Severe weather

Severe weather (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One year ago today, the eastern seaboard incurred the wrath of Superstorm Sandy, a massive storm delivering rain, wind and huge storm surges that resulted in hundreds of deaths, extended loss of power to millions of homes,  extensive flooding and fire and destruction of homes and businesses up and down the east coast and particularly devastating to New Jersey, Connecticut and New York City.

The reasons for Sandy’s occurrence are still being debated, with climate change deniers holding to their position.  While these arguments continue, it is important that we acknowledge changes that are desperately needed to contain or prevent the severe levels of destruction that we experienced with Sandy from recurring, no matter the cause.  To that end, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)  has enumerated post-Sandy priorities for governmental action.

Today we would like to call attention to two of the principal subjects of these post-Sandy priorities, building in flood-prone areas and protection of infrastructure, both of which must be effectively addressed to prevent and/or reduce incidences of loss of life and extreme property destruction during severe storms.

Regarding the issue of building in flood-prone areas, the severe property destruction of water-front or water-accessible residential properties in New York and New Jersey clearly shows us the inherent dangers of living close to large bodies of water, which persistently are subject to huge damaging storm surges during bad weather and accompanying high winds.  We know that those living near the water are at such an increased risk of loss of life or property during violent storms, and as such, it is crucial to have plans in place to eliminate the incentives to build or live in flood-prone areas.   It appears that even in the face of the destruction of Sandy, many of the shoreline residents have rebuilt or are determined to do so, despite the losses faced with Sandy or the potential future losses from other severe weather occurrences.  A probable remedy for this mindset lies in the reform of the National Flood Insurance Program, “including phase-out of subsidized rates and updating of flood-risk maps.”   Of course, any such plans should include compensation to individuals currently living in these subject areas.  Additionally, property owners who insist on remaining in these areas and who are willing to bear the total cost of insurance for this privilege, must be required by law to rebuild in accordance with stricter resiliency standards.  Finally, rules must be adopted to “require states to develop disaster preparedness plans that recognize increased flooding and other disaster risks from our changing climate.”

The second post-Sandy priority subject deals with infrastructure.  Sandy’s descent on New Jersey and New York City brought to light the problems with the aging electrical grids, positioning of backup power systems within reach of flood waters and the failing storm water systems in those areas.  Also, other jurisdictions on the east coast experienced the failure of sewage systems during extended power outages during the storm, witnessing the spillage of sewage into rivers and streams.  Clearly, Sandy warned us of the need to protect critical infrastructure and to make it smarter and resilient to the fury of Mother Nature.  We must pay special attention to our energy generation and distribution systems, as well as drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities.    Plans for emergency response and public transportation systems are critical to preventing or reducing the loss of life and injury during severe storms and to being able to return to normal function in terms of activities of daily living after severe storms.

The main theme of these subjects of post-Sandy priorities is sustainability.  Any effort to address issues of dealing with severe weather must be relative to sustainability.  The journey to sustainable lifestyles requires each of us to do our part to protect the environment, to reduce our waste and energy consumption, which taxes our energy generation systems and overall to become stewards of the earth.  To do so is to live green, be green.

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Sources for this article:

1.   http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/files/post-sandy-priorities.pdf
2.  http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/howard/ellicott-city/ph-sewage-spill-sandy-20121030,0,4479292.story

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Over the past few years, pumpkin beer has become a very popular selection during the autumn, and with it comes a growing movement of farm-to-keg brewing. Upon closer inspection of the combination of health benefits of eating pumpkin and drinking beer, it is safe to say that pumpkin beer and farm-to-keg brewing practices create a perfect green marriage.

A close look at the history of pumpkin beer reveals its use dates back to the American colonial period, largely due to the wide availability of pumpkin — a native plant — with its fermentable sugar. In addition to its popularity as a potent potable, pumpkin beer was considered a health tonic. During the 19th century, the popularity of pumpkin beer waned in response to the successful development of foreign trade, which fostered the availability of hops, herbs and barley in the United States. Pumpkin beer briefly made a minor comeback during the mid-1800s, however, principally as a flavoring agent for beer. Modern pumpkin beers usually focus on the spices associated with pumpkins, namely nutmeg and cloves.

Fast forward to the 21st century and the green movement, which focuses on plant-based diets as a source for nutrients, local family farming with crop diversity to protect the environment and support of local businesses with low-carbon footprint that support neighboring communities and reinvest in the community, and we see that farm to keg brews fit perfectly in this scenario. Additionally, we find that gourds, in general, and pumpkins, in particular, are very popular because of their nutritional benefits, which include, reducing the risk of cancer, enhancing moods with its tryptophan that produces serotonin, and boosting the immune system with its Vitamin C, just to name a few. When combined with beer, which offers major health benefits when consumed in moderation, such as increasing bone mineral density, reducing the occurrence of kidney stones and reducing the risk of cancer due to its antioxidants, we have formed a perfect union that should make the green movement proud.

The growing movement today reveals local breweries contracting with area farmers to purchase whole pumpkins, which they use to make pumpkin beer. This is more efficient and less costly than using the canned pumpkins, which previously served as the major source for the product. This definitely is a win-win situation for the farmers, breweries and consumers.

We here at LGBG invite you to celebrate the season with some pumpkin beer. There are numerous varieties to try. If you are planning a Halloween party or a football party this weekend, consider giving your pumpkin double duty as a decoration and  as a keg of beer.

Pumpkin keg

Pumpkin keg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sources for this article:

1.  http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/09/pumpkin-beers-colonial-necessity-to-seasonal-treat-beer-history-brewing.html
2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/05/pumpkin-health-benefits_n_1936919.html
3.  http://www.medicaldaily.com/4-health-benefits-beer-drinking-antioxidants-b-vitamin-and-protein-are-there-dont-overdo-it-258658

Happy Food Day!  Today marks the annual celebration of Food Day where we recognize the movement for healthy, affordable and sustainable food.  In honor of this most important day, there will be more than 4,500 events in all 50 states to focus on the strides we have made in our efforts to improve our food system and to bring awareness to the need for additional work that still needs to be done to ensure that we have healthy and sustainable diets without a negative environmental impact.

Food Day as a day of celebration was created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).  According to Michael F. Jacobson, executive director and founder of Food Day:

We hope that one of the things that comes out of Food Day is a movement that is stronger, more united, and better equipped to press for changes that make it easier to eat healthier year round . . . .  Today hundreds of thousands of Americans will add their voices to a growing campaign for food that is produced with care for consumers, the environment, and the men and women who grow, harvest and serve it.”[1]

The main purpose of Food Day is to “help people eat real.”  Food Day is a very organized and focused movement with five priorities, which are as follows:

  • To promote safe and healthy diets for all people.
  • To support sustainable and organic farms.
  • To reduce the occurrence of hunger in this country.
  • To ensure reform of factory farm practices so as to protect both farm animals and the environment.
  • To ensure fair working environments for both food and farm workers.

Many cities have Food Day events occurring today, as well as throughout the upcoming weekend.  Activities range from educational events at local schools, round-table discussions and forums hosted by civic organizations and local food festivals.  This is a great opportunity to involve the entire family in the celebration of Food Day, gathering information and planning healthier diets through better food choices.  I urge you to ditch the bag of chips and to get out and explore the choices and opportunities that Food Day has to offer.  Also, don’t forget to like Food Day on Facebook.  This page also has great ideas, contests and valuable opportunities to support this worthy cause.

We here at LGBG urge all of our readers to join in the celebration of Food Day and to support this very important movement.  To do so is to live green, be green.


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[1]  http://www.cspinet.org/new/201310241.html

 

Credit:  Live Green Magazine

Credit: Live Green Magazine

As we are approaching the annual celebration of Halloween, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about ways to make sure your festivities are fun, safe and green for both children and adults.

We remind you here of the importance of making sure any costumes you select are safe.  When selecting costumes and accessories, particularly masks, avoid products that contain lead.  Many of the products made in China contain toxic material, and the best way to avoid contamination is to purchase costumes made in America or to make costumes at home.  Face paint also is a concern as these products often contain lead and heavy metals that can be toxic and often cause allergic reactions.

If you are decorating at home, pay special attention to lighting.  Remember that tea lights placed in bags along paths are particularly dangerous to trick-or-treaters.  LED lights are a better choice.  Also, the autumn with its bounty of pumpkins presents a great opportunity to make natural decorations.   Combinations of carved pumpkins with scary faces, bales of hay and ghosts made with sheets make intriguing scenes for Halloween revelers, and the pumpkins and hay bales transition easily into Thanksgiving decorations.  Additionally, the pumpkins seeds can be saved and roasted for an enjoyable treat.

As you plan your evening of trick-or-treating, here are some ideas to take Halloween to the next level:

  • Have a family dinner before heading out.  This likely will discourage snacking on candy along the trick-or-treat route.
  • Reinforce the rule that all treats need to be inspected for safety by parents prior to consumption.
  • Consider trading candy for gifts, such as puzzles or Legos.
  • Take candy to work to get it out of the house.  Your fellow workers will enjoy it.

Finally, for a new idea this year, consider reverse trick-or-treating.  Give a treat to the houses you visit with your children.  Note that this treat has a twist.  Collect small fair trade gifts.  Possibilities include fair trade coffee divided into single serve units, individual chocolate bars, teabags, or decorator soaps made from natural ingredients.  Wrap these articles in Halloween decorations (made from recycled paper) and give the gifts with a note (see below) explaining the concept of reverse treat-or-treating:

The act of knocking on people’s doors on Halloween and giving each house a little fair trade, organic treat instead of taking the conventional stuff that isn’t fair trade to any of us.  We hope to see you at our door next year.[1]

In light of the many accounts we hear about random acts of kindness and paying it forward, imagine the good feeling you will spread among your friends and neighbors, not to mention the pride your children will feel, for using the opportunity to trick-or-treat to start a movement that empowers us all to live green, be green.

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Sources for this article:

[1]  Pic.twitter.com/jxi5MXVMG9 #Green Halloween.
[2] http://greenhalloween.org/blog/

Cranberry Apple Stuffed Pork Chops

In the northeast we have had some spectacular weather over the past few weeks. I decided to take the opportunity and barbeque pork chops on the grill, with a slight twist using fresh locally sourced, and seasonal ingredients such as apples and cranberries.

Pork chops and applesauce are a well documented partnership like Bonnie and Clyde, Sonnie and Cher, and more recently the New York football Giants and losing. Yet by adding tangy cranberries and crunchy almonds to the already great flavor profiles of pork with apples, my interpretation of the dish adds some complexity but maintains the overall idea of the partnership. The dish’s reduced carbon footprint is not only good for the environment, but will also be a sure hit  as a main dish at your next dinner party.

If you enjoy this recipe or have any ideas for any future recipes, please email me at travis@livegreenbegreen.com.

Ingredients:

4 bone-out pork chops

1 organic apple

1/4 cup fresh cranberries

Handful of unsalted almonds

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/16 cup flour

1/4 cup cognac

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

A dash of nutmeg

Salt and Pepper

Makes 4 servings

Preparation:

Step 1:

Slice, peel, and cut apple into small pieces.

Step 2:

Add cranberries and apples to a saute pan and cook on high heat. Juice will begin to come out of the fruit as you cook them. Once this happens, add the remaining ingredients and continue to cook on high heat for three to five minutes or until the apple gain a slightly brown coating.

Step 3:

Turn off heat, add unsalted almonds to cooked stuffing mixture, and let cool.

Step 4:

Create pocket for stuffing in pork chop by taking a butterfly approach, with the only difference being not cutting into the meat as deep, and leave about half an inch thickness of connective tissue to ensure the pocket does not collapse and maintains rigid enough to enclose the stuffing in the rear.

Step 5:

Season pork chop with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powders on both sides.

Step 6:

Add stuffing to to pork chops, and close with toothpicks towards the edge of the chop where the stuffing is inserted. Grill on barbeque by setting grill to high heat and grill on each side for a minute or until a nice char is achieved. Then reduce heat to medium and cook for about ten minutes on each side. *(The added thickness of the chop as a result of the stuffing will dictate a longer cooking time).*

Step 7:

Let cool, serve, and enjoy!

While I am not that enthusiastic about shopping (largely owing to my goal to save money and to reduce my “ownership of stuff”), when I do shop, I want to be able to find good buys that suit both my tastes and my price range or fair trade treasures.  This past week, I devoted some time to shopping for fair trade products with the intention of celebrating Fair Trade Month (an annual global event occurring in the month of October).

Being the creature of habit that I am, I initiated my shopping expedition on the Internet with a Google search of “fair trade” products.  I learned a lot here about fair trade in general.  Specifically, I discovered that there are several “fair trade organizations” whose labels certify its members as being in compliance with fair trade rules and standards.  These organizations include, but are not limited to:

 Fair Trade USA

Fair_Trade_USA_Logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fair Trade International

fairtrade International

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fair Trade Federation

Ftf-logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of the products that I found were coffee, tea, handcrafts, sugar, bananas, honey, cotton, fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers and gold.  I also found some sports balls, particularly soccer balls; however, with my soccer children all being adults now, there was not anything there for me.  After poking around some more, I found some nice scarves.

Then needing a break, I visited my favorite local garden store, Homestead Gardens, where lo and behold, I was greeted by a beautiful display of fair trade roll-on bracelets by a company called Aid Through Trade.

braceletdisplay

aidthroughtrade

 

 

Then I went to Target and found that several of the products they carry are certified green and fair trade.  I am confident that with more time, for visiting stores in my area, I will find many other fair trade products.

On my return to my computer, my search for “fair trade” products took a new and unexpected turn.   I branched out beyond the restrictions of sites operated by the major fair trade organizations, and instead, looked for products, particularly clothing, that I liked.  In each instance, while browsing the various online company catalogs, I also read the sections of the websites entitled “our story” or “our mission” and discovered many businesses, who may not carry the “fair trade certification” issued by the major fair trade organizations or federations, but who endorse sustainability, practice fair trade in their dealings with exporters who provide their materials and who promote conservation and clean energy initiatives.

The lesson learned here is that we definitely should support the certified fair trade organizations for the remarkable work that they perform and their efforts to ensure decent wages to exporters of so many of the products that we enjoy.   However, we also should support companies not listed on these sites under these “certified fair trade labels”  who also work hard to deliver quality products, treat their employees and their business partners fairly while investing in their local communities.  These companies often are under the radar of widespread advertisement, but they are the “fair trade treasures.”  I hope that each of you will get out this month and do a little shopping, paying visits to small businesses and boutiques in your neighborhoods to discover your own “fair trade treasures.”  To do so is to live green, be green.

When you get the chance, survey the room:

First ask, “what is a bill?”  Among the handful of answers will probably lay something along the lines of “a piece of legislation drafted and proposed to be passed into the law of the land,” although not so eloquently put, I’d imagine.

Then ask the room, “what is the largest copper-producing country in the world?” I’d bet — depending on how large of a room, of course — that the chances of finding someone who correctly replied, “Chile,” would be pretty slim.

Lastly, ask this.  “What is a glacier?”  (The outcome of this question does not even matter because I’ve already arrived at my point, albeit after a needlessly long-winded opening.)

This is precisely the question Chilean governmental officials are currently battling.  Congress there is faced with the dilemma of passing legislation that would ban mining in glacier locales.  That last part is where the legislation undoubtedly becomes questionable.  Where will the fuzzy lines of legal jargon come together to define these areas?  Will it be strictly on the glaciers or surrounding areas as well?  How far will these areas stretch?  Is all frozen land around the glaciers off limits, as well?  As the law currently stands, these surrounding permafrost areas are not covered by the proposed protection, but the details are far from set in stone.

All points aside, this is a serious issue.  Not only do these congressional decisions impact the multibillion-dollar mining industry tremendously, along with the country’s production of Copper and other mining products, but the country’s overall water supply hangs largely in the balance of this debate.  Here’s how LUIS ANDRES HENAO of the Associated Press explains the logic:

Glaciers are important because they act as natural dams, storing water for use throughout the year after the winter snow has melted. Even small glaciers can hold gigantic amounts of water that become critical during warm months and especially in long dry spells.

Chile is no stranger to arid months of drought, especially with its recently trending climate change.  Those who we call environmentalists argue that when these two elements of drought and climate change combine with mining, Chile faces a severe danger of its glaciers completely vanishing, and more quickly than ever before imagined.  CECILIA JAMASMIE wrote of such an instance, wherein a glacier disappeared:

One of the best-documented examples is the 18,000-year-old Chacaltaya glacier in the Bolivian Andes, which disappeared in 2009. Experts had forecasted it would survive until 2015, but it melted faster than expected, leaving what used to be the world’s highest ski run — 17,000 feet above sea level — as a boulder-strewn slope with a few patches of ice near the top.

This may be just as dramatic a picture as our governmental leaders’ current steadfastness in delay tactics and indecision, but this, like our issues, is no laughing matter.  Serious repercussions loom large for mining projects planned for the future, as well as projects already underway.  It’s an increasingly common scenario in today’s day — ecological pressures enforced by environmentalists and economical pressures enforced by big business butt heads yet again, and this time it’s Chile’s congressional interpretation in focus.

Health Alert: Reduce The Risk Of Heart Disease — Another Reason To Walk.

Breast cancer awareness

Breast cancer awareness (Photo credit: AslanMedia)

The recently released report that walking lowers the risk of breast cancer presents yet another great reason to take up walking as a form of exercise.  We all know that walking is beneficial for weight loss, control of osteopenia, better sleep, stress reduction and improved energy.  Now a study published by Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention presents encouraging evidence that  “physical activity, even including walking, reduces a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer . . . by changing how the body deals with estrogen.”  This study is released very appropriately during the month of October when we celebrate breast cancer awareness.  This is an opportune time to present information on encouraging results to lift the spirits and give hope to the army of women and their supporters in the battle against breast cancer.

The researchers used a large database maintained by the American Cancer Society that included health and medical information for almost 74,000 post-menopausal women, ages 50-73, who had enrolled in the study in the 1990s and completed followup questionnaires biennially.  The questionnaires focused, in part, on descriptions of time spent on both leisurely activities and exercise.  While some of the study participants were very active, many playing tennis, swimming or running, the majority of the women walked, generally at a stroll or pleasant pace of approximately three miles per hour.

The study results show that 4,760 of the study participants developed breast cancer.  Interestingly, the research results indicate that women who walked at least seven hours per week at an average of one hour per day had a 14 percent reduced risk of developing breast cancer “than those who walked for fewer than three hours per week.”  Additionally, the women who were the most active (engaged in vigorous activity for up to 10 hours a week), realized a 25 percent less risk of developing breast cancer than the study participants who exercised the least.  It is important to note that these risk reductions were not affected or altered by factors, such as being overweight or on hormone replacement therapy.

This study comes with a caveat in that some of the women who walked everyday did develop breast cancer, and some of the study participants who did not exercise never developed breast cancer.  These findings indicate that more investigation is warranted.

One thing is clear, and that is walking as a form of daily exercise, regardless of pace, is very beneficial in the reduction of breast cancer in women.  This is a call to all of my sisters, regardless of age to get out and walk for your life, health and happiness.  To do so is to live green, be green!

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Source for this article:  http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/09/how-walking-may-lower-breast-cancer-risk/?_r=1

lubricant_ad

lubricant_ad (Photo credit: K嘛)

It goes without saying that we all are aware of the basics of living an environmentally conscientious life.  Most of us do something to live green, whether it involves recycling and reusing, making healthier food choices, driving our cars a little less to save fuel and reduce our carbon footprint and getting some exercise to lose weight so that we feel and look better.  Now indulge us while we entertain the notion of Fifty Shades Of Green, a look at our sexual health and relationships and the need to make sure they are sustainable, green and environmentally conscientious.  So today, we here at LGBG have some tips to share to ensure that we all live ecofriendly sex lives.

  • Value Relationships.  A major component of a green sex life is a healthy relationship with a foundation of self-respect and respect for others.  To achieve this, it is crucial to avoid hookups or casual sexual relationships, you know — friends with benefits.  Strive for intimacy, not just physical release.
  • Ditch pornography. Turn off the television, computer, disc payer, etc., and engage your real-life partner for arousal and sexual satisfaction.  Rely on authentic scents and sounds.  Doing this, you will reduce your carbon footprint and invest in human relationships.  That makes for strong sustainability.
  • Use caution with lubrication.  If lubrication is part of your sexual routine, that is fine, but please make sure you lube up green.  Familiarize yourself with the ingredients in various lubricants, and educate yourself on the unsafe ingredients in many popular brands of lubricants, which may pose an increased risk for bacterial or viral infections.  When shopping for lubricants, try to locate brands that are made with nontoxic ingredients and that do not contain paraben or glycerin.  You will find that many of these products also are latex friendly and eco-friendly.[1]
  • Beware of plastic sex toys.  Data from adult toy manufacturer, Adam and Eve indicates that “Americans spend $15 billion on sex toys annually, that 44 percent of women 18 to 60 have used one, and that 78 percent of those women were in a relationship when they did.”  To this we say, “Buyer beware.”  It is best to avoid plastics because so many of them contain phthalates (used to chemically soften rigid plastics and linked to damage to DNA in human sperm.  We strongly recommend that you make sure your bedroom toys are “phthalate-free glass, silicone or metal.”[2]
  • Save electricity.  We all are aware of the importance of reducing the thermostat a few degrees.  This does not mean that we have to be cold.  Cozy up with that special person and create your own heat.  You also will reap the added benefit of increases pheromones, which have been shown to increase fertility and enhance the mood while alleviating depression and stress.
  • Eat good food for good sex.  A healthy diet is important for your sexual health because “good food will help keep blood pumping to your sexual organs.”  Specifically, men should eat plant-based proteins that may have a positive effect on sperm quality.  Also, both men and women should avoid diets high in saturated fats that affect LDL cholesterol levels, contributing to depressed libido and sexual performance.  So for a healthy sex life, increase the use of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and decrease the ingestion of red meat.  For sweet pleasures, try chocolate (particularly brands that are 70 percent or higher in cocoa and without added milk and sugar), which create the same feelings of pleasure achieved with arousal and orgasm.

We here at LGBG wish for everyone a happy, healthy life, including a healthy, green sex life.  We ask you to endorse our Fifty Shades of Green to protect the environment.  This is just one more way we can live green, be green.

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Sources for this article:
[1]  http://health.howstuffworks.com/sexual-health/sexuality/10-green-sex-tips.htm
[2]  http://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/stories/let’s-talk-about-green-sex-baby
[3]  “Lost Your Libido?  6 Smart Diet Choices to Get It Back.”  Health Hub from Cleveland Clinic.
[4]  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/16/sex-toy-sales-per-capita-_n_1790014.html