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Harvest on the front Lines of the Santa Barbara oil spill

Last Tuesday, an onshore pipeline belonging to the Texas-based oil company Plains All American burst, spewing roughly 105,000 gallons of crude down a storm drain and into an undeveloped stretch of coastline just north of Santa Barbara. We wanted to get a closer look at the environmental impacts, and do what we could to help clean up so we spent a couple days volunteering around the spill area, and soon a baby elephant seal would be thanking us.


Ground zero for the spill occurred near Refugio State beach and El Capitan State beaches. These areas have been completely closed off to the public. Armed guards patrol these areas keeping the public's prying eyes away, and focused on other issues while trained clean up crews work to clean the beaches and shorelines around these state parks. It's unclear if these guards were hired by the oil company for the public's safety, or if they have more to hide on those beaches, or both.

North and south of those two beaches there are pockets of concerned citizens volunteering to clean up the oil company's mess. That's where our mission begins. 

The spill affects an approximately 20 mile stretch of coast from Arroyo Hondo beach stretching south nearly to UCSB. This region of the Santa Barbara Chanel that stretches from the coast out to the Channel Islands is often called the “Galapagos of the north” for its ecological richness and diversity. The channel offers habitat to porpoises, dolphins, seals and sea lions, in addition to serving as a migratory passage for blue and humpback whales and a range of birds. 

South of the spill is a 9 mile stretch of privately owned coastline with no public access. Being somewhat local to the area, We knew of a couple surf spots located in that stretch, but getting to them requires a pretty solid hike. 

After a couple hours hike in we finally made it up into some usually pristine isolated beaches, only to be shocked by what we saw. Oil everywhere.. Beaches and rocks stained and sprinkled with raw crude oil. But the most depressing sight was the number of wildlife affected by the spill. We saw dozens of birds and pelicans with completely black oil slicked under bellies and beaks, and a number of dead pelicans and even a seal lifeless on these beaches.

This stretch of coastline is a wildlife preserve. Seals and other animals love these beaches because they are still relatively unimpacted by humans because of the lack of development and public access. It was great to see some other dedicated locals working to clean the oil of the sand so the wildlife could have their beaches back.

Bucket by bucket we hauled small chunks of oil stained sand off the beach. Then racked any other debri or small bits of oil into piles to be shoveled off and removed. This process was repeated hundreds of times at various hidden beaches by dozens of concerned citizens, including ourselves. But still the tide brings more chunks of crude oil onto the beaches with every pull from the moon. After cleaning a small cove to the best of our ability we decided to hike even further north up the beach towards ground zero in search of marine life in distress. This is where we found our Elephant seal pup covered in oil and barely clinging to life.

Elephant seals are protected species. Their populations were dwindled down to a few due to commercial fishing in the early 1900s. Since then their populations have been rising, but they are still endangered. We knew it was important to get this elephant seal pup help asap. We called Wildlife Fish and Game, 911, and every other number those two organizations gave us. All our calls got the same response; "We are not sure we can get to you because our resources are maxed out". Apparently there are so many marine animals affected by the oil spill they can not all be rescued.

At that point we decided to split up. One of us went for help and I stayed with the seal. It would be over 3 hours until I saw another human. I spent that time trying to keep the seal alive. I tried cleaning the oil of it with a wet shirt but that was useless. The oil was caked on, Mostly around its head and eyes. I spent most of the time just sitting with it, talking to it and wiping it down with a wet shirt, just trying to keep it from slipping away. I even tried to reach out to the many oil company helicopters I saw flying overhead by writing messages in the sand. I felt like a shipwrecked survivor on an island trying to signal planes flying overhead with rescue messages written in the sand. None of my attempts were answered. 

Northern elephant seals are the largest phocid, or "true" seal, in the Northern Hemisphere. Fully grown males can reach lengths of over 13 feet and can weigh nearly 4,400 pounds. Females are significantly smaller than males, but are also quite large growing to about 10 feet long and weighing up to 1,300 pounds. Pups are born in early winter from December to January. Northern elephant seal pups are about 4 feet long and weigh about 75 lbs at birth. Our seal was very dehydrated but i guessed still weighed around 120-150 lbs.

Elephant seal pups are very vulnerable during oil spills because the mother/pup bond is affected by the odor. Seals use smells to identify their young. If the mother cannot identify its pup by smell in the large colony it may not feed it or it might even reject attempts by the pup to suckle. This leads to starvation and abandonment. Oil will also attack exposed sensitive tissues. These include mucous membranes that surround the eyes and line the oral cavity, respiratory surfaces, anal and urogenital orifices. This can cause corneal abrasions, conjunctivitis and ulcers. Consumption of oil-contaminated prey will lead to the accumulation of hydrocarbons in tissues and organs. Hydrocarbons of oil are transferred rapidly to the bloodstream from the lungs and can damage red blood cells, suppress immune systems, strain the liver, spleen and kidneys and even interfere with the reproductive system of animals and humans.

My seal was running out of time. I could see death in her eyes when she looked at me. She knew it too. She begged me to do something with each gaze. It was gut wrenching to have her look at me and know we were both helpless right now. My anger at this disaster turned to sadness at the loss of life i was witnessing. I had been out there for hours after calling for help and was starting to think no one was coming. I considered carrying the seal, even tried to pick her up at one point, but i felt her weight and didn't think i could make it a few miles down the soft sand to civilization with her.

The tide was coming up and now I was starting to worry about my safety. There were a couple points along the hike where even at low tide the ocean was close to the bluffs. I took notice when i was walking out that if the tide got to high i would not be able to get around a couple points. The tide and the steep rock walls of the bluffs would close the door on me. We were out of time. I debated on my options, but I couldn't leave this little seal to die. So i stayed as the tide continued to rise.

From my vantage point I could see pretty far down the beach. I thought my eyes were deceiving me when I finally saw human movement along the beach about a half mile south of me a couple coves away. I took off towards them at a full run. Something told me they were our salvation. When I got close enough to them to read Marine mammal rescue on one of their shirts my heart filled with joy. Four amazing volunteers from the California Fish and Game and the California Wildlife Center had arrived to save the day. My seal had a chance.

I quickly debriefed them on the seal's condition and led them to her location. They confirmed it was a baby elephant seal and thought it was a female but could not confirm that because she was so dehydrated and emaciated. 

We proceeded to load the seal into a large dog kennel and begin the long hike back down the beach. The Kennel had no real handles other then the lip where the top piece of the kennel fastens to the base, leaving not much more then finger tip grips on the side of the kennel. This seal was not light and as she moved around in the kennel the weight got even harder to deal with. My forearms were on fire as we slowly carried her to safety. It took us well over an hour or two to hike her out with regular stops to rest and drink water. Apparently I need to do more rock climbing because my forearms were sore for days after carrying our seal down the beach, up the bluffs and finally to the Fish and Game truck, where she was loaded and taken to a rescue center. There she will be cleaned, given food and fluids until she is strong enough to be returned to the wild.

We saved Her!

Thats the good news. The bad news is there are still hundreds of seals and birds covered in oil, and in need of help. The story is being grossly under played by the media and the powers that be. I saw on CNN yesterday they were reporting 1 Seal and 5 Pelicans had been killed so far and 1 Seal and 9 Pelicans had been rescued and were being treated for oil exposure. That is incorrect. I saw more then that with my own eyes. The environmental and economic damage from this spill and others like it around the world will be felt for decades. The oil companies and the media never give us the full truth. Thats why its important for concerned citizens to do whatever we can to hold these corporations accountable, Wether its helping on the ground volunteering at disaster points, writing your government officials, or just staying informed and spreading the word. You have a voice, use it and be heard. You alone can make a difference.

 

 

Some Healthy Eats from Alex

Three simple tips for healthy eating.

-by Alex Curtis

 Looking good and feeling good starts with proper nutrition. Here are some basics to think about when planning your next meals:

  1. Portion Control- being able to visualize portion sizes is an important diet tool.  If you understand what a portion really looks like you will be able to monitor how much you are consuming.  Here are some helpful tips.
  • 1 cup cooked rice, pasta, etc= 1 baseball
  • 1 medium fruit= 1 baseball
  • 1 cup fresh fruit/vegetables= 1 baseball
  • 3 oz. meat/poultry= deck of cards
  • 3 oz, grilled/baked fish= check book
  • 2 tbs peanut butter or hummus= 1 golf ball
  • 1 oz. cheese= 3 stacked dice
  • 1 cup yogurt= 1 baseball
  • 1 tbs dressing= 1 poker chip
  • 1 cup strawberries= about 12
  • 1 cup carrots= about 12 baby
  • ¼ cup almonds= about 24
  • 1 tsp oil= size of tip of thumb
  1. Clean eating- foods we purchase daily are filled with added preservatives and sugars.  Refined sugars are a diet disaster.  It is important to limit processed foods.  Aim to eat foods that contain less than 6 ingredients.  Try not to eat things that have sugar as one of the top 4 ingredients.  This can be written as sugar, corn syrup, fructose, and many other names.  Stick to whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains such as quinoa, barley, and brown rice.
  2. Small frequent meals- It is important to not let yourself get hungry.  In order to keep your energy up and your metabolism going you need to eat about every 4 hours.  When your body goes too long without food it starts to protect itself by storing calories and fat when you do finally eat.  Not letting yourself get too hungry will also prevent you from eating too much during meals.  Keep with 5-6 small meals throughout the day.

With those tips in mind, Here are a few healthy recipes to get you going:

Brussels sprouts with pine nuts

  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons dried currants
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth

1. Separate sprouts into leaves, leaving just the center intact. Set aside.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add nuts to pan; cook 2 minutes or until toasted, stirring constantly. Coarsely chop nuts.

3. Melt coconut oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots to pan; sauté 1 minute or until golden, stirring frequently. Stir in Brussels sprouts centers and leaves, currants, thyme, salt, and pepper; toss to combine. Add broth. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 7 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Uncover; cook 4 minutes or until liquid evaporates and sprout centers are tender, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; sprinkle with nuts.

Quinoa with mushrooms, kale, and sweet potato

  1. Place the quinoa and 2 cups water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes and mushrooms and cook, tossing occasionally, until golden and beginning to soften, 5 to 6 minutes.
  4. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the kale, wine, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, tossing often, until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
  6. Serve the vegetables over the quinoa

Enjoy!!

Our friend Alex Curtis is a wellness coach and teacher at Corepower Yoga. Follow her blog at http://www.alexcurtiswellness.com/

Amy Rose Fitness

Amy Rose was first introduced to yoga nearly nine years ago through the Kundalini teachings of Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa. Amy is certified and trained through the American Yoga School in Malibu, CA. She currently teaches in Los Angeles at Maha Yoga and EQUINOX.

Specializing in vinyasa flow from beginner to advanced set to soul soothing music, Amy brings great light and love into her classes. She will encourage you to have fun and challenge yourself, while honoring your individual needs. Her classes focus on building endurance and strength, while, at the same time, respecting the connection between the body and the mind.

Amy also teaches private sessions and is currently producing yoga wellness retreats for 2015.

Product feedback: 

"I really appreciate and respect that HARVEST ACTIVE uses sustainable material. I believe a company that sells yoga clothing should be active in saving the planet. It just makes sense. Period. 

For me, I really love the way the HARVEST fabric feels against my skin.  It, actually, doesn't feel like anything, it feels like air and that's a good thing because when you're practicing yoga, you don't want any distractions, you just want to be in the moment, in the pose, using your working breath to take you to that magical place. HARVEST helps you get there with it's second skin fabric and fit.  The yoga experience is organic and true when you wear sustainable clothing. It's the right thing to do and your intuition tells you that. I am proud to be a member of the HARVEST ACTIVE team of instructors. Supporting our environment and companies that share the same commitment and passion is what it's all about."

-Amy

Learn more about Amy and her practice at: http://amyrosefitness.com

Amy is wearing the new Harvest activewear line. check it out in our online store. Namaste.

New Year's Resolutions Harvest style...

HARVEST NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS

by Alex Curtis

Even though the holidays are over, 2015 is here; there is still the hustle and bustle of holiday stress.  Traveling back home, work starts up again and don’t forget that massive pile of returns you need to make.  (Why does Aunt Carol still send the worst holiday sweaters?!)  
With the start of the New Year, new intentions, new goals, make it a point to focus on you.  Give yourself time to relax, breath in fresh air, be active, get outside, and unplug from technology.  It is important to find your own personal outlet to escape the daily stresses of every day life.  Here are a few ways that you can focus on you and let go of the world, for a little while at least.  Give one or more a shot and see what resonates with you, make it your own.



Start a meditation practice.
    There are many benefits to meditation, whether it is on your own or using a guided meditation you find online.  As long as you are calm, quiet, and breathing, you can escape from your thoughts.  Not only does meditation release accumulated stress you are holding onto, it also prevents stress from getting into your system.  So grab a comfy pillow, find a seat, silence or music, find your breath and let go.

 Pick up an outdoor activity.

Depending on where you live and what type of outdoors is available to you, find an activity that works.  If you have mountains find a new spot to hike.  If you live by the beach start some intense sand workouts or take walks along the water.  Even just taking a walk through a park or biking around your neighborhood, you will absorb the benefits of being outdoors (hello Vitamin D).  Whatever you choose to do, leave your phone at home, make this time about you, take a deep breath and feel the fresh air fill your lungs, appreciate your life.  


Make time to read.
    Everyone has that growing list of books that have been recommended by friends, they hear about on TV or see as they pass by the bookstore.  This year make a commitment to yourself to read more.  Whether you sit outside, in your bed, on your couch, pick up a book and escape, escape from your mind and sink into a story.  


Learn how to cook.
    There is something very calming and peaceful about chopping vegetables and preparing meals.  Not only are you taking the time for yourself, you are also making something that will nourish your body (hopefully).  Start by picking a few of your favorite dishes, hit your local grocery store, dust off that apron and make a culinary masterpiece!  Having these moments for you in the kitchen is a great outlet to rid stress and negative thoughts.  How can you be unhappy when you are about to give your taste buds such a pleasant experience?  

Moral of this story, don’t just use the New Year to set unrealistic resolutions that merely look good on paper, rather start off 2015 for YOU.  When you are free of stress and worries, it creates a better environment for everyone around you.  Find your outlet and make it a habit to find time for you and love every moment of it. 

 

Our friend Alex Curtis is a wellness coach and teacher at Corepower Yoga. Follow her blog at http://www.alexcurtiswellness.com/

Harvest planting trees!

Trees are one of our most precious resources. They provide us with clean air, and the forests they make up provide a natural habitat to millions of wildlife species. Many of our forest eco-systems are being threatened in todays modern industrialized world. Much of the forest land that has existed on this planet for millions of years as been decimated and turned into housing or farmland for humans. The continuous massive loss of trees is tipping the scales towards a planet out of balance. Climate change is creating much more intense drought, wildfires, and flooding. 80% of all wildlife live in forests. As their forests disappear so do their homes, their food supply, and our source of clean air. This is why Harvest is so passionate about our mission to plant trees, use environmentally friendly fabrics and practices and do everything we can to protect the planet.

We are proud to say, thanks to your support, we just made another good size donation to American Forests, the nations oldest conservation agency. This is such a great non profit organization doing some incredible work around the world. You should also be proud to know your Harvest purchase helped restore a vital eco-system. 

To learn more about why the reforestation mission is so important and how the process works check out this short video:

  

Harvest Summits Red Rock Canyon

Actually our friends Ashley and Danielle from thoseblondes.com hiked Red Rock Canyon in their Harvest gear. Here's a couple pics from their adventure:

Rock climbing, no problem.

Stop, Drop and Yoga!

We sometimes forget to get outside and enjoy nature. Today's modern world can be consuming with work and cell phones and social media constantly tapping us on the shoulder. It's important to unplug on a regular basis and just get outside and breathe.

Ashley summiting...

Danielle enjoying the view.

Mission accomplished. Ashley is wearing our Eden Capri and Love long sleeve. Danielle is wearing our Prism Escape legging and Feathers tank.

Read more about their hike and Follow the girls on their blog at: http://thoseblondes.com/category/travel/las-vegas-travel/