"I hate to use the cliche, but it took the perfect storm to change the way I eat," says long-time New York Times food columnist and meat lover Mark Bittman, who wrote "Real Men Love Kale," a delicious—and mostly vegan—five-meal plan for a perfect day in food. It started with a 2006 UN report that pointed out that as much as 18 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions come from livestock production. A year later, his doctor warned him that if he didn't reduce his meat consumption, a heart attack was likely. Bittman began eating vegan for every meal but dinner and is now on a mission to encourage others to do the same. "I'm not saying eat nothing but grapefruit," says Bittman, whose new book, Vegan Before 6:00, will be released at the end of April. "I'm saying think about what you eat. If it's good for you, chances are it's good for the environment."
Before he began writing "Stranglehold," an investigation into how fat can take over your body, Gifford bought a scale. "I was the heaviest I'd ever been," says the New York writer. Meanwhile, he was poring over reports that showed how fat is like a growing tumor that can lead to cognitive decline, accelerated aging, even impotence. Fortunately for Gifford, who wrote about the cancer charity Livestrong in "It's Not About the Lab Rats" (February 2012), he does a lot of thinking while exercising. "I'm not a weight fanatic, but this story justifies my lunchtime rides," says Gifford. Without changing his diet, he's now 10 pounds lighter than when he started reporting in August.
ON ASSIGNMENT WITH MICHAEL HANSON
8 a.m.: Hanson and boutique distiller Scott Lindquist, who is legally blind, head out onto Prince William Sound to harvest the glacial ice used in Alaska Distillery's craft vodka.
1 p.m.: Back at the distillery, while Hanson is shooting the melting process, a 500-pound block of ice slips from its mooring and hits him in the face.
3:30 p.m.: After a visit to the ER, Hanson returns, concussed and with tissue adhesive holding together the cut above his eye. Alaska Distillery COO Belly Coley removes her top and poses beside the offending block.
9 p.m.: Hanson joins Lindquist, Coley, and the distillery crew at Schwabenhof, outside Wasilla, for shots of smoked-salmon-flavored vodka.
12 a.m.: Properly lubricated, Hanson and Lindquist drive snowmobiles across a frozen lake to watch the northern lights. (Refresher: Lindquist is blind.) "The terrifying thing is that a week earlier, he'd broken through the ice on the same lake," says Hanson.
January's "Powder Dreams," detailing the proposed linkup of Utah's Canyons Resort and Solitude Mountain with a gondola, as well as a new chairlift running from Park City to Canyons, was intended as an introduction to the controversial issue. Wasatch locals, however, took exception.
This article makes SkiLink sound like the end of the rainbow for skiing in Utah, which couldn't be further from the truth. Locals know that this is the first step toward development in Big Cottonwood Canyon—land that tourists and locals use every day for recreation. The scariest part is the precedent it sets. If you're a developer who wants public land, just go to a congressman, give him a campaign contribution, and ask him to sponsor a bill forcing the government to sell it to you. Brilliant.
The only reasons this proposal has any momentum is the incredible amount of money behind it and the ignorance about it on the national scene. It would have been nice to see a little bit in your article about what would be lost: glorious backcountry skiing, pristine mountain-biking trails, serene wilderness ecosystems, and protected watersheds.
Associating the project with further development in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons is a stretch. Raw development (cabins, condos, roads) are capped and could be avoided by contract. And I suspect the chairlift and gondola would decrease pressue to develop in the canyons, since people would be able to stay in Park City and ski without an hour's drive. Take advantage of the resources and make them as accessible and profitable as possible while maintaining environmental integrity.
Congressional approval is needed because an act of Congress is required to overrule the regional management plan. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Forest Service have already publicly stated that they are against this development. It's clearly an attempt to override regional decision making for the benefit of a private corporation.
DARRELL FINLAYSON, ONLINE
The Wasatch Mountains are an amazing part of living in Salt Lake City and are already overused and overdeveloped. This project would be the first step in destroying the reason we live here.
BECKY LAWLOR, SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
And the debate rages on. Go to outsideonline.com/skilink to read Black Diamond CEO Peter Metcalf and Ski Utah president Nathan Rafferty exchange opposing views on the proposed seven-area interconnect.
PRAISE THE LEADERBOARD
Your recent article on Strava ("Stravalocity," January) missed one unexpected benefit of the ride-timing app: connecting with your virtual competition and exchanging kudos. Just yesterday a guy I overtook on a steep hill climb tracked me down on Strava and said, "Was that you who passed me this morning? Well done!" I've made several Strava acquaintances, and the encouragement we trade I find much more meaningful than liking real-life acquaintances' pet pictures and meme postings on Facebook.
DAVID KRIES, MISSION VIEJO, CALIFORNIA
GRAND THEFT AUTO
What were you thinking? To publish Sam Sheridan's advice from his Disaster Diaries on how to steal someone's vehicle ("Ready for Anything," January), ostensibly because you're in end times, shows no moral compass. What's next, how to dispatch your neighbor's dog to feed your family?
GREG MATTHEWS, WAYNESVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA
As their tenure comes to a close, I want to applaud you for your choice of 2012's chief inspiration officers, Kristian Gustavson and Jared Criscuolo. Their anecdotes have been entertaining, and their endeavor is inspiring. I've been following their actions (and antics) via Outside Online and through their non-profit, Below the Surface. As a pick for Outside CIOs, you nailed it—recognizing two adventurers for embarking not on a single glamorous epic but an extended, wet, dirty, smelly, grassroots campaign for the betterment of a few of our favorite playgrounds.
ZACH STEGEMAN, BRUNSWICK, MAINE