Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day 135: Down with Farmer's Market Scammers

I adore ALL the great vendors at our Elon Farmer's Market. I trust all of them and I think they're just the best thing that has happened to my kitchen since I learned how to chop properly.

Zucchini-Eggplant Salad

(Psst, Farmer's Market today! 3:00-6:00 - Elon Community Church grassy area on Williamson Ave.)

That said, there have been some disturbing reports in the news lately of scams going on at OTHER farmer's markets including last year at our Greensboro market, and last week in a Los Angeles market.

Planet Green has some good tips for making sure that you're getting what you mean to get at the farmer's market.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day 134: Buy local eggs

If you think buying the $4 organic eggs at the grocery story absolve you from guilt associated with the horrific, filthy, inhumane conditions at the DeCoster-owned egg farms associated with the recent salmonella outbreak, I hate to break it to you, but its more complicated than that.

One of my favorite companies, Organic Valley, is under fire for the following photos that come from one of its suppliers in Wisconsin. Turns out, there are many paths to raising "organic" eggs, and these companies can cut corners too.

The problems arise when large brand names buy eggs from producers who are cutting corners. Then the large companies put their brand name on the eggs, and who knows what you're actually getting.

"The report found that the vast majority of farms that practiced the very highest standards—such as grazing hens on open pasture, rotating grazing areas, and even using mobile chicken houses to ensure fresh land—were small to medium sized enterprises. These farms typically market their eggs locally or regionally under their farm's brand name, mostly through farmer's markets, food cooperatives and/or independently owned natural and grocery stores. Some brands were also available regionally through larger chains like Whole Foods.

"Perhaps unsurprisingly, at the other end of the spectrum stores' own brand organic egg lines were the worst offenders when it came to conditions. The reports' authors point out that while organic consumers tend to expect transparency and information about where their eggs come from, by definition, own brand products tend to be anonymous—they also tend to be priced lower than premium organic brands."

Find a local, trusted supplier of eggs. Chickens are very trendy right now, people love raising chickens for eggs and meat. It's really not that hard to find someone to sell you some eggs. I've got 3 regular suppliers that I can choose from here in my small town. Supply will slow over winter, but they are still available.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Day 133: Do some yoga

I've recently been reading a lot about the history of yoga, and its track westward to North America and western Europe, how it's changed since its arrival, etc.

Yoga has the unfortunate problem of being rather expensive, as activities go. So perhaps it is not the (pocket/wallet) "greenest" of fitness and healthy-mind activities. But, if you search around your community, you may find that there are often less expensive places that offer yoga. Many studios have a "pay what you can" policy. Universities and community colleges offer yoga at extremely reasonable rates. Health clubs offer yoga. Even many churches and hospitals offer yoga. There is one hospital in our community that offers yoga for as little as $3 per class.

Yoga can offer numerous health and fitness benefits (body awareness, stress relief, flexibility), but I feel that one of its main strengths is in teaching and reinforcing mindfulness. Being aware of yourself and your choices is a critical skill that can often be overlooked in our over-consuming, over-anxious society. We can be so busy and make so many empty choices, yoga can almost feel like a relief. Yoga allows - and actually requires - us to be present on the mat, quiet and concentrating on only one thing at a time.

For those of you local to the Burlington, NC area, I'll give a shout out and hearty recommendation to Om Shanti Yoga. I have been enjoying their classes since August. What a great group of instructors and students.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Day 132: Minimalist Fashion, Redux

Like the fashion and shopping diets we wrote about earlier, Project 333 is designed to minimize an area of complexity in many of our lives: fashion. This clothing diet is designed to simplify - choose 33 items of clothing to wear over 3 months.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day 131: Homemade Microwave Popcorn

Here's Tony's recipe for perfect microwave popcorn.

Homemade Microwave Popcorn

brown paper bag (recycled from the grocery store?)
1/3 cup popping corn
2t. olive oil

Put the olive oil and the popcorn in the bag. Staple it shut. Microwave for exactly 2 minutes or just a few seconds longer. Tony found that in our microwave 2:15 results in burning. Your mileage may vary.

Homemade Microwave Popcorn


(We like ours with melted butter from Homeland Creamery and salt!)

Homemade Microwave Popcorn

Common questions:
1. Does it have to be olive oil? Yes. Other oils have different heating temperatures. It will not work as well without olive oil.

2. Does the staple mess up the microwave since it's metal? No. It's such a small amount it has no effect.

Day 130: Recycle Used Planting Pots

Home Depot in our area has a recycle station for hard-to-recycle planters and pots.

Just save them up and drop them off the next time you go there. Since the recycling station is outside, you don't even have to tote them inside. Convenient.

Recycling station at Home Depot