Fire Jumper

Fire Jumper
Roger Wright

Monday, May 18, 2009

Forget The Dog!!

Forget Fido, Lets Get Some Ladies Up In The Hen-ouse!

The Bite:

Out the door they go: raise egg-laying chickens in your own backyard. Yep, right outside your urban or suburban home (check with your town ordinances), you can teach kids to care for a small flock, plus you'll have fresh organic eggs every morning.

The Benefits: 

  • Liberating hens. Each hen needs only 3-4 square feet of outdoor living space - doable even for city peeps - and that's still bigger than the battery cages forced on factory hens.
  • Shutting out chems. Organic seeds, corn, grains, and fresh greens - the stuff you'll feed your hens - are free of antibiotics, so the eggs will be free from 'em too.
  • Locking in (really) local food. Gathering eggs in a bucket from your yard, instead of picking up store-bought eggs, saves loads of CO2 emissions and packing materials.
  • Opening up good taste. Kiddos'll see that eggs don't actually come from cartons at the grocery store. Plus, fresh eggs? Delish.

Wanna Try: 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wall Street Journal - The Fine Print in Food

The Fine Print: What's Really in a Lot of 'Healthy' Foods

A lot of Americans think they're eating a healthy diet these days. But it's easy to be fooled by our assumptions and the ways that food manufacturers play on them.

Take chicken. The average American eats about 90 pounds of it a year, more than twice as much as in the 1970s, part of the switch to lower-fat, lower-cholesterol meat proteins. But roughly one-third of the fresh chicken sold in the U.S. is "plumped" with water, salt and sometimes a seaweed extract called carrageenan that helps it retain the added water. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says chicken processed this way can still be labeled "all natural" or "100% natural" because those are all natural ingredients, even though they aren't naturally found in chicken.

Producers must mention the added ingredients on the package -- but the lettering can be small: just one-third the size of the largest letter in the product's name. If you're trying to watch your sodium to cut your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke, it pays to check the Nutrition Facts label. Untreated chicken has about 45 to 60 mgs of sodium per four-ounce serving. So-called enhanced or "plumped" chicken has between 200 and 400 mgs of sodium per serving, almost as much as a serving of fast-food french fries.

Adding salt water became widespread when big discount stores began selling groceries and wanted to sell chicken at uniform weights and prices. Plumping packaged chicken helps even out the weight. But that means consumers are paying for added salt water at chicken prices -- an estimated $2 billion worth every year, according to the Truthful Labeling Coalition, a group of chicken producers that don't enhance their products.

Makers of enhanced chicken, including some of the biggest U.S. producers, say many consumers prefer it in blind taste tests and that it stays moister. Ray Atkinson, a spokesman for Pilgrim's Pride, says the company sells both enhanced and unenhanced chicken because consumers ask for it. He also notes that even at 330 mg of sodium, the enhanced chicken qualifies for the American Heart Association's mark of approval.

A survey released this week from Foster Farms, a member of the Truthful Labeling Coalition, found that 63% of consumers are unaware of the practice, and 82% believe that salt-water-injected chicken shouldn't carry the all-natural label. The telephone survey polled 1,000 consumers on the West Coast.

Here are some other foods that may not be as healthy as they appear.

Salt substitutes. If you're trying to cut down on salt, check with your doctor before you start using a salt substitute. Most contain potassium chloride, which can exacerbate kidney problems and interact badly with some heart and liver medications.

Artificial Sweeteners. Sugar-free gum, mint and candy have fewer calories and are better for your teeth. But they frequently contain sorbitol, a plant extract that isn't completely absorbed by the body and works as a natural laxative. Consuming a single pack of gum or mints can cause bloating, flatulence, stomach pains and diarrhea in people who are sensitive to it. Some diabetics find that such sugar alcohols, which are sweet but have few calories, can raise their blood sugar. Others include maltitol and xylitol.

Trans fat. There's been a remarkable reduction in these artery-cloggers in processed foods recently. But manufacturers are allowed to round down: Products labeled zero grams of trans fat can have up to 0.49 gram of fat per serving. You could still be consuming significant amounts of trans fat, "especially when the serving size is unrealistic," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, a nutritionist and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, a nonprofit professional organization. If the ingredients include partially hydrogenated oil, hydrogenated oil or shortening, a product isn't completely trans-fat free. And it may have considerable saturated fat as well.

The same rounding principle applies to zero calories, fat and carbohydrates. Walden Farms, which advertises a line of dips, spreads and dressings as "Fat Free, Sugar Free and Calorie Free," says its products do have trace calories and up to 0.49 gram of fat and carbohydrates per serving.

"Wheat bread." This is a meaningless term, since almost all bread is made with wheat. Some manufacturers add to the illusion by using a brown wrapper or darkening bread with brown sugar or molasses. The more healthful stuff is whole wheat, which includes the outer bran and the wheat germ inside, good sources of nutrients and fiber. Check the ingredients. If the first one listed is "enriched wheat flour," you aren't getting much whole grain.

A few bread makers are still displaying the USDA's old Food Pyramid on their packages -- the one that recommended six to 11 servings of bread or pasta a day. That's been replaced by a more individualized pyramid that recommends only six carbohydrate servings, three of which should be whole grains.

Fiber. Companies are adding fiber to all kinds of products -- including yogurt, ice cream and beverages. In many cases, the added fiber comes from purified powders, not the kind of fiber found in whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruits. The latter have been shown to lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease and may cut the risk of colon cancer. But there isn't much evidence that "isolated" fibers like inulin, maltodextrin, oat fiber and polydextrose have the same effect, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit consumer-advocacy group. The Nutrition Facts label doesn't differentiate between the kind of fiber counted, so check the ingredients.

"The added fiber is probably better than nothing, but it's not as good as fiber from natural sources like fruits, vegetables and whole grains," says CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobson.

Yogurt. The yogurt aisle is dizzy these days with products that promise to reduce your cholesterol, control your blood pressure, protect your digestive health or boost your immune system. In many cases, it's a single ingredient that provides the benefit, and you can find much more of it in other sources. For example, Promise activ SuperShots say they "Help Control Blood Pressure" thanks to 350 mgs of potassium. There's much more potassium in a banana, a cup of spinach or a baked potato. DanActive probiotic dairy drink's immunity-boosting claims stem from its L. casei Immunitas active culture. There's lots of research interest in such probiotics, but for now, the marketing is ahead of the science. The friendly bacteria in DanActive has mainly been shown to fight diarrhea in people taking antibiotics.

Super water. The Center for Science in the Public Interest sued Coca-Cola Co. earlier this year over claims on its VitaminWater beverages. The center argued that the drinks -- with names like "defense," "rescue," "energy" and "endurance" -- are mainly sugar water with 125 calories per bottle. Coke called the lawsuit "frivolous" and said its VitaminWater brands are properly labeled. "Consumers today are savvy, they are educated and they are looking for more from their beverages than simply hydration," said Coke spokesman Scott Williamson.

Government surveys show that most Americans aren't deficient in many of the vitamins supplied in these drinks. If you consume more than you need, the excess gets excreted.

Omega 3. Many foods are adding these essential fatty acids, said to cut the risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis and help promote brain health. But you can get a lot more from natural foods. You'd need to drink 45 eight-ounce glasses of milk that is fortified with 32 mgs of omega 3 to get as much of these fatty acids as you get in a three-ounce serving of salmon.

Will any of the products mentioned here hurt you? No, but they may not help you as much as manufacturers would like you to think. "Try to buy foods as close to their natural state as possible," says Ms. Taub-Dix.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Recycled Shoe Flower Pot

How Cute?
Instead of throwing away the shoes you’ve outgrown, use them as pots for plants. It's a great gift to give to an eco-conscious mom on Mother's Day.



  • Seedlings (if you’re working with kid-sized shoes, choose a plant that is no larger than four to six inches [10 to 15 centimeters])
  • Old shoes (sneakers or closed-toed shoes work best)
  • Potting soil
  • Drill



With the help of an adult, drill two small holes into the soles of the old shoes for draining. Fill up shoe with potting soil. Place seedlings into soil. Top off shoe with more soil. Water your plant.

NOTE: Make sure you consider light conditions when selecting plants.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mama's Day!

Another Bite!

Aiming for a favorable result this show-Mom-the-love day? It'll go well if you hand over a bunch of roseshandmade by the teens from the Lower East Side Girls Club. Sure, these crafty recycled-newspaper roses might not smell as good, but hey, unlike conventional buds, they're "grown" locally (sans pesticides, natch), and they'll last a really, really long time. And as luck would have it, all proceeds support the LESGC

Why Care?

Real, conventionally grown flowers use 1.2 billion pounds of polluting pesticides each year just in the United States - fakes reduce the need for more of 'em.

Wana Try?

Recycled Newspaper Roses available at La Tiendita,Essex Street MarketBooth 13, 120 Essex St. (212-982-1633). Recycled Newspaper Roses, $3 each.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tip From Roger

Beef Jerky

While Yakov and I had a fun filled day together, Roger made his own beef jerky! Here are the steps!

-Purchase organic, grass fed brisket.
-Slice it into a quarter inch thick strips.
-Marinate in soy sauce, red wine, and maple syrup for 24 hours.
-Lay strips on oven rack.
-Set oven to 150' and leave open while cooking, for about 4-6 hours, until fully dehydrated.

Enjoy your meaty snack!!!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Swine Flu

Reposted from:

Swine flu. Even the hype surrounding it is pandemic. It’s made headlines in every major newspaper and magazine. The CDC has a new press release every half hour. TV talking heads and radio pundits furrow their brows and express extreme consternation as they tell us to start “bracing for the worst.” President Obama has asked for another billion-and–a-half dollars (that we don’t have) to fend off this impending menace. Frightened school boards are halting classes everywhere until they are given a better action plan. Cruises are cancelled, trips are postponed, pigs are slaughtered, nations are blamed. It’s crazy.

I’m sorry. At this point, I’m not buying it. I am not convinced that Swine flu H1N1 is any different from just about every other strain of flu we experience every year. Hong Kong flu, every Asian variety of the past two decades, duck flu, other bird flu, you name it. We know the CDC trades in hyperbole, but, hey, “we’re from the government and we’re here to help you.” On the other hand, in the past few hours there seems to be some consensus from clear-thinkers emerging that this swine flu might not be so fatal as strains that caused some prior pandemics. Too little too late?

In fact, there are viruses (and bacteria and fungi and parasites and…) around us all the time. So why don’t we all get sick all the time? Why do so many people get sick and die during epidemics? Every year in the US there are 50,000,000 cases of flu (all types) and 36,000 deaths. If everyone is exposed at some level (and I guarantee you, everyone is exposed) then why doesn’t everyone get sick? And if 50,000,000 get the flu, why don’t 50,000,000 die? It all comes down to the health of your immune system and the strength of yourorgan reserve. Of course, the Primal lifestyle guarantees both. In the vast majority of cases, people that die of the flu have extremely weakened immune systems and/or experience organ failure indirectly related to the flu (kidneys fail, heart fails, liver fails, etc). But what does that mean for you and me? If you have a healthy immune system and are otherwise in good shape, there’s a strong likelihood that routine exposure to swine (or any) flu will be handled by your immune system without you even noticing. Or maybe you’ll feel weird for a day or two and then you’ll shake it. And even if you should get sick, in 99.99% of cases you have nothing to fear from any form of flu except maybe the loss of a few days pay and a few days of feeling crappy. But only if your immune system is in good order.

So what can you do to bolster your immune system and make sure you fend off any attack - swine-related or otherwise?

1. Avoid Sugar

Sugar is a powerful immune suppressor. One dose of a big dessert or a bag of gumdrops scarfed at a movie can be enough to temporarily weaken the immune system and open the door to infection. That’s especially true if you’ve been eating Primally and clean for a while. Unfortunately, most Americans are susceptible because a lifestyle of sugar intake can result in perpetual immune suppression, the effects of which not only make them sitting ducks for the flu, but can also exacerbate heart disease and cancer.

2. Avoid Stress

Chronic cortisol (the major stress hormone) release is another powerful immune suppressor. As tough as times are, it behooves you to get a handle on stress and do whatever you can to mitigate it, whether it’s throughmeditationyoga, prayer, biofeedback or just taking a few minutes each day to chill. People get sick when they are stressed out not from the stress itself, but from the fact that exposure to any virus or bacteria overwhelms their frail immune system.

3. Avoid Overly Stressful Workouts

Again, few things can suppress the immune system as quickly as chronic cardio or a single excessive weekend warrior workout (usually anything under 45 minutes is fine). I can pinpoint from my marathon days those exact individual workouts in which I knew immediately that I had gone too far or dug too deep. Invariably I came down with some URTI within a few days – not because I was newly exposed, but because I was vulnerable to anything and everything that was always floating in the air, on a doorknob or in a handshake.

4. Cut the Grains

This would normally be part of the first item “avoid sugar”, since grains tend to be converted to glucose pretty rapidly. But beyond their glucose load, grains (especially whole grains) and their glutenslectins and phytates may have a collective immune altering or immune-suppressing effect in some (and I suspect most) people.

5. Avoid Stupid Exposure Mistakes

In many cases a mild exposure, like being in the same room with a flu “victim”, is enough to stimulate a healthy immune system to react in a way that further reduces the likelihood you’ll come down with your own case. On the other hand, shaking the hand of someone with the flu who just coughed or sneezed into it might put you over the edge if you then wipe you nose or rub your eyes (eyes are a very vulnerable entry point). I’m not the biggest fan of hand cleaners, but if you think you just got slimed, wash with Purell or a decent hand soap just to be sure. No need to go OCD in this regard. I would never wear a mask on a plane, for instance, but I’m not telling you not to if you sit next to a cougher/sneezer.

6. Do Get Some Sunshine

The immune system requires vitamin D to function optimally and sunlight is the best way to ensure you get enough D (a vitamin D supplement won’t hurt either). Winter is cold and flu season not just because we are inside sharing our sputum, but because we spend less time getting sunshine and vitamin D.

7. Exercise Appropriately

If you follow the PB, you’ll know that getting a fair amount of low-level aerobic activity and a few focused strength sessions each week will have an immune-boosting effect.

8. Eat Good Fats and Avoid Bad Fats

Omega 3s, mono-unsaturates and even most saturated fats will support healthy immune systems. On the other hand, any intake of trans and hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated fats will compromise immunity, as will excessive intake of the Omega 6 fats found in many vegetable oils.

The swine flu is nothing new. Whether you get sick or not is entirely up to you. To paraphase George W. Bush “Flu me once, shame on — shame on you. Flu me — you can’t get flued again”  Take responsibility for your own health and, fer cryin’ out loud, don’t be flued by the hype.