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Archive for In and Around Boston Green

May 16th, 2012

Wordless Wednesday Why Organic?

It’s Wednesday and all over the internet you will find photos with no words of explanation. Why? Because pictures say a thousand words. This picture happens to have a thousand (not quite) words!

Groovy Green Livin Why Organic?

Yesterday I wrote a review of a wonderful vegan and vegetarian restaurant, Life Alive. This is a photo of a sign posted on their wall.

Why do you eat organic foods?

Make sure to check out these great blogs who also share on Wordless Wednesday: I Thought I Knew Mama, Dagmar’s Momsense, My Organized Chaos, Live and Love Out Loud, Frugally Sustainable, Hobo Mama

May 15th, 2012

Boston Restaurant Review: Life Alive

Groovy Green Livin Life Alive Organic Cafe

When a restaurant really knocks my socks off I want to share the news. On Mother’s Day we celebrated with another family and decided to try out a vegetarian restaurant, Life Alive in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The restaurant’s tag line is “Urban Oasis & Organic Cafe”-I was already sold before tasting a bite.  The exterior and interior of the space is hip and happening. The line to enter was out the door when we arrived, but it moved quickly. There were plenty of options-including vegan- and everything is fresh and organic. The organic vegetables looked like they were straight from a local garden.

Groovy Green Livin Life Alive Organic Cafe

The adults were able to chose quickly, but the kids took a while longer. They didn’t see the usual hamburger, hotdog and fries on this menu. The kids rose to the occasion-I loved their adventurous spirit and willingness to try new foods. The kicker was the lengthy smoothie selection. The kids were now sold. Many of the smoothies were dairy free, using almond milk and rice milk.

Check out this delicious sandwich:

Groovy Green Livin Organic Sandwich

The three bean chilli was delicious. My Explorer salad, with red lentil hummus, sesame stix and greens, was unbelievable. In addition to the cafe’s endless selection of vegetarian fare, the restaurant offers simple snacks such as The Crunchy Hippie, which is locally made granola and dried fruit.

Groovy Green Livin Organic Meal

If you’re in the Boston area this is one stop not to be missed.

Other locations for Life Alive: Lowell and Salem Massachusetts.

Do you have a vegetarian or organic restaurant near you?

March 8th, 2012

The Boston Tree Party: Urban Orchards Unite Communities

Boston Tree Party

 

I was recently contacted by The Boston Tree Party and asked to help spread the word about their organization. How could I refuse? They are right here in my back yard in Boston and they’re working to promote urban agriculture, bringing together diverse communities and universal access to healthy food. They are helping to make Boston very green. Right up my alley!

What is The Boston Tree Party?

Boston Tree party Two

The Boston Tree Party is a collaborative campaign to plant pairs of heirloom apple trees in publicly used spaces across Greater Boston. They partner with elementary schools, universities, hospitals, assisted living centers, faith-based communities, libraries and more. The group of people who are behind this innovative concept are pretty darn impressive.

Together, these trees form a city-wide public urban orchard that crosses social, political, economic and geographic boundaries. These trees act as a catalyst to bring together diverse communities. The planting of these trees symbolizes a commitment to the environmental and community health of the city of Boston for all generations. By planting these trees they are taking a stand in support of universal access to fresh healthy food, for greening cities, and protecting biodiversity.

Why do they plant heirloom apple trees in pairs?

Apples are known to be a symbol of health and well-being. Apples are also connected to the history of Boston: The first apple orchard in the United States was planted on Beacon Hill, Boston by the first European settler, William Blackstone. They are making Boston a city of apples once again, but with new meaning.

Apples need to be planted in heterogeneous pairs to cross-pollinate and bear fruit.  You can’t just plant one apple tree and you can’t plant two of the same variety.  This biological fact has become the central metaphor of the project: We too can’t produce fruit alone, or with others just like ourselves.  We too must cross-pollinate to come up with new ideas and to make our world better.

What has The Boston Tree Party done so far?

Boston Tree Party Three

  • In 2011 they planted 70 heirloom apple trees (35 pairs) with over 50 different communities in the Boston area.
  • In about four years, these 70 trees will collectively start to produce between 10,000-15,000 free apples every year (hopefully organic)!
  • These trees can live anywhere from 50-100 years, so that’s a lot of free apples!

What’s on tap for 2012?

Registration is currently open for communities to sign-up and plant apple trees with The Boston Tree Party this spring. Deadline to sign-up: April 15, 2012

  • Delegations can include schools, churches, businesses, libraries, health centers, clubs & civic organizations, neighborhood/homeowner associations, etc. – very inclusive!
  • Delegations can be a partnership/combination of different organizations
    • i.e. If a Girl Scout troop wants to participate but doesn’t have access to land, they can partner with a school (who gains permission to plant fruit trees on their campus).
  • Requirements to join:
    • Access to two pieces of land that are each 15’ in diameter (they don’t have to be connected, but they do need to be within ¼ mile)
    • $325 to pay for trees, supplies, and support (financial assistance is available)
    • Willingness & commitment to care for these trees long-term

Have questions or want to join The Boston Tree Party?

email Amory@bostontreeparty.org

Do you have anything like this in your city or town?

Photos courtesy of The Boston Tree Party

July 28th, 2011

Bad News for Junk Food Junkies in Massachusetts Schools

junk food banned

There’s been lots of talk about childhood obesity being at an all-time high: approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and teens aged 2—19 years are obese.

In support of Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity campaign, Massachusetts Public Health Council just voted to make sugary sodas and other sugary foods a thing of the past. These new regulations are thought to be the strictest in the nation.

I have been reading a lot about the new regulations in Massachusetts to try to get a better grasp on what it really means for our kids. There seems to be a lot of conflicting information out there about what/who and when this is all taking place. After some fancy detective work (thanks to Boston’s National Public Radio WBUR, Meghna Chakrabari and Adam Ragusea for helping to clarify), I’m ready to summarize for the masses.

The law DOESN’T apply to tray lunches. The USDA subsidizes the cost for these meals so the dietary restrictions are already heavily regulated by the federal government and the states can’t make changes. So pizza, tater tots, tacos and sloppy joes will continue to grace our children’s lunch menus.

The law DOES apply to vending machines, snack bars, student stores, à la carte lines and school fundraisers. These are foods sold outside of the federally regulated meal program. The government told the states that they were free to set up their own guidelines and Massachusetts did.

The new Massachusetts law says:

  • Starting in 2012-2013 school year- The only foods that can be sold in vending machines, student stores and through fundraisers will be foods that have less than 35% of their calories coming from added sugar. Bye bye soda, candy, cookies and sports drinks. Harvard researchers have shown that a 20-ounce soft drink contains the equivalent of 17 teaspoons of sugar. Drinking a moderate amount of  sodas or sports drinks can lead to a high risk of heart disease and diabetes.
  • Chocolate and other flavored milk will get an extra year and won’t be banned until August 2013. The reason being the council wanted to give extra time for the milk companies to find a way to produce chocolate milk with less sugar. WHAT? I’m interested to see how that one plays out.

Will we be able to bring cupcakes, candy, cookies and other sugary foods into school?

According to WBUR the answer is NO!

The new law won’t allow any sugary foods to come into the schools for parties, events on school grounds during the school day or for fundraising.  So, no birthday cupcakes, no Halloween candy and no Valentines Sweethearts. Parents of children with allergies can jump up and down now. Life just got a whole lot easier.

My bottom line: This is a HUGE change for most Massachusetts school districts. I posted a link to the new regulations on Groovy Green Livin’s Facebook Page and received a few comments from people concerned about the removal of chocolate milk from the lunch line. Many felt this was the only way their child would drink milk.

I think the obesity problem is underestimated by many. It’s important to send a message to children and families that it’s imperative to balance what goes into your body. Education surrounding good food choices is a big component of this message. Hopefully this is and will be incorporated into the school curriculum. Children are where it’s at-they can take this information and run with it. The hope is that it will help with lifelong food decisions and ultimately prevent obesity. The reality is the schools can’t do it alone-reinforcement has to be put into practice at home. If the kids go home and drink soda and eat a few candy bars and cookies the system is still broken.

What you can do

You can urge congress to support healthier meals by sending an email to your Member of Congress and asking him/her to sign on and improve school meals. Click HERE to send your letter. It won’t take more than a few seconds.

What do you think of all this? What do your schools do when it comes to sugary treats and/or drinks? Does your state have legislation in the works? What do you think about removing chocolate milk from the lunch line?

[Photos used under Creative Commons from vwb5/Flickr]

April 1st, 2011

Spring isn’t looking so green

Spring isn't looking so green
Spring in New England isn’t looking so green. Well it was yesterday. But today’s a whole different ball game. This is what I see outside my back door. Yeah-I know it’s beautiful.  But I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve had a similar view outside the back door (way too many for one winter).

I’m talking snow isn't so greenabout the green that refers to the color of the grass, leaves and plants as they start to blossom. It’s April 1st and Mother Nature has played a nasty trick on us. Spring has technically begun, however I’m surrounded by about 5 inches of brand new white stuff.

As much as I love winter, I’ve checked out. The gloves, hats and boots are done; packed away for next year.

The optimist in me remains hopeful. I know that warmer weather is coming.

Anyone else have an April Fools storm? Those of you in the sunshine please send a dose to the Boston area (via FedEx).

Have yourselves a Groovy Green weekend!

February 24th, 2011

Barefoot Books Review and Giveaway

Small, indie bookstores seem to be a dying breed, but I recently discovered a gem that is sure to last, right in my own backyard-just outside of Boston.  Barefoot Books is an independent children’s bookstore/publishing company with their flagship store located in the town of Concord, Massachusetts. My first visit to the studio literally took my breath away. The books were brought to life through the studios stunning layout and vibrant colors.  It was clear that this was much more than a children’s bookstore, it was a “happy place” as co-owner Nancy Traversy calls it. Turns out they are not only a bookstore, they offer a full calendar of activities (many are free!) for kids of all ages.  For those of you in New York, their second store is located inside FAO Schwartz in NYC.

A little bit about Barefoot Books

Barefoot Books was started by two mothers, Nancy Traversy and Tessa Strickland. They both wanted their children to have books that would “…feed the imagination, while instilling a respect for diversity and a love of the planet.” They have certainly succeeded. Each of their books introduces readers to values and traditions of different cultures along with magnificent illustrations.

Book Reviews

During a recent snowstorm I couldn’t have been more thrilled to receive a box filled with a selection of Barefoot Books for our family to check out.  My three boys (ages 10, 9 and 7) devoured each of the books, stopping only to share a picture or bits and pieces of each story.

Our favorites

Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon by Jules Bass and Debbie Harter

Beautiful illustrations compliment this sweet, magical tale set in the fictional time of knights and dragons. Herb, a vegetarian dragon, teaches his carnivorous counterparts that it is possible for all living things to live together in peace and harmony.

Up, Up, Up with singalong CD by Susan Reed and Rachel Oldfield

This children’s picture book is a wonderful story about three children flying through the sky and around the world in a hot air balloon. The rhyming text and vibrant illustrations come alive with a CD that has a catchy tune, reminding us that the earth is our home and we must respect it.

My Daddy is a Pretzel by Baron Baptiste with illustrations by Sophie Fatus

This book was brought to Barefoot Books by one of my first yoga instructors, Baron Baptiste. Baron illustrates how so many yoga poses relate to everyday life.  He shows how children and parents can connect through yoga and how all of us can join together and act compassionately towards each other and towards our planet.

Kids’ Kitchen by Fiona Bird with illustrations by Roberta Arenson

This set of  40 cards is filled with delicious recipes that are healthy and easy to make.  My kids went through this entire deck of cards and selected 5 recipes they liked best.  Once the snow cleared we headed to the supermarket to buy a few ingredients. The cards reminded us that “we are what we eat”!

Bottom line

These books are incredible. Barefoot Books are quality crafted books that expose children and their families to a wide range of cultures, encouraging respect and love for each other and the earth.

Barefoot Books Ambassador Program

Interested in starting your own home business? Barefoot Books has a direct-selling opportunity as a way to earn income or fundraise for your child’s school by selling their incredible books and earning a commission. Click HERE to learn more.

TIME FOR THE GIVEAWAY!

**THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED** Congratulations to Lisa F. the winner of The Adventures of Odysseus!

Barefoot Books is generously giving one Groovy Green Livin reader a Barefoot Books title of their choice! Check out the rules below and leave a comment on this giveaway by Monday, February 28, to enter to win.

Rules for entry:

  1. Head over to the Barefoot Books website and choose your favorite title.
  2. Come back and leave a comment telling us  which book you’d like.
  3. Be sure to include your name (first name and last initial are fine) and email so I can contact you if you win. Anonymous or SPAM-ish comments will be trashed.
  4. You must have a North American shipping address- no PO boxes.
  5. One lucky winner (drawn randomly via Random.org) will receive their choice of one Barefoot Books title. The winner will be notified directly via e-mail, and then listed on this post using first name only.
  6. Contest closes at midnight EST, Monday, February 28, 2011. Winner will be announced on March 1, 2011.

For Additional Chances to Win – Please leave separate comments to let me know you have done any of the following:

  1. Follow Barefoot Books @livebarefoot on Twitter
  2. ‘Like’ Barefoot Books on Facebook
  3. Subscribe to Groovy Green Livin via RSS feed or Email
  4. ‘Like’ Groovy Green Livin on Facebook
  5. Follow @Groovygreenlivi on Twitter

Good luck  and enjoy!

*Barefoot Books generously sent me a box filled with many of their wonderful titles for review.  All opinions in this post are my very own.


January 20th, 2011

McDonald’s Forgot to Put Maple in Their Fruit and Maple Oatmeal

McDonalds kicked off the New Year with a new addition to their breakfast menu-Fruit and Maple Oatmeal.  There are a few problems with McDonald’s new offering-one big one: their Fruit and Maple Oatmeal doesn’t contain any actual maple.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture is claiming that this new product doesn’t contain any pure maple, which is in violation Vermont’s stringent maple law.  They are saying the oatmeal contains natural maple flavor, which is an artificial flavor and not pure maple. If this is found to be true it could mean that McDonald’s will have to change the ingredients or labeling.

In a written statement, McDonald’s says they are “currently in discussions with the State of Vermont to ensure that we meet any applicable state standards.”

More problems with the  oatmeal.

Turns out it’s not so nutritious. The ingredient list is long-much longer than the oatmeal you would make at home. My rule of thumb:  if the ingredient list is long and many of the ingredients are unrecognizable-it can’t be good for you and don’t eat it. The oatmeal has refined sugar added in a few places-brown sugar and dried sweetened cranberries (sugar, cranberries).  There are also a number of preservatives that have been added-sulfur dioxide and calcium ascorbate.

The light cream that comes with the oatmeal is also far from healthy; containing milk, cream, sodium phosphate, datem, sodium stearoyl lactylate, sodium citrate, carrageenan. Again the ingredient list was long and I had to look up quite a few.

McDonald’s oatmeal has 290 calories and 4.5 grams of fat.

A single serving of 365 Organic Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats with skim milk is 190 calories with 2.5 grams of fat.

BOTTOM LINE

I haven’t tried McDonald’s oatmeal and I probably never will.  I will  give Mickey D’s a small amount of credit for trying to provide a healthy breakfast option.  For now I think I’ll stick with  my homemade oatmeal with four simple ingredients: organic rolled oats, water, rice milk and raisins.

Have you tried McDonald’s new oatmeal?  Any thoughts?

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I hope you'll join me as I embark on a journey to live a healthy life. Along the way I might make a few pit stops to fight for issues that affect the health and safety of our families. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us. Together we'll discover that simple, small changes can lead to a healthier lifestyle and a greener planet.

Click HERE to contact Lori

Alper-110

Lori on ABC World News

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