Category Archives: Nutrition

My New — Fruitful — STEM Hobby

(Image credit: Erik Furulund, CC PDM 1.0)

I wonder who’s going to see this.

Yes, we have no prompts today! I looked them all up, I looked them all over . . . I considered them all. I had a funny idea of using them all in an alternate title to this post, and then just freestyling the rest.

It would be a shameful play for more reads, more eyeballs on my post. But shouldn’t I let that happen naturally? I decided that today, I will go prompt-free. Bold.

I’d rather talk about my latest passion-project: promoting the production, and packaging, the excretions of microscopic fungi for future consumption. How exciting, to bring so many worlds together! It’s like cooking food for billions of pets, most of which do not yet exist; then you throw a relatively small portion of the end population right into the food and check in on them frequently as they feed and multiply and excrete over the next three to four weeks. When the food runs out, they all go to sleep. Then you move all that fungus-pee to a different vessel, and wash all your pets right down the drain.

It’s like a science experiment!

Then you throw in a little more science. You see, it’s not easy to actually move all of that end-product exclusive of your prized pets — you know, the ones you washed down the sink. A few may be left stranded behind, and the last thing you want now is to have them start the experiment all over; after all, you’re past that step. So you add a few minerals to make sure they can’t do that anymore. Then you sweeten it up a touch.

Then you drink it and get all kinds of fish-nickered!

Of course, I haven’t had a chance to drink any of my mead yet. Well . . . not technically. You see, every time I rack a batch to a clean carboy it leaves some behind. The lees, which is not what we want, with a thin layer of mead on top. So every time I try to finish siphoning off that liquid with just the tube into a glass so I can try it. My first few batches, being based on a basic recipe, were somewhat harsh on the alcohol flavor. That ages out; they say that mead needs to age 6 months to a year to mellow out and whatnot. But when I hit my fourth batch I discovered something interesting: If you use juice instead of water, the product is drinkable almost right away.


My fourth batch, I’m so proud of it. So delicious that when I couldn’t get the last of the liquid separated from the lees I drank the whole thing. No regrets. Now I’m doing all kinds of crazy stuff. Making hooch. Looking at recipes by people who do it cheap. So often nowadays I find myself wondering, ‘I wonder if I could ferment that?’ Or thinking, ‘I could definitely ferment that.’

Batch 5 is just about done, and I do believe I have a new crazy experiment in mind for batch 6, a recipe called Joe’s Ancient Orange Mead.

So if anyone is wondering what I’ve been getting up to while letting my blog languish, wonder no more. Making wine is only the latest thing I’ve taken up, but it’s fun and takes a lot less work than one might think.

And it’s science. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

It’s Not Magic: Mushrooms Can Change Our Experience

In case you ever thought a haiku was something I tossed off in a moment after looking at a picture — something I composed and posted in just a few minutes, consider this:

It took me two and a half hours to write today’s haiku. Do you want to know what I learned about mushrooms while writing this haiku? Because they’re fairly amazing.

(Image credit: Didier, a.k.a. didier.bier @ Flickr)

The mushrooms growing on this cone are simply fruit — the outgrowth of a significantly less apparent organism. Like the shadowy few that stand behind the play of world politics, this organism stands in the background and performs the unseen transactions, deals with the silent partners, hides all of the secrets . . .

and the potential of its power, boy, is really what impresses me.

See the little white hairs growing at the base of the mushroom? They call that mycelium. Sometimes it’s visible, and sometimes it’s too small to see; but this is the powerhouse behind the more apparent fungus that is sometimes eaten, sometimes toxic, and often the bane of picky horticulturalists. It turns out that getting rid of mushrooms is just like plucking an apple from a tree, though, because they’re growing from mycelium that suffuses the surrounding earth. And although some find them annoying, very few mushroom varieties are parasitic, in effect feeding from live organisms; most are saprophytic, which means they live on dead or decaying material. They are the forest’s recycling system, transforming old carbon-rich organic material into fresh soil.

And oh, they get extensive. In Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, author and mushroom expert Paul Stamets describes a 2,400-acre site in Oregon that

“had a contiguous growth of mycelium before logging roads cut through it. Estimated at 1,665 football fields in size and 2,200 years old, this one fungus has killed the forest above it several times over, and in so doing has built deeper soil layers that allow the growth of ever-larger stands of trees.”

There’s a case against deforestation, am I right? Point one, nature does it for us; point two, why not just grow natural plastic and take some of that wood out of the equation?

Oh wait, did you know about the plastic?

It’s no secret that plastic is made from oil and it takes a bajillion years to break down. Everyone knows that’s a problem. Enter bioplastics: technically not plastics, but similar in behavior and function, they are newer materials that could replace plastics across entire industries. They’re environmentally friendly; they’re grown, they’re biodegradable, they’re recyclable, and they’re made from mycelium, those mats of tendrils that transport nutrients from decaying organic matter to their fungal fruit. According to Marc Gunther’s article in The Guardian Can Mushrooms Replace Plastic?

“They can produce packaging, home insulation, fiberboard for furniture, even a surfboard.”

Mushroom surfboards? Sign me up, dude!

So here’s the simple list — the upshot of why making plastics from mushrooms is an awesome idea:

  • The base material is plentiful and inexpensive — crop waste, like corn stalks, are bought from American farmers, giving them additional revenue and saving buckets of ducats over the precious oil used to make traditional plastics. Could this bring down fuel prices as well?
  • Because it’s grown and not drilled, it’s renewable.
  • Because it’s organic it can break down naturally, in effect biodegradable.
  • Because it’s biodegradable, it can help alleviate waste issues — specifically, burgeoning landfills and the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch.

In addition, mycelium can be used to:

  • break down soil contaminants, such as oil and chemical spills, in a process known as mycoremediation;
  • remove contaminants like chemicals, bacteria, and heavy metals from water in a process called mycofiltration;
  • prevent soil erosion due to water runoff, which is another application of mycofiltration;
  • enhance crop yields and forest sustainability — mycoforestry;  and
  • control insect populations — mycopesticides.

I get excited about stuff like this – essentially, we could use the Earth to restore, renew, and rescue the Earth. Everything we need is right here, homegrown. And the following videos also got me excited:

Yes, I’m excited to live in a magical world where every day we move toward improving our symbiotic relationship with it. This is stewardship;

and thus your adventure may continue. Go live it.

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What’s the big deal about Sriracha?

Are you ever taken surprise by your significant others’ sudden acquisition of some previously unknown favorite? Continue reading What’s the big deal about Sriracha?

Surfer Rob: foiled by deliciousness!

Do you have an easily exploitable weakness?

Continue reading Surfer Rob: foiled by deliciousness!

An apple a day? Maybe I can do better. . .

Okay, so I was visiting some Daily Post prompt responses. The photographer prompt is HEALTH, and I saw more than a few pictures of apples, which made me laugh. Why? Because I realized that I could throw my own in the mix; my subject was right behind me in the lunchbox sitting by the orange chair. Every day I take my lunchbox to work with me. Every morning, I normally throw some fruit in there and go, but last week our co-op stiffed us on the fruit in favor of squash and fennel, which I thought was a pretty uncool move. They did send a good-sized bunch of bananas that haven’t even ripened yet. IT’S BEEN OVER A WEEK.

Not having much to take to work, I stopped at the local supermarket and bought a three-dollar bag of apples for my lunchbox. I don’t require much, after all. I eat one square meal a day and that’s dinner. Otherwise, I live on fruit and Starlight Mints.

And because we all have to share burdens, I have to do my share to help knock down the candy stores after Halloween, Christmas, and Easter.

Copyright © 2013 by Robert W. Ross. All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2013 by Robert W. Ross. All rights reserved.

This post was prompted by today’s Daily Post prompt.

Haiku: Risk


Man drinking water from gargoyle
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Toxins in and out —
how can we doubt that our lives
are precarious?

Mr. Fusion and the Excruciatingly Slow Decline of the Western Pattern Diet

Have you ever looked back and realized how much junk you’ve eaten in life? Continue reading Mr. Fusion and the Excruciatingly Slow Decline of the Western Pattern Diet

Portland Home Massage: What People Really Look Like

Portland Home Massage: What People Really Look Like.

“Let’s start here with what nobody looks like: nobody looks like the people in magazines or movies. Not even models. Nobody.” 

This is great, and the last line is completely worth the quick read.

Trifextra, Week 83: Co-op

Bountiful Baskets, July 3rd, 2010
Bountiful Baskets, July 3rd, 2010 (Photo credit: flyingg)

Baskets full of fruit:
Bountiful, alive with health –
Nature’s gift to all.

This post was prompted by this Trifextra, week 83:

This weekend we’re asking you to harken back to your grade school days and write a haiku. No word restrictions, just stick to the structure as defined below. 

HAIKU (noun)

: an unrhymed verse form of Japanese origin having three lines containing usually five, seven, and five syllables respectively
Good luck!

Weekly writing challenge: my philosophy of health

Health (Photo credit: Tax Credits)

For a long, long time I have been concerned with my health. It probably started some time in high school when I began to take vitamins, concerned that I wasn’t getting enough nutrients in my diet. I can’t quite remember why I thought so, but I was probably on the right track. I grew up not knowing much about nutrition except what they taught me in school, and so I ate whatever I wanted to eat. And I often ate a lot; in fact, I often ate twice as much as a normal kid would eat; I was a compulsive snacker, too. You could say that my appetite had been stretched out.

Today, it’s not quite back in the shape that a “normal” appetite would be in, but I have it under tighter control. Over the years, I’ve flirted with fitness, diets, supplements, and various degrees of fasting in order improve my health. Having finally found what works for me, I now have a philosophy of health. I actually shared this with a friend not too long ago when she was looking for tips on losing weight and getting fit. I said “eat less, exercise more. More of what you eat should be good stuff, less of it bad stuff. If you stick to your guns regarding those rules ( and yes, get a little OCD about it) then you should do quite well. But don’t forget to let loose from time to time or else you’re not going to have any fun doing it.”

Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See ...
Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See Wikipedia:Sleep deprivation). Model: Mikael Häggström. To discuss image, please see Template talk:Häggström diagrams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I would add that you have to ensure that you get enough sleep every night – not that I do. I’m a total hypocrite about that, but lack of sleep leads to stress, and stress makes it harder to resist your urges, especially when it comes to eating. I can do it most of the time, but eating is a classic way to instinctually counteract the stress response.

That’s not the length and breadth of being healthy, though. In addition to doing the right thing for your health – your personal health – you have to ensure that you’re happy, too. Everybody has to work, I know that. But you have to allow yourself some time for your own hobbies, and to spend time with others. This is social health. We need to have a positive outlook and consistently work on our emotional weaknesses through reflection and thoughtful application of modified behaviors. That’s emotional health.

Health comes in a bazillion varieties, and it’s not easy to cultivate the apex of each one simultaneously, so we have to work on them bit by bit, day by day. Get in the habit of improving, and you should never have a problem becoming whoever you want to be.

This post was prompted by the Daily Post Weekly Challenge.
Featured image source: 316th ESC on Flickr
License: attribution