Living

Grow your own

Ask Umbra’s pearls of wisdom on gardening

Dearest readers, Ah, spring is in the air. Well, sort of. We’re still technically about three weeks out, but our unusually unwintry weather here at Grist HQ seems to be duping buds into bloom and setting off an outbreak of early onset spring fever, which has, in turn, caused mulch, seedlings, watering, and weeding to infiltrate my thoughts. How I adore digging in the dirt — so much so that I dug through the archives for some especially delicious gardening advice from Ask Umbra columns past. Enjoy, and let me know what you’ll be planting in your spring garden in …

Asian carp: battle or bait?

News of the impending Asian Carp invasion of the Great Lakes is sobering. But I have a solution. Are you listening, Maine Lobsterman’s Association? These fish have been clogging waterways and outcompeting native fish up and down the Mississippi River system ever since they escaped the fish farms where they were used to clean tanks of unwanted algae. This according to a story in the Guardian which also says that 9 of every 10 fish in some stretches of the river are now carp, which “eat up to 40 percent of their body weight in a single day. By sucking …

Rust in pieces

Hummer to hum along no more?

Crash course General Motors has decided to park the ultimate gas guzzler in that big garage in the sky. GM thought its plans to sell Hummer to a Chinese company had the green light, but got run off the road this week by the Chinese government, ironically, over fears of pollution. Enviros who say fuH2 may be cheering, but what will they make fun of now? UPDATE: The pearly garage doors may not have shut on Hummer quite yet, as two previously shunned suitors have come a-callin’ to GM. Photo: blmurch via Flickr

Hamburgling the future

Your car and your meat-eating: the biggest causes of climate change

A new study coming out of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that when it comes to the net contribution to climate change on-road transportation, burning biomass for cooking, and raising animals for food are the biggest culprits. Since most of us don’t regularly use biomass stoves to cook, as do millions of people in developing nations, that leaves us with your car and your diet to tackle. Rather than looking at the sources of different chemicals linked with global warming, the GISS study looked at net climate …

Abu Dhabi bailed out Dubai — is the world next?

Driving around Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, you can easily see the massive construction sites and melting pot of cultures. What is less evident is that a sustainability revolution is going on, from the most humble corner shop to the highest levels of government. Abu Dhabi may best be known in recent times for a financial bailout of its sister emirate, Dubai, but just as it preserved its oil wealth with a more practical approach than others, it has also quietly embraced a suite of measures to make its buildings, businesses, and homes more sustainable in …

Notable quotable

From staple to superfood: açaí goes industrial

“The fruit was traditionally collected from wild palms. Now companies have açaí plantations, and collectors are raising more açaí palms on their land, according to Antônio Cordeiro de Santana, an agricultural economist at the Rural Federal University of the Amazon. With cultivation more concentrated, resistance to disease and productivity have decreased, he said, even as the number of açaí palms in Pará has exploded.” –Seth Kugel, writing in The New York Times

don't be so kneady

The time has come to make delicious and easy bread at home

Fifteen minutes wrestling with dough–who kneads it? A little more than two years ago, Mark Bittman and Jim Lahey got together and transformed home bread making for all time. In the kitchen of Lahey’s Sullivan Street Bakery, they shot a video illustrating Lahey’s simple method for making a top-quality loaf with no special equipment–and no kneading whatsover. If you haven’t seen it, you really have to watch it (damn The New York Times for not making its videos embeddable.) Bittman wasn’t exaggerating when he wrote at the time: INNOVATIONS in bread baking are rare. In fact, the 6,000-year-old process hasn’t …

Wake me up before you to-go-go

Ask Umbra on eating in

Dearest readers, Look, Ma — no takeout!The sharper among you already know from yesterday’s video that HuffPost Green is exhorting us all to board the cooking-at-home train via its Week of Eating In experiment. Not one to ask of others what I myself am not willing to do, I have taken the pledge. That’s right; I’m eschewing morning chai lattes from the coffee shop downstairs, avoiding my favorite lunchtime bakery, and turning a blind eye to the oh-so-delicious takeout from the new vegetarian Thai place.   Just last night I served roasted butternut squash soup and crusty bread. Down in …

she'll cut a bitch

Hipster puppies hate on cars

Hipupcracy What do you get when an insufferable breed of the two-wheeled species meets a fey brand of urban canines? Hipster puppies: Photo: elizabeth e via hipsterpuppies.tumblr.com lola bean believes “cars suck” and cyclists have a “right to the road” — but has no idea how mean and annoying she is to pedestrians. Furthermore, hipster pups can’t stand non-vegan butter and being too hungover to bike at Critical Mass.

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.

×