Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Children's quality of life declining, says report

Children's quality of life declining, says report: "
About 21 percent of children in the United States will be living below the poverty line in 2010, the highest rate in 20 years, according to a new analysis of children's well-being released Tuesday.

New Toxic Pesticides to Replace Older Ozone Depleting Pesticides

Put in a garden. Get a few containers if you literally have no yard. Grow something of your own. Learn you can do it. Begin to wean yourself off of factory food of all kind while you still can.

New Toxic Pesticides to Replace Older Ozone Depleting Pesticides: "
Originally published on The Daily Table, by Dawn Brigid.

Nothing says summer like strawberries, but before you bite into your next, read this.

Methyl Bromide, a soil fumigant often used on strawberry crops, was phased out in the US by 2005 because it was depleting the ozone layer. The phase out was based on the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and the Clean Air Act.

Good news, right? The EPA was acknowledging that yet one more federally-approved chemical was actually causing more harm than good. But I only found out about the banned Methyl Bromide because of the attention recently placed on Methyl Iodide. Approved in 2007, and currently used in many states as a “good” replacement for the banned Methyl Bromide, Methyl Iodide has its own set of problems.

Methyl Iodide is currently under scrutiny as the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) proposes approval of its use. Even though Methyl Iodide is used in many states already, California, which has its own pesticide approval process, has been questioning its safety level for the last year. While Methyl Iodide is not an ozone depleting pesticide like Methyl Bromide, it is extremely toxic to humans, a consistent carcinogenic that is used in the lab by chemists to induce cancer in experimental subjects such as mice. It has also been found to affect the nervous system, lungs, liver and kidneys, and to damage human fetuses.

While an independent review requested by the DPR concluded that “any anticipated scenario for … use of this agent would result in exposures to a large number of the public and thus would have a significant adverse impact on the public health,” the agency is still pushing for its approval, suggesting more stringent regulations than originally spelled out by the EPA. These tighter regulations include better training in proper application, controlling the amount used, limiting exposure for workers and requiring special permits. They would also include bigger “buffer zones” between fields sprayed with the toxin and local hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and schools.

Though it isn’t looking good, if the California proposal is rejected, it could have a large impact, possibly moving up the next scheduled federal review of Methyl Iodide, now slated for 2013. It could even help lead to a federal ban.

As the revolving doors between industry and the government continue to …revolve, it takes very little digging to unearth a sketchy connection in this situation. In 2007, the year Methyl Iodide was approved by the EPA, Elin Miller, a past employee of Arysta (the company that makes the pesticide), was EPA Administrator for Region 10, which includes Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Washington State and 267 Indian Tribes. Methyl Iodide was originally approved for one year, but the probationary time line was extended indefinitely as the Bush administration left office.

In the wake of President Obama’s Cancer Panel report, which found that the “risk of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated,” and links between chemicals and diseases (such as that between pesticides and ADHD) showing up regularly, the DPR’s proposal flies in the face of facts we’ve been privy to for a long time. You can send your comments about the proposal to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation until June 29th at mei_comments@cdpr.ca.gov.

More Information:

Scientists Fume Over California’s Pesticide Plans, Pesticide Action Network – Methyl Iodide

Helpful tips:

Dirty Dozen – Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides


Our lack of attention is killing the oceans

This is an excellent article with good links to other resources. I hope people take time to understand what we don't know before it's gone.

Our lack of attention is killing the oceans: "
These past six weeks, we've been thinking a lot about the ocean.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

L&CV: Grilled Mushrooms

In the interest of keeping with the menu idea I decided to post the super simple mushroom recipe.

Take your favorite mushroom (we went with Crimini).  Bag them up in your favorite marinade for a minimum of four hours, the meatier the mushroom the longer it can take a marinade, Criminis can go all night.

We went with a mix of Bragg's, Teriyaki sauce and garlic.  

After a good soak, slip them all into a grill basket and put them in a heated grill for 10 minutes, turning half way through.

Enjoy these as is as a side dish or on top of a good boca or bean burger!

L&CV: Grilled Artichoke

Here is a wonderful summer kitchen recipe that is a staple of our warm weather diet.  I did not discover artichokes until after I was married several years.  I watched a cooking show one day where they were making this "exotic" veg that I had never seen.  :)  I walked over to the local grocery and promptly bought four to make for dinner (I had no idea how much food there is on one of these babies).  I was going to surprise my Chef with my new kitchen find.  After painstakingly following the really complex preparation and getting them all plated up - the Chef comes home and says, "Oh artichokes, that looks good."  Like it was normal food!  Needless to say they were good, I was hooked, and I found that they are VERY simple to make (this also marks the last time I ever listened to one of those TV people beyond the cool idea).  So if the basic prep directions are redundant feel free to skip down to the grilling part but I would love to think I'm not the only adult who found these post puberty.

Step one is popping them in the largest pot you have that will fit your pieces right after you cut the bottom of the stems off (only take a quarter of an inch off - the stem center is VERY edible!).  Some directions will tell you to carefully cut the tip off of every single leaf - this is a ridiculous waste of time designed to make these seem harder to make than they are and to protect some special people from possibly poking a finger after they are cooked.  If you are special, by all means cut off the tips.  

Fill water to just cover the veggies, add some salt and garlic or whatever mild savory spice you'd like to the water for extra flavor.  Boil the water until you can easily pull an inner (near the top center) leaf out with a gentle tug.  This seems to take between 20 - 40 min depending on how many we are cooking.  If you were not grilling these would be ready to serve.  Grilling is an extra flavor step not a cooking step.

Take your cooked whole artichokes and slice them in half with a large sharp knife. 

Spray the exposed center area with oil.  We hit them with an olive oil mist, but if you like some other oil flavor go with whatever sounds good.  Artichokes are a natural flavor enhancer, they contain a very unique chemical that makes whatever they are paired with taste slightly sweet and rich - keep that in mind when choosing spices and oils to match them up with.  

Put these out on an already hot grill for about 5 minutes, give them a quarter turn to the right or left and let grill for about 3 or 4 more minutes and they are ready to eat!

We serve these with a simple lemon butter dip.  [Simply take a few tablespoons - more or less depending on how many chokes you are serving - earth balance and squeeze half a lemon into it.  Heat while stirring.  When its melted, its done!]  

These pair up well with all sorts of summer food, on this day they went well with marinated, grilled mushrooms.  

One quick side note for anyone who might be like I was: You eat a grilled (or otherwise) whole artichoke by peeling off each leaf, dipping the end that was attached to the stalk in the butter and scraping the soft white "meat" off on your teeth.  Keep working your way to the heart and the soft white part gets bigger and bigger until you can eat almost the whole leaf.  Stop when you reach the inner purple leaves!  Take a spoon and gently scrape the purple leaves and the hairy spines off of the heart.  The entire heart and the clear-ish center of the whole stem is very edible and supper yummy in the butter sauce.  Enjoy it - its worth the "work" of eating it!