A Consumer’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce (starts 7:55) You may be wondering if you washed the strawberries, blueberries or kale that you had for breakfast this morning enough to rid them of residue of potentially harmful pesticides. That is, if they were conventionally, not organically, grown. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 200 different pesticides remain in some form on popular fruits and vegetables that Americans eat every day. And before testing all the produce, the USDA thoroughly washes and peels them. Such tests show that simply washing produce does not remove all pesticides. In a recently released report, as part of its “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce,”The Environmental Working Group ranked the pesticide contamination of 47 popular fruits and vegetables. Its analysis, which was based on results of nearly 50,000 samples of produce that the USDA tested, found that 70 percent of produce contains pesticide residues. But don’t despair: There is also good news in the report. Sydney Evans, a science analyst at EWG, and Liza Gross, an independent investigative reporter, speak with host Susan Moran about the EWG report and the broader societal and environmental implications of pesticides. See Liza Gross’ articles on pesticides and other issues.
Hosts: Maeve Conran, Susan Moran Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Maeve Conran Additional Contributors: Chip Grandits, Beth Bennett, Gretchen Wettstein Executive Producer: Joel Parker
Why Compost? (start time: 7:01) Many of us may feel a little less guilty letting fruits and vegetables go bad, because we figure that this waste, thanks to curbside compost pickup, will be turned into nutritious food for crops, lawns or grasslands down the road. And landfills will spew less methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide. The story of food waste and reuse is a complicated one. Our two guests are working on getting composting right — and ultimately on how to make our food-production and consumption systems more sustainable, starting here on the Front Range. Dan Matsch directs the compost department for Eco-Cycle, the nonprofit recycler that works with cities along the Front Range. He also directs Eco-Cycle’s Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials (CHaRM). Mark Easter is an ecologist at Colorado State University’s Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory. Matsch and Easter discuss with host Susan Moran the journey of a rotten zucchini, how composting is tied to the emerging practice of carbon farming, and how we all do our part.
Calendar advisory: Join KGNU and Eco-Cycle on Thursday, January 31, at the Longmont Museum (6:30 to 8:00 P.M) for a special community conversation on plastic waste–challenges and solutions. The event will include representatives from Eco-Cycle, the Inland Ocean Coalition, and local business and sustainability leaders. For more info, go to this website.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Chip Grandits Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Chip Grandits Executive Producer: Beth Bennett Additional contributions: Beth Bennett
This week’s How On Earth offers two features: Work-Email Anxiety (start time: 7:58) If you’re wondering why you often feel anxious on Monday mornings, despite having spent time with your family and friends over the weekend, you might recall the amount of time you spent glued to your smart phone or laptop, checking email because you worried that your boss would be expecting you to be virtually on hand. You’re hardly alone. Samantha Conroy, an assistant professor of business management at Colorado State University, discusses with How On Earth host Susan Moran a new survey-based study (under review) that she co-authored. It found that not only employees but their partners at home suffer from high anxiety when the employee feels pressured to be virtually available via email after hours.
Fixing Food Waste (start time: 17:59) We’re all guilty of it: waste. Tossing out peaches, broccoli and other food that has gone bad in the fridge. Or leaving pasta on our plate untouched at an Italian bistro. More than one-third of all food that is produced in the United States is wasted – in the field, at restaurants, in our own kitchens. The conservation organization World Wildlife Fund recently published a report on the huge environmental and health impacts of food waste, and on what can be done to reduce waste, and ultimately preserve grasslands and other natural habitat. Monica McBride, manager of Food Loss & Waste at World Wildlife Fund, co-wrote the report, called “No Food Left Behind.” She shares the findings and recommendations with Susan Moran. Check out these resources at WWF on what you can do: A Food Waste Quiz and tips on reducing waste.
Hosts: Chip Grandits, Susan Moran Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Chip Grandits Headline Contributions: Beth Bennett, Joel Parker, Shelley Schlender Executive Producer: Beth Bennett
Sustainable Agriculture (starts 3:06): We couldn’t feed the planet without nitrogen, a vital nutrient for crops. But most soils don’t produce enough of it to feed anywhere near our 7 billion-plus humans on the planet. So, for nearly a century we’ve been applying synthetic fertilizer—mainly nitrogen and phosphorus — to grow crops for animals and people. But we have overindulged, creating vast amounts of waste, in the form of nitrogen pollution of waterways and the atmosphere. State and federal regulations have pressured growers to dramatically reduce fertilizer runoff from their fields. But it’s not been enough. Another approach – call it the carrot versus the stick – is also taking hold. Major food retailers, wholesalers, and producers, such as Walmart, United Suppliers and Unilever are transforming their whole supply chains, making food production less carbon- and nitrogen-intensive. Suzy Friedman, a sustainable agriculture expert with the Environmental Defense Fund, discusses with host Susan Moran how programs such as SUSTAIN help large food companies shrink their environmental footprint.
Hosts: Natalia Bayona, Susan Moran Producer: Susan Moran Engineer: Tim Russo Executive Producer: Susan Moran
Our Microbes, Ourselves, Dec. 31, 2015: Roughly one hundred trillion bacteria are living, and gorging, in our gut–all the more so during the indulgent holidays. Microbes influence our health and well-being, by affecting our gut directly, as well as the crops we eat and the soils in which we grow crops. These microbial communities – called the gut microbiome — have been linked to many disorders, including obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, and even mental illness. We are just at the dawn of a new era of microbial treatments for many illnesses. After a recent How On Earthshow generated so much interest, we decided to bring our guest, Amy Sheflin, back for an hour-long call-in show on A Public Affair on KGNU. Amy is a doctoral student at Colorado State University in food science and human nutrition. She studies how the food we eat alters the microbial communities in our gut, and how those microbes in our bodies influence our overall health. For more info on the gut microbiome, check out Amy’s favorite books on the topic: The Good Gut, by Justin and Erica Sonnenburg; and The Inside Tract, by Gerard Mullins. Also check out the American Gut Project.
Real Food (start time 4:20): What we eat , and how we eat, is inextricably connected to our own health as well as the health of the planet. Every decision we make—whether to bake a chocolate cake or buy it from Safeway or at a Farmer’s Market—is full of nuances and even contradictions. Megan Kimble is a writer who became obsessed with wondering how she could make a difference in the world by examining her eating habits. Her just-published book, called Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Yearof Reclaiming Real Food, is her personal journey into the scientific, public health, environmental and political issues related to food. Kimble will speak tonight at the Boulder Book Store, at 7:30, and tomorrow night, July 30, at Tattered Cover in Denver, at 7:00 p.m.
The Buzz About Bees (start time 13:49): Across the United States, buzzing pollinators are key to the growth of countless flowering plants. But many bee species are also disappearing nationwide, due to pesticide use, habitat loss, and other threats. Dr. Sam Droege is a wildlife biologist who studies this vanishing world. He heads up the U.S. Geological Survey’s Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab. For several years he’s also led an effort to photograph bees — very, very close up. Droege’s bee photos are the basis for a new book called “Bees: An Up-Close Look at Pollinators Around the World.”
Hosts: Susan Moran, Daniel Strain Producers: Susan Moran, Daniel Strain Executive Producer: Susan Moran Headline contributions: Daniel Strain
Plants in Space (start time 04:36) What would you miss if you were to spend an extended time in space—driving a car? Going to the movies? Hiking? Playing with your dog? Gravity, maybe? Or maybe something as simple as eating good, nutritious vegetables. How On Earth’s Beth Bartel speaks with University of Colorado undergraduate researcher Lizzy Lombardi about harvesting healthier veggies for our astronauts. Or, as we like to think about it, plants in space.
Relativity (start time 13:30) Albert Einstein published his special theory of relativity in 1905 and his general theory in 1915. Special relativity revealed bizarre and powerful ideas, including the famous equation E=mc2, but the basic theory hinges on a single realization: all observers, no matter how fast they are moving, always measure the same speed of light in space. A decade later, general relativity, the result of Einstein’s “happiest thought” that “the gravitation field has only a relative existence” unseated Newton’s law of gravitation. General relativity has passed every observation trial—so far. Relativity is important in everyday experience, for example enabling the incredible accuracy of the Global Positioning System, but the theory, especially the general form, can be a tough mathematical challenge. Boulder astrophysicist Dr. Jeffrey Bennett’s just-published book, What Is Relativity? An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein’s Ideas, and Why They Matter, gently straightens the curved spacetime. Join Jeff and host Jim Pullen live in the studio to learn why ‘black holes don’t suck’!
Hosts: Beth Bartel and Jim Pullen Producer: Beth Bartel Engineer: Jim Pullen Executive Producer: Jim Pullen Additional contributions: Jane Palmer
Facing the Wave (starts at 04:50) Yesterday marked the two-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that rocked and partially devoured the northeastern coast of Japan. Although prone to earthquakes, the Tōhoku event hit a magnitude of 9.0, tying it for fourth largest earthquake on record according to the United States Geological Survey—a magnitude greater than scientists thought possible for this region.
Last month, co-host Beth Bartel spoke with author Gretel Ehrlich about her recently published book “Facing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami.” When asked about her motivation to write this book, Ehrlich, a long-time traveler to Japan, said simply that she went to see the effects of the wave because she had to. (Go to our extended interview for more about how the disaster spurred activism in Japan.)
Pandora’s Lunchbox (starts at 14:38) Did you ever think how long that energy bar you ate while skiing recently would last in tact beyond the expiration date? Or that bag of Oreo cookies you devoured last night? Melanie Warner, a local journalist and former staff writer at the New York Times, started thinking about it so much that she began experimenting with leaving some processed foods out way beyond their expiration date. What she found was shocking, and led her to explore deeply into the “processed food industrial complex.” The result is a new book called “Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal.” Co-host Susan Moran interviews Warner about the creators and health impacts of many iconic foods in the American diet.
Hosts: Susan Moran, Beth Bartel Producer: Beth Bartel Engineer: Jim Pullen Executive Producer: Shelley Schlender