Shop Local this Holiday Season

With the upcoming holiday season it’s more important now than ever to buy local.

Supporting your local business helps keep everyone more sustainable. When you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than nationally owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms. This helps strengthen the economic base of the community.
When we buy local, local businesses are more likely to donate to local charities, because our support has enabled them to do so.

Supporting local business also helps reduce the impact on our environment. Buy locally keep those daily deliveries from online purchases from crowding our streets. The same goes for making purchases at the mall, millions of trucks delivery daily and weekly to department stores. Why not buy hand made, locally supplied goods?
Buying local also creates more jobs. In this tough economy it’s very important to contribute to the greater good.

This year before shopping, ask yourself a few questions.
1.             What do I really need?
2.             Can I make something for my loved ones instead of purchasing?
3.             Do I really need worthless plastic crap made in China, just to fill a stocking?

About 4 years ago I made a pledge to myself, and my family to stop the consumer nonsense. I’ve banned WalMart from my life, I make many of my gifts, when buying books I always buy used. We are very blessed in this little town of Bethlehem, not only with amazing shops in the Historic District but we have an eclectic Southside with handmade goods lining the streets. We also have very talented artists to purchase original heartfelt gifts from. Besides that Bethlehem has plenty of shops and restaurants off the beaten path that would add a surprise to your kids stocking.

A really important step is to talk to your children about consumerism. After all, they are our future. I’ve talked to Lily about the importance of shopping local, and why we don’t have mounds of unnecessary gifts under our tree. She has actually said to me while shopping, ‘Mommy, is that a want or a need?’ TEACH YOUR CHILDREN, so they can teach you in return. Take the time to make presents for people. Three hours trolling the malls can be better spent knitting a scarf or painting a picture for someone. Gift cards to local businesses are a great way to keep local business alive. I encourage local businesses to respond to this blog with their information and Holiday specials so we can all work together to BUY LOCAL!

"Going local does not mean walling off the outside world. It Means nurturing locally owned businesses which use local resources sustainably, employ local workers at decent wages and serve primarily local consumers. It means becoming more self-sufficient and less dependant on imports. Control moves from the boardrooms of distant corporations and back into the community where it belongs."
-                Michael H. Shuman, author of the book Going Local.

Vegetarian Potluck

The Potluck was a great success! We will be having another one on November 19th with a Thanksgiving theme. Although we did cut out the $5 part, it was one of the yummiest spreads I've ever experienced. Thanks to my dear friend Chris, I remained sane and all went quite smoothly. If you'd like to join us for the next one, get in touch. 


Vegetarian Potluck

You're invited to join me in taking the $5 Challenge on September 17 -- we're cooking fresh, healthy food that costs no more than $5/person. Why? Because slow food shouldn't have to cost more than fast food. It's time to take back the value meal.

People all over the country are taking the challenge that day. Together, we're sending a message to our nation's leaders that everyone should be able to afford fresh, healthy food every day.

Please facebook or email me your email address if you'd like an invite to this event.



While at an EcoFilm Festival this weekend at the SteelStacks in Bethlehem, I was able to see Farmageddon, and I wanted to share the link. If you haven't seen this, put it on your 'must see' list. 

We need to be aware of who are enemies are and unfortunately it's our very own USDA! We need to stand together and tell them what's acceptable for our food and we need to tell them it's not okay to terrorize small scale farmers for providing healthy and safe food!

What If? By Cathy Frankenberg

What if, while you read this, I broke your window, took the computer off your desk, and then tried to sell it back to you for a thousand dollars? 

Would you threaten me, call the police, and have me arrested? 

Or would you hand over the money and return to your reading while I slipped back out the window? 

Of course you would call the police.  Giving me money for what you already own would be ridiculous.  Yet, today, millions of Americans will happily purchase back what is naturally theirs- and far more necessary to life than a computer – and that thing is water.  According to the documentary film, FLOW: For Love of Water, we spend more than $30 billion on bottled water each year.  As we buy, we drive up the demand for petroleum, and the bottles stack up in landfills- 3.62 billion annually, according to the National Association for PET Container Resources. 

So why do smart people buy bottled water, when they can get tap water for free?  In part, because corporations like NestlĂ© (which produces Deer Park, Pure Life, and Poland Spring) and Coca-Cola (which produces Dasani) have us convinced we are doing something positive for our health.  The truth is, those billions of bottles of water undergo far less scrutiny than the water coming out of your kitchen faucet, which is subject to government regulations and inspection.  Indeed, research shows that bottled water frequently comes from the very same sources as tap water.  The Natural Resource Defense Council did a study on 103 brands of bottled water, and found not even one to be safer than water from the tap.  In some ways, bottled water is more harmful than tap water – bisphenol-A, or BPA, a chemical compound in plastic, leeches carcinogens and endocrine-disruptors into its contents.

 And as these companies - the very same agencies which contaminate our earth’s finite supply of potable water, scramble to bottle what’s left and sell it back to us, the price of what is rightfully ours, critical for the sustenance of life, is driven higher and higher.  It’s a classic illustration of supply and demand.  The problem is bad here.  It’s worse – and continuously growing worse- around the world.  In some countries, like Bolivia and India, clean water has become so privatized, and so expensive, that poor people are forced to drink contaminated water, leading to deaths from preventable diseases like cholera.  Meanwhile, at corporate headquarters, profits skyrocket – Muhtar Kent, the C.E.O. of Coca-Cola, brought home 22.4 million dollars in 2008.

Clearly, it’s time for a better strategy.  Let’s hold our governments accountable to making free safe, clean drinking water a human right.  And let’s each resolve to quit bottled water.  Making the switch to reusable bottles doesn’t need to be complicated -stylish BPA-free options abound in grocery stores and online.  You can also reuse glass bottles for an even more economical solution.  Invest in a water filter – a basic one will run you about $20.   Then keep one bottle on your kitchen counter, one at your office, and one in your vehicle.  By doing so, you’ll protect your health, your wallet, and your planet – getting both clean water and a clean conscience.


Get your garden ready for the next season.

As fall approaches we often feel an end is near, as it’s time to put our gardens to rest for the season. One important thing to keep is mind is to prepare your garden for the next season.

Awesome tips handed 
down for generations:

  • Tomatoes – Many tomato plants yield right up until the first frost. Take all your green tomatoes and line them up on a baking sheet. Wax paper on the bottom and newspaper on top. Place them in a dark place. I put them under my sink. Keep an eye on them, they will slowly start to turn red over the next two months. Yes, it’s true! I had fresh tomatoes well into November. Some may rot, quickly remove them and compost.

  • Winter Hardy Pests – Many of us have never even thought of that. I know I didn’t until recently. If you had a pest that invaded your garden, be sure to remove the roots completely before fall. Some pests can survive in your garden over the winter, which means they’ll happily return to your crops come spring. Don’t compost them either, only compost pest free and non-diseased plants.

  • Mulch: After removing all roots and debris from your garden, cover your beds with mulch. If you live in Bethlehem, it’s free at the Compost center.
         Organic Materials: compost, bone meal, cottonseed meal etc., are some many options. Thoroughly work them throughout the beds once it’s cleaned out.

  • Repair Work – Now that you’ve removed everything from your garden, repair any problems, like rabbit holes, or water drainage issues before the spring. This way you have a lot less work in the spring and you may just forget by then also.

  • Make a List – take a look at your garden and see if you come up with a list of ideas, changes or fixes that you want to be ready for next year. This will help you from forgetting.

As always I welcome comments and tips so we can share with each other. I’m also opening the blog up for contributing writers. Seems my school schedule is a bit busy lately, and I’ve had less time to post tips. Any ideas are appreciated. 


Back to School Tip #1

As it's coming closer to our little ones heading back to school, I thought it'd be great to share some sustainable tips to smooth the transition.

My favorite find would have to be a bento box. The best part of laptop lunches was how cool all the other kids thought Lily was for having one. She also enjoys filling the containers herself, it gave her ownership over her lunch. It keeps the portions at a reasonable size and helps maintain freshness in BPA free containers.

On a side note, this can be used for an adult as well.