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Archives for June 2013

Toxic Sulfur Dioxide Plumes in Oklahoma

pollutionOn Thursday, the Sierra Club released a report demonstrating how OG&E’s Muskogee and Sooner coal-fired power plants are producing enough toxic sulfur dioxide (SO2) pollution to violate state and federal health standards. In addition to the report, the Sierra Club has released maps showing where the pollution from the two plants is going.

Sulfur dioxide exposure can be harmful in a very short period of time. It’s especially dangerous for people living with asthma. In Muskogee County, where one of the plants is located, there are nearly 7,000 people with asthma.

“Even five minutes of exposure to high sulfur dioxide levels can be harmful, and can result in injury that can be compared to a sunburn on your lungs” said Whitney Pearson, organizer with Sierra Club. “It’s now clear that OG&E’s Muskogee and Sooner coal plants are violating air standards that protect our health. We have abundant, affordable wind energy resources in Oklahoma, yet OG&E is stuck on polluting plants that fueled by dirty out-of-state coal. It’s well past time for OG&E to clean up its coal-fired power plants.”- read more


Coal burning plants are the largest source of sulfur dioxide pollution in the nation and the Muskogee and Sooner plants are largest coal plants in Oklahoma. These plants still lack modern pollution safeguards called “scrubbers.” Scrubbers can help control pollution, including sulfur dioxide, though they can’t eliminate all pollution from the plants.

In the plume maps released by the Sierra Club were produced by experts and show that the sulfur dioxide levels at the plants are exceeding the safe levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency. This poses significant health risks to the residents. Elderly, children and people with asthma are the most vulnerable.

“It’s concerning for people to look at these maps and see their home, school, or workplace in an area with high levels of pollution that could be responsible for their child’s asthma attacks,” said Sylvia Swan, Muskogee resident. “More than three thousand people in Muskogee suffer from asthma. We can install locks on our doors to protect ourselves from burglary, but there’s nothing we can do to protect ourselves from OG&E’s pollution. It’s the responsibility of the state and federal agencies to protect us, and it should be the responsibility of OG&E to produce electricity without harming us. It’s time to clean up the Muskogee plant now, that’s why I’ve gotten involved in the effort to educate my community about this important issue.” –read more

The Sierra Club is asking Oklahomans to tell OG&E to clean up and phase out the Muskogee and Sooner coal plants. You can learn more and send your message at Beyond Coal Oklahoma.

Photo Credit- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Nestle is Draining Millions of Gallons of Water from the Arkansas River

waterAs Colorado continues to deal with major drought conditions and massive wildfires, Nestle is draining millions of gallons of water from the Arkansas River out of a pipeline near Buena Vista, Colorado. Residents in the area aren’t happy, some estimates show 80 percent of people in Chaffee County are opposed to this. However in 2010, all three members of the Board of County Commissioners approved the plan. The water is taken from a pipeline and loaded into tanker trucks and taken to the Nestle bottling plant in Denver.

“…where the water will be used to fill hundreds and thousands and millions of little plastic Arrowhead Springs water bottles, which will then be trucked to convenience markets, grocery stores, movie theaters, and sports palaces around the West. Each month, Nestle will fill roughly 40.4 million 16.9 ounce bottles with the water from the area’s Nathrop spring. By the end of a year, 65 million gallons of Arkansas Valley water will have been driven to Denver, bottled, driven somewhere else, and sold.”- The Colorado Independent 

With 65 million gallons being pumped out of the river, you have to ask what the long term impacts will be to Colorado and even downstream. The Arkansas River also flows through Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. These areas have also suffered major droughts over the last couple of years and currently still have areas in drought conditions.


This is the perfect example for what is so wrong with our consumption of bottled water, when we have perfectly clean water from our taps. This issue was brought up by VICE in a recent article,

“….There is also Nestle, which sits at the cheaper end of the “all natural” bottled water market, and which is helping to illustrate the general insanity of bottled water quite well right now in Colorado. In this case, marketing equals an unceasing stream of semi-trucks driving between a series of wells and a bottling plant in Denver, about three hours away. One truck pulls up, fills, and drives on, to be immediately replaced by another empty truck, and so on. In the process, they are draining an aquifer that feeds the Arkansas River.” – read more

VICE goes on to talk about how Nestle is allowed to do this. They buy rights to water from Aurora, Colorado, the water they take from the Arkansas is replaced by Aurora’s water supply, not far upstream from Nestle’s wells.

“Owning land on the Arkansas River doesn’t give Nestle the right to take millions and millions of gallons out of it, even if that land is loaded with aquifers. But the company can buy millions and millions of gallons to put back into the river from Aurora, which, like most of the Denver area, gets its water from a big diversion project in the mountains that collects water that might otherwise head downstream along the Colorado River, and sends it to the city by aquaduct. Guess what feeds the Colorado River? The same exact thing that fills the Arkansas and its neighboring aquifers and your bottle of Arrowhead Springs: snowmelt from precipitation originating somewhere over the Pacific.”- read more

With bottled water you are paying for a plastic bottle, transportation, and marketing to get the same water you get from your tap. And with many cities rushing to find enough water, how can we afford to use it in such a wasteful way?

What are your thoughts on Nestle being allowed to take water from the Arkansas River in Colorado? Share in the comments below or join the conversation on our Facebook page

Photo credit: Ivy Main

 

Oklahoma’s Green Goodies by Tiffany Wins Cupcake Wars

Store shotLast week Green Goodies by Tiffany, an Oklahoma City cupcake bakery, was featured on Food Network’s Cupcake Wars and won! The episode featured vegan bakeries. Tiffany Magness, the owner of Green Goodies by Tiffany, won $10,000 and got the chance to serve her winning cupcakes at a fundraiser for guest judge, Fran Drescher’s charity, Cancer Schmancer. We got the chance to talk to Tiffany Magness about the experience and here is some of what she had to say.

“We feared we wouldn’t finish on time and had to use every last second!” Tiffany said about the final round. They did finish on time and wowed the judges with their cupcakes and display. This display and the cupcakes were used at the charity event for Cancer Schmancer.

Tiffany said that the event was amazing and, “it was so so fun to attend and be part of. Fran was so welcoming and complimentary. It was hands down one of the coolest & rewarding experiences of my life!”


blueberry white choc cupcake
Tiffany also shared what she thought about being apart of Cupcake Wars. “It just was really interesting to be part of a tv show, much harder work than I expected and so many people needed to make just one episode. I really have a lot of respect for the people in the business. They work intensely hard each and every day! In fact, my 14 hour day of work is just par for the course for them, crazy!”

You can currently taste the winning cupcakes at Green Goodies by Tiffany. There are also many other great flavors to try out. They cater to different dietary needs featuring vegan and gluten-free cupcakes, as well as the more traditional cupcakes. They also use as many organic ingredients as they can. They are located in Classen Curve in Oklahoma City and are open seven days a week.

To find out more check out their website www.greengoodiesokc.com and follow them on Facebook.

Save Money by Going Green this Summer

Want to have some extra cash for a summer vacation? Or a summer project? Here are some great ways to save money this summer, by going green!

These are just a few ways you can save this summer, we would love to hear your ideas as well. Share your ideas in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

 

 

Ways to Conserve Water

The drought status has improved for much of the state but the current heat is a big reminder of what Oklahoma summers can be like. It’s time to start conserving water and we have some tips to get you started.

water

  • Use low flow aerators. This is a very easy and cheap way to save water. Doing this you can save you thousands of gallons of water each year.

  • Use low flow shower heads. You can find many styles anywhere you would find shower heads. You can save around twelve gallons of water per shower.

  • Place a full water bottle in your toilet tank to save water each time you flush.

  • If buying a new toilet look for ultra low flow toilets, or even better dual flush.

  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and shaving. You will save around four gallons of water each time you brush.

  • If you hand-wash your dishes don’t just leave the water running, fill the sink to wash them.

  • Check for leaks in your toilet. Place a few drops of food coloring in the tank, leave it for a few hours, and if you see any in the bowl without flushing then you have a leak. Fixing toilet leaks can save around 200 gallons of water a day.

  • Only run full loads in the dishwasher and washing machines.

  • If buying a new washing machine look for a water saving high efficiency (HE) washer.

  • When planting this spring look for native plants that are used to our climate and require less water.

  • If possible skip watering your lawn. If not possible then water during cooler parts of the day to avoid evaporating.

  • Consider getting a rain barrel or two. Imagine all the rain water that could have been saved during the May storms? The rainwater you save during the rainy months can be saved and used during the drier summer months.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. We would love to hear your ideas as well, share in the comments below or join in the conversation on our Facebook page.

Photo Credit:  …love Maegan

 

Fish Contaminated with High Levels of Mercury Found in Oklahoma

fishing
We can end up consuming too much mercury when eating fish contaminated with it. We need to be aware of what bodies of water have mercury issues, that way we know which fish are safe to consume and how much. The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) found 32 of Oklahoma’s lakes contain fish with high levels of mercury. This includes the following lakes;

 

 

  •  Atoka Lake
  • Boomer Lake
  • Broken Bow Reservoir
  • Canton Lake
  • Carlton Lake
  • Cedar Lake
  • Clayton Lake
  • Coalgate City Lake
  • Draper Lake
  • Dripping Springs Lake
  • Elmer Thomas Lake
  • Ft. Supply Reservoir
  • Hugo Lake
  • Kaw Reservoir
  • Lake Carl Albert
  • Lake Carl Blackwell
  • Lake Eufaula
  • Lake Heyburn
  • Lake Nanih Waiya
  • Lake Ozzie Cobb
  • Lake Talawanda #2
  • Lake Wayne Wallace
  • Lloyd Church Lake
  • McAlester City Lake
  • McGee Creek Reservoir
  • Pine Creek Reservoir
  • Quanah Parker Lake
  • Rush Lake
  • Sardis Lake
  • Schooler Lake
  • Skiatook Lake
  • Wister Lake

In the ODEQ’s newly released 2013 Mercury in Fish booklet you can find information on what fish is safe to consume regularly and which aren’t. General guidelines are to eat smaller, younger fish and don’t eat fish that feed on other fish.

For the fish with advisories, it’s recommended that you not consume them for more than two meals a month or the ones with really high levels it’s recommended you don’t consume them at all. If you enjoy fishing in Oklahoma be sure to read the 2013 Mercury in Fish booklet to help you and your family stay safe.

Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Photo credit:  Some rights reserved by jeshua.nace

Local Farmer Spotlight: Acadian Family Farm and Spring Greens, Prosciutto, and Olive Salad

We are starting a series of articles featuring local Oklahoma farmers and vendors. Today, we start with a look at Acadian Family Farms in Fort Cobb Lake, Oklahoma. Acadian Family Farm is a 80 acre certified organic farm owned and operated by Rod and Nanette Ardoin. This spring they are growing 27 different vegetables.

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Some of their green onions and lettuce growing on the farm.
Photo Courtesy: Acadian Family Farm

Their farm was certified as an organic farm in March 2013. I have been a member of Acadian Family Farms’ CSA program since early 2012. Nanette and Rod have a passion for what they do. After all, they have over 30 years experience in farming. Here’s a sample of what I recently received in one of my CSA boxes.

What in the Box? My Spring CSA Week 1 - Our Little Family Adventure

Spring CSA Box: Bok Choy, Arugula, Radishes, Mesclun Mix, Romaine Lettuce Mix, Pea Shoots, Dinosaur Kale, Purple Basil, Cutting Celery, and Dill
Photo Courtesy: Our Little Family Adventure

Their products are available at several locations around the state. They include:

For more information about Acadian Family Farm you can visit their website.

Spring Greens, Prosciutto, and Olive Salad - Our Little Family Adventure

Two of the items I’ve received in my Acadian Family Farm CSA box are spinach and arugula. These are two great seasonal spring vegetables. When using these greens, you want the flavor and freshness to shine through. This salad showcases the flavor of arugula, also called salad rocket. If you’re unfamiliar with arugula, it has a rich peppery flavor. That flavor is complemented with a simple red wine vinaigrette, crispy prosciutto, and Leyden cheese. Leyden cheese is a Dutch style Gouda cheese with cumin seeds. The cumin seeds provide a smoky, earthy flavor to the cheese and to this salad.

Spring Greens, Prosciutto, and Olive Salad

  • 3 slices of Prosciutto
  • 2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups arugula, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup black olives, halved
  • 1/3 cup shredded Leyden or Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Place the prosciutto slices in a single layer and cook until crispy, about 4-5 minutes. Remove crispy prosciutto and thinly slice and then chop. Set aside.
  2. Combine the spinach, arugula, and black olives in a large bowl.
  3. Combine  the vinegar, oil, salt, and honey in a lidded jar. Shake to combine dressing.
  4. Pour dressing over salad greens and toss until well combined. Add chopped prosciutto and shredded cheese. Serve.

4 Servings

Fore more recipes using seasonal ingredients or to see what is in my CSA box each week, visit my blog Our Little Family Adventure. If you are a local farmer, producer, or vendor and would like to be featured, please contact me at nic98omo@hotmail.com.


Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.