Stay Cool
July 2011

Here’s How to Pay Less for AC

ThermostatRecord summer heat waves are already occurring more often and will be even hotter and more frequent over the next 30 years, according to a study by Stanford University scientists that have run climate simulations of temperatures across the United States. The study comes on the heels of a NASA report that concluded that 2000 through 2009 was the warmest post-industrial decade on record.

The hotter it gets, the more people run their conventional electric air conditioners (AC), releasing even more global-warming gas emissions from power plants into the atmosphere. Cooling accounts for nearly half the energy used by the average home during the summer, reports the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program. More than two-thirds of U.S. households have air conditioners, which set us back more than $10 billion each year in electricity bills, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Locavore Update
July 2011

How to Measure a Food’s Eco-Friendliness

Local_ProduceSales of locally grown foods are expected to reach $7 billion this year, up from $4 billion in 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. One driver is the well-publicized average 1,500 miles it took for 28 fruits and vegetables to reach the upper Midwest by truck in a 2001-2003 study by Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

“The average distance we calculated was often cited incorrectly as the average distance food traveled in the United States,” explains Rich Pirog, who led the research. “Local food really isn’t about mileage or distance. It’s about the relationships that are built in the food chain. It’s about farmers and local communities getting a higher percentage of the food dollar.”

Local food sourcing builds community, poses a smaller risk for food-borne contaminants and tastes better, especially when it’s organic. It doesn’t require the refrigeration needed for long-distance hauling and often comes without wasteful packaging.

A Carnegie Mellon University study further calculated that transportation now accounts for 11 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions of fruits and vegetables and only 1 percent of red meat’s emissions, while how the food is produced contributes 83 percent; so it’s good to be familiar with local providers. The researchers also reported that switching from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs or a vegetable-based diet one day a week yields at least the equivalent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of buying all locally sourced food.

Primary source: emagazine.com

Berry Good
July 2011

Reap Big Benefits from Summer’s Tiny Gems

BerriesFresh berries, nature’s little gems, full of flavor and flavonoids, reach their peak during the warmer months. Each berry’s burst of juicy deliciousness carries antioxidants, vitamins C and E, riboflavin and fiber that work to fight obesity, protect brain function and promote urinary health. The red, blue and purple pigments in berries, known as anthocyanins, also help our bodies detoxify, repair damaged DNA, fight cancer and help lower LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, levels.

The Department of Food Science and Technology at Oregon State University cites scores of studies that point to the many health benefits from consuming a variety of fresh berries. Each berry offers not only a unique flavor and color, but also a particular health protection.

Pool Cats
July 2011

Paddling Classes Can Keep Them Safe

Swimming_CatYes, cats can swim. This is good to know if your home features a resident pet and a swimming pool. While most cats are not in love with a dip in the water—neither would you be if you had to dry your nose-to-toes fur using a tiny pink tongue—what would happen if a favorite feline fell in? If curiosity or circumstance caused her to take the plunge, could she make it to the edge and safely pull herself out of the pool?

Our family has taken seriously the task of teaching our five cats how to swim, and always proceeded with loving care and patience. We’ve experienced considerable success by following these steps. Remember that the “swim class” is designed to teach your cat what to do if she finds herself accidentally in the water.

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