Saturday, November 4, 2017

Leaves are Not Litter

This weekend is one hour longer for most of us, for today marks the end of Daylight Savings Time for Americans living in all but the states of Arizona and Hawaii.

But just because your weekend is one hour longer, that doesn’t mean you have to spend it raking leaves. Thanks to the CT DEEP Wildlife Highlights for November, I learned of the Xerces Society’s LEAVES ARE NOT LITTER campaign.

The Xerces Society is “an international nonprofit organization that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats.” The group takes its name “from the now extinct Xerces Blue butterfly (Glaucopsyche xerces), the first butterfly known to go extinct in North America as a result of human activities.”  

The Society urges you to leave your fall leaves on the ground because the butterflies need leaf litter to survive. Monarchs migrate, but the vast majority of butterflies do not; they overwinter in the landscape and rely on leaf litter for protection. So do bumblebees, spiders, millipedes, mites… You get the idea. As the Xerces site says, “It’s easy to see how important leaves really are to sustaining the natural web of life.”

Looking ahead, the Xerces Society warns, “Don’t spring into garden cleanup too soon.” This page offers easy to remember guidelines for when it is really safe to reach for the rake and also when to start planting.

If you want to stay up to date on what’s happening with the wildlife in Connecticut, click here to read the latest issue of Wildlife Highlights and join the subscription list.

Now, relax a bit and enjoy your weekend. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Meatless, Flourless Monday

There’s nothing like seeing an Al Gore movie to make you feel like you can’t waste another single thing or another second more. 

That was (and still is) my exact situation after having the opportunity to watch “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” last Friday night. Check out the trailer or this video of the film's theme song to see for yourself just how dire the earth’s situation is.

Yet, despite a last minute re-write of the film’s ending after the president pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, the message of “Truth to Power” is a positive one. Vice-President Gore manages to convince viewers that is still possible for the citizens of the world, wherever they live, to make the change planet earth needs (even without their leader’s support). Change starts with us.

As I try to map out what my next bigger steps will be, I am implementing some small ones, starting with being even more careful not to waste or take for granted any of the resources I already have on hand.

During my recent stay in a cottage colony on Cape Cod, I had the opportunity to buy a dozen eggs laid by hens who live on the premises. I brought home the ones I had not used and needed a special way to put them to good use.

A good friend sent me a recipe in the mail (yep, that’s not a typo) thinking I might like to try it it in one of my cast iron skillets. The tiny newspaper clipping contains “A Recipe for Pan Baked Lemon-Almond Tart” from Mark Bittman’s “Here to Help” column in the New York Times. It called for 4 eggs, just what I had on hand. 

I ran out for some cream and a lemon (sadly no lemon tree in my CT back yard). I used Trader Joe’s almond meal for the ground almonds. The greatest work was juicing the lemon and grating its peel.

I melted the butter on the stovetop in my number 8 cast iron pan, poured in the batter, and cooked it on low until the edges set. After 20 minutes in the oven, the cake tester showed it was done. I skipped the broiler step, content to dust with powdered sugar and sprinkle with more almonds. 


It made for two decadent and delicious breakfasts, perfect fuel to power us on for the hard work ahead.




On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”

Monday, June 19, 2017

Meatless Monday: The Importance of Eating in Season

When you walk down the supermarket aisles today it is difficult to tell what is in season unless you read the fine print indicating the produce’s place of origin. With the advent of produce from Chile you can buy blueberries and raspberries at Christmas; they won’t taste quite the same as New England berries in July, but you can buy them. 

My friend Polly recently reminded me how great a treat food it was to enjoy local, seasonal food when we were young. Her birthday coincided with the peak time for two of her favorite foods, asparagus and strawberries. Her mom always prepared them for her to mark her special day, and those dinners remain among Polly’s fondest memories.

The peak asparagus season is over now (those thin stalks in the supermarket now come from Peru!), but if you check out this Harvest Calendar for Connecticut, you will see that strawberries, rhubarb, peas, and spinach are among the crops that are now coming into high season.

With our president pulling us out of the Paris Agreement, the burden falls on each of us to do whatever we can to achieve and surpass the commitments of the treaty that President Obama signed in 2016.

The US is the number two producer of CO2 emissions. Local produce travels a shorter distance to get to us. When we support our local farmers, we are creating a smaller carbon footprint. 

The US also produces a significant amount of methane, another greenhouse gas. According to the EPA, agriculture accounted for 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions in the US in 2015, much of it coming from livestock. If enough of us cut back on the meat we eat, methane production will be reduced. Cutting back on meat consumption by observing Meatless Monday is a step in the right direction.

Americans sprang into action on the homefront during WWII: starting Victory gardens, salvaging scrap metal, and giving up some of their favorite foods so the troops would not go hungry. Their efforts made a difference in the outcome of the war.

We can make a difference, too.

When you do your weekend shopping find something in season. Search for a recipe if you don’t know how to prepare it. Or simply plan to make a Meatless Monday salad like this one. Grab a head of local lettuce or a bunch of spinach instead of one of those ubiquitous boxes.You will notice the delicious difference.




On Mondays I often blog on food, food issues, or gardening in support of Meatless Monday, one of several programs developed in the Healthy Monday project, founded in 2003 in association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Communications. Meatless Monday’s goal is “to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.”