Archive for February 2011 | Monthly archive page

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Or the factory farmed egg? How about Salmonella? Well, who knows. But what I do know are the differences between factory farmed eggs and farm fresh, organic eggs. In case you were wondering what the difference was, here are eight bullet points that spell it out for you in raw terms.

Let’s get down to what really matters first. Taste. Okay, yeah, health is good, nutrition is good, but as any five year old will tell you, taste is what wins. So here’s the skinny on farm fresh eggs. They taste better. Period. When a chicken is fed proper seeds and grains, and has time outside of cage, it is happier and healthier, and therefore produces more fertile and flavorful eggs. The yolk is richer, the flavor is more robust and the vitamin/mineral value is higher. Farm fresh for the flavor win. So everything is better for you when it’s organic, right? The difference, however, between organically produced eggs, and farm fresh, is that the USDA has no living condition regulations when it comes to defining something as “organic.” In fact, the only stipulation, in the case of laying hens, is that they must be fed organic food. You can cram as many of those little buggers in one cage as you like, and their eggs are still “organic,” just as long as they’re fed organic food. However, an essential part of the well being of any animal (cow, chicken, human) is the ability to roam as they please. If a chicken is healthy, her eggs will be too. A is for awesome, and E is for egg. Farm fresh eggs have more of both (the vitamins, that is). One dozen eggs divided by 4 =Omega 3! More of it in those farm fresh gems. Less is more: When you choose farm fresh, you’re choosing an egg with 1/2 as much fat and cholesterol. When you buy organic, farm fresh eggs, from free range chickens, you’re supporting a healthier environment. You have the comfort of knowing that what you’re putting in your body is free of artificial hormones, or anything else that might harm you or your family. Supporting your local farmer supports your local economy and the organic foods movement.

And if you’re not sure where else besides the grocery store to find eggs, check Craigslist. There’s always a few farmers there with a few extra eggs. The last batch I bought was just $3.00/dozen. A little more than what you’ll pay at a supermarket, but the consider what you get for your money, and where your money is going, and the choice is easy.

Get Crackin! Facts provided by Dr James G Hood.


With all the world’s events unfolding, there’s a lot of hubbub in the air about change and democracy. Between Egypt, Bahrain, Iran and Wisconsin, Amy Goodman has plenty to talk about. And Michael Pollan is somewhere in his office wondering, “Why haven’t they called me? It’s been so long!”

Well, don’t worry, Michael. We still have issues with GMOs and Monsanto. So today’s blog is for you.

In the spirit of today’s revolutions, it’s time for we the people to stand up and say, “Step down, Monsanto!” You years of tyrannical rule over our food supply must end, and we demand our freedom. Careful, or we’ll tweet about you.”

So with the giant, over-powering food dictator that Monsanto is, do we the dietary-oppressed people have a way of changing anything? I think so, I really do.

There is a movement being put in to motion now. It’s called the Millions Against Monsanto Campaign. This month they’ve decided to do a little bit of ‘Guerrilla labeling.’ The idea is to place stickers containing the question, “Oh no, is it GMO?” on grocery items that are likely to contain GMO’s. It’s a very simple and harmless gesture, telling your grocer that you’d prefer to see something that won’t give you intestinal cancer on their shelves. (Or least to be told what’s in your food so you can made informed choices when you shop.) This is what happens when voting with your dollar just isn’t enough.

If you’re uncomfortable with idea of displaying your disapproval of these products, you can always go in to your pantry and find an item you suspect may be GMO infected, label it, take a picture and send it to the grocer you purchased it from. However, I think the defiant method is kind of fun.

If you’re unsure what foods might be tampered, you can always see the non-GMO shopping guide.

If you have any other ideas on how we can see to it that organic foods are being put on our shelves, please chime in. We could always use more optimistic strategies. After all, they are the Goliath of the food world, and we are but Davids, trying to obtain whole foods at reasonable costs. Monsanto is well-known for giving us Agent Orange and openly expressing their wish “to control the world food supply.” To them it’s about making billions out of millions (of dollars); to us it’s about the freedom to plant, grow and eat the wholesome foods of our choice.

By the way, if you are unable to print out your warrior stickers, we plan to have some available here for your stickering needs.


Composting Tips

The days are growing longer, the rain is falling — albeit intermittently — and the pollen on my porch is in an uproar. In the land of permanent sunshine and perpetual springtime, this could only mean one of two things: spring is either here or very close at hand!

And if you’re a perpetual gardening enthusiast like myself, then your thumbs must be perking up, as green as the oxalis rioting in your flower beds.

I don’t know about you, but when I get to feeling this way, the first thing I do is walk around the side of the house to inspect my compost pile. For me, there’s nothing like a happy heap of compost to put a smile on the face of an organic gardener.

So in order to ensure that happy heap, here’s a quick list of Dos and Don’ts to help you maintain a healthy, well-balanced mound of compost.

Compost Tips for the mindful gardener

1. DON’T let your compost get slimy. This is of paramount importance. If you’re regularly adding buckets of wet “green” kitchen scraps to your backyard heap, you will definitely need to add some dry “brown” waste to the mix.

2. DO add dried leaves, dried lawn trimming and wood chips to help break down the wet kitchen scraps and fresh green garden waste. Ultimately, you want a mix of about 50-50 wet waste (nitrogen) and dry waste (carbon).

3. DON’T just dump your kitchen waste on top of the pile and leave it there for all the world to see. Mix it in, and try to cover it with some older and/or dryer waste.

4. DO add wood and paper ash from your fireplace. Ashes are a great source of potash, or potassium carbonate, an essential component of a rich soil mix.

5. DON’T add ash from petroleum products like starter logs, or from cigarette butts.

6. DO add eggshells in moderation, but generally DON’T add animal products like meat or cheese. They will rot rather than compost. They will also attract unwanted, carnivorous pests and scavengers.

7. DON’T put poop in your compost, either from your pets or yourself. Fecal matter can harbor dangerous bacteria and parasites.

8. DO feel free pee on you pile. A healthy compost pile needs to be kept moist, and readily-available urine actually adds trace minerals that can benefit the mix.

9. DON’T add too many orange peals. Too much of anything can throw your compost out of balance, but the acidity of citrus peels (esp. if clumped together in the pile and not spread around) makes them slow to decompose and attractive to fruit flies.

10. DO add coffee grinds and tea bags. These contain great soil-enriching ingredients. A healthy compost will also break down the paper filters and bags without a problem. Same goes for bathroom tissues and occasional paper towels.

11. DON’T expect wine corks to break down very fast, but they can make a good addition. Natural wine corks are made from oak tree bark, definitely organic matter that will eventually, slowly decompose. In the meantime, their porousness can help with aeration and provide a niche for beneficial microorganisms.

12. DO cut your twigs and branches as small as possible before adding to the heap. Thick branches can take months or years to break down. (One or two long branches across the middle of the pile can actually be helpful for aeration purposes, but they won’t break down.)

13. DON’T worry too much about flies around the compost. That’s pretty normal, as long it doesn’t start looking like a 1950s science fiction movie. With any luck your compost will become home to herds of earthworms. We also get legions of pill bugs loitering in our compost; they thrive on the moisture. They also help break things down because they will eat anything that doesn’t move, and yet they’re relatively harmless as far as garden critters go.

14. DON’T expect your compost to do all the work. You’ll need to prod it with a shovel from time to time to make sure it’s not drying out or staying to wet. Periodic shoveling will keep it well blended and aerated. Eventually (after 3-6 months), you’ll want to flip the whole pile (so the fresh top layer ends up on the bottom and the more decomposed bottom layer ends up on top), and then start a new pile.

Go Green

I hope these tips on conscientious composting will help you deal with your waste management, and at the same time get your garden revitalized. Closing that loop between the production of household waste and the need for soil enrichment in the garden is a brilliant concept that can reduce your carbon footprint and increase your vegetative bliss.

Bamboo is another great way to make use of your garden space, as it is one of the best plants for converting CO2 into oxygen. It is a remarkably functional and versatile plant. In addition to making a very attractive shrub, bamboo can also be used as a fence or a privacy hedge, and its stalks can be harvested for any number of uses, including making fishing poles and various arts and crafts projects.

If you’re looking to beautify your garden with bamboo, you’ll also want to check out these two articles on selecting the best bamboo varieties and coping with bamboo containment.  

Photo Credit: A healthy heap of steaming compost (Unsplash)

It’s a many-splendored thing, it’s a rose, it’s a battlefield. Love is many things, and today, February 14th, is the day we celebrate it. So we’ve collected eight timeless quotations about love that express all its glory and mystery and hope they resonate as well with you as they did with us!

“So if we love someone, we should train in being able to listen. By listening with calm and understanding, we can ease the suffering of another person.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“Wisdom says we are nothing. Love says we are everything. Between these two our life flows.” – Jack Kornfield

“In love lies the seed of our growth. The more we love, the closer we are to the spiritual experience.” – Paulo Coehlo

“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” – Mother Theresa

“If the love within your mind is lost and you see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education or material comfort you have, only suffering and confusion will ensue.” – Dalai Lama

“When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, you think it’s only a minute. But when you sit on a hot stove for a minute, you think its two hours. That’s relativity.” – Albert Einstein

“Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.” – Buddha

“Where there is no exaggeration there is no love, and where there is no love there is no understanding.” – Oscar Wilde

Time again to wish your special sweetheart a Happy Valentine’s Day. Potentially a great day for the world to come together and lavish one another with hugs and kisses and glittering displays of affection. Yet, all too often, this hearty holiday becomes a high-pressure situation in which doe-eyed darlings feel obliged to shop recklessly for over-packaged sweets, under-valued trinkets, short-lived bouquets, and pretty much anything in the shape of a heart.

Okay, I’m not a hum bugger. I don’t have problems with people expressing their love through material means and boosting the economy for a day. I would however, like to see it done with a little bit more regard for the planet. Yes, you can speak from the heart without sacrificing your soul. And yes, your love for that special someone can be extended to show your compassion for all humankind.

It’s 2011 already, and we know we have options. We know there’s a difference between fair trade chocolate and the kind harvested by kids in west Africa. We know there’s difference between blood diamonds, and the socially responsible jewelry that isn’t funding military juntas in the third world. We know we have choices, and we know we can make a difference.

So here are eight ways you can spoil your cutie, and avoid spoiling the planet:

1) This one may be fairly obvious, but if you have to buy a card, buy one made on recycled paper. Or better yet, send an E-Card. No paper involved.

2) If you’re going to give the gift of chocolate, please make sure it’s fair trade and organically grown.

3) Jewelry? You want jewelry, but you don’t want to spend a fortune? We’ve got that. Jewelry made from recycled parts of nuclear weapons.

4) Instead of buying a gift for someone, wrapped in packaging, that they might ultimately just throw out, considering planting a tree in their name. It will last a lot longer than roses, and give off more oxygen, too!

5) If you go out to dinner, make it a place that specializes in locally grown and organic food.

6) Lighting candles? Go for the o. As an alternative to traditional petroleum-derived paraffin wax, organic soy-based candles are now widely available at places like Bambu Batu.

7) Buy locally, organically grown flowers. Ask your local florist – the more requests they get, the sooner they will make the switch. And if you’re sending flowers faraway, don’t rely on some national delivery service. Use your resources to find a florist in that area by yourself. Chances are you’ll get better service and better prices when you order direct.

8) Instead of buying conventional, commercial perfume — often a cocktail of toluene, aldehydes and benzene derivatives — why not do a little more leg work to track down some scents worth savoring. There are some incredible, all-natural essential oils out there these days. Kinder to the nose and gentler to the skin.

Well, there you are. Green and red can go together after all. See you soon for your last minute expressions of all-encompassing love!

Welcome, one and all! Sit back, relax, grab a beer from the fridge.

Ahhhhh, now that’s more like it. I may be biased, being of the hare persuasion, but I’m more than a hair excited about finally settling back into my zodiac year. All of you other animals on the farm should be too.

I think we all experienced the wrath of the tiger last year. This year however, it’s time to party with the bunnies. You can expect to get a taste of the high life that we prefer to hop around in. Good fortune should be at an all time high, and hostility at an all time low. We bunnies are too busy enjoying good foods, wines, and company to meddle with death and destruction. After all, it’s what we fear most. Self preservation is amongst our specialties (along with persuasion, diplomacy, charm, and wit, of course···and perhaps arrogance.)

Don’t worry about the repercussions. Next year, you can have your rigid, rule loving way, you roosters. The fuzz will be out of our fur. And should they pester us this year, we’ll have plenty of easily acquired dough to pay our fines. It’s part-ty-time!

Don’t burn down the house, though, you dragons. We could easily get lazy and unproductive this year. That would just be too much of a shame. And besides, next year is your turn. Calm your jets.

According to Chinese mythology, there is a jade rabbit that lives in a beautiful jade castle on the moon, so as to keep her company. That’s because we make such excellent company. After all, we love to give advice and help out our friends, provided it suits us.

The year of the rabbit begins tonight, my friends. Come dance with us. Keep it going on into Friday, and enjoy some amazing wine and fun tunes at Bambu Batu for our monthly Art After Dark craft bazaar. Here’s to hare, and keep on’ hoppin’ on.

Song of the day