Archive | January, 2013

“The Relationship between Trees and Human Health”

28 Jan

From the current issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine,

“the loss of 100 million trees to the emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive forest pest—has influenced mortality related to cardiovascular and lower-respiratory diseases.”

“Two fixed-effects regression models were used to estimate the relationship between EAB presence and county-level mortality from 1990 to 2007 in 15 U.S. states, while controlling for a wide range of demographic covariates.”

“There was an increase in mortality related to cardiovascular and lower-respiratory-tract illness in counties infested with the EAB. The magnitude of this effect was greater as infestation progressed and in counties with above-average median household income. Across the 15 states in the study area, the borer was associated with an additional 6113 deaths related to illness of the lower respiratory system, and 15,080 cardiovascular-related deaths.”

Results suggest that loss of trees to the EAB increased mortality related to cardiovascular and lower-respiratory-tract illness. This finding adds to the growing evidence that the natural environment provides major public health benefits.” An easier version to understand is here

The emphasis here is tree loss, not EAB. I doubt loss of trees due to urban development will have a different effect from tree loss due to EAB. This is absolutely huge for the green industry! What does the green industry do? Produce and plant trees and other plants, then maintain or improve their health in the landscape. Efforts of the green industry will reverse the effects of tree loss (and the associated human health effect).

Now tell all your friends and neighbors.


“There’s not ‘junk food. It’s either ‘junk’ or ‘food’”.

28 Jan

Waiting at IAH for my connection to College Station, after another great SSAWG (Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group) conference, at Little Rock. I gave a talk on high tunnel innovation. While there, I got to talk to a wonderful colleague of mine from Mississippi State, who commented that “there’s not ‘junk food. It’s either ‘junk’ or ‘food’”, after hearing my son’s story of refusing a cupcake (which was ‘junk food’ as he told me) offered by his teammate after his first basketball game.

I loved the comment so much that I immediately told the story on an interview, which may or may not appear on SSAWG website, posted it on my Facebook, and told it to Cathy Jones, a SSAWG board member from NC.

One time when my son was shopping at HEB, he pointed to the chocolate and other candies in the cart in front of him and said ‘Daddy, those are junk food’. Son, mind your own business. Fortunately he was speaking Chinese and unfortunately, the person in front of him was Asian-looking and more likely a Chinese! In spite of my husband feeling embarrassed by his outspoken son, a 4-year-old knows what’s junk (food and knows to avoid it, most of the time. How many adults know that and avoid it? Not enough, obviously.

Food and not ‘junk’, is the central theme at SSAWG conference. I’d like to invite anyone who eats food, is interested in food or even just curious about food to attend SSAWG conferences (Mobile, AL for 2014 & 2015). So many of our problems would be solved if we focus on food and not junk. If we focus on food, sustainability will tag along.

The best thing about SSAWG conference? Inspiration! When you are around 1,200 people with same passion about sustainable agriculture, you’re inspired and empowered.