children · ecology · Education · gardening · Herbs · kids · modern life · organic · parenting · picky kids

Happy Earth Day 2015

The boys were excited to plant vegetables and herbs in the garden for Earth Day. I hope they are just as excited to eat them this summer. My older one will be for sure. If you are wondering which one is older, look for the blue stripes and boss-man brow. More and more people are asking me if they are twins, much to their chagrin. One thing about my younger son, though he be picky he is still growing like a weed. Or it might be better to say, growing like a misunderstood wild herb. Little dandy lions.boys garden 2015

ecology · gardening · health · Herbs

Urban Herbalism

It is so fun to walk around town or on the trails and see the wild herbs growing. These little beauties are Burdock.

Burdock...I think

At least I’m about 95% sure they are Burdock…it’s been over 15 years since I harvested that particular herb so I’m not 100% sure, although I’ve dug up enough roots to be fairly certain. The roots are used for cleansing the liver and blood, which makes it a skin purifier too. If you have skin issues, you might think about looking into adding Burdock tea or tincture into your daily routines, although not every herb is right for every person even if the condition is a correct fit. For example, some herbs are warming while others are cooling, or drying rather than hydrating, and these things can affect the whole person and be exactly what the body needs, or exactly the opposite. It is definitely worth checking in with a naturopath, herbalist, or a doctor who knows about these things before jumping on an herbal supplement. Naturopaths and herbalists are also invaluable for suggesting brands that are what they say they are, and knowing which brands are the most pure, and/or organic, farm-grown or wild-harvested. It’s a shame that the cheaper brands are often adulterated or not even what they are supposed to be inside the bottle, but there are reputable companies out there, you just need to ask the right people which companies are the best. Of course, you could always grow your own, and people have been harvesting from the wild since the beginning of humankind. Marymoor Park

I don’t recommend harvesting your own from public property such as trails though, because you never know what is in that soil and it may or may not be legal anyway, even though herbs are often considered weeds. But you certainly can harvest away on your own property, or on a friend’s. It’s sure nice to spot these wild lovelies growing in the middle of our urban world though. It reminds me of the resiliency of nature, and the fact that the earth is alive always creating, even in winter.

ecology

Climate Change

This is an article from KUOW’s page dedicated to climate change information. In case you were wondering what the U.N. thinks about the “possibility” of global climate change, its effects on humans and humans’ effects on it, here’s a recap of the 2014 report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

Environment
4:18 am
Mon March 31, 2014

U.N. Report Raises Climate Change Warning, Points To Opportunities

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 7:07 am

  • From ‘Morning Edition’: NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel on the U.N. panel’s report

“The effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans,” and the world is mostly “ill-prepared” for the risks that the sweeping changes present, a new report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concludes.

The report also wastes no time in pointing a finger toward who is responsible: “Human interference with the climate system is occurring,” reads the first sentence in the scientists’ summary of their work.

As NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel tells our Newscast Desk, the panel “includes hundreds of scientists from around the world. Its past reports have made gloomy predictions about the impact of climate on humans. This time around, they’re also trying to prepare us. Chris Field, the co-chair of the new report, says improving health systems, making transportation more efficient, and beefing up disaster response can make a difference.”

“Things we should be doing to build a better world are also things we should be doing to protect against climate change,” Field says.

In the summary of its findings and recommendations, for instance, the panel suggests that ongoing efforts to improve energy efficiency, switch to cleaner energy sources, make cities “greener” and reduce water consumption will make life better today and could help reduce mankind’s effect on climate change in the future. While all people will continue to feel the effects of climate change, the report concludes that the world’s poorest populations will suffer the most from rising temperatures and rising seas unless action is taken.

Still, The Guardian says the report concludes that climate change is “already having effects in real time — melting sea ice and thawing permafrost in the Arctic, killing off coral reefs in the oceans, and leading to heat waves, heavy rains and mega-disasters. And the worst was yet to come. Climate change posed a threat to global food stocks, and to human security, the blockbuster report said.”

“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” says Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC.

The BBC calls the report “the most comprehensive assessment to date of the impacts of climate change on the world.” [End article]

And quite frankly to those who think they know more than the scientists who are dedicating their lives to studying this, well, they should just go back to drinking their fairy juice and let the educated adults get on with solving problems in the real world.

children · ecology · Education · gardening · health · kids · parenting

Schools a Healthy Place?

I had a strange experience last week when I went to my youngest son’s music class presentation. It was beyond cute of course, with all the second graders sounding angelic although I know they are often quite a devilish group as I’ve seen them enough in other settings. But sitting in the metal folding chairs as they sat on the floor or walked around singing, something else struck me besides the sweetness of it all~ when I looked at them each individually, as in really looked at them, they mostly looked kind of…sickly. Granted it was the end of the day and also the end of the week so they had reason to be tired, and maybe the lighting is not the best in their brand new school, but it seemed odd to me that they could all look so sluggish and lacking vibrancy considering their youth. My own son’s cheeks were flared up with the pink that signifies something is bothering him allergy-wise, either the carpet or something he ate, or who knows what, but that is what made me start looking at the other kids. There was one girl who looked completely healthy, alert, and engaged and I happen to know that this girl always looks that way or at least she does at library time where I help out and also field trips and parties, before and after school. She is just that kind of girl who notices everything and is part of everything and probably questions her teachers and parents ad nauseam. She was seriously the only one. The other kids were a mixture of eyes with dark circles, half closed eyes, wandering eyes and hands, bad skin, rashes, confused and disengaged looks, and tired faces and bodies. It made me wonder about kids, schools, and health. Is the modern school a healthy place for our students? Do they get enough outdoor time? Are they eating good food? Are we doing our best to help them learn? I don’t know, it just bothered me to see a bunch of second graders that just didn’t look vibrant and vivacious. They are too young not to be! The edible schoolyard project is one place to look for answers though my kids’ school has put me off for two years now when I’ve brought up planting a garden there. The students would get so much out of it, not the least of which would be a bit more good health. One bright eyed bushy tailed student out of 21 is not enough.

ecology · food · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · kids

Food vs. Food-like Items and GMOs

FoodThis is something I’ve been thinking about a lot with this whole food intolerance thing. There are so many alternatives out there, but I only want things going in the bodies of my children and myself that are actual food, not fake food. This seems obvious, but if you read the packages of most supposed food items you are bound to read some things that are questionable. Most people assume those ingredients must be OK, I mean the FDA approves them so of course they are healthy, right? But of course no one should be relying on the FDA or even the government recommended food pyramid for their eating choices, but instead thinking about food in a way that makes sense to their life, their health, and their conscience. I just started reading a book that is able to articulate how I’ve always felt being mainly vegetarian (and at times completely vegetarian for years) and now with the food intolerances in our house~ that if you have to substitute the foods you are taking out with fake foods, then there is a problem. I had a friend in high school who suddenly became a vegetarian, not just personal choice of hers, but a vegetarian out to convert the world with stop eating animals stickers and graffiti, lecturing friends and family, and oozing self-satisfaction, and the girl ate soy hot dogs every night. Literally every night, and that wasn’t all, she also regularly ate fake sausages in the morning, veggie burgers all the time,  and faux deli meat with soy cheese sandwiches. Even then, when I too was a full-on vegetarian, I saw that she was not making healthy choices and wondered if her new skin and digestive problems had anything to do with the excess of soy in her life. She didn’t last as a vegetarian beyond the next boyfriend she had, by the way, who was a big meat-eater and she followed suit, laughing at her old ways with the wisdom of a jilted lover. Unfortunately we lost touch because it’d be interesting to track someone’s eating habits by their current love status, or vice versa I guess. Anyway, the point is, trying to keep it real in the kitchen is harder now with the multiple food intolerances in our house, but it is something I take seriously. A woman I know just went to Spain last summer with her son who cannot eat wheat here without getting a runny nose. In Spain he ate wheat every single meal with out one problem~ what is different? Not the kid so it must be the wheat. Europe arguably has more real food than the US for several reasons, but one is because they do not allow the same GMOs in their farming practices. We have the chance to try to curb some of that here by voting to have products labeled with GMO status. Apparently there has been a huge billion dollar marketing campaign to scare consumers from voting yes on this (the biggest giver of funds is Pepsi by the way, a company that I would assume has an audience that generally isn’t too worried about how natural their product is, but they must have something to lose…) but I sincerely hope most eaters out there are intuitive enough and intelligent enough to understand the difference between the engineered stuff that makes companies money, and the pure food that keeps people healthy. There is a difference between food like substances and GMOs because every thing that grows from the ground could be altered by GMOs, which means even the real food can become Frankenstein, (and to a surprisingly large degree, it already has) but to me the two things are connected in that we Americans eat more fake food and genetically modified food than anywhere else, and what do we have to show for it? Food related chronic illnesses and an obesity epidemic. Let’s try to change that by eating real foods, from the earth, that are not genetically modified. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it?

ecology

Happy Earth Day

ImageI love this time of year when the plum tree outside our bedroom window blooms. In the summer when we sleep with the window open I often am awoken by rustling in that very tree, and when I peer out I find bright raccoon eyes peering back at me. We share the plums. Actually, they get the lion’s share because picking the tree requires a ladder or sharp claws, and simplicity wins every time.

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This is what’s blooming in the front yard, along with lavender, rosemary, and some rogue tulips.

stowaways

Earth day is celebrated in over 192 countries now, according to Wikipedia, but I wish it were more. More countries and more celebration. I asked my boys when they got home from school if they discussed Earth Day and both said nothing was mentioned. Sad. They have a captive audience at schools, surely someone cares enough to explain what Earth day is…? My older son told me this weekend that I was an “Earth Helper” so he must have gotten that from somewhere~ I had assumed school, but maybe not.

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I had a strange thought today that I’m not even sure how to put into words, but I was thinking about Earth Day and the Earth and just how insanely we take it for granted, and I wondered, if just maybe humans had started off as Earth worshipers instead of Sun worshipers if perhaps we would have evolved with a greater respect for the Earth. I realize there was a time when people did worship the earth in ways, Gaia and all that, but we seem, as a species, to always be looking up and out, as though there has to be something bigger and brighter out there…

sunny sunshine

And we forget to look under our own feet, where amazing things are happening.

stone path

I guess I just thought if religions got involved in being conscious of how we treat the earth, something good might happen. People might listen more, and if all religions started working towards the same goal, maybe there wouldn’t be so much to fight over. I’m not saying we should replace all religions with Earth centered gods or anything, but it’s something all religions could get behind and it would be a good thing, for many reasons. A shared, concrete mission instead of endless squabbles over this and that. Not that being a conscious earthling requires religion at all, it’s just a thought I had…that maybe when the future species of the future world look at our human limitations, they will see our tragic flaw as our first instinct was to look at the glory of the sun instead of the soil between our toes.

ecology

Trash Talk

Sweden
Sweden (Photo credit: loops)

News from an eco-conscious country: Sweden has apparently gotten so good at recycling and reusing that they are forced to import trash from other countries to fuel their trash-burning energy plants. Here is a link to the story. Come on America, let’s be inspired to recycle and compost as well as the Swedes! (Well done, Sweden.)

ecology

Environmental buildings

I heard this story on NPR yesterday about a Seattle elementary school that is one of the first buildings to be built as a “living building’ in the Northwest. It will be the first elementary school in the country with the label if it is indeed certified after a year of use. This is such a great idea! To let children be the at the forefront of the environmental movement just makes sense, and educating by doing is the best way to do it. I’ve often thought that if I ran a school I’d put a huge focus on energy production, organic gardening, and general environmental education. What a great model this school will be!