Think Like A Mushroom Or Just Eat Some

Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in Blog, Mushrooms | 0 comments

Think Like A Mushroom Or Just Eat Some

I have been studying mushrooms, inside and out, macroscopically and microscopically, for the past 22 years. At times I imagine myself deep into their chemical consciousness to figure out what they are thinking and what they are experiencing. Why? To gain a higher understanding of their individual needs on a species by species basis. I know this sounds strange, and, trust me, on occasion I look in the mirror for signs of gills emerging from my neck or a Cordyceps mushroom sprouting from the back of my head like a possessed ant, as I near the final stages of my personalized mushroom infection.

Now, you don’t need to go to these extremes to be a good mushroom grower. But, who wants to be good? Greatness is committing one step higher and at a level that can make the impossible a reality. That’s what I attempt to teach folks in my new book, Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation: Simple to Advanced Techniques for Indoor and Outdoor Cultivation.


Fungi, with their branching fungal filaments called hyphae (collectively called mycelium), are constantly sampling their environment’s chemical properties, using specialized cell tips that can read the composition of a substance like a laboratory liquid chromatographer. These rapid tests signals the mycelium to adjust its internal assembly lines, shifting genetic expression, to manufacture whatever it needs to overcome, or succeed in this newly sampled environment, or in many instances, when it encounters a competitor or pathogen competing with its territory. This interface environment is where the magic happens, and this is where I try to place myself—deep into the matrix to gain a better understanding of these interactions between fungi and their immediate environments.

You are probably right in guessing that I don’t watch TV much, or pay for cable, as these mushroom cultures are my preferred entertainment, setting up bacterial and fungal galleries on petri plates, constructing microbial gladiator matches to watch, learn, and gain a deeper understanding of how these organisms react so quickly, and most importantly efficiently, to changes in their environment. This has to be the lesson that resonates with my personality the most, the will or need to foresee my path and pave my way safely through life the best I can, with minimal injury and creating opportunities.


Meet Your New Mentor – Mushrooms

The availability of online information has helped make for easy searching, however much of the online sources for cultivation and mushroom identification are inaccurate, and anyone can post or blog about their projects.

Scanning through a few popular sites I see the struggles and mistakes, the misleading information perpetuated amongst the public body of knowledge thirsty for solutions. I admit that I started in the same place, except with little to no Internet content in the early 1990s and with the only access to good mushroom cultivation information being in the back of a High Times magazine. For $3 you received a few Xerox copies and hand drawings of spore isolations. Even though books were available on cultivation, they weren’t enough to feed my need to succeed. Failure after failure, contamination winning the race, I saw that I had a great future in growing molds and no mushrooms, until one day I spotted a tiny mushroom growing in one of my jars, and everything changed forever. That little mushroom must have known I was on the edge of giving up, maybe it felt sorry for me, as if to wave a flag telling me to not leave a friend behind, and focus on this one little mushroom. I finally failed forward, and loved it.

Nothing has changed in 22 years except I know where to start approximately with every mushroom I find to minimize failure, but often the rules are not the same for every species, so again I have to deal with plate after plate, or jars of small adjustments to find the correct combination to unlock the growing parameters of each species. And, it takes a long time. My degree of error is now extremely low, as I have progressed to a new clean room and high tech lab gear, but I have also learned how to calculate risk when trying something new, strategizing a winning outcome rather than rolling the dice blindly. Though, on occasion, I’ll surrender to the serendipitous forces of the universe and just lob a “Hail Mary” into the end zone with extra cultures, bags, or plates lying around just to see what happens. This to me is an interesting way to pick up some accidental and also innovative solutions or discoveries without spending too much formal planning or thought on the projects, and gleaning the rewards of accidental invention in process. A lesson learned here? Patience and empathy, something the world could use a little more of, so start thinking like a mushroom, become opportunistic and seize this moment. Create something that can change the world, one mushroom at a time.
Mushrooms and Man: Soul Mates for Life

The balance of nature is offset by human intervention that has not yet learned consequence, despite repeated warnings, and each mode of environmental damage compounds and overlaps into new problems.


Pollution can create illnesses and starvation, which creates dynamics in world power; regions of starvation and illness are breeding grounds for viruses and other pathogens to mutate and host jump—a vicious circle that needs to be stopped. However, as I point out in my book Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation, there are solutions that anyone can put into motion, regardless of academic or physical skill, making it a valuable tool in reversing global issues. These powerful forces, many natural and several man-made, challenge our survival as a civilization and species. I feel a systemic connection to the planet, one that keeps me up at night wondering how to fix it, one problem at a time, but it is impossible to do alone. I have tried to compile this book to help create conversation, collaboration, and creativity to evolve collectively. When an ecosystem is sick, the organisms that inhabit that ecosystem are also sick, fall ill, and perish. A small pond is no different than the planet as a whole, just a small model that we can watch and observe all of the inputs and outputs. But where do we get the strength and power, or skillsets to reverse the flow of negativity on the planet? To put these problems back where they belong and create definitive solutions and not “quick-fix” ideas that merely patch the holes.

If we aren’t afraid to take the first step and learn something new, such as cloning mushrooms with cardboard, or cultivating mushrooms on some organic matter collected during a cleanup effort, then we can demonstrate a proof of concept that empowers everyone to expand this skill to a higher level.


The Open Source for Fungal Solutions is Finally Here

A feeling of true empowerment doesn’t come along very often, and the world seems to limit the power to a select few. To make matters even more unbalanced, the leaders of particular industries often keep their industry and trade secrets close to home, which limits the spread of knowledge to the general public. The mushroom industry is no different, with the massive mega farms in Pennsylvania, California, and Tennessee dominating the playing field, and thus driving the prices as low into the ground as possible to make competition difficult. These few farms account for more than 80 percent of all cultivated mushrooms in the United States. However, most of them employ expensive composting technology that most growers cannot afford to become competitive, and many rely on conventional pesticides to ensure that their yields are consistent and appear flawless to the consumers. Some even use banned fungicides with a “special needs” permit through the EPA, claiming that they would not be able to grow mushrooms without it.


When you see, or tour, a farm of this design and magnitude it can seem daunting, and understandably overwhelming when you start to think about setting up a farm to compete with this type of efficiency and volume. But that is your advantage, not to compete as a conventional farm, rather to compete at a localized level producing high quality, organic mushrooms which are grown naturally and command a much higher market price than high volume farms. There is no comparison to the mushrooms you are able to cultivate and mushrooms shipped in from 1000 miles away, and consumers know it.

In my book Organic Mushroom and Mycoremediation I provide readers with as much information as possible, distilling it into a language that is easy to follow and, more importantly, enable you to act upon it. Removing the feel and fear of academic or complicated guides, the reader should be able to convince themselves to grow mushrooms successfully without the use of complicated machines or making large investments to get started, and learning how to add layers to their experience and skill level as they progress. Once the reader understands how mushrooms feed and fruit, the book offers a buffet of do-it-yourself projects and ideas that I hope will fuel a pattern of citizen science that can contribute back to the good of everyone. I encourage anyone reading the book to share their discoveries, protect them if need be, but share the concepts with the world so that all may benefit from using them at home or on a small scale. In turn, these concepts will pay forward and return our intellectual property investments by way of public domain solutions—ones that should never be owned or shelved. If everyone knew how to cultivate mushrooms on paper and cardboard, especially in remote or devastated locations, the solutions to suffering from global starvation would go from a pipedream to a reality. It just needs ground troops like you to carry this mission forward.


The “Hidden Power” of Fungi and Medicinal Mushrooms of the Future

What happens when you raise a wild animal in captivity for several years, pet and spoon feed it, then return it back to the African savannah? Probably not a happy ending for a zebra or gazelle trying to make friends with the lions! So what lesson can be learned here in regards to cultivating mushrooms?

I am a huge supporter of cultivating native mushrooms for many reasons. The most important reason is the genetic quality of the mycelium specific to your region matches much of your available raw materials and it has adapted to the climate, just like you.

The difference between large, factory produced mushrooms and those cultured and grown at home are very different. There is a higher degree of quality when one is able to control the precise growing conditions and environment when cultivating on a small scale, ensuring that a mushroom is properly cared for as it manufactures all of the goodness you will harvest later. As mushrooms grow, the mycelium divides as it colonizes, and every cell is making a replicate over and over again. When you photocopy an original document, then make a copy of the copy, and so forth, the quality begins to show. It is no different with mushroom mycelium, where the dividing cells are consuming the same growing substrate and “become bored” or accustomed to the media and start to lose genetic variability or expression, to make certain compounds that they don’t need. It is possible that when you over divide the mycelium at some point it may show no interest in fruiting at all! I am convinced fungi have ADD (attention deficit disorder) for a very good reason, and it is an evolutionary advantage, so maybe we should let the kids daydream a little and put the Prozac away.


In my experience and opinion, keeping mushroom cultures closest to their wild isolates is the best way of preserving these unique characteristics, such as mushrooms high in protein or vitamin D, to keep manufacturing these compounds and teaching them not to degenerate as they grow. Our farm uses just five transfers from the original isolate, while at industrial farms it is not uncommon to be using the 20th generation of transfers for the final expansion onto growing substrate, which is a long way from home for the mycelium. Most colleges, universities, and businesses cultivating organisms for research and for industry, such as producing Penicillin for example, use stock cultures of known potency and must maintain finite numbers of backups in preservation for expansion. The cultures, much like plants, are grown in monoculture, large bioreactors or fermenters on a nutrient source and harvested when the cells are ready. The organism is grown with one end product in sight. The way my lab works is much different, treating cultures more like a workout gym or Olympic center to train and challenge the organism into making new compounds never before created, without genetically modifying them. This tactic has been proven effective in practice, and now on its way to unlocking the “hidden power” of fungi. How does understanding this phenomenon benefit humanity? By creating a paradigm shift in treating disease with personalized medicinal solutions.

For example, anyone contracting strep throat typically receives a throat culture, swabbed and its identity verified on selective media to determine which of the few antibiotics are in circulation or available on the market that are effective. The problem is that all bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant, at the rapid tune of three to five years after a product arrives on the market (after a twenty-year FDA approval and experimental process that could cost $200 million per drug). It’s easy to who is winning the race—the microbes. The only way to get around the broad, herd-based antibiotics is to stop treating humans and animals like heads of cattle, and use specialized, or individual supplements produced by fungi capable of manufacturing the compounds exclusively for that very host organism, be it a goat, dog, or human. This type of shift is also called a disruptive technology.


In the future I see a new breed of medical facilities, where a throat culture is dosed into fungal modules that sweat the metabolites into a powdering or liquid gelling process, and in 24 hours you’d have personalized medicine in a form that is not regulated by the FDA or, alternately, pharmaceutical companies, which purify or genetically alter their organisms. Not only can these compounds synthesized by fungi naturally on a case-by-case basis vary in their molecular chemistry, they are extremely complex and naturally calibrated levels of antibiotic cocktails, tailored exclusively for this particular infection, and even better, compatible to your specific ecotype. A DNA matched antibiotic cocktail? Why not, I dream a little right? I don’t think anything is impossible if you ask nature for solutions. If there is one thing I know, it’s that the bacteria and viruses are gaining ground, and we need other options and solutions to survive and heal this planet.

The planet needs a Spring Cleaning, NOW, using Mushrooms

As dynamic as the planet seems, with her self-balancing mechanisms to offset disruptions, we are just too damaging as a species for the Earth to keep cleaning up after us.

Getting closer to a tipping point is not my idea of a sustainable civilization. Lucky for us, recent discoveries have found that mushrooms are well suited for this challenge to help us, but we must be able to understand how they help us to apply them in a way that makes them succeed. These solutions range in difficulty from a small puddle of herbicides spilled at home to an EPA superfund site, yet the basic principles are no different and can be learned and applied by anyone immediately.


The limiting factor in cleaning pollution with fungi, or mycoremediation, is the availability of the biomass, or volume of mycelium from a particular mushroom, that is typically created by cultivation. Farmers and small-scale growers now have the ability to expand mycelium and use it with the intention of using the waste to solve an environmental problem in their region. What is missing is the identification of these localized problems and connecting the administrations that oversee the pilot programs with groups that can collect data from specific sites and create small models that can then be scaled up to larger projects. Homeowners and farmers should not preclude themselves from becoming involved, as this participation collectively can generate a considerable amount of biomass needed for these larger projects. Creating a mycological task force in your area can create the momentum needed to fix many environmental projects sitting and waiting for someone to take action. The grant money is there, in most areas of the United States, to fund projects just like these. They just need leadership to educate the committees, file a plan of action, and to release the funds to fuel a small wave of mycelium in your area. This is why open source mushroom cultivation and experimentation is so important to the future of mankind on the planet. Every so often in history there is a paradigm shift from a normal theater of thinking, and if we can shift a population in a classroom, into a small town, into a city, and connect the areas in between, we will see how the power of the individual’s effort coalesces into a collaborative and unstoppable, positive force. Become an inspirational leader and take this information to the next level and show the world how amazing mushrooms are!

About the Author

Tradd Cotter is a microbiologist, professional mycologist, and organic gardener, who has been tissue culturing, collecting native fungi in the Southeast, and cultivating both commercially and experimentally for more than twenty-two years. In 1996, he founded Mushroom Mountain, which he owns and operates with his wife, Olga, to explore applications for mushrooms in various industries. His most recent book is Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation: Simple to Advanced Techniques for Indoor and Outdoor Cultivation (Chelsea Green Publishing).


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Mushrooms Mushrooms Every Where!

Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in Blog, Mushrooms | 0 comments

Mushrooms Mushrooms Every Where!

Reishi Mushroom








Mushrooms, mushrooms everywhere! Mushrooms have been used as food and medicines for thousands of years. Many people enjoy eating various types of mushrooms, in both raw and cooked forms. Most are grown in Chester County, in the town of Kennett Square and its surrounding area, which is also known as “The Mushroom Capital of the World.” With lots of health benefits and a variety of ways to prepare them, it is easy to understand why so many chefs like to incorporate them into their tasty dishes.

Mushrooms contain between 80 and 90 percent water, are low in sodium, fat and calories, are extremely nutrient dense, and are an excellent addition for people who are weight conscious. In addition, they contain no gluten, fat nor cholesterol. They are chock-full of potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure and incidence of stroke. In fact, one medium sized portabella mushroom contains more potassium than a regular sized banana. They are also full of Vitamin B (great for the nervous and digestive systems), iron (good for Anemia and red blood cells), copper (helps makes red blood cells) and selenium (good for prostate gland function and helps reduce prostate cancer).

Mushrooms are the only grown food that contains natural vitamin D, which aids in bone strengthening. Combined with calcium that is also found in mushrooms, they can help with joint pain and Osteoporosis. They also contain Beta-glucans, which help to stimulate the immune system and increase allergy resistance, and are found in many Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms. Mushrooms are also well known for containing Ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the immune system. Ergothioneine is an amino acid that contains sulfur, which many people lack in their diet. Diabetics have shown improvement eating various types of mushrooms, because of the natural insulin and enzymes that they contain. Many species of mushrooms also help diabetics from infections to their limbs, as they are a natural antibiotic.


Below is a summary of some of the more common mushrooms:

• White Buttons: The most common of mushrooms in the U.S., research shows that they help with breast and prostate cancer, while consuming approximately 3.5 ounces per day. Good for weight loss.

• Crimini (precursor to Portabella): These brown mushrooms are similar in size to white buttons, and are firmer and possess an earthier flavor. They also help with breast and prostate cancers. Great for weight loss.

• Portabella: These large, brown, umbrella shaped mushrooms (the adult version of Crimini mushrooms) have a meatier flavor. Great for grilling and stuffing with artichoke, spinach, crab meat and an “Italian” recipe of ground meat, tomato sauce, onions, peppers and herbs. Also helps with weight loss.

• Shiitake: Have been used by many Asian cultures to care for colds and flu. Research shows that the extracts of this mushroom helps to fight infections, enhance the immune system, and help fight tumor growth and breast cancer. Eat 4 to 5 ounces per day. Excellent source of Vitamin D.

• Reishi: Looks like a wooden brown and white flower: Good for fighting bacterial and viral infections, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.

• Maitake: Helps cleanse the body and stimulates the immune system.

• Oyster: Ongoing research shows promise of helping to defend against HIV. High in antioxidants

• Porcini: A meaty mushroom that looks similar to a portabella mushroom, it also has anti-inflammatory properties

Mushrooms are a versatile food that can be used in many soups, salads, sandwiches, appetizers, stews, nutraceuticals, supplements and yes, even added to sports drinks! Only buy mushrooms from reputable vendors, as many mushrooms grown in the wild can be poisonous and contain toxic heavy metals.

Mushrooms are a delicious addition to people’s diets, and have many surprising health benefits. Research has shown they can help lower cholesterol levels, protect diabetics from infections, help prevent against breast and prostate cancer, help with weight loss, improve bone health, stimulate the immune system, reduce blood pressure, increase iron absorption and are great suppliers of potassium, calcium, riboflavin, phosphorus, vitamin D and selenium. Try using them in a variety of recipes today!


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Russell Brand And Max Keiser Talk About Interest Rate Apartheid

Posted by on Jul 14, 2014 in Blog, Finance, Spirituality | 0 comments

In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert are joined in the first half by Russell Brand to talk about the austerity headlines. They chat about the UK government’s expanding debt and growing deficit, despite the alleged austerity and GDP expanding thanks to heroin addiction and prostitution. Russell learns about the water cannons bought for use against anti-austerity protests which the government itself will stoke. Finally, they talk about the people revolting as they must do when the social contract has been broken: and crypto currencies are one of the most visible revolts. In the second half, Max interviews Russell Brand further about his independent media outlet – The Trews; they discuss revolution and spiritual journeys.


How To Nip Hayfever In The Bud

Posted by on Jun 17, 2014 in Blog, Health News, Mushrooms | 0 comments

How To Nip Hayfever In The Bud

Hayfever is such a cruel ailment. There should be nothing more joyous than lying in the grass, eating strawberries and sleeping away the afternoon. But for hayfever sufferers, a relaxing day in the sun becomes a tortuous experience, seen through teary eyes and interrupted by a perpetually streaming nose.

Sports presenter John Inverdale claimed he was tortured by hayfever on the day he said Marion Bartoli, the Wimbledon champion, was “never going to be a looker”, and countless social incidents have been marred by less widely-broadcast faux pas.

The Met Office has reported that this summer could be one of the warmest on record, which will be celebrated by all but the sniffly hayfever sufferers, who will be further upset by news that the warm days interspersed with showers will create a longer pollen season.

But if you’re forever armed with three packets of tissues and a litre-bottle of water, then these treatments could help calm hayfever.

Take antihistamines – even when you don’t need them

For mild hayfever sufferers, the odd antihistamine pill when you feel sniffly should do the trick. But if you find your eyes streaming and your nostrils red from nose-blowing, then take the tablets before your symptoms appear. A regular dose of antihistamine will make sure the drug remains high in your system to fight off the effects of pollen. And if the pills still don’t work, speak to your GP about a stronger prescription antihistamine.


When the pollen is flying up your nose and you can barely make it through a sentence without blowing your nose, deep breathing as a cure seems like an impossibly cruel hoax. But a 2005 Swiss study found that hayfever sufferers reported fewer symptoms after they were taught hypnotherapy. Close your eyes, take deep breaths, let go of your tension – and try to ignore the tickle in your nose.

Use a red light

Shining a red light up your nose can increase blood flow circulation, reduce histamine production and calm inflammation. Lloyds pharmacy has created a phototherapy probe that’s found to alleviate sneezing, a runny nose, watery eyes and an itchy mouth.


If you find yourself bolting the door against pollen and sun, ask your GP about immunotherapy, which slowly introduces small amounts of pollen to your system to build up resistance. The treatment can be given as an injection or a tablet that dissolves under your tongue, but is reserved for severe cases and can take months to have any effect.

Clear out the pharmacy

Nasal sprays and eye drops can help relieve specific symptoms: namely, a blocked nose and itchy eyes. Get some help with your spraying technique – too many a spray has been wasted on the eyelid, which won’t help hayfever at all.

Clear out the herbal remedies

Vitamin C, Vitamin E, fish oil, reishi mushrooms and oil leaf extracts have all been used to treat summer sneezing. The results, so far, are inconclusive. Some people swear by natural treatments, while others don’t notice a difference. There’s no harm in trying – at the very least, the vitamins will add to a well-rounded diet.

A spoonful of honey

Although it still relies on anecdotal evidence, a daily spoonful of honey is one of the most delicious remedies for hayfever. Honey that is grown in Britain, derived from manuka crops, and left unprocessed is highly recommended.

Wear wrap-around sunglasses

Looking cool in summer is over-rated anyway. Wrap-around sunglasses – which leave no inch of the eye area exposed to outside air – can help protect your eyes from pollen. It won’t do much for the sneezing and raspy breath, but at least your eyes will stop itching.

Quit smoking

Cigarette smoke is another allergen and will further irritate the lining of your nose, eyes, throat and airways. So if you’re going through five packets (of tissues) a day, summer could provide the ultimate motivation to quit smoking. After all, cigarette breaks aren’t much fun if you have to keep pausing to gargle water.


Traditional Asian Remedy Found To Fight Prostate Cancer

Posted by on Jun 17, 2014 in Blog, Health News, Mushrooms, Scientific Studies | 0 comments

Traditional Asian Remedy Found To Fight Prostate Cancer

Reishi growing on wood chip












A widely used traditional Asian health food supplement can actually help to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells depending on its production process, according to New Zealand research released Thursday.

University of Auckland researcher Ben Kao compared the impact of different ethanol and water based extracts of the ganoderma lucidium genus of mushrooms on cell lines of prostate cancer and identified how the compound killed cancer cells and reduced inflammation.

Ganoderma mushrooms, which grow on wood, include about 80 species and are often referred to as shelf mushrooms or bracket fungi.

Known as “lingzhi” in China and “reishi” in Japan, they are widely available in Asian countries and have been used for millennia in Chinese medicine to promote good health.

Available in Asia in a variety of forms and strengths, from low-strength pills to high quality red mushroom extract, they are believed to boost the immune system, improve circulation, reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, destroy tumors and slow aging.

“Ganoderma lucidium has been seen to have a growth inhibitory effect on prostate cancer, but most of the research has tested only one type of extract,” Kao said in a statement.

“For this study we compared four different extraction methods to see which is the most powerful and to see how it exerts its effects.”

Two extracts were made using ethanol based extraction and two used water based extraction methods.

“The ethanol based extracts had the more direct effect on cancer cell growth by inhibiting the cell cycle and were more powerful than water based extracts,” said Kao.

“For the water based extracts, the mechanism of action involved the immune and anti-inflammatory pathways within the cell.”

Ganoderma lucidium was shown to have a strong effect on limiting cell growth in the cancer cell lines and had no negative effect on normal cell lines.


Japanese Man Arrested For Gun He 3D Printed At Home

Posted by on May 10, 2014 in Blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Japanese Man Arrested For Gun He 3D Printed At Home

3d printed gun










A Japanese man suspected of holding guns made with a 3D printer has been detained in Japan – in the first such case in the country.

Yoshitomo Imura, a 27-year-old college employee, was reported to possess five weapons, two of which could fire lethal bullets, NHK reported. He also had a 3D printer at home, but no ammunition for the guns, Jiji Press reported.

The investigation into illegal firearms possession reportedly started after the suspect posted a video online with him shooting the guns.

“It is true that I made them, but I did not think it was illegal,” the Mainichi Shimbun daily newspaper reported Yoshitomo Imura as saying.

The suspect allegedly purchased a 3D printer for around ¥60,000 ($600) on the Internet, and downloaded the blueprints for making the guns from foreign websites. Broadcasters showed Imura being taken in for questioning.

It is the first time that Japan’s firearm control law has been applied to the possession of 3D-printed weapons.

The debate around the use of guns that contain no metal has been going on for some time: last year, a Texas-based group, Defense Distributed, posted blueprints for a fully functional, 3D-printed firearm, a single-shot pistol made almost entirely out of hard polymer plastic.

Following that, in December, the US Congress renewed a ban on non-metal firearms.

The situation is Japan is different, with very strict firearms control laws in place and very few people who possess guns or even ever come into contact with them.

The suspect has often posted on Twitter, justifying the possession and manufacture of guns, and once said on the Internet that “gun restrictions are violation of human rights,” NHK reported. The man also had 10 replica guns, Jiji news agency reported.


Pesticides Killing Honey Bees Shock News!

Posted by on May 10, 2014 in Blog, Environment, Health News, Scientific Studies | 0 comments

Pesticides Killing Honey Bees Shock News!

honey bees dying due to pesticides








Honey bees are quickly disappearing from the US – a phenomenon that has left scientists baffled. But new research shows that bees exposed to common agricultural chemicals while pollinating US crops are less likely to resist a parasitic infection.

As a result of chemical exposure, honey bees are more likely to succumb to the lethal Nosema ceranae parasite and die from the resulting complications.

Scientists from the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture on Wednesday published a study that linked chemicals, including fungicides, to the mass die-offs. Scientists have long struggled to find the cause behind the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), in which an estimated 10 million beehives at an average value of $200 each have been lost since 2006.

Last winter, the honey bee population declined by 31.1 percent, with some beekeepers reporting losses of 90 to 100 percent of their bee populations. Scientists are concerned that “Beemageddon” could cause the collapse of the $200 billion agriculture industry, since more than 100 US crops rely on honey bees to pollinate them.

The new findings are key in determining one of the causes of the CCD, but they fail to explain why entire beehives sometimes die at once.

UMD and DOA researchers found that pollen samples in fields ranging from Delaware to Maine contained nine different agricultural chemicals, including fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and miticides. One particular sample even contained 21 different agricultural chemicals. To test their theory, they fed pesticide-ridden pollen samples to healthy bees and then infected them with the parasite. They found that the pesticides hindered the bees’ abilities to resist the infection, thus contributing to their deaths. The fungicide chlorothalonil was particularly damaging, tripling the risks of parasitic infection.

“We don’t think of fungicides as having a negative effect on bees, because they’re not designed to kill insects,” Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the study’s senior author, said in a news release.

He explained that federal regulations restrict the use of insecticides while pollinators are foraging, but noted that “there are no such restrictions on fungicides, so you’ll often see fungicide applications going on while bees are foraging on the crop. The finding suggests that we have to reconsider that policy.”

Bees are declining at such a fast rate that one bad winter could trigger an agricultural disaster. California’s almond crop would be hit particularly hard, since the state supplies 80 percent of the world’s almonds. Pollinating California’s 760,000 acres of almond fields requires 1.5 million out-of-state bee colonies, which makes up 60 percent of the country’s beehives. The CCD is a major threat to this $4 billion industry.

Entomologists suspect that a number of other factors also contribute to the CCD, including climate change, habitat destructing and handling practices that expose bees to foreign pathogens. But the effect of agricultural chemicals is particularly alarming, especially since the US does not have laws banning the use of the pesticides that are affecting bee health.

“The pesticide issue in itself is much more complex than we have led to believe,” vanEngelsdorp said. “It’s a lot more complicated than just one product, which means of course the solution does not lie in just banning one class of product.”



How Much Sleep Are You Getting?

Posted by on Apr 19, 2014 in Blog, Fitness, Health News | 0 comments

How Much Sleep Are You Getting?

How Much Sleep Do You Really Need to Work Productively? Debunking the "8 hours a day" myth! (Click-through to read) - One of the most acclaimed sleep researchers, Daniel Kripke, said there's never been any evidence to back the 8-hour rule. In his most recent study, Kripke found that "people who sleep between 6.5 hours and 7.5 hours a night, live the longest, are happier, and most productive."

Every one of us, on average, will be sleeping for 24 years in our lifetime. Still, there are many unanswered questions about sleep and how much we need of it. With this post, Leo Widrich sets out to uncover what the most important research has taught us about sleep. And of course, how you can use this knowledge to create an unbeatable daily routine.


One of the biggest problems I’ve discovered is that sleep is such an overly-talked about topic. We get the general idea that we know all about it: how much we need of it, how it impacts us, and why this or that happens when we sleep. Once I took a step back to really think about where our knowledge about sleep comes from, I realized that nearly all of it is based on hear-say or what my mom told me when I was in elementary school.


Eliminating the 8 hours per night sleep myth


Everyone has an answer to “how much sleep do you need”? A common one—and one that I have given on many occasions—is to respond “Oh yes, I need my 8-9 hours of sleep every night, I know that.”


It turns out, that might not be true after all.


One of the most acclaimed sleep researchers, Daniel Kripke, said there’s never been any evidence to back the 8-hour rule. In his most recent study, Kripke found that “people who sleep between 6.5 hours and 7.5 hours a night, live the longest, are happier, and most productive.”


What’s even more interesting here is that sleeping longer than that might actually be worse for your health.


Personally, as an 8 hour/night sleeper, this definitely opened my eyes and I have started to experiment by decreasing my sleeping time slightly to see if 7.5 hours makes a difference.


Of course, the general idea about the “one-fits all sleeping amount” is particularly odd, as Jim Horne, one of Europe’s most acclaimed sleep experts mentions in his book:

“It’s like saying everybody should have size eight shoes, or be five foot eight inches.”

It seems that finding your optimal sleeping time in between Kripke’s finding is a good way to go. It’s certainly something I’m giving a go now.


The trap of too little sleep: What happens to our brains if we don’t have enough sleep?


Now this part is one of the most fascinating aspects about sleep. Have you ever been with someone who got only 4 hours of sleep but looks just as attentive, fresh, and up to his game as you, who spent 7.5 hours in bed?


Well, the answer is this: someone who is severely sleep deprived is in fact as attentive and awake as you are.Here is what a recent study found: The sleep deprived person can in fact deliver the exact same results as someone who isn’t sleep deprived in an exercise, when they give it their best shot. Odd right?


Now onto this though:


The problem lies elsewhere. Whether we are sleep deprived or not, we lose focus at times. And that is precisely where the sleep deprived person lands in a trap. If we start to lose focus but have received the right amount of sleep, our brain can compensate for that and increase attention(see the image below for the increased yellow bits that shift your focus back.). If we are sleep deprived, our brain can’t refocus.

How Much Sleep Do You Really Need to Work Productively?


The main finding is that the brain of the sleep-deprived individual is working normally sometimes, but intermittently suffers from something akin to power failure.


That’s from Clifford Saper at Harvard. In the image you can see what this means. As you lose focus and your attention is drifting, the yellow bits show how people with enough sleep activate parts in their brain to refocus on the task at hand. Sleep deprived people will have barely any activity in that area (the amygdala reactivity) and will struggle to regain focus.


So really, this can turn into a huge trap. The person bragging that they only slept 4 hours and still do great work, well, they are actually right with what they are saying. The only issue is that, they have no brainpower to steer them back to focus once they lose attention. Even worse so, sleep-deprived people don’t notice their decrease in performance.


Sleep-deprived workers may not know they are impaired. According to Saper, “the periods of apparently normal functioning could give a false sense of competency and security when, in fact, the brain’s inconsistency could have dire consequences.”


Sleeping your way to success


Not getting enough sleep is a pain. So now, onto the good stuff: what we can actually do to optimize our sleeping habits to new heights and sleep our way to success.


When it comes to developing focused techniques that work on better sleeping habits, the web isn’t short of answers. Querying some of the smartest brains I know, here are the top 3 things to do in order to have better sleep and work more productively:


Start napping every day—here is why and how


For the past 2 years, since I started working on Buffer, I have been napping every day, for around 20 minutes. One of my favorite writers and New York Times bestselling author Michael Hyatt does the same things for many years and posted his insights in this great post about napping.


As Michael points out, some of the core benefits of napping are that you can restore alertness of your brain with just a few minutes of falling into light sleep.


Personally, I know that my productivity takes a dip at 3 PM every day. This is exactly where I place my nap, and it has been one of the most powerful ways to bring my productivity back to 100% after that.


In a great video Michael pointed me towards, one of the key benefits of napping daily is to simply feel less tired. Although this may sound stupidly obvious, it can help a great deal to contribute to your daily happiness. Check out this quick video on this topic.


To get into a napping routine is often very difficult. Here are the top 3 ways I think you can make it work:


-One of the key things I found here is to make others aware of the fact that you are napping every day.Try and get encouragement from your co-workers or your boss, so you can set yourself up for developing a successful habit.
-Timing very important. In fact, in the video above, the common sentence of “napping doesn’t work for me” is often down to the fact that people nap too long. Don’t let your naps exceed 30 minutes max; personally, 20 minutes has proven to be the optimal timing for me.
-The last tip I find most crucial is to make napping a consistent habit. Keep both the frequency (daily) and the time of day (3pm seems to be a very popular time as productivity dips) the same and consistent.


Develop a sleep ritual—here is how and why:


How can you make this as easy as brushing your teeth every evening? It’s very simple: develop a sleep ritual that will set you up for a great night of sleep ahead. Rituals, different from habits, can be something a lot more compelling: “Whilst habits are often seen as activities you have to force yourself to do, rituals are instead activities which you are pulled towards,” Joel Gascoigne writes in this great post on developing a sleep ritual.


When it comes to creating a sleep ritual, one of the key things is to have the last activity completely disengage you from the tasks of the rest of your day. Here are a few activities you can try to properly disengage:


-A 20 minute walk on a specific route and at a specific time. It is a great way to clear your head and be ready for sleep. For a specific way to develop your evening walk, try Coelho’s speed exercise.
-Another thing that has worked greatly is to read fiction. Different to non-fiction books, it is a great way to completely disengage, enter a different world and mindset, and then be ready for great sleep.
-The last point I had great success with is to have a clear wake-up time by tying it to an immediate event afterwards. If you just set your alarm for say 7:30, but you always hit the snooze button, try something else. Keep the alarm, but plan the first thing you will do and tie it to a specific time. For me, that has been to have breakfast immediately at 7:40. Or that my support session starts at 7:45. Joel hits the gym exactly 5 minutes after wake-up time. Those things can help a great deal to get over the inertia of getting out of bed.


The Fight Against Fracking Rumbles On

Posted by on Apr 19, 2014 in Blog, Environment | 0 comments

The Fight Against Fracking Rumbles On


It could be a village fete. There are rugs spread out, bunting, and several green gazebos. People are sitting on folding camp stools, and knowledgeable locals are keeping an eye on the Sussex skies for the first sign of rain. Only the placards and banners strike the wrong note. Because the villagers and visitors gathered together are here not to raise money for the church roof, but to try to stop a plan to drill for fossil fuels under their homes and fields.

That was my first experience of the protest at Balcombe, last summer. It’s been a long journey since then, via five hours in the cells of Crawley police station, months of preparing our case, and finally six days at the magistrates court in Brighton.

Balcombe, as one of the first places in the UK to be earmarked as a potential fracking site, has been the frontline in a major struggle over the search and exploitation of yet more fossil fuels – and the stakes could hardly be higher.

Fracking not only has a range of serious local environmental impacts, including risks of air and water contamination, but it also radically undermines efforts to tackle the climate crisis – which in turn means our children will inherit a much more hazardous world. Many of my constituents have written to raise their concerns about this with me. Our peaceful protest in August 2013 was designed to raise greater awareness about the dangers of fracking, and to put pressure on the government to change course.

The window for action is closing fast. Two UN climate reports that came out during the trial have made it clear that greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels are rising faster than ever, and that the only way to avoid the worst impacts of climate change is to switch urgently to renewable energy, reduce energy demand, and wean ourselves off fossil fuels for good.

As an MP, I’m in the privileged position of being able to make the case in parliament. I’ve tabled motions, put questions to ministers, spoken out in the media – and will continue to do so. But the government is ignoring the evidence, rejecting the climate science, and dismissing the enormous benefits of a secure and affordable energy system based on renewables and energy efficiency. Instead they are set on a reckless and irresponsible new dash for gas, offering the fossil fuel companies generous tax breaks as well as influence within government itself.

Experts are clear that we need to leave around 80% of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground if we’re to have any chance of avoiding dangerous climate change. With this in mind, it makes no sense to start a new industry extracting shale oil and gas.

That’s why I decided to join the peaceful protest in Balcombe. There is a proud tradition of nonviolent direct action in this country, and I believe that using peaceful means to try to stop a process that will cause enormous damage is not only reasonable, but also morally necessary.

My acquittal and that of my four other co-defendants yesterday is a huge relief, but it’s by no means a cause for celebration. That will only happen when David Cameron announces an end to fracking, and invest instead in cleaner, greener energy sources.

Fittingly, people in Balcombe are showing the way again. Last month saw the launch of REPOWERBalcombe, a new community energy company set up by local residents with the aim of generating the equivalent of 100% of the village’s electricity from clean, renewable energy. This initiative and many like them are the way forward, creating genuine energy security, lower emissions, lower fuel bills and more jobs – not ever more government support for a dirty, polluting dinosaur of an industry that should be well down its evolutionary path to extinction.


Article From Guardian