This is the year to de-center your smartphone

Illustrations from “Goodbye Phone, Hello World” by Emiliano Ponzi

For the sake of yourself and your country, it is time to get off your phone.

Yes, I know you needed to see the latest from the Capitol storming, the impeachment hearings, the Republican backlash, and then you’ll need to know how it’s all going down with the new administration in the first 100 days, and then perhaps you’ll want to check in on the stalled Covid-19 vaccination effort. And then poof, before you know it, midterm elections will be ramping up and you’ll need to scroll and scroll and scroll.

But there’s a good reason to balance a civic…


The world’s healthiest eating pattern shouldn’t be a myth

The island of Crete where the Mediterranean Diet was “discovered” (photo by Paul Greenberg)

In 1953, not long before President Dwight Eisenhower suffered a heart attack in office, the social scientist Leland Allbaugh published “Crete: A Case Study of an Underdeveloped Area.” The landmark analysis of the eating patterns of an isolated Greek population strongly suggested that a calorie-limited diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and olive oil and low in animal protein, particularly red meat, could lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes, decrease chronic disease and extend life.

Medical research over the last half-century has largely borne out this initial finding. Weight-loss fads and eating trends come and…


Here’s how to maintain your digital resistance

Image: Sukanda Panpa / EyeEm / Getty

If you made a resolution to get off your phone, it’s probably starting to fall apart. The senseless alerts are back, your resolve to “just check one thing” bleeds into the next digital thing, and before you know it an hour (or two or three) have gone by.

You know what it’s costing you. You don’t want to be like the majority of Americans who spend on average 1,200 hours a year on their phone — a full waking month out of every year, a full waking year out of every decade. …


Digitalize the Fab Four all you want, my memories are analogue

“Analog Beatles” by kevin dooley is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

“Do the Beatles have any other playlists besides Sgt. Pepper’s?”

So asked my son as we sat on his bunk bed, staring into my iPhone, which I was already beginning to hate, listening to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band.

I decided not to pounce on my son with the obvious correction. For Beatle love must flower on its own terms. I would not tell him that Sgt. Pepper’s was an album, not a playlist. That it was an extremely important album. That a genius had produced it. Instead I told him that the Beatles did indeed have many playlists…


How to make any recipe “your” recipe

Many fails, but most tasted good (photo by Paul Greenberg)

Where do you find ritual when your parents’ traditions leave you cold?

Might I suggest a loaf of bread?

The loaf I’m talking about is an enriched, brioche-style number called challah. Learning how to make it right and, more importantly, how to make it my own, has become meditation, therapy, a pathway to family love, and, at times, even a backdoor to spiritual life.

The roots of my challah ritual go back to when my stepmother found religion and announced that Shabbat dinners would be served every Friday to what had been a staunchly secular family. Bogus, bogus, bogus, I…


We need a way to clean up our media environment

The polluter has to pay.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from two decades of environmental reporting it’s this simple rule. When industries like coal and oil are allowed to reap extraordinary profits from the environment without paying for the cost of the damage they inflict they have zero incentive to behave as responsible members of society.

In the last few years I’ve been writing more and more about the Tech Industry and increasingly I’m coming to the same conclusion with respect to polluters of the media environment. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media companies are the major conduits…


How a single parent kept her glamor up

“Faye Dunaway the day after winning the Academy Award (Oscar)” by urcameras is marked under CC PDM 1.0. To view the terms, visit https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/

I was born in the shadow of Faye Dunaway’s cheekbones. Those cheekbones and I were introduced to the world the same summer — the cheekbones, via Dunaway’s break-out portrayal of Bonnie Parker in the 1967 Academy Award-nominated film Bonnie and Clyde, and I, through the auspices of my mother and the obstetrics ward of New York Hospital. Six years later, when Dunaway first appeared in the pages of Vogue, my mother, with her angular good looks and dirty blonde hair, seemed to have fallen into a disturbing parallel with Bonnie Parker. Like…


The author doing field work for the Brown University Department of Geology in 1988

On a hot, oppressive day in 1988, an ecologist’s Chesapeake Bay retriever named Muddy made off with my socks. The ecologist shouted at his poor dog, ordering her to return along the tree trunk that had brought her out to the edge of a pond. But all that didn’t make much sense to Muddy. She whined and swiveled her head between ecologist and pond. Finally, she chose pond, and with a splash, doomed me to a day of counting trees in wet socks.

I lowered my head and looked out across Little Howard Pond, one of a dozen Adirondack puddles…


The late, great Jon Rowley, shows the way to a perfect half shell

Lewis Hine: “7-year old Rosie, oyster shucker, Bluffton, South Carolina, 1913" by trialsanderrors is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Shortly before passing on, Jon Rowley, founder of the Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Festival and discoverer of some of the best food in the United States shared his thoughts on how to properly shuck an oyster.

The enjoyment of oysters on the half shell depends in no small part on how well they are shucked. Oyster shucking is as much art as skill. There has never been a machine invented that can out-perform a skilled human hand at opening an oyster. Each species has different shell characteristics…

Paul Greenberg

New York Times bestselling author of Four Fish as well as The Climate Diet: Fifty Simple Ways to Trim Your Carbon Footprint paulgreenberg.org

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