Almanack Contributor Richard Gast

Richard Gast

Richard Gast is a retired Extension Program Educator and has been contracted by Cornell Cooperative Extension Franklin County to continue his informative and thought provoking articles.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Eating Seasonally, Locally in the Adirondacks

Adirondack Farm Produce - Photo by Shannon HoulihanWe’re living in an age of global markets, with almost all of us buying our food from chain supermarkets, convenient stores, and fast food outlets; rarely thinking about where our food comes from or how it was grown or processed.

More often than not, the food we eat is grown on large industrial farms, before being shipped across the country, or from central or South America or overseas, to huge distribution centers, where it’s sorted, packaged, and processed before it’s trucked to retailers. This means that a remarkable diversity of food is available all year round, for consumers who can to afford to buy it. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Take Precautions Against Hypothermia and Frostbite

Every winter, I receive questions about hypothermia and about the dangers and symptoms of both hypothermia and frostbite. Most are from concerned parents of younger children.

We’re certainly not strangers to cold weather. After all, this is the North Country. And winter is the season of snowmobiling, snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding, ice fishing, ice climbing, winter hiking, winter camping, sledding, tobogganing, tubing, ice skating, snowballs, snowmen, snow forts, snow sculptures, and winter carnival parades. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

This Holiday Season, Buy Local

Entering Adirondack ParkBuy local. It’s much more than a feel-good slogan or here-today-gone-tomorrow topic currently trending on Facebook or Twitter. Let’s face it, the choice we have as consumers – this holiday season and throughout the year – is to either support small, family-run businesses, local artisans and craftspeople or help some fat-cat one-percenter.

We can help our friends and neighbors make ends meet or send a child to college, soccer camp, piano or dance lessons, or we can help a CEO buy another yacht, sports car, or vacation home. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Divesting from Fossil Fuels

Global_Carbon_Emissions.svgIt’s official – 2014 was the hottest year on record. And most everyone I talk to is concerned about the threat that global warming and climate change, with their potentially devastating and possibly permanent consequences, pose to the lives and livelihoods of our children and grandchildren.

Scientists tell us that sea levels and water temperatures are rising, imperiling coastal populations, as well as regional environments and economies; that sea ice is being lost and glaciers receding at unprecedented rates or disappearing altogether; that seasons and plant and animal ranges are shifting and habitat vanishing, threatening to drive entire species of animals to extinction; that weather patterns are becoming more erratic and less predictable; and that worldwide, the number, intensity, and resilience of violent tropical storms is increasing. They warn that other potential future effects of global climate change include more frequent wildfires, more severe heat waves, sustained periods of drought in certain regions, and unprecedented winter weather conditions in others; all of which jeopardize fresh water supplies, wildlife, and in some instances, indigenous people and their ways of life. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Cornell Seeks Birch Syrup Research Collaborators

TappingbigbirchMaking pure, rich, delicious maple syrup is a North Country tradition, an important cottage industry, and an increasingly important part of the region’s economy. There’s pride and care in every gallon of maple syrup made.

In our region, maple sap typically flows best from mid-March through mid-April, during periods when days are warm, but nighttime temperatures fall below freezing. That cycle of warming and cooling is essential. Should temperatures linger above or below freezing, sap flow will stop. If overall conditions are too warm or too cool, the season will be a poor sap-production season. And once it warms up to where the buds on the trees begin to swell and break dormancy, the chemical makeup of the sap changes, causing off-flavors to develop, at which time the sap is no longer satisfactory for maple syrup. » Continue Reading.