Friday, 15 January 2010
Seaweeds have been in use as beneficial food stuffs for millennia. Most island cultures have a history - and pre-history - of extensive seaweed use.
Now you can buy it conveniently dried and packaged in most health food shops and many ethnic shops. The Chinese and Japanese have huge areas devoted to seaweed cultivation. They've also developed the use of seaweed to a high degree. If you want to sample seaweed cuisine at its best, go to a good Japanese restaurant. Seaweed is also harvested from the coasts of Scotland, Ireland and Wales.
There are many different kinds which are worth trying, including dulse, laver and kelp. There is even a type of seaweed which is particularly renowned as an aid to weight loss.
For more information on seaweed benefits, please see my article about Seaweed health benefits
Do I eat seaweed? Of course, but not always as often as I mean to! I nearly always feel better for eating it but I do tend to forget about it as it stores so well in the back of the cupboard.
Think I'll make it a new year's resolution to eat seaweed more often. It's delicious, so it shouldn't be exactly a chore. Just got to convince everyone else...
Monday, 19 October 2009
The point is to draw people's attention to the need for a climate treaty which works and which does not disadvantage the poor. 350.org is putting pressure on governments world wide in advance of the climate talks at Copenhagen in December.
You can check on the 350.org website to see if there are any initiatives happening near you.
The way it works, everyone takes a photo of their event and uploads it to the 350 website,. Pictures will be used to lobby governments and also will be on display in Times Square, New York, on the day.
The number 350 was chosen because it represents the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (in parts per million) which could be safe. We are already way past that level... and rising!
The reason we chose a bike ride for this event is that cycling is a very low carbon form of travel - and one which deserves to be better catered for on our roads.
Saturday, 10 January 2009
They are only asking for donations of 2 dollars from people. Seems like a bargain to me - the forests are the lungs of the world and the medicine chest of the people of the world!
Here's the link:
Save the Atlantic Forest
Friday, 12 December 2008
This is like gardening for crops but without the backache and without the hours of toil.
It is also extraordinarily easy to do and the results are tasty and highly nutritious.
Here's what you do.
Find a large jar and buy some suitable seeds. If you are a vegetable gardener you can use the fruit of your labours, of course. There are lots of different seeds that can be used but here are some of the best and easiest to begin with.
Alfalfa is easy and widely available. You can buy them from online seed catalogues or you may find them available in your local garden centre. Broccoli seeds are good. fenugreek, too are easy to use and if you want something like the bean sprouts available in oriental food shops and supermarkets the mung beans are a good choice.
Put a small handful of seeds into the jar and add some filtered water. You can use ordinary tap water but filtered water is better because it has fewer impurities. Swill the water around gently and leave the seeds to soak for a few hours or overnight.
Next you need to start rinsing the seeds regularly in fresh filtered water. This is not hard and you only need to do it a couple of times a day so it is not time consuming.
Drain off the water which you used to soak the seeds. Use either a fine mesh sieve or find some muslin and tie it over the mouth of the jar. Now add fresh water and swill it around gently. If you use a tap, be careful not to blast the seeds with a powerful jet of water; the young shoots are really quite delicate. Immediately drain the water off the seeds and leave the jar on its side in a cool shaded or dark place. The seeds should begin to sprout.
You need to repeat this rinsing with fresh water twice a day, morning and evening, until the sprouts are large enough to eat. Most seeds take from 4 days to about a week to be ready.
Before eating them, give them a good final rinse in fresh water. If you want some green tips leave the jar in the light for a couple of days. Do not leave them in strong sunlight because you may find that the seeds spoil. The conditions inside the jar will become like a small overheated greenhouse and your little green world will suffer its own global warming!
Seeds are best sprouted either in almost complete darkness - under the sink, for example, or in shady conditions such as in a dark part of the kitchen. Put them somewhere where you won't forget them.
If you do forget them, then just rinse them extra well and survey the damage. If you only forget them once or twice they will likely be quite alright. If they are not rinsed enough then you may find they become unpleasant and even smelly!
You can keep the finished sprouts in the fridge for several days ready for use in salads, sandwiches and stir fries.
If you enjoy sprouting seeds it may be worth buying a seed sprouting jar which helps you to get even better results and even sprout several different varieties at once.
Greenfootsteps article on sprouting seeds
Friday, 7 November 2008
Redefining Progress is asking the question:
"How can the next president address our most urgent national priorities in a way that assures we not only solve current crises — be they climate change, financial meltdown, or any of a number of concerns — but also prevent their recurrence?"
They also attempt to answer some of these questions on their site. They may or may not have all the answers but it is clear that the president-elect is ready and willing to listen to his public.
If you want to help inform or persuade the next president of the USA go to his site:
Change.gov. You don't need to be a US citizen to do this! You can submit your ideas for the new administration very easily and quickly with one simple online form.
You can see what Redefining Progress thinks here
Monday, 16 June 2008
These days of rising fuel costs we can feel a very personal interest in getting more miles for our money when we fill up at the gas station. But running our cars for better fuel efficiency is a green issue, too.
Gasoline produces pollutant gases which contribute to urban smog as well as contributing to climate change.
So here are some easy tips to help both lower the carbon footprint of your motor and keep expenditure down.
Fuel efficiency tips
Learn to drive smoothly and gently. I know this may go against the grain for some drivers (I'm sure we've all revved the engine at traffic lights at some time!)
Driving smoothly and gently really will save you quite a lot of gas. The trick is to keep the engine revs as low as you can without making the car struggle. Change through the gears when the revs start to rise. Let the car run in a relatively high gear (except on steep hills of course and anywhere else it might be unsafe.)
Slow down gently, too. This means that you need to read the road ahead carefully so as to anticipate stops, bends and slow downs. If you are braking more than you need you are just wasting fuel. Slow down for lights early to avoid having to stop unnecessarily; it's more efficient to gain speed again if you haven't come to an absolute stop.
Work out your car's optimum cruising speed for fuel consumption. The handbook may help you - or the manufacturers web site. If you have an on board rev counter or computer this will help. You can buy add-ons but they are relatively expensive.
Most cars lose efficiency after about 55 miles per hour. The British Autombile Association reckons that most cars are 17% less efficient at 70 mph than they are at 60 mph.
Cut your motor whenever it's safe to do so. You also don't need to "warm up" most modern cars. If you need to de-mist or de-ice windshields, use a cloth, a scraper, or tepid water rather than running the motor and heating system.
Your air-con can also cost you in reduced fuel efficiency, so don't use it until you need to. Run it about once a week though to keep the system problem-free.
Open windows are at least as bad as air con. They create significant drag and lose you valuable gas-miles.
Excess weight in your car can also burn fuel needlessly, so check there's nothing heavy hiding in the trunk!
Take off any roof racks and bike racks when you don't need them as they cause significant drag through wind resistance. Even dirt can cause some extra wind resistance and thereby reduce fuel efficiency, so it pays to keep your car clean and shiny!
Keep your tyres properly inflated. This can make a surprising amount of difference to fuel efficiency. However, don't be tempted to over-do it. Over-inflated tyres can lead to loss of control on bends and when braking.
Careful journey planning to avoid getting lost is worth the time put in. Listening to the traffic reports on your radio can also save you from unprofitable and frustrating time in lengthy queues. (If you are stuck in a stationary queue for more than a minute or two, then it's worth switching off your engine.)
Give yourself plenty of time to get to where you are going so that you don't need to race. Think about your route to avoid congestion spots, peak flow, traffic lights and diversions. All these can affect your fuel efficiency and also your pocket!
If you do most of the things listed above you could shave as much as 20% off your car fuel bills. Here are one or two ways to improve your fuel efficiency even further.
If you are thinking of buying a new car, check out the energy ratings of cars you are considering. New cars in the UK are rated, just like fridges and washing machines, for energy efficiency with a colour-coded chart.
The US Government runs a useful site FuelEconomy.gov which enables you to check cars against each other for fuel efficiency and economy. It also lets you search for cars by miles per gallon.
Think about putting your journey off! The more things you can accomplish on one trip the better, so wait til you have a number of errands to do. A warmed up engine is more efficient so you will get better mileage by running several errands one after another as one trip. You can find lots of tips for putting off shopping trips at Greenfootsteps.com
You could also think about sharing some of your journeys. There are some great ride sharing schemes available now. Check out Carbudi for one. Sharing shopping trips with friends and neighbours can also be sociable and fun.
If you are thinking of buying a new car, check out the energy ratings of cars you are considering. New cars in the UK are rated, just like fridges and washing machines, for energy efficiency with a colour-coded chart. There's also lots of useful info - including info on hybrids and electric cars, too at GreenCarSite.co.uk
Saturday, 27 January 2007
How many vegetarians and vegans actually know that?
This has to be quite an enormous part of the meat trade. I'm not about to give up leather - or meat for that matter - but I will switch to vegetarian soaps.
So what are modern soaps - the kind you find in supermarkets - made from?
In most cases they are made from rendered animal fats, often beef fat. There's also a clutch of added fragrances and sometimes extra oil so that the company can claim health benefits for your skin. And of course, caustic soda.
Need we be worried?
About the caustic soda, No! Caustic soda or "lye" has been used in soap making for generations. It is not a particularly safe material if it comes to using it around the home. If you are exposed to it at work - in a soap factory, for example, it is an occupational hazard. Repeat exposure to fumes may damage your health. If it comes into contact with your skin it can cause severe burns because it is, literally, caustic. But once it's reacted with the fats in soap it becomes harmless.
There are some concerns about the "natural" sounding ingredients, though.
Some fragrances contain artificial musks which are suspected of causing health problems in some individuals. They also persisit in the environment and eventaully arrive in our water sources.
There are huge health implications in that, of course!
Often soap manufacturers don't list the sources of fragrance that they use, so we have no way of knowing exactly what's in there. According to the EWG, "fragrance" mixtures are exempt from product labeling laws. They can include hundreds of individual ingredients and often act as human allergens. A recent survey found that as many as one in 50 people suffer immune system damage from exposure to fragrance.
What's the solution?
Buy vegetarian soaps from many of the excellent small-scale soap manufacturers. Across America and increasingly in Europe and Britain there are hundreds of home craftspeople who make amazing and excellent soaps. Many of them are made with 100% pure natural, organic materials, apart from the lye, of course.
You can find these products in farmers' markets, craft shops and some health food shops.
It's great to know that, not only are you not going to give yourself a headache from unknown chemicals in your bath water, you are supporting biodiversity and organic farming.
And the best thing is they are a sensory delight , with beautiful colours, textures and natural scents.