Does Coffee Cause Cancer?


In today’s email, P.D. Mangan says not to worry:


“…does coffee consumption cause cancer?

The evidence says that it does not. In fact, coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of many cancers.

Coffee consumption is associated with a modestly lower risk of many cancers, and no increased risk of any cancer. (Study here.)

Coffee consumption at 2 cups a day is associated with about a 30% lower risk of liver cancer, and a 44% decreased risk of liver cancer in people with liver disease. (Study here.)

And coffee is associated with a lower all-cause death rate.”


Not drinking coffee is also associated with writing significantly less words per day. Also, most scientific research is bunk.

Americans waste 150,000 tons of food PER DAY!


According to a study published in a pay-to-publish journal:

“Americans waste nearly 150,000 tons of food per day, amounting to about one pound (422 grams) per person, and fruits and vegetables are mostly what gets tossed, said a study Wednesday.

The amount of land used annually to grow food that ends up in the garbage in the United States is 30 million acres, or seven percent of total US cropland. Some 4.2 trillion gallons of irrigation water gets wasted, too, said the report in the journal PLOS ONE.

Fruits and vegetables made up 39 percent of total food waste, followed by dairy (17 percent), meat (14 percent) and grains (12 percent).

Items least likely to be thrown out included salty snacks, table oils, egg dishes, candy and soft drinks.

“Higher quality diets have greater amounts of fruits and vegetables, which are being wasted in greater quantities than other food,” said co-author Meredith Niles, an assistant professor at the University of Vermont.

“Eating healthy is important, and brings many benefits, but as we pursue these diets, we must think much more consciously about food waste.”

America does waste tons of food; however, the way this article spins it makes it look like we are very careful about not wasting junk food whereas we discard vegetables and fruit willy-nilly.

I saw a lot of criticism directed at Michelle Obama’s healthy school lunch program for similar reasons – tons of food was wasted.

“The 2010 law, implemented in cafeterias across the country at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year, was aimed at improving nutrition and reducing child obesity and authorizing funding for federal lunch programs. It called for more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat milk products and less sodium and fat. It also awards additional funding to schools that meet the standards — to the tune of six cents per healthy lunch.

“The talented people who cook the food at your school will be offering you all kinds of healthy, delicious new choices. Foods that are good for you and taste good, too,” then-first lady Michelle Obama said in a “back-to-school” message at the time. “It’s about ensuring that all of you have everything you need to learn and grow and succeed in school and in life.””
Yeah, it was a nice idea – but children usually choose to eat junk if it’s available and fresh foods are perishable, so a lot of food was thrown away just as you’d expect. A friend told me that he watched child after child throw their salads right into the trash can. It’s good to give children a healthy option but hey – these are the public schools. It’s not like there’s a parent there to make them eat their greens. Nope. Chicken nuggets and chocolate milk über alles!
If you’ve ever gone dumpster diving behind a grocery store (don’t ask), you know that massive amounts of food are thrown away. Boxes and boxes of head lettuces and green potatoes and limp salad greens and bruised apples – it’s amazing.
Yet what kills me isn’t the fact that it spoils before being consumed. It’s that it goes into landfills when it could be composted!
By its very nature fresh food is perishable. It’s also processed before eating. We peel potatoes, core apples, pick the outer leaves off cabbages and throw away yellowed spinach leaves. Grocery stores and restaurants are relentless in disposing of food that won’t sell or present well. It’s a fact of life. But it’s a fact that wouldn’t hurt so much if all that food waste was going back into the ground instead of being mixed into huge piles of toxic materials and lost.
Oh well. We’re not going to fix it any time soon. At least I know the peels from the two bananas I ate yesterday are now in the compost.

Growing Fruit Trees from Seed – What about Chill Hours?


TB writes:

“You recommend getting seeds from low-chill fruits to experiment with/grow fruit trees from seed (for Florida). However, recognizing that fruit tree seeds have random genetics, that suggests that low chill adaptation might not be inherited. Also, experience with  apples suggests that some high-chill varieties can do very well in the tropics. [Irvine, California – in Orange County – used to be a commercial production area for apples!]

For experimenting in a warm climate like Florida, why not try seeds from cultivars that are (instead) selected for taste, size, or other features?  I have seeds from higher chill varieties (Catalina plum, an awesome white nectarine, a giant yellow apricot, sour cherries, etc.) and am thinking of experimenting with these in my zone 10 area.”
Good questions.
I am not at all against experimentation with planting seeds from fruit trees outside their “proper” range. However, there are a few different questions and assumptions we need to untie here before I get into that.
The reason I recommend planting seeds from varieties which are known to produce in your chill range is because fruit tree seeds do not have truly random genetics.
There is variation in what you’ll get, most certainly, but it isn’t a crapshoot any more than when you have children.
I’m of mixed German and Anglo-Saxon heritage. My wife is mostly Anglo, Irish and Welsh. We are solidly European in our genetics.
None of our children look like this:
Or this:
Instead, my children look pretty similar to my wife and I. Their eye colors range from blue to grey to brown and some of the children have brown hair, others have blonde – but there’s definitely a similarity in build, complexion, facial features and even temperament among our children.
The apple, as they say, does not fall far from the tree.
Genetics in fruit trees are similar. I recommend planting seeds from low-chill varieties in low-chill areas because the resulting offspring are more likely to be adapted to the climate than seeds planted from trees unadapted to the region.
That said, this seems to be more important with peaches and other stone fruit than it is with apples. Apples are a different case. Their relation to chill hours seems to be more fluid. Someone wrote me once and told me they were growing quite a few northern varieties in Zone 9, far from their supposed range.
I planted multiple varieties myself, then never got to see the experiment through because I moved to the tropics and left my mini orchard behind. I also own this book.
Peaches, however, can be really stubborn about blooming when they’re adapted to higher chill hours. I had some Florida King peaches (over 300 chill hours required) which staunchly refused to bloom for me for years.
They were grafted trees. It may be that Florida King peach pits would grow and adapt to a different amount of chill hours – but from what I’ve been told at UF, chill hours tend to be heritable.
By all means, collect and plant seeds from trees outside your range if you’d like to experiment. The genetics are variable and they may or may not work. My recommendation to plant seeds from varieties that grow locally is based on probabilities for chill hour success, not a sure knowledge that it won’t work.
Plant away and see what happens – there’s really no loss, and you may gain a new variety that produces in your area.

But Land is Cheap in (NAME RANDOM US STATE)


I was talking with a friend about buying land near us and he was shocked by the price.

He said to me something along the lines of “you could get 10 times the land here in (his state) for that price!”

I know. There are plenty of places where land is cheap in the US. And land is expensive here. An uncleared building lot often costs more than a house and a yard in rural North Florida.

But it’s the US. The idea of moving back to the states is completely and utterly unattractive to me now that I’ve found freedom abroad.

I will pay more for land to live in a nice area here and that’s okay.

Saying “it’s cheaper in ______, USA” attracts me about as much as someone saying “but land in Haiti is cheap!” or “land in Afghanistan is a STEAL right now!”

Nope, not interested. I’ll take my sleepy tropical location outside the Empire, thank you very much, and count myself lucky I can even live here.

Wildflowers Repair Broken Ecosystems


Weeds were designed to repair the soil so this isn’t surprising:

“Lupine, California poppies and buttercups are putting on a floral display in Sonoma Valley Regional Park where the Nuns Fire tore through oak woodlands. In Shiloh Ranch Regional Park, scorched by the Tubbs Fire, lots of lilies are popping up.

And Sugarloaf State Park, which was burned across 80 percent of its acreage, is awash in a burst of colorful blooms. Massive patches of whispering bells, which are known as “fire followers” and bloom after blazes, are growing all over the park.

Thick swaths of bird’s eye gilia that weren’t there last year are blanketing grasslands. Tall and lacy Fremont star lilies are popping up in the chaparral areas of the park. And in the more lush forest areas, there are unusual amounts of beautiful flowers in the lily family, fairy lantern and mission bells.”

You can learn a lot from a piece of land by observing the plants which have volunteered.

Weeds do good work!

She’s Got the Heart of a Tractor


The lyrics on this new TMBG track are pure art:

somebody’s here on business

shooting mesmeric glances across a crowded bazaar

she’s got a bag of gambits

a scheme wrapped in a blueprint

a quiver filled with desire

the arching brow and the adhesive beauty mole

try though she may she’ll never peel away your soul

you’ve got the heart of a tractor

here comes a stack of handsome six pack of strong and silent

the flowers wilt in his wake

unruminative action undaunted by resistance

the butter meets the hot steak

although he’s seized his pick of all that he surveys

he’s met his match in your uncompromising ways

You’ve got the heart of a tractor

you’ve got the soul of a treadmill and the eye of a merchant marine

the stomach of an arachnid and the spine of a vending machine

you can’t forget the moment you were forever smitten

and brought her home from the vet nourished with milk

in droppers a ball of yarn to play with valet

and use of the jet in spite of all the words of love you want to say

she’ll never answer she just turns her face away

she’s got the heart of a tractor

More Thoughts on No-Till


“When you rototill an area, you kill off a lot of the useful creatures in the soil, both macroscopic and microscopic.

On a forest floor or a healthy patch of prairie, these creatures break down debris and turn it into the soil, bringing plants the good stuff they need to thrive.

One of the reasons I don’t use pesticides and herbicides (with the exception of the occasional nicotine spray to kill pesky cucumber beetles) is because I do not want to kill soil life.

Just because you can’t see what’s happening beneath your feet doesn’t mean you should ignore it.”


Read the rest of my new post over at The Grow Network.

I’m obviously not a complete no-till advocate but there are some things to consider before you decide to pummel the soil into submission.

Biochar trench


There is a lot of brush on our garden lot right now, all chopped up and piled in piles. A lot of the wood is covered in thorns and really a pain to manage. I’d like to light some fires and make some biochar at some point; however, the weather is quite dry and there is a lot of wind at this time of the year.

I was talking with a local guy last night and told him what I wanted to do. He told me that when people want to burn during the dry season, they usually dig a trench and clear away all the debris around it, then light their fires in the trench.

Makes sense to me. That’s a lot like this method Steven uses to make biochar:

The problem is that it’s a terrible pain in the neck to dig here because of all the rocks and clay, but I think I’ll see what I can do. The rainy season is coming and I need to space to plant corn. Plus, biochar!

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