Wednesdays at the CSA: Those Perfect Biodynamic Grapes! They’re Ugly!

October 6th, 2010


Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week, because it’s “CSA Day.”  The day when I pick up our weekly share of biodynamic surprises. We get whatever the farmers were able to harvest, and the abundance and variety is just one of the many special parts of belonging to our CSA.

A special note about the grapes in our share made me realize I was in for a very special treat.

“The special treat this week is GRAPES! They are small, green, Thomson grapes and are the same ones that produce the raisins we have in the CSA.  Members from previous years will remember these grapes from last year at this time. We plan to offer them 3 times all together this year every other week, starting now.


What is special about these grapes? First, they are biodynamic and there is no other biodynamic farm in the country from which to get grapes. (only wineries). These grapes have no growth hormones, no shrinkage, no gibberillic acid which are used even on certified organic grapes and they are picked ripe and fresh to order. They should hold up a week or so refrigerated but
don’t take chances.”

Sure enough, they were out-of-this-world good, like so much of the food at the CSA. I still remember the first time I tried biodynamic produce – I felt like my pores and my bloodstream were literally opening up to receive the food.

I could have eaten them all myself, but being a “good Mother,” I wanted to make sure my boys got their share, so I dutifully gave up some of the grapes and packed them away in their school lunch.

When they returned home, I was disappointed to see that the grapes were largely untouched.

“I can’t eat them,” my 3-year-old told me. “They’re bad. They’re brown!”

It’s true…there were some brown spots.


“Honey,” I explained,  “God made those grapes. They weren’t made by a machine in a factory, so they’re not all going to be the same. Some will have spots, each one will be unique, because each one is a part of nature.”

He wasn’t buying it.

His verbal skills aren’t advanced enough to construct an argument about how the Chilean grapes I purchase at the supermarket are uniformly glossy, round, and perfectly red….while these are…imperfect (at least to the naked eye).


My eight-year-old joined the argument. Forget biodynamics. He was sticking to the “perfect” (albeit less tasty) market grapes.

Have you ever noticed that what appears ugly on the outside can be beautiful on the inside?  Not just a story of nursery rhymes or the human condition, but very much the story of real fruit and farm fresh veggies, straight from the garden – or the CSA.

Today was the last week we’ll be getting these amazing biodynamic grapes from the CSA.  My kids aren’t eating them. But at least I don’t have to share them with anyone other than my husband!

— Lynn

Mean Mommy No More: How Eco-Green Became Really Awesome

August 14th, 2009

Funny how just a few weeks ago I was a “Mean Mommy.” I mean, it’s so unreasonable that I won’t pack Lunchables for my son to take to camp “like all the other mothers do.”


Then we switched camps. And I’m in Green Moms Paradise.
An Eco-Challenge for waste free lunch. Can you believe it?

Suddenly, everything I’ve been saying for years is being repeated by really Awesome camp counselors. My son is helping his camp buddies win the Eco-Challenge Waste Free Lunch competition.

With all my lamenting about the challenges of going green in the public schools, I’ve often wondered what it would be like to attend a crunchy school.  Now  I have some sense for what it would be like. Wonderful!

And that competition? Of course Big Boy scored big points for his fellow campers. How could he not with those vintage cloth napkins from the 1970s in his waste-free lunch?


By the way, I just updated the Green Schools Green Moms Carnival (below) with a late entry from Jennifer Taggert about microban in school lunch boxes.  Check it out!

Have a great weekend!

Can you tell I’m enjoying my cyberbreak? (Even if I am cheating a little…).


National Healthy Schools Day: April 27th

April 23rd, 2009

This is a Guest Post from Janelle Sorenson, Senior Writer and Health Consultant for Healthy Child Healthy World. Janelle is a big supporter of the Green Moms Carnival – that’s how I’ve come to know her. She is an amazing woman, and I’m thrilled to share her wise counsel to help all of us parents and educators make our schools healthier for the children we love. — Lynn

When my husband and I first toured schools to find the one we wanted to enroll our daughter in, I’m sure I was silently voted one of the strangest parents ever. Why do I feel I was secretly endowed with this title? Because every room and hallway we were taken through, I sniffed. A lot. And, according to my husband, I wasn’t terribly discreet.

I didn’t have a cold or postnasal drip. And, I’m not part bloodhound. I was simply concerned about the indoor air quality. My daughter was (and still is) prone to respiratory illnesses and I wanted to be sure the school she would be attending would support and protect her growing lungs (in addition to her brain). For many air quality issues, your nose knows, so I was using the easiest tool I had to gauge how healthy the environment was.

While air quality is a significant issue in schools (the EPA estimates that at least half of our nation’s 120,000 schools have problems), parents are also increasingly concerned about other school health issues like nutrition and the use of toxic pesticides. Many schools are making the switch to healthier and more sustainable practices like green cleaning, least toxic pest management, and even school gardening. What they’re finding is that greening their school improves the health and performance of students and personnel, saves money (from using less energy, buying fewer products, and having fewer worker injuries among other things), and also helps protect the planet. It’s truly win, win, win.

To highlight the issue, the Healthy Schools Network coordinates National Healthy Schools Day. This year, over three dozen events will be held across the country (and more in Canada) on April 27th to promote and celebrate healthy school environments.

What can you do? Healthy Schools Network recommends simple activities such as:
• Adopting Guiding Principles of School Environmental Quality as a policy for your School;
• Distributing information related to Green Cleaning or Indoor Air Quality (IAQ);
• Writing a letter or visiting your Principal or Facility Director to ask about cleaning products or pest control products;
• Walking around your school: looking for water stains, cracks in outside walls, broken windows or steps, and overflowing dumpsters that are health & safety problems that need attention. Use this checklist.
• Writing a Letter to the Editor of your local paper on the importance of a healthy school to all children and personnel.

You can also help support the efforts of states trying to pass policies requiring schools to use safer cleaners. (Or, initiate your own effort!) There are good bills pending in Connecticut, Minnesota, California, Massachusetts, and Oregon. According to Claire Barnett, Executive Director of the Healthy Schools Network, the key pieces to promote on green cleaning in schools are:
• Not being fooled by ‘green washing’ claims—commercial products must be third-party certified as green (to verify claims);
• Understanding that green products are cost-neutral and they work; and,
• Learning that “Clean doesn’t have an odor.”

Claire encourages parents and personnel to tune into one of the archived webinars on green cleaning (like the first module for general audiences) here.

The fact of the matter is that whether you’re concerned about the quality of food, cleaning chemicals, recycling, or energy use – schools need our help and support. Instead of complaining about what’s wrong, it’s time to help do what’s right – for our children, our schools, and our planet.

What are you going to do? There are so many ideas and resources. Find your passion and get active on April 27th – National Healthy Schools Day.

Additional Resources:

• Creating Healthy Environments for Children (DVD): A short video with easy tips for schools and a variety of handouts to download and print.
• Getting Your Child’s School to Clean Green: Here’s a blog I wrote last year with advice based on my experience working with schools.
• Healthy Community Toolkit: Healthy Child Healthy World’s tips and tools for being a successful community advocate and some of our favorite organizations working on improving child care and school environments and beyond.
The Everything Green Classroom Book: The ultimate guide to teaching and living green and healthy.

Janelle Sorensen is the Senior Writer and Health Consultant for Healthy Child Healthy World ( You can also find her on Twitter as @greenandhealthy.

Copyright 2009

Earth Day & Graham Crackers

April 20th, 2009

“Mama, can you fix my graham cracker?”

It was a plaintive question from a small voice in the back of the car. As parents, our instinct is to help our kids whenever we can. But sadly, I had to explain that some things — like broken graham crackers — can’t be fixed.

No sooner had I responded than it hit me. With Earth Day reminders all around us, I couldn’t help but take that question and apply it to the environment. How much of the environmental degradation will we be able to fix? What is reversible, and what is not ?

The answers are not simple.

And as Earth Day continues its metamorphosis into a Buy Green Holiday, it’s important to recognize that we can’t buy our way out of this mess. Sure, investments in certain areas can help, as can replacing toxic products with eco-friendly substitutes.

But what would happen if we all took a close look at our local environmental issues and tried to figure out what we could do to fix things? Here are a few things you do:
– Clean up the litter in a local park or along a river, as these people do in DC’s Rock Creek;
– Plant a tree or take inspiration from this 21-year-old and support a reforestation program;
– Support one of the many fine environmental organizations trying to make a difference in this tough economic environment. Some of my faves: The Nature Conservancy; Environmental Working Group; and Healthy Child, Healthy World. Others? The local groups working hard to make a difference in your own backyard. Here in the DC area that means groups like Friends of Rock Creek, The Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and Bethesda Green.

What have you fixed recently? Leave a comment and share. Really, I want to hear what you’ve been up to! Haven’t done anything lately? Hmm…quit surfing the ‘Net and get moving!

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

The Night Time Trash People

September 24th, 2008

We all know kids rebel. As a Green Mom, I’d like to believe that my children will absorb at least some of our family’s eco-friendly habits. But sometimes I worry that my green parenting practices might lead my eldest son to rebel like Alex P. Keaton.

So you can imagine how I felt when I overheard this conversation between Big Boy and his cousin, as my DH, his brother, the wives and kids enjoyed a picnic dinner at DC’s Southwest waterfront.

Big Boy: “There’s a lot of trash around here.”

Bigger Boy Cousin: “Let’s pick it up!”

Big Boy: “Awesome, dude. Let’s be the Night Time Trash People. We’ll run around picking up trash.”

Laughing, screaming noise, as two six-year-olds and a nine-year-old run around picking up trash.

On the walk back to metro, Bigger Boy Cousin says, ”You know, there’s too much trash in the world and it’s really bad for the environment.”

Big Boy: “Yeah, because it weighs so much, it could like split the Earth in half. Then the continents would just split down the middle with a big crack.”

Bigger Boy Cousin: “Yeah, and then the world would heat up too much and there would be no oxygen and we would just vaporize and die.”

Big Boy: “Yeah, then we’d just float around like floating skeletons like aliens or something. Cool. We’d all be alien floating skeletons.”

At this point, I made a mental note to make sure that we weren’t terrorizing the kids with overheard tales of looming eco-tragedies.

The next morning, Big Boy informed me that he needed to make posters telling people to recycle. He wants to hang them on trees all around the neighborhood.

I wondered about the wisdom of hanging posters from trees. But off he ran, soon to come back with 60 copies expertly run off on my office printer. NOT double-sided. I took a deep breath, and decided his heart was in the right place.

And we’re off to hang posters. Anyone need about forty extras?

— Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

Dealing with the Schools: Coping as a Green Mom

September 15th, 2008

It’s not often that I’m taken by surprise, since I tend to research issues to death. But want to know the reason there have been so few posts of late? It’s this back to school thing. I honestly thought that my life would get easier when my son started first grade at the local public school. Instead, I feel like I have another job.

Between morning melt downs, afternoon crying fits, folders stuffed full of papers to be reviewed by a responsible parental unit, and my continued Green Mom Culture Shock at the many environmentally unfriendly practices common to one of the most progressive school systems in the country – well, I’ve been exhausted!

For nearly a year now, but never more so than since the launch of the Green Moms Carnival, I’ve enjoyed the company of a like-minded sisterhood of Green Moms. These sympathetic souls include Green Moms with college-age kids– La Marguerite, Karen Hanrahan, Anna from GreenTalk and Diane MacEachern – as well as many with elementary school age kids like my Big Boy – the Not Quite Crunchy Parent, Surely You Nest, Sommer from Green and Clean Mom and even a few like me, still dealing with diapers – Alana from Gray Matters holding the honor of having the youngest baby among us.

Between the Green Moms in the blogosphere,  the Green Parents who find their way to leave wonderful comments on OrganicMania, and my growing list of wonderful green clients,  I thought that Green was everywhere.

Well, Green is not everywhere. So here I am, trying to figure which issue to address first. The mandatory plastic ziplock bags? The throw-away Styrofoam trays? The forced bussing past shuttered schools? The high fructose corn syrup laden lollypops handed out by my son’s math teacher? The cheap plastic crap toys given as rewards for good behavior? The environmentally unfriendly school fundraisers?

Hey Green Moms, how are you doing in week three of back-to-school? And have you been successful in “taking on” any of the environmentally unfriendly practices at your local schools?

And, yes, I am co-chairing the school’s Green Committee, so my question is serious. For those of you who have  been successful at  bringing  about change, what’s worked? And what hasn’t worked?

— Lynn

Green Mom Culture Shock: Back to School

September 3rd, 2008

As a seasoned mother of a six-year-old and a nearly two-year-old, I thought I was past the point where much could shock me. But then school started.

And suddenly I went from the friendly confines of the Green Mom blogosphere to the public school system, where teachers routinely send home “supply lists” containing environmentally unfriendly items such as (gasp) plastic ziplock bags and Purell hand sanitizer (2 bottles, please!), where students use thousands of styrofoam lunch trays each day, and where fossil fuels are burned sending children to school on buses that drive past shuttered schools near the bus stops.

I feel like a creature in a strange land.

How’s it going in your world?

— Lynn

Correction: This post originally stated that the styrofoam trays were thrown away. That is incorrect. They are re-used and then after they break are sent to the incinerator.

Money Can’t Buy Me Love…

June 13th, 2008

In honor of Father’s Day, I’m laying off the blogging this weekend. So sorry, but no Organic and Green Savings Tips today! (Although I can’t resist…if you know a really hip Dad, check out H&M’s organic tees at only $14.90!)

Meanwhile, think about Dad and make sure he doesn’t get a Bum Rap on Father’s Day. Does he really want to do all the grilling?And if you do grill, Grill Green!

And remember, the best gift of all is the gift of time. Pay attention to the Dads in your life. Cuz Money Can’t Buy No One Love.

Happy Father’s Day, Everyone!

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2008

Do Dads Get a Bum Deal on Father’s Day?

June 12th, 2008


“Just look at this!” DH exclaimed, gazing at the selection of grilling guides artfully arranged in the bookstore in anticipation of Father’s Day .

“You Moms get spa outings and retreats on Mother’s Day! Us Dads? We’re expected to fire up the grill. And now, we can’t even do that right! You Green Moms are telling us we have to learn how to grill green!”

I laughed, but then I reconsidered. Gee, I realized, school’s even out for Father’s Day. No artfully decorated gifts from the kiddos, carefully project-managed by the kids’ teachers. No, it’s all up to the kiddos and/or Mom to figure out how to commemorate Father’s Day.

What do you think? Do we need to reinvent how we celebrate Father’s Day? What are your traditions?

— Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

Broccoli Heaven

May 18th, 2008

Ah, spring weekends – the time to hop in your fuel-efficient car and head out to the beach or parts unknown. But with kids in tow, you’re decidedly less footloose and fancy free than you used to be. We’ve had discussions here before about what a dilemma it is to be Organic & On the Go. Where do you find a decent place to eat off America’s highways?

This weekend, DH and I really thought we had the problem licked. A simple 2 1⁄2 hour trip and we were loaded and ready:
Organic Apples, washed, and knife – check
Organic Rice Cakes – check
Organic American Cheese – check
Organic Carrot Sticks – check
Home Made Organic Whole Wheat Bread – check
Biodynamic Cookies – check
One gallon water jug and BPA-free cups – check

Unfortunately, traffic lengthened our trip and before long we heard the incessant whine every parent dreads. The “I’m hungry!” kindergartner whine.

“Eat your rice cake,” was our response.

“No, I’m really hungry. For a real meal. Not these SNACKS. I want to go to McDonalds.”

“There are no McDonalds along this road, honey,” I responded.
“There’s only Broccoli Heaven.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s a new organic fast food place where they serve broccoli. And you can get organic milk too,”I jested.


“Well, we’re not going to McDonalds. Eat your rice cake.”

“You’re starving me!”

“Honey, we’re not starving you. Look at all this food in the car!”

“These are snacks. I want a meal at McDonalds. And besides, Broccoli Heaven doesn’t exist.”

“Really? Why do you say that?”

“Because broccoli doesn’t go to heaven.”

Boy’s got a point. Can’t argue with that.

Wonder how McDonald’s is coming along with their Organic and Eco-Friendly Happy Meals!

Happy trails!

— Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania