The Great American Food Waste

Hi Everyone,

Well it’s Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to summer!! Volunteers have been busy putting over 37,000 flags on the Boston Common in memory of all the people who served and died in our armed forces. The flags will be on display until late Monday afternoon.Image result for memorial day on boston common

Today we talked about what the world eats and the issue of food waste in America. First we looked at a series of pictures of families all around the world and what they spent on food weekly and what they bought.Related image The developed countries spent more money on fruits, vegetables, dairy, and processed foods. The less developed countries spent money on grains and fruits, and not much proteins,like fish or meat.

Next we talked about food waste, especially in the United States.  Americans waste over 40% of produce that is grown here and most of it ends up in landfills. Related image

We read this article  Why Americans Lead the World in Food Waste which basically says that food is cheap and people want food that looks perfect. We all agreed that education about our food, where it comes from,and what happens to food waste, would help in changing our views on food.

Then we talked about some efforts that are being done to cope with food waste, such as gleaning, food rescue, composting, and using everything from nose to tail.

Image result for what is gleaning  Image result for what is food rescueImage result for what is composting Image result for what is nose to tail

We watched this video which talks about food waste and some activities and practices that are used to reduce food waste. 

Two important things that our Moms taught us : “Take what you want but eat what you take.” and “Finish your food, because somewhere, someone’s hungry.” The film also showed us gleaning, food rescue, composting and eating nose to tail.

There is still lots of food waste on our farms, because farmers have to grow produce that is pretty and the right size to appeal to food distributors and food store customers. This often leaves a lot of food behind on the fields to rot and go unused. This PBS video is from the farms in Salinas, California, known as the salad bowl for all the fruits and vegetables it produces. Take a look here:

This video shows the food waste from the farmers perspective and how they are selling  “perfect” produce, and slowly starting to get the “ugly” produce to food banks and even into some grocery stores to reduce waste. One supermarket in France had started a lively campaign to sell some “ugly” fruit and it has been quite successful. Take a look at this amusing video to advertise their “Inglorious fruits and vegetables” campaign: 

So, maybe with education, marketing campaigns, and a general renewal of our relationship with food , we can reduce food waste and save our environment and live a healthier life. 

They may not be perfect, but, they taste great!

Image result for pbs and ugly fruit

Happy Memorial Day weekend and remember to relax and practice! And clean your plate!

Inspire and Advise

Hi Everyone,

What a beautiful, sunny and warm day it is! This is graduation season at the many colleges and universities here in Boston and Cambridge. Related imageThe graduation ceremonies all full of traditions, and a way to honor and congratulate all the students. In addition to awarding diplomas to students, there are also commencement speeches that offer advice and inspiration to graduates as they head off into the world.

Today we focused first on inspiration.Who inspires us? What inspires us? Where do we get inspiration? Image result for inspiration in a canWe can be inspired by nature, the planet, heroes, kindness, books, movies, music, lectures and much more. We are also inspired by our parents, family and friends, students, teachers, religious and political leaders, and many historical figures. Inspiration has a positive effect on our behavior and emotions. 

We agreed that people in our lives and other humans often give us inspiration. We watched this video of a conversation between Blanca Alvarez and her daughter, Connie. They talk about their struggles and challenges in life and how it led to inspiration. Take a look here: 

Image result for icing on the cake

icing on the cake means something that makes something good even better

After watching we talked about how Blanca inspired her daughter to achieve success in her life by watching her mother and father deal with the challenges of coming to the United States and starting a new life.

As Connie says at the end of their conversation “For me watching you go to school with two kids and trying to make ends meet that was the biggest inspiration for me to finish college. So, it’s the most important thing for me having gone to college and I feel like anything I do from here on out is ok, because I’ve already achieved my dream. Everything else is icing on the cake.” 

Now, for the advice part of today’s topic. As we mentioned earlier this is graduation season and that means lots of graduation speeches. We watched this 2 minute video of the best 2016 commencement speeches. 

The clips are brief and fast, but, there are some inspiring advice offered to the graduates and lots of congratulations! (Remember that advice is a noun – pronounced with an “s” sound; and advise is a verb – pronounced with a “z” sound)

Next we watched this video which was originally a column in the Chicago Tribune published in 1997, 20 years ago. It was written to offer advice to graduates, and as we watched it we listened to the advice and thought about whether or not it is still relevant today, 20 years later. Take a look here:

We discussed the advice and then in groups shared some of the pieces of advice and decided which we thought was the most important. We also discussed some of our own advice we would also offer to graduates. So, inspiration can be in actions, and words.    Nice job everyone!!

Words of the day

arm in arm (idiom) : next to each other with the arm of one person linked at the elbow to the arm of another person                                                                                     An elderly couple walked down the street arm in arm, and it showed their closeness together.

exhilarate (verb) : to cause (someone) to feel happy and excited                                    We were exhilarated by the news of his promotion to manager.

bulky (adjective) : large and difficult to carry or store : of a person : large and muscular                                                                                                                                      It’s always a challenge of where to store all my bulky winter coats and sweaters!

Remember to relax and practice! 



The Sounds Of Silence

Hi Everyone,

Image result for parts of speech


Today we started with a quick review of the 8 parts of speech used in English – and practiced some examples in sentences and then did a fun exercise telling stories with random parts of speech.



Our topic today was – the sounds of silence. We discussed and described what is silence? How do you feel when things are silent. We shared 2 minutes of silence together, and some of us felt uncomfortable, and sort of anxious. Others initially felt odd, but, then got into it and felt calm and relaxed. We talked about a man, John Francis, who stopped talking for 17 years. Take a listen to his brief radio interview What We Learn When We Find Silence. After listening we agreed that 17 years of silence seemed kind of crazy!Image result for silence quotes dalai lamaWe talked about the cultural and physical aspects of silence. The relationship of religions and silence. We associate silence with patience, reverence, respect, wisdom and understanding. We discussed where is silence in our lives and what do we do in silence.

Image result for noisy worldBut we live in a noisy world, so what about noise pollution and coping with it?

We talked about what sounds we love and what we hate. 



Recently, a documentary film, called In Pursuit of Silence was produced by director Patrick Shen. Take a look at his kickstarter video which introduces Patrick and his ideas for the film. (this video was used to raise funding on kickstarter, an online resource). 

After watching we then watched the trailer for the film, In Pursuit of Silence, which got into the more detailed issues about silence in this noisy world. 

We agreed that although silence is important, we are probably not looking for absolute silence, but, a balance of silence and sound. We also discussed when silence is a bad thing, like when our freed of speech is silenced.

Finally listen again to the Simon and Garfunkel song “The Sound of Silence” which was written over 50 years ago. It still has a relevant message, and simple but pleasing melody.

Remember to relax and practice!

(and appreciate some silence in your noisy world)


May Is Bike Month

Hi Everyone,

Image result for may is bike month

May is Bike Month!  We started off today with some of the advantages of biking – like, it’s fun and good exercise, less polluting, cheaper, and sometimes quicker. The disadvantages are it can be dangerous riding on roads with cars, can be uncomfortable in bad weather, and sometimes hard to park safely.

The word bicycle is formed by bi + cycle. The prefix bi- means two and so a bicycle has two wheels. Just like unicycle means one wheel and tricycle means three wheels. We looked at some other words with prefix + root word, and were able to come up with a lot of examples. Related image


By knowing the meaning of a few prefixes we can figure out word meanings and improve and expand our vocabulary. Here is a list of some common prefixes and the practice we did together. 


Next we talked out manifestos – which are written public statements declaring the intentions, motive or views of a government, group or individual. We came up with some examples like the Declaration of Independence, Communist Manifesto, Political party manifestos, and more. We watched this short film which is a manifesto for the company, Holstee. As we watched it we looked for values mentioned in the manifesto, and what is it all about. 

After watching we talked about some of the values and ideas in the manifesto, and what we thought of the Holstee manifesto. We agreed that the basic principals are good, but, some of the things are not realistic, like quitting a job.

Next we decided to come up with our own personal manifestos, and then we shared them with everyone. Some of the adjectives used to describe out personal manifestos were – passionate, realistic, compassionate, wise, artistic, humorous, simple, thoughtful, and practical. Great job everyone!!

Remember to relax and practice!

Get out there and bike ride (if it ever stops raining!)

Image result for hubway