Spit That Out!

The Overly Informed Parent's Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt by Paige Wolf

Blogging about green guilt, eco-anxiety, and finding practical, reasonable ways to keep our families safe and healthy.
May 26th, 2015

The Daily Battle of the Food Warrior Mom


“It’s just one Oreo.”
“One donut isn’t gonna kill him?”
“Oh, sorry, you guys don’t do sugar?”
“He can have gum, right?”

It’s a typical week and the battle rages on. A relatively healthy, clean diet versus peer pressure and not-making-them-live-in-a-bubble.

As much as we may strive in the quest for dietary perfection at home, the real world is rife with obstacles. It still never ceases to amaze me how most people are completely oblivious to high fructose corn syrup, GMOs, artificial colors and dyes, and generally harmful processed crap. We know about the links to ADHD, diabetes, and even cancer – and we know that half of these ingredients are BANNED outside of the U.S.  But knowing isn’t half the battle – it’s like 10%. And the world is peppered with gummy bears from the dollar store, blue lollipops, and munchkins, munchkins everywhere.

As careful as I am, my strictness pales in comparison to some parents I know. But, in general, I still come off as “that crazy green mom who won’t let her kid have Starbursts.” But, lest you think I am fanatical for not purchasing Cheerios, let me give you a breakdown over an average three days in the life of a food-and-eco-conscious parent.

Day One – Preschool

7 a.m: We make the children organic frozen waffles or the Cascadian Farms organic version of “Life” – and occasionally their still-sugar-heavy organic version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

8:30 a.m: They complain that they are still hungry so they eat Earths Best fruit bars on the walk to school.

10 a.m: Snacktime at school. Sometimes it’s conventional fruit and sometimes it’s a combination of Goldfish and Cheerios. And then there is pretzel day, where they eat massive soft pretzels, leading to:

noon: Lunch. Mostly uneaten, as seen by the remnants of organic peanut butter and jelly, fruit, and random leftovers.

3 p.m: Afternoon snack at school. It’s someone’s birthday because it is always someone’s birthday. And it’s always Munchkins.

4 p.m: We head to the park. I’ve brought some organic fruit snacks and yogurt drops, maybe even a few organic cookies. But Jane’s parents have brought Cheez-Its and Jack’s parents have brought gummy worms. My children no longer like what I have brought and beg to share with their friends. Sometimes I say yes, sometimes I say no.

4:30 p.m: The Mr. Softie truck rolls up to the playground blaring it’s siren song. All the children run to the fence. Some of the kids get ice cream. Mine don’t.

4:45: The Nesquick bunny enters the park with an igloo full of “chocolate drink.” We rapidly head out.

5:30 p.m: We prepare a healthy, mostly organic dinner for ourselves and our two-year-old, Evelyn, who blissfully still eats what we serve her. My five-year-old, Sam, subsists on about six different things (because we have failed.) But we will make damn sure those six things are organic, so Annie’s Mac and Cheese is served.

6 p.m: I prepare homemade fruit and almond milk ice cream in the Vitamix with an unhealthy amount of conventional chocolate chips (because Fresh Direct doesn’t sell the organic ones and Whole Foods is always out). Sam doesn’t want it because he wants real ice cream. He finally gives in and eats what I’ve made. Five minutes later he complains that he is hungry again and eats four pickles, a cheese stick, and an errant Girl Scout cookie bought out of guilt from a friend’s daughter.

Day Two – Saturday

7 a.m: Breakfast

10 a.m: Sam needs to get a haircut, so he is plied with healthyish snacks to prepare him for the 10 minutes of captivity. After the haircut he is offered a small cup of peanut M&Ms by the well-meaning barber and we let him eat them.

noon: A begrudgingly eaten and picked at lunch.

12:30: My parents arrive with their requisite Dunkin Donuts chocolate chip muffins, which are literally dotted with granulated sugar. I have fought with them about this ad nauseum, but I can not win because it “gives them pleasure” to ply my children with crap.

1 p.m: They want to give them Oreos. I say no. We fight. Sam cries.

1:30 p.m: They want to know if they can take him to CVS to pick out some candy. I say no. Sam cries. Evelyn is oblivious.

2 p.m: Commercials for McDonalds, Gatorade, and Frosted Flakes.

4 p.m: We head out for one of the daily neighborhood festivals that make city living so great. I know that this is one of those occasions where we’ll want to splurge on pizza and ice cream with no thought about ingredients, and so we do. But since Sam has already had M&Ms and a giant sugar-covered muffin and possibly other things snuck by my parents, this ice cream cone has put him over the top and he is high strung and freaking out. Evelyn is covered in sprinkles and is chewing on her shoe.

6 p.m: We all go home and eat cereal and grapes.

6:30 p.m: Sam is hungry again.

Day Three – Sunday

7 a.m: Breakfast

9 a.m: Sam and I take the dog for a walk and the dog drags us into the dry cleaners’ where he knows he will get a treat. And Sam knows he will get a small Hershey bar.

10 a.m: The first birthday part of the day. It is at one of the many establishments where it is mandatory to consume their provided cuisine – cardboard pizza and Hi-C. I am forced to go with the flow.

noon: Cake with blue icing.

12:30: The new requisite piñata, pre-filled with candy you can’t even believe still exists like Laffy Taffy. (For a really fun and easy DIY piñata alternative, see here).

2 p.m: Birthday party number two. Same thing, different bounce house.

5 p.m: Dinner. Hahaha!!!

7 p.m: I pick through the goody bags and hope no one will noticed that I’ve thrown away 3 Blow Pops and something that looks like it’s actually bleeding chartreuse.

My children are not sweet-deprived. They aren’t living in some candy-crushed world where they are only permitted to eat things they’ve grown with their bare hands. We are simply trying to do a little bit better, because we know what’s in this stuff.

We know how it effects our children in the short term and we are terrified of how it will effect them in the long term. We would be remiss and frankly, ignorant, to just let all hell break loose in a blaze of red dye and pesticides.

So, please, please, don’t tell me that one Oreo won’t kill my children. Spend a day in the shoes of a parent forced to wage combat in the universal food wars, and you will know that every crumb counts.

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy my monthly newsletter. Receive green living news, discounts, giveaways, and events delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

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May 21st, 2015

Drawing Conclusions Book Review and Giveaway

A dumpster-diving heroine?

A solar-powered protagonist?

A champion for the righteous – and the recycled?

It takes a really good book to get me hooked, and it’s wonderful to find a main female character who takes on environmental and ethical crime.

With her A Sketch in Crime Mystery Series, debut novelist Deirdre Verne creates a fascinating protagonist with eco-conscious and sustainable values. Throughout the mystery series, it is freegan artist CeCe Prentice’s self-sufficiency and resourcefulness that drive her crime-solving success.

Throughout the series, eco-conscious writer Verne paints a picture of character whose passion for sustainability has drawn her to an off-grid lifestyle. Whether she is operating a manual washing machine, exploring alternative energy sources, or working on her farmstead, she tackles larger questions of genetic engineering, medical industry ethics, and even freegan versus vegan lifestyle choices.

Drawing Conclusions

In Drawing Conclusions, CeCe spends her days dumpster diving for sustenance and sketching intricate details from the faces around her, while her father and twin brother Teddy work in a genetics laboratory. Despite her disdain for consumerism, CeCe has maintained a close relationship with her brother, and is shocked and devastated by his untimely murder. She has scarcely begun to process the news when attempts are made on her own life. Now it’s up to CeCe to draw on her skills as a sketch artist to help the authorities catch the killer—before it’s too late.

Now that I know who the criminals are in the first book, I can’t wait to see her take on crimes at a recycling center and an energy facility in the follow-ups!

Enter to win a copy of Drawing Conclusions

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a samples of this product for review and have a monetary relationship with this brand. Regardless, my opinions are honest. See my full disclosure here. 

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy my monthly newsletter. Receive green living news, discounts, giveaways, and events delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

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May 19th, 2015

Goddess Garden Safe Sunscreen Review

This post is sponsored by Green Sisterhood but the opinion is of my own.

Sun protection is no joke – especially when you have a paler than pale 5-year-old and a hairless dog. That’s right – even my American Hairless Terrier needs protection for his favorite activity – laying in the sun.

Hairless Dog + Pale Boy = Sunscreen Love

Hairless Dog + Pale Boy = Sunscreen Love

But chemical sunscreens can be just as troublesome as unprotected sun exposure. Studies have shown that many of these chemicals have adverse effects on the human body and on the environment. The chemicals in conventional sunscreens are absorbed into the body, and, according to the Environmental Working Group, the common chemical sunscreens have varying levels of toxicity. Endocrine disrupting chemical sunscreens including Oxybenzone have been increasingly linked to early puberty in girls, low sperm count and male infertility, and an increase in hormone-related cancers in both men and women. The chemical has been shown to mimic and alter reproductive hormones and is linked to endometriosis.

Add to that the fragrance found in conventional sunscreens, a compound of hundreds of chemicals, many of which are parabens and phthalates, which have been shown to be toxic to reproductive and organ systems.

I’ve tried a wide variety of natural mineral sunscreens over the years, and it’s often a struggle with thick white creams that leave you looking like you’ve been dipped in paint. So ever since I discovered safe sunscreen Goddess Garden a few years ago, I have not stopped raving and recommending it to friends.

In 2004, Nova Covington created her first “Goddess Garden” product for her daughter Paige (cool name!), the inspiration for Goddess Garden. As an infant, Paige was allergic to most body care products because of her sensitive skin. Nova soon discovered that most body care products contain hundreds of questionable chemicals. Without any effective, natural alternatives available, Nova began to formulate a line of safe and sensitive products that she felt confident using on her daughters. Now, Goddess Garden has become the fastest growing natural sunscreen brand in the U.S.

All of Goddess Garden’s products are certified organic, using only zinc and titanium as active ingredients. And best of all, they offer the only all mineral sunscreen in a continuous spray! And Goddess Garden goes on sheer making it a pleasure to apply.

Seriously Safe Spray!

Seriously Safe Spray!

Here are some more cool things to know about Goddess Garden:



Giveaway​­: Goddess Garden is giving away 1 Oz Everyday Sunscreen tubes to the first 100 people and 500 sample sachets thereafter. Offer is good while supply last.

Free Sunscreen

Readers can also use the discount code #SunSafeGoddess for 20% off online, good from May 19th through July 30th!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Green Sisterhood. I received samples of these products for review. Regardless, my opinions are honest. See my full disclosure here. 

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May 11th, 2015

The Mommy Greenest Guide to Pregnancy, Birth, & Beyond

What’s the number one way to wake someone up to all the issues Americans face with lead in lipstick, artificial dyes in foods, and flame retardants in car seats?

Get them pregnant.

That’s what sent me on the information spiral that lead to this book and blog. And it’s what prompted my dear friend Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff to write The Mommy Greenest Guide to Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond

Rachel’s book come with the support of her friends at Naturepedic mattresses (no pun intended), a natural mattress company I’ve talked about before, leading the innovation on safe sleep.

The easy and quick read includes the lowdown on everything from the best way to filter water and paint the nursery to pregnancy sex. And the best part – it’s completely free for download online.

Just another wonderful read to make green living more manageable, practical, and affordable!

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May 4th, 2015

Broad Street Run: Off The Bucket List and Into The Books

Remember when I was stoked about running a full three minutes?

Three years – and one pregnancy – later, I killed the Philly 10K, despite wretched humidity and a recovery that took almost a full week.

So I had to put Broad Street Run on my radar, undoubtedly the most historic, exciting, and inspiring race in Philadelphia – and possibly in the country. Each year 40,000 runners race the 10 mile stretch from Einstein Hospital in North Philadelphia, around City Hall, and past the stadiums to the Navy Yard at the tip of South Philadelphia.

It is an experience on every runner’s bucket list and something that can change your entire perspective of Philadelphia.

It’s also a logistical clusterfuck.

This I knew from my husband’s race experience over the past few years. At 6:30 a.m. thousands of runners pack the subway as the most efficient route to the starting line. From there, runners brave the porto-potty lines (as I learned firsthand, peeing in the bushes is strictly prohibited) and then assemble into massive corrals where an average-paced runner waits a solid 45 minutes to begin. Getting home is that much worse, as you are forced to walk a mile back to the subway and travel back pressed against thousands of sweaty runners. (I lucked out with a ride back from the stadium but hear the alternative is pretty gnarly).

However, once you begin, the streets are lined with cheering sections, live music, hilarious signs, and strangers feeding you orange slices. It’s remarkable to watch the changing of the neighborhoods as you progress, and you will never feel so heartwarmed and enthralled with the community and spirit of Philadelphia.

But 10 miles is still 10 miles – and that bitch is far. Like so far that you are a couple miles in before you see the iconic “Boner is 4Ever” graffiti. So far that it takes 4 miles just to get to Temple University. So far that when you get to the stadium you still have a mile to go. And when you cross through the Navy Yard entrance, you still have a quarter mile to go.

Throughout most of the race I felt pretty good and kept a decent pace. I was able to mark landmarks with friends’ cheering stations and was only mildly frustrated by the bottlenecking around City Hall.

But somewhere around mile 7 I started to feel an unfamiliar pain. Unlike the normal general ache I begin to feel in my feet due to my oddly heavy elephant foot strike, this was an acute pain in the fronts of my soles. It felt like my shoes had worn through and I was running barefoot on hot tar. I don’t know if my foot strike was taking a toll from the distance or my shoes had seen too many miles, but things got rough quick. I was also experiencing a severe case of “chubb rub” between my thighs (which by all accounts have a damn gap thank you very much!)

Around that same time I developed a serious fear of dehydrating and began pausing at every water station, drinking at least 9 cups of warm Gatorade while trying not to swallow my gum.

Despite these pace-killers, South Philadelphia had never seemed so short. Compared to North Philadelphia, it felt like the distance of my high school gymnasium. I repeated my mantra of “The faster you run, the faster you’re done” and sprinted the final mile. Or so I thought, but my chip time begs to differ.

My goal was sub 1:40, which I thought I would crush considering pacing 9:36 in the scorching hot 10K. But alas all that Gatorade got me and I finished at 1:41. Goal of completing 10 miles done, yes. Respectable time by some measure, yes. Perfect, no. But that is just fine with me because I am ONE AND DONE!

I am over the training and the trains. I like running – I just don’t love it enough to put in this kind of effort. What I love is CrossFit – the constantly VARIED intensity training. I prefer the sound of crashing barbells to the serenity of a steady pace. I like my races to be broken up with hurdles and rope climbs and, yes, even burpees.

Sure, I’ll sign up for 5 and 10Ks to go for PRs and have some fun. I just got word that the next Philly10K starts feet from my house and includes a Federal Donuts-infused Shake Shack Custard. I’ll be damned if I’m missing that.

But as for 10 miles or more? I’ve proven I can do it and crossed it off the Bucket List.

And I am never taking this medal off!


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April 23rd, 2015

Bike Share Comes to Philly! Review of Ride Indego

Four years ago I visited Montreal and fell in love. More than anything else, I was blown away by their bikeshare program, something I didn’t imagine would ever come to Philadelphia.

But when I came back from the trip and started poking around, I found that the seeds for a bikeshare program in my city had already been planted. Could this really come to fruition? The ultimate marriage of the sharing economy, fitness, and fuel-free transportation?

Fast forward to today when Ride Indego rolls out with more than 600 self-service bikes and 60 stations around the city. And I am quite possibly the first customer to ride.

The day of the launch I headed to the nearest station, about 100 meters from my front door, and saw a single bike hooked up to the kiosk. I swiped my card (I bought a pre-paid monthly unlimited membership for $15, one of several options) and went to grab my bike. But a man in a B-Cycle t-shirt ran up and told me he needed the bike for the official launch procession and the bikes wouldn’t technically be available for an hour. But I sweet-talked him into letting me take it anyway (if sweet talk is, “I’m taking this anyway.”)


I also have a geocache hidden around here.


Getting the bike in and out of the kiosk is super easy. I actually remember it being a bit cumbersome in Montreal, but maybe I was just an idiot. Another nice thing is that the seat is incredibly easy to adjust. A good thing for me since I am not very tall.

One weird thing was that the bike felt super heavy to me. Maybe I am used to my rusty old piece of wire, but this thing has some heft – it’s a learning curve if you need to pick it up onto the sidewalk.

But overall the ride was smooth and it was a pleasure not having to worry about low tire pressure or crowded bike racks. The map shows a kiosk within one block of just about anywhere I would ever need to ride.

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 7.26.58 PM

The only downside is that you lose the convenience of locking your helmet up to your bike, and need to bring it with you to your destination. Not a huge deal, and not a reason to ride without a helmet!

So why would I want to use a bikeshare service if I already own a bike?

1. My bike is a rusted out, bent hunk of metal that perfectly serves the purpose of deterring theft due to its worthlessness. If I ride over a gum wrapper it feels like a pothole. And every winter it sits out on my patio collecting snow and requiring a serious spring tune up. With a bikeshare the bikes are always in pristine condition.

2. My bike tires are perpetually low on air and I need to circle the city looking for an available pump. Once I was overzealous with the pumping and the tire exploded louder than a backfiring car. Indego keeps its tires in check.

3. I can not tell you how many times my bike lock has broken off my bike. A couple times I forgot the key and had to create the illusion that my bike was actually locked up. Even if you can find a proper place to lock your bike and have all the accouterments, someone is bound to try to steal it. Seriously bike thefts in Philadelphia are more common than underage drinking. I’d like to see someone try to steal a two-ton blue bike emblazoned with the Independence Blue Cross logo.

4. Bells and whistles. Well, maybe not an actual bell, but front and rear baskets to make hauling things significantly easier than cycling with a handbag. Also actual working gears, lights, and reflectors.

5. Not having to drag my bike in and out of my house. This is a big one. Living in a city home, we don’t have garages or driveways or “mud rooms.” Anything that enters my house is dining with me. And it is a a bitch to carry a bicycle back and forth, through my house and out the back door, careful not to let its muddy wheels touch the carpet, every time I need to run an errand more than three blocks away.

6. The option to bike somewhere and not bike home. Like when it starts to pour and you have your damn bike. Or you’ve just done a grueling workout and you have your damn bike. Or when you’ve had a few drinks and you have your damn bike.

Those reasons alone were enough for me to invest in a monthly membership. And when winter rolls around again, I will cancel for those months, content to not have to worry about my useless, rusting bike.

And if you’re ready to kiss your rusty old bike goodbye, you can donate it to cool local charity Neighborhood Bike Works.

So what do you think? Will you give the bike share a spin?

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy my monthly newsletter. Receive green living news, discounts, giveaways, and events delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

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April 10th, 2015

When Did “Greenbashing” Become Sexy?


Back when I was writing my book it was cool to be green. People were waking up to the fact that conventional food is full of junk, plastic is not always your friend, and the planet was quickly becoming overrun by soda cans and wildfires. Recycling bins became the status quo and people generally started to give a damn.

Sure, there were the folks who revved up the engines on their 4x4s just to spite the “treehuggers.” Such dissection is expected, but overall we were letting it be known that this whole “green thing” was not a fad. It was a wake up call and a new way of life.

But where it was once becoming common acceptance that Monsanto is evil and Cheese Whiz is bad, writers are popping up to poke holes in the movement. And I’m not talking about Fox News, or even the mom bloggers hashtagging for the love of GMOs. I’m talking about Gawker, the mecca of celebrity gossip where today’s headline reads, “Marilyn Manson Allegedly Sucker-Punched at Canadian Denny’s.”

Lest you think the pro-chemical folks can’t be pithy, here’s a selection from this week’s “The Food Babe Blogger is Full of Shit:”

“…fussy assholes from the Food Babe Army who think that gluten causes your spleen to turn radioactive, or whatever lie she’s using to sell organic kale dipped in yak’s butter this week.”

I have been vocally honest about my issues with Food Babe (aka Vani Hari). I’m not a huge fan of her tactics or everything she writes. But overall I believe she is working for the betterment of the spectacularly screwed-up American food system. And as for profiting, find me one blogger or advocate who doesn’t need to use affiliate links to make a few dollars, supporting brands they believe in.

Unsurprisingly, the article’s author, who also runs the “Science Babe” Facebook page and business, comes from Amvac Chemical, “which found a profitable — and controversial — niche by buying manufacturing rights to older pesticides, many of them at risk of being banned or restricted because of safety concerns.”  Amvac also has a collaboration agreement with Monsanto to co-market Roundup ready platforms. The same Roundup that has glyphosate, which has been listed by the IARC and WHO as a probable carcinogen and the same Roundup that is directly associated with GMO crops.

Got all that?

Oddly enough, on the same day, Jezebel, Gawker‘s snarky sister site, published an article called, “What’s Up with Phthalates?”  This question was answered by a blogger with no discernible scientific background, but plenty of wit.

“Phthalate haters (“phthaters” as I call them) argue that they can cause developmental disabilities and delays in children, ADHD, metabolism problems, maybe even cancer, and one study suggested “less masculine play in boys.” Which, sounds fine to me. In fact, the internet and conversations with friends yielded no shortage of bad things people wanted to blame on phthalates. One friend, told me she suspects phthalates could be linked to autism, which isn’t just something she pulled off an internet forum. This link is mentioned here, in Scientific American. It seems like phthalates have been blamed for everything except stealing the Lindberg baby and being the Zodiac killer. Of course, just because phthalates have been linked to something, doesn’t mean they caused that thing. Phthalates were totally just holding onto their friend’s pot, they promise.”

She goes on to suggest that if we want to avoid phthalates we should go live in a yurt in Montana.

Aww, that’s really clever. But we could also go to Europe where they have been banned in children’s toys since 1999. Nine other countries, including Japan, Mexico and Argentina, have also outlawed the chemicals. China, which makes 85 percent of the world’s toys, has developed two manufacturing lines, one for the European market and the other like-minded nations that ban phthalates, and another one for the United States and dozens mostly developing and third world countries that don’t restrict them. Isn’t that clever as well?

Let me be clear that I am a believer in science. I believe that chemicals should be scientifically tested before they are put in my food or lipstick. And until you can be pretty damn sure they aren’t directly linked to cancer and diabetes, I’m gonna go ahead and avoid them when I can.

And that’s the thing – we can. So why the hell shouldn’t we? Because it makes us “phthaters?” Because Vani Hari doesn’t choose to get a flu shot? Because some bloggers make a commission off the sale of organic Goji berries?

But let’s be honest – both sides are getting a little crazy.

I saw a fair share of good old fashioned sexism coming from both sides – men on my Facebook feed referring to the Gawker article as “a catfight.” Well intentioned women saying we should all support each other instead of trying to “tear each other down,” as if having a vagina means we all should agree on everything. More people inexplicably linking GMO labeling with vaccine refusal and making me want to go live in my own personal yurt just to avoid all the bullshit and nonsense!

Because that’s the thing – the movement for real, transparent, honest food isn’t any more tied to anti-vaccination or Food Babe than it is to believing in alien crop circles. And it is my right and responsibility to question everything – whether from the mouth of Vani Hari or from the mouth of the Dalai Lama. I may support President Obama, but I sure as hell don’t agree with everything he’s ever said or done. Nor should I. Because that would make me an unthinking drone. This isn’t “Going Clear” – it’s going clean. And I’m getting tired of picking up the pieces of this hot, garbled mess.

So I repeat my same mantra and mission, hoping sanity and intention will prevail. This is the movement of our generation – to take back our food, our air, our water. And if we can all agree to a few basic principles – without mucking it all up with religion, gender, money, and ego – then maybe we have a fighting chance.

Our vision is for transparency and honesty from the food, cosmetics, and other manufacturing industries.

We undeniably agree that products produced for Americans should be held to the same standards as those manufactured for use abroad.

We want more accessible, affordable access to food that has not been genetically-modified or treated with dangerous pesticides.

We want fair farming practices that support the farmers, the environment, and humanely raised animals.

We want to be heard. And when too many other controversial issues get lumped in there, we just become white noise.

Promote any lifestyle you like and shout your beliefs from the mountaintops.

But we have to find a way to make the public hear us speak to these key issues with one clear, unwavering voice.

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy my monthly newsletter. Receive green living news, discounts, giveaways, and events delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

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April 8th, 2015

Embrace Everything Local at Philly Food and Farm Fest


If we can’t live on a farm, the farm can come to us – at least once a year! We are excited to check out this year’s Philadelphia Farm & Food Fest, Sunday, April 12, presented by Fair Food and Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Farm & Food Fest is one of the country’s biggest and best single-day food festivals and a perfect way to introduce kids to the lifelong benefits of healthful, sustainable eating. Sign up in person for a summer CSA share, check out urban homesteading demos (canning!), and sample locally made products from jam and granola to pickles and cookies!

Kids can begin exploring the event by catching a screening of local filmmaker Rich Hoffman’s “Watermelon Magic,” a time-lapse tale that follows the growth of the iconic summer fruit from seed to snack, starring his six-year-old daughter Sylvie; then, they can learn about soil and seeds with the wiggly worms that make compost possible at Cloud 9 Farm’s Plant and Squirm class; join a reading and demo from StoryUp!’s Martha Cooney and Honeypie Cooking’s Shayna Marmar during Cooking Up Stories, where they’ll prepare their own tortillas for tasty seasonal tacos; or, make a new friends, such as a live alpaca from Lost Creek Alpaca Farm. Throughout the day, curious eaters will be treated to a wealth of free samples from local farmers and growers, encouraging kids to expand their young palates (please!) and maybe even find a new favorite healthy treat just in time for the spring growing season.

Farm & Food Fest presents an opportunity for members of the public to get to know their farmers and learn more about how the food they enjoy all year travels from the farm to the market or the table – and to see the chefs and culinary professionals whose restaurants they frequent interacting with the very people who supply their exceptional ingredients.

Fair Food was founded in 2000 with the mission of building and sustaining a humane local food economy in Philadelphia. Working cooperatively with area farmers, the group drives demand and desire for sustainably raised, locally produced foods across hospitality, institutional and educational sectors in the greater Philadelphia area and puts restaurants, bars and other sellers in contact with the farmers who supply their product, often acting as a helpful third party to facilitate mutually beneficial transactions. Fair Food is dedicated to bringing locally grown food to the marketplace and to promoting a humane, sustainable agriculture system. To learn more, guests are encouraged to visit the Fair Food Farmstand (51 North 12th Street, 215-386-5211) at Reading Terminal Market or www.fairfoodphilly.org.

For more information and tickets, visit www.phillyfarmfest.org.

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April 2nd, 2015

The Quest for Dietary Perfection

Food Pyramid (2)

Recently I was doing a TV interview when the reporter asked me what I thought was the “perfect food.” I told her I wasn’t aware of a “perfect food” – more like a list of incredibly imperfect ones.

She said she thought bananas were the perfect food. I said that, yes, bananas are awesome, and we probably go through about two bunches per week – however, after reading Animal Vegetable Miracle I became aware that bananas were never actually in season in Pennsylvania and eating them meant thousands of miles of travel through dirty fuel to bring them to my doorstep. So, no, they aren’t perfect. But we eat them anyway.

That’s why I’m not a fan of the “Always” and “Never” lifestyle or the kind of heavy-handed articles that attempt to enforce that. While I believe the scientific research articles on pesticides and environment that scare the hell out of us do need to be shared and taken seriously, the reactionary advice to families might be tampered with a bit more understanding.

Often when we hit people over the head with how terrible their choices are, the reaction can go from paralyzing fear to “fuck it” in a matter of minutes. And that’s pretty dangerous, especially in an age of food deserts and a fight for minimum wage – although, as a food activist friend once said, “No one has to drink Mountain Dew.”

Personally, I want to do the best I can to provide healthy, minimally processed food for my family – but I also don’t want to force them to live in a bubble. So I might cringe at the constant birthday Munchkins at preschool and the Goldfish passed at the playground, but I won’t tell my children they can’t have them. And when Girl Scout Cookie season comes around in all its GMO glory, I allow a box of Thin Mints or two, letting my children and I stuff our bellies until they ache and we remember why unhealthy foods make us feel so yucky.

I will never keep bees or chickens and while I may know what a scoby is, I will never brew my own kombucha. I do bake my own bread but also order out for pizza. I don’t boycott the organic brands who have sold to corporations, though I do keep a watchful eye. I caved and bought conventional grapes when organic were nowhere to be found, but I also participate in a “cow share.” Soda and gum are the only two things that are verboten for my children, though they’ve seen me occasionally indulge in both. Fresh Direct is a gift and a curse. I haven’t had McDonalds in at least five years but I think that maybe, just maybe, I will someday secretly eat a carton of fries.

We all want to do our best, and it’s about making healthy, sustainable diets manageable, practical, and affordable. I hope this blog helps offer you the tips and tricks to do better, without letting perfect be the enemy of good.

So where do you fall on the quest for dietary perfection?


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March 30th, 2015

Get Your ShiftCon Tickets Now!

Last year I packed my bags and flew cross-country for four days for a conference. Sounds like a pain right? But it was actually paradise.

Because paradise to me is being around a group of like-minded women who are passionate about changing the world, one tweet or blog post at a time. Women who will take their school board to task over the lunch program or lead the petition to get arsenic out of apple juice. These are the women of ShiftCon.

And this year, not only is it a networking paradise, it is an actual paradise – situated right on Manhattan Beach in Los Angeles! I’m excited to be a part of the event again this year – and even more excited to get out of Philadelphia precisely while it turns into “Pope-a-palozza!”

Use this link to get your tickets now and join me in LA!

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