic side of the issue:

Bucks for broccoli or cash for carrots? Financial incentives aimed at encouraging healthier choices are catching on from New Zealand to the Philippines. Workplaces in the United States have been offering incentives for weight loss. In a London-based study, dieters got paid when they dropped pounds. Now researchers are interested in understanding how food price manipulations may influence what ends up in mothers' grocery carts. Does increasing the cost of sugary items mean fewer people buy them? Would more people buy veggies if they were more affordable?

To create successful incentives, says Yale behavioral economist Dean Karlan, a policy needs to specifically target the people whose behavior its trying to change. "So in the case of broccoli you'd want to find out who's not eating broccoli and then pay them to eat it," he says. You don't want to necessarily make broccoli cheaper for those who are already buying plenty of it, you want to target those who don't buy enough fruits or vegetables. It could be very tricky to structure such an incentive.

Click here to read the rest of the article

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The greatest [hotbed of social issues] on Earth!

Who knew that circus culture was so rife with race, gender, animal rights, and other social issues? Check out the blogoshpere's newest trove of circus-related material: Hey Rube Circus, administered by LSC's own Noel Benedetti.

(photo by Harry Atwell from heyrubecircus.com)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Cutting the Fat—and Calories— in a Childhood Favorite

Children’s birthday celebrations might soon be even happier, thanks to research that’s trimming the fat and calories from a traditional favorite—cake and frosting. Any subtracting of fat, and its calories, from foods that kids crave is a plus, in light of the nation’s epidemic of childhood obesity.

At the ARS National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Illinois, food technologist Mukti Singh is working to slim down the fat and calories of cake mixes. She’s doing that by formulating the mixes with FANTESK—microdroplets of trans-fat-free cooking oil, encapsulated in cornstarch or wheat flour.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Google FIber Considers Madison as Test Spot

While other cities are creating a frenzy around the possibility of being a test spot for the new Google Fiber, Madison held a public meeting. Google Fiber, the company's attempt at high speed internet, would provide a wireless network that runs "100 times faster" than most internet connections. Google, which already has an office in Madison, is considering several U.S. cities to test out the service.

Duluth, MN has jokingly promised to name every first born in the city either Google or Googlette Fiber. Topeka has changed it's name to Google, Kan. for a month. Madison held the public meeting on Thursday, March 11 at Olbrich Gardens to brainstorm ideas for the application. Bids are due by March 26, 2010 and Google plans on making a decision sometime this year.

Read the article at madison.com.

Climate change scientists have not yet begun to fight. Good or bad?

In this segment from the New York Times' Dot Earth blog, science communication experts Matt Nisbet and Randy Olson debate whether or not climate change scientists should get nasty and fight back against those trying to discredit them.

Meanwhile, noted science guy Bill Nye very calmly and politely sticks it to Bill O'Reilly.

(photos courtesy of webomator.com and treehugger.com, respectively)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Spread of Superbugs

Agribusiness is getting even more criticism. This time it's about the use of antibiotics. There has been talk for a while now about the overuse of antibiotics and the development of "superbugs", or antibiotic resistant bacteria. Concern is rising over the overuse of antibiotics in livestock. Nicholas D. Kristof, of The New York Times, offers his take on the situation:

Until three months ago, Thomas M. Dukes was a vigorous, healthy executive at a California plastics company. Then, over the course of a few days in December as he was planning his Christmas shopping, E. coli bacteria ravaged his body and tore his life apart.Mr. Dukes is a reminder that as long as we’re examining our health care system, we need to scrutinize more than insurance companies. We also need to curb the way modern agribusiness madly overuses antibiotics, leaving them ineffective for sick humans.

Antibacterial drugs were revolutionary when they were introduced in the United States in 1936, virtually eliminating diseases like tuberculosis here and making surgery and childbirth far safer. But now we’re seeing increasing numbers of superbugs that survive antibiotics. One of the best-known — MRSA, a kind of staph infection — kills about 18,000 Americans annually. That’s more than die of AIDS.

Food activist on a mission in Madison

Last month, Wisconsin farmer Will Allen shared a podium in Washington, D.C., with Michelle Obama as she launched her plan to fight childhood obesity.

On Tuesday, Allen will be in the buffet line at Madison’s First Unitarian Society at a community potluck, which will be followed by his presentation on the groundbreaking national effort to bring high quality food to everyone, regardless of their income, through innovative urban agriculture.

Despite Allen’s growing national prominence — he’s a recipient of a MacArthur “genius grant” — it’s likely that he’ll continue to spend a good amount time in the Madison area.

Allen’s Milwaukee-based Growing Power Inc. is a key partner in the proposed Madison “agro-urban” charter school which would be built on Madison’s South Side, at the corner of Rimrock and Badger roads. Although funding and planning are still in flux, the 4.5-acre property for the Badger Rock Middle School was purchased from Dane County for the school in January for $500,000, and agricultural work there will begin this spring — a first step in creating the vegetable gardens and orchards that will surround the school.

Click here read the article by Chris Martell

Friday, March 5, 2010

Public Health Pariah or Saving Grace to Struggling Parents?

Jenny McCarthy has sparked praise and controversy for her popular stance as just another mom taking on the medical system to combat a nebulous disease. Is she a good spokesperson for autism? The disease has no clear cause or single type of effective treatment.

Are McCarthy's methods of raising awareness for an issue like autism good even if the science behind her claims is a little unclear? This TIME magazine story covers the story. Does TIME provide a balanced portrayal of McCarthy and of the disease itself?

Big Agribusiness Targets Michael Pollan

Agribusiness is not so happy with author Michael Pollan. (Alia Malley)

When Michael Pollan published “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” in 2006, he became an overnight hero for the sustainable food movement. Now he’s taking on a new role: lightning rod.

Pollan’s scheduled speech Thursday at California Polytechnic has raised the ire of Harris Ranch Beef Company, an industrial-sized feedlot and meat-processing operation based in Selma, Calif. Company chairman David E. Wood, an alumnus of Cal Poly, objected to giving Pollan “an unchallenged forum to promote his stand on conventional agricultural practices” and threatened to withdraw a promised corporate $500,000 donation for a meat-processing facility on campus.

In response to the criticism, Cal Poly reformatted the event. Instead of giving a speech, Pollan will now participate in a panel discussion that will also include Gary Smith, a professor of meat science at Colorado State University, and Myra Goodman, cofounder of organic vegetable company Earthbound Farms.

Until recently, agribusiness had not directly challenged Pollan and other well-known advocates of sustainable agriculture, casting them as impractical elitists. But Pollan’s growing appeal to college students and children – a new young reader’s edition of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” is released today – may have spooked conventional producers. Harris Ranch, which operates a large-scale feedlot that accomodates 100,000 head of cattle, for example, believes Pollan’s message must be combated...

More Than 200,000 NGOs, Farmers, Consumers, and Organic Producers Call for USDA to Prohibit Genetically Engineered Alfalfa

The National Organic Coalition (NOC) today announced that more than 200,000 people submitted comments to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) critiquing the substance and conclusions of its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on Genetically Engineered (GE) Alfalfa. Groups, including NOC, Center for Food Safety (CFS), Organic Consumers Association, Food & Water Watch, CREDO Action and Food Democracy Now, mobilized their communities to help generate the unprecedented number of comments.

In addition, more than 300 public interest organizations, farmers, dairies, retailers and organic food producers from the U.S. and Canada delivered a strongly worded letter to USDA, calling upon it to deny approval of Monsanto’s genetically engineered, Roundup Ready alfalfa (GE alfalfa). The letter cites the inevitable contamination of organic and non-GE alfalfa hay and seeds and threats to the viability of organic dairies, livestock, and meat and dairy producers as reasons for urging the denial.


Food for thought: Why the outrage over Genetically altered foods? How does this effect third world countries who might benefit from genetically altered crops? How might GE crops impact organic producers and their status as organic producers?

Go Big Read is on facebook, just like you

Go Big Read is on facebook, and today they're discussing the First Family's kitchen garden. Hey, if the most powerful family in the world can do it...then anybody...yeah.

Kidding. First Lady Michelle Obama's program that teaches urban kids about food is actually very inspiring, and not all that different from what a variety of programs all over the country are doing.

Become poke buddies with Go Big Read now!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Health claims? Questionable celebrity involvement? Orange Juice?

If you've spent any time in front of the television over the past few months, you may have heard a vaguely familiar voice expounding upon the benefits of healthy, pure, and simple Florida orange juice. Did you know that one 8 oz. glass contains 25% of your recommended daily value of fruits and vegetables? Did you know that all of those "scientists" have not been able to replicate this quality using their "chemistry sets?" Did you know that the voice of Florida orange juice is Tom Selleck?

Check out the official Florida Juice website, read the health claims, and decide for yourself. Don't forget to turn up your speakers in order to hear the soothing sounds of the 'stache.

("Florida what? Whatever, tell them I'll do it." Photo courtesy of Google images)

Punctuation is also a part of National Grammar Day

Check out this blast from the past: Seven awesome examples of misplaced quotation marks from Huffington Post (via last semester's LSC 100 blog).

Taste the World

From WKOWTV.com

A Madison non-profit organization is working with local middle schools to help students expand their eating horizons. Thier weekly program, Taste the World, gives students the opportunity prepare and tastes cusines from a wide array of cultures. The program has been a big hit with the students and is becoming more popular in the Madison community.

Happy National Grammar Day!

While I'm very embarrassed that I wasn't aware of this important holiday until now, I will celebrate it with gusto for the rest of the day. Huffington Post is also celebrating with some examples of unfortunate grammar and spelling errors (some funnier than others). Check it out.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Demonstration speeches!

For those of you who want to see what an "A" demo speech looks like, these examples should be instructive. These speeches are not without some minor problems, but you don't have to achieve perfection to get the grade you want. Also notice that neither topic is Earth shattering, though Ben and Steph do an effective job of explaining everyday subject matter. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Got to be startin' summit


Got opinions about health care? Yes you do. So do your friendly Congressional Representatives from Wisconsin.

See what Sen. Russ Feingold has to say about last Friday's bipartisan health care summit in Washington D.C.

Then, check out this video of Rep. Paul Ryan's comments at the summit.

(photo courtesy of CBS News, via Google images)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

30 Days 30 Ways With Macaroni and Cheese

Ooey. Gooey. Warm. Comforting.

All words that describe one of America’s favorite foods: macaroni and cheese. The combination of perfectly cooked pasta and a succulent cheese sauce is a match made in comfort food heaven.

The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board invited 30 of the country’s top food bloggers to create their own macaroni and cheese recipes using Wisconsin Cheese. The results are a cook’s dream n a collection of recipes that run the gamut of simple to sophisticated.

See the Article, Top Food Bloggers Create Macaroni and Cheese Blog for more information, or just click on the title to go straight to the Mac and Cheese blog.

Consider the fake food and real food blog post assignment. Is Mac and Cheese in a box real mac and cheese?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Website Seeks to Pair 'Green' Businesses with Environmentally Conscious Consumers

Posipair.com is a website developed by a former Life Sciences Communications graduate student, Sarah Manski. Recognizing the difficulty of finding good, concise information about truly green companies and services, Manski, working with her husband, developed PosiPair. In Manski's own words, "Every business is essentially their own island with marketing green goods and services. It's easy to spend hours online looking for a local, environmentally friendly company using a regular search engine like Google."

A contraction of the phrase "positive pairing", posipair.com is an online network of both businesses and consumers. The website also incorporates social networking that can link business profiles. Consumers have the option to post comments and ratings of the participating businesses. In 2009, Manski was a finalist in the Governor's Business Plan Contest, a contest designed to foster the growth of new business ideas. Manski and her business won a year's worth of free rent and several thousand dollars worth of IT services from another local company. The website is expected to launch in early 2010, so keep an eye out!

Click here to see the website

Colleges accommodate more students with food allergies

Photo source: bookofjoe

A growing number of U.S. colleges and universities are trying to meet the health needs of students with food allergies by providing modified menu choices and/or allergy-free dining facilities.

From USA Today
College students take risks. They pull all-nighters ahead of early-morning presentations. They skip more classes than they attend. They eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chocolate bars and pizza.

That last one doesn't sound so risky — and isn't, for most people. But it can be dangerous, even fatal, for the growing ranks of traditional-age undergraduates with food allergies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of Americans under the age of 18 with food allergies rose to 3 million, which is 4% of the age group, in 2007, up from 2.3 million, or 3.3% of the under-18 population, in 1997. As those kids grow up, some lose their allergies, but many others don't.

In greater numbers than ever before, they're arriving on college campuses with concerns that dining halls don't know how to handle.

The allergic student of even a few years ago might have had to take chances, pester cooks about ingredients or just skip eating anything made in a public kitchen altogether. But as allergies seem to have become more common — and as allergy sufferers and advocates have become more aggressive in lobbying for accommodations – dining services officials are beginning to act. Many college and university dining halls have adopted signs that point out common allergens, while others offer frozen meals and special items like gluten-free bread so students with allergies can have the social experience of eating with their friends.

Continue reading...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wisconsin a big player in organic farming

Surprising article in the Cap Times, but no matter what your opinion of organic versus non-organic farms, you've got to be happy that organic farmers are having some success. Organic farms in Wisconsin are making as much money as their non-organic counterparts. And overhead costs are slightly lower for the organic farms. I would have expected the opposite.

See Bill Novak's article here.

Also, see below for a map of certified organic farms in Wisconsin (source: UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Nutritious, but nice: Macrobiotic food gets a gourmet makeover

Macrobiotic food has such a joyless image that not even Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow have managed to make it sexy. Now it's had a makeover – putting even chocolate mousse back on the menu.

By Lucy Gillmore

Thursday, 11 February 2010

How delicious does this sound? A creamy avocado dip with crunchy crudités to start, then Nobu-style tempura with a rich, salty sauce, followed by wild mushroom risotto served with roasted fennel and spinach. For dessert: dark chocolate mousse with a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts. Are you licking your lips yet? Mouth-watering it may be, but I'd bet two raw carrots it didn't cross your mind that it was "macrobiotic".

Macrobiotic food has an image problem. If, like me, the first thing that pops into your head is Gwyneth Paltrow munching her way through a bean salad in the nude (apparently to stop herself from eating too much) you'll understand why. Even a beautiful, blonde – naked – Hollywood actress can't make rice and lentils sexy.

Admittedly she isn't the most exciting beautiful, blonde Hollywood actress around. She and the equally wholesome Chris Martin have, occasionally, been tagged "boring" themselves. But now even Gwynnie, it seems, is bored with macrobiotics. On her (yawn) lifestyle website goop.com she admits (are you sitting down?) that she's been dabbling with dairy. It turns out she has a weakness for cheese. Bring on the Brie!

Continue reading...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Michael Pollan talks about food, healthcare, and his new book Food Rules - An Eater's Manual.

The author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan, discusses the link between healthcare and diet, the dangers of processed foods, the impacts of industrial agriculture, and his sixty-four rules for eating.

“The markets are full of what I call edible food-like substances that you have to avoid,” says Pollan. The radio/TV show Democracy Now! recently aired an excerpt of the Oscar-nominated documentary Food, Inc. and then spent the rest of the show talking with author/activist Michael Pollan.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Can America's Urban Food Deserts Bloom?

Inside the supermarket, uniformed workers are stacking pineapples into neat rows across from bundles of fresh mustard greens, tamarind pods and nopalitos — sliced cactus ears common in Mexican dishes. In much of the country, Farmers Best Market would not be an extraordinary sight. But here on 47th Street, a gritty stretch of Chicago's South Side flush with Golden Arches and purveyors of Colt 45 Malt Liquor, the store is an oasis. It's also raising an intriguing proposition: Can an inner-city supermarket profitably specialize in fresh produce and meats — and, ultimately, be a model solution to urban America's health crisis?

Read more

Have you lived in a food desert? What kind of access to food do you have in your home neighborhood?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Healthy Cooking 101: A lesson for student-athletes

There is a current paradigm shift in collegiate sports in which athletic programs are becoming increasingly focused on training their athletes holistically. The UW athletic program is following suit by initiating a healthy cooking class for Badger athletes, which teaches them how to shop, cook, and eat in a way that compliments their unique lifestyles.

By Camille Rogers

It’s a Friday afternoon in November, and the members of the University of Wisconsin varsity women’s crew team have come together to practice their skills.

However, they are not practicing with boats and oars, nor are they anywhere near open water.

Today, they have met in the School of Human Ecology building to work on techniques that involve measuring cups, mixing bowls, and stoves.

The team is about to participate in a two-hour healthy cooking program, a pilot initiative that is sponsored by the athletic department, and it is specifically designed for student-athletes.

The goal of the program is to equip student athletes with a basic knowledge of how to plan and prepare healthy meals that respect their limited time, living space, and financial resources.

Continue reading...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Hunger in the U.S.: The Paradox Between Obesity and Hunger

For many households, the lack of money can contribute to both hunger and obesity. This apparent paradox is driven in part by the economics of buying food.
Households without money to buy enough food often have to rely on cheaper, high calorie foods to cope with limited money for food and stave off hunger. Families try to maximize caloric intake for each dollar spent, which can lead to over consumption of calories and a less healthful diet.

Thorough reviews of the scientific literature find no evidence that federal nutrition program participation causes obesity. In fact, some research finds that participation in federal nutrition programs greatly reduces the risk of overweight among food-insecure girls.

Research also shows that mothers restrict their food intake during periods of food insufficiency in order to protect their children from hunger. These chronic ups and downs in food intake can contribute to obesity among low-income women.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Rules Worth Following?

Here is a recent review of Michael Pollan's newest book "Food Rules: An Eater's Manual". Although he isn't a nutritionist or a scientist, Pollan offers a set of guidelines to follow based on his two previous books, '"The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food". --AH

In the more than four decades that I have been reading and writing about the findings of nutritional science, I have come across nothing more intelligent, sensible and simple to follow than the 64 principles outlined in a slender, easy-to-digest new book called “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual,” by Michael Pollan.

Mr. Pollan is not a biochemist or a nutritionist but rather a professor of science journalism at the University of California-Berkeley. You may recognize his name as the author of two highly praised books on food and nutrition, “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” (All three books are from Penguin.)

If you don’t have the time and inclination to read the first two, you can do yourself and your family no better service than to invest $11 and one hour to whip through the 139 pages of “Food Rules” and adapt its guidance to your shopping and eating habits.

Chances are you’ve heard any number of the rules before. I, for one, have been writing and speaking about them for decades. And chances are you’ve yet to put most of them into practice. But I suspect that this little book, which is based on research but not annotated, can do more than the most authoritative text to get you motivated to make some important, lasting, health-promoting and planet-saving changes in what and how you eat.

Click here to read the article...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Check out the Ironworks Cafe at the Goodman Community Center

For anyone who saw (or didn't see) Camille's post about the Underground Food Collective and thought to themselves, "This is a little too hipster-foodie for me," you may want to reconsider, as the food is great. However, if you want something equally delicious (I will vouch for it) and want to support a cause other than being being part of a really cool secret food club with other local bike polo players, check out the Ironworks Cafe at the Goodman Community Center on Madison's East side. It's run (in the shadows, of course) by the same cast of characters, more or less, and supports a great cause. According to their website:

"The Ironworks Café has a partnership with East High School's alternative educational program Vocationally Integrated Pathways (V.I.P.). Students from V.I.P. and other area students, under the guidance of restaurant professionals, are responsible for the entire operations of the business. Ironworks Cafe offers a menu featuring local and seasonal ingredients, fairly traded coffee (Just Coffee Coop), teas (Rishi), and other commodities (cocoa, sugar, oils). The menu changes daily, but will retain a familiar format. From-scratch soups, salads, sandwiches and special breakfast offerings will always include sweet and savory, as well as vegetarian options."
Check out the website for more details...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Future of Journalism: News Consumers Must be Savvier Than Ever — or Risk Being Duped

Here is an excerpt taken from Madison's free weekly newspaper The Isthmus about the changing face of journalism. Read the whole article to learn about the emerging and important role of blogs.

Traditional journalism is in trouble, and everyone agrees it needs to reinvent itself to survive. The worst-case scenario is that within 15 years only a handful of the largest U.S. newspapers will survive.

"As recently as three or four years ago, I was fairly convinced that most newspapers would make it," says Lew Friedland, professor at the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. "Now I'm not sure. I actually don't think that most daily newspapers in the metro [non-national] range will make it."

Communities like Madison may be left with a couple of free weekly tabloids, published to collect what remains of more lucrative "display" advertising (and, in Isthmus' case, of course, to uphold the mantle of quality journalism). The number of stories will fall dramatically because the staffs are too small. And the Associated Press, which operates as a co-op, will be robbed of content as members drop like flies.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Underground Food Collective opening restaurant in Cafe Montmarte space

By Kyle Nablicy

On Tuesday, Jan. 19, Governor Jim Doyle announced a pretty sweet gesture in support of the Wisconsin local food movement. Thanks to the state's "Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin" grant program, nine entities across the state are receiving over $220,000 to foster community-oriented agriculture. Among those nine, four are based in Madison, including the Dane County Institutional Food Market Coalition, the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition, the UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems, and the Underground Food Collective.

The press release states that Underground Catering, LLC, will receive "$25,000 to develop artisan meats that will help fill Wisconsin’s need for more pork products." Yes, that's what it actually stated, and I'm not going to argue. My first thought was, ‘ooh, I wonder what kind of bacon-y wonderment will result from that little windfall.’

"We are going to start a meat processing business," explains Jonny Hunter, one of four full-time members of the collective, along with his brother Ben, Kris Noren, and Jon Atwell. Jonny says that the group will continue operating out of its existing near-east side kitchen. But that is only the half of it.

Continue reading...

Friday, January 29, 2010

McItaly Burger: McDonald's Teams Up With Italian Government For New Item

From the land that brought you such staples of modern cuisine as pizza, pasta, risotto and tiramisu, comes a new classic - the McItaly- and Silvio Berlusconi's government are welcoming it with open arms.
Is McDonalds taking a cue from the buy local, eat fresh? Or is this just a new marketing scheme?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wisconsin to get $810 million for high-speed rail

This post may be welcome news to those of you hailing from Chicago or Milwaukee (or potentially the Twin Cities area). There are all sorts of great benefits to this - not the least being the potential to come home and sleep in my own bed in Madison after an "adult beverage" or four at the Brewer's game. In any case, Madison, welcome to the 21st century (or 20th century Europe)!

by Jason Stein

After decades without rail service between Madison and Milwaukee, an infusion of more than $800 million in federal stimulus money could establish passenger train service between the state’s two largest cities by 2013.
The passenger rail service between Milwaukee and Madison would include stops in Brookfield, Oconomowoc and Watertown and eventual top speeds of 110 mph.
“The state is well positioned to get it done quickly, and that’s very, very exciting,” said Rick Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association.

Continue reading...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Michelle Obama vows to ‘move the ball’ on kids’ diets

Michelle Obama is moving forward with initiatives to combat childhood obesity, most notably by promoting organic farming and eating.--CR

By Tom Philpott

Her husband got dealt a difficult set of cards in taking over the post-Bush II presidency—and has arguably played them quite badly. He now finds himself in a tight political corner: caught between an emboldened Right, an angry Left, and a shrivelled middle.

But Michelle Obama abides, as fabulous and beloved by the electorate as ever. She has built up a tidy store of political capital. She plans to spend it “by spearheading an initiative to reduce childhood obesity that, she hopes, will create a legacy by which she can be remembered,” reports Sheryl Gay Stolberg in The New York Times.