|OK In Health - Environmental Care|
Plant Blindness - May 2012
Green vision offers cure for plant blindness
A colleague told me his toddler was wandering through a neighbourhood park picking up twigs and sticks, brandishing them as tools for digging, poking, and tapping. Suddenly the boy stopped and pointed excitedly to the canopy of branches above. “Look papa. Sticks come from trees!”
Mentally reconnecting fallen branches to their home on the trunk is obvious to an adult, but many of us have lost our profound sense of wonder about the interconnected web of life that surrounds us. This is especially true when it comes to the plant world.
Green vision offers cure for plant blindness
we cannot see the forest or the trees.
In 1998, American botanists James Wandersee and Elizabeth Schussler defined plant blindness as “the inability to see or notice the plants in one's own environment,” which leads “to the inability to recognize the importance of plants in the biosphere and in human affairs.” This prognosis rings true in an age when most youngsters can identify hundreds of corporate logos and branded products but can’t name the plants and trees in their backyards.
Why are we suffering from a nagging case of plant blindness? There is no simple scientific answer, but Wandersee and Schussler argued that plants don’t capture our attention like animals and other stimuli. To the human eye, they are largely static. Thus we tend to lump plants together into a green backdrop, failing to distinguish between the millions of blades of grass or multitude of plant species.
Show someone a photo of a lush forest with a grizzly bear and ask what’s in the picture. Most will answer, “A bear.” Add a spotted owl to the scene and the response might become, “A grizzly bear under the watchful eye of an owl.” What you are unlikely to hear is a description of the flora accompanying the charismatic fauna.
Part of the problem may be related to the overwhelming amount of data our eyes send to our brains. Danish author Tor Nørretranders estimates that the human eye generates more than 10 million bits of data per second. Our brain extracts only about 40 bits of data per second, and only 16 bits reach our conscious vision and attention. Unfortunately, nature’s greenery tends to be drowned out in a visual flurry of noise and shinier items of interest.
Nørretranders also found that people who have had meaningful educational and cultural experiences with plants are more likely to notice greenery.
How do we reconnect with nature and learn to give plants their due? The answer is simple. People, especially kids, need to connect with nature in their everyday environment, and we need to bring more to our neighbourhoods, public spaces, and backyards. It might surprise you, but most urban spaces are already jam-packed with natural wonders.
After volunteering in an urban apple orchard at the Spadina Museum in Toronto, Laura Reinsborough began seeing the world through “fruit goggles.” Once she became familiar with fruit-bearing trees in the city, she suddenly noticed them everywhere – cherries, plums, crabapples, pears, grapes, and walnuts. This largely untapped urban bounty spurred her to found Not Far From the Tree, a group that has organized volunteers to help harvest more than 14,000 kilograms of fruit from hundreds of backyard trees over the past four years.
If you want to help bring nature to your community, join one of the many groups working to enhance it. Local efforts to restore wetlands, forests, parks, and public spaces provide great opportunities to get hands-on outside time and boost your community’s natural wealth.
Environment Care's Bio: OK In Health started a GREEN wellness e-Magazine in 2004. We wanted to start a magazine that was completely green with a zero footprint.
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|Portobello Mushroom, Goat Cheese and Walnut Sliders|
|Category: Main Meals|
Description: This bite-size mushroom burger makes a tasty meat-free option at summer barbecues.
Portobello mushrooms, sometimes also spelled portabella, are actually the same species as a crimini mushroom. Generally, the mushroom is called a crimini when small and a portabello when its cap has grown to about four to six inches in diameter. These large brown mushrooms have a meaty texture and can be grilled, roasted or used as an ingredient in other dishes.
One cup of sliced portobello mushrooms, approximately 121 g, makes up a single serving and has only 42 calories. There is 1 g of fat and 5 g of protein in a cup of sliced portobello mushrooms. The total carbohydrate content of a serving of portobello mushrooms is 6 g, of which 3 g is fiber. Water makes up 108 g of the total weight of a 1-cup serving. There are only 12 mg of sodium in a cup of portobello mushrooms, so it is considered a low-sodium food.
A 1-cup serving of portobello mushrooms supplies 31 percent of the daily recommended intake of selenium, or 21.4 mcg. It also contains 30 percent of the recommendation for copper and 18 percent of the requirement for both phosphorus and potassium. Other minerals in portabello mushrooms include iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium and zinc. In a serving of portobello mushrooms, there is 7.2 mg of the vitamin niacin, or 36 percent of the daily recommended intake, and 0.6 mg of riboflavin, or 34 percent of the recommendation for that vitamin. Portabello mushrooms also contain the vitamins pantothenic acid, folate, choline, vitamin B6 and thiamin, also known as vitamin B1. The nutrient betaine is also found in portabello mushrooms.
Mushrooms also contain compounds called purines, which may cause health problems in individuals with gout. People with this condition may want to avoid eating portobello mushrooms.
More antioxidant activity is found in the caps of mushrooms than in the stems. Unlike many other foods, most of the antioxidant level in mushrooms is not destroyed by cooking.