Where there is a will there is a way

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

David Suzuki - Force of Nature (2011) Canada

I just got the documentary on David Suzuki. I ordered it from Canada, as it wasn't out here yet, and my parents posted it on to me.

David Suzuki is a great man - his talent is communicating science to regular people. He is a rare person, with both logical and intuitive abilities. First, he conducted genetics research, conducting experiments with fruitflies. Then he became a much loved TV host in Canada, a gentle, friendly Japanese man who helped people understand about nature in the show "The Nature of Things". Then as he saw how things were connected, he went on to speak all over the world about the danger of going past our limits as a species on Earth, consuming all the Earth's resources without allowing them to replenish.

He grew up not speaking Japanese, but integrated into Canadian culture, surrounded by Caucasian people. He wasn't allowed by his father to date white girls, so he would go off and explore a nearby swamp - observing and discovering many magical things.

The most freaky, and important part of this movie is a metaphor that he uses to help us understand clearly the science (and danger) of unlimited population increase on a planet with limited resources. It is so important, and crystal clear, that I have listened and written down every word of this part. It's something that we all need to think about, and try to live accordingly, with all of our ability. It is scary, but don't get depressed watching it! I am a fighter, this awareness can help us to change things:

David Suzuki:
"Our home, the biosphere, is finite and fixed. It can't grow. And if the economy is a part of and utterly dependant on the biosphere, the attempt to maintain endless growth is an impossibility. Let me show you why. Steady growth over time, whether it's the amount of garbage you make, the size of your city, the population of the world, anything growing steadily is called exponential growth. And anything growing exponentially has a predictable doubling time. I am going to give you a system analagous to the planet - it's a test-tube full of food for bacteria. So the test tube and food is the planet, and the bacteria are us. I'm going to add one bacterial cell to the test tube, and it's going to begin to divide every minute."

[Screen behind him shows one cell splitting into two, and from two into four behind him, which continues as he speaks...]

"That's exponential growth. So at the beginning, there's one cell; one minute, there are two; two minutes, there are four; three minutes, there are eight. That's exponential growth. And at 60 minutes, the test tube is completely packed with bacteria and there's no food left. So we have a 60-minute growth cycle.

"When is the test tube half full? And of course, the answer is at 59 minutes. 59 minutes, it's only half-full, but one minute later, it's completely full. So at 58 minutes, it's 25% full. 57 minutes, it's 12.5% full.
At 55 minutes of a 60-minute cycle, it's 3% full.

"So let's suppose at 55 minutes, one of the bacteria says, 'Hey guys, I've been thinking...we've got a population problem.' The other bacteria would say, 'Jack, what the hell have you been smoking? 97% of the test tube's empty and we've been around for 55 minutes!' They'd be five minutes away from filling it.

"So bacteria are no smarter than people. At 59 minutes they go, 'Oh my God, Jack is right! We've got 1 minute left! What are we going to do now? Well, we better give that money to those scientists! Maybe they can pull us out of this.' But the world for the bacteria is the test tube and food. How can they possibly add any more food or space to that world? They can't. They can no more add food or space than we can add air, water, soil or biodiversity to the biosphere.

"This is not speculation or hypothesis, it is straight mathematical certainty. And every scientist I have talked to agrees with me - we're already past the 59th minute. So all the demand for relentless growth is the call to accelerate down what is a suicidal path. And by focusing on growth! growth! we fail to ask the important questions, like how much is enough? Are there no limits? Are we happier with all this stuff? What is an economy for? We never ask those questions.

There was also a great part where he traces the path of one breath of air to show our interconnectedness with our environment (video embedded below).

David Suzuki visited his daughter and new granddaughter, living in a Haida community in BC, as his daughter met and married a Haida man when David helped them defend their forest from logging. I felt the contrast between their lives, the community that they had, and the beautiful forest setting - with the far more lonely modern lifestyle of my family and other families in the developed world in comparison.

David Suzuki, speaking at his Legacy speech:

"And ever since that first encounter with Guujaw, I have been a student, meeting aboriginal people around the world, and witnessing that same attachment to place. Whether it's in the Amazon or the Australian outback, aboriginal people speak of the Earth as our mother and they tell us we are created by the four sacred elements: earth, air, fire and water. So I realized we had defined the problem incorrectly. There's no environment out there and we are here, and we somehow have to watch the way we interact with it. We are the environment.

"And the leading science corroborates this ancient understanding that informs us that whatever we do to our surroundings, we do directly to ourselves. The environmental crisis is a human crisis. We are at the centre of it, both causing the problems and as the victims of the consequences."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

NZ Herald: Action groups step up fight against extraction of South Island coal

By Simon Hartley 5:30 AM Wednesday Sep 14, 2011

Article found at

Photo / Greg Bowker
The Government has been criticised for promoting coal and lignite use.

Opposition to the extraction of low and high grade coals in the South Island is mounting.

An Environment Court challenge has been lodged and the Government is coming under increasing attack for backing coal and lignite use.

The West Coast Environment Network has filed an appeal with the Environment Court against resource consents awarded to listed Bathurst Resources which wants to mine up to two million tonnes of high grade coal from the Denniston Plateau north of Westport, citing the 200ha as being of high conservation value.

Separately, state-owned enterprise Solid Energy started constructing its $25 million pilot lignite-to-briquettes plant in Southland last week. The Coal Action Network Aotearoa has criticised Deputy Prime Minister Bill English for supporting the use of "low-quality, dirty brown coal" which it said would cause a huge increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

At the forefront of environmentalists' concerns is the release of carbon into the atmosphere, while the Government and mining sector see coal and lignite as vast energy sources with huge economic benefits, regionally and nationally.

While operating separately, Solid Energy and Bathurst have adjoining coal tenements on the West Coast and have agreements to assist one another with infrastructure, access and transport arrangements - which could total four million tonnes of export coal between them every year.

Dual-listed Bathurst has spent more than $100 million getting to this consented stage, but in that time has raised about $242 million for the project, which covers 10,000ha of tenements but is at present targeting 200ha of the southern escarpment of the Denniston plateau.

Subject to the Environment Court challenge, Bathurst wanted to begin production by the end of the year and ramp up to full production of two million tonnes by the end of next year.

Coking coal is a key ingredient in steel making and is in demand from Asian economies.

Bathurst's resource consents came with many conditions, which the company has said are palatable, and claims its rehabilitation and replanting of the landscape would leave it looking original to the untrained eye.

On Bathurst's plans, West Coast Environment Network spokeswoman Karen Mayhew said the open-cast mining would dig up a rare landscape and habitat for threatened species.

"This mine would more than double New Zealand's coal exports. Once the coal is dug up, the release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere is guaranteed," she said.

"Given the scientific consensus on climate change and its impacts, we consider that this issue should have been considered properly by the resource consent commissioners."

Mayhew said the network's appeal would be based on ecological, climate and economic grounds and the group hopes to have eminent Nasa climate scientist James Hansen appear via a video-conference link.

On Solid Energy, Network Aotearoa spokeswoman Frances Mountier said developing lignite was significant for New Zealand because of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

And it was hugely significant to eastern Southland because of the damage large-scale lignite mining would cause to air quality, living conditions, and the high-quality rivers and streams on which Southland depended.

- Otago Daily Times

By Simon Hartley

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

ReThinkNZ.com cotton mesh bags for veggies and fruit

I shared this recommendation all over the place, but I have never put it in blog. I would like to share it for all time - use RethinkNZ.com organic cotton fruit and veggie bags! (To avoid using plastic film ones, of course.) They rock!!!

I got 3 multi-packs (2 large, 1 small bag) at $5.99 NZ each, and was set up for life.

The large bags are strong and hold alot of heavy fruit with ease. The checkout clerks just weigh the fruit in the bags. If they ever get dirty, you throw them in the washing machine with your laundry. We often leave the fruit or vegetables in these bags in the fridge as well.

Repairing broken pot handles with drawer knobs

Here is an idea!

Drawer knobs.

When your plastic crap handle breaks off your pot lid, as is likely to happen at my place, you don't have to throw the rest of it away due to this weak link. Just go to your hardware store, and purchase any sort of drawer knob (cupboard knob), and screw it on. A washer is good too, to keep the screw from slipping out the hole.

I used drawer knobs as they didn't sell replacement knobs for pots or pans. Since I had broken a few pot handles off, I bought a few wood knobs, and now the handles are solid as a rock and will last for a long time (unlike their original handles). I chose varnished wood, to help protect from steam. But there were many types there, even solid metal teddy bear handles, if this takes your fancy!

The ones that I bought from the hardware store came with screws and washers, so it was really easy.

P.S. If you don't already have a good screwdriver, get one - they are useful. 

Note from a later date:  USE STAINLESS STEEL SCREWS

Stillwater this week

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

How to make Jones Caramel Popcorn

The simple, sustainable lifestyle isn't about being boring and good. The Jones family (my family) used to make everything, and it was awesome! It's all a part of it.

To make caramel popcorn, first, make a huge bowl of popcorn -- either with a few batches on the stovetop or with a popcorn maker. Then boil the caramel candy mixture on the stovetop (directions below) and pour the hot caramel mixture all over it and stir well. It will very quickly set up - so separate into balls if you are not eating it right away!

To make the caramel candy part, throw the following 3 ingredients together into a saucepan on the stovetop, and melt on med-high heat while stirring (this is the Jones-size recipe halved, feeds a regular sized family):

half a block of butter (or 1 cup, or 1/2 lb, or 227 g)
1 1/3 cup white or brown sugar (brown sugar tastes richer, but I prefer just using white sugar as it's pretty rich anyways)
1/2 cup golden syrup

When it begins to boil, turn it down and boil softly, stirring.

Boil until you either reach "soft-ball" stage on a candy thermometer, or just dip a spoon into the mixture, and then drop some into cold water and see if it forms a ball. A candy thermometer is not needed! You can sense how it is and decide when you want to take it off that way. The longer you boil the mixture, the harder your popcorn balls will be.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Knitting Rhythms

There is something about knitting which is relaxing. If you follow a natural groove, just doing it, then there is a rhythm that you are following. Isn't it interesting how many of these old arts are being taken up by people again?

You see, the thing is, they bring natural rhythm back into people's lives. I can picture the many activities in people's lives, that modern living has taken out - activities to do with harvesting food from the garden work, sewing, quilting. Now that we don't have to do these things all the time, we can see the peace that they brought into our lives.

Another company turns plastic back into oil (in Ohio, USA)

Photo: banner from Vaddx website.

Looks like another company has invented a technique/machine for turning plastic rubbish back into oil: Vaddx Energy. They are based in Akron, Ohio. This is water on my soul.

I had already heard about a Japanese company called Blest, started by Akinori Ito in Japan (earlier post here). There is a great Youtube video showing the machine he has created which converts plastic back into oil. He travelled around third-world countries showing people how plastic rubbish could actually become a resource. Basically his machine heats up the plastic, which is converted to vapour first, then captured as oil. Any type of rubbish can be stuffed into the machine.

But I guess these guys are proposing converting all the waste from a particular area, which is awesome. It's being applied. From their website:

Vadxx Energy (Cleveland, OH) manufactures synthetic crude oil, natural gas and recovers metals using raw material feedstock consisting of petroleum-based wastes. The raw material feedstock includes auto fluff, e-wastes, scrap tires, recyclable and non-recyclable plastics, synthetic fibers, used industrial solvents, waste oil and heavy refinery bottom oil. Vadxx has a license to implement patented technology and is developing additional technology.

The company has a Research and Development Office and a pilot plant in Akron, OH. The first Vadxx commercial-scale synthetic crude oil manufacturing units will be installed at Ohio locations, near Vadxx operations. Vadxx crude oil and natural gas is sold to energy marketing firms. Crude oil customers include petroleum refiners.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Changing my ways with water in Stillwater!

Turns out that we were using far too much water. I knew it!

Winter has ended, and we have poured the excesses of rain NZ gets in winter all over us, then down the drain! Now I see that summer follows winter - one should to conserve water during winter despite all the rain for use during the following drier months!

BUT there is nothing like having a limit to change your habits. I am actually enjoying the inspiration of the low water in the tank, as for the first time I am actually trying to see how little water can be used for everything. If I wash out two bowls, I pour the water in the first one to use on the second one. It feels great to be less wasteful - more humble.

I think human nature just requires a limit before we can change our habits. When I had unlimited water city water at my house, I never would have conserved water like that.

I think the biggest reason we waste water here is because we can. There is a direct relationship between using resources and our own expended energy - of course! If we use tonne of water, use the dishwasher or drier rampantly, or throw clothes in the washer if they get one spot, just being lazy and really resource-reliant. People can use far less resources when they use them with skill - and apply more of their own energy. Such as washing dishes by hand carefully with less water, hanging clothes - there are so many ways one can use skill in life to use resources well - e.g. repairing instead of just throwing something away.

The weird thing is we think we are better and smarter now because we have dishwashers and don't do things ourselves anymore. Weird. The skill emphasis is now in the production-design stage - we can just be deskilled people.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Buller Coal's attempt to mine on conserved land on West Coast of South Island, NZ

Mt. Rochfort, Denniston Plateau
(Photo credit: Craig Potton)

I just wrote to Kate Wilkinson (Minister of Conservation in NZ) about the Buller Coal mine proposed on the West Coast of the South Island on the Denniston Plateau, opposing it obviously on grounds of climate pollution, and habitat destruction (and beauty destruction). Her email is kate.wilkinson@national.org.nz if anyone else is interested in voicing their opinion. Forest and Bird also have a great page with info on it, and the beautiful area there. Also, here are a few news articles about it.

ONE News article, "Environmentalists to fight Buller mine decision" at

Radio NZ article: "West Coast leaders back proposed Buller mine" at

TVNZ article: "Debate rages over Buller mine plan" at

Residents and environmental groups are of course opposed, it will temporarily create a few jobs but help to DESTROY THE EARTH'S ATMOSPHERE....hmmm. Coal mines? New coal mines? Not clever. And NZers pride themselves on being innovative.

From Forest and Bird's website:

Coal: The planet's dirtiest fuel
“Coal is the single greatest threat to civilisation and all life on our planet,” NASA Climate Change scientist, James Hansen, who gave evidence via video at the resource consent hearing. At a time when it is crucial we rein in our carbon emissions, our government is actively looking to mine one of the planet’s dirtiest fuels: coal. If this mine goes ahead, it will increase our exports by 63% a year. - Forest and Bird NZ

Here is my letter:

"Dear Kate Wilkinson,

"I am writing to you as you are the Minister of Conservation in NZ. I am a resident living in the Rodney District area, in Stillwater, near Auckland NZ. I am concerned about Buller Coal's plans to coal mine on the Denniston Plateau in the South Island of NZ. I am greatly opposed to the decision to allow any new coal mines at all, due to the environmental impacts that it would have. But if a coal mine is to be constructed, mining conservation land should not even be considered. These areas are important for what they are, unique places with unique species that haven't already been destroyed.

"I also I think it's stating the obvious that coal is a poor choice at all as an energy given what we now know about the pollution in the atmosphere and the great consequences that further pollution would have. New Zealand could far more easily become a leader in alternative energies than some other larger Western countries such as Canada and the US, as it's smaller, innovative, and with its self-sufficient island culture.

"I settled in NZ seven years ago, after graduating from the University of Calgary, in Alberta, Canada with a Bachelor's degree in Communication Studies. Living in Canada I saw alot of resource exploitation, and also large, powerful corporations that were usually more powerful than the government. Due to my experience living there (and from my studies) I would urge New Zealanders to use their great ability to make their own choices wisely - that is become a leader in the world, in areas such as alternative energy use, and not creating new coal mines and adding to the world's problem with climate change. NZ has more ease and ability to make changes than many larger countries. I also have a family here now, and 2 Kiwi children whose interests I would like to protect. Please help protect our conservation areas.

"Nonavee Dale"
[Address etc]

For more information about this, go to Forest & Bird's website: http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/what-we-do/campaigns/save-the-denniston-plateauours-not-mine

Oats for breakfast - cheap, healthy, and sustainable.

I posted an entry on Jones mush (coarsely ground whole wheat porridge with the white flour sifted out), as I had grown up eating it and wanted to carry it on. BUT it wasn't that easy to keep an amount ground up for use, and oats were far easier to prepare - instead of boiling them in a pot, you can just pour in some hot water from the kettle into each bowl with a small scoop of oats put into it.

Turns out though, when my husband found out he had higher than ideal levels of cholesterol, that oats are a very healthy breakfast food and help to reduce cholesterol levels. Refilling a bucket of oats at my local wholesale supplier, Binn Inn, is also great for zero waste. And really really cheap. And yum. (Add a pinch of salt and honey, or brown sugar, and they will be just "as good" as what is in those individual packets of oats.)

To my interest, Good magazine recently published an article all about oats! (Issue 19 - Jul/Aug 2011). Last but not least, it turns out to be a "green" (sustainably produced) grain, in NZ, which of course is very important to me.

So, oats are 1) easy to prepare, 2) a superfood (see following article), 3) cheap and plentiful to buy, 4) sustainably produced.

Sorry mush. We keep life simple and just pour hot water on our oats every morning in the Dale family.

Very interesting article on oats follows:

Wild about oats by Deirdre Coleman, Good magazine, Issue 19 (Jul/Aug 2011).

Oats are an integral part of our history and in particular the South Island’s Scottish heritage. They’ve achieved iconic status as a main ingredient in Anzac biscuits, and now they’re being rediscovered as a superfood. DEIRDRE COLEMAN takes a closer look at this ancient grain

Oats have been around for millennia, but they’ve rarely enjoyed the credit they deserve. The Romans saw them as only suitable for animal fodder, but the Greeks happily ate them for dessert. In his 1755 tome, A Dictionary of the English Language, Samuel Johnson derisively defined oats as “A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland appears to support the people.” The Scottish comeback: “That’s why England has such fine horses and Scotland such fine men.”

Today we still eat only about five percent of the total global oat harvest, with the USA, Canada and Russia the world’s main producers. In the late 1980s, oats were part of a dietary-fibre health craze that saw their consumption temporarily rocket; muesli went mainstream and muesli bars arrived on the scene, remaining a lunchbox favourite to this day. Now oats are enjoying a well-earned revival, thanks to their great taste, value for money – and recently discovered health benefits.

“Established in 1867 by Henry Harraway, Harraways still operates from its original site in Green lsland, Dunedin”

From humble porridge to superfoodThey're not as colourful as blueberries or salmon, but oats are right up there in the line-up of superfoods.

All cereals contain carbohydrates, protein, water, fat, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. But oats have a higher protein content (15-20 percent) than many other cereals and a better balance of essential fatty acids. They also have one of the best amino acid profiles of any grain.

Like other grains and vegetables, oats contain phytochemicals, many of which have antioxidant properties. They're also packed with B vitamins and high levels of calcium, potassium, zinc and magnesium. Oats contain significant amounts of both soluble and insoluble dietary fibre, which are necessary for healthy gastrointestinal function. Beta-glucan, a component of that soluble fibre, is believed to help lower cholesterol, speed up the response to infection and stabilise blood sugar levels. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, beta-glucan may play a role in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.

Rolled oats have a glycaemic index (GI) rating of just 55, meaning the carbohydrates break down slowly and gradually enter the bloodstream without causing sugar spikes that result in fat storage. Low-GI foods also help you feel full for longer, aiding weight loss. "It's the fibre in oats that fills you up," says Mart Mays, new product development manager at Hubbards, "and that makes for a great breakfast, giving you energy throughout the morning. Nutritionally, oats are a wonderful grain."

The great grainOats are derived from wild grasses and grow well in cool, moist climates. Theybecamea stapleinScotland, with oatmeal forming a key ingredient in haggis, Scottish Caboc cheese and Highland black pudding. Scottish immigrants first brought oatmeal porridge to our shores in the 1800s. They discovered that the heavy, moisture-retaining soils of Otago and Southland-where many of them settled - were well suited to oat cultivation, and most of our oats are still grown there today. By 1905, New Zealand was producing around 275,000 tonnes of oats, most for use as horse feed. As tractors replaced horses, oat production plummeted. But New Zealand kids continued to enjoy them - porridge oats, including the popular Creamoata, were considered the national breakfast.

Today, just one Kiwi company continues to mill oats. More than 140 years after it began, Harraways is still privately owned and operating from its original site in Green Island, Dunedin. Founded by Henry Harraway during the1860s gold rush, it's our country's only remaining oat mill. In 1893, an oat-roller milling plant replaced the stone grinder and breakfast cereal production began, says Rosalind Goulding from Harraways.

One thousand tons of oatmeal was processed in that first year alone.

"We still mill our oats in a very traditional way," she says, "using vertical milling, which is highly energy­efficient." Harraways uses the inedible husks that surround the oats to fuel its boilers. Any excess is sold to local businesses or composted.

One grain, many namesThe harvested oats travel up a five­level-high gantry and gravity moves them through the milling process. First the oats are hulled to remove the hard outer husk and the groats, as they're known, are then roasted to give a nice nutty flavour. Next, steaming sparks a natural chemical changein the groats, preventing the fatty acids from turning rancid. This considerably extends shelf life. Finally they're cut and sometimes also rolled to produce a range of products.

Rolled oats, Scotch oats, steel-cut oats, oatmeal, oat bran - oats come in many different forms, depending on the method of processing. But while other cereals are split into different parts during milling, oats are not. And, as whole grains, they retain all of their nutritional value. Compressing a grain increases the availability of the soluble fibres, so rolled oats cook faster than cut oats. Quick oats, as the name suggests, take the least time to cook, as they are rolled thinner than wholegrain oats. With Scotch oats, the oat grain is cut into two or three pieces and finely rolled. This produces a smooth, creamy porridge that cooks quickly. Steel-cut oats ate also cut into pieces but aren't rolled.Theytake alittlelongertocook so need soaking first. To make oatmeal, the grain is finely ground.

Bread of lifeBread as we know it is most commonly made using w heat, but historically, other grains and legumes such as rye, barley, oats, rice,maize,acorns, nuts, millet and even peas and beans were also added into the mix.

Artisan bakery Purebread is New Zealand's first BioGro certified organic bakery. The company produces a range of organic and gluten-free products, including pizza bases and breads containing rolled oats. The company's founder Robert Glensor is a big oats fan ­ every week Purebread also makes a batch of certi fied organic granola using rolled oats.

Oats are not particularly common in bread nowadays, but Robert just really likes the extra flavour and texture they add. "There are lots of goodies in oats; they contain fibre, antioxidants, phosphorous,thiamine and iron, and are said to help lower cholesterol:' he says.

"Grains generally aren't that digestible until they've gone through the fermentation process and the natural enzymes get working. The practice of fermenting the bread aids digestion and makes the nutrients more readily available. We use about one and a half cups of jumbo oats in each loaf. They 're really coarse, but because we ferment our bread, the oats just seem to disappear."

Feeding our troopsDuring World War I, wives and mothers of Kiwi and Australian soldiers worried that their boys weren't eating well, so they baked delicious biscuits made from oats, golden syrup and coconut. Packed in airtight tins, the biscuits took two months by sea to arrive, and it was only after the war that they became known as ANZAC biscuits. It's thought the recipe was adapted from the traditional unleavened oat cakes called bannocks that were b rought to New Zealand during the Sco ttish immigrationin the1800s. Turn to page 80 to find out how to make your own batch of these classic bikkies.

The green grainNew Zealand oats are grown in a very sustainable manner, mainly on mixed farms, where oat cultivation is rotated from field to field every three to four years. The oats are planted in September and no additional irrigation is required. The strong spring nor’westers strengthen their root systems, and in January, when the soil moisture content lowers naturally, the plants begin to set seed. Harvesting takes place in March and April. Farmers then strip-graze the land to prevent the soil from becoming compacted. When stock have eaten the stubble, the field is ploughed and replanted. After a four-year cycle, the field is left fallow and sheep or cattle are grazed on it for another few years to naturally fertilize the soil.

Over the last 25 years, there’s been much more emphasis on soil health in conventional oast growing. Harraways is involved in ongoing research into, and discussion on, local oat varieties, and buys its oats from around 60 growers throughout Southland and Otago. The region’s cool, wet climate, similar to that of Scotland and Scandinavia, is ideal.

Are oats gluten free?Not even the experts agree. The definition of a gluten-free product varies from country to country, but the term generally describes foods with what’s considered a harmless level, as opposed to a complete absence, of gluten.

Oats are closely related to wheat, rye and barley, which each contain a slightly different type of gluten protein. Avenin is the essential protein in oats, while the gliadin protein in wheat is what provokes a response in oats, while the gliadin protein in wheat is what provokes a response in coeliacs and those with wheat sensitivity.

While oats are gliadin-free, small amounts of wild barley, wheat or rye may grow in an oat field, potentially contaminating the crop. New studies also suggest that some coeliacs may also be intolerant to avenin, and Coeliac NZ Inc says that approximately 20 percent of those diagnosed with coeliac disease react to pure uncontaminated oats – in other words, to oat avenin. The organisation advises avoiding oats if you have severe gluten intolerance. But for those looking to simply reduce their gluten consumption, oats are the perfect breakfast.

Accidental Rainbows

I was doing housework - spraying vinegar mixed with water on everything - and when I sprayed this chair with a beam of sun shining strongly on it, the water appeared to reveal a rainbow every time I sprayed. It was so beautiful! Then I remembered the activity from a meteorology (weather) book, which was exactly what I had just done - but I hadn't tried it. Try it with the kids!

Where do rainbows come from?
"Each raindrop splits the sunlight into the colours of the spectrum." (Meteorology, by Graham Peacock.)