What is Better Than a Bake Sale? Schoola

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): Are you in?

History of Earth Day

EO Hand Sanitizers - PRODUCTS WE LOVE

Punjabi Popcorn - Exotic Flavors For Unforgettable Taste

Red Rose Tea Names to Prevention's Annual List of 100 Cleanest Packaged Foods

Earth Hour Returns For 2014 - Saturday, March 29, 8:30pm

nature conserve

What is Better Than a Bake Sale? Schoola

Schoola is the creation of Stacey Boyd—parent, former teacher and school principal. In 1997, she built an inner city charter school from the ground up. A year later it was one of the highest performing middle schools in Boston. Stacey saw firsthand how children who struggled in math could come alive in music class. How art, physical education and foreign language could have a profound effect on students. She also saw how hard it was to get funds to support these programs, and how easy it was for the programs to get cut.

Dedicated to putting paintbrushes, books, baseballs and violins back into the hands of children, Stacey launched Schoola in the 2012/2013 school year. A few innovative schools took the call to run a clothing drive during the last (and busiest) week of school. Parents sent in their gently used children's clothing. They listed the clothes on their site at amazing prices. And schools received proceeds from every item sold—money that funds all those programs so critical to the success of the kids. A win for all.

Today, they’re 3,000 schools strong. Schoola brings new paints to art classes, new instruments to the orchestra, new books for the libraries. Quality clothes get a second life. Parents help parents. Schools help schools. Schoola makes all this happen by giving children the tools they need to succeed.  For more information, visit www.schoola.com


Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): Are you in?

Thinking about signing up for a CSA but want to learn more about the idea before you commit? Read on and review these great tips from LocalHarvest.org.

For over 25 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer.

Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.  This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer.

Advantages for farmers:

  • Get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16 hour days in the field begin

  • Receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm's cash flow

  • Have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow

Advantages for consumers:

  • Eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits

  • Get exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking

  • Usually get to visit the farm at least once a season

  • Find that kids typically favor food from "their" farm – even veggies they've never been known to eat

  • Develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown

It's a simple enough idea, but its impact has been profound. Tens of thousands of families have joined CSAs, and in some areas of the country there is more demand than there are CSA farms to fill it. The government does not track CSAs, so there is no official count of how many CSAs there are in the U.S.. LocalHarvest has the most comprehensive directory of CSA farms, with over 4,000 listed in our grassroots database. www.LocalHarvest.org

As you might expect with such a successful model, farmers have begun to introduce variations. One increasingly common one is the "mix and match," or "market-style" CSA. Here, rather than making up a standard box of vegetables for every member each week, the members load their own boxes with some degree of personal choice. The farmer lays out baskets of the week's vegetables. Some farmers encourage members to take a prescribed amount of what's available, leaving behind just what their families do not care for. Some CSA farmers then donate this extra produce to a food bank. In other CSAs, the members have wider choice to fill their box with whatever appeals to them, within certain limitations. (e.g. "Just one basket of strawberries per family, please.")

CSAs aren't confined to produce. Some farmers include the option for shareholders to buy shares of eggs, homemade bread, meat, cheese, fruit, flowers or other farm products along with their veggies. Sometimes several farmers will offer their products together, to offer the widest variety to their members. For example, a produce farmer might create a partnership with a neighbor to deliver chickens to the CSA drop off point, so that the CSA members can purchase farm-fresh chickens when they come to get their CSA baskets. Other farmers are creating standalone CSAs for meat, flowers, eggs, and preserved farm products. In some parts of the country, non-farming third parties are setting up CSA-like businesses, where they act as middle men and sell boxes of local (and sometimes non-local) food for their members.

Shared Risk
There is an important concept woven into the CSA model that takes the arrangement beyond the usual commercial transaction. That is the notion of shared risk: in most CSAs, members pay up front for the whole season and the farmers do their best to provide an abundant box of produce each week. If things are slim, members are not typically reimbursed. The result is a feeling of "we're in this together". On some farms the idea of shared risk is stronger than others, and CSA members may be asked to sign a policy form indicating that they agree to accept without complaint whatever the farm can produce.

Many times, the idea of shared risk is part of what creates a sense of community among members, and between members and the farmers. If a hailstorm takes out all the peppers, everyone is disappointed together, and together cheer on the winter squash and broccoli. Most CSA farmers feel a great sense of responsibility to their members, and when certain crops are scarce, they make sure the CSA gets served first. Still, it is worth noting that very occasionally things go wrong on a farm – like they do in any kind of business – and the expected is not delivered, and members feel shortchanged.

At LocalHarvest, they are in touch with CSA farmers and members from all over the country. They often hear great things about various CSAs happening around the country, and less often, they hear about a consumer that was disappointed with their local CSA.  To manage expectations, LocalHarvest.org provides information to help make your experience a great one. Click here to access the valuable LocalHarvest.org info about CSAs.

Nothing beats a personal conversation with the farmer. Here are some questions from the folks at LocalHarvest.org that you may wish to ask your local CSA farmer/coordinator:

  • How long have you been farming?

  • How long have you been doing a CSA?

  • Are there items in your box grown by other farms, and if so, which farms?

  • How did last season go?

  • How many members do you have?

  • What percentage of the food you deliver annually is grown on your farm? If the answer is less than 100%, ask where the rest of the food comes from, whether it's certified organic (if that is important to you), and whether members are told which items come from off-farm.

  • I'd like to talk with a couple of your members before I commit. Could you give me contact info for a couple of "references"?


History of Earth Day:

It was in September 1969, at a conference held in Seattle, Washington, that Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson announced that in the coming Spring there would be a nationwide grassroots demonstration on the environment. He proposed the nationwide environmental protest to thrust the environment onto the national spotlight.

"It was a gamble," Nelson recalled, "but it worked." Five months before the very first April 22 Earth Day in 1970, The New York Times carried a lengthy article by Gladwin Hill reporting on the rising tide of environmental events: "Rising concern about the environmental crisis is sweeping the nation's campuses with an intensity that may be on its way to eclipsing student discontent over the war in Vietnam...a national day of observance of environmental problems...is being planned for next spring...when a nationwide environmental 'teach-in'...coordinated from the office of Senator Gaylord Nelson is planned...." Senator Nelson also hired Denis Hayes as the coordinator.

The year was 1970. Citizens of United States were trying to understand the Kent State shootings and put their arms around the birth of fiber optics. While they were listening to an album called "Bridge over Troubled Water" they were stunned by NASA’s Apollo 13 mission. American’s were mourning a rock star named Jimi Hendrix and starting to pay attention to the environment. Earth Day 1970 preparations were in high gear.

On April 22, 1970, Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in what was to become the first of many Earth Day movements. At the helm was the national coordinator, Denis Hayes. Hayes, with his young and ambitious staff organized coast-to-coast rallies while thousands of college campuses organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. It soon became clear that the varied and passionate nationwide groups that had been fighting against oil spills, factory pollution, power plants, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, wildlife extinction now had a common platform and nationwide attention.

Each year, the April 22 Earth Day marks the anniversaryof the birth of the modern environmental movement.

Biography of Earth Day Founder, Senator Gaylord Nelson:

Gaylord Nelson (1916 - 2005)

Former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson's best-known achievement is the founding of Earth Day in 1970. Described by American Heritage Magazine as "one of the most remarkablehappenings in the history of democracy," Earth Day made environmental protection a major national issue. A distinguished and influential public servant, Nelson served ten years in the Wisconsin Senate, was twice elected Governor of Wisconsin, and, in 1962, began an 18-year career in the U.S. Senate.

Senator Nelson's many achievements included legislation to:

• Preserve the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail

• Mandate fuel efficiency standards in automobiles

• Control strip mining

• Ban the use of DDT

• Ban the use of 245T (agent orange)

• Create the St. Croix Wild and Scenic Riverway and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Senator Nelson also co-sponsored the National Environmental Education Act and wrote legislation to create the Upper Great Lakes Regional Commission and Operation Mainstream/Green Thumb, which employed the elderly in conservation projects. He was the recipient of numerous awards, including two from the United Nations Environment Program.

Nelson became Counselor of The Wilderness Society (1981). During his 14 years of service at The Wilderness Society, Nelson worked to protect America's national forests, national parks, and other public lands. He also focused his attention on U.S. population issues and sustainability. He served as Chairman of Earth Day XXV, which was celebrated April 22, 1995. Senator Nelson was also the Founder of Earth Day Network's Earth Day 2000 Clean Energy Now! campaign.

Born on June 4, 1916, in Clear Lake, Wisconsin, he received his BA degree in 1939 from San Jose State College in California and his LLB at the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1942. He was in the U.S. Army during World War II for 46 months, serving as first lieutenant during the Okinawa campaign. Returning to Madison, Wisconsin, Nelson practiced law from 1946 to 1958.

Senator Nelson died on July 3, 2005 survived by his wife, Carrie Lee, and his three children. On his last Earth Day, although frail and in declining health, he joined his grandson at a school tree-planting ceremony to mark the day. (Source: Earthday.net)


EO Hand Sanitizers - PRODUCTS WE LOVE

If you are a frequent reader of this newsletter, then you know one company who we feel consistently delivers exceptional products is EO.  We are the first to jump in line to try new products and many have become part of our daily routine.  These hand sanitizers are no exception.  They are affordable (2 oz. portable gel sells for around $2.99 ea) and  just the right size to fit almost anywhere from the glove compartment in your car to your coat pocket.  The EO Hand Sanitizers and Hand Wipes are the natural, plant based alternative to chemical laden sanitizers and the first organic hand sanitizing spray on the market.

Made with organic alcohol and pure essential oils, our sanitizers eliminate 99% of germs and have aromatherapeutic properties as well. Keeping hands clean is an important step in staying healthy; the CDC recommends alcohol based hand sanitizers.  We couldn’t agree more, when the EO team says “share the love, not the germs.”

Punjabi Popcorn
Exotic Flavors For Unforgettable Taste

It all began in 2013 with a simple concept of bringing together unique flavors and a favorite lifelong snack. While on the lookout for new popcorn flavors, founder Deepak Kanda realized that the options on the market were either very generic or limited. Being brought up in a western world with an eastern background, Deepak decided to bring the two worlds together kernel by kernel, via flavors that he knew the popcorn industry didn’t have.

Punjabi Popcorn is inspired by the vibrant, jovial and exotic region of Punjab in northern India. Punjab has colorful, rich, aromatic and flavorful spices that enhance the natural flavors of everyday foods. Adding these spices to a favorite snack only seemed to be a natural progression of mixing eastern and western cultures.  Creating a new twist on an old-time favorite is difficult - but at Punjabi Popcorn, through experimenting with all natural spices, they have created some new popcorn flavors that not only capture the essence of the Punjabi culture on every kernel, but also introduces foodies to an experience that gives a glimpse of the spice combinations that tantalize your taste buds.

Flavors include:

Spicy Curry:  a combination of various herbs and spices creating a mouthwatering concoction of pure yumminess! With the taste of real curry leaves, this one is a real crowd pleaser!

Indian Caramel:  using cane sugar, the sweet and succulent taste mixed with a touch of fennel and cardamom provides a perfect blend of what Indian sweets taste like. It is one of their biggest sellers for a reason, and that’s because it tastes sooooo good!  A favorite in our office “taste test”

Signature Punjabi:  a robust combination of sweet, tangy and spicy exotic spices roasted to perfection and hand made to ensure quality and taste.  This signature flavor can best depict the essence of the Punjabi culture in just one kernel!

Desi Mirch:  using chili peppers from India, the folks at Punjabi Popcorn added opposing spices that have combated the overwhelming spice, giving you some heat with tremendous savory flavors that will keep you wanting more! This is also PERFECTLY paired with a frosty lager or ale.

Desi Mirch Extra Hot!:  The exact same blend as our Desi Mirch, except for one thing — the spice level is INSANE. This flavor is not for the weak hearted! Just in case you get addicted, it is suggested to keep a cold glass of milk or orange slices on hand to soothe your burning tongue!

Turmeric:  the folks at Punjabi said this one is chock full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and just good for you properties (our staff at the Green Living Newsletter just thinks it tastes amazing).  This earthy flavor brings you close to the roots of India and the region of Punjab because it is used in almost every dish. Enjoy a naturally delicate and earthy flavor that is wonderfully healthy!

Jeera:  Punjabi and Hindi for cumin, their hand roasted Jeera seeds are toasted to perfection providing a wonderful aroma. Salty and a savory in flavor, it is a great snack food that really satisfies!

Butter:  popped in 100% unrefined virgin coconut oil and using real butter, the folks at Punjabi popcorn never use chemicals to enhance flavor.  The most traditional of all the flavors, this one will have you going back for more!

In the Green Living Newsletter “test kitchen,” everyone had a favorite flavor.  Some favored the more traditional caramel and butter flavors, while others enjoyed the intense flavor of the curry, desi mirch, and the signature popcorn flavors.  To buy Punjabi Popcorn, visit www.punjabipopcorn.com (free shipping on orders over $25).  4 oz. bags sell online for $6.99.

Red Rose Tea Names to Prevention's Annual List of
100 Cleanest Packaged Foods

Prevention has named Red Rose Tea’s Organic India Single Estate Blend Green Tea to its list of the 2014 Cleanest Packaged Food Awards. The award was given to the best, healthiest and cleanest boxed and bagged foods on the market that passed strict dietary and sustainability standards, according to Prevention. Red Rose Organic India Single Estate Blend Green Tea is one of three organic blends from Red Rose that are both Fair Trade Certified and USDA Organic Certified.
“Red Rose Tea is very proud to be named to Prevention’s list of the Cleanest Packaged Foods in 2014,” said Debo Mukherjee, chief executive officer of Redco Foods Inc., manufacturer of Red Rose Tea. “For 120 years we’ve been committed to providing products that are developed in socially-responsible ways and that taste great. Our Organic India Single Estate Blend Green Tea has a unique blend of handpicked leaves from the Fair Trade Korakundah estate in Southern India that produces a distinct and delicately tasting green tea that appeals to both avid and casual tea drinkers.”

To be considered for Prevention’s annual 100 Cleanest Packaged Food Awards, products had to meet the following criteria: GMO (genetically modified organisms)-free, have no more than 10 grams of added sugar, contain no more than 200 milligrams of sodium per serving (400 milligrams for a meal), are BPA (Bisphenol A)-free if canned and, if fish, meet seafood sustainability requirements set by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The judging panel, composed of magazine editors and food experts, then taste-tested the products that met the criteria and picked the most nutritious and delicious choices. The full list can be found in the March 2014 print and iPad issues of Prevention as well as online at www.prevention.com/Clean2014.

The Korakundah estate, where Red Rose Organic India Single Estate Blend Green Tea leaves are grown, is one of the first producer members of Fair Trade in India, under Transfair. As part of its Fair Trade standards, employees and members of the surrounding communities are provided with hospital care, free of charge for employees, and a local school, in addition to many other programs. To learn more about the Korakundah estate and its efforts visit www.redrosetea.com/organictea.

Red Rose Organic India Single Estate Blend Green Tea retails for approximately $4.99 for a 20-count box. It is available in select grocery stores in the U.S., as well as online at www.redrosetea.com.


Earth Hour Returns For 2014
Saturday, March 29, 8:30pm

Earth Hour 2013 saw a phenomenal increase in support as the world rallied together for one hour in an inspiring display of what people can accomplish when they put their hearts in the right place. On Saturday March 29th at 8:30pm, millions of people across the world are switching off lights for one hour - to celebrate their commitment to the planet. This year, we can do more. 

Earth Hour is a simple idea that turned into a global phenomenon, with hundreds of millions of people coming together to display a commitment to protect the one thing that unites us all - our planet.

We only have one planet. You can help protect it. Earth Hour starts with a simple flick of the lights at 8:30 pm on March 29, 2014 in a collective display of commitment to create a better future for the planet. But Earth Hour is more than just this hour. Uniting behind a common purpose demonstrates that we can make a meaningful difference. Earth Hour is our chance to make our commitment to protecting our planet not just for one hour a year, but every day.

It is not too late to be a part of something big. More info at: http://www.earthhour.org