Ecology

smlibrary.jpglaraine_newman_cameo.jpg After allowing my 13 year old daughter Hannah to sit on the couch all summer and watch TV, while surfing the net for days on end, my guilt that nothing worthwhile was filling that pretty little head of hers was mounting.  I started looking for things to do in this wonderful town of ours. I definitely wanted to go to the Lautner exhibit at the Armand Hammer Museum and Hannah saw a picture of one of his houses and was actually interested too, but then I saw something on Daily Candy talking about an event at the Santa Monica Library and thought “Aha! This’ll be the thing I do. This’ll be the antidote to all those episodes of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. I was going to take Hannah to a symposium on Food and Climate Change.”

The Santa Monica Library reminds me of the NRDC (National Resources Defense Council) building on 2nd street.  Its obvious that the entire building is green and a tremendous amount of thought was put into every detail. It’s modern lines and materials are beautiful and give me a sense of hope as I see more and more buildings like it.

The hors d’oeuvres and treats were supplied by the Co-Op and I gotta say “yeccchh!”  When it comes to trying to approximate a chocolate cookie without chocolate, sugar, wheat and dairy you might as well just f*#k off.  Hannah made the mistake of trying one and the look on her face as she tried to masticate this dust bomb was pitiful. 

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This thing is so awesome.  I would mortgage my soul for one of these (Satan, if you're reading this...).  It may be red on the outside but the inside is all green.  Since the engine is completely electric it is carbon emission free.  It can legally cut lanes at blistering speeds, 0-60 in 4 seconds... thats faster then the Lamborghini Gallardo!  

You and your passenger sit like F1 pilots in seats actually taken from fighter planes.  The designer claims its very safe using the same roll-bar technology that NASCAR drivers use. 

Still aren't impressed. Watch this...

Imageed_begley.jpgI have 4 tips to make your kitchen greener, and you'll be happy to know they all respect the other green category – money.

1) Eat greener. The lower you eat on the food chain, the better it is for the environment. It simply takes more land / energy / water to grow a pound of beef than it does to grow a pound of broccoli or eggplant.

2) Recycle those table scraps, so you can turn them into compost. Get a small container with a lid, maybe even an old diaper pail, and keep all that old plant matter left over from preparing and eating a meal. No animal products. Just veggie scraps. Phase two happens out in the yard when you turn the table scraps into plant food by making compost.

3) Use non-toxic cleaning products. Your food sat on that counter, for God's sake. AND, vinegar and water and baking soda are much cheaper than the harsh chemical alternatives.

4) Avoid single use plastic whenever possible. Store your leftovers in re-useable containers that last for many years and save some dough. Plastic bags cost a lot over time.

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lat-la-fo-garden-la0008922020-20130319Cooking and eating more sustainably doesn't require that you rethink your entire life. Here are some simple things you can do to get started.

Start canning some of your own pickles and jams when fruits and vegetables are at the peak of season. It will be cheaper than buying store-bought, and likely the quality will be better as well.

Grow your own — either plant vegetables in raised beds in the yard or even just put some herbs in pots on a sunny kitchen windowsill.

Eat lower on the food chain — take advantage of the whole animal by using off-cuts of meat that others might pass up, such as beef shanks or lamb's necks, and try cooking the less popular small, oily fish, such as mackerel and sardines that don't extract such an environmental cost compared with high-end fish such as salmon.

Meatless Monday. Even in the best circumstances, raising meat takes a toll. Make this change only one day a week and you probably won't even notice.

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aplacetablelogoCertain issues are very near and dear to my heart and none more so than hunger. Having worked in a homeless shelter, I got to know people who struggled to get enough to eat on a daily basis and it was an honor to be able to feed them. Ironically the homeless shelter I worked at was in a very wealthy county. But hunger is something that the richest and the poorest countries have in common and it doesn't just affect the homeless. And it will take public effort to make the changes necessary to see that hunger is wiped out.

A Place at the Table, a film addressing hunger in the US was released on March 1st. I got a chance to preview it and found it very moving with portraits of people struggling in our midst. It looks at just some of the reasons that hunger exists in the US. Perhaps not surprisingly, politics and subsidies are an important part of the picture. The film aims to increase our understanding of the problem it also points to some solutions. Though the current debate on raising the minimum wage is not part of the film, it's worth taking a look at too. Should anyone working full time making minimum wage still have a tough time putting food on the table? As taxpayers we are effectively subsidizing the big corporations that pay minimum wage in the form of programs like Medicare and food stamps. And we are subsidizing big agribusiness rather than family farms with farm subsidizes that do little to address hunger. 

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