Cooking and eating under siege

Gaza is burning. The bombs are falling day and night, ripping through buildings, eviscerating entire families. As the horrors unfold, can we imagine what life is like at this moment in a home, in a kitchen, at the dinner table in Gaza?

It is Ramadan, after all, as we were made painfully aware over the weekend when an Israeli F-16 strike killed all 25 members of the Abu Jamaa family, including 17 children, three pregnant women and a grandmother, as they sat down for iftar, the evening meal. And even if it weren’t, families — that is, women — still have to go about getting food on the table, tending to the mundane routines of life that keep them sane. How do you feed your family under bombardment when nowhere, not even your dinner table, is safe and when there is no access to markets and farms?

Even more important, after the smoke clears how do families continue with their lives under a longstanding siege that aims to deprive them of any sense of normalcy, freedom and productivity? What role do women, especially, play in this daily business of survival?

20 minutes

To Stretch Or Not To Stretch?: Research now suggests that stretching before a workout isn’t necessarily a good thing, because it causes the brain to think you’re about to tear those muscles, says Reynolds. “When you stretch and hold a pose, the brain thinks you are about to damage yourself and it then sends out nerve impulses that actually tighten the muscles,” she explains. “… The result is, you’re less ready for activity, not more ready for activity.”

Don’t Skip The Warm-Up: Science suggests that a very easy warmup — a light jog, for example — may be all that most of us need. “What you want to do when you warm up is warm up the tissues,” she says. “You want to get the muscles, the tendons — all of the parts of your body — warm, and the best way to do that is to use those tissues.” Reynolds recommends jogging before a run or an intense sports match.

Running’s Rewards And Risks: Running reduces the risks of heart disease and diabetes, helps maintain your weight and improves brain health. “There’s very good science that running for even 30 minutes or so doubles the number of brain cells in certain portions of the brain related to memory,” says Reynolds. “Running is wonderful for the health of your body.” But the injury rate among runners, she cautions, is extremely high — with as many as 75 percent of runners getting one injury a year. “So running can be very hard on the body at the same time it’s very good for the body,” she says.

Humans Were Made For Walking: Walking may be the single best exercise that exists on the planet, Reynolds says. It’s low-impact and has a relatively low risk for injury. “Walking appears to be what the human body was built for,” she explains. Even 15 minutes will reduce your risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Gretchen Reynolds writes the Phys Ed column for theNew York Times.

Russell Thurston/Hudson Street Press

The Difference Between Fitness And Health: Becoming fit and becoming healthier are two different things. “You can become healthy with a much lower amount and a much lower intensity of exercise,” says Reynolds. “A nice easy walk will improve your health. If you make it a little … harder or a little more difficult for you to walk, you will become more fit and you will get more benefits. But even if you just walk lightly, you will be healthier than if you don’t do anything.”

Hydration Hype: We don’t need eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated. “What we now know is that if you drink to thirst, if you listen to the little voice in your head that says, ‘You need water,’ you will drink as much as you need,” Reynolds says. “You don’t need to stay ahead of your thirst. Drink what you want, and you will almost certainly be fine.”

The Ultimate Post-Workout Beverage: Use chocolate milk to replenish sugars after an intense workout. Reynolds calls it an “ideal recovery beverage” because it has the right ratio of carbs and proteins to aid your body’s recovery process.

a single and self-regulating complex system

The Gaia hypothesis, also known as Gaia theory or Gaia principle, proposes that all organisms and their inorganic surroundings on Earth are closely integrated to form a single and self-regulating complex system, maintaining the conditions for life on the planet.

The scientific investigation of the Gaia hypothesis focuses on observing how the biosphereand the evolution of life forms contribute to the stability of global temperatureocean salinityoxygen in the atmosphere and other factors of habitability in a preferredhomeostasis.

Since life started on Earth, the energy provided by the Sun has increased by 25% to 30%;[8]however, the surface temperature of the planet has remained within the levels of habitability, reaching quite regular low and high margins. Lovelock has also hypothesised that methanogens produced elevated levels of methane in the early atmosphere, giving a view similar to that found in petrochemical smog, similar in some respects to the atmosphere on Titan.

Processing of the greenhouse gas CO2 plays a critical role in the maintenance of the Earth temperature within the limits of habitability.

Currently this Gaian homeostatic balance is being pushed by the increase of human population and the impact of their activities to the environment. The multiplication ofgreenhouse gases may cause a turn of Gaia’s negative feedbacks into homeostatic positive feedback. This could bring an accelerated global warming and mass human mortality.  Simulation which included rabbitsfoxes and other species, led to a surprising finding that the larger the number of species, the greater the improving effects on the entire planet (i.e., the temperature regulation was improved). It also showed that the system was robust and stable even when perturbed.

Even as more Americans buythe products are increasingly removed from the traditional organic ideal: produce that is not only free of chemicals and pesticides but also grown locally on small farms in a way that protects the environment.

Everyone knows about how the advent of artificial fertilizers and pest controls altered the face of agriculture around the world during the Green Revolution more than half a century ago. And while few people are fully ignorant of the damage done to the environment through the use of these synthetic pesticides (and fertilizers), not many people have given much any thought to what will happen when we run out of these vital resources; which is nearing much faster than you might have guessed.

If you’ve ever used fertilizers you have probably at least seen their N-P-K ratings on the bag, standing for the three main fertilizers: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen is quite plentiful and renewable, despite being the most damaging environmentally and largely being synthesized from natural gas, but the same is not true for phosphorus (bone meal) and potassium (potash). These vital minerals exist in quite limited quantities and cannot currently be feasibly synthesized, which causes major problems. The world’s phosphorus supply comes almost exclusively out of relatively unstable Morocco, and potassium from Canada and the former states of the Soviet Union, potentially making them future sites for “fertilizer wars” similar to the last century in the Middle East when supplies can’t easily keep up with demand.

Industrial agriculture could be hitting fundamental limits in its capacity to produce sufficient crops to feed an expanding global population according to new research published in Nature Communications.

The study argues that there have been abrupt declines or plateaus in the rate of production of major crops which undermine optimistic projections of constantly increasing crop yields. As much as “31% of total global rice, wheat and maize production” has experienced “yield plateaus or abrupt decreases in yield gain, including rice in eastern Asia and wheat in northwest Europe.”

The declines and plateaus in production have become prevalent despite increasing investment in agriculture, which could mean that maximum potential yields under the industrial model of agribusiness have already occurred. Crop yields in “major cereal-producing regions have not increased for long periods of time following an earlier period of steady linear increase.”

The paper makes for ominous reading. Production levels have already flattened out with “no case of a return to the previous rising yield trend” for key regions amounting to “33% of global rice and 27% of global wheat production.” The US researchers concluded that these yield plateaus could be explained by the inference that “average farm yields approach a biophysical yield ceiling for the crop in question, which is determined by its yield potential in the regions where the crop is produced.”

Think about these issues when you’re considering whether or not to go with small scale organic foods or extremely wasteful and disrupting industrial ones.

Organic Agriculture May Be Outgrowing Its Ideals

Published: December 30, 2011

But even as more Americans buy foods with the organic label, the products are increasingly removed from the traditional organic ideal: produce that is not only free of chemicals and pesticides but also grown locally on small farms in a way that protects the environment.