May 2012 - Our Daily Green

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Food Frauds from Frugal Dad

One of the most frustrating aspects of trying to eat mindfully is the "tricky" wording used to market different products. In the past we've lamented the "not injected with hormones" label for chicken (because chickens NEVER are injected with hormones, but they do eat growth enhancing food that contains arsenic), or fat-free on a food that is laden instead with sugar. 

The tricky wording extends to the gourmet food world as well. Frugal Dad has put together a great infographic that he was kind enough to share with Our Daily Green. Our advice? Don't get caught up in labels. Keep it local and fresh. Don't get caught up in designer food names.  Find a farmer you can talk to face to face. 

Thanks, Frugal Dad for this great infographic! 

kobe beef, champagne, extra virgin olive oil

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Organic Pest Control: guest post

This guest post brought to you courtesy of Eden Pest Control 

Understanding plant health is vital to your garden’s success. Healthy plants use their natural defense systems to resist environmental stresses, requiring fewer chemical treatments for survival and productive long-term growth.

Though a few pests are normal in an organic garden, some gardeners wait until they have a full-blown pest problem before they begin taking steps to control pests. Natural weed control and pest management are much easier if you take a proactive approach rather than attempt to remedy an already occurring problem. Here are some organic garden pest control tips to consider:

  • Planning an Organic Garden

You can minimize your reliance on natural, chemical-free garden pest control products by working with nature to create a hearty and pest-resistant garden. This process begins with the planning of your garden and involves:

Choosing native plants whenever possible, as they are able to withstand local weeds and pests.
Including plants that naturally repel insects (varieties of mint, for example).
Monitoring your soil’s pH level to ensure it meets the growing requirements of target plants.
Placing plants according to their water and shade needs to help them thrive.

Once you’ve created a healthy foundation, employ these garden pest control best practices:

Using drip irrigation to encourage deep, healthy root systems.
Watering early in the day so foliage doesn’t remain wet for long periods of time (which can lead to fungal and insect damage).
Building healthy soil with compost or natural fertilizer.
Employing mulch as a form of organic weed control.
Pulling out any weak or diseased plants because they can attract predators.
Mixing different plants together within your garden, to discourage plant-specific pests from spreading.
Rotating crops annually to subvert pests that have over-wintered in the bed.

  • Nature on Your Side

There are pests that you can import or attract into your garden to achieve a healthy eco-balance. Spiders actually provide natural garden pest control by keeping insect populations down. Ladybugs are also welcomed by many organic gardeners, as they like to munch on aphids – a major garden foe. Garter snakes, praying mantis, hover-flies and other insects can also be helpful.

  • Natural Remedies for Garden Pest Control

Employing all of the natural weed control and pest management tactics listed above won’t guarantee a pest-free garden. There are organic pest control sprays available, many that can be concocted at home, to keep insect populations down. Rosemary oil, for example, has a strong smell that many insects avoid – particularly if it’s mixed with other pungent oils, such as peppermint.
organic herb garden
Dusting is another common garden pest control measure that doesn’t harm humans or pets. Dusting with cornmeal can help eliminate cutworms (as they cannot digest cornmeal). Two other substances which can help eliminate slugs and other pests with soft, moist bodies are boric acid and diatomaceous earth.

There are so many different organic pest control remedies out there it can be difficult to determine which are effective and which aren’t. To help organic gardeners sort out fact from fiction, Mother Earth News surveyed 1,300 gardeners across North America about which pests most commonly plagued them and which natural garden pest control techniques proved effective (as well as which ones didn’t). Never underestimate the power of handpicking and weed pulling, which are still the most effective, non-toxic way to keep your garden pest-free.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Reprint: Honoring our Soldiers

This post originally appeared last year on Veteran's Day. As we reflect on those who served and have fallen, we wanted to share some reminders how to honor our military, in a green way.  

Today, Our Daily Green paints our space with camouflage in honor of the Veterans who have served and those who still are serving.

Reflexively, we want to organize drives or collections for our military with the holidays approaching. However, this may not be the best time or the most efficient way to support our soldiers. From the website:

Memorial DayWe want to show our support to the folks who are far from their families fighting this war and we want to do all we can to show them that they are not forgotten. We realize how cool it would be to coordinate a huge drive to collect tons of stuff and money to send to all 50,117 of them to feel better during the holidays.

And we can do it! But maybe we shouldn't. 
We learned a lot of lessons in the last 8 years, 2 months and 16 days, and we strive to do things better. Please read on.
This is really a tough call. Every year so many folks wait until the holidays to send their packages that units are buried, not to mention the APO/FPO. Please keep in mind that most units have no place for massive amounts of packages, nor the means to move them. So, what are you supposed to do? Simple, really.
You should never send more then 5 packages to the same address at the same time. Actually, 1-2 a day is best. Chances are you are not the only person sending something and the soldiers will have to deal with the packages on their 'down time', which I can tell you isn't much at all.We can't stress this enough:
NO large shipments at the same time to the same address. Ever. Send early. OK, you knew that. Holiday shipping dates from the USPS are posted on this web site as soon as we get them. 
Keep the packages SMALL!!! Remember, this is about support, not just stuff. Think about this: Mail call, the Soldier hears his/her name called out, with joy he/she gazes toward the box that the mail clerk points to. Friggin box is bigger than the tent he/she lives in. Weighs more then a Battalion Commander! Not cool...
Are we saying don't do anything? No, we are asking for you to realize that you can be part of the solution. The many wonderful folks who have participated in supporting our service members have been simply outstanding in their generosity. There is no doubt you will continue.
Many, many people will not know about this and with good intentions actually help cause a huge log jam. I am asking for all the folks involved with the Any Soldier Inc. web site and effort to not do big drives this holiday, or at least really think how what you will do effects the folks you are trying to support.
Help them all year, not just the holidays. 

Another idea is a charity I wrote about a few years ago, and it's still going strong. Games for Heroes was founded by two young men in New York who realized the soldiers are just a few years older than they are. They collect handheld video game units and game cartridges to send to the soldiers so they have some portable entertainment. So if you upgrade your handheld video games over the holidays, send the old ones to Games for Heroes in January.

If you have other electronics you wish to recycle, Recycle for Soldiers is an excellent organization. They accept: cell phones, PDAs, inkjets, iPods, laptops, and digital cameras.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Natural Neem benefits and GIVEAWAY

neem lotion
A few years ago, Our Daily Green's family was suffering from eczema. If you've ever suffered from dry and itchy skin, there are no lengths you won't try to find relief. We began a quest to find relief and that quest led us to a botanical product called neem. We found both soap and lotion with neem extract in it and were amazed by the relief.

neem soapNeem is the olive-like fruit of a tree that grows wild in India and has anti-fungal and medicinal properties. We've used neem soap and lotion whenever we have a skin flare up and it gives us immediate relief. We were so impressed, we've recommended it to several folks over the past few years. (published back in October of 2010).

Stress wreaks havoc on my skin and results in assorted rashes and hives, but for over a year I've had patches of eczema on the back of my knees and my inner elbows. I bought this soap to combat a case of hives after my two rounds with prednisone (which provided relief when I was taking it, but the rashes would reappear when I finished the script). After some research, I figured I had nothing to lose by giving neem a shot. I also ordered the lotion for when I couldn't shower. Between the two of them I'm covered. Yes, yes, the smell is a bit funky (peanuty), but it doesn't linger after the final rinse. My rash stopped itching but the unexpected surprise was that my eczema has vanished! If you suffer from any sort of ongoing skin condition, I cannot recommend neem enough.

The last time we went to re-order neem, we discovered a blogger opportunity and since we already were a fan and customer we eagerly joined the group to promote the benefits of neem. Organix South is a US supplier of several neem herbal products and we had the chance to sample a new one, the TheraNeem® Nail & Cuticle Oil pen. We received our pen a few weeks ago and a member of our household is trying it for stubborn nail fungus. Generally, nail fungus takes at least 6-8 weeks to be cured (the amount of time to grow a new nail), so we do not have any results to report yet. However, based on prior experience with neem, we are confident that this nail and cuticle oil pen will be effective.

If you would like to try the TheraNeem® Nail & Cuticle Oil pen, please leave a comment for us on this post. On June 1, we will select a winner from the comments received. For additional entries, follow Organix South on Facebook and Twitter, and follow Our Daily Green on Facebook. Please leave a new comment for each follow to receive credit. The giveaway is limited to residents in the United States who are 18 years of age or older.

If you are interested in any other neem products, Organix South has a special 25% discount code for readers of Our Daily Green. Just enter 25OFF0512 to receive 25% off of your entire purchase. The code is good until May 31st.

Click here for a free downloadable PDF report about the many benefits of neem. 

Disclaimer: I was not given this product in exchange for a positive review. All opinions are mine and based on my personal success with neem products in the past. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any diseases. 

WINNER!!! #5, Swigett. Please send your shipping information to freshgreenkim *at*
neem winner

Preventing mold on berries

Today's quick hint came to us in an email from Mama Green. Thanks, Mom! It is published a number of places online, original author unknown, but we think it's a hint worth passing long. We have never tried it, but will give it a shot over the weekend as fresh strawberries are starting to show up at the markets. Since vinegar works at keeping household mold at bay as a cleaning agent, the hint makes sense. 

Saving berries from molding 

public domain photo from Wikipedia
Berries are delicious, but they're also kind of delicate. Raspberries in particular seem like they can mold before you even get them home from the market. There's nothing more tragic than paying $4 for a pint of local raspberries, only to look in the fridge the next day and find that fuzzy mold growing on their insides.
Well, with fresh berries just starting to hit farmers markets, we can tell you how to prevent them from getting moldy:
Wash them with vinegar.
When you get your berries home, prepare a mixture of one part vinegar (white or apple cider) and ten parts water. Dump the berries into the mixture and swirl around. Drain, (rinse if you want, though the mixture is so diluted you can't taste the vinegar) and pop in the fridge. The vinegar kills any mold spores or other bacteria that might be on the surface of the fruit. And voila! Raspberries will last a week or more, and strawberries go almost two weeks without getting moldy and soft.
So go forth and stock up on those pricey little gems, knowing they'll stay fresh as long as it takes you to eat them. You're so "berry" welcome!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Voting for Green

eco-friendly momIn our unending quest to bring you the latest green living news, Our Daily Green would love for our readers and fans to show some support in the form of a click. We have been nominated for the Circle of Mom's Top 25 eco-friendly blogs.

When we blog, we try to remember that we're not just an advocate for the environment and green living, but also the family. Our blog focuses on going green in ways that don't just save our planet, but also our dollars and time, which ultimately results in saving our sanity.

We like to think we come at green choices as a soldier, not a warrior. We are all partners in this big blue planet we call home and we want to work together.

If you like our approach and enjoy our blog posts, we would be honored if you cast a ballot in the Circle of Moms poll. It will help us bring many more opportunities to you.

Thank you in advance for your support. You may vote once a day until June 13th. Click on the badge at the top of the page. Please share with your networks, also. Thanks!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Potato Saute: Food Revolution

Food Revolution
One of Our Daily Green's recurring themes involve the 80/20 principal. We want to get it right 80% of the time and allow for a 20% margin of error. We strongly believe that it's better for many folks to make small steps than one or two folks to take a drastic step. 

Keeping this theory in mind, we are sharing our next recipe. It involves canned food, but it's also the sort of food that is given out at food pantries. It is what many families work with to feed themselves and we wanted to share some ways to make this food healthy, tasty and higher in nutrition than a typical fast food or processed meal. 

This recipe utilized canned corn, tomatoes, and potatoes. We added fresh chopped bell peppers, oregano, pepper, and shredded cheese. We took some time to educate folks about the nutrients in the different items as well as less expensive ways to prepare the food. This recipe received raves for its ease of preparation and taste. We advised the audience not to add salt as the canning process already salts the food adequately, if not to excess a little. 

Part of our demonstration included discussing growing fresh herbs (as seasoning/spices can be very pricey on a limited income), shredding your own cheese (for cost reasons as well as health reasons, as we educated folks that pre-shredded cheese is coated with cellulose to keep it from sticking together), as well as checking the reduced produce rack, which is where we found our bell peppers for a whopping 47¢. We talked about the surprising fact that potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin C, and that combined with the tomatoes and peppers would be an entire day's supply. Additionally the vegetables provide fiber and the cheese supplies calcium. The recipe is relatively low in fat and high in nutrients on a limited budget. 

Food Revolution Day

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Apple Coleslaw: Food Revolution

Today, as part of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Day, as an Ohio ambassador, I did a cooking demonstration and recipe sampling during my church's food distribution day. When I've worked the distribution in the past, I had noticed a number of food that folks chose not to take because they didn't know what to do with it. Additionally, many folks think cooking requires lots of fancy equipment and gadgetry. I wanted to make healthy and simple recipes using the sort of food that the food pantry distributes. We work in cooperation with the local Second Harvest Foodbank once a month to distribute food. 

The recipes I chose were chosen for simplicity, common ingredients, and nutritional density. The simple and light coleslaw recipe listed below was made with four simple ingredients, cabbage, apples, dried fruit (we used dried figs and raisins as that was one of the items we had to distribute today), and lemon yogurt. The yogurt is a healthier substitution for a mayonnaise based dressing and it adds protein and calcium to the recipe. This apple coleslaw is high in fiber, vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, potassium, iron, protein, and low in fat. 

Jamie Oliver

food ambassador, youngstownzion lutheran church

The event was well received by the recipients, we gave away over 50 recipe cards and 100 samples. An informal survey indicated that several folks were excited to have new recipes. We had a lot of conversations about healthy diet and reading labels and avoiding processed food. We enjoyed the event so much that it may become something we do monthly. 

food revolution

Friday, May 18, 2012

Food Revolution Food

Tomorrow is the internationally acclaimed Food Revolution Day from Chef Jamie Oliver. Our Daily Green is honored to be a local ambassador and for our event, we are doing a cooking demonstration at a local distribution site (Zion Lutheran Church) for the Second Harvest Food Bank. We are utilizing the typical foods distributed in unique, flavorful, and healthy ways.

A typical distribution includes many canned and dried food staples, such as corn, green beans, canned tomatoes, canned potatoes, rice, pasta, canned fruit, soup, tomato sauce, and dried fruit. Additionally, there is usually an assortment of bread, one fresh produce item and one meat item.

Working with these ingredients need not be boring or flavorless. With a little education, ingenuity and some creative recipes, we can bring about a true food revolution! Follow along tomorrow on Twitter:

@FoodRev for the interntional tweets and @FoodRevNEOhio for our own local news.
food revolution day

by FoodRevolution. Browse more infographics.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Simple clothing repair green

Our Daily Green has touted the joys of shopping thrift many times in the past. We love to find a bargain and hate paying full price for clothing. One thing that occasionally thwarts us is when we find clothing that needs minor repairs. As "green" as repairing clothing should be, it's just not our talent. Yet, it's tough to resist a comfortable pair of slacks or a like-new hoodie, for example, because it is missing a drawstring.

We had the opportunity to review EZstringer. It's possibly the simplest gadget imaginable. It's a round plastic hoop that helps guide and rethread drawstrings. As demonstrated in the photo, it really is as easy as it looks.
EZ stringer

We never actually thought we'd be singing the praises of something "as seen on TV", but also reluctantly admit to always wondering IF indeed, those gadgets were as effective as they seemed. In this case, it was.

After trying the EZStringer on a set of lovely flowing black viscose slacks, (that were unwearable without the drawstring as they would have flowed to the ankles), we are thrilled to report that we were able to restring the drawstring through the waistband. We had tried several other methods, safety pins, scrunching the fabric, etc. with no success. Until we received this product, the slacks sat in our drawer, waiting for another moment of patience to attempt a restringing.

If you are a thrift shopper, or simply a clothing repair challenged person, Our Daily Green recommends checking out the EZStringer, which is on sale for only $9.98. A special thank you to my friends who also helped me test out this fine product!

Our Daily Green received the product mentioned above for free using Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will be good for our readers.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Weighty Green

From a green perspective, some of the factors contributing to our increasing weight as a nation are the types of foods we eat as well as the packaging they come in. As our food is increasingly processed and wrapped in endocrine disrupting materials for the packaging, our bodies grow larger and larger. The health threats we are facing as we move further away from eating "green" are evident.

To learn more about the risks associated with higher weight and less exercise, tune into The Weight of the Nation beginning tonight on HBO and to be available on You Tube following tonight's premier.

About the Project: 

Bringing together the nation’s leading research institutions, THE WEIGHT OF THE NATION is a presentation of HBO and the Institute of Medicine (IOM), in association with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and in partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Kaiser Permanente.
The centerpiece of THE WEIGHT OF THE NATION campaign is the four-part documentary series, each featuring case studies, interviews with our nation’s leading experts, and individuals and their families struggling with obesity. 
  • The first film, CONSEQUENCES, examines the scope of the obesity epidemic and explores the serious health consequences of being overweight or obese. 
  • The second, CHOICES, offers viewers the skinny on fat, revealing what science has shown about how to lose weight, maintain weight loss and prevent weight gain. 
  • The third, CHILDREN IN CRISIS, documents the damage obesity is doing to our nation’s children. Through individual stories, this film describes how the strong forces at work in our society are causing children to consume too many calories and expend too little energy; tackling subjects from school lunches to the decline of physical education, the demise of school recess and the marketing of unhealthy food to children. 
  • The fourth film, CHALLENGES, examines the major driving forces causing the obesity epidemic, including agriculture, economics, evolutionary biology, food marketing, racial and socioeconomic disparities, physical inactivity, American food culture, and the strong influence of the food and beverage industry.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Here Comes the Sun

Does the high cost of solar panels and equipment keep you from trying it? 
What if you could lease the panels? 
Would you try it then? 

That Magazine Cover

Our Daily Green hasn't really discussed our opinions on breastfeeding previously. Mostly because there are so many young moms already doing a fabulous job of it  and our breast feeding days ended over 12 years ago. To be clear, we strongly advocate it for any mother who can do it. We encourage it for multiple reasons and stand behind the right of any woman to nurse her child anywhere. A national news magazine cover has sparked a huge discussion. We will not mention the name of the magazine, nor will we post the picture, because they've already generated enough publicity for themselves.
If you are unfamiliar with the subject matter, click here

The magazine accomplished one thing, we're talking about it. The subject of breastfeeding is part of our conversation this week. Maybe not for the right reasons, though. In a time when half naked lingerie models strut across our airwaves and into our mailboxes, we also find mothers asked to leave stores and public places for "indecent exposure" while nursing.

My children are over 16 and 14, so it's been a long time since I nursed them. They both nursed almost exclusively for a year and were weaned by about 18 months. We didn't necessarily have a time table, it just was the about the age they found food more interesting and didn't care to nurse anymore. With our first child, I was a little shy about it, not to mention quite clumsy. The first month or so, I basically had to strip to the waist as I tried to position her little mouth the right way. I had enough milk to feed most of our county, I think, stuffing my nursing bra with baby washcloths to keep the leaking at bay. It felt like I had two fountains attached to my chest and all I needed was to hear a baby crying in public and my breasts were instant geysers. Yet, I persisted. Our baby was born 5 weeks premature, and frankly, we hadn't bought bottles yet. I wasn't so much an advocate for breastfeeding as I was trying to save myself the work of washing, drying and mixing formula. I didn't nurse much in public though because I just was quite awkward.

Enter child #2. By then, we had gotten involved in story time at the library, mommy & me classes at our church,  and other assorted activities. The days of sitting around the house topless waiting for the next feeding were gone. We were a family on the go and there was no way I was going back to being sequestered at home. So I fed #2 when she was hungry, wherever she was hungry. I had invested in nursing clothes and bras by then and could manage feedings with discretion. I nursed in restaurants, the library, church, even a sold out baseball stadium (we had great seats and the game went into extra innings... I didn't want to miss it!).  I never made a production of it but when it was time to eat, it was time to eat. I arranged myself comfortably and fed her. If anyone was uncomfortable, they never said anything and I probably would have ripped their head off if they had. By then I had researched the benefits of nursing and knew why it was how I chose to feed our children, besides trying to save myself having to wash bottles, or spend money on formula. My kids never had ear infections and are very healthy overall. They rarely miss more than a day or two of school a year, some years they've had perfect attendance.

Breastfeeding worked well for us and I'm glad we could do it. I do however resent sensationalizing such a natural part of parenting or chastising the moms it doesn't work for as well. We are so busy trying to judge our sisters and it rankles me. Yes, breastfeeding was my choice for my family and it worked well. I'm glad we did it and I would encourage every new mother to do her best to breast feed. I also know that society does not help by making a woman feel like a pariah or by posting sexually suggestive photos of a mother nursing a three year old male child.

We also are a different sort of society today, without the village it takes to raise a child in many places. We can be isolated and without good advice and we just are trying to figure it out. Little girls don't play with baby dolls that nurse, they have bottles. They aren't socialized thinking breastfeeding is natural, but rather that it's immodest. It can be very uncomfortable for someone who has been raised with extreme modesty, and especially when we forget what our breasts are REALLY for, which is to nourish a child, not attract someone sexually. My choices don't make me super mom or wonder woman. They make me a mom trying to do my best, like every other mother out there.

Magazines that exploit the choices we make and try to stir up a debate between mothers anger me. That is why I won't post their photo or name the magazine. But shame on them! And shame on us for taking the bait.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Recycled Flip Flops

flip flop brigade

Recycle your waste with Old Navy®

Every time you send your old flip-flops to TerraCycle, you’ve done a green deed for Mother Nature by diverting waste from our landfills. To show our gratitude, for every shipment of 25 pairs of flip-flops received (about 18 pounds), you will receive exclusive coupons from Old Navy to distribute to the participants who helped you collect.
It’s totally free to participate in a TerraCycle Brigade. There are no signup or participation fees, and the shipping is covered by the program. Once you’ve joined the Flip-Flop Brigade, follow the steps below to earn your Old Navy coupons:

  1. Collect 25 pairs of flip-flops (all brands are accepted) and fill up a box or bag. Remember to always reuse a shipping box or bag and use eco-friendly padding as needed. To receive your Old Navy coupons, you must ship at least 18 lbs, or at least 25 pairs of flip-flops.
  2. Download a pre-paid shipping label from Just visit your TerraCycle account online, and click “SHIP US YOUR WASTE”. You can print it out yourself or request a label from TerraCycle.
  3. Ship the box to TerraCycle by affixing the pre-paid postage label and dropping it off at a UPS location.
For more detailed information please check out the Flip-Flop Brigade FAQ.
It will take approximately 7 to 10 business days from the date your shipment is received for TerraCycle to process your package. Once processing is complete, you will receive your Old Navy coupons through postal mail.
Download our helpful TerraCycle "Collect, Store and Ship Guide" for tips and tricks that will make the collection process simple and mess-free.
Old Navy is proud of their partnership with TerraCycle and is committed to reducing waste and thinking green.
Flip-Flop Brigade accepted waste: Rubber flip-flops (any brand)
If you would like to send in other types of shoes, please check out the Paired Shoe Brigade.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Permaculture Green

This week, Our Daily Green's favorite cheerleader and faciliator, Small Footprints' #CTWW (Change the World Wednesday) question was about permaculture. We were challenged to learn a bit more:

The first step in practicing permaculture is to observe. So this week, let's start by observing nature. Take some time, step outside and observe everything around you. Look at sunlight patterns and the direction of plant growth. Are the plants in your area native and how does that affect their growth and care? Make note of where water collects on your property and where it comes from. Observe the phases of the moon and consider how that affects the natural world. Pay attention to insects and birds ... observe how their interaction with plants, animals and each other affects the environment. Then, come back here and report your findings. Were you surprised at anything you discovered? Will you make any changes based on your observations? We want to hear it all!

Our Daily Green had the incredible opportunity earlier this spring to hear about permaculture from a local expert at the Community Greenhouse Partners in Cleveland, Ohio. On a warm spring day, we toured their facilities and learned a bit more about their amazing mission, which is to: 
...improve the quality of life of those around us by growing vegetables year round and selling them at low cost to urban families, employing local residents and teaching sustainability and earth science to young people.
Community Greenhouse Partners is a sustainable urban farm that applies ecological design principles and engages community participation to grow wholesome food year-round that is provided at low-cost to the neighborhood, improving personal health while generating training, mentoring and employment opportunities.
Part of their long term plans are to encourage permaculture food forests. By strategic planting of trees and mounding the soil, permanent gardens will eventually fill the entire front lot of the farm. According to Ben Shapiro, site and composting manager,  he looks forward to the day he will be "foraging, not farming." The food forest will be self maintaining through ecological design and engineering.

Permaculture depends on first observing the naturally occurring patterns. From Wikipedia:
In pattern application, permaculture designers are encouraged to develop an awareness of the patterns that exist in nature (and how these function) and how patterns can be utilized to satisfy the specific design needs of a specific site. "The application of pattern on a design site involves the designer recognizing the shape and potential to fit these patterns or combinations of patterns comfortably onto the landscape. 

community greenhouse partners
Future permaculture food forest at the 

Community Greenhouse Partners location
future permaculture food forest
in the beginning: May 2012

Permaculture in Cleveland
a few short months later: Nov. 2012

The more we've learned about permaculture, the more convinced this is the farm of the future. Less work, more food, less maintenance. Foraging, not farming. Sounds pretty good to us! 

An Open Letter to all Teachers

testing my new linky on my other blog. 
Incidentally, if you've not read Fresh Daily Bread, it's another blog I write. The theme is slice of life with a bit of crust. I cover everything that touches my life that "isn't" green.

An Open Letter to all Teachers

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Solar Green

Have you considered solar power?

solar power
Solar Cells

Vegan Confessions (guest post)

The vegetable is a quick cure for much if not most of our health problems

If you invented a pill that offers long life, good health, and a body to be proud of, you'd make a fortune. Bottles would fly off the shelves.

Suggest a change in behavior that achieved the same result, however, and what do you get? Catcalls, derisive comments, and rude e-mails.

Such was Michelle Obama's reward when she launched her "Let's Move" campaign more than two years ago. All she did was recommend feeding our kids better meals — fewer sweets, more vegetables, less calories — combined with more exercise.

You would have thought she'd advocated giving the little dears rat poison for lunch. Sarah Palin was characteristically obnoxious in her response, flaunting her passion for s'mores (that chocolate bar-toasted marshmallow-graham cracker horror) while she mocked the First Lady for attempting to substitute the judgment of the "Nanny State" for that of parents. Even for her, it was dumb.

Vegan on Board
"Vegan on Board," an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib.
After all, Let's Move addresses a real issue: the super-sizing of our children. Studies have estimated that nearly one in five of our young people are obese and more than a third of them are overweight. Apparently we're raising a generation of youngsters who think the basic food groups are fat, salt, and sugar, and that changing the battery in your Gameboy is exercise.

This isn't merely a recipe for being fat; it's an invitation to diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, asthma, and even cancer.

Actually, the main problem with Ms. Obama's efforts is that they're too timid. If you really want to make the nation healthier, you have to declare war on American agriculture in general and meat in particular. There are mountains of persuasive research that indicate a plant-based diet is far, far healthier than the meat-based model.

Studies have found that a little meat is better for you than a lot, no meat is better than a little, and a vegan diet — no meat, fish, eggs, or dairy products (in others words, 90 percent of the farm economy) — is best of all.

Good luck trying to sell that one. The Bad Food lobby is one of the most powerful in Washington, up there with guns and oil. Any suggestion that our toxic agricultural industry is less than noble will bring instant political extinction. (Can you imagine a politician trying to win Iowa on a vegan platform? A gay atheist would have a better chance.)

I myself am a vegan of sorts and I'm here to tell you that it's not an easy life. You're OK when you can cook your own food (really), but going out is hard. Most restaurants offer very limited, unappetizing fare for people who don't eat meat or dairy. Grocery stores, while better than they used to be, still aren't great.

And you have to get used to that sickening silence on the other end of the line when you tell the person who's inviting you to dinner that you don't eat meat, cheese, fish, soup made from beef stock, or anything else he or she was planning to cook.

The way I handle that is…I cheat. I'll order fish in a restaurant and eat what I'm served in someone else's home. And when I go to a ballgame, I declare hotdogs a vegetable for the day. Mostly, though, I'm a vegan.

Why not? Catholics, for example, profess a high moral standard but still sin from time to time. That doesn't mean they're not Catholics; it simply means they're human. As a matter of fact, I'm thinking of starting a Church of the Holy Vegetable and offering online confession booths to vegans who fall off the wagon from time to time. They could confess, be assigned a small penance, and receive absolution.

The life of a vegan is hard enough without walking around feeling guilty all of the time.
Donald Kaul
Donald Kaul 

Creative Commonscontent from Other Words is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative 3.0 License.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Heroic Green

Recently, we spotted a comment on a fellow green friend's thread lamenting that only 10% of the activists for any particular cause actually accomplish anything. The rest of those are in it to schmooze or gain personal glory.

In a world that celebrates heroes, that's not too much of an exaggeration. For example, this past weekend, The Avengers movie broke box office records. The world loves and celebrates a hero, but many times the folks behind the scenes are the ones really making the difference.

Well-known green heroes include Jane Goodall for her animal activism and Ansel Adams for his nature photography yet the names Charlotte Uhlenbroek and Andrea G. Stillman as their assistants are virtually unknown. There are other heroes that aren't even associated with anyone famous, yet are making huge strides in world changing areas. Often, the story behind the story is as fascinating if not even more so.

unsung hero, Lowell MilkenWhenever lists of heroes circulate, there are always comments countering the list with citations of those who "should be on the list". A cursory search on unsung heroes turned up the non-profit Lowell Milken Center in Fort Scott, KS whose mission is to:, develop and communicate the stories of unsung heroes who have made a profound and positive difference on the course of history. 
The Center sponsors an annual student Discovery Award with prizes of up to $10,000 for first place. The contest encourages students to research and put together a project celebrating an unsung hero. The winning projects become part of the center's permanent display while serving as an incredible opportunity to give credit where credit is due and also explore history in greater depth.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Microwave Popcorn Threat

Popcorn is one of the healthiest snacks available. It is high in fiber, low in fat and calories and high in antioxidants. All the positives about the snack are quickly offset when it's microwave popcorn. The packaging used to make the bags we are so used to tossing in the microwave contains PFOA, a known endocrine disruptor.

From the Duke University series on chemicals in everyday consumer products,
Fluorotelomers are another class of halogenated compounds with seemingly magical properties. One of those is its lipophobicity — a really great technical term for something that repels oils and fat. If you’ve got a surface that you don’t want to get stained, fluorotelomers are a great solution. And if you’re using paper with fatty, oily foods, a layer of fluorotelomers will keep the paper clean and crisp. 
An ideal place for fluorotelomers is a microwave popcorn bag. A coating of that stuff will keep the butter and oils on the popcorn where you want it and not in the bag where you don’t. Ingenious. Except there’s a problem.
Expose fluorotelomers to high temperatures and they break down into PFOAs. So every time you crunch on microwave popcorn you are more than likely munching on a little PFOA. Yum. How much? Well, if you eat just one bag of microwave popcorn per week, it’s estimated that you’ll receive enough PFOA to maintain levels found in the average 
American’s blood. (Further reading here and here [pdf])
We recommend going back to making popcorn on the stovetop. There are several clever stovetop poppers with a handle to keep the kernels from sticking to the pan and evenly pop the corn. Avoid the chemicals and enjoy your popcorn!