Saturday, February 27, 2016

Saturday Shorts: 02.26.16 Calling All Solar Advocates

Shannon Laun, of CT Fund for the Environment is calling for all Solar Advocates in Connecticut to raise their voices in opposition to bill HB-5427. This bill amends the existing law, Public Act 15-113, that created the state’s currently-stalled Shared Solar Pilot Program. HB-5427 requires the state's electric utilities to buy the power from pilot shared solar installations for 15 years, a period of time that solar developers find unacceptable. They are asking for a requirement of 30 years, more in line with the life of the equipment; developers are unlikely to get financing for their projects if the requirement is set at 15 years. 

Things are happening quickly. A public hearing on this bill will take place in Hartford this TUESDAY, MARCH 1 at 1 pm. There are two ways to make your opinions heard:
  • You can email written testimony to the Energy Committee at Be sure to include the bill number, HB 5427.
  • You can come to Hartford to testify in person. In-person testimony is limited to three minutes. The hearing will be held in Room 1D of the Legislative Office Building, 300 Capitol Avenue, Hartford. The agenda available here.

Remember that February is a short month. March 1 is just a few days away.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Saturday Shorts: 02.20.16 An Eclectic Collection of Things

In a week in which we were all bombarded with news political, I discovered a few other things I’d like to share:

Instant Gratification Posing Challenges  
My friend Polly sent me this link from the New York Times on how much packing waste is being generated by online shopping, particularly when a product is put in a box and then in another box for shipping. In the article Amazon admits being “aware of the problem,” and states that it is working to reduce the amount of cardboard they use in packaging. To give you an idea of the scope of the problem, San Francisco’s main recycling processor, Recology, collects 100 tons of cardboard everyday. The article ends with a solution from a spokesman for Recology, “Slow down consumption. Slow down.” The photo showing one day’s deposits at Recology is truly terrifying.

“Made in America” Making a Come-Back 
Sometimes, however, there is a case to be made for online shopping. Sometimes what you just can’t find in a nearby store is easily found online. In my case I was shopping for a birthday gift and was hoping to support some of the Carolina sockmakers who are struggling to keep family businesses alive. I discovered USA Love List, a crowdsourced compilation of companies offering goods Made in America. The site is also an online magazine. By clicking through the links in this article on Made in USA Socks I found just what I was looking for and, with free shipping, I bet the socks don’t arrive in a box.

Bald Eagles Nesting in New Haven
On Thursday Anna Bisaro reported in the New Haven Register that a pair of bald eagles were spotted in West River Memorial Park. A spokesperson for the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection confirmed that the two adult eagles appear to be building a nest and they anticipate the pair will be breeding in the park. The DEEP official went on to say that eagles return to the same nest and add to it each year; a nest can grow to a weight of hundreds of pounds.

Cooked Streaming on Netflix
Michael Pollan’s 4-part documentary series, Cooked, is now streaming on Netflix. The series is is based on the author's 2013 book with the same name. Each episode focuses on one of the four natural elements and its relationship to both ancient and modern cooking methods. Netflix promotes the series thusly, “As he tries his hand at baking, brewing, and braising, acclaimed food writer Michael Pollan explores how cooking transforms food and shapes our world.”

On Wednesday, Shannon Laun, of CT Fund for the Environment spoke to those gathered at Trinity Bar about the need to push forward with CT’s stalled Shared Solar Pilot Program.  [She promises some tools for advocacy; I will share as they become available.] The March edition of New Haven Green Drinks will be a benefit for the 2016 8th annual Rock to Rock Ride and will be held at Chipotle, 910 Chapel Street, New Haven.

World’s Happiest Man’s Secret Revealed
Matthieu Ricard, a Tibetan Buddhist monk said to be the “world’s happiest man” shared some of his secrets to happiness with Business Insider.  Ricard states that you can start by “thinking happy thoughts for 10 to 15 minutes a day…concentrate on not letting you mind get distracted and keep focused on the positive emotions…if you do that training every day, even just two weeks later you can feel positive mental results.” For more, check out Ricard’s 2004 TED Talk, The Habits of Happiness

That’s it for now. Happy Saturday. Hope you are enjoying (or have enjoyed) the day.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Meatless Monday: Back to the Basics Part 2

In December I blogged about the joys of being a Nonna with a little one visiting. Her breakfast routine reminded me that a warm bowl of oatmeal is one of the best ways to get your day off to a great start. Her oatmeal was specially formulated for babies, with 45% of the daily value of iron in one serving. [There are ingredients in baby oatmeal not found in the adult kind, most notably electrolytic iron, vitamins C, B6, and B12, and folate.] Most healthy, full-term breastfed infants get all the nutrients they need from their mother’s milk during the first few months of their life. But at 6 months their iron stores tend to deplete. Babies need a lot of iron for their brains to develop normally, and infant oatmeal is an excellent vehicle for getting it into them (provided you do not lose too much to their face, hands, or highchair tray). 

Unadulterated [bad pun, I know] oats are good for grownups, too. As cereals go, oats are high in protein (5 gms per serving) and a good source of fiber, iron, and other minerals. More importantly, a serving of oatmeal contains 2 grams of soluble dietary fiber per serving; soluble fiber has been found to decrease LDL (bad cholesterol) by 10-15%,  particularly when consumed as part of a low-fat diet. Other studies have found that eating oatmeal can decrease high blood pressure, help control blood sugar, and reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Research has shown that a hearty bowl of oatmeal will keep a person feeling full and satisfied for longer than some other breakfasts will. There is no better way to get revved up on a cold winter day. And, it is so easy to customize your bowl by adding milk, fruit, nuts, yogurt, honey, maple syrup… It can be different each day. 

Whether you like your oats smooth or with a bit of a texture, whether you have lots of time on your hands or only a minute or two, there is an oatmeal out there for you.  

A steamy bowl of oatmeal is a very economical breakfast, especially if you ditch the paper packets. [Directions for making your own single serving in the microwave are on every container of quick oats.] And, oats are gluten-free!

Oats can also be ground into a flour that can be used as a substitute for some of the white flour in a recipe, or on its own as in this delicious vegan lemon cake. You can buy oat flour, or grind it yourself

You can read more about the health benefits of oats at the Whole Grains Council site.

Finally, while oats are nutritious, they are not a “healthy food.” I suspect I am guilty of using this term in the past. I stand corrected. I apologize.   

Happy Meatless Monday. Have a great week!

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.”