Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Learning about Butterflies and Moths

Why should we care about butterflies and moths? Thanks to butterflies, bees, birds, and other animal pollinators, the world's flowering plants are able to reproduce and bear fruit. That very basic capability is at the root of many of the foods we eat. And, not least, pollination adds to the beauty we see around us.

Yet today, there is evidence of alarming pollinator population declines worldwide. Fortunately, science investigators of this crucial issue can use data collected and organized in the Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA) database to monitor the health of our butterfly and moth population.

Backed by more than 287,000 verified sighting records and 3,239 images that describe 4,638 species, BAMONA is committed to collecting and providing access to quality-controlled data about butterflies and moths of North America. Dedicated volunteer coordinators, including national and internationally recognized Lepidoptera experts, verify each record. The goal is to fill the needs of scientists and nature observers by bringing verified occurrence and life history data into one accessible location.

To serve its broad range of users even better, BAMONA recently launched its re-tooled website. The site was developed at Montana State University (MSU) under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) Network.

BAMONA's latest innovations are aimed at improving technologies for both data collection and data dissemination. Users can now submit records – which typically include a photograph – via the site's new user submission form, replacing an outdated submission process that required multiple e-mails with spreadsheet attachments. As for data dissemination, verified records are now immediately available on the site's home page. New, interactive Google-based maps enable the display of any verified sighting, including Canadian locations. Visitors can now zoom in or out and click on dots pin-pointing sighting locations on interactive maps, and see the details of each sighting record. All these features were not available previously.

For more information, go to

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Cooperative Development Foundation is accepting contributions to aid in the recovery from the tsunami that struck Japan on March 10, 2011 and has potentially done major damage in Japan and throughout Southeast Asia. Japan is home to the Japanese Consumers Cooperative Union and to many other cooperatives, including student housing cooperatives. It was the Japanese Consumers Cooperative Union that donated the seed money for the Cooperative Development Foundation’s Kagawa Fund, which has made over $800,000 in loans to expand student housing co-ops across the

United States, enabling many students to afford college while teaching them leadership, financial, and management skills.

If you would like to make a contribution to assist in the cooperatives throughout the affected area recover from this devastating tsunami, you can do so through the Cooperative Development Foundation. Please visit and use the Google Checkout Cart on the right-hand column. You may also send your donation to the Cooperative Development Foundation at 2011 Crystal Drive, Suite 800, Arlington, VA 22202 (please make sure to note that it is for Tsunami Recovery in Japan). 100% of your donation will go toward recovery. Thanks to a generous grant given to the Cooperative Development Foundation by Google, Inc, all donations made through Google Checkout are Fee Free.

We thank you for your support and cooperation during these difficult times.

The Cooperative Development Foundation

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Holy Pistachio!

Pistachios are a naturally cholesterol-free snack that contains just 1.5 grams of saturated fat and 13 grams of fat, the majority of which comes from monounsaturated fat. A one-ounce serving of pistachios equals 49 nuts, which is more nuts per serving than any other snack nut. One serving of pistachios has as much potassium (300mg, 8%) as an orange (250mg, 7 %), making it a nutritious snack choice or ingredient to incorporate into daily diets.

Nutty Tip:

For a vitamin and mineral-rich snack, skip the greasy popcorn next time you go to the movies; instead, bring along a small bags of pistachios. Vary the flavor? Why not! Try toasting pistachios for a deeper flavor. Place your pistachios in a 350 degree oven or a dry skillet over medium heat and toast until they brown. They will continue to cook when removed from the stove.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Welfare Ranching

Assessing the Real Cost of a Hamburger

by George Wuerthner

Do you know what a Big Mac costs? If you say $2.50 or whatever the current price posted at the McDonald's restaurant may be, you are vastly under-estimating the real price. That's because $2.50 does not reflect the genuine cost of production. Every hamburger price tag should include a calculation of animal suffering, human health costs, economic and ecological subsidies. None of these bona fide costs is included in the price one pays for a hamburger (or other meats eaten by consumers for that matter).

Unfortunately, assessing the real price of a hamburger is difficult because much of the overhead is hidden from view or simply ignored. Most people do not see the pain of the animals as they are branded, castrated, and slaughtered. Nor are most people fully aware of the multiple hormones and chemicals dumped into feed or directly injected into the animals. Nor have they considered how these high rates of hormone and chemical use may pose risks for humans through the creation of resistance germs and bacteria. While there is a growing awareness of the health costs - including high rates of heart attack, colon cancer, and high blood pressure, resulting from a heavy meat diet - even the best assessments of the health risks are far from complete.

But these costs, while real and significant, pale by comparison to the ecological cost of livestock production. There is no other single human activity that has degraded and destroyed more of the American landscape and perhaps the global landscape as well as our love affair with the cow and the meat-dominated diet. Welfare Ranching - the Subsidized Destruction of the American West, a book I edited along with Mollie Matteson and published by Island Press, attempts to innumerate these costs.

To read more of this article, please click here

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Get a healthy tan this spring and summer

New research reveals that eating vegetables gives you a healthy tan. The study, led by Dr. Ian Stephen at The University of Nottingham, showed that eating a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables gives you a more healthy golden glow than the sun.

Dr. Stephen and his team in the Perception Lab found that people who eat more portions of fruit and vegetables per day have a more golden skin color, thanks to substances called carotenoids. Carotenoids are antioxidants that help soak up damaging compounds produced by the stresses and strains of everyday living. Responsible for the red coloring in fruit and vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes, carotenoids are important for our immune and reproductive systems.

Dr. Stephen said: "We found that, given the choice between skin color caused by suntan and skin color caused by carotenoids, people preferred the carotenoid skin color, so if you want a healthier and more attractive skin, you are better off eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables than lying in the sun."

(Source: FARM)