Food & Beverages
If you are planning a New Year's Party, consider purchasing organic or biodynamic bubbly (bonus points if it is locally made).
Consider preserving some of the bounty of the harvest of your or someone else's garden! Pickling, preserving and canning are all great ways to eat "local" during the winter months when, in Iowa, we can't have gardens.
Consider shopping at a food co-op to take advantage of great deals on locally-grown and organic food. Food co-ops also offer many options in bulk.
Consider buying food, especially fruits and vegetables, from small-scale operations and local farmers. In addition to supporting local economies, you will reduce your carbon footprint because your food will travel fewer miles to get to you.
Trying to avoid commercial cough syrup? Try a couple of teaspoons of honey! Make sure, though, you never give honey to infants under the age of 12 months.
Green your pet's dinner by choosing all-natural food that contains hormone-free chicken, beef or fish. You can also cook for your pet with organic and free-range ingredients. There are many recipes on the Internet. If you are a vegetarian, consider a pet such as a bird that is also a vegetarian. (But, no fancy, tropical birds – leave them in the rainforests.)
What does the term "organic" actually mean? If something is dubbed organic, it is produced without synthetic fertilizers, growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides or genetically modified organisms. All products that use the term "organic" must be certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
One man-made, chlorinated, industrial chemical that is used in electrical transformers, hydraulic fluids and lubricants that was banned in the 1970s still persists in the environment today. It builds up at the bottoms of bodies of water and in the fatty tissues of fish and other animals that we consume. Be sure to take precautions by figuring out safe and unsafe fish.
Avoid pesticides by buying organic, especially apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, raspberries, spinach and strawberries (anything with a thick rind skin is somewhat safer). Also, use alternatives to chemical pesticides in your home and garden and advocate for pesticide reduction in local green spaces.
There are few people who don't enjoy the occasional chocolate indulgence. Unfortunately, though, cacao grows in rainforests – the most diverse and fragile ecosystem on our earth. Next time you buy chocoloate, consider fair trade chocolate from companies that are responsible stewards of the land and fair to the workers who are harvesting that cacao.