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Letters, Spring 2010 : River Valley edition : Tuesday, 25 February 2020 00:50 EST : a service of The Public Press
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Letters to the Editor, Spring 2010

     by Stephen Morris

Good afternoon, Stephen!

I've been meaning to write you for a while with a caution regarding garlic preservation - as mentioned in your article in the Winter edition. I hope it's not too late to make a correction in the next one that comes out. Others may have written you about this, but I want to make sure you get the info.

You mention preserving garlic in oil. However, this can/could be deadly. Why? There's one soil microbe that thrives in anaerobic conditions (being in oil qualifies), and that's Clostridium botulinum, commonly known as the botulin toxin.quiet zone

Ironically, although garlic is highly anti-bacterial, it is the lack of oxygen when the garlic is placed in oil which allows the bacteria to propagate. When garlic is crushed in the presense of air/oxygen, that activates the sulfur compounds which (1) creates its pleasing aroma and (2) work to kill bacteria. As you may know, garlic was used to dress wounds in WWI in the field - this was the pre-penicillin era.

Whole garlic cloves that you can purchase (roasted or raw) usually have an acidifying agent, usually vinegar, which kills the nasty anaerobes.
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Oh, and according to Alton Brown (the science of cooking) the way to make garlic even ‘garlickier' is to WAIT 5-10 minutes after smashing the garlic (which is a very cathartic activity in itself *BAM*) before mincing and adding it to your dish. This waiting time allows the enzymes to fully activate..

This may be more information that you need, but the since the consequences can be deadly, it's important for folk to know about them. Just Google garlic and botulism and you'll find more info.

Thanks for a great zine!

Melissa Moon

Montpelier, VT

[Phone call from Jed]

You say that garlic doesn't grow in the wild. That's not true. I grew up on a dairy farm, and we always knew when the cows had gotten into the wild garlic. You could taste it in their milk!

Dear Editor,

I just picked up and read the latest Green Living journal. I look forward to each issue because of the topics covered and info on all the regional "green" activities and businesses.

In this issue, the article on SIPs interested me, as I am a "green" builder myself. I was dismayed to realize I was not reading a journalist-written piece, but an advertisement for SIP construction, with no mention of the cons of SIPs. The average reader would come away from this article persuaded that SIP construction is more "green" than Stick Frame construction. I can assure you that stick frame construction done in a thoughtful and informed method, which many builders here are beginning to do, outperforms SIP construction in every category of "green". From energy efficiency, toxins, embodied energy, local materials, local labor, to affordability, a properly built stick frame house can outperform a SIP house. An advantage of SIPs is the speed of "close in" at the house site, but that is not a "green" issue in most cases.

For more info check out Massachusetts Zero Energy Challenge to see a stick-built, Zero energy (and beyond) house that I built. It's the 1st place home, the Clarke/Stephens residence.

Thanks for listening. Perhaps an article comparing different construction methods in their "green" aspects could be in a future issue.

Bick Corsa

(Edited for length – Ed)

Argh, say it isn't so! In your winter edition you have an advertisement for what looks like vinyl replacement windows that claims the windows are "green."

The "greenest" building is the one that is already built and that goes for the its architectural features as well. As a small business owner who specializes in window preservation, it is disheartening to see such an ad. Polyvinyl chloride is a dangerous petrochemical during the manufacturing process and when off-gassing, often contains metal stabilizers such as lead and cadmium and is not recyclable.

Meanwhile landfills are heaped with perfectly good old growth wood windows that contain beautiful old glass that might have as many as 100 more years of usable life.

With restoration about 85% of the cost is labor and that labor is local, benefitting the local economy. Restoration is the best choice from an environmental and historic perspective. Buyer beware–everybody is jumping on the ‘green' bandwagon because, there's a lot of money to be made. (Yes, I am cynical, and I know it shows.)

OK, I've had my rant. I do enjoy reading Green Living and have for years...thanks for your good work!

Jade Mortimer, Heartwood Window Restoration, Hawley, MA

Editor replies: Jade, we love the idea and practice of window restoration. But we're also glad to see big companies jumping on the green bandwagon, because they see becoming green as an economic opportunity. That's how we'll finally make meaningful progress in solving our environmental problems. There's room for both approaches.

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