The Environmental Working Group (EWG) compiles data each year from the USDA to provide a quick cheat sheet, listing produce that has the most—and least—pesticide residue. Following is EWG’s 2019 shopper’s guide to the dirty dozen and clean 15.
The Clean 15: avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, peas (frozen), onions, papayas, eggplants, asparagus, kiwis, cabbages, cantaloupes, broccoli, mushrooms and honeydew melons.
Did you ever stop to consider how often you use plastic in a day? In 2009, 30 million tons of plastic waste was generated in the U.S., but only 7 percent was recovered for recycling. Here are eight ways to reduce your plastic waste.
1. Stop using plastic straws, even in restaurants. If a straw is a must, purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass straw.
2. Use a reusable produce bag. A single plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to degrade. Purchase or make your own reusable produce bag, and be sure to wash them often.
3. Give up gum. You may be surprised to know that gum is made of a synthetic rubber, aka plastic.
4. Buy boxes instead of bottles. Often, products such as laundry detergent are available in cardboard, which is more easily recycled than plastic.
5. Use a reusable bottle or mug for your beverages. Skip the paper cup, even when ordering to-go.
6. Reuse containers for storing leftovers or shopping in bulk.
7. Make fresh squeezed juice, or eat fruit instead of buying juice in plastic bottles. It’s healthier and better for the environment.
8. Pack your lunch in reusable containers and bags. Also, opt for fresh fruits and veggies and bulk items, rather than products packaged in single-serving cups.
Both organic and biodynamic farming rely on natural methods of shielding their crop from insects and disease, rather than pesticides. Also, neither method produces genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Most importantly, each practice takes the earth’s health into account, in both the long- and short-term.
What most distinguishes biodynamic farming is everything consumed is produced on site. For example, a biodynamic farm wouldn’t buy livestock feed; it would produce the feed itself. Additionally, biodynamic farms work with lunar and astrological cycles, with a belief those factors impact biological systems. The most important and revered variable in biodynamic farming is the soil, however, since everything is produced on the property.
Did you know that Americans purchase about 50 billion water bottles per year? That’s an average of about 13 bottles per month for every person in the U.S. That means by investing in a reusable water bottle, you could save an average of 156 plastic bottles annually.
Organic farming is agriculture that makes healthy food, healthy soils, healthy plants and healthy environments a priority, along with crop productivity. Organic farmers use biological fertilizer inputs and management practices such as cover cropping and crop rotation to improve soil, quality and build organic soil matter. By increasing the amount of organic matter in the soil, organic famers enhance the soil’s ability to absorb water, reducing the impacts of drought and flooding.
Source: Organic Farming Research Association
Creating a bee-friendly garden means more than just planting flowers. While it’s important to attract bees with gorgeous blooms, you’ll also want to give them a place to collect water. Bees need water for digestion, to manage the consistency of honey, to keep the hive cool and to feed the babies.
And while a pond or fountain make your garden bee friendly, it may be too ambitious a project for some gardners. A bee bath is a simple bee water-feeder that’s easy to make and care for in your garden. For the home garden, a shallow dish or bowl with some rocks in it that sits above clean water is just enough to give bees a drink. The idea is to create a source of fresh water that has places for bees to perch as they drink and collect water. As for upkeep, change water daily and clean the bee bath weekly.
Raymond Wolfgramm is in the bee business. His company, NorCal Bees, has a goal to help save the depleted bee population, educating the public as they do. NorCal Bees offers 24-hour bee removal and relocation to the Bay Area from its Half Moon Bay headquarters, along with beehive installation, maintenance and mentorship. Additionally, Wolfgramm and his wife, Kara, sell colonies of bees as well as mated queens, and of course, produce locally sourced raw honey. But if business is to continue, Wolfgramm’s mission to stabilize the bee population must succeed. There are multiple reasons for the insect’s decline, including monoculture farming that eliminates flower-producing native vegetation in many areas, an abundance of non-flowered crops like corn and pesticides.
Another reason for the plight of bees is more mysterious. Colony Collapse Disorder first became a factor more than a decade ago, when beekeepers reported losing as much as 90 percent of their hives in 2006, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s unclear what causes worker bees to abandon their queen and ample food supplies. “We check the hive, and it looks good. We come back a week later, and all but a handful of bees and the queen are left and the hive dies out,” Wolfgramm says.
According to the EPA, invasive varroa mites, a pest to bees, and stress from changed conditions are some likely causes for Colony Collapse Disorder. Wolfgramm is optimistic, however. “The bees will hopefully overcome, like they have for millions of years. They’re already working on it,” he says. The EPA agrees, reporting a recent drop in CCD. Still, NorCal Bees plans to go to rural areas to breed queens with hardy survivor stock feral bees, with a belief that imported bees have damaged the local gene pool. “Everyone wants a gentle yellow fluffy imported bee that makes a lot of honey, but those aren’t surviving.” Wolfgramm and NorCal Bees are doing all they can to help. He and Kara can be found at the Pacifica farmers market on Wednesdays and every other Saturday at the Half Moon Bay market.
Their products are available online at norcalbees.com.
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