May 23rd, 2014

10 Fascinating Facts About Chickens

In the United States alone, more than 8.5 billion chickens are killed every year. That’s 272 every second!

Those numbers are pretty crazy, right? When I actually sat down to figure it all out, I literally couldn’t get my head around all those zeros. Every single one of those chickens is a unique individual that has so much more to offer the world than ending up on someone’s dinner plate.

Don’t believe me? Check out these incredible and fascinating facts about chickens:

1. Chickens slurp grass like spaghetti.

When living in their natural environment, chickens will spend the day foraging for bugs and slurping down fresh blades of grass.

2. Chickens LOVE dust baths.

It may not sound very appealing to you, but chickens take so much pleasure in digging a shallow pit in the dirt, spreading their winds and rolling around in it. Dust baths help chickens maintain proper feather insulation and ward off parasites. I’ve known chickens that have spent their entire life cooped up in a cage but when given the chance to be free, one of the first things they ever did was give themselves a dust bath.

3. Chickens have complex communication with specific meanings.

When you spend enough time around chickens, you’ll start to understand their many different vocalizations, from calling their youngsters to alerting others of the whereabouts of food.

4. Chickens like to play.

When given enough space, chickens will run, jump, spa and even sunbathe. Unfortunately, around 95% of all chickens raised in the United States spend their entire lives in tiny cages no bigger than the size of an iPad.

5. Chickens talk to their unborn babies.

In a natural setting, a mother hen will cluck to her chicks before they have even hatched and they will churp back to her and to each other through their shells. In factory farms, a chick will never get to meet his or her parents because they are taken from her as soon as they are laid and placed in large incubators.

6. Chickens are a lot more clever than you think.

Recent studies have shown that chickens are intelligent animals with many attributes akin to that of primates. They are able to solve complex problems, understand cause and effect, pass on knowledge, demonstrate self control and worry about the future.

7. Chickens are technically dinosaurs.

Research has proven that not only have chickens evolved from dinosaurs and are the closest living relative to the magnificent T. rex, they are in fact living dinosaurs.

8. Chickens place great importance on building a private nest.

They start by scratching a shallow bed in the ground, then carry twigs and leaves to their nest on their backs where they let the material slide off and build up around the rim.  They will even go without food and water in favor of creating a private nest safe from predators.

9. Chickens have excellent memories.

They are able to recognize and remember more than 100 different individuals, including humans.

10. Chickens are able to comprehend object permanence.

Even when an object is taken away from them and hidden, chickens are able to comprehend that it still exists. Not many animals have the ability to do this, and neither do young human children.

And the last one is let's chicken dance ...

Abigail Geer May 19, 2014 5:30 pm

9 Tips for Making the Best Cup of Tea Ever

Even the most novice tea drinker can probably brew a decent cup. But why settle for decent? If a truly great cup of tea is what you’re after, follow these dos and don’ts.

Do you have a favorite tea? Make your recommendation in the comments!

But the best is still the 1malaya Teh-Tarik

DO choose a loose for optimal flavor. Generally speaking, loose-leaf tea is better quality than tea in bags. That’s partially because the tea leaves are larger and have more room to expand. For this reason, loose leaf can have more flavor than the small, packed-in leaves in most tea bags. Loose tea is also generally produced in smaller quantities by companies with an interest in creating unique teas with robust flavor.

DON’T assume a tea bag is always poor quality. These days, there are plenty of companies that make loose tea-quality in a larger-than-average bag.

DO fill the kettle up with cold water. Not hot — not even warm water.

DON’T bring the water to a rolling boil. Too-hot water can ruin the delicate flavor of the tea.

DO however, traditionally prepared oolong tea needs scalding hot water.

DON’T place the tea bag in a cup of hot water. For best results, pour the hot water over the tea bag.

DO follow the brewing instructions on the package if you’re not sure. Remember that when in doubt, a little cooler is safer than a little too hot.

DON’T worry about whether the milk goes in before or after. Really, there’s no difference! Once upon a time, people liked to pour milk in the cup before adding tea to protect their fine china from the extreme temperature change.

DO let the tea brew for at least 6 minutes for the best taste and for at least 10 if you want a caffeine kick.

Katie Waldeck May 20, 2014 5:30 pm

12 Cereals to Stop Eating (And Why)

Quick and convenient, cereal can be a tempting option to reach for at breakfast. But what are you really eating? A whole bunch of sugar, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group. The EWG analyzed 1,556 cereals in the U.S. for sugar content…and what they found was shocking. Not only did most cereals contain added sugar, but some were worse offenders than others –and in the case of 12 cereals in particular, were made up of more than 50 percent sugar by weight.

Here are the 12 to stay away from on your next grocery trip:

  1. Kellogg’s Honey Smacks

  2. Malt-O-Meal Golden Puffs

  3. Mom’s Best Cereals Honey-Ful Wheat

  4. Malt-O-Meal Berry Colossal Crunch with Marshmallows

  5. Post Golden Crisp

  6. Grace Instant Green Banana Porridge

  7. Blanchard & Blanchard Granola

  8. Lieber’s Cocoa Frosted Flakes

  9. Lieber’s Honey Ringee Os

  10. Food Lion Sugar Frosted Wheat Puffs

  11. Krasdale Fruity Circles

  12. Safeway Kitchens Silly Circles

Still not convinced? The EWG points out some more unsettling things in their analysis that might convince you to put cereal squarely in the dessert category:

  • Some cereals contain as many as six different types of added sweeteners, like sugar mixed with corn syrup, honey, dextrose or high fructose corn syrup.

  • Every single cereal marketed to children contains added sugar—more than 2.5 teaspoons of sugar per serving on average, about the same as what you’ll find in three Chips Ahoy! cookies. Children’s cereals have over 40 percent more sugars than adult cereals.

  • Cereal is the fifth highest source of added sugar in the diets of children under 8, coming in after sugary drinks, cookies, candy and ice cream. And 78 percent of children’s cereals contain more than two teaspoons of sugar in a single serving, more than a quarter of the daily limit for an 8-year-old. If that doesn’t sound like much, just try to think back to the last time anyone ate just the tiny serving size on the box.

  • In fact, for hundreds of cold cereals, the EWG found that the listed serving size is indeed smaller than what FDA found people eat in one sitting.

  • Unlike saturated fat or sodium, the FDA doesn’t require products that exceed a certain level of sugar content to disclose that on the label if the packaging makes a nutrient content claim. That’s why you’ll see sugar-packed cereals focusing their packaging on their “Excellent Source of Vitamin D” or “Good Source of Fiber.”

  • Think granolas are a healthier option? They actually have the highest sugar content per serving. But since they often contain more fiber and are heavier compared to other cereals, they’re lower in percentage of sugar by weight.

  • Your best options are hot cereals like oatmeal, cream of wheat and grits. 31 percent contain no sugar at all, and they’re a rich source of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.

  • Just stay away from instant oatmeal, which averages 75 percent more sugar than regular cooked oatmeal.

Diana Vilibert May 21, 2014 6:00 pm