Stinkbugs Have Spread to 41 States; Can We Stop Them?

October 23, 2014

I chose this post in particular because I have noticed the large amount of stinkbugs lately, specifically hanging around on the walls of the Science Center. This is apparently not just me being paranoid. According to this article, they are becoming a huge problem and spreading across 41 states destroying fruit harvests. It even confirms that they are a problem in Ohio with this map. They began being seen in Allentown, Pennsylvania in the mid-1990’s. There was a test done where a stinkbug is hooked up to a machine that detects how many circles they can fly within a day. The average is one to three miles with a record high of 75 miles. The invasive brown marmorated stinkbug obviously are unappealing to our native predators from the chemical odor they give off, but there are parasitic wasps in Asia that will feed on the stinkbug eggs. It  just has to made sure that they will not predate any of the other 300 species of native stinkbugs. This next part of the article really stood out to me because we have been talking so much about eating bugs in class. A possible solution to the problem is to actually eat the stinkbugs. Supposedly, some of the chemical compounds used in their defense weaponry are found in cilantro. People of many cultures have used stinkbugs to add spice to their food dishes. Possible project idea for this class!

adult-male-full-stink-bugYum!

Source of picture so that Doctor Krygier does not get cyber-lectured again


Urine

October 22, 2014

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00750100

This study breaks down the breaks down urines chemical composition and gives some insight in to its use as a fertilizer. It appears urine make work better for phosphorus limited plant life.

http://www.iwaponline.com/wst/06304/wst063040811.htm

Another study on urines viability as a fertilizer. The key problem is urines high salinity. They also propose a urine fixing process.

There are actually a lot of studies on urine as fertilizer. The swiss separate their urine and use it.

http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=PTgqpBrCE1QC&oi=fnd&pg=PR5&dq=Urine+as+fertilizer+plants&ots=mASiGWlqMZ&sig=YsYk-XUSRzpuWq62sKgQUIeztmg#v=onepage&q=Urine%20as%20fertilizer%20plants&f=false

This gives a guide, that could prove quite useful, on how to use urine as fertilizer.

Cherry tomatos in sandy soil is my plan for the experiment. These tomatoes can grow well in desert environments. Places were innovative farming techniques are most needed.


Naturalistic fallacy

October 22, 2014

http://bigthink.com/risk-reason-and-reality/the-paleo-movement-and-the-naturalistic-fallacy

While thinking about the environment and different interpretations of nature it is important to be familiar with the naturalistic fallacy. Just because something is natural does not make it good or the right choice. This is a important fact to understand because equating natural with good is a common method of persuasion. This is not to say the paleo diet is bad, just that it is good for other reasons.


Urine farming/Project Idea

October 8, 2014

http://modernfarmer.com/2014/01/human-pee-proven-fertilizer-future/

This Vermont farm is using urine as fertilizer with great results. It turns out the Sweds have been diverting there urine from toilettes to use as fertilizer. This could be the key innovation allowing urine fertilizer to be implemented in the US considering most people won’t want to pea in containers.


Eating on the Wild Side

October 8, 2014

Eating on the Wild Side could be summarized as “dark and small are the most nutritious”. Normally we think fruits and vegetables are the healthiest parts of any meal, and we don’t question how nutritious they really are. This book shows that we have to be careful which fruits and vegetables we eat; some can be little more than sugar and water.  This sweetening of our produce (with a few exceptions) began thousands of years ago. Most varieties of fruits and vegetables back then were small, tough, hard to eat, and bitter, but more nutritious. As humans grew more proficient in growing crops, we selectively bred them to be bigger and sweeter. Unknowingly, we bred out a lot of the nutrients, namely phytonutrients, which have all kinds of positive effects. Almost universally, the older a species of crop is, the healthier it is. There are a few exceptions with tomatoes and apples however, as new efforts have started to try to regain some of the lost nutrients. I thought it was interesting how quickly blueberries were tamed. It shows that we could easily breed more healthy varieties if demand was there.

tomatoes

Overall I think this book is helpful in getting us to realize just how “unnatural” our produce is. Fruits and vegetables weren’t always this sweet. It’s an important to realize that just eating fruits and vegetables isn’t enough. I am skeptical of just how nutritious and “cancer-fighting” these superfoods really are however. Just because a concentrated extract of some nutrient found in some fruit kills cancer in mice, doesn’t mean eating that fruit is going to do the same in a human. She even cites a quote that for every illness there is a fruit or vegetable that can cure it. This made me less confident in some of her claims, but overall I think her message is still valuable.

I ended up bringing shallots and tomatoes from the farmer’s market. I found some Giant Belgium tomatoes that are described in the book as being slightly higher in lycopene than most other large tomatoes. I chose the smallest and most red one I could find along with some larger, orangish ones. The dark red one would have the most phytonutrients but more sugar than the larger ones. I bought the shallots because they have “six times more phytonutrients than the typical onion”. I chose one small, dark purple one and one larger, lighter colored one to show the differences. The smaller one would be more nutritious.


Eating on the Wild Side

October 8, 2014

The recipe I choose to make for tonight’s class is a salad that is used for celebrations of Litha, or the summer solstice. This is a Wiccan holiday and is focused on the power and joy that is found in the summer, especially the life that comes in the form of foods, and other plants. The reason I choose to do this salad (a spinach, strawberry, and avocado salad) was because this holiday is celebrating life, it is celebrating clean food. It is a practice among most Wiccans to grow their own food as a way of connecting to nature, often without the help of chemicals and pesticides. What the earth gives you, is what you can eat, only your hard work can help produce the food. While I am not growing strawberries, spinach, or avocados in my dorm room, it is possible to do. Avocados can be grown from their seed by placing it in a glass of water, and waiting for the roots to show before placing it in a pot to let it grow. You can also grow a very small strawberry patch in room, just by taking up a windowsill with a flower box. These foods also are very healthy. Spinach in particular is a good source of Iron to anyone who has an iron deficiency.


Eating on the Wild Side: Apple Juice and Cider

October 8, 2014

I chose to bring organic apple juice and cider as my food contribution. It mentions a small section about it in Eating on the Wild Side on pages 231 and 232. I chose to bring both so that we could compare taste differences between them. What makes this juice and cider different is that they are cloudy with pieces of actual apple in it. This may look gross but it is indeed better for you. When the juice is clear, it can have as low of phytonutrients as six percent from the apple with the rest being gotten rid of through processing. The cloudiness means that it is unfiltered; containing up to four times more phytonutrients. The way you can test whether or not it is truly unfiltered is hold it up to the light; you should not be able to see the light through it. Also there should be a collection of fruit sediment on the bottom. In the United States, there is no official difference between apple juice and cider. I have always wondered the difference myself. For Europe, cider must be made from “traditional cider varieties”, which are a mix of tart and sweet. These have more phytonutrients than cooking apples and desert apples. Real cider is never filtered. As far as the apple juice goes, the organic aspect is supposed to reassure the buyer that the apples were not grown with the use of fertilizer or pesticides and that there are no additives or preservatives. It did not specifically mention that concept in that section, but there was the implication that the less it was tampered with the better. It is also pasteurized, which is done so that the chances of you getting sick from it are extremely reduced. From looking around at different places I can say that it is very hard to find any that is not pasteurized. Unfortunately, the cider I got has a preservative in it. I looked at a few different places and could not find any that did not.


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