Greenifying Your Palate

June 10, 2009

I want to tell you what I did this weekend: I want to the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo in Anaheim, California.  And it was an experience in greenification from the inside out!
 
The Institute of Food Technologists meets every year, bringing together thousands of food technologists, researchers, nutritionists, food industry representatives, and journalists to discuss what the current food trends and scientific discoveries about food, nutrition, additives and flavorings for the coming weeks and months will be.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this year’s convention shows the food industry is getting greener by the year. 

The food technology industry has apparently realized the value of the green market.  Their offerings were focused on sustainable foods, organics, pro-biotics, pre-biotics, and functional foods.  They are adding nutrients and healthy aspects to foods that most of us never considered healthy before.

There were companies talking about greenifying their food producing and processing.  There were additives made from whole grains and other natural components.  There were entire sections devoted to sustainability in foods.

Much of the focus was on natural non-caloric sweeteners.  Instead of making highly processed, sophisticated chemicals to sweeten our food, it would appear that we are due for an onslaught of natural, but non-nutritive (zero calorie) sweeteners. 

Food colorings are going “all natural,” as well.  Colorings are being produced from natural dyes found in other foods like cabbage and berries, instead of chemicals and additives.  These colors are beautiful and safe for both consumers and the environment.

We’re entering a period where we have more technology, science, processes, and chemicals available than ever before, but in looking around the food technologists’ convention, I could see that the industries are responding to public demand for natural, sustainable, greenly produced foods.

The food industry is going green, in answer to what the public wants.  By the way, among the most popular “take-away” items from the IFT’s Food Expo were fabric shoulder bags.  In the past, the bags were mostly plastic and thrown away after the convention.  The bags I brought home will be recycled as grocery bags.


Now that Earth Day Is Over... What Are You Doing?

April 28, 2009

Now that Earth Day is over again for this year, how do we go forward with our resolve to be more protective of our planet and its valuable natural resources?
We've celebrated the planet, now it's time to get serious and Greenify in a meaningful way.
 
Here are some ideas that I had:
 
*Car pool at least one day per week.  This saves on fuel and parking spaces at work.  If you're the boss, lead the way and encourage employees to do it.  Maybe you can start by offering to pick up an employee or two on the way to work at least once a week.
 
*Turn off lights when you leave the room.  Every time.
 
*Use recyclable paper as often as possible.  Yes, it does cost a little more, but it also saves our planet a lot.
 
*Dial down on heat and up on air conditioning.  68 degrees in the winter and 72 degrees in the summer (if not more) can make a huge difference in the company energy bill, too.
 
*Intall timers on restroom lights.  It's a safe bet no one wants to stay in there very long anyway, right? 
 
*Eat lunch at your desk.  Saves money and fuel.
 
*Add plants for decoration and pollution control.  If you have landscaping outdoors, remember to put the watering cycles on timers, too, and water only at night.Conservation is key. 
 
*Encourage others in their to Greenify, as well.  Can we underestimate the power of a good compliment to a fellow businessperson?  If they're weighing the importance of their greenification efforts, it's always good to hear encouraging words.  Plus, it does help make and keep friends.
 
Earth Day only comes once per year, but the goal is to celebrate the importance of our Earth every day and try to keep it a clean, more healthful place to live.


Earth Day Appreciation

April 22, 2009

I thought in celebration of Earth Day 2009, we would go over a few facts about the wonderful world we live in.  These are some of the many things I find amazing about our planet:

Our Earth is about 4.5 billion years old.

It travels through space at 660,000 miles per hour.

During the course of one day, the sun causes about one trillion tons of water to evaporate.

Jellyfish have been on Earth for over 650 million years, before sharks and dinosaurs.

The Amazon rainforest produces more than 20% of the world's oxygen supply.

There are more insects in one square mile of rural land than there are human beings on the entire earth.

The overall amount of water on our planet has remained the same for two billion years.

Approximately 70 percent of the Earth is covered with water. Only 1 percent of the water is drinkable.

In a 100-year period, a water molecule spends 98 years in the ocean, 20 months as ice, about 2 weeks in lakes and rivers, and less than a week in the atmosphere; but at the same time, groundwater can take a human lifetime just to traverse a mile.

The oceans of the world would rise about 60 meters if Antarctica's ice sheets melted.

The Atlantic Ocean is saltier than the Pacific Ocean.

If all the salt were to be extracted from the oceans, there would be enough salt to cover all the continents five feet deep.

An earthquake in 1811 caused parts of the Mississippi River to flow backwards.

Finland is also known as "the land of of the thousand lakes."

Aluminum forms one-twelfth of the Earth's crust.

A volcano has enough power to shoot ash as high as 50 km into the atmosphere.

About 27 tons of dust rains down on the earth each day from space.

It is impossible for a solar eclipse to last more than 8 minutes.

Of all known forms of animals life ever to inhabit the Earth, only about 10 percent still exist today.

The sad truth is to realize how many of these factoids are being impacted by our human presence and poor stewardship of the planet.  Earth Day is a great day to consider how you can consume less, leave a smaller carbon footprint, and perhaps leave the world a better place. 

Best wishes for the greenest of Earth Days from your friends at Green Business Alliance.

Greenify Today for a Better Tomorrow!


HAPPY EARTH DAY!!!

April 22, 2009

All the best for the Greenest of Earth Days in 2009 from your friends at Green Business Alliance!


Earth Day 2009

April 20, 2009

Earth Day is coming up this Wednesday, so I thought today we’d talk a little about the history of this great day on our planet.  It’s a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for our Mother Earth. 

In September 1969 at a conference in Seattle, Washington, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin announced a “nationwide grassroots demonstration on the environment” that would be celebrated the following Spring. This announcement came at a time of great concern about overpopulation and when there was a strong movement towards "Zero Population Growth."

Senator Nelson proposed the nationwide environmental protest in order to thrust the environment onto the national agenda.

"It was a gamble," he recalls, "but it worked."

April 22, 1970, Earth Day marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement as approximately 20 million Americans participated, with a goal of a healthy, sustainable environment.

The man who coordinated all those people, Denis Hayes led the organization of massive coast-to-coast rallies. There were thousand of colleges and universities organizing protests against the abuse and deterioration of the environment.  Groups that had fought against pollution of factories, steel mills, and power plants, organizing against oil spills, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways and wildlife extinction all suddenly came together under one umbrella.

By Earth Day on April 22, 1990, the number answering the rally cry had reached 200 million, with a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide.  It also helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

The Earth Day in 2000 focused on global warming and a push for clean energy.  It combined the big-picture feistiness of the first Earth Day with the international grassroots activism of Earth Day 1990. It also had the Internet helping to link activists around the world as 5,000 environmental groups reached out to hundreds of millions of people in a record 184 countries. Earth Day 2000 sent the message loud and clear that citizens the world 'round wanted quick and decisive action on clean energy. Earth Day 2007 was one of the largest Earth Days to date, with an estimated billion people participating in the activities in thousands of places like Kiev, Ukraine; Caracas, Venezuela; Tuvalu; Manila, Philippines; Togo; Madrid, Spain; London; and New York.

Earth Day 2009 is expected to push forward with more driving force, bringing over half a billion people together with one goal and focus: to stop deterioration and pollution of the planet; to undo damage where possible and to provide a better world for all of us to live in.  We hope you will join in this wondrous cause with us. 


Use What You Have, Consume Fewer Resources

April 16, 2009

When I was a child, my father liked to refer to any of his four children as “The Great Consumer” whenever we wasted things.  You know how kids are: we piled our plates high, but ate less than half of the food we took.  We constantly wanted more toys or clothes.  And we left the lights on as we went from room to room. 

These days, we’re all trying to crack down on expenses.  You might start by looking in your own refrigerator.  Wasted food is clogging up our landfills.  According to the EPA, 31.7 million tons of food scraps were sent to landfills in 2007. That’s a lot of dry toast and bad meatloaf.  Those 63 billion pounds of food sitting in landfills are creating methane gases in their decay, which is destroying our ozone layer and cause global warming.

Some folks are getting really creative with it.  The online community is full of talk of people getting all their food out of dumpsters.  They are “rescuing” vegetables, baked goods, and other items from refuse containers and using it in their diets.  And they’re feeling good about it. 

Other groups are taking in leftover baked goods from commercial bakeries and produce that has passed its prime and making meals for the homeless and lower income families.  These food items are often very high quality, but since many Americans don’t like the label “day old,” these items are discarded and picked up by groups such as Forgotten Harvest as well as local and regional kitchens around the country.

What can you do?  Focus on what you’re eating.  Take leftovers to work for lunch.  Make just what you need and eat what you make.  You’ll be happier, less wasteful, and have a smaller carbon footprint.  You also won’t have a father calling you “The Great Consumer” anymore.  


Ready for Earth Day 2009

April 14, 2009

Earth Day 2009 is now about one week away and what is your business doing about it? Have you made any plans to Greenify?

Are you staying open that day or shutting down to take your employees and family to events in a nearby park or civic square?  Have you put up posters for those events and maybe written a tagline on your company’s cash register receipts, advertising what’s going on and where on Earth Day?

National Geographic wants your ideas.  They’re working with Sun Chips to provide a cash prize to whoever comes up with the best Green idea, starting on Earth Day, April 22, 2009 and going until June 8, 2009.  All you do is click here for rules on how to enter your best green idea.  You could win $20,000 to implement your idea.

But what if your idea is small? Is it something you could do now, without any financing or fanfare?  You could spend Earth Day 2009 implementing it yourself.  How about if you use the day to plant a garden?  You’ll have fun in the sun and reap the benefits in months to come.  You’ll help Greenify by reducing the amount of chemicals used in producing vegetables and fuel used in shipping them.  You might even enjoy working out in your garden all summer. 

Other things to do include bicycling to work.  Carpooling, if the distance is too long.  Turning the lights off and opening the blinds just for one day.  Turn your computer off when you go to lunch.  Better yet, plan to bring your lunch and enjoy an earth-friendly potluck picnic with your employees or coworkers in the park.

Earth Day 2009 will be full of exciting endeavors that will only happen on that day. But by planning to do something small, you ensure that you can relive and enjoy an “everyday Earth Day” over and over again.


A Personal Commitment to Greenify: A Life Less Plastic

April 10, 2009

Have you thought about committed you are to a Greener life?  I was reading about various groups and individuals who are trying to make a difference when I spotted one person who is really tackling the idea for herself.  Jeanne Haegele is a 29 year old marketing coordinator in Chicago.  She writes a blog called “Life Less Plastic.”  The blog name tells all, so I emailed her a few questions and this fascinating woman offered these answers:

GBA: Where did you get the idea for your plastic-less blog?

JH: The project was set in motion when a friend of mine in the medical field explained that plastic may have negative health effects.  I started to research about plastic online.  I read that certain plastics may have serious potential for harmful effects and also found that plastic use is having very serious effects on the environment, mostly because plastic really isn't being recycled. After learning this, I became convinced that I wanted to give up plastic.

As I learned more about plastic and how to avoid it, the project became more about the environment.  Americans use 30 million tons of plastic each year, according to the EPA's statistics from 2007.  Very little of that is recycled, mostly because recycling plastic really isn't an economically viable thing to do. 

Giving up plastic became increasingly important for me.  I wanted to protect myself from the chemicals in plastic, yes, but I also wanted to do something to protect the environmental damage created by plastic, a substance that never bio-degrades.

GBA: How successful do you feel have you been and what were the trickiest parts of your efforts to get plastic out of your life and be more environmentally conscious?

JH: After working out lots of strategies to avoid the plastic, I feel like I've been really successful at getting it out of my life.  I barely use any, and I'm really proud of that.  The trickiest part of this whole experiment was just figuring out how to avoid plastic in the first place.  I had to completely revise how I shop.  Instead of buying lots of pre-packaged goods, I now stick to fruits and vegetables and go to stores that sell food from bulk bins.

GBA: Do you feel like you are missing out on anything living without plastic?

JH: The one thing I really miss is cheese.  It's very difficult to find cheese that isn't wrapped in plastic so I don't eat too much of it anymore.

To catch up with Jeanne and get ideas on how to further Greenify your life by eliminating plastic, you can visit her blog.

(LINK: http://lifelessplastic.blogspot.com/ )


Earth Day 2009: The Green Generation

April 7, 2009

We’re getting closer to Earth Day, 2009.  Now just a few weeks away, are you wondering what more you can do to help your friends and neighbors Greenify and enjoy the day and its significance?

First off, you can start using reusable shopping bags every time.  Get used to having them, using them, and returning them to your car.  Buy sturdy ones.  They’ll last longer and be more earth-friendly.  If you have a business, print your name on them and give them away to the first 100 customers on Earth Day.

Set a good example.  March your recyclables out to the curb in the bright colored bin heaped high.  Experts estimate that Americans recycle somewhere between 32 and 57 percent of refuse.  But recyclables can and should be a higher percentage than the truly un-reusable “garbage” that is going to the landfill these days.  And any cost savings in landfill use is something that comes back to us financially and in terms of our carbon footprint that we’re all being so careful about these days.

Buy more organic and, where possible, homegrown vegetables.  Maybe this is the year that your neighborhood engages in a communal garden?  If there’s a vacant lot, find out who the owner is and ask about putting in a vegetable garden for everyone’s benefit.  The owner will probably ask for a few spare ears of corn and may appreciate the care being given to their land.  Otherwise, parcel out assignments like “tomatoes in one backyard, squash in another, beans in a third neighbor’s back corner.”  You’ll increase neighborliness, cut down pesticide consumption, and maybe even have fun.

Earth Day can and should be a great celebration of something that we all care about.  If you do nothing else, just remind people what a great planet we have to live on and that it does need our care and concern in stewardship of its resources, that’s an Earth Day worthy achievement.


Green at the Grocer’s

April 3, 2009

Did you ever wonder about the food you eat?  Sure, it looks healthy, but could you green it up a notch and make it healthier for you and the earth?   Sustainable food is a movement across the country that seeks to Greenify the food industry, but could also improve your nutrition.

Fuel used to ship your food is the culprit in this scenario.  If you plan ahead now to grow your own tomatoes, a few herbs and some squash in a backyard garden, you’ll be saving yourself a few dollars, control the use of pesticides and fertilizer, and at the same time, cut down on customers for expensive shipped produce and food items.

Don’t have a green thumb?  We understand that. (Boy, do some of us understand that one!)  But how about if you buy your produce at a Farmer’s Market? 

These days, you have to check, because lots of “farmers” at markets these days are actually buying shipped products wholesale and showing up to sell them at markets.  They won’t usually be dishonest about where the vegetables were grown and under what conditions, but sometimes you do have to ask to get the truth.

And what will you get for your trouble?  Locally grown food, usually organic, healthy and safe for all members of your family to eat.  It’s better for you. It’s also better for your children.  Nutritionists say parents can help cut childhood obesity rates by shopping at the outer edges of the store: that’s the produce and fresh meat section. That means stepping away from canned, over-processed foods that have hidden sugars, fats, and other unhealthy additives.

So invest in a lunchbox.  Eating sustainable food may cost a little more and it may require more time and effort on your part.  But the dividends it pays in terms of health, cutting your carbon footprint, and committing to Greenification may grow as time goes on.


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