The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.


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Food Labels Decoded

JR Thorp of BUSTLE breaks down what’s behind all those food labels.  Fair Trade Certified is of particular interest to me.  I knew generally what it meant, but didn’t realize it covered some very specific and legal things.

Everything with the Fairtrade Certified label you recognize has gone through them — and the standards are high. The basic principle is that workers and producers of Fairtrade goods aren’t exploited or underpaid — Fairtrade says it’s all about “promoting fairer trading conditions for disadvantaged producers” — but it’s hardly a cakewalk to get yourself certified.

For your product to qualify as Fairtrade, it needs to meet Fairtrade International’s standards, which are pretty vigorous: they cover workers’ rights, collective bargaining, high working conditions, fair contracts, and payment that covers producers’ costs and gives them certainty. Specific products, like tea, coffee, honey, cocoa, and nuts, need to follow their own strict industry standards depending on the region. That label’s pretty hard-won.


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Good News on the Recycling Front

From the Environmental Leader:

Nebraska Hy-Vee stores will divert excess fruits and vegetables, bakery products, solid dairy products and floral clippings and the Sanimax system will then turn the food waste into compost, biogas and animal feed. Hy-Vee employees at each store will be trained on how to separate the waste to ensure quick and accurate disposal.

As part of the program, Hy-Vee stores will sell compost that is created by their own food recycling. In addition, stores with community gardens will use the compost to fertilize their plots.

In other food waste reduction efforts, last month the EPA announced that Disneyland Resort has diverted more than 7 million pounds of food scraps from entering landfills since 2013 and is the first theme park in the US to receive zero wastecertification at one facility — achievements that helped the theme park win an EPA 2014 Food Recovery Challenge award.


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Sunset On Mars

In the same way that Earth sunsets pick out the reds and oranges of normal light on the planet, Martian ones emphasize the blue of the sky.

“The colors come from the fact that the very fine dust is the right size so that blue light penetrates the atmosphere slightly more efficiently,” said Mark Lemmon, the Curiosity science-team member who planned the observations. “When the blue light scatters off the dust, it stays closer to the direction of the sun than light of other colors does. The rest of the sky is yellow to orange, as yellow and red light scatter all over the sky instead of being absorbed or staying close to the sun.”


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Read the famous tale of Hoan Kiem Lake on eBookers

VietNamNet Bridge – eBookers.com, a prestigious Europe-based travel website, has curated a selection of international myths and legends alongside stunning hand-drawn illustrations to give readers a glimpse into the variety of cultures in the world. One of the stories is the famous tale of Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Read the famous tale of Hoan Kiem Lake on eBookers

Wanderlust Storybook is a new interactive piece which explores six international folktales including the Legend of Hoan Kiem Lake. Original retellings and beautiful illustrations are accompanied by cultural background and local information. This is an online collection of stories published by eBookers.com in January 2015. The illustrations were done by Orhan Ata and the retellings were done by Conrad Bird.

The Wanderlust storybook has been produced in order to inspire people to travel with cultural awareness; exploring locations based on cultural heritage and folklore is a great way to experience the places we visit. eBookers encourages those who travel to Hanoi to visit the Hoan Kiem Lake.

Conrad Bird grew up in the North Yorkshire Moors where he was educated by a community of Benedictine monks. He attended Warwick University where he received a 1st Class degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. Now he is a freelance writer and musician in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. His work is rooted in the physical here and now of the Northeast landscape and the mysticism of myth and legend – inspired by his Benedictine education and a deep love of folklore.

Orhan Ata was born in Balikesir, Turkey in 1989. He studied Graphic Design in Fine Arts Faculty of Marmara University and graduated in 2013. He works as a graphic designer and illustrator and lives in Istanbul. Studying mostly painting until 2008, Orhan Ata tried to enhance the skills of using different techniques like drawing, oil paint, ink and watercolor. Orhan Ata is a freelance illustrator for companies.

You can read the tale of Hoan Kiem Lake here: http://www.ebookers.com/travel-blog/folklore/.


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The Sun God

This interesting article in The Indian Panorama discusses how the Sun God evolved and his possible link to Central Asia.  You can find the entire piece here.

In Roman times, Sunday was the first day of the week —an important day named after the Sun-God. Helios or Hyperion was the Greco-Roman Sun-God, who later merged with another Greek god, Apollo, the youthful, energetic, beautiful god who shot arrows that got rid of the darkness. When the Roman empire became Christian, the day of the Sun became Dominica, the Day of the Lord, the day when — according to Christians — God rested after creating the world in six days.

Unlike the months of the year, weekdays have no astronomical correlations. It is an arbitrary division of time, believed to have its origin in Babylon from where it spread eastwards to India and thence to China and westwards through Rome to around the Mediterranean. Just as Romans attributed the first day of the week to the Sun, so did Indians who called it Ravi-vaar. Why was the first day of the week associated with the Sun, no one knows. It is one of those mysteries of history that remain unresolved. The earliest reference to Sunday in India comes from texts dated after 400 CE, and it is believed to have come with Sun-worshippers like the Huns, Parthians and Scythians, who entered India around the time of the Gupta kings.


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Big Food Increasingly Purchasing Organic Brands

This follows what I’ve come to know of large corporations.  They don’t create anything new – just use their money and clout to take over companies that are profitable,

Peter Whoriskey investigates how large corporations are taking over organic brands in his May 10th article in The Washington Post.  He cites Myra Goodman, who with her husband founded the major organic label Earthbound Farm in 1984,  She argued in a TED talk last year that the growth has benefited everyone.

She spoke just a few months after it was announced that Earthbound Farm would be sold to dairy producer WhiteWave Foods for $600 million.

“We don’t want organic to be an exclusive club,” she told the audience. “The benefits of organic farming are just too huge.”

Noting that only about 4 percent of food sales go to organic products, she said that “the organic industry is way too small.”

Others, however, have warned that the arrival of conventional food companies could change the industry.

Nature’s Path, a large family-run label, is one of the largest organic companies to continue to rebuff corporate investors. Arjan Stephens, the son of the founders and a company vice president, said the family has been dismayed at times by the acquisition of organic brands by conventional food companies.

“We have witnessed the sale of numerous organic brands to big food and have also seen how many of those brands have struggled to retain their soul,” he said. “While we support the growth of the organic industry, the purchase of many independent brands has come at a price. . . . (T)he long-term effect often comes with a diluted product line, a change in company values . . . and decisions based solely on profits not people.”


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Earth Science

Enceladus

Several interesting articles in Tech Times explore the possibility of alien life on other planets.  Jim Algar reports on data released by NASA’s Messenger spacecraft.

The magnetic field of Mercury, closest planet to the sun, is almost 4 billion years old and may once have been almost as strong as Earth’s, scientists say.

Data from Messenger gathered in 2014 and early this year, when it approached to within 90 miles of Mercury’s surface, indicated trace signs of magnetization of the planet’s crust, scientists reported in the journal Science.

Although relatively weak now, Mercury’s magnetic field may have once been as much as 100 times as strong, equivalent to the Earth’s magnetic field today, she says.

Summit Passary relays the latest findings on Saturn’s Moon Enceladus:

Scientists believe that Enceladus is one of the best places in our solar system that may support alien life.

Enceladus is covered with ice but scientists suggest it is very active geologically. Scientists also believe that there may be liquid water underneath the icy surface of the celestial object. Previous studies about Enceladus have revealed that the oceans under the surface of the moon may also be in contact with the mantle, which makes chemical reactions possible. The geyser like plumes spews water on the moon.

Scientists have found that the oceans on Enceladus are likely to be salty as well as quite basis with pH of 11 or 12. This pH level can also be tolerated by some living organisms on the Earth. Glein explains that high pH is caused by a geochemical process, which is called serpentinization.

“This process is central to the emerging science of astrobiology, because molecular hydrogen can both drive the formation of organic compounds like amino acids that may lead to the origin of life, and serve as food for microbial life such as methane-producing organisms,” says Glein. “As such, serpentinization provides a link between geological processes and biological processes. The discovery of serpentinization makes Enceladus an even more promising candidate for a separate genesis of life.”
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