Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Trade offs we all must confront when eating fish...

Kerri Szejda wrote a thoughtful article in The Conversation nicely discusses the trade offs we must all make when selecting fish to eat (omega 3 fatty acids, sustainability, mercury...).  Worth a read (and a discussion) if you eat fish.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Our Throwaway Culture...

Dave Hall writes in the Guardian:

"In 2003, I was told by a restaurant owner on a Thai island that local fishermen used to wrap their lunch in banana leaves, which they would then casually toss overboard when done. That was OK, because the leaves decayed and the fish ate the scraps. But in the past decade, he said, while plastic wrap had rapidly replaced banana leaves, old habits had died hard – and that was why the beach was fringed with a crust of plastic. Beyond the merely unsightly, this plasticcongregates in continent-scale garbage gyres in our oceans, being eaten by plankton, then fish; then quite possibly it’ll reach your plate ..."

Read the rest of Throwaway Culture at the Guardian.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Cooler Smarter

I'm fearful for the reduced role that science and evidence are playing in today's policy decisions. Thus, Janice and I decided to join the Union of Concerned Scientists. As a thank you gift they sent me a GREAT book--"Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living."

Filled with concrete things that you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and ensure that your voice is heard by policy makers. The not so dirty secret is that when you save carbon, you save money so it should be a win-win, right?

It's worthy to get a copy and pass it around at your next dinner party (better than those damn smart phones!) and discuss how each individual's concrete actions can help reduce our carbon footprint.

You can buy the book on Amazon or you can donate to UCS and get it as a gift.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Our Miserable 21st Century

"The abstraction of “inequality” doesn’t matter a lot to ordinary Americans. The reality of economic insecurity does. The Great American Escalator is broken—and it badly needs to be fixed."

So writes Nicholas Eberstadt in the 15 February 2017 issue of Commentary in his article "Our Miserable 21st Century." The depressing article is a worthy read and could form the basis of an interesting dinner party conversation. I found it by reading David Brooks' essay based in part on it in the NY Times.

Both include shocking statistics about unemployment, drug use, and felony convictions. Both paint a picture of a polarized country filled with suffering and blame.

I think that if we are to productively work towards a better future we have to address these issues--the two faces of America--and stop pointing fingers of blame and start working together for solutions.

Ask your guests, what will they do to change our presently disturbing status quo. And, ask yourself too.

Monday, February 20, 2017

double chocolate cookie aka: 'diabetes waiting to happen'

It's been raining a lot recently--we need it but it does stifle going outside. Our son and his friends wanted to bake something chocolate. They Googled double chocolate cookies and found this NY Times recipe--which they decided to bake it as one big cookie on a large cookie sheet covered with a silpat. Peels of laughter emerged from the kitchen as it expanded, and expanded, and expanded into a HUGE cookie.

As we all wiped chocolate off our mouths, one of his friends called it 'diabetes waiting to happen' which is what I'm going to call it when we serve it the next time we make a desert for a dinner party.

D E L I C I O U S ! ! ! ! ! !

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A thoughtful essay on alternative opinions...

Aaron Hanlon, a professor at Colby College, wrote about being a conservative student on a liberal campus and how his advice for his students was to hone their powers of persuasion, rather than victimizing themselves as a minority conservative.

I really enjoy those challenging dinner party conversations that are polite but involve people with very different viewpoints logically developing their position. I learn a lot from these and often become less polemic in my own views.

Check out his essay at the NY Times and see if his advice works around your table (it certainly does around our table).


Friday, February 3, 2017

Just because you can doesn't mean you should...

...eat groundhog of course!

I was interviewed by Extra Crispy (Time magazine's food newsletter/blog) about eating groundhog in honor, of course, of Groundhog Day.

At the outset I'll admit that I've not eaten groundhog or any of the 14 other species of marmots (but I have eaten a variety of wild ungulates, boar, hare, geese and ducks, reptiles, and, once, in Norway, Eurasian beaver). Ken Armitage, my mentor and founder of the long-term yellow-bellied marmot project that I now run once said to me, "I wouldn't eat my friends!"

And I too would not eat our friends, but I would consider eating a groundhog (preferably a very, very fresh accidental roadkill), or a marmot from Eurasia (where they are shot for their fur and many are eaten).

Sustainably harvested wild game can be both good for you and an ethical food choice. The crux is the sustainability threshold--how do you know if your wild food is sustainably harvested? Something I'll throw out for a discussion this next week at 2 vegetarian dinner parties I'm hosting (on Saturday and Wednesday).