Sunday, July 22, 2012

Say No to GMO Mosquitos in Florida

Mia del Mer of Key West, Florida has created a petition on Change.Org to Florida Keys Mosquito Control District and Management and the FDA. The Key West community is against the release of GMO mosquitos by a British Company called Oxitec.  Oxitec is still trying to force their mosquitos into Florida against the wishes of the community.  Here is a message from Mia about the current situation there.  I hope that you will read her message and sign the petition at the end of this letter. 

Right now, a British company named Oxitec is planning to release genetically modified mosquitoes into the fragile enviroment of the Florida Keys. The company wants to use the Florida Keys as a testing ground for these mutant bugs.

Even though the local community in the Florida Keys has spoken -- we even passed an ordinance demanding more testing -- Oxitec is trying to use a loophole by applying to the FDA for an "animal bug" patent. This could mean these mutant mosquitoes could be released at any point against the wishes of locals and the scientific community. We need to make sure the FDA does not approve Oxitec's patent.

Nearly all experiments with genetically-modified crops have eventually resulted in unintended consequences: superweeds more resistant to herbicides, mutated and resistant insects also collateral damage to ecosystems. A recent news story reported that the monarch butterfly population is down by half in areas where Roundup Ready GM crops are doused with ultra-high levels of herbicides that wipe out the monarch's favorite milkweed plant.

What about our native species of Florida Keys Bats. Are there any studies being conducted to see if these mosquitoes will harm the native bat population?

Why would we not expect GM (genetically modified) insects, especially those that bite humans, to have similar unintended negative consequences? Will the more virulent Asian tiger mosquito that also carries dengue fill the void left by reductions in A. aegypti? Will the dengue virus mutate (think antibiotic resistant MRSA) and become even more dangerous?

There are more questions than answers and we need more testing to be done.

Will the public be able to stop this program from happening if we don't want it? We were told that "public opinion would be taken into account."

Dengue fever has been absent from Key West since 2010, which indicates the current methods of control and public education are working. What's the rush for this radical approach?

Where is the third-party, peer-reviewed research on effectiveness and safety of GM mosquitoes other than Oxitec's own claims of success? Don't let Oxitec bully our community! We say no to genetically modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys!
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Saturday, July 21, 2012

My Blackberry Lily in Bloom

After 8 years of wanting to grow Blackberry Lily, one of my 2 year old plants is finally in bloom. As an herbalist I love trying to grow medicinal herbs, and this is one that was on my list to cultivate for a long time. The old latin name for this plant is Belamcanda chinensis, but it was changed to Iris domestica. Other common names include Leopard Flower or Leopard Lily. I learned about this herb while studying Chinese Medicine and found that it was grown in the North America after reading the book Herbal Emissaries, Bringing Chinese Herbs to the West. This is one of my favorite herbal books by Steven Foster and coauthored by Yue Xi.
The Chinese name for the rhizome is She Gan. It is used primarily to clear phlegm and heat from the throat and lungs, in other words to reduce infections with swelling and phlegm. It is a slightly toxic herb that should not be used during pregnancy. I have never used this herb, but maybe in a few years I will give it a try. I was able to get this plant started 2 years ago with free seeds from, which is a great organization. The seeds were highly viable, unlike other seeds that I tried from a swap previously.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tropical Traditions Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Review and Giveaway

Coconut palms in South Beach Miami from my 2010 trip. 
 I received a jar of Organic Virgin Coconut Oil last month from Tropical Traditions. It was a promotional gift from Tropical Traditions and I was under no obligation to make a review or host a giveaway. However I really was impressed with the company, therefore I'm happy to share about the product and host a giveaway for one of my readers. The packaging of the oil was extremely environmentally conscious. The oil it self comes in a glass jar. Instead of being packed with non-biodegradable styrofoam packing peanuts like so many other products, it is secured in cardboard casing. The shipping box was sealed with paper tape as well, which is something I pay a lot more attention to now that I have switched to using paper tape.

The coconut oil itself is undeodorized and has a sweet pleasant coconut smell. I like it so much I made a new batch of vegan Coconut Lip Balms with it.

Now available at Aquarian Bath
I've also enjoyed using it on popcorn. I even made mayonnaise with it, which is something I had been wanting to try for a long time. Tropical Traditions has a lot of great recipes on their site with videos. Here is their demonstration video for making mayonaisse:
Are you new to cooking with coconut oil? Are you an expert? I would love to know if you have favorite recipes. You can enter to win this giveaway for coconut oil below. You can even get extra entries by sharing your recipes with coconut oil in the comments section, since I'm really interested to see how everyone else likes to use virgin coconut oil.
Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil - 32 oz.
Win 1 quart of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!
Tropical Traditions is America’s source for coconut oil. Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is hand crafted in small batches by family producers, and it is the highest quality coconut oil they offer. You can read more about how virgin coconut oil is different from other coconut oils on their website: What is Virgin Coconut Oil?

You can also watch the video they produced about Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil:

Tropical Traditions also carries other varieties of affordable high quality coconut oil. Visit their website to check on current sales, to learn about the many uses of coconut oil, and to read about all the advantages of buying coconut oil online. Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 16, 2012

How to Upcycle Used Envelopes into Non Toxic Desiccant Packs

A while back I was looking for a non-toxic desiccant to pack in my soap storage bins. After a bit of research I found that I already had all the materials that I needed in order to make them myself.  If you live in a very humid environment like I do and need to store moisture sensitive items, you might find this to be a useful project.

Here is what you need to make them 1) a used Tyvek USPS Priority Mail envelope.  These are a soft water resistant plastic envelope that feels more like a silky smooth fabric.  Often soft items like clothing are shipped in them.  These are fairly common to receive in the mail if you do much online purchasing, but it you don't have any, you can easily ask for some on freecycle.  Using new envelopes would be a breaking federal law.  2) non toxic glue and 3) Bentonite Clay which I always have in stock.

First I made a non toxic glue using a modified recipe from Pure Pixie

1/2 cup water
2 T corn syrup
1 t white vinegar
2 T cornstarch 

Mix together water, corn syrup and vinegar until boiling and stir while boiling.  Slowly whisk in the corn starch and boil for 1 minute.  Add to 4 oz jar and let stand overnight.  This makes a thick paste that is spreadable with a pain brush.  

The next step is to cut out squares for your desiccant packs.  It is best to make them big enough so that you can easily fit a spoon into the opening.  1.5 inch or 2 inch square is perfect.  Then glue together 3 sides.  Set the packs aside to dry for a few hours.  Then add about a teaspoon of clay to each pack.   

Nexd add glue along the open edge of the pack with a paint brush.  Be careful to not get Bentonite clay onto the glue area, or you will not get a clean seal.  Let the packs dry out over a few hours.  As soon as they are dry they are ready to use.  

Into the soap storage bins they go...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Christmas In July Giveaway and Sale with the Daytona Etsy Team

My Daytona Beach Etsy team is having Christmas in July sale now through the 22nd.  Check out the sales ad win prizes from these shops at the Florida Etsy Team Blog

Indigo Blue Dyed Sh...

Bicycle Basket Line...

Scallop Shell On Li...

Womens Shark Tshirt...

July Sale Wintergre...

Handblown Blue Glas...


Release Aromatherap...

Rectangle Turquoise...

Lavender Filled Lig...

Winter Wonderland B...

Craft Wine Corks - ...

Herbal Comfort Mass...

Snoopy appliqued pi...

Crochet Slouchy Hat...

Stand mixer bowl co...

I have donated one of my new Extra Stout Shampoo Bars for the giveaway, and my Henna shampoo bars are on sale for 25% off along with all my holiday gift items in my Christmas in July Sale section of my Etsy Shop. 

Hope you will take a minute to visit the giveaway and enter to win.  There are so many great prizes I would love to win: Vanilla Latte Sugar Scrub, a clutch purse, a Hippie slouch bag, Lavender Sachets and more!  Good luck and happy shopping.