Interview: Activist lives off food that he grows and forages for an entire year

October 9, 2019 by  
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Rob Greenfield is a self-described “adventurer, environmental activist, humanitarian and dude making a difference.” Since this Wisconsin native had an eco-epiphany at the age of 24, he’s dedicated himself to spreading a positive environmental message by accomplishing heroic, sustainable deeds. These include things like riding across the U.S. three times on a bamboo bicycle, diving into more than 2,000 dumpsters and traveling internationally with no money. Inhabitat caught up with this pro-humanity, anti-materialism activist to find out about his current foraging project. His answers have been edited for space. Inhabitat: Tell us a little bit about your life right now — where you live and what you do in a typical day. Greenfield: I currently live in Orlando, Florida. I’m spending two years there. My current project is to grow and forage 100 percent of my food for a year. So, no grocery stores, no restaurants. Not even a drink at a bar or going over to a friend’s potluck to eat food from there. Literally growing and foraging everything for an entire year. Related: Incredible edible landscape map shows you where to find free food It’s an extremely immersive project, where I’m diving deep into food and really understanding my connection to it. Largely removing myself from the globalized, industrialized food to explore the alternatives, ways of producing food that work with the environment instead of against it and showing those alternatives to people. My day-to-day right now is very food-oriented. Inhabitat: What are your regular daily activities right now? Greenfield: Well, it does vary a lot. Like today, for example, is a work day, so I’m on the computer and on the phone for much of the day. But I had mostly run out of food, so I had to delay my last call to go for a mile-and-a-half bike ride to go to an apple tree that I know about to go pick a bunch of apples. [Note: Greenfield was in Wisconsin visiting family and friends when we talked — hence the apple tree.] So my life is very much revolving around food this year. But with that being said, I still manage to do a lot of other things, and of course have a social life, and still of course talk and spread the message, because that’s the purpose. Some days are just morning to night going out and gathering food and then processing it, whether it’s fishing or going out and picking fruit and making applesauce and pear sauce, for example, or canning . Other days, when I’ve done really well, I’ve prepared lots of food, I get to be a little more leisurely, and do other work or just spend time with friends. Inhabitat: When did you start your foraging project, and when will it end? Greenfield: I started on November 11, 2018, so today is day 320, which means I have just 45 days left of the year [at the time of the interview]. So it is winding down. I’m in the home stretch, which is feeling great. I wouldn’t say I can let my guard down; I’ve still got to stay on top of things. But I could see a bar of chocolate in the near future. Inhabitat: Is dumpster diving allowed? Greenfield: No dumpster diving at all, because what I’m exploring for this year is living outside of the globalized, industrialized food system. Seeing if I can work with nature , work with the earth to produce my food. So dumpster diving, I’ve proved through my other projects in the past that I can live purely off the waste of our society, and really use that as a way to raise awareness about waste. This is taking it to another step. Now I can show that it’s possible in 2019 for us to actually grow and produce our food and improve our communities at the same time, and take power back from the big food corporations and put that power back into the hands of us, the everyday people. Inhabitat: So, what are some of the things you forage? Greenfield: So far this year, I’ve grown and foraged over 250 different species. I’ve probably foraged 30 or 40 different species of greens. Fruits . There’s many species of cherry: pin cherry, black cherry, sand cherry, just to name a few. Apples, pears, plums. Then, there’s all sorts of new plants that I’m learning. Aronia is a berry that I’ve been foraging over the last couple weeks in Wisconsin. In Florida, one of my favorite things to forage is wild yams. That is an invasive species , so it’s actually beneficial for me to harvest it, which is always nice to be harvesting in a way that actually improves the environment. The biggest one I’ve harvested so far weighed 157 pounds. I had a wheelbarrow and I wheelbarrowed it out chunks at a time to the car to bring it back to my place. Related: An explanation on wild yams I mostly chopped it up into cubes, like you cube up potatoes. Then I froze a lot of it. I make flour from it. I dehydrate it, and then blend the dehydrated chunks to make a powder, and that powder’s a yam flour. Then, I make bread with it. It’s actually a really nice bread. Well, it’s really nice for me. It’s not like a wheat bread or something like that that you’d buy at the store. But I make muffins and tortillas and things like that, and I make sourdough bread. It makes some pretty nice stuff. This project has really taught me to do a lot of things from scratch. Because if I want something, I have to figure out how to grow it or forage it and turn it into that thing that I’m wanting. It’s the opposite of that globalized food system, where we can get anything we want without really having to think about it. Inhabitat: What’s your living situation in Florida? Greenfield: Well in Orlando, I live in a 100-square-foot tiny house that I built out of about 99 percent secondhand materials with the help of a bunch of friends. I have an outdoor kitchen set up, a compost toilet, rainwater shower. I do have electricity there to run my food processor and dehydrator and things like that. But it’s a largely close-looped system, demonstrating how you can live in a more sustainable manner. Inhabitat: Do you have advice for anyone who wants to dumpster dive? Greenfield: Well, it’s pretty easy. You look at the front door. You walk past that, you walk around to the back, you look in the dumpster and you get your food from there instead. It really is not hard or complicated. The main thing is you just have to do it. You have to go to the dumpster and you have to look for the food. Then, what you do is you practice common sense. You should practice common sense wherever you’re getting your food from. So with dumpster diving, a lot of people have these preconceived notions about what’s in a dumpster and what it looks like. At a grocery store, it’s mostly food and is emptied fairly frequently. They’re actually a lot cleaner than people would expect. You just take out the good food. An easy way to start is, for example, bananas have a wrapper on them already. Oranges, also. Whereas strawberries and raspberries, they’re more delicate and more likely to get something spilled on them. But a banana, you can take the peel right off. There’s also packaged, processed food. If you get a bag of potato chips, that is still sealed, or even crackers where there’s a box on the outside and then there’s the crackers inside a plastic bag inside the box. You can start there, with those easy things. One note with dumpster diving is just to make sure that you always leave the place cleaner than you found it, and you’re courteous to everybody that you come across. [Greenfield reiterated that dumpster diving is not a part of his current project.] Inhabitat: Do you have any tips for others to live more sustainably? Greenfield: The good news is you don’t have to do these sort of huge projects that I do by any means. It’s all stuff we can adapt into our daily lives. A big one is to go local. Support local business. Try to get as many of your products produced locally rather than things from big corporate stores and stuff that’s shipped around the world, where you don’t know the people and the impact that it has had or the conditions that they are working in. Shop at the local farmer’s market and support local farmers. Eat more unprocessed foods. You can bring your own container and fill up at the bulk food section. Riding a bike more and driving a car less is a really great way to not only save a lot of money and reduce your impact, but also get good exercise. Most people are a lot happier on a bike than they are driving a car. Bikes make people smile. Related: 7 of the biggest eco-friendly and green living myths Eat your food. The average person wastes about 20 percent of all the food they purchase. Anything that can’t be eaten can be composted. There are hundreds of great changes that we can make. But those are some that are at the top of my list that generally make you happier, healthier and help you live in a way that’s more sustainable. Inhabitat: How can Inhabitat followers get involved with your work? Greenfield: Get involved in other things like community projects, such as the Community Fruit Trees project. That is a project where you can plant fruit trees that are publicly accessible to anyone in their community. Gardens for the People , which is where we build gardens for people that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it or build one on their own. The Free Seed Project is where we send out free seeds to help people start their own organic, healthy gardens. The mission is to get people living happier, healthier and more sustainable lives . We think food is a great place to start. These are all ways people can get involved, and they’d find information about those projects on my website. + Rob Greenfield Images via Rob Greenfield and Sierra Ford

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Interview: Activist lives off food that he grows and forages for an entire year

Maven Moment: Seasonal Produce: Simple, Summertime Recipes

August 14, 2019 by  
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I enjoy all of the vegetables and fruits that are … The post Maven Moment: Seasonal Produce: Simple, Summertime Recipes appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Maven Moment: Seasonal Produce: Simple, Summertime Recipes

Are you accidentally eating the toxic parts of fruits and veggies?

April 10, 2019 by  
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Nearly every reference to healthy eating will list fresh fruits and vegetables at the top of the must-eat list. That’s no surprise, considering that together, they can provide nearly every vitamin and mineral a body needs. While some produce options can be gobbled up from the outer skin to the inner seed, there are parts of certain fruits and vegetables that contain dangerous substances. While most of these substances are not toxic in small doses, they can definitely make you sick, especially if you have any sort of compromised system, allergies or food sensitivities. Even the healthiest eater should be aware of the dangers that lurk in their food. Here’s a reference to the parts you should avoid in your favorite fruits and veggies. Non-organic skins Before we get into specific types of fruits and vegetables, it’s important to mention the role organic growing practices have on food. That’s because conventional growing methods douse produce with pesticides, herbicides and insecticides. If you consume the edible skin on conventionally raised pears, apricots, grapes and carrots, you are allowing those chemicals directly into your system. It makes the case for buying certified organic products raised sans the toxins. At the very least, be sure to thoroughly wash your produce before eating. Related: 15 fresh ideas for leftover fruit that will reduce your food waste Apples Full of all kinds of nutrients , an apple a day can indeed help keep the doctor away. But stop short of eating the entire apple, because the seeds contain the amygdalin molecule, which produces cyanide once ingested. In small doses, it will not cause serious illness. But take heed in the warning surrounding the word cyanide, or you may suffer a serious ache in the pit of your stomach. Pits Speaking of pits, toss the center of cherries, apricots, peaches, plums and apricots. They contain the same organic cyanide components as apple seeds. Even though they aren’t likely to send you to the emergency room, it’s best to avoid aggravating your system. Raw almonds and cashews This one might surprise you, because nuts aren’t typically listed under the category of fruits or vegetables. That’s because almonds and cashews are not actually nuts, but rather seeds. While seeds offer lots of yummy benefits, these two varieties also contain cyanide — but only in their raw form. Now don’t be too alarmed, because it is illegal to sell truly raw almonds in the U.S. Even those packaged and clearly labeled as raw have been steamed or cooked another way. They’ve all been through the pasteurization process, too, after a salmonella outbreak a few years ago was trailed back to the fruit. Lemon and lime seeds All parts of lemons and limes can be consumed, and they offer many health benefits. However, if you have a condition that recommends against ingesting seeds, you will want to avoid these citrus seeds. They can be hard to digest. Rhubarb leaves Hear the word rhubarb and you likely think of the sweet pie served across the country. But see rhubarb on the plant , and you might be surprised to see a fleshy pink to lime green, celery-shaped stalk. The taste of raw rhubarb is extremely tart and favored by few. As unappealing as the stalks might be, the leaves are actually quite poisonous. The leafy green portion contains dangerously high levels of oxalic acid, which can cause serious kidney damage and even death. While it does take high quantities to cause this severity of illness, even a small amount can make you feel sick. Related: 8 of the best fruits and vegetables you can eat in their entirety Cantaloupe skin While you can power right through the skin of many fruits , the outer rind of cantaloupe should be avoided. That’s because it is extremely susceptible to mold, which can make you quite ill. Lychee and ackee Lychee can be a spectacularly sweet treat. But if eaten while unripe, it can cause fever, convulsions and seizures, especially in individuals who are malnourished or have eaten it on a completely empty stomach. The unripe fruit appears to lower blood sugar, which can cause hypoglycemia. Ackee contains the same poison as lychee and is always cooked before consumption. Starfruit Although mostly safe for healthy individuals, starfruit can be fatal if you have any sort of kidney condition. Without proper kidney function, the toxins in starfruit can affect the brain and cause neurological issues. Early signs of a reaction to starfruit include hiccups, confusion and seizures. Asparagus Asparagus is a healthy vegetable known for its firm, green stalk. The plant also produces enticing red berries that are toxic and can cause vomiting and diarrhea, even in small doses. Potatoes Potatoes have the potential to develop a green color just under the surface of the skin when exposed to light. This green color is an indication that it has produced too much solanine, a natural glycoalkaloid, that can cause headaches, nausea, fatigue and intestinal issues. Store your potatoes in a cool, dark place, and avoid consuming green areas that develop. Cassava Cassava is ubiquitous in many parts of the world. Those who consume it regularly are acutely aware that it must first be dried, soaked and cooked properly, as consuming the raw form can result in serious health conditions. With these exceptions in mind, remember that fruits and vegetables are the best foods you can source for your body. Be informed about potential risks, and then enjoy the bounty provided by nature. Images via Shutterstock

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Are you accidentally eating the toxic parts of fruits and veggies?

8 of the best fruits and vegetables you can eat in their entirety

January 31, 2019 by  
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In the United States, approximately 40 percent of food is never eaten. Not only does this food waste damage your pocketbook, but it also has a major environmental impact. Changing your food habits is a great way to do your part in the battle against food waste. Shopping smarter, eating leftovers, improving food storage and donating to food banks are great ideas for reducing food waste. There is one obvious move you can make that many people don’t realize — you can stop throwing out parts of your fruits and veggies . Strawberries This fruit is a beloved summer treat that you can eat by itself, or as an addition to salads and desserts. Even though chefs remove the stems and leaves by coring strawberries when they add them to various dishes, those parts are actually edible. A strawberry’s leaves and stem are filled with health benefits . They are a natural digestive aid, and the leaves also have vitamins that can help with arthritis. According to Live Strong, “Strawberry leaves contain tannins, bio-molecules that bind to proteins, amino acids, alkaloids and other compounds with a low pH that may place excess stress on your digestive system. Strawberry leaves may help alleviate an upset stomach, and reduce symptoms of nausea, bloating, stomach cramps and diarrhea.” If you want to use strawberry leaves, try brewing them in a tea or blending them in a smoothie. Carrots Have you ever thought about eating the leafy green tops of carrots? If you have heard that carrot tops are poisonous, that’s not true. Yes, a carrot’s leafy green top can be bitter, but it is also full of delicious nutrients. You can actually eat carrot tops raw in a salad mix. But because they are bitter, you should probably blanch them first. Another option is to saute the tops with other greens in olive oil and garlic or cook them into a soup. You can do the same thing with other root vegetables like beets, turnips and radishes. Potatoes The skin of a potato is where you will find a lot of the vegetable’s natural nutrition. Both the skin and flesh are filled with micronutrients. When it comes to vitamins and minerals, the skin has just as much Vitamin B, Vitamin C and niacin as the flesh. Additionally, the skins are a major source of iron, potassium and magnesium. Related: Follow this diet for both personal and planetary health Kale You might think that kale stems aren’t nearly as good as the leaves, and you are right. However, with a little work , you can make kale stems — which are full of fiber — quite tasty. Since the stems are tough and chewy, you don’t want to eat them raw. So, first you want to blanch them. Blanching is a process where you scald the kale stems in boiling hot water before plunging it into ice water. Next, saute or stir-fry the stems to make them easier to chew. You could also opt to fry, char or pickle your stems, and then add them to rice, salads or casseroles. Cauliflower This superfood is extremely versatile and loaded with vitamins. The florets aren’t the only edible part of this vegetable . You can also eat the stems and leaves . To be honest, the stem’s skin is quite tough, so peeling and discarding that does make sense. Try adding the stems and leaves to stock and soups, or grate them for salads and slaw. Pumpkin Every part of a pumpkin is edible . That means you can eat the flowers , leaves, stems, seeds and flesh, and each type of pumpkin has its own unique flavor. Related: How to cook a whole pumpkin (seeds, guts and all) Pumpkin flowers have a sweet, earthy flavor and you can eat them straight off the plant if you have them growing in your garden. You can also add pumpkin flowers to salads or chop them up and make them a garnish. You can use pumpkin leaves in recipes that call for spinach or another heavy winter green, and pumpkin seeds are a tasty, nutritious snack when you fry them in oil and add a little salt. Not to mention, the pumpkin flesh can easily be pureed and added to a variety of dishes and drinks. Watermelon Watermelon is 98 percent water and filled with vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and other nutrients. The pink fruit is delicious, but you can also eat the rind . Some studies show that eating watermelon rind can help lower blood pressure, improve athletic performance and help men avoid prostate cancer and boost their libido. You can pickle your watermelon rind, turn it into a jelly or grate it for coleslaw. Related: The Wally Shop is bringing zero-waste grocery delivery to Brooklyn Swiss Chard Kale gets all the love when it comes to healthy eating , but don’t forget about Swiss Chard.  You might know it as leaf beet, silverbeet, spinach beet, Roman kale or strawberry spinach. No matter what you call it, this superfood is nutrient dense, low in calories and high in essential vitamins and minerals. Not to mention, the best thing is that nothing goes to waste as you can eat the small leaves, stems and all. However, you will probably want to trim the larger ones because they are more fibrous. The texture of Swiss Chard is similar to celery, so you can use it in cooking the same way. Also, when eating it raw, you can use it as a substitute for spinach or kale. Images via Free-Photos , Pezibear , StockSnap , eKokki , ulleo , JACLOU-DL , Vivacia , urbanfoodie33

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8 of the best fruits and vegetables you can eat in their entirety

The world is close to annihilation according to the iconic Doomsday Clock

January 31, 2019 by  
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The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board has announced that the iconic Doomsday Clock is remaining at two minutes to midnight because of the dangers of climate change and the lack of progress on nuclear risks. Midnight on Doomsday is a symbolic point of annihilation and has reached the familiar point it was once in at the peak of the Cold War in 1953. The Science and Security Board made the decision to keep the clock in its current standing with the Board of Sponsors — which includes 14 Nobel Laureates — and have dubbed the situation as “the new abnormal.” In addition to climate change and nuclear risks, another factor in the decision was “the increased use of information warfare.” “It is still two minutes to midnight. Humanity now faces two simultaneous existential threats, either of which would be cause for extreme concern and immediate attention. These major threats — nuclear weapons and climate change  — were exacerbated this past year by the increased use of information warfare to undermine democracy around the world, amplifying risk from these and other threats and putting the future of civilization in extraordinary danger,” read the 2019 Doomsday Clock statement. The statement went on to say that this “new abnormal” is unsustainable and extremely dangerous, but nonetheless, the power to improve the severity of the situation remains in the hands of world leaders. The clock can move away from catastrophe if leaders act under pressure from engaged citizens. Related: Is the Green New Deal the all-inclusive climate plan we need? Rachel Bronson, the president and CEO of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists , says that they are describing a frightening reality and the clock is the closest it has ever been to an apocalypse and should be recognized as a stark warning by all leaders and citizens of the world. The 2019 Doomsday Clock statement emphasized #RewindtheDoomsdayClock and recommended multiple action steps be taken. They included U.S. and Russian leaders resolving their differences over the INF treaty, adopting measures to prevent peacetime military incidents on the NATO borders and American citizens demanding climate action from their government . Other recommendations were for countries around the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to reach the temperature goal of the Paris climate agreement and for the Trump administration to revisit their decision to exit the plan for limiting Iran’s nuclear program. Via Bulletin.org Image via Shutterstock

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The world is close to annihilation according to the iconic Doomsday Clock

5 ways to throw a zero-waste Super Bowl party

January 31, 2019 by  
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Super Bowl Sunday is one of the biggest party days of the year. For many people, that means a house full of friends and family as well as pizza boxes, chip bags, beer cans and football decorations. However, it is possible to have an epic Super Bowl party without a ton of waste . It just takes a little bit of planning to go green, and the planet will thank you for your zero-waste celebration. Tell your guests There is no need to keep your guests in the dark about your goal of having a zero-waste Super Bowl party. When you send out your e-vites, make it clear you are going green, and encourage guests to do their part by carpooling and bringing their own cups and reusable containers for leftovers. Related: How to start the journey to zero-waste living You can also ask some of your guests to bring a dish they made at home. You might be surprised how many people are willing to do their part. DIY decor Instead of using plastic decorations, you can make your own with fabric. At your local craft store, you should be able to find fabric in team colors, and you might be able to find some with team logos. Use the fabric to make table cloths, napkins and banners. When the game is over, you can use the DIY decorations as cleaning cloths. Also, you can light up the room with strings of LED lights that you can easily find in team colors. If you are really crafty, you can make decorations with newspaper clippings about the game. Carefully plan the menu The food is the biggest source of waste at a Super Bowl party, so if you are going green, this is the part that takes major planning. Super Bowl Sunday is one of the biggest days of the year for pizza delivery and beer drinking, and both of those things can produce a ton of trash. So ditch the pizza delivery and beer cans, and instead, make your own pizzas and finger foods and order a keg. Related: 6 tasty vegetarian Super Bowl snacks that will fool carnivores Homemade pizza and finger foods (sliders, chips and dip, deli meats and cheeses, chicken wings, cookies, brownies) will remove the need for plastic utensils. Buying your ingredients at local farmer’s markets will also reduce your environmental footprint. A keg will remove the mountain of beer cans and bottles in your trash can. Just remember to use glassware or mason jars instead of plastic cups, or have your guests bring their own. If you have guests that aren’t beer drinkers, you could opt for a root beer keg or large containers of non-alcoholic drinks that you can find at big box stores like Costco. If you can’t imagine a Super Bowl party without pizza delivery, you need to compost those greasy cardboard boxes instead of throwing them in the trash or recycling . When it comes to the dishes, ditch the disposable plates and instead opt for reusable, stainless steel camping trays or recyclable dishes. Or use your real, everyday dishes. Serve your food in large, reusable containers so you can easily store leftovers and make clean up a lot easier. Another fun idea for the party is to provide reusable glass straws in team colors. Label trash, recycling and compost areas Use different containers for your trash, compostables  and recyclables and clearly label them, so your guests know exactly where everything goes. A large pot is a great option to collect food waste, reusable dishes can go in the sink, paper goes into the compost or recycling piles and any cloth materials will need to be laundered. Enjoy yourself Throwing a zero-waste Super Bowl party is a great goal, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. It is possible that some of your guests aren’t familiar with the concept of zero-waste, so be patient and answer their questions. Explaining what you are trying to do is a great way to spread the message. You are planting a seed among your friends and family. Even if your Super Bowl party isn’t completely free of waste, reducing the waste is a great first step. Related: The Super Bowl of DIY beer Last year, the Super Bowl itself aimed for a zero-waste event called Rush2Recycle . Even though it wasn’t perfect, it was a gigantic step in the right direction. The program successfully recovered 91 percent of the trash, with 63 tons of game day waste being recycled or donated for reuse and composting. Relax and have fun. Don’t worry about perfection. Taking these steps toward reducing your Super Bowl party waste is reason enough to celebrate and have a good time. Via ECOlunchbox Images via Manuel Hoster and Shutterstock

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Everything you need to know about online farmers markets

October 15, 2018 by  
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Online farmers markets are becoming increasingly popular with the rise in demand for locally sourced produce. With an industry that makes hundreds of millions annually, online farmers markets provide consumers with fresh food at their door for minimal costs. From how these markets work to the pros and cons of ordering online, here is everything you should know about online farmers markets. How do online farmers markets work? Online farmers markets typically operate within a geographically defined area, such as a single county. By only doing business in a defined location, these websites can easily work with local farms to market and ship fresh produce to individuals. The downside to this approach is that you can only participate in online farmers markets if you live within a specific area. It also leads to regionally based competition as farmers compete with larger grocery chains, which are increasingly offering deliverable food. The process of ordering from an online farmers market is pretty simple. After selecting the types of food you want to buy, you pay online and have it shipped to your home, or you can select a pickup option. Some online farmers markets will have several pickup locations in an area to make it more convenient on the customer. Larger marketplaces, meanwhile, will usually only ship produce to your home. Related: The ugly truth about the imperfect food movement Online farmers markets versus Community Supported Agriculture Community Supported Agriculture ( CSA ) programs were around long before online farmers markets came into existence. These models work on a subscription basis and give customers an allotment of produce every few weeks. The CSA usually picks the type of produce, and it is often whatever food is in season. It can sometimes be a bit of a gamble. In contrast, online farmers markets give customers an option of what they purchase, including a variety of vegetables, fruits, dairy products, meat, honey, baked goods, preserves and maple syrup. The customer also controls when they receive the goods, and everything is done online. Not only does this benefit the customer, but it also helps farmers with marketing and handling transactions. Pros of online farmers markets For customers, convenience and variety are the biggest pros of online farmers markets. Without having to leave your house, you get to choose from an assortment of fresh produce and goods and have them delivered within a week. While the system is great for consumers, online farmers markets also benefit growers. For farmers, the online market acts like a traditional co-op and benefits growers in a number of ways. This includes handling payments, packaging and distribution; saving time and energy; cutting down on marketing expenses and providing access to a larger market. The majority of growers that participate in online farmers markets operate small to mid-size farms. Without an online presence, these farms would likely struggle to sell their merchandise and compete with larger grocery stores, many of which are also advertising locally produced food. Click Fork, for example, is a co-op based out of Canada that helped save a handful of local farmers from shutting down. With their traditional businesses failing, farmers around Sudbury, Canada, joined forces and built a website to sell their goods. Their website was so successful that the group is looking to expand in the near future. Cons of online farmers markets Depending on where you live, you may or may not have access to an online farmers market. At the very least, your options are probably slim. There is also the issue of only being able to buy produce that is in season and that can grow in your location. While this gives you more options than a traditional CSA, it does not compete well with grocery stores that ship in produce from far-flung locations. For eco-conscious folks, this isn’t much of a problem, but it can be harder to attract larger crowds to eating local, seasonal foods. That said, many people are willing to sacrifice variety when it comes to convenience, and there are not too many things better than ordering food from the comfort of your own home. Another disadvantage to online farmers markets compared to traditional farmers markets is the lack of human connection — it just isn’t the same when you don’t get to shake the hands of the person who grew your food. Where can you order produce online? The number of online farmers markets is growing every year. The majority of these sites serve specific locations, but there are a few that are branching out to wider areas of the country. WildKale is an example of an online farmers market that ships to a wider customer base. The company collaborates with over 30 growers in the northeastern U.S. and plans on expanding across the country in the near future. Depending on your location, you might be able to find an online farmers market closer to home. Good Eggs , for example, serves customers in the Bay Area, while WyoFresh ships produce to locations in southeast Wyoming. If you cannot find an online farmers market that serves your area, there is a good chance one will pop up before long. The future of online farmers markets With the growth of large grocery chains, small farmers across the country are struggling to say afloat. Although selling produce online is preventing a lot of growers from going under, companies are finding it difficult to sustain their online presence. Farmigo, a farmers market based out of Brooklyn, just shut down its virtual market after raising $26 million in startup funds. The company was successful in selling produce online, but the creators discovered that their model was not sustainable over the long run. The company had trouble with the logistics of packaging and shipping a large amount of produce to customers while still turning a profit. There is a lot of promise for the industry as a whole, but figuring out how to scale it up sustainably is the next challenge. Although there are challenges facing online farmers markets , the future is bright. The grocery industry has always been huge, and the market for locally produced food is growing larger every year. Investors may be hesitant to invest in online farmers markets across the country now, but it is clear they are here to stay. Via Farm and Dairy , Supermarket News , Food + Tech Connect and CBC Images via Markus Spiske and Shutterstock

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Everything you need to know about online farmers markets

How to grow a lush garden in your tiny kitchen windowsill

October 2, 2018 by  
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Envision a garden — you probably picture rows of corn neatly spaced across a field or lettuce coming to life in large raised beds. What you might not realize is that produce can grow very well in limited spaces, too. You can transform the confined windowsill in your kitchen into an oasis of herbs, greens and other goodies. In addition to growing flavorful herbs and fresh food, you also bring visual appeal to the space and produce a natural  air filtration system . By growing plants organically, you know what you are eating, and you can save money. It’s also nice to be able to easily pluck fresh flowers, herbs or produce any season of the year. When you’re ready to tackle the challenge, here are some tips and tricks to get you started on growing your own windowsill garden. Picking the best plants for a windowsill garden There are myriad possibilities when it comes to selecting plants for your indoor garden. First, consider your preferences. Are you looking for unique, conversation-starting plants that draw interest, or is your goal to produce as much food as you can from your space? Also think about the amount of time you can dedicate to the garden. Since vegetables need frequent attention, consider durable houseplants if you have less of a green thumb. You can start plants from seed, cuttings or plants. Plants are the easiest and most productive option. Cuttings are started from existing plants. Simply trim off a 3-4 inch section and place it into a jar or glass with the bottom in water. Change your water about once a week to avoid bacterial growth. After roots appear (in a week or two), transfer your cuttings to soil. At first, help your cutting adjust by keeping it quite moist, and then gradually cut back the water as it stabilizes in the soil. If you want to start with seeds, seed trays are a good way to develop individual plants. Use a seed soil or potting soil rather than heavy garden soil , which can be too dense for seeds to grow through. Related: 6 foods you can regrow from kitchen scraps Most compact vegetables will do well in a windowsill garden. Look for dwarf varieties that remain small in size but produce a quantity similar to outdoor gardens . Snow peas, cucumbers, radishes, different types of lettuce, spinach, bush beans, green onions, garlic, chilies, sprouts and microgreens are all examples that will perform well in the right indoor conditions. Also consider porch tomato options, such as cherry tomatoes. Just about any herb will grow happily inside the kitchen. Some great options include basil, dill, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, dill and tarragon. Choosing plant containers The containers you choose can make a unique, artistic statement or create a peaceful, uniform landscape. Consider whether you want them all to match or if you prefer an eclectic blend. Use terracotta pots in their natural form, or give them a fresh coat of paint.  For a DIY look, cover them in chalk paint and label each pot with the plant it contains. Alternately, select your favorite ceramic pots, baskets or vases; use an old canister, tea kettle, bowls or jars; or gather standard store-bought resin planters. When choosing your planting containers, size is the biggest factor. Make sure you have room for each plant to spread out its root system without confinement. Plants will not be happy with compressed roots. Also make sure that the container you choose will fit on the windowsill. Whether you’re using a rain boot or an antique tea cup, make sure you have a drainage hole in the bottom of your container with some sort of saucer to catch the water that filters through. Finding a home for your indoor garden The location of your windowsill garden can be the difference between success and failure. South-facing windows are best, because they do not suffer from the harsh afternoon heat or struggle to find light. Many plants will thrive in an east-facing window as a second option. Wherever you locate your plants, they should receive at least 5-6 hours of direct sunlight daily. If your space doesn’t allow adequate sunshine , artificial light via heat lamps can do the trick. Set them on a timer to help you out and also to provide more consistent light for the plant. Make sure that your plants don’t come into direct contact with the cold window glass during the winter months, and protect them from the blazing greenhouse effect on hot summer days. Also stay away from areas with drafts, such as fireplaces or central heating vents. Tending to the garden Once you’ve selected your plants, containers and location, it’s time to pamper, watch and wait. Label all of your plants for easy reference. You can also include any care instructions that you want to keep close at hand. Keep your plants moist without providing too much water . You can set up drip systems for consistent watering or simply dip your finger in each pot every few days to feel for moisture. Offer your plants fertilizer every few weeks to boost health and productivity. Watch for signs that your plants are not getting the proper amounts of food, water or sunlight, and make adjustments as needed. Related: Why are my plants turning yellow? After herbs are well-established, pinch them back frequently to encourage bushy growth and keep them from going to seed. If the air in your house is dry from a wood-burning stove or other heat source, lightly mist around your plants weekly to improve humidity. Also rinse your plants every few weeks to deter insects, and be sure to look under the leaves for evidence of bugs. When your garden is thriving, propagate your next round of plants. Take cuttings and get them in water. Cut your green onions without pulling them out of the soil, and they will regrow. After harvesting your garlic, replant individual bulbs to grow again. Windowsill gardens are a great way to enjoy your garden all year without concern for outdoor weather conditions. Plus, it keeps your harvest within arm’s reach, adds variety to your meal plan and sparks visual appeal. Start your own windowsill garden and discover the many joys of indoor gardening for yourself. Images via Till Westermayer , Gemma Evans ,  Cassidy Phillips and Shutterstock

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Zaha Hadid Architects wins bid for Russias new Sverdlovsk Philharmonic Concert Hall

October 2, 2018 by  
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Zaha Hadid Architects has won an international design competition for the new Sverdlovsk Philharmonic Concert Hall in Yekaterinburg, Russia . Conceived with the firm’s signature curves, the futuristic design beat out 47 competing teams. The proposed building will supplement the existing Sverdlovsk Philharmonic building that dates back to 1936 and provide a new inspirational venue for housing the city’s acclaimed Ural Philharmonic Orchestra. Organized by the Ministry of Construction and Infrastructure Development of the Sverdlovsk Region, the international design competition sought an updated and enlarged concert hall to match the rapid population growth and popularity of Yekaterinburg, a city considered the capital of the Urals and Russia’s third largest economy. Renowned as a cultural and artistic center with a rich musical tradition, Yekaterinburg is home to the celebrated Ural Philharmonic Orchestra, which has performed in over 20 countries as well as to full houses year-round in the existing Sverdlovsk Philharmonic building. Zaha Hadid Architects’ contemporary vision for the Sverdlovsk Philharmonic building will not only expand seating capacity but will also create a new public plaza as well as a preservation and renovation plan for the current concert hall. Located between the heritage Sverdlovsk Philharmonic Concert Hall and the Weiner Gardens, the new development will include a 1,600-seat Concert Hall as well as a 400-seat Chamber Music Hall. Related: Zaha Hadid Architects unveils designs for sculptural Maltese tower “Echoing the physical aspects of sound waves , the design of the new Philharmonic Concert Hall is based on the properties of musical sound resonance creating wave vibrations in a continuous smooth surface,” explained the architects of the building’s sinuous interior and exterior. “The design re-interprets these physical acoustic properties to define spaces for the auditoria that are suspended within the canopy, appearing to float above the new civic plaza that is both the lobby of the Philharmonic Concert Hall and an enclosed urban square .” + Zaha Hadid Architects Images by VA, via Zaha Hadid Architects

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Zaha Hadid Architects wins bid for Russias new Sverdlovsk Philharmonic Concert Hall

The ugly truth about the imperfect food movement

September 11, 2018 by  
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The imperfect food movement continues to rise in popularity as companies, like Imperfect Produce in Silicon Valley, capitalize on a growing trend to fight food waste around the country. Imperfect Produce and similar companies offer boxes of ugly and misshapen produce to customers, saving a lot of food that would otherwise be discarded. While the movement is cutting down on food waste , small farmers are worried that it might have a negative affect on their livelihoods. Origins of the imperfect food movement Startups like Imperfect Produce are not the first to sell discarded produce at a discount. Farmers around the country have been doing it for years with the support of local communities. Many farmers engage in community supported agriculture ( CSA ), selling boxes of imperfect produce on a subscription basis and providing fresh food that is locally sourced. Although trends like the imperfect food movement are on the rise, small farmers have seen a decline in their sales as larger companies and grocery stores branch out into the organic marketplace. It is estimated that small farms throughout the country have seen a 20 percent dip year over year in CSA sales ever since the imperfect food movement took off in 2014. Related: New study finds food waste will increase to 66 tons per second if left unchecked An imperfect food movement on the rise Selling ugly and misshapen produce has really taken off over the past three years, and the movement is still going strong. Imperfect Produce sells produce in a growing number of cities across America. This past summer, Imperfect Produce started another round of financing that generated upward of $30 million, a clear sign that investors are interested in the growing movement. But as companies like Imperfect Produce benefit from the imperfect food movement, small farmers are struggling to keep up. The decline in sales has even forced some smaller farmers to shut down and seek work elsewhere. How are small farmers affected? The main problem with the imperfect food movement, at least as it relates to small farms , is that the market has become too large for these farmers to compete. Imperfect Produce is doing its best to help small farms by sourcing produce from farms across the Midwest — the company currently works with 25 small farms throughout the area — but the demand is higher than what these farmers can meet. To help fill the gaps, Imperfect Produce has turned to larger farms, which supply all of the demand and do so at a cheaper price. In fact, the majority of the produce the company sells actually comes from Mexico and California , especially when winter hits the Midwest. For all of the farmers who are not associated with the company, competing with them at that scale is nearly impossible. Related: Walmart introduces line of “ugly” fruit to combat food waste The ugly side of the imperfect food movement Small farmers are not the only ones hurt by the imperfect food movement. With most of the produce coming from California and Mexico , customers outside of these regions aren’t always getting local or seasonal foods — instead, more emissions are emitted as these companies try to get enough food to customers. Critics also point out that companies like Imperfect Produce are making money from food that would normally be donated to non-profit organizations, like local food banks. This in turn hurts local communities and low-income families who have used these resources for decades. That said, Imperfect Produce has made an effort to help out food banks in cities where it operates. In Chicago , for example, the company has gifted more than 130,000 pounds of produce to the city’s food bank, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, which gives this food to homeless shelters and food outlets. Benefits of the imperfect food movement The impact on small farms aside, the imperfect food movement is cutting down on overall food waste, which is a big issue in this country. As the movement rises in popularity, more and more produce will be rescued from the trash heap, a benefit that should not be overlooked. The imperfect food movement also teaches consumers — and farmers — that produce can look imperfect but still taste amazing and have nutritional value . It can also open the door for people to look into other programs, like CSA, that offer imperfect produce at a discount. Should you support the imperfect food movement or small farmers? The imperfect food movement has created a difficult problem for small farmers throughout the country, an issue that will likely worsen in the coming years. For consumers, picking between supporting local farmers or the imperfect food movement is a tough decision. On one hand, buying imperfect produce helps cut down on food waste. On the other hand, buying that produce from larger companies hurts small farmers who cannot compete with the growing demand. As the movement continues to grow, we can only hope that companies like Imperfect Produce will partner with more small farms. After all, helping small farms not only keeps their doors open, but it also boosts local economies and provides fresh food with a smaller environmental impact. Images via Alexandr Podvalny , Gemma Evans , Rebecca Georgia , Sydney Rae , Anda Ambrosini , Caleb Stokes and Shumilov Ludmila

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