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Outdoors

Dear EarthTalk: What is the “National Food Policy” that environmentalists and foodies are asking President Obama to enact by Executive Order, and how would it affect American diets? — Justin Brockway, Los Angeles, Calif.

A November 2014 op-ed piece in The Washington Post entitled “How a National Food Policy Could Save Millions of American Lives” makes the case for President Obama to sign into law an executive order establishing a national food policy for managing the nation’s food system as a whole.

Authored by food writers Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan, along with Union of Concerned Scientists’ Ricardo Salvador and United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, the oped states that because of unhealthy diets, a third of our kids will develop Type 2 diabetes— a preventable disease that was formerly rare in children.

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Macon’s best kept secret will soon be serving region’s youth again

For nearly a decade, an adventure camp stowed away in Tessentee in the southern part of Macon County went untouched. Bunk houses were beginning to crumble, the camp's fire ring was swallowed by poison ivy, and a high ropes course built in the ’70s blended in with native pines. What was once a destination for Boy and Girl Scout troops from across the region, had quickly tumbled into an overgrown wasteland with just a few years of neglect.

But all that has changed, and Macon County is well on its way to once again being home to one of western North Carolina's best kept secrets, a prime adventure camp abundant in natural resources.

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A new invasive plant species that appears to be poised to be a terrible invasive in moist, nutrient-rich situations across eastern North America has been documented in six counties in North Carolina, three in Tennessee, two in South Carolina and two in Georgia: fig buttercup, also called lesser celandine (Ficaria verna, formerly Ranunculus ficaria).

Fig Buttercup is an early-blooming perennial with origins in Europe and northern Africa. It is sometimes confused with marsh marigold (Caltha palustris). Because of its showy yellow flowers, it has apparently been enjoyed in gardens for many years, mostly in the Northeast. More recently, its behavior is transitioning to that of an aggressive invasive species that threatens bottomlands throughout its adopted range.

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Base Camp Cullowhee, Western Carolina University’s outdoor programming organization, will launch a speaker series focused on outdoor adventure with a Tuesday, March 3, presentation featuring Mark Singleton, executive director of American Whitewater.

The program will begin at 7 p.m. in the theater of WCU’s A.K. Hinds University Center. It is free and open to everyone.

The new speaker series is designed to complement and enhance WCU’s reputation as an epicenter of outdoor adventure, said Josh Whitmore, WCU’s associate director for outdoor programs who oversees the operations of Base Camp Cullowhee. Plans are to bring at least one outdoor adventurer to WCU’s campus each semester to talk about his or her experiences in a variety of recreational activities and to discuss the need for outdoor recreation enthusiasts to advocate for the wild places they love, Whitmore said.

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