Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's The Most Wonderful Time...

I'm not talking about the holidays, or even the start of a new school year (especially not that!) I'm referring to the plethora of fresh produce that is in season this time of year. Farmer's markets everywhere are overflowing with nature's bounty! Whatever adjectives you want to use to describe your fruit or vegetable of choice-- ripe, crisp, plump, juicy, sweet, etc.-- it all applies. And prices have never been cheaper-- these farmers have corn and tomatoes and zucchini coming out of their ears! All they want to do is get it out of their gardens and into our bellies; now who can argue with that?

With so many delicious and affordable options available right now, I'm tempted to buy extra and try my hand at canning, pickling, or even freeze-drying, so I can enjoy these farm fresh tastes all year long. I saw the first apples of the season last week, though, so I know that I'll need to act fast, because like all good things, this too shall pass. In the meantime, I'm eating any and every piece of produce I can get my hands on-- with food this healthy and fresh, why should anyone have to choose? Eat your hearts out, fellow veggie lovers!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Basil Bug?

Someone's been eating my basil, and it's not just me! I've been trying to harvest more basil as of late, but someone (or something) else has been getting to it first. The big leaves have huge holes chewed out of them, and some of the smaller ones have been sheared off altogether. Harrumph.

Well, when I was out watering today, I finally identified the culprit:

Can you see him? How about now?
I have no idea what type of insect this is, but he blends in so perfectly with the leaves of my poor basil plant, he's probably been there all along! As far as bugs go, it's really quite beautiful; leaf shaped and with an iridescent sheen that catches the sunlight. He's so cool-looking, that I couldn't bring myself to flick him off of the plant, so I guess I'll have to settle for sharing my bounty. Surely there's enough basil for us both... right?
(By the way, if any of you do know what type of bug this is, I'd love to find out!)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Aveda "Kicks the Cap" out of Plastic!

On my way to a matinee at the Landmark Century Theater, I stopped by the Aveda Institute with a bag full of plastic bottle caps. I know what you're thinking, but let me assure you that they were in fact happy to see me! You see, the Aveda company is leading the way in the area of "producer responsibility", a novel concept that I hope catches on soon with companies large and small, far and wide. In addition to using wind power to generate energy at their manufacturing plants, they have begun recycling plastic bottle caps into bottles and containers for their many products.

Why is this such a brilliant idea, you ask? Well, the caps on most plastic bottles are made from a different (and much harder to recycle) plastic than the bottles themselves, and few local recycling companies can process them. What Aveda has done is to find a use for these caps (all the recycling in the world won't do us any good unless someone finds a way to repurpose these recycled products!) and what better way to reuse old packaging than to turn it into new packaging?

Their "responsible packaging" has long been made from easy to recycle plastics, glass, and even cardboard cartons, and the Caps Recycling Program is their latest effort to keep these little plastic bits from littering our parks, beaches, and oceans. They are looking to partner with schools, to educate students who will then aid in their collection efforts. The company provides a specific description of the type of "rigid plastic" they seek; the lids I had saved from countless gallons of milk did not make the cut, because I could bend them with my bare hand. Some of these rigid plastic caps are marked with the number 5. This sounds like an easy way for students to learn about the "cradle-to-grave" life cycle of a product, and the caps are easy to collect.

The link above has suggestions for parents and teachers who are interested in getting their students involved in this noble effort, and it seems like most of their cap collectors are in fact children; the woman who took my caps kept asking if I was a teacher or had neices and nephews who had asked me to drop the caps off for them, and whether they were excited to be taking part in their program. So I told her that, yes, this was an exciting program, and that I hoped to recruit and excite more people to assist in their efforts to reduce their impact on the environment. And that, my dear readers, is where you come in. The caps can be dropped off at any Aveda salon; the company also provides special shipping labels to schools who enroll in their program so they can mail the caps instead. The process couldn't be easier, and I encourage you to encourage the little people in your lives to start collecting caps today, and let them see that they, too, can make a difference!