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Archive for Green Questions Groovy Answers

May 24th, 2012

Organic vs. Conventional Strawberries

Groovy Green Livin Organic strawberries

Welcome to Green Questions, Groovy Answers-your opportunity to get your pressing green questions answered each week. This week’s question comes from a Groovy Green Livin reader, Suzanne in Memphis, TN. Thanks Suzanne!

Does eating organic strawberries really matter?

There is nothing like the summer months when supermarkets are filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. Local farmers markets are just beginning to open up their tables, offering an abundance of fresh produce. When we shop for produce we have many choices -one of the most difficult being whether to invest our hard earned dollars on fruits and veggies that have been organically grown. While buying organic is always the better option, it is impossible and cost prohibitive to buy everything organic.

Strawberries are a favorite fruit in our house. My youngest son and I devour them by the handful. We use them for smoothies, in our lunch boxes and as a healthy after school snack. Buying organic strawberries can be very expensive. Last time I went to the market it was close to $5.00 for a small container, while the conventional counterpart was much less costly.

Is it worth it to invest in organic strawberries? The short answer is YES.

Research suggests that organic strawberries are the way to go

Researchers at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group created the Shoppers Guide to Pesticides to help us determine which fruits and vegetables have the most pesticide residues and are the most important to buy organic. We can lower our pesticide intake substantially by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables (The Dirty Dozen) and eating the least contaminated produce (Clean 15).

Strawberries are number 3 on the list of most contaminated fruits

In in a study led by Washington State University, the results found: organic strawberries are healthier, tastier, and better for the soil than conventional strawberries. Conventional strawberries are contaminated by all sorts of pesticides and toxic chemicals and have consistently been high on the most contaminated list. If you have the option, organic strawberries are the way to go.

Where can I buy organic strawberries?

Check your local farmer’s markets and supermarkets for local organic strawberry options. There are times when organic strawberries will make a guest appearance in my CSA box. If you would like to find a local CSA in your neck of the woods take a look at LocalHarvest.

How can I pick my own strawberries?

There’s nothing like picking your own fresh strawberries from a local farm or better yet from your own garden. When you pick your own you know exactly where the strawberries came from and if picking at a local farm you have the unique opportunity to ask the farmer questions if you’re concerned about which pesticides were used (if any) to help them grow.

If you want to find a local farm stand near you to pick your own strawberries PickYourOwn.org enables you to find the closest pick-your-own farms throughout the world. The site is simple to use. Locate your state or country and a handy list pops up. Look for the farms highlighted in green -those are the organic farms. The site also has a link to canning and preserving directions as well as picking tips.

Do you buy organic strawberries? Do you pick your own?

[Photo used under Creative Commons from Ewan Traveler/Flickr]

 

Linked up with The Greenbacks Gal Green Resource, Natural Mothers Network.

 

 

May 10th, 2012

6 Eco Alternatives to Plastic Wrap

Groovy Green Livin plastic wrap alternative

Welcome to Green Questions, Groovy Answers-your opportunity to get your pressing green questions answered each week.

This week’s question comes from a Twitter fan, Ashley (@AEB624) in Boston. Thanks Ashley!

Are there any eco-friendly alternatives to using plastic wrap?

Plastic wrap has been around for generations, preserving leftovers and keeping food from becoming stale. Unfortunately, our convenient, handy plastic wrap is made from a form of plastic called low-density polyethylene (LDPE). After we use plastic wrap it ends up in our overflowing landfills and takes forever to decompose.

If you’re looking for a simple way to green up your kitchen- swapping out your plastic wrap for a more environmentally friendly option is an easy change. There are quite a few plastic wrap alternatives out there. Take a look at these non-toxic plastic wrap replacements:

Glass food storage containers

Glass containers (with tops that seals well) works well for storing leftovers.  In our fridge it’s very important to have a see through container since the leftover situation can sometimes get out of hand.

Glass storage canning jars

Don’t reach for the plastic wrap – put your soups, stews and other foods in a glass storage jar. They are air tight and reusable and a great way to preserve your food.

Abeego Flats

Abeego Flats are made from hemp and cotton fabric and comes in a few different sizes. The warmth of your hands combined with pressure causes the flat to form tightly around the item to be stored. The best part: hand wash your flat in cold, soapy water and air dry.

I haven’t tried them out, but my friend Alicia over at The Soft Landing wrote a review.

Cloth or towel

A cloth or towels are perfect for fresh produce. I gently wrap my produce from our CSA in a cloth or kitchen towel and place it in the refrigerator. Cloth can also be used over the top of a bowl. Just add a rubber band and your container is virtually airtight.  No need for any plastic.

Reusable sandwich and snack bags

Don’t wrap those sandwiches in Saran. Use a reusable sandwich bag to keep those sandwiches fresh on their way to school.

Nothing at all

Could you, would you leave some leftovers on a plate and put them in the fridge without plastic wrap?  I’m guessing there are quite a few things that end up covered in plastic wrap that don’t really need to be covered at all. Think twice before wrapping.

Can you think of any other plastic wrap alternatives?

[Photo used under Creative Commons from dvs/Flickr]

Disclosure: There are a few affiliate links in this post. Any purchases made through the links will put a few pennies in my pocket and support this blog. Thanks!

Linked up with Natural Mothers Network

 

May 3rd, 2012

Green Questions Groovy Answers-How to Recycle Teflon

Groovy Green Livin Recycle Teflon pans

Welcome to week two of Green Questions, Groovy Answers. A big thank you to everyone who submitted their excellent name suggestions for this new weekly column. Rebecca from Natural Mothers Network came up with the winner: Green Questions Groovy Answers. Thank you Rebecca! If you have a question you would like answered please submit it through the comment section, Facebook, Twitter or shoot me an email.

This weeks question came from @twituva on Twitter.

What should I do with my old Teflon non-stick pans? Is there a preferable way to recycle/discard them?

Despite the ease and con­ve­nience of non-stick pots and pans such as Teflon, many health conscious people are tossing their non-stick and replacing them with healthier options.

What’s wrong with Teflon?

Non-stick pots and pans are metal pans (such as aluminum pans) coated with a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon. Teflon is toxic. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), toxic fumes from the Teflon chemical released from pots and pans at high temperatures have lead to many pet bird deaths and an unknown number of human illnesses each year.

Thankfully, there are many green and non-toxic alternatives on the market.

Now the 20 million dollar question: What do we do with all of our old Teflon and non-stick pans?

This is a challenging question. Do we really want to donate something that could potentially harm someone else?  If we throw them in the trash they’ll end up lying around in an overflowing landfill, leaching toxins into the soil. So what’s the answer?

I decided to turn this tough question over to some of my favorite green gurus in the blogosphere to see what they had to say.

Nancy from Surviving and Thriving on Pennies says ” I donated mine to Goodwill a few years back. What I think is bad might be a perfectly good pan to others. In a way helping others get stuff for cheaper. Still bothers me though.”

Suzanne from Mommy Footprint has a fantastic suggestion and Karen from EcoKaren agrees : “tough one…many play-based preschools have sand boxes with pretend kitchens. This is the perfect spot for discarded Teflon…it won’t be heated back up!”

Deanna Duke from Crunchy Chicken suggested “As much as I hate passing the toxic buck to someone else, giving it to Goodwill is a decent option. If someone else buys it, then that’s one less new pan being purchased and, in the end, produced.” Stephanie from Good Girl Gone Green agrees that donating the pans is a good option.

Anna from Green Talk came up with a few creative uses for those non-stick pans: “I wonder if you could put a picture in the middle of the pan and create kitchen art. Lots of people have those hanging pot racks. Or maybe you could take the handle off and use the pot for plant drainage.”

Diane from Big Green Purse came up with an interesting thought “Why not send them back to the manufacturer?”

Beth from My Plastic Free Life agreed with Diane “I love Diane’s idea of sending them back to the manufacturer with a letter explaining why. I donated mine to Goodwill. I don’t like ‘passing the buck’ either, but I figure if someone wants Teflon pans, better they use my old ones than buy new ones and encourage the market for Teflon.”

What do you do with your old Teflon pans?

[Photo used under creative commons from Jerry Pank/Flickr]

Linked up to Natural Mothers Network

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I like to make noise and stir the pot especially when an issue hits home and effects the health of our families. Join me as I make some noise and share along the way tips for living a green and healthy life. Read more.

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