Monday, December 19, 2011

Gift ideas

How about an insulated, glass, bamboo water bottle?  Glass is obviously one of the healthiest choices because you don't have to worry about stuff leaching into it, and why not sustainable bamboo to cushion it in a fashionable way?  Only caveat, this bottle is heavier than the stainless ones, but so worth it!

And while you're at it, try some Runa Guayusa tea, a new tea that provides antioxidants and a little pick up without the jitters of coffee, PLUS it's fair trade: 

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Light, waterproof, stylin' boots: Ahnu Embarcadero

My current light pair of stylin' books are lovely for travel.  BUT they not waterproof and are rather slippery, so with all the weird weather cropping up I find myself a bit slidey and cold with a sudden snow.  But if I'm on a short trip it doesn't always make sense to bring my stubby Keen Providences. 

Ahhh... Ahnu Embarcaderos to the rescue.  They're a nice basic boot with an interesting (and comfy hell) and they are surprisingly light for a waterproof boot.  Ahnu the company is also always up to interesting green projects, so it makes sense to support ther. 

Fit: I found these boots true to size and fit my narrow feet very well.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NY parents pass drug tests, still lose custody of children due to illogical cannabis prosecutions

It’s tough to be poor and minority in America these days.  It’s harder to vote, harder to get healthcare, harder to get credit, harder to get to work on public transportation, harder to get an education--and now, it’s harder to be a parent.   If you live in New York and are poor, you don’t even have to commit a crime or show evidence of neglect to have your children taken away from you.  That’s what happened to Penelope Harris when police found 10 grams of marijuana (about a third of an ounce) while searching her Bronx apartment.  She contended the marijuana belonged to her boyfriend.  The amount was also below the legal limit for even a misdemeanor prosecution.  And yet, on the basis of this find alone, child welfare authorities took her son and her niece, who was living with her as a foster child, and placed them in foster care on neglect charges, her niece not returned to her home for more than a year.  Ms. Harris, who had no prior criminal record, was forced to weather a lengthy neglect investigation as well as a drug test, both of which exonerated her.
David Simon, the genius creator of the TV series The Wire, calls the War on Drugs “the war on the underclass.”  And nowhere has this war been taken to new heights of cruelty and absurdity in the recent cases in New York.  Neglect charges have been brought against parents based on sub-prosecutable amounts of marijuana found in the home, or even, more ridiculously, on admitted past use.  Some parents have even lost custody of their children.  Recreational marijuana use is something that is de facto if not de jure decriminalized for the vast majority of Americans, but New York is ripping children out of the arms of poor parents capriciously and with impunity, not only breaking up families but ruining job prospects (should these neglect charges stick, the parent may be barred from occupations that involve contact with children).
In New York state, marijuana has been effectively decriminalized.  To be caught possessing up to 25 grams results in a citation, similar to a traffic ticket.  But a recent article in The New York Times explored a current practice of welfare agencies taking children away from parents on the basis of these non-prosecutable amounts of.  For this, prosecutors have marshalled the power (and expense) of the courts in a large-net sweep, breaking up families and putting the burden on them to prove they are not unfit parents.  But not only did the court system run rampant on poor parents, who had little legal power or connections, but also, tellingly, "these cases were rarely if ever filed against white parents." 
This Reefer Madness all over again, revamped and reshaped into a cudgel with which to torment the minority poor.  The original 1936 film was a melodramatic-campy fantasy of  the dangers of marijuana, implying it drove the most timid of smokers to rape, hallucinations, homicide, nyphomania, and suicide (a particularly funny scene also suggests cannabis may cause bad piano-playing), to help set the cultural atmosphere needed for marijuana’s prohibition in 1937.  A powerful countermand was necessary to reverse the accurate perception of cannabis, which had, prior to its criminalization, had been listed in the official U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), the official public standards-setting authority for all prescription and over-the-counter medicines, as a useful, relatively safe and effective analgesic and anti-depressive. 
Not even a year after its criminalization, a scientific panel commissioned by, ironically, New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, promptly recommended re-legalization.  In 1988, DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young restated that cannabis is "the safest therapeutically active substance known to man."  Toxicologists agree that cannabis has almost no lethal dose, making it safer than quotidian household substances such as alcohol, caffeine, even water. 
Perhaps this could only happen in America, where large swaths of the population can be convinced to shun perfectly obvious evidence from scientists, be it global climate change, evolution, or cannabis, in favor of an absurdist, politically-charged view, if that view is promulgated long enough and with enough conviction and/or effectively uses fear to trump logic.  The way racism and xenophobia were exploited to push through the 1936 decision (marijuana being associated both with illegal Mexican immigration and black jazz musicisns) this harmless plant has once again taken on the mantle of “demon weed,” a synecdoche for insinuations of negligent parenting among the minority underclass--simply for being poor and minority. 
The new-old interpretation being used is against these parents is the “gateway drug theory,”  a particularly cynical trope when considering that it was used to almost comical effect during the McCarthy era by suggesting that marijuana caused communism (marijuana leads to heroin, which comes from opium, which comes from communist China, etc.—that is, if one wants to willfully forget that China’s opium was forced upon it by the British, during the Opium Wars).  Numerous scientific studies have not only debunked this myth, but Harry Anslinger, the anti-cannabis zealot largely responsible for the prohibition of cannabis in 1936, later had to admit in front of Congress that the “gateway drug” theory was false.  Yet, decades later, here is Michael Fagan, of the Administration for Children’s Services, stating in the Times that “We find that admitted marijuana use masks other substance abuse” a statement made with no scientific backing, even with 2006 University of Pittsburgh study suggesting the opposite is true.  In fact, lawyers for the accused families point out that investigators brought the negligence cases first, then only retroactively searched for other drug use.  In the Harris case, where the mother had two children removed from her home, drug tests showed she wasn’t using any drugs, marijuana or otherwise.
Because marijuana is still a controlled substance in this country, little scientific research has been done on its effects on family life.  However, consider that a high-profile report this year by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which includes former U.N. chief Kofi Annan and past presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, which urged ending the war on drugs, particularly the  criminalization of marijuana.  We have the examples of highly developed countries, such as the Netherlands, where social and legal acceptance of its recreational and medicinal use does not seem to have resulted in troves of criminally neglected children.  Even Mexico, a country we associate with drug violence, in 2009 decriminalized marijuana and cocaine, and so far the tsunami of child neglect has not materialized. 
While New York prosecutors may believe that marijuana is somehow antithetical to a healthy family, in California, suburban mothers were a major constituency pushing for recreational legalization in the most recent elections.  Certainly no one considers moderate enjoyment of other psychoactive drugs such as alcohol or coffee to be grounds for charging parent negligence, and yet these substances on a toxicology level are much more dangerous to children than cannabis. 
Our country has become an odd amalgam of a Puritan past that casts suspicion upon anything that gives pleasure, while its capitalistic nature encourages the rich to enjoy their spoils.  In this quasi-theology, poor people are sinners and should therefore be denied any pleasure in their life (a recent Fox News report disparaged the poor in America as not even being really poor, as many enjoyed “amenities” such as refrigerators); for the wealthy, being rich and successful is a virtue in itself, and anything they do is wonderful, the same way poor minority shoplifters go to jail for stealing infant formula while the upperclass rich are thought of with amusement if not fondness for their “kleptomania.”  Even more unfairly, while whites in New York City use marijuana at roughly twice the rate of Hispanics and blacks, according to data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, Hispanics are arrested for marijuana possession at 3.5 times the rate of whites, 7.8 times for blacks. 
If the New York agencies believe cannabis to be such a clear and identifiable danger to children, we await the dragnets in affluent areas.  Perhaps a suburban man who installs a wet bar in his rec room also needs to have his children taken away from him by child welfare authorities, as abuse of alcohol has been found to be highly correlated to child abuse and neglect by numerous studies.  Further, all of the last three American presidents--all parents—could have been under suspicion by New York standards, having admitted to past marijuana use. 
At a time of strapped state budgets, as citizens we need to ask ourselves what is the cost of prosecuting these marijuana cases that are not criminal to begin with, but even more importantly, we need to ask ourselves what is the cost to society in needlessly subjecting children to the trauma of removal from their homes, the taint of presumed guilt on their parents, the time and money and psychic damage borne by these parents who need to prove their innocence?  With the stresses and strains on today’s poor and minority families seemingly multiplying every day, it’s madness to tear families apart based upon another cannabis fiction. 

And more: California Doctors' Group endorses marijuana legalization.  

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Gluten Free PUmpkin Bread...with ACORN!

What says fall more than pumpkin bread?

I advise NOT to get the pureed junk in a can, because the cans can leach BPA and other nasty stuff. Plus, with the zillions of pumpkins around, why not get your own?

Make sure to get a smaller "sugar" pumpkin.  Organic if possible, although pumpkins don't usually need pesticide.  However, using an organic pumpkin from a friend's farm yielded a orangey-er bread than a non-organic, just sayin'.

I'm really into the health benefits of diversifying your diet and wildcrafting.  If you can get your hands on some acorn flour (it has to be leached to remove the bitter tannins) or you can buy it at the Korean grocery.  Here's my recipe for double loaves (or one flat sheet cake pan) of yummy pumpkin bread (as lon gas you're baking, it's more enviro to bake more):

 cups Bob's Red Mill GF flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoons ginger

½  cup acorn flour
½ tsp nutmeg (fresh ground is best)

¼ tsp cloves
½ tsp cinnamon
½  teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ raisins
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup pure maple syrup or honey (more to taste depending on pumpkin's sweetness)
4 organic eggs
3 cups pumpkin or squash (reshly steamed and mashed)
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Oil a loaf pans and then lightly dust with flour.
In a bowl combine the flour, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Mix with a wire whisk. Then, stir in the pecans.

In a separate bowl combine the oil, maple syrup, honey eggs, pumpkin, and vanilla. Mix well with a wire whisk.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Do not over mix.
Pour into loaf pan and bake 30 - 45 mins or until knife comes out clean.
Let cool about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.  ENJOY!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Maternal Smoking can alter DNA in fetus

Source: American Thoracic Society (ATS)
Newswise — ATS 2011, DENVER - Children whose mothers or grandmothers smoked during pregnancy are at increased risk of asthma in childhood, but the underlying causes of this are not well understood.

Now a new study indicates changes in a process called DNA methylation that occurs before birth may be a root cause.

The study will be presented at the ATS 2011 International Conference.
DNA methylation is a process that can alter a gene’s usual function. These altered genes can be passed along from parent to child. In this case, researchers observed DNA methylation-related changes in the AXL gene in children exposed to maternal smoking in utero. The AXL gene plays an important role in many human cancers and in immune response.

“We found that children exposed to maternal smoking in utero had a 2.3 percent increase in DNA methylation in AXL,” said Carrie Breton, ScD, assistant professor of preventive medicine at The Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles.
“These results confirm results from a prior study and present compelling evidence that environmental exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy may alter DNA methylation levels."’

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Perfect Mother's Day Gift

I love the Libre Tea glasses--non toxic, stylish, easy to use loose leaf tea--and love the new, bigger size even better.  The poly keeps it cool to the touch but the inside is glass, for health (no BPAs!) and great taste.  Plus, it's very styling. 

Still fits nicely in the drink holder in your car or your hip messenger bag. 

Check it out here:

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Win A FREE Maggie's Lycra-free organic dress + fight the Koch Brothers!

This is a weird post bringing together two disparate threads, but just wait.

You probably know the Koch brothers as the billionaire secret funders of WI gov. Scott Walker and his cronies in the union-busting schemes.  The Koch brothers can't wait until there's no democracy and everything is run by big business--them!

Nor surprisingly, they, through their companies, are also big polluters.  Among other things, they have been lobbying to have FORMALDEHYDE delisted as a carcinogen, because their paper plants produce a lot of it, and that's kind of annoying when the workers get cancer and blame it on them, etc.

Here's a little preview of their polluting:

In 2000, the EPA fined Koch Industries $30 million for its role in 300 oil spills that resulted in more than three million gallons of crude oil leaking into ponds, lakes, streams and coastal waters.

In 1999 a Koch subsidiary pleaded guilty to charges that it had negligently allowed aviation fuel to leak into waters near the Mississippi River from its refinery in Rosemount, Minnesota, and that it had illegally dumped a million gallons of high-ammonia wastewater onto the ground and into the Mississippi.

In 1996, two people where burned alive in their vehicle due to a poorly maintained Koch pipeline that had leaked flammable butane into a residential Texas neighborhood. 

You can read more here.

Here's a list of Koch Industries products, some you probably use every day not realizing it's funding all this bad stuff:

But keeping the focus on the positive, check out this awesome organic free trade LYCRA free dress.  Yes, it's a lovely, stretchy jersey, double knit very densely so you don't need any ARTIFICIAL FIBERS.  It's a real go-to dress that you can wear three seasons (throw on a scarf, a jacket--wear it to work, I've even worn it over jeans for a casual look), looks great with tights and boots and well as summer-bare with sandals.  And it's very karmic and good-energy, and reasonably priced PLUS the people who made it had a fair deal for their labor.

Even better, tweet this post for a change to WIN A FREE DRESS.  When we pick the winner, we will contact you and Maggie's will directly send you one in your size. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Gluten free chocolate pumpkin muffins

The new health benefits of dark chocolate are legendary.  If you are pregnant, supposedly you'll have happier babies.  Chocolate can lower blood pressure because of its magnesium conent.  And it supposedly works as well as that daily baby aspirin to keep clots at bay.

So I went to this vegan bakery and had the world's best gluten free pumpkin muffin.  It was a one-time thing, because they were seasonal, so I've tried to recreate my own, based on what the nice lady at the checkout said was in them:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 6-muffin tin with paper cupcake liners--I prefer making my own by cutting out squares of parchment paper and mushing them down with a glass.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together (organic when possible):

1 1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup amaranth flour -- I buy it whole and grind it myself
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup potato starch

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger 
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Add in:

1 cup evaporated date sugar or organic light brown sugar 
1 cup pumpkin puree

1/3 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
2 free range organic eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Now add in:

about 1/2 cup soy milk or other kind of milk

Beat until sooth, add in a little more milk or sorghum flour as necessary to achieve slightly thicker than cake batter consistency.  Add in 1/2 or more cup chocolate chips (use dark, at least 50% cocoa mass to achieve antioxidants)

Spoon the batter into six muffin cups, bake about 20 minutes.  They can stay out a day uncoverd, but after that I would freeze them or put them in a container.  

Note on sources:

The vegan bakery obviously did not use eggs--you can subst. 1 tsp flaxseed and 1 tsp water for each egg.

They also used coconut flour, which is contraindicated for me on my Blood Type Diet.  But by all accounts, these turned out pretty well!

You can get a lot of the interesting gluten free flours by Bob'd Red Mill at Amazon

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Seaweed is a sea vegetable

Seaweed has got to be one of the world's most underrated superfoods.  It has all sorts of trace minerals, plus IODINE, which is good for the thyroid and good for fertility and is sorely lacking in the American diet (hence iodized salt--however the iodine they use in that is not naturally occurring--just sayin').

Seaweed is also great for detox.  It sounds strange, but it absorbs a bunch of toxins including radiation.  A doctor working with survivors of Hiroshima made his staff eat tons of seaweed soup--and none of them got radiation poisoning.

Even better, it's free.  On a trip to the pristine Block Island, I read in a histiography how settlers used to fight over the copious Irish Moss and kelp that washed up on the beach after storms.  I even found a recipe for blancmange, a traditional pudding type thing Block Islanders made from seaweed, and after I harvested a bunch of Irish Moss, I made some.  It did taste delightfully like pudding.

In Korean culture, we already eat a lot of seaweed (and traditionally, that's why they say Koreans have such nice hair).  For people unused to the salty, somewhat marine flavor, it can take some getting used to.  Irish Moss is not easily available unless you harvest your own, but kelp is.  I like wild harvested kelp, also because it is done in an eco conscious way.

If you are local to Rhode Island check out She Sells Seaweed; she has a booth at the Pawtucket Winter Farmer's Market where I was first introduced to her yummy Sesame Kelp Snacky Treat.

(p.s. I'm a bit of a raw foodie; I don't even bake mine.  It is a little stickier that way, but yummy.)

Sesame Kelp Brittle
½ cup brown rice syrup
¼ cup olive oil
Dash of shoyu or tamari soy sauce
1 cup sesame seeds
½ cup crushed almonds
¼ – ¾ cup or to your liking of finely crushed kelp (bake kelp at 250 for 10 min or until crisp and grind in food processor)
2-3 tsp of fresh finely chopped ginger root
Heat syrup, oil and shoyu in a small sauce pan. When mixture begins to foam up add seeds, nuts, kelp and ginger and stir thoroughly.
Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Spread mixture onto parchment and then cover with another piece of parchment. Roll out flat with a rolling pin. Remove top parchment.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes- and then for last few minutes check to avoid burning. Remove from oven and rip away parchment after 5 minutes.

To mail order, I highly recommend my friends at BC Kelp, where they also sell a lot of interesting varieties for you to branch out as you get more adventurous.  They have recipes, too.

COMMENT if you want more recipes, like my Korean seaweed tofu soup.  A comforting way to eat seaweed in the winter!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New 3D mammogram, double the radiation, double the fun

There was an article in the NY Times today about how recalled medical equipment was severely lacking in safety data BUT was still approved by the FDA.  Yay!

So now the FDA has approved a new kind of mammogram with DOUBLE the radiation (they are parsing it as "slightly more but still safe") and no testing on long term effects of that.  Buyer beware:

FDA approves Hologic 3-D breast scan, radiation unclear

Posted 2011/02/11 at 2:14 pm EST
WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2011 (Reuters) — U.S. health officials have approved Hologic Inc's 3-D mammogram system in hopes that it may help doctors better detect and diagnose breast cancer, even though women may be exposed to more radiation.

NY Times bonus: "Most Recalled Devices Untested": Most medical devices recalled in recent years by the Food and Drug Administration because they posed a high risk to patients were not rigorously studied before being cleared for sale, according to a study in a medical journal released Monday. 

Read more here using GreenFertility/GreenFertility as your username/pw:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Take thyroid meds in evening for better results

This is so interesting. I presumed you should take meds in the morning to get that thyroid energy all day, but here's what Mary Shomon,'s trusted thyroid guru says:

But two important studies -- a 2007 study published in the journalClinical Endocrinology, and a follow-up larger randomized trial reported in the December 2010 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine -- have found that taking the same dose of levothyroxine (i.e., Synthroid) at bedtime, as compared to first thing in the morning, may be better.
read more here.

It's always best to take the meds on an empty stomach, so nighttime dosing might not only be convenient it makes sense especially if you drink coffee....and or something with milk...or multivitamins as both coffee and calcium are shown to interfere with thyroid hormone absorption.  

Here's Mary's post on coffee/calcium. 

Check her posts out on Twitter: @ThyroidMary

Monday, January 24, 2011

How to keep Monsanto out of your garden (and digestive3 system)

Monsanto has been voted the world's evilest company, and I don't have time to go over all the reasons why, but basically they are trying to own the food supply, and their genetically modified plants, some of which have inbred pesticides...well, might be producing pesticide inside your body--oops!

Their seeds are EVERYWHERE since they go around and guy up all the seed companies, so stuff you might be buying from Burpee's and other cute sounding seed suppliers might be Monsanto.  Here's a great post from our friends at Treehugger about how to keep the stuff out of your garden:

veggarden.jpgPhoto Credit: Alexa Sky.
There are plenty of good reasons to avoid Monsanto: Roundup, genetically-engineered beets, corn, and other crops, the fact that they sue farmers after their seeds (a monopoly of their own) contaminate the farmers' own fields, Agent Orange....we could go on and on.
What some people may not realize is that Monsanto also now owns approximately 40% of the home garden vegetable seed market -- making them the largest seed company in the world.

read more

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Win a totally cool Eco-Tensil Gift Basket

How do YOU zero-in on zero-waste!?

Eco-idea competition offers eco-gift basket worth $200!
In 2011, would you like to see a world moving towards zero waste?  EcoTensil, the company that created the world’s most eco-friendly single-use spoons, invites you to share your favorite ideas to zero in on zero-waste in your life, and inspire the rest of us!

Share a unique way you are reducing, recycling, reusing or rounding up others to do the same! Do you lead by example? How are you reducing the impact of your trash to create for a greener world for yourself and the next generations?
  • At home
  • At the grocery store
  • In the office
  • At the coffee shop
  • On the internet
  • At school…

EcoTensil wants to hear from you!

• We make a bunch of “suggestion-box” cards at once, efficiently on the computer (using the back of already-been-printed paper), suggesting a greener approach we would like to see stores make. Every time I go to a store, I slip one in the suggestion box! My favorite suggestion, of course, is every store should use EcoTasters, which are 100% compostable, recyclable, FSC certified renewable, and simply use a lot less material to begin with!
~~ Peggy, EcoTensil, Larkspur, CA (darn! too bad we’re not eligible to win the prize!)

Whether heroic or mundane, the impact of our actions add up.  Send us the most innovative and inspiring solution for minimizing your trash impact and win your very own Zeroing in on Zero Waste Kit, market value: $200, value to the earth: priceless.

The Zero Waste Kit includes:
  • 1 gallon compost pail with filters
  • Verterra Compostable Square Plates
  • Preserve To-Go cups
  • 2-tier Recycled Cotton Carrier Bag
  • Water Bottle Sling with ChopStick Holder
  • Simply Gorgeous green chico bag
  • “How to Make and Use Compost” book

 Second place is awarded a To-Go-Ware lunch kit!

To enter, like us on Facebook and post your suggestion on our wall.  Get your audience to participate by posting the contest on your site. If the winner heard about the contest on your site, you will both win the prize! We’ll do a drawing from the top ten ideas.

The contest will run through January and winners will be announced in February.