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by Wendy Gabriel

Where flowers bloom so does hope.
~Lady Bird Johnson

Flowering tree


By Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: Make your purchasing decisions based on informed Shop Wellchoices. Purchase products, whenever possible, that are local and in-season, organic, made from sustainable materials, are fairly traded and have minimal packaging.

I recently read a wonderful article by Laura Weldon at entitled Your Beliefs Create the Marketplace. In the article she describes a growing trend of ethical consumers who make well-informed choices when “putting their money where their values are.”

If you answer yes to any of the following, the “chances are good that you are one of those consumers. Do you prefer to dine on organic foods? Do you choose sweatshop-free clothing? Do you search out sustainable building supplies? Those choices are probably based on your awareness of today’s health, environmental and justice issues. You care enough to make purchases consistent with your values.

“This growing awareness has sparked a powerful consumer market. Approximately 25 percent of adult Americans are considered to be part of this group. Their purchasing decisions are orienting businesses toward more positive social, environmental and humane practices.”

Ms. Weldon goes on to list the verifiable impact consumer choices are having:

• According to the EPA, if every home in America replaced just one standard light bulb with an Energy Star compact florescent light bulb, this alone would save enough energy to light three million homes for a year ($600 million annual energy costs) and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to removing 800,000 cars from the road.

• International products certified as Fair Trade (guaranteeing a non-exploitative relationship between buyer and seller) support the rights of workers in small-scale enterprises. Transfair USA reports that villages benefiting from such income are opening craft cooperatives and health centers. In one area alone, 1,600 acres where poppies and coca once grew for illicit drug trade are now devoted to growing organic coffee.

• Research published by the National Resources Defense Council indicates that 423,900 trees could be saved if every household in the U.S. replaced just one 500-sheet roll of toilet paper with one made of all recycled fibers.

• Purchasing local, in-season produce conserves petroleum. The Organic Consumers Association reports that processed foods travel an average of 3,600 miles in the journey from farm to table. A meal made of locally produced ingredients uses four to 17 times less petroleum than one from typical supermarket products due to transportation requirements.

• Check the Eat Well Guide to find organic and sustainable food in your area.
In an economy where we are trying to have our dollars stretch as far as possible, let’s make sure our purchases reflect our values. Let’s send a message to big business. Just because we don’t have a lot of disposable income we still demand high quality, healthy, sustainable products.

As Ms. Weldon aptly writes, “Each conscious choice, each locally grown meal put on the table and every handcrafted chair purchased, makes a world of difference.”

When you are out and about this Memorial Day weekend being bombarded with amazing deals for products you may or may not “need,” remember to think before you buy.

Shop Well. Be Green.

Portions were originally posted November 30, 2008

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It’s May 1st and My Green Side’s Green Team is celebrating International Sunflower Guerrilla Day! Join in the celebration. Go plant sunflowers in a neglected spot, water, weed and enjoy the blooms!


Every friend is to the other a sun, and a sunflower also. He attracts and follows.  ~ Jean Paul Richter


By Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: Buy organic, buy local, read labels . . . get to know the origin of your food.

Did you know that a portion of our food is being “sanitized” by irradiation? Currently, U.S. food processors are able to irradiate poultry, beef, eggs, oysters, fresh spinach, iceberg lettuce and spices. I’m no scientist but that just seems like a bad idea. As I understand it, gamma rays, x-rays and electrons are being used to zap our food into sanitized submission. This irradiation supposedly ensures that our food is “safe” to eat. But there are a lot of critics that don’t buy that rationale. They believe irradiation is actually making our food unsafe to eat by destroying the nutritional reasons we eat the food in the first place.

As I was researching the topic, I discovered a paper written by The Food Irradiation Campaign (FIC) that candidly discusses the inherent dangers of food irradiation. Their conclusion is that food irradiation has serious implication for hundreds of millions of people and the technology poses many risks. One of the many risks that, in my mind, contradicts the whole reason for irradiation is that it kills off those bacteria that give warning smells when a product is going bad, making it harder for consumers to detect when the food has gone bad and is unfit for consumption. So, who is this supposed to be good for?

How does your body react to ingesting those yummy little morsels of radiation? How does the earth react when we dispose or compost those irradiated shells and leaves? What kind of waste is produced during irradiation? What is it doing to our children’s little developing minds and bodies?

How about just demanding that our food, from start to finish, be handled properly? Call me crazy but wouldn’t that be the safest, healthiest way to produce our food? As the Organic Consumers Association states, “Irradiated fruits and vegetables benefit the packer and grocer, not the farmer or consumer. The consumer receives an inferior product that appears fresh, but has depleted vitamins and enzymes.”

Tomorrow I will discuss some recent findings about irradiation and how to avoid foods that have been irradiated.

More Articles You May Enjoy:
What’s Your Vinegar Made Of?
The Car Wash is Your Friend
Beauty: Not just skin deep
Fabric Softener

We have an Easter tradition that dates back as long as anyone can remember. The Easter Egg Hunt. The Hunt takes place on Grandma and Grandpa’s organic farm. This years Egg Hiders were two of the oldest cousins. The Egg Hunters were all the remaining cousins (aged 2 through 13) and The Greek.

The Hunt for the Egg (video) can be viewed at The Greek’s website.

Baby Greek goddess hunting eggsLittle Greek goddess hunting eggsThe calf


by Wendy Gabriel

Lisa Mills Sutherland is the eclectic and talented owner of the upscale Lavish Lisa Mills SutherlandSalon, an Aveda salon located in Champlin, Minnesota. Lisa is a successful business owner, a wife and mother who tries to make environmentally sound choices at work and at home. She has traveled extensively for business and pleasure and also attended the Aveda Academy in London. Her precision haircuts are much sought after and she works hard to maintain a balance in both her personal and professional life.

How do you make your day-to-day life a little greener?

I try to buy local and organic produce. I enjoy shopping at the Wedge and Whole Foods. It’s always gratifying to support the farmers who work hard to bring us healthy food while keeping the soil viable.

I also bring my own shopping basket with me to the store. This simple step ensures I won’t buy things I don’t need (because I only bring one bag) and I won’t use resources needlessly (paper OR plastic).

Why is being green important to you?

One thing that helped raise my awareness of sustainable living was opening an Aveda salon. One of my favorite quotes is from Horst M. Rechelbacker, Aveda’s founder, “Our mission at Aveda is to care for the world we live in, from the products we make to the ways in which we give back to society. At Aveda, we strive to set an example for environmental leadership and responsibility—not just in the world of beauty, but around the world.” I have this quote on our website as a reminder.

I feel if there are easy things for me to do each day that make life healthier for my family, my clients and the earth, then I will do it to make a difference. I don’t hug trees but I sure value their contribution to our environment.

What is one green tip you would like to share with us?

I don’t buy bottled water. It’s bad for a number of reasons. We use filtered tap water and store it in glass bottles.

Also, if I have any questions about green products or alternatives to toxic chemicals, I go to sources I trust like Aveda, Ecopolitan, The Wedge, Whole Foods, my girlfriends and my mom’s groups.

Where is your favorite spot on earth?

The Riviera Myan is my favorite spot on earth. I am able to recharge and find peace, sanctuary and solitude when I am at the ocean. A close second is Nordstrom’s ½-yearly sale.

Read more in the Four Questions series:
Four Questions with Adam Shake
Four Questions with Dr. Alan Greene, part I
Four Questions with Dr. Alan Greene, part II
Four Questions with Dr. Alan Greene, part III

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By Wendy Gabriel

I have really had spring and gardening on my mind the past week or so. We always plant a few things on pots on our deck or in our little yard but the bulk of our gardening happens at my parents’ organic farm in western Wisconsin.

The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses.  ~Hanna Rion
Little Greek goddess picking strawberries
Planting flowers with Chester


By Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP: Use a salad spinner instead of paper towels to dry your salad greens. Salad faceIt’s a simple and inexpensive way to get the job done without the needless waste.

It’s late March, snow is in the forecast – spring has arrived in Minnesota. With spring comes the urge to get out in the dirt and plant some vegetables and flowers. Since we have a teeny, tiny yard here at Gabriel Manor, we garden creatively. We plant lettuce, among other space-efficient produce, in a big pot on our deck. And we grow basil in our kitchen so I always have some on hand for a pesto pasta I love to prepare (see recipe below).

I feel like part of the reason my daughters love vegetables so much is because they help to plant, water, harvest and prepare them. They feel invested in the results and usually eat their vegetables with delight!

It is important to choose organic produce whenever possible and even better if you grow it yourself. According to Dr. John La Puma, organic produce has an average of 27% more vitamin C, 21% more iron, 29% more magnesium and more than 13% more phosphorous than conventional produce. And you aren’t getting pesticide contamination.

Also, if you’re supporting organically grown produce you’re helping our planet. The organically grown produce is not adversely impacting our water supply (no pesticides, herbicides or fungicides) and is beneficial to the soil.

Check out the Eat Well Guide which lists local, sustainable and organic resources in the US and Canada. It’s a GREAT website.

Wendy’s Perky Pesto:
A bunch of fresh basil
¼ cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 T pine nuts
3 garlic cloves
Blend until desired consistency. Mix into your favorite prepared pasta.  It’s a quick, yummy meal. And, if you feel a cold coming on, kick up the garlic!

Portions originally posted June 20, 2009

By Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP:  Now is the perfect time to start thinking about Tomatoes on the vineincorporating an organic vegetable garden into your current landscaping. Growing organic is better for the soil and environment. Eating organic is better for your health.

I know eating an apple a day that has been grown organically will keep the doctor away far better than eating an apple laden with pesticides and chemical fertilizers. I’ve been feeding my little girls organic produce since before they were born. I don’t use chemicals to clean my dishes, house, clothes or their little bodies. Consequently, they are two of the healthiest children I know. They rarely get colds, have never had influenza (and do not get flu shots) and are full of energy.

According to the Environmental Working Group(EWG), “There is growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can adversely affect people, especially during vulnerable periods of fetal development and childhood when exposures can have long lasting effects. Because the toxic effects of pesticides are worrisome, not well understood, or in some cases completely unstudied, shoppers are wise to minimize exposure to pesticides whenever possible.”

Although buying organic produce can be expensive, this quote from Orson Scott Card is priceless. “Unemployment is capitalism’s way of getting you to plant a garden.” Having an organic garden is not only good for you and the environment; it’s good for your wallet.

Robert Mugaas is a University of Minnesota Extension Educator. In the Gardening Mini-Manual, he writes “flower and vegetable gardening can be a fascinating and rewarding hobby involving the whole family.”

Mr. Mugaas advises that successful vegetable gardens begin by doing the basics correctly. Three important basics are:

1. Carefully choose the appropriate plants to match the conditions of your site.The Farmer’s Almanac online has a convenient Garden Guide. Another great source for planting and seed saving information is Seed Savers Exchange.

2. Plan the garden before actually purchasing and planting your garden areas. One great planning tool is Plangarden which is a Web-based software tool made exclusively for vegetable gardeners. Or just take pencil to paper and sketch your own plan.

3. Take the time to properly prepare your soil. A healthy, living soil will insure the long-term survival and vigor of all garden plants.

In our current economic and environmental climate, the best preventative medicine on the market today starts at home with an organic garden.

Save Green. Be Green.

Portions of this originally posted January 5, 2009

by Wendy Gabriel

Dr. Alan Greene is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University School Dr. Alan Greeneof Medicine, an Attending Pediatrician at Packard Children’s Hospital, and a Senior Fellow at the University California San Francisco Center for the Health Professions. He has authored a number of books including Raising Baby Green.

Dr. Greene loves to think about challenging ideas, he eats only certified organic, wild or home grown foods, and, perhaps most importantly, he wears green socks.  What follows is the first of a three-part series.

How do you make your day-to-day life a little greener?

One of the things that we look at in healthcare is the nature of relationships between living things. From my perspective, green is a symbiotic or mutual relationship between us and our ecosphere where we both benefit. Too often humans have been parasites on our planet, depleting resources and leaving a trail of toxins. And in turn, our planet has become our predator, triggering a host of increasing environmental illnesses.

Why is being green important to you?

Illnesses arise from interplay between our genes and the environment. But when you look at all the conditions on the rise in kids – problems such as asthma, ADD, high blood pressure, childhood cancers, diabetes – you can’t blame our genes. These conditions have increased so rapidly in the last 30 years that we know the environment is the problem, which means that the environment also holds the answers. The book (Raising Baby Green) gives people – whether they value being green or not – practical suggestions for tilting the odds in favor of their children.

What is one green tip you would like to share with us?

Every step in a green direction can make a difference. One of the things I talk about a lot is leaving your campsite better than I found it, and that relates to the relationship between us and our ecosphere.

What is your next green project?

I’ve just finished writing my next book, Feeding Baby Green.  It will be out in the fall of 2009 and I can’t wait to get to share it with women who are considering becoming pregnant, are currently pregnant, or who have young children. I think this book will have even more impact than Raising Baby Green and I’m very excited about that book.


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