Sunday, November 23, 2014

In Defense of Zoos, continued…

I’ve posted in the past about zoos, and why I think they have an important role to play in conservation.  Basically, they allow us to experience creatures that we might never be able to see if we had to travel, while showing us how we can volunteer or encourage conservation.  Regarding the future of zoos, I stated that “I’d rather see animals like invertebrates, Amazonian exhibits where we work to see the sloth in a tree, or birds flying freely in large enclosures.” 

A recent article in Conservation Magazine that you might want to read discusses the future of zoos and makes some very interesting suggestions.  The author, Jon Cohen, predicts that future zoos will contain fewer species, but do a better job of teaching us about evolution and ecological linkages.  Fingers crossed that he’s correct!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Happy World Toilet Day!

Did you know that only 3% of the Earth’s water is freshwater, and it’s not evenly distributed around the world? 69% of the Earth’s freshwater is found in glaciers and icecaps, while 30% of the remainder is groundwater. Roughly 12% of the Earth’s freshwater is found in Brazil’s river basins. Some countries have easy access to this resource, while others have too little or too much.

You know from previous posts that you can get involved in water conservation and cleanup in your local area through stream monitoring.  Following are two additional aspects to water conservation – you can help here too!

One simple way your water use can help the environment is to stop buying bottled water.  The energy spent just to make the bottles is a huge waste of resources. 

So we can look at the water we drink, but what about the “other end?”  Globally, water quality is threatened by the fact that 2.5 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “b”) people don’t have access to a toilet.  That’s a human and environmental disaster, and it’s why the UN has declared 11/19/2014 as World Toilet Day.  It’s a chance to learn about this issue and find about about ways we can help.

Want to learn more about creative water conservation projects?  Check out this article from Conservation magazine.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

You can help with conservation research!

Do you ever wonder if your volunteering for environmental groups or citizen science projects actually helps with conservation?  Here’s a great example of how citizen data gathering really does make a difference!  A recent study, using data from two decades of Project FeederWatch volunteers, shows a northward shifting of many bird species.  Scientists hypothesize that this shift is due to warming temperatures.

So remember, you can make a difference!  And they’re taking volunteers for Project FeederWatch right now – hint, hint…..

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Rigatoni with “soysage” and fennel

20141031173711 (1)Here’s a very tasty pasta option for meat-free Friday – I love the added zip of a little bit of fennel!  I adapted this recipe from one I found in Martha Stewart Living. 

Ingredients
1 lb rigatoni
salt and pepper to taste
2 tblsp (or a little more) olive oil
2 packages Light Life Smart Sausages, Italian Style
1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups veggie broth
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice (or the juice of two lemons)
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
arugula for serving

Instructions
  1. Cook pasta until al dente.  Drain and keep 1 cup of the pasta water.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pan or pot, and saute soysage until browned.
  3. Remove soysage from the pan, but leave the oil.  Saute fennel and carrots, adding salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until tender.  Add veggie broth to the mixture and bring to a simmer.
  4. Add pasta, pasta water, lemon zest, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, and soysage.  Simmer for 3 or 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow sauce to thicken a little. 
  5. Serve on top of arugula.
  6. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Wading in the water, again!

20141101132004During this past election, I saw a lot of political ads.  One issue that caught my attention was the complaining about various environmental regulations, including the “tax on the rain.” Naturally, these ads led to my explaining to my kids where the holes were in this argument.  If you’re wondering why we need to control stormwater runoff, have I got a stream for you!

Over the past two years, I’ve been chronicling our family’s adventures in20141101131344 stream monitoring.  We now monitor Difficult Run stream in Great Falls VA, right next to the national park and the Potomac river.  You’d think this was a healthy stream.  Au contraire!  Once again, during our Fall invertebrate monitoring, our monitoring showed very little life (fewer than 30 individuals) – this stream is heavily impacted by soil erosion and runoff pollution. 

Our everyday actions, including how we wash our cars, how we care for our lawns and gardens, and yes, even how we try to get grandfathered into old stormwater regs when we’re considering new construction, affect our streams.  The streams in my area of northern VA are in big trouble – how are yours doing?  If you missed the earlier post on what’s happening in our streams and how you can help, check out this informative video from NBC news: 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Breakfast for dinner (part II)!

20141103102511Today’s Meat-Free Friday recipe comes from guest blogger Sammy Thompson.  Breakfast burritos – they’re filling enough for dinner!

Breakfast Burritos

Ingredients:

4 eggs

2 tortillas

1 bell pepper

Salt & Pepper

2 Morning Star Original Sausages Patties

Directions:

Make scrambled eggs with the 4 eggs. Put scrambled eggs in tortillas evenly. Dice bell pepper and put in tortillas. Follow instructions on sausage box to make the sausages, and then cut the patties up into small pieces. Then put the cut sausage in the tortillas. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and voila! You have two breakfast burritos.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Be a super hero–protect orangutans!

DSC_0237I know it’s meat-free Friday, but let’s be honest – we won’t be eating dinner tonight.  It’s all candy, all the time, tonight!  Did you know there’s a connection between orangutans and Halloween? It turns out that orangutans live in tropical rainforest that is threatened by the production of palm oil. This palm oil is used in many food products including, you guessed it – many Halloween candies. But there’s good news! A group of snack and candy producers has formed the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) which pledges to only use palm oil farmed using sustainable methods. Here’s some candy that’s part of the RSPO pledge – all of the sweets and none of the guilt! For more info, see www.rspo.org

Orangutan-friendly goodies:
3 Musketeers 
Honey Maid Grahams
Mothers Cookies
Starburst
Almond Joy
Trident Gum
Altoids
Nabisco Sun Chips
Nerds
Sweet Tarts
Baby Ruth
Dove Chocolates
Jolly Ranchers
Nutter Butter Cookies
Keebler Cookies
Oreo Cookies
Twix
Twizzlers
Fruit Roll-Ups
Power Bars
Whoppers
Wonka Candy
Wrigley's
Reese's Candies
Butterfingers
Lifesavers
Cadbury
Grandma's Cookies
Lindor Truffles
Rold Gold Pretzels
Hershey's Milky Way
Snickers