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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

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Toast the New Year with Green Champagne in Biodegradable Packaging


naturally clicquot group

For New Year’s many people will be toasting champagne at midnight. For 2015 you can drink to the new year out of a bottle kept chilled inside packaging made from potatoes. French designer Cédric Ragot has developed an innovative packaging for Veuve Clicquot that is completely biodegradable. Called Naturally Clicquot, the isothermal design can keep a chilled bottle cool for up to 2 hours.

naturally clicquot open

The packaging is made from potato starch and paper and because of this, Naturally Clicquot’s packaging is 100% biodegradable. Even the label is made using recycled paper. A promotional video about the design that addresses the problem of packaging waste can be viewed on the Veuve Clicquot website. This innovatively packaged champagne will cost about $58 but is a unique, eco-friendly buy.

vineard grapes

If looking for other tasty, eco-friendly champagnes to toast to the new year here are a few “greener” options.

  • Vranken Pommery: obtained environmental certification for their practices of waste management, sustainable growing, water conservation and energy conservation.
  • Domaine Carneros: certified by California certified organic farmers in 2008. This vineyard uses photovoltaic solar power for energy.
  • Leclerc Briant: this biodynamic winemaker uses only natural products for repellents and compost for fertilizers.
  • Champagne Fleury: a biodynamic winery using compost as fertilizer since the 1970’s. Organically grown grapes and no pesticides.

Pommery POP rosePommery, my first pick, can be found online at BevMo.com and its Brut Royal champagne will cost about $40 if you’re a club member otherwise it’s about $60. Pommery can also be found on wine.com prices vary from $130 for a vintage bottle to $54 for POP. Perhaps Pommery’s “greenest” bottle would be POP Earth, but it is sold out on wine.com. The Earth champagne reflects the brand’s commitment to using sustainable practices. Earth’s bottle used lighter glass, 1.85 lbs. instead of 2 lbs., reducing energy cost during shipping. Earth’s label is also made from recycled materials and printed with water soluble ink.

So welcome in the new year with an alternative champagne and toast to a greener year. Cheers!

related: more eco-friendly libations reviewed on The Alternative Consumer

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How about some Real Holiday Cheer?


Brrr, it’s cold outside, even here in Florida. Our friends at Prairie Organic Spirits have some tasty ideas for hot-toddy beverages to keep you nice (or naughty) and warm this winter.

Prairie Organic Gin Hot Toddy

(above) Prairie Gin(gerbread) Toddy
2 parts Prairie Organic Gin
1 part gingerbread syrup*
1 part lemon or orange juice
¼ cup boiling water
Directions: Fill cup with hot water and stir until gingerbread syrup is dissolved. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

*Gingerbread Syrup:
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Directions: Combine ingredients in a pan. Heat to boiling while whisking until all the powder substances dissolve. Boil for 2-3 minutes so syrup thickens.

Harvest Hot Chocolate

(above) Harvest Hot Chocolate
1 oz. Prairie Organic Vodka
¾ oz. Amaretto
2 tbsp hot chocolate mix (instant)
4 oz. milk
Whipped cream (optional)
Cinnamon stick (optional)
Directions: Prepare hot chocolate (as usual) with milk and stir in remaining ingredients. Top with whipped cream and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

spiced & spirited hot toddy

Spiced and Spirited (serves 2-3)
1/2 bottle Red Wine
2 oz Prairie Organic Vodka
3 cinnamon sticks + 1 for garnish
3 star anise pods
1 strip lemon peel
1 tsp. sugar
Directions: Add ingredients to a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until warm (do not boil), remove from the heat and let stand 5 – 10 minutes. Garnish with cinnamon stick.

Make merry, stay warm my friends…Cheers!

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

DIY herbal teas for the season: from your garden to the Thanksgiving table


herbal tea ingredients on cutting board

Manufacturing eight ounces of coffee requires 29 gallons of water whereas tea requires only seven. So if you’re using virtual water standards, this makes tea a much more environmentally friendly option. Perhaps this lower environmental impact (in addition to great flavor and health benefits) is another reason why tea has been gaining popularity. (I know, I can dream.) Teas can be herbal and consist of roses, lavender, mint, chamomile, dandelion and other spices. Or they can be white, green and black tea-leaf-based.

This holiday season, why not opt for a greener beverage and while you’re at it make it even greener by making it yourself? Here are three fun DIY herbal teas you can prepare as you gather for Thanksgiving. (I found the inspiration for these recipes at instructables.com: Lavender mint, orange chamomile and orange ginger.) If you don’t want to make purely herbal teas you can always add in some green or black tea leaves to your mix. What you will need for each tea is as follows and most if not all of these ingredients can be grown in your own backyard.

  • Lavender mint: Food quality lavender and mint, both of these can come from your garden as long as you haven’t used any chemicals or pesticides not fit for human consumption.
  • Orange chamomile: fresh orange peels and chamomile from your local grocery store. And when you’re done peeling those oranges don’t toss the fruit; oranges are a great source of vitamin C and a tasty snack.
  • Orange ginger: fresh orange peels and fresh ginger root. Fresh ginger is great in cooking and may settle upset tummies.

homemade herbal ginger tea

To start: you need to wash, dry and roughly or finely chop your orange peel and ginger. The ginger and orange peel can safely be dehydrated in the oven. Note: before dicing, preheat your over to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. (more…)

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Virtual Water Dilemma: Act One – Food


fresh water with bubbles

What is virtual water?
In times of drought people try their best to not let the faucet run, take a shorter shower and water the gardens less. But these are all activities during which we can see how much water we are wasting, making saving it simpler; we just don’t use as much. But what most people don’t think about is virtual water. Virtual water is a term for all the water that goes into making an end product.

Perhaps the most common source of virtual water in our daily lives is the food we choose to eat. In fact more than 50 percent of our water footprint is derived by the food we consume. From growing, to transport, to processing and distributing all the food we eat comes to us at some virtual water cost. Even a simple task like deciding whether or not we want cheese on our hamburger can have an impact. After all it takes 700 gallons to make one pound of cheese.

cows look into camera

The cheeseburger 
Let’s break down that cheeseburger. For the bun – top and bottom – we’re looking at 22 gallons of water. Our meat patty is 616 gallons and if we want cheese on it we need to tack on an extra 56. If we’re feeling healthy and we want the veggies, lettuce costs 1.5 and tomato costs 3. But what is any burger without some fries, so that will be another 6. In the end the entire combo takes about 700 gallons to make. But why is it so water costly to make one cheeseburger? Because of all the other things that require water to put that burger on your tray. Plants and animals don’t just grow up overnight and from nothing. Plants have to be watered from seed to harvest. And animals need to be fed food that is first grown and then the animal itself consumes H2O. Keep in mind that the gallons needed may vary based on region, processing and treatment of the livestock.

water in fruit_1

The switch up
Knowing about the virtual water that goes into a product is the first step to making water-wise choices. There is no way to eliminate virtual water consumption all together but we can make eating choices that help lessen the blow.

  • Instead of beef have chicken – beef can require a staggering 2,500 to 5,000 gallons to produce – chicken, a more modest 815 gallons.
  • 8oz of coffee will cost 29 gallons so switch it to a tea which only uses 7.
  • For a sweet treat – 1 pound of chocolate costs a 2,847 gallons vs. a mango that requires 190.
  • Cut back on the butter. Butter which comes in at 2,044 gallons is something most of us can do with much less of.

No one is saying give up eating animal products altogether but because animal products are more costly, cutting back there will have the greatest impact. Also keep in mind that not all produce is created equal – some cost more than others but as producers they may still have the lowest impact.

Fresh water with bubbles photo via shutterstock.com

related: more food articles from The Alternative Consumer

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Friday, January 31, 2014

Suja Juice – Tasty Organic Nutrition Without the GMOs


organic suja juice

I’m sure all of you have heard of Naked Juice and Odwalla – both popular brands that feature the unregulated “All Natural” designation and do not bear the no GMO label – not good. There are tons of other  juice brands out there, but have you heard of Suja?

suja juice bottle labels

All of Suja’s juices are 100% USDA certified organic and non-GMO, so you know that you’re getting pure fruits and veggies. Suja is one-of-a-kind in its cold pressing and high pressure processing methods. These methods result in nutrient-dense juice and a great taste, while maintaining maximum nutrition and lasting freshness.  (more…)

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