IT’S ALL GOOD
Worried about the plethora of chemical additives in so-called "health" snack bars? The recently released Real Food Bars ($6.25 per box) from allGoode Organics offer an innovative alternative. Flavors include Chocolate Peanut Pleasure, Nutty Chocolate Apricot, Honey Nut Harvest, Cashew Almond Passion, Banana Nut Nirvana and Amazin" Peanut Raisin. The California-based company, which also makes delicious organic snack mixes and herbal teas, guarantees 95 percent or more organic ingredients and uses no artificial flavors, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, isolates or concentrates. By using low-impact packaging materials and donating two percent of gross sales to organic and environmental causes, allGoode proves its dedication to greener eating.
Tel: (888) 980-8884
As a way to help protect people and the environment from the current mercury crisis (see our May/June 2002 cover story), California-based manufacturer Medical Indicators offers a safe, nontoxic, mercury-free alternative to traditional thermometers called NexTemp. This easy-to-use, accurate thermometer, which is fashioned for oral and axillary (armpit) testing, can be conveniently carried in an optional wallet-sized card. The company even offers personalized cards for nonprofits and businesses. NexTemp uses liquid crystal technology and is produced in Fahrenheit and Celsius versions. The thermometers are also available at drug stores under the Vicks label (three for $3.49). They come individually wrapped and are marked disposable, but may be reused with proper cleaning.
Tel: (760) 930-0909
GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK
Everyone needs a makeover once in a while. Wouldn’t something eco-savvy look good on you? Chic Eco, a small environmental fashion-consulting firm, is the brainchild of Delia Montgomery, a former fashion merchandising and retail management student and ladies" boutique owner. "My expertise is knowing who is making what in the environmental fashion industry," says Montgomery. Kentucky-based Chic Eco provides development and marketing plans for new product ideas, and Montgomery serves as a personal shopper and consultant for environmentally sensitive consumers. Past clients include Willie Nelson and former Kentucky Governor John Y. Brown. "I"m like a fashion secretary for homes, bodies or gardens. I"ll talk to you about everything from house paint to shoes," says Montgomery. Prices vary.
Tel: (877) 977-9226
Nothing is more refreshing on a hot summer’s day than a glass of iced tea. But unfortunately, many commercially available teas are highly sweetened and lack a distinctive flavor. Now there’s a better option from Honest Tea. This line of "barely sweetened" bottled teas offers true refreshment ($1.29 each). Nine varieties are currently available, including hearty Assam, minty Moroccan Green, Indian-spiced Kashmiri Chai, and the all-organic, peppermint First Nation. While most iced teas are made with tea powder or concentrate, all Honest Tea varieties are crafted by an expert brewmaster in small batches with whole-leaf tea, spring water and just a touch of sweetener.
Tel: (800) 865-4736
SAFE AND SPOTLESS
Change the way you clean! That area under your sink doesn’t have to be a bunker for gallons of toxic chemicals. Those caustic sprays can be banished and replaced with natural alternatives. Seventh Generation, the leading U.S. provider of safe and environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, offers biodegradable laundry detergent, vegetable-based dish soap and a wide array of other toxin-free solutions to make your kitchen and bathroom sparkle. The company’s paper products, including Seventh Generation Bathroom Tissue (12 rolls for $11.95), are non-chlorine bleached, 100 percent recycled and safe for all septic systems. You wouldn’t want your home to be clean and polluted, would you?
Tel: (802) 658-3773
HEMP HEMP HOORAY!
With more than 25,000 different uses, hemp really is an amazingly versatile fiber, providing an excellent alternative to such products as chemically treated cotton for textiles and paper made from virgin wood. Yet even though nobody’s smoking industrial hemp, it’s currently illegal for U.S. farmers to grow. Vote Hemp is a nonprofit organization dedicated to a free market for this useful product. Internet users can visit www.votehemp.com to educate themselves about the advantages of this renewable resource and to contribute to the fight to legalize the industry. To stay informed about the latest issues and new rules about the hemp industry and hemp legislation, sign up for the Vote Hemp Action Email Alert.
Many people are familiar with REI, the makers of outdoor equipment and apparel. But far fewer are aware of its ecotourism division, REI Adventures, which offers a wide range of environmentally sound, action vacations combining travel with conservation. Trips are suited for all skill levels, and are led in small groups by experienced guides. Tours are charted all over the world, including amazing excursions to Europe, Australia and Africa, with activities such as cycling, hiking, kayaking and more. Included in the package are fine cuisine, authentic lodging, transportation (airfare not included in some tours) and excitement. Prices begin at $1,295 and may surpass $3,995, but all the trips are designed to let you experience the fun and beauty of nature. Become a member of REI for a one-time fee of $15 to receive special benefits and trip pricing.
Tel: (800) 622-2236
LIPSTICK LOVERS BEWARE!
Drop-Dead Gorgeous: Protecting Yourself from the Hidden Dangers of Cosmetics (Contemporary Books, $16.95), by E contributor Kim Erickson, makes you think twice before "putting on your face." The book exposes the cosmetic industry’s use of synthetic chemicals in products that offer the promise of youth and beauty. Consumers are warned about the "nine deadly ingredients" commonly found in cosmetics. One is formaldehyde, which may cause lung cancer and other serious complications
with prolonged exposure. Drop-Dead Gorgeous also lists a number of companies offering personal care items that are safe and nontoxic for both the buyer and the environment. Furthermore, Erickson includes easy-to-follow recipes and beautification secrets that will enhance you, both inside and out.
HOME SWEET HAZARD
Do your home’s plywood walls emit deadly chemicals? Is your kitchen countertop toxic? Reading the case studies of health catastrophes in Prescriptions for a Healthy House (New Society Publishers, $26.95) might make you want to run out your front door screaming. With a little planning, more natural homes can be assembled for little or no extra cost. Authors Paula Baker-Laporte, Erica Elliot and John Banta describe how to construct the safe, environmentally friendly sanctuary of your dreams without compromising the health of your budget. From selecting an architect to picking out furniture, this guide safeguards the informed homebuilder from the toxins that threaten us in the most intimate of surroundings.
In much of the Western United States, cows have more impact on the environment than humans do. Waste of the West (Arizona Lithographers, $28), author Lynn Jacobs" encyclopedic criticism of public land ranching, describes how livestock have stripped the range of its natural flora and displaced indigenous animals. Some of the effects of overgrazing investigated by Jacobs include water contamination, the stunting of natural grass populations and the homogenizing and desiccation of landscapes. According to Waste of the West, food competitors and predators such as buffalo and large cat species, which threaten mass cattle production, continue to be killed outright by the hundreds. This exhaustive treatise shatters the myths of benign cowboy culture, arguing for widespread reform that could help restore a truly wild west.
GREEN TREASURE HUNTS
Letterboxing is a great way to get the whole family excited about the outdoors. This family quest has been practiced in Dartmoor Park, England for 150 years, and it has been gaining popularity in many other parts of the world. With the help of riddle-like clues and hand-drawn maps, participants search for hidden letterboxes, while exploring areas of natural or historic interest. Inside each box is a unique rubber stamp that hikers use to mark their journals and replace for future searchers to find. Local children in Vermont and New Hampshire created many of the playfully rhyming entries in Valley Quest: 89 Treasure Hunts in the Upper Valley (Vital Communities, $12.95), compiled by editor Steven Glazer. The book includes clever maps and instructions on how to create a letterbox quest in your own community.
THE BODY POLITIC
The fact that snake oil actually does have medicinal properties is just one fascinating bit of information to be gleaned from When Healing Becomes a Crime by Bioneers founder Kenny Ausubel (Healing Arts Press, $19.95). The book is the story of Harry Hoxsey, whose alternative cancer treatments from 1925 to 1960 were called snake oil and worse by a medical establishment that, after 35 years of harassment, finally forced the pioneering health clinics to leave the U.S. (It still exists in Mexico.) "Orthodox medicine branded Hoxsey the worst cancer quack of the century," Ausubel writes. "He was arrested more times than any other person in medical history." But as this 450-page book (the companion to a documentary film also made by Ausubel) amply shows, Hoxsey’s natural, herbal remedies and nutrition plans got amazing results, curing patients conventional medicine had given up on. Hoxsey’s fate—shared by other maverick therapists—has dramatic relevance today as alternative cancer treatment gains mainstream acceptance.
Explorer, novelist, naturalist and Zen Buddhist Peter Matthiessen defies classification. The Birds of Heaven (Greystone Books, $36.95) delivers the kind of lucid, crystalline prose we’ve come to expect. Cranes, he tells us, were once believed to be men en route to immortality. Other cultures thought them divine harbingers or magical healers. Matthiessen believes them "the greatest of flying birds." The Birds of Heaven combines travelogue, natural history and philosophy. Matthiessen records details with a scientist’s precision, while his descriptions of crane migrations are redolent of haiku poetry, both for their elegiac beauty and their bleak acceptance of man’s destructive nature.
—Piers Moore Ede