Archive for October, 2008

Phone a (Eco-Parenting) Friend

Friday, October 17th, 2008

I recently attended BlogHer’s DC conference, where I was thrilled to meet up with a group of green supermoms whose blogs I frequently turn to to help make sense of the latest environmental and green parenting news. Confused about bottled water having the same cancer-causing contaminants as tap water? Manufacturers voluntarily creating BPA-free bottles yet the FDA says they still can’t tell if any thing’s wrong with it? (What’s a little extra risk for altered brain development, anyway.) And what about lead? These women are devoting their spare time (which means giving up sleep, as my fellow parent readers know!) to uncovering the truth behind green claims and controversies and sharing tips to help other parents make smart choices.

The Green Parent Jenn Savedge wrote the book, literally, on eco-friendly parenting. Diane MacEachern is one of Glamour magazine’s 70 leading women environmentalists and the author of the book and blog The Big Green Purse, showing how to use the power of your checkbook to push corporate America in the right direction. Organic Mania helps you make sense of all things green and organic. The Smart Mama, armed with her trusty XRF toy-testing gun, is a walking encyclopedia on toxins found in the home and in children’s toys. Green & Clean Mom makes green living “sassy, sexy and fun.” And there’s a new group effort from my friend formerly known as Mama Bird, at The Green Phonebooth. If you only click one of these links – though I encourage you to bookmark or subscribe to them all! – make it Jess’s write-up of the Smart Mama’s tests on some of her own kid’s toys and other items you literally carry every day, like car keys. It’s a scary, contaminated world out there, but these women are making the world cleaner for our kids, one blog post at a time.

Want more? Find their books at your local bookseller:

The Green Parent
The Green Parent

Big Green Purse
Big Green Purse

Blog Action Day: Fighting Poverty with $8 in 8 minutes

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

http://www.blogactionday.comToday I am forgoing my usual morning routine to focus on a topic that is too closely tied to child health and nutrition, poverty. It can be overwhelming to think about the number of children going hungry today, in our own community and around the world. But there are also many organizations and great leaders working to combat the problem, and small steps you can take to help make a difference in just a few minutes. Here’s my own “Power of 8” formula:

  • Average trip into coffee shop for morning latte and pumpkin muffin: 8 minutes
  • Average cost of latte and pastry: $8
  • 86.1 million people in 80 countries rely on World Food Program assistance

In the spirit of “eating locally, acting globally,” I am contributing today to both a domestic and an international cause. Locally, I am supporting Share our Strength, a national organization supporting community programs to end child hunger, where $8 will provide a child three meals a day for a week. Globally, $8 will buy 32 school meals through the Friends of the World Food Program. Blog Action Day’s purpose is not just to spend a day highlighting the issue of poverty, but to “change the conversation” and create action. I will be revisiting my contributions on the 8th of each month, setting aside my coffee change to change the world. Oh, and for the rest of my 8 minutes, after donating to those two sites, I’ll be playing Free Rice.

Are you participating in Blog Action Day? Share your link below!

Blog Action Day 2007 post: Eat Organic. Save the Earth.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

This past weekend was the fall open house and potluck at our CSA farm, Potomac Vegetable Farms. We stopped by Crooked Run Orchard for apple and pumpkin* picking first. It was such a gorgeous, warm fall day to be out in the orchards. When we arrived at PVF, we had missed the hayride but set to work breaking apart garlic cloves to be planted for next spring. The potluck was full of wonderful, nutritious food and the kids had quite a spectacular hay-fight in the wagon.

For the potluck, I brought mini muffins because they’re easy finger foods, always popular, and guarantee there will be something the toddler will eat. I had been meaning to try a chocolate zucchini bread recipe, and came across this one. I modified it slightly to incorporate my local, organic buckwheat flour. (Adding fiber to compensate for the sugar!)

Recipe: Whole-Grain Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
Adapted from The Barefoot Kitchen Witch


  • 1 1/2 c unbleached flour
  • 1 c buckwheat flour (or whole wheat)
  • 1/2 c turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 3/4 c milk
  • 1/2 c oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 1 oz grated unsweetened fair-trade chocolate
  • 1 c shredded zucchini

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350*. Lightly oil muffin tin. Combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls, then gradually pour dry into wet and stir until smooth. Pour into muffin tin and bake for 12-15 minutes for mini muffins (18-22 for regular size muffins). Makes 36 mini muffins. Enjoy!

*Crooked Run uses integrated pest management (IPM) techniques which means their apples are minimally-sprayed, better than conventional but not organic. Their non-tree crops are “eco-ganic.

Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs

Monday, October 13th, 2008

An essential component of a DC summer, we finally had our Old Bay-doused, steamed Maryland blue crabs* this weekend at Quarterdeck. Nothing like cutting it close; Columbus Day is generally the end of crab season. It was less crowded than at the peak of summer though, and these meaty, sweet jumbo crabs were worth the wait.

The toddler was pretty into the mallets, but stuck to crab balls and fries for eating. Quarterdeck is conveniently located just up hill from National airport, so the steady stream of airplanes taking off helped keep him entertain while we picked crabs. Yum.

* This year’s farm bill contained funds to help farmers reduce run-off into the Bay, to help our endangered crabs. And the environment, too.

Support Healthy Milk for Schools

Friday, October 10th, 2008

I’ve written before about our quest for artificial growth hormone-free milk that led us to sign up for milk delivery from our local creamery. Why hormone free? Artificial growth hormones (rBGH) have been linked to type II diabetes and cancer. While many of the major retailers have since banned rBGH milk from their shelves (kudos to Wal-Mart, Kroger/Fred Meyer, Chipotle), it is still being produced and distributed to our public schools. I am fortunate to be able to afford organic milk, but the majority of kids who rely on school meal programs don’t have that option. The USDA is about to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act (CNA) so write today to urge them to give the schools the option of offering  artificial hormone-free milk to our schoolkids. Visit the Food & Water Watch action site RIGHT NOW to send an email. The comment period ends October 15, so comment and forward the link to your friends today!

(Note: the Food & Water Watch message does not ask USDA to mandate the choice, it merely asks them to allow schools to make their own choice.)