Friday, May 30, 2014

Italian soul food!

It’s almost summer, and I, for one, am looking forward to tasty food at summer festivals.  One of my favorites is italian sausage and pepper sandwiches.  How can a vegetarian greenmomster have all the tastiness and none of the meat?  Here’s the vegetarian version; we call it “Italian soul food” at our20140528182354 house!


1 package Smart Sausages Italian Syle
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 onion
8 tblsp olive oil
hot dog buns

1)  Slice peppers and onions into long, thin strips.
2)  Put 4 tblsp olive oil into each of two frying pans and heat.  Fry italian sausage in one pan and peppers and onion in the other (until the pepper and onion are very soft)
3)  Place sausage into hot dog bun and top with peppers and onions.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

TBT–an endangered species success story!

This week’s throwback Thursday post comes from Memorial Day 2012 – a success story!  Be sure to “Like” greenmomster on Facebook for more environmental success stories.

For Memorial Day, we’re going to take a look at an endangered species success story – the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)!  Who doesn’t love seeing our national symbol (since 1782) flying majestically through the skies?  I know that one of the high points ofour recent visit to Chincoteague NWR (photo from was seeing the beautiful bald eagle fly above us as we biked the island.  But views of bald eagles weren’t always so common.  According to National Geographic News, there were only 417 nesting pairs in 1963.   Many attempts were made to try to protect bald eagles, including  the 1940 Bald Eagle Protection Act and listing under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, but it was the banning of DDT that really helped the recovery of these birds. 

DDT was a commonly used insecticide in the 1950s and 1960s.  Insects had the DDT in their systems, and fish then ate the insects.  Eagles then ate the fish.  As we move up the food chain (insect to fish to eagle), more and more of the insecticide would accumulate in the tissues of each animal (ie.  an insect has a little insecticide; fish eat many insects, thus their tissues have more insecticide; eagles eat many fish).  This phenomenon is called “bioaccumulation”.  DDT caused the eggshells of eagles to soften, so young would not survive.  Thanks to the banning of all hunting of eagles and of all use of DDT, we can enjoy seeing our national bird today and everyday!

Bald eagle fun facts: 

  • The bald eagle is a large bird, weighing between 10 and 14 pounds. 
  • Bald eagles can live up to thirty years, reaching sexual maturity at around 5 years. 
  • Both males and females share the duty of incubating the eggs (about 35 days)
  • Bald eagles can fly at speeds up to 35 mph

Check out NWF’s eagle cam to get your daily eagle fix!
Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Friday, May 23, 2014

Turtles Rock!

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In honor of World Turtle Day, I’m re-posting about my favorite animals – the loggerheads at Edisto Island SC!  Meat-free Friday resumes next week!

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, one of the high points of my summer each year is visiting the beaches of South Carolina and watching the baby loggerhead turtles head for life in the ocean.  This year was no different!  It’s been a great year for loggerheads in SC; both Bull Island and the Edisto Beach State Park reported their second highest number of nests (last year was number 1).  One of the naturalists speculated that since the turtle protection project is in its 30th year, and it takes roughly 30 years for loggerhead turtles to reach sexual maturity, the program is just now beginning to show the product of all the hard work.  Turtle project managers hope that this is just the beginning of many more successful nesting years for these endangered turtles.
Loggerhead turtles are truly impressive creatures.  They start off small, but grow to a whopping 200-300 lbs!  IMG_20130815_190125_501  Following a harrowing run to the ocean, avoiding hungry seagulls, the baby turtles hitch a ride on an ocean current and make their way to the Sargasso Sea.  There they float in the sargassum until they grow large enough to continue their 30 year journey north through the Atlantic Ocean and then down to the Caribbean.  Only about 1 in 1000 eggs laid reaches sexual maturity!
Here’s a myth-buster!  Have you heard that sea turtles always return to the same beach to nest?  Well, recent DNA research is showing that this isn’t always the case.  One female turtle this year laid eggs in three states!
So what is this turtle protection program I keep mentioning?  Many naturalists, turtle researchers, and volunteers deserve credit for this successful program.  Tiny turtles hatch from the soft eggs IMG_20130815_184203_296, which the females lay in deep holes above the high tide line in the middle of the night.  Early each morning, researchers and volunteers head to the beach to mark the location of new nests and protect the nests with flags and fencing.  If staff believe that the nests are below the high tide line, they may decide to move the nest further toward the dunes to avoid flooding of the nest.  After the expected date of nest hatching, staff again spring into action.   This volunteer is digging up a nest which has already hatched, to see if there are any hatchlings alive but trapped in the nest (they didn’t make it out with the rest of the baby turtles).   IMG_20130815_184059_922  After digging up the hatched nests, volunteers and program staff log the number of eggs hatched and the number of unhatched eggs:  IMG_20130815_184641_381.  The nest in the previous picture had many unhatched eggs; staff hypothesized that the nest was laid below the high tide line.  After the volunteers find any turtles still trapped in the nest, they set the tiny creatures free to begin their ocean adventure.  turtle hatchling at sunset
Sea turtles have been on Earth for millions of years and are currently threatened by human activities including entrapment in fishing gear, boat strikes, and pollution which turtles can mistake for food.  You can help these incredible creatures and the programs designed to protect them:

  • Never litter on the beach.  Pick up any litter you see (cups, plastic bags, bottles) to protect turtles from accidental ingestion
  • Only buy shrimp from fleets that use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) on their fishing gear (it’s a law for U.S. fleets)
  • You can adopt a turtle or adopt a nest – what a great way to help protect these magnificent creatures!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

TBT -- 5 reasons Przewalski’s horses are cooler than thoroughbreds

Przewalski’s horse filly

This week’s throwback Thursday post is in honor of the upcoming Belmont – will California Chrome earn the triple crown?  But wait, there’s an equally impressive creature out on the plains of Mongolia – the Przewalski’s horse!  (photo credit to National Zoo website)

The endangered species of the week is Przewalski’s Horse (pronounced “sheh-val-skee”). This horse is native to plains and grasslands of Mongolia, as well as other parts of Asia and eastern Europe, but I first saw one at the National Zoo’s Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA.  Although these horses are small (about 13 hands high and between 550 and 750 pounds), they’re impressive with tan fur on their bodies and a short, dark mane and tail.  They have evolved to survive the harsh winters in Mongolia, but in the 20th century the species had trouble surviving in the face of habitat loss, loss of water sources to domestic animals, and overhunting.  The Przewalski’s horse was declared extinct in the wild by the World Conservation Union in 1970.

Thanks to an active captive breeding program, Przewalski’s horses were reintroduced to the wild in 2008.  There are currently 1,500 horses in captivity worldwide, and approximately 400 horses in reintroduction sites in Mongolia, Kazahkstan, and China.  All of today’s current population of Przewalski’s horses come from 14 ancestors.  Thus, the gene pool for this horse is very narrow.  Scientists must very carefully coordinate breeding among the captive horses to try to maximize genetic diversity and make the population more able to withstand various stresses, such as disease.
So Przewalski’s horse is beautiful, but why should we care about its survival?  Because a species like this one tells us when we’re having too much of an impact on the ecosystem.  Humans are part of the natural world; we depend on natural resources for our survival.  But sometimes we take more than our share, and the ecosystem on which we depend begins to suffer.  Species like Przewalski’s horse tell us when our agricultural or hunting practices are unsustainable.
And if you needed more reasons to protect the Przewalski’s horse, here are 5 Reasons Przewalski’s Horses are cooler than thoroughbreds:

  1. It is the only truly wild horse remaining in the world (it’s never been tamed for riding).
  2. I’ve never fallen off a Prezwalski’s horse (I’ve definitely fallen off a thoroughbred)
  3. Prezwalski’s horses can make it through winter in Mongolia without a horse blanket.
  4. The Mongolian name for these horses is “takhi,” which means “spirit.”   That’s way cooler than names like Chicken Lips or Buck Naked.
  5. Przewalski’s horses have 2 more chromosomes than domestic horses(66 vs. 64).

Oh, and did you know that horse vasectomies can be reversed?  Greenmomster’s always here for you with fun facts:


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Sunday, May 18, 2014

What’s your environmental IQ?

skymeadows spring 2014 1Many of us think we know a lot about environmental issues, but how much do we really know?  Here’s a great quiz, posted by the City of Tulsa OK , that can give you an idea of your “environmental IQ”. 

Here’s an additional little quiz to help you figure out what’s in your backyard and become more aware of your local environment.  Unfortunately, I can’t provide the answers for every locale --if you don’t know the answers, I guess you know what you’ve got for homework!

  1. In which watershed do you live?  A watershed is a topographical area that drains to one body of water.  So where does your stormwater drain – what’s the name of your local creek?
  2. What’s the source of your drinking water?  (groundwater, surface water (which body of water?))
  3. What happens to your garbage when it leaves your house?  Does it go to a landfill, incinerator, etc?
  4. Name two bird species that live in your area year-round.winter cardinal
  5. Name two bird species that migrate in and out of your area every year.
  6. What’s the source of your electric power?  (coal, natural gas, nuclear, solar?)
  7. Where’s your local wastewater treatment plant? (usually, it’s pretty easy to Google this one!)

Want to try some “big picture” (rather than local) environmental quizzes?  Check out the ABC News Environmental IQ test and The Wall Street Journal.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Green Chili Stew

Billy Joel might be in a New York state of mind, and James Taylor has Carolina on his mind, but I’m thinking about dry New Mexico today (easily one of my favorite places) as flood warnings rage here in VA.  Here’s a recipe for green chili 69790002stew from Family Circle magazine that I’ve altered (rather significantly) to taste just the way I like it.  I hope it takes you to New Mexico in your mind! (and be sure to Like greenmomster on Facebook for your weekly recipes!)


6 cups vegetable broth
1 jar tomatillo salsa (I like Frontera)
1 large green pepper, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
3 heaping tablespoons of minced garlic
2 tsp cumin
3, 4 oz. cans of hot diced green chilis (I like Hatch)
1 tsp salt
2 12 oz. packages of Quorn Chick’n Tenders
2 15.5 oz cans of butter beans, drained and rinsed (use 3 cans if you want really thick stew, rather than soup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
sour cream, scallions

1) In a large pot, saute onion, green pepper, and garlic in olive oil to slightly soften the peppers -- don't let the onions become transparent.  Add veggie broth, salsa, cumin, chilis, and salt. Add in quorn nuggets and simmer on low heat for at least 1/2 hour.
2) Stir in beans and cilantro.
697900013) Garnish with sour cream and scallions, if desired.  Serve with Phil's corn bread

Thursday, May 15, 2014

TBT–We are the 10%

It’s allergy season, which means those of us with asthma are huffing and puffing.  Here’s the perfect Throwback Thursday post from a couple of years ago.  To see all the latest posts and more info, be sure to “like” greenmomster on Facebook.

It was about 2 am and there I sat, waiting, listening, and hoping that my son’s asthma medication would take effect quickly.  Our family has three of the approximately 34 million Americans with asthma.  That’s roughly 10% of the U.S. population, according to the American Lung Association.  Asthma is an iA mother helps her daughter with an asthma inhaler.nflammation of the airways, making it difficult to breathe.  Asthma has significant health and economic effects:  

  • the CDC National Center for Health Statistics estimates that asthma is the reason for approximately half a million hospitalizations per year
  • the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that medical expenses associated with asthma increased from $48.6 billion in 2002 to $50.1 billion in 2007.  About 2 in 5 (40%) uninsured people with asthma could not afford their prescription medicines and about 1 in 9 (11%) insured people with asthma could not afford their prescription medicines.
  • the CDC National Center for Health Statistics states that asthma accounts for about 10.1 missed work days per year
  • Females have a 23% higher occurrence of asthma than males (American Lung Association)
  • Between 2001 to 2003, the occurrence of asthma in the U.S. was highest in the Northeast region (CDC)
  • According to the American Lung Association, in 2006, asthma prevalence was 20.1% higher in African Americans than in whites
  • According to the CDC, from 2001-2003, asthma prevalence was higher in individuals living below the federal poverty level (10.3%) compared with those at or above the federal poverty level (6.4% to 7.9%)
And moms, take note:
  • The greatest rise in asthma rates was among black children(almost a 50% increase) from 2001 through 2009 (CDC Vital Signs, 5/11)
  • 185 children died of asthma attacks in 2007 (CDC Vital Signs, 5/11) and nearly 4 million children had asthma attacks last year (Akinbami LJ. The State of childhood asthma, United States, 1980–2005. Advance data from vital and health statistics; no 381, Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2006)
  • For children under 15, asthma is the 3rd leading cause of hospital stays (DeFrances CJ Cullen KA, Kozak LJ. National Hospital Discharge Survey: 2005 Annual Summary with Detailed Diagnosis and Procedure Data. National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Statistics 12 (165); 2007)
  • From 2001 to 2003, the CDC reports that the occurrence of asthma in children (8.5%) was higher than in adults (6.7%)

So what triggers asthma and asthma attacks?  First off, asthma is a family affair.  Children with parents who have asthma are more likely to have asthma themselves.  A predisposition for having asthma has been found to be passed down genetically.  Now, just because a person has a predisposition, that doesn’t mean they’ll actually get the disease.  But if they do, what might set off an asthma attack?  Allergies often lead to asthma (dust mites, molds, pollen, etc).  Virus and bacterial infections can lead to asthma symptoms (often, a person with asthma will begin to wheeze or cough if they get a cold).  Some people have exercise-induced asthma.  Others get asthma attacks due to certain foods or drugs.  But asthma can be triggered by something else. 

Asthma can be triggered by pollution.  Pollutants such as particulate matter, sulfur dioxide (SO2), and ozone (ground-level ozone, that is) have been shown to increase the occurrence of asthma attacks, particularly in children.  What types of activities produce these pollutants?  The small particles that might affect the lungs are produced from the chemical reaction of pollutants from power plants, industries, and automobiles.  Sulfur dioxide is most commonly produced from the burning of fossil fuels (coal and oil), as well as cement production.  Ozone isn’t usually emitted directly as a pollutant; it’s formed by the action of sunlight on NOx which comes from car exhausts, fuel combustion, and industrial processes.  Beginning to see a trend?  The pollutants that cause the most problems for asthmatics come from our cars and our power plants.   Limiting discharge of pollutants will protect children and other people affected by asthma.  Will it raise our fuel costs?  Possibly.  There’s some conflicting information as discussed by the Edison Electric Institute and the Congressional Research Service.  Full disclosure, my husband works for an energy company, so I’ve heard both sides of the argument.  But let’s look at it this way – someone has to pay.  Should we, the users of cars and power from fossil fuels, each pay a little more for a cleaner environment, or should we ask the payment to be made by the most vulnerable – our children, individuals living below the poverty level, the elderly?  My son’s asthma is controlled with medicine and attacks are infrequent, but others are not so lucky.

What can one person do?  Get educated about efforts to limit discharge of these pollutants to the environment.  Contact your legislators/local industries/power producers regarding this issue – let your opinion be known.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Global Day of Action to Cut Conflict Palm Oil

Today, we have a guest post from Harriet Shugarman, Executive Director of Climate Mama.  Harriet is an inspirational leader guiding us all as we try to stop climate change. I encourage you to check out her website and her blog.  Please take a little time this Mother’s Day to learn about a Global Day of Action to Cut Conflict Palm Oil!

may20DoAWhen problems seem overwhelming for our children, we remind them to take things “one day at time.” Amazingly, their problems often don’t seem so big or so overwhelming anymore.  On May 20, 2014, you and your family can join me and my family and thousands of other folks around the world as we take one day and create thousands and thousands of actions around ONE ask: PepsiCo The Power to Cut Conflict Palm Oil is #InYourPalm.

For most of us, making a difference and creating change around huge global problems like the destruction of the world’s rainforests and climate change seems way too big and too hard to imagine taking on. As parents, between work in and outside our homes, getting to and from lacrosse games, music and dance classes, putting nutritional meals on the table, arranging play dates for our kids, and finding time for the occasional play date of our own, our lives are full, busy, and regularly frenetic and hectic.  Yet as parents, our job is to create a safe, secure and sustainable future for our children, so taking on huge challenges like climate change is definitely in our job description. By “connecting the dots” between palm oil production, climate change, orangutan habitats, snack foods and our purchasing habits, we will be doing our job and protecting our children and the planet.

Join me and The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) on May 20,th for a Global Day of Action to cut Conflict Palm Oil. Together we are demanding that PepsiCo stop using Conflict Palm Oil in its snack food brands and start helping us tackle and create solutions that will fight huge problems like climate change and deforestation. Join us as we show our children how powerful they can be and how solutions to seemingly overwhelming global problems can be positive, fun and sometimes, frankly, pretty simple when we tackle them together.

There are three easy steps: 

  • First, check out our Day of Action Toolkit and come up with a vision for your photo action.
  • Second, add the details of your photo action to the event map.
  • Once you get your image, upload it to RAN’s Smug Mug Gallery and post it to Pepsi’s Facebook Wall with this message: #PepsiCo, the power to Cut Conflict Palm Oil is #InYourPalm.

Grab the kids in your life and watch and listen as Ashley Schaeffer Yildiz, a new mom and RAN Palm Oil Campaigner, shows us “how it’s done” by giving us some great ideas we can use to persuade some of the biggest companies in the world, the Snack Food 20, to join us and do the right thing. By changing where they source their palm oil these global companies can stop the production of Conflict Palm Oil which will help save important rainforests, slow down climate change and also protect the homes of some of the world’s last remaining orangutans.

These companies know that we are carefully watching what they do. In fact several of the major Snack Food 20 companies, including Mars, Kellogg, General Mills, Unilever and Nestle have recently responded to consumer outrage by announcing new commitments and the strengthening of their palm oil purchasing policies or sourcing practices. PepsiCo however, remains a key laggard.

Just as the Snack Food 20 have sourcing choices for their products we have choices too. We can choose to support brands and buy snack foods that don’t contain Conflict Palm Oil. And the good news… the power is #InYourPalm!  Call a family meeting today, and come up with your own family plan for the Global Day of Action. These actions can be big or small, in parks, on college campuses, at home, or even at Pepsi branded locations around the world. The beauty of the day of action is that each of our actions will be unique, but they'll have two things in common: they will include the words #InYourPalm in some way, shape or form and will connect our families to folks around the globe who are united in our efforts to end rainforest destruction caused by the production of Conflict Palm Oil.

Whether you are 8 or 80, the New York Times, The Union of Concerned Scientists, or even Ashley’s new baby boy, together we can “change the world” by taking on big problems one day at a time! Please join us and invite your family, friends and neighbors to take part in the May 20th Global Day of Action to Cut Conflict Palm Oil, the power really is, #InYourPalm! Ashleyinyourpalm

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Asparagus season!

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It’s almost asparagus season (photo from!  My favorite way to prepare asparagus is very simple.  First I wash the asparagus, use a potato peeler to peel the stems a little, and snap off the hard ends.  I then place the asparagus on a baking sheet, spray with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and broil at about 450 degrees for about 15 minutes – delicious!

Feeling a little more ambitious?  Then try this recipe for Lemony Vegetable Risotto that I’ve adapted from Family Circle (July 2012):

32 oz. vegetable broth
1 bag frozen asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces (or the equivalent of fresh asparagus)
1 bag frozen peas (or the equivalent of fresh peas)
1 tblsp olive oil
1 tblsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup diced shallots
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
3 tblsp lemon juice
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp salt

1)  Boil the broth and 1/2 cup water.  Add asparagus and peas for about 3 minutes.  Remove veggies with a slotted spoon and set aside, but keep the water/broth.
2)  Heat oil and butter in a large pan, and add shallots, cooking for about 2 minutes.  Stir in the rice and cook for another minute.  Pour in wine and cook until the liquid is almost gone.
3)  To the rice mixture, add 1/2 cup of the reserved water/broth, stirring well, and cook until the broth is almost gone.  Repeat this step with additional 1/2 cups of water/broth until the rice is tender (it will probably take about 25 minutes).
4)  Stir in lemon juice, parmesan, peas and asparagus.  Enjoy immediately!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

TBT–Why military personnel (and those who love them) should care about climate change

Since the U.S. climate change report came out this week, I thought we’d stick with climate change for this week’s TBT post.  Enjoy!

I come from a military family.  My dad is a prior-enlisted, West Point grad who served 32 years, including two tours in Vietnam.  My brother served in the Army reserves and my husband in the Coast GuardDSC_0087 (where we met!)  I worked as a civilian with the Coast Guard for seven years.  I even had a grandfather in the German navy!  I may be a tree-huggin’, birkenstock wearin’, environmental blogger, but I’m also well aware of the service of our military personnel.  I believe that climate change is an issue about which military personnel should educate themselves and become active.  Here’s why:

  • Your chain of command – DOD has stated very clearly that climate change is an issue of concern to the military.  A recent report by the Defense Science Board Task Force outlined recommended steps that DOD and other federal agencies should take to address climate change and its global impacts.  The report “recognizes that changes already underway are having, and will continue to have, major consequences for the political, economic, and geographic world as we know it.”  The report included a special focus on Africa and stated that DOD needs a strong climate change information database, a government-wide approach to mitigating climate change impacts, and engagement with international leaders to work toward a global solution. 
  • Climate refugees – Several recent reports (Stern 2006;  Bierman and Boas 2010; UN website ) have estimated that by 2050 100-200 million people worldwide could be displaced due to direct effects of climate change (flooding).   Most of the refugees will come from Asia and Africa.  As these people move, they will need to find new homes.  Often, our military is called upon to provide peace-keeping activities during these types of events. 
  • Climate conflict – Not everyone will move on from flooding in a peaceful way.  Additionally, the secondary effects of climate change include drought, inland flooding, and storms which could affect food supplies.  Countries often go to war when resources get tight.
  • Taxes – The military pays taxes too!  As we see more “weird weather” throughout the U.S., we’ll also see more people whose homes and towns were destroyed by floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes.  We’ve already seen lower lobster harvests in Maine(due to higher sea temperatures),and lower water levels in Lake Erie leading to altered port and shore infrastucture.  These adjustments and rebuilds cost money, lots of money.  “But hey, so does stopping climate change!” you say.  Well, I’d rather have my tax dollars go toward proactive change that could prevent problems down the road, as opposed to spending millions to close the barn door after the horse is gone. (Take a look at theChesapeake Bay Foundation’s report regarding jobs and environmental protection, too).

Climate change is real; it’s happening.   And frankly, our military personnel will be some of the first folks to deal with the results.  Need a quick primer on climate change?  Check out the series of videos on the topic, “Don’t Just Sit There, Do Something.”  Here’s the latest edition

    The others can be found at  Now is the time for military personnel, and those who love them, to get educated and get active to slow the effects of climate change!

Be sure to "like" greenmomster on facebook for the latest updates.

Biello, D.  2009.  “Can Climate Change Cause Conflict? Recent History Suggests So” in Scientific American, November 23, 2009.  Accessed online 10/8/2012.
Bierman, F. and I. Boas.  2010. 
Preparing for a Warmer World: Towards a Global Governance System to ProtectClimate Refugees. Global Environmental Politics. Feb2010, Vol. 10 Issue 1, p60-88, 29p, 1 Chart.
Defense Science Board Task Force.  2011.  Trends and Implications of Climate Change for National and International Security.  Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, October 2011.
Stern, N.  2006.  Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change.  Accessed via web on 10/8/2012.  Last updated 7/4/2010.
United Nations. 2012.  Accessed via web on 10/8/2012.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

So you slept through science class–what does “anadromous” mean?

Here’s the next post in our occasional series, “so you slept through science class.”  All those questions about the natural world that you were afraid (or didn’t know) to ask!

It’s spring, so that means that the shad are running in the Potomac river!  20140419172916  Shad are an anadromous fish in the Chesapeake Bay region -- so what does anadromous mean?  Salmon are the poster children for anadromous fish that most folks know – they live their adult lives in saltwater and migrate to freshwater to spawn (breed).  Other than the obvious environmental challenges of switching from a saltwater to a freshwater environment, man-made environmental challenges also exist for these fish.  Challenges for these fish include dams, which create barriers for the fish as they try to move upstream.  According to NOAA, over 5,000 miles of fish habitat are currently blocked in the Chesapeake Bay area!   In 2005, the Chesapeake Bay Program initiated a program to complete 100 fish passages or dam removals by 2014.  That means that 1,000 new miles of fish habitat is now available to migrating fish! 

The opposite of anadromous fish is “catadromous” fish, or fish that live in freshwater, but migrate to saltwater to breed.  In the Chesapeake Bay area, we’re talking eels!

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Avocado and Bean Burritos!

Farmers Markets are opening this week!  Here’s a tasty and simple recipe that uses some of the available produce.

3 15.5 oz cans black beans, drained
about 3 teaspoons cumin (to taste)
about 3 teaspoons garlic (to taste)
2 avocados (omit these if you're going strictly locavore)
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 cups chopped tomatoes (if they're not in season, omit or try canned)
2 cups chopped onions
sour cream
salsa verde
3 cups corn (frozen, canned, or fresh)
10 tortillas (slightly heated); you can use corn or flour tortillas, whichever your diners prefer


  1. Combine beans, cumin, and garlic and heat in a small saucepan.
  2. Peel and chop avocado.  Mix in a bowl with lime juice and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  3. Set up the table with separate bowls of beans, avocado, tomato, onion, sour cream, salsa verde, and corn.  Let the gang prepare their own burritos, just the way they like it!
  4. Makes 10 burritos

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

5 Ways to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone!

As everyone on Facebook knows, it’s “throwback Thursday!”  So Greenmomster is joining the trend by re-publishing former posts that still seem relevant.  Since we just celebrated Earth Day, here’s an Earth Day post from 2012!

For this Earth Day, I’m not going to suggest tree-planting or trash pickup (see Climate Mama for family friendly ideas).  I’m not going to suggest going for a hike or canoe ride.  Most of us have a “comfort zone” in which we live.  Unfortunately, our comfort zones have led to some pretty uncomfortable realities for the Earth on which we live.  This Earth Day, let’s talk about uncomfortable subjects and do something to address the really big “elephants in the room.”  Here are 5 suggestions for Earth Day activities that might get us out of our comfort zones.

1)  Talk about human population growth and its effect on the planet.  Population growth is the “elephant in the room” that no one wants to discuss, but we need to discuss it.  There are currently 7 billion people on Earth and many estimates expect a peak of 9 billion people!  There are lots of suggestions regarding how we might slow population growth, from increasing women’s educational and economic levels to handing out condoms.  What do you think is the most practical solution?  What’s the best way to get people to consider the environment when planning family size?  On a light note, one group will be giving out endangered species condoms – check them out!

Burning the Future: Coal in America2)  Watch a movie about the coal industry in West Virginia.  We should all know where our energy comes from and how our energy use affects the lives of other citizens.  To help raise greater public awareness about the environmental and public health impacts of coal,BURNING THE FUTURE: COAL IN AMERICA will air on PBS this April and May.  The film will also be available to view free online during Earth Day Weekend (4/21-22/2012).  If you’d like to register to watch the film, visit the online registration

3)  Educate yourself about climate change.  No matter how much we’d like to stick our heads in the sand, climate change is occurring and it is primarily caused by human activity.  Here is some of what we know about climate change from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007)(IPCC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

  • “Global atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values determined from ice cores spanning many thousands of years. The global increases in carbon dioxide concentration are due primarily to fossil fuel use and land use change, while those of methane and nitrous oxide are primarily due to agriculture. (IPCC 2007)
  • Current levels of atmospheric CO2 are the highest in the past 650,000 years. (NOAA)
  • “Average arctic temperatures increased at almost twice the global average rate in the past 100 years. Arctic temperatures have high decadal variability, and a warm period was also observed from 1925 to 1945.” (IPCC 2007)
  • “Palaeoclimatic information supports the interpretation that the warmth of the last half century is unusual in at least the previous 1,300 years. The last time the polar regions were significantly warmer than present for an extended period (about 125,000 years ago), reductions in polar ice volume led to 4 to 6 m of sea level rise.” (IPCC 2007).  The people in the island nation ofKiribati are planning to move their country in response to current sea level rise.
  • “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations. This is an advance since the TAR’s conclusion that “most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations”. Discernible human influences now extend to other aspects of climate, including ocean warming, continental-average temperatures, temperature extremes and wind patterns.” (IPCC 2007)

4)  Let your legislators know that climate change is an important issue to you and you really want to see some action on the issue.  Climate change is not a Democratic or Republican issue.  Legislators on both side of the aisle have stated the need for immediate action.  Check out statements and actions from  Representative Bob Inglis, Senator Olympia Snowe, Senator Susan Collins, Governor Chris Christie, Representative Chris Smith, President Obama, Representative (resigned) Jay Inslee, and Representative Henry Waxman.  Local governments around the country are preparing for the effects of climate change.  A May, 2010, article in Scientific American outlined how cities from Berkeley CA to Austin TX to Denver CO are introducing innovative programs to address climate change.  In 2009, the 1000th mayor signed the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, committing to reduce carbon emissions by 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.  As a group of committed citizens, we must support our elected officials when they act to slow climate change, and strongly encourage them to develop a national energy policy that puts climate change in the forefront.  

5)  Figure out your personal impact and resolve to make one BIG change.  Still not sure what your impact is?  Check out to see what your personal impact on climate change is.  You’ll see that burning fossil fuels, whether to produce electricity in your home, to produce food, or to run your car is a huge contributor to CO2 emissions that affect climate change.  Conservation of energy is the biggest way we, as individuals, can slow climate change. 

Here’s to leaving our comfort zones and entering a more Earth-friendly future!  Happy Earth Day to all!

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