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Hamptons Thanksgiving, Locally Grown

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As soon as Halloween ended, friends and family started asking where we are going to spend Thanksgiving. Last year we spent an untraditional Thanksgiving in Rincon, Puerto Rico, but this year Scott and I decided to stay home in the Hamptons. There was some initial protest by Emma and James, who always look forward to visiting Rincon, but it’s hard for any American kid to resist the call of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings. We’ll host my mom and any stragglers that might make their way to our home.

Thanksgiving is all about the food, of course, and I’m only preparing locally purveyed foods: a small turkey from Iacono Farms and produce from Amber Waves. If I’m thankful for anything, it’s for my family’s health and for having access to this bounty of fresh and beautiful food!

Thanksgiving makes me mindful of everything we have that others don’t — I know for a fact that most Americans are not eating healthy food. It’s not really our fault – not everyone lives near turkey farms and vegetable stands. Most people buy their food in supermarkets and take for granted that the products found on supermarket shelves are safe and nutritious. We purchase and consume food without really understanding how it’s produced, but how it’s produced affects our health and the health of our planet.

How timely that our friend Susan Rockefeller’s latest documentary, “Food for Thought, Food for Life,” is about to be released.

 

This holiday season, take time to think about what it is you are serving your guests, your children – yourself! Take a look at some of the work being done by Stone Barns Center and the Center for Ecoliteracy and support the movement towards more sustainable farming practices. And if you are lucky enough to have good, wholesome food on the tables, be thankful!

Integrating Fitness into Your Everyday Life

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People ask me what I do to keep fit when peak paddling season is over, and if you’ve been reading my blog you probably already know that I don’t stop SUP-ing just because it’s cold outside! Even after the Fall stand up paddleboarding tours taper off, we go out on the occasional down-winder.  But it does get more difficult to get out on the water as frequently as I’d like.

I’ve always been an advocate for getting outdoors for exercise – running, biking, hiking – these are all activities that I love and do regularly.  But our winter weather here in the Northeast can make that difficult, too, if roads are slick and trails are icy.  In previous years, I’ve enjoyed TRX training and various yoga and Pilates classes at our local Hamptons gyms, but more and more I find that I prefer to work my exercise into my everyday life – and I believe that integrating fitness into the daily routine is far more beneficial for one’s health in the long run than going through the motions of a dedicated workout session a few times a week.

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Think You Can’t Stand Up Paddle?

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When I tell people that I run Paddle Diva and teach women of all ages and sizes how to stand up paddle, I often hear “oh, I’ve seen people doing that – it looks hard!” to which I respond  that it’s not – that anyone can learn and be up and paddling within half an hour.

Of course, it takes time to master any sport, including stand up paddleboard, but the basics are easy. Witness our friend Vicki of Vicki’s Veggies in Amagansett. As the owner of a farm stand, Vicki is definitely a landlubber. I’d been asking her to come out with me ever since I started stand up paddling but for one reason or another we just couldn’t get it together (our jobs are both pretty intense during the Summer season).  So when September rolled around this year, I insisted that Vicki make good on her long-time promise to try SUP.  And then I videotaped her.

Transcript:

Gina:     This is Vicki of Vicki’s Veggies, who’s about to go out on a paddleboard lesson. I’ve known   Vicki… forever. This is my shadow. I’m about to take her out paddle boarding then we’re going to hear what she thought of it. But first we’re going to get one quick word from her. Vicki, what are you thinking?
 
Vicki:     I’m excited for the first time to ever go out paddle boarding with Gina Bradley.
 
Gina:     Keep going. One more time. I want to see you really pull it through.  Look up. Don’t look down.
 
Vicki:     OK.
 
Gina:     Switch sides. OK, now when you want to stop your board, you’re just going to drag the paddle behind you. And it also turns your board.
 
Vicki:     OK.
 
Gina:     You’ve so got this!
 
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Battling Blue-Green Algae Blooms

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Paddle Diva is located in the Hamptons, a group of villages that line the East End of Long Island on its South Fork.  Surrounded by water – the Atlantic Ocean on one side, the Peconic Bay on the other – and with miles of ponds, rivers and marshes running through, many residents of the area, myself included, make a living from our natural environment.

I make it a point to distinguish our natural environment from the human-engineered environment we’ve created for ourselves over – the manicured lawns and gardens that so many of our less eco-conscious neighbors insist on maintaining.  The thing is, the fertilizers required for keeping the lawns green and the flower beds blooming are accumulating in our waterways.

Blue Green Algae Blooms

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Happy Halloween: Five Scary Creatures of the Deep

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Of all the scary monsters you see out and about on Halloween, there is very little representation of the creatures that inspire terror among sailors, divers and other ocean lovers.  Maybe it’s just too hard to make costumes of sea creatures, with their strange tentacles and fins!  Here are five real monsters of the deep that probably won’t come knocking on your door for treats, but may give you nightmares.  Happy Halloween, everyone!

1. Stone Fish.  You may remember that earlier this year, Gina stepped on a stonefish while surfing in Rincon.  What could be scarier than a fish that camouflages itself as a rock in shallow water and injects lethal poison upon contact? Here’s its cousin, the Reef Stonefish, in its natural habitat in the Indo-Pacific.

2. Giant Isopod. Not dangerous, but certainly very creepy! These can range in size from 7.5 to 14 inches and are carnivorous, scavenging for dead squid and whales. They can go for very long periods without food, and when they finally can grab a meal they tend to feast to the point of immobility.  Here’s a fascinating story about one giant isopod at the Toba Acquarium in Japan that refused to eat for five years. Read the rest of this entry »