Some days are better than others

Some days are better than others

A guest blog by David Caprera

We got to bed in New Smyrna Beach about 2am Wednesday morning (our flight landed about midnight in Orlando).  I went out fishing in my kayak Wednesday afternoon, saw three fish, caught none, lost interest, played 9 year old kid at the frog pond and came back with three crabs, six dog whelk, one horse conch, and seven oysters (one was a mudder.)

Pulling the kayak out I wrenched my back.  Bad.  It was a four Ibuprophin, two martini, back ache.  I woke up this morning and could not even roll out of bed.  (In our bathroom, the toilet paper is on the opposite wall… Too much information, but I digress.)

It was a drop dead gorgeous day.  I got up, sat on the dock, drank my coffee.  At eleven, my back was feeling a bit better.  I ran for 36 minutes on the beach, REAL SLOW. It loosened up.  I had lunch.  At 1:30, I could not stand it anymore, and in some discomfort, dragged the kayak to the ramp and set off.

I went to Raccoon Bay, my closest spot.  Visibility was good, but no fish. I continued west, poled a mile of shore and still not a single sighting.  I crossed the cut to the Redfish Motel (the redfish get in but they never leave – kinda like Hotel California.) It was 3:30, calm and clear.  Poling down the west side, 50 yards ahead, I see a splash.  Probably a mullet.  Another splash, more like a tail.  I cross.

And there they are.  Two beautiful copper torpedoes, cruising ten feet off the bank, not too fast but with purpose.  I position the kayak about 60 feet from them and cast a crab fly ten feet in front of their path.  Stop.  Bump.  Bump.  Strike.  Charge.  Fish on.

Nice redfish.  The reel clicks whir. (I don’t use Abels anymore because I love the sound.) Now he is towing the kayak.  It is a fucking sleigh ride. In my delirium I start singing, “Rudolph the red nose redfish, had a very shiny nose.” Easter weekend no less.  It has been a tough couple of months, fishing wise.  It felt good, primeval, to feel the pull at the other end. My backache is cured.  (Later I determine the cure is temporary.)

“And if you ever saw him, you would say it really glows.” You can sing along the rest.  In my euphoria, the only word I changed was “redfish” for “reindeer.”

I get the redfish close to the kayak and try to grab the leader.  I fail to hold on.  But that makes it an “official catch.” (I have questioned this.  I picture a poor, subsistence fisherman living in a debt laden country, say Greece, coming home.  “Boy, we are going to eat well tonight.  I caught three fish.” “Where are they dad?” “Well I didn’t actually put them in the boat but I touched the leader.  Doesn’t that count?”)

But the redfish stayed hooked and I did bring it to the boat.  It measured 26 inches. It was hooked in the lip and with a bit of wiggling the hook came free.  I grabbed the fish’s tail and it swam away.

Guides say that ” practice casting makes you a better fisherman.” I will tell you what makes you a better fisherman, “catching fish.” I had been fishing lethargically, with little effort.  Catch a fish and now you are charged.  Let’s go find another one.  I had two more shots this afternoon.  I failed with both but the sight was good and the casts were crisp. One was in deeper water and I lost sight of the fish, the other was weird in that the cast was good but I think he may have sensed my presence and ignored the fly.

It is 7 pm, I have taken my vodka and vermouth back medicine, and a beautiful sunset is commencing. Some days are better than others.

David Caprera is a talented writer who writes entertaining stories about catching, and not catching, fish with fly tackle. He splits his time between New Smyrna Beach and Denver.

All content in this article, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2015. All rights are reserved.

apps to utilize to make fishing easier

apps to utilize to make fishing easier


Guest Blog by James Wilson

There’s no doubt that even the most trivial problems we encounter on a daily basis, we tend to now lean on technological aids to overcome such hurdles. And it’s testament to app developers that such fishing-centered apps have become a vital part of people’s itinerary when planning their next fishing trip.

Just like the eBook which we recently documented on to help anglers seek advice on fishing in the Florida region, we feel that apps have just as important place in the modern fisherman’s “tackle box”. If they make the job easier for us all, why shouldn’t we rely on such technological short cuts?

With the Verge publishing an article saying that there is now over 1 million apps in the App Store, there has been a spike in the amount of fishing apps available recently. Couple this with the increase in smartphone usage across the world, especially in America to a reported 17% and many companies are seeing the need for a more digitally focused business model through such formats as apps.

Many developers are tapping into the need for instantly accessible content via mobile devices as it is said to be “one of the most powerful trends on the Internet landscape,” of late per PocketFruity developers Gaming Realms. Thus, the increase in Internet mobile activity is only heightening the need for more innovative apps to hit the market on a daily basis.

One of the best apps to come from this surge in apps being produced in the fishing sector is Pro Angler – Premium Fishing App. Designed by Open Ocean Apps, it equips the user with GPS tracking and the following great features:

– GPS hot spots database
– Extensive database to help identify species
– Detailed regulations reference database
– Solunar times
– Tide information
– Weather forecasts
– Tips from professional anglers
– Also, detailed walk-throughs on various beginner techniques

There’s also FL SW Fishing Regulations app, which does exactly what it says on the tin. You’ll never fall foul of any regulations again with this informative app. It also has built-in data on all Saltwater Fish from the state of Florida as well as illustrations and the aforementioned regulations.

Regulations data includes:

– Size limits
– Bag limits
– State records
– Fish identification info
– Habitat info

The best thing about FL SW Fishing Regulations is that you don’t need Internet access to access it vast array of data so it’s the ideal partner on a fishing trip.

If you have any other recommendations of apps that have helped you fish in Florida, speak your mind below.

Shark Fishing for Dummies

Shark Fishing for Dummies: or the secrets of easy fishing

A Guest Blog by Capt. Craig Eubank

shark fishing

Part One

Just the title of “Shark Fishing” conjures great expectations of money-shot photos of big toothy creatures laid out on the back deck of macho fishing vessels or on the concrete docks of any-coast USA covered in blood and license plates. Obviously, we have seen way too many movies and made for TV dramas. It has become a part of our urban folklore. Most of us can quote the key lines from the movie “Jaws” and have seen “Shark Week” every year for, well as long as we can remember. Between choosing to watch “Air Jaws” or “Swamp People” it has become a tossup.

Sadly, it really is that easy. Not that I am saying that you can visit your local tackle shop, hit the fuel dock with your 21 foot Aqua Squirt, and head out with high expectation of catching a Great or even Medium White Shark; that scenario isn’t exactly realistic. But, for most of us that live on a coast with saltwater, shark fishing is pretty easy.

Now, I am speaking from fishing experience here in the fabulous Florida Keys. That’s all I have done for a living over the last three decades. I am not trying to over simplify things, but if you follow the few steps outlined here, you will find success and maybe establish yourself as a “Shark Guide” among your friends in short order.

First, you don’t need to run great distances and fish deep water. No need to tempt fate, dance with danger, or burn a lot of $6-a-gallon fuel! Start off staying closer to shore. Pick an area where the tide runs into a closed body of water. A channel or “choked off” area of water where at high tide bait, shrimp, fish will congregate until the next falling tide. Sharks are opportunists and can be lured into shallows as well as deep water. They feed constantly and have no fear. They don’t anticipate geographical constrictions or “choke points.”

Bring plenty of bait. Whether it’s blocks of commercial chum, homemade ground up fish by product (guts!) whole baitfish, or fish oil, if it smells, it’s what you want. The one thing movies portray that is accurate, is the need for smelly bait to attract predators. As far as technique, don’t over think it. Typical bottom fishing rigs will work well. Remember, sharks are generally opportunists. It could be dead bait lying on the bottom like a bottom feeder might pick up, or live bait floundering on the surface that attracts them. Sharks take advantage of the weak and easy. They are eating machines with no fear. Take advantage of this trait!

Once anchored, start spreading the news. In other words, put some stink in the water. Ladle in some fish goo, hang a chum block or three, cut up a bloody carcass (here in the Florida Keys we use Barracuda or Bonita) and hang it over the side. This is where you want to have a roll of green line or fairly heavy string in order to hang various baits. You just want the scent; you don’t want to feed them anything without a hook in it. Bluefish, cod, snapper, menhaden oil, even oats and vegetable oil will work. You just want to give them a taste of something, not actually feed them. It is the same as walking into a pizza shop and smelling the garlic. Your mouth waters, but they don’t actually give you something to satisfy your hunger until you pay J

Next, patience. It takes time to attract the right predator. Remember all the time you have put into the plan and implementation now is not the time to rush things. Let the stink do its work. Too many anglers and guides and so excited that the first thing they do is put a bait with a hook in it out in the slick before there has been ample time to build up an interest. Sort of like buying drinks for a lady and waiting all of 5 minutes before making a proposition. Not good form. Relax. Get a drink, tell a story, and tune in the radio. WAIT. They aren’t going away. Did you leave the pizza parlor without your order?

As your chum does its job, plan how you are going to cover the water column. You will need at least two lines, one on the bottom and one on the top. If the water is particularly deep, you may need up to 5 lines at various depths. Certain sharks feed at certain depths. There is quite a bit of overlap, but you want to maximize your spread. Bottom baits are easy using lead weights to hold them down. An old guide’s trick is to use your downrigger, put the bait back a hundred feet, wind it up in the clip and put it down just as you would off-shore. Right on the bottom. It will break away when struck and you won’t have the lead weight to deal with while fighting the fish.

Surface baits can be supported by balloons, bobbers, chunks of Styrofoam, or one of my favorites; a fishing kite! Yep, just like you would use off-shore for Sailfish. In a current, the kite will keep the bait, dead or alive, right on the surface and you will have the control to wind it up or let it out without messing with the kite. Try it, you will be tickled.

Mid-water baits require more attention. They are just free-floating and will need to be monitored, let out steadily or wound in and re-started on a regular basis. Without good action, you will tire of these baits and usually they just sit at a pre-determined interval and hope for the best. Not a waste of time since we never know what a shark will want from day to day.

So, you have you chum working for you, your lines are in place covering the entire water column, and all there is to do now is wait. Unfortunately, that is the one virtue of shark fishing that is the hardest to teach. Patience. There is always the feeling that you could be doing more. And having an enthusiastic angler will only increase this feeling. But, at some point you need to decide that you are doing enough but not too much. And then entertaining the client is your priority. Of course most anglers can be distracted by doing a bit of bottom fishing for other species. Smaller fish. Get out a spinner, put on some cut bait and entertain the angler with some basic bottom fishing. This is not only distracting until you get the big strike but you are also catching bait that can be used for shark fishing. Keep your live well running if you have one. If you catch a small bait size fish, put him in the well and use him for the kite bait or butterfly him and put him on a down line.

shark fishing

Relax and realize that if you wait long enough, tend your lines, you will more than likely get a shot at what you came for. There are still a lot of sharks out there, they aren’t smart, and you only need one to move you from zero to hero. Have confidence.   There are no guarantees, but the odds are definitely in your favor.

Next time we will discuss what you should do when you finally get that shark on your line!

This is part one in a series on shark fishing by Captain Craig Eubank, Owner/Operator of the charterboat “Absolut” in Key West, Florida

  • Aug., Sept. prime months for shark attacks in FL

Expanding Oslo Road Boat Ramp a Bad Idea

Expanding Oslo Road Boat Ramp a Bad Idea for Anglers and Fish

Guest Blog by Rodney Smith

Expanding Oslo Road Boat Ramp a Bad Idea for Anglers and Fish.

There has never been a more important time to protect the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) and its most critical habitat, sea grass. It is in sea grass beds where the vast majority of baby fish, shrimp and crabs grow up.

During a recent paddle down the entire length of the IRL (, paddlers documented the widespread disappearance of sea grasses. In one eighty-mile stretch, from Port St. John in Brevard County to the north end of Vero Beach in Indian River County, the IRL’s bottom was 95 percent void of sea grass coverage.

Indian River County is currently pushing forward with a plan to expand the Oslo Road Boat Ramp by dredging sea grass beds 215 feet out from shore to a depth of 2.5 feet. This is one of the IRL’s best remaining sea grass bed areas, and is a critical spawning ground for spotted seatrout and snook. They are also considering filling in 1.4 acres of mangroves, widening and paving a gravel road, and increasing the parking lot for big boats with big motors. The current depth at the ramp is only inches at low tide, so it only accommodates small boats, canoes and kayaks and wading anglers.

Anglers for Conservation strongly opposes any expansion of the Oslo Road Boat Ramp that includes the dredging of sea grasses.

Below is a summary of major points to put into letters of concern for the Oslo Road Boat Ramp expansion project, and a list of email addresses where we suggest you send them as soon as possible.

An administrative hearing starts at 9 am Tuesday, May 6-8, in the Indian River County Administrative Building in Vero Beach concerning this issue.  If we are unsuccessful, then it is very important to get the Feds to stop this, as the county needs a permit from the USCOE (Army Corps of Engineers) as well as the St. John’s River Water Management District.

If you can only send two letters, send one to Tamy Dabu at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and another to the Press Journal, but getting your concerns to others is also very important.  The same letter, or a slightly modified version, can be sent to all of the agencies involved.

Anglers for Conservation thinks Expanding Oslo Road Boat Ramp a Bad Idea for Anglers and Fish

Rodney Smith is the Executive Director of Anglers for Conservation.

Here are major points to put into a letter of concern for the Oslo Road Boat Ramp Expansion Project.   This project is in a county/state purchased conservation land, (Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area) adjacent to an aquatic preserve and a Federal shellfish area.

  • It dredges 215 ft. into best and only seagrasses left in Indian River County and fills 1.4 acres of mangrove wetland forest with a hard impervious surface for a parking lot and road widening.
  • This project will deleteriously impact essential fish nursery habitat for four of the most protected and intensely managed fish species within the State of Florida:for snook, spotted seatrout, tarpon, red drum.
  • Goes against the county’s own Manatee Protection Plan. It is the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation opinion that “the project is inconsistent with the Indian River MPP because the project represents a deepening of the access from the boat ramp, and an increase in the size of vessels that would be able to launch from the site.”
  • According to the County’s Manatee Protection Plan the County as twice the number of public boat ramp lanes needed to meet DEP recommended levels of service. Riverside park (6 miles away) has a 75-ft.-wide boat ramp plus two 40 ft. long floating docks, 26 paved vehicle and trailer parking spaces, 118 additional parking spaces, bathrooms, picnic tables, drinking fountains, and an outdoor shower. Four additional boat ramps and 10 parking spaces are at nearby MacWilliam Park.
  • Impacts are inconsistent with the Manatee Protection Plan: page 55 “….there shall be no increase impact to manatee habitat, or the natural resources of the Indian River Lagoon, including   seagrass beds, water quality, estuarine wetlands, and mangrove fringe, attributed to the development or expansion of boat facilities or boat ramps in Indian River County.”
  • The Oslo boat ramp is in the largest area of manatee concentration in the county (Manatee Protection Plan).
  • Impacts are inconsistent with Indian River County’s own Comprehensive Management Plan: “The County will strive to improve water quality in the Lagoon, including that portion adjacent to the subject property (South ORCA)”
  • The boat ramp is in a Federal Shellfish Area, conservation lands, and next to an aquatic preserve
  • There is no mitigation for seagrass destruction.
  • The presence of rock indicates that this area was never historically dredged.
  • The following agencies and organizations have written against it: EPA, US Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, DEP Aquatic Preserve Manager, Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission, Audubon Florida, Indian River Keeper Save the Manatee Club, Marine Resource Council, Coastal Conservation Association, Sierra Club, Pelican Island Audubon, Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area Volunteers, Kayak Renters, Wading and Small Boat Fisherman, and Scientists.
  • U.S. Representative Bill Posey sent his Chief of Staff, Stuart Burns, from Washington, D.C. to Vero Beach to pressure the USFWS to overturn their 2011 denial of the county’s permit based on threats to manatees.
  • Common Sense says: 45th St. (Gifford Dock Rd) or 69th St. are Great Alternative Sites-15 minutes from Oslo Rd.
  • Not in a Federal Shellfish Area requiring a Variance
  • Less Seagrass Destruction
  • Little or no Mangrove Destruction
  • Eliminates Unwanted Exotic Plants
  • Mitigates on Site
  • Less Expense to Build
  • Keeps OSLO Natural
  • Closer to the ICW-Intra-Coastal Waterway
  • Not in an Conservation Area or Aquatic Preserve
  • County owns the property

          Where to send your concerns:  

1. Federal Organizations (They have not issued their permit yet, waiting for our hearing):    

-Colonel Alan M. Dodd, District Commander U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District Corps of Engineers P.O. Box 4970 Jacksonville, FL 32232-0019  

-Tamy Dabu Regulatory Division, North Permits Branch U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 400 High Point Drive, Suite 600 Cocoa, FL 32926  

-Larry Williams, Field Supervisor South Florida Ecological Services Office U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1339 20th Street Vero Beach, FL 32960  

-Craig Aubrey, Assistant Field Supervisor South Florida Ecological Services Office U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1339 20th Street Vero Beach, FL 32960  

-Charles Kelso South Florida Ecological Services Office U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1339 20th Street Vero Beach, FL 32960  

-Cynthia Dohner, Regional Director U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region 1875 Century Boulevard, Suite 400 Atlanta, GA 30345  

2. Press:

-Most important T.C Palm (Press Journal our county daily paper). Letter to the editor: 300 words maximum to Larry Reisman:

3. County Commissioners:

-Joe Flescher:

-Wesley David:

-Peter O’Bryan:

-Bob Solari:

-Tim Zorc:

4.   U.S. Congressman Bill Posey (Ask him why did he ask USFWS to change their denial to OK approval):  

5. St. Johns River Management District. Ask why this project was approved (actually don’t they usually do a cultural or archeological survey before issuing a permit? Don’t they care about the fish and manatees anymore?)

-Hans G. Tanzier III, Executive Director:

-John A. Miklos, Board Chairman,      

Saturday in the ‘Goon

Saturday in the ‘Goon

Guest Blog by David Caprera

Did you ever get a tune stuck in your head while paddling? How about while paddling in a crowd? I launched a bit before ‎7am and caught a ‎24 inch red at ‎7:30. By ‎2 when I called it a day, I had still caught a red at ‎7:30. With apologies to Chicago and sung to the tune “Saturday in the Park.”

Saturday in the ‘Goon
I think it was a boaters’ convention
Engines raring, JB’s blaring
Ear plugs are a good invention.

People swimming, people sailing
The water is the color of tea
A boat staked out on every point
I couldn’t find a place to pee.

Saturday in the Goon
Isn’t there a race at Daytona
Men with guts, but women with breasts
Big enough to give you a bonah.

The weatherman said “‎2 to ‎4”
Building in the afternoon
By ‎2pm a guy was surfing
On the white caps in the lagoon.

Saturday in the Goon
I think that the fish are all gone
If you must fish on a weekend day
Plan to be launched by dawn

Can you dig it (Yes I can). Fade out.

In addition to his career as a poet, David Caprera has had a moderately successful career in law. He guest blogs for us now and again.

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2014. All rights are reserved.

Diet of Florida’s Elusive Red Widow Spider

Diet of Florida’s Elusive Red Widow Spider Revealed by MU Biologist

Beetles: it’s what’s for breakfast—at least for the red widow spider of Florida’s “scrub” habitat, according to a study by University of Missouri biologist James Carrel. The study provides a first glimpse at the diet of this mysterious spider, revealing that it primarily preys upon species of scarab beetles common to the scrub habitat. Carrel’s findings shed light on red widow spiders’ restriction to the Florida scrub habitat and the need for habitat conservation efforts.

red widow spider

The red widow spider (Latrodectus bishopi) gets its name for the reddish-orange coloring of its head, carapace, and legs. Although venomous, no bites from this spider have been recorded. (Photo courtesy of J. Carrel)

“The pine scrub habitat, found on sandy ridges in Central and Southeastern Florida, is one of the oldest in North America,” said Carrel, Curators Professor Emeritus in the MU Division of Biological Sciences. “Many of the plants and animals found on these ridges, including the red widow spider, are restricted to these high, dry areas. Our research suggests that red widows have evolved to specialize on scarab beetles because they are reliable food sources.”

Carrel said that red widow spiders are difficult to study due to habitat confinement and the hidden nature of their webs, which are built in palmetto shrubs. Red widows conceal their funnel-shaped retreats in unopened palmetto leaves, making them difficult to spot. The only clues to the spiders’ presence, visible solely on foggy mornings during four months of the year, are the threads spun loosely between tips of palmetto frond.

Since 1987, Carrel has been monitoring populations of this spider at the Archbold Biological Station, which protects a 5,193-acre Florida scrub preserve near Lake Placid. Only twice in those 23 years – in March 1989 and in May 2003 – have enough webs been located to study the dietary habits of these elusive spiders. The scientists identified 43 species of insects among the 98 specimens collected. The study revealed that the primary prey of the spider, especially in early spring, are five species of scarab beetles endemic to the Florida scrub habitat.

red widow spider

The scrub palmetto scarab (Trigonopeltastes floridana) is one species of scarab beetles endemic to the Florida scrub that the red widow spider preys on. (Photo courtesy Tim Lethbridge)

“The scarab beetles, which often are larger and stronger than the spiders themselves, fly just above the tops of scrub vegetation,” said Mark Deyrup, senior research biologist for the Archbold Biological Station, who co-authored the study. “Sometimes beetles hit the web strands between tips of palmetto fronds and tumble into the denser tangle of threads below, catching them in the red widows’ webs.”

Carrel has monitored red widow spider populations at the Station since 1987, but has found enough webs to study red widows’ dietary habits only twice. During both time periods, Carrel worked alongside Deyrup to collect and identify prey from spiders’ webs.

Carrel’s study, entitled “Red widow spiders prey extensively on scarab beetles endemic in Florida scrub,” appeared in the March issue of the Florida Entomologist. Funding for the study came in part from a grant from the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO.

how to get through a day of fishing without hurting your back

how to get through a day of fishing without hurting your back

guest blog by Peter Miller

Fishing is commonly thought of as the ultimate stress reliever, but it can also lead to back pain or serious back injuries if proper measurements aren’t followed. In fact, according to a Duke University Medical Center study, 69 percent of fishermen suffer from back pain at some point during their fishing career. Heavy lifting, repetitive motions, and long days of standing with the body in the same position often causes stress, tension and muscle fatigue in the back and makes fishermen susceptible to a number of debilitating back injuries.

One fishing enthusiast all too familiar with how fishing can cause back pain is professional angler Peter Miller. Following an injury that herniated two discs and pinched a nerve in his lower back, the three time World Sailfish Champion and host of NBC show “Bass 2 Billfish with Peter Miller” suffered chronic pain that prevented him from fishing at the top of his game. After deciding to have surgery with Tampa-based Laser Spine Institute, the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, Peter was able to return to doing what he loves and has since worked closely with his surgeon, Dr. Stefan Prada, M. D., to develop a list of tips for how to prevent back pain during a day of fishing:

Get really comfortable shoes. Traditionally, fishermen wear flip flops, boat shoes or bare feet. These shoes offer little support and have no cushion to absorb shock. Try wearing shoes that are more traditional for jogging than for fishing.

Stretch. Even 5 minutes worth of stretching before you get on the boat or mid-day can make a tremendous difference. Try touching your toes or the floor and reaching your hands over your head to stretch your back.

Maintain a strong core. A strong core will make you better prepared for the various motions involved when fishing, such as throwing a cast and reeling in a fish. Planks, push-ups, v-sits and leg lifts are all great exercises to develop a strong core.

Take Advil. Anti-inflammatory medications in mild doses will always help. Try taking some anti-inflammatory medications prior to taking the boat out to help prevent inflammation during the day.

Stay active. Don’t be sedentary. The kiss of death is sitting all day on a boat. One great way to help your back muscles stay active, warm and loose while on the boat is the cat-and-dog exercise: position yourself on your hand and knees and alternate between rounding your back by looking down on the ground and arching it by looking up into the sky.

Stay hydrated. Drinking enough water is essential to helping reduce pain. It helps keep the muscles hydrated and helps avoid muscle cramps.

And that’s how to get through a day of fishing without hurting your back.

John Kumiski

Food Tank’s 14 Food Resolutions for 2014

Food Tank’s 14 Food Resolutions for 2014

Guest Blog by Danielle Nierenberg

As we enter 2014, there are still nearly one billion people suffering from hunger. Simultaneously, 65 percent of the world’s population live in countries where obesity kills more people than those who are underweight. But these are problems that we can solve and there’s a lot to be done in the new year!

2014 was declared the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Food Tank is honored and excited to be collaborating with FAO around highlighting how farmers are more than just food producers–they’re teachers, innovators, entrepreneurs, environmental stewards, and change-makers!

And negotiations are continuing around the new Sustainable Development Goals that will replace the Millennium Development Goals. It’s our hope that the new goals will help not only reduce hunger and poverty, but find ways to improve nutrient density and improve farmers’ livelihoods.

In addition, the issue of food loss and food waste is gaining ground thanks to the U.N.’s Zero Hunger Challenge, which calls for zero food waste, as well as the good work of many organizations including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Feeding the 5000, the U.N. Environment Programme, and who are showing eaters, businesses, and policy-makers solutions for ending waste in the food system.

And youth are taking the lead in pushing for a more sustainable food system. Young people like Edward Mukiibi, who is helping Slow Food International’s 1,000 Garden in Africa’s program gain momentum. In addition, the Young Professionals for Agriculture Research and Development (YPARD) is helping connect agronomists, farmers, researchers, and activists around the world. Food Tank will also be announcing some exciting work around mobilizing youth in 2014!

Through concrete action, hope and success in the food system is possible.

As Nelson Mandela said, “sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great.”

Together we can be that generation and find solutions to nourish both people and the planet!

Here are 14 food resolutions for 2014:

1. Meet Your Local Farmer
Know your farmer, know your food (KYF2) aims to strengthen local and regional food systems. Meeting your local farmer puts a face to where your food comes from and creates a connection between farmers and consumers.

2. Eat Seasonal Produce
By purchasing local foods that are in season, you can help reduce the environmental impact of shipping food. And your money goes straight to the farmer, supporting the local economy.

3. End Food Waste
More than 1.3 billion tons of edible food is wasted each year. Tips to reduce waste include planning meals ahead, buying ‘ugly’’ fruits and vegetables, being more creative with recipes, requesting smaller portions, composting, and donating excess food.

4. Promote a Healthy Lifestyle
Many diseases are preventable, including obesity, yet 1.5 billion people in the world are obese or overweight. Promote a culture of prevention by engaging in physical activity and following guidelines for a healthy diet. Gaps in food governance must also be addressed to encourage healthy lifestyles, including junk food marketing to children.

5. Commit to Resilience in Agriculture
A large portion of food production is used for animal feed and biofuels–at least one-third of global food production is used to feed livestock. And land grabs are resulting in food insecurity, the displacement of small farmers, conflict, environmental devastation, and water loss. Strengthening farmers’ unions and cooperatives can help farmers be more resilient to food prices shocks, climate change, conflict, and other problems.

6. Eat (and Cook) Indigenous Crops
Mungbean, cow pea, spider plant…these indigenous crops might sound unfamiliar, but they are grown by small-holder farmers in countries all over the world. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that approximately 75 percent of the Earth’s genetic resources are now extinct, and another third of plant biodiversity is predicted to disappear by the year 2050. We need to promote diversity in our fields and in our diets!

7. Buy (or Grow) Organic
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has found that at least one pesticide is in 67 percent of produce samples in the U.S. Studies suggest that pesticides can interfere with brain development in children and can harm wildlife, including bees. Growing and eating organic and environmentally sustainable produce we can help protect our bodies and natural resources.

8. Go Meatless Once a Week
To produce 0.45 kilograms (one pound) of beef can require 6,810 liters (1,799 gallons) of water and 0.45 kilograms (one pound) of pork can require 2,180 liters (576 gallons) of water. Beef, pork, and other meats have large water footprints and are resource intensive. Consider reducing your “hoofprint” by decreasing the amount and types of meat you consume.

9. Cook
In Michael Pollan’s book “Cooked,” he learns how the four elements-fire, water, air, and earth-transform parts of nature into delicious meals. And he finds that the art of cooking connects both nature and culture. Eaters can take back control of the food system by cooking more and, in the process, strengthen relationships and eat more nutritious–and delicious–foods.

10. Host a Dinner Party
It’s doesn’t have to be fancy, just bring people together! Talk about food, enjoy a meal, and encourage discussion around creating a better food system. Traveling in 2014 and craving a homemade meal? For another option try Meal Sharing and eat with people from around the world.

11. Consider the ‘True Cost’ Of Your Food
Based on the price alone, inexpensive junk food often wins over local or organic foods. But, the price tag doesn’t tell the whole story. True cost accounting allows farmers, eaters, businesses, and policy makers to understand the cost of all of the “ingredients” that go into making fast food–including antibiotics, artificial fertilizers, transportation, and a whole range of other factors that don’t show up in the price tag of the food we eat.

12. Democratize Innovation
Around the world, farmers, scientists, researchers, women, youth, NGOs, and others are currently creating innovative, on-the-ground solutions to various, interconnected global agriculture problems. Their work has the great potential to be significantly scaled up, broadened, and deepened—and we need to create an opportunity for these projects to get the attention, resources, research, and the investment they need.

13. Support Family Farmers
The U.N. FAO has declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming, honoring the more than 400 million family farms in both industrialized and developing countries, defined as farms who rely primarily on family members for labour and management. Family farmers are key players in job creation and healthy economies, supplying jobs to millions and boosting local markets, while also protecting natural resources.

14. Share Knowledge Across Generations
Older people have challenges–and opportunities–in accessing healthy foods. They’re sharing their knowledge with younger generations by teaching them about gardening and farming, food culture, and traditional cuisines. It’s also important to make sure that older people are getting the nutrition they need to stay active and healthy for as long as possible.

Don’t forget to share this list of resolutions by clicking HERE.

Finally, please tell me what resolutions are missing from our list by sending me a personal email!. 


Danielle Nierenberg
Co-Founder, Food Tank



A Guest Blog by Darryl Benton

Brothers, a term of endearment mostly meant for the blood male siblings found in one’s family. In the biblical sense the term brother could mean your keeper or one who thinks and responds like yourself with love and understanding, because of the likeness of one’s attitudes towards life in general.

I was fortunate to have older brothers in my family, one nine years older and the other seven years older. I was always the “little” brother or younger brother. That was ok with me, it’s all I ever knew. So, as a younger brother I always had someone to look up to. I thought that’s the way it was in all life until I got older and wiser and realized that not all older folks look out for the younger ones. In fact, most older folks will take advantage of the innocence of a youthful individual in their presence. Those folks are not brothers.

Therefore as life went on I became wary of folks I did not know that well, and never quite trusted strangers until I got to know them better. This is a good way to live. This keeps you from being led down the wrong path. Forge your own path was my way of dealing with things life threw at me.

In my life time there has been many things thrown at me that I had to make adjustments to. None of them have ever compared to Combat. Just typing the word brings a chill in my spine and tears to my eyes. I have learned to quickly adjust my thinking and bring myself out of the horror that I used to not be able to speak of.

Combat brothers are a special breed of people that are more your brothers then any blood brother ever will be. Many of these brothers died along the way of combat, or just disappeared into the belly of a helicopter on a stretcher, never to be seen again.

After combat, I spent the majority of my life trying to be normal. I married, raised a family, worked a 40 hour a week job, and adjusted to what I thought normal was. I put the monster in my mind in a closet and slammed the fucking door and said I can control this. I did not  know the monster had a name. I thought I could drink, smoke and worst of all work it all away. The door on the closet sometimes bulged and banged and wanted out.

I got angry at it and everyone else. I quit my 40 hour week job and buried myself in the construction world where work can last 60, 80 and even 120 hours a week. Work could take you far from home and work left you working with a small team of people. A construction team is a bunch of brothers and sisters working endlessly for hours to accomplish the completion of great projects. Most of these projects will become old and dated and after awhile be replaced by other projects and life goes on. However for a brief period of time I found the closest thing to combat brothers was in the construction world. The weird thing is it took awhile for me to realize that that closeness with other people on a project was something I searched for to help me stay sane.

One day I met a doctor, a doctor of the mind. He said come in sit down you have my undivided attention for the next 30 minutes. Three and half hours later the fucking closet door opened and the monster stood before me and his name was PTSD. The last seven years this monster walks around with me, behind me, beside me, always with me and I acknowledge his presence.

I have never been able to stop myself from yearning for the comradeship of brothers. Real brothers are hard to find. Real people who give a damn are hard to find. I’m a lucky guy in a lot of ways. One way I’m real lucky in, is in this past few weeks, I found some brothers and a few sisters with a lot in common and what we accomplished was great. There was a moment where I let the thought of losing someone overcome my emotions and I saw the helicopter flying away and I got pretty upset with myself for following instead of leading. My new brothers were there and each said a few words to me and all was well. I left with strangers on that IRL voyage I returned with brothers.

How fortunate I am.


Darryl “Bones” Benton. It spite of all he’s been through he still likes to laugh.

“We have to learn to live on land without killing our waters.”
Dr. Leesa Souto, Chief, Marine Resources Council, Palm Bay, FL

Darryl Benton
Volunteer Kayak Guide, Africa, Brevard Zoo
President E/20th LRP – C/75th Airborne Ranger Association

Darry Benton is a paddler, a Viet Nam veteran, and an outstanding human being.


Getting out of Dodge, with El Chico

Getting out of Dodge, with El Chico

A Guest Blog by Rickie Dee


instead of that left turn to Mecca, where I really shouldn’t go…

my trusty driver made a right, and we now traveled down a road to nowhere, to sight see

Getting out of Dodge3

I thought why not, since…gas is .39 cents a gallon

Killing time is one of my daily occupations, when not flying; while on rotation in the arid Middle East

I always wanted to see an image of rolling desert sand, and

since I’m housed at Gitmo, aka fortified / machine gun / dual high walled / wired; Compound, smack in the middle of busy Riyadh,

solitude and rolling sand was easy to discover on its outskirts

Getting out of Dodge4
We found a small Oasis, though no water was present,

only reptile footprints; but rattlesnake were the prints that worried me most, ok scorpions too.

I found there is a certain quietness in the desert, only the wind knows sound

Getting out of Dodge
With the sun beginning to angle over my shoulder; we decide to head back, darkness would soon fall

then suddenly, remnants of a small; but Lost City appear, since the area was not fenced, I walk

Abandoned mud houses, certainly built many years ago; remain standing despite the monthly whipping of flying sandstorms


Getting out of Dodge2
safe and sound back in Riyadh, I eat a sizzling shrimp fajita at El Chico, a Saudi wanna be Mexican restaurant

No pork, no beer, no music plays there, and yes

Women not allowed, unless they are on the other, quiet walled section of El Chico

I only sat amongst Men, how exciting…

lime did accompany the Shrimp and a bottle of water washed it all down

American Express was not accepted


Rickie Dee is a fly fisher and photographer who searches for adventure around the planet.

All content in this blog, including writing and photos, copyright John Kumiski 2013. All rights are reserved.