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Society for Environmental Journalists

The Society for Environmental Journalists is having its annual convention at Stanford this year (Sept. 5-7). According to its Web site, the SEJ mission is to advance public understanding of environmental issues by improving the quality, accuracy and visibility of environmental reporting.

ANR News and Information Outreach will attend to meet reporters and share information about ANR programs. We plan to provide reporters synopses of a few very promising and interesting ANR research projects that have important environmental implications. We believe the reporters will be especially interested in water quality, forestry, preventing global warming, renewable energy and sustainable agriculture.

If you have a story idea, please leave a comment on this blog. I'll provide more information about the convention as it approaches and blog from the convention when I am there.

SEJ logo.
SEJ logo.

Posted on Friday, August 24, 2007 at 12:04 PM

Another reason to eat broccoli

A number of science publications picked up a story by UC Berkeley public information representative Sara Yang about research that identified yet another reason to eat broccoli. The release is posted on the ANR news Web site. Among the publications that ran the piece are ScienceDaily and Environmental News Network.

In a nutshell, Yang's story says that research has shown a compound in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, known by its acronym DIM, can fight cancer and boost the immune system.

"Researchers found increased blood levels of cytokines, proteins which help regulate the cells of the immune system, in mice that had been fed solutions containing doses of DIM at a concentration of 30 milligrams per kilogram," according to the article.

So how much broccoli would a human need to eat for immune system benefits? This is quite a technical article, but it does say that a large plateful of broccoli can yield a 5-10 micromolar dose of DIM and that, in cell cultures, a 10 micromolar dose doubled the number of white blood cells, which help the body fight infections by killing or engulfing pathogens.

If you are planning to eat more vegetables due to these research results, you'll be pleased that the federal government is planning to spend $5.5 million over the next three years to study ways to prevent outbreaks of E. coli 0157:H7 in fresh produce. The principle investigator, Rob Mandrell of the USDA-ARS, and University of California researchers also received $1.2 million from the government in 2006 to do research in California's Salinas Valley, according to an Associated Press article that was published yesterday on Forbes.com and an October 2006 story on the ANR News Web site.

Broccoli and cauliflower
Broccoli and cauliflower

Posted on Thursday, August 23, 2007 at 9:31 AM

High praise for Master Gardeners

The San Francisco Chronicle has kind words today for the San Francisco-San Mateo Master Gardeners. Six months ago, a group of the MGs "adopted" the Chron's culinary roof garden. This week, they gathered for a lunch inspired by herbs grown in the garden with recipes from the "community of cooks and gardeners."

According to the article, by Olivia Wu, the roof-top garden is not new. The Chronicle's food staff planted it four years ago to grow herbs for their test kitchen. They struggled with pests and wind, but not gophers.

Wu correctly noted that Master Gardeners aren't "righteous, egocentric soil-toilers" but volunteer gardeners who have completed a UC training program. To the delight of those of us working in the UC ANR public information office, she also included the complete name of our organization, "University of California Cooperative Extension," and mentioned the Master Gardeners' "training program and educational projects."

Great publicity all around.

California Master Gardeners' logo
California Master Gardeners' logo

Posted on Wednesday, August 22, 2007 at 9:52 AM

Vice President's position advertised in newspaper editorials

On Sunday, the Fresno Bee ran an editorial that read like extended position vacancy announcement for vice president of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The editorial was reprinted today in the Merced Sun-Star. The editorial notes the importance of this postion: "This is a vital appointment and the UC search committee cannot settle for second best."

The writer talked to Richard Rominger, chair of the search committee, to find out how he would characterize the ideal candidate.

Summarizing Rominger's comments, the editorial said the person would play an important role in setting the UC vision for farm research, and fight for funding in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., to assure Californians get their fair share of money designated for education and research.

The Bee also sought comment from Fred Ruiz, a UC regent and chairman and chief executive of Ruiz Food Products Inc. in Dinuba. According to the editorial, Ruiz said the university needs someone who is recognized and respected in industry and agriculture as a person who gets the job done right.

The editorial also conveyed the Bee's preferences for the new vice president. It said: "We hope UC will think creatively in its search for this candidate and look for someone whose authoritative voice will make sure ag is properly represented in the university's priorities."

Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2007 at 9:11 AM

What to drink?

In Fresno County, thousands of children returned to school today, including my own. In their brown bag lunches, they each carried a bottle of water. I'm taking the advice of UC Berkeley nutrition professor Patricia Crawford, who recently published a Q&A about sports drinks (pdf), one of the few caloric beverages that will still be for sale to kids during school hours. Crawford says children should almost always choose water to quench their thirst. HealthNewsDigest.com published a story we put out about the Q&A, but this isn't the only advice about sports drinks you'll find online.

An article this month in SportingNews.com said the Washington Huskies football team are being offered chocolate milk following workouts (along with Gatorade and water.)

According to the article, the decision to offer chocolate milk came after a study last fall from scientists at Indiana University that was published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism and was supported in part by the Dairy and Nutrition Council.

"The small study found no significant difference between using a fluid-replacement drink or chocolate milk for athletes following exercise, with dairy folks touting the nutritional benefits of drinking milk -- chocolate or otherwise," the article says.

An op-ed piece by Susan Bowerman, a registered dietitian and assistant director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, published today in the LA Times supports the milk idea saying it is "another tried-and-true recovery drink for many athletes." She continues: "it's protein- and carb-rich, with fluid, potassium and cocoa antioxidants to boot."

Bowerman also cited a small placebo-controlled study published in May in the journal Nutrition that demonstrated that an extract produced from unripe apples helped to counteract fatigue in athletes after a series of bouts on an exercise bike.

"Apples, like all fruits, are a good source of carbohydrates. But the researchers concluded that procyanidin, an antioxidant in apples, was responsible," the article says.

A boy with a sports drink.
A boy with a sports drink.

Posted on Monday, August 20, 2007 at 11:15 AM

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