Does eating organic food make you a jerk?

A new study finds that going organic can make you feel smug about yourself — and act nasty to others

Those who insist on organic artichokes might be more judgmental than shoppers who are content with conventional products. Photo: CC BY: SummerTomato

Buying and eating organic food makes many people feel better about themselves. (Not coincidentally, organic products often have panderingly positive names, such as Honest Tea, Purity Life, and Smart Balance.) The flip side, according to a new study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, is that organic eaters often look down on others, and aren’t shy about expressing their derision. Does going organic turn you into a jerk? Here’s what you should know:

How did researchers study the effects of organic food?
They divided 60 people into three groups: One was shown images of organics, such as spinach and apples; one was shown only comfort food, such as brownies; the third reviewed pictures of basics like rice and oatmeal. Then all three groups were asked to read vignettes about moral transgressions, such as cousins having sex or an ambulance-chasing lawyer hunting clients in an ER, and rank how bad the vignettes’ protagonists were on a seven-point scale. The participants were also asked how much time they would be willing to volunteer for a fictitious study.

And what did they find?
The crowd exposed to organic foods judged others more harshly. On average, they put the offenses described in the vignettes at 5.5 on the seven-point scale. The people exposed to pictures of comfort food were the most mellow, with average ratings of 4.89. The organic group was also stingier with their volunteering time, offering to help out for 13 minutes, compared to 19 minutes for rice-and-oatmeal group, and 24 minutes for the comfort food crowd.

How do experts explain these results?

Author Kendall Eskine, a psychology professor at Loyola University in New Orleans, chalks it up to something he calls “moral licensing.” People do something they see as a good deed, so they start feeling self-righteous. They also feel like “they have permission, or license, to act unethically later on,” Eskine says. “It’s like when you go to the gym and run a few miles and you feel good about yourself, so you eat a candy bar.” How comforting, says Doug Berry at Jezebel. “Moral of the story: Eating cookies makes you a better person.”

Article excerpted from www.theweek.com

Eco-friendly art that explores the dichotomy of human nature

ISLAMABAD: 

Arts have traditionally not been big on environment, but Iram Wani and Aleem Dad Khan take pride in their techniques being eco-friendly. Their choice of symbols — fetus for Wani and Yin Yang for Khan — serve to shift the viewer’s focus heavily on their techniques.

But this is not to say that their techniques are similar. They could hardly be more different from each other. While Wani’s approach is more sensitive and theme based, Khan’s is more technically inclined and experimental.

Wani explores the duality of the conditioned and unconditioned self and exalts the primal and overpowering part of human nature that socialisation tries to curb. “The fetus, for me, is the symbol of our most unconditioned self,” said Wani. She added that she believes all great art is an exploration and expression of the unconditioned self.

Her work use techniques such as linocut and chine-colle heavily which add a quality of cleanliness and focus to her work.

Khan, in contrast, borrows more from reductive and collagraphy techniques that are more experimental and overlapping. Ironically Khan uses the symbol of balance, Yin Yang, in a somewhat chaotic way — separating the two components of the symbol in some paintings while joining them together in unexpected permutations in others.

Referring to his painting “Yin Yang Bang”, Khan said, “I’m trying to show the balance and imbalance in the universe, the organised chaos that is responsible for our evolution.”

The two artists do also try to look to other sources for their paintings. Wani showcases a scene of urban life with buildings in her piece “Contrived”.

“This is a depiction of the conditioned life we all lead, it is not natural but man-made, hence the title,” said Wani.

 

Similarly Khan too has used the image of buildings in his “A depiction of the city Swansea in Wales”. He shares it is a collaborative piece with his teacher Sara Hopkins.

Both artists have shown their work in numerous exhibits and have done their Bachelors of Fine Arts from the National College of Arts, Lahore. The exhibition will continue at the Nomad Gallery till May 31.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2012.

Article excerpted from www.tribune.com.pk

Vegan Dogs (and homemade dog food!)

Anytime someone meets my dogs (and they’re aware I’m vegan) they ask if my dogs are vegan too. I would have thought the answer would be an obvious “yes” but most often, people seem surprised when I tell them, “yup, the whole family is veg!”

I get the question via email too, so I thought I’d put it out there that yes, my dogs are vegan and they are thriving.

If you’re wondering if dogs can be vegan, the answer is yes. Dogs, like humans, don’t need meat to survive. The pugs’ vets in Boston, Los Angeles and New York City have all been supportive of their vegan diet and one even said she would recommend a vegan diet over an omnivorous one if she thought more dog owners would be open to the idea.

Although there are several brands of vegan kibble on the market (Nature’s Balance, V-dog, Wenaewe, Pet Guard, Avo Derm, Natural Life, Evolution Diet and Wysong) I prefer to make vegan dog food myself.

It all started a month ago when we ran out of vegan kibble at home, and to make matters worse, the store was sold out, too. Obviously the pugs couldn’t go hungry so I made them a plate of rice and beans. The next morning I made them a plate of peas and apples and that night, peas and beans. It continued on for days and by the time the store had called to say they had our kibble, I didn’t bother to go buy it.

Of course, Scott was skeptical. He wondered how long I’d last at making fresh meals for our dogs every day, twice a day — but a month later I’m still doing it!

I’ve noticed a dramatic shift in the pugs since we started on home cooked meals. Although they liked their vegan kibble, they were never excited about meal time. Really, they could take it or leave it. Now they bark and do circles — they couldn’t be more thrilled to eat their supper.

I’ve also noticed a change in their…bodily functions. The pugs were never constipated or anything, but we always had to walk them around the block a few times before they were ready to do their business. Now, they poop much quicker and with more ease. I’m convinced it’s all the added fiber. There is little to no fiber in kibble, so it’s not surprising they’re going much more easily now.

I’ve also noticed a change in their urine. Quaid and LilyBean used to have deep yellow pee, which always made me worry they could be dehydrated. Now their urine is much, much lighter in color. I’m convinced its because they’re getting water from their food now. Water is in the rice they eat and the beans I cook for them– vs. kibble which is dehydrated.

By now you’re probably thinking “This sounds great, but I don’t have the time to cook two meals for myself, let alone my dog!” But I promise, you do — and it will save you money! I’m spending a fraction of what I used to on kibble!

Here’s how I do it: I cook an entire bag of brown rice once a week, storing leftovers in my fridge. I do the same with a bag of beans and I’ll steam or bake sweet potatoes while I’m add it. Every day I’ll put brown rice, beans and either a sweet potato or thawed frozen peas into their bowl. It takes seconds.

I’ve also recently started added chopped fresh apples and zucchini from my garden. I also keep a bag of puffed brown rice on hand, and a few cans of beans, just in case I run out.

When I started making my own dog food, I was skeptical I’d have the time or energy to keep up with it — but it hasn’t been a problem at all and now it’s a habit. I’ll put rice and beans on the stove when I’m watching a movie, cleaning the apartment or doing something else. An hour later I have all their food done for the week and I’ve been known to swipe some for myself, too.

I’ve also realized that I can thaw frozen peas under hot water in less than 20 seconds when I’m really desperate. (They really love peas!)

I can’t recommend making homemade vegan dog food enough. The pugs seem to like every bean, vegetable and fruit I throw at them, but they’re particularly fond of: corn, peas, sweet potatoes, black beans, kidney beans, black soy beans, tempeh, apples, bananas, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, asparagus, brown rice (they actually won’t eat white rice), collard greens, kale, spinach, whole grain cereal and oatmeal.

Just be sure to avoid giving your dogs raisins, grapes, garlic, onions or mushrooms.

Perhaps my pugs are the luckiest dogs in the world, at least in terms of their food (they’re still envious of dogs with big backyards!) but hopefully with this post I’ll convince a few more dog owners to nurture their pets with natural, plant-based foods!

Update: we now live abroad where I have no choice but to feed the dogs home cooked meals. I start with a protein base — beans or lentils, and then mix in leftover raw vegetables (chopped well), pumpkin (for Lily Bean’s eyes) and any leftovers or leftover grains I have, like brown rice. We joke that the dogs are our compost bin. I always make sure to give them a mix and variety — right now their food is a base of lentils, with bell pepper, cucumber, yellow squash, cabbage, lettuce and cauliflower, plus some leftover rice.

Supplemant: I use veg-e-dog supplement as a proactive measure. The company sends great dog food recipes with their vitamins which I love!

Article excerpted from www.happyherbivore.com

A-Z health information for smart travelers

Malaysians are traveling overseas in ever- increasing numbers. It is important to prepare before you leave (whatever your age or destination) and stay in good health while traveling can help you to have a happy and enjoyable trip.

Immunisations

  • Immunisation is ONE OF THE BEST FORMS OF PROTECTION for all travelers.
  • You need to make sure that you receive all compulsory vaccination before your trip.
  • If possible, set an appointment with doctors 4 to 6 weeks before your trip.
  • Most vaccines take time to become effective in your body and some vaccines must be given in a series over a period of days or sometimes weeks.
  • If it is less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see your doctor. You might still benefit from shots or medications and other information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.

Prevention of Foodborne Diseases: Five Keys to Safer Food

Things you should bring during traveling

  • Insect repellent containing 25-50% DEET
  • Over-the-counter anti-diarrhoeal medicine
  • Alcohol-based hand gel (with at least 60% alcohol)
  • Sun block that offers at least SPF15
  • Your prescription medications in their original containers (including a copy of the prescription)
  • Your travel health kit should remain with you at all times, including in your carry-on baggage.

The voyage
Traveling by Air
Low level of oxygen level within the aircraft, dehydration from low humidity and crossing time zone may cause fatigue.

  • To reduce jetlag, drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol, rest on the flight and avoid a hectic schedule on arrival.
  • Minimize foot swelling and increase circulation in the legs by moving your feet and toes around while seated.
  • When taking off or landing, chewing gum or sucking on sweets may reduce ear discomfort as the jaw action helps to equalize middle ear pressure.

Traveling by bus, train or ship
To reduce or minimize motion sickness from this journey

  • Take anti-motion sickness drugs, such as dimenhydrinate or promethazine, before the journey.
  • Opening the window for ventilation and avoiding smoky environments.
  • Avoid reading in the cabin.
  • Sitting near the front of the vehicle & looking ahead.

What to do if you get diarrhoea?

  • Most diarrhoeal attacks are self-limited and clear up in a few days.
  • Diarrhoea may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and/or fever.
  • The important thing is to avoid becoming dehydrated.
  • Ensure that you always drink sufficient amounts of fluids (especially children).
  • If you are restless or irritable, or shows signs of strong thirst, or has sunken eyes, or dry skin with reduced elasticity, dehydration is already progressing and immediate medical attention should be sought.
  • If your bowel movements is frequent, very watery or contain blood, or last beyond 3 days you should seek medical help.
  • As soon as diarrhoea starts, drink more fluids, such as Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS)* solution, boiled, treated or bottled water, diluted (weak) tea, soups or other safe fluids (bottled or can drink).
  • Avoid any drinks that tend to remove more water from the body, including coffee, overly sweetened drinks, some medicinal teas and alcohol.

*If ORS are not available

Mobilize The Earth

Let us all celebrate Earth Day 2012.

Top Ten Things to Do for Earth Hour

Earth Hour Checklist

Top Ten Things to Do to Save Energy

Here are some things that you can do to prepare for Earth Hour.
Remember that saving energy is about more than just turning down the lights. Challenge yourself to do some or all of these energy saving things for Earth Hour – and every day – to save energy and help the planet.

#10 Fill Up Your Freezer
Did you know that an empty freezer uses up more energy than a full one?

If you have empty space in your freezer or deep-freeze, you can conserve energy – and reduce your electric bill – by freezing used pop bottles or milk jugs of water. Fill empty containers about 2/3rds full and place them in your freezer. The ice will help maintain the temperature inside the freezer, allowing it to use less energy.

#9 Invite Your Friends Over
You can help spread Earth Hour awareness by inviting your friends, family or neighbors to join you for Earth Hour activities. A few friendly faces can help make the time go faster, too!

#8 Fix Drafts
Drafty doors and windows cause your heating and cooling bills to go up. Try to repair or cover any drafts around your home before Earth Hour. The money you save will help throughout the year as well!

You can also keep heating and cooling costs down with thermal window coverings. But if you’re pinching pennies, simple dark curtains can keep a room warm in winter, and white curtains keep it cool in summer.

#7 Turn Down the Heat
If you’re living in a cool climate and have the heat on in March, try turning your heat down slightly for Earth Hour.

To minimize the amount of energy that you use for heating, make sure that heating units are well ventilated and not obscured by furniture. There should be at least a few inches of space between heaters and other objects for them to work efficiently.
Close off any rooms that are not used regularly, and only heat rooms that you need to. If you keep your thermostats at a moderate temperature throughout the day, you will use less energy than you do by turning it up and down at different times.

#6 Unplug Appliances
At 8:25 on March 28th, it’s time to start powering down for Earth Hour.

You can start by unplugging your small appliances such as the microwave and coffee maker. Hopefully, your toaster is already unplugged when not in use!

#5 Unplug Chargers
For one hour, unplug your cell phone charger, battery re-charger and any other adaptors you have around your home. If you leave these items unplugged when not in use, you can save a few dollars in energy costs every month.

If you have a cordless phone you will need to leave it plugged in, unless you have a standard telephone in the house as well.

#4 Unplug Clocks and Electronics
It won’t take long to reset your digital alarm clock after Earth Hour is finished. Unplug as many of the clocks around your home as possible. If you have a digital watch or wall clock, you can unplug them all!

Turn off and unplug your television and other devices like DVD players and video game consoles. If you have all of your electronics plugged into a power bar or surge bar, you can switch them all off at the end of the day, everyday. This can help you save money every month.

#3 Shut Off Your Computer
Even an idle computer uses energy. You can cut down on computer energy costs by powering down all of the devices at your desk for one hour. You can simply switch off the power bar or surge bar.

If there are items plugged in with your computer that must stay on, such as a cordless phone, you can unplug items individually, or turn off the power manually. Most computers have a power switch at the back of the tower that shuts them down completely.

#2 Unplug Lamps and Nightlights
Just like other electrical items, lamps should be unplugged when not in use. Unplug all of the floor and desk lamps in your home for Earth Hour. Only plug them back in as you need to use them.

#1 Turn Off the Lights
Last but not least, turn down all of the lights in your home. It’s a little strange sitting around in the dark, but it’s only for one hour. Just think of what it must have been like before the invention of the light bulb!

Ten Things to Do During Earth Hour

Earth Hour is a bit like a power outage. If you’re not prepared for it, you’ll find yourself thinking “If I can’t watch TV, and I can’t use the computer, and I can’t read in the dark…what can I do?”

To help make Earth Hour go faster, here are ten fun activities that you can do:
#10 Take a Nap
Nothing makes time go faster than sleep! If you’re feeling sleepy, why not take a nap during Earth Hour and conserve your own energy, too?

#9 Make Love
You don’t need lights to snuggle with someone! If you’re lucky enough to be sharing Earth Hour with someone special, make the most of it! Better yet, turn Earth Hour into Earth Evening and save some extra electricity!

"The Kiss" by Gustav Klimt

#8 Tell Stories
If you’re spending Earth Hour with friends or family, turn it into a fun story telling night. You can tell spooky stories in the dark, or just tell mild ones, or maybe share memories of times past. Either way, you’ll enjoy the time that you spend together.

#7 Play Board Games
As long as your favorite games don’t require too much reading, you can play by candle light. Chess and checkers are great games to play in the dark.

#6 Play Handheld Games
If you simply can’t bring yourself to unplug, make sure that your Nintendo DS or PSP is charged up before Earth Hour, and spend the time playing your favorite handheld game.

#5 Play Word Games
There are hundreds of different games that you can play just by talking. Some favorites, of course, are Truth or Dare and Telephone, but you can also try these fun games too:

The Map Game – Take turns naming countries, cities or other map regions by name. Each player must think of a place that begins with the last letter of the previous player’s answer. For example: Amsterdam, Monaco, Orlando, Oakland, Denmark…

I’m Going on a Picnic – Take turns naming foods that begin with each letter of the alphabet. For example: Apple, Blueberry, Crab cake, Donut, English muffin…

#4 Sing Songs
You don’t need a karaoke machine to have a sing-a-long. See who can remember the most lyrics from your favorite songs, or make up your own!

#3 Play Hide and Seek
There’s something extra fun about playing hide-and-go-seek in the dark, even for grown ups! There are lots of different variations of the game, so set out the rules before you play. Don’t forget to have fun!

#2 Recycle
You can do some easy recycled crafts by candle light and make Earth Hour even better for the environment!

#1 Make a Green Action Plan
Since you’re just sitting in the dark anyway, why not take this opportunity to talk about what you’ll be doing this year to reduce your impact on the Earth? Make a list of all the things that you could change, and try to think of ways to add them to your lifestyle.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:
– Buy a reusable coffee mug or water bottle
– Ride the bus or bike to work
– Insulate your water heater

Article excerpted from www.squidoo.com

Eco-tourism may be good news for sharks

A massive female tiger shark, about 14-feet long, glides past a group of divers.

Imagine swimming in crystalline ocean waters shot through with sunlight when one of Earth’s most notorious predators swims into view — a very close view.

Such pulse-quickening encounters are, in fact, the whole point for visitors to Tiger Beach, an idyllic spot in the Bahamas where eco-tourists can get up close and personal with tiger sharks — indiscriminate eaters known to devour everything from sea turtles to kegs of nails (and occasionally a few unlucky humans).

Yet it is by playing to the sharks’ voracious appetites that dive operators are able to lure them into view, courtesy of generous offerings of chum — minced fish.

However, some have argued that the free meals — and resulting close encounters between humans and sharks — could have bad consequences for both species.

Shark meal
“People are concerned that it could be causing sharks to associate people with food,” said shark researcher Neil Hammerschlag, an assistant professor at the University of Miami. Some worry that, like cartoon castaways eyeing each other hungrily in a boat, tiger sharks might, essentially, begin to see humans as giant pork chops with legs.

“Shark attacks are so very rare, so it’s really hard to draw conclusions,” Hammerschlag told OurAmazingPlanet.

Another concern, he said, and one that is easier to test, is that all the free food might disrupt the sharks’ natural wanderings, and artificially limit their movements to areas close to tourist sites. (Why go hunting out at sea when the bipeds regularly serve up snacks?)

Since sharks are apex predators — a bit like the Godfathers of the ecosystem — and keep potentially disruptive ecological usurpers in check, such a change could have negative effects.

“They help keep balance,” Hammerschlag said, “so if this really changes their behavior long term, it could have ecological consequences.”

Neither idea has been properly tested, he said. To that end, Hammerschlag, heading up a team of researchers, designed a study to investigate.

Shark testing
They used satellite tags attached to the sharks’ dorsal fins to track tiger sharks in areas where eco-tourism packages offer plenty of free food to the sharks — the Bahamas’ Tiger Beach — and an area where the practice is forbidden — Florida.

All told, they tracked 11 Floridian tiger sharks and 10 Bahamian sharks, in near-real time, for spans of six months to almost a year. Hammerschlag said he expected the Bahamian sharks, with access to cushy meals, to travel far less than their Floridian counterparts.

“But, in fact, we found the opposite,” he said. The Florida tiger sharks traveled, at most, 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) from their tagging site.

In contrast, “the tiger sharks from the Bahamas diving site moved massive distances,” Hammerschlag said. “Definitely that area was important, but they didn’t rely on it.”

Some swam as far as 2,175 miles (3,500 km) out into the middle of the Atlantic and spent seven months there. The researchers noted that the difference could be related to size: The Bahamian sharks are bigger, and bigger animals tend to travel larger distances.

Their research is published today (March 9) in the journal Functional Ecology.

Shark people
Hammerschlag said that the work indicates that eco-tourism, when done right, may not be all bad for sharks — crucial predators that are disappearing from oceans around the world, many falling victim to the lucrative and devastating shark-fin trade.

With proper policies, he suggested, people could continue to see economic benefit from sharks, but in a way that keeps the animals alive.

“In the Bahamas, they’ve encouraged shark diving because it’s good for the economy, and because of that they’re protecting sharks in their water,” he said — something that Florida policymakers might want to keep in mind.

“I would say that before we ban these things outright, we should do some research,” he said. “Rather than basing our decisions on fear, we should base them on fact.”

%d bloggers like this: