Ooh, my favorite!


The Changing Face of America
October 7, 2013, 11:46 am
Filed under: Compassion, Photography

changingface

I get the “what are you question” all the time, and while there are certainly better ways to frame the question, it still makes me happy that people are curious and interested. This is a really cool photo essay and article in National Geographic on The Changing Face of America. After the Cheerio commercial controversy seeing all of these fascinating and beautiful faces makes me happy.

[Thanks to my friend Nancy for sharing]



GMO OMG in Seattle
September 26, 2013, 1:06 pm
Filed under: Clean, Compassion, Farmer's Market, Food, Green, Health

GMO OMG

 

Seattle friends, we’re one of a handful of cities that have been selected for screenings of the documentary GMO OMG. Opening tomorrow at the SIFF Film Center in Queen Anne here are the showtimes:  Friday 7:30 | Saturday-Sunday 3:00, 5:15, 7:00 | Monday-Thursday 7:30

A strong turnout in these key cities would mean a wider distribution nationwide. A hot topic here in Washington, for sure, as we’re set to vote on Initiative 522 in November. YES on 522 would be a very important first step in labeling foods that have been genetically modified. My mattress has a mandatory label, why shouldn’t my food.



Stress: there’s an herb for that
September 18, 2013, 10:34 am
Filed under: Clean, Compassion, Green, Health

For the past few weeks I’ve had a series of eerily similar conversations with a whole range of people and friends. The topic is stress, but what’s so poignant about these conversations is that it seems people are suddenly very in-tune with the very specific effects that it’s having on them. Usually we throw stress around as an all-encompassing ailment, but lately I’m hearing talk of specific muscle aches, that anxious knot in your stomach, skin break-outs, difficult menstrual cycles, chronic fatigue, that awful feeling that a meltdown is right around the corner. Whatever the specifics, people are looking for help in dealing with the day.

Andrew referred to it as “industrialized society” the other day and I about had a freaking heart attack; god, what an awful term. But really it’s so spot on. We shouldn’t have to pep talk ourselves before braving the grocery store parking lot or merging into the morning commute, but for many of us it’s part of the daily routine.

While I continue to figure out the best way to deal with the crazy of each day I have found some great help in the form of a root. Here’s the deal:

DRHODI

Rhodiola has been used in Scandinavia, Russia, and Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to lift the mind and body, treat depression and fatigue, and also improve mental function. It grows in extreme cold climates and is wild or harvested by “ethical wild-crafting” where only a small quantity of the root is taken so the plant itself remains healthy and safe.

Rhodiola is a powerful adaptogen – meaning that its use helps to improve the health of our adrendal system which manages our body’s response to stress. Taking Rhodiola is a gentle way to help strengthen our body’s response to stress and also enhance our ability to cope with anxiety and fatigue. Essentially we’re able to help our body “adapt” to specific needs without disrupting other body functions.

The effects will be subtle and slow at first, but take your time and give it a chance to work its way into your system. The effects for me have been undeniable.

rhodiola

Many brands and forms are available. Whether you prefer capsules or tinctures poke around and see if your favorite brand has it on its own, or as an ingredient with other stress-fighting herbs. If you go that route, though, be sure the other ingredients jive with your needs. I have the tincture form above but my favorite is a capsule that contains some other adaptogens and is from a great company that does not use chemical solvents, and has a capsule that is made entirely of plants. You can learn more about it here, and buy the capsules here. And as always, this recommendation is one I truly believe in and I share it as an alternative to other forms of treatment. Consult your doctor with questions, and if it’s not your thing that’s cool too.



Lunaris Secco
August 19, 2013, 11:18 am
Filed under: Bubbly, Compassion

lunarisSecco

I’ve got a sexy new bubbly for you, and this one is a Prosecco from the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna.

The land was cultivated in the ’70’s by a group of like-minded hippies with a desire to farm traditionally and create a commune to raise livestock and produce cheese and traditional wines. The land itself has been biodynamic since 1985. (Pssst…in addition to being all-around better for you and the planet, organic and biodynamic wines mean no hangover!) In addition to the forward-thinking agriculture, the commune has also served to help rehabilitate recovering drug addicts. Socially responsible in very different ways.

LunarisSecco3

So much of this wine has a Basque cider quality, and while ciders do serve a great purpose, this wine is much more refined: the beautiful tangerine color, the sweet floral aroma, the crisp apply taste. It’s sweet, but far from cloying or assaulting. Think of it more as a blossomy aroma and not so much sweet in taste. I much prefer dry wines and somehow this manages to be both.

COUPE OR FLUTE?
The beading of this wine is special and should be savored. The large surface area of the coupe allowed the bubbles to dissipate too quickly which is why we preferred the flute.

It hits its stride texturally after a few minutes, so take your time and savor. Cheers!

Cooperativa la Collina Lunaris Secco Malvasia Dell Emilia La Collina $18

[Or pick up a bottle at Bar Ferd’nand]

LunarisSecco2



Head in the sand
July 8, 2013, 12:07 pm
Filed under: Compassion, Farmer's Market, Food, Green, Health

movies
Most nights after, mornings before, and days away from work I have a habit of turning on the TV and finding something completely mindless to watch on Instant Netflix. I don’t want to think because the way I feel I swear it would cause some sort of brain injury. I just want to melt into the couch and watch any given episode of Family Guy for the millionth time.

But, alas, one can only disconnect for so long, and I soon became aware of how empty and uninspiring that habit was making me feel. For the past few months I’ve changed up my routine and I’ve come across some really interesting documentaries that are streaming on Instant now. I’ll admit that I’m not always in the mood to watch a super-intense, angry-making, political-injustice type movie…I just take them so personally and its effects can be hard on me. But when I do find the time and the energy to watch them I always appreciate how my perspective shifts and the decisions I make are that much more informed. Here’s to not being an ostrich!

Queen of the Sun

I desperately want to add bees to our little farm, and as much as I’ve tried to make it work we just don’t have the room next to the chickens. This documentary from 2011 is beautiful and insightful. (I just wish the cover wasn’t so creepy.) With our beloved honey bees at the center of the story there’s also some really great profiles on some forward-thinking (and some wonderfully eccentric) apiarists and permaculture farmers, discussions on the dangers of monocrop culture and pesticide use, and a really interesting segment on commercial bees and the breeding of Queen’s. Complex and I can’t lie, very emotional it’s the type of movie that will change the way you think of bees, swarms, and farming.

The Happy Movie

A glimpse of people and cultures around the world in an attempt to identify what makes us happy. Positive psychology is a real thing and it’s pretty cool. After I saw how a rickshaw runner lives in India, or how a once beautiful woman found happiness after a terrible accident it helped me reevaluate my knee-jerk reactions to the petty injustices of the day. I often need reminding so I have watched this a few times. The story of the people of Okinawa, the highest concentration of the oldest living people on the planet, was particularly inspiring.

Hungry for Change

I have watched this documentary several times, and it’s usually when I need that little kick in the ass to get things back on track with my health and diet. There’s suddenly been a lot of talk on the addictive nature of refined sugar and flour and this will help explain how and why it’s so hard for us to step back. There’s also a ton of great information on natural health and beauty which is one of my very favorite topics. Heal your body from the inside!

HOT COFFEE

EVERYONE knows the story of the hot coffee incident from McDonald’s in the 80’s, but I guarantee that you don’t know the REAL story. It’s heartbreaking and so much more complex than any of us ever knew. This story and many more will change the way you think about “frivolous lawsuits” in our country and the effects of tort reform. It’s a very interesting look at how the hot coffee incident was exploited to ultimately protect corporations and change our justice system at the expense of the average citizen.



Askinosie Tableya
June 11, 2013, 12:15 pm
Filed under: Chocolate, Compassion

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My very favorite chocolate maker and all-around socially responsible company (I’ve written about them here and here) has a really great product/project. And, of course, it’s made of chocolate.

Tableya is a traditional beverage from the Philippines and is a rich hot chocolate drink that’s made from chocolate tablets. This version from Askinosie is crafted and packaged by the PTA at the Malagos Elementary School in Davao, Philippines where Askinosie has direct relationships with the cocoa farmers. Each $10 package of Tableya that’s purchased provides enough money for 225 meals. In total, the project totals to 140,000 meals for 700 students–lunch for every student at Malagos for one school year.

Askinosie buys the Tableya for $1 and sells it to us for $10. The $9 profit is used by the Malagos PTA to source, purchase, and prepare local food for the students.

More from Askinosie:

During a visit to Malagos Elementary School in 2011, Shawn Askinosie met with the principal and teachers and asked about their greatest needs– hunger was the biggest issue. He learned from the school administrators that 20% of the children at Malagos were on the malnourished “watch list.” So together, Shawn and the Malagos PTA created the Askinosie Chocolate University Malagos Elementary Lunch Program. The PTA makes the Tableya and ships it to the factory and 100% of the sales of this product fund the program.

We monitor height, weight and arm circumference of every student, along with attendance and graduation rates to measure the success of this program.  We are in constant contact with the school administrators.  Since the program began, with your help, we have provided 185,000 meals. 90% of the students have gained weight and the school attendance rate has increased.

Askinosie, their beautiful chocolate, and this wonderful project all make me so very happy. Get your bar of Tableya from Askinosie. $10 for a great cause, and great chocolate.



Accessories
April 29, 2013, 4:35 pm
Filed under: Clean, Compassion, Green, Health, Home, Organic

accessories

Apologies for the delay with this final installment of my eco-friendly Earth Week favorites. (The neighbor we were stealing wi-fi from suddenly protected his network. The bastard.)  So here it is, a list of some socially conscious accessories and toys. Some of these are first steps in making an effort at a greener life, but I always look and hope for the next iterations just around the corner.

1.  Beeswax candles  Burning 100% beeswax candles are the best way to add a pure, natural fragrance to a room while also cleaning and purifying the air. Burning beeswax emits negative ions that get rid of odors and toxins (like dusts, molds, pollens, and viruses!) by attracting and destroying positively charged particles. Conventional candles and air fresheners are filled with chemicals, just read the label. While these candles are more expensive than others, they burn longer and much cleaner and have the most beautiful natural fragrance. Definitely worth the investment. We get ours from a local nunnery that makes them all by hand, but they are also available at Brookfarm General store.

2.  Baggu Bags  Always a favorite around here, I love the bright colors and heavy-lifting capacity of these guys. I love that Seattle has banned plastic bags and now charges for paper, so if saving paper wasn’t incentive enough, now there’s a toll to consider. They used to have great mesh produce bags that I still use and love. Since they’re no longer available try something like these.

3.  Powerstrip  Most of our electronics (TVs, laptops, phone chargers continue to pull power even when they’re not in use or powered on. It’s called Phantom Load, and the power leached is HUGE, so much so that when people switch to using a powerstrip they notice huge savings monthly. Simply plug all of your electronics into a single powerstrip and flip the switch to completely power off the flow of electricity.

Eco- Tip: Instead of buying new, try picking up a used one at Goodwill.

4.  Preserve toothbrush  These guys are made of recycled yogurt cups, and once you’re done you can send them back to Preserve to be recycled into plastic lumber for picnic tables and park benches. I’d prefer to move away from plastics completely, but at least these guys are doing something other than sending it to landfills. Send your brush back with the pre-addressed packaging, or save them up and drop them off at your nearest Whole Foods. They’ll send them back for you.

5.  Coyuchi Organic cotton linens  Again, moving away from conventional cotton is better for the environment and for you. Since we use our sheets and bath linens everyday it’s worth investing in some nice organic cotton. We love our Coyuchi’s, and I especially love stealing Andrew’s big bath blanket towels. They are often on sale at One King’s Lane, or check them out at Coyuchi site.

6.  Toyota Prius C  Until last fall I had been driving my first car (a ’98 Honda Civic) for the past 15 years! It’s not that I don’t lust after a sexy sports car, it was just that I am conscious of every mile I drive, and every tank I fill. With some nudging from mom and dad I started looking for a new car and as much as I fantasized about a badass Audi coupe there really was only one car that was truly me, and that was the new Prius C…a slightly sportier version of the classic Prius. Since I’m smaller I like that there are fewer blindspots in this body style. Perfect for scooting around town.  I love my little car, and more importantly I love my gas mileage!



Cleaning
April 25, 2013, 3:13 pm
Filed under: Clean, Compassion, Green, Health, Home

Cleaning

 

These guys aren’t as fun or as sexy as pantry staples or cosmetics, but they are an easy and important way to be kind to the planet. The great things about them is that for the most part they’re easily accessible. Here are some of our favorite cleaners for laundry, dishes, and around the house.

1.  Food grade hydrogen peroxide (3%)  This guy again! It really is one badass all purpose cleaner and disinfectant. Again, must be food grade! Think all the benefits of bleach without the awful smell and toxic properties that are awful for us and aquatic life. It’s kind of mind blowing that this one ingredient can be used as a natural rinse for fruits and veggies, a clean way to disinfect countertops and bathrooms, AND also to purify skin, rinse for a clean mouth, and sanitize cuts and scrapes. All this from an extra oxygen molecule.

2-3.  Ecover Laundry Wash and Dish Tablets  A wonderful, forward thinking company with a great line of eco-friendly products that are quickly biodegradable and made with plant and mineral based ingredients. Their factories are run entirely on green electricity and even the bottles are made of a green plastic created from sugarcane (no use of crude oil). It’s a pretty amazing company, their site is a really interesting read.

4.  Natural wood brushes  No plastic on these guys, so there’s not as much guilt when they finally die and head to the garbage. Wood with sisal or tampico bristles. Lots of other great natural brushes at Brookfarm General Store.

5.  Bon Ami  Truly a good friend. This guy is perfect for scrubbing the tub or a greasy pan. Five simple ingredients. There’s also the original 1886 version which I just learned about.

Tomorrow’s the last day to celebrate Earth Week, so I’ll close out with my favorite accessories for around the house! (Are you enjoying this as much as I am?)



Kitchen and Pantry
April 23, 2013, 3:57 pm
Filed under: Clean, Compassion, Farmer's Market, Food, Green, Health, Home

KitchenPantry

One of the biggest impacts we have on the planet is the way we eat. Stigma’s and elitisms aside, eating locally, seasonally, and organically is one of the best things we can do to spare the environment. Here are a few of my favorite kitchen and pantry staples that are either from close by or are amazing products grown with eco-friendly, biodynamic methods.

1.  Eating Locally, Seasonally, and GMO-free. The average piece of produce on the shelf is 7-10 days old! Nutrients dissipate, so supporting your local farmer means fresher, happier produce, but it also means you’re eating what’s in season. You know those beautiful berries you see at the store in December? Perhaps they’re organic, perhaps not; regardless though, we aren’t meant to eat berries in December. Industrial Organic agriculture may have fewer pesticides but it is far from eco-friendly as the amount of irrigated water and transportation (often times) into the country takes a huge amount of resources. This article from the New York Times sheds some light on the Industrial Organic model. It’s sadly, not a good one.

2.  Briden Wilson Farms Organic Almonds  A family farm in Arbuckle, California that produces beautiful, organic raw almonds. They grow both natural and organic, but it’s very exciting that they have just planted an additional organic orchard. It shows that every socially responsible food purchase you make is a vote toward greener agriculture. As they live and work on the farm their use of chemicals for the natural almonds is often avoided by encouraging natural predators to the pests that will help to minimize disease and infestation. We love supporting this small family farm, so we purchase these almonds in bulk for homemade almond milk, and almond butter.

3.  Aptera Olive Oil When I can’t get a product locally, I make sure that what I do get is of superior quality and produced with eco-friendly practices. This olive oil from the island of Crete is not only one of the best olive oils in our collection, but the pricepoint is crazy affordable. It is also naturally organic as it is illegal to spray pesticides on the island. Most of the island still uses old-world biodynamic farming methods. I get this guy at Central Co-op.

4.  de Buyer Mineral B Pans  It’s virtually impossible to find non non-stick pans. Everything has a teflon coating (even Polar Bears and dolphins do now). It’s a toxic chemical that we don’t want in us (women of child-bearing age and children especially), and we don’t want in our water. Making the switch to steel pans may take slightly more care than conventional non-sticks, but your cooking, your food, and even your health will improve dramatically.

de Buyer has been manufacturing steel pans in France since 1830. The Mineral B pans are made of 99% iron with no chemicals or coatings. An organic beeswax finish is used to prevent oxidation during shipping, and also to aid in seasoning for natural non-stick surface. These pans are not only free from chemicals, but they are the best you can get period. Now easily found stateside, you can find them at Williams Sonoma and other kitchen shops.

5.  Pride and Joy Raw Milk  You know your milk will be good when the farmers consider themselves “grass farmers who also milk cows.” Pride and Joy manages their pastures without the use of any chemicals or genetically modified ingredients because their cows eat 100% grass (clover, alfalfa, and chicory too) during grazing season, and the finest hay during non-grazing months. While this leads to a lower yield per cow it ultimately results in a healthier herd and the highest quality milk. Their cows produce milk for up to 12 years, compared to just 3-4 with a conventional dairy. The girls are never given hormones and when antibiotics are used (only in life threatening situations) that cow is removed from the herd, the milk is not used, and the cow is no longer considered organic.

Raw milk is very difficult to find in Washington state, but it’s important to use in place of pasteurized because it is alive with active enzymes, antioxidants, and amino and fatty acids. All of this and more is killed during pasturization and homogenization. Unpasteurized means less resources and energy. Better for you and better for the environment.

Located in Granger, WA. Milk is available for pick-up, but also available at certain co-ops in Seattle. If you’re not in the Seattle area, look for a local dairy and research their farm and practices.

6.  Hama Hama Oysters  Sustainably farmed at the base of the Hama Hama river, in the Hood Canal, the Hama Hama oyster farm has been around since 1922. The oysters grow slowly taking twice as long to reach maturity. Still owned by the same family the farming practices from the oysters to the sustainably harvested timber are as green as you can get. We love our Hama Hama’s. And if you’re interested, you’ll find Andrew and me at their Oyster Rama this Saturday (April 27th).

7.  Bob’s Red Mill  Employee owned, non-GMO seeds, and one of the largest organic whole grains lines in the country Bob’s uses traditional methods of grinding whole grains with a stone mill that stays at cool temperatures. This ensures the nutrients stay in tact and uses less energy. Milling, testing, packaging, and distributing is all done in-house too. We don’t use too much flour, but when I bake I love Bob’s organic flour. We also love his stone ground oats for oatmeal.

8.  Jo Landron Atmospheres sparkling wine  One of my all-time favorite glasses of bubbly you may remember my post on it here. In 1999 the vineyard was certified as 100% organic and by 2008 the vineyard was converted and certified as fully biodynamic. The fruit is only ever harvested by hand, and the bubbly itself is created in the traditional method meaning that the second fermentation is done in the bottle. If I’m going to enjoy a bottle of sparkling wine it’s so much better knowing it’s biodynamic and chemical-free. (Hence, no hangover the next day!)

 



Happy Earth Day!
April 22, 2013, 1:55 pm
Filed under: Clean, Compassion, Green, Nature

earth-day-pictures-planet-from-space-netherlands-gullies_35000_600x450

Wadden Sea, near the Netherlands

If there is one thing that makes me happy and proud, it would be my eco-friendly home and habits. I am far from perfect, but every piece of trash I toss and every chemical I see on a label sticks with me. I think about Teflon chemicals found in the fat cells of Polar Bears. I think about giant plastic patches floating in the ocean. I think about poisoned seeds being sown across millions of acres of land. I carry these thoughts and so many more with me, and in order to avoid a complete daily meltdown I do everything I can to practice the things I hope will one day change the way we navigate the world.

This week I have all of my favorite eco-friendly products to share with you. After years of researching, and trial and error, I have a pretty epic list of favorites and I hope you’ll come back to give them a look. For today though, here’s a wonderful documentary on the importance of permaculture farming as THE alternative to chemical and monocrop agriculture. Here filmmaker Rebecca Hosking investigates how to transform her family farm into a more energy efficient farm of the future, and it’s a wonderful and enlightening watch. Our biggest impact on the planet comes from our energy consumption and how we eat. Both of these are addressed here, and the future of our food depends on information like this. (You’ll never think of horsepower the same way again.) Celebrate Earth Day by learning more about our food and energy.

[Image via National Geographic]

 

 




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