Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Naked Award Winner – Jamie Oliver wins TED Prize


Jamie Oliver, who revolutionized how many people cook with his groundbreaking “Naked Chef” television series and cookbooks has been named the recipient of the 2010 TED Prize.  With the prize Oliver wins $100,000 to grant a wish to “change the world.”

Changing the world is nothing new to Oliver, who as a very young chef took his training in Great Britain and Italy and showed that food can be stripped down to its very essence, “Naked” and enjoyed by all.  His father owned a pub in Essex where his love of cooking began to be fostered.  He went onto Westminster Catering College and then trained in France. And after time at prestigious restaurants it was while a documentary was being filmed at the River Café where Oliver’s irreverent style and what he calls “cheeky” nature found the cameras.  Soon after “The Naked Chef” was born and Oliver became one of the newest and certainly youngest of the celebrity chefs.

jamies-america-largeBut the British kid who plays drums in a rock band didn’t just cook food. He was passionate about it, where it came from, and especially how food was affecting the youth of Britain.   With his celebrity Oliver launched a campaign to improve the food in UK school lunch programs. He filmed a multi-part documentary and worked with the British government to change policies about what was being served to the UK children in his battle to fight obesity and ensure they were eating healthier foods.

Oliver didn’t stop with school lunches, he founded the Fifteen Foundation a program that exists to help disadvantaged youth, now across Europe, assisting them to build careers in the restaurant industry. The concept is based on an apprenticeship model with a working restaurant, foundation and training program all together.  The  Fifteen program has graduated 159 students at a cost of $49,500 each through the start of 2009.

He also took his love for good food to the British television airwaves in a documentary to dramatically demonstrate how chickens live and die to reach consumers’ plates in the UK. Olivers’ “Fowl Dinners” on Channel Four has directly lead to a dramatic increase in the demand for free range chickens at grocers like Tesco and Sainsbury.

Following the chicken across the road, Oliver also launched a fight to save British pork in his series “Jamie Saves our Bacon.” Which discusses UK pig breeding and the heritage of local pork.   His other special focuses on getting people back into the kitchen. Oliver’s “Ministry of Food” shows how simple healthy cooking is just as easy as nuking frozen school-dinners-featuredinners and is an important part of a good diet; how making your own food is most often less expensive than buying pre-made, pre-assembled and pre-packaged foods. Oliver has also fought for clear and accurate food labeling in supermarkets and grocery stores in Great Britain.

Jamie has launched his own wines and foods as well as dinnerware and other products like most celebrity chefs. Unfortunately for us Yanks, the food and wines do not seem to be available in the United States yet and shipping on most of the other products is obviously spendy, but it can be well worth it.

Of course, the cookbooks are still his bread and butter,excuse the pun. In fact the Fifteen Foundation is funded entirely by an endowment from sales of one of his cookbooks. Oliver continues to come out with unique approaches to food to surprise and entertain.  His latest, Jamie’s America, includes his take on American cuisine after filming recent specials and a BBC Series in the United States.  He is also about to launch his fight against childhood obesity and toward healthy foods for children in schools across the pond to the American market in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution USA to be aired as a television special on ABC.  You can sign Jamie’s petition for better food in US school lunches here.

As the  recipient of the TED prize, Oliver is certainly one person who use that $100,000 prize and take “One wish to change the world”, he has already done so in so many ways.

Birthplace of Minnesota

Photos uploaded by Uploaded on January 3, 2010
by JHMpls who writes:

So called ‘Birthplace of Minnesota’…

Coldwater spring predates human habitation here, and is the last natural spring of appreciable size (100,000 gallons per day) in Hennepin County.

Talking Minnesotan – 12/18/2009

It was eerily quite in Minnesota this week. No major media brawls, no yelling at kids to get off the snowbank, no polite discussion about the weather, it was strange. All told there were maybe three words uttered in the entire 7 days, but my team of fact checkers were unable to verify they actually happened.

I suppose this is part of an inevitible shift towards texting and twittering all communications.

Though, Minnesotan Al Franken has had a few things to say in D.C. and my homies at In The Loop made this video in his honor.
Night Before Christmas (Joe Lieberman -style)

Finally, someone is speaking again. Now maybe now we can get back to the accustomed “Cold enough for ya?” and “LEARN TO DRIVE YOU MOTHERF*&$#NG SON OF A WH@RE” that usually permeates the air this time of year.

Speaking of air, The Uptake has real time Climate Conference video and check out their tweet bar for some sweet data. mmmmmm data.

Need some food-N-Booze? SOTC has Holiday Cocktails and Beyond

Have you heard that They think they found Dark Matter at the bottome of a Minnesota mine? I’m sure it’s either that or a hockey puck.

Marrina ponders beauty MeiselPic: What Your Facebook Friends Might Look Like If They Were Super-Hot Models

Want to hear something cool? Cathy Wurzer of Minnesota Public Radio brings us the Minnesota Beatle Project

a new CD that features 16 Minnesota-based artists interpreting Beatles songs. One of the more intriguing tracks in the collection is a version of “Norwegian Wood” by Jeremy Messersmith and Zach Coulter.

Sadly, I wasn’t invited to sing; even though it’s widely known no one in Minnesota can cover McCartney like I. JET! Whooooo ooooooo JET!
Though I’m not bitter,but there will be blood. Fake blood made of pistachio pudding and and boiled okra.
Using fake blood clots to train real nurses

Blood not your thing? Fair enough, not really mine either so let’s calm down Minnesota style with some Owl City.

Talking Minnesotan – 12/11/2009

MPR has a picture of a man in a snowsuit and somepeople think it’s a sasquatch sighting. And here I thought dope wasn’t legal yet.

Tis the Season and How Was The Show has The Guthrie’s 2009 A CHRISTMAS CAROL by the numbers

Minnesota’s prodigal video son Chuck Olsen is in Copenhagen for the UN Climate Change Conference and he’s live tweeting the entire event. You can also follow #COP15

The uptake has video and here’s some protestors being arrested

My favorite Chuck tweet so far?

I openly questioned the value of covering any more #COP15 demonstrations. @kk notes: Coverage is valued by people outside my jaded bubble.

Here’s Chuck’s Flickr feed, check it.

Is there still a media war going on?
Minnpost interviews “a lovable little fuzz ball” and things explode. Citypages responds with flair and hyperbole The worst of MinnPost’s Michele Bachmann puff piece and once again BrauerPower is the voice of reason

You know? What’s so civil about war anyway?

So I’m going to close out with the gents from In The Loop jamming with Kermit the Frog.

Now that is a big cat

One time I saw a cougar in the wild and it was leaner and not quite as large as this monster of a cat.

Check out the video.


Here’s a what will happen if you and your buddies drink a bottle of bourbon and decide to head up to Champlain to pet the kitty.


Duluth Minnesota

Duluth - Sat - 12-05-09 071
Oh shit, I’m in Duluth. My theory is Duluth birds actually poop more than any other birds in the world. Draw your own conclusions.

I’m busy trying to stay alive and keep from getting too creeped out.

Duluth - Sat - 12-05-09 063

I didn’t post my cleche’ shot of the lift bridge or hillside yet, but rest assured they are on the way.

Go D-Town!


This place is going nuclear

Strib reports A push to scrap Minn. law barring new nuclear power plants gains influential supporters

Two congressmen — Democratic Rep. Tim Walz and Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen — joined leaders of labor unions and the state Chamber of Commerce in seeking the repeal of Minnesota’s nuclear moratorium.

Their public backing could put pressure on legislators from their areas considered swing votes in the debate. In April, a bid to lift the ban fell eight votes short in the House after convincingly winning approval in the Senate

Walz, who represents much of southern Minnesota, said he doesn’t discount concerns over long-term waste storage. But he said there are environmental consequences to keeping the nuclear ban in place, too.

“Without a baseload of other alternatives here in Minnesota, quite honestly we’ve encouraged people and forced them into the coal business,” he said. “We want to give them other options.”

I have no questions that ending this law and building nuclear is the right thing to do. I believe that newer nuclear technology is safer and more efficient than the plants of the past. (See Also: Wind vs. Nuclear Power: Which Is Safer?
) And it’s my understanding that we are now able to get more power due to recycling nuclear waste.

Still, that’s just like, my opinion man.

What do you think?


How Green Was My Garden: Mr. Freeze

Mr. Freeze 2

Mr. Freeze is upon us. Yes, the Twin Cities has already endured the first official hard freeze meaning the growing season has officially ceased.  I had to scramble home to dig up what was left of the carrots, parsnips, turnips, leeks, beets and onions to put up in the root cellar (well the one I set up in the basement) for the winter and try to see if any of the cabbage or cauliflower had anything to harvest when the temps plummeted in late October.  I had plucked most of the green tomatoes at the first frost warning but was disappointed not to have just a few more weeks, especially now we are having this last gasp Indian Summer. 

My second harvest of peas never quite made to blossom thanks to the lack of rain unfortunately, and a bad case of fungus on a nearby squash wouldn’t have helped their quality anyway. 

It was a challenging year for gardening this season. With the very cool temperatures and drought conditions there were many challenges. I had my worst year for squash borer ever, killing most of my winter squash plants. I also battled late onset of white mildew on my zucchini and yellow squash due to all the late watering I had to do, and then very wet fall, so a very disappointing year for squash.

What I lacked in squash I more than made up for in cucumber however.  I tried a new variety alongside my traditional Organic Sweet Marketmore, a Thompson & Morgan Picolino F1 Hybrid Organic, which was a tremendous hit. Incredible producer and wonderful flavour, no bitterness, thin skin.

My peppers did yield but very little thanks to the cool temps and late start to the summer and the fact that I planted too close to tomatoes that grew out of control so they likely didn’t get quite enough light.  I got enough Jalepeno to make salsa, and red peppers to make stir fries so that is good.

My tomatoes were out of control this year.  All of my plants were from seed this year except two, the Amish Paste & Sweet 100 that I picked up at Mother Earth Gardens.  Unfortunately My experiment of trying to get the rainbow cherry tomatoes didn’t work as well as hoped and I ended up with hundreds of red cherry tomatoes. A good thing if you have people to donate them to, but after a while you do run out of things to do with cherry tomatoes. I was disappointed I did not end up with the purple, yellow and orange varieties from the seeds but the plants did thrive well and the Sweet 100 was insane with production.

The Roma, Black Plum, San Marzano, Amish Paste & Roprecco Paste Tomatoes were fantastic though as mentioned before they were delayed, once they finally started to ripen I had a wonderful crop and made wonderful sauces & salsas all summer long and have been canning all fall.

One of the nicest surprises was a new tomato variety I tried, the Matina, another organic Thompson & Morgan seed. Despite the black walnut mystery that baffled me for a while, these were a wonderful early and constant producer throughout the summer and fall.  A great salad & slicing tomato also good for sauces and cooking and even have held up to canning.

This was a first year for garlic for me and was very pleased with the result and am excited to plant again this week! Small bulbs but who can complain when you get both scapes and a fresh bulb from a tiny clove fresh from your own ground?

Onions I did not have as good a result thanks to trampling super-raccoons. They used the place where my onions were planted as their path to my yard and kept breaking the stalks, stunting the growth of the bulbs so I ended up with very small yield for my onions this year.  But have some nice shallots and a few nice ones for cooking.  Will have to address that next season.

Despite a mowing down by baby rabbits (chicken wire fence didn’t keep them out) early in the season my carrot crop is tremendous!  Am going to be making stews and soups all winter long!  There are some spotty nematode affected areas, but have found an organic early treatment product that can be applied to prevent the space alien-type distortion that the harmful nematodes create.

Parsnips and turnips did well too, despite the drought, though the turnips did also have some pest issues. Because it is an organic garden there is little that can be done other than try to introduce some more beneficial insect population.

The rainbow beets have been enjoyed all summer in salads and a second yield will be pickled and canned.  The organic compost mix and tilling I did to the corner plot seemed to be a boon for my beets though the lack of water was a challenge at times.

Being the fine Welsh lass that I am, I am probably most proud of my perfectly straight row of thick pale leeks.  I am looking forward to making a lovely bowl of Cawl with the Yukon Gold potatoes I grew in the bag this year.  The red new potatoes were lovely too, and the bag method was fantastic, such an easy harvest.

The cabbage & cauliflower & broccoli plants did extremely well but did not produce until just now so they are tiny.  I believe it is because there was a big branch of my maple tree that decided to grow over the raised bed this season that seemed to shade that area during part of the day.  It received a great deal of sun but perhaps not for long enough of the day and that may have stunted the growth, or perhaps the growing season was just not long enough this year with the cool weather having grown the plants from seed.  Either way, the plants were disappointing with only a few small cabbage heads and some plants with no cauliflower heads or tiny ones.  Will have to examine what to do with tree or bed next season.

The bush beans and broad beans were perfect for us this season, but did not yield enough to preserve as the drought took its toll on the plants late in the season. Hopefully next year is better.

Japanese Eggplant was stupendous, despite the cool weather, much better than the traditional one, which only yielded one big fruit due to lack of heat.  Will add a Thai eggplant next year I think.

With my added space from the raised beds I’ve found I need to devote more time to preserving.  We are going to invest in a new freezer for next season, though I quite enjoyed canning  it is much greater time investment, so I will split my harvest next year between the freezer and pantry, or find some sous chefs to help in the canning process in exchange for a few take-home gifts of tomato sauce or tomatoes. And I will be buying more Green Bags to keep the fresh items like cucumber and lettuce in the refrigerator longer.

It was a challenging season but the end of the year was wonderful and I am still enjoying my bounty but now it is time to cover up the beds with mulch, put away the tools and start pouring over the seed catalogs to plan for next season.

Lets see, seed starting begins in February, so that gives me three months for planning!

Corn Ethanol Fails Again

The strib reports MPCA hits Minn. ethanol producer with $425k penalty

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) said today that the violations by Bushmills Ethanol Inc. of Atwater stretched from 2006 to 2009. They included producing ethanol beyond the facility’s permitted capacity, failure to inspect and maintain production and pollution-control equipment, and exceeding allowable wastewater discharge limits.

Because of Bushmill’s violations, the MPCA said in a statement, the cooperative of more than 400 farmers “created a situation where the facility could potentially emit more regulated air pollutants than allowed by its permit.”

I just want to know when we start to get holding the flaks, that push the BS as “green”, responsible for the damage?

This line really strikes me as interesting “could potentially emit more regulated air pollutants than allowed by its permit”

Hmmm, if only Minnesota had a group that was constantly harping about any air pollutants being bad air pollutants.

… that is if only they weren’t in bed with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. . .

Won’t someone think of the cock?

Although the St. Paul council rejected a looser rule for raising chickens in city, this trend is growing. And with it so are the problems as Nikki Tundel, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

As the number of city dwellers with chickens has risen, so has the number of birds being abused and abandoned. And local animal control departments are finding stray chickens everywhere from neighborhood alleys to downtown parking ramps.

In the midst of this all, one Minneapolis woman has taken on the chickens’ cause. Mary Britton Clouse is the founder of Chicken Run Rescue, a rehabilitation center and foster home for hens and roosters. The long-time animal advocate has found adoptive families for over 600 needy birds.

(h/t @juliaschrenkler)

Sure I love animals, but I’ll admit it. I posted this mostly for the headline.

Go ahead, tell me to grow up.


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