Pizzeria Paradiso

Stepping in for the Mighty P, I (Josh-wa) am writing the pizza reviews in lieu tonight. Pizzeria Paradiso is not the pizza I remember from my youth in the Bay Area, but for DC it is pretty damn good. Read the rest of this entry »

January accounting: New Year’s resolutions

So far I have stuck to the New Year’s resolutions pretty well. I thought I would catalogue my successes and missteps so far:


Environmental Efforts

Successes

· Taken public transportation at least once a week, sometimes as many as 3 times a week

Read the rest of this entry »

More on overpackaging of food

In response to “Buying and Eating Green”, my friend David sent article from the Independent.  It is so timely, that I thought I would post it (or you can read it at The Independent).  It goes to show that we Armarikens are not alone in the fight against overpackaging.

Supermarket packaging: How you can fight back

By Andy McSmith

Published: 25 January 2007

So you think that there is nothing you can do, as a lone consumer pitted against powerful commercial interests, about the annoying, wasteful and environmentally damaging volume of packaging you bring home with your shopping? But you are not alone. The Government is on your side.

Britain runs the risk of huge EU fines unless it reduces the amount of waste it buries in landfill sites. Trading standards officers also object to excessive packaging because too much padding can give buyers a false impression of what they are buying. Here, then, are a few things you can do: * If it is over-packaged, don’t buy it. That the first and simplest advice from the professionals. If consumers won’t buy it, suppliers will have to stop selling it in all that wrapping.* If you do buy it, rip the packaging off and leave it on the counter. This suggestion was made by the Environment Minister, Ben Bradshaw. Supermarkets have to accept that if the packaging stays in their shops, it’s their responsibility.* Complain. But remember it is probably not the store manager’s fault: the goods will have arrived over-packaged. The culprit is the company whose brand name is on the label.* Ring 08454 040 506. That is a line operated by Consumer Direct, a government-funded organisation run by the Office of Fair Trading. They will want your contact details, and details of what you bought and where, and will pass the complaint to trading standards officers.* If you run a small business involved in packaging goods, there is a number to call for free advice. Envirowise is a government-funded service that is dedicated to helping small and medium-sized businesses to waste less. They can be reached on 0800 585 794 and their website is at www.envirowise.gov.uk. 

Recycling. Your house!

Recycled school bus, WV

 

If you are interested in ideas for recycling around your house–for renovations or even new construction, check out some of these great websites:

Green Home building

Green building

Global green

And check out some of the houses made out of recycled goods by my favorite architect and inspiration–Samual Mockbee.

 

Buying and Eating Green

 

In stark contrast to research suggesting that a reduced calorie diet may lead to a longer life, since 1970 the U.S. department of agriculture estimates that we Armarikens (Americans with an accent) have increased our per capita food consumption 16 percent, or by 523 calories, and the percentage of overweight Americans has skyrocketed as well. But regardless of how much we eat, we women (sorry fellas) spend a large percentage of time buying and preparing food.

A primary purpose of this blog is to express my thoughts and feelings on two seemingly different topics–the environment and on culinary experiences and experiments. The two do, in fact, come together. And while your ecological footprint is certainly higher if you are not a vegetarian or vegan, you can still behave as an environmentalist by becoming more aware of how and where you purchase our food and what you do with the by-products when you are done.

The store…

Paper or plastic?

What about choosing neither? This is such a simple way of reducing the amount of landfill waste and CO2 production–take your own cloth bags to the store with you. Of course you can recycle, but the simple act of bringing your own bags reduces the need to a) produce more bags and b) use energy to recycle–both of which ultimately increase the production of greenhouse gasses through energy consumption. By the way, it is also incredibly gratifying to walk out of the grocery store with your own cloth bags.

Buy from local farms and co-ops

There are a number of reasons to purchase from local farmers or from co-ops that stock shelves using local producers. First and foremost, for the purposes of this *green* blog, the closer to home that your produce was harvested, cows were milked, and your eggs were laid, the less fossil fuel needed to bring you those tasty morsels. Buying locally also helps sustain local farmers, promotes the local economy, and creates a link between the food supply and the community. If you are interested in finding local farms that bring produce, dairy or meat to your area, check out “local harvest” or for co-ops check out the community gardens link.

If you are unable to buy from a local farmer or co-op, consider choosing produce that is locally grown. Many of the large chain stores do not advertise where food stuffs come from, but Whole foods, albeit expensive, makes it their practice to label the origin of all of their produce–giving you the option to choose.

Reuse or recycle

Recycling is great, but I try to make that the last resort. I am perpetually trying to think of creative ways that I can reuse the packaging from food items. I have come up with a few:

1. Milk cartons

Cut off the bottom and the 1/2 gallon size milk container makes a nice scoop for your pet food or cut off the top and it makes an easy organizing container

2. Cereal boxes

Cut out diagonal pieces from the front and back about 2 inches from the bottom of the box and use to neatly store magazines

3. Yogurt containers

These make great cheap Tupperware for dry foods or organizers for small items.

But let’s face it–we can only use so many magazine organizers. An alternative to retooling and recycling is simply purchasing foods with less packaging. If you have come up with ways of using old packaging, I would love to hear about it.

Composting

I have the great fortune to know Josh-wa who is a composter–so I am able to add the pulp from my juicer to his compost pile. But until I met him, the only means of disposing of my vegetable scraps was via garbage disposal or waste container. Composting is a way of creating your own natural, nutrient-rich “peat” to mix in with top soil while at the same time reducing the number of bags of waste produced by your family. Leaves and vegetable scraps heaped in a ventilated container and occasionally turned will decompose, ferment, and eventually become fertilizer for your veggie or flower garden. Your local hardware store will carry outdoor containers for composting and you can read more about composting on line.

 

If you **really** get into the environmentalist/composting frame of mind, perhaps you can install a composting pooper at your house.

For you apartment dwellers, like myself, I don’t have simple recommendation for composting. My advice is to make environmentally friendly friends who compost or don’t mind you creating a compost pile in their yard or find a community garden space (sorry DC, there isn’t a comprehensive list of community gardens).

Happy Greening!

 

 

Yum! Jello…

For Christmas Josh-wa bought me a used Jello cookbook. I am sure that this gift was meant as a joke, but I was lured in by all the colors and shapes. Did you know that you can make a 5 course dinner from jello?! In fact, I think my next potluck will be a jello-themed dinner party. Really, what isn’t appealing about colorful, giggly hunks of sweet, tangy goodness?

Well this beaut took about 3 hours, 5 packs of jello, and a 1/2 pint of sour cream. The trick is to use 1/2 the amount of water called for in the recipe to get the right consistency to layer.

Jello

Zios Pizza

Zios Italian Restaurant 

9083 Gaither Road

Gaithersburg, MD 20877

 

Zios is a regular lunch time destination for my coworkers and me. Read the rest of this entry »

2007 New Year’s resolutions

1.  Promote “green” awareness

            The first resolution of the year involves finding ways to remind others that we are the custodians of this planet. 

2.  Reducing impact

It would be hypocritical of me to promote environmental awareness and then not live by the manifesto myself.  So I am resolving to live by the rules bulleted below.

·        Resolve to be less of a “consumer”

Obtain necessities by purchasing used items, borrowing items, or bartering.  The exceptions to this are food, medication, and undergarments.  You may have heard of this movement called the “compact”. This is in an effort to reduce landfill waste and resources needed to produce new products.

·        Reduce energy consumption

Find ways of reducing electrical energy consumption in an effort to reduce CO2 production.

·        Take public transportation to work at least once a week

What is the purpose of this blog?!

At the start of this New Year (2007) I made several resolutions.  One of those resolutions was to reduce my own consumerism.  This was actually a part of a resolution to engage in and promote behavior that demonstrates consideration for environmental and social issues.  Here you will find some of the trials and tribulations related to that as well as some tips for your own “greening”.  On a more personal and lighthearted side, I also hope to write about some of my culinary experiments and experiences.