1. You could get arrested for making this salad.

    Summer in the city is a glorious time, mostly for getting dripped on by air conditioners and avoiding the subways, but also for foraging for edible plants and berries in Central Park. So in the spirit of summer and adventure, we decided to partake in the latter, in search of the perfect, seasonal, hyperlocal, illegal, Central Park-y salad.

    Wait, is making illegal salads a thing?

    It is! “Wildman” Steve Brill has been leading foraging tours in city parks on a regular basis since the 1980s.

    This is Steve: 

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    When we went on his tour this past weekend we joined a group of about 35 people who gleefully gathered the edible plants pointed out by Brill, and he mentioned that this is a pretty typical size. In 2011, The New York Times wrote that the group of foragers expanded beyond Brill and his followers to include a group of “downtown hipsters, recent immigrants, vegans and people who do not believe in paying for food.”

    Well, cool. Should I become a foraging freegan?

    YASS! Well, wait. You should not if you have qualms about breaking New York City law (and possibly eating dog-urine-tinged plants.) Brill was (somewhat famously) arrested in 1986 for eating a dandelion. The Sun Sentinel reported it was a sting operation:

    Two undercover urban park rangers paid Brill $40 in marked bills, infiltrated his tour and took pictures of him at work. “I even held up some freshly picked dandelions for them to photograph,” Brill said. As the tour broke ended, two enforcement officers arrested Brill on a charge of criminal mischief. He was booked and whisked him to the Central Park stationhouse, fingerprinted and made to cool his heels for three hours before being given a desk appearance ticket to appear in court on April 18.

    Not surprisingly, this was an embarrassing episode for the Parks Department, which frowns on Brill’s tours (but has not taken legal action against him).

    How to make an illegal Central Park salad

    First things first: Some plants native to Central Park are poisonous, like White Snakeroot and Poison Ivy. If you are going to consume anything that grows in the park, avoid these dangerous plants, and make sure you are cognizant of allergies.

    And watch out for this guy:

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    What we talk about when we talk about salad 

    On our four-hour tour of the park, which took place in the lush wilds above 103rd street, we saw a number of seasonally available floral treats. Most of these were immediately edible:

    Lamb’s Quarters: Leafy, though Brill describes it as spinach-like.

    Put it in a salad? Yes. As a base.

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    Poor Man’s Pepper: The seed pod is spicy.

    Put it in a salad? Yes. As a seasoning.

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    Yellow Wood Sorrel: Surprisingly sweet, like lemonade.

    Put it in a salad? Yes, please.

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    Black Cherries: This reporter did not taste the black cherries after being informed by more intrepid foragers that “they were an acquired taste.”  Apparently, when the fruit is ripe it *should* taste like a cherry grapefruit. 

    Put it in a salad? Possibly, as a garnish.

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    Epazote: This reporter (again) passed on tasting, mostly because Brill warned that the plant — often used to season guacamole — is poisonous in large amounts, and pointed out that one stalk with a handful of leaves is enough to feed a restaurant.

    Put it in a salad? No. 

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    Black Birch: Tastes like mint, when you chew on the twig. Brill uses it to flavor pudding, and adds that you can soak the twig in hot water to make tea.

    Put it in a salad? No. Better to chew on after the meal.

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    Sheep’s Sorrel: Tastes like Yellow Wood Sorrel, but even more lemonade-y. 

    Put it in a salad? Yes! 

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    Wineberries: Tastes when ripe (i.e. red) like really fresh, tangy, delicious raspberries. We were genuinely surprised to find these in Central Park. We would forage for these.

    Put it in a salad? Yes, this is the star of the salad.

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    All of these amazing plants can be eaten raw, but what about plants you would have to cook or otherwise prepare before they are safe to eat? 

    EPILOGUE: The roots and more

    The park is full of roots and plants that require some preparation. Leaves from a Common Spicebush can be used to make tea or ground up to spice food. The Mica Cap mushroom can be cooked, sort of.

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    Sassafras root can be used to make root beer! Cheers! 

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    "All gone Could I have another glass of that Hires’ Rootbeer" by The Charles E. Hires Co. -  Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons 

    And beans from the Kentucky Coffeetree can be roasted and ground to make a coffee-like beverage. 

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    Hey. Illegal salads sound like a lot of work. 

    They are! But it might be worth it, if you’re the rule-breaking foraging type. Just leaf us alone if you land in jail. 

    Photos by Danielle Wiener-Bronner/Fusion

     

  2. Hundreds of millions of girls are threatened by violence every day.

    Crimes against young girls and women are prevalent in much of the world, despite increased global attention on the issue. 

    More than 130 million girls and women have experienced some form of female genital mutilation in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is most common, according to data released Tuesday from UNICEF. 

    In a July 2013 report, UNICEF revealed more than 125 million girls and women are subjected to some form of female genital mutilation.

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    The statistics continue when talking about child marriage. More than one in three girls — around 250 million — were married before they turned 15, according to UNICEF. 

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    Worldwide, more than 700 million were married as children.

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    While there is some hope, it’s dismal. An adolescent girl today is only about a third less likely to undergo female genital mutilation than 30 years ago, according to UNICEF.

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    But it appears as if attitudes about the procedure have been changing: 

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    UNICEF’s 2013 report noted a similar change in attitudes.

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    "Let’s not forget that these numbers represent real lives. While these are problems of a global scale, the solutions must be local, driven by communities, families and girls themselves to change mindsets and break the cycles that perpetuate FGM/C and child marriage,” UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said in a press release. “We can’t let the staggering numbers numb us – they must compel us to act.”

     
  3. Central Park, New York, July 21, 2014. Fusion/Margarita Noriega

     
  4. Nearly one in every 100 adults in America is in prison or jail.

    Or, as John Oliver so helpfully points out, America has more prisoners at the moment than China. And we don’t have more of anything than China, ‘other than, of course, debt to China.’

    Overcrowding in America’s prisons has become so pervasive that Sesame Street is now stepping in to explain just how we got here (2:30 minute mark)

    "And of course, it’s tricky to know how to feel about all this because on the one hand, the war on drugs has completely solved our nation’s drug problem. So that’s good," Oliver jokes. "But on the other hand, our drug laws do seem to be a little draconian and a lot racist."

    And Oliver isn’t wrong.

    Drug offenders make up a shocking amount of prisoners in America’s penitentiary system.

    Drug offenders account for more inmates than those being held on immigration-related charges, The Huffington Post reports:

    "People convicted of two broad categories of nonviolent crimes — drugs and immigration — make up over 60 percent of the U.S. prison population,” The Huffington Post reported in March.”

    No wonder we need John Oliver and Sesame Street to explain this system to us.

     
     
  5. Right now, people look at it and it’s like, “Wow, that’s inspiring.” Meaning that love is infectious. You know, God is infectious—God flowing through us and us being little-baby creators and shit.”

    (Photo: Kim Kardashian West/Instagram)

    Click here for more on Kanye West’s interview with GQ

     

  6. fusionlive:

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    Special Edition of “AMERICA with Jorge Ramos: Edge of a Crisis​” ​Airs Tuesday, July 22 at 10:00 p.m. on Fusion

    Fusion’s Jorge Ramos will anchor “AMERICA with Jorge Ramos” from the U.S.-Mexican border on Tuesday, July 22. As Fusion continues to put a spotlight on the growing…

     
  7. Stock footage company Dissolve has released a video that takes a humorous look at the massive arrival of emojis in our country. While the video never mentions the country that’s being overwhelmed by foreign emojis, many of the scenes appear to be filmed in the United States, including iconic small-town images and the recognizable skylines of San Francisco and New York.

    The video is a clever satire of the current immigration debate in the U.S., which has become particularly heated in the past month due to increased media coverage of unaccompanied children arriving from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

     
     
  8. (via oh-totoro)