Medical Schools Offering Cooking Classes To Future Doctors

Culinary arts will now join epidemiology, cardiology, optometry and oncology as one of the classes that doctors will be taking at some point in their medical education. According to Treehugger. Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans is the latest medical school to add cooking classes to its curriculum as a way to encourage study in nutrition and the benefits of a healthy diet.

The class was created by Timothy Harlan, M.D., a professor at the university who proposed that doctors talk with their patients about nutrition. He found that many medical professionals did not know how to communicate the benefits of healthy diets.

In addition to doctors, the class is also offered to chefs who want to focus on creating healthy dishes for their customers. Culinary students at Johnson & Wales University are offered the option of taking the course.

"It's odd to me that chefs often neglect nutrition education as part of their training," Todd Seyfarth, chair of Johnson & Wales' department of culinary nutrition, told Bon Appetit Magazine. "A chef who masters healthy cooking can deliver enjoyment to customers, and at the same time nourish their bodies."

The school recommends that cooks who would like to provide more nutrition in their meals focus on measuring out cooking oil rather than simply pouring it in the pan. They also recommend using acidic foods such as lemon juice to bring out flavors, rather than relying purely on salt. Adhering to these tips ensures that your meals will more healthful and flavorful at the same time!

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How The Feds Are Helping Honey Bee Populations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has committed $3 million to help recover honey bee populations that have been disappearing in recent years for reasons that we still don't understand. The agency said it would earmark the funding "to promote conservation practices that will provide honey bees with nutritious pollen and nectar while providing benefits to the environment."

The goal is to provide species of plants that are thought to be less harmful to the honeybees. There is considerable concern in the environmental community that frequent use of pesticides and inorganic compounds in farming has led to a decline in honey bee populations, which are thought to provide $15 billion in benefits to American farms annually.

"The future security of America's food supply depends on healthy honey bees," Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, said in a statement. "Expanded support for research, combined with USDA's other efforts to improve honey bee health, should help America's beekeepers combat the current, unprecedented loss of honey bee hives each year."

The funding is going specifically to communities in the midwestern United States, which host 65 percent of the country's commercially-managed honey bee populations d​uring the summer months. Some of the efforts that will be funded include practices to limit erosion and make soil healthier, thus providing better living conditions for the bees.

You can do your part to help honeybee populations by only buying food products that were raised using sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices. Make sure when you purchase food that it is labeled as certified organic, and that the producers didn't rely on synthetic weed killers and other chemicals to grow their crops.

For more tips, advice and news about green business and agriculture, check back with frequently!

These Foods Will Make You Feel Happier! (And Yes, Chocolate Is Included)

Few aspects of your lifestyle will have more of an impact on your happiness than what you eat. It's very difficult to feel satisfied and content, even if you're a successful and busy person, when you are routinely eating unhealthy foods. The good news is that not only are there foods that will make you feel happier and less anxious, but also taste good too!

Here are a few foods that will help boost your mental state:

  • Dark Chocolate: Yes, you read that right: Dark chocolate can make you feel happier. According to the healthy living website, dark chocolate contains magnesium and tryptophan, which can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. We'd also recommend trying out some organic dark chocolate made from naturally-grown cacao beans, which you can typically find at a local farmer's market or organic food store.
  • Lentils: They're one of the most versatile foods you can eat, and also one of the healthiest. Lentils are high in folic acid, which has been shown to be an effective remedy for depression. They also contain high amounts of magnesium. If you're not a big fan, try other legumes such as beans or peanuts, which contain many of the same nutrients.
  • Yogurt: It's a good source of B vitamins, which have been shown to be important for mental health.

As always, when purchasing food products it's best to buy local as often as possible. The closer to your home that the food was produced, the less carbon pollution was created in transporting it to your city. In addition, we recommend buying foods that are grown without the use of pesticides and other inorganic compounds. If you're looking for even more foods that can improve your mood, the nutrients to look for are magnesium, B vitamins and folic acid!

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What’s The Best Potting Soil For Your Indoor Garden?

Recently we blogged about how to go about creating your own indoor garden. One of the steps in the process is to select a potting soil that will help nurture your plants and ensure that they grow healthily. But not all potting mixes are created equal. Some can be more caustic to your plants in the long run, while others are manufactured in ways that aren't sustainable or environmentally-friendly.

Probably one of the most popular potting soil mixes is made from peat moss. This mix is terrific for growing plants, particularly if you're just putting together a garden that will only last one season. But peat is harvested from old growth forests and swamps in Canada and the southern United States, and the methods by which the peat is extracted can cause long-term damage to these areas.

Your best bet, if you're looking for the most environmentally friendly products, is to purchase peat-less soil mix. These are typically produced using organic materials and methods that forego the use of synthetic chemicals and fertilizers. They do a great job of retaining moisture, and they're aerated enough that you won't have to worry about your plants not getting enough oxygen. One great brand to check out is Organic Mechanics potting soil, which uses compost and coconut coir. This soil has more nutrients than conventional potting mix, and is manufactured with recycled materials.

By using environmentally-friendly soil, you'll get healthier plants, and you won't be exposing members of your household to harmful chemicals. You'll also be supporting an industry that does its part to make sure natural resources are not exhausted!

For more tips and information on green living, keep checking back with!

Water Crisis Continues In West Virginia

Residents of Charleston, West Virginia, and surrounding communities are still trying to find out what led to a chemical spill that contaminated the tap water supply for 300,000 people. They're also trying to determine who is responsible, and what can be done to make green business a higher priority in the state.

The chemical spill began on January 9, when those living near a chemical processing site owned by Freedom Industries complained about a licorice-like smell emanating from nearby tanks. State regulators discovered that one of the steel tanks had ruptured and leaked thousands of gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM) into the Elk River.

MCHM is not thought to be fatal, but it can cause vomiting and skin and eye irritation. Furthermore, it can't be boiled out of the water, and there are no treatment methods available to make the tap water safe. As a result, the West Virginia National Guard has had to ship tanks of safe drinking water into the area, as bottled water reserves have sold out.

As The Los Angeles Times notes, further investigations into the incident have uncovered a complex web of entangled regulations in which chemical safety officials are pointing fingers at the industry and vice versa about where the fault lies. Federal and state agencies have stated that the tanks at the center of the controversy fell into a loophole that led to them remaining uninspected since 1999. At the same time, some local politicians are claiming that existing laws are strict enough, and that they need only be enforced to prevent such accidents from happening in the future.

What is clear is that Freedom Industries failed to alert state authorities to the spill immediately, and as a result, hundreds of thousands of people are still without safe drinking water. The disaster reinforces the notion that in the struggle to make the country greener and safer, the government needs to make private industry take public health seriously.

Keep checking back with as we continue to monitor the situation in West Virginia.

The Mental Health Benefits Of Being Outside

A research team at the University of Exeter Medical School in the United Kingdom recently published a study which found that residents of urban environments with green areas experience improved mental health over those who live in more built-up neighborhoods.

The team, whose report was published in the journal of Environmental Science and Technology, used data from the British Household Panel Survey, which gathers information from households all over the country. They focused on residents who had moved to greener regions and those who had moved away from such areas. They also adjusted their findings for factors such as higher incomes and education so that these factors didn't skew results.

These findings are important for urban planners thinking about introducing new green spaces to our towns and cities, suggesting they could provide long-term and sustained benefits for local communities," Dr Ian Alcock, the lead researcher on the study, said in a statement. "What we've found suggests that the mental health benefits of green space are not only immediate, but sustainable over long periods of time."

The study also found that even just the anticipation of moving to a city with less green space had detrimental effects on mental health.

The hope is that studies like this will reach the desks of urban planners around the country, who must take into consideration a variety of factors in determining how a city should be organized and run. This includes striking a balance between urban spaces that are dense and promote public transit, but still feature green areas where residents can still come in contact with a natural environment.

Keep visiting for more news and information about going green ideas and research.

California Repeals Law Requiring Flame Retardants In Furniture

California Governor Jerry Brown has reversed a law that he signed during his first stint as governor in 1975 that required furniture manufacturers to use flame retardants in their products. The goal of the law was to reduce the risk of fire from furniture, but in recent years it has come under criticism as more has become known about the environmental health effects of the chemicals used.

According to, the law, known as Technical Bulletin 117 (TB 117), required manufacturers to inject their sofas and other pieces of furniture with chemicals that are now thought to cause cancer and reproductive health issues. Even more alarming is the fact that this law was used as a model for similar legislation passed in other states, so its repeal is symbolic as much as it is real.

Somewhat ironically, there is now even evidence that foam treated with flame retardant chemicals can actually increase the combustibility of the furniture piece.

In place of TB 117, a new standard was created that allows manufacturers to test their products using a "smolder test." Instead of using retardant-injected foam for cushioning, they can now use fabrics and linings that are treated with chemicals that do not emit toxic particles.

If you're in the market for new furniture, make sure to look for the "TB 117-2013″ tag. This label indicates that the piece was made after January 2014, and that it adheres to the new standards put in place by the repeal of the old law. is your number one source for news and information about environmentally friendly products, so keep checking back for updates!

Will Hemp Go Mainstream After Legalization In California?

Unfortunately, many people associate hemp with marijuana, given that the two plants are very similar and the former contains trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive element in the drug. However, hemp itself is not a drug, and it's applications are wide and varied. So it was good news when the California legislature decided to legalize it as an industrial crop in September.

Hemp has been cultivated and used in a variety of ways, including as a base for many food items and even construction materials. The plant has astounding nutritional properties and can serve as an excellent gluten-free, vegan source of protein. In addition, it can be grown sustainably, without the use of environmentally destructive pesticides, according to the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Despite the fact that it is banned from industrial agriculture, many hemp products are imported from Mexico and Canada. Because it is typically mentioned in the same sentence as marijuana, it still has a way to go before becoming mainstream. Industrial hemp production is still banned at the federal level, so any farmers who choose to grow it in the Golden State could face prosecution by the U.S. Department of Justice.

But recent efforts to legalize pot in states like Massachusetts, Colorado and California have had ancillary benefits for the hemp industry, which is slowly coming out from under the shadow of its less sanctioned cousin. Hopefully, as more Americans are exposed to the benefits of this crop, and the myths surrounding its relationship to marijuana begin to dissipate, these citizens will put pressure on their elected officials to legalize its production. will continue to provide going green ideas and information, so keep visiting!

Pesticide Ban Begins Soon In Europe

A new ban on pesticides in Europe is aimed at slowing the decline of honey bee populations there, and advocates for green ideas are hoping that it will eventually be extended and possibly spread to the United States as well. The ban, which was instituted by the European Commission and covers a class of pesticide known as neonicotinoids, began on December 1 and applies to three specific pesticides – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam – that are believed to cause colony collapse disorder (CCD), an alarming trend in which bee hives all over the world are disappearing.

Why is this trend so worrying? Because bees pollinate many of the world's most abundant crops, and if they disappear or their populations are reduced to a point where they can no longer reliably pollinate these plants, it will almost certainly result in food shortages and skyrocketing prices.

What's even more disconcerting is that, according to the New York Times, these pesticides may also have harmful effects on human health. The European Union is now warning that neonicotinoids, where are derived from nicotine, may have adverse effects on the nervous systems of children.

This begs the question of what can you do to encourage growers to move away from these products, which have disastrous consequences for the environment and public health? The answer is to buy local, organically-grown food items that clearly indicate they were not grown with the assistance of pesticides and other unnatural chemicals that are reshaping ecosystems. It's ultimately a small gesture, but it ensures that your family will have less exposure to these awful substances.

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The Lead Exposure And Crime Connection

When the City of New York hired William Bratton to be its next Police Commissioner, it wasn't a surprising decision. Bratton presided over a precipitous drop in violent crime when he was police commissioner in Los Angeles from 2002-2009. But is there another explanation for the drop in crime in Los Angeles during Bratton's tenure?

Kevin Drum, a blogger for Mother Jones who focuses on public policy and politics, has been a major proponent of an alternative theory for why the city has seen such a dramatic decrease in violent crime, particularly homicides. As Drum notes, communities all over the country have seen a similar drop in the same period, including New York, Boston and even cities with violent reputations such as Detroit. Obviously, Bratton can't be credited for those trends since he wasn't police commissioner in those areas too.

Drum and other writers have posited another cause: A steep decline in lead exposure among children. Childhood lead exposure peaked in the 60s and 70s, due to the fact that it was used in gasoline to prevent engine "knocking." Once it was determined that lead had disastrous effects on the mental development of children, leaded gasoline was phased out.

What does this have to do with the violent crime rate? Drum believes that the fact that the peak in crime rates (around the early 90s) came roughly 20 years after lead exposure reached its height in the early 70s isn't a coincidence. The theory, which is backed by pretty convincing evidence, is that violent crime rates hit their highs as the generation that was most affected by lead exposure came of age, and declined once those exposure amounts were mitigated.

This isn't to suggest that Bratton isn't qualified for the job. But it does indicate that conventional theories explaining the drop in crime – tougher policing, aggressive community engagement – may bear less responsibility than attempts to improve public health and green living ideas.

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