THE BETTER BROWN BAG
Heading back to school doesn’t have to mean facing the formidable hair nets doling out sloppy joes and tater tots. That unappealing scenario can be particularly difficult for kids with food allergies. Walnut Acres offers refreshing alternatives by putting an eco-twist on the old brown bag lunch. An extensive selection of organic nut butters, such as cashew, sunflower and soy, make for peanut-free alternatives. Or for those wanting to spice up the old staple, try the tasty peanut-honey-sesame spread and partner it with one of Walnut Acres’ organic fruit spreads, such as sour cherry or apricot, or the company’s old-fashioned jams, like raspberry or strawberry.
And now your lactose-intolerant kid can chug like the best of them from White Wave’s half-pint soy milks. The vanilla and chocolate Silks are full of plant proteins, not chemicals or growth hormones, and have a smooth sweet taste even your picky eater will love. Both product lines can now be found at natural foods markets. The nut butters and preserves sell for around $5 and the soy milk for 79 cents.
Walnut Acres Organic Farms
Tel: (800) 433-3998
White Wave Vegetarian Cuisine
Tel: (303) 443-3470
KIDS SING IT GREEN
In the 1950s, Pete Seeger’s Folkways album Birds, Beasts, Bugs and Little Fishes introduced many a child to the wonders of nature. In the 1990s, Smithsonian Folkways, directed by Anthony Seeger (Pete’s nephew), has released Coco Kallis’ Environmental Songs for Kids. Set to rollicking blues, calypso and folk melodies, and backed by a children’s chorus, Vermont schoolteacher Kallis takes young listeners on a guided tour of today’s issues, from recycling to acid rain and ozone holes. The CD booklet contains tips for singing with children (they have high voices and narrow ranges, so watch your pitch!) and notes on homemade instruments, from the washtub bass to the rainstick. The CD, $19.95 postpaid, can be ordered from Smithsonian Folkways at (800) 410-9815, or via the web at http://www.si.edu/folkways/start.htm.
PACK IT OUT
Back to school and the books are piling up…but lugging them back and forth with a new pack from Hempy’s will be easy on your back—and your conscience. You’ll appreciate the wide, cushioned shoulder straps and heavy-duty stitching, but more than that, you’ll demonstrate your support for hemp—a crop that uses little pesticides or herbicides, and actually enriches the soil. Hempy’s prides itself on “functional, durable and earth conscious products” made in the U.S.A. Their rugged packs come in three styles: classic, mini, and deluxe, and range in price from $58 to $76.
917 West Grape Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Tel: (619) 233-HEMP
Two new computer-based educational tools prove that you don’t have to take kids on a field trip to get them excited about protecting the environment. The CD-ROM Finding the Balance: Ecology and Environmental Issues on a Global Scale, designed for students in grades 6 through 9, is a kid-friendly, interdisciplinary primer on environmental issues. Over 800 vibrant photographs and informative, lively text make each topic come alive, whether it’s biodiversity, oceans or eco-tourism. The three-disk set, available for $57.85 from Tyndal Stone Media (306-586-3537) , addresses both the scientific and social aspects of environmental problems.
Elementary school teachers can also bring the rainforest into the classroom with the help of Rain Bird’s new web site (www.rainbird.com/rainforest/index.htm). Rain Bird divides its curriculum into three grade level segments, K-3. Teachers can choose from art, science or outdoor activities, or in-class demonstrations. All exercises are easy to follow, and the materials needed for each activity are inexpensive and usually on-hand. Teachers don’t need to be rainforest experts to use Rain Bird’s ideas in the classroom—they need only know how to point and click.
—April Reese and Katherine Kerlin
Do you consciously search out “cruelty-free” products? Now there’s a contact lens saline solution that qualifies. Clear Conscience Sterile Saline Solution can boast of being not only cruelty-free, but also “preservative-free, CFC-free, environmentally safe and FDA approved.” In addition to providing an Earth- and animal-friendly product, the company will donate 10 percent of all proceeds to environmental and animal welfare charitable organizations.
A 12-ounce pressurized canister costs $5.95, or $4.95 each for 12 or more, and a multipurpose solution is now available. Clear Conscience is available in health food stores across 22 states, or can be ordered online at www.clearconscience.com.
PO Box 17855
Arlington, VA 22216-1785
Tel: (800) 595-9592
SOMETHING GOOD BREWING
Dust off that beer stein and shake out your leiderhosen. Panorama Brewing Company is providing a (nearly) guilt-free reason to celebrate Octoberfest this year. The first certified organic craft beer, Wolaver’s, is now pouring into, and out of, pubs and stores across the country. Its English-style Pale Ale, India Pale Ale and Brown Ale are locally brewed in small batches with organically grown barley and hops, harvested by independent small farmers. Further evidence of this company’s commitment: 10 percent of annual profits are donated to sustainable agriculture causes. Six-packs of Wolaver’s ($5.99 to $6.99) are already widely available in 16 states, and you should be able to pick one up in 10 more within the year. If this environmentally-correct beverage is proving elusive, call Belmont Station at (888) 892-2337 or visit the company on the web at www.wolavers.com.
Are mosquitoes (and the fear of chemical repellants) keeping you indoors? Now there’s a green way to go after these aggressive pests! All Terrain’s natural insect repellent, Herbal Armor, offers a formula that not only protects against mosquitoes, but other annoying insects as well. Using beeswax, All Terrain creates a special time release repellent allowing for up to four hours of protection. And unlike other sprays and lotions, Herbal Armor has a pleasant smell and leaves your skin grease-free. Available as a lotion or a spray ($6.95) , and as a special insect repellent sunscreen ($8.95) . All Terrain products can be found at many health and outdoor stores.
All Terrain Company, Inc.
3275 Corporate View Drive
Vista, CA 92083
NEW LIFE TO TOFU
Tired of hearing that soy is the new “wonder” food, but not finding it tastes so “wonderful”? Tree of Life is out to change tofu’s image with a new line of smoked flavors. Lemon Garlic and Herbs & Spices have been added to the Original and Hot ‘N Spicy line. These tasty treats are ready to eat straight from the fridge for a high-protein snack. Or cooked up with veggies and one of Tree of Life’s staple side dishes—like bulgar wheat, couscous or basmati rice—they make a complete meal.
Tree of Life, Inc.
PO Box 410
Saint Augustine, FL 32085-0410
Tel: (904) 825-2095
When it comes to their environmental impact, campuses are like small cities, using up millions of gallons of water, thousands of tons of solid waste, and more kilowatts of electricity than you can shake a light bulb at. In Greening the Ivory Tower: Improving the Environmental Track Record of Universities, Colleges and Other Institutions, Sarah Hammond Creighton provides detailed, tested strategies for improving the environmental practices of academic and other institutions. Creighton, who was project manager of Tufts University’s environmental operations program, offers a thorough blueprint on how to make almost every corner of campus environmentally friendly, from chemistry labs to copy machines to dining hall kitchens.
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
A new children’s book, Project Puffin: How We Brought Puffins Back To Egg Rock by Stephen Kress, describes the author’s work with Pete Salmansohn to bring back the population of these endearing black-and-white sea birds to Eastern Egg Rock, Maine. Kress provides a detailed description of the struggles and—eventual successes—he and Salmansohn encountered during the project. Combined with a helpful teacher’s guide packed with activities, Project Puffin helps kids gain knowledge about sea birds, food chains and important ways to help preserve the environment for wildlife. Designed for children in grades 3 through 6, the guide has over 40 different activities, ranging from art projects to role-playing and wildlife observation.
SAVING THE FAMILY FARM
Chilean grapes may satisfy a December craving, but the growing global agriculture market has forced many farmers from the land and many consumers toward the supermarket. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) helps reconcile these problems by giving farmers financial security, while shareholders receive fresh, organic produce directly from the farm.
Sharing the Harvest by Elizabeth Henderson and Robin Van En is a handy guide for those wishing to participate in or start a CSA (Chelsea Green Publishing Company, $24.95) . It describes the goals of a CSA, how to organize, manage the harvest, and deal with money matters. Its aim is simple—to encourage more people to help save local farming.
CSA shareholders get a bag of seasonal produce each week. But what to do with all those fresh fruits and veggies? Nancy O’Connor offers simple, savory recipes for 50 fruits, herbs and vegetables in The Rolling Prairie Cookbook (Spring Wheat Nutrition Education Services, $14.95) . She describes each type of produce, how to handle and prepare it, and provides nutritional information as well.
PAPER OR PLASTIC? WHO CARES!
Choosing paper or plastic at the grocery store is not as important as what you fill the bag with or how you arrived at the store in the first place, according to a new book by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices by Michael Brower and Warren Leon (Three Rivers Press, $15) , categorizes which consumer habits are the most environmentally significant and which are not worth the worry. Topping the list of the seven most harmful practices are the high consumption of meat, the dominance of automobiles and the waste of energy in the home. The book helps alleviate consumer guilt about the little things, while encouraging wise choices for big environmental changes.
GETTING BACK TO BASICS
For consumers wary of toxic chemicals in their home, garden and body care products, Annie Berthold-Bond’s Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living offers some welcome suggestions for healthy alternatives. Bond provides 868 recipes for everything from planting mint and keeping mice away to mixing tea tree oil with water to combat carpet mildew. This anti-toxic cookbook also contains procedures for making sunblock, baby-safe powders and lotions and homemade fingerpaint. Bond’s recipes are mostly quick to prepare, inexpensive and effective. And that’s a formula we can all live with. Available for $18 from Three Rivers Press.
TEST TUBE FOOD
“Buyer beware,” warns Brewster Kneen of the agricultural chemicals engineered into foods. In his new book, Farmageddon: Food and the Culture of Biotechnology (New Society Publishers, $16.95) , Kneen asserts that we are all guinea pigs in a corporate experiment that may be putting our health at risk. Kneen describes the inner working of genetic engineering in alarming detail and calls for public resistance against it. “Biotechnology is not the science of life. It is a technology of violent intervention, domination, and death,” writes Kneen. He reveals how the thirst for convenience and profits affects corporations, scientists and governments. This combination of special interests is what allows genetically engineered food to go unlabelled, he says, though the long-term consequences for ecological and human health are unknown. Recommended for anyone who eats.
Jennifer Price offers a unique history of America’s perceptions of nature in Flight Maps: Adventures with Nature in Modern America (Basic Books, $23) . Instead of heading to the woods or mountains, Price cleverly traces how Americans incorporate nature into their urban and suburban lives—through fashion designs (as seen in the 1800s’ feathered hat craze), lawn ornaments (plastic pink flamingos), television shows (Dr. Quinn), malls (The Nature Company), advertisements (automobiles that will deliver you to nature) and homes (nature calendars and nature sounds relaxation tapes). Price concludes that these “connections” actually distance us from nature. She writes, “All of us consume nature from within cities or markets where its wildness arrives commodified, transformed, already de
ad and out of context.”