I think it is amazing that in the year 2012, there would be a contentious debate going on in this country regarding the rights of consumers to know whether or not their food contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  This controversy will appear on the ballot in the upcoming California general election.  If passed, it will require “labeling of foods sold to consumers made from plant or animals with genetic material changed in specific ways”.  It also would prohibit “marketing such foods, or other processed food, as ‘natural’.

Proponents of Prop 37 voice concerns that GMOs have been linked to allergies and other health problems, while opponents of the measure state that there is no scientific evidence that processed food with traces of GMOs pose a danger to humans.  The major issue posed by the opponents lies in the costs of regulation and verification, which would be the responsibility of the retailers and an undue burden to smaller stores and businesses.

The amazing part of this debate is that there is such a discussion going on questioning consumers’ rights to know what is in their food.  Also, I find it interesting that this is a big issue in America while 50 other countries in the world (which represents 40% of the world’s population) presently require GMO labeling.  These countries include all of Europe, Japan, India and China.  Also polls here show that 90% of Americans want to know if their food is genetically engineered.

In our present tumultuous political climate, we hear politicians at all levels making promises about what they will do for us and our country if elected.  Maybe we all should take a step back and question how these people want to help us in all these other areas but are willing to bend to big business and violate such a basic right as access to information regarding the contents of the food we eat.  We have the right to make informed decisions about our nutrition and it is up to us ensure this is the case and that our rights are not violated.  This is 2012, not the dark ages.  Access to facts on our food content is crucial to being able to live green, be green.


Halloween is a fun holiday for children and adults, and with just a little over a week left before the big day, many people have shifted into high gear to make the celebration festive.  It is important to be green conscious with Halloween plans so that we protect the environment and stay safe.  Here are a few tips to have a healthy and happy Halloween:

  • Make sure any store-bought costumes and makeup are safe.  Many of the costumes, masks and ornaments on the market, particularly those manufactured in China, contain some levels of lead.  Several new reports out this week noted the seizure by U.S. Customs and Border Protection of shipments of pirate costumes with lead in ornamentation, masks and props, such as swords.  The best way to avoid lead contamination in products is to buy costumes made in America or to make costumes at home.  I think it is important to note that store-bought costumes are permitted to have some levels of lead, but I feel that avoidance of this toxic substance altogether is the safest route to take.  The same is true for face paint.  These products often contain lead and other heavy metals and can be toxic, causing allergic reactions.  Make sure your face paint is organic.  The healthiest alternative is to avoid face paint altogether if you are unsure of the ingredients, or go to the website, Big Green Purse Blog at http://blog.biggreenpurse.com/biggreenpurse/2009/10/make-your-own-green-halloween-face-paint-.html to get reliable information on safe face painting.
  • Be careful about lighting.  While tea light candles in decorator bags lining a pathway are scenic, they pose a danger to trick-or-treaters.  Instead, try LED lights, which are safe for the kids and the environment.
  • Swap or donate costumes.  Once Halloween is over, consider swapping out used costumes with friends, or neighbors.  An alternative is to donate used costumes and props to local theater groups.
  • Try natural decorations.  While the plastic pumpkins and ghosts may seem like a bargain, they are not good for the environment.  This year try natural decorations with real pumpkins, bales of straw and corn husks.  As a bonus, these decorations can double for Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Some clever fall decorating ideas can be found on Pinterest.  Remember to save the pumpkin seeds to eat later after carving pumpkins.  Roasted pumpkins make a delicious and healthy snack.

These are just a few tips for an environmentally healthy and happy Halloween.  Let’s put green into our orange and black celebration so that everyday we live green, be green.

Fall has arrived officially.  Life is busier than ever with the children back in school and with several major holidays swiftly approaching.  For many people, this season signals fewer visits to the gym and difficulty maintaining workout schedules.  The good news is that a lot of fall activities carry great health benefits, especially in the area of calorie burning, while also being relaxing and fun.

  • Walking.  Temperatures are cooler and outside colors are vibrant.  For every hour of hiking, expect to burn about 400 calories.  Also, this is a great time to walk through a corn maze.  The kids will have fun and walking here for an hour will burn approximately 300 calories.
  • Raking leaves.  This is one of the mandatory rites of autumn with a great health benefit.  While raking tones arm muscles, it also burns more than 100 calories every half hour.
  • Chopping wood.  Take that simulated wood chopping move practiced in the gym to tone abs to the next level.  In addition to saving money on firewood for the winter, splitting wood for 25 minutes burns 150 calories.
  • Pumpkin picking.  Walking with a 10-lb pumpkin is as good as a kettlebell workout with the added bonuses of fresh air, beautiful scenery and a 270-calorie burn.
  • Organizing a fall wardrobe.  An hour spent swapping out summer clothing and shoes for winter attire burns 240 calories.
  • Apple picking.  This is a fun activity for the entire family that helps the local economy and provides fresh fruit while burning 200 calories for every hour of picking.
  • Trick-or-Treating.  A walk with the children around the neighborhood is healthy family time, and an hour-and-a-half walk burns roughly 330 calories.  Try not to sabotage the benefits of this activity by eating too much candy.

Autumn brings a time for new and exciting fitness opportunities along with a bounty of fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables that can be picked by the consumer.  All of this, combined with family time enjoying the cool fresh air and beautiful landscapes, offers a great opportunity to live green, be green.

Autumn Bounty


As we enter the second week of Vegetarian Awareness Month, hopefully green initiates are using this period of awareness to take a look at their nutrition and using the abundance of information found on green websites to tweak their diets.  Having done this myself, I conclude that veganism and vegetarianism produce better consumers.

One of the first thing I learned from studying the veganism and vegetarianism is that decisions regarding the purchase of food should be addressed prior to going to the grocery store, rather than while walking up and down the food aisles.  With research at home, the consumer is better prepared to decipher and understand food labels and, most importantly, to recognize a real deal.  Prepackaged foods full of chemicals and preservatives then will be recognized as not deals at any price.  Also, the consumer learns that often it is a better deal to visit local farm stands to take advantage of fresh vegetables and fruits grown locally as opposed to those on the store shelves that were shipped from distant warehouses and are not fresh.

Veganism and vegetarianism also focus on education.  Most of the people and organizations committed to this movement are more than happy to share interesting and helpful tips and suggestions with interested consumers.  Even some stores, such as Whole Foods, have available books on the values of healthy eating, including cookbooks with recipes to prepare healthy and appetizing meals, which they will loan to consumers.

Some of the concerns voiced by consumers who question vegan and vegetarian diets are noteworthy.  One of the principal issues raised is the cost of vegan and vegetarian diets, which can be expensive.  The important thing to consider here is that there is a happy medium.  It is possible to study the benefits of a vegan or vegetarian diet and then to introduce more fruits and vegetables into meals, along with meat, seafood and dairy.  The vegetables and fruits can be made the centerpiece of the meal and the meat or seafood the side dish.  Another concern mentioned is the need to satisfy the necessary dietary requirements for protein, fat and vitamins derived from meat.  Research into nutritional values of vegetables and fruits, along with the addition of beans and legumes is mandatory to guarantee a healthy diet.

Healthy living mandates healthy eating.  Moderation in all areas of life also is key to healthy living.  Learning about vegan and vegetarian diets offers the opportunity to become better consumers and reinforces the need to live green, be green.

Let’s Learn to Be Green Consumers


October represents the ninth annual celebration of Fair Trade Month.  Over the ensuing weeks, eco-friendly consumers, ethically committed retailers and brands will sponsor special activities to promote Fair Trade.  In this month’s “simple list”, the October issue of Real Simple notes that five million men, women and children in developing countries benefit from the global sale of Fair Trade products.

This movement has proved to be a great way to enhance the lives of farmers and workers.  A certified Fair Trade product must be produced in a manner that is socially and environmentally responsible, including, but not limited to, no employment of children or engaging any practices that threaten the environment.  Additionally, all workers for these businesses must receive fair compensation.

Fair Trade Month is an opportune time to make a commitment to the green movement through the purchase of Fair Trade products.  While shopping, trade in an item on your list for a Fair Trade version—maybe a cup of coffee for starters.  This also is a good time to learn more about the Fair Trade movement.  Get socially connected as a fan of Fair Trade Certified on Facebook where up-to-date information on the latest news on this movement is available, along with recipes, give-aways and conversation from dedicated supporters.  Fair Trade USA can be followed on Twitter and Instagram and is a great source for information.

Perhaps you already are committed to do something special for Fair Trade Month but need ideas.  There are several options available, including making a donation to Fair Trade USA.  Monetary gifts to this nonprofit organization support farmers and workers globally and specifically in the areas of economic security, schools, scholarships, environment sustainability and empowerment of women.  Other ideas include gifts of Fair Trade products to friends and family members, which will commemorate important milestones while also introducing them to this wonderful concept.  Thirdly, this is an opportune time to join or start a Fair Trade campaign in a local community or on a college campus.

Any contribution made to the Fair Trade movement is important, and “every purchase matters”.  Getting involved in the Fair Trade Movement during this celebration month is an excellent way to live green, be green.

Count Me In!


It is amazing that in this whimsical world of information and technology, we are bombarded on a frequent basis with “new” and often-conflicting information on health regimens and dietary and nutritional information.  Yesterday Vitamin D was a good thing.  Today it is bad.  The same thing applies to fish oil– a miracle supplement a few months ago and now useless.

I find it refreshing that Jesse Ziff Cool, chef and lecturer, and owner of Cool Cafe has dug in her heels on the health benefits of organic nutrition.  It is interesting to note that Jesse Cool operates out of Stanford University, the home of the recent study questioning organics.  It is with strong conviction that Ms. Cool, who also is the author of Simply Organic, states, “I’ve been pioneering and advocating organics for 37 years.  Once you really embrace that, you don’t want to feed yourself or anyone near you anything that could some day harm you.  All you want is real food”.  Her philosophy will not be changed by one study.

Others in the business of organics concur with Ms. Cool.  They include Bob Quinn, the president of KAMUT International (www.Kamut.com) and Arran Stephens, CEO of Nature’s Path (http://us.naturepath.com).  These two men note that the Stanford study is inconsistent with their experiences of 25 and 45 years respectively.  I agree with the theory of organics from a common sense approach.  Surely food grown without “toxic pesticides, glyphosate herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, sewage sludge and radiation” must be healthier for everyone—farmers, consumers and the environment, than food produced using these substances.

It is important to keep abreast of research and studies on organics and other matters affecting your health and the environment.  It also is important for each of us to turn on our internal filters and delete false or faulty information from our internal and external databases.  As quoted by Voltaire and aptly restated by Ellen Kamer, (columnist at the Edgie Veggie) “tend your own garden”.  Let’s eat green, live green be green.

Rebellious Naturals refuse to be moved by Stanford Study which dismisses the benefits of organics

Access to fresh food is a major concern of the green movement.  Locally grown food is better for both consumers and the environment principally because it most likely was picked within the last day or two and is crisp, sweet and loaded with flavor.  Fresh produce loses its nutrients quickly.  Its sugars turn to starches and plant cells shrink.  Consequently, locally produced fruits and vegetables have more flavor and nutrients and are better for you.

Locally produced food is good for the economy because the money made from sales by local farmers is reinvested into the area economy, enabling these communities to thrive and remain resilient, especially during downturns.  Local farmers are better positioned to practice sustainable techniques and are mandated by local governments to keep pesticides and other chemicals out of runoff water.  Because their farms are smaller than those of corporate conglomerates, these farmers have greater flexibility to maintain crop diversification and to implement sustainable harvesting methods that impact the quality of the water source.  Another benefit of purchasing produce locally is that it reduces our carbon footprint, as food does not have to be transported long distances to be sold.

The emergence of farm-to-table eateries also has become popular all over the country.  Chefs spearhead this movement with a goal to maintain access to fresh ingredients that are not sprayed with chemicals to protect them on long trips to restaurants and also to leave a smaller eco-footprint.  Farm-to-table eateries also serve to assure green-minded consumers that the meals they purchase at restaurants and eateries are healthy.

The current harvest season with its bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables offers consumers a great opportunity to experience locally grown fruits and vegetables.  Make sure you check local directories for times for farmers’ markets or stop by local farm stands to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.  When planning to eat out, do a little research and farm-to-table restaurants and local eateries a try.  Remember to live green, be green.

Kevin and Gillian Halligan at their Local Eatery in downtown Laconia, New Hampshire


Yesterday several television newscasts reported the findings of a Stanford University study on organic foods. The study, “[a]re Organic Foods Safer or Healthier than Conventional Alternatives?  A Systematic Review,” was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on September 4, 2012.  The researchers concluded, “[t]he published literature lacks strong evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods.  Consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria”.

Personally, I find the media reaction amusing and a clear example of the lack of understanding of the principal goals of the green movement.  Conversely, maybe I have it all wrong.  All this time, I believed that a berry was a berry with certain vitamins in it, and the point of being produced organically was to avoid the introduction of pesticides to it in the growing process.  In my mind, the same thing applied to the production of meat for human consumption.  Organically raised meat and poultry does not contain harmful drug-resistant bacteria.  However, these news reports seem to indicate that organic foods were somehow super foods that contain added ingredients that promote good health.

Informed buyers of organic food know that what makes the products better are the substances that are missing from them—pesticides and drug-resistant bacteria.  Also they know that the missing pesticides are not around to run off of the fields to pollute the water supply.  The pesticides are not around to negatively impact the health of the people working in the fields to produce the crops.  Finally, the pesticides are not around to kill the honeybees that pollinate the crops.

After garnering viewers’ attention with their misleading headlines, some of the news reporters mentioned as an aside that the study results did show that organic fruits and vegetables contain about a 30% lower level of pesticides than conventional fruits and vegetables and that the concentration of drug-resistant bacteria in organic poultry and pork is about 60% less than the amount in their conventional counterparts.  To this viewer, that is significant and is a step in the right direction.  Of course organic products cost more, but if organic foods were the rule rather than the exception, the cost differential would narrow.  Also, it is expected that the positive impact of a healthier diet would be realized in reduced illnesses and their accompanying medical costs.

Of note, it was pointed out that organic foods are a great choice for pregnant women.  Well—should we only maintain a healthy diet if we are reproducing, or should we eat healthy foods always?  It seems from the newscasts that the millennial generation understands what is going on because they were reported as the group most likely to eat organic foods.  Obviously, priorities are a matter of choice because compared with many older people, this group is just starting out in the workforce and generally have lower incomes and fewer assets.  Yet they put healthy food high on their priority list.

There is so much information out there on green initiatives.  It is so important that we carefully study the information fed to us and separate fact from fiction.  Let’s think green, educate green, live green, be green.

A rippling effect of the green movement has witnessed many cities either imposing taxes to consumers on plastic bags or banning them altogether. This movement has triggered a change in behavior for many consumers and businesses. Some establishments have responded by offering for sale customized reusable cloth bags that not only are trendy, but also offer advertising for companies. Some shoppers now opt out of plastic bags and request paper bags.

San Francisco was the first city to ban plastic shopping bags back in 2007. Since then, other cities have followed—Los Angeles, Seattle, Westport, Connecticut and the entire state of Hawaii. Other jurisdictions, including Washington, D.C., find local councils embroiled in debates over taxes on plastic bags.

Unfortunately, some trade associations refuse to accept the fact that plastic bags are harmful to the environment because they take up valuable space in landfills and litter streets, streams and shorelines. One organization of plastic manufacturers now argues that the ban of plastic bags could threaten more than 30,000 manufacturing jobs in the United States. Donna Dempsey, the spokeswoman for the American Progressive Bag Alliance, even states that “the plastic bag has gotten a bad rap”. Dempsey goes on to say that 90% of consumers reuse plastic bags, that these bags require less energy to produce than paper bags and that they take up less space in landfills.

This is a very touchy issue. While no one wants to see any manufacturing sector decrease in size or disappear, one has to wonder why the experts in the plastics field would rather concentrate on portraying as a myth the hard facts about the negative impact of plastic on the environment as opposed to making a better product. We have witnessed other industries being forced to make drastic changes to stop pollution. For example, most localities have had to overhaul public transportation to provide clean buses and electrically powered trains. The auto industry has been forced to upgrade vehicles to use cleaner fuels. These changes actually have stimulated the economy in terms of providing new educational opportunities, jobs in research and development and employment implementing new technology in factories.

Let’s stop the politics here. Plastic bags are harmful to the environment. As stewards of this planet, let’s stand behind the movement to adopt alternatives to plastic bags. This movement begins with our refusal to use plastic bags. Let’s shop green, live green, be green.

Starting a green regimen can be a rather daunting task.  Even browsing the Internet yields so many “hits”, making it  difficult to determine where to begin on this journey.  Attending a green expo is a great way to get educated on green programs and products.  These events feature green commodity manufacturers who showcase their goods in a central location while permitting consumers to view these offerings thoroughly and ask questions.  Demonstrations at these events are both informative and entertaining.  

Green expos can be found in different regions of the country year round.  With a little research, it is possible to find an event in most areas.

One such upcoming event is “Greening Up at the Expo” in Central Point, Oregon this weekend (June 30 through July 1, 2012).  This expo will feature greater than 50 exhibitors and 27 sponsors and will include presentations on many areas of green living, including jobs, financing, entrepreneurship, eco-nature tourism, home building and remodeling, gardening, transportation and energy.  Further details about this expo can be found at theoregongreenexpo.com.  

A second noteworthy upcoming green expo is the “Living and Eating Green Expo 2012” in Cleveland, Ohio.  This event will feature several keynote speakers on topics such as plant-based diets, women, sex and food, food selection and cancer risk, breaking food seduction, and the impact of living green.  There will be several vendors available, who will distribute information and product samples.  Also included is a Vegan Food Fest.  The “Living and Eating Green Expo 2012” will be held on September 8-9, 2012 at Lakeland Community College.  Further information can be found at http://thejourneymag.com/living-and-eating-green-expo-2012/.

A third newsworthy upcoming green event is the Natural Health and Products Expo presented by Green Events LLC.  This expo will be held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in January, 2013.  It will feature organic cuisine, how-to workshops, and health screenings, along with a marketplace of eco-friendly businesses selling a variety of products from natural body care items to organic cotton clothing and Fair Trade gifts.  The venue for this event is the Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh.  Additional information can be found at http://thejourneymag.com/living-and-eating-green-expo-2012/.

There are abundant opportunities to educate ourselves on living green.  There are numerous expos, workshops and demonstrations available to learn all facets of green living.  So, let’s educate green, live green, be green!