A Fruitful Solution - Good News(letter). Weekly.
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A Fruitful Solution
This year has been a historically active year for bear-human interactions. Bear Smart Durango has seen twice as many bear-related service calls than any other year since it was founded 15 years ago. “With no less than 465 reports, this makes 2017 the worst bear season on record.” Reactive measures include relocating or “destroying” (as documentation calls it) problem bears, but the good news is that prevention is possible -- with enough buy in.
+ In the fall, bears go into a hyperphagia phase, basically a feeding frenzy, to put on additional fat-weight for hibernation. During this period, bears need to eat roughly 20,000 calories a day. If natural foods, like berries and acorns, are scarce, they visit us in town for opportunistic meals from garbage cans and fruit trees.
+ For the curious, here’s a great podcast about how hibernation works: “Hibernation: Not a Snooze”. One cool take away, apparently animals come out of hibernation with sleep deprivation. The more you know!
+ In response to the availability of garbage, and the daily carnage left strewn about our yards and alleyways at the paws of enterprising bears, the Durango City Council approved an emergency ordinance this past Tuesday that escalates enforcement of infiltrated garbage. Without being issued a warning, “Residents will be subject to a $100 fine for a wildlife first violation; any subsequent violation will be a $200 fine.”
+ “If someone gets a fine after attempting to get a bear-resistant can, they can make their case to a municipal judge, LeBlanc said. However, members of the audience pointed out that a bear-resistant can isn’t necessary to secure trash in a garage or through some other strategy.” For the record, I’ve personally seen at least one demolished bear-proof can, and a colleague currently has a fresh-new gaping hole in their garage door.
+ Garbage is only part of the problem, as bears favor the literal low-hanging fruit from crabapple and other popular yard-trees. In response, Bear Smart and a number of additionally invested non-profits have joined forces to create the Fruit Gleaning Hub, whose “current focus is to not only remove the fruit from the table where bears dine but to also develop a program that will make it easier for area residents to make use of this recovered food source.” Here’s the lowdown.
+ Word on the street is that attendees of Saturday night’s Eat Local Harvest Dinner enjoyed a gleaned plum custard, made with local plums, and that the team at the Fort Lewis College Environmental Center will be heading down to Cream Bean & Berry on Tuesday to make ice cream with gleaned fruit. Yum!
+ The Fruit Gleaning Hub needs help. If it can raise $10,000, the Payroll Department in Durango will match with an equal grant. You can donate to help the program here. Let’s make some contributions in the spirit of the GN.W.!
By making human-related food sources less available, we can hopefully discourage bears from learning that people mean easy food. As more bears roll into town and discover easy meals, the risk for bear-human conflict grows. Thankfully, action is being taken to keep bears wild, and we can all make a difference ourselves.
Frybread is Off the Menu
Frybread has a complex history as both a source of pride and symbol of oppression among Native Americans. It’s deeply rooted in native cuisine and saturates events from powwows and festivals to pageants and competitions. Some of that is changing, and for good reason.
+ Navajo frybread, a simple bread originating from meager ingredients, came into being when tribes were forced to relocate to lands that didn’t support traditional staples. “The food's conflicted status—it represents both perseverance and pain—reflects these same elements in Native American history. ‘Frybread is the story of our survival.’”
+ It’s also blamed for the proliferation of diabetes and obesity, lending to its complicated history and a big change:
- Miss Navajo Nation is the coveted title for the woman who is chosen to represent womanhood to the Navajo people and display leadership as the Goodwill Ambassador. To be named Miss Navajo, competitors must demonstrate a thorough understanding of Diné/Navajo language, culture and tradition. For years, this included the making of frybread -- until now: “Miss Navajo Nation Contest Is Parting Ways With Fry Bread”
Chocolate Confection Connection
For as long as you’ve been alive, there have been three primary types of chocolate available: dark, milk and white. What if I told you they’ve invented a new category of chocolate hitting the market? Hold onto your socks, because now we have ruby chocolate. Plus, while we’re on the subject, let’s take a look at the science of chocolate and why we should be eating more of it (as if we needed an excuse).
+ Featuring a creamy, pink hue, ruby chocolate supposedly has a fruity, berry-like flavor that is extracted from a special type of cocoa bean. It’s described as “sour yet sweet, according to the Zurich-based company” that produced it over a decade of development. It should hit shelves within the next year.
+ That’s right, ten years dedicated to inventing a new chocolate. How could it possibly take so long? Science. “Chocolate is a very interesting kind of solid because it’s one of the very few crystalline solids that we eat.” Getting the crystals to cooperate takes time.
+ Here’s a brief history of chocolate, from ancient gift of the gods to modern candy bars. Unfortunately, slave and child labor are still a major part of the chocolate trade, which is why organizations like Fair Trade are important.
+ In case you needed a reason to like chocolate, “dark chocolate, 60% or higher, is incredibly good for you. In fact, it is so good for you that you might want to eat one ounce of dark chocolate every day as a basic health maintenance and disease prevention strategy.” Plus, in the same TED Talk, a more in-depth history of chocolate, how to source it better, and how to enjoy it like it’s a wine tasting.
+ Among the many health benefits that chocolate touts, brain regeneration and long-term memory retention are notable. Chocolate may, in fact, make you smarter. There’s even a study that correlated the number of Nobel Laureates in a country and chocolate consumption [paywall].
What separates man from beast? Ask around and you’ll get all sorts of different answers. Ask King Louie, though, and there’s one key thing between us and the apes: fire.
As summer slips into fall, and our minds slowly drift to the coming of snow and frost, the prepared begin their collection of firewood to feed winter’s hearths. Why, in the age of internal heating, would anyone harvest their own wood? Because there’s something special about curling up by a natural wood fire. Because it’s an affordable way to heat a home. And because there’s nothing colder than watching a Yule log on a screen come the holidays.
Alright, we’re looking way ahead, but it’s time to gear up for cord harvesting. Kroegers Ace has specially-priced chainsaws from Stihl and Remington through September. They’ll have you felling, limbing, pruning and bucking like a champ for seasons to come. Plus, pick up your firewood permit from Ace so you can collect cords from our national forests, where you’ll be simultaneously fueling your fire and clearing deadfall and standing dead timber from our forests. Win win much? Visit Kroegers Ace and get equipped before the deal ends.