Silent Deforestation in the Tropics

Why Log Truck Drivers

Rise Earlier Than

Students of Zen

In the high seat,

 before-dawn dark,

Polish hubs gleam

And the shiny diesel stack

Warms and flutters

Up the Tyler Road grade

To the logging on Poorman Creek.

Thirty miles of dust.

There is no more life.

   Gary Snyder

   

Senior year of high school, I flipped through my social studies textbook and saw a photograph of protesters marching against deforestation. I don’t remember what land they wanted to protect, but I remember seeing a hippy-looking lady holding a sign that read:

who will speak for the forest?

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Agricultural Pests and Ecological Uncertainty

House sparrows coevolved with our domestic crops. They abandoned their migration patterns and made their home along our farms, silos and waste. As their population soared, so did their reputation as pests and people reacted accordingly.

Beginning as early as the eighteenth century, formal attempts by  European governments emerged to wipe out the sparrow. In parts of Russia, citizens received tax breaks for the number of sparrow heads they sent in to the government. US cookbooks made sure to include sparrows in recipes.

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From Farm to Sky to Poetry

The crops we grow and how we grow them have substantial and often unnoticed influence on our world. While most people can acknowledge how our crops may contribute to water pollution and global warming, many don’t recognize its influence on our arts and culture.  

King Solomon, Catallus, Emily Dickinson and William Carlos Williams, writing over a span of more than two thousand years, in different corners of the world, use the same brown, white and black little bird, the sparrow, to reflect on their poetic realities.

Catallus writes that his lover allowed the sparrow to “perch on her bosom,” in ancient Rome.   

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Building Agrilationships with Social Media

More farmers and environmental-enthusiasts are using social media to develop meaningful connections virtually and face-to-face.

For instance, a new trend has picked up in the farming world to share farm “selfies,” a.k.a “felfies.” Explained in a recent Guardian post, “pouting at a camera isn’t the preserve of trendy young urbanites,” rather it’s the trend of all kinds of people with lifestyles that make it hard to maintain an active communal life; and farm life can be isolating.

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Sharing Food, Sharing Language

Most of us read the news that compels us, watch what pleases us on TV, and ignore the things that don’t. Technologies like Google, Facebook, and Hulu have enabled us, with just a click of a button, to construct personalized worlds that satisfy our little microgenres of curiosity.  

 

A gift of course, but one that brings some trouble. Frank Bruni points out in a New York Times op/ed that as we deepen our investment in our little microgenres, we lose out on a deepened shared culture.  There is no single TV show we all watch or book we all read. With less shared culture we lose some of our shared language. With less shared language we lose some of our “connective tissue,” and many of us feel fragmented from each other because of it.  

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Eating to Beat Illnesses

We all have our healing habits when ailments arise, whether they involve rest, tea, soup, kisses on sore spots, or plain old pill popping. Generally speaking, a better diet, supplemented by low stress, exercise, and social support, are ingredients for a holistically healthy lifestyle. Sometimes more specific measures need to be taken, and it’s worth learning what’s available within the vast realm of remedies. This ongoing blog series features some wellness options worth exploring that focus on diet as an element of healing. Our first three healers are highlighted below.

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Top 5 Pros of Probiotics

We tend to associate bacteria with unhealthy microorganisms that are often blamed for illness, but healthy bacteria, also known as probiotics, can actually play a vital role in our nutritional balance. Probiotics are most typically found in fermented foods. The process of fermentation, in it’s simplest sense, entails breaking down a substance into a simpler substance. Some of the most common fermented foods/drinks are cheese, wine, tea, coffee, beer, sourdough bread and vinegar.

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Is the Gluten Free Craze Just a Phase?

The gluten craze that has swept our supermarkets, bakeries, and conversations, is surprisingly popular in spite of gluten’s mystification. Comedian and late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel puts it best in this funny video, in which he asks pedestrians who claim to have adopted a gluten-free diet what gluten actually is. While some can speak to its health benefits, none really know it is…. Let’s backtrack a bit to better understand what gluten is, and why we think we feel better without it.

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Demystifying Labels

Labels are multiplying in number as the food industry globalizes and expands. Between natural, grass-fed, no hormones added,  fair trade, cage free, free range, vine-ripened and more – the implications of each label are worth breaking down so that we can manage our expectations in buying and eating. We’ll chip away at the food industry’s lingo, term by term, over a series of posts. This entry focuses on the adjective natural. The seemingly innocent word is dangerously vague. It can be colored with plenty of assumptions, thus misrepresenting certain products.

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