Ecology

bobalexander.jpgAfter spending years in the political closet (one of the dangers of a politically mixed marriage) I have emerged with a flourish, and a job as Press Person for a Michigan candidate for the United States House of Representatives. I have been working for Bob Alexander, a Democrat running in Michigan’s 8th Congressional District, against Mike Rogers, a four-term Republican incumbent. Bob is the kind of Democrat my parents are – a Joan Baez, “if you want peace, work for justice” kind of guy who spent years circulating petitions and working crowds “cold” to promote the value of a living wage for working people, and eventually persuaded the Michigan legislature to raise the minimum wage by 29 percent. He was not holding office at the time, mind you; it was just the right thing to do.

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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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close-up-cots-web.jpg A few years ago I noticed that a tree was growing in the tiny side area between my house and my neighbor’s.  By the time I took notice of it the tree was 4 feet tall.  Apparently I had been ignoring that side of the house. I don’t know a lot about trees but it looked like it might be some kind of fruit tree.  So I waited and asked my gardener.  Sure enough, it turned out to be an apricot tree.  Since the window above my kitchen sink is right above where the tree has taken root I figured that I must have spit an apricot seed out of the louvers. 

Yeah, it was a barbarian move, what can I say?  But it was a Blenheim pit, so I decided to let the tree stay even though I was told that since it wasn’t a “grafted” tree and without a strong rootstock it probably woudn’t bear fruit.  And for 5 years it didn’t, except for a few lonely guys who would appear each year on one branch.  They were the few, the brave, and the delicious.  Meanwhile, one year the tree trunk split nearly down to the ground.  We shored it up and figured that there would be attrition, but no, the tree thrived. 

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bobgovernor.jpg Today was our first full day at the Democratic National Convention, and we started out at a breakfast sponsored by The Michigan Democratic Party. On our way down to breakfast in the elevator we ran into Dan Mulhern, the husband of Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm. He was friendly, despite being hot and sweaty after his morning run, and Michael told him how much he enjoyed Dan’s newsletter, “Reading for Leading.” As a fitting start to a day when the buzz was all about Hillary Clinton’s speech, Bob ran into Granholm herself, Michigan’s own strong female leader, at the breakfast, and she spent some time talking with us.

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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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