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Is CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Right for You?

Ice Cream - the Dairy = Delicious

Energizer Introduces World's World's First High-Performance Battery Made with Recycled Batteries

Using Coffee Grounds in Your Garden

Green Your Yard Sale

How to Cook Asparagus

nature conserve

Is a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Right for You?

Thinking about signing up for a CSA but want to learn more about the idea before you commit?  For over 25 years, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer.

Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a "membership" or a "subscription") and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

There are several advantages to joining your local CSA, here are a few:

You Know Where Your Food Comes From
In a CSA share your produce comes directly from your farmer so you know who is growing your food and how. If you have questions about their farming practices or values just ask! With this level of transparency, you can rest assured knowing your farmer cares about what matters to you.

Support Small Farming
By supporting small family farms you are guaranteeing that 100% of your money goes directly to the farmer to grow and harvest high quality food for you and others in your community

Variety
Most CSA farms strive for ecological diversity and a wide variety in crop production, so over the course of the season CSA farmers usually grow more types of vegetables than found at a grocery store. You’ll discover varieties that you might not otherwise find or buy, so get ready to enjoy your share of the season’s bounty including leeks, celeriac, edamame, garlic scapes, daikon, and many other diverse goodies!

Better Flavor
Fresh is best!  The time between harvest and consumption is reduced so you get fresher food that tastes better. Unlike industrial farmers who harvest for shipping and shelf-life, CSA farmers harvest for ripeness and flavor. Eating seasonally means every week you receive what the conditions were most fit to produce so you’re guaranteed to eat your veggies at their peak. Get ready for a culinary delight and adventure!

Have fun!
There are lots of exciting ways to enjoy your CSA share- including visits to the farm, u-picking, potluck dinners and community events. During the growing season there is always something fun to do with you and your family to celebrate local agriculture, enjoy good food and mingle with other CSA members.

Find a local CSA in your area, visit: http://www.localharvest.org/

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Ice Cream - the Dairy = Delicious
by Eric dos Reis

Many times, when we replace an integral part of any recipe, it leaves the end result lacing either in flavor or another important attribute. We see this in many vegetarian alternatives and gluten free foods, where they don’t taste bad; they are just lacking a small piece that makes it taste like… not quite the real thing. While attending the clean living expo on April 24th in NYC, we ran into an ice cream company that was advertised as dairy-free, gluten-free, and cruelty-free. We were very curious and maybe even the slightest bit suspicious of how it would taste.  Upon seeing the skeptical looks on our faces, we were given samples of the coconut milk “frozen dessert” and a reassurance that it would be one of the best frozen treats we’ve ever tasted. We cracked the lid open, peeled the foil back, and took our first bite of this dairy free ice cream alternative.  It looked like ice cream. It felt like ice cream.  It tasted like ice cream. To our surprise… it tasted like really good ice cream! We felt as though there was nothing missing in this frozen dessert. It was creamy, not icy like many ice cream alternatives and it had a wonderful full flavor with options such as Madagascar Vanilla Bean and Alphonso Mango.

DF Mavens is a company based out of the Lower East Side in Manhattan, NY. They are a dairy-free, gluten-free, cruelty-free, kosher, 100% vegan, artisanal frozen dessert company. They pride themselves as being the “finest dairy free ice cream in the world” and compared to some of the alternatives we’ve tasted, we can see why. The company has 4 types of dairy free frozen treats, one made with almond milk, one made with coconut milk, one made with soy milk, and one that has no sugar added. We only had the opportunity to taste the coconut milk variety but we did sample all four flavors. These flavors include Madagascar Vanilla Bean, Del Lago Chocolate, Key Lime Crème, and Alphonso Mango. If you decide to venture out of the coconut milk varieties, unique flavors such as Cardamom Pistachio and New Orleans Salted Praline await you.  Many of their frozen desserts are available in frozen bars as well. You can definitely believe that DF Mavens will be next on our list of places to visit the next time we are in the Lower East Side, as we plan on trying more of these delicious flavors.

You can find DF Mavens at 37 St. Marks Place New York,NY 10003 or get some shipped to you by visiting www.dfmavens.com.

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Energizer Introduces World's World's First High-Performance Battery Made with Recycled Batteries

Energizer Household Products, a division of Energizer Holdings, Inc. is once again leading the battery industry with its latest innovation, Energizer® EcoAdvanced™, the world’s first AA battery made with four percent recycled batteries. Energizer EcoAdvanced is Energizer’s highest performing alkaline battery and powers consumers’ most critical devices while creating less impact on the planet.    

“Industry experts long believed it was impossible to create a battery made with recycled batteries while maintaining performance,” said Michelle Atkinson, vice president and chief marketing officer. “Our scientists welcome a challenge and have spent the past seven years creating just that – Energizer EcoAdvanced – our highest performing alkaline battery and the world’s first AA battery made with four percent recycled battery material.” 

Energizer scientists created proprietary partnerships and an innovative approach that refines and transforms recycled battery material into a high-performance active ingredient. This ingredient, used in conjunction with energy rings, results in a long-lasting battery that has less impact on the planet – both by requiring less mining of virgin material in the manufacturing process and by reducing the amount of batteries consumers need to power their devices, resulting in less waste.

“Today we are introducing a high-performance AA battery made with four percent recycled batteries,” said Atkinson. “Our future innovations will continue to reduce the impact Energizer batteries have on the planet.  By 2025, our vision for Energizer EcoAdvanced is to increase the amount of recycled battery material ten-fold to 40 percent.”

Energizer is committed to bringing positive energy to the world by creating less waste and working toward a future where recycling is more broadly available. Energizer EcoAdvanced is the first step in creating value for recycled battery material, which until today has had little or no economic value.

Energizer EcoAdvanced is another in a long line of innovative “firsts” from Energizer in the battery category. Energizer introduced Energizer Ultimate Lithium, the world’s longest lasting AA and AAA batteries in high-tech devices, the world’s first dry cell battery, and the world’s first watch battery. Energizer was also the first to remove mercury from alkaline and hearing aid batteries, and the first to create child resistant packaging to mitigate coin cell ingestion by children, along with an awareness campaign. www.energizer.com.


Using Coffee Grounds in Your Garden

Coffee grounds are an excellent garden helper when directly applied or used in compost. They have a 20 to 1 ratio of nitrogen to carbon, which makes them ideal for helping grow plants such as tomatoes. Here are a few ways to use them in your garden.

Add to the compost. Coffee grounds are able to speed up the decomposing process in compost. Add two teaspoons of lime for every 5 kilograms of coffee grounds. Don't use more than a quarter of the heap as coffee grounds and keep the size of the heap small.

Add grounds to plants that need a pH between 3.0 and 5.0. The addition of coffee grounds to hydrangeas is good for blue blooms. Blueberries, cranberries, and citrus fruits also like coffee added to their soil. Other coffee-loving plants include camellias, gardenias, rhododendrons, and vireyas.

When adding coffee grounds directly to your garden as a mulch and soil conditioner, add a pinch of lime. This ensures that the pH is adequately balanced.

Coffee grounds can also be used to deter pests. Slugs and snails are not fond of coffee grounds sprinkled around plants.

Source:  www.wikihow.com


Green Your Yard Sale

Garage sales and yard sales are a great (and green) way to relinquish items which we once held dear and for which we had great use, but no longer need. www.GreenLivingNewsletter.com offers you these tips for hosting a green garage sale this summer:

Signs are important as they’ll inform those in your community about the date, time and location of your sale. Make your signs on repurposed paper, cardboard, or poster board—try a pizza box top, the side of an empty carton, or a brown paper bag.

Make sure you pack purchases in paper not plastic bags.

Be realistic and reasonable when setting prices—you’ll move more merchandise, find new homes for some of your most treasured items, and you’ll keep items out of the local landfill.

Remove batteries from old electronics. This will ensure that they are disposed of properly and not just discarded by the new owner.

Instead of the time-consuming task of tagging each item at your sale, create pay-one-price sections. If an item doesn’t sell at one price, you can move it to another area.

Consider involving the kids. Have them sell homemade lemonade or organic iced tea to thirsty browsers. (Serve in paper cups, not plastic or styrofoam).

Involve your neighbors! If you can get some of your neighbors to schedule a yard sale on the same day, your block can be a true destination for thrifty shoppers.


How to Cook Asparagus

The folks at Better Homes & Gardens offer great info about selecting, preparing and enjoying asparagus.  Thanks BH&G! Here in NY we’re harvesting now, so pick up a bunch of asparagus from the farmer's market or grocery store, and use this cooking guide to roast, steam, simmer, grill, or microwave the spears to perfection.

Asparagus season is considered to be spring, but you'll find this popular vegetable in markets year-round. Look for firm, bright green spears with healthy tips that are tight and not mushy. Spear size ranges from fat -- these come from older plants -- to pencil thin. Whether you like skinny or fat spears is personal preference, but for even cooking, choose spears that are uniform in size. When possible, enjoy asparagus the day you purchase it. Or wrap the bases in a damp paper towel, place in a plastic bag, and refrigerate for up to four days. You can also stand asparagus spears upright in a container filled with 1 inch of water. Cover the asparagus and the container with a plastic bag.

Tip: One pound of asparagus equals 18 to 24 spears or four servings.

Thick or Thin, each has its fans. Thin asparagus is tender with a slightly crisp center. Thick asparagus has more of a meaty center and therefore more crunch and texture. For thick asparagus spears, peel off the woody outside part--about 2 inches up from the stem end--with a vegetable peeler.

Preparing asparagus:
Because asparagus is grown in sandy soil, rinse the spears -- especially the tips -- with cold water. Snap off the woody base of each spear by bending the spear a few times to find a place where it breaks easily. This is usually around the bottom third of the spear and where the woody part starts to turn tender. If desired, scrape off the scales on the spears with a vegetable peeler. This gives the spears a smooth, clean look and is especially beneficial for tough or fat spears.

Cooking methods:
Roasting:  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place asparagus on a baking sheet or in a baking dish, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss lightly to coat. If desired, season with salt and pepper. Roast, uncovered, about 15 minutes or until crisp-tender, lightly tossing twice during roasting. If desired, season with herbs and lemon.
Steaming:  Place a steamer basket in a saucepan. Add water to just below the bottom of the basket. Bring water to boiling. Add asparagus to steamer basket. Cover and reduce heat. Steam for 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Simmering:  Lay the asparagus spears in a large skillet and top with 1 inch of water. Lightly salt the water and bring to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Grilling:  Generously brush asparagus with olive oil or melted butter or margarine. This keeps the spears from sticking to the grill rack. Place asparagus on a piece of heavy foil or directly on a grill rack, perpendicular to the wires on the rack. For a charcoal grill, place asparagus on grill rack directly over the coals. Grill, uncovered, for 7 to 10 minutes or until crisp-tender, turning occasionally. For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Place asparagus on grill rack directly over heat. Grill, covered, for 7 to 10 minutes or until crisp-tender, turning occasionally.
Microwave:  Place asparagus in a microwave-safe baking dish or casserole with 2 tablespoons water. Microwave covered, on 100 percent power (high) for 2 to 4 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Quick Blanching:  The classic blanching method requires boiling then shocking the asparagus in an ice bath to stop the cooking, resulting in perfectly cooked, yet cold asparagus. To make and serve warm right away without shocking, place asparagus in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Cover with about 2 cups of boiling salted water. Let stand for 10 to 12 minutes, until bright green and crisp-tender. Drain; serve warm.

Lots of great recipes at www.bhg.com