Archive for the 'Water' Category

Argan Oil: From Morocco to Israel

Jacob Levenfeld, who has spent extensive time in the Negev, writes about Orly Sharir’s project to grow argan oil in Israel’s desert. Orly, a supplier of herbs and spices for Negev Nectars in the United States, writes more on the subject on the Negev Nectars blog.

Isn’t it frustrating when you eat something delicious but you can’t quite put your finger on that little ingredient that pulls everything together? In Moroccan cuisine, that extra spice could just be a little-known delicacy known as argan oil. Used in all sorts of food recipes, lotions, and creams, this reddish oil is derived from argan tree nuts native to Morocco. Lately, though, a small number of farms in Israel’s Negev desert have also forayed into argan production.

Getting Off The Bottle

This week, as Earth Day came and went and I attended a fair here or an Earth celebration there, it also donned on me that Spring is here!

So, beyond my environmental excursions, I also attended of variety of events held on my very own Columbia University. Yet, what I found was an inability to fully appreciate some of the events due to the ubiquity of plastic water bottles. Some may laugh, but I find myself becoming more and more annoyed with these obnoxious bottles that I suddenly see everywhere. As I have previously written about bottled water, my awakening began when seeing the movie “Blue Gold: World Water War’s” on instant play on Netflix. Then, I really became irked when seeing “The Story of Bottled Water,” which I posted on this blog.

Bottled Water Is Like Smoking While Pregnant

Earth Day New York

If you didn’t know, this past week featured World Water Day. A brief internet search can tell you more about this, but the general idea is for people to focus on water consumption and stress the importance of water conservation. Last summer, when I was wwoofing in Israel, water conservation was at the forefront of everyone’s minds. It only rains in the winter there, and farming in the summer meant that water had to be very seriously considered in its allotment. Luckily, farmers utilize gray water and drip irrigation methods to maximize water usage.

However, for those of us who do not live in the Middle East or on a farm, usually we are pretty unconcerned with our water usage. We shower everyday, run dishwashers, run laundry machines, brush our teeth and leave the water running (I never understood this one) and other daily mundane activities that consume our fresh water supply. In NYC, our fresh water is being threatened by drilling for natural gas near the reservoirs upstate, where our tap water comes from. The danger of losing our tap water is one of the most serious issues facing the future of the city.

TED Talk: How Chef Dan Barber Fell in Love With a Fish

My boyfriend is really into good podcasts and came home the other night insisting that I watch this.  And he was right, Dan Barber gives a charming and very insightful talk about sustainable fishing.  Check it out:

Agro-Ecology in Colombia: Farming in the Face of Flooding

On the Ground with ASPROCIG

Cross-posted on From the Groundthe blog of American Jewish World Service (AJWS).

Imagine waking up one morning to find your crops—the food that keeps you alive—completely submerged in water and entirely destroyed. This is exactly what happened along the Sinú River in northern Colombia, a region that has supported a diverse community of indigenous people for generations. The Zenu and Embera people who live by the Sinú banks depend on the river for fish, irrigation and drinking water. But in 2000, the Urrá Dam, built by a consortium of Colombian, Swedish and Russian companies, submerged over 7,400 hectares of land, crops, homes and sacred sites. The dam displaced 2,800 people and continues to threaten the lives of 70,000 by altering vital food supplies. Areas of severe periodic flooding and drought caused by its flow have stymied traditional farming practices. Compounding this reality is the construction of a new dam—many times the size—by the Colombian government, presenting a constant looming threat over this beleaguered rural community.

More Sustainable (Mediterranean) Goodness Coming to a CSA Near You!

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Do you love your CSA (or Tuv Ha’Haretz) but also want sustainable products that are not found locally where you live?  Things like olive oil and dates are local to the Mediterranean Sea – not New England.  But for folks in the greater New York area committed to sustainable agriculture, some of our CSAs have recently partnered with a new company that supports small-scale farming and economic development in the Negev Region of Israel.

Negev Nectars, a new business that launched last week, will be bringing gourmet, sustainably produced foods to CSAs (and Tuv Ha’Haretz) to the United States.  Negev Nectars members will be sent olive oil, jams, chutneys, honey, dried herbs and other unique products (check them out here) three times a year just before Hanukkah, Passover and Rosh Hashanah.  Negev Nectars can be shipped all over the U.S., although your share can be picked up at participating sites.  Currently Negev Nectars can be picked up at the Tuv Ha’Haretz in White Plains, NY and Forest Hills, NY with additional sites coming soon in New York and New Jersey.

Not a drop to drink. At least not a BPA-free drop.

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It seemed like a great way to kill two birds with one stone.  Now I’m wondering if it’s killing—or at least harming—me.

Welcome to my water dilemma.

Last year, my concerns were mounting about both the evils of inherent in the privatization of water and the health risks of exposure to Bisphenol A,  used to produce many common plastics.  So the members of our household stopped using the Brita filter, and started toting straight-from-the-tap goodness with us wherever we went.  Toting it in SIGG water bottles, which were sold as a plastic-free, all aluminum alternative to BPA-laden bottles.

Trust the Swiss their website said.

Yeah, trust the Swiss . . . to sell you out to the Nazis.

True Confession

 

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The other evening, I committed a crime: I watered my asparagus patch. Emboldened by my misdeed, the next morning I watered my lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and even some inedible potted plants.

No one’s coming to arrest me, or even to slap a fine on me. In truth, it’s not exactly clear if the new Israeli law prohibiting watering applies to all gardens, to public gardens or just to lawns. It’s also not clear who will be enforcing it: The “green patrol” is famously understaffed. You can be sure that bigger criminals than me will be watering lawns in the middle of the day this summer, and one or two of them may even get a slap on the wrist.

Ask the Shmethicist: Is there something pHishy in my water?

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On most nights, we don’t even dip once.  So what’s the shmethicist doing taking a dunk with Beastie Boy Adam Yauch and Daniel Craig?

Dear Shmethicist,

I recently learned about and taste tested alkaline water…which is supposedly water with a very basic pH level, although to me it does taste just like the stuff we’re used to.  Apparently, we are all full of way too much acidity, and if we drink this water, it will help to neutralize our pH, and lead to all sorts of health improvements, such as decreased chance of cancers and heart attacks and the water will even hydrate us more than the H20 we typically drink.  Do you know if there is any truth to this?

Thanks,

pHish Out of Water

Speaking of Houses: Greening Your Kitchen with Gray Water

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There’s no food without water, and some people love to talk about how the destruction of our watersheds will lead us all to perdition before our teeth even fall out. It’s the kind of doom-saying that makes a lot of folks want to crawl under a rock instead of thinking about change.  But saving enormous amounts of water is actually pretty easy and, to a large degree, can be accomplished with a time investment instead of a monetary one. In the spirit of the new year, here are some tips and resources on how to change your kitchen for the better (world-wise and wallet-wise).

Start with your Sink.

To repair the world, you can start by repairing your sink.  Fixing leaking faucets can save 20 gallons of water a day. Just spend a couple of bucks and a few minutes screwing on an aerator and watch your water bill go down. If you need one, you can also get a water filtration system for your tap instead of drinking bottled water, which uses lots of water in production and pollutes the world with plastic. Finally, unlike quails and manna, water still falls from the sky – so you can harvest rainwater for your garden using a rain barrel. The Florida Extension teaches you how to build one here.

Or, you could get fancy.