HappyBellies Organic Brown Rice Cereal – The Perfect First Meal for Baby

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When my little one was ready to add something more than breast milk to her belly, I felt very unprepared. Food suddenly seemed like a very daunting, complicated thing. I’d seen how different foods had affected her when transferred with varied results through my breast milk, so I started my search for the perfect first food. It was a no-brainer that any food entering my baby’s body had to be organic, and most of my research turned up rice formula as the best option. Rice is the easiest to digest and less likely to cause an allergic reaction. Rice it would be….

As it turned out, there were really only a few organic rice cereals on the market, and HappyBellies was the only one to offer an organic cereal made of brown rice. Brown rice isn’t a different grain than white rice, it’s really just white rice with the brown cover removed. By definition, leaving the brown cover on the grain qualifies it as a whole grain.

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Katie Roche, Contributing Writer

September 30, 2009 by  
Filed under BPGL Crew, Contributing Writers, Katie Roche

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Katie Roche is a creative, a mother, and a wife trying to live the good, green life in Iowa City, Iowa.

When Katie was 10 years old she convinced her local school board that recycling was not only the right thing to do, but that it could be profitable, which led to the first school recycling program in the state of Iowa! …

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Jen’s Kitchen — Serving Up Sandwiches and Humanity to Survival Sex Workers

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On any given night, between 7 PM and 1 AM, Jennifer Allan walks from street corner to street corner in a section of Vancouver, British Columbia known as the Downtown Eastside. She is looking for prostitutes. They are easy to find at this hour, in this place, where drug addiction is common, and addicts will do almost anything for their next fix. But Allan is not seeking sex or drugs or stereotypes. She is reaching out to hurting, hungry people. She carries with her a basket of sandwiches and a heart filled with compassion.

Jennifer Allan is the founder and sole proprietor of Jen’s Kitchen, which she describes to me by phone as “an advocacy, outreach, food-relief program.” She adds, “We work with survival sex workers, single mums, victims of domestic violence, and women getting out of federal and provincial prison.”

The term “survival sex worker” is new to me, so I ask Allan to define it….

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Wilson’s Apple Orchard – Eco-Friendly Farming Yields Bumper Crop of Family Fun

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Drive a little more than 4 miles north out of Iowa City on Highway 1. Turn east down Dingleberry Road for a little less than a mile, and take a right down an unpaved road. Soon you arrive at Wilson’s Apple Orchard, a local Iowa City landmark that you won’t soon forget. Ask just about anyone in the Iowa City – Solon area, and they’ll tell you about a family outing they took to Wilson’s when they were kids, about their own child’s recent preschool field trip, or a romantic apple-picking outing with their date. Young and old, Wilson’s Apple Orchard figures into the fond memories of generations of Iowans.

Paul Rasch bought the grounds from previous owners, Robert “Chug” and Joyce Wilson, last year. When asked about the environmental practices he is putting in place in his new venture, Rasch comments that there are three main environmental concerns associated with farming: manure, erosion, and pesticides. Wilson’s Apple Orchard has no livestock, so manure is not a concern. Rasch does no tilling, so the soil is stable. That leaves only pesticides to deal with…

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Shades of Green – Looking at the Food System with a Critical Eye

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Interest in environmentally friendly food products and food production practices is growing. The food and beverage industry has responded to this interest and has created environmentally friendly marketing schemes.

However, as companies “green” their products or extol sustainable business practices, eaters need to be equipped with the tools to decipher the new marketing trends. This extends to nutrition and health claims on food products. According to attorney Michell Simon, “Nutrition advocates who buy into the myth of industry-created solutions do so at their own peril. Praising companies for “doing the right thing” only encourages more food industry-PR (or ‘nutriwashing’).” …

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Angie Tagtow, Contributing Writer

September 25, 2009 by  
Filed under BPGL Crew, Contributing Writers, Health, Hunger, Nutrition

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Angie Tagtow is a registered dietitian, environmental nutrition consultant, and international speaker who educates eaters, opinion leaders, and policymakers on sustainable food systems that promote good health, vibrant communities, and environmental stewardship. Her consulting firm, Environmental Nutrition Solutions, takes an ecological approach to food and health by leveraging policies to build resilient and sustainable food systems that advance public health. Her “Good Food Checklist” series has been distributed to audiences across the country. She works with a variety of groups, including regional food and farming coalitions, not-for-profit organizations, professional associations, government agencies, universities and industry…

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Ecoholic: Your Guide to the Most Environmentally Friendly Information, Products, and Services – by Adria Vasil

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You’ve heard of alcoholics, chocoholics, workaholics, and shopaholics, but you’ve probably never heard of an ecoholic unless you’ve had the good fortune to read Adria Vasil’s book or column by the same name. Vasil defines the word ecoholic right on the cover: (when you’re addicted to the planet). Officially titled Ecoholic: Your Guide to the Most Environmentally Friendly Information, Products, and Services, the book is a vast compendium of knowledge Vasil acquired while writing her “Ecoholic” column for Canada’s NOW Magazine during the past five years.

I’m far from finished reading — it’s the kind of guide you “drop into” as need arises, but find yourself lingering over long after you’ve found your answer. But I can tell you truthfully that I love this book…

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Face to Face: Children of the AIDS Crisis in Africa by Ande and Richter

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Open to any page of Face to Face: Children of the AIDS Crisis in Africa, and you’ll find haunting photos and text that will either make you weep for, laugh with, or give applause to the children who are profiled here.

The story of one tiny girl, whose image flees across the page, gives a new perspective on the word “hardship,” as we experience it in the West. Author Ruthann Richter writes, “Two-year-old Mary Maishon was near death when she was found with two other children living under a piece of cardboard and plastic. Her limbs were skeletal, bent from lack of nutrition, and she was barely able to sit up. She didn’t speak at all.”

In a later photo, taken after she was restored to health through loving kindness and the generosity of strangers, tiny Mary beams at the camera, full of life and joy. Over a period of many months, photographer Karen Ande has captured the child’s journey from the brink of death to the beginning of a hopeful future…

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My 5: David Blume, Executive Director, International Institute for Ecological Agriculture

September 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Agriculture, Biofuels, Blog, Books, Front Page, My 5, Organic

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Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) asked David Blume, Founder and Executive Director of the International Institute for Ecological Agriculture, author of Alcohol Can Be A Gas, and a frequent speaker at ecological, sustainability and agricultural conferences throughout the Americas, “What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?” Here are his responses.

BLUME:
* Stop buying oil. Replace oil with ethanol. Ethanol is a clean burning, high octane fuel that sells for around $1.80 a gallon. You don’t even have to pay more to do the right thing.

* Only buy organic products. Vote with your dollars to send the message that you’re not going to continue doing business as usual…

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Notes from California – Time to Evacuate! What Will You Pack?

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When confronted with imminent evacuation — as thousands were during the largest fire in Los Angeles in a century — what do you take with you?

Smoke billows up and over the brown mountain ridge. Ash sifts down in swirling flakes and settling dust. The sky is an eerie golden grey, the color of the end of the world. Helicopters roll over and around every few minutes with ominous hums, dropping fire retardant in great white swaths onto flames.

August is fire season in Los Angeles, a month predictably scarred by blazes, when fires spread across the bone-dry desert chaparral like water sliding downhill. This one, the “Station Fire,” was the largest forest fire Los Angeles County has seen in a century and a half. It burned 242 square miles, destroyed 80 homes, and killed two of the nearly 5,000 firefighters who bravely fought the blaze. The scope is unfathomable…

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Megan Kimble, Contributing Writer

September 21, 2009 by  
Filed under BPGL Crew, Contributing Writers, Megan Kimble

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Megan Kimble is a Spanish-speaking, laptop-wielding, six-foot gringa wandering around Latin America and, as of late, Los Angeles, where she’s from. Megan runs, hikes, and really loves breakfast food — especially coffee. She is game to try anything new…

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Chicago Hosts First Annual Carbon Day Festival

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Chicago-area environmentalists gathered in Lincoln Park on September 15 to celebrate Carbon Day, which the Illinois state legislature designated as an official state holiday earlier this year, as reported on Blue Planet Green Living. The festival was ideally sited amid a beautiful stand of shade trees and conifers adjacent to Lincoln Park’s Farm in the Zoo. The event featured demonstrations, educational booths, speeches, and activist organizations. In addition, visitors learned about sponsoring companies and area businesses committed to the goal of reducing the national carbon footprint and making a positive impact on the environment…

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Indie Film “A River of Waste” Issues Urgent Call to “Vote with Our Ballots as Well as Our Forks”

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“Only after the last tree is cut down, the last of the water poisoned, the last animal destroyed… Only then will you realize you cannot eat money.” — Cree Indian Prophecy

So begins the documentary film A River of Waste, setting the stage for a discussion of how agriculture in the U.S. — and indeed, much of the world — has left behind the family farm and turned into profits-at-any-cost Big Ag. And there are costs — costs to the animals kept in filth and confinement; costs to the environment in air, soil, and water pollution; and costs to the health and well-being of people.

This excellent indie film presents a story that has been carefully researched and seamlessly assembled to show consumers just how dangerous CAFOs are. But it doesn’t stop there; it presents solutions in the form of regulations and practices that are common in the European Union…

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Car-Sharing – Good for the Environment and the Budget

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Car-sharing is an emerging transportation trend that can reduce both your carbon and cash emissions in a single card swipe.

Interested?

We thought so.

The concept originated in Switzerland in the late 1980s and migrated to North America by way of Quebec City in 1994, according to Kevin McLaughlin, publisher of Toronto-based CarSharing.net, an industry resource website. “Car sharing offers city dwellers who don’t require a vehicle to get to work an alternative to owning a private car,” he explains. “About 80 percent of the expense of owning a car is fixed cost that you’ll pay whether you drive or not. If there’s a car sitting out front, you’ll find yourself using it more to justify the expense — even if it’s just to go a few blocks. Car sharing makes it possible to kick the car habit. If you drive less than 5,000 miles a year, this is going to save you money. Also, if you no longer own a car, you’re going to walk or ride your bike those few blocks. So you end up living a healthier lifestyle.” …

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My 5: Maziar Movassaghi, Acting Director, California Department of Toxic Substances Control

September 15, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, Green Chemistry, My 5, Pollution

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Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) asked Maziar Movassaghi, acting director of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control and leader of the state’s Green Chemistry Initiative, to answer two questions we like to ask our interviewees. Following are his responses. — Publisher

BPGL: What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?

MOVASSAGHI:
* The overarching issue I’m going to respond to, and I think all these issues feed into it, is that everybody should not wait for the silver bullet, the one thing they can do that will fundamentally change everything about them. There’s a lot of fun stuff that we can do in our homes, little by little, that makes a big difference…

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California Green Chemistry Initiative – “Rethinking the Way We Create Everything”

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California Department of Toxic Substances acting director Maziar Movassaghi told Blue Planet Green Living that the Green Chemistry Initiative is working to rethink the manufacturing of products.

MOVASSAGHI: It’s a really fundamental shift for environmental regulation. We don’t wait for stuff to reach the waste stream. And we don’t think of waste as garbage, but as nutrients. If you think of waste as nutrients, you require that at the end of a product’s use, you should be able to grind it up, throw it in the ground, and have it be a nutrient for an organic product. Or, if it doesn’t fit that model, it should be able to be reused in an industrial process.

Now, whether it goes to create energy for material productions or whether it goes back into the reuse of the product, those are two ways of approaching it. But it’s really a different way of looking at our waste, as “waste is food.” …

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Foxhollow Poultry Farm – “Respecting the Food We Raise”

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Whoosh! A huge ball of feathers flaps past my head, catching me completely by surprise. “It’s just Cy Snoodle,” says Tai Johnson-Spratt, co-owner of Foxhollow Poultry Farm. She laughs. “He’s showing off.”

Tai and I are standing in the roomy, sunny hen house among a couple dozen busy birds. Several walk past our feet, checking out the things chickens, turkeys, and peacocks find most interesting — each other, food, grit, water, and whatever they can scratch up in the dirt. A few hens are perched on a series of boards that resemble bleachers at a football game. That’s where Cy, named after nearby Iowa State University’s Cyclones, was apparently perched when he decided to do a flyby. Cy is a fitting name for this cloud of feathers that seemed to appear in the air out of nowhere.

Now Cy struts across the floor of the hen house, his feathers puffed up and fully open, showing off just how big and manly he is. He’s got his eye on a svelte lavender female, his favorite. “See how he turns his tail feathers,” Tai says. “That shows where he’s directing his attention. He really likes her; he’s always following her around.” The object of Cy’s affection is a heritage variety that is critically endangered…

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ModCloth Ecopreneur Turns Vintage Shopping into Successful Career

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Seven years ago, Susan Gregg Koger began ModCloth.com by selling vintage clothing online from her Carnegie Mellon University dorm room. Later that day, she had her very first sale.

Now, ModCloth.com is an internationally recognized brand and the number one Google search result for indie clothing, retro clothing, and vintage outfits. It has expanded to include a mix of vintage-inspired wear.

The site has its roots in Koger’s teenage fascination with vintage shopping. She now mixes business with pleasure and still considers thrifting a hobby…

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Abby Seixas, Contributing Writer

September 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Contributing Writers, Massachusetts

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Contributing writer Abby Seixas is a psychotherapist, speaker and author of the highly acclaimed book Finding the Deep River Within: A Woman’s Guide to Recovering Balance and Meaning in Everyday Life.

She offers workshops, retreats and individualized coaching, as well as her popular “Deep River”™ groups. Abby’s television appearances include NBC’s The Today Show and the Hallmark Channel, and her work has been featured in local and national print media, including O, the Oprah Magazine; Self; Woman’s Day; Fitness; Body + Soul; and The Boston Globe…

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An Upside to the Downturn – One Psychotherapist’s View

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One of my favorite cartoons from The New Yorker shows two mice with two exercise wheels side by side. One mouse is running frantically around his, while the other, sitting still on the edge of the wheel, says, “I had an epiphany.”

The cartoon speaks to the territory I deal with all the time in my work as a psychotherapist specializing in issues of life balance: the elusive change of mind and heart that enables a person to shift from running endlessly on the treadmill of our culturally sanctioned 24/7 way of life, to being able to slow down, or, dare I say it, even to stop every now and then…

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