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Posts Tagged 'banana'

Weather In A San Francisco Summer

Summer is here and it’s time for weird weather. San Francisco has four distinct microclimates, the fog belt [where I live], the banana belt [Mission area and everything East], Wind belt [downtown which is made possible by all the high rises funneling the air and the Marine Belt [just around the Golden Gate Bridge and extending down to the Embarcadero.

I had the chance to travel to the Potrero District [banana belt] this morning. I left the house to overcast foggy 55° weather and hopped in my car and started to drive East. Suddenly I noticed it starting to get brighter. I had to pull out my sunglasses and when I arrived out on Rhode Island street it was perfect blue skies and sunny. As I opened the door to my car I was hit by 73° according to my iPhone. That’s almost a 20° difference within a half hour’s drive.

There are even sub-microclimates, but for people who move to San Francisco they have to learn the city to understand it best. The first thing you need to learn is layers. In the Sunset District my Dad would go out in the backyard on weekends in the morning to work the garden. He’d have a tank top, t-shirt, sweatshirt and jacket on. As the day wore on the clothes would soon start to come off. Then around 3pm he’d have to start putting them all back on again.

While the Sunset has a bit of temperament about it’s weather, it’s not constantly foggy. We’re actually getting more sunny days than we used to, but I remember my brief stint living in the mission and I don’t think I owned a single long sleeved shirt unless it was for work downtown. Sure it will get overcast upon occasion in the Mission and Potrero, but you never see fog like you do in the outer Sunset and Richmond Districts. Now at least I know if I’m in need of some sun on a cold foggy day in San Francisco all I have to do is head East for a few miles.

Salt, Salt Everywhere

Well like most people my age, I’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure. This actually came about twelve years ago and they gave me a pill and everything was fine. I was back down to 120/70 like I was as a kid. Then a few weeks ago something happened. It popped back up again. I couldn’t figure it out until I visited my doctor recently.

While there are many things that can cause your blood pressure to go up one of the main things they tell you about when you do have high blood pressure is to limit your salt intake. Since we don’t have a lot of money at the moment, we’ve been having to purchase more packaged foods which suddenly after looking more closely I’ve notice have high amounts of sodium in them. While we all know that salt is bad we’ve been keeping a look at it and I’m getting a little over two grams a day of salt. What I haven’t been getting is enough potassium. We in California seem to think that we are the top of the top for healthy eating, but we sometimes run into problems with that. If you look at some of the people who live in the rural parts of California where fast food is what they call breakfast, lunch and dinner because they’re too lazy to cook, you’re gonna see quite a few obese people out there.

Studies have shown that while our caveman ancestors didn’t have access to salt and being hunter/gatherers lived on diets high in fruits and vegetables with a little meat that this was a good way to get potassium which flushes sodium from your system. I realized I hadn’t been eating as many potassium rich foods as I used to and that is probably where the problem is.

I started with the number one great source of potassium, a banana. I have one every day with breakfast and get 448mg of potassium with that. Potatoes are an even better source so we have potatoes a couple of times a week. A good sized potato will give you 1.6gm’s of potassium. Still not enough since the average human needs around 3.7gms a day of potassium. This lead me to a bag of potato chips to have a look.

First off a serving [depending on brand] has about 115mg’s of sodium, but around 480mg’s of potassium. My doctor always told me to stay away from them because of all the saturated fat and cholesterol, but oddly enough a serving only has .5gm saturated fat and 0 cholesterol, so if you’re going for a junk food, potato chips are that bad. We’ll be going for the  low salt chips now for snacking. I seriously think that many doctor’s should take a look at the labels of foods before they speak out against them. Yes, potato chips are probably not very healthy, but when you compare a handful of potato chips to a granola bar you might be surprised. Granola bars or more accurately, power bars are really just a souped up candy bar with oats. Some have over 7 gm’s of saturated fat and loads of high fructose corn syrup not to mention electrolytes which oddly enough favor sodium over potassium or magnesium. Because of this, a small power bar can be upwards of 200 calories, while a serving of chips will hit you with about 150 while giving you 3.75 times as much potassium to help flush the salt from your system which aggravates high blood pressure. While I haven’t had time to try them there is a brand of unsalted chips that has only 5mg per serving giving you 88 times the potassium to salt ratio.

So how am I faring with the higher in potassium diet? Middle of last week my blood pressure was at 158/99, after adding in potatoes and bananas and english peas [great source of protein and good amount of potassium] I’m down to 130/83. Not perfect, but much better and I don’t have to take any supplements, this is all from natural foods.

Now, don’t expect me to start giving up meat and becoming a total vegan, but I am going to start eating better and maybe once a month I’ll splurge on a burger, hopefully I can get some sliced avocado on it [which has three times the potassium of a banana and tons of more nutrients as well as high in the healthy mono-unsaturated fats that build your good cholesterol and fight your bad cholesterol]. I don’t want to be like the Who and hope I die before I get old. I’m already kind of pushing towards the old they were talking about way back when, but I want to look fabulous when I’m in my 90’s and not like a shaking, withered up prune.

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Gardening in San Francisco

San Francisco is composed of four separate microclimates. I as you all know live in the fog belt. For a short six years I lived in the banana belt which the hipsters call the mission. Herein lies a problem if you own a house or rent one and want your backyard to look pretty.

My father used to get up on weekends, eat breakfast and go out into the yard about 10am and he wouldn’t come back until 4pm. I am not like my Dad. I am what you’d call the lazy man’s gardener. I don’t like going out every day and pulling weeds. Getting a hose down to the bottom of our 100′ backyard is a pain in the ass because of all the stuff that my Dad added in to our terraced backyard.

When my parents bought the house the backyard was pretty much flat and sand. My dad used to talk about how he’d take the dog and toss it over the back fence and let it run wild in the sand dunes that were behind us. San Francisco dirt is pretty much sand unless you bring it in from somewhere else, which is what my parents would do.

I think they spent the better part of a year driving to Muir Woods and digging up dirt and bringing it home in bags so that the water would stay in the soil for more than a couple of minutes. Still, while my Dad was a great gardner, he really sucked at landscaping. He was one of those, here’s dirt let’s stick a plant in it. That didn’t always work for him.  Well, most of the time it didn’t work for him unless you’re talking about the raised beds he built around the perimeter.

What he left us was basically a weed strewn sandy mess. We tried all kinds of plants. Foxgloves looked pretty good, but they died every year and you had to pull the remains out and replant. Annuals were not for us. We got an idea one day when we were looking at this tiny abused succulent called an Aeonium. We bought it in a tiny pot when we lived closer to the beach and stuck it in our window and forgot about it. It never grew because we hardly ever remembered to water it, but it wouldn’t die so decided to send it off to the graveyard for plants or what you would call, the backyard.

Oddly enough, the fog belt agreed with the aeonium. We didn’t have to water it because of the fog and rains so it started to grow. It moved up to 5″ pot, then a 10″ then finally to an 18″. During this time the winds had blown the pots over several times and broken off pieces. We just stuck those in the dirt of the bulkhead and they started to grow too.

Then my wife got the idea of taking the remains of the jade plants my Dad had in the front and putting them out in back. The brick bulkhead my Dad had built suddenly changed and became alive. The succulents started to grow and multiply filling in the entire bulkhead. We started to move them off to the sides and added landscape ground cover and blue river rocks to keep the weeds out.

Now our work is finished for the most part. We do have to go out a couple of times a year and spray some Round up to kill the weeds that sprout up on top of the landscape fabric, but we now have healthy plants that take little care. I kind of miss the citrus trees that we used to have out in the mission, but Meyer’s Lemon trees do hold up out here in the fog belt if you pay some attention to them. For now we’re happy with our succulents that don’t take much care. I may be a lazy gardener, but that at least looks better than our neighbors who hang their granny panties to dry on the clothesline in their sandy weed infested backyard.

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Waiter, there’s a shark fin in my soup!

Today I read an article on sfgate.com about AB376 a bill that if passed would make the sale of shark fins for shark fin soup illegal. The reason behind this is that the fins for this soup come from a process known as “finning” where a captured shark has its tail and fins cut off and then is thrown back in the water. You might think that the shark would die instantly from this, but that’s not how it works.

The sharks can live on for quite some time suffering and unable to swim the shark dies in one of two ways, starvation or suffocation. Sharks need to keep water moving over their gills in order to breathe. If they can’t then they suffocate from a lack of oxygen.

Senator Leland Yee made a big mistake in the article. He claimed it as an “attack on asian culture“. Riiiiight. Leland, in a city that is 60% asian it’s best not to play the race card when you’re trying to sit in the Mayor’s seat. San Francisco needs a mayor who can bring the people together not separated because of their different cultures. San Francisco is a melting pot of cultures from all over the world, not a side order of shark fin soup.

[mappress mapid=”34”]I’ve never had shark fin soup, so I can’t vouch for the flavor of it and at $178-$500/pound I doubt I will ever get a chance to. The reason it is so expensive is because of what it represents to the Chinese who serve it. It’s a way to show off your wealth and success. It’s not served for it’s yummy taste. I’ve yet to hear someone other than a waiter who is trying to sell me some of how yummy this soup is.

I frequently see Leland Yee at the Tennessee Grill. He likes to hold his informal meetings there. Now that he’s gone on record about this it will be interesting to see how well he’s received there. It will also be interesting to see how well he is received in the next run for Mayor. I always liked Leland, but apparently I didn’t know as much about him as I should have. I’m sorry Mr. Yee, but you’ve just lost my vote for Mayor of San Francisco. I urge all of you who read this article to share it with facebook, tweet it or share it with any of the other share links on this site. If you want a working unified San Francisco we need to speak up about it and make it so the politicians who are working to serve their own political agendas do not move into power.

UPDATE: Leland Yee at a press conference today served up shark fin soup so everyone could taste it. Perhaps he should have shown how the fins were acquired from the fish or perhaps he just wants to show all in attendance how prosperous he is.