November 14, 2006
Thanksgiving is approaching. Have you ordered your organic, free-range turkey yet? Our local farm stand is taking orders; so is Whole Foods. The question is this: What should you look for in your organic bird?
As you probably know, organic means different things to different people. There are a lot of buzz words flying around out there - cage-free, organic, antibiotic free, free-range, to name a few - that may or may not get you what you need. As Michael Pollan points out in The Omnivore's Dilemma, "free-range" may conjure the image of birds romping freely across green pastures, but the reality is it may still mean birds are packed tightly into confined spaces with only a small entry to the outdoors. Don't believe the hype.
Wholesome Harvest has a great breakdown of the different terminology, and what it signifies. The site makes a good case for why organic may be the minimum standard you should look for, and why "beyond organic" can be a better way to go.
Not sure what you're getting from your local grocery store when you buy an organic bird? Ask questions.
Want to buy your bird online? Here are some sites that can help you do it:
Local Harvest can help you find a local farm near you
Sustainable Table talks about heritage breeds of turkeys, and Slow Food USA has a list of farms that raise them
Wholesome Harvest is a coalition of over 40 concerned small family farms committed to "beyond organic" agriculture
D'Artagnan is selling organic birds on Amazon
November 13, 2006
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!
Knitting 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.
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.
How 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.
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.
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.
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!)
November 9, 2006
We've blogged before about Bamboo Veneerware disposable dinner plates from Greenfeet, available at Amazon. The Green House exhibit featured these and more, including Bamboo utensils from bambuhome.
The plates and utensils are made from organically harvested bamboo, and according to the bambuhome site,
- Are stronger than wood, and will not scratch even your finest cookware
- Heat and stain resistant
- Safe to use on non-stick surfaces, does not impart or absorb flavors
- Lightweight, strong and long lasting
- Hand finished with top grade natural, food-safe wood oil
Thanksgiving dinner plates, anyone?
Available at bambuhome.
November 8, 2006
At least as interesting as the materials used to make the Glidehouse for The Green House exhibit were the furnishings found inside it. One of my favorites was the SCRAPILE dining table.
Brooklyn designers Carlos Salgado and Bart Bettencourt have developed a unique method of collecting and repurposing discarded scraps of wood from New York's woodworking industry, and created a furniture line as funky looking as it is ecologically sound.
Available at Vivavi.
November 5, 2006
Think Undesigned's bamboo denim is sweet? Try jeans made from sugar cane. Tokyo-based Toyo Enterprise Company makes Sugar Cane jeans out of Japanese selvage denim spun out of cotton thread and sugar cane fibers. According to The New York Times' Elizabeth Hayt, who had a blurb on Sugar Cane jeans in this Sunday's Style section, the jeans are woven on slow shuttle selvage looms bought from American denim factories in the 1960's. The jeans come in three styles - Okinawa, Hawaii, and Edo Ai. After 40 years in Japan, they're now being imported to the U.S. And evidently, they smell as good as they look.
Available at History Preservation, and in select styles and sizes at Amazon.
October 26, 2006
Cameron Diaz is touting the new Ecoist handbag collection made of recycled movie billboards. According to Ecorazzi:
“Last week, Cameron Diaz showed up to boyfriend Justin Timberlake’s William Rast fashion show sporting an Ecoist handbag. The bag was specially made for Diaz and consists of recycled movie billboards, plastic clasps and zipper.”
How cool, right? Ecoist prides itself on having a full line of handmade handbags that use 100% recycled materials. Taken from their site,
“Ecoist recycles candy wrappers, food packages, billboards, and other materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. We are finding uses for waste-bound materials and will continue to do so until those non-biodegradable materials are no longer manufactured. Apart from recycling, Ecoist utilizes organic and earth-friendly fabrics in the manufacturing of it products.”
Ecorazzi got the scoop, though it looks like they may have gotten the wrong picture. The bag pictured inset next to their pic of Cameron is a candy wrapper bag. The movie billboard bags look like the bag pictured below right. Taking a cue from Timberlake's hit song "Sexy Back," that's what we call a "Sexy Bag."
Available at Ecoist.
October 24, 2006
Sounds like a children's story or the name of some weird hippy rock band, right? Well, actually, it's the name of a "sensuously aromatic organic" body oil for mom and shea butter creme for baby packaged by Joli Bebe Boutique. According to the folks there, the Mama Belly Oil is
an essential oil blend for pregnancy of Lavender, Roman Chamomile and Red Mandarin. It protects blossoming skin against stretchmarks, and has a relaxing, yet uplifting effect aromatherapeutically. It is multi-purpose and may be used also as a massage oil for mother or baby or as a bath oil.
The Cheeky Baby Creme is
shea butter baby creme, is pure, gentle and effective for use on baby's chapped cheeks or bottom, for baby massage, and on baby's dry skin. It will not aggravate eczema and is rich in nutrients. Additionally, it is wonderfully moisturizing on Mom's dry hands as well. Both of these products contain 99% certified organic ingredients and are completely natural with USDA certification pending.
Both are among the goodies Joli Bebe Boutique may be including in the complimentary baby goody gift baskets it sends to celebrity moms like Gwen Stefani, Katie Holmes and Angelina Jolie, according to Ecorazzi.
In our review of Uncle Sam's Cereal, we mentioned that you get more nutrional value out of ground flax seeds than whole ones. So, asks the astute reader, how do I get my flax seeds ground? Well, there are a couple of options.
First, you can buy your flax seeds pre-ground. Products like Barlean's Forti-Flax contain flax seed meal which are convenient and can be used straight from the jar. The challenge here is that flax seeds lose their nutritional value when exposed to air and light, so you'll need to keep them refrigerated.
You can also grind them yourself with a flax seed mill - whole flax seeds are far less expensive than ground seeds, and that way, you're only grinding the seeds you're planning to use right there and then.
A number of health food stores sell flax seed mills. We like the look of the William Bound Electric Flax Seed Mill, pictured at right, which has three speed settings for coarse, medium and fine grind, and comes with a cleaning brush.
We grind our flax seeds in a regular coffee grinder. Not as fancy as a flax seed mill, but it definitely does the trick.
Seem like too much work to buy a grinder and flax seeds? Wheatgrass Kits sells a Flax Seed Grinding Kit that includes everything you need to get more flax in your diet - the grinder, 5 pounds of flax seeds, and Johanna Budwig's book Flax Seeds as a True Aid Against Arthritis, Heart Infarction, Cancer and Other Diseases.
Buy flax seed-related products
October 20, 2006
Heading to the O.C. next weekend? Be sure to check out the Laguna Art Museum's OsCene 2006. The event, which has its opening party next Thursday night (10/28), will spotlight original artwork from 45 Orange County-based artists, including painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, multi-media installations, video/film, fashion, and "kustom kulture." Among the art being unveiled: designer Dana Harvey's "Tree-Cycle", an installation that illustrates the design process he embarked on to create "tree-cycle" bags, a collection of handbags made out of recycled seatbelts from cars sent to the scrap heap.
Scott from Harvey's Boutique sent over some early pictures of the tree-cycle bags, and they look amazing. Hats off to Harvey for finding a way to make such a snappy looking handbag out of recycled materials, and then taking the time to show other people how to do it.
Exhibit runs October 29th through January 21 at Laguna Art Museum. Really Natural readers are invited to the opening party on Thursday, October 28th from 7-10 p.m.
Tree-Cycle Seatbelt Bags available at the museum and at Harveys once the show opens.
October 19, 2006
Thanks to Laura at Super Cool Baby for letting us know about these cute little numbers. Made from 100% organic cotton, these organic onesies are hand-screened and available in newborn to 4 year old sizes as well as in a long sleeved and short sleeved version.
Check 'em out at Super Cool Baby.