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Mercury in the Backcountry, the Case for Kosher Crickets, Let Them Eat Quinoa!
Our top picks: today's environmental news and best #greenreads.

Everywhere you go, there you are: A new study by federal scientists has discovered that even animals deep in our nation’s protected areas can be loaded with mercury. The researchers looked at sport fish caught in remote areas of Yellowstone, Yosemite, and several parks in Alaska, and found that 4 percent of them exceeded safety limits for mercury consumption. While the news is disconcerting—I mean, you’d think the backcountry would be the best place to catch a delicious, healthful bass—the results are perhaps not so shocking. After all, most mercury contamination comes from burning fossil fuels, and air pollution knows no border or park boundary. Associated Press

This is why we can’t have nice things: Some 19-year-old doofus in Portland, Oregon, pissed in the local reservoir, and now the city has decided to flush all 38 million gallons of its drinking water. Don’t get me wrong, I like to avoid teenager urine (or any urine for that matter) in my ice cubes as much as the next guy, but methinks this is a touch wasteful. But Portland’s Water Bureau says it’s like totally cool, they have plenty of water, so dumping 38 million gallons—twice, just to be sure—is really no big deal. (Just nobody tell drought-ridden California.) Outside

Renewable renaissance: The Obama administration announced this week that it has allocated $4 billion in loan aid for renewable energy companies. These are the first new funds for clean power since the 2009 economic stimulus funds ran out and mark a renewed commitment to advanced electric grid technology, biofuels for everyday vehicles, energy from waste products, and overall efficiency. "That's our mission,” says Peter Davidson of the Energy Department’s loan office. “We go in and demonstrate to the commercial markets that a new technology works. Then we get out and the commercial market comes in." Reuters

School zone: A new study shows 10,000 schools across America are within a mile of a chemical facility. Put another way, around 4.6 million children spend a majority of their waking hours near potentially risky chemical plants. The study was timed to publish near the one-year anniversary of an explosion a fertilizer plant in West, Texas. The blast leveled the small town, killed 15 people, and raised a lot of questions about the location and management of our chemical facilities. Huffington Post

The golden grain: Most people can’t even pronounce “quinoa.” Fewer still know how to make it taste good. (Here’s my fav recipe, by the way.) But some say the super-grain may be an important resource in a world beset by climate change and the food insecurity that it will bring. In Bolivia, quinoa can persevere through drought, cold, and salt like it ain’t no thing. And if scientists could work with the plant’s genetics, they might be able to make a grain that grows virtually anywhere. But ... South American nations are keeping tight control over quinoa seeds. Medium, Harper's

Are crickets kosher?: Pound for pound, insects are about as environmentally friendly and nutritious as “meat” gets (read "Worms: the Other Red Meat"). Unfortunately, the ick factor continues to affect edible insect sales. That’s why one company is on a mission to get their cricket flour products designated as kosher, which many people consider to be synonymous with high quality. And while the company isn't having a ton of luck yet, there is some evidence in the Old Testament that chagavim, or certain types of crickets, are indeed kosher. Mazel tov! New York Magazine


Eyes bigger than stomach: If all that quinoa and cricket talk didn’t get your mouth watering, then how about a story of a viper that was eaten from the inside out by its own lunch? The snake ate a Megarian banded centipede nearly as big as itself. But the centipede didn’t take kindly to this and ate all of the snake's internal organs before biting its way out of the snake's skin. Pics or it didn’t happen! (Do I even need to warn the queasy away after that description?) I F*cking Love Science


Judges Overturn Rulings on Sacramento River Contracts Los Angeles Times

Jared Leto Versus Chuck Norris: Celebrities Battle Over Keystone Bloomberg

Why Are 20 Far-Away States Trying to Block the Cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay? ThinkProgress

Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)

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