Monthly Archives: July 2009

Buy Fresh, Buy Local, Buy Organic

Articles like this one, “Organic food is no healthier,” frustrate me. The gist – “Our review indicates that there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority.”

Ok, maybe organic produce is not “healthier” in terms of actual nutritional content, but what about taste? What about those chemical pesticides you’re ingesting? What about the environmental impact of those pesticides and chemicals? What about supporting your local farmers? If “healthy” was only about “nutritional content,” couldn’t we all just take a vitamin-packed food pill and go on our way?

I’d also like to know how fresh the food used in this study was. We all know the fresher your produce is, the more nutrients it retains. And the best way to get fresh produce? Head to the Farmers Market, and chat up your local farmer. Produce doesn’t have to be “certified organic” to be pesticide-free. Ask! Talk to your farmers or the person in charge of produce to your grocery store.

Articles like this bug me, because I feel like people use them as an excuse to not buy organic or local foods, because they’re “expensive” and “not even better for you.” Call me paranoid, but I can’t imagine how ingesting chemically-coated produce is healthy for your body. Isn’t the “expense” worth it?

Besides, being healthy is about more than just magnesium, iron or vitamin C – it’s about the delicious food on your plate, the person who grew it, how it tastes, and how it makes you feel. Compare an organic, local heirloom tomato or farm-fresh peach with their conventional store-bought counterparts and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

buy fresh buy local
And buy organic!

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This Is Why I Love the Farmers Market

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Are these not the most gorgeous onions you have ever seen?

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Pretty Green Tip: Plastic Bag Rehab

No, I’m not talking about these super cute bags (though, yes, super cute). I’m talking about what to do when somehow, against your wishes, a plastic bag makes its way into your life.

Occasionally my CSA will give me produce in the dreaded plastic bags (though I hear they are switching to biodegradable ones!), and though I try to never, ever use them myself at the grocery store, I make one exception: spicy foods. When I’m buying something capsaicin-ful (heh), like the jalapenos I picked up for a mango-cucumber salsa last week, I will admit to dropping it in a plastic bag instead of my usual mesh and canvas ones. But instead of grabbing a new bag at the store, I bring a used one from home – and you can, too!

Here’s what I do: turn the bag inside out and scrub it with a sponge and some eco-friendly dish soap. Rinse, and set it to dry on a little plastic bag drying station made of a yogurt tub or big bowl, and a set of tongs. Simple as can be! Most bags can get at least a few uses out of them, provided there’s no mold or anything like that. Keep bags out of the landfils – reduce and reuse!

Side note: Does it drive anyone else crazy when you see someone bagging bananas or a single apple? They’ll be fine on the conveyor belt, people, I promise!

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Do you reuse plastic bags? What have you creatively repurposed?

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Greener Pastures

Is it just me, or does everyone seem totally stressed out lately? A bunch of my friends are dealing with some complicated stuff, and it seems like a lot of other bloggers are also not feeling like their usual perky selves. I know I’ve been pretty stressed out myself, for a variety of reasons, hence the infrequent posts lately.

Inspired by Hallie’s post, I’ve decided to try to focus on the positive, instead of getting weighed down by what’s been stressing me out. So here’s a list of the things I’m totally thankful for and happy about right now!

The fact that my boss lets me work from home when I want/need to.
I do have to commute to work (which I feel horribly hippie-critical about) and feel really lucky to have the flexibility to occasionally reduce my carbon footprint by commuting to my kitchen table or local coffee shop. And I’m not even sucking up because I’m working from home today, I swear!

Summer produce
Berries, squash, peaches, nectarines, and my favorite, watermelon! The Farmers Markets are bursting with bright colors and flavors right now, and I can’t wait to check out a new one in my friend’s neighborhood this weekend.

My sister’s impending move to the City
She’s going to be able to sell her car, and walk to one of her jobs, at a really cool organization called My Farm SF, which I plan to dedicate a separate post to in the future. Pretty Green Sister is my eco role model and I’m excited about having her close enough for more frequent ice cream (the girl is obsessed!) dates and Scrabble matches.

My roommate’s wedding
I love weddings! I’ve been lucky enough to attend the weddings of two close friends this year so far, and can’t wait to see Jaime & Chris exchange vows next month.

Potlucks with friends
I have a standing Tuesday date with two of my girlfriends – we alternate themed potlucks with going out for dishes on the Big Eat SF: 100 List. Though I’ve actually missed all the Big Eat dates so far, the potlucks have been awesome. Last night we feasted on chicken tortilla soup (topped with mozzarella, avocado, cilantro and perfectly greasy and salty homemade fried tortilla strips), mango cucumber salsa, bean dip, Mexican cornbread, Food Should Taste Good Yellow Corn chips, and Handley Chardonnay. What a fiesta! My friends have a special way of cheering me up, and I don’t know what I’d do without them!

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Is this picture cute or creepy? I can’t decide!

Have you been stressed out lately? What’s cheering you up?

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Bright & Thrifty

Despite the fact that this Maggy London dress I bought to wear to my friend’s wedding last weekend cost only $30 at Crossroads, had a bad stitch that caused it to bunch all funny and not hang right, the fact that the zipper broke between the ceremony and reception, and several other corset-related mishaps that I don’t really need to go into on this blog, I have never gotten so many compliments on a dress, ever. People actually stopped me on the street to compliment me. So, if you’re looking for a fun dress to wear to an upcoming event, I say keep it simple and cheap with a fun, brightly-colored, previously-been-owned (that sounds a lot cuter than used, no?) dress. I guarantee you’ll get lots of compliments on your bold frock! By the way, the bride’s cousin introduced me to my new favorite phrase at the wedding – we’re frocked up! Love it.

If you don’t have a great thrift shop near you, eBay is the place to shop! True, it’s not quite like trying something on in the store, but if you generally know what size you wear, shopping online is a great way to find gorgeous, cheap pre-owned clothes. Plus, you might save so much that a little tailoring wouldn’t be out of the question if your item isn’t quite a perfect fit when it shows up. Or you could just hope that no one notices a few imperfections – hey, it worked for me!

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When searching on eBay for fun party dresses, I enter terms like “BGBG dress,” “Anthropologie dress,” or “Maggy London dress” and then refine my search with the sizes I’m looking for. You can also enter just the brand name, like “FCUK” or “Tracy Reese” and then click on women’s clothing, then dresses. Next, I specify (on the menus on the left-hand side of the screen) that I’m looking for something “pre-owned” or “used.” “New” and “new w/o tags” may also bring up what you’re looking for, but there are a lot of resellers on eBay, which I feel kind of defeats the purpose of buying used. I always check seller’s other items to see if they are clearly a reseller before deciding on a purchase. You can refine your search by color, if you’re looking for something specific, like a fun bright yellow dress or a pretty blue one, like I’m seeking for my roommate’s upcoming wedding, length and more. I prefer to search by brand name as opposed to just “blue dresses,” because I find a lot of strange things come up with more general searches, like “club wear” and floral denim dresses. Not quite the look I’m going for!

yellow dress
I bet this cost a lot more than $30 at Nordstrom!

Happy shopping!

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Product Review: Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt

One of the great perks of blogging is that occasionally people want to send you free stuff! Sweet! Even better when it’s a product you’re really excited about. I’ve been a fan of Stonyfield Farms for a long time, especially because of their partnership with Preserve, their emphasis on organic products, their use of milk from family farms, and their environmental practices. So when Kristina from Stonyfield offered to send me some coupons, I was psyched.

And when the package came, I felt like one very lucky blogger!
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Check out that bounty of coupons and the cool reusable bag! Thanks, Kristina!

I was especially excited to try Oikos, as I’m a big fan of Greek yogurt, and don’t often see organic brands. While I tend to generally purchase locally-made organic plain yogurts like Wallaby and Straus, neither of these brands make Greek yogurt. And I must say, Oikos is some of the best Greek yogurt I have ever tried. It’s rich, creamy, delcious and packs 23 grams of protein and NO fat per serving. Amazing. This stuff definitely does not taste fat-free! My favorite way to enjoy it is with Stahlbush Farms Marion blackberries – I pack a little container of yogurt and frozen berries in the morning, and by lunch the berries have defrosted and perfectly sweetened the yogurt. Yum! While I usually buy plain Oikos and add my own fruit to it, the vanilla is absolutely amazing as an occasional treat – it’s better than most desserts! The plain is so thick and rich that it’s a great substitute for sour cream, and also works as a great way to cut back on oil in muffin recipes and other baked goods.

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I will say that I prefer to buy the 16oz, as opposed to the smaller, single-serving size, because the container is a great size for reusing (it perfectly holds a sandwich on an English muffin, for example!). Stonyfield seems to have given a lot of thought to their packaging, most of which is admittedly over my head, but I’d love to see a larger, 32-oz size, and a lid added to the indivudual-serving size to make the container reusable.

Oikos might not be the cheapest yogurt on the market (the 16oz generally runs around $5 or so at my local Whole Foods – I think everything’s more expensive in SF, though), but for me, it’s well worth the price!

What do you like to add to your yogurt? Anything unusual besides fruit or honey?

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Whole Savings

I love shopping at Whole Foods, but they don’t call it Whole Paycheck for nothing. While I totally believe that you get what you pay for, and think it’s worth paying more for SOLE foods (sustainable, oganic, local, ethical – just heard that term and I love it!), shopping for these kinds of groceries can definitely add up!

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Enter the Whole Deal, the Whole Foods newsletter, filled with discounts on some of the great products that Whole Foods carries. I just picked up the June/July issue which has tons of great coupons, including $1 off Barbara’s Bakery Puffins, 50 cents off Zbars, 50 cents off MOJO bars, 50 cents of Luna Cookies, $1 off Rice Dream/Soy Dream, $1 off Kashi GoLean Crunch, $1 off any Green & Blacks product, $1 off Kashi TLC crackers (a KERF favorite!), and more! Sure, many of these products are packaged, but they’re mostly healthy and organic, and you might as well save a few bucks if you’re going to buy them anyway!

I’ll ignore the coupon for $1 off Fiji Water. You don’t need bottled water from Fiji, people! I don’t care how cute the bottle is. Siggs are cuter. 😉

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the Whole Deal is also filled with recipes, meal plans, tips for discounts in the store and more. I definitely recommend you pick one up next time you’re at Whole Foods, so you don’t spend your whole paycheck! Just make sure you recycle it or reuse the paper when you’re done!

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