The Beet Street Blog

Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

What were you thinking? Leaning about teens through scientific research

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When I look back on when I was in high school, I always think of myself as having been one of the “good” kids. I got great grades, was involved in after school clubs, and never had more than a couple of detentions. Okay, maybe a few detentions… but if you ask any parent, sibling, teacher, or child care professional, we all know now that no one is perfect. Some scientists today are trying to figure out why this is. While you can find all kinds of information on raising infants and young children- on television shows, or in countless books and magazines- not much information exists about the development of adolescents. Dr. Marie Banich helps to shed some light in this subject at Beet Street’s Science Café tonight.

Dr. Banich will discuss the new evidence from neurological studies that maturation of the brain extends much longer through adolescence than scientists previously thought. This pattern of brain development helps to explain the types of decisions and actions taken by teens. Dr. Banich and her colleagues have collected their own data, and their studies provide a clearer picture of what types of thinking abilities adolescents do and don’t have, and the age at which these abilities truly start to reach adult levels. This work gives insights into why teenagers seem to “know” what to do, but yet sometimes don’t seem to follow through on that knowledge. After this talk, you might think of the plea to “apply yourself,” so often given to teenagers, in an entirely different way.

Marie Banich, Ph.D., is a professor of Psychology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she also serves as director of the Institute of Cognitive Science, a multi-disciplinary institute dedicated to exploring the science of the mind. She also holds an appointment in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado at Denver. Her research specializes in using brain imaging techniques to understand the neural systems that allow us to direct our attention and our actions so that we can prioritize, organize, and target our behavior in a goal-oriented manner. Her research helps in understanding individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and adolescents with severe substance and conduct problems, while at the same time helping to explain the development and mental maturation of adolescents. 

We can never know what exactly is going on in someone else’s head. However, we can try to be more understanding of another’s ability to think in certain ways. Dr. Banich’s presentation is likely to be an interesting discussion about how teens relate to the world around them, and how we ultimately relate to each other.

Beet Street’s Science Café  joins the international community of scientists and interested citizens who meet monthly for informal discussions of lively and interesting issues in contemporary science.  We will be meeting at Dempsey’s on 160 W. Oak St. tonight, October 14 at 5:30pm for no-host drinks and food. Dr. Banich’s presentation will begin at 6:00pm. We hope to see you there! Guest Blog- Harvest

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Hi all,
My name is Jonathan, and my wife Barbara and I write the blog and we were asked by Beetstreet to write about what harvest time means to us. If you had asked me a few years ago I would have said not much really except that cooler temperatures are going to be here and soon and the end of hot summer days. But over the last few years my perspective has changed through interactions with chefs, and food.

He says:

For several years prior to starting up the blog we had been closet foodies, watching the shows like Top Chef and Iron Chef, but never really going to restaurants of the caliber that would serve the kind of food we saw on those programs or daring to try to make it ourselves. Then came a trip to New York and we finally went to a great restaurant that used fresh ingredients and our world opened up.

We started to try some of the restaurants here in Colorado and fairly often the meal item we remembered the most was something that was locally harvested and in season, such as fried squash blossoms stuffed with locally made goat cheese at Frasca that had come from the farmers market that day. Or a mushroom soup at the Black Cat made with mushrooms that had been harvested that week from a local farmer, among many examples. 

Another major turning point was when chef Skokan of the Black Cat in Boulder took the time to walk me around his garden, sampling this and that and speaking of how different things are harvested at different times of years and how he incorporates that into his cooking (in fact, during the summer 70-80 percent of the produce used in his restaurant comes from the chefs own garden and farm). Harvest changed from the fall for me to a ever changing day where things became ready to eat at their best. Be it the first strawberries early on in the year to the  lettuce, squash, beets, peaches, corn and the rest of the huge variety of items we have here in Colorado to look forward to.

I guess to sum it up Harvest to me is a day by day celebration of food at its best and a reminder that we here in Colorado are so very lucky to live in a place with such a huge variety of great food that we can get fresh and at the peak of its flavor at a local farm or farmers market right down the road from any of us.

She says:

Hi, Barb here, the other writer of the  If you would have asked me this question 2 years ago, I wouldn’t have had an answer for you. Jonathan and I have only started to enjoy and understand fine cooking since we started our blog, which originated from that trip to New York and our dining at Daniel’s, Le Bernardin and Per Se. Ever since we’ve started going to these kind of restaurants, my knowledge of harvest has been awakened. For our servers to let us know exactly where our food has come from is very interesting now to me. And their knowledge of the farms and famers is outstanding.          

Learning the names of the local farmers and how prolific they are and how cohesive the chefs work together with the farmers around the area, I have a new appreciation of the whole process from garden to table. I know Jonathan had a great time with Chef Eric Skokan of the Black Cat in Boulder at his house and garden. Even visiting the Black Cat and having Eric come out and talk about all the things he’s planting and how excited he gets telling you about his plans makes the meal that much more enjoyable.

I guess the biggest thing about harvest for me is the collaboration between farmer and chef and how developing that relationship and nurturing and growing it makes the food special in a way that is hard to describe. The relationship is special and it shows on the plate.

Beet Street’s Homegrown Blog

Inspired by the Harvest Season, and our upcoming Homegrown Fort Collins program, we will be featuring the Homegrown Blog for the next couple of weeks.  Look for daily stories, comments and recipies about community harvest, and cooking with local food.  We are opening this special edition of the Beet Street Blog to our community, and will feature a different guest blogger everyday.  Let’s celebrate the bounty of Northern Colorado!

Homegrown Fort Collins celebrates the harvest season and its contribution to community and local culture. The goal is to educate, celebrate, and enjoy food with a focus on local. The old adage, ‘you are what you eat,’ resonates stronger than a parent’s stern warning to their children. The harvest of a community in many ways reflects the essence of the community, and has been at the center of festivals throughout history. Beet Street’s Homegrown Fort Collins will help us take a closer look at what’s around and develop a stronger sense of place and appreciation for our local harvest.

For a full schedule of events, please visit Homegrown Fort Collins!

An Apple a Day: Medicine for the Body and Soul

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An Apple a Day...

An Apple a Day...

Every morning I throw an apple into my bag for a midday snack, and I am always reminded of that old phrase, “An apple a day….,” but in reality I just like the taste of apples. I never really think about the health of my one serving of fruit, its vitamins or its nutrients.  In truth, while I am aware of things that are deemed “healthy,” I never stop to think about what it really means to be healthy, and the amount of work that sometimes goes into the health industry. Health can improve life in many more ways than by generically “being good for you.” In fact when you think about it, so many of the great things in our lives come from staying physically healthy.

Dr. Simon Turner

Dr. Simon Turner

If anyone knows what hard work health can be, it is Dr. Simon Turner. His career is focused on working with sheep to reach the goal of what he calls “benefitting human health and ending suffering.” It sounds far-fetched, but the technology is very real. Because sheep have similar bone structures to human beings, Dr. Turner can use them to test techniques and devises that help with human orthopedic problems. His research has improved treatments for injuries, osteoporosis, and even cancerous bone.

What strikes me most about Dr. Turner and his work is his focus on human suffering. His work helps to ease physical pain, but really it does much more. Imagine what it must feel like to be debilitated by injury, always stuck in bed or on the couch, then finally being able to get up painlessly and enjoy a jog in the fresh summer air. Or what a big step it must be for a patient in a long battle with cancer to learn that their bones are disease free. Wounds are just as mental as they are physical, and the ability of research to battle difficult health issues has wonderful emotional side effects.

Dr. Turner will be explaining how his work serves the health of others, and how that work fits into a long historical relationship between animals and science, at Beet Street’s Science Cafe tonight. His talk will begin at 6:00pm at Stonehouse Grille, but be sure to come at 5:30pm if you would like to grab some food, drink, and a little social time beforehand.

Riverbend Ponds Natural Area- Fort Collins

Riverbend Ponds Natural Area- Fort Collins

Now, we can’t simply rely on doctors and researchers to make all medical miracles happen. There are so many little things that we do in our day to day lives that can nurture our bodies and souls. Just taking a stroll around one of Fort Collins’ gorgeous natural areas will put your mind as ease and get you in tune to the outdoors after working hard all day. Besides being a great physical exercise, walking has been shown to memory and even brighten your mood To double your positive mind/body vibes, take a friend with you. They will enjoy the benefits while you both build a stronger relationship. Locally grown produce gives you many of the the nutrients you need without any chemicals or additives, and when you pick it up at the Farmer’s Market over the weekend you also know that you are supporting your community (and we know that giving has great spiritual benefits as well). You probably do many of these things unconsciously. But I think that being aware of ourselves, of our minds and bodies, gives us more opportunities to take care of them.

As silly as it may seem, taking a bite of that apple really does make me feel better. I may not see the effects, or even think about it every day. But I am sure my body is affected, and so is my soul.

If you are looking for more Fort Collins events that boost your health, check these out:
Six Day Races at the CSU Oval
Nutritional Health Series at the Library
Preserving the Summer Harvest at the Gardens at Spring Creek
Free classes at Old Town Yoga
This week’s classes and festivals at Whole Foods Market
Fort Collins Parks and Trails