Saturday, April 11, 2009

Seed Starts

Better late than never, I guess. Decided to use one of my Winstrip trays to see what I could start in the way of a variety of seeds. Used a good organic potting soil (with vermiculite added -- the white specks) and added some finely ground alfalfa meal for nitrogen and kelp for minerals:


Under the grow light with my heating pad underneath to gradually warm up the soil and seeds:


Here's what I planted (after I had taken the picture I wrote down LK = lacinato kale and SK = Siberian kale):


The ginkgo, pomegranate, cherry, and persimmon were seeds I saved from fruit from trees in my parents' yard in Decatur, Alabama, when we sold their house. I don't have great expectations for these, but we'll see. The Brandywine (heirloom) tomato seeds were from a huge tomato from a plant I had a couple of summers ago. The chard, beets, and kale are new seeds.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Moon over Matthews


Children and (Big Pharma) Drugs

From, this report on the increase in drugs being prescribed to children:

After examining prescription records of nearly 6 million children and adolescents experts found prescriptions for blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol medication increased by more than 15% among children from 2004 to 2007. The study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, showed separately diabetes medications rose 23% and blood pressure medications 15%, but cholesterol-lowering drugs dropped 23%. Scientists attribute the drop to bad press associated with medications like Crestor and Lipitor. However, the rise in childhood obesity and doctors’ willingness to prescribe medications to young children is being blamed for the increase; HealthDay News investigates.

Actually, a recent study showed overweight children as young as age 3 may start showing signs of cardiovascular disease, so it’s easy to see why doctors would dole out pills, but a family-based approach to good nutrition is best for keeping kids healthy and off drugs.

And here’s some of bad press on cholesterol-lowering drugs. In January, Lipitor, Zocor and Crestor were found to cause eyelid droop and double vision as potential side effects. Eek!

Going Vegetarian for One Day

Kathy Freston blogs at the Huffington Post, frequently on the vegan lifestyle. This post summarizes the impact that meat-eating has on the environment. I can't validate the statistics, but I know they are in line with statistics I've read in numerous other places. (Thanks to Scott Morrison at his Progville blog for the link to this article.)

The Startling Effects of Going Vegetarian for Just One Day

By Kathy Freston, Huffington Post. Posted April 2, 2009.

I've written extensively on the consequences of eating meat -- on our health, our sense of "right living", and on the environment. It is one of those daily practices that has such a broad and deep effect that I think it merits looking at over and over again, from all the different perspectives. Sometimes, solutions to the world's biggest problems are right in front of us. The following statistics are eye-opening, to say the least.

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would save:

● 100 billion gallons of water, enough to supply all the homes in New England for almost 4 months;

● 1.5 billion pounds of crops otherwise fed to livestock, enough to feed the state of New Mexico for more than a year;

● 70 million gallons of gas -- enough to fuel all the cars of Canada and Mexico combined with plenty to spare;

● 3 million acres of land, an area more than twice the size of Delaware;

● 33 tons of antibiotics.

If everyone went vegetarian just for one day, the U.S. would prevent:

● Greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 1.2 million tons of CO2, as much as produced by all of France;

● 3 million tons of soil erosion and $70 million in resulting economic damages;

● 4.5 million tons of animal excrement;

● Almost 7 tons of ammonia emissions, a major air pollutant.

My favorite statistic is this: According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads. See how easy it is to make an impact?

Other points:

Globally, we feed 756 million tons of grain to farmed animals. As Princeton bioethicist Peter Singer notes in his new book, if we fed that grain to the 1.4 billion people who are living in abject poverty, each of them would be provided more than half a ton of grain, or about 3 pounds of grain/day -- that's twice the grain they would need to survive. And that doesn't even include the 225 million tons of soy that are produced every year, almost all of which is fed to farmed animals. He writes, "The world is not running out of food. The problem is that we -- the relatively affluent -- have found a way to consume four or five times as much food as would be possible, if we were to eat the crops we grow directly."

A recent United Nations report titled Livestock's Long Shadow concluded that the meat industry causes almost 40% more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world's transportation systems -- that's all the cars, trucks, SUVs, planes and ships in the world combined. The report also concluded that factory farming is one of the biggest contributors to the most serious environmental problems at every level -- local and global.

Researchers at the University of Chicago concluded that switching from standard American diet to a vegan diet is more effective in the fight against global warming than switching from a standard American car to a hybrid.

In its report, the U.N. found that the meat industry causes local and global environmental problems even beyond global warming. It said that the meat industry should be a main focus in every discussion of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortages and pollution, and loss of biodiversity.

Unattributed statistics were calculated from scientific reports by Noam Mohr, a physicist with the New York University Polytechnic Institute.

Jewish Vegetarianism

In my own pursuit of the healthiest, most ethical, and most biblically-grounded lifestyle as a Christian, I have learned that there is a rich vegetarian tradition in Judaism. In fact, it was in a Jewish commentary on Genesis (not in any Christian commentaries), that I found the most helpful explanation of the change in God's directions from a vegan lifestyle (Genesis 1:29) to an allowance for meat-eating (Genesis 9:1 ff.).

Not all observant Jews are vegetarian, of course, but the slaughter of animals for consumption is supposed to be guided by the Jewish kosher laws to ensure humane treatment of animals. In 2004, PETA exposed undercover video from the largest Jewish kosher slaughterhouse in the world (AgriProcessors, Inc.) showing clear, widespread, and repeated violations of kosher standards. These violations were reported in the New York Times and other major papers and media outlets.

Jewish novelist Jonathan Safran Foer narrates a video about these violations that clearly spells out, via statements from leading Jewish authorities, how they violate Jewish law and tradition. But even more important, the ethical-biblical tradition within Judaism for treating all animal life with reverence is spelled out. While the video is difficult to watch in some places, it should be watched. The information is presented plainly but in a context of sensitivity and compassion.

As a Christian, the video made me wonder, Where are the Christian leaders (of equal stature to the Jewish leaders in the video) who share a similarly compassionate view of animals; who would go on record speaking out against abuses in the factory-farm systems; who would advocate a vegetarian lifestyle as one way to honor life and reduce violence in the world? There are a (relatively) few Christian authors who have addressed these issues, but few Christian "leaders" (heads of denominations and other groups) that I'm aware of.

I hope you'll watch the video, found here. There is a long (about 10 mins.) version and a short version. (Look to the right of the video screen to choose the version.) The long version has the interviews with Jewish rabbis/leaders that I found very helpful.)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Lizard Sighting

Catching some rays:


Showing off:


Going to get a drink:


Thankful for sticky toes. (I filled the watering can to the brim later so he could get a sip.)


David Sighting

Brother Dave was in town from Philly for a wedding this past weekend and we enjoyed a bit of hang time. He's on the downhill side of his Master's in Library Science and Information Systems at Drexel University.

Had to get a picture before the wedding; haven't seen Dave this dressed up since his bro's wedding:


The man can systematize some information: