A Delicious Cure – Honey As An Antibiotic & Much, Much More

Honey has been touted for ages as a health food. Made by a regurgitation of nectar, spit, and goodness, it feeds the entire colony of bees in which it was made. It’s no secret how delicious it is.

However, honey is magical. Seriously, what I use to dip my chicken nuggets with is a never-rotting, disease-fighting, babypreserving (NSFW), bacteria-killing, wound-healing miracle substance. It genuinely blows my mind.

sweet, sweet honey (Source)

Mmm, this bee’s got it right. Time for some sweet, sweet honey action. (Source)

Records of the human consumption of honey date back as far as 21st century BC, being documented in the cuneiform writings of Babylon and in biblical times, even naming Palestine as the “land of milk and honey”. It was said to be used as currency, once as highly valued as the status of those who could afford it. Primitive practitioners, such as Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) and Hippocrates (460 BC – 370 BC), would also use it’s healing properties to aide your ailments of varying severities. Well, if you were around back then, I’m sure that’s one of the best options you had.

However, in today’s hustle bustle one-pill-fits-all world, such a simple compound has gone largely unnoticed, garnering attention only as alternative medicine, not quite making it into mainstream. To add to it’s confusion, the positive effects are very well-documented and are far from outlandish.

Let’s get started.

 


What are the nutritional benefits of honey?


 

For starters, despite it’s overtly obvious sweetness, it is not sugar. It is made of over one hundred different compounds, all of which have enough sustenance to support life in this form.

It has vitamins, minerals, amino acids (18 to 20 of them!), and loads of other things that I’m not-so-sure that we know. Not every bee nor flower is unique and there are numerous blends of honey on the market. It is a heart stimulant, a cholesterol killer, and has an interesting property as an inverse syrup, meaning that it is instant energy for those who may need it. It makes for quite a rich nutritional profile (PDF, pg 469) and is a much safer alternative to those horrible sugar-substitutes. The invulnerable Livestrong also recognizes these benefits, even going so far as to state that it is the right thing for diabetics to use as opposed to sugar. They go on to add that it allows for much better blood glucose control and has an anchor spot on the glycemic index, not causing your metabolism to spike erratically. Otherwise, it could ruin your appetite or cloud your mind – especially if you’re sensitive to sugar.

 


What are the medicinal benefits of honey?


 

Remember how I stated that honey doesn’t go bad? That it kills bacteria? Well, that’s absolutely true! Honey is an anti-microbial due to it’s low water content, oxidizing qualities, and high acidity level. Also, due to a lovely compound called Methyglyoxal, it is able to snuff out bacteria and resist the spread of disease and germs.

In fact, modern medicine has commercialized bandages made entirely out of honey due to these qualities. Studies have shown that honey applied topically causes healing time to shorten on wounds, ulcers, and burns – as much as four days sooner in some cases! When traditional bandages don’t work, honey steps in.

Seasonal allergy sufferers may also have a case for honey. Although there has yet to be a peer-reviewed study on the matter, it has been shown anecdotally and via small-scale research that locally-obtained honey will gradually eliminate the immunoresponse to allergens in the air. It’s amazing how simple of a concept it is: since bees obtain the pollen from floral sources near where you live (which causes typical allergy symptoms in most sufferers), ingesting their honey will slowly build up your resistance towards those irritants. Has your mind been blown yet?

 

If one had unlimited resources and a considerable amount of free time, I could spend hours writing about the benefits of honey. One might think you’re crazy to believe that such an innocuous substance like the spit of a honey bee could provide us with such benefits, but the data tells the story. I didn’t even dive into the more traditional benefits like cough treatment, skin care, and the like. I strongly encourage you, Wonder Reader, to dive more into the matter and discover what lies beneth this magical sweet substance.

And your Lord inspired the bee(s), saying: “Take your habitations in the mountains and in the trees and in what they erect. (68) Then, eat of all fruits, and follow the ways of your Lord made easy (for you).” There comes forth from their bellies, a drink of varying colour wherein is healing for mankind. Verily, in this is indeed a sign for people who think. -Qu’ran (16:68-69)

 

Want your own honey? Check out Amazon for a world of choices!

 

Further Reading and Major Data Sources:

Does eating ‘local honey’ help prevent allergies?

Health effects of honey – Wikipedia

Honey – Wikipedia

Honey History – The history of honey as food

Is Honey Good for You? | Mark’s Daily Apple

National Honey Board

Substituting Honey for Refined Carbohydrates Protects Rats from
Hypertriglyceridemic and Prooxidative Effects of Fructose

Court Battle Begins Between David and Goliath, Bowman and Monsanto

 

On Tuesday the court case Bowman vs. Monsanto got underway in the Supreme court. Vernon H. Bowman, a 75-year-old farmer in Indiana has been sued for infringing on a patent that Monsanto holds on genetically modified soy beans.

Monsanto produces genetically modified seeds which are Roundup Ready and can withstand herbicides as well as weed killers. This makes for an increased volume of successfully grown corn, soy beans, etc., but it also leads to another problem, and that is farmers indiscriminately spraying herbicides and pesticides knowing that the GMO crops won’t fail to reach harvest. This has made Monsanto’s seeds very successful in the farming community.

According to Monsanto, the farmers sign an agreement in which they agree to use the seeds for a year, and have to buy new seeds for the following growing season. Mr. Bowman however circumvented this patent system for over 8 years by purchasing soybeans from a nearby grain elevator, and using them for his harvests. You can read more about this Supreme Court challenge by Bowman.

Here are some of the main questions that are being asked in regards to this case:

Does Monsanto hold rights to the DNA of a seed that is an offspring of an originally purchased seed?

This question intrigues just about everybody from Monsanto to the music industry, movie industry, and anywhere else where copyrights are a concern. First of all, what needs to be cleared up is whether Monsanto holds patent rights to the physical seed itself, or just the DNA molecules. If it holds patent rights to the DNA molecule chains, then it should allow the farmers to reuse the new seeds at a discounted rate. It was, after all, the farmer’s fertile soil that did the work to produce the seeds, relieving Monsanto of some overhead. On the other hand, if Monsanto holds the rights to the complete seed itself, then that raises the next question:

Does the lifetime of the contract when purchasing seeds extend beyond the original seeds and into the newly harvested seeds?

According to Justice Stephen Breyer, patent law holds that it is illegal to plant them:

What it prohibits here is making a copy of the patented invention and that is what he did.

Now I’m not a farmer nor an expert in agriculture, but I am familiar with the issue of pirating CDs, DVDs, copying music, software and so on. The aforementioned copying examples are completely controllable. You can quite simply just say to yourself, copying is illegal and I should not participate in such acts.

But in the case of Bowman vs. Monsanto, how can it be considered illegal to copy a seed (the patented invention) when seed reproduction is an inevitable process of harvesting? Not forgetting to mention that a seed itself is a form of a living organism, does Monsanto have the right to newly reproduced life? Can newly formed life be potentially patented? This is a topic all by itself.

I do not believe that Monsanto could hold rights to the new seeds, as they are not the ones who physically produced them. Therefore the lifetime of the contract should not be able to go past the originally bought seeds. It’s just like burning a music CD. The album producer does not hold rights to the physical CD itself, rather to the make up, the songs. Therefore I do not think that Bowman breached any contracts.

So in the end, what Monsanto can hold rights to are the intellectual property, which is the DNA within the newly reproduced seeds.

It’s cheaper to buy a music album on iTunes than the physical album in a store. It’s cheaper to download a movie legally (in most cases) than to purchase a physical disc at a store. It’s also cheaper to download an eBook than to buy the physical book itself from a book store. The big difference in the digital purchases is the overhead cost relief that producers get by licencing just the intellectual property, and therefore being able to sell the “intellectual property” at a lower price.

Why can’t Monsanto do something similar?

 

Sources:

New York Times
Huffington Post
Time Ideas
USA Today

Why Don’t We Eat Insects?

The world population is huge! Not as big as it could be as I’ve recently been told… but it’s still pretty big. How are we feeding all these people? Well, we have the usual assortments of unhealthy meat, nutritious plants and other foods, but what about things like noisy grasshoppers? The effects of agriculture on our planet are immense and largely overlooked. Insects could be a viable answer. 

Here’s a great TED talk with Marcel Dicke talking about eating insects.

And why not? Scientific American has the low down on entomophagist David Gracer who says that

…a bowl of grasshoppers has more vitamins than beef and is lower in fat.

He also goes on to say that

Our disgust for insects is just cultural… Afterall we eat lobsters, which are arthropods, as are insects.

So now that I’ve tempted you, I’m sure you’re ready to try pick up some sour cream and onion flavored crickets from your local ethnic food store. Or maybe you’re ready to try some recipes. I’ve taken the liberty to find a few good recipes for you.

Here’s a site for all things bug recipe related based in Florida, USA.

And here’s a site dedicated to all insect recipes all the time… There is also a huge list of other places to find insect recipes at the bottom of this site’s page.

So dig in! and try to enjoy!

 

Sources:

TED Talks- Marcel Dicke

David Gracer  via Scientific America

Florida Pest Control

Georgia College’s Insect Recipes

https://wondergressive.com/2013/02/13/the-ugly-face-of-overpopulation/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/09/26/them-cows-is-sweet/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/08/15/edible-landscapes/

https://wondergressive.com/2013/01/11/a-new-tune-for-grasshoppers/

https://wondergressive.com/2012/08/17/the-effect-of-agriculture-on-the-planet/

http://www.amazon.com/Crick-ettes-Cream-Flavored-Cricket-Snacks/dp/B00BD9E1U2/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1360857857&sr=8-3&keywords=sour+cream+and+onion+crickets

http://www.flapest.com/recipes.aspx

 

What Does Light Look Like?

bullet apple 2

nikiinwonderland.blogspot.com

Throughout history humans have tried to understand how the world around us works. It’s what humans are good at. We really only have two semi-unique attributes that have helped make us as successful as we are: a brain to examine the world and opposable thumbs to manipulate it to our advantage.

We study phenomena closely, and devise better ways of observing them, so we can recognize patterns and use new information to our advantage. The simplest and perhaps most profound example of this in human history is the development and advancement of agriculture. Starting from literally nothing, as agriculture is a decidedly foreign concept to mammals, over many generations and thousands of years, humans pieced together the information necessary to create an abundance of food, capable of sustaining billions of people. What environment do certain crops grow best in, how to till the land, when to plant, when to harvest, how to store and cure. As soon as these questions had adequate answers we thrived as a species, spreading out from our native Africa to literally ever corner of the globe.

An amazing new tool has been discovered to help further our knowledge of the world: Femto-photography. It’s an imaging system that takes a trillion frames per second. Because of it, we can now visually observe light. Ramesh Raskar, an associate professor at MIT, demonstrates the remarkable abilities of this new technology in this Ted Talk.

light slo mo

Femto-photography. It’s an imaging system that takes a trillion frames per second. Because of it, we can now visually observe light.

In Raskar’s demonstration, he discusses ways of utilizing this new observational tool. On the more mundane side, femto-photography can be used to determine the ripeness of fruit based on the way light scatters through it. He also mentions a more practical (and military grant enticing) use: the ability to see around corners. But to me, the raw discovery is what fascinates me, rather than the current or future ways to productively utilize such technology.

Humans began to understand the world in concentric circles. First we understood our immediate environment. Then we spread our knowledge to the unseen. The Greek mathematician Eratosthenes is said to have determined the circumference of the Earth with remarkable accuracy in the 3rd century BCE. Galileo and Copernicus helped us understand the Solar System. Einstein created the Theory of Relativity and described space-time. Innumerate others helped explain sub-atomic particles and quantum physics.

Now we have a way of looking at light itself.

I am thrilled for the future applications of this knowledge. I really am. But for right now, I think it’s important to simply sit back in our arm-chairs, let out a contented sigh, and take comfort in the ingenuity of humans. It’s inspiring and assuring to realize that the species can indeed, given time, accomplish anything if it puts its mind to it (to paraphrase Doc Brown).

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femto-photography

http://www.ted.com/talks/ramesh_raskar_a_camera_that_takes_one_trillion_frames_per_second.html

http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/19/opinion/raskar-camera-corners

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eratosthenes

 

 

Fat, Poor Kids Just Got A Little Less Fat. Still Poor.

largedrinks

Child size please, no ice.

America, we are a fat nation – the fattest in the world, in fact. I’m willing to live with that designation. No matter which way my bulbous belly stumbles, there’s a dollar menu waiting to be ravaged and a maximum drive-thru limit to be tested. I’m not ashamed to have used all 8 of my car’s cup holders, are you?

Numerous studies have linked the poor with obesity. It’s not science, it’s a common sense mentality – poor quality, horribly processed food is within the grasps, and wallets, of many Americans. However, the CDC recently reports…KIDS ARE LOSING WEIGHT!

Well, POOR KIDS ARE LOSING WEIGHT! The rich ones were always doing alright.

Time to celebrate with a cereal bath!

We’re gonna celebrate with a cereal bath.

This study, based on data collected from 30 states and the District of Columbia, shows a marked decline in the prevalence of obesity in preschool-aged children in the lower income brackets. Extreme obesity, defined as a BMI of over 120% the 95th percentile, went down to 2.07% from 2.22% . Regular ‘ol obese kids dropped to 14.91% from 15.21%.

Those numbers don’t look too promising, but as Heidi M. Blanck, a co-author of the study, puts it:

The declines we’re presenting here are pretty modest, but it is a change in direction. We were going up before. And this data shows we’re going down. For us, that’s pretty exciting.

It’s a change of direction. That is what is important. This is the first study that has showed such progress, especially in the most sensitive of the population – our children.

How we’ve reached this point is uncertain, but we do know from another of Dr. Blanck’s studies, this one focusing on food marketing, that:

  • The amount of money spent on food marketing to children declined nearly 20% from 2003 to 2009.
  • Cereals marketed to children have averaged one less gram of sugar per serving than before.
  • Marketing of the unhealthiest of cereals (between 13 and 19 grams of sugar) has been nearly eliminated.

Not only has that helped, but things like fast food places placing nutritional content on menus and Michelle Obama’s new Let’s Move! Child Care initiative providing healthy alternatives to child care centers, all can help us curb childhood obesity from ever happening.

America, keep up the good work. Soon we won’t be the laughing stock of the entire world with our jumbo sized beverages and the fashion abomination that is Jeggings.

But until then, I’ll take the large.

Sources and further reading:

io9

NYTimes

American Medical Association

CDC

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/13/business/mcdonalds-to-start-posting-calorie-counts.html

http://www.healthykidshealthyfuture.org/welcome.html

http://www.watoday.com.au/lifestyle/fashion/the-new-fashion-monstrosity-20100407-rrd9.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/22/obesity-rates-rising-developed-fattest-world_n_1294212.html#s716476title=1_United_States

http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/60/11/2667.full

http://money.msn.com/family-money/does-being-poor-make-you-fat.aspx

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/08/17/toddlers-tiaras-mom-could-lose-custody-daughter-because-puts-her-in-pageants/

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1487493

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/26/health/study-finds-modest-declines-in-obesity-rates-among-young-children-from-poor-families.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1369626954-wwBEC4RM4X0vAdqyKKCg5w

http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/12/foodmarketing.shtm

Fridge Free Food: Kick Your Obsessive Storage Habit & Keep Food Fresher Too

As a 21st century man, I’ve never thought of going a day without my refrigerator. I have a fit when my filter makes my water murky, I get pissed when my ice maker stops churning out cubes, and boy…you don’t want to be around me when the crusher jams.

I’ve never thought back to the simpler times when we didn’t have technology to aid us with man’s most basic of needs. What did we do to keep our food fresh hundreds of years ago? They didn’t shop Costco in bulk, did they?

In this article from the I-wanna-be-everlasting-green Treehugger blog, they describe a designer’s high-ingenuity, low-tech concepts to make food safety and storage simple.

From an egg storage system that checks age by water displacement, to sticking carrots downwards in sand to regulate humidity, this article is chocked full of interesting information about how designer Jihyun Ryou unlocks nature’s basic rules for longevity in your mind. Kick the fridge, stop wasting so much food, and get back to your roots.

Did you know that storing apples with your potatoes prevents them from sprouting those roots? It’s because of the ethylene gas that apples give off and that potatoes absolutely love.

apple_potato.jpeg.492x0_q85_crop-smartCool, huh?

Jihyun explains my plight:

We hand over the responsibility of taking care of food to the technology, the refrigerator. We don’t observe the food any more and we don’t understand how to treat it.

She hit it right on the dot.

Head over to the sources for more information and some inspirational pictures of how it’s done. With one weekend and a couple materials, you can kick that obsessive fridge habit. Well, maybe not…I love my chopped ice.

 

Sources:

http://www.treehugger.com/kitchen-design/saving-food-fridge-it-will-taste-better-may-even-last-longer-and-reduce-your-energy-bills.html

http://www.treehugger.com/

http://www.savefoodfromthefridge.com/

 

 

Mystery of the Dying/Disappearing Honeybees Solved

Colony Collapse Disorder is a serious threat to commercial, and many wild honeybees around the world.  Scientists have been scratching their head trying to understand why so many honeybees are disappearing,  abandoning their hive and subjecting their queens to painful starvation and death.  Is it an all out bee revolution? Actually, new studies are pointing the finger at a class of pesticide called  neonicotinoids.

These pesticides, known as ‘neonics’ are used widely throughout the US and are also staples in home gardening products. The chemicals are a nerve poison to insects, and is likely responsible for the bees not being able to find their way back home.

The evidence is overwhelming.  Harvard even recreated massive colony collapse by administering minuscule amounts of a popular neonic to a hive.

Researchers at Harvard state that,

“There is no question that neonicotinoids put a huge stress on the survival of honey bees in the environment. The evidence is clear that imidacloprid [one of the most popular neonics on the market] is likely the culprit for Colony Collapse Disorder via a very unique mechanism that has not been reported until our study.”

That mechanism is high fructose corn syrup, which did not affect bees until it was mixed with the neonic in 2004 -2005. The very next year massive Colony Collapse Disorder began to affect the US.

Poor agricultural practices like monoculture, massive land development, and GMO planting may also be factors contributing to Colony Collapse Disorder.

Many countries, including Poland, France, and Germany have begun banning pesticides linked to bee deaths and have seen dramatic improvements in the overall health of their bees.  Colony Collapse Disorder is a warning, and if we act quickly to solve the problem, it will not bee too late.

It is unknown whether Einstein actually said it, but there is a famous quote usually credited to him that holds a great amount of truth nonetheless:

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left.”

Time to alter our farming practices and get these agricultural monopolies out of our back pockets.  Why not empty our pockets all together!?

The Effect Of Agriculture On The Planet

This is such an important TED talk! So many people, including myself, do not realize the effect that something as vital as agriculture has on the planet. We need to practice more efficient agriculture, and we need to act quickly. Some examples of potential solutions are vertical farming, buying more locally grown foods, dramatically altering our diets, and growing food ourselves. Even in urban settings, more and more people are realizing that not only is growing their own food fun, it is healthier for themselves and for the Earth.

 

You can also refer to one of my earlier posts, Edible Landscapes, for more information regarding solutions.

Permaculture Connection

 

This site connects people interested in sustainable farming, permaculture, organic lifestyles, clean energy methods and more from all around the globe.  It is a forum with invaluable information abound!

There’s a name for these wonderful people by the way; Permies.

Check out the site, become a permie and as Gandhi said:

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”