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Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Fruits of Our Labor

Spring is nearly here and I’m encouraging you to think about where you’ll buy fresh fruits and vegetables this year.  With help from the Santa Fe Farmers Market, here are ten reasons to consider your local farmers market or food co-op:

♦ 1 – Local food tastes better.
Most likely it was picked in the last couple of days, which makes it crisp and flavorful. Produce that travels long distances (California, Florida, Chile or Holland) is days older.  Sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink, and produce loses its vitality and flavor.

♦ 2 – Local food is more nutritious.
Once harvested, produce quickly loses nutrients.  Produce that’s flash-frozen just after harvest is often more nutritious than “fresh” produce that’s on the supermarket shelf for a week.  Since local produce is sold right after it’s picked, it retains more nutrients.

3 – Local food preserves genetic diversity.
Large commercial farms grow a relatively small number of hybrid fruits and vegetables that are able to withstand the rigors of harvesting, packing, shipping and storage. This leaves little genetic diversity in the food supply.  By contrast, family farms grow a huge number of varieties to extend their growing season, provide eye-catching colors and great flavor. Many varieties are “heirlooms” passed down through the generations because of their excellent flavor.  Older varieties contain the genetic structure of hundreds or thousands of years of human selection and may provide the diversity needed to thrive in a changing climate.

4 – Local food promotes energy conservation.
The average distance our food travels is 1500 miles, mostly by air and truck, increasing our dependence on petroleum. By buying locally, you conserve the energy that’s used for transport.

5 – Local food supports local farmers.
The American family farmer is a vanishing breed – there are less than 1,000,000 people who claim farming as a primary occupation.  Why?  Maybe because it’s hard to make a living:  family farmers get less than 10 cents of every retail food dollar. By buying locally, the middleman disappears and the farmer gets full retail price, helping farmers continue to farm.

♦ 6 – Local food builds community.
By getting to know the farmers who grow your food, you build understanding, trust and a connection to your neighbors & your environment. The weather, the seasons and the science of growing food offer great lessons in nature and agriculture.  Visiting local farms with children and grandchildren brings that education and appreciation to the next generation.

7 – Local food preserves open space.
As you enjoy visits to the country to see lush fields of crops, meadows of wildflowers, picturesque barns and rolling pastures, remember that our treasured agricultural landscape survives only when farms are financially viable. By spending your money on locally grown food, you’re increasing the value of the land to the farmer and making development less likely.

8 – Local food keeps taxes in check.
For every $1 in revenue raised by residential development, governments spend $1.17 on services, which increases taxes. For every $1 in revenue raised by a farm, a forest or open space, governments spend $0.34 cents on services.

9 – Local food supports the environment and benefits wildlife.
Family farmers are good stewards of the land — they respect and value fertile soil and clean water.  And their farms provide the fields, meadows, forests, ponds and buildings that are the habitat for many beloved and important species of wildlife.

10 – Local food is about the future.
Supporting local farms today helps keep those farms in your community, ensuring your children and grandchildren have access to nourishing, flavorful and abundant food.  When you choose to buy locally, and make your choices known, you raise the consciousness of your family, friends and neighbors.

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Outside the Ice Cream Shop

Science says happiness leads to a long life, good health, resilience and good performance. On average, people who consider themselves happy live nine years longer than people who consider themselves unhappy. 
 
Psychologist and Professor Ed Diener from the University of Illinois says there are three vital ingredients to happiness:
 
♦  Family and friends – the wider and deeper, the better.  Friendship has a protective effect on our health. 
♦  Finding meaning –a belief in something bigger, a sense of spirituality or a philosophy of life.
♦  Working toward and making progress on goals we find interesting, and which use our strengths and abilities.
 
Why doesn’t money make us happy? Because we adapt to pleasure. When we’re attracted to things that give us short bursts of pleasure – from a candy bar to a Corvette – the effect quickly wears off.  We adapt less quickly to more meaningful things such as friendship and goals.

(I bet you have 10 unanswered emails from friends and family sitting in your inbox.   Answer one everyday – even “I’m thinking of you!” will suffice – for ten days and see what happens.  Let me know.)
 

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Apples

I’m not a doctor (nor do I play one on TV) but here’s a prescription that might add 14 quality years to your life:

Three to five times per week, take a 20-minute walk to your favorite non-smoking restaurant, order a big glass of red wine and a large garden salad with extra veggies.

How hard is that?!

A recent study of 20,000 people in the UK determined that if you don’t smoke, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly and drink alcohol in moderation, you’ll gain an additional 14 years of life. The study appears in the Public Library of Science Medicine Journal – a site well worth checking out for other reasons, too.

Kay-Tee Khaw, one of the people who conducted the study at the University of Cambridge said, “We measured normal behaviors that were entirely feasible within people’s normal, everyday lives.” She thinks the findings might help people understand that improving their health doesn’t necessarily require an extreme change in lifestyle.

Tim Armstrong, a physical activity expert at the World Health Organization said, “This research is an important piece of work which emphasizes how modifying just a few risk factors can add years to your life.”

I’ll follow up on these findings in 2077!

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Falling Snow

I found this interesting chart about snowfall totals in the Philadelphia area. It seems the earlier we have our first snowfall, the higher the season snowfall total. 

Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be working out this year.  Our first snowfall was in early December but we’ve barely seen an inch of snow since then. Today will help – we’re expecting five inches of snow in Upper Bucks County.  Schools are closed, roads are a mess – but it’s a sight for the sore eyes of this photographer!

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Nockamixon Cliffs

I’m on a waterfall kick.  Since doing some research on the health benefits of negative ions, and visiting the falls at nearby Ringing Rocks Park last week, I’m off to find more.

This weekend I’m heading to Taughannock Falls State Park in Ulysses, New York.  It boasts a waterfall with a 215 foot drop, slightly higher than Niagara on the American side but with much smaller volume. It’s the highest drop east of the Rockies. The park’s Gorge Trail, open all year, puts you next to the spray of the falls. According to the Park Ranger I spoke with today, the falls are only partially frozen and water’s still coming over the top.

The falls and gorge create a natural amphitheater and the dense spray rising from the bottom of the falls creates a heavy mist — full of negative ions!

Negative ions are air molecules that have lost an electrical charge because they’ve been broken apart by things such as sunlight, moving air or moving water. They’re in abundance in places like waterfalls, the mountains and the beach. When we breath in large quantities of negative ions, it increases the flow of oxygen to the brain and reduces the amount of the mood chemical serotonin in the bloodstream, creating a feeling of mild euphoria.

At the base of Yosemite Falls in California, there are about 100,000 negative ions per cubic centimeter. (A cubic centimeter is the size of a sugar cube.)  In fresh country air, there are about 4,000 and on an L.A. freeway at rush hour, there are 100 negative ions per cubic centimeter.

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No Hanging Out

There’s a review by Holland Cotter in today’s New York Times about a new show at the International Center of Photography called “Archive Fever: Uses of the Document in Contemporary Art.”

Holland’s fascinating and glowing review has prompted me to see the show which runs from January 18 – May 4, 2008.  (I’m fortunate to live in such a beautiful, rural area with a 90-minute trip into Manhattan.) 

Holland writes: “Photography, with its extensions in film, video and the digital realm, is the main vehicle for these images. The time was, we thought of photographs as recorders of reality. Now we know they largely invent reality. At one stage or another, whether in shooting, developing, editing or placement, the pictures are manipulated, which means that we are manipulated. We are so used to this that we don’t see it; it’s just a fact of life.”

Of particular interest to me is this exhibit in the show:

“The thousands of images in a looping 36-hour slide projection by Jef Geys would seem to be linked by a firmer thread. They are a visual archive of Mr. Geys’s photographic output of 40 years. Whether they provide evidence of aesthetic development, though, or insight into the artist’s maturing mind and soul, will be known only to the most devoted of viewers.”

(Let’s see… the longest the museum is open on any single day is ten hours, and the longest anyone could realistically sit through a slide show might be three hours. So it’ll take at least 12 well-coordinated visits to see the whole thing!  With $12 admission, that’s $144, but an individual membership at $75 allows unlimited free visits.  Yay!)

Another exhibit in the show by Hans-Peter Feldmann sounds like a thoroughly intriguing study:  a room full of framed front pages of 100 international newspapers printed on Sept. 12, 2001.  To Feldman’s credit as an artist, and to Holland’s credit as a reviewer, both get past the fact that this event is still fresh to us and are able to raise all sorts of questions about image placement, text placement and the manipulation of content from country to country. 

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Kissers

I’m going to write a screenplay using Scrivener software.  It’s going to take a few years to write, but that’s ok — it would take a decade with MS Word!

Let me know if you use Scrivener, or have an opinion on how it works.

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