Monthly Archives: March 2013

What’s In Your Honey?

What's in your honey?

I love honey. It’s my favorite natural sweetener. Come to find out, however, there’s a little problem with honey. It isn’t always honey. Awkward!

Actually, more infuriating than awkward. I was not happy to find out that when I buy honey, it might actually have very little honey in it. Worse, it can have unsafe chemicals in it, such as lead and other toxins. Not what I want to hear about being in what ought to be a really wonderful sweetener. I also don’t like finding out that some honey is just corn or rice syrup with malt sweeteners and a bit of honey. Just goes to show how hard it is to avoid these things.

Two companies, Honey Solutions of Baytown, Texas, and Groeb Farms of Onsted, Mich., have been caught selling honey and lying about the source. They’ve been fined millions of dollars.

The one good thing about this scandal is that it has the honey industry looking at ways to verify that honey comes from where packers say it does. A laser isotope ratio-meter can be used to determine the origin of a sample of honey.

While it won’t protect you from dishonest companies, this could be a good reason to buy local honey when possible. Hopefully, these smaller, local companies are more concerned about providing a good product, rather than selling a low quality imitation.

5 Ways You May Not Have Considered to Green Your Easter

  5 Ways You May Not Have Considered to Green Your Easter

I’ve written in the past about having a more environmentally friendly Easter. The basics are pretty simple – reuse baskets and other supplies where possible, buy less stuff, don’t buy plastic if you can help it. Here are some more ideas you may not have considered.

1. Activity Coupons

Rather than give more stuff, print up coupons for activities you will do with your kids, such as a picnic outside, a trip to the park, playing a game together, things like that.

2. Handmade Toys

Are you creative? Make a toy for your child. Sewing, knitting, woodworking, if you have the skill to make something, why not?

3. Molded Crayons

Got a bunch of old, broken crayons around the house. Many families do. Rather than toss them, put them into molds and make new crayons for your kids’ Easter baskets.

4. Outdoor Toys

With all the candy most of us cannot resist giving, add in some outdoor toys and sports equipment to encourage the kids to get out and play.

Overall, the biggest challenge to having an eco friendly Easter is our own habits. I always have trouble resisting the Easter candy aisle at the store this time of year… some of my favorites are only in stores this time of year. While I don’t resist them entirely, I use ideas such as the above to cut down on the bad stuff while still giving really fun Easter baskets to my kids.

5. Hunt For More Than Just Eggs

Egg hunts are fun for the kids (and often the parents), but why limit yourself to just eggs?  You can hide money or clues for the kids to seek out also. You can even hide silly activities for the kids to do, such as walk backwards to the next clue, hop on one foot, pet the dog, and so forth. Have fun with it all.

The Rise of Community Gardening – Guest Post

With the highest rising obesity rates in the world, major health issues in the U.S. are beginning to take their toll on the population at large. In 2010, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) stated the worrying statistic that around 35.7% of adults are obese, as well as 17% of the populace’s children. These figures cast ugly aspersions on our ability to eat well, and can be seen as a comment on our lack of self-control and our attempts to eschew the temptations of the pervasive fast food world.

The Rise of Community Gardening

Thankfully, things are now changing.

The number of health-aware consumers is steadily climbing nationwide, and a newly conscious society is emerging. It’s important to understand the journey of any of the thousands of food products that end up on your plate. Being knowledgeable about the meals you consume means you can ask informed questions about any worries or concerns you may have. With the burgeoning power of online communication and the influential weight of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, members of the general public can now research and educate themselves about the food that they’re buying, preparing, and serving to their family and friends.

You may have noticed the striking increase in farmers markets, organic supermarkets and the special supplementary organic sections in key grocery stores. The organic production industry was reportedly worth $12.4 billion in America alone a mere two years ago, and has been on an unshakable upward trajectory ever since.

Over decades, farmers have been producing crops routinely sprayed with all kinds of fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and other chemical-altering mixtures and, in recent years, consumers have altered their attitudes towards GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). Mankind’s innovative technological advances in biochemistry and engineering have somewhat backfired, helping us journey down a dangerous path. Through the habitual manipulation of Mother Nature, fresh fruits and vegetables have become disturbingly less healthy. Combine this with the everlasting criticism over the ubiquitous fast food presence assailing our daily culture, and you can see why so many are looking for cleaner methods of quality food production.

Comparable to a food-based time-share opportunity, the worthwhile and gratifying concept of community organic gardening encourages a group of friends and/or neighbors to rent a piece of fallow land and, with the use of organic fertilizers, grow what they choose. Renting several plots of fertile soil will supply gardeners with the prospect of growing a whole host of delicious crops, including potatoes, tomatoes, apples, sweet corn and cabbages, herbs such as basil, oregano, parsley and thyme, and a multitude of vibrant, colorful flowers.

Shared public garden spaces are typically popular for those who live in apartments and don’t have their own backyard. Community gardening develops a palpable sense of community spirit, because it’s an enterprise that brings together those from varying cultural and economic backgrounds, and unites people of different race and age groups through the beautification of nature. Therefore, community gardening reaps enormous social rewards, as well as a feeling of neighborhood improvement and a much-needed connection to the environment.