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A great cheat sheet to help you when making purchases. Make Every Dollar Count!How-to-read-labels-chart

Click on this link to download a copy to carry with you: How-to-read-labels-chart

iphone-410324_1280It’s become a lot easier if you’re tech savvy to be more ‘green!’

We seem to be doing everything on our phones and devices these days through mobile apps; reading the paper, checking weather, watching movies, monitoring investments. Why not give a mobile app a try when making ‘in the moment’ purchases and you want every dollar to count?

As we move toward a greener, healthier lifestyle, many of us make decisions based on our values. It seems overwhelming at times, when you’re ‘in the moment,’ perhaps at the grocery store or pharmacy, to take the time to research an ingredient or make the best possible choice for a purchase. We don’t always have the information right at hand to help us decide. Give these mobile apps a try whether you’re looking for food additives, researching a restaurant, or digging into a company’s best practices. Make every dollar count, and find the products that are in line with your values.

Here are some mobile apps to help you get started:

Think Dirty: This app allows users to scan a personal care product’s barcode and get not only a list of the ingredients, but also see how they stack up in terms of their potential toxicity to the human body. The app gives products a score on the “Dirty Meter,” based on the inclusion of certain carcinogens or allergens, and offers alternative options for cleaner products. Includes over 1600 brands, and 60,000 products, and is available for iOS or on the web.

GoodGuide: The GoodGuide app instantly reveals whether products are safe, healthy, green and socially responsible while you shop. The app’s barcode scanning feature lets you quickly access GoodGuide’s science-based health, environment and social ratings for over 170,000 products. (more…)

Membership holiday cardWe wish you a happy, healthy, and peaceful holiday season. Enjoy some of these favorite memories and traditions shared by the staff of 21 Acres.

Veleda – Event Staff and Volunteer@21Acres
My younger  sisters and I used to sneak out of bed and peek to watch my mother sewing dolls for us on her treadle sewing machine.  We saw where she hid the projects and would check the progress daily, until she removed the completed dolls to a better hiding spot until Christmas.   We  were always very “surprised” to find the now -dressed dolls under our tree.   I still have one of those dolls.

In order to allow more time for gift exchanging and enjoying on Christmas morning,, I discovered that my kids  were delighted to each have a box of their favorite breakfast cereal wrapped and under the tree among other gifts, to be eaten as each was ready.  This became a tradition which each of them now carries out with their own families.

Deb – Adminstrator@21Acres
Throughout my childhood, every Christmas Eve, we went to my Grandparent’s home for dinner.  On the way there, we always looked for a house bordering the freeway with a large blue star high above their roof (a bit of a competition to be the first to announce the sighting!).  Returning to my hometown (the Olympia area) as an adult with my own children, “progress” had replaced the home with a strip mall, but much to my delight, the strip mall continued to put up the star and my children learned to look for it as we traveled between their grandparent’s homes for Christmas Eve and then back to our home in Woodinville.  To this day, the star is there and for me, it represents the spirit and magic of Christmas –God’s love, peace, safety, family, tradition and giving.  Hoping to share the star with my grandchildren in the coming years.

Liesl – Market Manager@21Acres
Christmas as a child was always spent at grandma’s house.  She had a beautiful stone fireplace where the stockings were hung and always picked a tree that reached the ceiling; I thought they were bigger than life.  When Christmas morning came, my sister and I were always up early, very early.  There was a strict policy to not wake Mom and Grandma until 7:30.  Until that time we could look in our stockings, but never unwrap the presents under the tree.  My sister and I would slowly pull each item out of our stockings, always ending with an orange in the toe.  Then just before 7:30, we would repack the stockings so we could open them all over again with the rest of the family.  The suspense and untethered joy of Christmas morning is a rare  ]gift; be blessed this holiday season!

bv.woodenshoes2015Brenda –Public Relations & Communications @21 Acres
Celebrating Sinterklaas – For those of you who know me well, you may know this is a Dutch tradition for the Vanderloop/Jacobson family. The wooden shoes go outside the front door the eve of Dec. 5, in celebration of St. Nick’s birthday, and they are magically filled in the morning with treats and a gift. A few things have changed over time, I used to get chocolate “fairy food” left in the milk chute when I was little at home in Wisconsin;  As the kids got older, treats changed from chocolate to craft beer, my son 🙂 and chocolate to a vintage classic book, my daughter :). Some years, St. Nick actually plans ahead, as he has to use pony express to deliver to the ‘kids’ no longer at home. And yes, there are a baby pair of wooden shoes awaiting a new grandchild next year!

Amanda – Local Foods & Nutrition Education Coordinator @21Acres
During the holidays of 1999-2000 I was living in Salzburg, Austria. When it comes to Christmas, you really can’t hold a candle to how well the Europeans celebrate the season. From shopping for hand made gifts at traditional outdoor holiday markets, to sipping Gluhwein while listening to traditional Christmas carols (Silent Night was written in Arnsdorf, Austria in 1818), Europe really is a magical place this time of year – especially in the small towns like Gimmelwald, Switzerland.

After we finished fall semester finals, a handful of classmates and I boarded a train heading for the Swiss Alps. We first arrived in Interlaken, Switzerland. Then boarded a smaller train to ride further into the mountains. Upon arrival, we walked a short distance to a cable car tram that took us literally up the mountains to the very small village of Gimmelwald, population 100. We spent two nights in the appropriately name Mountain Hostel run by an American couple. The woman was from Eugene, Oregon – she and I bonded over our Oregonian-ness.

The hostel had a kitchen for us to use, but having arrived with just our backpacks and only a few snacks, we were in need of groceries. The next village up the “road” was home to the only grocery store at that elevation. In fact as I remember the store wasn’t much larger than our market at 21 Acres. We made our purchases and soon discovered that walking back in the deep snow was going to be challenging. The shopkeeper suggested we rent sleds from a nearby shop. So, down we went on traditional wooden sleds – the ones with the steering on the front that you maneuvered with your feet. A couple of us doubled up so the person in the back could manage the groceries. Amazingly we and our groceries all arrived in one piece!  As the evening continued the previously overcast and periodically snowing sky opened up. The view from the hill just next to the hostel looked right at Mount Eiger and Jungenfrau two of the tallest peaks in the Alps. Words can not describe the holiday “perfectness” of that scene, of the whole day really.

If you ever get the chance to be in Europe during the holiday season, do yourself a favor, drop everything, tell your family members here in the US you’ll send them a postcard or call, and just go! Froliche Weihnachten (Merry Christmas, Austrian German) my friends!

Scott – Permaculture Specialist@21Acres
My mother’s growing Catholic enthusiasm has made the end of December a very significant time for our family growing up.  Each year our family buys a Christmas tree in early December that gets covered in heirloom decorations our family has been accumulating since long before I was born.  Last year I made hoshigaki ornaments, gifted them to loved ones, and added them to our tree in my futile attempt to give it life. On Christmas Eve, we usually go to a late night mass and then drive around at midnight to admire lights and decorations in residential areas.  We then return home, go to sleep, and wake up to soft sounds of Christmas carols, gift exchanges, and homemade meals.  My most memorable experience during Christmas was nothing like the tradition I had grown up with when in 2012, I pedaled to Mexico with a caravan of circus vagabonds far away from the family and friends I grew up with.  As the end of the 5,126 year long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar approached, I participated in my first Vision Quest, fasting without water for 100 hours in the dry Mexican jungles surrounding the ancient temples of Palenque.  A consistently calm, warm, and sunny climate throughout that December made a suddenly severe transformation into torrential rains, winds, and flooding on the day of solstice.  My tent and home was swept away by a river while I stared in amazement at thousands of indigenous Mayans drenched and rejoicing around a skyscraping bonfire in the pouring down rain all night long.  Stepping outside my traditions helped me better understand others around me with more compassion and that events and disparate yet convergent gatherings, regardless of whether they are called Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Saturnalia, or Solsticio can have a profoundly significant impact beyond my imagination.

Submitted by Amanda Bullat, MSN, RD, CD, 21 Acres
“…and a partridge in a pear tree.” Pear season is in full swing!  Did you know that the Pacific Northwest produces more than 80 percent of the nation’s pears? While peak season is typically Fall and Winter, a few varieties are available much longer throughout the year.

Nutritionally speaking, pears are similar to apples in that they come in at just about 100 calories each for an average size, offer about 5.5 grams of fiber, contain 10 percent of the daily vitamin C and 5 percent of the daily value for potassium. The potassium helps to keep our blood pressure in balance and the high soluble fiber content can contribute to healthy blood cholesterol levels. In one recent study, researchers found that for every 25 grams of white-fleshed produce eaten, participants were 9 percent less likely to suffer from stroke.

As a member of the rose family, pears make great additions to sweet as well as savory dishes. Some favorite ways to enjoy these seasonal delights include poached, sautéed, baked, roasted, grilled, and  raw. Pears’ high pectin content also make them perfect for jams and spreads. Some of the varieties you may find include Anjou, Bartlett, Asian, Bosc, Comice, and Seckel. Anjou is typically the easiest variety to come by. They come in green and red varieties each with their own subtle flavor profiles. Anjous are great for munching raw, in a chutney, or as a pie. Bartletts are also widely available and offer a classic pear flavor. They work well for canning and pureeing. Bosc pears are usually more firm in texture, which makes them best for baking or poaching. The Comice, my personal favorite, are sweet and juicy – tasty for eating raw. The tiny seckel pears are the perfect size for a petite snack or light dessert.

Although many of the varieties are picked ready to eat within a day or two; if your delicious selection needs a little softening try leaving the pears on the counter at room temperature. Pears are natural ethylene producers, meaning they ripen well on their own after being picked. Once you’re content with their softness, they can be transferred to the fridge to maintain freshness.

Pears are a very versatile fruit as they pair well with a variety of flavors including, warm spices like allspice, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Nuts such as pistachios, almonds, and pecans are also great partners as well as dark chocolate – my personal favorite! For the local cheese fans among you, our resident cheese specialist Marie Caldron recommends the following local cheese pairings for any of the above pears:  Cascadia Creamery’s Cloud Cap and Glacier Blue, Beecher’s Clothbound Flagship, and Mt Townsend’s Red Alder.  At 21 Acres, our favorites are cheese from Cherry Valley Dairy, Mt. Townsend Creamery and Sammish Bay Cheese.

Amanda Bullat MS RDN CD is a registered dietitian nutritionist with master’s degree from Bastyr University and a background in natural and sustainable food systems. Amanda has taught classes for Whole Foods Market, Keene State College in New Hampshire, Seattle Mountaineers, and various other community organizations.  When she is not teaching or coordinating our culinary education program, Amanda supports and inspires clients through her private nutritional counseling practice.

Sourcing local ingredients is standard procedure in the 21 Acres Kitchen, and it’s no exception during the holidays and the cold, winter months. 21 Acres uses only locally grown, seasonal, organic, sustainable foods for a uniquely Northwest experience. Register today for these hands-on, very affordable holiday cooking classes. (There’s one for teens too!) And don’t forget, a Gift Certificate for cooking classes is a great holiday gift!

School calendar of classes and follow the links to register or for more information.

Thursday, December. 3, Taste of Place: Throw Another Yule Log on the Fire; 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
“Taste of Place” classes continue with our mission to use locally sourced ingredients to create all of our delicious snacks and meals in the 21 Acres kitchen. When we use local ingredients we get a sense of the taste for a place, literally, due to the effects of soil content, water, weather, and really the entire ecosystem in which our foods are grown. Bûche de Noël or Yule Log, originated as a traditional Christmas dessert back in 12th century Europe. In this hands-on class Chef Anne will guide you in learning how to make a simple yet delicious Yule Log using Pacific Northwest ingredients.

Friday, December 4, Locally Delicious Handmade Holiday Gifts; 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Celebrate the seasons tradition of gifting by creating delicious, hand-crafted gifts from the heart with seasonal ingredients. Joanna Wirkus, will show you how to make simple – yet elegant – gifts including sweet treats, spiced nuts, infused butter, oil, and vinegar that are sure to impress everyone on your list, especially the foodie.

Saturday, December 5, Festive Holiday Baking with a Pacific Northwest Flare; 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Come celebrate with us! Join Megan and Joanna in this hands-on culinary baking experience. They will teach you the art of using whole food ingredients, sourced right here in the Pacific Northwest, to create classic, sweet flavors of the season. Topics include recipe modifications for baking you holiday favorite treats, learning to work with unrefined sweeteners, and incorporating whole grain flours. Learn kitchen tricks to work-smarter-not-harder this holiday season! Complete the afternoon by sharing the sweetness of your efforts, including a homemade pumpkin spice latte, in the company of new friends.

Thursday, December 10, Taste of Place: Italian-Inspired Holiday Meal; 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM
The “Taste of Place” series of classes continue with our mission to source local, seasonal ingredients to create all of our delicious snacks and meals in the 21 Acres Kitchen. When we use local ingredients we get a sense of the taste for a place, literally, due to the effects of soil content, water, weather, and really the entire ecosystem in which our foods are grown. Join Chef Paola in this hands on experience as she teaches you the time honored technique of making gnocchi using the finest potatoes from the Pacific Northwest. The evening’s menu will round out with a seasonal salad and rustic Italian dessert tart.

Saturday, December 12, Two Chefs are Better Than One; 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
The holidays are a great time to create food memories with the young chefs in your household. At 21 Acres we strive to educate and inspire culinary interest in people of all ages. This class is designed to be shared between a parent/care-giver and their aspiring chef, ages 12-16. Join Chef Andrea and her daughter as they prepare a simple yet elegant seasonal meal complete with soup, salad, and dessert.

School calendar of classes and follow the links to register or for more information.

21 Acres Center for Local Food and Sustainable Living is located at 13701 NE 171st St., Woodinville, WA. You can also register by calling (425) 481-1500 or e-mail generalinfo@21acres.org.  Classes fill quickly. Register now and don’t forget to ask for Member and Student discounts.

21 Acres is a nonprofit dedicated to helping people learn how to grow food, eat well, and live sustainably. All proceeds benefit educational programming at 21 Acres and initiatives related to accelerating social change toward more sustainable ways of growing, eating and living that protect the environment while supporting a better quality of life.

We wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your family and friends. Please enjoy some of the favorite memories from our staff.

Thanksgiving Memory from Amber /Admin Asst. @21 Acres
My favorite Thanksgiving memory would be sitting around the piano with my parents, grandparents and uncle’s family to sing carols with each person picking a different choral part to sing.

Thanksgiving Memory from Liesl / Market Manager @21Acres
My Dad still uses the turkey stuffing recipe his Mom developed over 75 years ago.  Not only that, he uses the same roasting pan!  (Not 75 years old, but at least 25 as it is the only one I remember).  It is an annual tradition for my sisters and I to wake up early and help Dad slice and saute vegetables, boil stock, mix up the stuffing and doctor it just right with seasonings.  Once the turkey goes in the oven around 8:30 in the morning, we all sit down to watch the parade…and take a collective nap in the living room.  Following his basting schedule, the bird, and the stuffing, never fail to impress.  Want to know the secret ingredient?  You have to marry into my family to find out! Happy Thanksgiving and may your day be just as blessed as mine, even if you do not have a 5 am wake up call.

Thanksgiving Memory from Karen /Event Staff @21Acres
Riding in the “way back” of the station wagon with my older brother.  We had a 10 hour drive to our grandmother’s. This was before iPods, video screens,etc., so to pass the time we sang the same songs over and over, probably driving our parents craZy.

Thanksgiving Memory from Jane / Sustainable Events Coordinator @21Acres
Growing up ripe olives constituted haute cuisine and Thanksgiving was the only time they were served!  My method–an olive on each finger tip, eat the thumb first, pinky last.

Thanksgiving Memory from Scott / Permaculturist @21Acres
“As a youth, I thought Thanksgiving to be an ordinary, traditional, and modern American holiday excuse off from school and work.  I later found it to be a gathering of closely related family members that sit down around a large table together, give hackneyed blessings and expressions of gratitude for bountiful harvests and harmonious relationships.  Turkey, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, fruit gelatin, baked yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and whipped cream adorned a candle lit table each year while we listened to soothing music and ate a warm home-cooked dinner together.  This went on as far back as I can remember until in 2009, I moved to Costa Rica where Thanksgiving is widely unknown.  My habit of repetition would have to be broken.  Imposing my foreign traditions upon the local Costa Ricans around me was out of consideration, and instead, I just looked within and gave thanks in my own internal celebration of Thanksgiving.  I gave thanks to my family back home and the new people around me.  I gave thanks to the gifts we have been given and the gifts we give to others.  I thanked the sun and the air that gave me life until something very significant happened to me: a nagging desire for the loved ones I grew up with and hunger pangs for a Thanksgiving meal disappeared.  Water fasting on Thanksgiving helped me find tranquility and clarity of mind without digestive distractions, and understood more of what Costa Rican’s call “Pura Vida.”  I did not eat a single bite of food nor consume a single calorie for a 24 hour period of time during Thanksgiving in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.  When I returned back to the US and the family I grew up with, I returned to their traditions, but with a genuinely sincere appreciation for so many gifts I never knew had been taken for granted.”

Thanksgiving Memory from Deb / Admin & HR @ 21 Acres
I was born in the south where pecan pie rules the day.  We moved to Washington when I was three, but the pie, with my mom being the Pecan Pie Queen, came with us.  When I moved to New Jersey after college, my mom would make small pies, pack them up in a coffee can and mail them to me, so the tradition was unbroken.  My mom is gone, but my sister and I have carried on with Pecan Pie making for the family.

Thanksgiving Memory from Deb / Admin and HR@21 Acres
I grew up with the traditional sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows for Thanksgiving dinner.  As an adult, I am not a fan, but my heart is filled with love for tradition and what gets carried on to the next generation.   My sister still always makes that horribly sweet marshmallow treat and my daughter, now grown and living in Australia, has insinuated this American phenomenon on the unsuspecting Aussies.    However, they don’t seem to have plain marshmallows Down Under and I have had to send them to her, so the last time she was home, we had a girl’s night in the kitchen learned how to make marshmallows, so  she can continue to share her memories and traditions with her new friends and family.

Thanksgiving Memory from Brenda / PR and Communications @21Acres
When anyone mentions Thanksgiving at our house we all remember the biggest and best family gathering we had in years was when Grandma Dot came to visit. The Jacobson clan from Washington and Oregon all landed at our house for dinner. (fyi G Dot is now 94!) Not in this picture was the dessert table. 🙂 Everyone brought something (even the teenagers) and it took more than one table to hold the bounty of sweet tradition.

Thanksgiving Memory from Deb / Admin and HR @21Acres
The year that will go down in the memory of our large and very extended family, is when my mom, queen of pie, had been ahead of the game and made her Thanksgiving Peach Pie quite early and popped it in the freezer.  With a glad heart since her day was made easier, she laid the pie out on the dessert table.  Cousin Tobin who always looked forward to that pie and was completely delighted to have a Peach Pie option, was first to the dessert table, scooped up a piece and downed a large bite.  Imagine his disappointment and the Queen of Pie’s chagrin to discover that her memory of her early preparation did not actually include baking the pie!

The holidays are approaching quickly. Are you looking to make a difference in your gift giving this year? There are lots of choices when it comes to holiday giving. Will you choose practical or pretty? Something fun or something fancy? No matter your giving preferences, we encourage you to research the purchases you make. Are there ‘greener’ options? Have you sourced the best products, the best materials? Are you supporting companies with ethical business practices? 21 Acres has a tool that will help you make an informed decision, with every dollar you spend, every purchase you make.*

For many months, 21 Acres has been compiling a directory of ‘Green Resources.’ We continuously conduct research, looking for new products and services that are energy efficient, free of harmful chemicals, are made in the USA, and companies that pride themselves in embracing these criteria. We’ve added a new section to the directory for the holiday, thinking ahead to all those purchases you might be considering for your family and friends. Below are just a few examples. Make it a “Green” Friday this holiday and every day whenever you make a purchase!

At the moment, an abbreviated version of the “Green Products and Services” directory lives here on the 21 Acres Blog, and gets updated regularly. Keep in mind some businesses cross categories with a broad variety of products. And, remember to always read the labels and fine print! For the complete Excel file of the Directory (with e-mails, web links, etc.), send an e-mail to generalinfo@21acres.org and we’ll send you the current version. The new 21 Acres website, when it launches in 2016, will make the Directory easily accessible for the public to review and add their own products and resources to share. In the interim, if you have ‘green’ items or services to share, we’d love to hear from you. Post your comment or information below and we’ll get it added to the directory.

Happy holidays, and happy “green” shopping, from all of us at 21 Acres.

* Read “Consumers Define Economic Future – Every Dollar Counts” written by HumanLinks Foundation President and 21 Acres founder, Gretchen Garth. 


TOYS & BOOKS
Seven Acre Toys
Smiling Tree
Eco-Friendly Mama USA
Snapdoodle Toys (stores located in Redmond and Kenmore)
Third Place Books (stores located in Ravenna and Lake Forest Park)

Just added: Pure Play Kids (organic stuffed animals)


CANDLES, SPA, GIFTS ETC.
Rare Earth Naturals
Liberty Bottles
Pelindaba Lavender (store located in the San Juan Islands)


BABY ITEMS
Glo-Organic
Pact
Cozy Pure
Natural Clothing Company (store located in Snohomish)
Smart Mommy Healthy Baby


CLOTHING-Women, Men, Baby, Kids, Outdoor, Socks, Shoes
Natural Clothing Company (store located in Snohomish)
Blue Canoe
RocknSocks
Pact
Ibex
Echo Verde
Natural World Eco


TEA, CHOCOLATE,  FOOD
Theo’s Chocolate (store located in Seattle)
Choice Organic Teas
Pelindaba Lavender (store located in the San Juan Islands)

21 Acres  (store located in Woodinville; gift certificates available for Culinary Classes and the Farm Market)


BATH, KITCHEN, HOME,  ETC.
Common Good Market
Preserve
NUBE Green (store located in Seattle)


JEWELRY, LUGGAGE, BAGS AND GIFTS
Eco-Artware
Red Oxx Manufacturing
http://www.redoxx.com/


BUSINESS & TECH
Pong
Red Oxx Manufacturing


LINENS, BEDDING AND MORE
Cozy Pure
Pendleton


FURNITURE, FINISHES, RUGS, HOME
Lazar
Common Good Market
Pendleton


OFF-GRID, HOMESTEAD PRODUCTS
Real Goods


HAIR AND PERSONAL PRODUCTS:
Olivia Garden
Pelindaba Lavender (store located in the San Juan Islands)
Rare Earth Naturals
Environmental Working Group
Smart Mommy Healthy Baby


Other great websites and resources to delve further:
http://blog.nature.org/green-gift-holidays/
http://www.greenamerica.org/green-gifts-guide/
http://commongoodmarket.com/vision/
http://www.ecolife.com/
http://inhabitat.com/greenholidaygiftguide/
http://www.ewg.org/


Other organizations doing good work:
The Nature Conservancy
EcoTrust
Environmental Working Group