Ice Cream for Breakfast Day is Finally Here! And This May Be the Last Year to Make it Organic!

February 5th, 2011

Yes, it’s true…that big Superbowl football game is on tomorrow.  But today? It’s another fantabulous, once-a-year event: International Ice Cream for Breakfast Day.

Held the first Saturday in February, Ice Cream for Breakfast Day is exactly what it sounds like: a  great excuse for a party! What began as a small gathering in upstate New York is now a worldwide event, but still very much under-the-radar.

ICFBD_021

And this year, it’s a rather poignant occasion. With the USDA’s decision last week to allow unrestricted planting of genetically modified alfalfa, the ability of America’s local farmers and USDA organic producers to guarantee GMO-free foods is severely compromised. Why? As surely as the wind blows, seeds and other particles from GE alfalfa will cross-contaminate neighboring farms. Of particular concern is the impact on dairy farmers, who use alfalfa as dairy feed (hence my warning about this being the last organic ice cream for breakfast day).  And as Rodale.com reports, GE alfalfa could “contaminate organic honey supplies, since bees forage in alfalfa and create nectar that in turn becomes honey for human food.”

Why the concern about GMOs?  Where to start? The risks – to autism, allergies, infertility and more – are so well documented that surveys going back five years or more show that most Americans would prefer to avoid GMOs if given the choice. But since GMOs are not labeled in this country, the only sure way to avoid them is to buy organic – one of the main reasons I buy organic, as I’ve blogged here here and here.

Here are a few good primers on the risks of genetically engineered foods:

About GMOs, The Non-GMO Project

Six Reasons to Avoid GMOs, The Non-GMO Project

GMO Dangers, Institute for Responsible Technology

Monsanto’s GMOs and Autism, Wellsphere

Safety of Genetically Modified Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Effects, National Academies Press, 2004 (Read the section about the potential for increased allergies!)

Scientists Speak: Say No to GMOs

The Dangers of Genetically Modified Foods: Autism Hope and Healing

The Trouble with Monsanto and GMOs: Dr. David Suzuki Spells It Out: Red, Green and Blue

What’s a GMO and Why Should You Care? Allergy Kids, Robyn O’Brien

What can you do? Contribute to the legal fight against this outrageous decision. Let the White House know you don’t appreciate having your kids treated like lab rats in the giant GMO science experiment. And in the meantime, cherish the remaining delicious stock of American made organic dairy, before rushing to buy European treats.

Boo with Aldens Organic Ice Cream Con

Meanwhile, enough of the politics and back to the fun of Ice Cream for Breakfast Day!

Here’s more on the story from the “official” Ice Cream for Breakfast Day website.


Once upon a time there was a little girl named Ruth and a little boy named Joe. Ruth and Joe grew up in the
back of beyond in New York state where it was very very cold. Every winter between New Year’s Eve and
Passover, life in up-state New York got extremely boring, so their parents invented a holiday to brighten
up the dreary days of winter. It was called Ice Cream For Breakfast Day. This was a wonderful holiday for
children and parents alike because to celebrate you had to eat ice cream for breakfast on the first Saturday in
February.

Well, Ruth and Joe grew up and went away to a university. They made many friends and taught them all
about Ice Cream For Breakfast Day. After college Ruth had a roommate named Barry to whom she also told
about this tradition. Many years later, Barry met Itzah C. Kret in Washington, D.C. and converted him into an
Ice Cream For Breakfast Day observer.

Nobody has kept precise track but through word of mouth ICFBD has been celebrated in many homes, states
and countries all over the world. Some people give parties with musical instruments, others simply
celebrate with family members. There is no right or wrong so long as you follow the 3 plus 1 simple Ice
Cream for Breakfast Day Rules

(1) Eat ice cream
(2) for breakfast
(3) on the first Saturday in February

(4) spread the word

The rest is up to you!

As for me, I’m fortunate to be invited to the famous Barry’s party!

Let me know if you spring for Ice Cream for Breakfast Day! (And yes, make it organic!)

Have fun!

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2011

My Top 10 Tips for a “Green” Labor Day Weekend (And Don’t Forget the Laborers, esp. The Freelancers!)

September 3rd, 2010

Every year, my Labor Day post focuses on eco-friendly tips, but never before have I blogged about the real meaning of Labor Day. So this Labor Day, I’m adding a plea that you think about the many people – contract workers, freelancers, bloggers, writers, and others – who work hard but often don’t get paid for their labors.   As Crain’s New York Business reported this week, “the seemingly simple process of getting paid has emerged as the No. 1 problem facing self-employed workers.”   If you’re someone who works with self-employed people, or if you are one yourself, I urge you to read “Ugh: The Free in Freelance” and to check out the campaign run by the Freelancers Union.

labor-day-comment-10-701884

So this post is a little late..because I made sure to pay the independent workers I employ before putting it up. Would be a little hypocritical otherwise, wouldn’t it?

And now…on to my top 10 Tips for a “Green” Labor Day weekend.

1. Just about the first thing people think about on Labor Day is firing up the grill. This year, skip the burgers and beef hot dogs . The production of beef is a major contributor to three of the four  global warming gases   — carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane.

2. What to grill instead? How about grilling up some wild caught salmon instead of the usual beef?  If you’re at the beach, head to your local seafood shop. If you’re in my neck of the woods – MoCo near DC – check out Whole Foods fantastic saleon Marine Stewardship Council certified salmon, now $3.50 off per pound at $13.49 per pound at the Friendship Heights Whole Foods.   (And if salmon isn’t your thing, how about pasta salad, potato salad, or organic soy-based corn dogs?    Here are some other Labor Day recipe ideas).

3. Need a new grill?  My favorite  tips on solar-powered and other “green grills”are here at Diane MacEachern’s Big Green Purse blog.   And here’s a another great grilling tip courtesy of homespace – when it’s time to clean up, use good ole baking soda, water and a wire brush. Skip the commercial cleaners with their decidely un-earthfriendly chemicals!

4. If you’re still using charcoal grills, reconsider. The prices of gas grills have dropped dramatically – I’ve seen them on sale for just $95 at KMart  – and they’re a more Earth-friendly choice than charcoal.

gas-grillphoto

5. If you must use charcoal, Diane MacEachern suggests using lump charcoal instead of briquettes, which may contain coal dust
and other additives. Diane says to look for hardwood briquettes from forests certified by the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood program, or lumps made from coconut husks. Cow boy Charcoal, sold at Lowe’s, Trader Joe’s and under the Whole Foods 365 brand, makes chunk charcoal out of wood leftover from furniture making and construction.

6.

mowingphoto

Need to mow the lawn to make your yard look beautiful? Forget about conventional gas and electric mowers. Go retro with a good old fashioned push mower. Not only will you help to save the planet, you’ll get real exercise too! If you must use gas or electric, how about sharing a mower with your neighbors? (And if your little one wants to copy you, you can borrow the neighbors’ plastic mower. Yes, both mowers in this pic are borrowed! Talk about Reduce, Reuse, Refuse!)

7.

led-redwhite-bluephoto

To some folks, a party’s not a party is not a party without lights. Thankfully, there are more and more  choices for LED lights, including these patriotic red, white and blue starred LEDs I found at Strosniders Hardware.  (No, I didn’t buy them, but they’re cute, aren’t they?)

8. Consider  recycled paper plates. I found the ones pictured above  at my local Giant grocery store in Bethesda, Maryland, and I’ve also seen them at “Party City” stores. They’re priced comparable to  regular paper plates. They’re cute and an eco-friendlier choice!

green-party-warephoto

9. When dusk comes, and you head inside, open the windows instead of turning on the air conditioner. You’ll save money and the environment!

10. If you’re heading back home to the big city after enjoying time at the beach, you may want to check out the local farmers markets and grocers. We pick up organic and local fruits when we are in smaller towns that enjoy a lower cost of living than our big city home town.

Have a great holiday weekend!

Lynn

Keeping Cool with Ice Cream: How to Save, What to Buy (Part 1)

July 24th, 2010

It’s one of the most frequent questions I’m asked. “If  I can’t afford to buy everything organic, what should I buy organic?” My response:  it depends on what you eat most often.

And in summer, when I declare ice cream “the divine right of children,” ice cream becomes a basic food group. (Particularly on days like today, when my car’s therometer hit 106 degrees.)

Boo with Aldens Organic Ice Cream Con

But the $5.69 price tag on a half gallon of organic ice cream can cause the most devoted organic fan to pause. I wondered if I was really spending my money wisely, so I decided to take a closer look at the prices and ingredients of some popular ice cream brands.

My neighbor is a big fan of Edy’s. It’s what she served at a recent Cub Scout picnic (you remember –  the one where the parents covertly drank wine from water bottles). I wondered if I was a fool for shelling out $5.69 for Alden’s organic ice cream, when the kids seemed perfectly happy with the $2.69 per gallon Edy’s (And they do have a really cool spumanti flavor). So I took a closer look at Edy’s ice cream ingredients, and in addition to  the usual milk, cream, and sugar,  here’s what I found:

Ick. Corn syrup’s bad enough, but artificial flavors and trans-fats are on nearly every Mom’s “avoid” list – organic fanatic or not.

And think about it. That’s just what they’re required by law to list. No where will you see that the milk came from cows treated with hormones or the corn from pesticide laden fields – we can just infer that, because it’s not organic.

When I went to Edy’s web site to double check the ingredients list, I found another fun fact: Edy’s (along with Dreyer’s) is owned by Nestle, a company whose products many of us try to avoid.

What’s in the organic ice cream I love? Nothing I can’t pronounce. Just simple, wholesome ingredients that are organic – which means there’s no hormones, no pesticides, and no Genetically Modified Organisms.

And a bonus discovery was learning that instead of being owned by a controversial global conglomerate, Alden’s is family owned. It’s part of the Oregon Ice Cream Company, which has been making ice cream for 80 years.

Now here’s the really good news. When I was at Whole Foods River Road in Bethesda on Friday, Aiden’s was on sale for $5.19 a gallon, until July 27th. So now’s the time to try.

Alden's organic ice cream on sale at Whole Foods

Alden's organic ice cream on sale at Whole Foods

Of course I’m not a total zealot. My kids buy ice cream from the Good Humor man. And I do buy other brands of ice cream from time to time. But let’s talk about that in my next post, when we’ll look at how organic ice cream stacks up to my childhood favorite, Breyer’s, and cult favorite Ben and Jerry’s.

Stack em up: Alden's Organic vs. Breyer's All Natural vs. Ben & Jerry's rGBH free ice cream

Stack em up: Alden's Organic vs. Breyer's All Natural vs. Ben & Jerry's rGBH free ice cream

Meanwhile, stay cool in this heat wave!

– Lynn

Copyright 2010 OrganicMania

Disclosures: I am one of those endangered species of bloggers that actually blogs about things I buy with my own money. No one sent me ice cream. A PR rep didn’t pitch this story.   I’m not consulting for any of these companies. I just love ice cream, love organics, and love blogging about both and thought I’d share with you!

Wednesdays at the CSA: Recipes at Last! 4th of July Potato Salad with Green Beans and Salsa Verde

June 30th, 2010

For years now, I’ve been blogging about my wonderful CSA. I love it. I love everything about it.  The biodynamic food, of course, is delicious – out of this world good. The atmosphere is more Berkeley than Bethesda. It’s like a mini-vacation into another world every time I head over there, a few short blocks from my home.

June 23 share photo

But cooking?

That’s what my husband does.  I really don’t know how to cook.

Now I have a wonderful surprise for you: each week this summer I’ll be featuring a recipe and post from guest blogger Mattie Kahn.  A green teen and foodie, she’s also, as you’ll see, a wonderful writer. And she knows how to cook! She’ll be at culinary school in the fall, but for now, we get to enjoy her explorations with my weekly CSA share.

– Lynn

Think summer picnic. Go ahead. Picture it, you can close your eyes if you need to. If you’re like me, you’re probably envisioning a rolling, green lawn, a checked blanket, friends, family, kids–company of some kind, anyway, maybe, if you’re feeling optimistic, a warm mid-summer breeze, and definitely a picnic basket. The picnic baskets that dot my childhood memories were always filled with some variation on sandwiches, salad, brownies, and watermelon. My siblings and I munched on PB&J in Central Park, tuna-cucumber along the pier on the Hudson River, even an adventurous spread of hummus and veggies on a pebbly Cape Cod beach.

But my most persistent summer picnic memory is the sweet, salty taste of the perfect, cold potato salad, carted along in some container to satisfy every picnic participant, every time. My family’s trademark German-style potato salad–meaning, a mustard-based dressing–was so pervasive, that it wasn’t until I was ten or eleven that I’d ever tasted a potato salad made with mayonnaise. Since then, I’ve been to many more picnics, with families other than my own, and sometimes just with friends. I’ve tasted a LOT of potato salads.

With fourth of July around the corner, and this week’s CSA share list boasting delicious, flavor-packed new potatoes, and brimming with other potato salad ingredients, I thought I’d introduce you all to a potato salad that’s a little more adventurous than your average picnic side-dish fare. This one’s lightly adapted from the geniuses over at Food and Wine magazine, and it’s been a staff favorite over there for ages. Embrace the vibrant flavor of salsa verde as a delicious and unexpected dressing for this salad. In it’s original Food and Wine incarnation, the recipe is made with green beans, but being a green peas lover as I am, and because peas appeared on the CSA sharelist this week, I decided to sub out the beans for peas. Enjoy!

peasphoto

Potato Salad with Green Beans and Salsa Verde:

Ingredients:

1. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2. 1/4 cup minced chives

3. 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (another CSA sharelist goody!)

4. 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint or cilantro, or a mix of both, depending on your taste preferences

5. 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

6. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

7. 1 large garlic clove, minced

8. Salt

9. 1 1/4 pounds new red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

10. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

11. 1 1/2 pounds green peas, fresh if you can find them! They’re in season.

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil with the chives, parsley, mint or cilantro, lemon zest, lemon juice and garlic and season with salt. Let the salsa verde stand at room temperature for 15 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water, add a large pinch of salt (Kosher salt, if you have it on hand) and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes over moderately high heat until just tender, about 8 minutes; drain and return them to the saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the peas and cook until tender, but not mushy, 3-4 minutes; drain. Return the beans to the pot and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Season with salt.
  4. Add half of the salsa verde to the potatoes and half to the peas, stirring to coat. Transfer the peas to a serving bowl. Top with the potatoes, and serve. Keeping this potato salad warm lends the potatoes and added velvety texture, but from my trial experience, it’s just as delicious after being cooled in the fridge!

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

- Mattie

Copyright 2010 OrganicMania

Roses and Thorns

February 22nd, 2010

Say what you will about President Obama. He’s too liberal. He’s not liberal enough.  He needs to move to the center. He’s doing just fine. Whatever. But here’s what we can all agree on:  his family is cute.

So when I saw a Parade cover story  about the adorable Obamas, of course I read it. It was one of those “soft” pieces for which the White House press office was so roundly criticized, right around the time of the Inauguration.

What struck me about the article was a simple story about their family dinners. Each person at the table takes turns sharing the best thing that happened to them that day (the rose) and the worst thing (the thorn).  The joke was that Obama’s daughter Malia thought her dad had a “thorny job” as president.

Source: Freefoto.com

Source: Freefoto.com

We adopted the Roses and Thorns tradition a year ago, and it’s been a blessing for our family. It is such a low pressure way to find out what’s going on in my second grader’s life.  Our 3-year-old doesn’t understand the concept of thorns yet, but he does eagerly share his roses.

Apparently The First Lady has been telling the Rose and Thorns story again as part of her new anti-obesity campaign. As this great post explains, Roses and Thorns not only helps families connect, it encourages the proper expression of emotion – so that we talk about our feelings rather than eat them away…

Rose and Thorns…have you tried it yet?

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2010

It’s International Ice Cream for Breakfast Day on Saturday!

February 5th, 2010

ICFBD_021

Here in the DC region, people are counting on being snowed in tomorrow as we wake to more than two feet of snow.   But if you’ve got any ice cream in your freezer, you can call over to your closest neighbors (who are sure to be home!) and throw an Ice Cream for Breakfast Day party!

Held the first Saturday in February, Ice Cream for Breakfast Day is exactly what it sounds like. A great excuse for a party! What began as a small gathering in upstate New York is now a worldwide event, but still very much under-the-radar!

Here’s more on the story from the “official” Ice Cream for Breakfast Day website.

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Ruth and a little boy named Joe. Ruth and Joe grew up in the
back of beyond in New York state where it was very very cold. Every winter between New Year’s Eve and
Passover, life in up-state New York got extremely boring, so their parents invented a holiday to brighten
up the dreary days of winter. It was called Ice Cream For Breakfast Day. This was a wonderful holiday for
children and parents alike because to celebrate you had to eat ice cream for breakfast on the first Saturday in
February.

Well, Ruth and Joe grew up and went away to a university. They made many friends and taught them all
about Ice Cream For Breakfast Day. After college Ruth had a roommate named Barry to whom she also told
about this tradition. Many years later, Barry met Itzah C. Kret in Washington, D.C. and converted him into an
Ice Cream For Breakfast Day observer.

Nobody has kept precise track but through word of mouth ICFBD has been celebrated in many homes, states
and countries all over the world. Some people give parties with musical instruments, others simply
celebrate with family members. There is no right or wrong so long as you follow the 3 plus 1 simple Ice
Cream for Breakfast Day Rules

(1) Eat ice cream
(2) for breakfast
(3) on the first Saturday in February

(4) spread the word

The rest is up to you!

As for me, I’m fortunate to be invited to the famous Barry’s party! But I’ve got to trek through all the snow, which may come up to Boo’s shoulders….so we’ll see if we make it. Actually, nothing keeps me from my ice cream, diet or not (at least not on Ice Cream for Breakfast Day).

Let me know if you spring for Ice Cream for Breakfast Day! (And yes, make it organic!)

Have fun!

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2010

Greener New Years Resolutions: Tackling the Big One – Weight Loss

January 1st, 2010

I’m sure she didn’t mean to offend me, but when my friend saw this photo up on my Linked In page, her reaction was swift: “When did you have that picture taken? Ten years ago??”

Ack. Do I look that bad? Did I really age 10 years in just three?

PhotoLynnAnneMiller

Actually, thanks to the blessings of good genes, I know it’s not wrinkles or skin flaws that make me look older.

It’s weight.

I had that picture taken when I first discovered I was pregnant with Boo. I knew I’d gain weight during pregnancy, and I wanted a good photo on hand for professional purposes.

But nearly four years later, and well you guessed it…the “baby” weight is still on. In fact, I’ve gotten heavier.

And I’m not the only one.

It’s blogging’s dirty little secret. Go to any blogging conference or blogger get together and you’ll see that I’m not the only one using a picture slightly more flattering than reality.

What do you expect from an avocation that encourages sitting around on one’s arse?

lynntweetsA more recent picture – tweeting from the opening of the White House Farmers Market.

There I am in pink next to FRESHFARM Markets co-founder Bernie Prince.

I’ve struggled with weight my whole life. I’m one of those gals that has a wardrobe than spans five sizes, for my “ups and downs.” Unfortunately, the ups are far more prevalent lately than the downs.  And it’s impacting my life in many ways – as a self-employed marketing consultant, press opps are important. Yet I’ve turned down several offers to appear on TV. Why? Well, for someone who blogs about “healthy green living,” isn’t it a bit hypocritical to be so heavy? Everyone knows that’s anything but healthy or green.

And the TV interviews? Well, everyone knows TV adds ten pounds – the result would be horrifying, I’m afraid.  Movie cameras add pounds too, so I was   secretly relieved when Canadian film maker Mihn Sook Lee cut me out of her My Toxic Baby Film – although, heck it would have been fun to see the footage of Boo and my Green Mom friends.   (We were all filmed at the Blogher DC conference a year ago).

So what to do?  More importantly, what can I do that’s DIFFERENT? What can I do this year that will work?

I know I eat for emotional reasons, and neglect exercise due to the same competing life/work pressures every parent faces. Intellectually, I know the  basics of good nutrition and the benefits of regular exercise.

Yet I’ve had nothing but a series of false starts and stops over the past couple of years I’ve tried to shake the baby weight. Worse yet, once I start dieting, I have a tendency to GAIN weight. All that focus on food makes me…eat!

So here’s what I’m doing this year: focusing on what’s worked before.  When I’ve faced  major changes in my life – parenthood, entrepreneurship, loss of a pregnancy, going green – I’ve turned to online listservs for support and camaraderie.  We all know history repeats itself. So this same model should work for weight loss. I’m giving it a shot anyway. Care to join me?

Here’s how it will work. I’ve already recruited a small number of women to join in – I’ll set up a listserv and there we’ll share the trials and tribulations of losing weight, helping each other achieve our goals.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Maybe I’ll even update that Linked In picture. After all, I intend to look even better!

Happy New Year!

This post is for the Green Moms Carnival on Green New Years Resolutions, hosted by Katy of Non Toxic Kids.  Head on over to check out some other fabulous posts about Green New Years Resolutions from the wonderful women of the Green Moms Carnival as well as other contributors.

- Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

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.

halloweentreatsphoto1

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.

pretzelsphoto

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.

tj-photo

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.

lollyphoto

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?

boophoto

– 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.

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 http://www.twitter.com/FRESHFARMMktsDC 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: http://www.twitter.com/FRESHFARMMktsMD

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!

Lynn

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

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