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Posts Tagged ‘organic’

Too busy with the faltering economy, healthcare, global warming, and other pressing issues, U.S. legislators are putting food safety reforms on the backburner. That’s unfortunate, considering this recent statement from the Food and Drug Administration Science Board, that it can “no longer fulfill its mission without substantial and sustained additional appropriations.” I was shocked to learn that   only 1% of most imported food gets inspected. Also, the current legislation does not require food manufacturers to disclose sourcing for ingredients used in processed foods. The implication  is, unless sticking to natural, non processed, domestic foods, there is  no way of knowing for sure what’s in our food.

Confused shopper in grocery store - Ralph Bijker, Flickr image

Confused shopper in grocery store - Ralph Bijker, Flickr image

Watchdog organizations such as Food and Water Watch, Environmental Working Group, Center for Food Safety, Consumers Union, Center for Science and Public Interest, and Food Policy Institute, are doing what they can to alert consumers, each with a slightly different take and focus. The result is a confusing picture, that can be reduced to 14 relatively simple steps: 

  • Eat at home where you have more control over food supply
  • Avoid processed foods with ingredients of unknown origin
  • Avoid foods with non natural ingredients
  • Buy domestic products
  • Buy organic eggs, poultry, meat, and dairy
  • Cook well eggs, poultry, meat, and high risk veggie – green onions 
  • Stick to organic for produce with high pesticity index
  • Buy fish from safe fish list
  • Avoid raw oysters
  • Avoid food requiring excessive handling such as pre-cut fruit, deli cold cuts
  • Scrub and wash all vegetables and fruits in soapy water, including packaged, pre-cut items
  • Limit canned foods because of lead/plastic lining contamination risks
  • Buy organic versions of corn, soy, canola, and cotton based products
  • Stay clear of trans fats and saturated fats

Did I miss anything?

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Until today, I resisted the urge to comment on Wired provocative article on Inconvenient Truths: Get Ready to Rethink What It Means to  Be Green.  Lynn Miller‘s comment on Goeff Livingston‘s post about Wired piece, gave me the push I needed. 

First, I agree with Lynn. Anything that can draw people into thinking about their carbon footprint, has my full endorsement. Second, I would also hope that the information that is being conveyed does not further confuse citizens. People need clarity, not controversies. Third, I agree with Goeff Livingston, that any respectable journalism medium, such as Wired magazine, ought to do its homework, and convey only accurate information, to the best of their knowledge.

About Wired‘s  ‘10 Green Heresies‘, here is what I think:

  1. Live in cities: YES and NO; I have written before about supporting research for YES. At the same time, there is something about living closer to nature that supports  greener behavioral changes. It may be that we have not found yet the way to optimize the way we live in non urban settings.
  2. A/C is OK: NO; The fact that A/C is less of a villain than heating, does not make it right.
  3. Organics are not the answer: YES and NO;  I do not agree with the whole setup for their argument. The bigger issue is of conservation and proper use of natural resources. Their point about the role of transportation in carbon footprint is also highly debated. I do support their point about limiting read meat and pushing a vegetarian diet.
  4. Farm the Forests: YES and NO; I am aware that trees are a complex issue; on the whole however, more trees is better than less, and deforestation in the Amazon is never good. 
  5. China is  the solution: YES and NO; it is hard to ignore the polluting of the rivers, and of the air, and the exponential growth of coal plants
  6. Accept genetic engineering: NO; I am no expert. Still that one does not feel right. I say, let us address the issue of growing population with family planning and education, and conservation strategies. Let us eliminate the food waste, let us eat less, and less processed food.
  7. Carbon trading doesn’t work: YES; Carbon trading is an easy way out, that does not solve the fundamental problems of needing to produce less greenhouse gases at each source. 
  8. Embrace nuclear power: YES (reluctantly); I know I will get a lot of grief for that one, from some of my antinukes friends. The issue here is, if not nuclear energy, so what? Can we say with confidence that renewable energies, and conservation measures will be set in place soon enough to win the race against greenhouse gas emissions?
  9. Used cars – not hybrids: YES and MORE; as in retrofitting old cars, biking or walking instead of driving, carpooling, and hopefully soon electric cars that will be recharged with renewable energies. I do own a Prius, but I agree with them, a little old car with good gas mileage would be just as good. 
  10. Prepare for the worst: YES.

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On one side, avocados from Mexico, for $1.99. On the other side, identical looking ones, but labeled organic, and grown locally, for $3.99.

Avocadosavocados1

Even I, who have repeatedly advocated the virtues of ‘buy local, eat organic‘, had to ponder. I turned to Prad. ‘What do you think?‘. Green Guru hesitated only briefly. ‘The ones from Mexico. Mexico is part of the US’ – he was kidding, of course . . . ‘ I am subsidizing Whole Foods enough as it is!’

The lesson is: if you want folks to go green, you’ve got to make it easy on their wallets.

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Yesterday, Kyle sent me this mail:

I was youtubing it, enjoying my new broadband, and came across this interview snip with David Holmgren, founder of the “permaculture” project:


He’s talking about the future of suburbia, and is rather more optimistic than that bigot Kunstler. What I got out of it was that he expresses very well something I think, that we can’t be too hopeful about grand top-down plans – though he’s afraid of them, I’m not, I just think they’re not likely to happen – and he thinks positive change will come about from necessity. He presents it all as an “organic” process – by which he means a smooth and natural one, though of course organic processes are not always very neat and pleasant…

If you’re waiting around for government to do something, then things look pretty dark. If you’re looking for ways in which people can do things for themselves, then things look a bit brighter. So this is “green psychology” in that it’s a way of looking at the world which keeps you hopeful and focused. I’ve just seen quite a bit of loss of hope and frustration in the blogosphere lately, and seen it in your posts, too.

Kyle is right, I have been feeling a bit down lately, and frustrated, regarding the apparent lack of action. Nothing depresses more than driving on the freeway at peak hours, and being a part of this seemingly endless flow of CO2 spewing machines. I want someone to step in, and say stop. My fantasy of a conductor is going nowhere however. Not even Obama comes close, when I listen to him speak and propose his timid plan for cooling the planet. Don’t get me wrong, I know the man has to think about politics, and getting elected, and pushing only as far as the crowd will allow.

While watching the David Holmgren‘s video, what struck me most was not so much what he had to say, as how he delivered his message. No rush, no fear, no need to control. Instead, calm assurance that events will lead us back to where we need to be again, and that individuals will naturally organize towards increased energy efficiency strategies. As somebody who is informed about the perils of climate change, I have found it hard to withstand the tension from not having an immediate, quick fix solution. David Holmgren is reminding us that the straight path may not be the way to go here.

I also connected with Homgren‘s emphasis on ‘retrofitting‘. Many proposed solutions to global warming, jump to the creation of new infrastructures, new cars, new cities, new houses, new gadgets. Our throwaway culture has found its way in the climate fight. Less sexy, but a lot more sustainable, is the notion of retrofitting existing environments to enable a carbon neutral lifestyle. Maybe now is the time to make ours the 4R’s:

‘Reduce-Reuse-Recycle-Retrofit‘.

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EcoMoms are in the air. A few weeks ago, Lynn Anne Miller reached out to me with some great links, that served as inspiration for an article in La Marguerite. I felt a kinship with Lynn. She and I are moms, with a background in marketing, and a passion for green things. Her story of leaving the corporate world, and following her passion resonated with my own. It is my great pleasure to host Lynn today, and to let her tell you her story:

It’s now been just over a month since my first post and the launch of OrganicMania. As a mother of two, I’m very concerned about building a healthy environment for my children.

Children

OrganicMania was started as a way to share my research and opinions about when it truly makes sense to go organic. But OrganicMania is turning into so much more than that – it’s turning into a community, and it’s become my passion.

Thank you to everyone who supported my fledgling steps – especially the bloggers who’ve offered advice or found my site and left comments. This means the women – WhyMommy of Toddler Planet, Sher of Wrekehavoc, Gift of Green, Rejin from Urban Botany, Beth from Fake Plastic Fish, MC Milker from Not Quite Crunchy Parent, Margaret from Whirlwind, Mama K from Non Toxic Tots and mama k nj, Emily from Wheels on the Bus, and Jessica from Surely You Nest. This also means thanks to my “token males” – Jeff Steele, the father of DC Urban Moms and Dads; the megablogger Geoff Livingston; Nicholas from The Place of Dead Roads and Dean Hua from Sachi Studios, who got my blog up in no time. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to post comments or simply to visit the site. And most of all, thanks to my wonderful DH who encouraged me to start Organicmania. He’s now calling himself “a blogging widower.”My life truly has changed since I began blogging. How? Let me count the ways. I have:

1. Realized that organics and green living are more than simply an interest of mine. I want to find a way to make these passions fit into my work life too. This is obviously a huge change, and I’ll be blogging more about this as I explore what new doors may open for me;
2. Met new friends, deepened existing relationships and even talked with some in “real life;”
3. Had more fun writing than I’ve had since my days as a newspaper reporter fresh out of college;
4. Learned a lot about the organics industry and the green movement;
5. Taught myself to do a few technical things on my WordPress blogging platform, boosting my technical self-esteem;
6. Moved from observing the blogosphere for years to feeling a part of it; and I
7. Feel incredibly happy about all of this.

I feel more alive as a blogger. Connected. It’s odd, because here I sit alone at a computer, yet I know I am plugged into a huge community. It also sounds trite, because I have known about this phenomenon for more than a decade. But it’s one thing to know about something as an observer – it’s something totally different to live it.

Perhaps these feelings are hitting me especially hard, because as a Mom, I’m not accustomed to taking much time for myself. All of my friends are asking, “How are you finding time to do all this blogging?” I think the secret is that I’ve just about given up housework! ☺

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