Archive for October 2010 | Monthly archive page

It’s home coming week here in sunny San Luis. I know this, because I just watched a parade of healthy, energetic and rosy cheeked kids waltz by the store, beating bass drums, waving pom poms and yelling indiscernible half sentences.

Here in America, we are afforded the full term of our childhood, and for most of us, this extends on into college years, before we’re thrown in to the fire of making a living for ourselves.

However, in other countries, big companies (often based here in the states) will use the resources of children the same age as those aforementioned painted-face youths. They will pay them little to nothing, drive them to the fourteenth hour, and expose them to harmful, dangerous working conditions. Small hands make quality goods, I guess.

It’s not as though any of these companies are going to go around advertising that they save you money by saving themselves money. Additionally, a lot of these businesses commit other atrocities, destroy the environment, and are about as humanitarian as the Third Reich. So how do you know? How can you tell who’s a member of the republic and who is a member of the dark force? How can you vote with your dollar confidently, knowing you have the full scoop? My, it would be great if someone put together a handbook of major companies, rating them based on their practices.

What? Someone did? Neat. The Better World Shopper is a comprehensive and up-to-date account of the social and environmental responsibility of companies all over the world. It is an extension of The Better World Handbook, which was written in an effort to fight global apathy and cynicism about the tragedies of the world. Its authors, Ellis Jones, Ross Haenfler, and Brett Johnson (all of whom have their Ph.D ) are on a mission to be the change they wish to see in the world, through education and inspiration.

An invaluable and easy-to-use reference guide, “The Better World Shopper” provides a comprehensive listing of major manufacturers and corporations, broken down by category (food, apparel, etc.) and graded on an academic A-F scale. The grades are based a strict set of criteria including things like labor practices, environmental responsibility, animal testing, quality of materials or ingredients, and so on… everything the responsible consumer should want to know about how his/her money is being spent.

And the results are fascinating. Many of the grades simply confirm what you always knew or suspected. Lowest grade in the book goes to Exxon-Mobile; lowest score in the food industry goes to Nestle. No surprises there. But some results are bit more disconcerting. Guess which company has some of the very worst child-labor practices… Gerber? Yikes! While others are very re-assuring: A+ for Seventh Generation, with top marks across the board. What a relief to know that they aren’t just tricking us with warm & fuzzy feel-good packaging. No, they’re the real thing!

It’s easy to let life get you down. It’s easy to look around at everyone else putting down their neighbors, out to get theirs, and be washed away in the “If you can’t beat em, might as well get mine” spirit of today’s America. This handbook suggests that we can do better through ten actions and seven foundations of basic human compassion. The Better World Shopper helps to make that easier. Now excuse me, the band outside is playing Iron Man.

If someone approached you one day and asked, “Would you wear a nuclear weapon around your neck?” your answer would likely be no. If they told you, however, that it was a symbol of peace, constructed OUT OF a dismantled (and no longer radio active… we know that because Jason has a Geiger Counter) weapon of mass destruction, would your answer change?

Start thinking about it, because it’s happening. Peace Bronze is the first company ever to reconstruct disassembled nuclear weapon systems into not just jewelry, but jewelry proudly bearing the many different representations of peace. The material actually comes from the underground cabling that would have sent the launch signal to the missiles.

What’s more, this project, while funded by a non Slocal, is being manned by our home town folks. The necklaces will be out in stores, Bambu Batu included, very soon. So if you see it around, give it a glance. You could very well be the first one on your block to own one. If you prefer to go straight to the source, they have a website where you can have a one-of-a-kind necklace or set of earrings put together.

A bit about the peace symbol: This symbol of human compassion and pacifism was conceived in 1958. It is a blended semaphore (or flag signal) of the letters ‘n’ and ‘d’, literally standing for nuclear disarmament. Peace Bronze takes that significance to an entirely new level. Not to mention, it’s cute jewelry.

Song of the day: Give Peace A Chance – The Plastic Ono Band

Does triple-digit gas mileage sound like a dream to you? Does the ubiquity of gas-guzzling Hummers and SUVs look like anything less than a nightmare? Well, wake up and smell the carbon monoxide.

I’m just kidding, of course. Carbon monoxide is strictly odorless. But our failure to develop more fuel-efficient vehicles over the last three decades — while flooding the market with less efficient cars (and flooding our seas with oil spills) — truly stinks.

In 1984 Craig Henderson and Bill Green built a car that got over 100 miles per gallon. And this year Henderson drove his new car from Canada to Mexico on a single tank of gas. He averaged almost 120 mpg.

Read the whole story here!

Federal law now requires automakers to average 35 mpg by 2016. Should we be impressed? By now we should be thinking about new cars that will break the 200 mpg barrier. There’s a idea worth dreaming about.

In the meantime, you can petition the EPA to make 60 mpg vehicles the new standard 2025!

Enjoy our song of the day from this once popular quartet from Liverpool.

So, it’s that time of year once again. For some, the rain, the holidays, and the cold, are all part of the festive nature of fall and winter. However, for others, this time of year can mean stress and winter doldrums. Being that everyone wants to eat more this time of year, I thought it might be appropriate to find out which foods can reduce stress levels, and lift spirits, keeping you chill through the chill. Here are nine cortisol controlling yum yums.

Agent Oranges: a great cortisol fighter and an immune system booster. The high vitamin C content in an orange can bring blood pressure and cortisol levels back to normal in a stressful situation, as well as fight off bugs that wear down your defenses. How sweet it is: Often we crave sweets when under duress, but sugary snacks and simple carbs can only serve to make our stress levels worse (much like drinking water after eating spicy food) Sweet Potatoes, however, can curb that sugar craving and give you long lasting, fiber full energy. Additionally, they are high in beta-carotene, amongst other vitamins, to help keep your brain sharp and functioning under pressure. Apricots to the rescue: Apricots are rich in magnesium, which is a natural stress buster and muscle relaxant. Now that’s just nutty: Almonds are rich in E and B vitamins, boosting your immune system. Walnuts and Pistachios, like oranges, can lower your blood pressure, leaving you calm, cool and collected. Gobble: Up the turkey, because the main amino acid in that Thanksgiving bird, l-Tryptophan, has been proven to produce Serotonin in the brain, leaving you relaxed, and even sleepy. (If only people had just eaten turkey instead of taking ludes.) “I’m strong to the finish!”: Spinach, like apricots, contains a significant source of Magnesium (up to 40 percent of your daily dose in one cup!) Bluto, take note. There’s a cure for those explosive outbursts. Something’s fishy: Salmon, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, is not only good for the brain and the heart. This sea faring creature will keep adrenaline and stress levels from peaking when, say, you can’t seem to find that parking spot, or the girl at the counter has just gotten your order wrong for the third time (seriously, what does she get paid for?) It’s a fruit! It’s a fat! It’s a… stress reliever? Avocados are high in potassium, the consumption of which, according to the National Heart, lung, and Blood Institute (how official) can significantly lower your blood pressure. Delicious and nutritious. Good for, well, everything: Is there anything green veggies CAN’T do for you? Well, maybe they can’t give you the power to levitate, or make you an omnipotent being, but they can, in addition to bettering your digestive health, improving the efficiency of your brain, giving you longer lasting energy, healthier skin, hair and nails, and curing anemia, replace vitamins lost during times of stress, and boost your immune system. Seriously folks, eat your kale and your broccoli.

In addition to eating these nine super foods on a regular basis, it is important to get enough sleep, water, regular exercise and laughter in order to keep your cool and get through your day. Avoid caffeine and sugar, as these can throw your blood sugar off balance, leaving your reasoning skills compromised. Find some alone time and read a book or write a book! Chill out and enjoy the season! Since it’s getting colder, come in and get some winter wear from Dreamsacks to curl up in. Fun facts provided by

Song of the day “By Myself” by the Susie Arioli Swing Band.

Bonus Video: Don’t Tase Me Bro.