All posts by robotchampion

Is it possible to only shop at farmers markets?

With so many benefits to shopping at farmers markets, is it possible skip supermarkets altogether and only shop at farmers markets?

It is, and I have been doing so for 3 years. I remember thinking that I couldn’t possibly find everything I needed. Maybe one meal’s worth, but all three? everyday?

Yep, it’s possible and the benefits are extraordinary. I spend less money, eat much better, my health is actually improving (I’m losing the fat!), and I have become part of a community. I know my bread-lady, meat-man, old-school Italian (he says to me: “hello-uh big-uh boy”), the avocado savant, and even a Mexican cactus farmer.

The variety of foods at the farmers market is quite deep, so deep that it will take you months to explore all of them. There is no lack of possibilities for feeding yourself. This makes three meals a day easy. The only snag is that while you know how to make Mac n’ Cheese, you probably don’t know what to do with Chard. There is a learning curve but most people seem to enjoy that part of it.

Next, is cost. If you compare, item to item, the food at the farmers market is more expensive than the supermarkets. But, if you compare value (i.e. nutrition) then the farmers market is an extreme bargain.

The easiest way to explain this is think of foods considered to be of very little nutritional value, like popcorn. You can eat a whole jumbo popcorn and still feel hungry. Popcorn is food and a vegetable but it doesn’t contain enough of the vitamins and essential nutrients our bodies need. Yet, it is extremely cheap to buy at the supermarket. Think of farmers markets as the exact opposite. The foods sold there are designed to be jam-packed with vitamins and essential nutrients. So much so, that you get full really quickly. I often find myself eating half of what I used, sometimes one-fourth.

When you’re buying half as much as you used to, or even one-fourth, the amount you spend drops pretty fast. This is hardest part for folks to understand. Always at the farmers market I see people shocked at the prices and I just want to stop them and say “it’s quality not quantity.”

That is especially true when it comes to our health. When you put less food in your body, you lose weight. When you put higher quality food in your body, your health improves. Oh, and higher quality food tastes better too. I could talk for hours about the impact this has on how I look, but suffice it to say, I’m in the best shape of my life.

Depending on the size of your local farmers market, there are some things you won’t be able to find. Coffee is the most obvious one, so is chocolate and tea. For specialty items like these I shop at my local health store. They tend to stock higher quality, more nutritious products (though nowhere near the quality at the farmers market).

Lastly, is the winter stores. There are still plenty of things to buy during the winter, even in especially cold regions. In fact, a large part of French and German cooking is about cooking things sold only in the winter (French Onion Soup, mmm!). But, sometimes you just want a tasty watermelon or juicy pear in January. This is easily solved by creating your winter stores. Buy your favorites at the farmers market when they are going out of season and on sale for steep discounts. Cut them up into squares, freeze them, and don’t let anyone touch until the depths of winter.

These are the important things to know when making the switch to an all farmers market diet. Everything else you can learn at the market, from buyers and farmers. You can ask them anything, about quality or how to cook, and they will answer. That’s why they sell at the market and not the supermarket. They’re part of the rising sub-culture dedicated to ideal health and amazing food. Go ahead, make the switch and see what happens!

 

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California moves one step closer to Zero Waste – 75% reduction by 2020

We are getting better, but one can never rest on their laurels:

Garbage drops as CA’s recycling goal grows

Californians have slashed the amount of stuff they throw away each day, pushing per capita disposal rates down to a record low last year even though the economy picked up steam.

It’s a good showing — but residents aren’t doing nearly as well as they might have thought, and state officials are asking for help to dramatically boost waste reduction and recycling by 2020. That likely will result in a suite of new rules, programs and fees designed to improve reuse of materials and minimize the need for more landfills.

 

California set a goal of a 50% reduction in 1989. In the last decade, most of the state has achieved that and surpassed it (the current statewide rate is 65%). Now, the government has upped the ante, asking for 75% by 2020.

 

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How old are U.S. power plants?

We have an aging fleet of power plants:
  • 51% of all generating capacity is 30+ years old.
  • 73% of all coal plants are 30+ years old
  • 24 out of 25 oldest plants (60+ years) are hydropower
  • Nearly all nuclear plants are 20+ years old

Here is a graphic from EIA with more detail. The pie chart shows how much generating capacity comes from each fuel type. The graph shows capacity by year the plant was built.

Notice that hydropower was the first energy source built, the creation of coal plants dominated from 1950 to the mid-80s, and it’s been all natural gas since then.

 

 

But, age may not matter when it comes to operating power plants, from Wiki Answers:
In a nutshell, it is not correct to assign human attributes (e.g., lifetimes) to inanimate objects. Consequently, the operating span of a coal fired power plant can be unlimited since any degraded or failed component can be replaced with a new one. The decision on whether to make a refurbishment, or to build a new plant, is merely a question of relative economics and investment risk. For example, the cost of a single replacement part is almost always less than the cost of replacing the plant. However, in an old plant, there is a risk that many additionally worn parts also will need replacement soon. Plant owners evaluate these tradeoffs each time a major component fails and make the decision whether or not to retire the plant.

I love concert fliers – an underrated art form

I’ve always enjoyed the art that comes out of events and concerts. A promotional flier put together by some creative genius. Sometimes printed, sometimes not, used for a few short weeks and then gone forever.

Here are eight from the website of the band, The Mattson2:

 

 **Hint: my favorite is the last one, but only because of the name.

 

 

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Myth debunked – Obama didn’t win from small donors

An interesting piece that debunks a common myth about Obama. Did he really win because of small donors?

 

Study: Many Obama Small Donors Really Weren’t

The institute found that while nearly 50 percent of Mr. Obama’s donations came in individual contributions of $200 or less, in reality, only 26 percent of the money he collected through Aug. 31 during the primary and 24 percent of his money through Oct. 15 came from contributors whose total donations added up to $200 or less.

Those figures are actually in the same range as the 25 percent President Bush raised in 2004 from donors whose contributions aggregated to $200 or less, the 20 percent Senator John F. Kerry collected from such donors and Senator John McCain’s 21 percent from the same group.

 

I guess big money is still dominant…sometimes it pays to have someone go back after-the-fact.

This myth has persisted for four years and will probably be used in the current campaign.

 

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The Passion Bucket

Today, I’ve been thinking a lot about the “passion bucket”.

The term comes from Rick Neuheisel, former football coach at my alma-mater UCLA. Back in 2008, he was on The Dan Patrick Show and said, “When you’re at UCLA, you have to have your passion bucket full when you play the Trojans.” Since then it has gone viral, big time:

 

 

Not only in sports, but as a band name, in urban dictionary, as a blog. Everyone is having a field day with it.

I think that’s because it presents such a clean metaphor, “you gotta fill up your passion bucket.” Those days when everything is flowing and you’re feeling good. Also, it leaves room for those days when the energy is gone and you found a way to get back to that high level.

The definition from Urban Dictionary:

  • Describes the amount of energy or love one has for a certain object, event or theme.
  • Term to describe the character or primary strength of something
    • We were losing in the first half, but we played with a full passion bucket and ended up winning in the end.

 

That’s all, just wanted to share this term as I look around the interwebs for something to fill up my passion bucket.

 

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Facebook goes native! Releases new apps that are twice as fast

Facebook has finally answered the question that’s been bugging Wall Street and the rest of us, “when are you going to get mobile?”

Yesterday, the answer came as Facebook launched major upgrades to their iPhone and iPad apps. From the N.Y. Times Bits blog:

Those who have suffered from the sluggishness of the current apps can breathe a collective sigh of relief: these new versions are much faster.

The apps look nearly identical to their predecessors. The main difference is that most of their old Web-based code has been replaced with the native programming code used for iOS

Even more, Facebook has gone all Google Plus on the issue (you know Google making social everyone’s responsibility):

In recent interviews, Facebook executives said they have retooled the organization so that every product team is working on mobile, and the company holds weekly training courses on programming for Apple and Android devices.

 

The Verge is reporting that these updates make the apps twice as fast:

In building a native Facebook app for iOS, the company looked at improving three key places, “the app’s largest pain points” all relating to speed: launching the app, scrolling through the News Feed, and tapping photos inside the News Feed. “We’re twice as fast in all these areas,” Mick Johnson says.

 

I’ve been playing with the app and the claims appear to be true. This is good news for Facebook fans (and stock holders) because slow apps can be killer for growth.

 

**Sorry for the “native” joke, but I couldn’t resist :)

 

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“Text 62262 to contribute $10 to Obama” – both campaigns launch donations by text message

If you want to be a politician then you have to get online. Not just with a website but a million social media personalities and a smartphone app. To put it another way, you have to be cutting edge.

It’s no surprise, then, that the Obama campaign is open to accepting donations via text message:

Marking the beginning of what could be a revolution in U.S. campaign finance, the Obama campaign said on Thursday it is wrapping up agreements with (all major carriers) to open the floodgate for donations by text this week.

In the coming days, voters are likely to start seeing a message on video screens at Obama rallies, at the end of ads or on fliers, encouraging them “to contribute $10 to Obama for America, text GIVE to 62262.” The numbers spell out “OBAMA.”

Don’t worry Republicans you too can join in the fun, by texting 466488 or “GOMITT”.

If you ask me this could be the ultimate strategy for Obama. Have you seen how crazy people get at his rallies. They will pull out pop starts and hip hop artists, add a little punk artwork, and then boom, Obama is on stage. People will be texting away their life savings before they leave the place.

 

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