Getting Back to Nature With Kids: Bit by Bit, Bug by Bug

May 11th, 2011

As I look at that headline, I purse my lips and shake my head. It’s hard to admit that even “green Moms” find it challenging to get enough time connecting with nature – for ourselves or our families.

Who isn’t busy? It often seems easier and faster to run an errand by hopping in the car or walking along a sidewalk rather than to take a hike on a wooded trail.

I knew I was in trouble today, with this post still unwritten yet due for this month’s Green Moms’ Carnival. I thought about searching through my camera for pictures of my kids communing with nature. But heck, there’s no time like the present, is there?

I needed to get to the CSA for our weekly pick-up, and had about an hour to spare between a 5 p.m. conference call and the time my son came home off the diesel spewing school bus (one huge irritant, why must they be driven to school when walking is so much healthier?).  Time slowed as he asked for a friend to come over for a playdate. Phone calls, coordination with the other parent, and then the litany of the divine right of children: ice cream. (By the way, Alden’s, you’d sell more if you started calling it Cotton Candy Organic Ice Cream instead of Strawberry Organic Ice Cream. It’s what all the kids call it!)

With 45 minutes left, I decided to chance it – and headed out, two eight-year-old boys in tow, for a walk to the CSA. Normally we’d take the main roads, but mindful of our carnival topic, I headed for the trail instead. Before we had even hit the trail, I knew I had made the right decision: the boys were rolling down the hill, laughing all the way.

Luck was with us. We made it in plenty of time. I was back with nearly 10 minutes to spare for my conference call – enough time to rustle up yet another snack for the boys (this time, cantaloupe).

And the adventures we had!

Bugs to behold!

Scary steps to climb!

And why are they closing this trail anyway?

“Save the trail!,” “Save the trail!” they screamed all the way home.

It’s amazing what happens when you get outside. Exercise, fresh air…and the birth of eco-activists!

When was your last hike?

Leave a comment and share.

Thursday’s Green Mom’s Carnival will be hosted over at The Green Phone Booth. Head on over and read some thoughts and tips from the wonderful women of the Green Moms Carnival about getting outside with the kids.

PS: And if you like this trail, head on over to Facebook and “like” their page here. Looks like they could use some more visibility! Only 66 likes on that site!

— 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!