Moscow officials may be weeding out city markets as part of their efforts to make entrepreneurial retail more civilized, but the same vehemence doesn’t extend to the weekend farmers markets. The administration plans to increase the number of these markets and is helping their participants to be more profitable.
There are currently 125 farmers markets in Moscow, but this number will reach 160 by the end of August, just in time for the peak of the harvesting season, Alexei Nemeruk, head of Moscow’s department of trade and services, said Tuesday.
The newly added Moscow territories will get 10 new farmers markets and 10 plots designated for such markets. The remaining 16 markets will be opened within the old Moscow territories.
Officials also plan to make changes to the current trade regulations by Aug. 1 to extend the working hours for regional producers, Nemeruk said. According to this model, farmers from neighboring regions will be able to come to Moscow and sell their products for up to two weeks.
Farmers markets are considered an economic alternative for buying quality produce, as well as an effective means to support regional producers. Prices are usually 15 to 20 percent below those at regular markets, but in some cases farmers are forced to increase their rates.
This year, farmers don’t have to pay for using the market lots. Equipment, clean-up, waste disposal and safety at the markets are now covered by the city budget. However, there have been multiple cases of dishonest market supervisors demanding that farmers pay for these services.
The city received over 30 complaints about such illegal money collection during the first half of 2012. Officials have started to investigate the cases and two criminal charges have already been filed, Nemeruk said. Continue reading
In 1650, St. Michael’s Alley, London’s first coffee shop, placed an ad in a newspaper. That ad — archived in the British Museum, and Internet-ed by the Vintage Ads LiveJournal — extolled the many Vertues of the newly discovered beverage. Which “groweth upon little Trees, only in the Deserts of Arabia,” and which is — despite and ostensibly because of its Vertues — “a simple innocent thing.”
What’s amazing about the ad — besides, obviously, its crazy claim that coffee can prevent Mif-carryings in Child-bearing Women — is how flagrantly its copyrighters flung the Vertues they extol. Per these 17th-century Mad Men, coffee could be used to aid and/or prevent: indigestion, headaches, lethargy, drowsiness, arthritis, sore eyes, cough, consumption, “spleen,” dropsy, gout, scurvy, and — my personal favorite — hypochondria. And they back up their claims by pointing out that Turkish people, those noted coffee imbibers, don’t have scurvy, but do have nice skin. QED!
What’s amazing as well, for better or for worse, is how familiar the ad feels. Sure, today we regulate our marketing claims; Starbucks wouldn’t get very far were it to announce the miscarriage-prevention properties of the half-caf soy latte. But we’re also, still, entirely familiar with ads that ramble on about the health benefits of particular products with a hilarious if occasionally dangerous disregard for reality — particularly on the modern-day pamphlet that is the Internet. (With Product X, you’ll be slimmer/bulkier/hairier/smoother/perkier/calmer … in just one week!). The main difference is that the caveat of 1650 — Made and Sold in St. Michaels Alley in Cornhill, by Pasqua Rosse, at the Signe of his own Head — has been replaced by a caveat that is all too recognizable in its modernity: This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Continue reading
Invasive coqui frogs are subtly altering the ecosystem of Hawaii island as they gobble up mites, ants and other bugs and leave behind droppings that attract flies, scientists conclude.
While the tiny frogs, native of Puerto Rico, are known for their loud and often maddening cries, they also are taking a toll on the Hawaii island environment, according to Ryan Choi and Karen Beard, with the Department of Wildland Resources at Utah State.
Researchers with headlamps fanned out across the island over four months in 2009, collecting frogs, and analyzed their stomach contents.
They also collected “leaf litter” at sites where coquis are abundant and also where they are not. Dead leaves are where many of the bugs that coquis eat reside, but the teams also collected bugs that live in foliage.
The results, published in the May issue of the journal Biological Invasions: Where coqui populations are dense, the number of leaf litter bugs fell by 27 percent and mites alone by 36 percent.
The number of flies was nearly one-fifth greater where coquis are prevalent, Choi and Beard found.
The research teams collected leaf litter in 10-inch-by-10-inch patches and extracted the bugs, which they then identified using a dissecting microscope. They also used vacuums to suck up the bugs for analysis.
Flies were collected with sticky traps.
In all, they collected 21,382 invertebrates (not all of them insects) at the coqui-populous sites and 28,184 from the largely coqui-free sites.
“Across 15 sites on the island of Hawaii, we found that coqui frogs were associated with a reduction in the total number of leaf-litter invertebrates, primarily Acari,” the scientists reported, referring to the group of arachnids that includes mites and ticks. Continue reading
Nangai nuts Sourced Online
A solar crop dryer is the answer to high costs of nangai (canarium indicum) transportation, heavy nut volume, and the deterioration of the nut quality within 24 hours after falling from trees, says long time South Pacific nut entrepreneur, Charlot Longwah. The next season of nangai starts from September to December and Mr Longwah revealed just last month Kava Store embarked and completed a research on how the use of a solar food dryer can rewrite the production of nangai in the Pacific, the first in the Pacific to obtain a solar semi dry product to value add for domestic market and the potential to gradually value-add from Vt40 per kilo to Vt1,000 a kilo to Vt3,000 and Vt6,000 per kilo for Japanese, Australia and New Caledonia customers.
“It will be a bottom up approach or under the nangai tree or plantation,” he said. “The existing villages in Vanuatu have over 200 sites from 100 to over 1,000 nangae trees, existing mostly in the remote areas. “By minimising oxidation the first 24 hours after the nut falls from the tree to reduce moving the volume in Nuts In Shells(NIS) with solar food dryer contributed to less 90% of total weight, contributing 75% reducing electricity costs to the factory,90% less costs of air/sea freight and land transportation. “Farmers end up with a super semi product,” Longwah said. But he pointed out farmers need extensive training by cracking nuts, removal from the testa with blanched kernel and directly placing it in solar food dryer to dry. Continue reading
Despite ongoing health concerns about the endocrine-disrupting chemical known as BPA — that it may promote breast cancer growth, for instance, harm sperm quality, or cause erectile dysfunction — the Food and Drug Administration has yet to come down hard on the use of the substance in consumer products. It’s still regularly found in our water bottles, soda cans, and even receipts.
But while we might look past threats to our own health, a new study published yesterday in the journal Evolutionary Applications linking BPA to inter-species mating in fish may be troubling enough to make the issue worth revisiting.
After all, nothing fires up the masses like some good, old-fashioned moral outrage.
The study, which looked at the mating behavior between blacktail shiners and red shiners that spent two weeks in BPA-contaminated tanks, found that the substance messed with the fishes’ hormones enough to cause changes in both appearance and behavior, culminating in an all-out cross-species lovefest.
While one could be open-minded about the possibilities deriving from such behavior — hybrid superfish? A new dinner item? — one concern is that the spread of BPA into rivers could promote the proliferation of invasive species. The red shiner has already been identified as a threat to other species in its natural habitat; continued procreation through interspecies mating would only intensify the problem. Might other species take their cue from the shiners and get funny ideas? Could the shiners tire of their aquatic options and start trolling the river banks for land species? Continue reading
These days, coffee is practically a universal part of our modern workplace condition. Many of us harbor some secret fear that the gallons of brown liquid we’re slurping every day is doing us no good. We cling to scraps of evidence — like this one suggesting coffee contributes to your daily recommended fluid intake — showing that coffee in superhuman amounts is safe. And we pour ourselves another when a new study comes out implying the stuff can make us even healthier than we already are.
Lately, coffee addicts have been winning little victories every few weeks. This time, it’s a double win: a pair of studies suggesting that something about the drink may contain anti-aging and cancer-fighting properties.
One study, presented last week to the Society for Experimental Biology, appears to show an appreciable benefit in the muscle strength of mice who’ve been given caffeine. Researchers from Coventry University examined two main muscles — the diaphragm and a key leg muscle called the extensor digitorum longus — in their test animals before and after the treatment. They noticed a strong link between caffeine intake and better muscle performance among adult mice, with a somewhat weaker relationship for elderly subjects and a small, though still measurable, effect on juvenile mice. The scientists say their findings could be significant for people heading into their golden years, as muscles tend to weaken with age — increasing the likelihood of trips, falls and other mishaps. Who wouldn’t want to be able to maintain their muscle tone by sipping a cup of joe every morning?
The second of the two studies suggests that a moderate intake of caffeinated coffee is associated with a decreased risk for a common skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma. Continue reading
OUR dams are full, the lambs are fat and the sprinklers are running again. But weather experts are warning Australia’s east coast to brace for a return to dry conditions, perhaps even drought, as another El Nino event looms.
After two consecutive years of record rainfall and devastating floods brought on by La Nina, the Bureau of Meteorology warned yesterday that climate indicators show a shift towards drier weather patterns, and a potential swing to the opposite phenomenon, El Nino.
Warmer waters in the Pacific Ocean can trigger an El Nino, which brings less rainfall and drought such as the one that drained Warragamba dam to one-third of its capacity five years ago. Cooler waters bring on La Nina and associated wetter conditions, including those that spurred this year’s floods across NSW, and the devastating Brisbane floods the previous summer.
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A full moon rises over Clovelly as an El Nino weather pattern begins to dominate the forecast.3rd July 2012Photo: Wolter Peeters
Surface tension … waves wash onto Clovelly Beach last night under a full moon. Temperatures have been rising in the Pacific Ocean for the past few months, suggesting a return to El Nino and less rainfall. Photo: Wolter Peeters
A bureau climatologist, Acacia Pepler, said conditions along the equator were yet to reach El Nino thresholds, but most climate models were predicting the event would develop in late winter and early spring.
”The chances of us reaching El Nino are growing,” Ms Pepler said. ”It’s not certain yet, but probability is increasing as the weeks pass.”
But the Weather Channel, which measures the event using different indices, called the result early, declaring yesterday that El Nino had returned. Continue reading
Karelia, Russia – These forests of pine, spruce and birch trees on Russia’s north-west frontier with Finland stretch in every direction to the horizon. When the sun shines, the dazzling green is fragmented by lakes of sky-blue water.
Yet the impact of humankind is everywhere. Tracks criss-cross the woodland, accommodating logging vehicles – diggers with robotic chainsaws and trailer trucks. At road intersections, ribbons tied around trees signpost areas earmarked for clearing.
Swedwood Karelia LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Swedish furniture giant IKEA, owns a logging concession of around 300,000 hectares here. Its factory on the edge of the town of Kostomuksha processes logs into planks. Eventually, they will end up as flat-packs in hundreds of IKEA’s stores worldwide.
Swedwood is active in the Karelia Forest, one of the
last old-growth forests in Europe [Yulia Shcherbina/Al Jazeera]
For IKEA, Russia is a prime territory for expansion. Not only are two of its top three globally performing stores located in Moscow, but the country’s vast boreal or taiga forest belt is a source of high-quality timber.
Yet IKEA’s logging in Karelia has raised uncomfortable questions about its reputation for sourcing sustainable wood. And attention has also brought into focus wider problems associated with commercial forestry in northern Europe and Russia.
In April, environmental NGOs held protests outside eight IKEA stores in Sweden to raise awareness of a study conducted into IKEA’s activities in Karelia by Protect the Forest and Friends of the Earth Sweden.
The NGOs claim that IKEA, through Swedwood, is helping to destroy ecosystems that are home to endangered species by clear-cutting already depleted old-growth forests. Continue reading
SEATTLE >> The cultivated rusticity of a farmers market, where dirt-dusted beets are status symbols and earnest entrepreneurs preside over chunks of cheese, is a part of weekend life in cities across the nation as the high days of the summer harvest approach.
But beyond the familiar mantras about nutrition or reduced fossil fuel use, the movement toward local food is creating a vibrant new economic laboratory for American agriculture. The result, with its growing army of small-scale local farmers, is as much about dollars as dinner: a reworking of old models about how food gets sold and farms get financed, and who gets dirt under their fingernails doing the work.
“The future is local,” said Narendra Varma, 43, a former manager at Microsoft who invested $2 million of his own money last year in a 58-acre project of small plots and new-farmer training near Portland, Ore. The first four farmers arrived this spring alongside Varma and his family, aiming to create an economy of scale — tiny players banded in collective organic clout. He had to interrupt a telephone interview to move some goats.
Economists and agriculture experts say the “slow money” movement that inspired Varma, a way of channeling money into small-scale and organic food operations, along with the aging of the farmer population and steep barriers for young farmers who cannot afford the land for traditional rural agriculture, are only part of the new mix. Continue reading