Flavor of the Year: HONEY

New Yorkers Get Fresh Food in Winter

Green Valentine's Day

Tea Association of the USA Offers Home Brewing Guidelines

North American Battery Recycling Program Sets New Record in 2015

5 Health Benefits of Coffee

nature conserve

Flavor of the Year: HONEY

This beloved sweetener, which was named Flavor of the Year 2015 by Firmenich, was recognized for its unique flavor and its versatility as an ingredient, elevating its status beyond an everyday sweetener. The National Honey Board (NHB) continues to bear the good news and raise awareness about honey and its many culinary uses.

Firmenich chose honey for this award last year because they believed it had the potential of becoming a "classic" flavor. Honey may be well on its way to joining the likes of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry in this prestigious category and consumers seem to agree. According to a recent Consumer Sweetener Usage & Attitudes Study Report fielded by the NHB, 6 out of 10 consumers agreed that foods sweetened with honey taste better than foods made with other sweeteners. In addition, 46 percent of total consumers say they have used honey in the past month adding to the continued growth and demand of honey on menus and in households.

DID YOU KNOW?  honey bees visit approximately two million flowers to make one pound of honey.

"We have seen honey grow exponentially in its use with chefs, manufacturers and consumers over the last few years, especially with yogurt, craft beers and baked goods," explained Catherine Barry, NHB director of marketing. "With consumers preferences leaning towards artisanal, natural and clean-label ingredients; we believe consumers are realizing the potential of honey as a premier ingredient in foods and beverages."

Product developers and chefs have discovered how versatile honey is and have included it in combinations with many different flavor profiles. From craft beers and cocktails, functional beverages to baked goods and snack bars, among others, Firmenich took notice that honey is becoming a sought-after flavor option.

"Product developers are realizing what a fantastic and versatile flavor honey is in regards to combining it with other tonalities,” said Patrick Salord, senior flavorist at Firmenich.

"Crafted from the nectar of flowering plants, honey's unique flavor profile is unlike any other," shared the experts at Firmenich. With more than 300 varietals in the United States, ranging in flavor and appearance, this iconic sweetener pleases all taste preferences and is appealing to consumers of all ages. The flavors of honey can range from lighter colored honeys, which are milder in flavor, to darker honeys that tend to be more robust, making it easy to choose the right kind of honey for the recipe ahead.

"This versatile ingredient is used on my restaurant menus, including in our popular coffee drinks, but it is also a staple ingredient in the recipes developed for my cookbooks, and in my pantry at home. I have more than 100 different honey varietals I use when cooking for my family," shared TV Personality and Cookbook Author Chef David Guas. "When I'm looking for an ingredient to add depth to my menus, I know that honey will balance and complement a variety of foods and marry flavors from sweet, sour, bitter, salty and even savory."

Beyond taste, honey has a multitude of functional benefits for both cooking and baking. Honey attracts and holds moisture, enhancing freshness and shelf life, and it acts as a binder and thickener for sauces, dressings and marinades. Honey adds a rich golden or amber touch to finished recipes, can be used as a substitution for granulated sweeteners, or can serve as a simple syrup in cocktails or beverages.

Discover more about the natural wonders of honey by visiting the National Honey Board website at www.honey.com.  While there you can learn more about honey, the natural benefits of honey, read recipes, get tips, access resources, and much more.


New Yorkers Get Fresh Food in Winter

GrowNYC’s Winter Fresh Food Box season has begun with seven locations throughout Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx. From now through May, residents and community members of all income levels have the opportunity to sign up for a bag of farm-fresh produce for the incredible price of $12 using cash, credit, debit, and SNAP. Winter Fresh Food Box is an extension of the Fresh Food Box program that runs from May to November during the region’s growing season. The goal of the Fresh Food Box program is to increase healthy food access in the city’s most underserved neighborhoods while helping to keep mid-sized family farms in production.

“Fresh Food Box is one of the most affordable ways for New Yorkers to access fresh, healthy produce and is a win-win for both the customers and the farmers,” says GrowNYC Executive Director, Marcel Van Ooyen. “We are excited to have even more Winter Fresh Food Box sites so we can keep as many New Yorkers as possible eating fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables throughout the cold winter months.”

To participate, customers pre-order bags one week in advance on the designated distribution day. The next week, they can pick up their Fresh Food Box containing 7-9 seasonal fruits, vegetables, and grains, along with healthy recipes and tips on how to store and prepare the produce. All of the produce comes from family farms selling through GrowNYC’s own wholesale food hub and distribution arm, Greenmarket, Co. The power of bulk purchasing allows for the incredibly low price while mid-size family farmers still receive a fair price for their products ensuring they will be able to continue supplying the residents of New York City with fresh, healthy, local food for years to come.

Winter Fresh Food Box ran its first winter season last year with three sites.

Open to the public, all are welcomed and encouraged to find a nearby Fresh Food Box site for an affordable and convenient way to eat healthy, seasonal foods. For more information please visit www.grownyc.org/foodbox.   Winter Fresh Food Box
GrowNYC is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization that works to make New York City more sustainable, and improve the lives of all New Yorkers. Reaching two million New Yorkers every year, GrowNYC operates Greenmarket farmers markets, engages New Yorkers in recycling education and resources, builds and maintains green spaces and engages young people in hands-on education.  Learn more at www.grownyc.org.


Green Valentine's Day

Outside of the chocolates, roses and dinner reservations, there are many ways to green your Valentine's Day. Be it a date spent out in nature, or an eco friendly gift idea, check out some of these ways to show the earth you love her too!

  • Make a romantic, organically candle lit dinner at home. It's cheaper, less stress of finding a reservation at the right place, and perfectly private - ooh lala!

  • Make your own cards or support a local artist who hand makes cards from recycled materials.  Check out www.etsy.com.

  • Buy and give a locally, organic grown plant. Your loved one will be able to enjoy it a lot longer than expensive flowers that will wilt as soon as the clock strikes midnight on the 15th.  Or better yet, plant a tree and as your love grows, the tree will be a reminder of when the seed was planted!

  • Opt for local, organic, fair trade and/or vegan chocolates. Not only are they healthier for your body, they are healthier for the earth and its inhabitants!

  • Instead of the usual dinner date, go on a hike and pack a picnic. Get out in nature and enjoy a delicious meal overlooking a gorgeous view! (weather permitting)

  • Book a retreat in a wildlife reserve, park or natural area. Your business will help support the running of such establishments.

  • Volunteer! You and your main squeeze can share your love with others by making a date to help an organization in need. Be it helping out at an animal shelter or habitat for humanity, nothing is more fulfilling then helping others.

No matter if you've got a honey or not, be sure to make it a day full of love and fun!

Tea Association of the USA Offers Home Brewing Guidelines

For Soothing Hot Tea:
The Four Golden Rules for a delicious cup of hot tea: (1) use a teapot, (2) bring fresh, cold tap water to a full boil (Note: If your water is heavily chlorinated or contains other objectionable odors, filter before boiling for best tasting tea); (3) use one teaspoon or one tea bag per cup; (4) pour boiling water over tea and brew by the clock 3 to 5 minutes and serve!

For the best flavor, preheat the teapot with a little hot water prior to use and cover your teapot with a cozy to retain heat during the brewing process.

Refreshing Iced Tea:
For small quantities, proceed as for hot tea and pour over ice. For large quantities, prepare concentrate as follows:

Bring one quart of cold water to a roiling boil. Remove from heat and add 8-10 teabags per quart of brewed tea as desired. Steep 3-5 minutes and pour over remaining cold water or ice cubes. To serve, pour into tall glasses filled with ice, garnish or sweeten as desired.

Special Guidelines for Green Tea:
When water comes to a boil, remove from the source of heat and allow to sit for ten minutes. Pour this hot water over the Green Tea and allow to brew for approximately one minute and serve. (Note: The brewing times may be shortened or lengthened according to your taste)

Special Guidelines for ‘Big” Oolongs & White Teas:
The best thing to say when dealing with any tea is – the larger and more delicate looking the leaf, the lower the water temperature. Usually, you will want to use between 180-190 degree water for big oolongs and white teas. Black teas need much hotter water for proper extraction. Boiling water will scorch a bold leaf like white tea.

Time is a little different since oolongs will need to steep a bit longer than white tea – oolongs 5-7 minutes, white tea 3-4 minutes. Of course, all of this may be modified according to your own personal taste. These instructions are only to be used as a starting point.

Everyone should adjust time, temperature and amount of tea up and down until they find their perfect pot.  www.teausa.com

North American Battery Recycling Program Sets New Record in 2015

Call2Recycle, Inc., North America's first and largest product stewardship organization managing the only no-cost battery and cellphone collection program, reported that their collections increased five per cent during 2015 to a record 12.6-million pounds (5.7-million kilograms).  Enhanced awareness contributed to record-breaking battery collections in the United States and Canada.

"Our battery recycling results are directly linked to the vital support of our program participants, consumers and key constituents," said Carl Smith, CEO & president of Call2Recycle, Inc. "Without their environmental commitment, we would not be able to continue collecting, and arguably become one of the most successful recycling programs in North America."

This major environmental achievement marks the 19th consecutive year the organization has generated a year-over-year increase (since collections began in 1996) in the volume of batteries diverted from landfills and recycled. Call2Recycle ensures that these items, which contain valuable resources, are responsibly recycled to create new batteries and other products, keeping potentially hazardous materials from entering the waste stream.

For more than 20 years, Call2Recycle has strived to minimize the environmental impact of products through leading the charge on responsible disposal and recycling. The organization has developed partnerships with a robust network of industry stewards (battery and product manufacturers), thousands of retailers, and municipalities to make collecting and recycling batteries free to consumers and easy.  Call2Recycle credits strong, collaborative relationships as the foundation for increasing consumer awareness and driving growing collection volumes.

Not surprisingly, states and provinces with strong participation and commitment from retailers and municipalities have greater collection results. In the U.S., 7.1-million pounds (3.2-million kilograms) of batteries were collected in 2015. The great lake states and mountain regions saw the most growth at 12 per cent and 11 per cent respectively.  California also reached a significant milestone, collecting more than 1-million pounds (4.5-million kilograms) of batteries for the 5th consecutive year.

Providing convenient and accessible recycling options to consumers through the establishment of close to 30,000 collection locations across North America, has also contributed to the organization's continued success. Today, more than 90 percent of residents in the U.S. and Canada live within 10 miles (15 kilometers) of one of Call2Recycle's public drop-off locations.

"Working together with retailers and municipalities has enabled us to enhance awareness and convenience of our program across Canada, making it quick and easy for consumers to recycle batteries," said Joe Zenobio, Executive Director of Call2Recycle Canada, Inc. "We're excited about our 2016 plans to build awareness about product stewardship through continued partnerships with the Retail Council of Canada, Earth Day Canada, Earth Rangers, Science World BC, Winnipeg Public Libraries, and School Boards from British Columbia to Prince Edward Island."

Strong retail and municipal presence in Canada fostered the rise of collections in most provinces, which reached nearly 5.5-million pounds (2.5-million kilograms) of batteries collectively. British Columbia was a major contributor with a 36 per cent increase of collections from last year, totaling almost 1.4-million pounds (630,000 kilograms) of batteries.  Learn more at call2recycle.org.


5 Health Benefits of Coffee

The headlines about the health benefits of coffee seem to change as quickly as the time it takes to drink a cup. Is coffee good for you? Here's what the folks at Consumer Reports want you to know:

1. It may help you live longer.

True, coffee drinkers are more likely than nondrinkers to smoke, eat red meat, skimp on exercise, and have other life-shortening habits, according to a 2012 study in the New England Journal of Medicine. But when researchers took those factors into account, they found that people ages 50 to 71 who drank at least one cup of coffee per day lowered their risk of dying from diabetes, heart disease, or other health problems when followed for more than a decade. That may be due to beneficial compounds such as antioxidants—which might ward off disease—and not caffeine. Decaf drinkers had the same results.

2. It may perk you up.

Coffee is not just a pick-me-up; it also has been linked to a lower risk of depression. In a study led by the Harvard School of Public Health that tracked 50,000 women for 10 years, those who drank four or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day were 20 percent less likely to develop depression than nondrinkers.
Another study found that adults who drank two to four cups of caffeinated cof­fee were about half as likely to attempt suicide as decaf drinkers or abstainers. The researchers speculated that long-term coffee drinking may boost the production of “feel good” hormones such as dopamine.

3. It contains many good-for-you chemicals.

For most Americans who drink coffee, it provides more antioxidants than any other food, according to Joe Vinson, Ph.D., a chemistry professor at the University of Scranton. But it’s also a top source of acrylamide, a chemical whose link to can­cer is being investigated.

4. It may cut your risk for type 2 diabetes.

A recent Harvard-led study of more than 120,000 men and women found that those who increased the amount of caffeinated coffee they drank per day by more than one 8-ounce cup, on average, were 11 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those whose coffee habits stayed the same. And those who decreased their daily intake by at least a cup per day, on average, were 17 percent more likely to develop the disease.
But nix the doughnut with your morning cup; excess sugar might cancel out any benefit you might get from a balanced blood sugar level. And watch how much sugar and cream you add to your java—overdo it and you have a calorie- and fat-packed beverage.

5. Most people don't have to worry about the caffeine.

Data suggest that most healthy adults can safely consume, daily, up to 400 milligrams of caffeine—the amount in around two to four cups of brewed coffee. (Exact amounts vary a lot, though.) Pregnant women should keep it to less than 200 milligrams; kids, no more than 45 to 85 milligrams. More than that can cause side effects including insomnia, irritability, and restlessness. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, heart, and muscles.

Consumer Reports also recommends that if you have an anxiety disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, or heart disease, or if you take certain medications, watch your consumption or opt for decaf. And if you have acid reflux, you might want to skip coffee altogether because the acidity could exacerbate it.   www.ConsumerReports.org