The Old 24-Hour-Rule? Not for Swine Flu!

November 4th, 2009

Every parent knows the rule. Fever-free without medication for 24 hours. That’s the period of time during which a parent is supposed to wait before sending Junior back to regularly scheduled activities after a bout with a fever. And the Centers for Disease Control reaffirmed that recommendation less than two weeks ago.

That’s the rule we followed. After running a temperature over the weekend,  Boo seemed fine by Tuesday. Heck, he had spent most of Monday fighting over Legos with his Big Brother, chasing him up and down the stairs…full of energy and spunk.

But then today, Wednesday,  – when of course, I was traveling back from a conference in Virginia –  – I got the call: a fever of 103.5 degrees.

DH was home fighting the flu too. And the traffic lights in all of Montgomery County were malfunctioning, putting the entire County in traffic gridlock – the worst I’ve seen in a decade here in the DC area.  Needless to say, it was quite an adventure making it up the clogged arteries to the pediatrician’s office.

By the time I made it to the pharmacy at 8:30 p.m., I picked up an email from my son’s child care center, asking parents to make sure their children were fever-free for 48 hours before returning to school.  Apparently my son was not the only child to have a sudden reoccurrence of high fever, more than a day after going fever-free for 24 hours without meds.  But actually, we would have needed a 72-hour rule in his case.

So that old 24-hour rule?  It doesn’t apply with swine flu. I didn’t know that. But now you do. Stay well.

— Lynn

A Fair Trade Halloween? Not Completely.

October 31st, 2009

This Halloween, I was convinced, would be the year that fair trade Halloween chocolates made it to the mass market — or at least to Whole Foods!  Sadly, #nestlefamily fiasco notwithstanding, we’ve still got long way to go before fair trade Halloween chocolates are widely available.


I started my quest in early October,  pulling up the Reverse Trick or Treating website run by Global Exchange.  This program distributes free Fair Trade chocolates along with educational materials about the benefits of fair trade, which include a commitment to:
* ENDING poverty among cocoa farmers
* STOPPING  forced/abusive child labor in the cocoa industry and
* PROTECTING  the environment

Unfortunately, they were already sold out. And my quest for Fair Trade chocolate began.  My first stop was Whole Foods in DC’s Tenleytown neighborhood. No luck.  Then I tried Whole Foods River Road in Bethesda, Maryland. Nada. How about Whole Foods Rockville Pike, in Rockville, Maryland? Zilch. Back to My Organic Market in Rockville, Maryland.  Nothing. Trader Joes in Bethesda? No.

Why was I so determined? Ever since my friend Diane MacEachern of Big Green Purse told me that 50% of the cocoa in this country comes from Cote d’Ivoire, which still practices forced child labor on many of its cocoa plantations, I have tried to avoid conventional chocolates.

But by mid-October,  I was beginning to think I’d never find Fair Trade Halloween chocolate, so I started looking for substitutes.

At Target, I found pretzels from Pennsylvania – $3.27 for a bag of 35,  or just 9 cents per treat.


By now, we were a week away from Halloween, and Big Boy was bitterly complaining about only having “boring” pretzels to give out as treats to his friends. So I caved and bought some bon bons at Giant. I thought I was safe – chocolate-free – until I discovered that one of the candies – Bit-O-Honey – are made by Nestle.

Finally, at Trader Joes, I picked up 2 bags of chocolate bars – not whole trade, but from Columbia. Since the slave labor employed in the cocoa industry is focused in Africa  — specifically Cote d’Ivoire – I reasoned that cocoa from somewhere other than Africa was probably the next best thing to Fair Trade cocoa. And at $2.79 per bag, or ten cents per piece, it was competitively priced to American brands.


A few days before Halloween, at the Takoma-Silver Spring co-op, I found small Fair Trade chocolates – but the price — 40 cents per piece – gave me pause. My neighborhood is overrun with kids on Halloween eve, and I didn’t want to spend a hundred dollars or more on Halloween candy!

But I did leave the co-op with YUMMY EARTH USDA Organic lollypops, 70 in a bag for $2.79 or just 3 cents per piece.   Made with real flavors including organic black carrot, pumpkin, black currant, and apple,  these lollypops are delicious!  They will definitely become a Halloween staple in our household.


I could not believe that there was no Fair Trade Halloween chocolate to be had in DC or Bethesda, so I started sending tweets out asking for help. I heard back from Divine Chocolate, suggesting I visit a store in a far away part of DC.

In a final attempt to finish my quest, I dashed into Ten Thousand Villages near Bethesda Row and low and behold, found some Fair Trade chocolate – perfect for Halloween. At 25 cents per piece, the Divine Chocolate gold coins were about the price I expected – expensive but manageable.  I picked up 2 bags of gold coins, but not before hearing the store manager say many other frustrated shoppers had been in seeking fair trade Halloween chocolate as well.

Not in my neighborhood. Surveying my son’s overflowing trick-or-treat bag, I didn’t see another organic or fair trade item. I felt a bit like I had been spitting into the ocean – a tiny drop of nothing in a sea of high fructose corn syrup, slave labor chocolate, and artificial colors and ingredients — all wrapped in plastic – reams and reams of plastic.   I wondered how my Green Moms Carnival friends Jennifer (The Smart Mama), Jennifer (The Green Parent), Micaela, Beth, Maryann, Sommer, Jess, Karen, Anna, Alicia and the others had handled this holiday. Hmm…I’m thinking next year we should plan a carnival on Halloween treats!

Hope your Halloween was happy!  What did you hand out? And did you go crazy looking for Fair Trade chocolates too? Leave a comment and let me know!

And at the end of the day,  it’s all about these funny little faces, isn’t it?


— Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

NOTE: Here is a link to the latest information I could find from the US chocolate industry about the continued struggle for equity in Cote d’Ivoire.

Are you a Slactivista? Not Today! Take Action with Events in Bethesda & Your Hometown

October 24th, 2009

Yesterday at the final Blogpotomac Conference I “heard” a new word: Slactivista.  Actually, I “heard” it over Twitter in this tweet from conference organizer @GeoffLiving.

Wikipedia defines slactivism as  “a portmanteau formed out of the words slacker and activism. The word is considered a pejorative term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. The acts also tend to require little personal effort from the slacktivist.”

A lot of bloggers are, frankly, slactivists.  Yes, blogging is important….you can spread the word about actions, elicit attention from the media, get ideas for personal actions you can take. But at some point – you have to take action. Whether it’s advocating for a Greener School through your PTA, cleaning up a neighborhood park, or lobbying for change on Capitol Hill – you gotta get up and do.

Today’s the Day.

After months of lead-up, today is the International Day of Climate Action. What are you DOING?   Here’s what’s going on in my hometown of Bethesda. What about yours? You can check out this cool online finder to locate an event in your hometown.

10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. today (and repeated on Wednesday 10/28 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.) head on over to Bethesda Green for  Greener Living, the first in a series of four interactive workshops where you will get hands-on information on how to save energy at home.

If you can’t  make either workshop, you can still sign up to track your energy use automatically with the online tool – and get paid for doing so!

Following the workshop, you can join a group heading down from Bethesda Green  to the events in DC.

At 5:30 p.m., you can join the folks at my wonderful CSA for an interfaith group event  of singing, chanting and meditation  focused on  climate change. Directions and RSVP are here.

As for me, like many parents, I’ve got kids’ birthday parties and kiddie Halloween parties to somehow balance with all this activism. But I’ll find a way to make my tiny difference…and you can too. Check out that online tool at…what an easy way (but not a slacker way!) to reduce your energy footprint.

Today’s the day. What are YOU doing?  Don’t be a slactivista!

— Lynn

Walmart Knows What’s Best for Us Green Moms. Right?

October 14th, 2009

As a child, my mother used to drag me out to endless open houses. It was fun to look at the gorgeous new homes for sale and to dream. But invariably, we would laugh. She’d point to a kitchen door that was too far from a countertop, or a window that was ill placed, or a closet that was too small, and say with a loud HUMPPH, “Must have been a man that designed this house. They have no idea how we women live.”

My mother’s  words came back to me when I learned from my friend, the green blogger  Mary Hunt of In Women We Trust that  Walmart is developing its new sustainability index without ANY consumer input.    What’s more, they’re charging companies $250,000 to participate in the process of setting the standards. They’re even charging to attend webinars to learn how the index works!


Pictured: Sam’s Club Fair Trade Coffee for sale at Walmart.  Cheapest price I’ve ever seen for Fair Trade coffee!

Some of you might be thinking, “Who cares?” Most of my friends don’t shop at Walmart. In fact, most actively avoid the place. I recall a “Green Moms” dinner once where only two of us had even tread foot inside a Walmart.  But as I’ve blogged herehere, and here, I actually do shop in Walmart from time to time, and I’ve eagerly cheered them on as they’ve stocked more fair trade, USDA organic, and eco-friendly items.   After all, as Walmart goes, in large part, so goes Middle America. And this is why Walmart’s Sustainability Index is so critical to all of us.

A large selection of Clorox GreenWorks products at a Walmart -- all for $2.98 per bottle.

A large selection of Clorox GreenWorks products at a Walmart -- all for $2.98 per bottle.

By virtue of its sheer size, Walmart’s standards will become the de-facto standards for all products. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying at Walmart or your local corner store. If your favorite products are carried at Walmart – and this includes green favorites like Clorox GreenWorks, Horizon USDA Organic milk, most major organic jarred baby food brands,  and many other household brands – your product will be designed to meet Walmart’s standards. Their standard will of necessity become our standard, because the manufacturers will (rightly so) insist that they can’t meet multiple standards. They’ll choose one standard to meet, and if Walmart insists on a Sustainability Index before the US Government mandates one, well….you can guess whose standard will become the de-facto standard of the land.

Others who pooh pooh the need for consumer input might reason, “Well,  the companies know what consumers want, don’t they?”  Hmm…if all companies knew what mattered most to consumers, all companies would be fabulously successful with amazing, defect-free, safe, functional products.

So Walmart, if you decide you do want consumer input, we’re happy to give it. Just don’t charge us for the privilege, please.

And to hear what other members of the Green Moms Carnival are saying about Walmart’s Sustainability Index and its impact on consumers, please check out Mary Hunt’s blog, In Women We Trust, where she hosts this month’s Green Moms Carnival on Sustainable Standards: What’s the Consumer’s Opinion?

— Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

Update – 10/28/11  Since I wrote this post, Walmart has updated its site with links to both the Sustainability Index webinar (which you can watch for free) and a PDF of the Supplier Sustainability Index. — Lynn

In DC? Get Thee to GreenFest!

October 11th, 2009

I have no time to blog. So this is all I can say right now – get to GreenFest in DC today, you won’t regret it!  Check my organicmania tweetstream for deets.

More later!!


Amazing Things Happen When a Community Pulls Together

October 5th, 2009

It’s hard to believe that it was  a year and a half ago that I wrote this post about the launch of a sustainability initiative in my community.  No one could have imagined that just 19 months later, we’d be cutting the (green) ribbon on a beautiful newly renovated  Community Center/Green Business Incubator in the heart of our city.


But it happened, and the DC and Maryland press turned out en masse to hear Seth Goldman, TeaEO of Honest Tea, Ike Leggett, County Executive, and other assorted dignitaries celebrate the launch of Maryland’s first Green Business Incubator and the Bethesda Green  Center.

And how could I have imagined that my own business would be housed in this green and gorgeous new space?


Back in March of ’08, I reported that:

In what may be the first effort of this type, business, government, community, and non-profit leaders are coming together to develop  programs that will reduce Bethesda’s carbon footprint, increase its recyling rate, and reduce landfill waste and pollution. And this is just the first phase of the project! In the second phase, Bethesda Green aims to encourage smart growth and green development and to green its business community.

Sounds like we more than hit our goals – with an outpouring of  community support from everyday citizens,  county government and area businesses like these sponsors.

Truly, amazing things happen when a community pulls together. If you’re in Bethesda, get involved! And if  you happen to just be visiting the Washington, DC area,  stop by for a tour of our Green Community Center!

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

Farmers, The First Lady & Me

September 27th, 2009
Those eyes! Those arms! It's First Lady Michelle Obama, a few inches away from me, shaking hands at the opening of the FRESHFARM Markets by The White House.

Those eyes! Those arms! It's First Lady Michelle Obama, a few inches away from me, shaking hands at the opening of the FRESHFARM Markets by The White House.

Yes, I was actually close enough to Michelle Obama to snap these photos. Shook her hand, spoke to her – it was an amazing high point after several weeks of work helping my client FRESHFARM Markets explore the new world of social media and its relevance to farmers markets.  (Check out this  Twitter stream for some of the results).


By now you’ve probably heard that The First Lady exclaimed, “I’ve never seen so many people so excited about vegetables!”  But what you didn’t hear was the man next to me who shyly inquired, “What’s that purple stuff?” before learning it was kohlrabi.

People were walking around from stand to stand,  pointing and looking at  “exotic” produce specimens that typically aren’t available at the local supermarket. And they weren’t just looking, they were buying.  Some farmers ran out of food because the market completely exceeded their expectations.


I couldn’t resist taking this photo of  handsome Sam Kass, the White House chef who oversees the White House garden.  As I tweeted, he was welcomed like a rock star —  after Michelle Obama, he got the loudest cheers from the crowd (or at least from the female contingent!)

Take a look at these other photos I snapped. I  made a point to walk by every one of the eighteen farmers stalls in order to try and capture the atmosphere on opening day. Like me, you may have been to many, many farmers’ markets before. But few people have ever been to a  farmer’s market that looks anything like this one…

It seemed like a dream, but it was true. This woman from Welsh Gardens kept beckoning people over for a lavender hand wash.


Talk about a decadent pleasure. It was amazing. Inside the Welsh Gardens tent were a beautiful array of organically grown lavender soaps and herbs.

And here’s a shot of Blueberry Hill Farm.


Do you see the beautiful marigold garland? The farmer’s daughter made The First Lady a lei from these marigolds.

One of the greatest pleasures at market is enjoying the samples that are freely passed out.  At  Clear Spring Creamery, below, @gplot mixes  a mean Blueberry smoothie for yours truly.


The women of Endless Summer Harvest look so happy in the picture below, don’t they?


I love their sign (below) welcoming Michelle Obama – although unfortunately she never made it to this stand. (She was actually shopping behind a security fence, although you couldn’t tell from most of the pix released that day).


The picture below shows the beautiful display that greeted Mrs. Obama at The Farm at Sunnyside.


And despite this amusing sign promoting Sunnyside’s beets, Mrs. Obama passed on the beets!


Solitude. Many people were surprised  to find yarn at market. Perhaps some of the city folk forgot that yarn comes from the wool of sheep, which after all, live on farms! (Let’s forget about those synthetic yarns, shall we?)  This beautiful little shop – it really seemed more like a shop than a stand – reminded me of little stores in Ireland.


Gunpowder Bison and Trading Company.


I love the name of this market. It sounds like something from the Wild West, but this 70 acre farm is actually located in northern Baltimore County, Maryland.

Wollam Gardens. Beautiful. Just beautiful. What else can one say?


Quail Creek Farm and Praline Bakery.
I don’t know about you, but when I first heard the term “farmers market,” I didn’t think of French pastries.


But these  croissants aux amandes  looked to be straight from Paris! Instead, they were from Quail Creek Farm in West Virginia.


And Praline Bakery, from my hometown of Bethesda, also had  the types of delectable pastries most people associate more with Paris than with a farmers market on a city street. So much for snacking on cut fruit and veggies!  ☺

Toigo Orchards – I didn’t buy a jar of bourbon peaches…but I regret it!


Groff’s  Content Farm

I love this photo of Farmer Bob Bolton in his Groffs Content Farm hat, showing off some free range poultry.

Chris’ Marketplace.     I’ve blogged before about Chris’ delicious crabcakes. This time I lunched on the empanadas and gazpacho, which were delicious.  You can see from the pic below that there was quite a line!


The market was so packed, and I was so busy sending tweets, twitpix  etc, that I didn’t get to spend as much time at each stand as I would have liked.  Here I am demonstrating my best Tweeting technique with FRESHFARMs Market co-founder Bernie Prince.


Here are a few stands that I had to rush by:

It was so packed at Firefly Farms that I didn’t get to try any of their artisan cheeses, but it looks fabulous, doesn’t it?


There were so many choices for great cheese – here’s the stand for  Keswick Creamery.


Spring Valley Farm – Spring Valley was actually one of the few stands that resembled a typical farmer’s stand. Tomatoes, apples, greens – nothing too fancy, just simple, great fruits and veggies.


Not all of the stands take credit cards, but Everona Dairy does – and they advertise it prominently.


I don’t eat pork, but if I did, I think this sign from Cedarbrook Farm would have me sold!


And finally, one of the many happy customers I encountered along the way. He was  thrilled to have purchased the last of the carrots from The Farm at Sunnyside.


Hope you enjoyed this “virtual tour” of the newest and perhaps the most famous farmers market in the world!

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

Disclosure: As disclosed above (so this is double disclosure), my company, 4GreenPs, was employed to manage FRESHFARM Market’s social media presence at the re-opening of the market, however this was not a paid post. I posted because I was just so darn excited. Wouldn’t you be? It’s great to have such wonderful clients!

Yes! I’ll Be at The Opening of the Farmers Market by The White House, Follow on Twitter!

September 17th, 2009
Chris Hoge of Bethesda Maryland sells Washington's best Blue Crab meat at the Foggy Bottom Market, pictured, and TODAY, at the new Vermont Avenue Market by the White House. Yum!

Chris Hoge of Bethesda Maryland sells Washington's best Blue Crab meat at the Foggy Bottom Market, pictured, and TODAY, at the new Vermont Avenue Market by the White House. Yum!

Very, very excited about helping  FRESHFARM Markets with the opening of their newest market, on Vermont Avenue by The White House. YES, THAT Market. The one that President Obama talked about? Yep. The one that The First Lady will check out today? Yes.

If you’d like to hear my impressions on the fly from the opening event, please follow the FRESHFARM Markets account on Twitter at And if you’re in Maryland and want to keep up with local happenings from the four FRESHFARM Markets and the local food movement in Maryland, please follow:

And are you following me on Twitter? I’ve got three accounts:
@OrganicMania where this blog leaves off and @4GreenPs for tweets about Green Biz and Green Marketing and @GreenMoms for a feed of all the blog posts from my Green Moms Carnival sisters.

Enjoy the day! Eat well!


Mandated Waste: Simple Questions about School Lunch Reform

September 16th, 2009
Chef Ann Smiles as she puts on her Whole Foods Chefs Jacket and Prepares to Talk about School Lunch.

Chef Ann Smiles as she puts on her Whole Foods Chefs Jacket and Prepares to Talk about School Lunch.

Last Thursday evening I was thrilled to hear Chef Ann Cooper, aka “The Renegade Lunch Lady” speak at my local YMCA. Of course Chef Ann didn’t travel all the way from Boulder, Colorado, where she’s recently begun a new job in the school system, to speak to the Bethesda Y. She was here to meet with federal policy makers about reform efforts for the USDA’s school lunch program.  Together with Whole Foods, which is supporting her work, Chef Ann is urging the government to allocate $1 more per day for each child’s school lunch.  But as The New York  Times reported here,  some Congressional Democrats think just 70  cents more would be a generous increase – and well, I’m sure you know that others think no additional funds are necessary.

I’ve blogged many times over the past year and a half about issues with the school lunch program.  From this first post expressing shock at elementary school lunch entrée choices of  pizza or hot dog,  to this post about how the School Lunch Controversy Ended Up on TV , to this one about How to Get Organics and Healthier Foods Into the Schools, to attending local and regional PTA meetings with our school district’s head of nutrition services, I’ve been asking questions….and not getting much in the way of answers.

Chef Ann Cooper talks about the school lunch program at the Bethesda, Maryland YMCA. September 10, 2009

Chef Ann Cooper talks about the school lunch program at the Bethesda, Maryland YMCA. September 10, 2009

But this time I got very direct answers to my questions. Chef Ann is blunt. She calls things the way she sees them.  So after asking the first question in at the Q&A session after her talk, I waited until everyone else had a chance and then asked…four more questions! I could have spent all night talking to her, quite honestly.   I’ve got fodder for at least one more post about Chef Ann, but in this one, which is timed to coincide with the Green Moms Carnival on “Conserving Resources,” I want to focus on waste.

Although I agree with Chef Ann and would  like to see more funds allocated to school lunch (and in fact, just this week $50 million more was allocated to the new Farm-to-School program),  there is a tremendous amount of waste in the system.  So that was my first question for Chef Ann. Were government officials talking about reducing waste in the school lunch program?  Apparently not.

I explained how I had finally allowed my 2nd grader to purchase pizza once a week for school lunch. But, I told him, he was to skip the non-organic, hormone-laden milk and the non-organic apple, since he had water and fruit in his lunch bag.  My son told me that he was forced to buy the apple and the milk as well – and then to throw them out. Not only is this wasteful, but when you consider that the milk and apple are taxpayer subsidized, it is doubly wasteful. Why can’t we let kids purchase just what they need to? Why are we subsidizing food items that end up in the trash? And then spending more taxpayer money to pay the school custodians to handle the trash, and to pay for the operation of  the municipal landfills and transport to the landfills and recycling centers? (Not the mention all the carbon we’re burning through each of these wasteful activities).

If you think you could return the unopened milk to the cafeteria, for re-use, you’d be wrong. I’ve volunteered many times in my son’s cafeteria, where I’ve been asked to open unopened milk bottles and POUR THE MILK  DOWN THE DRAIN. Talk about waste.

And Chef Ann? She said that in the school lunch programs she’s run in Berkeley, California and Boulder, Colorado, the children take as much (organic) milk as they’d like from a large jug. No waste, no fuss.  What a concept.

In addition to lobbying for more funds for school lunch – and the schools as a whole – we need to focus on conserving resources and reducing waste, as Chef Ann has done in her school systems.

Are you seeing these same issues in your local schools? Leave a comment and share!

And more on the talk by the wonderful Chef Ann in a future post!

Check out the rest of the Green Moms Carnival Submissions here at The Mindful Momma!  (And for a few more great posts on school lunch, check out last month’s  Green Moms Carnival on Back to School,

— Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

Another Green Moms Carnival on Wednesday: Conserving Resources

September 13th, 2009


Interested in contributing a post to the next Green Moms Carnival? Micaela of Mindful Momma is hosting on Wednesday, so here’s your chance to get a post in to her (quickly!) about Conserving Resources.  Please send it in to greenmomscarnival at gmail dot com.

Remember, we can’t guarantee that all submissions will be accepted. Read more about carnival submission guidelines here.

Thanks and have a great week!

Gotta go now and work on that post! :)

— Lynn