Archive: Eco-Bites

Earth Day Food for Thought: Shrinking Your ‘Cookprint’

Cookbook author Kate Heyhoe would like you to put down that organic avocado and chew on this morsel for a moment: When it comes to being green, what you eat is not enough; how you cook it and what you cook with are equally essential to the green equation. On the first page of her new book, “Cooking Green,” Heyhoe tells us right up that “appliances account for 30 percent of our household energy use, and the biggest guzzlers are in the kitchen.” (She refers to the oven as the “Humvee of the kitchen.”) Author Kate Heyhoe. (Photo courtesy of the author) As we talk about reducing our carbon footprint on this Earth Day -- and going forward -- Heyhoe, who’s based in Austin, Tex., would like us to consider shrinking our “cookprint” as well – the energy it takes to prepare food every day. In the interview notes below,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 22, 2009; 07:28 AM ET | Comments (13)

Eco Bites: Greening Casa Appetite

As Earth Day -- April 22 -- approaches, I am taking stock of just how green things are at the Casa and where (and how) we can make things a little bit greener. Would I like to have more energy-efficient kitchen appliances and solar-powered water? You bet. A yard for growing vegetables and a dedicated compost heap to nourish the soil and reduce overall waste? Oh yeah. But for now, those goals remain on the wish list and instead we focus on what we can do rather than on what we cannot. Some change is better than no change at all, no? As much as I love the laundry lists a la "100 Ways to Green Your Life" or the "How Green Are You" quizzes, I find them overwhelming and daunting, at best, and maybe even a little guilt-inducing. If most of us agree that we all need to do...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 9, 2009; 07:30 AM ET | Comments (15)

White House Says Yes to Edible Garden

(Video from Daniel Boiron's Eat the View campaign.) On this first day of spring, I can’t think of a more appropriate tribute than the groundbreaking on the South Lawn of the White House -- for an edible garden. As described in further detail by Food section reporter Jane Black, Michelle Obama has given thumbs up to edible pastures at 1600 Pennsylvania, an 1,100-square-foot garden that will encompass 55 varieties of vegetables, berries and two bee hives for honey. Word of the news started to emerge on Wednesday, when it was first reported on Obama Foodorama after blogger Eddie Gehman Kohan got her hands on a freshly published copy of O Magazine, which features an interview with the First Lady, who mentions that “We’re also working on a wonderful new garden project.” The developments were then confirmed by The Note (ABC News), the beginning of a cascade of media coverage that...

 

By Kim ODonnel | March 20, 2009; 10:15 AM ET | Comments (12)

Wine Cork Recycling and a Bigger Conversation

So I’m wandering through the wine section of a Whole Foods Market in Seattle, and I bump into a collection box for wine corks. “Help Put a Cork in Global Warming,” is the headline on the take-home literature perched on top of the box. The note is from Jim Bernau, founder of Oregon-based Willamette Valley Vineyards, which is leading the charge on “Cork ReHarvest,” a cork recycling and awareness campaign. (Kim O'Donnel) In addition to Whole Foods, where the collection boxes are stationed, Willamette has partnered up with the Rainforest Alliance (which offers a Forest Steward Council certification system for cork stoppers). Willamette Valley is the first winery to receive such certification, in 2005. This project comes on the heels of another pilot program, ReCork America, which launched in northern California last fall. Sponsored by Portuguese cork manufacturer Amororim, ReCORK America has also partnered with Whole Foods, on a regional...

 

By Kim ODonnel | March 4, 2009; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (4)

Green Sushi Advice

Sushi lovers, it’s time to say sayonara to toro (aka bluefin tuna). Hamachi (yellowtail), too. And for the time being, you can forget about ordering those freshwater eel and avocado rolls -- unagi is also a big environmental no-no. Cover of Monterey Bay Aquarium's new sushi pocket guide. (Courtesy Monterey Bay Aquarium). That’s the latest advice from three ocean conservation groups that are poised to launch wallet-sized sushi guides next week. As of Oct. 22, the consumer guides will be available online via Blue Ocean Institute, Environmental Defense Fund and Monterey Bay Aquarium. Each group has its own card with a unique design and layout (Blue Ocean’s list offers detailed descriptions about each species, for example), but the message is the same no matter which card you print out: avoid red-listed sushi and seek out more abundant and better managed species. All three groups also single out species that are...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 17, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (7)

A Meatless Day Keeps Global Warming at Bay?

Want to save the planet? Take a day off from meat, suggests a world-renowned climate change expert. (Kim O'Donnel) In an interview last week with Britain’s The Observer, Rajendra Pachauri recommends one meatless day per week to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “In terms of immediacy of action and the feasibility of bringing about reductions in a short period of time, it clearly is the most attractive opportunity,” says Pachauri in the Sept. 7 article. Chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, Pachauri argues that the world’s livestock is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, a statistic echoed in a 2006 report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. In case you hadn’t noticed, we like our meat here in USA. In its 2001-2002 Agriculture Factbook (the most recent one published), the United States Department of...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 18, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (27)

White House Garden: Yay or Nay?

John Adams did it. So did Eleanor Roosevelt. I'm talking about gardening on the White House lawn. It's been a while -- since World World II -- since the idea has borne edible fruit; however, Chez Panisse and Edible Schoolyard founder Alice Waters has been pushing the idea of a White House vegetable garden since 2000, when Bill Clinton was in office. The Whofarm guys: Daniel Bowman Simon and Casey Gustowarow. (Courtesy flickr/photo_nola) Flash forward eight years, and Waters now has company, with Eat the View and The White House Organic Farm Project (aka The Who Farm), two separate efforts with a similar mission -- urging the next president to start growing his own food. Eat the View is the brainchild of Roger Doiron, the force behind Kitchen Gardeners International, an online community for gardeners around the world. Doiron, who lives (and has a 1/3 acre-garden) in Scarborough, Maine, began...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 4, 2008; 10:42 AM ET | Comments (11)

A Day at Polyface Farm

6:45 a.m. Saturday: The clouds have yet to lift off the mountains, but as I peer out the window of the dining room at the Hampton Inn in Staunton, Va. (pronounced without the "u"), the skies of the Shenandoah Valley, are promising plenty of sun. I'm not the only one awake at this fine hour on a Saturday morning; the hotel's breakfast area is packed with people who, like me, are headed just eight miles down a bunch of narrow country roads to the little town of Swoope (pronounced Swope) about 150 miles from Washington, D.C. A view of the Polyface fields, dotted with portable chicken and turkey shelters. (Kim O'Donnel) By seven, my farmer-friend and I pile into her car and join the caravan of cars snaking their way through the valley until we arrived on a dirt road called Pure Meadows Lane, home to Polyface Farm, where we...

 

By Kim ODonnel | July 14, 2008; 12:14 PM ET | Comments (7)

'Emeril Green' Comes Out of the Oven

A few months ago in this space, we told you about a casting call for Emeril Green, celeb chef Emeril Lagasse's new show on Planet Green, the 24/7 eco-channel at Discovery. Now the show is ready for prime time, and it's coming out of the oven Monday, July 14, at 8 p.m. Emeril has cooked up a batch of 80 shows, each of which profiles a "cooking-challenged" home cook from the Washington area, including a handful of Mighty Appetite blog readers. Deepening the Washington connection is the Whole Foods in Fair Lakes, Va., where the entire first season has been taped, according to producer Marie Ostrosky. Typically, the show will air Monday through Friday at 8 p.m., but the debut will be a "mini-marathon running six shows back-to-back, " says Ostrosky. "Then it's two shows a night for the first two weeks." Two MA readers are part of Monday's lineup,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | July 11, 2008; 08:55 AM ET | Comments (11)

Eco-Bite: Mapping Your Produce; SalmonAid

Until recently, both Bon Appetit and its Conde Nast sibling, Gourmet, shared online space via epicurious.com, perhaps the most well-known recipe portal on the Web. Epicurious.com's peak-season map on my Apple laptop. (Kim O'Donnel) Now they are distinctive Web entities (well, sort of) with their own domains, (bonappetit.com and gourmet.com), look and feel, offering up both re-purposed magazine content and online-exclusive multimedia wizardry. This does not mean epicurious.com has disappeared into the Internet sunset; in fact, it seems to be developing a personality of its own. You can find both BA and Gourmet from epicurious, and what I discovered along the way is one of the coolest Web food features I've seen in a long time. Someone rather brilliant at epicurious.com has produced a Peak-Season Map, an amazing interactive tool that provides month-by-month produce updates for all 50 states. Here's how it works: You click on a month, then you...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 29, 2008; 07:45 AM ET | Comments (6)

Eco-Vino

I'll be honest: Despite the greening of my pantry, I've been slow to embrace organic wine. After a less than tasty experience a few years ago with a bottle of organic red from a California winery that shall remain nameless, I've been swearing off the stuff because it either hasn't been up to snuff or is just too darned expensive. Mendocino Wine Company's Paul Dolan. A recent run-in with a 2007 bottle of "Sustainable White" by Parducci Winery has me revisiting the eco-vino issue and I'll tell you why: The wine is delicious and under 10 bucks a bottle. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Canelli, Tokai and Viognier, "Sustainable White" and its sibling, "2005 Sustainable Red" are part of a year-long partnership with Whole Foods, where it's sold exclusively between $8 and $9.99 through December. To be clear, the "Sustainable" sibs are not certified organic (95 percent organic grapes...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 13, 2008; 09:24 AM ET | Comments (12)

Eco-Bite: Nibbles From the Green Eating Blogosphere

This week's Green Plate Special is a selection of eco-minded food blogs, which are cropping up like wild mint. Here's what's catching my eye (and whetting my appetite): "Eat your greens" is the mantra of Envirovore, a new addition to the rapidly expanding EcoGeek family. Written by a trio of women in Montana, the blog is a collection of newsy items from around the country, with a politics-policy bent. To wit: yesteday's post is all about the dairy industry's pursuit of a more sustainable image. Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group is the force behind Mulch, a daily report of what's going on in the world of agriculture and food policy and what the media -- and media makers -- are saying, spinning, spewing. A must-read for Farm Bill drama followers. Underwater sustainability is the primary focus of Sea Notes, blog home for Monterey Bay Aquarium, but author...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 7, 2008; 09:55 AM ET | Comments (4)

A Month's Worth of Eco-Bites

As promised, I've compiled the daily eco-bites that appeared throughout April for handy viewing and reference. Going forward, my goal is to offer a weekly eco-bite that will be posted seperately so it's available on the "Eco-Bites" archive page. Please offer your own or send me green nibbles via e-mail at kim.odonnel@washingtonpost.com Greenery at Pura Vida Spa in Costa Rica. (Kim O'Donnel) * Wanna know what's fresh and in season in your neck of the woods? Check out the Eat Local tool developed by the National Resources Defense Council, with biweekly updates for all 50 states (sorry, D.C. is excluded). * What's it like to eat a diet of foods grown and raised within 150 miles of your home? Follow the experiences of 15 people from around the country who are eating a diet that is 80 percent local for an entire year on Locavore Nation, a blogging project of...

 

By Kim ODonnel | May 5, 2008; 03:19 PM ET | Comments (4)

How Green Are You?

Happy Earth Day, folks. No matter what you think about the 38th annual eco-fest, here are some indisputable statistics about the state of our planet: The Earth is getting hotter and hotter The oceans are getting emptier and emptier. The rainforests are getting smaller and smaller. Americans are getting fatter and fatter. (Kim O'Donnel) I'm not suggesting that all of these phenomena are related, but it's dawning on me more and more just how incredibly fragile our ecosystem is, how quickly these changes happened and how much they impact our lives. Whether or not we like it, believe it or can afford it, our daily choices have a measurable environmental impact, which cuts across all geographic, political, religious, racial and socioeconomic lines. It's tied to how we clean our house, our clothes and our bodies, the cars we drive and how we get to work and school, how we travel,...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 22, 2008; 09:55 AM ET | Comments (15)

Navigating the Meat Label Maze

Label Confusion: Kim, I love the little links you have been providing lately to shopping guides -- sustainable fish and dirty fruits/vegetables etc. I am trying to find a definitive guide to meat labeling and guidance on when to go organic or when natural will do. I've noticed that finding red meat labeled as organic is increasingly hard even though the chicken is everywhere. I am also concerned about making sure the animals have been treated as well as possible during their upbringing and during slaughter. Any ideas? I agree, it's tricky business trying to navigate your way through the sea of labels. Here's the situation in a nutshell: When you see a certified organic label on meat or poultry, that means that the farm is following the standards of the USDA's National Organic Program, which include the following rules: The livestock is raised without antibiotics or synthetic hormones (although...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 9, 2008; 07:53 AM ET | Comments (20)

Milk: A Play in Several Acts

Enter stage left: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration declares in late 1993 that synthetic growth hormones are safe to use on cows for increased milk production. They go by a few names: rBST (recombinant bovine somatotropin), rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone) and Posilac, the preferred name over at Agro bio-tech giant Monsanto. Moo. (Kim O'Donnel) After the FDA approval, Monsanto introduces Posilac to the food supply in 1994. In the late 1990s, rBGH is banned in Canada and the European Union. Fall 2002: Enter the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which gives the all-clear for national organic standards and a USDA-approved logo on certified organic products. Meanwhile, retail sales of organic milk grow steadily, with sales of organic milk and cream edging over $1 billion in 2005, up 25 percent from 2004 [PDF]. Between 1998 and 2005, the average annual growth rate of retail sales of all organic food...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 3, 2008; 10:24 AM ET | Comments (24)

 

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