It's May 12th, 2007 and the kids are still awake. My daughter has a quizzical look on her face as she skeptically slides her freshly-lost tooth under her pillow in a legal-sized envelope. "Papa," she asks in a way that tells me I'm in trouble. "Are you the tooth fairy?" I've been waiting for this question for a long time and I've always told myself that I would be honest with my kids. Mythology is good, but I can't lie. "Well," I say. "Do you want the truth?" "Yes," she says. "Okay. Yes." She gives me a look that just a moment ago had been one of shared understanding. A look that said, "I know the game here, let's not pretend." Now it's melting into a stone stare of shocked horror. Tears trickle from her eyes and then it's a deluge. My other daughter walks into the room. "What's wrong?" she asks. "Papa is the tooth fairy!" My other daughter cries. Soon both girls are wailing in such well-orchestrated surround sound that I feel dizzy. I have earned my merit badge - you know, the one with the symbol of a wolf ripping apart a happy teddy bear at a tea party. The one that officially inducts me into the Bad Dad Club. "Are you sure?" My daughter asks me again. She's generous. "I just help the tooth fairy," I say in a waffling sort of way. "When she's really busy." The crying quiets into short and shallow breaths. The almost exorcism of the Tooth Fairy has exhausted them. "I won't help her tonight," I say. "And if your tooth is gone..." I say. "Then she exists?"
Apriums: The growing of fruit - something both simple and amazing - has generated many a mid-summer fairy story. Today I think of new fruit development in three categories spanning the spectrum from literary magic to white-coated scientist. First is random and natural. For example, the Braeburn apple appeared in a Granny Smith orchard in the mid-20th century in New Zealand - trees often throw off "sports" which are natural mutations that become new varieties. Second is hybridization by farmers. Apriums, plumcots, and pluots are examples of crossbred varieties that cultivated through a selection process over multiple generations of a plant by diligent and observant stewards. Third is GMO (manipulating the genetic make-up of a plant to achieve a desired result). The FruitGuys doesn't buy GMO fruit and we want to make a clear distinction between hybridized fruit and GMO produce. Apriums, which you will see in the organic and harvest mixes this year, are 25% plum and 75% apricot and an example of an early hybrid stone fruit. They look like apricots but also have a sweet/tart bite to them like early plums. Be the office sprite and spread the word about these fun fruits. Plumbody will love you for it. To see exactly what's in your box by region, go to fruitguys.com and click on "In the Mix."
Enjoy and be fruitful!
- Chris Mittelstaedt
The Bee Beat
Bees and the pollination they provide are essential to growing fruits and veggies but their numbers have mysteriously declined in the past decade, so FruitGuys News has started a Bee Beat to cover these unsung farm heroes. We've reported on the FruitGuys Farm Steward beehive program and the Bees vs. Seeds conundrum in Fresno, CA. Now we spotlight a northern California bee product company dedicated to educating consumers about the beauty and importance of the api.
You can’t miss BeeKind, the Sebastopol, CA honey and beekeeper supply store. Katia and Doug Vincent opened the store in 2004 and installed a beautiful bee mural on the outside of the building on Route 116. The Vincents have an unrivaled selection of honey and a tasting bar to sample the many varieties made from different plants, seasons, and regions. You can choose Tupelo, Orange Blossom, or Sage; infused or creamed; honey from secluded Bolinas pastures or San Francisco gardens. Beeswax, from finished candles to candle making supplies, propolis, bee venom, royal jelly, and other health and beauty supplies, are also shipped nationwide. Their product list is a great reminder of the amazing capabilities of bees.
But BeeKind’s real work is supplying and educating beekeepers. They hold regular beekeeping classes and carry a large assortment of beekeeping supplies, from pith helmets to observation hives. As expert apiarists, they can capture swarms of bees that have defected from a mother hive. Usually people view them as pests but Doug says 2009 has been different. “Last year we'd get 5-10 swarms calls a day. This year an overwhelming number of people want to buy hives to save them in.” Media coverage of the mysterious bee colony collapses in the U.S. and around the world has raised awareness of bees’ importance, and possible precariousness. Honeybees pollinate an estimated $14 billion of seeds and crops in the U.S., according to a Cornell University study. Apples, carrots, almonds, broccoli, and cantaloupe are just a few of the crops that depend almost entirely on bee pollination.
The Vincents work with organizations like the Partners for Sustainable Pollination to educate the public and promote bee sustainability. They work with seed suppliers and nurseries on “pollinator blend” cover crops for use in vineyards and orchards. Home gardeners can find bee friendly-plants at nurseries by looking for stickers from The Yellow Dot Project.
Nationwide, beekeeping classes have increased attendance, even in New York City where its illegal to keep bees. In Pennsylvania there has been a 30-40% increase in beekeeping classes. “Colony Collapse Disorder has been bad for bees, but sure has increased awareness in the importance of bees.” says Lee Miller President of Pennsylvania State Beekeepers Association. Even The White House has installed beehives to pollinate its new garden. August 21 is National Honey Bee Awareness Day. A sweet idea indeed.
- Heidi Lewis
Fitness Activity Pyramid
Here’s a pyramid scheme where everybody wins: the California Department of Health Services Fitness Activity Pyramid! Similar to the United States Department of Agriculture’s food guide pyramid for basic nutrition, the fitness pyramid groups activities according to their ideal percentage and guides you to an active lifestyle.
The top has a narrow band for sedentary activities such as watching TV and sitting at the computer, while the broader segments outline weekly and daily fitness objectives. The pyramid is easy to use and has recommendations for all levels of fitness. For example:
If you’re just starting a fitness program and do not currently exercise:
Walk whenever you can. Walk to the store, take a 15-minute walk at lunch, and try to walk a little bit every day. Health experts recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day for adults. If you need to break it up into three 10-minute segments instead of a single 30-minute trek, that’s a great start.
If you’re already exercising moderately:
Focus on getting a good aerobic workout at least three days a week. This could be walking, jogging, biking, swimming, playing soccer or basketball, or even going out dancing or gardening. Make sure you get your 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day by walking or other activities and set goals to challenge yourself.
If daily exercise is already a part of your routine:
You may already have exercise partners, but if not, get involved in new physical activities with like-minded people, such as group hiking or cycling. Incorporating cross training into your routine is a great way to ensure optimum fitness and make sure you never get bored. Two or three days a week try strength training with pushups, weight lifting, or resistance band training. Remember to stretch regularly.
You can download a PDF of the pyramid and check it out on your own here. And remember, it’s your body and your fitness plan, make it work for you!
- Jeff Koelemay
As part of your FruitGuys subscription, we provide you and your employees online access to UC Berkeley's Wellness Letter, the Newsletter of Nutrition, Fitness and Self-Care. It translates leading-edge research into practical advice for daily living - at home, at work, while exercising, shopping, or cooking.
Highlight from May's Wellness Letter:
Brain Health - What to Keep in Mind
Research into memory loss and dementia is intense, and hardly a week passes without some news. Memory problems and dementia often have multiple causes. Protecting your cardiovascular system, as outlined by many of the steps here, is probably your best bet for keeping your mind sharp and disease-free.
Get great health tips and more in the Berkeley Wellness Letter.
The May password is sardine.
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