Archive | Animal RSS for this section

New york and California pave the way to banning Micro-plastic

Even if you don’t know what micro-plastics are, if you have ever used a product branded as “ex-foliating”  from the supermarket you have probably come into contact with them. Micro plastics are found in a startling array of cosmetics and the long and the short of it is; like everything that washes down the plughole, it has to end up somewhere; generally the sea.

https://i0.wp.com/bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/dailyastorian.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/6/b6/6b6f33ec-0332-11e2-adcf-0019bb2963f4/505b2d0a08c8c.image.jpg

The problem is that as soon as these micro-plastics enter the sea, they get mistaken for food by small animals, which in turn are eaten by predators. These plastics build up in the gastrointestinal tracts of predators until finally they clog the system and the predator starves to death.

If you have seen the short film: “MIDWAY a message from the gyre” by Chris Jordan you will have seen the horrific images of bird carcases literally bursting with plastic debris. This is why we have to stop using them and a proposal from both New York and California might just be the beginning of the end for micro-plastics.

https://i1.wp.com/www.foam.org/media/525975/Jordan%20Chris%20Midaway%20Message%20from%20the%20Gyre%2001.jpg

California is proposing the ban of sale of any product containing plastics smaller than 5mm whilst New York is not only banning the sale of micro-plastic products, it is also proposing the ban of their manufacture in the New York state area. So let’s hear it for them! for taking such a progressive and wise step towards tackling this massive problem.

Advertisements

Why on earth is it illegal to take rubbish in the UK???

Most people here in the UK will have heard; about the 3 people who were charged by the Met Police in London with taking waste food from the rear of a supermarket. The law they were charged with breaking was passed in the Victorian era and in my opinion should be scrapped sharpish.

The fact of the matter is that it should not be illegal to take rubbish, you have thrown it away, it’s going to landfill so you obviously don’t care about it. so why is it illegal?

The long and the short of it is; it isn’t. The law states that the items have to be discarded and for the owners to renounce ownership, for it to be legal to take. so if you see something ditched at the side of the road, sure, go ahead and pick it up. Re-use, Recycle and re-purpose. The difficulty arises when discarded items are left on someone’s property then you have to have permission from the owner and seeing as a supermarket wants to charge you for your food you are unlikely to get it, however in this case Iceland (the supermarket in question) has said that it didn’t press charges or call the police and they arrested the 3 individuals on their own initiative. which leads to the question;

“Why are the police wasting time arresting people, who’s only crime is taking expired food?”

Who knows, I’m sure there are many other criminals thanking their stars that the officers in question were at the station booking 3 people for stealing £33* of expired food, maybe they were down on their arrest quota for the month….

*the food would have been worth £33 if it was still in date, however as it wasn’t, it was worthless as it couldn’t be legally sold.

Why you should still vaccinate;

Over the past few days I have been having lengthy online debates with people about whether vaccinations are necessary, and quite frankly they are.

It all started with this delightfully misleading infographic, but after arguing with a number of individuals online I realised a more significant problem; ignorance of the basic principles of contamination and infection.

Most people will not be aware of the components within vaccines and when irresponsibly represented as in the above image it’s not hard to see why.

The main components are as follows:

  1. Active components
  2. Adjuvants
  3. Diluents
  4. Stabilisers
  5. Preservatives
  6. Trace components

Active components are the micro organisms as stated above, they are the dead biological material of the target disease, simply put, this is what makes the vaccine work.

Adjuvants are usually salts (Aluminium, ammonium Sulfate etc.) these are chemicals which promote a vigorous immune response making the overall vaccine more effective and the need for subsequent boosters or more vaccine unecesscary.

Stabilisers like Gelatin are used to avoid separation within the solution to make the vaccine more effective and give it a prolonged shelf-life.

Preservatives like Beta Propiolactone are used to avoid bacterial or fungal contamination of the vaccine making it safe to use.

Diluents are simply a liquid used to carry the main components of the vaccine usually Saline or Sterile water.

Typically the largest component by volume in a vaccine is water, all the other components are usually smaller than a millilitre, usually measured in the nano or picolitre scale. and herein lies the problem people don’t seem to realise that the amounts of toxins and carcinogens in vaccines are less than you would come into contact with in normal daily life.

Gelatin for example is found in most processed foods and confectionary, MSG is a known food additive extensively found in asian or oriental food, People will generally come into contact with aluminium at least daily generally from cooking utensils and components found within industrial food manufacture, not to mention the vast array of cosmetics which are packaged in aluminium alloy tubes. the toxins and carcinogens are a little more specific but every city dweller will come into contact with mercury from exhaust fumes from industry as well as CFL’s and other electrical components. In short you will come into contact with every one of the carcinogenic and toxic compounds in daily life and in far greater amounts than found in vaccines. Even if you add up all the vaccines you will have during your lifetime.

SO GET VACCINATED!! you are far more likely to die as a result of contracting a disease than you are from having regular vaccinations, also you won’t put children and those with compromised immune systems at risk.

Without vaccinations humans would generally live no more than 55 years as well as large-scale epidemics and pandemics killing thousands prematurely. So even if you eat organic, avoid chemicals and try and reduce your carbon footprint, as I do, GET VACCINATED.

And here is a far more helpful infographic:

https://i2.wp.com/blogs-images.forbes.com/thumbnails/blog_973/pt_973_7320_o.jpg

Pedal power is set to get you fit and powers your gadgets!

Everyone has seen those little novelty pedals to stick under your desk at the office, now pedal power has come up with a desk that needs you to pedal, which in my opinion is a far better idea.

You pedal, this generates electricity which recharges your laptop or powers your mechanical device of choice this excellent video from pedal power explains all:

Every fibre of my being wants this to be a success as it is such a gloriously simple idea but I fear without the proper attention it will fall into the “mad hippy contraption bin” and we won’t see or hear of it again until we discover it in the back of the garage…

if  you would like to make a pledge for this wonderful project:

How do we avoid wasting food?

bin overflow

This is a common theme at the moment within the media, what with the recent press release of waste figures from one of our leading supermarkets – Tesco.

This week it was stated that the supermarket chain wastes around 30,000 tonnes of food every six months. This is a shocking figure, and it should be considering we still have sections of the British public suffering food poverty.

Seagul skip

Shocking as this news may be, it presents us with a problem, and that problem is:

“How do we stop wasting food?”

In our current disposable culture it’s not as immediately apparent as you might think, the simple answer is that we have to give up some of our time to plan how we shop and take the time to understand the longevity of food.

we all know how convenient it is to go to the supermarket to do “the big shop”, maybe an hour or two and its done. The problem is almost a quarter of that food will be thrown away because its gone off (or we think it has gone off due to confusing use by and best before labeling). The remainder that gets wasted is often due to overestimating portions.

takeaway waste

The fact of the matter is it just takes a little time and thought to dramatically reduce our food waste, so here are my 5 tips:

5 ways to reduce the food we waste:

  1. Stop listening to labels and use your own judgement: A large percentage of the food we throw away is edible, we throw it away because the label tells us to. The fact of the matter these dates are worked out on an average, therefore some will go off before the date and some after. So check the item yourself, sniff it, taste it, prod it and above all use your own judgement.
  2. Look for recipes that include “past their best” items: Like stale bread for summer pudding or cheese sauces sometimes taste better if made with old cheese, american pancakes with old yoghurt. There are plenty out there and some are really worth a try.
  3. Shop more efficiently: Buy little and often, this will avoid the forgotten food at the back of the fridge syndrome. There are more and more local food producers, grocers and shops who offer food boxes delivered, which can help if you’re strapped for time.
  4. Mind your portions! : Make sure that when you’re serving up that all your servees have enough food to satisfy but not so much there are leftovers on the plate and if there are leftovers, pop them in the freezer and you can use them another day when cooking feels too much like hard work.
  5. BOKASHI!!! : Or composting for the un-initiated. Inevitably there will be a little waste at the end, even for the most conscientious, but all is not lost! Get yourself a bokashi compost kit and make supercharged plant food to keep your flowers happy, or even grow some more veg!

If you would like to read some more about the problems and some more helpful hints try the following:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24620191

http://www.bokashidirect.co.uk/?gclid=CKCV7bDOsLoCFbPItAodYm8AXg

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24603008

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2011/oct/26/food-mould-safe-or-toxic

http://wales.lovefoodhatewaste.com/node/3794

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20971347

Images by Steph House © 2013. All rights reserved. https://www.facebook.com/greenhouseconservation?ref=hl

How do you feed an expanding population??

To mark world food day I thought it was about time I addressed the issue of food.

As a keen foody this is a subject which is close to my heart, I love cooking and above all eating good food. The question of food is fairly simple in my own little microcosm, it’s not that hard to feed me and my girlfriend in a sustainable way, even on a meager wage.

But how do we go about making enough food for an ever expanding global population? and importantly; How do we go about it without destroying our natural environment?

In recent years this question has raised itself in conjunction with a number of other key issues; Poverty, Famine, Drought and ever decreasing natural resources. Some of the possibilities that have been proposed include; Hydroponics, vertical farming, GMO crops and even lab manufactured food. The latter has even been described as “the future of food” when it comes to meat.

Meat production is widely considered the most un-sustainable of the traditional farming methods so maybe these new lab manufactured meats will create a new market.

However, I am not so convinced. Artificial meat has been around for years but the products themselves have been, for lack of a better word… Disappointing.

To start with the majority of these products are made from Soya protein. Soya production has been a major cause of deforestation and in itself is unsustainable. Some of the other products available are made from Mushroom protein, now these are far more sustainable, however they still suffer the same problem as the Soya based products. They don’t taste or feel like meat. This is a quite a large drawback for a “meat replacement” product, as you could imagine.

But now it seems there is a new fake meat on the block; the makers claim that they are “indistinguishable” from the real thing and have less than half the ecological impact of real meat. I have not had the opportunity to try these new products, but Bill Gates has and he reckons that they will replace meat entirely in the future.

On his site : http://www.thegatesnotes.com/features/future-of-food Bill shows us a number of very nicely put together infographics and visuals which explain the massive benefit these next generation meats could bring us. Having read through very thoroughly I tend to agree with him, they look like they have the potential, and if their environmental impact is as low as their makers suggest they should become a part of everyones diet. But as with all food: “The proof is in the eating”.

Personally I have doubts that a meat replacement could ever truly replace meat, hopefully we will find a way to sustainably feed the planet so that it can become a choice, rather than the only choice.

In the end, The problem with the situation is meat, or rather Humans relationship with meat. We only need around 12g of dietary protein a day but have evolved with a true love of meat, that means that it is now indispensable to us and herein lies the problem. As the population grows so does our desire for meat. Our global population has now reached a point where the traditional methods of farming are becoming unsustainable. So why don’t we eat less? This is the lesson I think we need to learn, In the not so distant past our forebears did it. Meat was a luxury, something special, a thing to have once in a while and with as much ceremony as possible for a family meal; thereby evolved the great feasts we still practice today; the winter feast (Christmas) the harvest festival, the Sunday roast. I think if we could instill the idea that meat was something special, to celebrate regularly, but not everyday we might solve our problem.

So here are my tips for eating sustainably:

  • Eat less meat; try eating less meat, try having maybe one meat dinner per week for example a Sunday roast.
  • Buy local;Reduce your food miles and support local organic and free range farms where you live. Local producers will often be better quality than the supermarkets and even a better price. you might even be able to visit the farm to make sure that they produce their wares in the most environmentally friendly way.
  • Join or create a food Cooperative; Food co-ops are a great way of you and your community getting great local food for a decent price and helping your local economy.
  • Don’t waste food;Only cook or order what you can eat, we waste nearly 40% of our food which is frankly shameful.
  • Eat less but better quality food;You’ll still get the nutrition your body needs but you’ll enjoy it more and you wont be lining the pockets of amoral factory farms.

Have a look at Bill Gates articles on the next generation of meat alternatives here: http://www.thegatesnotes.com/features/future-of-food

See what world food day is all about: http://www.fao.org/getinvolved/worldfoodday/en/