Health and Wellness

Thanks Frank, You Got Me Thinking.

For the second week in a row, Kansas City is melting in triple digit heat. We have been on average about 5 to 10 degrees above normal each month since last August. A mild winter transitioned right through spring into an early summer, with no sign of break any time soon.

This afternoon I saw a post on Facebook from my friend Frank Morris, News Director at KCUR that linked to “This is What Global Warming Looks Like” on the weather channel. This article got me to thinking about global climate change, and I started digging around for well designed infographics about it. I was actually rather surprised at the limited number of really well designed ones I found after doing a Google search. There are plenty of infographics, just not all are related to climate change and global warming, and many of them offer little real information.Below are a few that I found.

The first two deal with shrinking arctic sea ice and how it is increasing global temperatures by failing to reflect more light back into space. The others deal with your carbon footprint, sea level change, and how global warming/climate change works. What I had a hard time finding, was anything that talked about the increased burden in terms of health, food production, strain on the power grid, possible economic, political, and social unrest.

Perhaps I need to refine my search terms a little more.

Kraft and Triscuit + Urban farming = Positive Change.

Everyone is hopping on the green, and sustainable farming trend, even food giant Kraft. And while my feelings about Kraft are just slightly better than my feelings about Monsanto, I have to say good for them. What Kraft is doing reminds me of the Pepsi Refresh project in the sense that they are actually trying to provide some good on the neighborhood level, and if it means people actually eat better in this country I’m all for it.

Kraft and Triscuit in collaboration with non-profit organization Urban Farming have launched a new campaign to encourage the growth of the home farming movement. To kick-start the efforts of urbanite farmers looking to plant their own gardens, 4 million boxes of Triscuits will include seed packets and instructions on getting started with planting and nurturing your future crops. The campaign is not revolutionary but, the sponsored “Home Farming” website does contain some fun social components that allow urban farmers to share photos, stories and tips and the partnership is working to build 50 community-based home farms across the country. The link between the physical product and the social space of the website is handled fairly well, although I’d be interested to see what kind of results they get. (how many people register from information on the box, how many people actually plant a garden, how many people actively participate with the website, etc.) Overall Kraft has done a solid job with site production, integrating rich media content alongside the social components. In addition, Kraft has been very smart about allowing the user to share with every other social network powerhouses like Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, Google, etc.

When you look at the concerns over the economic, environmental and health impacts of how are food is grown, and made available, to the public, it’s nice to see a brand like Kraft (no matter how you feel about giant food processing conglomerates) push to make the conversation about food production more public. It’s hard to  tell if these small scale models of urban farming will really change the current state of food production in North America.  The real importance might simply be in experimenting with what works and raising social awareness about the food we all eat.

You have to admit that at the end of the day, it’s certainly more satisfying to be eating something grown in your backyard, on your porch, or down the block in the community urban garden.

10 Reasons to Shop Local First in 2010

I found this graphic over at Local First, a site dedicated to the buy local philosophy for Western Michigan. The rules shown here apply to all communities though, and that is why I have decided on this Monday morning to re-post the article on my blog. I really believe in the shop local buy local concept. Over the weekend I had a discussion with a couple of friends about how the Country Club Plaza, one of America’s first true shopping centers, had gone from an area populated with locally owned unique shops, to an outdoor mall of chains, franchises, and generic national brands. These ten points show why going local is always better, and like I just said this is applicable in any community.

Top 10 Reasons To Shop Local First
1. Significantly More Money Re-circulates In Greater Grand Rapids.
When you purchase at locally owned businesses rather than nationally owned, more money is kept in the community because locally-owned businesses often purchase from other local businesses, service providers and farms. Purchasing local helps grow other businesses as well as the Greater Grand Rapids tax base.
2. Non Profits Receive Greater Support.
Local business owners donate more to local charities than non-local owners.
3. Unique Businesses Create Character & Prosperity
The unique character of Grand Rapids is what brought us here and keeps us here. Our tourism businesses also benefit.
4. Environmental Impact Is Reduced.
Local businesses make more local purchases requiring less transportation and usually set up shop in town centers rather than on the fringe. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution.
5. Most New Jobs Are Provided By Local Businesses.
Small local businesses are the largest employers nationally.
6. Customer Service Is Better.
Local businesses often hire people with more specific product expertise for better customer service.
7. Local Business Owners Invest In Community.
Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s future.
8. Public Benefits Far Outweigh Public Costs.
Local businesses require comparatively little infrastructure and more efficiently utilize public services relative to chain stores.
9. Competition And Diversity Leads To More Consumer Choices.
A marketplace of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.
10. Investment In Greater Grand Rapids Is Encouraged.
A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.