Posts tagged Ames

Local foods Monday

Preston Maring to discuss benefits of locally grown food Nov. 10

California obstetrician Dr. Preston Maring, will visit the University of Iowa on Monday, Nov. 10, to discuss the economic, health, community and environmental benefits of locally grown, sustainably produced food.

Maring will present “Sustaining Iowa: Making the Connection Between Food, Health and the Land” at noon in Room 140 of Schaeffer Hall on the UI campus.

Maring’s talk is one of three scheduled presentations in Iowa. He will speak at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10, at the Commons Ball Room at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, and at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11, in Room 2050 of Agronomy Hall at Iowa State University in Ames.

All the events are free and open to the public.

Maring is associate physician-in-chief at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland, Calif., where he is responsible for tertiary-care services planning and development for Oakland’s 200,000 health plan members as well as members from around the northern California region.

In 2003, Maring helped start a weekly farmers’ market for hospital staff, visitors and the community, resulting in different market models, community outreach and a programwide focus on healthy eating. Today, the concept has spread to 40 other Kaiser Permanente health care facilities.

More recently, he has worked with Kaiser Permanente and the Community Alliance with Family Farmers to create a system that sources food for inpatient meals from small family farmers.

An enthusiastic cook as well as a physician, Maring’s blog, “Dr. Maring’s Farmers’ Market and Recipe Update,” gets about 50,000 page views each month. The blog is at http://recipe.kaiser-permanente.org/kp/maring/about/.

Following each of Maring’s presentations, speakers will share Iowa stories about the benefits of local food. These include Iowa City chef Kurt Michael Friese, author of the 2008 book “A Cook’s Journey: Slow Food in the Heartland” and editor for Edible Iowa River Valley magazine; and Story County Planning and Zoning director Leanne Harter, who will discuss the county’s new Local Foods Systems Initiative report. In Cedar Falls, Maring will be the featured speaker for the annual local food dinner.

Maring’s visit is sponsored by the UI Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination, the UI Sustainability Steering Group, the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at ISU and the Center for Energy and Environmental Education at UNI.

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Attracting pollinators

Most people would rather keep bees at bay, but Steve Hanlin, entomologist with the US Department of Agriculture research station in Ames, Iowa, understands their value as pollinators. To Steve, bees and other pollinators have a multi-billion dollar impact on what we eat and wear.

Steve spoke at Sunday’s Honey Fest at the Indian Creek Nature Center. His mention of Osmia bees was met with a round of applause by some of the beekeepers in the audience. That type of bee, also known as the Mason bee,  does not sting.

  The USDA mostly uses honey bees for their pollination of heirloom crops, which are raised by staff in Ames, but Steve called the bumblebee the “best wild pollinator there is.” The cost of bumblebees is more prohibitive, so they’re not used as often by his group.

For people with apple orchards or other plants in need of pollination, Steve said it’s best to not spray weed beds and to not use a rototiller. Both destroy habitats where bees like to live.

Old mouse nests are an ideal spot for bumblebees, but encouraging mice to live nearby raises its own questions. Basically, bumblebees live in undisturbed sandy soil.

Steve said osmia bees can be attracted by placing cardboard straws in an empty Pringles can where the bees can live. Plastic straws don’t work, as the bees would suffocate. The cardboard straws are what mail-order bees are shipped in, he said. Another “bee house” can be seen in the photo above.

 As an aside, Steve said moths also pollinate, but only night-blooming plants.

Also, some types of cactus are endangered because their pollinators, bats, are declining in number.

Honeybees don’t pollinate trumpet-style flowers, he said, and while bumblebees make little “honey pots” Steve doubts that people who buy bumblebee honey are getting the real thing. The honey, produced in tiny quantities, would have to be extracted by micro-pipette, he said.

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