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Healthy forests make healthy people – Rio 2016

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To compete in the 2016 Olympic Games, good nutrition is a crucial part of training, as any of the 10,000 plus athletes who have descended on Rio this summer will tell you. Maintaining a healthy balanced diet is critical to delivering peak athletic performance, along with practice, discipline and determination.

A healthy diet contains whole, minimally processed foods, some of which are native to the Amazon rainforest. In Brazil, we are working with farm and forest communities, supporting them to achieve Rainforest Alliance certification for their operations, which produce, amongst other food items, bananas and Brazil nuts.

Brazil Nuts

David Dudenhoefer

Brazil nuts are an incredibly nutrient-rich food that could be a great addition to an athlete’s diet. A 100-gram serving has just 12 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of fibre, 14 grams of protein, 94 percent of the daily recommended intake of magnesium, 13 percent for iron, and 16 percent for calcium.

The Brazil nut tree is predominantly found in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Peru. It’s often found within a group of 50 or more similar trees (groupings like this are called stands).

Brazil nuts are one of the most valuable non-timber products for communities in the Amazon. However, these trees are easily impacted by nearby deforestation and only seem to produce fruit in healthy, undisturbed forests.

These nuts are one of a relatively small number of globally traded commodities that are helping to save threatened forests. Harvested from fallen fruits, Brazil nut extraction involves little more than collecting the pods known as ‘cocos’ from the forest floor. This practice has been found to increase the abundance of Brazil nut trees across the landscape.

These arboreal wonders can reach heights of almost 50 metres, and in one year a Brazil nut tree can produce some 250 pounds of nuts. Unlike other well-known nuts like almonds or cashews, Brazil nut cannot be grown in plantations; harvesting can only be sustained in closed canopy Amazonian rainforest.

Bananas

Costa Rica Bananas

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One regular- or average-sized banana contains 25 percent of the daily recommended intake of vitamin B6 (which helps the body create neurotransmitters), 14 percent of manganese (which plays a role in carbohydrate metabolism), and 12 percent of potassium (an electrolyte which helps maintain a healthy heart-rate and normal rhythm). Bananas also contain the minerals copper, which the human body does not naturally produce very much of, and biotin, which is vital for maintaining blood sugar balance and a healthy metabolism. In other words, athletes can only benefit from regularly eating bananas.

Today, bananas cultivated on Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms are sold in 62 countries, and represent 5.6 percent of the world’s banana supply. Grown in every humid, tropical region on Earth, bananas are the world’s fourth-biggest crop in terms of production value, and more than ten billion bananas are exported from producer countries annually.

A lack of biodiversity can make banana plants susceptible to disease, which in the past, farm managers often attempted to control with toxic pesticides that would then leak into drinking water, pollute irrigation canals, and endanger the health of workers, their families, and communities. That’s why in 1991 the Rainforest Alliance, along with local non-profit organisations, scientists, and farmers established the first standards for responsible banana production.

Contrary to popular belief, banana plants are not trees but giant herbs, which reach their full height of between 10 and 20 feet after only a year. Ten or more bananas growing together on these plants form a ‘hand;’ banana stems have on average 150 ‘fingers’ and weigh nearly 45 kg. Banana leaves are used worldwide in many unexpected ways: as cooking materials, plates, umbrellas, seat pads for benches, fishing lines, clothing fabric, and soles for inexpensive shoes.

Bananas are indigenous to the tropical portions of India, Southeast Asia, and northern Australia, and were brought to South America by the Portuguese in the early 16th century. Today, banana plants grow in the humid, tropical regions of Central and South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia where there are high temperatures and rainfall levels.

For additional information about sustainable bananas, visit http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/work/agriculture/bananasTo learn more about Brazil nuts, visit:http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/publications/brazil-nut.

 

Environment

Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness

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Connect With Nature

Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.

How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature

Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.

While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.

When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness.  Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.

4 Practical Ways to Disconnect

If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Switch to a New Phone Plan

It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.

One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.

2. Get Rid of Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).

If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.

3. Create Quiet Hours

If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.

4. Build Community

Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.

As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.

Untether Your Life

If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.

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Environment

6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move

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Moving can be a stressful and challenging time. No matter how many times you’ve done it in the past, the process of packing up, transporting, and unpacking isn’t very fun. It’s also not very eco-friendly. As you prepare for your next move, there are things you can do to ensure you leave less of a footprint behind.

6 Tips for a Greener Move

Because of the stress and pressure felt when moving, it’s pretty common for people to rush through the process and focus on getting it done. In fact, a lot of people take an “at all costs” approach; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the process as cheap and fast as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It doesn’t take much effort to turn a standard move into an eco-friendly move.

1. Maximize Each Trip

When moving across town, it’s imperative that you make as few trips as possible. Each trip requires more gas, more emissions, and more waste, and more time.

If you’re taking your personal vehicle, consider pulling a trailer behind it. You’d be surprised how much stuff you can fit into a small trailer. Not only will it make your move greener, but it’ll also save you a lot of time.

2. Donate Things You Don’t Want to Keep

The longer you live somewhere, the more junk you accumulate. This isn’t always obvious until you start packing for a big move. Instead of bringing all of these things with you to your next home, get rid of the stuff you don’t need! If the items are useful, donate them. If the items don’t have much value, toss them.

3. Reuse Moving Boxes

Not only are moving boxes expensive, but they’re also wasteful. If you need a bunch of cardboard boxes, consider looking around on Craigslist, asking friends, or checking the dumpsters behind stores. You can usually find a bunch of recycled boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Here are 12 places you can get them for free.

4. Get Creative With Packing

Who says you need moving boxes? You may find that it’s possible to do most of your move without all that cardboard. Things like storage containers, trashcans, filing cabinets, buckets, and dressers can all store items. Blankets and sheets can be used in lieu of bubble wrap to prevent your items from getting damaged.

5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies

Once you arrive at your new place, resist the urge to pull out a bunch of harsh chemicals to clean the place. You can do yourself (and the planet) a favor by using green cleaning supplies instead. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia are great to start with.

6. Forward Your Mail ASAP

Don’t delay in forwarding your mail from your previous address to your new one. Not only is it wasteful for the Postal Service to route your mail to a place where you don’t live, but the next owner is probably just going to toss your letters in the trash.

Moving Doesn’t Have to be Wasteful

Most people only move once every few years. Some people will go a decade or more without a move. As a result, the process of moving often feels strange and new. The less experience you have with it, the less likely it is that you’ll be as efficient as you should. But instead of just diving into the process blind, take some time to learn about what an eco-friendly move looks like. That way, you can leave behind the smallest footprint possible.

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