Thursday, October 21, 2010

Scrambled Eggs: Report Spotlights "Systemic" Abuses in Organic Egg Production

Here's another report on how the label on your "organic" eggs means no more than that the chickens that laid them were fed organic feed. The way these big-ag businesses treat living chickens like a blatant commodity and disregard our health and safety is just unbelievable. The little pictures of barns and silos on the packages are misleading visuals since the vast majority of eggs (conventional and organic) are all laid by hens stuffed wall to wall, and in some cases floor to ceiling, in industrial henhouses. These dark, overcrowded buildings with air that reeks of ammonia, floors that are covered with feces, and next to no access to the outdoors (a stipulation for organic labeling that these big egg companies skirt, taking advantage of the semantics instead of adhering to the values and idea of ORGANIC) are the norm.

Scrambled Eggs: Report Spotlights "Systemic" Abuses in Organic Egg Production

I can attest to the fact that the eggs I receive from my "meat share" CSA (Cedar Valley Farms) are far superior to the "organic, omega-3, free-range" eggs I buy at the grocery in between deliveries. The yolks are a much more vibrant yellow-orange, the whites are more viscous, they cook up fluffier, and in general taste better! I'm always reminded of this when I crack the first "mainstream organic" egg from the carton and see the pallor of it's light-yellow yolk and the watery white spread way out onto the pan. "Oh," I think to myself, "these aren't from the farm." Well, they aren't from a farm that lets the birds walk around pecking at insects and seeds on the grass and soil in the sun. That's for sure.

Yet another reminder of why it's important to buy eggs at from a CSA or at your local farmers' market! These eggs taste better, are actually fresh and they come from hens that live like hens are supposed to. In the process you're supporting your local economy, keeping family farms in business, keeping your family healthy and well-fed, and you're voting with your dollars. And every dollar counts.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Joining the Army

Chances are you or someone you know has had breast cancer. Chances are, you have worn a pink ribbon, donated money, participated in a walk or otherwise supported breast cancer research. Dr.s and experts have been searching for a cure for decades and though treatment has come a long way, the stats are still grim. Currently, 1 in 8 women can expect to get breast cancer in their lifetime, and 1 in 35 will die from it.

But at a recent event I attended, my ears perked up when I heard a about a hopeful new perspective: looking for the cause, not just the cure. That makes so much sense, right? The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation has teamed up with Avon to form the Army of Women, and in their quest to sign up 1 million women to volunteer for research studies, they say this, "Breast cancer has been around for decades, but it does not have to be our future. We can be the generation that eliminates breast cancer by identifying what causes this disease and stopping it before it starts. Sign up for your sister, mother, daughter, granddaughter, best friend, and the woman you met last week."

I signed up right when I got home. There's really no reason not to, right? I know plenty of women who have battled with this disease. The mother of one of my closest friends passed away after a long battle with breast cancer so this cause is close to my heart. Her memory is still alive and well...but I feel I owe it to her, to my friend, to myself, my daughter and women everywhere to do what I can to help eradicate breast cancer.

So far I have not qualified for any of the studies, but I'm looking forward to being able to participate at some point. It might be just a survey, or it might be a full-blown actual physical study. You can view all the open studies here to see if you fit the profiles and would like to participate in any of them. That's the wonderful thing about the Army of Women - you are in the driver's seat so you don't have to do anything you don't want to. You can participate at your discretion whenever you fit the guidelines of a study. The Army of Women is looking for women all women 18 and over to help fill and complete these studies! So if you are over 18 (and yes, even men can join the Army of Women! Ha!) join here and maybe you can do your part to help find the cause!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Shopping and Cooking, Chef-Style!

Every week, many of us grocery shop and then come home and over the next few days or so, cook or otherwise prepare and eat the food we bought. Nothing out of the ordinary there. But last week I did just that and it was great fun with a delicious outcome and lots learned in the process. What was different? Well, I did it all with fabulous zero-waste chef and food guru, Greg Christian.

Christian is well known in the culinary world for his pioneering initiative in sustainability as it pertains to food. He is a nationally recognized for developing the Organic School Project whose focus is to get healthy food choices into schools and help educate children on related topics. I'm personally very interested in the OSP, and you should be too! Greg also ran a zero-waste catering company for several years and is now doing consulting work for restaurants who want to learn how to practice sustainability or move toward zero-waste goals.
Zero-waste means that Zullo's, where Greg is currently consulting, doesn't have garbage service. They don't throw anything away. Everything is either cooked, composted, recycled, or otherwise reused. Imagine the impact on our landfills and out world if we all followed these practices! Other than being very careful about their inputs (not buying things with any or excess packaging for starters) they use re-purposed containers to hold re-useable items like rubberbands. It seems so obvious once you see it yourself, but it's really quite ingenious.

What was originally planned to be a trip to Zullo's kitchen to watch him cook, turned into a shopping trip to buy our ingredients on Wednesday and then making a wonderful soup for my family under his direction on Friday. We headed out to Chicago's famed Green City Market Wednesday morning to get our veggies, and as we walked through the grass, Greg invited me to try something new. Instead of having a list in mind and shopping with that agenda, he said you can learn how to ask what it is you need. Not what you want, or what a certain recipe calls for, but to just look and relax and see if anything jumps out at you. You might even want to hold it to see how it feels. It's the way that he shops and knowing what people need is a gift that he has, but Greg says you can hone that sense and your body and mind will benefit from it.
So I walked around looking at beautiful stacks of colorful, fresh organic produce with that in mind. I'm sure I don't have this gift, or have not yet discovered it if it's there, but what jumped out at me first were these unbelievably sweet, sparkling-red, juicy strawberries. They were so ready to eat their heady aroma hit me before I even reached the table! They were grown by Dave at Leaning Shed Farm, and he was a joy to talk with and get to know. Greg got some too, and boy did my whole family gobble them was that something we needed? hmmm, guess so!
Along the way, Greg introduced me to several of the farmers and friends working the market booths. It was fun to talk to them and hear their stories...of surviving the latest tornado, retiring from a 9-5 gig just to work even longer hours doing what they love, and how they have found such benefit from connecting with the earth and eating such fresh fare. Here's a little video clip of our wheat grass shots being juiced (Thanks again, Greg!). What a great way to start a day. Pow!

At the same farm booth where we got our wheat grass, some dark purple leaves seemed to be calling my name. Maybe I needed them? What were they? Amaranth, I was told. They looked interesting and after we stood with them for a few seconds, Greg got an idea...why not make some soup with the amaranth for my family? How cool! Yes, let's do that! So I bought some amaranth, 2 kinds of young onions, baby swiss chard and some rainbow chard. Add to that black beans Greg gets from a fantastic farm and my chicken broth, and we had the makings of the tasty soup Greg would teach me to make on Friday morning...more on that later.

Our time at Green City Market ended at Zullo's tent, where I ate the most delicious lamb hand pie. It just melted in my mouth, and the pastry was light and tasty. They also offer up pizzas and focaccia, perfect for a hearty snack or a light lunch, and easy to walk around with. And of course good for any time of day, you must try their Zeppole - Zullo's version of apple cider doughnuts that simply are amazing. Served in a paper and newspaper cone, they are easy to pop into your mouth as you walk the market (and then you can recycle the cone!). Maybe a little TOO easy! Yum! You can find the up-to-date list of Zullo's markets here. My family likes to frequent them at the Logan Square Farmer's Mkt. Definitely check them out!

Fast forward 2 days...I met Greg at Zullo's kitchen super early
(as in, I was there at the early time that I usually unwillingly roll out of bed to tend to one of my small children. These guys don't sleep in!) and ready to work. I was set up at the sink and I washed all my produce and laid it out to await instruction. Doesn't that look beautiful? The dark purple leaves at the top right are the amaranth. Onions (white and "red") on the left and the rainbow and swiss chard on the right. Greg showed me how to cut and chop my bounty as we warmed up the chicken broth with the black beans. The cooking experience included a knife sharpening lesson and lots of info from how to make marinara to how to dry herbs, and the time flew by. I went home with enough delicious soup to feed my family 2 dinners and still had some left over for a lunch!. Here it is served up at home with some crusty homemade olive oil bread. I highly recommend you try it! The flavors are surprisingly complex for being made with such simple ingredients, and it's chock-full of healthy vitamins and minerals. I'll activate this link when my in-depth article covering as much of Greg's knowledge as I could absorb is published on, including the recipe for our soup: "Black Bean Soup with Stuff"! Don't forget to check it out (it will probably run by the end of the month). You can substitute ingredients depending on what you find at the market, and depending on what you feel YOU NEED. Now get cookin'!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Recharge Your Batteries and Enter Your Best Photo!

Energizer has teamed up with National Geographic to host the third annual Energizer Ultimate Photo Contest, and they want you to enter! All you need to do is sort through your best pictures and enter them here for a chance to get your photo published in the Dec issue of National Geographic. And get this: the grand prize is a National Geographic Expeditions trip for two to Greece! How cool is that?

The six categories are animals/wildlife, nature, people/cultures, travel, weather and action/energy, so keep that in mind while picking your favs. Pictures will be judged by renowned photographer Jim Richardson on how well they capture the essence of the theme (25%), their impact and creativity (50%), and composition/technical quality (25%). But don't be intimidated, last year one of the category winners was shot with a regular digital still camera! So go ahead and send in your most adorable shot of Fido in the park, your most awe-inspiring vacations pic, or the one of your children you love so much that you actually had it printed and framed (because if you're anything like me, that only happens if the photo is really special!). So you might have TONS of pictures to look through now. Or maybe you will be heading out to take some spectacular shots to enter. Either way, get going! You must enter before midnight the night of June 30th, so no procrastinating!

But the fun doesn't end there. As a special perk for my readers, I will be picking 3 lucky followers to EACH receive TWO 4-packs of Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries! (And Energizer was kind enough to give me some to try as well - Thanks, Energizer!) Energizer's Ultimate Lithium batteries are an eco-friendly alternative to regular alkaline batteries in several ways. First off, they last way longer (up to 8 times as long!), so they create less waste. Second, they are made using lithium (duh!), which is the lightest known metal. This is important because most of the concern surrounding the environment is caused by heavy metal pollution and accumulation. Lithium is also a very "active" metal, so it can deliver a great deal of power while using less material and at the same time is 1/3 the weight of a "regular" alkaline battery. Two more attributes are that its construction is leak resistant, which is very important to the environment, and it has a storage life of 15 years so it won't lose its juice just sitting around waiting for its turn. All of these qualities make the Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries a great choice for your digital camera or other high-tech device (or for your kid's favorite battery-operated toy...that is if you want it to "keep on going").

Sign up to follow the EcoActivista blog and then leave a comment below telling me your favorite color, and I'll enter you in my random drawing. It's that easy! You don't even have to necessarily enter the photo contest, but you should...what the heck, right? I know you want a free trip to Greece too!

Friday, June 11, 2010

What Are Your Kids Eating?

There has been a lot of buzz recently in regard to school lunches. Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution series highlighted the issue in one town and its region (Huntington, WV), but what's the story at your kid's school? Do you know? Do you care?

My son is only 3, and he's all set to start attending public preschool here in Chicago this Fall. I am counting myself lucky so far that his 2.5 hrs of class per day will not include a school lunch. The school he'll be attending is progressive in many ways, but as far as I know, they still serve the same type of crap for lunch that most schools in the States are re-heating. So, I figure I have 2 years to incite some real change before my child lines up with his friends to get his servings of surplus processed meat, fruit-flvored gelatin, and chocolate milk...where should I start!?

If you are not aware of the big issues surrounding school lunches, here's a guest post from a great blog on the topic.
Fed Up With Lunch: The School Lunch Project The woman who writes the main blog, Mrs. Q, is an Illinois school teacher who has taken it upon herself to eat the school lunch every day and report on the contents and her experience to draw attention to the big problems and issues. Namely, they are: over processed foods, lack of fresh or properly cooked fruits and vegetables, an overabundance of packaging and waste, massive amounts of sugar, and general poor overall quality. She's even having blood tests done 6 months apart, so I'm really interested to see how the results come back... These lunch options directly reflect much of the convenience food that's on the grocery shelves today, so you have to figure many of the kids are eating this way all the time and many (maybe even most?) parents don't see a problem. But kids these days are in trouble. Obesity reigns, diabetes is an epidemic, and I suspect many other health problems are a direct result of all the preservatives and chemicals that are in the food America feeds its children.

I wonder if there's any way to start a city-wide "food revolution" of our own, or if I should just start with my own child's school and take baby steps. This will more than likely turn into something I'll need to devote quite a bit of my own time and energy to in order to see real results in 2 years, but I know deep in my heart it will be worth the effort. I have worked hard here at home to nourish my children as best I can from making their babyfood, feeding them organic dairy, grains, meat and produce whenever possible, and offering them a wide variety of tastes and textures. If you ask my kid what color bread/noodles/rice is, he'll say "brown", and I'd love to keep it that way. He can recognize herbs by smell and by sight and knows how to strip a sprig of thyme. It's pretty funny that my son is virtually a self-made vegetarian and the three things I've always had trouble getting him to eat in almost any form have been meat, eggs, and potatoes (the un-vegetable). Yes, even fries! He'll eat sweet potato fries, and now once in a while I've seen him munch a couple of regular fries down if someone puts them on his plate, but for the first 2.5 years of his life, he wouldn't even try one (not that I was trying very hard to change that!). A friend got him to bite into one at a restaurant once and he spit it out! Hahaha. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure that if offered chicken nuggets, nachos, hot dogs and pizzas on a regular basis, both my children would easily succumb to the new diet and happily munch away on the garbage next to their friends. But that's the whole problem and the bottom line is that that's not OK with me. Especially not 5 days a week!

So the deadline looms ahead of me and I'm starting to gather resources and gear up for this hurdle...but I'll wait until the 2010-2011 school year begins before I call the principal's office and ask for a meeting, and permission to spend a day in the cafeteria.

I welcome any ideas and comments!

Photo by bookgrl

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cloth vs.'s NOT a tie!

Recently, in the wake of the Procter & Gamble media storm surrounding their new version of Pampers Dry Max diapers, the disposable diaper giant has been claiming that disposables are not worse overall than cloth diapers. Hmmm, really? They posted a Facts vs. Myths page that tries to sell this idea, but I'm not buying it. When reading results from skewed and biased "studies", it's really easy to believe something that sounds unbelievable...when you want to. Parents don't want to think about how much their diapering decisions are impacting the earth, filling our landfills and that they might be affecting the future health of their children. They want to do what's best, but sometimes that conflicts with what they have time for or think they can deal with. But I implore you if you are a parent of a child in diapers to read this and be patient with me as I plead my case. (if you want to skip reading about my whole cloth diapering experience, just skip to the bottom where I list the pros and cons or visit the Real Diaper Association)

When I first became a mother, I planned to cloth diaper, but I was scared that it would be more work, and the outlay of $$$ at the get-go seemed daunting. What if I bought a type of cloth diaper that I didn't like? It's not like you can just return them... And what if I couldn't handle it and gave up? The perfect solution seemed to be a diaper service, so I signed up. It turned out that I was an overstressed, under-rested new mother with a baby that seemed to cry all the time. Dealing with the cloth diapering service included forgetting to leave the diapers out for the service pickup on the right day, gagging at the stink that came from the pail when I had to toss dipes in near the end of the week, and forgetting to pay the new bill from the service that never seemed to send me a tangible reminder that it was coming due. It was all a bit more than I had bargained for and those little Swaddlers that came home with us from the hospital seemed SO much easier! By the time my son was 3 or 4 months old, I was over it. I figured I had given it a try and it just "wasn't for me". That's how I let myself off the hook, but every time I walked a stinky, heavy bag full of disposable diapers to the trash chute over the next 2 years, I felt a twinge of guilt, as I think many parents do. Yes, it's hard to pretend that you don't know exactly where all those bags are headed. And how long they'll be there, and how many other ones are heading there the same day, all over the world. How sad. Is this really the legacy I wanted to leave my baby?

The biggest problem for me was that all the other facets of my life were getting "greener and greener". So apart from the normal, "oh, I feel kind of bad that I'm throwing all these diapers away all the time..." guilt, I also had this part of my life and routine that seemed more and more incongruous as time went by. If I thought throwing away thin little paper napkins at each meal was such a big deal, why did I keep buying (and tossing) all these bulky, chemical-laden disposable diapers? I know why. Because I thought disposables were easier and I din't think I could handle it.

So, when I was pregnant with my second child, I started talking to some of the other moms I knew who cloth diapered at home. This seemed to make sense since we'd buy the diapers once, and then just RE-USE them. The only things we'd have to continue to buy would be detergent, and possibly wipes (but you can even use cloth wipes made of great fabrics like bamboo and flannel and just wash them with your diapers!). With a second baby on the horizon, the $$ savings was a draw. My husband estimated that instead of buying premium diapers for 2+ years, we would spend $2000 less by buying cloth diapers. That was a big selling point! We also went to a cloth diapering info session at BeByBaby, a local baby shop, and got to see all the different types of cloth diapers in person. Seeing how they were used, how they felt, and learning the pros and cons was really helpful and clinched the decision for us. That day, we bought a few cute covers, these cool little things called Snappis, and our pail and liner, as well as our special detergent (we bought Charlie's Soap), and were excited to get started when our baby entered the scene...

When she was born, we did use the disposables from the hospital, and didn't turn down the gifts of disposables from family and friends...but we knew that when they started to run out, we'd start up with the cloth. I think it might be smart, especially for new parents, to give yourself a couple weeks to just get used to the chaos of having an infant before jumping in to cloth diapering with both feet. When we started in earnest, my first impression was a bit of surprise at how easy it was! After a few more weeks, I bought some assorted types and brands of cloth diapers from an acquaintance so I could try them out before buying a whole stash of anything. Our experience was that the prefolds with covers worked best up until about 12 lbs, and then the pocket diapers seemed to become our favorites. Now we use a combination of 13 Fuzzi Bunz and Bum Genius pocket diapers with a couple prefold backups. I do 2 or 3 extra loads of laundry/week, which isn't a big deal since most moms feel like they do lots of laundry anyway, and since nothing gets wrinkled if I don't "fold" it right away, it's pretty low maintenance as far as laundry goes. The routine is easy, and we are not throwing any diapers away on a regular basis!! Now I feel so good about keeping our carbon footprint small, refraining from adding more diapers to the landfills and keeping chemicals off of our baby's skin. Plus, she looks adorable in a dress or tee shirt and a cloth dipe!

Here are the real comparisons from my viewpoint.

  • First and foremost, there is way more waste involved in the manufacture, constant shipping, and disposal of disposable diapers. Even if creating, packing, and shipping created the same amt of waste for a cloth diaper as for a disposable (it doesn't), you'd have to multiply the number for the disposables by THOUSANDS for each baby, whereas the cloth dipe is only made, packaged and shipped ONCE.
  • Some say the water used to clean cloth diapers tips the scales back to the center. It doesn't! It is estimated to take 2.3 times more water to make a new disposable diaper than to wash a cloth one...and that does not take the new HE washers into account. It is also estimated that the amount of water used to wash a load of diapers is equal to the amount of water that would be used to flush your toilet 5 times. So cloth diapering actually saves water over potty training! Ha!
  • Cloth diapers are not more difficult to use. They have come a LONG way since the rubber pants over safety-pinned cloth. The "pocket-style" diapers we use in our family are so easy I don't even have to show babysitters how to use them. There are styles with alpix (hook and loop) closures or snaps, and both work great. Even when we do use regular cloth diapers, called prefolds (what my family thinks of as burp cloths), we use these cool Snappis to hold the cloth together...SO much easier, faster and more safe than pins!
  • When you are out and about, it does seem easier to use a disposable that you can just toss. But I have found it's not more difficult to just put the used cloth dipe in a bag (I still just reuse produce bags from the grocery, but you can get these really pretty "wet bags"...) and then into the pail when you get home. Sometimes that's even proven easier than trying to find a garbage can!
  • Like I mentioned my my personal story, Cloth Diapers actually SAVE you money over time. Pretty easy to win this one over disposables since I now feel like my baby's diapers are virtually free. Here is a link to a great, local, mom-owned company that has starter kits that make it really easily affordable to get started.
  • Wetness that doesn't breathe causes diaper rash, and (most) cloth diapers are breathable. Disposables are not. Plus, they use all kind of questionable chemicals that have been cited to cause terrible rashes and blisters on some babies. Some of these chemicals are also known hormone disrupters and carcinogens. Do you want that next to your baby's butt?
  • Cloth diapers are CUTE! They come in all kinds of colors and patterns and beat silly characters any day. Hands down.
  • And last but not least on my list, is the fact that we need to ditch products that depend on petroleum for their manufacture. The major catastrophe happening in the Gulf of Mexico right now is directly related to our dependence on oil. We need to make some major changes, and getting rid of our abnormal dependance on disposable diapers is a big step in the right direction.
For more statistical information on Cloth Diapers vs. Disposables, please visit the Real Diaper Association.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Oprah Store...who knew?

I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a tea this week at the Oprah Store. Yes, the Oprah Store. I have talked since to several people who didn't know that it existed. Did you? I knew, but only because a friend's boyfriend was the merchandising designer (or something like that?!) when they built the store a few years ago, and I also remember an episode where Oprah had all these models come out showing off the newly designed merch that the store would sell. But even when I went to my first taping last summer, both my friend Erin and I were SO pregnant that there was no waddling over to the store after the show wrapped!

So, this was my first venture inside, and it was...really great! Aesthetically, the space is open and airy, but also homey and cozy at the same time. It has tons of natural, passive lighting (what better to shop with!), exposed brick, and soaring ceilings. There are comfy seating areas if you need a rest or to just relax for a minute, and lots of color in the displays all around the store.They have baby section too, with several organic cotton offerings in sweet pale hues, as well as funny bibs that say "O Yum", and "O Yuck". Maybe due to the changing seasons, there are TONS of sales throughout the store, and if you enter coupon code OStoreTea2010 you can enjoy FREE shipping for any online purchases today and tomorrow (5/6 & 5/7). Check it out for some last min Mother's Day giving! (Shhh...I got my mom her gift there this year!)

Oprah wasn't at the Tea, but her renown chef, Art Smith was! He was there signing copies of his cookbooks and I was luck enough to get a signed copy of Kitchen Life, Real Food for Real Families - Even Yours! Art was really sweet and funny and it was a treat to meet a celeb chef who didn't seem like he minded chatting. He told us about his healthy heating and exercise regimen that has helped him to shed 90 lbs! And how beautiful Padma Lakshmi's new baby is. We dished Top Chef, on which he is a judge for the upcoming season and I can't wait to try out some of his recipes with my budding 3 year old top chef! I love that Art's cookbooks seem to revolve around the theme of bringing the family back together at the dinner table, a value that we share here at our house.

Talbott Teas and Karyn's Cooked/Raw, provided the refreshments. The bread pudding I had from Karyn's was delish. Ooey-gooey and tasted like it was heading straight for my boo-tay, but Karyn assured me it was actually healthy! I tasted Talbott's Chocolate Strawberry Temptation tea, and it was neither overly sweet or "fake" tasting. The bit of caffeine helped get me by without my little cat nap that day, and it felt absolutely luxurious to sip the tasty tea while chatting with all the other hip bloggers. What a fun time!

So remember that the next time you need a special gift for your fav Oprah Fan, a little something to say thank you to a teacher, or just a fun day shopping in Chicago, check out the Oprah Store! It is shopping local, after all. ;-)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Where am I Going with Green?

I have to admit that lately I have felt a bit overwhelmed by all my green-leanings and activist agendas. There are SO many topics within these categories that I believe in and want to further or participate in, but as a mom of a 3 year old son and a 10 month old daughter, I just don't have the time! Now, it's true that there is room in my life for some re-prioritizing...maybe I could write letters to editors or call my representatives while my kids nap instead of napping myself, or I could work on planning community events after they go to bed instead of watching LOST or 24 with my husband...but I feel like I need that down time to stay sane and I am a better mom for it.

Last night I went out with a bunch of my fellow stay-at-home-mom friends, and we talked briefly about when we might go back to work, and if we did, what would we do? Some said they'd go back to their old professions, or go back to school to learn a new vocation. But 2 of us thought me might use our talents and interests as our guide. For me this means that when both of my children start school (or maybe even start going to school full-day, but that's about 4 years off! argh!), I would love to find some sort of paying gig that allows me to further an eco-consious cause. But which one?! I guess it might come down to who is hiring and who would hire ME, but in my mind, I imagine this dream job to be something that saves the world while teaching kids how to do it. But which direction will I head in search for such a job? Food and eating seems to be on my brain a lot lately... Greening school lunches? Hopefully that will come a long way in the next 4 years, but that would be rewarding. Especially after watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Working for or with my local food co-op? Teaching moms (or anyone) how to shop smart for organics and plan and cook their menus? Several of my friends have shown interest in wanting to learn how to do those things...even greening homes for people or helping the city put together a green-condo program! Maybe working for the cloth diaper movement (I love cloth diapers more now than I ever thought I would! A topic for another post)? Or working for a local branch of an eco-non-profit like Environment Illinois or One Sky (I wonder if either of those would pay)? These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg, but things that bounce around in my head on a regular basis.

Since my whole eco-consiousness took root and grew upon my becoming a parent, it wold only make sense that this has become more than a passing interest for me. Much like I love my children more and more as time goes by, I have become more and more "green" too. For their sake as well as mine! It has become a passion. The more I learn, the more I change, and the metamorphosis when I "finish" my stint as a stay-at-home-mama, it only feels natural that I keep moving in that direction.

And BTW, click on the link above to Jamie Oliver's site and SIGN THE PETITION to get healthy foods into kids school lunches! And then get involved at your local school, whether you have children or not!

Photo credit - Alyssa Miserendino

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Local Breakfast! Opting Out.

This is a picture of a breakfast my husband made for us this past November. He was/we were proud that the the whole meal was organic, local, and delicious! We had just started getting a meat share from a local CSA and this was our first meal made with the organic, grass-fed bacon. Can I just say, um, "YUM"? There was a definite difference in taste between this and store-bought bacon, and in such a taste-test, the bacon from Cedar Valley Farms would be the clear winner. The hash was made from sweet potatoes, onions and thyme, all fresh, organic and local as well from our produce CSA, Angelic Organics. And then the egg...which was amazing...was courtesy of a good friend of ours. She lives less than 2 miles from us, and so do her organically-fed, free range chickens! Besides offering my son endless entertainment, these chickens lay 4 eggs a day and this time we were lucky enough to be the recipients. Creamy, rich and delicious, this over-easy egg was awesome!

I wish we could eat like this 100% of the time! If that were the case, we would be able to completely "opt-out" of the mass-produced food system in this country. We grew a bunch of produce on our balcony this year, I've started baking a lot of our own bread, and never buy cake mix anymore. In addition to our 2 csa's (meat and produce), I shop at the local co-op and the farmers' market, went berry picking this summer and froze the bounty. But I do still feel the need to grocery shop at places like Trader Joe's, and in a pinch, you might find me looking for the organic stuff at Jewel. Part of this is for convenience, and another is lower prices. But wherever we can afford to, we are opting out more and more these days. After watching documentaries like King Corn, Food Inc. and reading books like The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, I just can't bring myself to eat many of the things I never gave much thought to before. Let alone serve them to my family. Deciding to make what we put on the table for ourselves and our kids as local, organic, and unprocessed as possible just makes sense. I guess it's true that ignorance is bliss, but in the case of food, ignorance can lead to obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease, and more. And I'm not even talking about how the mass-produced food in the US harms us socially, economically, or envionmentally. (I'll save that food for thought for another post - or 10!) If you have haven't seen these films yet and have the time or interest, put them on your Netflix queue. And hopefully they will change the way you view food and the supermarket aisles. Then you'll be on your way to eating totally local meals once in a while too (and if you already do, great job!!).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why we need to support the Cap & Trade bill...

Please take a few minutes to watch this short and clear video that explains why we should call/email our legislators and tell them to support the environmental cap & trade bill...and let's hope it gets passed, for our sake as well as the next generations'!

The Facts of Cap-and-Trade from Clean Energy Works on Vimeo.