Organic

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I’ve found another one of those companies that I can’t stop talking about. I love when that happens because it gives me hope that there are so many people out there that truly care about keeping our children healthy, respecting the environment and looking forward to our future generations. 

A little about this fantastic business, Ecocentric Mom:

This company was founded by a women who is not only amazing herself but wants you to be amazing for the sake of your children and their children. After the untimely death of both her parents, Ecocentric Mom founder, Rebecca Attanasio began researching everyday products and their health impacts. When she began finding dangerous chemicals in trusted products that people use every day, the idea of Ecocentric Mom was born.

Rebecca saw a need to share what she’s learned about toxic products and food and spread the word that safe alternatives are out there.

From Rebecca Attanasio:

What we put on our skin and our children’s skin is just as important as what we eat: endocrine disruptors, neurotoxins, and carcinogens can be absorbed and enter our bloodstream. These chemicals can build up in our bodies over the years, wreak havoc on our immune systems, and cause life-threatening diseases.

The idea of Ecocentric Mom is simple: Members sign up to receive a monthly package filled with a sampling of hand-selected safe, ethical, and eco-friendly products at a fraction of the cost. You can choose one of three different membership box choices:

  • Mom Discovery Box: geared toward those in any stage of motherhood, this subscription will introduce women to non-toxic skin care, makeup, organic food brands, and more
  • Mom-to-Be Discovery Box: focused on products safe for mommy and baby, this box might include skin care, make-up, organic whole food prenatal vitamins, organic non-GMO foods and treats, spa products and so much more. Once your baby arrives, you can move to the Mom Discovery Box.
  • Baby Discovery Box: for newborns to 18-month-olds, this box could present members with products such as non-toxic, BPA-free toys, safe skin care and organic clothes.

If you are interested in becoming an Ecocentric Mom member (or giving a membership as a gift), visit http://www.ecocentricmom.com/.

I can’t wait to receive my first Mom Discovery Box!

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Editor’s Note: Each Tuesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel ProgramWealso highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1220pm (central) every Tuesday at WDAY.com or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Avoid genetically engineer food.

A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans. Because this involves the transfer of genes, GMOs are also known as “transgenic” organisms.

This process may be called either Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM); they are one and the same. Read more about GMOs at http://www.responsibletechnology.org/gmo-basics/the-ge-process.

The buildup surrounding GM agriculture was that these new crops would be of increased nutritional value and would increase productivity. They would be able to grow in the desert and feed the worlds hungry. This, however, is not the reality. The only advantage goes to the companies selling the seeds. If you want to read a great article on the topic, visit civileats.com and read the view of author and food advocate Anna Lappe.

According to the Institute of Responsible Technology, “the two main traits that have been added to date are herbicide tolerance and the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide. These results have no health benefit, only economic benefit.”

Jeffrey M. Smith, author of Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods and blogger at Huffington Post, writes “Unless we want to wait until more studies are done, risking allergies and immune dysfunction, infertility, infant mortality, or poorer health inherited by the next generation, we will have to opt out of the GM food experiment. Without required labels, it isn’t simple.” And currently the U.S. doesn’t require GM foods to have labeling describing them as being genetically modified.

Children are especially susceptible to the effects of GM foods.

Top Ten Genetically Engineered Food Crops from Healthy Child Healthy World

• Corn: Our number-one agricultural commodity. In 2000, 79.5 million acres of harvested cropland in the U.S. were corn, 25% of which was genetically engineered. This includes Bt and Roundup Ready corn varieties.

• Soy: The number-two U.S. agricultural commodity. Sixty percent of processed foods contain soy ingredients, and 82% of edible fats and oils consumed in the U.S. are soy-based. In 2000, 54% of the 74.5 million acres of soybeans grown in the U.S. was Roundup Ready soy.

• Potato: Currently, the only GE potato is a Burbank Russet variety, marketed under the name NewLeaf. This Bt-producing plant is lethal to the Colorado potato beetle – and possibly to beneficial insects.

• Tomato: The first GE tomato, the Flavr Savr, was introduced commercially in 1994, but flopped because it proved tasteless. Since then, other varieties, including a cherry tomato, have been genetically engineered to delay ripening and extend shelf life.

• Canola: Of the 15 million acres of canola grown in the U.S. and Canada annually, 35% is GE, mostly for herbicide-resistance.

• Cottonseed Oil: In 2000, 61% of the 15.5 million acres of cotton grown in the U.S. was genetically engineered. Every year, half a million tons of cottonseed oil makes its way into salad dressings, baked goods and snack foods. About 1.4 million tons of cottonseed meal is fed to livestock annually.

• Papaya: More than one third of Hawaiian papayas have been genetically engineered to withstand the papaya ringspot virus. Organic papaya growers in Hawaii worry that the pollen from GE papaya trees will contaminate their crops.

• Radicchio: Currently one variety of radicchio, called Seed Link, has been genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide glufosinate.

• Squash: Several varieties of summer squash have been genetically engineered to resist mosaic viruses. Some scientists are concerned that resistance to the virus may spread to weedy relatives, such as gourds, found in the U.S., creating invasive superweeds.

• Salmon: A company called Aqua Bounty has engineered a salmon with genes from two different fish species so that it grows much more quickly than non-GE salmon. The company now seeks FDA approval to market this fish for human consumption. Escaped into the environment, (which is inevitable on fish farms), the GE fish may be larger and more aggressive, eat more food, and mate more often, though their offspring are less fit to survive in the wild, raising the possibility of wild species extinction. Human health effects are also relatively unknown. Currently, research on transgenic strains of 35 fish species world-wide is underway.

Source: Healthy Child Healthy World

Download the Institute for Responsible Technology’s Non-GMO Shopping Guide to make sure you avoid foods made with genetically modified organisms.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Non-GMO Project

The Non-GMO Project, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, offers North America’s only third party verification and labeling for non-GMO food and products. They are committed to preserving and building sources of non-GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non-GMO choices.

 

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Editor’s Note: Each Tuesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living toThe Christopher Gabriel Program.We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1220pm (central) every Tuesday atWDAY.com or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Make informed choices to reduce the amount of pesticides you and your family are eating. Buy organic produce whenever possible, it’s healthier for you and the planet.

Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides. The guide is developed based on data from nearly 96,000 tests for pesticide residues in produce. There are two lists.The “Dirty Dozen” lists produce varieties that have most pesticide contamination so you should always buy these organic or avoid them. The other list is the “Clean 15″, the produce the EWG has found to have the least pesticide contamination.

Get the guide at http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/guide/.

We’ve talked about avoiding toxic chemicals while Greening Your Lawn. We don’t want pesticides entering our bodies through our skin and we certainly don’t want to injest them. The EWG points out that there is a growing consensus in the scientific community that even small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can have adverse effects on health, especially during vulnerable periods such as fetal development and childhood.

The bottom line is that when it comes to pesticide use, there is more to consider than just the residues that you are ingesting. Although peeled foods such as mangoes, avocados and kiwis may spare the consumer from significant pesticide exposure, it is possible that large amounts of pesticides and herbicides are used on the farms from which these originate, contaminating groundwater, promoting erosion and otherwise damaging local ecosystems. To help promote the health of the planet as well as your own health, it’s best to buy organic whenever possible.

DIRTY DOZEN – Buy These Organic

  1. Apple
  2. Celery
  3. Strawberries
  4. Peaches
  5. Spinach
  6. Nectarines
  7. Grapes
  8. Sweet bell peppers
  9. Potatoes
  10. Blueberries
  11. Lettuce
  12. Kale/collard greens

CLEAN 15 – Lowest in Pesticides

  1. Onions
  2. Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplant
  9. Cantaloupe (domestic)
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweep potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms

Source: DrWeil.com and EWG.org

My Green Side’s weekly web pick:

Eco18.com

Eco18 is a collective of creative writing individuals with a common goal—to live a healthier more natural lifestyle. From diverse backgrounds, cultures and interests, their combined expertise, humor and opinions will explore green and sustainable in a practical, fun way.

No judgments, no preaching just an exploration of doing a little bit, everyday to make our world a better, cleaner place for the generations to come. It’s a learning process for everyone.

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Editor’s Note: Each Tuesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living toThe Christopher Gabriel Program.We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1220pm (central) every Tuesday at WDAY.com or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Surprise your sweetie with an experience, PVC-free gift certificate or organic flowers this Valentine’s Day. Really show your love this year with a gift that says you care about the long-term impact of your actions.

Too often we buy things just to buy things on “holidays” like Valentine’s Day. If you feel like giving your sweetie something meaningful this year, I have some suggestions:

EXPERIENCES

  • Any busy person would appreciate a handmade certificate (on recycled paper) for a homemade dinner, doing laundry for a week (hint, hint) or any other task you know would be a delight to have done by someone else.
  • Dinner and a movie. Either take your sweetie out or have a theme dinner and a movie at home.
  • Plan a trip to an art gallery or museum.
  • Get creative. You know your loved one better than anyone so really make the day special.

GIFT CERTIFICATES

  • A gift certificate for an experience like a trip to a local spa or restaurant. Most local (non-chain) stores and restaurant still use paper gift certificates instead of plastic cards made from PVC.

The folks at GiftZip.com have a wonderful tip. The next time you’re purchasing a gift card go for the electronic (and paperless) option, an eGift card. Each year, 75 million pounds of PVC is dumped into landfills from plastic gift card waste (Plenty Magazine). That’s an astronomical amount of waste for something that can easily and conveniently be sent virtually. We’ve talked about PVC before. PVC is notoriously difficult to recycle and cannot be tossed into the recycling bin along side your other household items. You must send those pesky plastic cards to a PVC recycling plant, the only one I know of is EarthWorks. For a directory of retailers that offer an eGift card, go to GiftZip.com.

ORGANIC FLOWERS

OrganicBouquet.com offers sustainably grown flowers fresh from their partner farms. They promote and live up to the highest social and environmental standards—developing the most eco-friendly floral packaging, initiating the industry’s first carbon offset program, and growing their flowers in a way that is gentle on the earth and that safeguards the ecology and the well-being of wildlife and farm workers.

You can even find responsibly grown bouquets from mass retailers like FTD.com and Costco. So talk to your florist and ask questions about their flowers.

Why organic flowers?

More than 400,000 boxes of flowers are shipped from Ecuador to the United States in the two weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day. Workers in Ecuador and Colombia, usually women, work from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. during this time of year. Most do not work again until Mother’s Day approaches. Not only is the work hard and the pay unfair, governments do not restrict the use of dangerous pesticides.

They work around 100 varieties of pesticides, many outlawed in America, without protection.

For example, a 2006 Harvard study showed that children born to women working in the Ecuadorian flower industry had impaired brain development due to prenatal pesticide exposure. Do you think those pesticides have magically disappeared when your sweetie is smelling the blooms?

The story is the same in Thailand, Malaysia and Zambia – anywhere February isn’t frozen over and poor people are willing to work for pennies.

Source: Environmental Working Group and Wholeliving.com

JEWELRY

Make sure your jewelry is purchased from a sustainable source. Companies like Ruff & Cut offer socially responsible luxury, which means gorgeous jewelry, sustainable and humane mining practices and recycled metals.

Do you have any other ideas for greening someone’s Valentine’s Day?

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Wholeliving.com
Wholeliving.com
is an online magazine full of great tips and articles about living your whole life more healthy, happy and sustainably. They offer natural solutions for stress, sleep, allergies, and more. Living a green, stylish life is easy with their sustainable ideas. Healthy, delicious recipes are a click away (including desserts). Customized fitness (for body and mind) can be achieved with yoga, Pilates, strength training and cardio routines. Beauty — from healthy skin care to at-home spa techniques complete the radiant new you.

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Editor’s Note: Each Tuesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living toThe Christopher Gabriel Program.We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1220pm (central) every Tuesday at WDAY.com or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Eat a variety of foods to make sure you are getting the fullest range of nutrients in your diet. A great way to do this is by avoiding processed foods and Eat a Rainbow – choose fresh fruits and vegetables from each color of a rainbow.

To read more about Eating a Rainbow, visit Fruit & Veggies More Matters.

Eating healthy is important for everyone but it’s especially critical for children. Pound for pound, children eat and drink more than adults so healthy eating is essential in order to safely nourish their growing bodies.

Here are some healthy eating tips from our friends at Healthy Child, Healthy World:

  • Choose to eat and prepare organic, whole foods rather than packaged foods whenever possible. The easiest way to eat healthier is to start making your food instead of buying prepared food and warming it.
  • Avoid genetically modified organisms (aka GMOs or genetically engineered foods). For more information on GMOs visit www.responsibletechnology.org.
  • Choose safer seafood. Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website to learn more and print a pocket guide.
  • Read labels. Look for foods with few and identifiable ingredients. Avoid the top five risky additives: Artificial Colors (anything that begins with FD&C ), Chemical Preservatives (Butylated Hydroxyanisole [BHA], Sodium Nitrate, Sodium Benzoate), Artificial Sweeteners (Aspartame, Acesulfame-K, Saccharin), Added Sugar (High Fructose Corn Syrup [HFCS], Corn Syrup, Dextrose, etc), Added Salt (Look at the sodium content and choose foods with the lowest amounts.)

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

Real Moms Love to Eat

Visit www.realmomslovetoeat.com and discover creative recipes for tasty, fresh whole food meals, food facts and lots of healthy inspiration.

Beth Aldrich is the author of the new book, Real Moms Love to Eat: How to Conduct a Love Affair with Food, Lose Weight, and Feel Fabulous (Penguin Books, January, 2012). The book, written in a funny, conversational tone, offers easy-to-follow weekly tips to help moms find the best way to love food, lose weight and still look fabulous. We have to eat three or more times a day, so why not love every bite. TO ORDER your copy, visit her page on Amazon, here: http://www.amazon.com/Real-Moms-Love-Eat-Fabulous/dp/0451235584/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1

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Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1220pm (central) every Wednesday at WDAY.com or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Eating organic produce, meat and dairy is healthier for your family and the environment (and it tastes better).  

Here are some money saving tips to help you eat healthier and stay within your budget:

Comparison Shop. You may be able to find less-expensive alternatives at different stores. Many major chains are coming out with their own organic brands but make sure it’s certified organic. According to Mark Kastel, the senior farm policy analyst at The Cornucopia Institute, “Major food processors have recognized the meteoric rise of the organic industry, and profit potential, and want to create what is in essence ‘organic light,’ taking advantage of the market cachet but not being willing to do the heavy lifting required to earn the valuable USDA organic seal”.

Grow One Thing. Unless you have a lot of land, you’re probably not going to feed your family only from your home-grown harvest, but you will find that growing a tomato plant can be incredibly inspiring. And it’s not as intimidating as it seems. So pick one thing to grow – you can do it.

Cook More. The more convenient the food is, the more expensive it is. For example, buying an organic frozen dinner may save you time in the same way a conventional frozen dinner would, but it costs quite a bit more than its non-organic counterpart and much more than a homemade meal. Buy organic items that are lower in price (such as produce), and make your own dishes from scratch.

Stock Up. Stock up on your favorite items when they go on sale. Or try something new that is on sale or is priced well, and you may find a new favorite.

Buy in Bulk. Buying in bulk will keep costs down. Look for many pantry staples often available in bulk, such as beans, legumes, rice, flour, nuts, chocolate chips, and much more.

Organic Coupons. Keep an eye out in the Sunday paper and grocery circulars for coupons and, again, stock up to take best advantage of the savings. Organic bargains are everywhere so click on About.com’s Frugal Living page where you will find All Organic Links.

Shop in Season and Buy Local. Shop farm stands and farmers’ markets for the freshest, most-delicious produce while supporting local farmers. Purchasing in season produce from your grocer may also keep costs down. And you can also save money by becoming a member of a local farm by joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.

In the Fargo/Moorhead and surrounding areas:

  • Bluebird Gardens offers a couple of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) options with drop off locations in North Fargo, South Fargo, West Fargo, Moorhead, Underwood, Battle Lake, Otter Tail, Perham, Breckenridge, Wahpeton, Fergus Falls, Dilworth, Rothsay, Barnesville, Frazee, Vergas, Pelican Rapids and Detroit Lakes. Visit www.bluebirdgardens.net for more information.
  • Sydney’s Health Market boasts the areas only all organic farmer’s market. Available Fridays during the growing season. They also have organic produce available in the store, delivered fresh every Tuesday. Visit www.sydneyshealthmarket.com or call 218-233-3310 for more information.

Be Selective. Decide to only purchase organic milk and produce. See the Environmental Working Group’s “dirty dozen” for the most-contaminated produce and tailor your decisions based on these:

EWG Shoppers Guide

Bring Your Own Bag. Many stores offer a discount when you bring your own bag. It’s usually around 5 cents per bag,

Eat With Friends. Last but not least, make it fun! Choose some like-minded friends and get together to each prepare an organic dish—a great way to add variety to your organic diet while keeping your own purchases down. Get together for a weekend potluck—or, during the week, arrange a food swap to minimize cooking and maximize eating organically.

Source: Organic.org and Healthy Child Healthy World

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

eat the seasons
eat the seasons aims to promote an understanding of food seasons. Each week they list the seasonal foods that are at their peak, and share enlightening facts, useful tips and enticing recipe ideas picked from the web and their favorite books.

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I love chocolate. Period. So you can imagine my reaction when the awesome folks at Equal Exchange wanted me to review their new chocolate bars. They are a wonderful company, with a great mission and delicious products. I was honored.

The Product:

Equal Exchange recently announced the addition of two new chocolate bars: Organic Ecuador Dark Chocolate (65% cacao content) and Organic Chocolate Caramel Crunch with Sea Salt (55% cacao content). Both bars, like all Equal Exchange chocolates and cocoas, are fairly traded and organic from small-scale farmer co-operatives. Taking great care to select recipes with as few ingredients as possible, these bars are soy- and gluten-free, and the Ecuador bar is vegan.

The Reaction:

Both chocolate bars are savor-0n-the-tongue delicious. I made the mistake of offering my daughters a little taste of the Organic Chocolate Caramel Crunch with Sea Salt and never saw it again. I will be heading over to shop.equalexchange.coop to order some more.

For more information about Equal Exchange and their products, visit www.equalexchange.coop.

Equal Exchange is also giving My Green Side’s readers a coupon for $5 off a case of Equal Exchange chocolate at their webstore, shop.equalexchange.coop: Coupon code: chocolate5. It expires 2/28/11.

Like they say at Equal Exchange,

Together, we can learn about our food sources, challenge an unjust food industry and preserve our planet… Who’s in?

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Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1220pm (central) every Wednesday at WDAY.com or, if you’re in North Dakota or western Minnesota, listen on your radio at AM970 WDAY.

GREEN TIP: Surprise your sweetie with an experience, PVC-free gift certificate or organic flowers this Valentine’s Day. Really show your love this year with a gift that says you care about the long-term impact of your actions.

Too often we buy things just to buy things on “holidays” like Valentine’s Day. If you feel like giving your sweetie something meaningful this year, I have some suggestions:

EXPERIENCES

  • Any busy person would appreciate a handmade certificate (on recycled paper) for a homemade dinner, doing laundry for a week (hint, hint) or any other task you know would be a delight to have done by someone else.
  • Dinner and a movie. Either take your sweetie out or have a theme dinner and a movie at home.
  • Plan a trip to an art gallery or museum.
  • Get creative. You know your loved one better than anyone so really make the day special.

GIFT CERTIFICATES

  • A gift certificate for an experience like a trip to a local spa or restaurant. Most local (non-chain) stores and restaurant still use paper gift certificates instead of plastic cards made from PVC.

The folks at GiftZip.com have a wonderful tip. The next time you’re purchasing a gift card go for the electronic (and paperless) option, an eGift card. Each year, 75 million pounds of PVC is dumped into landfills from plastic gift card waste (Plenty Magazine). That’s an astronomical amount of waste for something that can easily and conveniently be sent virtually. We’ve talked about PVC before. PVC is notoriously difficult to recycle and cannot be tossed into the recycling bin along side your other household items. You must send those pesky plastic cards to a PVC recycling plant, the only one I know of is EarthWorks. For a directory of retailers that offer an eGift card, go to GiftZip.com.

ORGANIC FLOWERS

Organic flowers, organic chocolate and even organic baked goods. Thanks to my friend Melissa Hincha-Ownby, I discovered OrganicBouquet.com.

Organic Bouquet offers sustainably grown flowers fresh from their partner farms. They promote and live up to the highest social and environmental standards—developing the most eco-friendly floral packaging, initiating the industry’s first carbon offset program, and growing their flowers in a way that is gentle on the earth and that safeguards the ecology and the well-being of wildlife and farm workers.

Why organic flowers?

More than 400,000 boxes of flowers are shipped from Ecuador to the United States in the two weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day. Workers in Ecuador and Colombia, usually women, labor from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. during this time of year. Most do not work again until Mother’s Day approaches.

They work around 100 varieties of pesticides, many outlawed in America, without protection.

The story is the same in Thailand, Malaysia and Zambia – anywhere February isn’t frozen over and poor people are willing to work for pennies.

Source: Environmental Working Group

JEWELRY

Make sure your jewelry is purchased from a sustainable source. Companies like Ruff & Cut offer socially responsible luxury, which means gorgeous jewelry, sustainable and humane mining practices and recycled metals.

Do you have any other ideas for greening someone’s Valentine’s Day?

My Green Side’s weekly web pick:

Trees Instead
Trees Instead
offers an awesome way to tell your Valentine you love them. Make your Valentine gift sustainable and dedicate a tree to honor your sweetie. You can have one tree planted, half or even a full acre of trees planted in any US State, Canada, Africa and Israel.

As our love grows, so will the tree.

Portions of this article were originally published January 13, 2010 at MyGreenSide.org.

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by Wendy Gabriel

It seems like there are so many companies out there who get it completely wrong. That’s not the case with Surf City Growers. They completely get it and they teach others how it’s done.

Linda McNair is the president of Surf City Growers, a small organic nursery located in Aptos, California. She co-founded the company with her husband, Trent, in 2005 and together they launched My First Organics seed starting kits in 2009.  Their goals are to help families and schools eat healthier, support local organic farming and do their part in saving the planet. [Read more about Linda]

I bought a My First Organic Classroom Bundle for my daughter’s kindergarten class last year and a Homeschool Bundle for us to use at home. They are fabulous tools to teach kids early about the origins of healthy food and why it’s so good for them and the Earth.

Everything in My First Organics seed starting kits is Earth-safe. Each kit is made up of a reusable or recyclable mini-greenhouse complete with organic seeds, soil and biodegradable pots that can be placed directly into the soil. Step-by-step, kid-friendly guidance and illustrations are also included, making each step simple.

Here’s the good news, they’ve opened up a shop on Amazon and are offering a 15% discount on orders of $15 or more until October 31st, 2010! So, what are you waiting for? Do you need a unique, fun, educational, healthy gift for an upcoming birthday? Do you want to do some early holiday shopping for a child, homeschooler or K-3 teacher? Use Claim Code – AMAZON23 – during checkout!

Click on over and support some amazing people!

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by Wendy Gabriel

GREEN TIP:  Use white distilled vinegar for cleaning.  It’s a great way to avoid using harsh chemicals.

I am always searching for new green cleaning tips.  I currently use white vinegar for a variety of cleaning tasks from windows to weed eradication.  While researching this piece, I discovered some new and exciting uses but also found out some rather disturbing information.

First, the Good News.

According to liquid condiment maker Mizkan’s website,

White distilled vinegar is a popular household cleanser, effective for killing most mold, bacteria, and germs, due to its level of  acidity.  Cleaning with white distilled vinegar is a smart way to avoid using harsh chemicals.  You’ll also be glad to know that it is environmentally friendly and very economical.

You can read all their 1,001 Uses for White Distilled Vinegar, but here are some favorites:

Get rid of fruit flies by setting out a small dish of undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Wipe grease off exhaust fan grids, the inside of your oven, or anywhere grease gathers with a sponge soaked in white distilled vinegar.

To remove a label, decal, or price tag, cover with a cloth soaked in white distilled vinegar. Leave the cloth on overnight and the label should slide off.

Some carpet stains can be removed with a paste of 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar and 1/4 cup salt or baking soda. Rub into the carpet stain and let dry. Vacuum up the residue the next day. (Always test on an out-of-sight part of the carpet first).

Clean your grill by spritzing white distilled vinegar over wadded up aluminum foil and scrubbing the grill vigorously with it.

Remove the hazy film that builds up on inside windows of your car by spraying with white distilled vinegar.

Now for the disturbing discovery.

Micheal Bloch at Green Living Tips writes:

it appears that some brands of white vinegar may be derived from petroleum (crude oil) and fossil fuel products.  Synthetic ethyl alcohol can be created from the liquefaction of coal or the hydration of ethylene.  Ethylene is produced in the petrochemical industry.  It’s important to check the label or with the manufacturer to ensure that the brand you buy doesn’t.  It was rather unsettling to discover that this is yet another food additive with a direct connection to crude oil and fossil fuels.

OK, it took me a moment to shake off my cleaning information-high and digest what Michael laid out.

My lovely white vinegar could have a direct connection to crude oils and fossil fuels?  How was this possible?  Does my Mom know?  It this legal?  Could I be kicked out off the GreenMomFind.com blogroll for possession? I took a deep breath and ran to the basement where the stuff is stashed.  WE WERE OUT OF WHITE VINEGAR.  This never happens!  Is my husband getting even for the vermicompost situation.  Another deep breath.  I’ll check Heinz’s website.

According to Heinz their white distilled vinegar is made “from select sun-ripened grain, diluted with water to a uniform pickling and table strength of 5% (50 grains) acidity.”  OK, I’m not an unwitting waster of fossil fuel but I am buying a product that doesn’t appear to be using organic farming methods.  Wow, I didn’t even think about where my vinegar had been coming from.

Thankfully I have found a new vinegar. Spectrum Organics Organic Distilled Vinegar.  Their vinegar is created using 100% organic corn and rye as source material.  All of their processing steps and the finished product itself conform to organic standards.

Now I know from start to finish I’m cleaning green.  And I’ve also learned I can’t take anything for granted in my quest to save the world one green tip at a time.

My Green Side’s web pick of the week:

VinegarTips.com
VinegarTips.com gives 1,001 uses for white distilled vinegar. The site gives tips on everything from cooking and cleaning with vinegar, to gardening and home remedies.

Editor’s Note: Each Wednesday My Green Side brings Simple Tips for Green Living to The Christopher Gabriel Program. We also highlight a favorite green site each week. You can stream the segment at approximately 1220pm (central) every Wednesday at WDAY.com.

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