Off Label: Bringing the World of Human Guinea Pigs to Film
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Monday Media Roundup: National Parks, Food Deserts and Swamps, M&Ms for Breakfast

Lanza-blog-tourLast week's Before They're Gone Blog Tour made for great reading about our National Parks. Here's a quick roundup:

Nature Moms Blog interviewed author Michael Lanza about signs of climate change in our National Parks and what motivated him to take his kids to see endangered places. 

I was making an off-trail traverse of the Bailey Range in Olympic National Park one September several years ago and ran into a family (parents with their grown kids in their late teens and early 20s) going in the other direction—the only people we saw out there. As it happened, the father was one of the authors of the Olympic Mountains climbers guide; he knew the mountains very well from decades of hiking and climbing. He pointed to a north-facing mountainside above the lake where we were camped, a slope that had just a few small patches of snow and mostly bare ground, and told me with a tone of disbelief, “I’ve never seen that slope not entirely covered with snow in summer.”

The Mother of All Trips gleaned some tips from Lanza on how to get your kids out in nature

[D]on’t be too wedded to an agenda. Whether you’re hiking with kids or on a serious mountain climb, I think people get into trouble most often because they focus too much on the destination, overlooking that it’s really about the journey.

In a guest post at Tales of a Mountain Family, Lanza contrasts the risks his children face in nature with what risks of staying indoors at home.

People sometimes ask me whether I ever worry about my children’s safety when we go on wilderness adventures. My answer is, yes, of course. Worrying too much is the unavoidable curse upon every parent. But I worry much more that they will not spend enough time outdoors. 
We’ve all heard and read about the growing epidemic of childhood obesity and statistics suggesting that the generation of children growing up today may be the first in U.S. history with a shorter life expectancy than their parents. The term “nature-deficit disorder,” coined by the writer Richard Louv in his seminal book Last Child In the Woods, has entered into our national lexicon. American children are suffering from inactivity and insufficient exposure to the outdoors, and if we let this trend continue, they and our society will be worse off for it.

Adventure Tykes reviewed the book and asked Lanza questions about climate change and preparing his kids for adventure:

Remember that kids look to their parents for a sense of how they should react to a potentially scary situation. Always show your kids that you are calm and in control. Show and tell them that you have faith in their ability to handle this challenge.

Family Wilds wrapped up the week by talking to Lanza about teachable moments on family trips:

During our trips, I would occasionally explain to my kids some climate-change nugget about the park we were in at that time—not often, though, because I didn’t want to force-feed them lessons. Sometimes they wouldn’t take the bait, and I’d drop it and wait for another opportunity. Sometimes they’d leap into a conversation about it with great interest. And sometimes they would bring up the topic of climate change unprompted by me, partly because they knew that was part of the inspiration for me wanting to bring them on all of these adventures.

So in short, I let them determine the best times to try to introduce a learning element to our travels. I found that they were very curious and willing to learn when they were ready and it occurred at their pace.

In other news... Are food deserts real? A recent NY Times story questions the extent of food deserts, but Mark Winne (Food Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners, and Smart-Cookin’ Mamas) asserts that lack of access to good food is still a problem. He also describes the problem of "food swamps":

A food swamp is this environment where it’s very easy to get every manner of fast food - high in fat, high in salt, high in sugar; convenience stores that offer mostly unhealthy foods and, you know, that I think is what the obesity story is at least in part about. It’s not so much about the loss of supermarkets, but the opposite, which is that we have very easy access to so much unhealthy food.

Compare an urban area to a higher end, affluent, suburban area; you will not find the same quantity and the same density of unhealthy food outlets, such as fast food places.

Listen to this weekend's Living on Earth for more on how access to good food, and the knowledge of how to make good choices, is a "justice and fairness" issue.

At Salon, Jeremy Adam Smith (editor of Are We Born Racist?) explains what happens to our brains when we are fed a consistently whitewashed cultural diet, and calls for positive changes:

The antidote to subconscious bias is not political correctness — shoehorning in a quirky, spunky black BFF for the girls will just annoy black viewers, instead of making the world a better place. Rather, the best cure for what ails shows like “Girls” is a dose of thoughtfulness, self-awareness and courageous originality. ("Your Brain on White People")

Are M&Ms an important part of a healthy breakfast? Timothy Caulfield's love for the treat that melts in your mouth, not in your hands, is well-known to anyone who has read The Cure for Everything, so Beacon Press sent him a bag as a publication day gift. He generously shared them with his kids and their cousins. We're sure that everyone did a few extra high intensity intervals later that day...  For more from Tim Caulfield, read his debunking of health myths on Huffington Post, or watch this interview.