Category: Sales

The food we buy for our pets

A report from BBC Future suggests there is a hidden reason

With six dogs feeding them is quite an exercise. I don’t really take much notice of what Jeannie does although I do know that we feed them kibbles, canned food and Jean cooks up beef for the dogs as well.

Recently BBC Future had a report saying that there is a hidden reason that processed foods are addictive. I am going to share that article with you.

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The hidden reason processed pet foods are so addictive

By Zaria Gorvett 20th May 2021

From potently smelly additives to offal concentrates, pet food companies turn to some surprising ingredients in the quest to make kibble delicious.

The cue might be a hand in a pocket, the opening of a cupboard door, or even a word said carelessly aloud – “dinner”. Before you know it, you’re tripping over a pet excitedly awaiting a portion of… dull-brown dried pellets. What’s in these mysterious morsels, that makes them as delectable as roasted chicken, wild salmon, or bundles of fresh herbs? 

Take my flatmate, a small black rabbit. For a large part of every day, he can be found sitting attentively with his paws on his empty food bowl, awaiting his next portion of kibble – even though it looks like his droppings and smells equally unappetising. He used to have an automatic dispenser with a timer, but he learnt to throw it across the room to access its contents prematurely. No matter what delicacies I place before him – home-grown parsley, soft-cut hay, fresh carrot-tops, organic kale – he would always rather eat processed pet food.

It seems that this is not unusual. Anecdotes abound about pets whose thoughts are largely preoccupied with kibble, such as the cat that has a daily panic attack when it realises it has eaten all its pellets and the pragmatic German shepherd found carrying a bag of dog food around the streets of Houston after Hurricane Harvey.

As it happens, this addictive quality is carefully engineered. Big Pet Food is a multi-billion-dollar industry which invests heavily in research into “palatants” – ingredients that make our pets want to eat their products. And from potently smelly chemicalsusually found in rotting meat to an additive commonly added to potatoes to stop them discolouring, the quest to make the most scrumptious pet food has led to some surprising insights.

“Big [pet food] companies have huge departments that make palatants,” says Darren Logan, head of research at the Waltham Petcare Science Institute, part of the company Mars Petcare. “Just like we make them for humans, we make them for pets as well.” 

Upper-class dogs

The first pet food was invented in 1860 by James Spratt, an enterprising lightning-rod salesman from the US state of Ohio. Legend has it that he had travelled to England for his business, and was looking out over the docks of Liverpool one day when he noticed stray dogs knocking back leftover hardtack biscuits.

This was a revelation for two reasons.

Rabbits eat fresh vegetables in the wild, but many kept as pets feast instead on processed pellets (Credit: Getty Images)
Rabbits eat fresh vegetables in the wild, but many kept as pets feast instead on processed pellets (Credit: Getty Images)

Firstly, hardtack were famously unappealing – loathed by generations of the soldiers and sailors who ate them, these simple slabs of baked flour and water were tougher than wood and sometimes hard enough to break your teeth. Their nicknames included “sheet iron” and “worm castles“, the latter because of the high proportion that were infested with maggots and weevils. The oldest piece of surviving hardtack was baked just nine years before Spratt’s dock visit, and still looks suspiciously well-preserved 170 years later.

Secondly, until that moment it hadn’t occurred to anyone to check what their pets would like to eat – or that this could be monetised. For as long as we had kept domesticated animals, they had been fed more or less the same food as humans, or expected to fend for themselves.

One striking example is the husky. In their native territory of Arctic Greenland, Canada and Alaska, Inuit hunter-gatherers have traditionally fed these dogs on seal meat, which comprises the majority of their own diet. Sled-dogs are so well-adapted to this that when the British Antarctic Survey brought them to Antarctica as a form of transport in 1945, they found that they struggled to digest commercial dog food. In the end, they had to kill a number of local seals each year, just to feed the dogs, before they were largely replaced with skidoos in the 1960s and 70s.

Spratt’s innovation coincided with a cultural revolution in the way people saw their pets

Meanwhile in Victorian London, dogs that were lucky enough to be looked after were either given table scraps or gruel. Even specialist exotic animals were fed everyday human food – the 20,000 or more tortoises imported from Morocco each year were mostly expected to survive on ordinary garden vegetables or bread soaked in water. Cats were considered street animals and rarely fed.

But Spratt had hit upon something entirely new. Over the coming months he developed the “Meat Fibrine Dog Cake”, a biscuit-like concoction of beetroot, vegetables, grains and beef of dubious origins that claimed to meet all the nutritional needs of his customers’ hounds. (While its packaging implied that it was the finest prairie beef, what it was actually made from was a secret he took to his grave.)

Spratt’s innovation coincided with a cultural revolution in the way people saw their pets – dogs and cats went from being viewed as mere utility animals or borderline-vermin to beloved family members to be coddled. Consequently, the Meat Fibrine Dog Cake was marketed as a luxury food for aristocratic pets.

The husky dogs taken on early Antarctic voyages had to be fed with freshly killed seals (Credit: Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
The husky dogs taken on early Antarctic voyages had to be fed with freshly killed seals (Credit: Ozge Elif Kizil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The adverts labelled them “Dog’s Delight” and included gushing testimonials from wealthy customers. Ironically, Spratt’s also promoted the fact that they were chosen to feed the sled dogs on Captain Scott’s 1901 trip to the Antarctic, though we now know they would much rather have eaten seal.

Eventually the company branched out into cat food – “Spratt’s puts pussy into fine form!”, they said – and the rest is history. However, the science of pet food palatants still had some way to go.

Disgusting smells 

Today it’s possible to buy specialised kibble for almost any kind of pet, from frogs to sugar gliders (a small marsupial). Most follow roughly the same formula – they usually contain some kind of base carbohydrate, assorted proteins and fats, sugars, a source of fibre, antioxidants or other preservatives, emulsifiers (which keep the fat in the food and prevent it from separating), vitamins and minerals, and colouring agents

More sophisticated versions may also contain probiotics or digestibility enhancers – such as chicory, which is often added to dog food – as well as enzymes, anti-parasitic compounds and minerals to prevent the build-up of tartar on teeth.

Oddly, there is very little relationship between how healthy a pet food is and its inherent deliciousness

To turn these ingredients into a dry pet food, it’s formed into a paste and “extruded” via a process that involves heating it up and forcing it through a plate with holes in it, to form an aerated product that matches the shape of the holes. It’s the same process that’s used to make puffed snack foods, with flavourings added in the final step – in the case of pet food, they’re either sprayed on or added as a powder.

Oddly, there is very little relationship between how healthy a pet food is and its inherent deliciousness. That’s because in the US, the EU and many other parts of the world, in order to describe one as “complete” – containing everything the body needs to be healthy – it must meet certain nutritional standards. These set out acceptable ranges for most ingredients, so manufacturers can’t just load up on sugar and fat to make it compelling.

“From my standpoint as a nutritionist, all pet foods are the same,” says Marion Nestle, professor emerita of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University.

The first processed dog foods were luxury products which ushered in the idea of the "pampered pet" (Credit: Kirn Vintage Stock/Corbis via Getty Images)
The first processed dog foods were luxury products which ushered in the idea of the “pampered pet” (Credit: Kirn Vintage Stock/Corbis via Getty Images)

Instead, companies turn to chemistry.

Many animals rely heavily on smell to navigate the world around them, and this is often the main sense that’s targeted. While human noses contain around 50 million olfactory receptors, cats have 67 million, rabbits have 100 million and dogs have around 220 million. On the other hand, their sense of taste is generally less discriminating than ours – our relatively high density of taste receptors is thought to have evolved to help us cope with our diverse omnivorous diets

The catch is that appealing to animals that find the smell of roadkill, sweaty socks, and vomit utterly enchanting – as carnivorous pets often do – while not making their human companions feel violently ill, is extremly tricky. “There is a slight paradox there, because the smells that cats particularly but also dogs seem to like are often the opposite of what humans like,” says Logan.

Nestle puts it more bluntly – “animals eat faeces”, she says. “They like strong animal odours and pet food manufacturers have a really difficult time, because they have to make it disgusting enough so that the animal will eat it, but not so disgusting that the owners won’t buy it.”

Pet food manufacturers have a really difficult time, because they have to make it disgusting enough so that the animal will eat it, but not so disgusting that the owners won’t buy it – Darren Logan

Examples include putrescine and cadaverine, colourless chemicals produced naturally by the breakdown of proteins. They’re largely responsible for the revolting smell of rotting flesh – and cats love them. While in human food, their levels are sometimes closely monitored as a way of ensuring the freshness and safety of meat, they’re often actively added to cat and dog food, either as offal extracts or lab-made additives.

In the case of naturally vegan animals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, irresistible smells such as mint and oregano are sometimes added in the form of concentrates.

Japanese-inspired cuisine 

Other insights are arguably more surprising. A recent study identified nine volatile compounds in common pet food flavourings that are linked to how delicious they are to dogs, including heptanal, nonanal, and octanal, which all have strong, fruity odours.

However, taste is also important – and here the preferences of carnivorous pets are not so different from ours.

One of the most popular additives in human food is the enigmatic “hydrolysed protein”, which is formed by breaking down the long strands of proteins into their constituent amino acids, usually using enzymes or hydrochloric acid. It imparts a flavour similar to that achieved by meat or vegetable stock, and often comes with MSG, which is produced as a by-product of the same reaction and is responsible for the savoury taste of tomatoes, cheese and Iberico ham.

Though hydrolysed proteins are produced artificially, the process is similar to what happens when you cook food for a long period of time – it’s a kind of pre-digestion, and is thought to contribute to the enticing smell of many brands of kibble.

Early processed dog food resembled the tooth-challenging hard-tack biscuits often taken on long sea voyages (Credit: Getty Images)
Early processed dog food resembled the tooth-challenging hard-tack biscuits often taken on long sea voyages (Credit: Getty Images)

“The understanding of cat palatability is very similar to Japanese or Asian cuisine, where there’s a lot of focus on umami and another taste modality called kokumi,” says Logan.

Kokumi was discovered in Japan in 1989, and has been proposed as the sixth taste in humans, after sweetness, saltiness, bitterness, sourness and umami. It’s described as a kind of mouth-feel rather than a flavour per se – a texture that imparts richness and “thickness” to foods. Unlike the others, kokumi hasn’t yet been linked to a specific set of compounds, but foods that conjure this sensory experience include scallops, soy sauce, shrimp paste, yeast and beer.

While cats are particularly drawn to Japanese food, which is rich in meat and seafood, you’re unlikely to find them stealing ice-creams or doughnuts

The sixth taste is thought to be particularly popular with carnivorous animals, which may discern it via receptors in their mouths that evolved to detect calcium. And as you would expect, pet food companies have already begun targeting it with cocktails of flavour-enhancing chemicals.   

But there are some flavours that you will never find in certain pet foods.  

For example, most wild carnivorous animals lack the receptors for tasting sugar or carbohydrates. And unlike dogs, which have been living around humans and feasted off our scraps for up to 40,000 years, domestic cats have only been around for about 4,300. For the majority of that time, they were considered a kind of free pest-control that could fend for themselves.

So, while cats are particularly drawn to Japanese food, which is rich in meat and seafood, you’re unlikely to find them stealing ice-creams or doughnuts – unlike dogs, they simply haven’t been around humans for long enough to have evolved the ability to taste sugar.

Cats are irresistibly drawn to the chemical compounds found in rotting fish (Credit: Getty Images)
Cats are irresistibly drawn to the chemical compounds found in rotting fish (Credit: Getty Images)

On the other hand, because vegan animals eat exclusively vegetable matter, which is often rich in fibre and carbohydrates, they tend to prefer sweeter pet food.

Finally, no list of palatants would be complete without pyrophosphate, described in Popular Science as “cat crack”. This common additive performs a number of roles in human food, such as preventing potato products from going dark after they’re cooked – none of which involve improving its taste. Nevertheless, cats go nuts for it, possibly because it intensifies the flavour of amino acids.

Pet food companies are now so successful at making food delicious that they’re increasingly encountering a dilemma – it’s almost too good. “The danger for cats and dogs today is the same as for people, it’s overconsumption,” says Andrew Knight, a professor of animal welfare and ethics at the University of Winchester.

Pet obesity is a growing problem in the developed world, with one survey of veterinary professionals at a vet show in London suggesting that around 51% of dogs, 44% of cats and 29% of small mammals are now overweight or obese.

Pet foods made from more sustainable ingredients such as insects or soya are generally just as acceptable to carnivorous pets as the real deal

According to Logan, this is not down to the way pet food is formulated, but humans succumbing to their beloved pets’ pleading gazes. “The reason we make pet food palatable is that if they don’t eat all the food that we give them, it won’t meet the nutritional needs that they require,” he says. “The real problem is owners feeding them too much – pets can’t open the packets themselves.”

However, there is an upside. There are mounting concerns about the environmental impact of pet food, too – in 2009, two New Zealand scientists estimated the planetary cost of keeping a dog as roughly twice that of having a medium-sized SUV.

Pets given too much calorific processed food may, just like humans, put on extra weight (Credit: Getty Images)
Pets given too much calorific processed food may, just like humans, put on extra weight (Credit: Getty Images)

This is where palatants come in. Because most pet foods comprise a fairly tasteless base that is spruced up with delicious flavourings and smells, pet foods made from more sustainable ingredients such as insects or soya are generally just as acceptable to carnivorous pets as the real deal. (Though cats cannot be fed a diet that is meat free.)

“According to this really large-scale study that we’ve just finished, the animals on vegan pet foods seem to be just as happy as animals on meat ones,” says Knight, who is hopeful about their future potential.

“There is a broad recognition that the need to be more sustainable will have a big impact on the pet food business,” says Logan, who explains that the pet food company he works for has just released its own brand of insect-based pet food.

So, why do our pets find pet food so addictive? Well, because it’s been made that way. Just like us, our pets find it hard to say no to the food we have designed to be tasty.

* Zaria Gorvett is a senior journalist for BBC Future and tweets at @ZariaGorvett

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That is a really useful article that goes a very long way to explaining how ‘big business’ interferes with the food that our pets eat.

And did you read right at the end of the article: “According to this really large-scale study that we’ve just finished, the animals on vegan pet foods seem to be just as happy as animals on meat ones,” says Knight.

Now there’s a thing!

German Shepherd

A wonderful video.

This was sent to me by Jules. Julie is the partner of my friend of too many years, Richard Maugham. Richard and I go back many, many years. Indeed we met on a flight in the Commodore PET Jet over 40 years ago. Prior to that Richard was working for Olivetti and me for IBM Office Products. We were then selling electric typewriters and the early forms of dedicated word-processing machines. As I said a long time ago!

This is what ‘Frosty Life’ has to say about the video:

My daughter has a German Shepherd puppy that is huge, but is only 7 months old. This German Shepherd has never experienced snow before. Watch as Rollo, the German Shepherd experiences snow for the first time and then he barks at the snow. This GSD has his hackles up as he growls and barks at the new fallen snow. It is amazing to watch her German Shepherd as he experiences snow for the first time and barks at it. He ate the snow and now he likes it.

Enjoy!

A chimney inspection, and more

A couple of videos from Rik Cristiansen.

I find this fascinating. Apart from the value to the construction and home repair industries there is a beauty in the following video; well there is to my eyes!

(I suspect the music is also from Rik. I checked; it is!)

And the next one is a look at Rik getting ready to film a cellist. Or in his own words:

This film gives a look behind the scenes of a recent drone shoot we did for a music video. Additional footage and editing by Jazz Thorn, Music performed by Mateusz Holc.

But it also includes an explanation of the business of getting a drone ready for flight.

And the dogs will have to wait for next Sunday’s Picture Parade! Sorry!

Our modern connected world!

A delightful conversation with Amit Roy.

Way back in 1978 I started a company called Dataview. It was based in Colchester, Essex and I sold Commodore Computers; the ‘PET”, standing for Personal Electronic Transactor.

A photograph of a very early PET.

Now I was a word-processing salesman for IBM previously and didn’t know a thing about computers. I operated out of a small shop at first in Church Street and people came into the shop and played around with my demonstration models. Unbelievably I sold some!

Later I got involved with a software program known as Wordcraft. The first comprehensive word processing program for the PET. Indeed, I had the exclusive world distribution rights to Wordcraft. One thing lead to another and soon I was operating from much larger premises down at Portreeves House at East Bay, still in Colchester.

I appointed a Head of Marketing, Amit Roy, and the company grew and grew. I focused on appointing distributors across the world, and that included Dan Gomez in southern California, and he became a close friend being my best man when Jeannie and I were married in 2010.

Anyway, back to the story of Dataview. Eventually I sold out and escaped the country (and taxes) by moving to a yacht in the Greek side of Cyprus before April 15th. I went to Larnaca Marina. That was in 1986.

On Sunday, through a link from a mutual friend, I called Amit, the first time we had spoken since 1986. We had the most delightful of telephone conversations.

Amit was born in Burma, he is now 79, and lost his wife some 13 years ago. The counsellor who saw Amit after the death of his very dear wife said that he had to be strong and to take up something he could become passionate about. Amit joined the Colchester Photographic Society and took up studying again, in photography, and became a very good photographer.

With Amit’s permission I share some of his photographs with you.

The Red Arrows Flying After Dark

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Firstsite At Dusk

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Mischievous Boys of Bengal – India

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Orchid Isabelia Pulchella

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Felixstowe Docks at Dusk

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Horse Study

These are just a few but they are superb; absolutely marvellous.

That is the most welcome of connections – thanks to Roger Davis for suggesting it!

Into Diamonds

A rare post about a commercial concern.

On December 1st, David Miller emailed me with this:

Hi Paul
We feel honored that you mentioned us in your 2017 article titled “Let Us Always Remember Them”! https://learningfromdogs.com/2017/12/05/let-us-remember-them/

“Susan Combs” has published this post for us, but I was wondering if we could have a new guest post and pay the fees for that post directly to you? We would ghostwrite this, so it would have to published under your name.

Do let me know what you think and what you would charge for this!<

David

I then replied:

David,

I write my blog purely for pleasure, there is no charge.

Having said that, I also try hard not to promote commercial concerns and I’m unsure whether or not this applies to your goodself, I suspect not.

Please give me some further details about your intended article plus some information about yourself.

Regards,

Paul

Well the article came through a couple of days ago and it is a commercial, profit-seeking, company. I’m also in the unknown as to whether there are others in the same vein out there.

But I decided to publish it anyway because, who knows, there may be some out there who are interested in the service.

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A company turns people and pet’s ashes and hair into diamonds

By Melodie Beattie, a motivational author.

These powerful words ring true for the staff at Heart in Diamond (HID), where they make the impossible happen by taking cremated ashes or hair from a loved one or pet and turning it into diamonds.

Heartache led Anita to work with Heart in Diamond to help others

In particular, there is one employee at Heart in Diamond that can personally attest to this quote, and that is Anita Bolton. In 2011, Anita suffered the loss of her beloved husband. She was completely devastated following his death and Central England Cooperative Funeral Care was there to help her make the necessary plans for a memorial service and cremation for him.

Not only did the organization take care of all the arrangements for her, but they also informed her about Heart in Diamond, which is a company that allows people to pay tribute to the deceased by having a diamond created from some of their cremated ashes or a lock of hair. Anita talks about her first introduction to HID:

“I went to collect the ashes and that was when I was given a Heart in Diamond leaflet. I thought it was a beautiful way for me to remember my husband. I had never heard of the process at all. I had a white diamond created and my young son had a blue diamond.”

Anita also said that the beautiful white diamond ring has filled her with love, happiness, and it has created an everlasting bond. She believes that clients who reach out to the company to have their very own cremation diamond made will look at it and be reminded of their eternal love and it will become a treasured keepsake for many generations to come.

The company made such a great impact on Anita, that she decided to work with Heart in Diamond and became the business operations manager. In this role, she actually works very closely with the good people at Central England Cooperative Funeral Care, who are the same ones who helped her in those very dark and dreary days in her life. When talking about the work she does for Heart in Diamond, Bolton says:

“I’m very proud that Heart in Diamond has given me the opportunity to share my experience in a product I truly believe in and work within a dedicated professional caring team.”

If you would like to learn more about Anita, feel free to visit her employee page at the Heart in Diamond website.

HID is committed to providing personalized service

With an incredible combination of genuine love for people and an unerring passion for doing a good job, the team of dedicated professionals at Heart in Diamond was formed in 2005 when it set out to provide an extraordinary experience to every client they serve. According to the company’s About Us page:

“We pride ourselves by offering a personal service for your commemorative diamond.”

All the individuals that make up the HID team share a common vision and passion to demonstrate real care and love, inherent in each and every diamond they create. Some of the guiding principles of the company include:

  • We treat all samples with respect
  • Every customer is an individual and not a number
  • We provide personal service to each customer
  • We are committed to delivering a product of the highest quality
  • We are committed to delivering the best price on the market
  • We are committed to providing the shortest production time
  • We guarantee a genuine product through our unique authentication program.

Creating everlasting bonds worldwide since 2005

Heart in Diamond is a UK-based company that is also recognized as a world-renowned manufacturer of laboratory diamonds. If you or a loved one is dealing with grief from the loss of a close friend, spouse, family member, or even a pet, Heart in Diamond can provide you with unique tribute gifts that last a lifetime.

Carbon is extracted from either the ashes or hair of pets or people. Then, it is exposed to a laboratory-controlled environment that mimics the natural processes deep within the earth in order to grow the sample into a diamond. Lab-grown diamonds from HID are identical to mined diamonds in terms of physical, chemical, and optical properties, but they cost 20 to 30 percent less on average and they are a more ethical choice than conflict diamonds.

When you buy a commemorative diamond from HID, you not only receive a high-quality gem, but your cremation jewelry also serves as a living memory you can pass on to generation after generation.

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I then went across to the website hoping to get some pictures to share with you but they are not clear enough to view here.

But there’s a great deal of information that you may want to consider.

And, to state the obvious, I did not receive any compensation for publishing this.

Going Vegan!

More evidence that supports the sense, the very great sense, in going vegan!

Some three weeks ago, on June 15th to be exact, I published a post called On Veganism. Jean and I had just watched a film What The Health and what it presented in terms of eating chicken and fish convinced us to immediately go the final step, as in going from being vegetarians to vegans.

Many of you offered kind words and encouragement. Colette Bytes included a link to a blog post that she published in April, 2017. It is called Vegan Future and with her kind permission that post is republished today.

It is chock full of information and videos so do settle down and let all the information provided by Colette ‘speak’ to you! This is really worthy of an evening spent watching all the videos!

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Vegan Future

by Colette Bytes, April 21st 2017

Seventeen percent of human caused greenhouse gases,  come from meat and dairy production. It is actually a greater figure than all CO2 produced by global transportation!

Posted by The Daily Conversation

But is it enough, just to reduce our animal consumption, or should we look at the compelling evidence that we need a Vegan future!

Animal and Environmental Ethics

On a previous blog, I mention the documentary ‘Earthlings’ narrated by Hollywood actor, and lifelong Vegan, Joachim Phoenix. ‘Earthlings’ is the definitive Vegan film on exposing the meat and dairy industry in the US. And while other countries may not have factory farming on such a broad scale, many of the same procedures occur on a smaller scale. No member of the general public is allowed into the kill sections of slaughter houses for a very good reason. It is horrendous to watch a fear-ridden animal that wants to live, face its painful death.

This filmed reaction of a viewer watching ‘Earthlings’ is an average reaction. It is a moving experience for anyone with compassion. Posted by Raw Vegan, Fruitarian, Michael Lanfield, it is worth watching if you cannot bring yourself to actually watch the devastating, but common images of the meat, dairy and egg industry.

Switching your food intake to a plant-based Vegan diet, (eliminating all meat, dairy, egg and seafood), is the biggest change with the most impact that you can possibly make to reduce climate warming, land and water degradation, extinction rates, deforestation, pollution, human and animal suffering, and war (often over lack of food and water resources). And It is the number one thing you can do to improve your own health. It can also cut the cost of your food bill while you continue to eat a healthy diet.

There is no downside to this change if you keep your diet healthy and balanced. You can even eat processed plant-based, meat-like products if you want, but they may cost a similar amount to having meat in your diet.

The United Nations has already stated that we need to switch to a plant based diet if we are to survive.

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=53984

So what is holding you back?

Australian, James Aspey, a survivor of thyroid cancer, has become a Vegan Speaker (on ending animal cruelty) with his own Youtube channel, but he is also one of an exponentially growing number of people who have improved their own health through a plant based diet switch.

James Aspey interview posted by Plant Based News

Find out more about James Aspey on his YouTube channel, Facebook, and on his website:
http://www.jamesaspey.com.au/

Healthy Eating

AllPlants interview on Plant Based News

Lots of new Ethical, Healthy Vegan Ready Made meals like this brand are appearing now on Super market shelves. So even if you don’t ‘do cooking’ you can still find nutritious Vegan options. And Vegan restaurants, holidays and lifestyles are all available now.

And new research is beginning to show that meat and dairy are actually toxic to our body.

Meat is a neurotoxin, Posted by 8/10/10 in London

And for when you have time, do listen to this amazing and life changing Cardiologist’s 1:20:00 hrs talk…on your likelihood of developing heart disease, diabetes, and other life threatening diseases on a meat based diet…and also look at doctor Greger’s work and videos too (links below)

Robert Ostfeld, Cardiologist and Director of a US Cardiology Centre. Posted by Jeanne Schumacher, ‘Plant Power’ YouTube channel

More on Dr Ostfeld is available on The Forks over Knives (film) website https://www.forksoverknives.com/contributors/robert-ostfeld/

Elite Athletes and Hollywood Icons
You’d be surprised how many top athletes eat a vegan diet just to be at the top of their sport…Names like Serena and Venus Williams, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray, are all Vegans. Winner of the world Strongman competition is Vegan. Many top boxers eat vegan. Look at PlantBased News on YouTube for lots of informative videos on who is Vegan. And see their 100 countdown of awesome Vegan celebrities.

Top 2017 Vegans posted by PlantBased News

Making the change to Vegan

Eating junk plant-based foods is not advisable as it will lead to nutrient deficiencies…and ultimately a disease state, so you can’t survive on potato crisps, popcorn, and bread….there is a responsibility to eat a balanced fresh food diet to be healthy.

You do need to eat proteins (nuts, legumes, grains, beans, some veggies). You will need to supplement with Vitamin B12, a soil- based, active nutrient essential for our brain & nervous system which we do not get in our diet as we no longer forage and eat unwashed food like our ape ancestors. And you may need to supplement Vit D3 for bone health as we no longer spend enough time outside in the sunshine. Essential oil, Omega 3 can be obtained from flax and hemp seeds. The rest, you should be able to get from a ‘good’ Vegan diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, legumes, beans, grains and nuts. Just 15 grams of nuts per day will give you enough protein to be healthy. Eating Kale and other dark leafy plants, beans, whole grain rice, legumes and some nuts, sweet potatoes are all sources of Calcium. The key to health is to have a full, varied selection of whole plant-based food!

Meat and Dairy Industry  Scare Tactics

The Meat and Dairy industry packers are worried that they will lose their industry and are fighting back with their political power and disinformation campaigns designed to scare us, but the smart companies will begin to think about how they can profit from exponential growth in the Vegan food industry.

Corporate Panick, posted by PlantBased News
Research

There are so many online sources to help you buy, and cook a healthy plant-based diet. Just type ‘Vegan Recipies’ into a search engine and you will find fantastic yummy recipes. You will love the variety and the taste of your new diet. And if you are not into cooking,  mainstream supermarkets are now starting to stock a growing variety of vegan ready made meals, and starting to label Vegan choices.

https://plantbasednews.org/

An all round informative website on Vegan trends, news headlines, and increasing popularity of healthy lifestyles including a plant- based diet.
Medical based RESOURCES on how to stay healthy on a Vegan diet

https://nutritionfacts.org/

Dr Michael Greger, MD, author of Best Seller, ‘How Not to Die’ and distributer of free videos and research on how plant based diets affect us. I have followed his work for years and he backs it all up with science based studies…his short videos and reports are packed with hundreds of supportive reports for a plant based diet.

https://www.drmcdougall.com/

Dr McDougal, Author of ‘A Starch Based Diet’ and follower of Nathan Pritikin, one of the forerunners promoting plant based nutrition.

http://www.theveganjunction.com/top-20-plant-based-health-professionals-to-follow/

Vegan Junction list of Plant-Based Diet health professionals
More Videos

Open Your Eyes – Toronto Pig Save posted by Bite-Size-Vegan

How not To Die – plant based diet by Dr Michael Greger
Latest documentaries to look up

Carnage (only on BBC iPlayer)

The Game Changers

Eating our way to Extinction

What the Health!

Plant Pure Nutrition

And there are so many more resources out there ! Join the growing trend to make this a better world for everyone, by making the biggest difference you can when you shop for food. Pick whole, plant-based, foods and kick the ‘animal eating’ habit to be healthy, stop animal cruelty, and save the environment and reduce global greenhouse gases. What could be a more worthy goal?

Why not check out my blog here on ‘Why do We Hurt Animals?

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This is so much more than just a blog post from Colette. It is a fantastic source of information, from a variety of sources, about why it makes such good sense to become a vegan.

I shall include it as a link from the home page of Learning from Dogs so it may serve as a reference long after it was republished today.

Then what about dogs eating a vegan diet? Sounds a bit strange? Maybe not! I shall be exploring that option with Halo, a company based in Florida, who claim:

Can dogs be vegan? Unlike cats, who are obligate carnivores, dogs can be fed a vegan diet as long as it’s high quality and nutritionally balanced like Halo® Garden of Vegan® dog food.

More on this next week.

In the meantime, I’m taking a day off tomorrow but please do read George Monbiot’s latest post, being republished here on Friday, 6th July.

Best laid plans!

Our tree work is now set for Wednesday, 30th!

Our arborist called early afternoon yesterday to say that they had ended up too late with their prior job for them to fell our tree that day. It has been re-scheduled for next Wednesday.

Conveniently, there was another dog food recall notice issued yesterday and that is the topic of today’s post.

Dear Fellow Dog Lover,Because you signed up on our website and asked to be notified, I’m sending you this special recall alert. If you no longer wish to receive these emails, please click the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of this message.
Merrick Pet Care of Amarillo, Texas, is voluntarily recalling a limited amount of its dog treats due to elevated levels of naturally occurring beef thyroid hormone.

To learn which products are affected, please visit the following link:
Merrick Recalls Multiple Dog Treats

Please share the news of this alert with other pet owners.

Mike Sagman, Editor
The Dog Food Advisor

P.S. Get instant access to a list of The Dog Food Advisor’s safest and most recommended dog food brands. Click here for details.

That link offers much more information that is re-published here.

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Merrick Recalls Multiple Dog Treats

May 23, 2018 – Merrick Pet Care, of Amarillo, Texas, is initiating a voluntary recall of a limited amount of beef dog treat varieties due to the potential that they contain elevated levels of a naturally-occurring beef thyroid hormone.

What’s Recalled?

Batch Information

The voluntary recall is limited to the production codes listed below.

To locate the production code, consumers should look on the lower back of the treat bag.

No other production codes, sizes or varieties of these products are affected. The voluntary recall covers only specific production codes of the following beef treat products:

About Beef Thyroid

Dogs consuming high levels of beef thyroid hormone may exhibit the following symptoms: increased thirst and urination, weight loss, increased heart rate and restlessness.

These symptoms may resolve when consumption decreases.

If a dog consumes high levels for a long period of time, these symptoms may increase in severity and may include vomiting, diarrhea and rapid or labored breathing.

If your pet has consumed the product listed and has exhibited any of these symptoms, please discontinue feeding and contact your veterinarian.

What Caused the Recall?

This potential health risk was brought to Merrick’s attention as a result of the FDA sharing one consumer complaint where the dog’s health was temporarily impacted while eating Merrick Backcountry Great Plains Real Beef Jerky 4.5 ounce.

The dog’s health improved and fully recovered after discontinuing consumption of the treat.

Message from Merrick

Pet owners should know there is limited risk given treats are not intended for full nutrition and should only be occasionally consumed.

However, out of an abundance of caution and to maintain trust with our consumers, we are withdrawing all potentially impacted product.

We have not received any similar reports to date from consumers about issues with these products.

As a company of pet owners and pet lovers, we know our consumers place a tremendous amount of trust in us when their pet uses our products.

The quality and safety of our products are the top priority for our company.

We apologize to our retail customers and consumers and sincerely regret any inconvenience and concerns caused by this voluntary recall.

We are working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on this voluntary recall and will cooperate with them fully.

What to Do?

If you have product, please contact Merrick at 800-664-7387 from 8 am to 5 pm Central Time Monday through Friday.

Or by email at customerservice@merrickpetcare.com so we can provide a refund.

Or visit Merrick’s website and fill out a form: http://www.merrickpetcare.com/customerrelations.

No other Merrick or Castor & Pollux products are impacted. These treats are distributed in the U.S. through pet specialty, grocery and online retailers with limited distribution in Canada.

For more information visit http://www.MerrickPetCare.com.

U.S. citizens can report complaints about FDA-regulated pet food products by calling the consumer complaint coordinator in your area.

Or go to http://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.

Canadians can report any health or safety incidents related to the use of this product by filling out the Consumer Product Incident Report Form.

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As I always say, do share this post as much as you can because we all care so much for the health of our dogs!

Potty training.

Advice from DoctorPup.

I’m always a little cautious about submissions of guest articles from those who are ‘in the business’. But sometimes drawing the line between a genuinely informative article from a pet-related business and overt promotion is a fine one. I chose to publish an article from Alex back in November last year. It was about behavioral issues with dogs and was well received.

Earlier this month, in came another guest article from DoctorPup and, again, I think this is a good share with you. But please do let me know if you think it is too much of a product ‘sell’. I protect the integrity of this blog without question.

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Michael Schoeff reveals how to effectively potty train a puppy

Written by Florentina Popa on behalf of the company
Michael Schoeff, the inventor of the innovative potty training system called Pup Pee Poo Palace, considers that classic house training a puppy is a difficult process that takes time, patience, commitment and consistency.

Traditional potty training

If you want to follow the traditional path, it is important to inform yourself carefully and to establish clear guidelines to get on the right track your pup in just a few weeks. Puppies learn very fast from two to four months, picking up easily on the concept of housebreaking. Five to 30 minutes after eating, puppies want to defecate, so it is important to respect a clear schedule. The most important aspects you should take into consideration is to stay consistent, positive and patient and the results will appear gradually.
The first step is to establish a routine by creating a schedule for eating and playing. Feeding your puppy according to a clear schedule depending on his age, ensures eliminations at consistent times. This is crucial because generally, a puppy has control of his bladder one hour for every month of age so they are prone to accidents if they are not taken outdoor regularly. During his first months of life, a puppy should be taken outside at least every two hours as well as immediately after he wakes up, during and after playing and after eating.

Pick a specific spot outside and always take him there. Also, use a specific word or phrase before he goes outside to remind what he has to do. Take him to walks or playtime after he eliminated. Your attitude is important during potty training, so avoid being nervous or impatient as well as using a loud tone because you’ll make your pup anxious.

Reward him every time he eliminates outdoor, praising or giving treats immediately after he has finished and before coming back inside. This will help teaching him what you are expecting from him.
It is recommended to pick up his water dish about two hours before bedtimes to avoid relieving himself during the night.
An essential rule and hard to apply is to always supervise your puppy when he is indoor to avoid accidents or soiling. Keep your puppy in a specific area and watch him for signs he needs to go out. If you notice him barking, scratching the door, squatting, sniffing or circling, take him outdoor.
If there are times when you cannot supervise him, restrict him to an area small enough that he won’t want to eliminate there. Make sure that the space is comfortable to stand, lie down and turn around. A good idea is to use a crate or a leash, but don’t forget to take him outdoors whenever he needs to eliminate. You can gradually give him more freedom in the house as he learns to eliminate outdoor.
Keep in mind that accidents can happen anytime and make sure you act properly. If you see him eliminating indoor, interrupt him by saying “outside!” or making a noise without scaring him and take him to his eliminating spot outdoors. Always use positive reinforcement, keep calm and be assertive. Don’t punish him for eliminating in the house to avoid a negative connection with his bodily function, just clean up the room and make sure to remove the smell.
If your program doesn’t allow to stay at home with your puppy, you need to find someone to take your pup for bathroom breaks several times a day. You can teach him to eliminate in specific place indoors, but be careful regarding this process as he will get used to it and will practice it as well when becoming adult.
Pup Pee Poo Palace was released in 2013 as an ideal solution for busy dog owners that don’t have enough time to spend with their puppies. The system is based on puppies’ natural behavior to get up on things, so it contains the separate elevated sleep and play area and the elimination area. Bedding area is made of a frame covered in bedding material and it is raised above the floor of the cage using frame extensions. The system helps reinforcing good patterns for puppies and encouraging them to repeat the actions.Puppy owners can let the palace door open when being with their puppies so they can return to the cage whenever they need to eliminate.
Using Pup Pee Poo Palace avoids the risks of infections especially if your puppy hasn’t completed all his vaccinations. You can perform your daily activities while your pup is enjoying his comfortable private space without worrying that he needs to potty.
Furthermore, you can still train your puppy to go outdoors whenever you can, especially after eating, drinking, playing or sleeping, but if you are busy or you’re not at home, count on Pup Pee Poo Palace and stay assured. Your puppy potty training will be easier and faster.
Michael Schoeff and his partner, Gary Rybka, have created not only a very useful tool for dog owners, but a tool that suits any dog breed, starting with breeds that weigh under 5 lbs at maturity and finishing with those that weigh under 70 lbs at maturity.
Author Bio

Florentina Popa is the founder of the digital marketing agency. She is a young entrepreneur with a strong passion for innovation, digital marketing technologies and a real focus on marketing strategies and evaluation process for her clients. She currently advises several companies in the Southeastern Europe and USA. She is content writer and social media manager for several small and medium companies located in the Southeastern Europe. She loves to create articles about business, leadership, digital marketing, lifestyle, animals (especially dogs). She has a great collection of materials published on various online marketing, business and lifestyle websites. When she’s not online, Florentina loves exploring the mountains and local coffee shops with her dogs, traveling and discovering new cultures watching movies and reading. ‘If you believe, you can achieve’ – that’s her motto!

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Good people, I do hope you found this interesting and not crossing the line of offering free promotion to a business. Neither me nor Learning from Dogs in publishing this guest post can offer any explicit or implicit endorsement of the company or this product. Any reader interesting in learning more must conduct their own research.

You can’t beat a good book!

Advance notice of a book event this coming Saturday.

Oregon Books & Games, our local independent bookstore in Grants Pass, are having a book event this Saturday. In their own words:

tl_imgSaturday, April 30th, 11AM – 2PM
A day to celebrate the independent bookstores that continue to improve communities around the nation, and our day to celebrate YOU, our wonderful customers. In the same strain as last year, we will be inviting dozens of local authors to sign books and meet with their fans, raffling off TONS of prizes, barbecuing, and having a lot of FUN!

 

I’m sure that the vast majority of you dear readers that read the title to today’s post would have nodded in agreement with the statement: You can’t beat a good book!

But how many of you were equally cogniscent of the importance of buying from an independent book store, such as Oregon Books & Games? I would be the first to put my hand up in admitting that I had no idea of the damage that online booksellers, such as Amazon, were causing these same independent stores.

Here are some eye-opening statements kindly supplied by Oregon Books but that originally came from the organisation IndieBound.

What is IndieBound?
A product of ongoing collaborations between the independent bookstore members of the American Booksellers Association, IndieBound is all about independent bookstores and the power of “local first” shopping. Locally owned independent businesses pump money back into the their communities by way of taxes, payrolls and purchases. That means more money for sound schools, green parks, strong police and fire departments, and smooth roads, all in your neighborhood.

Independent bookstores have always occupied a special place in communities. Through IndieBound—and the Indie Next List flyers and Indie Bestseller Lists—readers find trusted bookseller curated reading options, newly discovered writers, and a real choice for buying.

IndieBound allows indie booksellers to communicate this vital role they play in their local economies and communities. It allows authors to show their dedication to indies nationwide, easily done through linking to thousands of indie bookstores through IndieBound.org. And it allows consumers to feel that their actions are a part of a larger picture—to know that their choices make a difference and that others are working toward the same goals.

Here’s the effect of buying from your local independent book store.

Here’s What You Just Did

  1. You kept dollars in our economy. For every $100 you spend at one of our local businesses, $52 will stay in the community.
  2. You embraced what makes us unique. You wouldn’t want your house to look like everyone else’s in the U.S. So why would you want your community to look that way?
  3. You created local jobs. Local businesses are better at creating higher-paying jobs for our neighbors.
  4. You helped the environment. Buying from local business conserves energy and resources in the form of less fuel for transportation, less packaging, and products that you know are safe and well made, because we stand behind them.
  5. You nurtured community. We know you, and you know us. Studies have shown that local businesses donate to community causes at more than twice the rate of chains and online retailers.
  6. You conserved your tax dollars. Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money available to beautify our community. Also, spending locally instead of online ensures that your sales taxes are reinvested where they belong—right here in your community!
  7. You created more choice. We pick the items we sell based on what we know you like and want. Local businesses carry a wider array of unique products because we buy for our own individual market.
  8. You took advantage of our expertise. You are our friends and neighbors, and we have a vested interest in knowing how to serve you. We’re passionate about what we do. Why not take advantage of it?
  9. You invested in entrepreneurship. Creativity and entrepreneurship are what the American economy is founded upon. Nurturing local business ensures a strong community.
  10. You made us a destination. The more interesting and unique we are as a community, the more we will attract new neighbors, visitors and guests. This benefits everyone!

And turning to Amazon?

Here’s What Amazon Just Did

  1. In 2014, Amazon avoided paying $625 million in much-needed local and state tax revenue in 23 states and Washington, D.C., all while selling $44.1 billion worth of retail goods nationwide.
  2. In 2014, Amazon’s retail sales displaced the equivalent of more than 30,000 storefronts and 107 million square feet of commercial space, estimated to be worth $420 million in property taxes for local and state governments.
  3. In 2014, by avoiding sales tax, and quashing the viability of local bricks-and-mortar retail, Amazon deprived thousands of communities of tax revenue necessary for schools, roads, and police and fire safety, as well as of vibrant downtowns and main streets.
  4. In 2014, Amazon operated 65 million square feet of distribution space, employing both full-time workers and part-time and seasonal workers, yet still, Amazon’s dominance produced a net loss of 135,973 retail jobs nationwide.
  5. In 2014, Amazon’s sales and operations accounted for a loss of more than $1 billion in revenue to state and local governments.
  6. Amazon received the benefits of local grants, tax breaks, road improvements, and other government considerations to build its distribution centers, notwithstanding the net loss in jobs, property taxes, and downtown vitality.
  7. Amazon achieved dominance over the book industry equivalent to Standard Oil’s share of the refined oil market just before it was broken up in 1911.*
  8. Amazon has cheapened the value of both printed and electronic publishing, and dampened opportunities for new authors and diverse ideas, by discounting books to lower than wholesale price and bullying publishers and its marketplace sellers.
  9. In our state, Amazon accounts for a sale tax gap of $3.1 million and the displacement 1,200,000 square feet, which is the equivalent of 348 retail storefronts, and 3,029 jobs.
  10. In 2015, Amazon’s total sales and operations revenue increased by 20%, meaning the above 2014 figures are likely to be grossly understated.

So back to the event.
If you are within reach of Grants Pass this coming Saturday then do come along and meet many local authors, including yours truly, and help support the wonderful job that our independents are doing for authors.

Saturday, April 30th, 11AM – 2PM
Oregon Books & Games
150 N.E. E St., Corner of 7th and E St.
Grants Pass, OR  97526

Support local authors!

LfDFrontCoverebook

A revisit to earlier times.

How time flies!

Last Monday, Jean and I had been living here in Merlin, Oregon for three years.

Why I am explaining this is because my day yesterday ended up being so busy that I ran out of time to focus on writing a fresh new post for you good people.

Thus, I decided to repost something that I published that first week we moved in to our Merlin home. Namely, a post published on the 16th October, 2012 under the heading of The death of the USA?.

So my apologies for you dear readers that recall this from three years ago, and welcome to the many new followers of this place that have signed up since then.

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“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated!” Mark Twain.

Mark Twain

The Mark Twain quotation after hearing that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal.

Mistaken publications of obituaries aren’t as rare as you might expect. A recent example is of Dave Swarbrick, the British folk/rock violinist, who was killed off mistakenly by the Daily Telegraph in April 1999 when they reported that his visit to hospital in Coventry had resulted in his death. He did at least get the opportunity to read a rather favourable account of his life, not something we all get to do, and to deliver the gag “It’s not the first time I have died in Coventry”.

So why have I opened with this quote from Mark Twain?  Read on and I hope all will be clear.

A little under a week ago, I published a couple of posts that proposed that the United States of America is an empire in decline.  The first was What goes up? and the second Might just come down! As a Brit, I well know that aspect of British history!

However a recent conversation with a friend of many years back in England, who has also been a shrewd and wise entrepreneur for longer than I care to remember, argued that the evidence for the ‘end of the USA’ could be challenged.

He cited five reasons why he thought the USA would remain, more or less, in its dominant position.  They were:

  1. Spirit of innovation
  2. Relaxed labour laws
  3. The importance of Mexico
  4. The uncertainty of China in terms of the next ’empire’
  5. The likely energy self-sufficiency for the USA in the near-term.

So let me expand on each of those points.

Spirit of innovation

Let me quote from an article in TIME Magazine of the 5th June, 2011,

Innovation is as American as apple pie. It seems to accord with so many elements of our national character — ingenuity, freedom, flexibility, the willingness to question conventional wisdom and defy authority. But politicians are pinning their hopes on innovation for more urgent reasons. America’s future growth will have to come from new industries that create new products and processes. Older industries are under tremendous pressure. Technological change is making factories and offices far more efficient. The rise of low-wage manufacturing in China and low-wage services in India is moving jobs overseas. The only durable strength we have — the only one that can withstand these gale winds — is innovation.

Now there are plenty who would argue both ways in terms of the future innovation potential for the USA, as a recent article in The Atlantic does, see American Innovation: It’s the Best of Times and the Worst of Times.  But the spirit of innovation will, nonetheless, be a powerful economic potential for the USA for many years to come.

Relaxed labour laws.

Definitely an area that I have little knowledge of except for the subjective notion that compared to many other nations, the laws in the USA are much less of a restraint on economic productivity than elsewhere.

The importance of Mexico.

The importance in the context of providing the USA with a source of cheaper manufacturing facilities.  My English friend thought that this was a significant competitive advantage for the USA.  Now, as it happens, we had a couple staying with us over the week-end of the 6th/7th October.  The husband is a senior manager of Horst Engineering, an American firm based in Guaymas, Sonora County, Mexico.  Here’s a picture from their website,

We are a contract manufacturer of precision machined components and assemblies for aerospace, medical, and other high technology industries. Our core processes include Swiss screw machining, turning, milling, thread rolling, centerless grinding, and assembly. Our extensive supply chain offers our customers a full service logistics solution for managing their precision product requirements. We are ISO9001:2008 and AS9100 registered and proud of our 66 year, three-generation legacy of quality and performance.

I was told that many American and British firms were using Mexico rather than China for a number of reasons.  Not least because Chinese suppliers require full payment before shipment.  Plus that taking into account that financial aspect together with shipping costs and other logistical issues, China wasn’t as ‘cheap’ over all.  Here’s a recent announcement from Rolls Royce,

Rolls-Royce plans new Sonora hub

The burgeoning aerospace industry in Guaymas had its efforts validated recently when the venerable Rolls-Royce chose it as the site for its newest global purchasing office.

Surrounded by several of its aerospace manufacturing suppliers, London-based Rolls-Royce will move into a Guaymas industrial park owned by Tucson-based The Offshore Group to develop a supply hub for commercial jets and military aircraft around the globe.

“Rolls-Royce has very robust booking orders for the next 10 years,” said Joel Reuter, director of communications for Rolls-Royce in North America. “We need to double our production.”

Because a number of Rolls-Royce suppliers already operate in Guaymas, the city was a logical choice, Reuter said.

The uncertainty of China in terms of the next ’empire’

The point made in terms of China taking over ’empire’ status from the USA, as Simon Johnson argues over at Baseline Scenario, is countered by the fact that politically China is an unknown quantity.  Until China endorses some form of democratic process, that unknowingness is not going to disappear.

The likely energy self-sufficiency for the USA in the near-term.

I can’t do better than to ask you to watch this video!  Just 27-minutes long, it is a very interesting review of the energy future of the USA.

As the TED website suggests in terms of why you should listen to Amory Lovins,

Amory Lovins was worried (and writing) about energy long before global warming was making the front — or even back — page of newspapers. Since studying at Harvard and Oxford in the 1960s, he’s written dozens of books, and initiated ambitious projects — cofounding the influential, environment-focused Rocky Mountain Institute; prototyping the ultra-efficient Hypercar — to focus the world’s attention on alternative approaches to energy and transportation.

His critical thinking has driven people around the globe — from world leaders to the average Joe — to think differently about energy and its role in some of our biggest problems: climate change, oil dependency, national security, economic health, and depletion of natural resources.

More on Reinventing Fire may be found here.

So, don’t know about you, but I found those five points deeply convincing.  How about you?  Are the reports of the death of the USA  greatly exaggerated? Do leave a comment.

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Now some three years later on, these five factors still seem to be valid.