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Balanced Living » May/June ‘13

Hungry Much?

by Linda Capra, Helios Center

The sense of hunger, like all our senses, is common but not completely understood. We produce hormones called ghrelin and leptin that signal hunger or lack of hunger. When you eat, your body secretes leptin, which lowers you desire to eat. When there is an absence of leptin, ghrelin is secreted, which increases your desire to eat. The dictionary describes hunger as “the painful sensation or state of weakness caused by need of food.” Some people become irritable, shaky, or disoriented if they do not eat at their usual mealtime. Others experience hunger as feeling lightheaded, empty, low, headachy, or hollow. At times a growling stomach prompts an eating episode. Some eat when they get depressed. Others lose their appetite when they get depressed.

Hunger, true hunger, is a chemical reaction triggering the survival need to replenish ourselves with food.  Very few of us reading this have ever experienced even one day of true hunger unless on a self-imposed fast.  Yet, we all know hunger.  A feeling of need, emptiness, a tension that needs to be filled.  Can we take a moment to feel that need before we rush to fill it?

Award-winning documentary Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? is a visually stunning look at one of the more crucial components of the world’s food chain: bees.

This critically-acclaimed film details the drama of Colony Collapse Disorder, which finds honeybee colonies disintegrating at an alarming rate.

Says NPR movie critic Ian Buckwalter on the film: “What it is doing, and beautifully, is making a sunny and optimistic case for why the world is worth saving, via gorgeous imagery and poetic appreciations of the bees themselves.”

“Honey? There’s hair in our compost pile.”

Yes, it’s true. You can compost human hair. If you trim your bangs or mustache, pick all your pet’s hair from its brush, or your kids are making you pull out your hair, all that hair can make a nice contribution of nitrogen to your compost. Donating your hair could help clean up oil spills, too. Both animal and human hair can soak up the messy oil. One organization who makes hair mats for oil spill cleanup is Matter of Trust ( Another way to recycle your hair is to donate it to Locks of Love, an organization that uses donated hair to make hairpieces for disadvantaged kids experiencing illnesses that lead to hair loss. See

Try epsom salt. If your dog suffers from itchy feet, fill the bathtub with 1 to 2 inches of water (enough to cover his paws) and dissolve 3 cups of epsom salt in the water. Stand your dog in the tub for five to ten minutes, allowing the epsom salt to relieve the itch. Do not let your pet drink the water, since epsom salt has a laxative effect. Remove your dog from the tub and gently pat her feet dry.

Water Facts

• The bottled water industry has created a misconception in the United States that bottled water is cleaner, safer, and healthier than tap water. In fact, both regulation and enforcement of bottled water safety is weaker than of tap water safety. Federal, state, and local environmental agencies require rigorous testing of tap water safety.

• Americans spent $10 billion on bottled water in 2005 and paid up to 1,000 times the cost of production, a major windfall of profit for the companies. Bottled water can cost $7.50 to $11.00 per gallon in the supermarket, but tap water costs most customers only one-tenth of one cent per gallon.

• The United States is the world’s largest consumer of bottled water, purchasing 37 billion bottles in 2005. Our daily bottled water habit is bad for people and bad for the environment. Bottled water wastes fossil fuels and water in production and transport, and when the water is gone, the bottles become a major source of waste.

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Get Your Grill On!

After what felt like the longest winter in years, it’s nice to feel the sunshine and warmer temperatures that have returned to western Wisconsin. If you haven’t already, it’s time to fire up the grill and toast the longer days of spring with good friends, great food, and a nice glass of wine. Wine and food pairing need not be intimidating, and rule number one is there really are no rules … drink what you like!  But if you do want to take it a step further, read on for some easy and readily available pairings.

If your grilling menu includes steaks or burgers, pair them up with a bold red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or a red blend that includes peppery Syrah or spicy Zinfandel. Pork tenderloin pairs well with a fruit-forward red, so opt for Pinot Noir or a nice Wisconsin Marquette. Barbecued ribs are great with rosé, which can be dry or sweet, and if it’s chicken or fish, uncork a crisp white: Riesling, Sauvignon blanc, or Wisconsin’s own LaCrescent are great options.

A general guideline to use when pairing food and wine is to pair hearty, robust foods with wines that are bold and full-bodied. Lighter foods call for lighter wines so that one does not overpower the other. And if in doubt, worry not and refer to rule number one. Raise a glass and drink what you like.  Cheers!

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