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The World’s Demand for Alternatives to Traditional Currency

April 4, 2018

Source: With technology ten steps ahead of the market, even more options for paying bills have become readily available for both the consumer and for the merchant. We explore the many options payment options a business may choose to accept.

Two factors have changed the way we conduct commerce and financial transactions in the world over the past fifty years. The leading factor is the faith that people now have in traditional currency. For many countries, their money supply is based on one factor—faith; the belief that the value of the piece of paper or coin is a true representative of the value of good and/or services they wish to purchase.

Prior to what is known as “fiat currency,” money supply that is backed by no hard good, commodity, or tangible asset that is widely accepted as a mark of trade, such as precious metals like gold or silver, most countries would back their value of their currency on tradable commodities which had a real market value.  In recent years, crude oil and petro chemical fuels were used to support currency, while these same currencies were used as the preferred measuring stick against oil. Such is not the case anymore, now that even tying the U.S. Dollar to fossil fuels has become volatile.

With such conditions changing, more individuals are sharing their concern, vocalizing how they have less faith in a piece of paper, which is backed by nothing.

Another trend that is leading people to explore other currency options is the development of technology. Today there are more options on how to make a financial transaction for a good or service. Beyond credit and debit cards, e-wallet and electronic paying systems such as PayPal, Apple Pay, and Android Pay are used. Crypto-currencies are also on the rise. Bitcoin and One Coin have become the top ranked electronic currencies, and merchants are racing get their business into the fold into accepting these new forms of payment.

However, one form of a financial transaction that is as old as men and trade itself is also still on the rise. Barter is growing at a faster pace due to advancements in technology, organizational set-ups, wide-spread networking, and oversight from two leading barter-industry trade organizations.

With the improvements into accountability and infrastructure, barter has never been easier. Traditionally, one business or individual would trade services or products with another party that may too have a product or service to offer in the actual exchange. This limited barter, because if one party did not need the other party’s offering, then the exchange could not take place. Today the use of a credit system has widened up the scope in the barter arena. Barter exchanges have made it easier to use barter for many business to business purchases.

Exchanges such as Badger Barter, located in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, offers a barter exchange that includes well over 600 business ranging from auto repair to graphic design; from legal counsel and services to website creation. These types of exchanges have evolved over time to include many member benefits in which traditional barter did not offer.

As a small business, you should be exploring all payment options, in addition to traditional payments of debit, credit, cash, and check. Barter is a viable way to conduct business to business transactions and opens the door for new business relations to develop within barter exchange networks. Some retailers are now accepting Apple Pay, Android Pay, PayPal, Bitcoin, and Onecoin. However, barter is considered one of the best options since most barter exchanges offer a credit system, allowing you to use the barter on a wider selection of products and/or services.

Barter is not only a form of payment; it is also a marketing tool. There are businesses that seek out other businesses that offer barter payment options. You should notify your clients about all of the payment options you offer in multiple touch points, including but not limited to a placard at the cash register/counter; logo of the barter exchange on your website, social media, and e-mail newsletters; logo on a storefront window; print advertising; business cards; invoices; and other forms signage a client may see at your establishment.

Bloomberg Business had researched and found that in 2012, over $12 billion dollars in goods and services were traded without any currency changing hands. Research showed that not every transaction conducted was on business essentials however the barter was still utilized. Even when the most obscure product or service was offered, the bartered item eventually would find a relative home. Another part of the study revealed that small businesses mainly spent their barter in exchange for marketing and advertising; legal and professional services; facilities maintenance; office supplies; and construction/renovation services; which are many of the same expenditures a small business might use proceeds from a working capital loan for.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who currently and lends his expertise as a consultant firm to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water.

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How to Prepare a Loved One for Residence in an Assisted Living Facility

March 27, 2018

Source: Getting an elder loved one prepared for the transfer of residency from their current home into an assisted living facility can come with its challenges; including debate from the very family member you are trying to help. Here are a few practices to consider in helping a senior individual transition into their new assisted living situation:

Transitioning to an assisted living facility can be challenging for both the senior who is transitioning from their current home to a new environment, and for the family member or friend that is helping their loved one. There are a few things to consider during the transition and move in process that will help reduce part of the stress of this life event.

Having a positive attitude about the lifestyle change is the first place to start in preparing for the move. You and your loved one should take some time out to review all the positive benefits available when moving into an assisted living facility. A clear understanding of what the available services and amenities are should be made known in the beginning to dispel any stereotypical views one may have about assisted living facilities for seniors.

It’s highly recommended to have a strong support structure of family and friends in place when transitioning a senior loved one into an assisted living center. Families need to continue scheduling regular visits with their elder family member or friend now living at an assisted living facility. Many seniors feel abandoned in their new setting, as if the family “dumped” them at the facility. They can be unable to understand the benefits of the change, where there is to be an increase in the quality of life for the aging family member. Visitation will help the senior individual feel more at home and comfortable with their new surroundings. Many assisted living facilities now are designed with family rooms and visitation areas that are semi-private; allowing for family to gather and visit, even hosting birthday celebrations and gatherings.

The senior family member should be reminded about the importance of privacy. During the day, the new resident will at times dine and join in activities with other residents, yet the senior should be made aware that their apartment is their own privacy space and they retain full control of who enters. Just like living at a resort or apartment building, a resident reserves all their privacy rights. Shared community spaces are just that; however, separate areas are designed to provide private rooms and spaces that a resident can enjoy with family outside the common jointly used areas of other residents.

When moving physical things into the assisted living space keep in mind the facility will usually provide furniture, including bed, chairs, lamps, and other fixtures. If items are brought from home to help make their stay more comfortable, residents are advised to inform administrators ahead of time. A new resident is encouraged to bring their personal effects—pictures, clothing, etc., however; it is best to be selective of items they may use on a less frequent basis because storage is limited, and assisted living facilities and living quarters are designed to limit clutter.

Moving day helpers are important to the actual transition. A host of family and friends are encouraged to sign up for moving day, so this relieves the stress of the loved one having to handle heavy items on their own. The quicker the assisted living space is set up for the new resident, the better, so it can begin to give the sense of feeling at home. A slow move in or a move where a resident feels they do not have everything they need to call their new space home, will create feelings of alienation for the new resident.

The emotional stress that occurs during the move into an assisted living facility can come from the emotions a senior feels when leaving behind their former possessions or home. It is wise not to discuss the sale of the loved one’s home upon the arrival of the move in date to the assisted living facility. Be mindful that this life-changing event is about them and their health and well-being. Encourage your loved one that even though their address has changed, their family has not. Help refocus the attention from the stress to getting involved in activities and making new friends at the facility. Send post cards and letters to your loved one at their new address so they can feel the placement is a healthy transition.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who currently lends expertise as a consultant firm to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water.

 

History of the Barter System

March 22, 2018

Source: As the world of commerce changes and businesses look to keep up with the vast menu of developing electronic payment systems, one form of payment between small businesses has made a comeback—its called barter.

Barter has been around well before national or worldwide currencies. Prior to organized economic systems that instituted paper money as the representation of the value of one’s goods or services under the control of banks and governments, there were only a few ways to purchase products. One of the most common practices of commerce exchange was to trade goods and services for ounces of gold, silver, copper, or precious gems. Not everyone had these commodities at their disposal, and so barter became very popular with the common man.

Barter is the exchange of a good or service directly for another good or service of that of equal or greater value, without using a formal method of organized exchange such as money. This simple process allowed for merchants, farmers, hunters, fur traders, transit providers, and traders along the ancient spice routes to conduct business for items they needed yet could not afford with gold or silver. This exchange was extremely popular in trading for goods from Far East versus goods which were popular in the West, since the exchanges were immediate, and each party could then return to their respective homeland to sell their new rare commodities for more localized needs.

Barter has also assisted to keep economic trade afloat during times of financial crisis. When either money was valued as to low (deflated) or to high (inflated) individuals would trade a product for product, depending on their own agreements between them. When currency was unstable, barter always became the preferred method exchange since goods and services were always available when money was not. In times of hyperinflation, the commoner could not afford to keep a money supply in “savings” so barter became the best way to get the things you needed.

The earliest of barter was the “silent barter” which occurred between individuals from separate nations which did not speak each other’s native language. The silent barter where simple volumes of goods and services were used as the measuring stick for working out the value of the exchange. Eventually, language barriers were broken down via the consolidation and unification of lands, making barter even more effective and precise during the times of the Old World.

Today, barter platforms and systems have become very sophisticated and offer much more variety then the days of the Old World. During the era of the Old World, one would have to search specifically for another individual whom had what you needed, and in turn, they would have to have a need for what good you had to offer. This made barter very limited since if you did not have some good or service that was high in demand, you were often left without an ability to purchase other goods and services.

Today’s barter platforms and systems have organized groups and genres of businesses, products, and services, assuring that one would have a high probability of barter exchange. Barter has one of the most comprehensive working models, a prime example of how trading services or products in an organized system can still be very highly effective in a world dominated by so many other choices of exchange, especially when it is an exchange between two businesses.

Barter is gaining in popularity since it is immediate upon the exchange. With faith in other national or electronic currency begins to dwindle, barter becomes a great alternative to exercise purchasing power. With the help of modern exchanges for barter, your barter offering has the potential to reach a wider range of audience; a far cry from the old days of trading on the old spice roads in the Old World.

According to the International Reciprocal Trade Association, more than over 450,000 businesses transacted near $10 billion dollars globally in 2008 based on barter. This continues to grow, as it was estimated that in 2010, over 450,000 businesses in the United States alone participated in barter trade, with an estimated 400 barter platforms and companies operating around the world.

If you’re a small business in search for a strategic business advantage, barter can provide options to share your businesses products or services without additional risk to your working capital.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who currently and lends his expertise as a consultant firm to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water.

Eight Ways to Build Your Business Name in Your Local Community

March 14, 2018

Source: As the cost of marketing and advertising continue to rise and become out of reach for the average locally owned small business, entrepreneurs need to consider alternative community outreach efforts in getting in front of their next potential client.

Any proven marketing and advertising medium needs about 90 days in order to create top-of-the-mind brand awareness with potential consumers who come in contact with marketing and advertising pieces. The cost of an effective marketing and advertising campaign can range tens of thousands of dollars, when including a mix of print, radio, social media, direct mail, and online advertising. Most small businesses cannot afford an effective comprehensive advertising campaign long-term. On the other hand, small businesses cannot afford being seen by potential consumers.

So what does a business owner to do to get in front of people? There are many community-oriented, relationship-building opportunities within the business’s local surroundings. Here are eight methods of reaching potential customers in place of expensive advertising campaigns:

  1. One way a business can connect with the local community is to get involved in sponsoring local youth sports. Whether it is sponsoring a local team or youth league, your business can benefit from being seen in the local youth sports network. Options include soccer, little league baseball, football, softball, and basketball. Most of the time, a business’s image and name can be found on players’ uniforms, on sports field billboards, press releases, a mention by the game’s announcer, and are thanked on social media and in the media. Many parents will usually patron businesses that support their children’s interest.
  2. Hold a free seminar at local library, VFW Hall, or Senior Facility Center. The great thing about hosing a free seminar at these places is that in most cases, there is already a captive audience which can be notified about your event. Usually, these organizations will provide a monthly calendar of events for their constituents, which may have interest in the subject matter you desire to present. You will want to present an informative seminar on an industry topic you are an expert of knowledge in. Include in your presentation some facts and history about a leading concern, then present ideas and trends that are taking place to solve the issue. This is a place where you present as an expert or authority, without directly selling your products or services. In these cases, you’re providing a public service, where at the end you can hand out your contact information if anyone may have further questions or suggestions for you.
  3. Volunteer for a good cause in the neighborhood (fund drive for local fire department or first aid squad; or raise money for an individual or family hit by a devastating life event). Volunteering is another way to build a bond with the community. You can sponsor a fundraiser, or just show up to support as many of the local fundraising efforts which benefit the community. When others see that you are generous with your time and your money, it will be noticed. Whichever you give—money, your time, or both—make sure you do it from a place of sincerity, from the heart. People can spot fake intentions from across a room.
  4. Get involved in your local church, which can be a place where you can get to know others who share in the same values which you have in common. Whether it be to support their events, fundraisers, community outreach to the needy, or just make yourself available for set up and tear down of events, helping your local church can help you connect with others.
  5. Get your business listed on Manta, Merchant Circle, and Yelp, as clients for them leave reviews and rate businesses. Customer reviews and ratings rule the internet when grading a local businesses’ dedication or lack of customer service. You will want to ask your customers to leave a positive review on your Manta, Merchant Circle, or Yelp profile, after they have had a positive customer experience. Building a legion of online positive four-and-five star ratings and personal experiences by your clients can help spread the word of the great products and/or services you provide.
  6. Join a local business or trade organization. Rotary, Kiwanis, Chamber of Commerce, BNI, LeTip, are all business-to-business environments. Joining these groups allows you to network and connect with fellow business owners and leaders within the community. These networks offer a number of opportunities, including but not limited to sourcing new vendors and suppliers, connecting with prospective clients, acts as a support system, and even provides educational resource tools to build your business.
  7. Show up to other community events and town meetings. Getting involved in local politics can either hurt or help your business. It is wise to take some time to understand the legislative climate your business is subjected to on a local, regional, and even state level. Showing up to a few meetings will provide you first hand insight to the challenges your business may face as a member of the tax paying community. Other attendees will take notice that you have an interest in the interworking of the local government, which a dialog can then be created.
  8. Write a blog of how-to tips for your clients. Public awareness and public education are methods for informing your clients on subject matters important to them. You can share how to do something or how to fix something. If you own a hardware store, you can discuss how to do a particular home project, and then at the end of the discussion, provide a parts list and a coupon for potential readers to patron your store. If you are into health and wellness, you can share recipes for healthy meals, or a fitness regimen that has helped your own health situation. Blogging allows for you to connect with potential customers by sharing your expertise from the comfort of your living room.

Most of these practices only require your time. If you are to be noticed and remembered by your local community, then you need to be proactive in providing an extra value service that is important to them. Done with sincere intention, potential consumers will take notice of your noble efforts.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who currently lends his expertise as a consultant firm to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water.

How Would General Colin Powell Lead if He Owned A Small Business?

March 8, 2018

Source: Every small business has its share of challenges, and each successful business owner must have an iron stomach to lead their business through times of growth or economic downturns, often making unpopular decisions for the good of all. One of the most successful Generals who ever served this country also had to make difficult choices. So, let’s entertain a hypothetical situation: General Colin Powell got bored with retirement and decided to open a small business, offering a set of products and services he was passionate about and felt would be of great service to the community. How would he manage his business? How can you apply his leadership style and methods to your business? Are you ready to take charge of your business to win over Main Street?

“Command is lonely.” Another way to express this is, “It is lonely at the top.” In business, the business owner cannot be everyone’s friend. They must be a leader. You can expect not to be liked by some of your employees, or by your competition, or even by some of your neighbors or even some of your own family, as they may become jealous and resentful of your small business success. What I have found is that most people who would be the first to complain they have less than someone else, are usually the last people to take risk and responsibility for their own situation. They are also the most unlikely to ever own a small business venture and would rather criticize others from the cheap seats and sidelines.

As the leader at the top, your business will require you to put in the time investment when no others will. That means staying late to serve a customer or to clean your store front. That means giving up doing the “normal things” with family and friends when you need to fill in for an employee who just called out sick. It means spending extra time beyond the normal business hours to take care of the business paperwork and accounting or marketing functions. As a business leader you must accept the idea of being an army of one when everyone else has gone home for the day.

General Powell once said, “Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.” How does that apply to small business ownership? A small business owner must make unpopular choices that may not sit well with employees. A business owner may decide to set hours that are designed to cater to their clientele, which may mean staying open late on weekdays or open on weekends, when most people would rather be home or out with friends and family. When a small business owner sets the schedule, someone is assigned hours they are required to work that may not be popular. The business is being responsible by recognizing its clients’ needs and accommodating them by the hours of operation the business is open.

Another example that can be applicable to General Powell’s quote is when dealing with a difficult customer. As a business owner, it is not always possible to satisfy the demands of a client. Say you own a hardware store, and a potential customer walks in the door. They desire to purchase an item, but demand you provide the item at the same price or lower price as a big box retailer down the street. You explain your position of why your price has already been set. You take the time out to educate the potential customer about the higher quality and value your store offers; and yet the potential client begins to argue with you, voicing their demands to the point of shouting at the sales counter. In some cases, you must stand your ground if you believe in the value you offer, and not compromise on your position, even if it pisses off the potential customer who never stepped foot in your store before and may never return.

General Powell also shared, “Keep looking below the surface of appearances. Don’t shrink from doing so, because you might not like what you find.” Basically, never stop in your journey in improving your business. There is always room for improvement. If a business is not looking to improve itself, or looking to grow, it will begin to fail and die. A business owner can never become complacent and think they are on top, if they do, the advantage automatically will be given to the competition. A business owner must always stay hungry and be in search of new methods or practices that improve the profitability and branding of their business image. I have found that every small business has one area of business competency which lags behind the rest of the operations and functions of that business, and to not go back and improve these areas when resources may be abundant, creates an internal risk.

Also, “Have fun with your command.” This means playing hard when you have earned it. Never forget the passion that was the reason why you went into business for yourself. Look for the joy and celebrate the joy of owning your own business enterprise. Every once in a while, sit back and enjoy the rewards of your efforts, even if it’s in the small things. Remember, when you enjoy what you are doing, it no longer becomes work—it is play.

Most of all, General Colin Powell believes, “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” The direction of any organization will trend toward where the attitude of the people involved take it. If the leader of the business is always looking forward, even in difficult times, their influence can spread quickly to give hope throughout the business. On the flip side of the coin, the sour outlook of any employee or manager can have a devastating effect on the productivity of the organization. It only takes one sour apple to poison the entire situation. A positive attitude can uplift employees when the message is reflected that the business and its leaders are capable.

So, how do you think General Powell would run his business? Do you think he would operate it like an army, ready to serve its clients at any moment? Would his employees be ready in a moment’s notice to meet their objectives? Would his business be the well-oiled machine you can set your watch to? If he ran his business like he did the armed forces, you can count on it.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water.

 

 

Who are the Eco-Warriors?

February 26, 2018

Source: As there is more public awareness and public education about environmental concerns related to fresh drinking water supplies, air pollution, and what occurs on land, local advocacy continues to grow to protect our communities from these threats. So, who is fighting for the planet? We take a look at some of the non-profit groups that fight on the side of a cleaner environment.

We know they are out there. Occasionally, one of their spokespersons are quoted for an article related to a battle with contributors to water, air, or soil pollution. They are photographed and filmed during their rallies and events as the opposition to Big Energy, Big Oil, Big Industrial Machine, and bad political policy. Their fight is beyond the newspaper headings and courtrooms. They fight for the environment, for clean water, clean air, and land conservation. So, who are they? They are the Eco-Warriors, a category of organizations that from around the world stand up for environmental justice and the people whom which pollution effects.

The Sierra Club is one of the first environmental working groups ever established to tackle threats to our land, air, and water. Based in Oakland, California, the Sierra Club has extensions in every state. The Sierra Club was originally founded by the legendary conservationist John Muir in 1892. They are one of the largest of the Eco-Warrior Organizations, having a membership reaching over three million people. They lay claim to some of the most important environmental legislation including their assistance in the passing of The Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. The Sierra Club is currently led by Executive Director Michael Brune, and his Executive Team.

Friends of the Earth are led by Erich Pica, president, who has been working on behalf of the environment for decades. Friends of the Earth utilizes a mix of strategies in their mission to fight on behalf of the environment, including advocacy campaigning, instigating lawsuits, rallies and events, and organizing members on the ground. Friends of the Earth have been around for almost 50 years. With offices in both Washington, D.C. and Berkeley, California, Friends of the Earth campaigns on local, state, and federal levels, on issues related to fossil fuel use reduction, standing up for the Rain Forest, advocating for organic and chemical free farming, and advocating for protection from corporate and industrial polluters.

When the political policy does not match the needs of the environment, the first in Washington, D.C. to take notice is the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The NRDC is on the front line of the environmental policy making debate. Combining the power of skilled and trained law professionals and its one million plus membership, the NRDC leverages their knowledge, capital, relationships, and membership to speak up and act on behalf of the environment, clean water, clean air, and proper use of the ground under our feet. Since 1970, the NRDC has addressed concerns in the areas of climate change/global warming, clean air, energy and transportation, food and agriculture, health and environment, environmental justice, urban solutions, and sustainability, while also having an eye to the worldwide stage in international environmental battlefront. Rhea Shu is currently the NRDC President.

Earth Justice headquartered in San Francisco, California, is led by Trip Van Noppen, the organization’s president. Earth Justice puts the tool of the law in the hands of its membership and advocacy groups; in challenging private, commercial, and government entities accountable to the law when they infringe on the rights of mother earth. They believe in standing up for the wild (animals and plants); healthy communities and the people within those communities; clean energy (including renewable energy sources) and a healthy climate. Earth Justice began their journey in 1965 when a group of attorneys, passionate about the environment, began to challenge the courts in the rights of the people for a clean and healthy environment. In many cases, Earth Justice will partner with other environmental working groups to address issues of coal ash, fracking, pesticides, salmon, and wolves. With over 400 cases on deck, Earth Justice is currently leading the way to bring justice to the planet

Water.org is the non-profit organization founded by Matt Damon and Gary White, whose main purpose is to provide access to clean drinking water, sanitation, and education for impoverished communities, villages, and in developing countries. Water.org partners with local organizers on the ground to establish new freshwater wells and provides education to communities on how to better manage their new-found resources. Based in Kansas City, Water.org has contributed to the improvement of lives of people around the globe including in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean Islands. Water.org has been able to provide over nine million people with access to safe and clean water and sanitation, while helping communities institute practices that lessen their environmental impact. Water.org prides itself on the fact most of its work and impact is conducted and seen in the field where people need the most help.

The World Green Energy Symposium (WGES), directed by Professor Robert Gallagher, takes a different approach to solving environmental issues. The WGES gathers many brilliant minds together in one hall, including innovators, policy makers, financiers, community activists, educators, inventors, elected officials, green enthusiasts, and eco-warriors, to discuss the issues at stake and share solutions in mitigating problems related to mother earth. From energy generation and usage, to green tech innovation; from regulation and policy, to new ideas and rule-making, WGES has offered this cross-market dialog, resulting in real-time solutions being put to work in the field. Each year, the WGES honors one entity that stands out among the rest for their work, innovation, and achievements on behalf of the environment. The NOVA Award has been deemed the Oscar of the Green Community, and has been awarded to schools of thought, companies, and government agencies that have championed their ideas from concept to finished product in making a difference.

Clean Water Action, with chapters in over fourteen states, is one of the leading advocacy working groups in pitching for clean drinking water, and aims to protect natural water sources, land, and air. Since 1972, Clean Water Action has championed for the environment, cleaner communities, and regulation that puts mother earth back at the helm. In recent history, Clean Water Action has focused their efforts on fighting the practice of fracking for oil and gas, to keep toxic chemicals and pollutants out of waterways, lakes, streams, and rivers, and to build a future of clean energy and water usage. Clean Water Action has been aggressive and very vocal in the State of New Jersey, which is highest on the EPA’s list for having the most superfund or brownfield sites. Led by Robert Wendelgass, Clean Water Action has their main office in Washington, D.C.

Green America, based in Washington, D.C., is led by Alisa Gravitz, which has been on the side of the environment for decades. Green America’s mission is to harness economic power, the strength of the consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. Green America focuses on climate change, food production, finance and green investments, labor, social justice, and green living. Green America has gotten some attention in the last six months, as Green America has brought to light the infringement of the Back Forty Mine, which is beginning to threaten the sacred Menominee River, a vital source of clean fresh drinking water to over 35 million people, as it feeds into the Great Lakes.

There are many more Eco-Warriors out there, which look to protect nature’s wildlife and national treasures, working on behalf of the planet. Remember, we only get one planet, so we must help Mother Earth win the fight.

Samuel K. Burlum is an investigative reporter who authors articles related to economic development, innovation, green technology, business strategy, and public policy concerns. Burlum is also a career entrepreneur who lends his expertise as a consultant to start-up companies, small businesses, and mid-size enterprises, providing advisement in several areas including strategic business planning, business development, supply chain management, and systems integration. He is also author of The Race to Protect Our Most Important Natural Resource-Water.

Moringa Adds a Healthy Kick to Home Cooking

February 20, 2018

I love all aspects of food—cooking, trying out new foods, but mostly sharing recipes and food prepared by me. Preparing food for oneself, in my humble opinion, is the ultimate act of self-love. And preparing food for others is an expression of your love for them.

As a holistic doctor, I quickly realized that cooking for oneself is going to become an important aspect of my patients’ healing and recovery. However, I found that as a society, for decades, we have devalued the time and effort one needs to spend in our kitchens. For millennia, the main goal of any species, including ours, was centered around food procurement. But this seems to have changed, especially with industrialization of food, where we have been led to believe that ‘Franken-foods’ can replace the natural foods that our species depended on.

So without further delay, let me share a couple of recipes using the humble, yet versatile and very healthy newest superfood on the block—moringa. Growing up in India, moringa leaves and pods were featured regularly in my mother’s kitchen.; not only because we all loved it, but because we had a tree in our courtyard. When in a pinch, I would go to our terrace, lean over the 3-foot parapet wall, grab a branch and pluck the vegetables (green, slim pods that are typically 12 to 18 inches long) or the fresh, green leaves. The pods need to be just ripe. The overripe ones become too hard, dry and stringy.

Thankfully, local Indian stores carry both the leaves and pods, although seasonal.

Moringa is nutrient-rich, with antioxidant and tissue-protective properties. The leaves and pods are rich in nearly all the vitamins, including fat-soluble A and D – rare in the plant kingdom. Hence, the pods were also known as the “vegetarian’s marrow”. It is also rich in various minerals and amino acids, essential for the health of most body systems. The leaves are rich in vitamin A and considered essential for good eye health and a healthy immune system. Moringa leaves are now packaged and sold as teas. But it cannot compare with the benefits of consuming fresh leaves and pods. Here are two of my favorite Moringa dishes.

Moringa Leaves and Pigeon Pea (split yellow lentils) Stew:

Ingredients (all ingredients are available in most ethnic Indian grocery stores)

1 cup dried, split pigeon pea (also known as ‘Toor dal’) Soak for 30 min, drain the water. Then pressure cook with 2 cups of water, 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil and ½ tsp turmeric powder. Once done, remove the pan and mash the lentils with a potato masher to make a smooth, semi liquid paste. Set aside.

1 bunch mooring leaves Pluck leaves from the branch and stem, rinse in water, air dry on a towel to absorb excess moisture. (Engaging your kids in meal preparation is a great way to tickle their curiosity and interest in the kitchen. Kids can help with plucking the leaves.)

1 to 2 tsp ghee (clarified butter) Extra virgin olive oil can be used instead

½ tsp dried cumin seeds, 2 dried red chilies (broken into pieces), ½ tsp black mustard seeds, and 1 sprig curry leaves – washed and chopped

2-3 cloves sliced or minced garlic

½ tsp dried, roasted coriander powder

            ½ tsp turmeric powder

Salt and cayenne pepper powder to taste

Method: Heat and melt ghee on low-to-medium flame in a heavy-bottomed steel pan. Then add chopped garlic, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, broken red chilies and finally curry leaves. Please note that curry leaves will splutter when you add them, so be careful. Let these ingredients cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Then add the cleaned moringa leaves and cook for a min or two. Stir the mixture to allow the leaves to cook. Now add turmeric powder, salt, cayenne powder, and coriander powder. Stir well. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Finally, add cooked/mashed lentil. Now, allow the stew to simmer for 5 minutes, gently stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust salt/pepper seasoning if needed. Your nutritious moringa leaves/lentil stew is ready. It can be eaten mixed with cooked rice or as a dip for naan bread/other breads.

Moringa Pods Stir Fry

Ingredients:

4 to 5 mooring pods (Must be tender and easy to cut. Pods are 12 to 18 inches long. Wash the pods and cut them into pieces of 2 to 2.5 inches length. Excess, fibrous, outer skin can be removed much like how one strings a bean)

1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped

2 to 3 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped

½ tsp ginger paste

½ tsp garlic paste

1 to 2 tsp ghee (extra virgin olive oil can also be used)

½ tsp turmeric powered

½ tsp dried, roasted cumin powder

½ to ¾ tsp dried, roasted coriander powder

Salt to taste

Dried Red chilies powder or Cayenne pepper powder to taste

Method: Heat ghee/oil in a heavy bottomed, stainless steel pan. Cook on low to medium heat to preserve the nutrients. Add onions and cook them until they turn light brown. Then add the ginger and garlic paste. Stir often to prevent the pastes from sticking to the pan. Then add tomatoes and cook for a few min. Now add the rest of the powders (turmeric, cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne). Stir and cook for a few minutes. Finally, add the moringa pods, stir and cook them. Add ½ cup water, close the lid and cook until tender (may take 8 to 10 minutes). If you like, you may garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.

Turn flame off, and this very tasty dish is ready to be served. This goes well over cooked rice or as an accompaniment to naan bread.

Let me share the way to eat the pods, as it can be a bit tricky: one way is to slit them open length wise and scrape the soft flesh and seeds inside and eat them. The more rustic way (delicious, I would add), is to chew the pod completely until you have sucked all the juice out. Discard the dried fibrous waste.

Integrative psychiatrist Dr. Aruna Tummala shares her love for all things food through monthly cooking classes at Trinergy and Santhigram Spa, 12800 W. National Ave., New Berlin.