My First Visit to the Farmers Market

Day 165 – I’ve driven by farmers markets. I’ve even walked by a few. However, I have never visited one with the intention of buying something. This past Saturday, my youngest daughter and I spent the morning visiting a couple farmers markets in the neighborhood and we came home with some goodies.

We first visited the Northcenter Farmers Market (Northcenter Town Square- 4100 N. Lincoln Ave.). This farmers market started on June 5th and will continue every Saturday through October 30th. They are open from 8am-1pm. There are 16 vendors listed, though some are only on site on certain dates. Be sure to check the dates.

We purchased the following:

  1. Fresh strawberries – Liz Madsen Farms
  2. Raspberry croissants – La Provence Bakery
  3. Blueberry lemon scone & triple chocolate cookie – Hilary’s Cookies

We then walked over to the Horner Park Farmers Market (2741 N. Montrose Park, northwest corner of the park, the area bounded by Montrose Avenue (N) and California Avenue (W), in front of the Field House). This farmers market started on June 5th and will continue every Saturday until October 2nd. They are open from 9am-1pm. Check out their Facebook page to see the vendors participating this summer.

We purchased the following:

  1. Spinach – Avrom Farm
  2. Green Lettuce – Vangies Farm
  3. Bouquet of flowers – Vangies Farm

We had such an enjoyable morning. It was a beautiful day to be outside. Not only did we get some good exercise, walking around the neighborhood, but we also supported small businesses and farms. We look forward to visiting more famers markets in the city throughout the summer. Check out the full schedule HERE!

Tomorrow, celebrating a renewable energy resource.

Why are Fireflies Disappearing?

Day 160 – When I was a kid, lightning bugs (fireflies) were one of the main indications that summer had arrived. My sisters and I always made sure to be extra careful when catching them. We only wanted a brief moment with the magical insect. We were always quick to release them back into the warm summer, night sky.

Sadly, my kids have not had the same experience I had growing up. The opportunities to enjoy a good chase around the yard, trying to catch those flashing lights, has ceased to exist. The number of fireflies has decreased over the years due to numerous factors. Not only has habitat destruction, pesticide use, and climate change cause numbers to decline, but light pollution has played a major role in disrupting the firefly populations.

“Human light pollution is believed to interrupt firefly flash patterns. Scientists have observed that synchronous fireflies get out of synch for a few minutes after a car’s headlights pass. Light from homes, cars, stores, and streetlights may all make it difficult for fireflies to signal each other during mating—meaning fewer firefly larvae are born next season.” firefly.org

Why do we need to protect fireflies?

  1. They are important pollinators.
  2. The larvae of some species are specialized predators. They feed on slugs and mites that can harm garden plants.
  3. They are extremely sensitive to environmental conditions, which make them good indicators for scientists to access healthy ecosystems.
  4. Luciferin, the chemical that gives fireflies their glow, has major applications in medical research, particularly for diseases such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis and various heart diseases.

However, the main reason we should all care about the well being of the firefly is because they represent the amazing nature that surrounds us everyday.

“They spark wonder in people. When you are in your back yard or park you notice them and are amazed. They are one of the few things that universally give people a feeling of falling in love in nature.” – Sara Lewis (biology professor at Tufts University

Decreasing our carbon footprint and pesticide use will be helpful to the survival of the fireflies. However, one of the easiest things we could do is to just turn off the lights.

Tomorrow, spreading random acts of green.

World Food Safety Day

Day 158 – The first World Food Day was celebrated on October 16, 1981. After acknowledging the global burden of food-borne diseases on individuals of all ages, the United Nations General Assembly then proclaimed in 2018 that every year, June 7th would be celebrated as World Food Safety Day.

“According to the World Health Organization (WHO), worldwide, unsafe food causes approximately 600 million cases of food-borne diseases and 420,000 deaths annually. Unsafe food is a serious threat to human health and economies. It is mostly the marginalized and vulnerable people, especially women and young children, migrants, and populations affected by conflict, who bear the brunt of it all. Food is the focal point for our health, energy, and our well-being. We often take for granted that all the food we eat is safe. But, in a progressively interconnected world where food value chains are constantly growing longer, there is a need for robust food-related standards and regulations to keep us safe.” FirstCryParenting.com

Food safety is a shared responsibility between governments, producers and consumers.  Everyone has a role to play from farm to table to ensure the food we consume is safe and healthy. Through the World Food Safety Day, WHO works to mainstream food safety in the public agenda and reduce the burden of food-borne diseases globally. Food safety is everyone’s business.

Calls to action

1 – Ensure it’s safe – Government must ensure safe and nutritious food for all.

2 – Grow it safe – Agriculture and food producers need to adopt good practices.

3 – Keep it safe – Business operators must make sure food is safe.

4 – Know what’s safe – Consumers need to learn about safe and healthy food.

5 – Team up for food safety – Work together for safe food and good health.

Be thankful for access to safe food and fight for those that do not. Everyone should be able to eat without fear of getting sick.

Tomorrow, preserving and protecting our oceans.

I want to ride my bicycle…

Day 154“I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike, I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like.”

Bicycle Race, was just one of the many songs I enjoyed listening to, off my Queen’s Greatest Hits album, when I was a kid. Couldn’t help think of that song while getting ready to write today’s post.

It’s World Bicycle Day! It’s the day where we celebrate all the wonderful benefits of riding a bicycle.

GearHungry.com came up with a list of 23 benefits of bicycle riding. I thought I would share five of them.

  1. Cycling Helps You Get in Shape – Perhaps the most compelling reason to ride a bicycle from a personal perspective is the fact that doing so can help you lose excess weight and improve your cardiovascular health. 
  2. Riding Your Bicycle Improves Mental Acuity – When you exercise your heart muscle by riding your bicycle all that blood surging through your veins is carrying oxygen it’s picking up in the lungs, which are also getting a good workout. That oxygen rich blood is then distributed to your brain where it helps you become more alert and mentally sharp.
  3. Cycling Can Save the Planet – Leaving the car home and taking the bicycle to work is one important step we can each take to putting the human race on a path toward sustainability and making sure we leave our grandkids a world every bit as beautiful as the one we grew up in.
  4. Riding Your Bike Saves Money – No tank to fill, no parking to pay for, no meter maids to deal with and no duals to the death with other drivers whose nerves have been frayed to the breaking point. 
  5.  Riding Your Bike will Help You Sleep Better – Getting out on the bike on a regular basis helps work off the stress and tire you out so you can get a proper night’s sleep.

And you’re going to want to start getting out on your bike, so you can prepare yourself for the ride of a lifetime. The Great American Rail Trail will span across 12 different states from coast to coast, enabling cyclists to travel safely and efficiently, avoiding any and all car and pedestrian traffic. The path will span 6,000 kilometers (3,728 miles), starting in Washington State, heading west through Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and finally, Maryland, where it will end in Washington D.C. The trail will hopefully be opening in the next year or two. Check out the route HERE.

So, get out there and ride your bike. Ride it where you like.

Tomorrow, ideas on where to donate a bicycle.

Sunscreen: Protecting you and the planet

Day 147 – When I thought about putting on sunscreen, I didn’t give much thought about the brand or what was in it. I just slapped it on and went about my day. However, this technique has become problematic with each passing year.

So, on this National Sunscreen Day, also known as “Don’t Fry Day“, I wanted to encourage everyone to wear sunscreen, but also consider a brand that is Earth friendly.

What is an Earth friendly sunscreen?

“Sunscreen ends up in the ocean and other waterways after you swim or shower it off. Common ingredients like oxybenzone, octinoxate, nano titanium dioxide, and nano zinc oxide can harm coral reefs and sea creatures. That’s why in 2018, Hawaii became the first state to ban the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. And the Surfrider Foundation is campaigning for a federal bill that would ban those sunscreens from national marine sanctuaries.” – Sierra Club

It is clear that these chemicals are harmful to ocean life. However, it is unclear if these chemicals are harmful to us. Oxybenzone and octinoxate can be absorbed by the body and have shown up in everything from urine to breast milk. Personally, I do not need further studies to know I would rather not have chemicals in my body that are not supposed to be there in the first place.

A compiled a list from various sources of sunscreens that are good for you, the environment and your wallet.

  1. Raw Elements – Click HERE to read more about Raw Elements products.
  2. Bare Republic – Click HERE to read more about Bare Republic products.
  3. Think Sport – Click HERE to read more about Think Sport products.
  4. Badger – Click HERE to read more about Badger Balm.
  5. Coppertone Pure & Simple – Click HERE to read more about Coppertone Pure & Simple.
  6. Alba Botanica – Click HERE to learn about Alba Bontanica products.
  7. Wax Head – Click HERE to learn more about Wax Head products.
  8. Juice Beauty – Click HERE to learn more about Juice Beauty products.
  9. Banana Boat – Click HERE to learn more about Banana Boat reef friendly products.
  10. All Good – Click HERE to learn more about All Good products.

For more guidance when choosing a sunscreen, check out the Environmental Working Group’s guide to sunscreens.

I have All Good sunscreen on the way for our summertime needs. All Good is a B-Corporation, 1% for the Planet, Leaping Bunny Certified, Reef Friendly, Certified Organic Ingredients, Climate Neutral, Woman owner and founded company and use wild land farming techniques. WOW! Do I need to say more?

While you’re shopping for sunscreen this summer, don’t just keep your own safety in mind. Think about the bigger picture, as well.

Tomorrow, Costa Rica is making big changes and the U.S. needs to follow in their footsteps.

Nanomaterials: Should we be concerned?

Day 134 – A nanomaterial is a very, very, very small material. A nanomaterial is less than 100 nanometers across. One nanometer is one-millionth of a millimeter or approximately 100,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. Nano sized particles can be found in nature, but they can also be manufactured.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences lists where nanomaterials can be found.

  1. Nanotechnology can be used to design pharmaceuticals that can target specific organs or cells in the body such as cancer cells, and enhance the effectiveness of therapy.
  2. Nanomaterials can also be added to cement, cloth and other materials to make them stronger and yet lighter.
  3. Their size makes them extremely useful in electronics, and they can also be used in environmental remediation or clean-up to bind with and neutralize toxins. 

The problem with nanomaterials is that they are not regulated, so there are no rules as to how they can be used. There are also no rules stating that these materials need to be listed on any labels, notifying consumers. Even though they have proven to be helpful, there is not much information available about nanomaterials. What we do know is that nano-sized particles can enter the human body through inhalation and ingestion and through the skin. Fibrous nanomaterials made of carbon have been shown to induce inflammation in the lungs in ways that are similar to Asbestos.

One European study analyzed nanomaterials in an aquatic system. Similar to microplastics, nanomaterials entered the food chain and bioaccumulated, concentrating in the brains of fish.”Earth911

So, what can we do?

Earth911 suggests a couple ways you can address the safety of nanomaterials.

  1. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics maintains a list of ingredients that can indicate the presence of nanomaterials in personal products. Unfortunately, since there are no regulations about nanomaterials, there is no guarantee that these materials would be listed.
  2. Let your elected representatives know you support strengthening the FDA’s ability to regulate cosmetic safety and that you support the provisions of the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2019.

So, even though they may be small they could cause us harm. It will take the science community and governmental agencies to make sure that consumers stay safe. Unfortunately, for the consumers, it’s hard to avoid something that we can’t see or detect its presence.

Tomorrow, the importance of buying in bulk.

Deodorants vs. Antiperspirants

Day 124 – I have never been loyal to a specific brand of deodorant. I usually grabbed whatever was on sale. I then started paying attention to the packaging. Not all brands are recyclable. On further investigation, it wasn’t just the packaging I needed to worry about, but also the ingredients.

Aluminum chlorohydrate (in roll-ons and aerosols) and aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex GLY (in solids) are found in antiperspirants. They block the pores of our skin to prevent us from perspiring. While this is helpful in preventing us from becoming a sweaty mess, it becomes a problem when the toxins in our bodies have no way to escape.

Deodorants help mask the smell of sweat and body odor caused by sweating. While antiperspirants use ingredients that interact with sweat glands to target and prevent wetness. Now the question is, is one more safe to use than the other.

“Our armpits are in close proximity to the lymph nodes and breast tissue. A study published in the European Journal of Cancer found “underarm shaving with antiperspirant/deodorant use may play a role in breast cancer.” That’s important since, according to research, only 5% to 10% of cancer is genetic, whereas the remaining 90% to 95% is rooted in environmental and lifestyle factors.”Earth911

The FDA did come out with there own statement saying, “Researchers at the National Cancer Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health, are not aware of any conclusive evidence linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer.”

I guess, if I have to choose between a product that is free of questionable ingredients and comes in plastic free packaging over a product that has a warning not be used if you have kidney disease and is packaged in plastic, then I’m going with the first choice.

We are going to give the following deodorants a try in our house. I will be sure to report back as to which one(s) we liked the best.

Chagrin Valley Soap and Shave Company

Ethique Natural Deodorant

Each & Every Natural Aluminum-Free Deodorant

What are you using? Do you know if the ingredients are safe?

And just a reminder, you can bring your empty deodorants or antiperspirant containers to the monthly NNA Recycle Popup. The next one is May 15th, 9am-12pm.

Tomorrow, a product that helps many breathe, but is not always easy to recycle.