A mast year for acorns in New England

❝ If you have oak trees in your neighborhood, perhaps you’ve noticed that some years the ground is carpeted with their acorns, and some years there are hardly any. Biologists call this pattern, in which all the oak trees for miles around make either lots of acorns or almost none, “masting.”

In New England, naturalists have declared this fall a mast year for oaks: All the trees are making tons of acorns all at the same time…

❝ For trees like oaks that depend on having their seeds carried away from the parent tree and buried by animals like squirrels, a mast year has an extra benefit. When there are lots of nuts, squirrels bury more of them instead of eating them immediately, spreading oaks across the landscape.

❝ Whatever the causes, masting has consequences that flow up and down the food chain.

For instance, rodent populations often boom in response to high seed production. This in turn results in more food for rodent-eating predators like hawks and foxes; lower nesting success for songbirds, if rodents eat their eggs; and potentially higher risk of transmission of diseases like hantavirus to people.

If the low seed year that follows causes the rodent population to collapse, the effects are reversed.

Please, RTFA for discussion of other cause-and-effect relationships, possibilities…even maybe’s

Join the Fake President’s supporters club – get your membership card

❝ …Trump is betting the Democratic-led congressional impeachment inquiry, which entered a new phase on Wednesday with public hearings, could help him win the November 2020 election. Public opinion polls show support for impeachment is concentrated among Democrats…and a boatload of Independents.

Last Friday alone, the president sent out more than 400 Facebook ads asking for donations that would be rewarded with a personalized “Impeachment Defense Membership Card.”

Wonder how long before Trump chumps get armbands along with their membership cards.

Is It The Meat Or Is It Us?

❝ Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a multi-state outbreak that linked ground beef to food poisoning from salmonella. It’s not the first bad news of its kind this year. Following 2018’s record-breaking number of ground beef recalls, 2019 is closing in on similarly disturbing amounts of contaminated meat.

Last year, just over 13 million pounds of ground beef were recalled in 31 separate instances. More than 12 million pounds were due to salmonella contamination. So far in 2019, there have been 27 recalls, some of which are still active. Notable ones include nearly 57 tons in April (that’s over 113,000 pounds) and about 65,000 pounds in October.

❝ In comparison, just under 600,000 pounds of ground beef were recalled in all of 2016, and about 1 million in 2015.

❝ …Foodborne illness, in general, is a critical public health problem in the United States. Annually, roughly 200,000 people are hospitalized and almost 3,000 die from foodborne diseases, according to the latest estimates from the CDC. This doesn’t count the number of unreported cases every year.

Our family tries to be pretty selective about who we buy animal protein of any mind from. Try to stay on top of recalls. So far, I think the CDC does a decent job and – as noted – the retailers we frequent appear to be conscientious and quick to respond. When does that big word regulation return to improve the picture?