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Christmas Cookies

Stir, roll, press, and create. Bring the family to the kitchen and ready your baking utensils. Whether holiday or ordinary shaped cookies; the versatile recipe is perfect for any season or occasion. This German honey cookie; Lebkuchen, is our gift to you for the holidays. We love them and hope after you try this recipe you will love them too.

 

As a matter of fact we will be making these tasty cookies this weekend. Some with nuts pressed on top, others candies, or fruits and you can finish them with sweet glaze, frosting, or a dusting of powdered sugar. These cookies are yummy.

Lebkuchen (German Christmas Honey Cookies)

1⁄2 cup honey

1⁄2 cup molasses

3⁄4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon rind, grated

2 3⁄4 cups flour, sifted

1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon clove

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1⁄3 cup citron (or other dried fruit), chopped

1⁄3 cup nuts, chopped

whole blanched almonds (optional)

Glaze:

1 cup sugar

1⁄2 cup water

1⁄4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Grease cookie sheet, and set aside.
  3. Bring honey and molasses to a boil. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  4. Stir in the brown sugar, egg, lemon juice and lemon rind.
  5. Sift together dry ingredients, then stir into the honey-molasses mix.
  6. Mix in the citron and chopped nuts, chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.
  7. Remove a small portion from the refrigerator, and roll into 1” balls.  Using the bottom of a glass dipped in flour, press the dough into ¼ inch thick circles.  -OR- Roll a portion of dough ¼” thick and cut into desired shapes.
  8. Place 1″ apart on greased cookie sheet .
  9. Press 3 almonds on top of each cookie in a decorative pattern.
  10. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10-12 min.
  11. Decorated as desired, with powder sugar, glaze, or icing.

How to make the glaze:

  1. Make the glaze by boiling the water and sugar to 230 degrees – until it just barely begins to thread.
  2. Remove the glaze from the heat and stir in the confectioners sugar.
  3. Brush the hot glaze lightly over the cookies (if it gets grainy reheat slightly with a little water to thin again).

 

These cookies are a great tradition, especially if you have small children.  Bake the dough all at once, or here and there as you go (the dough keeps well).  Then, with a little icing, some craisins and nuts, and some small candies, you can keep your kids occupied. Hungry?  Decorate cookies for each other for a snack. Bored? Make a tin of cookies for the neighbors.  Visiting relatives? Bring a plate of cookies as a present from the kids. Christmas Eve? We all know it’s time for bed, once the plate of cookies are put out for Santa.

However and whenever you decide to do it, don’t miss out on these tasty cookies.

The Weather Outside is Frightful; But My Lip Balm is So Delightful

Gloves for your hands:    Check.

Hat for your head:           Check.

Scarf for your neck:         Check.

Jacket for your body:      Check.

Boots for the feet:            Check.

But wait.  What about your lips?  What will you cover them with to protect them this winter?

 

We suggest that you cover your lips with the natural goodness of More Bees all-natural beeswax lip balms.

lip balm six red cherry orange yellow vanilla pink strawberry white coconut speckled fruit punch
More Bees All-Natural Beeswax Lip Balm Sampler Pack. Fruit Punch, Cherry, Coconut, Strawberry, Vanilla, and Orange.

Here are 5 reasons to use beeswax products:

 

Emollient:

Emollients have the effect of moisturizing and softening the skin, reducing itching, and increasing smoothness. Beeswax is an excellent natural emollient, and as such provides a physical barrier between the elements and your skin. This has the effect of slowing down the evaporation of your skin’s vital moisture. This barrier also serves to help protect your skin from irritants, like excessive wetness. Beeswax has the advantage over synthetic and petroleum products of allowing your skin to breath, instead of suffocating it.

 

Humicant:

Beeswax is a humicant, and as such, draws moisture from the air to itself. In this way, it further slows loss of moisture from your body, and increases the level of moisture in your outer layers of skin. This is especially important in the winter, when cold, dry air, and wind come together, allowing chapped lips to abound.

 

Anti Inflammatory:

Beeswax has anti inflammatory effects, making it useful for the swelling, irritation, and redness associated with many skin conditions like acne, eczema, and dermatitis. For this reason, people with these types of conditions may find beeswax skin products soothing, and helpful.

 

Antimicrobial:

Beeswax, is antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. It has been found effective in inhibiting the growth of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, both antidoctablty and in scientific studies. Because of this, people with skin conditions might find topical preparations containing beeswax helpful for skin infections; like diaper rash, and acne.

 

Vitamin A:

Beeswax contains a high concentration of vitamin A, which has been shown in numerous studies to aid in the re-hydration of skin, promotion of skin repair at a cellular level, and softening of the skin. For this reason beeswax products may be soothing and healing for lip chapping and skin issues -like acne and dermatitis.

 

More Bees beeswax lip balms are specially formulated to be high in beeswax so that you get all the benefits associated with this wonder substance. We go further than that though. With the exception of the all natural flavorings, each ingredient in our lip balms is picked because it also has one or more of the 5 properties listed above.

 

So, don’t forget to treat your lips this winter with More Bees Beeswax Lip Balms. Enrich them with helpful, nourishing, and protective vitamins while you enjoy one of our ten fantastic flavors. Follow the link below to help keep your lips looking and feeling subtle and smooth through the cold and winds. They’re worth it.

 

https://morebees.com/product-category/lip-balm/

Lighting the Way 2 the Holidays

If you are thinking about looking at Christmas lights but want to twist it up a bit have we got something for you. The good news is that it is free but you have to be willing to brave the cold, unless you can find a place that is warm like your car or a restaurant. But that is up to you. Starting tomorrow (December 1) night, people around the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area can watch the Christmas Ship Parade. Over 50 decorated boats and ships will be in this years parade, split into two fleets: The Columbia Fleet, and the Willamette Fleet. The Parade can be viewed along the Willamette and Columbia rivers during the month of December. View the website, and the schedules for the prospective rivers to see on which days you can view the parade, and along which segments of the rivers. Six of the 15 scheduled parade days, you will be able to see the two fleets combined. The other nine days, each fleet will tour separately so keep up with the website to know which days will have the fleet tour you would like to see.

You can view the specifics for the The Christmas Ship Parade; make sure to look at the site right before you go to view the parade. Local weather conditions may have an impact on the nights scheduling, and the website will have any changes listed.  Having owned a sail boat and sailed in the winter here, I can tell you that the guys on the boats will all be bundled up to because it’s always colder on the water than it is on the land. So, when you are watching the lit up boats- think warm thoughts for the sailors.

This has been a Portland tradition, since 1954.  Many other cities have similar traditions and to see if your city is one of them, type “Christmas Ship” + your city’s name + the year into your browser’s search bar.

Food for Thought

Thanksgiving.

 

The holiday that American big business’s forgot.

 

You know, Turkey Day.  A day of yummy food and being thankful?

 

The holiday tucked in between the slew of candy, costumes, and spooky decorations and lights at the end of October; and all the red and green decorations that start crowding store aisles before Halloween is even over.

 

 

 

 

 

The holiday celebrating the survival of pilgrims with the help of their new Indian friends. The one that you learned all about in grade school.

 

I know that there is controversy surrounding how early explorers and settlers treated their new neighbors, and for that reason, some choose not to celebrate the holiday. I think maybe it is better to acknowledge the wrongs that took place against native peoples even as we acknowledge the struggles settlers overcame as they tried to find a better life for themselves and their families.

 

In the “settling” of America, crimes were perpetrated against native peoples: theft of personal property, resources, and land; murder; forced removal; forced confinement; and even enslavement. Some people will argue that the average person wasn’t guilty of these crimes.  Even if the average person did not directly participate in these activities, the attitudes of the average white settlers, which usually ranged from apathetic to the plight of natives to hostility, to outright support of the activities against them, helped perpetuate these crimes.

 

Failing to acknowledge that these things took place when we celebrate thanksgiving is wrong.  It’s a denial that they ever even took place at all. In a way, so is refusing to even acknowledge Thanksgiving. I think it’s better to be honest and acknowledge that the settling of America came at a great cost to native people. We should teach our children our history – all of it, even when it is uncomfortable. Whether in our schools, and at our dinner tables. Failing to do so dishonors the native peoples of our country.

 

Before you ask, I’m of mixed heritage, with native blood and white blood on both sides. I also celebrate Thanksgiving every year by contemplating all the things I am thankful for in my life, and sharing a table with my friends and family. We are human. We do wonderful things. We do brave, incredible things. We also do things that we would rather not discuss. Denial dooms us to repeat our past aggression and allows others to suffer upon us our past grievances.

 

This year, I am thankful I live in a place where I have the right to say things that are sometimes difficult to hear. I watch the news lately, and wonder if we are losing this right. I hope not. This is the one of the things that makes America truly great.

 

Happy Thanksgiving.

3 Ways to Say “Thank You” Every Day


Veteran’s Day is in just a few days and for a day, or a weekend, the country will celebrate our veterans. But veterans are here with us, among us, and around us. They are our friends, our family members, our neighbors, our coworkers, maybe even us. They are not just veterans on Veteran’s Day – they are veterans every day. So, here are some ways, big and small, to say “Thank You” every day:

  1. Do you own a business? Consider hiring a vet. You might even get a tax credit for doing so. Check out the IRS Work Opportunity Tax Credit and see the requirements. Many returning veterans have difficulties finding and keeping a job. Knowing what these obstacles are will help ensure success. Issues to consider.
  2. Donate to an organization that helps Veterans. Make sure the group you donate to is a legitimate charitable organization. If you don’t have time to research it, consider donating through your employer, if it is offered. Either way, keep records (receipts, cancelled checks, credit card statements, and/or paperwork from your employer) since your donation may be tax deductible. The US Department of Veterans Affairs gives a list of charities that take donations. Have a charity in mind, and don’t see it at the above list, check out Charity Navigator. Donations can be made once, or regularly, but either way, they help fund programs that help veterans (and sometimes their families) year round. Some charities even accept older vehicles as donations, like Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation.
  3. Volunteer. There are programs large and small, across the country, that could use your help. One example is the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program, which helps service persons and their spouses fill out and file their tax forms for free. You don’t need to be a CPA to help. The program trains volunteers for a variety of services that range from greeter to tax preparer. If this program interests you, please sign up. Doesn’t sound like you? There are plenty of other programs that need your help. The US Department of Veterans Affairs can you help find volunteer opportunities in your community.

And don’t forget about the little gestures that can be made year around to show your gratitude and support. Offer a smile, a kind word, or a cup of coffee for a service member.

Red Bees in Brooklyn and 4 Amazing New Colors of Honey!

What do you imagine when you think of honey? Do you see rivers of a gold that are tasty and sweet? Maybe a little paler or a little darker? Nothing too crazy, right? No blue, candy red, green, or purple right? That’s right! Honey is a reflection of the primary food source for bees or a particular hive. This primary food source impacts the color and taste… so of course honey would only be those natural colors. I mean really; according to the FDA:

Honey is the natural sweet substance produced by honey bees from the nectar of plants or from secretion of living parts of plants …”

There are 7 color grades for honey. Honey ranges from nearly colorless, golden , to a deep dark amber brown color. The darker the color, the stronger the flavor, though there are some very notable exceptions to this rule of thumb.

Did you notice the conspicuous lack of other colors?

 

Perhaps it is due to the fact that these colorful colors aren’t produced naturally? Maybe it is because honey of theses colors are dyed? So, what do you think beekeepers do when they open up their busy little beehives to see these unexpected colors?

 

For example:

 

Red Honey in Brooklyn:

In 2010, beekeepers in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn started finding bright red honey in their hives.  They joked that the bees were drinking maraschino cherry juice from the local maraschino cherry plant. Turns out it wasn’t a joke. Bees discovered large vats of cherries that were routinely moved from one building to another on the plant grounds, and started feeding off of them.  The honey produced had a metallic, unappetizing taste, and was unsellable as honey because of it’s color, and the source of the sugars the bees were consuming. Subsequent tests found that it was packed full of FD&C red dyes. The solution was to cover the vats when in transit out of door.

 

The color of the maraschino cherry juice the bees were feeding on was so red that many of the bees even looked red (due to red juice in the honey stomachs, and a translucent abdomen).

Notice the bit of red in the translucent parts of the bee’s abdomen?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/30/nyregion/30bigcity.html

https://www.thedailybeast.com/how-bees-revealed-a-pot-farm-beneath-the-maraschino-cherries

 

Red honey in Utah:

In 2013,  red honey started showing up in beehives in four Utah counties. Everybody was stumped as to the cause of the unpleasantly flavored, sugary honey until a local beekeeper, who kept hives in two of the counties, admitted that he had been using a syrup made of crushed candy canes to supplement his hives.  The syrup was given in open troughs and bees from other hives must have discovered the sweet treat. The red product does not meet the definition of honey, cannot legally be sold as such in the US. Mitigation offered to beekeepers who could not legally sell the red honey as honey. Again, The honey produced was unsellable as honey because of it’s color, and the source of the sugars the bees were consuming. Subsequent tests found that it was packed full of FD&C red dyes.

http://www.standard.net/Business/2013/09/14/Utah-s-red-honey-mystery-solved

http://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=56884400&itype=CMSID

 

Blue and green honey:

In  2014, in Eastern France beekeepers were upset and dismayed to find frames of blue and green honey in their hives. The beekeepers were understandably upset since the honey was considered inedible and could not legally be sold as such in the EU.  analysis of the unappetizing honey showed that it was found to be full of FD&C blue and green dyes. After much investigation, a Mars waste processing plant was found to be the source of the contamination.  Bees were eating M&M candy shell waste that was being stored out in the open.  Once discovered, the plant began storing candy waste in covered storage buildings.

French apiarist Andre Frieh holds a sample green colored honey at his home in Ribeauville near Colmar Eastern France, October 5, 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.sciencealert.com/bees-make-blue-honey-after-eating-mams

http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/10/05/honey_dyed_by_m_ms_why_do_beekeepers_have_to_throw_it_out_.

 

Purple and blue honey:

Very rarely, over the last 100 years, isolated hives in the Sandhills area of North Carolina have produced wonderful, naturally flavored honey that is various hues of blue and purple.  The cause is unknown, but believed to be a natural phenomena since foraging bees arrive back at the hive with naturally colored nectar and produced blue honey from it.  Over an extended period of time, the color of this honey fades to dark amber or brown, The color is widely believed by many to be due to bees feeding directly off the juice overripe grapes and berries that abound in the area in the summer and early fall. The findings of Professor John Ambrose, an entomologist and assistant vice provost of undergraduate affairs and director of N.C point to sourwood blossoms as the cause of the purple/blue honey:

 

“While the honeybee flies and forages, it is fueled by the nectar in its honey stomach. When Ambrose field-stripped bees in his study, the bees arriving at the blue honey hives never had blue in their stomachs, but the bees leaving the hive did.

 

“That tells you something is happening to the nectar after it reaches the hive to change the color,” Ambrose says.

 

The scientists then collected as many blue flowers and plants as possible and soaked them overnight in the juices of the bee’s’ digestive tracts. By morning, the goo surrounding one specific flower, the sourwood, was tinged blue.”

 

When collected, this honey is sold by the local beekeepers as honey.

https://www.ourstate.com/blue-honey/

 

Wow, right? They really did find red, blue, green, and purple honey. Well, most of the “honey” was product  that can’t be sold or consumed but they were made nonetheless. So, kinda cool right? But such a sad loss. Makes some wonder whether or not those “honey sticks” really are honey? I have seen bright green (apple), bright red (cherry), but I have never seen those colors in my hives.

http://www.natureplica.com/tag/fda-standards-for-honey/

http://www.honeytraveler.com/types-of-honey/grading-honey/

 

3 Incredible Facts and A New Way to Enjoy America’s Favorite Squash; The Pumpkin!

Before you could roll up to Starbucks and ask for a Pumpkin Spice Latte, years prior to the pumpkin spice candy corn, and ages before pumpkin spice motor oil – well, jokin on that last one… hopefully it remains a joke… but you never know right? “New Pumpkin Spice Motor oil – smell Mom’s fresh and warm baked pumpkin pie as you drive down the road. Tired of the normal car smell? Well, come on down for our pumpkin spice motor oil and truly embrace the Holidays!” Yeah; seriously, let’s hope that day never comes. But really, before pumpkin became the patron food of the holiday season – we had a pretty interesting history with the delicious squash.

Long before the European explorers came to the Americas, Native people relied on the humble pumpkin; as well as winter squash, to make it through the harsh winters. Pumpkin flesh, seeds, and even the flowers were eaten; then the tough outer shells were dried and used as bowls and storage vessels.

When early explorers returned to Europe, they brought pumpkin seeds with them to grow and show their countrymen.Yet; they actually didn’t see pumpkin as a suitable food for people and had designated our favorite squash to the pigs! Well… and other animals. But -they still gave it to the livestock and didn’t make pies or other yummy pumpkin delicacies!

So; it’s Ironic that when Europeans settled North America, pumpkins and winter squash became an important staple in the early colonies. It was easy to grow, grew prolifically, and the fruits could be kept for months without spoiling, the dried flesh and seeds could last even longer.

Settlers tried to recreate foods that they were familiar with using what was available locally.  For example, cream, sugar, eggs and spiced were poured into a hollowed out pumpkin, then buried with hot coals.This custard cooked in hollowed out pumpkins became the basis for what is the modern day pumpkin pie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, pumpkin immediately brings thoughts of Autumn and Halloween to mind; as well as scores of yummy Thanksgiving and Christmas treats. But don’t just think about pumpkin as a holiday food. There are recipes that can be used any time of the year. For a food many once thought of as unsuitable for human consumptions, pumpkin has come a long way.

Here is one of our  favorite recipes:

Thai Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk.  This recipe is soooo scrumptious.  Fresh pumpkin or winter squash can be used, but canned works just as well.  If you don’t care about the soup being vegan, you can use meat bouillon in place of the veggie bouillon. Feel free to adjust the amounts of chili paste, garlic paste, and ginger paste to suit your tastes. You will need the following:

  • ½ – 1 Tbsp crushed garlic
  • ½ – 1 Tbsp crushed ginger
  • ½ – 1 tbsp red chili paste
  • 14 oz can solid pack pumpkin
  • 1 Knorr vegetable bouillon cube, crumbled up
  • 1  cup water
  • 14oz can coconut milk (reserve 1 tbsp for garnish)
  • Juice of half a lime or half a small lemon
  • 3 or 4  green onions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Whisk together the garlic, ginger, red chili paste, pumpkin, bouillon, and water until well mixed. Bring to a simmer, and add the lime or lemon juice, sliced green onion, chopped cilantro, and ground black pepper. Simmer 4-5 minutes, and serve. Garish with a drizzle of coconut milk and a few spots of hot sauce. Serve over a scoop of rice or with a slice of buttered bread, and a green salad for a healthy meal. This recipe will make 3-4 servings.We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Halloween Is Coming, Bee Ready

Soon, creatures of many shapes and sizes will begin to roam the earth. Walking door to door in search of grand and tasty treasure. The tapping upon the door of your dwelling place will commence this one night – but the most important thing to think of is… are you prepared?

The decorations are ready.

You have bought all the candy for the trick or treaters.

But what about you? Will you answer the door in your plain old PJs or casual wear? Or shall you greet your fellow Hallows eve creature in your own disguise? What would you be? A werewolf? Vampire? Witch? Cop? Solider? Ketchup bottle? Are you gonna spend silly amounts of money for clothes you will wear for one night? Why spend sixty, seventy, or even eighty dollars on those silly and uncomfortable outfit? Why not make your own? Let alone make something that can be not only a creation of your own but one of a kind and comfortable? Most of all; making your own costume could also save some major bucks!

Well, we have some pictures we found that we thought could give all of you some ideas to make a cute or intricate bee costume of your own.

 

 

Well; we hope you all like those. If you like, we would also love to see your creative costumes, bee or not. So tag us in the comments either on facebook or instagram. Hope you all have great time and make lots of memories!

3 Out of 4 Bottles of Honey Contain Toxic chemicals

I was reading some of the most recent scientific information about honey bees and the news is not good. It’s not good for us as honey consumers or people that desire to have a clean food source but the news is even worse for the bees. What I read is that 75% of all the honey is contaminated with pesticides! Sorry I did not mean to yell that but wtf; 75% of all the honey in the world is contaminated with pesticides. This is a catastrophe! Didn’t you know that 1 in 3 bites of the food we eat either directly, or indirectly reliant upon pollination by pollinators (That means Honey bees!).

beehives, field, yellow, plants, flowers, brown, honeybee, The news may not be that drastic for us, the people that like to eat honey. You don’t have to run home to throw away all your honey. While the pesticides were detectable, they were well below the threshold concentrations that would cause harm to humans.  But you will not have any of that great sweet tasting honey if you don’t have any honey bees.

So, you’re safe- for now.

White, honey, girl, blonde, blue, eyes, pale, tanktop,

I say it that way because the levels detected in 48% of the samples were at unsafe levels for honey bees. We are losing honey bees worldwide (see previous post in our blog). The nectar and pollen bees consume in the spring, summer, and fall are contaminated with these pesticides. The bees make honey from the nectar they collect as their winter food source. The pesticides are concentrated in the honey, the only source of food to keep the honey bees alive until spring arrives. Chronic, long term exposure to pesticides causes well documented problems for the bees.

“According to research, two pesticides commonly used by farmers today could affect bees brains. The two pesticides namely, neonicotinoids and coumaphos target bees brains, thus making it a slow learner and make the it forget floral scents. They also found that, the combination effect of these two pesticides, were far greater than individual effect. Bees that were exposed to combined insecticides, were slow to learn or sometimes completely forgot important associations between their ability to nectar and floral scent.

Hiveandhoneyapiary.com

                                Author Unknown”

How can we help the bees? Should you insist on only getting pesticide free honey? Should you start a boycott of the companies that supply pesticides? Should you kick your neighbor when you see him spraying to kill the ants around his picnic table. I wish I had the answer; unfortunately, to get the pesticides out of the honey will require regulatory action to limit or ban source chemicals.

The sources of the pesticide contamination are well know and the effects (i.e lower birth rates, mutations, weakened immune system and death) on the bees have been know for years. I will link you to an article from 2010 that lists the different types of pesticides and it gives very thorough discussion of the impact of the listed pesticides on bees.  It also highlights the fact that this issue has been known about for some time, but our government has chosen not to address the dangers of these pesticides through restriction of use or outright banning, nor have they attempted to educate consumers of the unintended negative impact these chemicals can have.

Harmful pesticides to pollinators This article

This problem does not just affect the United States of America but it is worldwide. With 75% of all honey samples showing pesticides in them and 86% of the samples from North America tested positive for at least one Neonicotinoid.

These shocking and scary statistics came from an extensive and well documented article published in Science Magazine and a shorter article in The Scientist, both released last week. They warrant reading, as they discuss how these pesticides negatively affect bees and why we should care. Here is an excerpt from the Science article:

“Bees rely on nectar and pollen sources for their survival. Nectar is transformed into honey and stored in the hive for daily adult consumption and is essential for winter survival. A mature colony can be populated by up to 60,000 adult bees and therefore needs vast amounts of food. “

Organophosphate pesticides, such as Naled and Chlorpyrifos, have been shown to cause damage to the bees as well.  In 2016, South Carolina accidently killed millions of bees when they sprayed Naled to control mosquitoes. While Naled poses the immediate problem of mass deaths due to acute poisoning by a neurotoxin, Chlorpyrifos poses an indirect danger to the bees. Even very small amounts have been shown to “dumb down” bees, by interfering with their memory and affecting the mental development of larvae and young bees. In this way, it causes a slow and steady decline in bee populations, by causing the bees to starve to death, as well as causing them to forget where their hive is. Sadly, earlier this year, The US EPA chose to reverse an Obama era order that was to go into effect banning Chlorpyrifos, against that agencies own findings.

In contrast, when Germany experienced a massive bee loss in 2008 that was determined to be due to the Neonicotinoid Clothianidin, Clothianidin, as well as other neonicotinoids, were banned in Germany. The EU imposed a temporary ban on the three most widely used Neonicotinoids on certain crops in 2013. There are EU proposals for a complete ban on the use of Neonicotinoids, with the only exception being for plants grown entirely in greenhouses. The proposed ban is to be voted on this year.

In the United States, the EPA is currently working on risk assessments for 5 out of the 7 Neonicotinoid pesticides that are used pesticide formulations, with preliminary assessments to be completed in 2018. We can only hope our government is responsive to the hazards these pesticides pose to pollinators, and therefore to us. Unfortunately, after seeing how Chlorpyrifos was handled by the EPA last year, chemical companies are likely to win again over bees and people.

Here’s what you can do to help:

  1. Educate yourself.
  2. Do not buy or use products that contain these hazardous chemicals. Here is a listing of products that contain neonicotinoids. This link provides names of common organophosphate pesticides.
  3. Contact your lawmakers. Let them know what you think, and let them know this is an issue, that as a voter, you are concerned about. The use of these hazardous chemicals needs to restricted or banned.
  4. Contact Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, and other store chains that sell and/or use these dangerous pesticides. Let them know that you will spend your money at stores that ban the sale or use of these products.
  5. And finally, don’t get discouraged or distracted, and give up.  This is really important, and you are the voice for the bees.

The Eyes That Stalked Us

Black, yellow, gold, glowing, corn, maze, night, spooky, person, flashlight, walking, standing, glow, stars, blue, October,

The night was frigid and our breath came out as soft white wisps that faded into the darkness. The last flashlight was on its last legs, as the light flickered and occasionally faded. I would periodically give it a smack and the light would kick back up. I remember my friend muttering how I should stop abusing it because it wouldn’t change our predicament. We were lost- late at night. Lost late at night, in a corn maze, after most of the people had left. We looked about, silently hoping the owner of the corn field would come through the towering stalks, but our wishes did not come true.

Our clothes didn’t hinder the bone chilling cold from nipping at us and sting our skin as we walked. As the temperature dropped so did our sense of reasoning. We would argue and bicker about the direction, the cold, the light, even the trail mix. Finally, we separated. We could no longer stand each other’s company as the moments drawled on. I was on my own finally and looking about. I thought I had the benefit of the situation what with having my failing flashlight. It was something at least. The others would be stuck merely wishing for the moon or starlight. But neither came out that night. Everything was black and cold.

The sound of my own footfalls echoed about the maze so far as I could hear; it seemed eternal. Like the soft crunching would be my only companion until I was found in the morning -if that were to happen. I was weary and freezing. I longed for the warmth of my house, the comfort of my bed. There was still the hope that if I kept moving, I could find freedom. Find that and return to my car and go home. The others would regret the argument. I was right, I had the light, and I would be the one going home soon. Or so, I hoped. But, these were my friends. Even if I was mad now, I wanted them to be safe. I called out each of their names. The silence and the darkness was the only answer I got.

Suddenly a rustling in the corn caught my ear and I turned to the noise, hoping for one of my friends or maybe the farmer… but there was nothing aside from the shifting and bustling within the corn. I called out again and there was nothing. Then I spoke a simple “Hello’.

Some wretched and unearthly ghoulish sound resonated from the corn and I didn’t even think about it. I let out my own terrified shrill and ran. My feet moved even when I couldn’t feel them any more. My breath was short and labored, as I bolted through the winding trails and walls of corn. Then I heard it.  Yelling in the distance. Yelling and shouting. My name ran through the night air. People were searching for me! I was so happy. But that momentary glee did not last as the disturbance from within the stalks of food closed in on me. Once again I took off and made for the voices, urging them to continue calling for me. The light from my flashlight had failed completely by now, and I just tossed it aside and made haste. Maybe I was faster without the stupid flashlight, or maybe the creature was distracted by the object I did away with. I didn’t know, nor did I care. I was safer than I was before. My name rattled on through the soft and crippling wind, but I wasn’t detoured. My friends weren’t far.

Just as I continued through I found my friends gathered at the edge of the corn maze with worried glances. I was in tears as I saw them. They were panicked too. I didn’t ask, I simply assumed we all had encountered our share of the creature within the maze. I don’t think any of us wanted to speak of it again. Especially with how that wretched creature ended our adventure.

I don’t know why I did this; maybe curiosity or wanting closure, but I looked back. I turned my eyes to the corn maze and looked to a set of soul piercing eyes that burned into me and my friends. Not just one set… there were dozens of these eyes that bore into all of us. Our bodies locked up with fear as we peered into the eyes of the creatures that could have been our end. We stared as the creature’s eyes carved themselves into our minds for the rest of our days. It wasn’t until the worse had happened had we finally came to and made for our vehicles.

A hand as cold as death itself shot out from the corn an gripped me by the jacket and trying to pull me in. The hand was decrepit and repulsive with sores and cracks all over. This single hand seemed to have the same strength as five men as my friends grabbed me and worked hard to pull me from the corn field. All I could do was scream and cry as the shrill of a banshee seemed to rip through the darkness once again, right before I fell into my group of heroes.

Amazingly enough, that was the last of it all. But the effects would haunt me forever. This night would haunt all of us. We made for our cars and returned home. Never had we spoke of the event, nor the creature, nor the eyes. Nothing was to be repeated. We didn’t want to remember it, didn’t want to accept that it was real. But I know, as we all went to our homes and curled up to sleep… those eyes watched us. Those eyes would always watch us.

Liked the story? Well, we hope so; and no, this is not real. But it sounded like quite the adventure right? Well, consider making your own adventure this October and find a local corn maze to venture though. We have a handful of options for you to look into for your night of fright or just Fall fun with the family.

  1.   Kruger’s Farm Market                                                                       17100 NW Sauvie Island Rd, Portland, OR 97231
  2.   Bella Organic Farm                                                                            16205 NW Gillihan Rd, Portland, OR 97231
  3.   Fazio Farms Corn Maze                                                                     9028 NE 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97211
  4.   Bi-Zi Farms                                                                                           9504 NE 119th St, Vancouver, WA 98662
  5.   Liepold Farms | Pumpkin Patch                                                      14480 SE Richey Rd, Boring, OR 97009

There are also hayrides, pick-your-own-pumpkin, food, and often live music. So, head on down one of these or one you know and love and share your adventure with us if you like.

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