Tonight’s video is “Dead stuff: The Secret Ingredient In Our Food Chain” from TED-Ed.

When you picture the lowest levels of the food chain, you might imagine herbivores happily munching on lush, living green plants. But this idyllic image leaves out a huge (and slightly less appetizing) source of nourishment: dead stuff. John C. Moore details the ‘brown food chain,’ explaining how such unlikely delicacies as pond scum and animal poop contribute enormous amounts of energy to our ecosystems.

Lesson by John C. Moore, animation by TED-Ed

A Finnish Maternity Package with baby clothes, diapers, a bed, and more supplies. An expectant couple playfully throw the contents in the air.

The evils of socialism in action.

Enough about death. I recently found this older BBC News article about the beginning of life that is equally fascinating — it explains why Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes:

For 75 years, Finland’s expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It’s like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates. It’s a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it’s designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they’re from, an equal start in life.

The maternity package – a gift from the government – is available to all expectant mothers. It contains bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress. With the mattress in the bottom, the box becomes a baby’s first bed. Many children, from all social backgrounds, have their first naps within the safety of the box’s four cardboard walls.

Mothers have a choice between taking the box, or a cash grant, currently set at 140 euros, but 95% opt for the box as it’s worth much more. The tradition dates back to 1938. To begin with, the scheme was only available to families on low incomes, but that changed in 1949.

‘Not only was it offered to all mothers-to-be but new legislation meant in order to get the grant, or maternity box, they had to visit a doctor or municipal pre-natal clinic before their fourth month of pregnancy,’ says Heidi Liesivesi, who works at Kela – the Social Insurance Institution of Finland.

The article goes on to explain that this package and the associated care for mothers have driven infant mortality rates in Finland, once 65 out of 1,000, to one of the lowest rates in the world (and far below the United States). Now here’s a ‘pro-life’ policy I could actually support …

Housekeeping notes:

  • Please review our About Us page if you need a refresher on site rules, and
  • We encourage you to use our flag system — if you see an abusive comment, user or post, please flag it rather than replying. We review every flag and take the best action available to us.
  • If you have questions or concerns about Firedoglake-specific issues, please limit their discussion to Watercooler posts rather than starting new posts or making off-topic comments in others. But remember,
  • Firedoglake editors and staff are not allowed to comment on any moderation decisions.

What’s on your mind tonight? Got Firedoglake questions? The watercooler is an open conversation.

Photo by Miika Niemelä released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license.