Saturday, January 21, 2023

SNAP Reform: Iowa Does It Right. Food Snobs SO VERY Wrong (A FACS Teacher Explains)

 On October 27, 2022, this blog published The Farce of Food Insecurity: How Federal Spending Fosters Hunger (and illness) in America which exposed some pretty harsh realities how food is used to grow an economy rather than feed citizens.  The following post will explain how wrong Obama-era food program were particularly for low income families and children.  

Within a few days, those internet advocacy news rags that pounce on political stories with little or no research will be experiencing some digestive distress after calling out Iowa's state proposal of some badly needed reform to the SNAP food assistance program  In the end, these "cruel" (therawstory.com) measures are going to make those who voted in the affirmative look both knowledgeable and fiscally responsible.  Sources such as Salon , The Raw Story , and even  Business Insider will have to eat their words when science proves these changes to be good for citizens as well as at a lower cost to tax payers. 

 

Contributing to the inflation that has elevated food prices for over two years, the sad, and rarely acknowledged truth, is that Federal Food Assistance dollars regularly purchase items that have no food value (diet drinks, almond milk,etc.), and, high dollar splurges such as premium cuts of meat, imported out of season fruits and vegetables and high glycemic snacks that contribute to type 2 diabetes and childhood obesity. 

Perhaps this will be the first step in squashing the "fresh food snob" mentality that has kept quality foods and hunger relief from those who receive benefits.

Started by former First Lady Michelle Obama, the unreasonable expectation of providing fresh food on a daily basis for school lunches was a pipe dream from the beginning. Anyone working in agriculture and around food service understands all too clearly that mankind did NOT survive for five thousands years on fresh fruits and vegetables.  To believe it is possible even in a global economy is simply naive. 

Before further explaining what the bill likely says, readers need to recognize that fresh foods are largely unregulated, highly prone to food contamination, spoil easily, cost more, and are not  tested for food value. Frozen and canned foods have most of the prep work done for you and are tested regularly for quality. In short, NO ONE should be buying fresh food when a canned or frozen food option is available (except eggs).

**ONE MORE THING: Good nutrition is not about how fresh a food is but about how much food can be purchased for a dollar.  By banning the expensive options, lawmakers make MORE food available at a lower cost.  Good nutrition starts with good shopping.

Let's educate readers (and journalists) as to what foods are REALLY banned. 

American Cheese (Food) - Likely shortened by a writer who has not idea what it is American Cheese and American Cheese Food are two different things.  The American Dairy Association has been trying to get the USDA to heavily regulate the use of cheese food for decades.  Consisting of less than 50% milk, cheese food is mostly fat and offers little or no protein to children who like its single slice packaging. If it's slices come wrapped in plastic look elsewhere because that is the sign of a low quality food. 

White Bread - Long on the list of low quality foods, white bread is used far more than it should be in low income lunches.  Tortillas, flat bread or even crackers make a better energy source.  Sure to cause your blood sugar to spike unless you are very active.

Fresh Meat - This is a legal term used for exports as well as retail grocery sales. Fresh meat DOES NOT mean all meat but only that meat which is cut and package but never frozen.  Frozen and canned meat options have come a long way since the days of Spam (the food) and Treet (its competitor).  Top quality beef, chicken, pork and turkey can be found in one pound cans that only need to be reheated. The cost is likely half of fresh and some can be as low as $1.00 per 4 oz serving (think Quarter Pounder).  Frozen chicken breasts, fish, and sausage add variety in a way fresh meats cannot.  

** This is the extent of the highlights most sources mentioned. Here are a few others that might also be added to the list. 

High Water Beverages - From diet drinks to Hi-C and Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktails.  Many beverage makers sell sugar water as foods.  Lining the shelves these products take the place of 100% juice products.  The profit margin of these drinks is enormous. 

Deceptive Snacks - Everyone deserves a piece of candy or a good chocolate chip cookie once in a while but items like granola bars and fruit snacks sound healthier than they are.  Expect to see a few of these items banned. 

Chips - Contrary to some dietary advice, potatoes chips offer a good supply of essential sodium and potassium.  Other chips like Cheetos, Doritos, corn chips and pretzels are in the same basic category as flour and white bread.  

WARNING - Finally a word of warning about how some websites are using this new item to raise money for questionable charities promising to feed children.  The USDA school lunch program is one of the most comprehensive food access programs there are to children of all ages, rich or poor.  Each lunch meal must provide approximately half of all the calories a child needs in a day. If they eat breakfast as school there access is up to about 80% of needed calories.  It might not be the food they want to eat but to say charities are supplying money to federal school lunch programs is likely fraudulant.  Think twice before you give. The local food bank is the best way to support your neighbors who need help. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Atmospheric Rivers: How Urban Infrastructure Contributes to Weather's Desperate Measures

**This article is intended to start a discussion not fan the climate change flames.  There is no computer study that can prove or disprove this theory. There ARE computers which can be programed to spit out data that gives a desired conclusion-- good and bad. Those who believe in melting ice caps and out of control global warming need to see that climate variations are about changes in human lifestyle that have come over the last hundred and fifty years, not an end times scenario over which we have no control. Enjoy the read. 

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For all the hype, neither scientists nor journalists do a good job of explaining weather events. What they now label as an atmospheric river is not a new phenomenon but one that has been predictable and understood for centuries. With a bit of clear communication, this belief that the Earth's climate is changing might resolve itself in short order.

What is an Atmospheric River?

The jet stream (the way weather flows around the planet) has always moved along the same west-to-east path in the northern hemisphere. In like fashion, the southern hemisphere has a similar east-to-west flow.  Nothing has changed in that regard. 

What seems to have changed is the volume of water in the atmosphere, although concerns based on historic records is a bit dishonest since detailed records are rare and unverifiable. So if the jet stream has always been the train tracks for global water distribution, then what has change that requires such drastic action by current weather patterns.

At this point it is good to remember that those with the power to make great changes to the human experience rarely understand HOW their actions will impact the environment.  With only themselves to answer to, they assume their choices are safe and  effective for the planet.  Human initiated change is a much more likely culprit for causing drastic weather as we will see.

So What Has Change to Cause Atmospheric Rivers

Climate change anxiety is based on the premise that the environment is the same and only weather has changed. That is fundamentally false. Every scientific study or media report that compares similar historical numbers is breaking the first rule of Scientific Inquiry - Control all Variables. In other words make sure you are looking at the big picture instead of jumping to conclusions to get on the evening news or be more opular in the right political circles.

Think about it. A hundred and fifty years ago, all energy was based on the use of fossil fuel, now considered to be the cause of climate change. Does that make any sense at all?

There was no large scale use of electricity. Wind and water were only used for specific mechanical applications such as steam engines and gear-driven machinery.  ALL other energy used for heat, cook stoves and lights came from some form of carbon emitting fuel source.  If it didn't destroy the planet in the previous 5000 years of recorded history, why would it suddenly cause problems now? 

While the move to electricity is the primary environmental change that has occurred over the last 150 years, there are others that have also taken a toll as well.

For this post we will look at how improving urban life worked against Nature's way of hydrating a sustainable land mass.  Maybe then we can all see that a small change in our behavior can make a big change in planetary health.

Urban Infrastructure's Hidden Environmental Costs

Since California seems to be at the center of whether today's weather is normal or a sign of ecological disaster, we will use that location for this explanation. 


Certainly, the early days of San Diego and San Francisco had their challenges. The problem of too many people and not enough water has never been overcome. Sanitation is another ongoing challenge.  But, could this be a man-made problem and not a natural one? 

Back then, short  rain showers washed away the smell of animal waste and open sewers.  Ditches, cobble stone streets and brick or plank sidewalks allowed the rain to soak into the ground and do the job Nature intended.  Cisterns and rain barrels collected water for washing and other uses. Well water was used sparingly. All was good  until it wasn't.

With more people and heavier traffic, dirt roadways needed constant maintenance.  Paving stones and wood planks were used in some areas but eventually a mixture of tar and gravel offered a hard surface that was water resistant and durable. With public water, indoor plumbing and underground sewers soon to follow, water conservation was quickly passe. Now, concrete and asphalt separate rainfall from the ground it is supposed to reach.

But for all their efficiency, what these improvements did to the environment could not have been anticipated.  As California and other parts of the United States deal with strange weather and geological events, laying blame on carbon gases seems more finger pointing and desperation than scientific proof.  Isn't it time to fess up and admit mankind put comfort ahead of environmental protection.  Now with eight times the global population, nature simply cannot carry the burden of as urban locations make it harder.

Rainfall: The Unwanted Necessity

It has been a hundred years since California persuaded the Federal government it was economically necessary to take water from a river  approximately 300 miles away. The Federal government complied and built the Hoover Dam to solve California's water problem.  But what was California's water problem? Was it really a lack of rain or was it how they managed the rain they got. Now we do the math.

Here's how it works.  

For every inch that falls, 17.4 million gallons of water is distributed over each square mile of land (www,weather.gov). Happening over several hours, the process is very effective and without danger to property or life. Urban infrastructure, however, blocks such rainfall from getting to thirsty ground and instead sends it back to the oceans without much benefit.   Can this simple wasting of water REALLY make a difference to the environment? Obviously science does not think so or the Environmental Protection Agency would have banned it decades ago.

For the purpose of exploration, let's assume that California's cities send half of their annual rainfall back into storm drains and out to sea within a few hours of it falling. Exactly how much of an impact can there be?  Here's your answer.

*San Diego - With annual precipitation of about 10 inches, losing 5 inches would cost the city proper 87 million gallons per square mile. The city of SanDiego is 372 square miles in size so the amount of rainfall lost into the ocean in one year is approximately 32.4 BILLION gallons.  if you add a frugal 100 gallons of water per person per day to the flow, SanDiego flushes just less than 78 billion gallons of water back into the ocean each and every year.   That's enough water to provide each resident with half a million bottles of water annually. (please check the math because it seems a bit unrealistic to me too!)

* SanFrancisco City - Even though SanFransisco proper has a much smaller footprint and population, its annual rainfall amounts are 2.5 times that of SanDiego.  Annual rainfall loss would be 9.75 Billion gallons.  Daily wasted water at 100 gallons per resident would add another 30 billion gallons for total water loss of approximately 40 billion gallons or 3.3 million bottles of water per resident per year.  (again, feel free to check the math)

Certainly, these figures seem too large to be factual but this is simple math and not computer manipulated data.  Could these examples indicate that storm drains, sewers and erosion control, while an important part of urban growth, may be a contributor to the drought conditions that nag the state. Doesn't it seem that the discussion needs to turn towards civic responsibility for water management and away from current climate rhetoric that allows bad environmental habits to continue and fester? But then blaming a tiny molecule which can't defend itself does seem a good political maneuver to distract citizens from the truth.


Nature's Response

Divergent thinking always has value.  Let's look at this from Nature's perspective. If every coastal community in the world, unnaturally forces billions of gallons of water back into the seas could this explain why they appear to be rising even though the polar ice caps remain comfortably below freezing.  Can mankind not see that leadership's obsession with building an artificial lifestyle is at the heart of Nature's desperate measures to rehydrate every continent. 

The Threat of Old-School Infrastructure

At the beginning of this piece, we talked about what had changed in the world. For those not up on their history, it was called the Industrial Revolution and along with world wars and global economic woes, it has been 150 years of changing the environment to suit one species -- humans.  Now, we need to decide if we are smart enough to keep the lifestyle while adapting it to be environmentally friendly.

Unfortunately, President Biden, and several others before him, see infrastructure as being the same as what it was in the late 1800s.  Creativity, problem solving and forethought have no place where the economy makes the rules.  Perhaps the greatest gift the environment will get over the next two years is political gridlock. 

 Environmentally sound infrastructure is not hard. Consider these options, not just for coastal cities but for all communities. 

1. Recycle gray water (dirty water that has been used but not contaminated) by having property owners install drain fields or plumbing for washing cars, watering the lawn, etc. Why use potable water for anything but personal use and food. Change will also come faster if individuals take the lead rather than wait for decisions to be politically sanctioned.

2. Encourage plant growth from which water evaporates to increase humidity levels reduce atmospheric volatility. Air can only retain so much moisture. Dry air is a great place to dump huge amounts of water from the atmosphere.

3. Revert to septic tank use for new construction so that water is continually returned to the ground and underlying bedrock.

4. Use gray water for public use such as fighting fires, washing planes and runways, operating steam driven boilers and machinery.  Using potable water for such operations not only is expensive but questionable for the environment. Nature loves its dirt. 

That's enough thought for one day.  Look for some more postings to get politicians to think first and spend last.  Good luck Mr. McCarthy.