27 November 2009

when hunger strikes, brooklyn responds.

Oy. I'm hungry. But leftovers are so boring! What to do?! Aha! Here's an idea: Not Eating Out in New York has teamed up with Brooklyn's own Working Class Foodies to bring us some deliciously innovative alternatives to the standard leftover options. How's this sound: turkey goulash with mashed potato dumplings?

Ah, full again. Until next time, lovelies.

24 November 2009


AAAAH!!!!!!!!! YAY!Love her or hate her, Martha's show is viewed by millions, many of whom still feel that vegetarianism is a "radical lifestyle". Even those keyed into the benefits and ethics of vegetarianism still might be intimidated to have one at the table, especially on such a carnivore-centric holiday. Episodes like this can help to comfort and assuage those fears, making vegetarianism better understood by some who might never have invested the time to find out otherwise.

You can watch the full episode of Martha Stewart's Vegetarian Thanksgiving here. And remember: vegetarian, vegan, carnivorous or otherwise, Thanksgiving is not about the food on the table. It is about being with the people you love and appreciating what you have. Take care everyone, and give thanks!

21 November 2009

green 1 thing: in-flight impact

Thanksgiving is less than a week away, a lot of you have one thing on your mind: home. Roughly 38 million Americans travel for the holidays, with many of them taking to the rails and skies. When people consider how rough travel is on our environment, the littler things - like the millions of snacks and beverages distributed in-flight - are often overlooked. Those little bottles of water and bags of peanuts really ad up, both in physical waste and production energy. You can help cut down on this waste by trying the following easy alternatives:

  • Bringing your own snacks not only allows you to refuse the individually-sized bags offered on planes, but provides you with the freedom to choose whatever you like. You'll also save big bucks if you happen to be taking a method of transit that doesn't offer free goodies (like Amtrak).

  • If you're in for the long haul, the vegan/vegetarian option has the lowest environmental impact of all the in-flight meals. This handy list from CheapFlights tells you which airlines offer what meals - from gluten-free to whole food - and how to get them.

  • Airlines use about 1 million disposable cups every 6 hours, something easily avoided by bringing your own bottle. Most airlines, however, will simply refill your eco-friendly bottle with bottled water, thwarting your good intentions. Try bringing your empty bottle, filling up in the fountain after security (liquids will not be allowed through), and then turn down the cups on the plane.
If we all choose these more environmentally sound options, we can eliminate nearly 500,000 tons of waste per year - a figure that is predicted to increase 45% by the year 2015. Try it out, and feel good about doing good! And of course, no matter where you go or how you get there, I hope you get there safe, sound, healthy, and happy!
Image via AirlineMeals.net

19 November 2009

rooftop farm returns for one day only!

Though the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm has officially closed for the season, they'll be temporarily re-opening their doors to the public for their Thanksgiving Market this Sunday, November 22nd. With 100% of all proceeds going towards next season's seed stock and LOADS of beautiful fall produce grown right here in Brooklyn, there is no reason not to support your local farmers and make this Thanksgiving out of this world.

The Eagle Street Rooftop Farm is a locally owned and operated farm run in collaboration with Growing Chefs, Broadway Stages, and Goode Green Rooftop Designs. For Brooklynites, it is as local as it gets. Check them out this Sunday from 10am-4pm on Eagle Street, between Franklin and West. Look for the sign.

18 November 2009

product placement - seasons for iphone

The trees bare, Thanksgiving just around the corner, and at your local grocer, "fresh" the asparagus is heaped just as high as it ever was, waiting for you to take it home. Wait, what? Asparagus? In November? Thanks to the now-standard "have it all" methods of American supermarkets, asparagus is indeed available all year round - as is pretty much anything else that grows - which has totally derailed our notions of what grows when, and how we eat when we eat from the earth.

I know. This is not news to you. You've heard this from Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingslover and the guys who made Food, Inc. You've even heard it from me. But a helpful little reminder is just that - helpful. And with that in mind, I encourage you to check out the Seasons app for iPhone. A handy little interface for the device that's always with you, Seasons gives you the info on "“fruits, vegetables, lettuces, herbs, fungi and nuts,” illustrated with details on each food and a graph detailing when and how in season it is. It's just one more great way to keep your mind, money, and body a little closer to home.

Image via Terrapass

16 November 2009

green graffiti

Love it or hate it, graffiti is a huge part of our country's independent art culture. But the aerosol sprays preferred by so many bombers is not only harmful to the artists (causing brain damage, respiratory depression, and liver and kidney disease), but to the environment as well, as their volatile organic compounds (otherwise known as VOCs), react with nitrogen oxides to form ground-level ozone, significantly altering and damaging our atmosphere.

One artist, however, is looking to make an environmentally positive impact with both his message and his medium: Jesse Graves, a street artist based out of Milwaukee, posts his socially-conscious messages around town using mud - yes, mud - as his paint. Says Graves (who tags his work "MSR", or "Mud Stencils Rule"):

I use mud or earth because it is a fundamental life-giving substance, logical for my messages. Mud stencils are an evolving medium, intended for art and social justice, not corporate advertisement.
Graves' images are clever and eye-catching, and he encourages others to follow suit - the recipe for his bio-paint is presently available on his site.

Eco message, eco method. I highly approve.

12 November 2009

bar soap versus shower gel

"bar soap versus shower gel": That's the line I've been entering into my Google searches lately. As the last of my various gifted bar soaps are running out, I'm forced to decide what direction to go in next.

Growing up we always had soft, peachy bars of Caress in our bathtub, but as Bath + Body works took over in the adolescent years, as did every flavor of shower gel imaginable-- so much so that I had enough gifted shower gel to last me into my second year of college. I've continued with the shower gel trend ever since (though stepping away from the overly frangranced stuff and into more subtle scents and natural ingredients).

I've always been attracted to the homemade bar soaps I've seen at craft fairs and the organic bar soaps you see at the stores (helloooo, Pangea Organics!), but it was first, a gift of a Austin Natural Soap 9-bar sample pack from my brother a couple of Christmasses ago and the a few gifted Pangea bars from a relative that got me going. It was such a fun, nostalgic activity, washing with bar soap. Mostly I rubbed it on my loofah so it already had the foamy thing going, it seems less wasteful and I thought, "This is it! I'm switching to bar soap!"

From a sustainability point of view, I still feel pretty committed to bar soap. Less packaging (and what packaging there is is generally paper and easily recyclable-- I love avoid plastic as much as possible) and you're also not paying to ship water (as gel products are primarily water).

Economically, I struggle. A nice 5-6 oz. bar of organic soap costs about $7-8. A 12 oz. bottle of my favorite shower gel, Avalon Organics Rosemary, runs around $11. A bar of soap lasts me 5-6 weeks and the gel 3 months or more. So, I suppose in the end, I get approximately the same mileage per ounce, but at a slightly higher cost.

Hmm, but that's what it's all about isn't it? We pay more for organic products because they are healthier for our bodies, the farmers, and the land. We pay more (and sometimes less) for locally grown produce to bolster our area economies, support farmer friends, and keep excess CO2's out of the air. It all comes full circle! (Even for yours truly.)

Well, seeing as I just solved my own argument... it's now time to order from Meow Meow Tweet Tweet-- a Brooklyn-based organic soapmaker that I spotted at the Renegade Craftfair this summer. I've had my mind on their yummy, creatively scented soaps for awhile, and soon their Cinnammon Coffee will have a spot on my soapdish.

11 November 2009

five boroughs. one million trees.

Every fall New York City collects and disposes of roughly 20,000 tons of leaves and returns them to our parks and gardens as soil-enriching compost - every fall, that is, until this year. In 2008, the collection and compost of residential was cut from the city’s budget, leaving the task to the citizens of New York. (All city collected leaves will heretofore wind up in out-of-state landfills)

Another chore, you say? Hardly! Rising to the occasion is NYCLeaves, a volunteer-run, neighborhood-based coalition of green-minded New Yorkers coming together to harvest and compost fallen leaves. With multiple days and locations and a slew of volunteers already on board, Project Leafdrop is a great way to get involved in your community, working side-by-side with your neighbors and giving back to the city that supports you.

To find out more about Project Leafdrop or to add your garden to the list of compost recipients, visit NYCLeaves.org. Now get out there and rake something!

08 November 2009

hives above!

Got bees in your bonnet? The Brooklyn Bee Apiary will be hosting a Newcomer's Meeting this coming Saturday, November 14th, at 1:00pm.

More than just a means of taking your rooftop gardening up a notch, urban beekeeping is an incredible way to support a creature essential to New York's natural ecosystem. Local honey also reduces the severity of allergies; contains a wealth of anti-bacterial and -microbial properties, and it is a centuries-old ingredient in skin and hair beautifiers. Oh, and it tastes great, too!

If you would like to start keeping, or just want to learn more about this amazing practice, sign up at MeetUp.com. Hurry! Space is limited.

Image via Brooklyn Bee

06 November 2009

sound body, sound mind

As H1N1 continues to spread (and the news grows consistently grimmer), I thought it might be a good idea to post a follow up on my previous post on cold and flu prevention methods.

Mayo Clinic recently posted an article promoting the consumption of healthful whole foods as one of the most effective disease preventers, and I couldn't agree more. Though foods like kale, garlic, pomegranate, and almonds may be touted for their unique vitamins and minerals, research shows that it is these foods as a whole that make them their most potent, rather than their isolated nutrients.

Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands! This is the single most effective method of germ prevention, as well as the cheapest and easiest to do. If you're not near a faucet but want a little antibacterial omph (say, you just got off a train that could have doubled as a TB ward), try carrying some natural hand sanitizer with you. CleanWell makes a great spray that is alcohol and triclosan, free, cruelty free, and won't leave your hands smelling like a bottle of vodka. It's also cheap - their lavender starter pack is only $9.99 on their website. You can also find them at Whole Foods.

Go to bed. Seriously. Depriving your body of adequate sleep wears your body down and weakens your immune system, leaving you more prone to viral infections. According to a 2009 article from the Archives of Internal Medicine, inadequate sleep can leave a person three times more acceptable to colds than a fully-rested individual. How's that for sweet dreams?

As always, take care with the best of wishes from stem+leaf!

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