Some time ago I came across Ava Chin’s book about urban foraging, Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love & the Perfect Meal.
Foraging is the practice of gathering wild foods. While it sounds romantic, it’s actually a skill that one has to learn and practice. Once learned and practiced responsibly, foraging is a sustainable practice of connecting your plate to the environment you live in.
Ava Chin, who lives in New York City, was the “Urban Forager” columnist for the New York Times from 2009 to 2013. I sat down to talk with her about her book, the basics of urban foraging and how newcomers can learn some simple tips on how to eat wildly.
GGT readers (and writers) are travelers of a certain caliber– upstanding members of a global society that share a love of culture, nature and the melding of the two. We embrace the world, we go out and enjoy it, and we want to keep it around as long as possible.
And that is why—after we give ourselves a quick pat on the back—we are all destined to take an interest in permaculture.
If you’re into organic gardening or eco-construction, you’ve probably already heard this term tossed around a time or two. But the problem folks often run into is that the definition of permaculture can be a bit slippery.
Whatever you may think of Christmas, something shifts in the air when December rolls around. In the Northern Hemisphere Christmas ushers in crisp skies and bright winter stars and the smell of freshly cut pine needles. In the South, summer breezes and surfing and swaying palms might welcome the holiday season, the air heavy with the sizzling aroma of BBQs.
Wherever you live, Christmas is also trees with heavily-weighted branches and houses that heave beneath blinking lights and tons of tinsel. Sadly, this seasonal bling carries a hefty environmental price. It brings out the old arguments in the Great Christmas Tree Debate – artificial or natural? – and a cascade of seasonal information about the impact of the season’s packaging, transport or waste.
Christmas also fuels a race for the biggest, best and brightest illumination, as recent as the artificial materials and modern inventions required to make Uncle Harry’s blinking penguin and strobe-light igloo visible from space.
Imagine yourself astride a magnificent Arabian horse, his mane blowing in the wind and tickling your hands as they hold the elaborately tasseled reins, your eyes falling on the magnificent sight of the Pyramids of Giza looming before you. This is the sort of horseback riding experience that’s meant to be savored for a lifetime.
Now imagine that the reins are attached to a bit that fits uncomfortably in the horse’s mouth. He shifts from side to side to take the weight off of his painfully overgrown hooves. He hasn’t had adequate hay for days, or possibly even weeks. And he’s been beaten to force him to perform. The experience doesn’t sound so ideal anymore, does it?
As responsible travelers increasingly eschew attractions that profit from captive animals, the tide is slowly shifting towards an industry that favors viewing animals in their natural habitats. Companies like Sea World are seeing their business models crumble, and attractions like Thailand’s Tiger Temple watch their visitor numbers decline steadily as people become more and more committed to ethical practices regarding the exploitation of animals.
Unfortunately, for domestic animals like horses, things widely remain unchanged. It’s easy to see that a dolphin in a tank a caged tiger are in unnatural, uncomfortable surroundings. But, for the layperson, it’s not as readily apparent when a horse at a tourist attraction is unhealthy, in pain, or lacking basic care. When tourists choose an irresponsibly managed horse activity, they may unknowingly be contributing to improper care or abuse of these amazing creatures.
If you’re considering joining a horse tour or taking a horseback ride during your travels, these are a few simple ways to tell if the horse you’ll be riding is properly cared for. And choosing a responsible horseback riding tour can make all the difference between perpetuating the cycle of poor horse management or ensuring that the horse will enjoy the experience just as much as you do. Here are a few tips on what to look for:
I saw them before I even stepped off the stage after my Opening Keynote session at TBEX Cancun with Dr. Martha Honey. More than a half-dozen employees of Dolphin Discovery– the dolphinarium that offered “Swimming With Dolphins” tours at the Moon Palace Resort– stood in a semicircle, looking uncomfortable, waiting for me to wrap up my conversation with another blogger so they could chat with me about what was being called “Dolphingate.”
For those who missed the drama, in July it was announced that the tours being offered to travel bloggers attending the TBEX Conference included a “Swim With Dolphins” tour at a Cancun dolphinarium. Blogger Matthew Kepnes called for a boycott of TBEX, with hundreds of other bloggers and concerned travelers signing his petition. TBEX honcho Rick Calvert was unyielding and unapologetic, saying that bloggers should behave like journalists and make their own decisions. We eventually entered the fray (which we were unaware of because we’d been traveling, and had not planned to attend the Cancun conference) and convinced Cancun Tourism to cancel the tours.
In the midst of the controversy, we were invited by TBEX to appear alongside Dr. Honey– founder of the Center for Responsible Travel– in a keynote session to discuss ecotourism and responsible travel issues, including dolphinariums and other animal attractions. Manuel Garduno (Manager of Marine Mammal Operations), Michelle Madueno (Manager of Education & Conservation), and several other members of the Dolphin Discovery staff were there, with “Debunking the Myths About Dolphins in Human Care” brochures in hand, to invite us to tour their facility and learn why not all dolphinariums are created equal.
How could we refuse?