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'Locavores' rising

"'Locavores' rising" Continued...

Issue: "Northern light," Sept. 20, 2008

Some environmentalists at one time applauded cremation because of the environmental effects of caskets and embalming fluid; also, graves took up too much room. But now some are concerned about (a) the amount of fuel it takes to cremate a body, and (b) the release of mercury (from dental fillings) during the process. One result: Home funerals and green burials are growing in popularity.

Home funerals basically bypass the funeral home and its cost ($6,000 and up for a burial) in order to have the body at home until it's transported to the burial site, which is not necessarily a cemetery. Dry ice takes the place of embalming fluid, and the body lies on a bed rather than in a satin-lined casket during visitation. Only five states-Delaware, New York, Nebraska, Connecticut, and Indiana-ban home funerals.

It's now possible to buy a variety of biodegradable shrouds and caskets, some costing as little as $100. The Natural Burial Company has an online gallery of eco-friendly coffins, including the eco-pod, made out of recycled newspaper.

Seeing babies

GE has a website that provides brilliant images and facts about the developing life of a preborn infant (gehealthcare.com/usen/patient/ultrasound/obtimeline_new.html). Viewers can click on a week (week 11, for example), see a 4D ultrasound image, and learn these important developments: "clear outline of spine visible, ears in place, movement of bodies and arms and legs seen on ultrasound, many major central nervous system defects can be identified through ultrasound, heartbeat around 137-144 bpm."

Lone rangers

The beginning of the school year brought a raft of articles on helicopter parents, those creatures who hover over their kids-fighting their children's battles, blowing their noses, doing their homework, scolding their teachers.

One mother took another path. Lenore Skenazy wrote in the New York Sun about letting her 9-year-old son make his way home via subway and bus from the main Bloomingdale's store in New York City. She wrote, "For weeks my boy had been begging for me to please leave him somewhere, anywhere, and let him try to figure out how to get home on his own. So on that sunny Sunday I gave him a subway map, a MetroCard, a $20 bill, and several quarters, just in case he had to make a call."

The boy got home safely and felt competent and exultant about the experience, but when Skenazy told friends about her son's accomplishment they were shocked that she let him do it. "Half the people I've told this episode to now want to turn me in for child abuse."

Skenazy, unrepentant, now keeps a blog called Free Range Kids where she asks, "Do you ever . . . let your kid ride a bike to the library? Walk alone to school? Take a bus, solo? Or are you thinking about it? If so, you are raising a Free Range Kid! At Free Range, we believe in safe kids. We believe in helmets, car seats and safety belts. We do NOT believe that every time school age children go outside, they need a security detail."

Susan Olasky
Susan Olasky

Susan pens book reviews and other articles for WORLD as a senior writer and has authored eight historical novels for children. Susan and her husband Marvin live in Asheville, N.C. Follow Susan on Twitter @susanolasky.

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