November 29th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Almost 43 million families will be making their own holiday gifts, cards and decorations this year, according to the Craft & Hobby Association (CHA).
“Crafting provides an opportunity to spend time with friends and family while creating unique, one-of-a-kind gifts that don’t need to cost a lot of money,” says CHA President and CEO Steve Berger.
The following project makes a great holiday decoration or gift. Organic wreaths are available at your local nursery and some natural/organic food stores. The remaining supplies can be found at your local craft store.
My favorite craft store, Joann, is offering OrganicAuthority readers free shipping on orders totaling $50 or more. Click here to take advantage of this holiday promotion.
Family Holiday Wreath
- Organic wreath
- Chipboard words
- Alphabet rub-ons
- Favorite family photos or holiday-themed stock photographs
- Heavy cardboard
- Metal saying
- Wire cutter
- Glue gun
- Attach metal saying with wire to center of wreath.
- Print or download photos. Those in this craft were printed in sepia.
- Adhere photos to heavy cardboard (same size as photos).
- Add rub-ons to photos (create names, messages).
- Glue chipboard words to wreath.
Project courtesy of www.terriocraftprojects.com. Photo courtesy of the Craft & Hobby Association.
Read More:Decorate an Organic Wreath
November 28th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Black Friday and Cyber Monday bring out the materialist in all of us.
Holiday shoppers got off to a good start yesterday, according to CNN. I missed the mayhem, but I’m working on my holiday gift list.
With a flailing economy, many of us are cutting back on spending this year. This may be a blessing in disguise, forcing us to reconsider our priorities and avoid filling up our homes—and landfills—with next year’s junk.
“In these challenging economic times, parents may feel concerned that they may not be able to provide the usual abundance under the Christmas tree, or other holiday giving,” says education specialist Barbara Nicholson, cofounder of Nashville-based Attachment Parenting International. “The good news is that what children really need and want is our presence, not necessarily presents. Think about other ways to make your holidays rich this year by providing more time for games, cooking together and, perhaps, making gifts together that will be treasured through the years.”
We couldn’t agree more. Tune in tomorrow for a holiday craft project that will bring family members together and nurture your organic spirit.
Read More:Presence, Not Presents
October 9th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Sunday marked the beginning of Animal Action Week, an International Fund for Animal Welfare campaign to teach both children and adults about biodiversity, habitat and ecosystems.
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, an IFAW honorary board member, is promoting the campaign, which provides schools with a free education pack and Under One Sky: Why Animals Matter, a 15-minute film he narrates. Click here for access to educational downloads. You’ll also find a wide selection of downloadable Animal Fact Sheets—great tools to share with your kids.
Students may enter an art contest, with the winning design to appear on next year’s campaign poster. Families are also encouraged to sign a global pledge to make lifestyle choices that better protect the environment we share with animals.
“Animals and their vital habitat face more threats than ever before,” DiCaprio says. “Animals, like people, need a home that provides food, water, shelter and space. It’s our responsibility to protect animals and our planet’s vital ecosystems if we want to leave a better world for future generations.”
For Your Organic Bookshelf: The Animal Ethics Reader
Read More:Teach Your Children to Share the Planet
September 9th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Between 2003 and 2006, almost 40% of Mexican-American adolescents (12 to 19) were overweight or likely to become so, according to researchers at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.
They found that teens who reduced their daily sugar intake by 47 grams (equal to one can of soda), while increasing their daily fiber intake by 5 grams (equal to one-half cup of beans), lowered their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Emily Ventura, MPH, and her colleagues in the Department of Preventive Medicine published their results in the April edition of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Teens who decreased their sugar intake secreted 33% less insulin, while those who increased their fiber intake lost 10% of fat around vital organs. Insulin resistance and obesity are two major risk factors for diabetes.
“Our results suggest that intensive interventions may not be necessary to achieve modifications in sugar and fiber intake,” the authors write. “Accordingly, nutritional guidance given in the primary-care or community setting may be sufficient to promote the suggested dietary changes in some individuals. In addition, policies that promote reduced intake of added sugar and increased intake of fiber could be effective public-health strategies for the prevention of type 2 diabetes in this high-risk population.”
For Your Organic Bookshelf: “I’m, Like, So Fat!”: Helping Your Teen Make Healthy Choices About Eating and Exercise in a Weight-Obsessed World
Read More:More Beans, Less Sugar
July 14th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
School may be out for summer, but seize the opportunity to increase your children’s vocabulary and environmental literacy with a good book.
Kids ages 3–8 will enjoy Recycle! A Handbook for Kids, by Gail Gibbons—a colorful 32-page book that explains the recycling process from start to finish.
Children will learn how different types of garbage—from paper and plastic to glass and aluminum cans—are recycled into new products. Gibbons also offers recycling tips and “trash trivia.”
“Gail Gibbons is a phenomenal writer whose informational books help kids learn new and interesting facts,” says Jennifer D. Turner, PhD, an assistant professor of education at the University of Maryland. “And she doesn’t disappoint with her book on recycling. This book is very readable and well organized, and helps children really get a sense of what landfills are and why we need fewer of them.
“Gibbons does thorough research in order to write her books,” Dr. Turner continues, “so when she describes how to recycle, why it’s necessary and its benefits, you know the information is accurate. The book ends with some interesting information about the ozone layer and the limited potential for recycling polystyrene, followed by 14 facts about garbage.”
For Your Child’s Organic Bookshelf
- Where Does the Garbage Go?
- Why Should I Recycle?
- The Three R’s: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle
- Garbage and Recycling
Read More:Recycle! A Handbook for Kids
June 23rd, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
In July 2006, I wrote a post called A Mountain of Meat and Cheese, which covered Burger King’s introduction of Double, Triple and Quad Stackers. That last sandwich consisted of four burgers, four pieces of cheese and eight pieces of bacon on a flaccid bun, weighing in at a hefty 1,000 calories, 68 g fat and 1,800 mg sodium.
The post garnered more controversy than I expected. Some readers thought I was a dietary stick-in-the-mud:
“Had a quad yesterday and a triple today,” noted Rick, apparently not referring to bypass surgery. “Outstanding, exactly what I like.”
“I don’t care,” wrote James. “It’s so good. Really good. I’ll eat a salad for dinner. Actually, I’ll just eat more of these.”
I’m not sure how James’s and Rick’s cholesterol levels are doing, but these readers are certainly entitled to shovel Death Wish Burgers into their mouths. (FYI, dudes: You’re reading an online magazine dedicated to organic living. How did you even find us?)
But besides voicing my horror at super-sizing an already super-sized menu, I had another point:
Of course, Burger King is enticing kids to order this “produce-free” behemoth through a series of TV ads featuring a crew of miniature construction workers that “diligently stacks meat, cheese, bacon and BK Stacker Sauce.”
If that’s not enough, “2.5″ collectible figurines of some of the most memorable characters from the BK Stackers television ads can be purchased online…Fans can purchase a set of three figurines, including Vin the Foreman, the Kid and the Cheese Welder.”
For parents who promote organic living and healthy eating, this is yet another example of how fast-food companies and advertising agencies pander to kids without any regard for their health. It’s irresponsible at a time when childhood obesity is epidemic.
Flash-forward 3 years and little has changed. McDonald’s, inventor of the Happy Meal/free toy marketing juggernaut, is currently promoting kids’ meals with plastic dinosaurs from the new Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs film.
“We’re committed to bringing the biggest and most exciting properties to life for our customers, and offering them the high-quality food they love,” says Mary Dillon, McDonald’s global chief marketing officer. “The McDonald’s Ice Age Happy Meal event will feature movie characters on a variety of Happy Meal food choices worldwide, such as Apple Dippers and low-fat white and chocolate milk jugs in the U.S., to reach kids in a fun and responsible way.”
And according to a McDonald’s press release, “Select restaurants in the U.K. will host family scavenger hunts, taking kids on an underground adventure to help the movie characters retrieve lost items, and will offer in-store giveaways such as character masks and balloons.”
I’m assuming a Quarter Pounder and fries will figure into the McFun.
Here’s the problem: Not every parent insists on Apple Dippers over French fries or low-fat milk over sugary sodas. That’s a parenting choice—and often a dismal one.
In the long run, continuing to use toys to promote Happy Meals amounts to McBribery, something Ronald McDonald shouldn’t be celebrating.
For further information, please check out these stories from our blog archives:
- Fast-Food Frenzy
- Let the Holidays Jumpstart New Meal Traditions
- Young Children’s Taste Preferences May Be Influenced by Fast-Food Branding
- Companies Pledge to Change Food Ads Targeted to Children
- Food Advertising Ban: A Good Start
- Advocacy Group Says Nickelodeon Should Ditch Junk Food Ads
- You Can Lead a Horse to Water…
- California Becomes First State to Ban Trans Fats
Photo courtesy of McDonald’s
Read More:McBribery Pisses Me Off
June 18th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Researchers at Cornell University found that giving funky names to everyday vegetables prompted preschoolers to eat—and enjoy—produce offerings.
Brian Wansink, PhD, director of Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab, and his team presented 186 preschool children with “X-ray Vision Carrots”—the same carrots normally offered on lunch days. Transfixed by the new name, the kids ate almost twice their normal portions, he says.
And even after the “X-ray Vision” label was removed from the serving tray, children continued to eat about 50% more carrots in school.
“Cool names can make for cool foods,” Dr. Wansink says. “Whether it be ‘power peas’ or ‘dinosaur broccoli trees,’ giving a food a fun name makes kids think it will be more fun to eat. And it seems to keep working—even the next day.”
Adds researcher Collin Payne: “I’ve been using this with my kids. Whatever sparks their imagination seems to spark their appetite.”
Read More:The Princess Eats Her Peas
June 14th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Angelina Jolie’s kids wear them.
Ditto for the children of Halle Berry, Gwen Stefani, Angie Harmon, Keri Russell, Melania Trump and Samantha Harris.
BabyLegs’ adorable organic arm and leg warmers have taken the world by storm. Available in more than 50 countries, they’re only $10 to $15 a pair and make a fashionably green baby shower gift.
The company uses SKAL-certified organic cotton and Oeko-Tex-certified dyes.
Check out these super-cute styles:
Natural cotton organic leg warmers
Colorful organic leg warmers
Baby/toddler organic leg and arm warmers
Why is it important to buy organic cotton? Check out The Cotton Club.
Read More:Baby Couture: Trendy Organic Arm/Leg Warmers
July 5th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Over the last year, I’ve posted two margarita recipes in the Organic Authority blog: the Cinco de Mayo Margarita (right) and, more recently, yesterday’s Fourth of July Northwest Cherry Bomb Margarita. Personally, I’m not much of a drinker, but I enjoy a well-blended margarita during holiday celebrations or special occasions. The key, as with anything else, is moderation.
I am concerned, however, about teenage drinking, which starts much earlier these days than when I was in high school. Approximately 1 million U.S. high school students are frequent heavy drinkers. If you’re a parent who’s dedicated to organic living, be aware of the most recent study published in the July issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Researchers found that those who start drinking at a younger age may face a higher risk of alcohol dependence throughout their lifetime.
Past surveys have found that 28% of high school students begin drinking before age 13, and they’re more likely to drink until they’re intoxicated than those who wait until age 17 or older to start drinking. Heavy drinking places them at risk for dangerous behaviors, including driving while intoxicated, carrying guns, injuring themselves in fights, attempting suicide, having unprotected sex and earning low grades in school.
Dr. Ralph W. Hingson and colleagues at the Youth Alcohol Prevention Center at the Boston University School of Public Health analyzed results from a national survey of 43,093 adults conducted in 2001–2002. Subjects were asked about demographics, behavior, history of depression, drug use, family history of alcohol dependence and the age at which they began drinking. Those who met the criteria for alcohol dependence were asked how old they were when they first began to drink.
Forty-seven percent of those who began drinking before age 14 experienced alcohol dependence during their lifetimes, compared with 9% who began drinking at 21 or older. Those who started younger were also more likely to be alcohol-dependent within 10 years of beginning drinking.
The researchers hope this study highlights the need for parents, pediatricians and other healthcare professionals to discuss alcohol use with teens and discourage drinking at younger ages.
Read More:Are Your Teenagers Drinking?
January 17th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
The folks at Horizon Organic are the first to admit that breastfeeding is the preferred way to feed a baby, but there often comes a time when mothers may choose—or need—to switch to formula.
That’s why the company recently introduced Horizon Organic Infant Formula with Iron, which contains high-quality, certified organic fats, carbohydrates and proteins, as well as the essential vitamins and minerals babies need. The formula meets all FDA requirements for healthy, full-term infants (not for those who are premature, low-birth-weight, immunocompromised, allergic to cow’s milk or its byproducts, or suffering from a condition that led to admission to a neonatal intensive care unit).
As with all milk-based infant formulas, Horizon’s organic variety is made with three cow’s milk derivatives: lactose, nonfat dry milk and whey protein concentrate. The difference, of course, is that Horizon’s cows feed on certified organic grain and hay, grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. The cows never receive synthetic growth hormones or antibiotics. They make milk “the natural way,” with full access to fresh air, clean water and pasture. All of the oils that provide the fats in Horizon’s formula are also organic.
The formula cans, made of stainless steel with an aluminum seal, are recyclable. Two sizes are available: 13.2 oz. (suggested retail: $15.49) and 27.6 oz. ($29.49).
Horizon Organic Infant Formula is currently available in California, Washington and Oregon at natural food stores, specialty retailers and select supermarkets. The company expects to go national in the near future.
Important note: Always check with your pediatrician before switching infant formulas.
Read More:Horizon Introduces Organic Infant Formula