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  • Predators on Primetime: Shark Week!

    Predators on Primetime: Shark Week

    It’s Shark Week! Also known in my house as “The Week Mom Won’t Go Near the Ocean or a Pool and Becomes Leery of Bathtubs.”

    I hate sharks. I hate them with a phobic intensity that makes me shudder when I walk by the trout aquarium at Cabela’s. I didn’t see Jaws until I was an adult, and even then I spent most of the movie looking down into my lap until the scary music stopped. So you can imagine how much I love headlines like this one:

    “Shark photo prompts closure of access to ocean off San Clemente.”

    While fishermen regularly report shark sightings (the predators are attracted by large amounts of fish), the photographic evidence spurred officials to action in this case. Though the beach was completely off limits for a couple of hours after the incident, caution signs remained posted—signs, one official noted, that did little to divert beachgoers.

    It’s true that shark attacks are relatively rare (check out this hilarious but accurate comparison chart of shark attacks to other potential catastrophes from the Florida Museum of Natural History). However, they’re a real enough threat that the governments of Cape Town, South Africa; Western Australia; and Hawaii all publish their own shark safety pages.

    Whether Shark Week has you glued to the TV or locked in your second-story bedroom, if you’re planning on spending any time in the ocean, it’s smart to know your “enemy.” National Geographic has a thorough article on “Shark Attack Tips,” that includes strategies for avoidance, what to do in case of an attack, and tips for helping a victim.

    It also de-bunks some shark myths (for example, if you see a group of dolphins it doesn’t mean there are no sharks in the area. Dolphins and sharks not only eat the same types of food, but some sharks even eat dolphins!), and helps us understand things from the big fish’s perspective (sharks see contrast well and interpret thrashing around as injured and easy prey).

    Of course, the best course of action is always to stay aware, stay educated, and stay within the boundaries set by those responsible for your safety (like local authorities and lifeguards). But it never hurts to practice a hard punch to the gills once in a while.

     

    Any shark stories out there? Come on, scare me!

    -Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: shark week, shark, Survival

  • The Bouquet You Can Eat: Foraging for Flowers

    The Bouquet You can Eat: Foraging for Edible Flowers

    Have you ever seen a package of flowers in the refrigerated section of the grocery store and wondered why on earth they were mixed in with the food?

    Well, aside from making a meal look more aesthetically appealing, flowers can be yet another way to gather food from your garden. Or for those with an adventurous streak, flowers can be a special prize while foraging for wild food, either for fun or as a necessity during an emergency.

    In this article, we’ll give you some basic tips on foraging for edible flowers. To learn more about foraging in general, visit the Insight article Survival 101: Foraging for Edible Plants.

     

    6 Dos and Don’ts of Flower Foraging

    Before your first flower foraging expedition, you should obtain reliable resources to be your guide and provide accurate images of edible flowers in your area. Try Field Guide to North American Edible Wild Plants or a regional field guide specific to your area.

    Having a field guide can go a long way in helping you know which flowers are safe to eat, and which you should leave alone.

    Along with doing your own research, here are some specific dos and don’ts when it comes to foraging and eating the pretty companions to wild greenery:

    1.Do: Only eat flowers you are100% certain are edible; it’s not worth the risk

    2. Do: Perform the Universal Edibility Test if you’re not sure a flower is edible. This test requires you to separate the parts of a plant, test it on your skin, cook if possible, and hold it on your tongue, waiting for adverse reactions. Always look for plants growing in abundance. If a plant is growing in large abundance, it's more likely to not be poisonous.

    3.Do: Avoid flowers that may have been treated with pesticides, or that grow on the side of the road, come from nurseries (unless guaranteed organic) or are near any other contaminated areas.

    4.Do: Watch out for bees, hives, and other animals

    5.Don’t: Eat the flowers before removing the pistils and stamens (the middle portion of the flower, along with any parts sticking out of the center, as pictured below). These are the central ovule and pollen producing parts of the flower that can make the taste bitter or undesirable.

    The Bouquet You can Eat: Foraging for Edible Flowers

    The Stamen and Pistils of a flower

     

    It’s ok to eat the stems, petals, and leaves of most flowers, but consult a guidebook for how to properly cook and eat each part of the flower.

    6.Don’t: Eat flowers if you have severe allergies.

     

    6 Edible Flowers you should know when foraging

    Here are some common edible flowers to memorize if you’re ever in an emergency that requires you to eat edible plants:

    1) Dandelions: This one is obvious, but begs to be included because the yellow flowers are easily recognizable. Most people have them in abundance, and treat them like pests when they creep up on the lawn, but the leaves, roots and flowers are edible, and you can use the unopened buds to make Appalachian Style Fried Dandelions, on allrecipes.com

    The Bouquet you can Eat: Foraging for Edible Flowers

    2) Japanese Honeysuckle: Honeysuckles in general can be tricky, since there are many species of honeysuckle, and some are poisonous. Some have edible and poisonous parts on the same plant, so in this case it is very important to know your stuff. The Japanese Honeysuckle stores a sweet nectar in its base that can be accessed after proper identification of the distinct white and yellow flowers. For a tutorial on extracting the nectar, follow this link: www.instructables.com/id/Honeysickle%3A-Harvesting-the-Sweet-Nectar-of-Life/.

     

    The Bouquet you can Eat: Foraging for Edible Flowers

    3) Fireweed: This plant also has many edible parts, but the flowers, stems, and leaves are best in the spring when they are fresh. They can be found in woods, along hills, and beside fresh water or oceans in cold climates. An interesting fact about fireweed is that it grows in areas that have been burned. The seeds are not destroyed in the fire, but can germinate after the fact.

     

    The Bouquet You can Eat: Foraging for Edible Flowers

     

    4) Garlic grass: The alliums have many great, wild varieties, and most carry that lovely garlic smell. For garlic grass specifically the thin stems give way to light, purplish blossoms, resembling the bloom of a chive flower in shape. Much like the grocery store variety, they can be used on many savory items you wish to spice up, such as a salad or meat dish. They are a great wild replacement for chives or scallions.

    5) Red Clover: round, purple, tube-like flower petals can be eaten raw or steeped for tea. Pull the petals off and sprinkle them over a salad, or try this Mixed Berry Pie recipe and serve with a sprinkling of clover to top it off.

     The Bouquet You can Eat: Foraging for Edible Flowers

     

    6) Trillium: The Trillium is a single-flowered branch plant that has three white petals that turn pink as the plant ages. You can find Trillium around stream banks or also on the forest floor in open or deep woods.

     The Bouquet you can Eat: Foraging for Flowers

    If you want to cultivate your own edible flowers in your garden there are many choices you could plant to explore the culinary possibilities. These options include, but are not limited to

    • Squash and zucchini flowers
    • Pansies
    • Lavender
    • The flowers of many herbs, such as chives
    • Flowering thyme and basil
    • Violets
    • Roses
    • Water Lillies

     

    Each flower has its own benefits and rules for planting and harvesting, so be sure to be as careful and knowledgeable in your own garden as you would be in the wild.

     

    Happy hunting!

    - Lesley

     

     

    Sources:

    www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/gardening/weeds-edible-plants-0409#slide-1

    http://homecooking.about.com/library/weekly/blflowers.htm

    http://beprepared.com/insight/13423/survival-101-foraging-for-edible-plants/

    http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/universal-edibility-test1.htm

    http://whatscookingamerica.net/EdibleFlowers/EdibleFlowersMain.htm

    www.allrecipes.com/recipe/fried-dandelions-appalachian-style/

    www.wildernessarena.com/food-water-shelter/food-food-water-shelter/food-procurement/edible-wild-plants/fireweed

    www.instructables.com/id/Honeysuckle%3A-Harvesting-the-Sweet-Nectar-of-Life/

    http://readynutrition.com/resources/edible-flowers-42-varieties-to-add-to-your-garden_09022014/

    http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/universal-edibility-test1.htm

     

    http://www.garden.org/ediblelandscaping/?page=edible-flowers

     

    http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/ipnf/maps-pubs/?cid=fsm9_019160

     

    http://www.motherearthnews.com/nature-and-environment/foraging-edible-plants-zmaz82mjzglo.aspx#axzz38PTxNtc5

     

    The Sense of Survival by Alan J. South

    Posted In: Insight, Skills, Uncategorized

  • Tornadoes in Tennesse

    Tornadoes in Tennessee

    In the West we’re no strangers to summer storms. But we prefer the kind that pelt us with cool rain on a hot afternoon, and then peter out when it’s time to light the barbecue. Not the kind that knock houses down. That’s what Tennessee had to deal with recently. Fortunately, no one was injured, but emerging from your basement to find a pile of debris where your home once stood is not exactly a pleasant way to pass a summer evening.

    While this particular storm affected several states in the region, one county in Tennessee bore the brunt of the devastation, as high winds ripped up trees and structures. Fox News reports that ten homes and one grocery store were completely destroyed in the community of Speedwell, including the town sheriff’s home.

    NBC News speculated that one of the numerous reported tornadoes associated with a storm system raging across areas of New England and into the South could have been responsible for the destruction in Tennessee. Elsewhere, flights were canceled, cities lost power, and New York saw some flooding. Between the heavy rain, whipping winds, tornadoes, and lightning, this storm was a force to be reckoned with.

    As a reminder, we posted this little article (“Staying Safe as Severe Storms Head for the Midwest”) in June, which serves as a helpful reminder regarding preparation for storms of all kinds and also contains some great links to other articles and resources. We’ve also found some useful tips for road safety during summer storms at weather.com; and our friendly northern neighbors at Environment Canada have a fantastically comprehensive list of safety instructions, categorized by the threat (e.g., lightning, tornadoes, hail, etc.).

    If the weather in your area is cooperating nicely, however, enjoy your summer and use the downtime to educate yourself.

     

    -Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, tornadoes, Current Events, Tornado

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