Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 in Review

When I started this blog 12 months ago, I  envisioned a blog of short snippets about different plants, a blog of information suited for readers with borderline attention deficit disorder (like the author...) who get bored after four sentences. I also envisioned hundreds of readers would flock to The Daily Plant and be converted to veggiephilia.

So what have I learned in 12 months of blogging?
  1. While info-snippets might be educational, readers can probably find this information on their own in Wikipedia. To my surprise, the most widely read posts were the commentary pieces that I slowly started adding in. It hadn't really occurred to me that readers would be interested in my own opinion. I was wrong, and that is very encouraging.
  2. Blogging is a serious endeavor, and attracting readers is more than just adding new posts, no matter how interesting they are. I realize this sounds trite, but I was naive. As I gained exposure through the publication of WHAT A PLANT KNOWS, traffic to The Daily Plant grew as well, with site visits doubling once the book came out. And most importantly, making friends with fellow bloggers, and having them retweeting my posts, helped immensely. So THANK YOU (you know who you are)!
  3. Plant lovers are (still) a minority in this world.
So with these lessons in mind, here are the top five posts of the year:
  1. Food Security - A Multi-Disciplinary Endeavor. This was by far the most popular post of the year. Food security was a recurring theme in a number of posts, but this one trumped them all.Look for more food-scurity related posts in 2013 as this will be a major effort of the Manna Center.
  2. Screaming plants mean no more fairways? Here I learned that my readers either have a great sense of humor, or are very gullible  My sister falls into the latter category  After reading this April-fool's post, she called me, and in compete seriousness said, "I knew it! I knew plants had feelings!".
  3. Guest blog: Jonathan Gressel - Exposing anti-GMO propaganda veiled as science. Over the year several guest bloggers contributed posts, and all were very well received. But Gressel's piece against pseudoscience in the GMO debate struck a nerve and was retweeted several times.
  4. Do plants feel pain? This post is a direct response to the talks I gave about my book. Again and again I was asked if plants suffer when we cut them, or when we eat them.
  5. Peer review - enough with author-blind comments. This post was unique in that it had nothing to do with plants. I used The Daily Plant as a vehicle to write my own op-ed, after i had gotten burned by what I considered an unfair peer-review process. I am very encouraged that despite the lack of plant content, this post was so popular. This may encourage me to do this more often in 2013.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read this and other posts in The Daily Plant. You have helped me find my voice as a writer, and to learn about plants that I never considered. It has been an honor writing for you.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Merry Christmas: Frankincense grows again in the Holy Land!

OK, so despite an earlier post about frankincense being an endangered species, I found out from a friend at Kibbutz Ketura that one amazing scientist in Israel has managed to sprout frankincense in the Holy Land for the first time about 1500 years!
In Dr Solowey’s nursery at Kibbutz Ketura

Dr. Elaine Solowey, the same scientist who germinated the 2000 year-old Methuselah date palm, is at it again, this time with frankincense, myrrh and balm of Gilead. She's growing an entire crop of biblical plants, and finding amazing uses for them. Read about it here.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas tree statistics

On the one year anniversary of this blog, I take inspiration from one of my favorite books of all time is How to Lie With Statistics, a great little book from 1954 that will teach you how to take all numbers with a grain of salt. For example in the past year, this blog has been accessed 23,698 times.

With that in mind, I thought it poignant to consider Christmas trees, (considering that it is Christmas Eve tonight).1

Those of you with real trees will have spent an average of $34.87 for your tree, while the 9.5 million of you with fake trees, forked out $70.55 for your trees. BUT, 16% of those of you with real trees, actually cut it yourself, which definitely affected the average cost of the trees!

The 80 foot spruce at Rockefeller Center
Of course the trees of the latter group last more than one year, so perhaps they've made a good investment. The weakening economy though shows that people aren't thinking long term as sales of fake trees are down 67% from 2007, when more than 35% of houses had fake trees.

Each real tree takes on average 7 years to grow, which means that there are currently about 350 million evergreen trees growing for the coming years' Christmases.

While all of the real trees come from either the US or Canada, 80% of the fake ones are grown in China.

If you are worried about sustainability, this is from the National Christmas Tree Association:
It is much better environmentally to use a natural agricultural crop and recycle it after the holidays. Real Christmas Trees are a renewable, recyclable, natural product grown on farms throughout North America. Unfortunately many people have the misconception that Christmas Trees are cut down from the forest. Real Christmas Trees are grown as crops, just like corn or wheat, and raised on a farm. Once they are harvested, new seedlings are planted to replace harvested trees. These would NOT have been planted if trees hadn't been harvested the previous year.  Fake Christmas Trees however are a non-renewable, non-biodegradable, plastic and metal product.

Happy Holidays to all!