Monthly Archives: August 2013

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Aquaponics – Sustainable Food Production

Aquaponics is an ancient, but upcoming sustainable way to produce foods. The system is combined with:

° Conventional aquaculture; raising water animals like prawns, fish and snails

° Hydroponics which is cultivation of plants in water, living in a symbiotic environment, an environment where two or more plants are combined.

The closed system makes the effluent-rich water become toxic by aquacultures excretions, but these toxics are very useful and nutrient to the plants. After the water has passed through the hydroponic subsystem, it is cleaned and oxygenated, and can return to the aquaculture vessels. This circle goes on and on. Aquaponics can be made in tanks, basins and sumps, in large fields and also in your own backyard. Shorty you can say it is a self cleaning fish tank that produces foods.

Most green leaf vegetables suits for the hydroponic subsystem; chinese cabbage, basil, roses, lettuce, okra, tomatoes, bell-peppers and cantaloupe. Also onions,  sweet potato, beans, peas, watercress, strawberries, radishes and melons to name some.

The size, complexity, and types of foods the farmer has choose to grow can vary as much as in any kind of farming. The most known aquaponic system in modern time is rice cultivation combined with fish. The aquaponic system has been used since ancient Aztec times, also in south China and Thailand.

aquaponic_plant_productionOne example: Aquaponic Plant Production

Photo: wrongwayhome.com

Green Energy: Tidal

Tidal Power or Tidal Energy is an old upcoming energy form, still unknown for global market, but one of the oldest forms of energy used by humans, and is also more predictable than sun and wind energy. It is the future generations energysolution. Tidal energy has not been in much use because it is a new upcoming technology, still has high costs and needs time to find sites with sufficiently high tidal ranges or flow velocities.

Tidal power is reliable and non-polluting as it does not cause emission of gases or use fossil fuel generated electricity, and decreases the need for nuclear power. The system is like windturbines but undersea turbines, driven by the sea instead of the wind (see photo below). Unlike wind and waves, tidal currents are entirely predictable.  Tidal energy can be used:

* By building semi-permeable barrages across estuaries with a high tidal range

* By harnessing offshore tidal streams as electricity can be generated by water flowing both into and out of a bay.

Atleast a seven metres tidal range is required for economical operation and for water suffency. It is extremely important to choose right location for tidal energy as it can disturb aquatic and shoreline ecosystems, as well as navigation and recreation.

Underwater-Tidal-PowerPhoto credit: trackenergy.com.au

Historically, tide mills have been used, both in Europe and on the Atlantic coast of North America. The incoming water was contained in large storage ponds, and as the tide went out, it turned waterwheels that used the mechanical power it produced to mill grain.The earliest occurrences date from Roman Times. It was only in 1800 that the process of using falling water and spinning turbines to create electricity was introduced in the U.S. and Europe (Source: Wikipedia).

Natural Brush Cleaning

Use 1 tsp of Baking Soda in water to clean hair brushes and make up brushes, or any other brushes.
You can lay them in the water for a while or wash them with a spunge soaked in baking soda.

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Benefits of taking Cold Showers

During hot summers a cold shower is a natural choise, but it also has its health benefits. It does not make you sick, it is a great way to regulate body temperature and improve your immune system. Do not mix cold and warm water if you are a beginner, it is better to start with one complete cold shower and then increase. Best benefits from cold shower is a morning or evening shower.

Improves Mood:  Cold showers stimulates the brain by its source of noradrenaline, and improves mood disorders like depression. After a cold shower you should feel happy, sometimes as euphoria.

Improves Blood Circulation: With a cold shower blood flows to your organs for protection to keep them warm, and this improves blood flow between organs and skin. Higher fertility in men.

Improves Breathing: Use cold showers to learn how to breath deeply. This fights the stress of the cold shock, the vasoconstriction and the need to respire calmly to keep yourself warm. This opens the lungs and incresed the oxygen intake.

Improves Metabolic Rate: The cold shower forces your body to regulate temperature which uses many calories. The body will become more efficient.

Shower

Increase Testosterone: Cold showers or having the testicles in cold water increases sperm production. Some takes a cold shower before gym to get more strength.

Increase Immune: Creates higher levels of white bloos cells and higher concentration of plasma. Anti-Inflammation and anti-disease and helps you avoid the flu, cancer and haemorrhoids.

Weight Loss: Brown fat production increases and fights obesity. More calories are burned to supply energy for more reactions.

Environmental Friendly: Less CO2 and greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. Also less global warming and a lower electricity bill.

3 Sicilian Vegetables in Season

3 sic veggies

Fried Zucchina with Basil and Cherrytomatoes

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Fry zucchini (summer squash), cherry tomatoes and basil in a pan with some good quality oil

Add just little sea salt

Add some chilli if you like

Lexicon: Organic Certifications

In some countries, organic standards are formulated and overseen by the government. Being able to put the word “organic” on a food product is a valuable marketing advantage in today’s consumer market, but does not guarantee the product is legitimately organic. Certification is intended to protect consumers from misuse of the term, and make buying organics easy. Be aware that organic control differs from regions and country.

Australia: Australian Certified Organic

Belgium: “Biogarantie”

Canada: Canada Organic – Biologique Canada

China: Two Standards: A and AA; while the former standard does permit some use of synthetic agricultural chemicals

EU, member countries: European Union logo

France: AB – Agriculture Biologique

German speaking countries: Demeter

Germany: BIO (Germany uses also EU logo)

Greece: BIOHELLAS and DIO

India: India Organic (by Apeda, equal to USDA)

Japan: JAS

Sweden: KRAV (Sweden uses also EU logo)

United States: USDA Organic

Three Sicilian fruits in Season & Health Benefits:

3SicSeason

8 Brain Boosting Foods

Salmon oil and Omega 3 essential fatty acids are great sources for brain health and improves mental clarity.

Blueberries has anti-inflammatory properties and prevents age-related declines. Prevents short term memory loss.

Tomatoes lycopene helps you to protect against free radical damage to cells that causes dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Green Tea keeps you in a positive mood.
8 Brain Boosting FoodsBroccoli contains a big source of vitamin K that improves brainpower.

Nuts contain Omega-3, vitamin E and antioxidants that gives a positive effect on brain function.

Avocados are high in Omega-3 fatty acid.

Dark Chocolate helps you to focus and concentrate.

Lexicon: Ecology, Organic, Natural & Sustainable

This page will be updated all the time and serves as a mini lexicon

Compost: is organic matter that has been decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment. Compost is a key ingredient in organic farming. At the simplest level, the process of composting simply requires making a heap of wetted organic matter; leaves, “green” food waste, and waiting for the materials to break down into humus after a period of weeks or months to become e.g. soil. Worms and fungi further break up the material. Aerobic bacteria manage the chemical process by converting the inputs into heat, carbon dioxide and ammonium. The ammonium is further converted by bacteria into plant-nourishing nitrites and nitrates through the process of nitrification. Compost can be rich in nutrients. It is used in gardens, landscaping, horticulture, and agriculture. The compost itself is beneficial for the land in many ways, including as a soil conditioner, a fertilizer, addition of vital humus or humic acids, and as a natural pesticide for soil. In ecosystems, compost is useful for erosion control, land and stream reclamation, wetland construction, and as landfill cover. Composting can be done at home or for an intire society.

Ecologist: An understanding of how biodiversity affects ecological function is an important focus area in ecological studies. Ecologists are concerned with ecosystems as a whole and, within them, the abundance and distribution of organisms (people, plants, animals) and the relationships between organisms and their environment. Ecologists usually choose a specialist area (e.g. freshwater, marine, terrestrial, fauna, flora) and then carry out a wide range of tasks relating to that area. When starting out, ecologists often conduct surveys to identify, record and monitor species and their habitats. With career progression, work is likely to become more wide-ranging, with senior ecologists being more involved in policy and management work. Ecologist seek to explain:

  • Life processes and adaptations
  • Distribution and abundance of organisms
  • The movement of materials and energy through living communities
  • The successional development of ecosystems, and
  • The abundance and distribution of biodiversity in the context of the environment.

An ecologist may be involved in environmental impact assessments which are required by law for planning permission. Alternatively, they may collect and manage biological information for national databases or produce comprehensive lists of species that need to be monitored and protected.

Ecology: is the scientific study of the relationships that living organisms have with each other and with their natural environment. Topics of interest to ecologists include the composition, distribution, amount (biomass), number, and changing states of organisms within and among ecosystems. Ecosystems are composed of dynamically interacting parts including organisms, the communities they make up, and the non-living components of their environment. Ecology is an interdisciplinary field that includes biology and Earth science. Ecology is not synonymous with environment, environmentalism, natural history, or environmental science. It is closely related to evolutionary biology, genetics, and ethology. Ecology is a human science as well. Ecology addresses the full scale of life, from tiny bacteria to processes that span the entire planet. Ecologists study many diverse and complex relations among species, such as predation and pollination. The diversity of life is organized into different habitats, from terrestrial (middle) to aquatic ecosystems.

Ecosystem: Everything in the natural world is connected. An ecosystem is a community of living and non-living things that work together. Ecosystems have no particular size. An ecosystem can be as large as a desert or a lake or as small as a tree or a puddle. If you have a terrarium, that is an artificial ecosystem. The water, water temperature, plants, animals, air, light and soil all work together. If there isn’t enough light or water or if the soil doesn’t have the right nutrients, the plants will die. If the plants die, animals that depend on them will die. If the animals that depend on the plants die, any animals that depends on those animals will die. Ecosystems in nature work the same way. All the parts work together to make a balanced system.

GMO: A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. Organisms that have been genetically modified include micro-organisms such as bacteria and yeast, plants, fish, and mammals. GMOs are the source of genetically modified foods, and are also widely used in scientific research and to produce goods other than food. GMOs are used in biological and medical research, production of pharmaceutical drugs, experimental medicine, and agriculture.

Organic Certification: a certification process for producers of organic food and other organic agricultural products. Any business directly involved in food production can be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, food processors, retailers and restaurants. Requirements vary from country to country, and generally involve a set of production standards for growing, storage, processing, packaging and shipping that include:

  • no human sewage sludge fertilizer used in cultivation of plants or feed of animals
  • avoidance of synthetic chemical inputs not on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives, etc.), genetically modified organisms, irradiation, and the use of sewage sludge;
  • use of farmland that has been free from prohibited synthetic chemicals for a number of years;
  • keeping detailed written production and sales records;
  • maintaining strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products;
  • undergoing periodic on-site inspections.

In some countries, certification is overseen by the government, and commercial use of the term organic is legally restricted. Certified organic producers are also subject to the same agricultural, food safety and other government regulations that apply to non-certified producers. To put the word “organic” on a food product is a valuable marketing advantage in today’s consumer market, but does not guarantee the product is legitimately organic.

Organic Foods: are foods that are produced using methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic foods are also not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives. Organic food production is a heavily regulated industry and many countries require producers to obtain special certification in order to market food as organic.

Recycling: is processing used materials, waste, into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful materials, reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, reduce energy usage, reduce air pollution (from incineration) and water pollution (from landfilling) by reducing the need for “conventional” waste disposal, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling is a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” waste hierarchy. Recyclable materials include many kinds of glass, paper, metal, plastic, textiles, and electronics. Although similar in effect, the composting or other reuse of biodegradable waste – such as food or garden waste – is not typically considered recycling. Materials to be recycled are either brought to a collection center or picked up from the curbside, then sorted, cleaned, and reprocessed into new materials bound for manufacturing.

Sustainability: is the capacity to endure through renewal, maintenance, and sustenance, or nourishment, in contrast to durability, the capacity to endure through unchanging resistance to change. For humans in social systems or ecosystems, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of responsibility, which has environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and encompasses the concept of stewardship, the responsible management of resource use. In ecology, sustainability describes how biological systems remain diverse, robust, and productive over time, a necessary precondition for the well-being of humans and other organisms. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems.

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