• Read about the don’t-ask’don’t-receive plastic straw policy at Sweet Melissa’s Vegetarian Cafe in Laramie, Wyoming.
• Watch how to use, and reuse, pataBee beeswax wraps.
• Take a look at Blue Willow if like me you enjoy a good cup of tea. Ali Roth is the owner who responsibly sources the teas.
. . .
Ellen is a native of northern Maine. Her interest in getting to know Wyoming focuses on ways people and organizations help and protect individuals, wildlife, beauty, and rights. She is a HeartMath® trainer and coach, a Connection Practice trainer and coach, and a biodynamic craniosacral therapist. Her website is: EllenSynakowski.com and her email is EllenSynakowski@icloud.com.
“Remember that justice is what love looks like in public.” – Cornel West
Brain Chemistry Labs is breaking rules and shattering the mold of how medical research is done.
And they’re doing it solely with small grants and private donations.
What began as work focused on the motor neuron disease ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) has been led by research to include Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
“I think we can change the world,” said Sandra Banack, senior scientist and ethnobotanist.
“What we’re doing takes a fraction of the time and a fraction of the cost,” she said.
Their work examines what is happening to people and what can be done about it.
“We’re close to a prevention, and I think that’s better than a cure.” – Dr. Rachael Dunlop
Research shows that chronic exposure to the neurotoxin BMAA (β-Methylamino-L-alanine) found in cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae and most often pointed out by someone in my family as “that green stuff” on lakes and ponds) is a potential risk for neurodegenerative illnesses.
So they are testing and working with an amino acid called L-Serine that may counter BMAA and appears to be neuroprotective in its own right.
BMAA Surrounds Us
“We know that human health is related to environmental health,” Dr. Banack said.
People come into contact with BMAA through contaminated seafood and freshwater fish — possibly grains if they are watered by contaminated water.
And it can be in the air we breathe.
“Found in habitats ranging from the hot pools of Yellowstone to the deserts of the middle east to the middle of the oceans, cyanobacteria are nearly ubiquitous on the earth’s surface.” – Brain Chemistry Labs’ website
“This is like a slow toxin and a silent killer in a sense because we don’t know that it’s in the water that we’re drinking.
“We don’t know that it’s in the food that we’re eating.
“But we do know that it can cause neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s,” said senior research fellow, Rachael Dunlop, in the film Toxic Puzzle.
But hope is on the horizon.
“I think we can change the world,” – Dr. Banack
Can L-Serine Forestall Alzheimer’s?
What’s already been shown in Phase I clinical trials is that L-Serine is safe for ALS patients to take at doses as high as 30 grams per day.
The data suggest that L-Serine can slow down the progression of ALS by as much as 85%.
“Our research also suggests that L-Serine may be able to push off the onset of Alzheimer’s, but there are still many experiments to do,” Dr. Banack said.
Currently L-Serine is accessible as an inexpensive and safe supplement.
“Mapping amyotrophic lateral sclerosis lake risk factors across northern New England,” Nathan Torbick et al, International Journal of Health Geographics, 2014; 13: 1, (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3922844/?report=classic#).
“Phase I clinical trial of safety of L-serine for ALS patients,” T.D. Levine, et al., Feb 18, 2017, (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27589995#).
“Traditional Food Items in Ogimi, Okinawa: l-Serine Content and the Potential for Neuroprotection,” Paul Cox and James Metcalf, Current Nutrition Reports, 2017; 6(1): 24–31, (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5343079/).
Ellen Synakowski (she/her/hers) lives in Laramie, Wyoming. She is a HeartMath Certified Trainer and Coach, and certified through HeartMath to administer the Stress and Well-being Assessment tool; A Connection Practice Trainer, a Trainer’s Trainer, and Coach; and a Registered Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapist (RCST®). Her website is EllenSynakowski.com.
“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.” — C. West
1,900 miles and only about 5 of those outside of Wyoming.
It’s a big state and a long way to travel without plastics.
But we didn’t do that.
I watched as the soda bottles, caps and food wrappers piled up, and clothes needing washing were shoved into plastic hotel laundry bags.
And all the while discomfort seeped in.
It’s impossible to ignore that I am an active part of the single-use plastic problem that plagues the world.
What to Do?
A recent Scientific American article said we’re being hoodwinked if we think good recyclers / bad recyclers — simply recycling — is the answer.
“Our huge problem with plastic is the result of a permissive legal framework that has allowed the uncontrolled rise of plastic pollution . . .” Matt Wilkins
It’s true, we should do simple things like decline plastic straws and supply our own beverage containers and grocery bags.
And we should encourage others to do the same.
But the bigger battle is all uphill when vested interests fight legislation.
A $6 million ad campaign financed by the plastics industry impacted plastic bag ban legislation in California.
And the beverage industry poured $14 million into averting a National Bottle Bill.
Shockingly, experts think that by 2050, there will be more plastics then fish in the oceans.
“Some 8 million metric tons of plastic enters the ocean every year from land. And to put that into perspective, that’s one New York City garbage truck full of plastic going into the ocean every minute of every day for an entire year.” – Nick Mallos, Ocean Concervancy
Hope on the Horizon
Meanwhile, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation is looking at alternatives.
They are partnering to create a “circular economy model.”
It’s also referred to as “cradle-to-cradle” use of plastic materials.
And it involves innovative thinking to minimize waste by including plans from the getgo for reuse and recycling.
Additionally, National Geographic recently announced a multiyear initiative to reduce single-use plastics.
After our trip I set aside plastics to recycle and forgave myself for what I could have done better.
Any of us can speak up alone or collectively and demand change.
Yet if we do, we should be prepared to alter our own habits.
And that means foregoing comforts and conveniences that lure us to plastics in the first place.
If I’m truthful, that may be the hardest part of all.
Hole Food Rescue (HFR) founder and co-executive director, Ali Dunford,, is joy personified as she describes the one million pounds of food saved by her organization since 2013.
“It’s just the right thing to do. The right way to treat each other and the planet,” she said.
Her early days in Jackson included dumpster diving for goods discarded by grocery stores.
And what she found was high quality and plentiful. “It was an injustice,” she said.
“The flip side of waste is using something fully and respecting the planet and all the resources that go into the things we eat.”
With the support of 90 volunteers working seven days a week, HFR collects more than 5,000 pounds of edible items a week from local grocery stores and bakeries.
In turn, 31 recipient organizations take the fruit, vegetables, breads and dairy products and prepare or distribute this nutrients to at-risk and in-need clients including seniors, youth and families.
What can’t be used is given to a local pig farm.
“The flip side of waste is using something fully
and respecting the planet and all the resources
that go into the things we eat.”
Food insecurity in Teton
A 2015 Teton Public Healthreport2 found nearly 3,000 (13.5%) food insecure residents, a term that means “lacking reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.”3
In Wyoming, 1 in 8 adults experience hunger and 1 in 6 children are food insecure.4
Though Teton is one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, much of its population works in the service industry. Between the high cost of housing, low hourly wages and off-season layoffs, families struggle.
Dunford said any town — small or large — that has a grocery store has waste, and you can be sure there’s also food insecurity, though it’s not always obvious.
She says HFR’s part in social justice isn’t just about providing food; it’s about offering nutritious food.
“We don’t rescue highly-processed nor junk food,” she said. “It’s not going to serve our clients, and our goal is to empower them.”