April 18, 2005

Frybread, it's what's for dinner--but shouldn't be

Go to a pow-wow, an arts-and-crafts fair, or a "mountain man" rendezvous in the Southwest and you will probably find a booth or trailer selling frybread, maybe dressed up as "Navajo Tacos" or something similar.

It's considered an emblematic American Indian food these days, but it really is not all that healthy, and now there is a move against it among some Indian groups.

Frybread is emblematic of the long trails from home and freedom to confinement and rations. It's the connecting dot between healthy children and obesity, hypertension, diabetes, dialysis, blindness, amputations and slow death.

Via The Marigold Trail.
We know who the bad guys are

The Boston Globe has fired a freelance writer after she wrote an article about commercial Canadian seal hunters without bothering to actually observe it.

The Globe, which is owned by The New York Times Co., said it stopped using writer Barbara Stewart because of a story that ran on Wednesday about a seasonal hunt for baby seals off Newfoundland -- a hunt, it turns out, had not taken place.

The story datelined Halifax, Nova Scotia described in graphic detail how the seal hunt began on Tuesday, with water turning red as hunters on some 300 boats shot harp seal cubs "by the hundreds."

She must have justified skipping the actual reporting because she knew who the "bad guys" were, so why bother with the inconvenience of actually watching? And of course her editors knew who the "bad guys" were too, so they approved the story.

Thanks, Barbara, for helping the credibility of environmental reporters everywhere.

April 16, 2005

Supermarket Syndrome

SFGate's Mark Morford examines the insanity of the supermarket environment.

Taste, won't you, the yummy insect parts aswim in that foot-high stack of cheap-ass, hyperpink Oscar Mayer bologna. Listen in wonder as that case of Dr. Pepper seems to cry out to your pancreas, begging to induce type 2 diabetes. Feel your very colon quiver and scream as you stroll by the wall of frozen Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage biscuits. Woe is your body and your spirit in this savage, toxic wasteland.
Prairie Mary's new blog

Mary Scriver of Browning, Montana, has been posting about the Blackfeet people--not long ago, but now, in the twenty-first century. Keep up at her blog.

Her late husband, Bob Scriver, mentioned in her profile, was this artist. He had roots in that area too.

Speaking of Invasive Species...

Tom Leskiw thinks about tamarisk and cottonwoods in this short essay.

Somewhere along the line, cottonwoods became my favorite tree. It’s natural to want to root for the underdog: of the 106 forest types in North America, the Fremont cottonwood/ Goodding willow association is considered the most threatened.

The Horehound War

April is the Month of Soft Soil, when our heavy clay soil is soggy from snow melt, before it hardens in the summer.

It is the month to set wooden fence posts, transplant trees, and this year, to pull up and dig up the horehound that took over an area around the guest cabin during the drought year of 2002.

I had been mowing it, but it still spread, sending down its tap roots, and choking out every bit of grass and wildflower.

I filled the wheelbarrow six times over with horehound, thinking now and then of the New Mexico writer Jesse Wolf Hardin's own battle with it.

Elsewhere he writes on the tricky issue of "invasive" plants,

Just as bad was the horehound incursion, seeds hitchhiking up onto the mesa stuck to our socks, moving through the rest of the county in the tails of horses and the alfalfa hay they eat. It looks so lovely at first, in patches of short ground-cover that smell sweetly when walked upon, pungent leaves perfect for brewing up a batch of old-fashioned horehound cough drops. It isn't long however, before they form a solid crusty plane of yard-high vegetation too thick to walk through. Where the ground around our cabin and below the cliffs were once graced by desert mariposa and soaptree yucca, soon there was only horehound.

April 15, 2005

One More Blizzard?

After 13 years' residence in the Wet Mountains of Colorado, I have my own personal weather lore that says it usually snows only one more time after the first broadtailed hummingbird arrives.

The first male hummer arrived on Wednesday the 13th. Dare we hope? It has been a long, snowy winter.

Meanwhile, Roman rabbits

I usually think of "invasive species" as a New World problem, but here is archaeological evidence of the introduction of rabbits to Britain by the Romans, a significant change to that island's ecosystems>. (Via the archaeology blog Cronaca.

April 07, 2005

Buffalo dreams

The "Buffalo Commons" idea put forth in the 1980s lives on: a lightly populated area of the High Plains whose economy, at least partly, would revolve around bison.

The Buffalo Commons will be a restored and reconnected area from Mexico to Canada, where we humans learn to work together across borders that were artificial in the first place. The Buffalo Commons means the day when the fences come down. The buffalo will migrate freely across a restored sea of grass, like wild salmon flow from the rivers to the oceans and back. Settled areas can --like they do in Kenya-- fence the animals out, not fence them in.

That's the dream.

April 05, 2005

Sustainable blogging

Four Seasons is a blog tracking issues in sustainable agriculture, connecting consumers with local foods, and issues in nutrition and health.

April 03, 2005

Either way, you burn

This AP story summarizes the situation in the West: California and the Southern Rockies are wet, while the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies are dry. Either way, the result could be a bad fire season. As an additional wrinkle, fewer National Guardsmen may be available to back up the professional crews due to the war in Iraq.

March 26, 2005

Thylacine bounty madness!

Channel-surfing in a motel recently, I found an Animal Planet show on the possible survival of the thylacine, or "Tasmanian tiger," a marsupial predator whose last example supposedly died in a Tasmanian zoo in the 1930s.

The show was all pointless animated graphics, shots of attractive people dashing around SE Australia in a Jeep, and other people with with electric auras surrounding their heads--a high ratio of razzle-dazzle to actual information, but it did make this point: stockmen and others keep seeing what look like the thylacine or finding animals killed by a big predator. And other than feral dogs, it's the only possibility for Australia.

Now the Australian media are getting into the quest, with publications offering bounties.

The Bulletin magazine has offered a $1.25m reward, to celebrate the publication’s 125th anniversary.

However a report in the Mercury newspaper said another offer has topped it.

“We’ve been gazumped by the Bulletin so we’re going with (our $1.75m reward) now,” Stewart Malcolm of Thylacine Expeditions told the Mercury.

March 23, 2005

I an testing to see if this appears-- if it does I will be contributing.

March 15, 2005

Food blogging

After all, what is more natural than food. I've been Googling food blogs, and I won't even begin to try to list them all. It's a perfect marriage: A blog is perfect for discussing your particular place in detail, and so is the idea of trying to support local producers as much as possible. You could even make an argument (in some cases) for local "commercial" produce over "organic" avocados flown in from Chile, for example.

Some blogs critique industrial agriculture, for instance. I like that. But I also like "cooking for engineers" -- must be a "guy thing," but this makes sense.

March 08, 2005

Greens and Guns

Ted William's recent article in Audobon lambastes hunters, anglers, and environmental activists for failing to make common cause.

In political and financial strength, the 47 million Americans who hunt and/or fish are to environmentalists what the NFL is to Pop Warner football. So you'd think that the environmental community would be doing some manipulating of its own—or at least communicating. But it consistently blows opportunities.


March 01, 2005

The cranes are coming

National Geographic provides a live Web camera for watching the cranes' spring migration on the Platte River in Nebraska. Dawn and dusk (Central Time) are the best times to check it.

On the San Luis Valley flyway here in Colorado, the town of Monte Vista is preparing for annual Crane Festival. You can also read about last year's crane festival in this article by a first-time visitor.