photo: State Library of New South Wales via Flickr

It’s NOT April Fool’s Day (it’s more like April Foods Day), and for once at Chez Siberia, it is not snowing, sleeting, or raining, so it’s a good day for sure.

And, to the news!

If you only have one nut in your life, let it be walnuts: “Walnuts rank above peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and other nuts,” said Joe Vinson, Ph.D., who did the analysis. “A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut. But unfortunately, people don’t eat a lot of them. This study suggests that consumers should eat more walnuts as part of a healthy diet.” One more rationalization to make and eat carrot cake (as if Aunt Toby needed one..). Also, we used to know another sheep raiser who claimed great health benefits for lambs by using walnut oil to help them more efficiently use the selenium in their mom’s milk to protect them against a cardiac condition called ‘white muscle disease’ which is a killer for young lambs and goats. Walnuts

It’s the added sugar: “Researchers reviewed added sugars intake and patterns of body weight over 27 years using data collected in the Minnesota Heart Survey, a surveillance study of adults ages 25 to 74 living in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. Dietary intake was assessed by a 24-hour recall. The heart survey includes six surveys looking at subjects’ diet, height and weight. The surveys were conducted in 1980-82, 1985-87, 1990-92, 1995-97, 2000-02 and 2007-09.”There is limited data available looking at how added sugar intake is related to body mass index (BMI),” said Huifen Wang, M.S., lead author of the study and a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. “With the information provided, we examined the trends for body mass index and dietary intake of foods and beverages with added sugars across the six surveys,” Wang said. “We looked at these trends by gender and by age group.” BMI measures body weight in relation to height.” How added sugar and obesity have changed over the past 20 years

It ain’t just the bees:
“Bats are voracious predators of insects that fly at night, including many that attack crops and trees. In their analysis, Thomas Kunz, Warren Distinguished Professor in the Department of Biology at Boston University in the US, and colleagues, suggest that loss of bat populations in North America could result in agricultural losses worth at least 3.7 billion dollars a year. They conclude that urgent efforts are needed to educate policy makers and the general public about the ecological and economic importance of insectivorous bats and to devise practical ways to conserve their populations. The main threat to their populations is from white-nose syndrome (WNS), a condition believed to be caused by a fungus that appears on the noses and wings of certain types of bat, and also from the increased development of wind-power facilities, they write.” Save the Bats!

Food Insecurity information is now available at the country level: “Among the key findings of the study is that there are 44 counties in the United States that fall into the top 10 percent categories for both food insecurity and food prices. “These counties struggle with multiple stressors, including high food insecurity, high poverty, high unemployment and above-average food costs,” Gundersen said. At the time the most recent data were collected, on average, one in every four persons in these counties was food insecure and 27 percent lived at or below poverty. The counties are typically rural and one-third are majority African American.

This study also demonstrates the distribution of food-insecure persons who are not eligible for food assistance programs. In Illinois, for example, 41 percent of the almost 2 million people who are identified as being food insecure are also ineligible to receive federal assistance from SNAP, which is limited to people with incomes up to the 130 percent level of federal poverty. (SNAP, The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, was formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.)” Food Insecurity
For the rest of the findings and the interactive map: Map the Food Gap

Salmonella Outbreaks of the Week,
conveniently collected for us: Salmonella Week

Barfblog (don’t you love that name?) says half the dairies in China have lost their licenses. Why are we NOT surprised? “The authorities will strengthen supervision of dairy companies, both those who passed the audit and the those who did not, and “production without authorisation will be severely punished”, said Li. “ Severely, right? Like last time when you told the producers to destroy all the baby formula and then earlier this year you found out that, whoopsie, they’d warehoused it and are back to selling it on the market? THAT ‘severely’? China Dairies Closed

CA Stepping up field monitoring for radiation: Q. What is the state and federal government doing to monitor radiation? 


A. CDPH Radiologic Health Branch maintains eight air monitoring stations throughout California. They are located in Eureka (2 units), Richmond, Livermore, Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles and San Diego. CDPH has increased surveillance from once a week to every 48 hours. The United States Environmental Protection Agency operates a network of air monitors in California and has recently enhanced its capability in response to the Japan nuclear crisis (U.S. EPA has real time monitoring capability). 

CA Monitoring

And in news so local I have to put on my muck shoes to get it: a) the rhubarb is up in our garden – soil temps today are (Ding!) 40 degrees F. and b) we received our shipment of an Amelchior tree (aka Shad Blow or Shad Bush or, if you are Canadian, “Saskatoon”) and the hazelburt ‘shrubs’, but we can’t get them into the ground so we heeled them in. Don’t know what the heck ‘heeling’ is (other than getting a dog to do what you want him to), see the diagram. Dig a slanting trench wide and deep enough to get the roots from the plants into them, lay the plants down and cover the roots with the dirt, water if the dirt is not moist and keep it moist until you can get the appropriate sized holes dug for the plants. This will also work if you want to overwinter bushes and trees you get at the end of the season, just put the trench on a protected, NOT SUNNY side of the house.