Stop Trashing Your Pantry

According to a new report published by The Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard’s Food Law and Policy Clinic, 9 out of 10 Americans throw away perfectly edible food because of inconsistent labeling of expiration dates and sell-by dates. The report explains the confusion consumers feel over the dates stamped on food packaging and they propose improvements to current policies to help curve the problem.

Many consumers do not understand what the dates on their food products actually mean. Many think the dates designate food safety when in reality they are indicating freshness, not spoilage. Evidence shows that consumers rely too heavily on label dates resulting in food being thrown out over unfounded safety concerns. Experts suggest that consumers focus on more relevant risk factors regarding their food, such as time and temperature control.

The researchers found that inconsistency of terms and dates on packages complicate the matter for consumers. They are calling for national standardization of the words used on packages and clarification to clearly distinguish between safety-based dates and quality-based dates. This would eliminate the commonly found and confusing “sell by” label on consumer packaging as it only pertains to retailers.

When it comes to food safety, common sense is the best defense. “Use-by” dates are only estimates and if your food shows no sign of spoilage then it is most likely still edible. It is always better to err on the side of caution if you feel your food has expired, but do not rely solely on the date stamped on the package until measures are taken to standardize dates and labels on food packaging.

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Green Eating for a Healthy Home

Creating eco-friendly meals for your family doesn’t have to involve expensive organic produce and pricey fair-trade ingredients. Just by buying local fruits and vegetables, reducing your family’s consumption of meat, and choosing sustainable seafood can help to reduce pollution, carbon emissions, and the strain on our Earth’s natural resources. Dolphin Blue has gathered some great vegetarian recipes to help you green your eating habits. You’ll probably find that what is good for the planet is also delicious!

Veggie Stuffed Shells

Portobello Pizzas

Turkey, Tomato and Emmentaler Breakfast Sandwiches

Responsible eating can start before your meal preparation begins and last after dinner has been enjoyed. Keep reading for some more ideas on how to keep your cooking and kitchen eco-friendly. And don’t forget to try out Dolphin Blue’s environmentally friendly Preserve Kitchenware and Tableware.

  • Research sustainable seafood to ensure the ecological health of the oceans. Read labels or speak to your grocer to see which species are caught and farmed responsibly to make sure you’re buying responsibly
  • Cut more and cook less. The more you are able to cut your food into smaller pieces, the less time it will take to cook and therefore the less energy you will use
  • Put a lid on it. When boiling or simmering, put a lid on your pot and turn of your burner. This will enable your food to cook while also saving energy
  • Try to use all edible parts of your food. Leave the skins on your produce (after your scrub it clean) and eat all parts of your fruits and vegetables if you’re able to
  • Grow your own food! Learn more about sustainable practices by growing your own food and teaching your family how to grow their own food. The distance from your garden to your table is very eco-friendly!

Keep checking the Dolphin Blue blog every week for more eco-friendly tips for your home and garden.

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The Taste Test: A Look at the Many Milk Alternatives as a Way to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

The glass of milk that you might have had for breakfast this morning may seem innocuous enough, but the truth is, milk—and the carbon footprint that it bears—is quite complex. The many emissions of the many processes that it takes to produce a gallon of milk (the feed production, the raising of the cows and milk production, the transportation and packaging, the distribution, the consumption, and the disposal of both the product and its container) might make the eco-friendly mind think twice about this ubiquitous dairy product that emits about 17.6 pounds of carbon for every gallon produced. Wondering about the other options out there, I went to my local grocery store to try out some alternatives to this bovine beverage.

Cashew MilkWhile doing research for this post, I found an incredibly easy recipe for cashew milk. There is always a great thrill when you get to eat something you made with your own hands. And it was not bad! It had a very sweet, almost wheaty taste. It was like when you leave cheerios in the milk for too long and then drink it straight from the bowl. Yummy!

Rice MilkThe rice milk was lighter than the cashew milk in both taste and color. It was pleasantly sweet and very delicious. I would recommend drinking this milk with cereal for breakfast. It would definitely wake me up!

Almond MilkThe vanilla flavored almond milk was a huge hit with my family. It was very sweet, and had the most un-milk-like taste of them all, but in a wonderful way. I can’t wait to try it with a big slice of chocolate cake to see if the sweetness of the two complements each other. My dad recommends that all of you put it in your morning coffee.

Hemp MilkAnd, last but not least, was the hemp milk. I’d have to say that this was my favorite, because it was like nothing I’d ever tasted. Still, it was very yummy. It had a brownish color to it and a light, woodsy taste. I’m not sure it would go as well as the others with cereal, but it could certainly stand on its own.

All in all, my safari through the different flavors of not-milk was highly satisfying. It is always fun to expand your food horizons, especially when it leads to sustainably-minded shopping. You can reduce your carbon footprint by buying recycled products from Dolphin Blue, today!

(This blog was written by Dolphin Blue’s amazing intern, Elisa Rivera.)

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Freeganism: A Waste-Free Way of Life

Freegans dumpster diving for re-usable items.Freeganism is a movement that focuses on reducing and making use of society’s waste by decreasing one’s participation in an economy of consumption and instead obtaining the resources needed to live—food, materials, shelter—through alternative means that are both free and produce minimal waste. Freeganism is very community-centered and demands to know why so many people starve every day or freeze to death out in the streets when at the same time tons of edible food is being thrown away and buildings lie vacant because the owner could not turn a profit on them. By standing up for these values in a variety of ways, Freegans promote sharing, food independence, and decreasing waste.

    • Waste reclamation/minimization: Rather than adding to the waste generated by consuming new materials, Freegans often acquire many of the materials and food that they need from dumpster diving and from community sharing programs like Free Stores. If there is a needed item that cannot be obtained from dumpster diving or community sharing programs, buying from second-hand stores is another way to reduce the waste coming from our society.
    • Alternative transportation: Buying gas and other necessities and accessories for cars contributes to our world’s dependence on greenhouse-gas-producing fossil fuels. Therefore, Freegans forgo the money- and resource-suck that are cars and choose alternative means of transportation like bikes, hitchhiking, and train jumping.
    • Rent-free housing: The waste in our society can also be seen in our communities’ willingness to let livable spaces remain empty when thousands of us live on the streets. Freegans recognize that housing is a right, not a privilege, and so practice squatting in abandoned buildings and house-sharing programs.
    • Going green: Freegans often plant community gardens (or, guerilla gardens) to gain food independence from giant agribusinesses, as well as to be able to share safe, free food with others. Freegans also forage for food and medicinal plants in the wilderness, proving that one can live independently from supermarkets and pharmacies as people once did not too long ago.
    • Working less: By living outside of the consumer-driven economy, Freegans don’t find the need to participate in monotonous, demanding work in order to earn a paycheck. Time could be better put to use volunteering in the community or doing something you enjoy. By working less or not working at all, Freegans refuse to be a cog in the corporate machines only to earn money to throw back at the many corrupt and wasteful companies.

Everyone in our society can work to reduce the exorbitant waste that we produce in our daily lives by learning from the Freegan example. By buying less, buying second-hand, and/or buying recycled we can all reduce the trash that threatens to bury us all. By growing our own garden, we can develop a relationship with nature while also becoming food independent.

(This blog was written by Dolphin Blue’s amazing intern, Elisa Rivera.)

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Infographic Friday: Guerilla Gardening

Ron Finley is an inspiring gardener in South Central Los Angeles. He plants vegetable gardens in some of the most unlikely places: abandoned lots, traffic medians, even along the curbs of neighborhood streets. Why does he do it? Check out the infographic below and then follow this link to watch his TED Talk. Maybe it will inspire you like it inspired us at Dolphin Blue.

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Exciting Eco-Eating: The Down & Dirty On Edible Insects

The U.N. recently released a report extolling the virtues of edible insects as an environmentally responsible alternative to meat as a source of protein and other nutrients.  With their high fat, protein, fiber, and mineral contents, edible insects certainly pack a healthy punch! What’s even better is that the cost to our environment to raise insects for consumption is far less than the impact of raising large livestock for meat.

Adding mealworms to caramel apples gives this fun treat a tasty crunch!

Adding mealworms to caramel apples gives this fun treat a tasty crunch!

Even though entomophagy, or the act of eating insects, hasn’t quite caught on in the West (yet!), in many other countries around the world, bugs are eaten with gusto and are often considered a delicacy. So, why should you add bugs to your menu?

The Problem: Meat is Unsustainable
Relying on large livestock (cattle, pigs, and chickens, for example) for one’s primary source of protein means one must rely on highly inefficient, greenhouse-gas-producing, and sometimes cruel practices to obtain nutrients. Not to mention the health problems associated with consuming too much meat.  With the world’s population growing at an incredible rate and the demand for food rising along with it, having enough land to support both people and large livestock will soon become an issue, as well. All this is why many have said that producing and consuming as much livestock as we do is not sustainable.

But, you’re not willing to go cold turkey on your meat and go vegetarian? Why not try substituting meat with insects every now and then? All the nutrients, none of the burden on our environment.

Edible Insects: Less is More
Insects are an eco-friendly food option for a simple reason: they need less—less food (some insects can be raised on human/animal waste, which reduces the possibility of environmental contamination and avoids wasting food that could be eaten by humans), less water, less space. They even release fewer greenhouse gases and ammonia than cows, pigs, and chickens.

Many insects’ feed conversion rates (the amount of feed it takes to put on 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of body weight in an animal) are much lower than traditional meat sources. The feed conversion rates of crickets, chickens, pigs, and cows are shown below:

Crickets 3.7 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain
Chickens 5.5 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain
Pigs 11 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain
Cows 22 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain

Large livestock create a larger toll on the earth with problems ranging from habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, and contamination from livestock and feed farms and farming practices. In general, insects are more efficient to farm and their impact on the environment is much less severe.

For something we spend so much time and money trying to exterminate, insects may actually be the first step to a solution to many of our world’s burgeoning social and environmental problems. All we have to do is get past those legs.

Creepy Crawly Recipes
Looking for some yummy ways to try bugs? Check out these sites, and add some environmentally conscious treats to your plate.

http://edibug.wordpress.com/recipes/
http://www.ent.iastate.edu/misc/insectsasfood.html
http://www.insectsarefood.com/recipes.html

For other ways to add a splash of green to your life, check out Dolphin Blue for sustainable office, home, and pet supplies.

(This blog was written by Dolphin Blue’s amazing intern, Elisa Rivera.)

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Heroes of Sustainability: Michael Pollan

 

One hundred years ago, no one spent time thinking about where their food came from. That’s because they all knew. There were no mystery ingredients, meals didn’t by and large travel great distances before getting to the table, and farm animals weren’t injected with growth hormones. Today, you only need to stroll down the inside aisle of any grocery store, pick a package at random, and try to decipher the ingredients listed on the back to see that it’s not that simple anymore.

That unknown is what has driven much of Michael Pollan’s research over the years, including his famous and bestselling 2006 book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Bothered by the fact that he really didn’t know the origins of his food…

 

 

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Top Ten Reasons To Be a Green Business

One of my employees recently challenged me to create a “Top Ten” reasons to work for, own, or operate a ecologically friendly, green business.  Here is my take:

10. Because our planet is our “garden”. Only with a totally healthy and productive garden will we be able to live healthy and sustainable lives.

9. Because we’re running low on clean, drinkable, non-chemically-contaminated water.

8. Because we’re quickly losing clean, breathable, non-chemically-contaminated air.

7. Because we’re depleting the minerals and healthy state of our soil. Without healthy soil, we won’t have healthy food. Without healthy food, we can’t have healthy bodies.

6. Because a healthy, sustainable planet will provide great rewards in reduced healthcare costs, healthy employees who are productive and present, and will be much better employees.

5. Because as the owner/CEO of a green business, you’ll sleep better at night, knowing you’re doing your part.

4. Because, as a parent, you’ll sleep better at night, knowing you’re leaving a sustainable planet for your children and future generations.

3. Because you will be happier and healthier, living on a planet that you know has a rich diversity of fellow species, all doing their part in maintaining the balance of nature.

2. Because customers/consumers are looking for businesses with which they have a “values alignment”.  People buy from people and companies they know and trust are doing good.

and most important. ..

1. Because your children deserve at least as much of a natural world we have had.

Here’s hoping you make green waves at work,

Thomas Kemper, Owner and Founder

www.dolphinblue.com

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How to Eat Greener: Healthy Food, Healthy Earth

Happy New Year! 2010 is off to a great start!

Here at Dolphin Blue, we’ve hit the ground running, planning some new products and initiatives that we’re excited about. We’re also proud to report that in our first full quarter of participating in the Round Up, Impact Down carbon offset program, we matched our customers’ contributions and offset 1.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Thanks to all those who chose to round up when making a purchase.

Start the new year off right with green meals
It’s January, aka post-resolution time, which means the gyms are packed, the portions are downsized, and resolves are steeled. If you’ve made a goal to get healthier this year, why not begin with eating greener?
 
To help you get started, we’ve rounded up resources on food that’s good for you — and good for the environment.
 
Get a New Cookbook
Got a vegetarian and a meat eater living under the same roof? Make everyone happy with The Adaptable Feast: Satisfying Meals for the Vegetarians, Vegans, and Omnivores at Your Table, which offers tasty recipes with adaptations for both the omnivores and herbivores. The 90 entries include Quinoa-Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes, Gooey Macaroni and Cheese, Pad Thai with Shrimp/Tofu, and Tagliatelle Bolognese for All. Plus, author Ivy Manning has your best interests in mind, as she pays special attention to the nutritional makeup of each meal, never substituting without thought.
 
Buy Big Green Cookbook: Hundreds of Planet-Pleasing Recipes and Tips for a Luscious, Low-Carbon Lifestyle, and you’ll get a book with more than just recipes — it’s also filled with all kinds of tips, like how to be eco-savvy in the kitchen. Here’s an example: “You don’t need to be skinny! Rather, choose foods that are thin to start with, like skinny-cut French fries instead of thick-cut ones. The slimmer the food, the faster it’ll cook — saving you and the planet energy.”
 
Grow an Heirloom Garden

From companies like Seeds of Change, Victory Seeds, and Heirloom Seeds, you can find open-pollinated, untreated seeds (which helps maintain diversity in seed stocks) for almost anything you’d want to grow, whether it’s melons, corn, lettuce, peppers, or flowers.
 
Take the Coffee In-House
Can’t live without a wake-up beverage in the morning? Then try brewing it yourself at home or at the office, using fair-trade organic coffee and a mug instead of disposable cups. Look for companies that are certified organic and fair trade, like Sacred Grounds Organic Coffee Roasters. Grounds for Change pays farmers in Peru above the going rate for coffee to help support local domestic violence intervention programs and small-business loans for women, while Dean’s Beans only purchases shade-grown coffee, which helps keep migratory birds and farmers safe. (On a side note, if you’re looking for a cool gift for someone, consider an organic coffee of the month club.) If becoming a home brewer doesn’t appeal to you, find a coffee shop that’s committed to fair-trade practices.
 
Do It Yourself
Think outside of the box — the cereal box, that is — by trying your hand at making your own. This recipe from Bon Appétit magazine for Quick Omega-3 Granola earns raves from readers for being both nutritious and delicious.
 
And Then, Relax
After you’ve prepared a nice, healthy meal, don’t worry about the dishes — stick them in the dishwasher (Energy Star rated, preferably) and don’t feel guilty: Studies show that modern dishwashers use about half the energy and only one-sixth the water a person washing dishes does. No matter how hard you try, your dishwasher will outperform you in cleanliness and minimizing resources, so shelve those dishwashing gloves and bust out a green cookbook to find your next eco-friendly meal to try.

***Get ready for our new series: Green Heros, where we take a look at some of the most notable economists, environmentalists, authors and everyday people who are driven to save the planet just like us and the impact they’ve had on so many.

Keep an eye our for our first two upcoming heros: John Perkins and Helena Norberg-Hodge

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