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How to turn black walnuts into a delicious dish

When I was growing up in central Ohio, school began right after Labor Day. This was advantageous compared to today's August start, and not just because of the longer summer break. The extra time also allowed the black walnuts to ripen just in time to give us something to hurl at each other as we walked to school that first morning. Front-yard bounty. They littered the ground all through the streets on my route to elementary school. It was customary to announce your approach behind fellow students by pelting them with the large green orbs. The nuts seemed to have …

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Trick or treat?

As Halloween nears, beware of the ‘fat-free’ candy corn

It's the beginning of October and as the cooler temperatures and colorful leaves start to make an appearance, every retailer in America is switching storefronts to include pumpkins and of course, Halloween candy. The orange and black packages are cropping up in drugstores and supermarkets nationwide, and the glycemic high that lasts from Halloween through Easter has certainly begun. Since the lipid-phobia of the late 80s, high-sugar candies like gummy bears, gum drops, and candy corn have marketed themselves as "fat-free," but, because most candy contains high-fructose corn syrup, recent research might make you reconsider those "fat-free" claims. In June, …

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Oh noes, driving down!

As of July, U.S. driving declined for nine months straight. Average gas prices have dropped almost 50 cents since then -- I'll be very curious to see the figures for Aug. and Sep. This seems like a good time to revisit the fact that our transportation infrastructure is funded by gas taxes and thus is harmed by a reduction in driving, whereas any number of other social problems -- wrecks, congestion, air pollution -- benefit. Seems like something to revisit in next year's transportation bill. Here's a question for y'all: how should transportation infrastructure be funded? Va. governor Tim Kaine …

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ReGeneration Roadtrip: Hoppin' to it, video

Raising a glass to sustainability at New Belgium Brewery

Our visit to New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado, began with a bike ride into town for some lunch at a Mexican café. So too began the New Belgium company itself. But it wasn't Mexican food that founder Jeff Lebesch was after during his bicycle tour through Belgium. From the seat of that two-wheeler, he dreamed up a brewing company that would incorporate the artisan techniques of traditional Belgian brewing and his own core values -- like environmental stewardship and social responsibility. And thus began the company whose trademark is a bike itself. Walking into the brew pub at …

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CFLs can increase mercury pollution in some areas, study finds

Energy-saving compact fluorescent lightbulbs can lead to an increase in mercury pollution in some regions, according to a new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The study looked at mercury emissions in 130 countries and all 50 U.S. states to determine what role CFLs, which contain mercury, may have in upping mercury pollution. The study concludes that, in general, areas that get most of their power from coal-fired power plants -- such as China and Estonia -- can reduce their net mercury emissions overall by switching to CFLs since the bulbs help reduce electricity demand and thereby …

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Has GM overdesigned the Volt?

Is a 40-mile all-electric range too much?

I have an article in today's Guardian online, "Is the Chevy Volt just hype?" I argue that the key to the near-term success for plug-ins in this country is government incentives and mandates, which in turn will critically depend on the outcome of the presidential election. But that should not be a surprise, since no country in the world has achieved significant market penetration of an alternative-fuel vehicle without major government incentives and mandates. I noted that one alternative fuel vehicle expert told me that GM has "already sunk at least $1 billion into the Volt and cannot reasonably expect …

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Attention Catholics

1. The pope is infallible. 2. The pope just had solar panels installed on the Vatican roof. 3. You must have solar panels installed on your house or you will go to hell. QED

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Cutting meat and milk consumption cuts CO2 emissions, study says

Happy World Vegetarian Day! Just in time for the festivities, a new study from the Food Climate Research Network finds that cutting down on meat and milk consumption can help cut greenhouse-gas emissions. The four-year study focused mainly on the U.K., concluding that dramatically cutting the average Briton's weekly meat and milk intake could help reduce emissions since about 8 percent of the country's greenhouse gases come from meat and dairy production. The study also boldly recommends citizens cut alcohol from their diet -- which has little nutritional value but contributes some 1.5 percent of overall emissions -- as well …

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The case for country

Why I ditched D.C. and moved to rural Nebraska

"You're moving where?! Why?!" Steph Larsen on the road in North and South Dakota Photo: ruralaffairs. This response was by far the most common among acquaintances when I told them excitedly that I was leaving my Washington, D.C. job directing the policy program at Community Food Security Coalition to be an organizer in rural Nebraska at the Center for Rural Affairs. Not that I blame them entirely; while I did grow up in Wisconsin, and I am not afraid of the "Midwest fly-over zone" as coastal people like to call it, the smallest town I'd ever lived in for any …

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ReGeneration Roadtrip: Earthships ahoy!, video

Living off-grid in a reclaimed gravel pit

      As sustainably minded folk, we tend to curse the environmental disruption that occurs when new roads are built through beautiful wilderness areas. But for a number of residents living just north of Taos, New Mexico, it was the creation of a nearby highway that actually helped pave the way for their unique community.   That's because their homes are actually built in a reclaimed gravel pit -- taking land that was cast off as worthless and turning it into usable living space. But these aren't just any living spaces, either. These Earthships are completely self-sustainable, off-grid homes. …

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