The Plant-Based Burger’s Soul

Plant based protein is all the rage.  Given the state of our current agricultural system, one that delivers us unhealthy concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) meat and degraded water, animals make an easy target.  Livestock are living beings, much like our pets who become part of our families. If we just stop eating meat, no animals will suffer and die, we’ll reduce our environmental footprint, and we can put people to work extracting protein from legumes and grains. And because we, as eaters, aren’t exposed to the dangerous saturated fats, cholesterol and other harmful ingredients in meat, we’ll all be healthier.  The world will be saved and we will all live healthy, happy lives. 

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CAFO is a very efficient system, but maybe doesn’t take into consideration the soul of the animal.

One of the first replacements they went after was the iconic hamburger.  If they could make a burger from plants that tastes like ground beef, it would serve as a powerful example of the potential of science. Next they went after the existential, versatile egg, extracting protein from mung beans and turning it into an egg substitute.  As these products have advanced, consumer interest has grown. Economists and agronomists are tracking dollars and trends. Environmentalists, vegans, and investors are touting their support and backing this technology with their dollars.

But nobody asked the cow, the chicken, or the bean.

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Growing Indoors: A Revisit

Trying to stay safely distanced from everybody is the name of the game nowadays. But, don’t worry! We’ve got a few ideas to help you stay productive, energized, and positive. March is the time where getting the garden started sounds like a good idea. However, with cool temperatures and snow still on the ground in Minnesota, you’re choices to get started are limited to pretty much indoors.

In the hope of using your self distanced time for something constructive, here are four past blog articles that can help you with some ideas on creating your very own indoor garden.

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Our first blog post features some easy DIY indoor gardening ideas. Purchasing seeds is still available through catalog and online, so don’t let self-quarantine stop you from getting your green on.

Indoor Gardening Ideas Part 2

In the second blog post, we touch on how to improve the gutter system and why it’s beneficial to add an automatic watering system.

Windowsill Gardens

In this article, we give some tips on the most easy indoor gardening systems to build: the windowsill garden. While they are tiny, but effective, you can make some delicious meals with your sill herb garden and also add a touch of color to your kitchen by adding orchids with almost zero effort.

5 Indoor Garden Ideascelerychopped

If you’re still looking for some help on making your own indoor garden, check out our last article, which covers 5 very easy methods to green your indoor space. From adding zero effort succulents to entry level veggie pots, you’ll find something to get you going.

That’s what we’ve got for indoor gardening ideas, but if you have anything you’d like to share with us, we will make sure to let everyone know about it. We love spreading the love of gardening!

 

Hydrogeological Data

 

What do isotopes in water have to do with soil? One of my go-to podcasts is Down to Earth hosted by The Quivira Coalition.  The Quivira Coalition is a non-profit organization based in Santa Fe, New Mexico dedicated to building economic and ecological resilience on western working landscapes. According to their website, the coalition was formed to preserve the region’s rich agricultural heritage. It states: 

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The Quivira Coalition is based in New Mexico and is dedicated to building ecological and economic resilience in the arid southwest. A tricky idea, indeed!

In 1997 two conservationists and a rancher who believed that a ranch that supported wildlife and a healthy ecosystem could also support a viable ranch business, came together to create the Quivira Coalition.  Then, in 2003, twenty ranchers, environmentalists, and scientists met for forty-eight hours to figure out a way to take back the American West from the decades of divisiveness and acrimony that now truly jeopardizes much of what we all love and value. But we also met to take the West forward, to restore ecological, social and political health to a landscape that deserves it and so desperately needs it.” 

One of their recent podcasts, titled The Science of Water, features the work of Dr. Kate Zeigler, a geologist/ hydrologist. 

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Dr. Kate Zeigler

Dr. Zeigler’s work has focused on groundwater recharge rates in the dry southwest where the average annual rainfall is seven inches. The soils in this region recharge very slowly, often percolating through the soil at the same rate your finger nail grows. She goes on to explain that not all water is the same.  As groundwater ages, the isotopes in it change. By studying the changes in protons versus neutrons in the individual atoms in the water, they can determine how old the groundwater is and how fast the aquifers are recharging, or how fast they are being depleted. With the philosophy that knowledge is power, they share this information with farmers and ranchers as a tool for decision making.    

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Microplastics

This year, World Water Day occurs on March 22, focusing our attention on one of earth’s most important resources: water. According to the United Nations, we’ll hit a global population of 8 billion by the year 2023. As our population continues to grow, our water resources are becoming increasingly stressed. The World Health Organization shared that 29% of the world’s population still do not have safe drinking water located on the premises and roughly 2.2 million people die from water-related illnesses each year. Unfortunately, there is a new cause of concern as it relates to our water.

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Global plastic production has skyrocketed over recent decades as we’ve increased our reliance on plastics to allow us to live a life of convenience. Originally, plastics were introduced as a “cheap” alternative to other materials, such as fabrics, animal products (like bone or tortoise shells), metals, and other ores. They made many consumer goods less expensive, increasing accessibility for many products. Plastic production continued to increase as we moved into the convenience of disposable products: diapers, cups, straws, eating utensils, plates, to-go containers, bags, cleaning aids, and more. If you look around your house, you’ll probably find that many (if not most) of your items have some sort of plastic in them – food containers in your fridge, toothbrushes and other cosmetic products, most fabrics, carpets, electronics, office supplies, home decor and so much more. If it wasn’t made with plastic, there’s a good chance that it came packaged in plastic. But what does our use of plastics have to do with the safety of our water? Continue reading