28 August 2009

bottled water everywhere & not a drop to drink

Ugh. I am so boggled by bottled water. Despite being wasteful, unsustainable, and ripe for contamination, water sold in disposable plastic containers continues to enjoy ridiculous popularity among Americans, who are either oblivious or simply don't care about the many drawbacks of bottled H2O.

Fortunately, I am not alone in my loathing of these portable potables - the media has finally started to shed some light on the safety issues of bottled water, in addition to spreading the word about the environmental havoc wreaked by the bottles themselves. The Smithsonian, The BBC, the Polaris Institute, and GOOD Magazine (amongst many, many others) have all shed light on the bottled water issue, and some places have banned the pest all together (San Francisco, Bundanoon, Australia, and the University of Winnipeg have all enacted bans). One if my favorite sites, Care2, recently posted two excellent articles on the problems of bottled water. You can read these articles here and here.

So what can you do to fight back against bottled water? For starters, take tap! Your tap water is more rigorously tested than bottled, making it less likely to be contaminated with pollutants or additives. (Not to mention a whole lot cheaper!) You can actively campaign against desalination, a high-energy process which removes salt from sea water sources, costing taxpayers big dollars and putting our environment at unknown risks. You can dine at restaurants that have pledged to use only tap water and use it in a responsible manner. Finally, you can make the pledge to take back the tap, and join thousands of others in their quest for responsible, sustainable use of our world's greatest natural resource.

Clean water you can feel good about drinking - how refreshing!

Image via www.charitywater.org

23 August 2009

green space solutions

And now, for you mathematically inclined readers out there, I give to you the following equation of small space solutions:

  • Green love - toxic emissions = fantastic bike!
  • Little home + fantastic bike = unpleasant space issues.
  • Gladiator claw + your tiny home's ceiling = no more sleepy mornings of kick-the-bike!
  • Your home + your fantastic bike x (your ceiling + Gladiator claw) = a cleaner, greener, more organized you!

Check out how the heavy-duty, bike-holding Gladiator claw can help you keep your bike off your kitchen floor by visiting them online at www.gladiatorgw.com.

Interested in being a greener biker? Check out the tips offered here by the International Bike Fund.

Photo via Gladiator GW

20 August 2009

18 August 2009

think less, do more: growing a green thumb

With the first-ever National Community Garden Week starting in just 5 days, now seems like a good time to consider developing your own (organic) green thumb. It may seem hard to cultivate an organic garden if you’re living in a crowded metropolitan area, but it’s way easier than you think – not to mention a great way to cut your grocery bills, reduce energy dependence, and add a little flora to the concrete jungle!

This year, I grew heirloom Tuscan kale, two heirloom tomato plants (Black and Yellow Plum), and a whole mess of herbs (epazote, lavender, Greek oregano, lemon thyme, and rosemary), all organically. Nothing makes the importance of organic produce more apparent than growing your own food and watching chemicals go from their leaves, into their soil, and finally onto your plate.

What does “organic” mean for the independent gardener? It means using natural solutions to control pests, cultivating your plants without chemicals, and enjoying delicious, homegrown and handpicked fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Getting started is easier than you might think – here are a few tips for getting your organic garden growing.

Chuck out all the weed killer, synthesized soil, MiracleGro, and/or other chemically derived products that might be lurking around your home. (In the last year alone, the Scotts MiracleGro Co. had over twenty products pulled from the shelves
by order of the EPA due to unregistered chemicals or “mislabeling”.) These products contain unpronounceable toxins such as chlorothalonil (a carcinogen) or fertilizers derived from CAFO chickens and cows, things you don’t want going into your food (I contacted Sharon Newell of Scott MiracleGro Co’s customer service center to enquire as to where Scott gets its fertilizers - she refused to disclose their sources). Natural (and more affordable!) alternatives to gardening aids abound: plain old vinegar is a great weed controller, and the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides has a wealth of information on how to treat almost any pest problem.

Get Yer Gear
If you aren’t sure what your home can sustain, speak with your local nursery. They can help you grow the best garden for your home’s specific conditions, no matter how dank/dark/musty/haunted it may be. You can also bring in a small sample of your yard’s soil, to test it for any pH adjusting you it might need. If you’re potting (like me!), you can pick up all the natural soil you need right there are the center. This year, I picked up a slew of
these great eco-friendly planters at Sprout Home in Williamsburg (there's a store in Chicago, too, for all of you out there rockin' the Windy City). Cute planters, green sources, fresh food – what’s not to love?!

Go on and get dirty! Enrich your soil with homemade
compost – you’ll reduce the amount of waste you put out into the world and grow happier, healthier plans. You can learn lots more about composting at the Lower East Side Ecology Center (who accepts unwanted kitchen scraps, in addition to offering classes on composting and sustainable living).
Control pests via natural alternatives

Above all else, enjoy it! Gardening is one of the best ways to relax, save money, and increase your veggie intake - not to mention your bragging rights.

Photo 1 via gammablog.com
Photo 2 via re-nest.com

14 August 2009

national community gardening week

From Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the genius who earlier this summer presented us with National Farmers Market Week, comes a new initiative aimed at reforming American eating habits: from August 23rd to the 29th, Americans everywhere are encouraged to celebrate the first ever National Community Gardening Week, which will honor the virtues of local, sustainable agriculture and the communities who work together to produce it. In a press release distributed by the White House, Vilsack proclaimed

"Community gardens provide numerous benefits including opportunities for local food production, resource conservation, and neighborhood beautification. But they also promote family and community interaction and enhance opportunities to eat healthy, nutritious foods. Each of these benefits is something we can and should strive for."
This week is a great opportunity to truly focus on why you are (or should be) involved in your community, your food, and your garden. Gardening encourages a greater respect for the environment and the natural resources you use every day. Extending this respect to the community you live in connects you with your neighbors and your produce, a connection that can thoroughly benefit your health as well as your social life!

Check out these links to make every week a gardening week in your community!

You Grow Girl - Gardening for the People
Urban Gardening Tips from Organic Gardening.com
Edible Schoolyard - How can you start a community garden at your local school?
KidsGardening - Get your wee ones involved!
OasisNYC - Community gardens in New York

Image via www.primeearth.org

12 August 2009


  • Last week you'll recall I blogged about Michael Pollan's fantastic New York Times piece on American's lack of kitchen activity and our general resolution to let others do the cooking for us. Looks like I wasn't the only one excited by the article: Amy Palanjian over at ReadyMade Magazine is blogging this week about her attempt to go 7 days without processed foods. Palanjian asks:
    "Are processed foods necessarily a bad thing? Is it possible—mostly from a time standpoint—to really make everything I eat for one week? How can I tell a good processed food (milk? yogurt?) from a bad one (would that be something like Pringles?)? How will this impact my social life? Is there such a thing as minimally processed chocolate? Because to be honest, this is the part of the week that I’m most concerned about."
    Her progress and honesty has been fascinating and inspiring - follow along at ReadyMade.com!
  • A few years ago, the US military went on a wild goose chase or some very famous weapons of mass destruction. Though their search may have been in vain, the less-famous searches of police officers across the nation have produced inconceivable amounts of firearms confiscated from offenders stopped in their day-to-day work. In Los Angeles, these arms are being recycled into road improvements and community-benefiting projects for California, Arizona and Nevada. The effort, known as Project Isaiah, has been going strong for 16 years now, and was recently revisited by NPR. You can hear their broadcast here.
  • Here's a terrific article out of Chicago on how mega-conglomerates are jumping on the local bandwagon. (Turns out that, according to The Book of Gap, "local" = your nearest mall.)
  • Finally: do you love awesome necklaces? Do you hate spending a load of money on yet another trinket, no matter how awesome it might be? Do you feel guilty about buying more things, especially when you have so much stuff just lying about your home as it is? Then check out this AWESOME necklace tutorial from Cucumbersome! Inspired by the multi-layered fabric necklaces appearing at Etsy and Urban Outfitters (and running roughly $30-60 a pop - ouch), this tutorial is super easy, makes use of the old tshirts you aren't wearing, and actually looks like what it's supposed to when it's done. Woo hoo!
Now that that's all out there, go! Read! Create! Dream!

*image via Readymade.com

09 August 2009

green 1 thing: rethinking the dishwasher

If you’re one of those New Yorkers fortunate enough to have a dishwasher (you lucky, lucky dogs you), you’ll be happy to know that your magic machine saves more water than washing your scummy pots by hand! But there’s a catch (there always is, isn’t there?): you’re saving water only if you’re running the dishwasher when it’s full. Like, seriously full. Not “turn it on before Weeds!” full, not “I can’t wait to use my crock pot again!” full, but FULL. Otherwise you’re wasting water – loads of it. It takes between 11-15 gallons of water to run a conventional dishwasher; run once daily, that’s enough water to fill over 100 hot tubs. 100 hot tubs out of a single dishwasher?! Ahh!!

Don’t stress, though – reducing your dishwasher usage is hardly painful. Just stick to using it only when it’s maxed for capacity. Read the manufacturer’s guidelines on your model (if you don’t have the manual, guidelines can usually be found on-line) and be sure you’re using the proper amount of detergent so you don’t have to run the same load twice. If you really want to go for the gold, skip the dry cycle and let your dishes air dry – you’ll save energy and reduce the amount of green house gases your home emits.

07 August 2009

06 August 2009

naitonal farmers market week

Have you visited your local farmers market lately? If not, now is the time: it's National Farmers Market Week! Designed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack of the United States Department of Agriculture, Farmers Market Week celebrates the value of local, sustainable produce and the community benefits enjoyed by towns that directly support their local farmers and economies.

This year, the USDA has paired up with the Farmers Market Coalition to launch the first ever "Markets are Up!" campaign, intended "to help market managers effectively communicate the importance of markets in their communities". The FMC has put together a load of awesome resource materials to help spread the word about the invaluability of farmers markets and local produce.

Whether you're in the Midwest and picking while the produce is good or you're in LA where nature's bounty makes its presence known 365 days a year, farmers markets are a great way to give back to the people who make the goodies that sustainable life. There are now an estimated 4,900 farmers’ markets throughout the United States providing, educating, and sustaining communities - why not find yours and see what all the fuss is about?

image via farmers market coalition

03 August 2009

beyond shake n' bake

In case you missed it, Sunday's edition of The New York Times Magazine contained a brilliant article by Michael Pollan on the American obsession with cooking shows and our paradoxical loss of actual kitchen activity. Read the article for yourself at NY Times.com.

Not a New York Times subscriber? Head over to bugmenot.com for a single-serve password that will allow you to slip through for the day.

02 August 2009

a summer dish for wine lovers

I'm famous on the internet!

Check out this recipe, Chipotle Honey Salmon with Corn-Raisin-Pecan Relish, I custom-created for Oriel Wines to be paired with their Femme Fatale Rose.

It is delish (the wine and the dish).

Yes, I am also a poet.

one saturday and a belly full of food, part 2

On that same fated Saturday, July 26th, it wasn't enough to gorge myself on food at the Brooklyn Flea-- I had much more in store! My friends at one of the catering companies I work for, Fancy Girl Table, partnered with the farm that provides them a lot of their organic produce, Blooming Hill Farm, to put on this amazing feast of five-course, vegetarian, organic deliciousness. A couple of my friends and I skipped out of the city en route for the lower Hudson Valley for the evening to take part of the fun. I could say more, but here's the menu and a few photos instead.

Sips & Cocktails
• Lemon, Lime, and Blueberry Infused Spring Water
• Mint Iced Tea
• Anise Hyssop Watermelon Rum Mash
• Opal Basil Vodka Lemonade Gimlet
• Sangria and Local Beer Selections

Hors d'oeurves
• Roasted Root Vegetable and Goat Cheese Phyllo Turnovers with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
• Homemade Ricotta and Grilled Peach Crostini with Cardamom Earl Grey Syrup
• Fingerlings, Caramelized Cippolini Onions, Lavender, Thyme, and Sprout Creek Farm Cheese with Truffle Oil Grilled Pizzas
• Grilled Corn on the Cob with Lime, Red Pepper Flakes, and Cilantro
• Barbecued Portobello and Smoked Onion Creme on Corn Johnny Cakes

• Farm Salad: Mesclun, Beets, Romano Beans, Nasturtium, Sprout Creek Farm Cheese, and Opal Basil Vinaigrette
• Chilled Forager's Chowder with Grilled Corn, Summer Squashes, Potato, and Lovage
• Vegetable Harvest Cakes with Corn Pudding, Balsamic Grilled Radicchio and Grilled Farm Vegetables
• Blueberry Cobbler and Anise Hyssop Ice Cream

Everything was absolutely incredible, though I'm still dreaming about that cobbler...

If you're in the area, you should visit Blooming Hill Farm for brunch on the weekends, or check out Fancy Girl's food at Clay Gym, T Salon, or hire them for your next event-- you will NOT be disappointed.

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