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23 posts from March 2007

March 02, 2007


Sarah Alexander, age 26
Local-food connoisseur

When Sarah Alexander found out that food travels an average of 1,500 to 2,000 miles to reach Americans' plates, it gave her something to chew on. Wanting to do her part to reduce fossil-fuel consumption, Alexander and six friends created--and completed--the Local Food Challenge. For one year, they ate only items grown or produced within a 250-mile radius of their Minnesota homes.

Q: What was the hardest thing about the challenge? Did you ever cheat?

A: When I traveled, I had to take all my food with me; once, I ran out and had to eat at a Thai restaurant. But most of the year, it was no problem--and fresh, local foods taste delicious.

Q: How did you get through the winter?

A: We preserved a lot of food in advance, so we had canned and frozen fruit to eat year-round. We had tons of grains, soup, and some local meat. I was surprised by how well we ate.

Q: Were there any foods that were impossible to get locally?

A: Throughout history, every culture has had "trade items." Following that model, we listed a few exceptions: salt, oil, wine, coffee, and tea. And chocolate! --interview by Orli Cotel

(Photograph by Ken Frick)

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Want to know more about eating locally? Listen to Orli Cotel's interview with Sarah Alexander on Sierra Club Radio. Meet some "locavores" in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read more about the benefits of local food. Find out what foods are in season now and which ones you can buy near you. And then join people all over the world on a 100-mile diet.

March 01, 2007

Fast Fact

More than 1,200 small U.S. farms offer fresh produce "subscriptions." Find one near you at foodroutes.org.

Naturally Clean

Ready to call in reinforcements to help with your spring cleaning? Consider hiring a green maid service that eschews harsh chemicals in favor of nontoxic, biodegradable products. That'll help relieve any guilt about paying someone to scrub your toilet. Do-it-yourselfers can whip up their own green cleaners with simple ingredients such as baking soda, borax, lemon juice, liquid soap, and white vinegar.

For recipes, check out the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia's "Guide to Less-Toxic Products," which details store-bought and homemade alternatives for everything from air freshener to window cleaner.

If you're looking for a green maid service, you can start your search with this semi-national directory put together by natural-cleaning advocate Nancy McKenney. (San Francisco Bay Area residents can find more options in the Ecology Center's online listings.) There's also Green Clean in the Baltimore/DC area; Zen Home Cleaning, Slate, and Clean & Be Green in New York City; and @ Your Service, Inc. in Philadelphia, just to name a few.

Concocted a great DIY cleaner or tried a fantastic cleaning service? Tell us about them in the comments section!

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