Saturday, August 30, 2008

One Local Potluck

As One Local Summer draws to a close, I can't wait for the next local eating challenge. Whenever I've participated in one, I've stretched. Tried new recipes. Sampled new produce. Made new farmer friends. Uncovered new varieties.

Even though we generally eat local year round, there is something special about celebrating and sharing local meals. That is what we do online, through these local eating challenges. And that is why it is entirely fitting that my last One Local Summer meal is a local foods potluck, shared with local green moms.

Last week, we gathered at a green book club members home for a delicious meal made almost entirely of local ingredients. Though we agreed that we could pick our recipes from any local foods cookbook, we all gravitated to Outstanding in the Field by Jim Denevan. It is a stunningly beautiful, deliciously simple book that celebrates small farmers, seasonal food and everything yummy about the local foods movement.

We enjoyed the Goat Cheese Crostini with Sweet Pea Risotto, Savory Pecan, Parmesan and Thyme Shortbread, Rainbow Chard Tart and Upside Down Fresh Fig Cake.

We parted that night delectably satisfied - the kind of satisfaction you can find from eating food that is good not only for the taste buds but for the planet.
Happy One Local Summer to all! Keep enjoying your local delights.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Beauty is Skin Deep

Sitting at a table with friends and green moms I'd never met, I listened to the Whole Foods cosmetologist discuss skin care: what to avoid, what was safe, what brands had the fewest ingredients. I posted about my Safe Skin Care class a few weeks back but didn't think to share the details of what I learned until I read through the Beauty . . . Or The Beast chapter of Diane's MacEachern's Big Green Purse.

When I embarked on a cleaner beauty routine, I did it for the sake of the environment. I wanted to cut out packaging, ditch plastic bottles and reduce resources sucked up by needless beauty products. The toxins contained in those products - and my personal health - hadn't really factored into my decisions. Discussing skin and body care with toxin-free gurus, The Smart Mama and MamaBird, at Blogher, coupled with my Whole Foods skin care class and The Big Green Purse, motivated me clean out the rest of my medicine cabinet.

The best way, I've found, to find a cleaner product is to read the ingredients. Here is a list of ingredients deemed unacceptable by Whole Foods Market's Premium Body Care standards. An even easier way, though, is to pick products with fewer ingredients and to aim for only ingredients that you can identify. The unpronounceable ones are generally bad but, in particular, you want to avoid the following:
  • phthalates
  • parabens (usually these show up with "paraben" being the last part of a multi-syllable word)
  • trislosan
  • propylene glycol
  • sodium lauryl sulfates
Below are the skin and body care products I use. I've gradually migrated to them over the last 15 months or so. As a result, changing products hasn't been especially expensive. When I run out of something, I pick a replacement that is less toxic, with less packaging and/or less impact. Dropping some products or using them less as both Burbanmom and The Big Green Purse also keeps costs low. Better still, try, as Diane MacEachern and my Whole Foods instructor suggested, and go a day or two a week without any make up or hair care products. Give your body, your bank account and the environment a break.


I use and love my Burt's Bees shampoo bar. Some folks dislike the residue but I've always felt that it means my hair is clean. I notice no difference once my hair is dry. It only has about 14 ingredients - all recognizable - and has the added benefit of no plastic packaging.
I use a vinegar rinse in lieu of conditioner. I got the recipe from Life Less Plastic last winter and have been loving it ever since. It is super cheap, I'm in control of all the ingredients and it has virtually no packaging. Bonus - I reused a plastic bottle headed for the recycle bin as my dispenser. Here's how to make it:
1 liter of hot water (about 4 cups)
3/4 cup vinegar
1 bag of herbal tea, for fragrance

I'm not one of those people who feel that they can pass up on hairspray entirely. My hair just won't let me. Instead, I use Aubrey Organics Natural Missst hairspray. This one has a bit more ingredients than I would like (anyone have an alternative??) but it works great, even watered down a little, and I don't use it every day. Unfortunately, the bottle is plastic but I eek out as much as I can and then recycle the #2 bottle.
A couple times a week, I've got some unruly hair going on and will whip out my texturizer to subdue strands. I use John Masters Organics bourbon vanilla and tangerine hair texturizer. This was a recent purchase and I love the way it works . . . and smells. Makes me hungry. It comes in a glass bottle with a plastic lid.

Preserve toothbrushes, made out of recycled yogurt bins (#5 plastic) and recyclable through a return envelope available at the purchase site, seem to be the best bet.
I purchased my lip balm from the beekeeper at my farmers' market. Although the tube is made out of plastic (next time, I'll see if she can do it in a glass jar), the product is local, contains a handful of recognizable ingredients, and helps keep local bees buzzing.
Eco-Dent dental floss is hands down the most eco-friendly floss I've found. It is vegan waxed and comes in a paper (not a plastic) box that is printed with soy ink. The floss tends to come apart between teeth that are very closely spaced but it works well for me and my kids.
A lot of people use baking soda or homemade toothpaste instead of store-bought. I'm sorry. I'm a dentist's daughter and I just cannot do that. I use Jason Sea Fresh Gel and have for several years. It tastes good, works well and comes in a recycled plastic tube that is allegedly recyclable. Where and how, I have no idea. It has more ingredients than I would like, though. Anyone have a store-bought toothpaste without tons of ingredients that they love?

I'm not one to use a bunch of skin care products. First, I'm lazy. Second, I have sensitive skin that reacts to virtually everything. Here is what I do use, though:
I love the California Baby sunblock products. They seem to be the least toxic available and work really well. We've been using these - especially the stick - for several years.
I was a dedicated Cetaphil user for years but finally ran out a couple months ago and made the switch to a less toxic brand, Earth Science. The lotion applies beautifully, my sensitive skin loves it and it is paraben free. The ingredient list, though, is littered with long, methyl-sounding ingredients - not on the Whole Foods "No!" list but still . . .
For hand cream, I use one that comes in a glass jar from a local beekeeper. I love stuff like this that you can get local and can readily identify all five ingredients. Plus, it works great on dry, gardener hands.

I told you I was makeup-lite. This really is all I own. Because I use makeup only a couple times a month, it was the last thing I got rid of. After attending the Safe Skin Care Class, though, I decided that the stuff I had was better off in a landfill than on my body or down the drain.
I purchased some concealer from Lavera, an organic brand that specializes in sensitive skin. It is made with a long list of ingredients, only about half of them recognizable, and comes in a plastic tube (sorry Beth! but sometimes a girl has GOT to cover up a pimple). It does work really well and is way better than that three year old tube of Cover Girl I was using.
I also bought a Lavera compact for face powder. I'm not completely thrilled with the ingredients or packaging on this one but I am happy with how it works, it is less toxic and I will only use it a couple times a month.
Last on the list is my mascara - I had to take it out of the box for its photo op. It is from Zuzu and our Safe Skin Care Class instructor loves it. Again, it comes in a plastic tube that cannot be recycled so thumbs down on packaging. However, the mascara is made from nine ingredients - all of which are easily identified. Does it work? I'll let you know when I get around to trying it out.
There you have it. If beauty is skin deep, I'd like my skin to be as toxin-free as possible. What about you? What beauty secrets do you have to share? Anything homemade? Less toxic or less packaging than I've listed here?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Bean Signal

The time has come. We've been gathering strength. Making connections. Building a base. Carnivaling. This is what we've been waiting for. Time to mobilize.

This post is the web equivalent of an emergency distress signal, glaring into the sky, summoning superheroes from across the planet (or at least across the United States). The matter is urgent. Only you can do it.

Pick up the modern day superhero's tools of the trade - a keyboard, a fax machine, a phone - and stop the Joker from eviscerating the Endangered Species Act as his last legacy before departing from the White House.

Write letters to the President, your Senators and Congressmen and women. (click here to find out who to write and here if you have writer's block).

Make phone calls.

IM and tweet about it.

Blog about it.

Talk to friends, colleagues, family.

Spread the word.

Save Gotham City and keep your eyes to the skies for the next Bean Signal. It will alert you when the public comment period opens so that we take the battle to the Department of the Interior.

Over and out.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Rugged Environmentalist

The black canner I lent a friend two days ago rested on my porch bench. I hefted it up, resting it on my hip while I turned the key in the lock. Carrying it to the kitchen, I set the canner on the counter and turned on the computer. While it booted up, I pulled out zucchini another friend gave me from her CSA box. Sifting through my cabinets, I located the rest of my ingredients - local honey from Marie, the beekeeper at my farmers' market, and locally milled flours discovered on a tip from a fellow blogger.

I turned back to the computer to check email. Melissa suggested last week that I try to arrange a screening of The Garden movie. I took her up on her suggestion and my green task force is knee deep in preparations. I had three emails waiting - all from task force members proposing venues or offering to spread the word. I responded and then followed the directions in an email from Arduous on how to fix a Blogger glitch for a task force blog. Solving the glitch, I shut off the computer. Back to making zucchini bread. I'll make one loaf for my neighbor, I mused, to thank her for taking care of my cat last week.

A year ago, I embarked on a lighter lifestyle. If you had asked me then, the question I set out to answer today - what sustainability means to me - I would have given a far different answer. I initially thought living green meant living lonely. That sustainability was synonymous with self-sufficiency.

As today's afternoon made clear, living sustainably has nothing to do with living self-sufficiently. A year of push mowing my lawn, eating locally and biking about town has shown me one thing - the rugged environmentalist is over-rated. I share the lawn edger with a neighbor. I buy my locally grown produce from friends at the farmers market or swap homegrown veggies with neighbors for more variety. I bought my bike used from a local mother and joined a bike buddies group started by some friends.

Sustainability is not about the individual. In fact, individualism is what has gotten us in to this position to begin with. We, as a society, traded local businesses, that invest in our schools and whose owners live down the street - for cheap clothes from the big box store that pays its workers less then minimum wage and is headed up by a corporation thousands of miles away. We, as a society, have migrated to individual interests - spending our evenings with the Jack Bauer instead of the neighborhood bunco game. Political activism has gone the way of Dodo. It has been replaced by the occasional vote . . . mostly for an American Idol.

Sustainability is not about the individual. It is about community. Creating connections for support in the difficult times ahead. Buying produce from the people who grew it. Paying a few cents more for our necessities because those cents stay in our communities, are reinvested in our schools and our senior centers. Carpooling. Sharing goods so we don't need to suck up resources to produce new ones. Reaching out to extend and receive help.

From where I stand now, with zucchini bread cooling on the kitchen table and emails buzzing about a community movie night, I know what my answer is to the APLS Carnival question: What does living sustainably mean to me?

It means letting go of the rugged environmentalist. It means embracing community.

Don't forget to send your post on What Sustainability Means to You to aplscarnival(at)gmail(dot)com by tomorrow, August 12th, to participate in the first APLS Carnival.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Meaningful Movies

Last week, I posted about Sustainable Cinema - green films that have changed our lives or the lives of someone we know. While books are wonderful, some times a movie can have more visual punch or can be viewed in a shorter period of time.

The response to my Sustainable Cinema post was wonderful. So many of you exchanged ideas on movies and shared thoughtful recommendations. Because there were so many new (to me) flicks mentioned, I thought it would be helpful to compile the suggestions into a easy to access list.

I've indicated when these DVDs are available through Netflix or Blockbuster Online. Some of them can even be downloaded online. Do not forget, however, to check your local library for these movies. My library carries a fair number of them and allows community members to reserve the movie for only $.75.

If you can't get your hot little hands on these DVDs or have one to lend, the superhero known as Burbanmom has offered her Going Green with Burbanmom Yahoo Group as a place to exchange green DVDs. It will work like this: If you have a green DVD that you are willing to lend, you post a TO LEND message on her Yahoo group. You send it to the first person to respond. When that person is done watching the DVD, they post a TO LEND message and it goes to the first responder, and so on. If no one responds, the DVD goes back to the original owner. If you have a green DVD that you are unable to find and you would like to borrow it, post a TO BORROW message on the Yahoo group. If you have not yet joined the Yahoo group, what are you waiting for!
  • Blue Vinyl: This movie comes recommended by several commenters, The filmmakers unearth the truth about PVC - which was America's most popular plastic - and highlight its effects on the environment and human health. The movie is available on Netflix and BlockBuster online.
  • The Story of Stuff: This is a 20 minute movie that can be watched for free online here. It delves into the environmental, human health and community impact of the material objects we own. It received multiple recommendations and I am adding my own. Because it is both free and short, there is no reason not to watch it.
  • SuperSize Me: The subject of multiple recommendations, a groundbreaking documentary about the impact of America's fast food industry on those who eat it, it is available to download for free here. It also is available through Blockbuster and Netflix.
  • King Corn: Many commenters recommended this movie as did I. An entertaining romp through America's corn fields, it will change the way you view corn forever. This movie is available through Netflix and Blockbuster Online.

  • The 11th Hour: A couple of commenters this documentary narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio. The movie examines where we are - in terms of global warming, series extinction, resource depletion - and how we can work together to overcome these converging crises. This DVD is available through Netflix and Blockbuster Online.

  • Harvest of Fear: In this 2 hour long documentary, Frontline and Nova explore the battle over genetically modified food crops. This movie comes highly recommended. As it is not available to rent, it might be a good candidate for sharing on the Burbanmom Yahoo group.
  • Six Degrees Could Change the World: From National Geographic, this ninety minute documentary documents what will happen if our planet warms significantly due to global warming and explores what we can do to prevent overheating with technology and other methods. It is available through Netflix and Blockbuster Online.

  • Manufacturing Consent: A documentary about Noam Chomsky, a political dissident and critic of American mass media who believes that network news serves as "thought control in a democratic society." Manufacturing Consent is available through Netflix and Blockbuster Online.
  • Fast Food Nation: Commenters preferred Super Size Me to this movie. A look at the health, environmental and social consequences of our national obsession with fast food. This movie can be found through both Netflix and Blockbuster Online.
  • All In This Tea: A look at the history of tea, this award wining movie reconnects its drinkers with the tea farmers growing delicious harvests on the slopes of China, and examining the food system at large. This movie advocates both organic and fair trade tea. It can be found at Netflix.
  • Burning the Future: An eye opening look at coal mining and mountain top removal in Appalachia. While this movie is not a "must see", it was very compelling and informative. It is available through Netflix.
  • Affluenza: An hour long PBS movie that pre-dated the book, it delves into rampant consumerism and its impact on our community, environment and health. Check your local library for this DVD.
  • Life After People: A 2008 movie from the History Channel that explores what the world would be life, hundreds of years from now, without any human inhabitants. It can be viewed through Netflix or Blockbuster Online. It can also be downloaded online here.
  • Pale Male: This PBS movie follows the "adventures of Pale Male, a daring red-tailed hawk who manages to thrive in the urban world of New York City." It is recommended for introducing children to urban wildlife. You can rent it from Netflix.
  • The Garden: This DVD has not yet been released by you can go here to request a screening. (I did!) It concerns an urban community garden constructed in South Central LA after the riots and the fight to keep that garden from falling victim to development.
  • China Blue: A PBS documentary that uncovers the harsh life for teens who labor in a jeans factory in China. Learn where your clothes come from. I could not find this movie for rent online. Another great one to trade, if anyone has it, on Burbanmom's Yahoo group.
  • The Power of Community- How Cuba Survived Peak Oil: A movie that explores Cuba's transition from industrial agriculture to urban, organic gardens after Cuba was cut off from oil by the fall of the Soviet Union. I could not find this movie available online. Again, this DVD would be nice to pass around on the Yahoo group.
  • WalMart: The High Cost of a Low Price: This DVD examines how WalMart is able to charge such low prices - by paying its workers wages below the poverty line, crushing attempts to unionize and local businesses, and the conditions in its Third World factories. The movie is available through Netflix and Blockbuster Online.
  • Black Gold: This movie exposes the truth behind our morning lattes - financial and physical struggles of coffee farmers. It is available through Netflix.
On Television:

  • Sundance Channel - The Green: Several different television series that focus on changes individuals or companies have made to reduce their environmental impact. It appears that some episodes can be viewed on the website, while most of the others are shown on the Sundance Channel. All free, of course.
  • Global Tribe: A PBS series that travels around the globe, focusing on different environmental issues. It airs several times a year on PBS.
  • Energy's Future with Alan Alda (on Connecticut Public Television)
  • It Could Happen Tomorrow - possibly on CNN

Mainstream Movies:

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sustainable Superheroes

When I started gathering up APLS for The Bushel Basket, I was met with two strong reactions. Both involved the acronym APLS - Affluent Persons Living Sustainably.

The first was an objection to the letter A, which stands for Affluent. Many of you weren't sure you qualified as "Affluent" - even when viewed under the Global Rich List or in a non-monetary sense. I wasn't surprised by those comments. A for "Affluent" has been and will continue to be the subject of much debate both in blog land and over at the APLS Facebook Group.

The second reaction, though, caught me off guard. Many folks didn't blink an eye at the controversial "Affluent" but balked, instead, at "Living Sustainably." They argued that, while they very much wanted to live sustainably, they weren't doing it yet. They were trying but hadn't achieved that elusive goal. They couldn't qualify, they thought, for the APLS designation.
If these people - who read eco-blogs daily, who comment or write their own "going green" blogs, who strive to live lighter, who drag spouses and children into a world with more compost and less toxins - didn't consider themselves APLS, how could I?

I make enviro-mistakes daily. I forget and leave a light on. I run out of time and drive instead of bike. I am too tired to make lunch for my husband so he buys something to go - complete with disposable containers and non-local, conventional food. I am not perfect. I have not achieved the nirvana of "living sustainably" and yet I considered myself an APLS. Heck, I scream my APLS-dom to the world with a green superhero as my "photo".

Then I realized that I do those things not because I live sustainably but because I try.

The APLS moniker points to the dichotomy of living sustainably in an affluent society. There is something special about those of us who want to live with less in a society that urges us to live with more. There is something unique, extraordinary about that quality. And it is an attribute shared by virtually every person who purposefully reads my blog or any of the blogs listed in the Bushel Basket.

Am I living sustainably? I do my best. I live with less even though I can afford more. I shop at thrift stores and love it. I buy from the farmers' market and adore my friends there. I ride my bike and soak up the sun and wind. I give to others instead of buying things I do not need. I organize carpools. I plant a garden. I make cucumber relish. I work to build a community and sometimes I even succeed.

It is not perfection that makes us sustainable superheroes. In fact, perfection is not sustainable. What makes me and you a superhero is our desire to live sustainably. Our ability to see the impact of our actions on others and on the environment. And our vision that extends beyond what is good for us next week to what is good for the planet in twenty years. If we stumble, we can't fly, we've lost our cape or can't find a decent phone booth in which to don our costume - those things are irrelevant.

What does matter is the desire and the effort. For those of you who woke wondering what you could do to lessen your footprint, pick up a cape, slap on your mask, and grab an alter ego (you don't think I go by Green Bean all the time do you?). Embrace your inner superhero. Try to live sustainably.

Enter the APLS Carnival by submitting your post on What Living Sustainably Means to You to aplscarnival (at) gmail (dot) com by August 12. Check out The APLS Blog to find out which superhero was the first to step up and become a regional organizer.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Relishing the Summer

I almost entitled this post "In A Pickle" which gives you an idea of what it will be about.

It is the beginning of August. Our blackberries, raspberries and blueberries are on slipping away with the last carefree days of summer. The cherries have staged a ruby colored finale and will lead the stone fruit into hibernation before the month is out. Corn will make its own last stand soon, followed by melons and tomatoes. And here I am frantically trying to hang on to them all.

Yes. I have embraced seasonal eating with its shifting colors and bursting diversity. We have lived without apples all spring and summer and celebrated loudly when the earliest of the bunch - Gravensteins - tiptoed back into our farmers' market last week. My youngest partied the hardest - downing six apples in a two hour period. Asparagus announced our spring and pomegranates the fall. Welcoming seasonal produce is the easy part of eating locally.

It's the letting go that is hard.

That is why every locavore I know works to put a little summer away for winter, a touch of April to enjoy in the austere days of January. Extending the season is not all the difficult, doesn't consume much carbon and is downright irresistible. You can freeze, dehydrate or can. The latter is my personal favorite. There is something so wonderfully old fashioned about stirring fruit into a magical mass of sugar, of dipping jars into a bubbling cauldron.

I'm no jam addict like Jennconspiracy or marathoner like Chile. But I can hold my own with water bath canner.

Last year, I learned to make jam - piling my cupboards with jewel toned jars. They glittered with strawberry, golden raspberry and blueberry jams, quince and apple jelly, and cinnamon brown apple butter. In the fall, I stretched beyond jam, trying my hand at chutney and even pickles. Six months later, the chutney was a beautiful memory and the Hamburger Dills livened up our Easter potato salad.

This week, my favorite farmer, Sapphira, had the first tight little pickling cucumbers of the season. On a whim, I decided to pickle them and stuffed a reusable produce bag full. I ended up a pound shy for the pickle recipe. With my waterbath canner brimming with blackberry jam's hot water leftovers and the kids at summer camp for another two hours, I couldn't let a few missing cucumbers slow me down. I decided to relish the summer instead of pickle it.

Following the Cucumber Relish recipe from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving, I chopped up my farmers' market cukes. I substituted the green and white peppers donated by a generous friend with an overflowing CSA box and diced my petite, homegrown onions planted last fall and dug out of the ground the day of.

Did I relish the relish?

Unlike pickles and chutney, which take months to marinate, the cucumber relish was delightfully delectable the day of. And, like everything I've canned, it puts its storebought cousin to shame.

2 quarts chopped cucumbers (about 8 medium)
2 cups chopped sweet green peppers (about 4 peppers)
2 cups sweet red peppers (about 4 peppers)
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon tumeric
1/2 cup salt
4 quarts cold water, divided
1 1 /2 cups brown sugar
1 quart vinegar
2 sticks cinnamon
1 tablespoon mustard seed
2 teaspoons whole allspice
2 teaspoons whole clovers

Combine vegetables in a large bowl, sprinkle with tumeric. Dissolve salt in 2 quarts cold water and pour over vegetables; let stand 3 to 4 hours. Drain; cover vegetables with 2 quarts cold water and let stand 1 hour. Drain thoroughly. Combine sugar and vinegar in a large saucepot. Tie spices in a spice bag (I used quadrupled over cheesecloth tied with undyed thread and regular spices as I didn't have any cinnamon sticks or whole allspice on hand). Add to sugar mixture. Bring to a boil; pour over vegetables. Cover; let stand 12 to 18 hours. Bring vegetables to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until hot throughout. Pack hot relish into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Hello, Ris-otto

"Let's see," Sapphira said. She mentally tallied up my finds as she pulled the netted bag off the scale. "That's $25."

"Did you remember the lettuce?" I asked, holding up the bag of baby lettuce.

"Got it."

I delved into my pocket, pulling out five 1's and a crumpled twenty dollar bill. I know many people buy from every farmer at their market. Perhaps I should but I don't. My farmers' market is always bustling and, besides, Sapphira is my friend. I've known her for the past year. She supplied me with the most beautiful San Marzano tomatoes last fall for pasta sauce. She sets aside cheddar and purple cauliflower for me because she knows my oldest loves it. I bought Frankenstein - an enormous blue-green Hubbard from her - and, even though she named him for me, we turned him into pie and soup. Sapphira and I have talked about our kids, her broken washing machine and my book club. We've swapped recipes and shared garden growing tips (well, that mostly comes from her side).

Sapphira is my friend. I buy my vegetables from her.

I handed her the money and carefully nestled my potatoes and tomatoes, peas and cucumbers, and remainder of my bounty into the wagon. I stood to say good-bye and prepared for the onslaught. Sapphira does this every week. "Can I give you some onions?" She offers. "They are wonderful." I laugh and tell her I haven't yet eaten the ones I grew in my own yard. She switches tactics. "Then the Swiss Chard. You must take some. Look, look. The colors are so gorgeous. Please take some." I wave her away and tell her I don't need any freebies. I've got all I need but thank you very much for the wonderful produce. I'll see you next week.

Then she stops me cold.

"How about these carrots? You must take them. They are beautiful." She waves a bunch of the most glorious carrots I've ever seen in front of me. I've bought many different carrots over the past year - purple, white, red, yellow and the ubiquitous orange but never this lovely shade of rose. This delicate, soft pink.

"Okay," I give in. Who wouldn't? I thank her profusely and promise to see her next week.

I toted Sapphira's pink carrots home. I have no idea what the variety is. As Kale for Sale suggests, I should have asked. But, in my gratitude, I forgot.

That night, the comely carrots mixed with some standard orange ones I bought from Sapphira last week to become Carrot Risotto. It's a dish so delicious that I am not the only APLS in the Bushel Basket who made it this year.

One Local Summer Meal: Carmelized Carrot Risotto
The recipe is from Sunset magazine and you can find it here.

Local ingredients:
Long Meadow Ranch olive oil (purchased on site)
Strauss butter
Sapphira's carrots
homemade vegetable broth (from vegetable scraps)
homegrown onion
Peju white wine from organic vineyard (purchased on site)
homegrown thyme
Bravo Farms Silver Mountain cheese (substituted for the Parmesan, I skipped the mascarpone)

Non local ingredients:
bulk organic Arborio rice
bulk fair trade, organic sugar

Friday, August 1, 2008

I Am Mommy, Hear Me Roar!

This is my entry for the Green Moms Carnival to be published over at Organic Mania on Monday, August 4th. Lynn from Organic Mania put the carnival together after adding a bunch of us green mothers to ALLTOP green a few months back. Thanks Lynn! I originally wrote this post in January but it seemed so appropriate for the Carnival topic - what mothers can do about global warming - that I brought it back to life. Please drop by Organic Mania on Monday to read what the green mom-o-sphere plans to do about global warming.

Cheesy title, huh? But what parent hasn't felt that sentiment? What wouldn't we do to protect our children?

During my recent Green Book Club meeting, the issue of over-parenting came up. I have recognized that tendency in myself but, according to another club member, the current generation of parents - my generation - has been termed "umbrella parents" or "helicopter parents" because we hover over our children so. We do not allow them to make the slightest mistake because we want to save them the pain. We oversee their friends, their every activity, their classroom time and their "down time". We protect them more than any other generation in history.

Who can blame us? Even though we don't often act on it, what parent has not thought or felt the following: My kid gets bullied at school, I decide to have class wide meeting to discuss. You, as a teacher, hurt my child's feelings? I will take you down. The coach won't play my son during soccer? We'll see about that! I will protect my children at all costs from all things . . . unless it requires me to drive less, to stop my weekly shopping trips to Target, to wear last year's fashions, or to skip the Thai take out and its Styrofoam and plastic tubs. That would simply be too much.

Sharon at Casaubon's Book made the case for parents to bear the brunt of battling climate change, Peak Oil, and depletion so that we can give our children a world they can inhabit. How can we, the umbrella parents, reconcile over-protecting our children on one hand and handing them a world, broken and heaving, on the other? Why is that so much harder than ensuring that our child has a good teacher at a good school and plays with nice kids? How can we not motivate ourselves to cut back on plastic after learning about the United States-sized garbage patch in the middle of the Pacific? How can we not cut back on driving when we realize that the Arctic will be ice free likely within the next decade? Is this the world we want to leave to our little ones? The stakes are so much higher than hurt feelings or a skinned knee.

As parents, we have so much power. Our numbers are huge, our motivation even bigger. We can elect the next president, we can force our politicians to do a better job, we can lead by example, we are a market force to make corporations shake. We just need to stand up and speak out.

Will we leave our children a crippled, diseased planet? Not if we can help it.

We are mommies, hear us roar!

Sustainble Cinema

I'm a bookworm. I mean a total bookworm. Ever since I was a kid, I've gobbled up books by the dozens. Lately, my drug of choice is environmentally relevant books. Shocker, I know.
But there are times when a book just won't do. Perhaps you're too tired. Or you need something more visual. Or you'd like to share environmental ideas with someone who doesn't have time to read. In those cases, its nice to know that there is a lot of seriously sustainable cinema.

A year ago, my husband and I went to see The 11th Hour, a documentary produced by Leonardo Di Caprio. It didn't last long in theatres, didn't bring in much money and didn't catch media attention like its predecessor, The Inconvenient Truth. It was, however, an eye opening film full of truth and optimism. It solidified my desire to reduce my personal environmental impact and gave me hope. It persuaded my husband that climate change is happening much quicker than expected and that there are ways we can blunt its force if only we act now. We left the theater with the voices of Paul Hawken and others, as they formulated ideas for change, for overcoming, echoing in our heads. We were invigorated and determined to make a difference. Ten months later, my family has embraced green living. We've become vocal and active in our community and my husband has explored technical solutions for a more sustainable future.

While not quite as impactful, we also enjoyed King Corn when it was shown on PBS several months ago. By the time I watched King Corn, I'd read The Omnivore's Dilemma with its descriptions of the massive amounts of corn produced in this country. The written word is powerful but even Michael Pollan could not convey the true enormity of the corn pyramids of Iowa, the vast fields that stretch across counties and states. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and, in this case, it was true. The movie was light-hearted, fairly objective and brought home just what the Farm Bill and subsidies have done to our food system. After watching this movie, I've never thought of corn - or its five million derivatives, the same again.

Earlier this week, Eco 'Burban Mom wrote about the impact of An Inconvenient Truth on her middle school boys. It made them more aware but in ways that they can digest the issue of global warming - as it impacts their lives, their hobbies.

What meaningful movies would you recommend? Did any change your life or the life of someone you know? Do you feel they augment what you have read in books or take away from that experience?

For those of you, like me, frantically tracking down the awesome recommendations everyone is throwing out there, please check back next week. I will post a follow up with all the titles neatly jotted down, with links, and a few words about the movies. That way, all we need to do is grab some popcorn (hmm, maybe not after King Corn) and start watching.


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