The entire Weekly Green staff, tight bunch that we are, has taken a break in the past month in order to make time to flat-hoe the weeds in our yards, harvest mesquite beans, unhasten, and meditate about the coming season. One of the outcomes is that the Weekly Green will first air on Saturday at 10 am henceforth instead of on Wednesday.
In the meantime, you have been listening to reruns of popular past episodes that to our minds have not lost their luster. We hope you all agree.
BRANDING ORGANIC VEGETABLES
It is a bit ironic that many organic products, like cucumbers eggplants and avocado’s, are packed in plastic foil. The primary reason for that is to discourage people to present the more expensive organic products as their cheaper industrially-grown cousins at the register. With the annual amount of plastic foil involved you could wrap the entire globe several times over.
Now a method has been developed to distinguish organic products from the others by branding them with a laser which evaporates the pigments in the skin. The method does not affect the taste, smell or shelf life of the product. The absence of plastic, however does indeed decrease shelf life by 4 days to a week, so that the branding method leads to more food waste.
It’s always something…
NASA JOB OPENING
With regard to the rest of the universe, NASA is seeking a person to succeed its current Planetary Protection Officer, Dr. Catherine A. Conley, who has held the office since 2014.
The Planetary Protection Officer is responsible for protecting our planet from extra-terrestrial life brought in accidentally by space missions. More to the point, the Officer must also protect other planets from invasion from Earth. Every space craft we send out into the solar system harbors countless earthly microbes. The question whether there is life on Mars was probably resolved in 1971, when a Soviet craft was the first earth vehicle to crash into the planet. Recognizing the problem, areas of the planet that appear most hospitable to microbes can be declared off-limits for exploration. Those areas, however, are also the ones most likely to harbor native life forms and, therefore, the most interesting.
It is up to the Planetary Protection Officer to make the call.
The salary is between $124.000 and $187.000 a year. Anyone can apply, but a background in microbiology is definitely a plus.
NPS SENIOR LIFETIME PASSES
If you are over sixty-two years old, heads-up! You have until August 28 to get a lifetime pass giving you access to ALL National Parks for only $10. After that, the price will increase to $80. You can order online, by mail or in person at federal recreation sites such as Saguaro National Park or Sabino Canyon. Go to nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes for details.
MORE INCONVENIENT TRUTHS
Climate activist and former VP Al Gore has produced a sequel to his 2006 movie An Inconvenient Truth, called Truth to Power. It strikes a more positive tone than its predecessor, alternating images of crumbling icebergs and catastrophic floods with images of vast solar and wind farms. Things are bad, but not hopeless, is the basic message. Of course, the Paris Climate Agreement and the U.S. intent to withdraw from it features prominently, as well as the Climate Reality Project which Al Gore started after the original movie came out to train young professionals in climate management and outreach. More about the Truth to Power movie can be found at climaterealityproject.org.
Hops, a key ingredient of beer, have been in short supply for the past year because of a sharp rise in demand from micro-breweries and a series of failed harvests. The situation is not expected to improve any time soon, so the future of beer looks hopless.
The flowers of Humulus lupulus have been used to flavor and stabilize beer since the 9th century. Before that, brewers used a mix of dandelions, marigolds, heather and a variety of other herbs and flowers.
It is not known how those ancient beers tasted, but probably not as good.
Brewers are now experimenting with alternatives like chicory and spruce tips, but those are excessively bitter and that makes it hard to achieve proper flavor.
Perhaps one of our native Sonoran plants has the potential to become a worthy replacement. One can only hop…
The Weekly Green is a KXCI mini-program on environmental topics from Southern Arizona and the rest of the universe.
The program airs on Monday 5:55 PM, Tuesday 4:55 AM, Wednesday 9:55 AM & 5:55 PM, Thursday 7:55 PM and Saturday 9:55 AM. First airing is usually at 10 am on Saturday.