January 29, 2007

Michael Pollan on Nutrition in NYTimes

28meals_600.jpgMichael Pollan writes about why nutrition studies might be making us food-obsessed, unhealthy and obese in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine. Pollan is the author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, the hardest (and most interesting) look at our food and where it's coming from since Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation. (It's a tougher read, but definitely worth it.)

In the NYTimes article, Pollan muses:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy. I hate to give away the game right here at the beginning of a long essay, and I confess that I’m tempted to complicate matters in the interest of keeping things going for a few thousand more words. I’ll try to resist but will go ahead and add a couple more details to flesh out the advice. Like: A little meat won’t kill you, though it’s better approached as a side dish than as a main. And you’re much better off eating whole fresh foods than processed food products. That’s what I mean by the recommendation to eat “food.” Once, food was all you could eat, but today there are lots of other edible foodlike substances in the supermarket. These novel products of food science often come in packages festooned with health claims, which brings me to a related rule of thumb: if you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a good indication that it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat.

Read the whole article at NYTimes.com.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

January 26, 2007

Weekend Reading: Ideal Bite

An apple a day...well, you know. And when that apple is a serving of eco-friendly wisdom from Ideal Bite, so much the better. A sort of Daily Candy for the eco-conscious set, Ideal Bite serves up daily columns offering simple "eco-living" tips on ways you can make consumption choices that save the planet, or at least reduce your own environment footprint. Small changes add up, they explain. We agree.

Subscribe to daily tips for free at Ideal Bite.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

November 30, 2006

November Wrap-Up

Geez, Louise - where did November go?!

We were busy compiling our Really Natural Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift Guide, of course. We also found time to check out bamboo and Sugar Cane jeans, What to Eat.

It sometimes seems like everyone we know is having babies, which perhaps explains why we caught baby fever in the middle of the month. We were intrigued, entranced and fascinated by Fuzzi Bunz fleece re-usable diapers, Luna Lou baby blankets, and eco-friendly baby gear from Green Babies and Speesees. (Please, someone, pick up one of their lamb jackets for us. We'll even have a kid for it.

Finally, with Thanksgiving over and done with, we started to think about December, and with it, twinkly lights (LED, of course), warm hats (made from recycled soda bottles), and candlelight (of the rechargeable variety).

Oh, and have we mentioned gifts? More to come in December. Stay tuned.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

November 13, 2006

Really Natural Holiday Gift Guide - Eco-Friendly Holiday Gift for Everyone

It's better to give than to receive. - Paul
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. - Churchill
Give a little bit, give a little bit of your love to me. - Supertramp

Yep. Deck the halls with boughs of evergreen, and potted holly plants. It's time for our holiday gift guides. Really Natural editors have scoured the Web (not to mention past and present gift guides posted by our fellow greenies over at The Green Guide, Treehugger, Grist, Co-op America, and the National Resources Defense Council) to come up with wish lists and holiday gift guides that will make your heart sing and help make the world a better place.

We'll be adding to these lists as the season progresses, so check back early and often. Happy Holidays!

For Her:

Green-knitwit-big.jpgKnitting Needle Bracelet from Australian artist and designer Liana Kabel. Made of recycled plastic knitting needles. $25. Ships from the Land Down Under and takes 1-3 weeks to get to the U.S. so order early.

Cashere Split Mittens (pictured above). Stewart+Brown cashmere is purchased and crafted in Mongolia by herders and weavers who continue to practice their centuries-old way of life. Available at Pangaya.

Recycled Magazine Evening Bag. Made in Brazil of recycled magazines. Looks a little bit like the Ecoist bags all the cool celebrity girls are wearing. Only it's even cooler. $72 at Wonders of the World.

Vintage Cotton and Hemp Lingerie. We're suckers for underpants. Honestly, who isn't?

Sugar Cane Jeans by Toyo. Vintage Japanese denim made with sugar cane fibers. Sweet! Don't like sugar cane in your denim? How about bamboo?

Green Toe Shoes by Simple. Know her shoe size? Green Toe shoes will tickle her feet. And the fact that they're designed for minimal environmental impact, using ingredients such as water-based cement, cork, jute, bamboo and crepe latex will tickle her heart.

Just about anything from Nest. This nifty little nonprofit web shop makes micro-loans to women artists and designers across the world, buys their goods and sells them to you, and uses the proceeds to make more micro-loans. Virtuous circle, indeed.

Tree-cycle Seatbelt Bags. Made of recycled seatbelts. I love you, baby. So buckle up.

For Him:

Solar Voltaic Backpack. Charge cell phones, PDAs, digital cameras, GPSs & MP3 players with this waterproof solar voltaic backpack.

Zia for Men Shaving Products. The man in my life raves about them. I like it that they're made using whole foods products and therapeutic-grade essential oils & herbal extracts, and that they're eco-friendly and cruelty-free (not tested on animals). The men's line is supposedly fragrance-free, but I think they smell terrific.

ductTri.jpgHow about a duct tape wallet? Buy one at the National Building Museum for $18. Or, make your own using the instructions on this site.

NoWet Green & Clean Car Wash, Wax and Sealant. According to their website, NoWet Green & Clean allows you to completely wash, wax, polish and seal any vehicle inside and out without water, saving 2,000 gallons of water with each 32 oz bottle. Because there's no rinsing, there's no run off of dirty contaminated water that pollutes our surface water tables. Plus, the product is bio-degradeable, VOC compliant and contains no petroleum-based products.

Cardboard Speakers by Muji. The name "MUJI" is derived from the Japanese phrase "Mujirushi Ryohin," meaning "No Brand Goods." Over the last 20 years, they have developed a worldwide following with a guiding philosophy that emphasizes innovative and simple materials, processes, and packaging. The resulting products are streamlined, environmentally friendly, and beautiful in their simplicity. Made of cardboard and electronic components. Available at the MoMA store.

Envirocycle Backyard Composter. Me strong man. Me make compost. The Envirocycle composter is the perfect urban composter. It produces quality compost quicker and easier than conventional composters by its rolling and mixing action which keeps the ingredients well mixed and aerated. The Envirocycle makes compost tea, a rich organic liquid plant food appreciated by gardeners everywhere.

For Baby:

Cheeky Baby and Mama's Belly shea butter creme and body oil. Available at Joli Bebe Boutique.

And for moms- and dads-to-be, allow us to recommendThe Complete Organic Pregnancy by Deirdre Dolan and Lexi Zissu. Great tips on how to make your home (and your pregnancy) safer by two journalists who were pregnant and figured it out for themselves.

Snuggly Organic Cotton Turtle. Take a 100% organic cotton shell, fill it with unbleached cotton clippings, embroider eyes for safety, and you have one of the most environmentally safe toys made in the world today. Hand crafted in Vermont, these animals are super-soft, adorable and best of all, machine washable and safe for all ages.

For Kids:

Organic Soul Rocker Kids Tees from JoMamaCo. For all those future punk rockers in the house.

A book about the child that you write and illustrate yourself. The joys from storebought toys and games can be fleeting. A gift like this is something your child will treasure and save forever.

Chew on This by Eric Schlosser. The author of Fast Food Nation dishes it up for kids. Read it together.

For Pets:

Recycled Cashmere Dog Sweaters from Deborah Lindquist. Spot deserves to be sexy. Woof. (Be sure to pick up one of Lindquist's matching sweaters or scarves for mom!)

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

November 6, 2006

The Green House Exhibit at National Building Museum

green-house.jpgHave you ever dreamed about living off the grid? Not in a creepy cultish commune kind of way, but in the "Hey, my 'green' house just got featured in Dwell" kind of way. In the "Jeez, I saw An Inconvenient Truth and want to help conserve the Earth's resources" kind of way. Yeah, me too.

Well, I found new hope for that dream last week at The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design, an exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. The Green House builds off the growing popularity of "green" and eco-friendly design, and sets out show that houses can be green and stylish at the same time. Moreover, it sets out to demonstrate green and sustainable building techniques and materials in a way that makes them easy to understand and approachable for everyday consumers.

bamboo house.jpgWalking through the exhibit, I was both awed by what was possible if you decide to really "go for it" (read: money is no object), and what was do-able, if, like the rest of us, money is an object, and you'd kind of like to save yours, but still make some eco-friendly updates to your place.

The exhibit starts when you walk in the door of the Glidehouse, a highly green, pre-fab modular home designed by Northern California architect Michelle Kaufman. It includes energy efficient windows and appliances, and is furnished with eco-friendly materials, furnishings and household stuff designed to inspire and educate.

Well, I'm inspired. And educated. (At least more than I was when I started.) I'll use this week to highlight some of the coolest things I saw in The Green House exhibit, and to provide info on where you can go to check 'em out.

The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture and Design runs through June 3, 2007 at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

November 2, 2006

Hugg It Out, B*tch

hugg125x125.gifSorry, Ari. And apologies to the folks at "Entourage." But the folks at Hugg are giving new meaning to the phrase "Hugg it out, b*tch."

Hugg, a new project from the folks at Treehugger, styles itself as the "Digg for Green." You, the reader, submit your green news to a queue of user-generated stories. And you, the reader, get to rate it. Or "hugg" it, as the case may be. Highly rated stories are those that get the most huggs from other readers, and get bumped to the Hugg front page.

Need a hugg? Go on, you know you want to.

At Hugg.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

October 31, 2006

October Wrap-Up

It's time for our October wrap-up. And once again, it's been a busy month at Really Natural. The FDA lifted its ban on fresh spinach. And we spent our time thinking about the really important stuff - namely, shoes, pumpkin pancakes, and hemp underpants. (Lindsay Lohan may not be wearing them, but quite frankly, we think she should be.)

We had reviews of Crispy Fruit, Tazo Chai, The Ginger People's Ginger Soother, and Uncle Sam cereal, and shared our recipes for a Hot-Toddy-To-Cure-What-Ails-You (do not operate heavy machinery after polishing off a batch of these ones) and Bee Pollen Popcorn.

If you're grinding bee pollen to make the popcorn, look into our solutions for grinding flax seeds. If you'd rather mash up something bigger (say, your recyclables), check out the Eco-pod. And if recycling is really what you're into, check out Tree-cycle recycled seatbelt bags from Harvey's Boutique, Ecoist's movie poster bags, some funky new uses for your old vinyl records, and Deborah Lindquist's recycled cashmere dog sweaters. Not to mention her bustiers.

Yep, it all comes back to underwear. Keep it clean with Planet Delicate laundry wash. Or better yet, don't even get out of bed. And to feather your nest, check out Nest, a new nonprofit micro-loan fund that supports women entrepreneurs around the world by selling crafts and designs by women artists and designers.

What else was on our brains this month? Babies. Alexis and Todd gave birth to baby Stavros, inspiring us to wax euphoric about organic cotton baby toys. Laura launched Super Cool Baby, and sent us a note about organic cotton onesies. And since baby's bigger sib needs something cool as well, we recommended a visit to JoMamaCo, a mom-run Southern CA outfit selling hipster toddler t-shirts. Finally, just under the wire for October, out came baby Ewan, which made us wax nostalgic for Obi Wan Cannoli and the cast of Store Wars.

Weekend reading, anyone? We're reading The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan and may never be the same. Equally life changing (but in different ways) was Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond MountainsThe Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer. Also on our list: Grub: Ideas for an Urban Kitchen, and yep, we admit it, The Sonoma Diet, which, among other things, encourages lean protein (see our article on "Which Fish is Safe") and a healthy amount of red wine. (May we recommend a bottle of organic Civatella Rosso?)

Last but not least, we offered up tips for a healthy Halloween, from Whole Foods and Bodybuilding.com. (We're guessing this is the first time those two appeared in the same sentence.)

Yep. It's been a full month. Can't wait for November.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

October 19, 2006

Which Fish is Safe to Eat?

The Harvard School of Public Health and the Institute of Medicine released conflicting studies yesterday detailing the health benefits and the risks of eating fish. The Harvard study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, says the cardiovascular health benefits from eating fish high in omega-3's outweighs the risk of contaminants such as PCBs. The Institute of Medicine is less optimistic, saying eating a diet rich in fish "may" reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.

As reported in The New York Times, both studies have come under fire from environmental groups and the Consumers Union for neglecting to address the risk of mercury in tuna. Nutrition experts like Marion Nestle argue that consumers are already confused about which seafood is safe to eat; these studies won't make it any clearer.

So, what's a concerned consumer to do? Check out Ocean's Alive or the Monterey Bay Aquarium website for downloadable guides to which fish are safe to eat.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

October 12, 2006

Weekend in Paris: 3rd Annual Ethical Fashion Show, October 13-16

Looking for something "Really Natural" to do this weekend? Head to Paris, daaaahling, for the 3rd Annual Ethical Fashion Show. Organized by the Universal Love Association, the event will feature 60 "ethical" designers from all over the world. Its goals are to promote ethical designers, foster dialogue and information exchange between organizations and individuals concerned with fair trade and sustainable development in the fashion industry, and to provide information for designers, retailers and consumers about fair trade and fashion.

The event takes place at Tapis Rouge, 67 rue du Faubourg Saint Martin 75010 Paris. Buyers and designers only Friday, Saturday and Monday. Sunday is open to the public.

Thanks to our friends at The Natural Store for passing along the invitation.

Learn more about the 3rd Annual Ethical Fashion Show.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

October 10, 2006

Forage Your Food!

God, the farmer's market is so passe. According to The Sunday Times, these days, all the cool kids are foraging their food.

You can hardly strike up a conversation these days without a "lovely little farmers' market" this and a "supporting an entire Guatemalan village" that. Once you're on the bandwagon, it's clear the bandwagon can run out of control pretty quickly.

Which might explain why I am standing in the sludgy shallows of the River Severn, eating bits of vegetation I find swirling around my wellies. I am foraging for my supper, which is either incredibly sophisticated and will trump any other food show-off for some time to come, or is incredibly unsophisticated and won't. I suspect it's both.

Read more.

Via Treehugger.

Jess Brooks at Permalink social bookmarking

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