Green Bits: November 2012
News and ideas from near and far for a healthier, more sustainable future.
by Pax Rasmussen
Veggies make you happy
Well, okay, there’s no proof that eating vegetables causes greater happiness, but it turns out there is proof that people who eat more vegetables are, in fact, happier. According to a study by Daniel Blanchflower at Dartmouth University found, among 80,000 British citizens surveyed, that people who consume eight or more servings of vegetables per day were .27 points happier (on a scale of one to 10) than those who ate few or no vegetables. Blanchflower isn’t sure what the causal relationship is, though. He admits that it might be that happier people tend to think of their health more, and hence eat vegetables, or that vegetarians tend to be among wealthier classes.
We had farming right the first time
Monsanto and Dow would like us to believe that the only way to feed the world is with the current agribusiness model of monocropping—with the use of a metric shit-ton of Roundup to keep down the weeds. But that’s just not the case, and now there’s proof. Researchers at Marsden Farm (owned by Iowa State University) began a study in 2003 in which they operated three plots of land: one farmed “conventionally” with corn grown one year and soybeans the next, using the industry-standard (read: a lot) amounts of pesticide and herbicide. On an other, they used a four-year cycle that included alfalfa; on the third, a four-year cycle including oats. They also integrated raising livestock into the longer rotations, using their manure as fertilizer.
The longer rotation plots produced better yields of crops and needed 88% less chemical fertilizers and pesticides. They found 200% fewer toxins in the groundwater under these plots, as well. The only drawback? An increase in labor costs—which was more than offset by the reduction in cost of fertilizer and pesticide. Eat that, big agribusiness (I will!).
Curbside glass recycling now available
In a partnership between Salt Lake City and Momentum Recycling, new program will launch with availability to roughly half of Salt Lake City residents, with the remaining areas coming online in April 2013. Volume in just the first month of service is expected to top 24 tons. Glass drop-off centers, located throughout the City, will remain operational concurrent with the new service.
The curbside glass recycling pickup is a voluntary program and will be available to residents in designated neighborhoods for $6 per month for monthly pickup. Subscribers can also sign up for automatic noticing that occurs the day before scheduled pickup via automated phone call, text message or email. All colors of glass can be placed in the 35-gallon grey bins for curbside service.
The fish are still glowing
According to a paper published in the journal Science last month, fish from the waters near the Fukishima nuclear power plant in Japan are too radioactive to eat—and likely will be for a decade to come. The bigger bottom-feeding varieties (halibut, sole, etc.), are the most affected. Even more troubling: According to a study from Oregon State University, Pacific albacore tuna have traces (albeit minute) of radiation identifiable as having come from Fukishima.
If the links to obesity, ADHD and a variety of other health problems aren’t enough to convince you sugary drinks aren’t good for kids, here’s another tidbit: According to researchers at Harvard University, there’s a strong correlation between kids who drink five or more cans of soft drink per week and incidents of violence or bringing weapons to school. Correlation doesn’t imply causation, but we’re talking a 57% correlation here. That’s pretty striking.
No shit, Sherlock
Last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report in which they claim that kids who eat organic produce rather than conventionally grown veggies (wait for it…) have lower levels of pesticide in their blood. They don’t come out and say that pesticides are bad for kids, but it’s a start…I guess.