BeGreen2013 — National Summit on Environmental Education and Sustainability

The U.S. EPA, Green For All, and Amplify Public Affairs presented BeGreen2013 – National Summit on Environmental Education and Sustainability on January 18, 2013. The event was streamed live which enabled me and several hundred other people to attend in addition to those present in Washington, D.C.

It was through a series of events and actions that I learned about BeGreen2013. Last year I read The Green Collar Economy, by Van Jones. I learned Mr. Jones had founded an organization called Green For All. That led me to learn about Green For All, a nonprofit organization focused on green jobs as a means to build a green economy and lift people out of poverty. It seemed like an excellent organization doing important work so I signed up for their email newsletter and put a link to Green For All on my website. Many months later, an email landed in my inbox about BeGreen2013.

BeGreen2013 Environmental Commitment Pledge

In person and online attendees were asked to make a commit to the environment by pledging to take 1 of 5 actions listed at BeGreen2013:

  1. BeGreen2013 LogoWater: Install a rain barrel
  2. Air: Reduce carbon footprint by biking, walking, and taking public transportation rather than driving
  3. Energy: Stop using energy inefficient incandescent light bulbs in favor of LED or CFL alternatives
  4. Waste: E-cycle unwanted electronics
  5. Education: Organize a local environmental education event

BeGreen2013 Featured Speakers

The speakers were interesting, informative, and passionate about their work. I made a point of looking up and bookmarking their websites so I can learn more.

All the speakers were inspiring, but if I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with only one, it would be Lane, the middle school student and environmentalist. I enjoyed hearing about the water project she is doing in her community for a school science project. We can learn a lot and gain new perspectives by listening to and talking with kids and young adults.

BeGreen2013 Presentation Highlights

The featured speakers participated in one of two panels, shared information about themselves and their organizations, and fielded questions from the audience. Below are a few things I took away from the presentation.

Parents will do for their children what they will not do for themselves, and children can influence their parents. Educating parents and children about the intersection between health and the environment empowers them to take action for better health. Knowledge is power.

We vote with our wallets.

The environment shouldn’t be viewed as a choice just for the wealthy. Economy or environment isn’t a choice. The environment is central to the planet and jobs.

One of the presenters said we need to recycle people, an odd and apt term for helping parolees, veterans, those with disabilities, and others obtain training and education so they can transition into new productive jobs. We shouldn’t waste people.

Community health and safety needs sometimes conflict with jobs.

Environmental education in schools is important and can be accomplished through a variety of programs including science, art, and school gardens. Kids don’t want to be talked to, they want hands on curriculum. Involve tech savvy kids through technology. Projects in the community enable kids to participate in solving a problem, see the results, and learn they can change something for the better.

Corporations can and should conduct environmental education within their organizations and build environmental actions into day-to-day operations. What is good for the environment is often good for the bottom line, and can enhance employee retention as well as attract new employees.

Listen; start where someone else is not where you want them to be.

Resources:

  • Take the Pledge at BeGreen2013.com (Link not active as of 02/09/15)
  • Follow the Conversation on Twitter #BeGreen2013

Wheatless Wednesday — Whole Wheat Wednesday

1917 U.S. Food Administration Food Will Win the War Poster“Wheatless Wednesday” was just as critical to World War I food conservation as “Meatless Monday.” Apparently, by World War II, the U.S. had a grip on wheat production and it was not included in the food rationing program. Along with “Meatless Monday,” “Wheatless Wednesday” seems to be making a comeback.

A previous post covered “Meatless Monday” so we’ll look at “Wheatless Wednesday” in this one.

Wheatless Wednesday during World War I

During World War I, the U.S. Food Administration (USFA) administered the “Food Will Win the War” campaign that asked Americans to voluntarily restrict their use of certain foods like wheat, beef, pork, sugar, dairy products, and fats. People were also urged to not hoard or waste food.

1918 U.S. Food Administration Remember the Days PosterIn addition to “Wheatless Wednesday,” people were asked to not eat wheat on Monday and for one meal the rest of the days of the week. People were not necessarily asked to do without bread but to use less wheat flour, thus Victory Bread made with 20% non-wheat ingredients was born. Americans were asked to cut down on wheat consumption by 25%.

By cutting back on wheat flour for 1 year, the United States was able to ship 120 million bushels to Europe (6 times the usual amount).

U.S. Food Administration (USFA)

Buying and Selling Wheat

The U.S. Food Administration Grain Corporation was formed to establish fair prices, and buy and sell wheat and other cereal commodities. They operated without profit. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Grain Standards Act established standardized wheat grade definitions. Pricing considerations included the distance from consuming market, variety of wheat, and relative value for making flour.

Publications

The U.S. Food Administration (USFA) published and distributed a lot of printed material. One such publication, WAR ECONOMY in FOOD with Suggestions and Recipes for SUBSTITUTIONS in the PLANNING of MEALS, reads like part propaganda and part useful information.

  • It began with The President’s Call to the Women of the Nation to “do their part.”
  • The next page contained a pledge card to enable those responsible for food in the household to become members of the USFA by pledging to carry out USFA directions and advice. Members received a Membership Window Card to display in their home.
  • The bulk of the 30-page pamphlet contained messages about the food situation and why food needed to be conserved, substitution suggestions, meal planning ideas, recipes, buying tips, and a table of weights and measures.
Home Economists

Professional home economists from the USFA were essential to the success of American food conservation during World War I. They created recipes and menus to help home cooks (mostly women) adapt to food conservation, substitutions, and minimizing waste.

As for wheat, these creative women developed recipes for bread, muffins, biscuits, griddle cakes, quick bread, and cakes made with non-wheat ingredients that included corn, barley, buckwheat, oats, rye (for a time), potatoes, and even peanut butter. For example, a recipe for War Cake contained no wheat flour, butter, eggs, or milk.

Wheatless Wednesday in the 21st Century

Type “Wheatless Wednesday” in your Internet web browser and most of the initial pages of results will be websites and blogs offering gluten-free recipes, food products, or dining options.

Gluten Free

Gluten is a protein present in cereal grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. These grains are used in bread, pasta, processed foods, medicines, and cosmetics. Gluten is responsible for the elastic texture of dough that helps bread rise and keep its shape.

According to a WebMD feature entitled “Going Gluten-Free,” about 1% of the population has celiac disease (an intolerance to gluten), and 10% may be gluten-reactive (some sensitivity to gluten).

Gluten-free alternatives to grains include brown rice flour, corn, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, and oats to name a few.

Anti-Wheat

A companion to gluten-free is anti-wheat. This appears to be related to concerns about wheat’s glycemic index and that raises blood sugar (although this is true of all carbohydrates) which might lead to inflammation and weight gain. Some suggest cutting wheat out altogether while others recommend a more moderate approach of eating more whole wheat and less highly refined products like white bread.

Whole Wheat Grain Kernels and StalksIn the 21st century, “Wheatless Wednesday” has left it’s war roots behind and migrated to “Gluten Free” and “Anti-Wheat” days, recipes, products, and menu items.

Perhaps instead of “Wheatless Wednesday” we might look at wheat in a more positive light and go with something like  “Whole Wheat Wednesday”.

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