Posts Tagged ‘Bolivia’

Nature Ramble

Year of the llama: Bolivia calls for 2016 to be dedicated to camelids

South American nation wants UN to raise awareness of the animal family, which includes alpacas and dromedary camels

A woman is seen with a llama as Bolivia is lobbying for 2016 to become the international year of camelids. Photograph: Alamy

For centuries they have hauled loads up the Andes and through trackless deserts with no more acknowledgment than a slap on the rump. Now, however, the llama’s moment may finally have come: the Bolivian government is lobbying the UN to make 2016 the international year of camelids.

The proposal – which would include not only llamas but alpacas, vicuñas and guanacos, found in Andean South America, and the Bactrian and dromedary camel, found in Asia, Africa and Australia – is contained in a draft resolution which proclaims “the economic and cultural importance of camelids in the lives of the people living in the areas where they are domesticated and used as a source of food and wool and as pack animals”.

The resolution, which will be considered by the UN general assembly, encourages the international community to “raise awareness at all levels to promote the protection of camelids and the consumption of the goods produced from these mammals in a sustainable manner”. The move has been welcomed by those who have studied the animals’ contribution to society down the centuries. “Historically, the development of Andean cultures is based on camelids,”…

Source: TheGuardian Read more

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Nature Ramble

Last week pangolins, this week bats.

Trapsing across the globe to Bolivia for this week’s Nature Ramble.

Bolivian golden bat revealed as ‘new species’

Myotis midastactus has very short, yellow-gold fur and is thought to live only in Bolivia

A golden bat from Bolivia has been described as a new species by scientists.

Myotis midastactus had previously been classified as another bat found in South America called Myotis simus.

But examination of a collection of museum specimens suggested the existence of a different species, thought to live only in Bolivia.

Its most distinctive characteristic is its golden-yellow, very short and woolly fur.

This bright colouration – which is unique among New World Myotis species – earned the bat its new name midastactus, after the Greek legend of King Midas and his golden touch.

There are over 100 species of Myotis – or mouse-eared bats – in the world.

In the wild, Myotis midastactus lives in the Bolivian savanna. It eats small insects and roosts during the day in holes in the ground, hollow trees and under thatched roofs.

Source: BBCNews Read more

Change the World Wednesday – 7th May

toilet-humor-flushedI’ve had a dodgy belly since Monday, it’s improving.

So I haven’t really any news updates, my mind has been elsewhere, mainly in the throne room.

I’ll spare you the grisly details and move right along.

Click the banner for the full post

This week’s CTWW.

Light Pollution

Did you know that artificial outdoor lights affect the environment? Beyond the use of energy, they affect plants and animals.

Light pollution is totally preventable.

This week, reduce light pollution. Here are some suggestions:

  • Turn off indoor lighting which isn’t necessary. In rooms where lights are required, be sure to close the curtains so that the glow doesn’t escape outdoors.
  • Install a motion detector on outdoor security lighting.
  • Use lights only when necessary … avoid dusk-to-dawn lighting (for example, a porch light doesn’t need to be on all night).
  • Lower the wattage on outdoor lights (a 300 watt flood light is not necessary).
  • Light only what needs to be lit. For example, if you need a front porch light, be sure that it lights the door and not the entire yard.
  • Use full cutoff, low-glare fixtures (also called night sky friendly outdoor lighting fixtures). These fixtures direct the light to the ground. They typically have a cap, on top, which restricts the glow from affecting the sky or other areas.
  • Instead of a light for your driveaway, consider reflectors.
  • Share information on your blog and/or with your friends … many people don’t know the problems with light pollution.

 

Globally, we light up the planet every night.

light-pollution

When you consider that, it means there is a lot of confused bugs out there.

Looking at Small’s list:

I do turn off unused lights in the house, but I don’t have curtains. Generally the nights here are hot and you need the windows open for the air to circulate.

I have only one outdoor light. Three fittings, but I only use one. It is on only when needed. It is a low wattage CFL bulb in the carport, so it has little upward reflection.

No driveway, problem solved.

Personal Story

There is another aspect to light pollution that Small hasn’t covered and that is the ability to see the night sky. The light pollution in the cities prevents you from seeing the starlight.

Years ago, when I was a tour guide in Bolivia, one of the first stops was Uyuni in the southwest. The trip involved an overnight visit to the Salar de Uyuni; a beautiful place.

Looking across the salt lake from Isla de Pescadores

Looking across the salt lake from Isla de Pescadores

After the salt lake trip we ventured on and overnighted in a small adobe village called Alota. Really it should have been named Notalota.

Before we reached Alota, I had told the tourists to look up as soon as the stepped out of our trucks. We always arrived about 8pm, total darkness.

Alota had no power, no lights, no light pollution. There was no man-made light source for hundreds of kilometres.

As they got out and looked up, there were just gasps; “Oh, wow!”

My tourists were generally city-dwellers, and they’d never seen the night-sky without pollution. Now they were looking at ‘virgin’ sky, the Milky Way looked as though someone had painted it white.

The Milky Way from the Uyuni salt lake, the view was even better from Alota

The Milky Way from the Uyuni salt lake, the view was even better from Alota

These people had never seen so many stars before, they had never imagined that there were so many stars.

Light pollution not only adversely affects the environment, it also stunts our own understanding our our place in the universe.

When you are standing in the dark in the middle of nowhere looking up at the night sky, you succumb to the realisation of how insignificant man is.

 

Make you Fink on Friday

quinoa-dry-15

qinoa seeds

A few years ago the world discovered qinoa (correct spelling in Qechua, only the western world needed a ‘u’ after the ‘q’), which had been a staple diet for the peoples of the Andes for millennia. Once the international demand took hold, the price shot up and the indigenous people couldn’t afford it any more.

Now the world has discovered teff.

Is the same going to happen in Ethiopia?

Move over quinoa, Ethiopia’s teff poised to be next big super grain

Rich in calcium, iron and protein, gluten-free teff offers Ethiopia the promise of new and lucrative markets in the west

Mounds of teff dry in fields in Ethiopia. The gluten-free grain is used to make flour for injera, the national dish. Photograph: Julio Etchart/Alamy

At Addis Ababa airport, visitors are greeted by pictures of golden grains, minute ochre-red seeds and a group of men gathered around a giant pancake. Billboards boast: “Teff: the ultimate gluten-free crop!”

Ethiopia is one of the world’s poorest countries, well-known for its precarious food security situation. But it is also the native home of teff, a highly nutritious ancient grain increasingly finding its way into health-food shops and supermarkets in Europe and America.

Teffs tiny seeds – the size of poppy seeds – are high in calcium, iron and protein, and boast an impressive set of amino acids. Naturally gluten-free, the grain can substitute for wheat flour in anything from bread and pasta to waffles and pizza bases. Like quinoa, the Andean grain, teff’s superb nutritional profile offers the promise of new and lucrative markets in the west.

In Ethiopia, teff is a national obsession. Grown by an estimated 6.3 million farmers, fields of the crop cover more than 20% of all land under cultivation. Ground into flour and used to make injera, the spongy fermented flatbread that is basic to Ethiopian cuisine, the grain is central to many religious and cultural ceremonies. Across the country, and in neighbouring Eritrea, diners gather around large pieces of injera, which doubles as cutlery, scooping up stews and feeding one another as a sign of loyalty or friendship – a tradition known as gursha.

Outside diaspora communities in the west, teff has flown under the radar for decades. But growing appetite for traditional crops and booming health-food and gluten-free markets are breathing new life into the grain, increasingly touted as Ethiopia’s “second gift to the world”, after coffee.

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It’s Rather Hard to Fathom

Bolivia ‘to build first nuclear reactor’

Evo Morales, a former coca leaf producer, is Bolivia’s first president with an indigenous background

Bolivian President Evo Morales has announced plans to build the country’s first nuclear reactor.

Mr Morales said the development of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes has become a strategic priority for his country.

Speaking to members of the Bolivian Congress, he said that Iran, France and Argentina had volunteered to help with the development of the project.

Only three countries in Latin America have operating nuclear power stations.

Brazil, Argentina and Mexico began their nuclear programmes in the 1970s.

Chile has only small-scale, experimental nuclear reactors.

“Bolivia cannot remain excluded from this technology, which belongs to all humankind,” Mr Morales said in his annual state of the union address in La Paz.

“We have decided to create a high-level energy commission. This is a priority of the Bolivian state,” he said.

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Opinion:

It’s rather hard to fathom after all that has happened at Fukushima (and that is not over yet) that anyone, or any country would want to bring more nuclear power to the southern hemisphere.

I don’t know where they plan to build a nuclear reactor, but much of Bolivia is high in the Andes and beset by the same earthquake problem as Japan.

Men may be mad, but politicians are absolutely crazy!

 

 

Monday Moaning

This is not really a moan, rather than praise for a small South American country who defied one of the fearsome all-powerful corporations.

The ‘moan’ part comes from the fact that the rest of the world doesn’t have the guts to do the same.

Reblogged from NaturalNews

McDonald’s closing all restaurants in Bolivia as nation rejects fast food

McDonald’s happy image and its golden arches aren’t the gateway to bliss in Bolivia. This South American country isn’t falling for the barrage of advertising and fast food cooking methods that so easily engulf countries like the United States. Bolivians simply don’t trust food prepared in such little time. The quick and easy, mass production method of fast food actually turns Bolivians off altogether. Sixty percent of Bolivians are an indigenous population who generally don’t find it worth their health or money to step foot in a McDonald’s. Despite its economically friendly fast food prices, McDonald’s couldn’t coax enough of the indigenous population of Bolivia to eat their BigMacs, McNuggets or McRibs.

One indigenous woman, Esther Choque, waiting for a bus to arrive outside a McDonald’s restaurant, said, “The closest I ever came was one day when a rain shower fell and I climbed the steps to keep dry by the door. Then they came out and shooed me away. They said I was dirtying the place. Why would I care if McDonald’s leaves [Bolivia]?”

Fast food chain remained for a decade, despite losses every year

The eight remaining McDonald’s fast food shops that stuck it out in the Bolivian city’s of La Paz, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz de la Sierra, had reportedly operated on losses every year for a decade. The McDonald’s franchise had been persistent over that time, flexing its franchise’s deep pockets to continue business in Bolivia.

Any small business operating in the red for that long would have folded and left the area in less than half that time. Even as persistent as McDonald’s was in gaining influence there, it couldn’t continue operating in the red. After 14 years of presence in the country, their extensive network couldn’t hold up the Bolivian chain. Store after store shut down as Bolivia rejected the McDonald’s fast food agenda. Soon enough, they kissed the last McDonald’s goodbye.

Deep cultural rejection

The McDonald’s impact and its departure from Bolivia was so lasting and important, that marketing managers immediately filmed a documentary called, “Why McDonalds’s went broke in Bolivia.”

Featuring, cooks, nutritionist, historians, and educators, this documentary breaks down the disgusting reality of how McDonald’s food is prepared and why Bolivians reject the whole fast food philosophy of eating.

The rejection isn’t necessarily based on the taste or the type of food McDonald’s prepared. The rejection of the fast food system stemmed from Bolivian’s mindset of how meals are to be properly prepared. Bolivians more so respect their bodies, valuing the quality of what goes into their stomach. The time it takes for fast food to be prepared throws up a warning flag in their minds. Where other cultures see no risk, eating McDonald’s every week; Bolivians feel that it just isn’t worth the health risk. Bolivians seek well prepared, local meals, and want to know that their food was prepared the right way.

This self respect helps Bolivians avoid processed “restructured meat technology,” often used by fast food joints like McDonald’s.

The McRib: 70 ingredients all restructured into one

Did you know that the McRib is processed with 70 different ingredients which include azodicarbonamide, a flour-bleaching agent often used in producing foamed plastics? McRib’s are basically “restructured meat technology” containing a mixture of tripe, heart, and scalded stomach. Proteins are extracted from this muscle mixture and they bind the pork trimmings together so they can be molded in a factory. The McRib is really just a molded blob of restructured meat, advertised and sold like fresh ribs. There’s nothing real about it, the preparation or the substance. In fact, McRibs really came about because of a chicken shortage. The restructured meat technology approach kept the McRib on the menu, despite the shortage, and the profits continued rolling in.

This is the very disgusting idea that the Bolivians have rejected in their country.

The Bolivian rejection of McDonald’s has set a proper example for the rest of the world to follow.

Thanks to Living Simply Free for the heads up

Make you Fink on Friday

Quinoa plants

For thousands, of years the Inca, and now the Aymara and Qechua have eaten one of the few grains that grow at high altitude.

It can stand extremely hot temperatures during the day and below freezing at night in the Andean deserts above 3,600 (10,000ft +/-).

It is one of the Earth’s most nutrition laden foodstuffs…

Kinwa (Quinoa)

2013 has been declared International Year of Quinoa by the United Nations.

Once scorned by the Spanish conquerors as ‘Inca food’ and because of its sacred value in religious ceremonies, the Spanish forbade its cultivation.

But what is happening to this seed, now that the western world has discovered it?

Quinoa brings riches to the Andes

Bolivian and Peruvian farmers sell entire crop to meet rising western demand, sparking fears of malnutrition

A woman carries quinoa in Bolivia. The ‘pseudo-grain’ may be the most nutritious foodstuff in the world. Photograph: Laurent Giraudou/Corbis

A burst of colour on a monochromatic panorama, a field of flowering quinoa plants in the Bolivian desert is a thing of beauty. A plant ready for harvest can stand higher than a human, covered with knotty blossoms, from violet to crimson and ochre-orange to yellow.

Quinua real, or royal quinoa, flourishes in the most hostile conditions, surviving nightly frosts and daytime temperatures upwards of 40C (104F). It is a high-altitude plant, growing at 3,600 metres above sea level and higher, where oxygen is thin, water is scarce and the soil is so saline that virtually nothing else grows.

The tiny seeds of the quinoa plant are the stuff of nutritionists’ dreams, sending demand soaring in the developed world. Gram-for-gram, quinoa is one of the planet’s most nutritious foodstuffs. Once a sacred crop for some pre-hispanic Andean cultures, it has become a five-star health food for the middle classes in Europe, the US and increasingly China and Japan.

That global demand means less quinoa is being eaten in Bolivia and Peru, the countries of origin, as the price has tripled. There are concerns this could cause malnutrition as producers, who have long relied on the superfood to supplement their meagre diets, would rather sell their entire crop than eat it. The rocketing international price is also creating land disputes.

“Royal quinoa has given hope to people living in Bolivia’s most destitute and forgotten region,” says Paola Mejia, general manager of Bolivia’s Chamber of Quinoa Real and Organic Products Exporters.

Royal quinoa, which only grows in this arid region of southern Bolivia, is to the grain what beluga is to caviar; packed with even more protein, vitamins and minerals than the common variety.

Averaging $3,115 (£1,930) per tonne in 2011, quinoa has tripled in price since 2006. Coloured varieties fetch even more. Red royal quinoa sells at about $4,500 a tonne and the black variety can reach $8,000 per tonne. The crop has become a lifeline for the people of Bolivia’s Oruro and Potosi regions, among the poorest in what is one of South America’s poorest nations.

It is quinoa’s moment on the world stage. This year is the UN’s International Year of Quinoa as the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation recognises the crop’s resilience, adaptability and its “potential contribution in the fight against hunger and malnutrition”.

Evo Morales, the Bolivian leader whose government suggested the special recognition for the grain, said: “For years [quinoa] was looked down on just like the indigenous movement To remember that past is to remember discrimination against quinoa and now after so many years it is reclaiming its rightful recognition as the most important food for life.”

However, there are concerns the 5,000 year-old ancestral crop is being eaten less by its traditional consumers: quinoa farmers. “They have westernised their diets because they have more profits and more income,” says Mejia, an agronomist. “Ten years ago they had only an Andean diet in front of them. They had no choice. But now they do and they want rice, noodles, candies, coke, they want everything!”

Daysi Munoz, who runs a La Paz-based quinoa farming collective, agrees. “As the price has risen quinoa is consumed less and less in Bolivia. It’s worth more to them [the producers] to sell it or trade it for pasta and rice. As a result, they’re not eating it any more.”

Bitter battles are being fought over prime quinoa-growing land. Last February dozens of people were hurt when farmers fought with slings and sticks of dynamite over what was once abandoned land.

Many people who migrated to cities in search of a better life are now returning to their arid homeland to grow royal quinoa, says Mejia. Most land is communally owned, she adds, so “the government needs to set out the boundaries or there will be more conflicts”.

In the village of Lacaya, near Lake Titicaca, the farmers have recently sown quinoa. It grows faster in the wetter conditions but the variety quinua dulce is less sought after than royal quinoa.

What is quinoa?

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa willd) is actually a “pseudo-grain”, not belonging to the true grass family but a member of the goosefoot plant family, which includes spinach and sugarbeet.

Its exceptional nutritional qualities led NASA to include it as part of its astronauts’ diet on long space missions. A 1993 NASA technical paper says: “While no single food can supply all the essential life sustaining nutrients, quinoa comes as close as any other in the plant or animal kingdom.”

Quinoa is the only plant food that contains all 10 essential amino acids for the human diet. Its protein content (between 14%-18%) surpasses that of wheat, rice, maize and oats, and can be a substitute to animal protein. Its calorific value is greater than that of eggs and milk and comparable only to that of meat.

It is a source of vitamin E, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and contains more minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus than other grains.

Recent research found quinoa contains phytoestrogens, which are said to prevent or reduce osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis, breast cancer and other conditions that can be caused by lack of oestrogen after the menopause.

 

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NB: Qechua is spelt correctly in Qechua which does not use the ‘u’ after ‘q’. However ‘quinoa’ is a Spanish word coming from ‘kinwa’ (Qechua) and absorbed into English.

Opinion:

And what of the Altiplano Indians?

They may be getting richer, but will they suffer because of the westernised diet in favour of their traditions?

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