Maria Grusauskas

Staff Writer

The Great Santa Cruz Seed Bank Revolt

Andrew Whitman with some of the 250 varieties of heirloom seed he's gathered. Photo by Chip Scheuer.

Andrew Whitman holds out his hand. At first glance, he appears to be offering up a pile of tiny gray pebbles, or the world’s tiniest seashells, purple and black flecks radiating from the center of each. They are alive, and very, very old, but the spiraled wonders have nothing to do with the ocean. They are the seeds of teosinte, the ancient predecessor of maize and corn.

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In Search of the Pu-erh High

David Wright of Hidden Peak Teahouse. Photo by Chip Scheuer.

Several months ago, a friend served me pu-erh tea for the first time. He talked of an “expansion” and a “clear headedness”—highs that sounded particularly useful at the time. After the first miniature cup, a calm washed over me. I felt relaxed, yet more mentally open than I had been even 30 seconds before.

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The Skinny on Vitamin D

Call me an addict, but the first sunny morning following a slew of rainy days always propels me outside to soak it up with a maximum skin-to-clothing ratio. Sunshine on skin: an ancient, visceral pleasure, and one of life’s simplest. Too much of it causes wrinkles, sun spots, and skin cancer. But just a little bit of conscientious, unblocked sunbathing is actually as good for our body chemistry as it feels: it converts vitamin D, a unique and crucial nutrient, into one of the three forms that can be absorbed by the human body. (The other two forms come from the diet.)
Surprisingly, a deficiency of the sunny vitamin is more common in Santa Cruz, and more serious, than you’d expect.

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Kicking Sugar for Better Health

Don't pour some sugar on me. Photo by Chip Scheuer.

Jill Escher had me at “clear skin” and “lifted brain fog.” Armed with a copy of her book, Farewell Club Perma-Chub: A Sugar Addict’s Guide to Easy Weight Loss, I hurled myself cold turkey into a sugar-free existence a few weeks ago, just as Girl Scout Cookie season commenced. And it wasn’t just the white stuff, either. All starches had to go.

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MDMA And The Cure for PTSD

Studies suggest MDMA could help treat Iraq war vets.

Seven years ago, John was in crisis, cut off from the rest of humanity and disconnected from the people he loved. He was suffering extreme anxiety in social situations and having trouble sleeping, and even when he did sleep he was waking suddenly with night terrors. He was 23, fresh out of a five-year stint in the U.S. military, including six months fighting in Iraq, and could see no help in sight.

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Chilling With The Chi

Eugene Ervin started doing qi gong in 1977  after his son was born. Photo by Chip Scheuer.

Inside the classroom in the Louden Nelson Center, the Wednesday afternoon traffic is a distant hum. It’s not that Center Street has gone quiet, by any means—it’s just been absorbed into a great stream of concentration and a calmness that fills the room. Time itself appears to have slowed.

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Gift Guide: Locally Made

Fogline Farms chutneys and achars: one for you, two for me...

Most people will love and appreciate the unnecessary material good you’ve carefully selected—it’s the thought that counts, anyway, right? But when it comes to the impassioned activist on your list, holiday shopping becomes a little more challenging. For the Occupier in the family, there is only one type of gift that will flatter and please without offending their anti-corporate, nonconsumerist and eco-conscious values: the made-in-Santa Cruz gift. This guide locates some nifty locally made gifts anyone can feel warm and fuzzy about giving or receiving.

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