Once, Twice, Three Times a Turtle: A Local Reflection

Bees, Trees and Turtles

Along with rain forest deforestation and honeybee colony-collapse disorder talk in recent decades, the plight of the sea turtles has come onto our radar as a serious environmental concern.  Deforestation affects many other species of plants and animals—not to mention the oxygen supply and possible overall weather patterns.  The honeybee issue is atrocious in its severity although much of the general human population hasn’t realized it yet but may if our food supply is abruptly altered one of these days.   Meanwhile I live in south Florida where it so happens that a few endangered species of sea turtles come to nest annually including the Green, Loggerhead and Leatherback sea turtle.  As a child growing up on the east coast here in Florida it wasn’t uncommon to come across a nest of turtle eggs and there were no public pushes to “save them”—little did I know that one day I’d be a grown-up where turtle talk would be critical to our survival in addition to those of other plants animals such as the bees and trees.

Turtle Walk: Not What First Comes to Mind

The Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC) is located in Juno Beach, Florida and their website is www.marinelife.org .  It turns out they have something called a “Turtle Walk” where attendees arrive on a scheduled evening and learn more about the details of the sea turtles’ habits and the kind of research and direct assistance to the sea turtles that the LMC provides through generous donation of volunteer time and public donations.  At the same time, there are “spotters” in communication with staff indoors as to whether there is a turtle sighting—they inform if is there a female turtle approaching the shore in order to lay her eggs in the dark.   If a turtle comes ashore that matches the species allowed by state permit for LMC to view with a tour then the visitors are chaperoned down to the shore in the nighttime with the assistance of red flashlights that will not hamper or scare the turtle.  The general purpose of this Turtle Walk is to educate visitors through education and viewing in real-time the tedious work of a sea turtle to try against many odds to secure the next generation’s survival.

Last Tuesday: No Turtle Show

I had the opportunity to participate in a Turtle Walk event last Tuesday at the LMC in Juno Beach.  Unfortunately our group didn’t have the chance to view a turtle laying in real-time, however, the information I was able to learn in a couple of hours from some of the staff that evening was really enlightening.  Among my favorites: learning that the water evacuating from the pipe from rehabilitation turtle tanks has been treated with a hydrogen peroxide solution that affirms my intuition that has allowed my children and I to enjoy the water play by the shore from it, the fact that leatherback turtles are our best friends because they eat their weight in jellyfish(!) and that LMC’s presence in our area has helped to make significant changes that benefit humans as well as turtles with keeping the nearby beaches cleaner and calmer with less ambient light.  Also, “hot chicks, cool dudes” was the phrase coined to describe the fact in the 1980s biologists realized that sea turtles undergo temperature-dependent sex determination–i.e. the temperature of the sand encloses the egg nests on the shore will sway whether an egg hatches a male or female sea turtle.

Mean Green Clean

If you have had the opportunity to read some of my earlier blog posts you will already understand my anger about our shorelines being treated as an open sand landfill or ashtray—seriously, what possesses us humans to think it’s okay to discard our trash on purpose in a place we all share with each other and the other animal and plants?  On July 5th the LMC organized a beach cleanup and invited the public to come out and utilize tools to pick up any and all trash that could be found after a major holiday.  I brought one of my young children along and when faced with a tantrum I gently sang to him as to why we needed to clean up—for the turtles, for the trees, for the bees and for you and me.  It was both impressive and sad to see how much the public had left in the sands only inches and feet away from wooden markers indicating a sea turtle nest.  Although it is great to have public beach cleanups organized, I feel it’s incumbent upon anyone who steps on a beach to refrain from littering and to pick up any rubbish they see and properly discard.

Local Paper Highlights

Within the same week of attending a LMC Turtle Walk night and participating in a public beach clean up our local paper The Palm Beach Post had a fun Accent front page story entitled “On the trail of turtles” written by Barbara Marshall and photographs by Greg Lovett: http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/lifestyles/on-the-trail-of-turtles/nYc6g/  It was a fun piece that highlighted a snippet of what volunteers, biologists and physicians do at the LMC to help ensure that the leatherback turtles who nest on our shores are able to continue their calling as part of our ecological balance in the ocean–did you know they may actually be natives of the Asian oceans? Also, they eat jellyfish, I repeat: THEY EAT JELLYFISH.  There is more to be written on the need to assist the sea turtles, of course, but it is good to see that the information continues to come out no matter how big or small.

Turtle Time

It is understandable that we can get so overwhelmed by any news that affects the survival of animal species, plants and the frightful fluctuations of our climate on this Earth—so that we actually are moved to not move, we become paralyzed and apathetic.  My hope is that we can at the very least become more aware of our immediate environment where we respectively live and do our best to assist outstanding issues with wildlife other concerns.  We cannot disassociate ourselves from the fact that we depend on each other and other building blocks in our physical world to survive and thrive as we strive to become a better human race overall.

R.V.S.Bean

Some newsworthy links:

recent article on honeybee CCD: http://science.time.com/2013/05/07/beepocalypse-redux-honey-bees-are-still-dying-and-we-still-dont-know-why/

recent article on rainforest destruction: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22706402

Herb Hints for Summer 2013: Part 1

herb hints part one june 3 2013

Herb Hints for Summer 2013: Part 1

As summer literally begins to heat up later this month in North America, many plants will be bursting with bountiful harvests. I’m happy to share with you some hints and fun information for cultivating specifically herb plants that I’ve gathered through personal experience and various research sources to assist you whether you have an in-ground garden, a raised-bed planter or simply a pot or two on your kitchen windowsill. In this particular post I will focus on three herbs that I’ve kept over the years most consistently for culinary uses.

Basil: Who isn’t acquainted with the burst of flavor and scent that basil affords? My first memory of this herb was as a little girl in my great-grandfather’s garden south of Athens, Greece when he cut some for me to smell and take to the kitchen for our meal. The large-leafed varieties produce great foliage for pasta sauces and fresh salads. Basil is also a great companion plant for tomatoes. Lemon basil and sweet basil are my personal favorites for usage in home cooking and herbal bouquets as gifts for loved ones. “The name “basil” is derived from the old Greek word basilikohn, which means “royal,” reflecting that ancient culture’s attitudes towards an herb that they held to be very noble and sacred.” http://www.whfoods.com

Mint: O’Brien’s in New Orleans serves a strong concoction called the Mint Julep, a mix of bourbon whiskey and crushed mint in a sugary punch that impressed my palate and sense of fun. Later I would have a Mohito in a South Florida restaurant that inspired me to keep this herb in my garden rotation permanently. It turns out I can also use mint to make fresh hot tea that works as a non-alcoholic calming force on its own. A common favorite for garnish in iced teas, lemonade or cocktails—this plant (and its many varieties) is very aggressive and spreads quickly in its root system. This can be great if you are into propagation (just stick a cutting in water and watch roots grow over time) but if not then it is advisable to keep it in a container. As a side note, mint is also a natural repellant for flies and ants.

Parsley:  This herb is readily available for purchase at grocery stores in the produce department and I recommend you just buy the plant since growing from parsley from seed is no easy feat–I just achieved success at starting parsley from seed after over 5 years of trying. “Cut up flat-leaf parsley to use in soups and stews. Add parsley to warm foods just before serving so the herb maintains its flavor and bright green color.” (from the premier issue of Herb Gardening through http://www.BHG.com ) Personally I love having fresh parsley around for fresh visual garnish on dishes presented to your family and friends at the dinner table. It’s been known for centuries as a breath freshener after dinner when you nibble on it and in old folklore a robust parsley plant at a residence represented a strong woman of the house inside.

Preservation

It turns out that you can store these herbs either by drying them (I use a dehydrator but there are methods for drying them appropriately if you research) or freezing them. I haven’t tried it but “Herb Gardening” magazine suggests: “Grind and freeze-wash and pat dry large-leafed herbs such as basil and parsley. In a food processor, combine each herb with oil and grind into a paste. Spoon the mixture into ice cube trays to use later in soups, stews and sauces.”

Recipe to Boot: From June 2013 Good Housekeeping magazine, http://www.goodhousekeeping.com
30 minutes or less-Weeknight Easy

Minted Chicken with Asparagus
Note: Makes 4 main dish servings

Ingredients:
• 1 lime
• 1 ½ cup packed fresh mint leaves
• 1 clove garlic
• 2 tsp brown sugar
• ½ ground coriander
• 3 tbsp canola oil (I believe any oil you choose is fine)
• 1 ¼ lbs thin chicken cutlets
• 1 bunch thin asparagus trimmed
• 8 cups mixed baby greens

1. Prepare outdoor grill for covered direct grilling on medium.
2. From lime, grate ½ tsp peel and squeeze 2 tbsp juice.
3. In food processor, pulse mint, grated lime peel, garlic, sugar, coriander and 2 tsp oil until smooth, occasionally scraping down side of bowl then transfer to small bowl.
4. Rub chicken with 2 tbsp mint mixture; sprinkle with ¼ tsp each salt and pepper. Grill, covered, 6 to 8 minutes or until cooked through, turning over once.
5. Meanwhile, toss asparagus with 1 tsp oil; sprinkle with 1/8 tsp salt. Grill, covered, 5-6 min, turning occasionally. Grill bread 1-2 minutes per side.
6. To bowl with reserved mint mixture, add lime juice, remaining 2 tbsp oil and ¼ tsp salt, whisking to combine. Thinly slice chicken. Divide greens among 4 serving plates; top with chicken and asparagus. Drizzle with mint dressing and serve with grilled bread.

Happy Herbing! 

Stay tuned for Herb Hints for Summer 2013: Part 2,
R.V.S.Bean

Additional Sources: “The Beginner’s Guide to Edible Herbs- 26 Herbs Everyone Should Grow and Enjoy” by Charles W.G. Smith, Storey Publishing

The What: Food and Money – The Tango Tangle

THE WHAT: FOOD AND MONEY  – THE TANGO TANGLE

My heart pinched inside my chest as I listened to the cashier’s announcement of the total price of my Publix grocery purchases.  “Absurd amount of money!” is the first reaction internally followed by a justification speech by the concerned mother/caretaker in me that knows it’s better to spend money on good food for my family even if it tightens the household budget in other areas.  This scenario repeats itself and the outcome is the same at least for me: I choose quality of food over cheapness and quantity any day.  What are the economic and environmental factors that any of us face today when making our food choices on a daily basis?

THE WHO

The perspective on who we’re buying food for obviously affects our choices.  Whether you’re single, married, living with roommates, with children, with elderly—all these groupings carry their respective needs, wants and overall themes.  Personally I can attest to the interesting blend of tastes I accommodate in my cooking and choosing of groceries as I have a husband, two boys under 4 years old (one an infant) and two octogenarians.  When I look around at many of my colleagues with children, it seems a majority of parents today are very sensitive to the question as to whether the produce they purchase is organic or not.  It turns out that there are some produce items that are more critical to buy organic like spinach and berries because of how porous the skin is and therefore easily absorbs pesticides.  Some websites you may find helpful for resource information:   www.organicconsumers.org , www.organic-center.org , www.non-gmoreport.com , www.healthychild.org , www.texasgrassfedbeef.com , www.centerforfoodsafety.org , www.chemicalfreekids.com , www.foodnavigator.com

THE WHY

Organic, non-genetically modified and local are some of the current buzz food words.  The term organic always makes me chuckle for a nanosecond as there’s hundreds of years of human evolution coursing through my blood that reminds me all food was once “organic” without the labeling.  It’s just that in the last century or so that our civilized societies started to meddle beyond what hybrid practices were in place already in agriculture.  It is interesting to note that recently many farmers are returning to using more natural methods in their crop and livestock management—part of it could be the increased consumer demand for organic products and another part may be that it has been found more cost-effective to use better sustainability practices on the environment when cultivating the Earth or animal stocks.  Again, my own battle is complicated when it comes to whether I buy organic, conventional or local food products.  I prefer organic but it’s not always available or cost-effective.  Local produce is desirable because I like supporting the farmers in Florida and it’s fresher with less gas emissions spent on its transport to my kitchen.  At the same time, a pint of blueberries from Peru may be farmed with the best ecological-friendly practices and taste better than the pesticide-laden ones from a few counties away.  Here are a few more resources that may be helpful:  www.farmigo.com , www.localharvest.org , www.slowfoodusa.org , http://foodnews.org/ , www.foodnavigator.com , www.environmentalhealthnews.org , www.biointegrity.org , www.localfoodswheel.com , www.greenling.com

THE WHEN

Sometimes I wish I were ignorant and just went to the store and was able to buy the cheapest of everything to feed my household.  The truth is irreversible once attained; I know what is best for my family’s situation and it happens to be a diet that contains the freshest fruit, vegetables, dairy, legumes, meats and then on to the grains, pastas and et cetera.  Making the conscious choice to use less canned products and other foods that contain more harmful ingredients in process/preservation means that our grocery bill is higher than it would be if I blindly chose based solely on cheap economics.  Not everyone thinks through what they buy when at the grocery store but it’s only a matter of time when many if not most of us will realize that how we eat is like a form of preventative medicine for our bodies.  The cost you may incur now can serve to defray future medical costs after years of eating products that can slowly sabotage your body’s ability to fight off infection and other illnesses.   Then there’s the question of the effect on our environment by our agricultural practices and that factors into many people’s choices of food economics.  Social impact in the form of “fair trade” practices is yet another factor weaving into our ethos as consumers of groceries for ourselves.  Some more websites for your personal research:  www.fairtradeusa.org , www.greenamerica.org , www.fairtraderesource.org , www.kidsorganics.com , www.rodaleinstitute.org , www.opensecrets.org , www.allergykids.com  , www.usda.gov , www.fda.gov

This blog post is woefully inadequate in addressing all the various facets involved in the economic and social challenge we face in our food purchases as the commodity prices continue to rise on a monthly basis.  I hope it at least helps in starting a conversation or a journey for information as this is an issue that will continue to grow in importance as we face upcoming agricultural changes and trade practices that can affect both the quality and quantity of our food in America particularly.

RVSB

 

“Nature-Deficit Disorder”: The Real Child Epidemic That Should Concern Us

In the few weeks following my second son D.A.’s birth, I was well aware that my first son T.A. needed more stimulation that just a crying newborn brother in the confines of four walls. Empowered by the nursing privacy and versatility of a sling for the baby, I loaded my two boys in the car and headed for the local Palm Beach Zoo.

I was glad to be outside and although I would love to do more activity with my sons, the newborn’s needs and my healing process will have to delay those desires. As I pushed my older son in a stroller through the manicured trail of the zoo, we came upon a small group of adults huddled around a speaking podium. My verbal toddler didn’t want to stick around but I gently admonished him in Greek that we were going to wait and see what this was about. I’m ever so glad we did.

It turned out this fateful morning that the Palm Beach Zoo leaders and the neighboring South Florida Science Museum were hosting a small talk and news conference for the visiting bestselling author Richard Louv. His most recent publication is “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder”. It was during his speech that I had already determined I was going to purchase this book as he spoke how our zoos and parks should be the “gateway” for our children and their interaction with nature.

I had heard about this author before while reading a magazine in the past where his writings were mentioned. I’m surprised I hadn’t read his material earlier as I believe I’ve had a parallel passion for the fight to make sure our future generations don’t become so engrossed with the ever-encompassing digital age that they lose touch with actual reality in our true 3-D natural surroundings.

Let me share a quote from Mr. Louv’s Introduction in his book “Last Child in the Woods”:
“’One evening when my boys were younger, Matthew, then ten, looked at me from across a restaurant table and said quite seriously, ‘Dad, how come it was more fun when you were a kid?’… He was right. Americans around my age, baby boomers or older, enjoyed a kind of free, natural play that seems, in the era of kid pagers, instant messaging, and Nintendo, like a quaint artifact.”

His book covers a wide variety of ways to approach what he calls the emergence of a “nature-deficit disorder” among children today. He astutely conveys that in our efforts to keep our children safe, for instance, we have made nature a dangerous, off-limits place that is best appreciated through video or virtual reality. My favorite quote based on Mr. Louv’s childhood love for climbing trees: “The woods were my Ritalin”.

The most interesting point that Mr. Louv has made in this book (I have yet to finish it but am close to it as I read it during night feedings) is that our culture has made “saving the environment” such an important mantra for the education of our children. Yet, at the same time, we have made it increasingly difficult to allow our youth to really know and experience the very environment we preach to them is so critical to maintain. From Mr. Louv : “Parents, educators, other adults, institutions—the culture itself—may say one thing to children about nature’s gifts, but so many of our actions and messages—especially the ones we cannot hear ourselves deliver—are different. And children hear very well.”

If you are able to spare the time to read this book, I strongly recommend it. Louv brings up the fact that time spent in nature is very therapeutic not only for young ones but for adults as well. There is something healing about the wind, the plants, the animals, and the time that is not set by boundaries of software or physical hardware.

RVSB

$5.00 Per Gallon: What America May Pay For Auto Fuel If We Don’t Wake Up

$5.00 Per Gallon: What America May Pay For Auto Fuel If We Don’t Wake Up

I’m not claiming to be neither an energy specialist nor a bona fide economist but I think the latest developments in the political turmoil in the oil-rich nations across the Atlantic and beyond deserve our careful consideration.

SAME OLD REFRAIN

When we examine the last 30-40 years of international politics as it relates to the effect of war/upheaval/et cetera in these petroleum capitals of the world—oil barrel prices and such often rise without warning or constraint. Each and every time we Americans gripe and seem surprised even though for the most part we’ve escaped true debilitating price hikes and status quo cost of automotive gasoline at the pumps in some European nations.

DENIAL AND RESERVATIONS

What year is it again? 2011. Why are we still so reliant on fossil fuels in general? I fear it is for a number of very classic human flaws. One is definitely just because it’s the way we’ve always done things, despite all the technological advances we’ve made in a matter of a few decades—we are still “dinosaurs” in how we view our transportation needs. Second, since it is the most common source of fuel, it somehow manages to be cheaper in general than the initial start-up investment it would take to delve into renewal sources of energy. Third, American politicians, corporate giants and phobic environmentalists and/or crotchety landowners are the biggest blockades to our progress as an innovative energy leader of a nation.

REALITY BITES

A combination of volatile social factors resulting after the Tunisian and Egyptian political fallouts are causing a ripple effect that won’t be truly sorted out for years to come, yet Americans are already grumbling about the gas pump prices as we fill up our thirsty tanks. How many times do we need to learn this lesson? Relying on fossil fuels is not the best long-term investment for America regardless of wherever we may source them from (international or domestic).

PRIDE: SWALLOW IT

Change is never easy. Especially when it concerns our cash flow and the request for more of it is laid out. There has to be a collective effort by corporations, energy industry innovators, politicians and American citizens to willingly go forward with real changes in our consumption of oil to give way to newer, more sustainable sources of power for our transportation (just one of our many energy usage needs: think electricity, home heating, cooking, etc). As for countries like Egypt and Libya, we need to allow them the space to work out their futures without being a puppet to their oil drenched strings.

RVSB

Nature as God’s Classroom…

Gardening or farming is not for everyone as a hobby or career, however, I do believe it should be part of our education as children with refresher courses in our adulthood.

This past weekend I worked in my garden and mini-fruit tree orchard with a hired hand to go through my approximately 25 x 75 foot raised bed garden and surrounding area weeding, mulching, digging and planting.  My subject of my nature lesson on Saturday became dramatically clear as we bagged nearly half a dozen black lawn bags with unwanted weeds and dead vegetation.  How do my plants survive through adversity?  Translation:  How do we humans fare in adversity?

In my nearly twenty years of active “gardening” of some sort, I have often run into living analogies of our humanity in the natural world of plants and organisms.  As I’ve matured in my adult life, I’m comforted by witnessing both the triumphs and failures of things in nature as they echo of my own life experiences up to present.

This past Saturday’s lesson is a repeat, I’ve seen it before but I never get bored with its wisdom revealed.  Of the 9 fruit-bearing trees that I’ve planted in the corner of my mother’s property, 5 of them are actually growing well and thriving.  The remaining four have been a struggle to keep from withering away.  Conventional wisdom would have us infer that the five trees which are doing well had been meticulously monitored since their planting complete with consistent water, perhaps a protecting plastic for the young trunks, clean mulch lacking weeds, good feed and soil and so forth.  The reality is that I was only able to really pay special mind to the four trees that are now barely clinging to life–they have been hit with water stress, bugs, molds, fatigue, et cetera.

What does that say?  Does it mean I let the five go on untouched?  No, actually, I have gone in a couple of times this year and cleared the five healthy trees of their choking weeds, refreshed their soil, put down mulch again, fed them and pruned.  However, I did allow them to weather the trials of a record summer of heat in Florida, bear the burden of giant ant hills and thick weeds.  Basically, I didn’t try to protect them from any and all adversity that could strike them.  I did endure guilty feelings this season as I thought I was truly neglecting them and would suffer their loss.  Instead, as I would clean them up periodically, I found that they had gained strength, built immunities, grown thicker and taller and overall have a bright future of bearing me healthy fruit yields in future seasons.

As the worker and I finished our labor this weekend, I walked and inspected each of my nine fruit trees individually.  I’m still amazed by what seems such a backward logic to many of us, especially parents.  By allowing some of my young trees to fend for themselves on a number of naturally occurring elements, I essentially ensured that they would garner their own armor and future strength reserve for battles ahead.  While my poor four trees that I donned so much attention on ended up stifling them and rendering them ill-equipped for the unforseen weather patterns and bug raids that would occur in this summer season.

For myself, this lesson yielded a few layers of personal learning.  As a parent, it tells me that it’s okay to not hover over my son constantly in certain situations.  Obvious things aside like danger of drowning or being burned by the stove, it does benefit my son to let him navigate some social situations on his own or witnessing him making mistakes in a play scenario so that he can nurture his own sense of troubleshooting through things.  As a wife, it reminds me that my husband and I will sometimes feel that God has gone silent in our marriage when we seem to be capsizing in one of life’s tumultuous storms out in the proverbial sea.  But as we cling to each other and our love for our Maker, we will weather those storms and truly enjoy the stronger vessel our love is as we sail gorgeous seas together.  As a friend, it comforts me that while I cannot always properly nurture all my relationships, this doesn’t mean that I will be destined to lose any particular friend as there are those whom we cross paths with in this life that are not affected by the passage of our human time.

This is a pretty inexhaustible subject and yet I wanted to share it with all of you because we are so busy in our lives that when a nature lesson like that hits me with precious information that can help everyone I want to shout it out to the world…so I type this post to you world.

Happy Labor Day!

R.V.S.B.

Mosquito Warning For South Florida Parents

If you are a parent in South Florida, you may have seen the recent news release this past week about the Dengue fever outbreak that’s been discovered in Key West.  You can Google search the Palm Beach Post’s headline from Wednesday, July 14: “Surge of dengue virus hits Key West”.

Here’s the short list of what Dengue fever is:

  • Also known as “break-bone fever”
  • High fever, pain behind eyes, bone and joint pain, nausea and vomiting
  • Symptoms start within 4 days of bite, pass in usual less than a week
  • There are more severe forms that would require medical attention because of internal and external bleeding (3-4 of the cases in Key West involved bleeding episodes)

At the same time, we must remember that even if this Dengue fever spreads north to the rest of Florida, we still have another disconcerting mosquito-borne illness to contend with.  No, it’s not just West Nile virus—an illness that most people get through unharmed if contracted.  Evidently there was a recent death of a horse attributed to Eastern equine encephalitis.  Thankfully, even with the high mortality rate in people, Eastern equine encephalitis only claims 5-6 human cases every year.

My son and I have already earned our summer season welts and broken skin bites on our legs, arms, back, belly and neck.  I feel slightly remiss as a parent for not trying to protect ourselves better.  But what are our options these days?

Off! and other brands that are known for their sprays, wipes and lotions with DEET concern me and I tend to avoid them unless absolutely necessary.  Basically I was “turned off” to Off! after an experience over a year ago that I’ve since recalled to many friends:  When my son was an infant, one of my ways of exercising in his first year was to put him in my Bob running stroller.  In Florida, the peak times for the mosquitoes seems to be early morning and late in the day.  My runs were usually in the morning and I would clip a couple of Off! fans to the stroller for the baby but I would still spray myself with Off! because my arms would take a hit otherwise.  One morning I came to the stroller and picked up my Off! spray bottle that I’d left on top of the stroller.  To my horror, I realized as I lifted the bottle that some had spilled on the see-through plastic intended to spy on baby while using and the Off! had eaten a large hole in it!  After that I realized that the chemicals in this stuff were too toxic for our skin, let alone our children’s.

I have found the bug bands to be useful, you can find them at stores like Gander or even Bed Bath and Beyond.  They are plastic, adjustable bands that have certain oils (like geranium and lavender) that help deter the blood-sucking mosquitoes.  The only downside is they are temporary and disposable.  They usually last up to 72 hours if used consecutively.

There are also some natural products that are out there, like at Whole Foods stores for instance.  Those are hit and miss though.  Some are not really affective, some too oily/greasy and others just difficult to find or too expensive.

You can always look at getting an electric bug zapper or this new thing available at Home Depot that is the size of a large sippy cup and runs with a little bit of gas and helps keep mosquitoes away at a certain perimeter.  Some gardening catalogs like www.gardeners.com have some great anti-mosquito products.

Those who are veteran Florida parents also know about ways to help keep the mosquito population down: getting rid of standing water, treating small ponds with mosquito repellents that are biologically safe.

It’s a sad truth, but we have to face the mosquito questions every year in Florida and those who have children are especially on high alert.  Arm yourselves with what you think is right for your family and hopefully you can minimize this season’s bites.

RVSB

Why Boycott BP? Don’t We All Still Drive Cars?

Short rant today: The countless stories in the news media regarding the BP oil spill/explosion disaster are keeping me in a constant state of heartburn.

Do we really believe that the BP executives met around a table earlier this year and decided that it would be a fabulous PR move on their part to create an environmental mess of epic proportions in the Gulf of Mexico that would include their own employees’ casualties?  Whether Republican, Democrat or Independent, do we honestly feel that our Mr. Obama, President of the United States, wants to be the fall-guy because of the economic and environmental repercussions resulting from this BP oil mess situation?

Here’s a few thoughts to consider:  While much of the news media and internet chatter drones on about how horrible BP is as well as the other oil companies are in regards to their effect on drilling the Earth for these fossil fuels–we all continue to step into our vehicles on a daily basis and drive.  Why are we so eager to take out our own guilt in a mad rage at the scapegoat of the hour: British Petroleum?

I’ve written in the past about personal responsibility and I will keep banging the drum on it because it really is what can change the world’s view on things like what type of energy sources we use for our modern-day travel.

For those who rail against Capitalism as a driving force in many of our world’s economies like the U.S.–why not harness the power you hold as an individual and just abstain from driving your car?  Sounds impossible? What if even half of the country stopped for a week from using their cars–gas stations would notice as would the oil companies who fuel those franchises.

Here’s my ultimate annoyance, it’s fine if you don’t like the way we use the fossil fuels and source them but biking naked in New York City in protest is the most unuseful and foolish thing to do.  We humans are smarter and I’m afraid we’re lazy and not brave enough to truly change our own personal behavior in order to help affect what makes us upset. 

Instead, it is easier for us to yell, point fingers and suggest dumb ideas like “boycott BP” because we are just as guilty for drilling in the water, in the wilderness, in the Arabic desert homelands…shame on us, myself included.

R.V.S.B.

A Study Report You May Have Missed This Week: Link Between ADHD & Pesticides

Good Thursday to all of you!  It’s been a busy week yet again in my personal orbit but I haven’t forgotten the one little Associated Press report I read in my local paper that had been stuffed/hidden in page 7a.  This was released back on Monday, May 17th, you can Google search to find it or just go to this Time publication link: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1989564,00.html

The title of the report simply describes it: “Study Links Kids’ ADHD to Pesticides”.  It turns out that a recent study has scientists buzzing about and clamoring for more research studies to be conducted on the possible health effects of pesticides on children.  A quote worth remembering from the study: “In the body, pesticides break down into compounds that ca be measured in urine. Almost universally, the study found detectable levels: The compounds turned up in the urine of 94 percent of the children.”

That’s right, whether or not the pesticides themselves can put our children at greater risk for health problems such as ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) is going to be up for more debate as more research studies is needed–however, the sad and sobering truth remains that we are absorbing these chemicals into our bodies when exposed and our children being smaller are really taking a hit physically.

Unfortunately, this particular report doesn’t determine/reveal how the children in the study were exposed to the pesticides: had they eaten food treated with it, breathed it in the author or swallowed it in their drinking water?

The findings that were published on Monday in “Pediatrics” have the lead author Maryse Bouchard from the University of Montreal saying that one way we can limit our family’s exposure to pesticides is to eat organic produce when available and scrub all produce to get external residue off (regrettably, some things like blueberries and strawberries will have the highest concentration of pesticides absorbed in the fruit-so do try getting organic fresh or frozen.)

For my own family, I do try when available to purchase organic produce, but it’s not always in the store right?  That’s probably why I also try to grow in my garden items that our family regularly consumes in our weekly menus so that I can control what the plants are exposed to.  But what about rain that may fall with pollutants from the atmosphere?  We have to temper our aversion to the reality that our human society is polluted whether we like it or not.  As consumers, we still have some power play left as we can guide the market to reduce its dependence on poisons such as widespread pesticide use.  However, we must educate and arm ourselves with information as to what we want ourselves and our families to be exposed to when eating certain products.  Ultimately, you make the choice as to what path your household will consume whether it be based on environmental or cost-effective terms.

Here are a couple of helpful online resources for your own personal research needs: www.organicconsumers.org , www.organic-center.org and www.heathlychild.org, www.chemicalfreekids.com , www.centerforfoodsafety.org , www.foodandwaterwatch.org , www.ewg.org  .

RVSB

Why Governor Crist Is No Better Than Palin…

I’ll admit right away that I’m a mother to a toddler of nearly 2 years old, I am pretty doggone busy every day as I try to keep up with my son’s physical pace and intellectual thirst for knowledge (yes, pointing at things and grunting in a questionable way as to what that object is called).

Yet, I still try my best as do most parents to stay somewhat connected to the current events, especially locally…so when I see the headlines in the The Palm Beach Post read: “State to act against BP, Crist says”, I get pretty worked up since I can’t help but be insulted by our Governor’s assumption that we just want to sue BP because of the oil disaster brewing in the Gulf of Mexico. You can read more for yourself at: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/state/florida-may-file-lawsuits-as-early-as-monday-679030.html

Yes, because even though I’ve been unable to keep up with all the specifics of this tragedy I still find it ridiculous that our Florida governor, you know- the Senate now Independent candidate has decided that BP must be have “action taken” against them.  That’s right, because I’m sure that BP thought it was a brilliant idea to have their oil rig have an accidental and fatal (to at least 11 persons) explosion take place to grant them fabulous and infamous media scrutiny as the coastal economies brace themselves for what may be the oil spill fallout.

Here’s the long and short, humble opinion of mine as to why Gov. Charlie Crist is no better than former Vice Presidential candidate and former Alaskan:  He is an opportunistic politician that just keeps grabbing at straws even though his chance to drink victory is long gone.

I can’t help but shake my head and just be plain disgusted that he would tout taking any type of action against BP, especially since it’s vague and just is a lame attempt at tugging at Floridian’s heart-strings.

What upsets me most as a native Floridian about this BP oil spill situation is that the nation as whole assumes that all Florida residents are against oil drilling in general, especially off our shores.  However, the reality is there are a good number of us that were open to the idea since we don’t all wish to be hypocrites.

At the same time, I’m willing to concede that oil drilling off our shores is a bit risky since our main industries are tourism and agriculture in Florida.  But here’s the issue that I struggle with: how is it okay that we drill elsewhere on Earth, but not in our own country because of the ENVIRONMENT?

Don’t get me wrong, I love our environment, I don’t rejoice in the fact that we have to over-harvest some of our resources as our appetite seems insatiable.  Still, I have a huge issue that we find it okay to rip out oil from Africa and Arab countries, but we’re above that in the United States of America. Really? The ANWR  (Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge) is too risky? For what, the animals that live there? How about the clam and oyster beds, the fishermen, the hotels and resorts along the Gulf and perhaps even Atlantic coasts (thank you Gulf Stream current capabilities)?

The hypocrisy of our nation gets me even while I am in the throes of raising a family…we guzzle oil, we must accept that fact and be adult about our responsibility in that and stop just assuming that our sources should be elsewhere, not our backyards.

Overall, my biggest complaint is with the attitude of our current governor, he’s much more concerned about his political welfare.  There’s no denying that oil drilling ideas for Florida were pretty  much killed after what happened with BP in the past few weeks, but Crist’s is taking it to a personal crusader level just to help win him some opportunistic votes for his struggling U.S. Senatorial race…

RVSB