Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Urban Village Farmers' Market Association

Did you know that there is a farmer's market every Sunday less than a block away from campus?
Ever wonder who runs it?

Urban Village Farmers' Market Association is a non-profit Mutual Benefit Corporation whose goal is to promote the family farm, help conserve and sustain surrounding greenbelt areas, and foster community by promoting soical and economic ties between producers and consumer.

The market is sponsored by the California Avenue Area Development Association (CAADA) and operates year round every sunday on California Avenue. However, this is not the only market that Urban Village Farmers
' Market Association operates. Check out some of the other markets below if you are interested:

Year 'round Certified Farmers' Markets:
- Oakland (Old Oakland – Friday, 8:00am-2:00pm)
- Downtown Sunnyvale (Saturday, 9:00am-1:00pm)
- Downtown Santa Clara (Saturday, 9:00am-1:00pm)
- Downtown California Avenue, Palo Alto (Sunday 9-1)
- Downtown Campbell (Sunday, 9:00-1:00pm)
- Montclair Village, Oakland (Sunday, 9:00am-1:00pm)
- Temescal District, Oakland (Sunday, 9:00am-1:00pm)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

This website has a lot of great information about keeping out pests from your garden! It's an all-natural approach, because pesticides:
-kill helpful insects
-hurt the environment
-collect in human and animal tissues (especially dangerous for children)

The site suggests attracting natural predators and using harmless deterrants, such as oil sprays or an ant repellant made out of cayenne pepper.

Looks helpful!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Review Finds: Health Not Improved By Organic Foods

Two review articles, one published by the American Jounral of clinical Nutrition, and another by the London School of Hygene and Topical Medicine concluded that a review of literature from over the past 50 years shows no difference in health outcomes between organic and conventionally produced food.

The review concluded that the studies which showed health benefits to organic eating only focused on short-term benefits like antioxidant activity rather than long-term health outcomes. In general, the antioxidants studies did not find any differences between organic and conventional foods. The studies were also limited in scale have small sample groups and lasting over a short period of time. The US based review found that there was no difference in nutrient content between organic and conventional foods.

The reviews, however, are completely focused on pure evidence-based outcome that show biologically measurable changes. In this way, they are limited and cannot account for the social benefits of locally produced good and their benefit they may have on other areas of the environment. It also did not address possible consequence of eliminating pesticide usage on farm workers and other side products of organically grown food. In this way, their definition of "health" is extremely narrow and does not consider more broad yet equally important aspects.

Nutritional quality of organic foods: a systematic review
July 29, 2009
May 25, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Soda Tax

A current push to add a "penny-per-ounce" tax on soda is seen as a way to decrease the amount of soda consumption in the US. Its funding would go toward improving school lunches and toward health care as well.
Increases in soda consumption are the most correlated with increases in obesity rates. What's more, this habit has also increased diabetes and cardiovascular disease rates among Americans.
The goal of this tax is to reduce the gallon-of-soda-a-week habit that the average American has, however CocaCola and PepsiCo have strong lobbyists that are working to reduce the tax or do away with it all together.

I think its about time we start taxing soda, because its negative effects are clear and disproportionately affect the poor. Considering all of the behavioral campaigns that have attempted to curve soda consumption, we now need something more substantial to lessen the consumption and effects of this sugary drink.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A New Way to Use Herbicides: To Sterilize, Not Kill Weeds

ScienceDaily (May 7, 2010) — Using herbicides to sterilize rather than to kill weedy grasses might be a more economical and environmentally sound weed control strategy, according to a study by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and a cooperator.

Rangeland ecologist Matt Rinella at the ARS Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory in Miles City, Mont., conducted the study with colleagues at Miles City and Robert Masters with Dow AgroSciences LLC, in Indianapolis, Ind.

Exotic annual grasses such as Japanese brome, cheatgrass and medusahead are harming millions of acres of grassland in the western United States. Currently, the herbicides used to control these invasive grasses also sometimes damage desirable perennial grasses.

In contrast, when used properly, growth regulators typically do not greatly harm desirable perennial grasses. Growth regulator herbicides are used to control broadleaf weeds in wheat and other crop grasses, as well as on rangelands. Rinella and his colleagues knew that when dicamba and other growth regulator herbicides were applied to cereal crops late in their growth stage, just before seed formation, the plants produced far fewer seeds.

The scientists decided to see if these herbicides had the same harmful late-stage application effects on the invasive weed Japanese brome. In greenhouse experiments, they tested dicamba (Banvel/Clarity), 2,4-D, and picloram (Tordon) at typically used rates. They found that picloram reduced seed production nearly 100 percent when applied at the late growth stage of the weed. Dicamba was slightly less effective, but still nearly eliminated all seed production, while 2,4-D was much less effective.

Since annual grass seeds only survive in soil a year or two, it should only take one to three years of herbicide treatment at the right growth stage to greatly reduce the soil seed bank of annual weedy grasses without harming perennial grasses.

Rinella has recently finished field tests that support the greenhouse experiment results. He also tested the herbicide aminopyralid (Milestone) and found it was as effective as picloram. Next he will test much lower doses of the herbicides in an attempt to lower costs and reduce non-target damage to broadleaf plants.

The research was published in the journal Invasive Plant Science and Management.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Concerns Up and Down the Food Chain

Since the recent oil spill from the Deepwater Horizion off the coast of Louisiana, there have been many concerns as to the overall well-being of creatures in the gulf coastal area. This article describes the consequences of this particular oil spill on the environment of the gulf area and further describes how the entire ecosystem is affected. For example, blue crab, one of the largest fishing crops out of Louisiana are being strongly affected by this oil spill. According to the article, the female blue crabs leave protection of the coast to breed at the sea. These crabs disperse fertilized eggs in the sea, hatching billions of tiny crabs invisible to the naked eye to drift for 40 days before ending back up in the marshes. In addition, spring is mating and spawning season for almost everything in the gulf and the components of crude oil can produce developmental deformities that are ultimately lethal to organisms in the wild.

- Richard

Vertical Gardens

A New York Times article this week highlights the increasing popularity of vertical gardens. This trend began in 1988 when French botanist Patrick Blanc intended to create a garden without dirt. Now urbanites are adopting this method of vertical gardens to make their city living spaces greener.

Even though vertical gardens allow city dwellers to develop their green thumb without having to worry about land space, this system of garden seems to take up a lot more resources than conventional gardening. In short, those who want to grow a vertical garden must recreate the outdoors within their confines of their walls. This includes, irrigation, humidity, and lighting, which ultimately leads to thousands of dollars in investment for a 12 by 12 foot wall of green.

Although vertical gardens are a good idea in theory, it is not practical, affordable or ecologically friendly in practice.