Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Event: Hugo França at the Fairchild Botanic Garden ~ Dec. 1 thru May 31

“Itapema Chaise”- designed by Hugo França, 2013. Made from pequi wood. 43.3” H x 86.6” W x 49.2” D. Approximately 441 lbs.

Brazilian artist Hugo França can see form and texture in the remnants of once living trees. His hand crafted accents and furniture evoke the essential beauty of well seasoned burl and exotic wood grain. There's no better place to experience such natural creativity than at the Fairchild Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida. Here the artist and the Garden are committed to fostering sustainability and promoting conservational awareness.

This is part of the Art at Fairchild program dedicated to introducing the community to the beauty and power of art in a natural setting. The Fairchild is more than a natural setting, it's a wonderland that celebrates the tropical plants around the world. Such an exotic setting is the ideal surround for França's creative works which originate in similar ecosystems of the northern Brazilian state of Bahia.

Franca's skill was learned by living with the indigenous people of his homeland to discover their long used woodworking techniques that bring out the natural beauty of discarded remnants of felled, burned or dead trees found in the Brazilian forests. By working them into functional designs, França gives new life to trees that are sometimes hundreds of years old.

These hand crafted pieces demonstrate França's ability to assess each piece of reclaimed wood and see a finished project hidden inside. Instead of masking irregularities, he accentuates them to enhance the natural quality of his materials. The pieces are organic and show a true appreciation and understanding of nature.

Franca's collection will be on exhibit in the garden from December 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014 and will be curated during Art Basel Miami Beach by Cristina Grajales of the Cristina Grajales Gallery in New York.


View the original article here

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! From Me and My Fairytale Pumpkin

It was spring, the May plant sale at the Rodale Institute, when I came across a pumpkin called the Fairytale Pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata). Of course I had to buy it immediately. I planted it in a bed near my driveway …

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Maria’s Five Favorites: Ladies, Start Your Shopping Engines!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you’re revving up for holiday shopping, here are five great ideas that make a world of difference! 1.  Cashmere V-Neck Sweater Renew your wardrobe with this essential cashmere sweater that’s designed to …

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

No Duds, Please: Getting Great Fall Color Trees

Fall colors along the Eastern Sierras in California. Photo by Josh Endres.

In Vermont, fall color trees are a no-brainer, but elsewhere in America these same species may not be nearly as bright, and some trees show little color at all. This unpredictability is related to your local climate and each tree's unique genetic makeup. Do not assume every individual of a species will bear the same intensity of color. All too often a tree that's supposed to turn fiery red may yield only muddy colored leaves.

For those in the south and west where conditions are warmer, even the brightest species in the north may be dismal. The only way to know for sure is to visit the local tree farm in the fall and tag the best performers for your project. This is how landscape architects ensure their visions manifest perfectly in the finished garden.

Fall Trees

The southeastern native sweetgum, Liquidambar styraciflua, shows considerable variation in color in this alee planting (above). This occurs often with seed grown trees which are all unique individuals. However, growers wanted more reliable color too so they selected the most vivid colored trees and cloned them to sell under a varietal name. With Liquidambar, one example is 'Festival' which bears a reliably spectacular rainbow of hues on the same tree. For deep reds, 'Burgundy' is the most desirable. While you can rely on varieties with this tree, most others without varietal designations are best purchased when they're all dressed up for cooler weather, so your autumn bright spot won't end up a dud in your yard.

Yellow Trees
Photo provided by Garden Design reader Lana Hovinga in Kitchener, Ontario.

View the original article here

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Giving Thanks for Winter Squash

"Of the nearly 500 colonists living at Jamestown in the fall of 1609, only 60 remained by the spring of 1610. This period is remembered as "the starving time". The following year remaining colonists redoubled their efforts to grow enough food. They had only the seeds of English plants that were not well adapted to the heat of the Virginia summer.

Tribes of New England were well entrenched in growing winter squash, which became known by the colonists as "vegetable marrow". The first Thanksgiving featured various hard shell squash and pumpkins grown by the Indians. The colonists quickly saw the wisdom in cultivating a plant that was native to the area yielding fruits that could be stored in a cellar for much of the winter.

The best way to get a real time feel for how the first colonists grew their own food is to visit Colonial Williamsburg. This living history museum at Williamsburg, Virginia shows visitors just how these gardens were set up to feed a family. This was done without garden centers and hardware stores, using only what they could find in their New World home.

Vegetable Gardening

Gardening in the 18th century has changed little from how we cultivate organic backyard vegetables today. A truly inspirational book lays it out for us from paling fences to crops and cloches. Vegetable Gardening: The Colonial Williamsburg Way (Rodale, $30), by Wesley Greene helps you get a real feel for what it was like to garden on a primitive homestead. The title page states "18th Century Methods for Today's Organic Gardeners" proves little has changed here except that we thankfully don't have to tote buckets of water to keep our plants alive. The natural simplicity of these early American gardens created with little more than natural soil, animal manures and plant materials reminds us we are a nation rooted in agriculture, blending the Old World plants with New World natives for the richest heritage on earth.

Photos by: Barbara Temple Lombardi

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Meatless Monday Roundup: 4 Savory Quiche Recipes

crustless quiche

If you’re looking for a quick and easy recipe for a Monday night supper, quiches are where it’s at. Be they crustless frittatas, vegan, eggless tarts or a more traditional quiche recipe, all you need is one bowl and one tart pan, and dinner’s on the table. This Meatless Monday, try out some of our favorite savory tart and quiche recipes.

For a vegan option, the mini crustless quiches, depicted above, are perfect. A variety of vegetables and herbs come together with a silken tofu-based filling for a quiche that everyone will love. For dinner, serve a few alongside a green salad. But these mini quiches also make a great appetizer or passed hors d’oeuvre for a party. Feel free to change up the variety of vegetables to suit the season.

Onion and Cheese Tart

Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

Nutty gruyère cheese and sweet-and-savory onions make up the base of this delicious tart. Thyme and nutmeg add just the right amount of spice to the dish. Choose local organic gruyère from Wisconsin to make this onion and gruyère tart.

spinach tart

Image: Isabelle Palatin

This spinach and feta tart is full of vitamin-rich leafy greens. To make it slightly lighter than other similar tarts, the base of this one is made with Greek yogurt instead of the more typical cream. Feta, with its strong flavor, can be used sparingly.

asparagus, red pepper and potato frittata

Image courtesy of AllWhites/ARA

A frittata is similar to an Italian omelette, but it’s also a great substitute for a crustless quiche. Our version, with asparagus, red pepper and potato, is hearty and flavorful. If you didn’t jar your own spring asparagus, you can also use another vegetable, like Swiss chard or spinach, while you wait for them to come back into season.

Top Image: Regan Jones

Related on Organic Authority:

Meatless Monday Roundup: 4 Vegetarian Pasta Recipes

Meatless Monday Roundup: 4 Autumn Hors D’oeuvres Recipes

Meatless Monday Roundup: 5 French Recipes

View the original article here

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Food Babe:1 Chick-fil-A: 0—Chain Changes Ingredients After Blogger Pressure


Chick-fil-A, the popular fast food chain, has announced that it will immediately begin removing ingredients, including high fructose corn syrup and artificial food colors, found in many of its menu items.

The decision reportedly comes after Vani Hari, the blogger behind, put pressure on the chain because many of its sandwiches contained close to 100 ingredients, reports the Huffington Post. The controversial ingredients pointed out by Hari include peanut oil with TBHQ (a chemical made from butane), artificial colors, flavors, and high fructose corn syrup, which has been linked with the nation’s obesity and diabetes epidemic.

“The fast-food chicken chain says the reformulated buns are being tested in about 200 Georgia locations, while the sauces and dressings will be tested starting early next year,” reports the Post. “It says it also removed a yellow dye from its chicken soup and that the new recipe should be in all restaurants by the end of this month.”

Hari first targeted the chain in 2011 with a post entitled “Chick-fil-A or Chemical Fil-A?” After seeing the post, Chick-fil-A executives invited Hari to their headquarters to discuss making improvements to the menu. “They took my concerns and started developing a road map of how to address them,” Hari told the Post. While recent labeling laws in Washington state and California failed to pass at the polls, the decision by Chick-fil-A is a welcome victory for Hari and bloggers of all kind—highlighting the power of the internet and social media as tools capable of creating major improvements in our food supply.

Chick-fil-A has been battling image issues in recent years. The chain has been involved in a lawsuit with a Vermont t-shirt company over use of the slogan “eat more kale,” which the chain says infringes on its “eat more chikin” slogan (in ads featuring cows with spelling challenges). The chain was also recently called out over anti-gay comments made by founder Truett Cathy.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Related on Organic Authority

Which Came First: The Chick-Fil-A Facebook Page or… The Fake One?

Eat More Words: Chick-Fil-A Addresses Anti-Gay Comments

Hey Chick-Fil-A: Kale Isn’t Chikin!

Image: alberthuynphoto

View the original article here

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Modern Fire for Outdoor Spaces

Add a fire pit pool side for a warm glow during a late night swim or cocktail party.

The reflection of flames along the water will add to the ambiance in your backyard. Paloform’s Miso is made of handcast concrete, topped with river rock or lava rock for a natural accent near the pool.

Learn about all of Paloform's firepit products.

View the original article here

Friday, March 14, 2014

5 Exercise Tips for Maintaining Motivation in the Freezing Cold

running shoes

It’s easy to run, walk, hike, and boot camp it up to your heart’s content when the sun is shining and it’s 70 degrees outside, but when the temperature drops and the skies turn gray, exercise becomes a task. Even still, exercise is as important to your overall health in the winter as it is in the summer. Need to stay motivated to exercise during the upcoming winter? Here’s how:

1. Invest in the right cold weather exercise gear.

It’s about finding the perfect balance of clothing when it’s cold outside. Layers are key to exercising in the winter. Exercise generates heat, but if you wear layers you can start to remove them as you warm up. Avoid cotton, which stays wet next to your skin. Instead, put on a thin layer of synthetic material like polypropylene to draw sweat away from the body. Also, protect your hands and head with gloves and a hat. When you’re warm enough, the sun might as well be shining.

2. Train for a race.

Training for a race is a great way to stay motivated during the winter. For one, there’s excitement at the end of the sometimes dark tunnel of winter. Additionally, you’ve already paid for something which is all the more motivation to get it done. Take it a step further and plan to run a race as part of a larger vacation. This way you’ll have the motivation of the race and excitement of planning a trip altogether. One winter, my husband and I trained to run a marathon in Hawaii. We ran throughout the winter in Washington, DC and had the continual motivation of an Hawaiian carrot.

3. Get a trainer.

Hiring a trainer during the winter months may be worth the cost. Again, your wallet can be motivation and at the same time you have someone that you’re forced to answer to if you snooze your alarm clock an hour past your morning workout.

4. Try hot yoga.

Hot yoga is a great workout and the winter is the perfect time to give it a try. In Bikram Yoga, the room is heated up between 113 and 117 degrees Fahrenheit. Enthusiasts claim it promotes cellular metabolism, detoxification, and allows the muscles to open up. Other forms of yoga heat the room up but usually not as warm as Bikram. It’s a good way to turn up the heat and detox when it’s cold outside.

5. Change your mind.

Instead of viewing winter as a cold, dark season when you’re stuck inside, change your perspective. Enjoy the solitude of this quiet season and use this time to revisit your exercise goals.

Related on Organic Authority:
Does the Best Time of Day to Exercise Exist?
Zumba: Is It the Exercise Routine for You?
The Big Debate: Treadmill vs. Outdoor Running

Image: ishtar

View the original article here

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Warming Winter Vegan Smoothie Recipe with Maca and Raw Chocolate

chocolate smoothie

It’s true, smoothies really are a summery treat. The cold creaminess. It’s straw-worthy sipping that keeps you cool while delivering potent nutrients either for breakfast, lunch or as a snack (dinner smoothies work too). Come winter, though, and we opt for heavier foods. Pancakes for breakfast. Or oatmeal. Big bowls of soup for lunch. Warm coffee and teas with pastries for snacks…And the blender sits in the cabinet waiting for the weather to break. Bust it out though, because this smoothie recipe will warm you up for winter and keep you healthy, too.

This smoothie recipe can be made cold or warm. It’s a chocolate base, so if you heat it up, it’s like a hot chocolate with a superfood punch!

Makes 2 large smoothies


6 cups nondairy milk, water or tea
1 banana (raw or frozen)
handful of raw nuts (I love Brazil nuts in here but any kind will do)
3 tablespoons raw chocolate powder
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon maca powder
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (a bit more if you have a sweet tooth, but not too much!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon each: dried ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom
pinch sea salt and cayenne pepper


Add all ingredients to your blender and process until smooth.

Note: If you’re making this into a warm smoothie, take precaution when blending hot liquids as heat expands. The heat will push everything up and blow the top off of your blender! So, if you have a low setting, start there. Also, take the plug of the lid out if you have that option so the air can escape.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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Image: jamieanne

View the original article here

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Jell-O Salad and 6 Other Freaky Holiday Foods


Think back to your first Jell-O salad. A bright green, gelatinous mold, studded with neon orange mandarines and a dusting of shredded coconut sits shaking in the center of the table. You stared, slightly concerned, but everyone around you seemed excited to dig in anyway.

You know the traditions, and quite frankly, come this time of year, aren’t you glad some of the classic holiday dishes have died?

While many of us have moved on from gelatinous orbs and aspics to more wholesome and local items, these vintage dishes somehow stick with us–a memory of holidays past. In honor of all that we hope not to see on the table over the holidays, here is a round-up of quintessential vintage foods (and ingredients) that we are more than happy to live without this time of the year. Or any time of the year for that matter.

1. Jell-O Salad

Nothing says happy holidays like a multi-tiered neon construction of gelatin. Yum. Note to anyone hosting: Jell-Osalad does not help plan a party.


2. Tropical Hams

While the sweet and savory combination pleases many, and is the base for numerous delicious recipes, there’s just something weird about the addition of pineapple and a maraschino cherry on top of ham.

miracle whip

3. Fruit Desserts with Miracle Whip

Why anyone ever opted for anything other than regular whipped cream is beyond me. And no, you don’t want canned peaches with that.


4. Aspic

Nope, nobody goes back for seconds on a round ring of meat stock or consommé in a gelatin ring.


5. Molded Cranberry Salad (and anything else involving gelatin)

Wouldn’t some fresh cranberries be much simpler?


6. Cheese and Sausage Appetizers

It’s like someone tried to do a nice European fondue, but it all just went horribly wrong.


7. Coleslaw… Served in Cabbage

While a nice bit of raw cabbage can be good for any holiday meal, and using an edible serving devise is certainly an eco-friendly option, a coleslaw in a cabbage is quite simply just a little off-putting.

Related on Organic Authority:

Pink Lemonade Vodka Jello Shots

The New Jell-o Mold: Jiggle Chic for the Holidays

Trans Fats Out: 5 Processed Foods Impacted By the FDA Ban

Images: genibee, Thoth God of Knowledge, amy_b, Classic Film, Thoth God of Knowledge, jbcurio, Thoth God of Knowledge, Classic Film

View the original article here

Monday, March 3, 2014

Let there be Night

In the beginning of residential landscape lighting, there was fire. Granted, our Middle Stone Age kin used it primarily for tasks—such as to cook any carrion picked up earlier that day. But as the clan dined alfresco, the fires’ warm tones set a mood. The orange and red hues cast a flattering glow on the Pleistocene hominid complexion; and while the fires’ stark contrast against the black night pointed up a lack of enhancing secondary fixtures—e.g., floodlights filtering down like moonlight through the leaves of a Japanese maple—the twinkling sparks and glowing embers lent a decidedly festive touch.

Far Left: For a Villanova, Pennsylvania, allée of linden trees, Janet Moyer used stake-mounted adjustable halogen lights: 20-watts for the trunks and 50-watts aimed up at the canopy.

Near Left: Uplit roses resemble festive string lights.

View the original article here

Friday, February 28, 2014

30 Winter Crock Pot Recipes to Try Now

crock pot

Ah, the crock pot. I for one am happy that it’s back in vogue—and just made for cold weather. Slow cookers are perfect for making soups, stews, beans, and for tenderizing less expensive cuts of meat. Check out this round-up of 30 crock pot recipes just perfect for any cold-weather day:

Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna from Eating Well that’s perfect for any weeknight.Lumberjackie Soup (vegan) from Shape was born over a campfire—which means it must be good.Overnight Oatmeal from Alton Brown makes waking up on a chilly morning a little easier.So Easy Coq au Vin from Better Homes and Gardens might make a French person scoff, but it’s all good with me!Crock Pot Chai Tea Latte from for a crowd.South American Slow Cooker Pot Roast from Shape just sounds amazing, right?Cheesy Noodle Casserole (vegetarian) from Better Homes and Gardens has tofu and  veggies to make a cheesy casserole healthy!Pumpkin Spice Lattes from 20 Something Cupcakes is just as tasty as the original, but healthier!Curried Vegetable and Chickpea Stew (vegetarian) from the kitchn to warm you up.Slow Cooker Pinto Beans from Paula Deen, because if anyone knows how to do up a pot of beans right, I’d bet it’s Paula.Chipotle Black Beans and Quinoa (vegetarian) from Tasty Yummies with some tortillas? Forgetaboutit.Crock Pot Saag Paneer (vegetarian) from Healthy Girls Kitchen sounds almost as easy as take-out!Vegan Crock Pot Tortilla Soup from But Yes I Do Eat Potatoes to warm you up.Mahogany Chicken Legs from Karen’s Kitchen Stories are as pretty as they are tasty.Greek Chicken & Vegetable Ragout from Eating Well makes an amazing weeknight meal.Vegan Vanilla Rice Pudding from InHabitat is an amazing end to a weeknight meal.Vegan Refried Beans from andVegan Crock Pot Spanish Rice from What Vegan Kids Eat.Slow-Cooker Black Bean Enchiladas (vegetarian) from the kitchn.Crock Pot Risotto with Gourmet Mushrooms from Kitchen Scoop on its own or with a main course.Ultimate Cheater Pulled Pork from The Splendid Table sounds, well, splendid. Tailgating anyone?Chai Spiced Pear Applesauce from Oh My Veggies for lunch boxes.Chex Mix from Unsophisticook for parties.Healthier Butter Chicken from Half Baked Harvest for any dang day of the week!Bourbon Maple Baked Beans from Averie Cooks because everything’s better with bourbon. And they’d go great withSlow Cooker Chicken from Organic Authority.Chickpea Crockpot Pie with Biscuit Topping from Peas and Thank You and yes to biscuit toppings.Slow-Cooked Bolognese Sauce from the kitchn for that Italian mama feel.Crockpot Apple + Pear Compote from Everyday Maven for a sophisticated end to a meal.Healthy Apple Crisp from The Realistic Nutritionist for something a little more down home.Cinnamon Rolls from Penny Pincher Jenny for Christmas morning?

And don’t discount these 21+ summer crock pot recipes—they work great now, too!

Related Articles on Organic Authority:

Slow Cooker Sweet Vidalia Onion Jam Recipe
Take It Slow: 5 Classic Crock Pot Recipes Worth The Wait
Warm Up With a Seasonal Pumpkin Chili Recipe

Photo Credit: Global Reactions

View the original article here

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Saying Goodbye

In less than a week I will leave Guido Almada—my home for these past 2 years—but today feels like any other day. I woke up to the birds calling—kiskadees and caciques and thrushes—and a calm eastern breeze that I soaked in over a cup of Brazilian coffee. My mangy campo
mutt Lobo is sitting at my side, waiting patiently for breakfast, and I am as content as one could ever hope to be. The realities of transition from a Peace Corps life deep in the Paraguayan countryside to a life in the states are the farthest thing from my mind. Tranquillopa, as Paraguayans always say; that quiet mantra and the lifestyle it signifies are among the things I will miss most about this place. That, and all these beautiful people who have taken me under their wings and made me family. Mario carves the main dish at his despedida, or farewell party. The traditional Paraguayan dish akague yvygu'u is a cow’s head slowly roasted for half a day over buried coals.
The end of Peace Corps service is always a difficult time. Volunteers are confronted with the pragmatic difficulties of upending their lives and, in many ways, starting over from scratch. At the same time, there is the existential challenge of evaluating one’s service, the successes and the failures, and coming to terms with what has been a trying and significant experience. What has it all meant? Have I made enough of a difference? What will the work I have done here look like in 10 years? 20 years? More? How will this community remember me? Have I given enough of myself to this cause? How can I take the things I have learned and use them to make great social change in the future?
This introspection is not easy, but it’s necessary. I have found that it really helps to make lists of all the projects, big and little, that I have done while I was here. As always, visiting with my neighbors and friends is a great way to feel good about my service. Regardless of the development work I have done, I have made a lot of great, genuine friendships and built some very meaningful relationships in my time here. To a certain extent, that might just be the greatest thing a volunteer could hope for. Still, the profound self-critique and doubt continues. There is still so much need, so many issues that need to be addressed, so much more work to be done.
One of Mario’s projects during his Peace Corps service was to provide technical assistance in the construction of anaerobic biodigesters as a sustainable energy source. Here, Mario poses with a Paraguayan family that benefitted from that project.
Emotionally, I feel all right. Really, none of this leaving nonsense seems real at all. Occasionally and unexpectedly, however, I will feel the heavy welling-up of an ocean in my chest and know that I am about to break down into tears. So far, I have done well enough to suppress that and keep my cool, but I know that sooner or later, my levees will not be able to hold back the tide and I will go from proud Peace Corps volunteer to blubbering little child in an instant. I just hope nobody is around for that. Saying goodbye to neighbors and friends has been heartbreaking, but I think that living alone and becoming almost entirely self-sufficient for these 2 years has made me a greater master of my fickle emotions. Peace Corps service can be unforgiving at times; by necessity, one is forced to persevere, and for me that has meant the careful management of otherwise intense and unproductive emotional crises.
If everything that returned Peace Corps volunteers have told me is correct, the next few months will be the hardest of them all, harder still than the past 27 months in Paraguay. My hope is to capture as much of my thoughts and reflections in writing so that I can better understand and appreciate all that has happened and all I have learned from Paraguay and its beautiful people. Hopefully this transition, difficult as it will undoubtedly be, will represent not the end of my service in Peace Corps but instead an important step in a lifetime of service to communities and people around the world, in Paraguay and beyond.  —Mario Machado

View the original article here

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

DIY Holiday Gifts

Image courtesy of Mary Oswald By guest blogger Robyn Jasko, cofounder of Grow Indie There’s just something really special about making your own gifts. Instead of being limited by what’s on the shelf, fighting the holiday crowds, and forking over …

View the original article here

Friday, February 14, 2014

The 10-Million-Dollar Bra

by guest blogger Renee James, essayist and blogger In case you need to know exactly what the market will bear when it comes to lingerie, the answer is $2.5 million. You read that correctly. Last year, Victoria’s Secret unveiled a …

View the original article here

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Honoring Our Heritage

by guest blogger “Coach” Mark Smallwood, Rodale Institute executive director There is much to be learned from our ancestors. Our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents had deep roots in agriculture. Modern organic farming is based on the philosophy that we must …

View the original article here

Friday, February 7, 2014

Italy: Green Terrace Roof Garden

Warm and green, this lovely detailed design is a Mediterranean garden in miniature combined with specific plants that solve problems in this small but highly valued terrace. It demonstrates a fresh gardenesque style for spare modern architecture that is all too often landscaped with rigid forms and surfaces. This space also features a dozen great ideas for adding warmth and contrast to cold hard surfaces. The sun drenched breakfast table is essential after dark when wall sconce lighting and natural flame lanterns augmented with invisible up-lights nestled in the planting provide gentle ambient illumination throughout these carefully crafted spaces.

View the original article here

Monday, February 3, 2014

Controversial French Study on GMOs and Glyphosate Retracted by Publication

Seralini study

A popular French study published in 2012 that tied genetically modified seeds and the herbicide glyphosate to an increased risk of cancer has been retracted by the journal that originally published it.

According to the New York Times, the editor of the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology told the paper’s main author that “the study’s results, while not incorrect or fraudulent, were ‘inconclusive, and therefore do not reach the threshold of publication’.”

Widely known as the “Séralini study,” after lead author Dr. Gilles-Eric Séralini, the research conducted by a team at the University of Caen in France, was controversial from the date it was published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. It was criticized as being “sensationalistic,” reports the Times, and even “fraudulent” by members of the scientific community, some of whom are “allied with the biotechnology industry.”

A. Wallace Hayes, the editor in chief of the journal, wrote in his letter to Dr. Séralini that “unequivocally” he had found “no evidence of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of the data.” But he cited that there was still “legitimate cause for concern.” Issues surrounded the number of rats used in the study, and the fact that the type of rats that were used are particularly prone to developing cancer, which could not rule out “normal variability” as the cause for the development of tumors.

Two hundred rats divided into ten groups (of ten males and ten females) were followed for two years. Some groups received a diet laced with heavy amounts of glyphosate, the herbicide sold as Monsanto’s Roundup. The groups of rats that received the glyphosate (whether in food or water or both), were more likely to develop cancerous tumors and die earlier than those rats who did not receive the chemical and the genetically modified corn.

The study had become one of the stronger arguments in the anti-GMO / pro-GMO labeling movement. GMWatch, which posted the letter on its website, called the journal’s actions “illicit, unscientific and unethical.” Even though the data may have been inconclusive, “it was not sufficient grounds for a retraction.” The group states: “It violates the guidelines for retractions in scientific publishing set out by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE)… of which FCT [Food and Chemical Toxicology] is a member.”

Dr. Séralini stands by his research, “We maintain our conclusions,” he told Food Navigator, suggesting that regulatory science resembles “a prostitute with industry.”

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Related on Organic Authority

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European Union Releases Data on Controversial Monsanto GMO Corn Strain

‘No End in Sight’: Monsanto Gives Up Efforts in Europe

Image: GMWatch

View the original article here

Friday, January 31, 2014

Sick and Tired? An Autoimmune-Boosting Paleo Diet May be the Cure


Swollen joints, body aches, fatigue? You may need to consider an autoimmune Paleo diet. If these symptoms plague you each day, you may be one of millions suffering from undiagnosed autoimmune diseases. The prevalence of autoimmune disease is on the rise–the rate of the diseases is up to 3.2 percent, according to a recent study. And the key to autoimmune symptoms is controlling inflammation.

Every single thing you put in your body either stokes the fires of inflammation or cools them off. Your diet can be the key to suffering ever-increasing symptoms or living nearly symptom-free. If you know you have or suspect autoimmune disease, an autoimmune Paleo diet could be crucial to improving your health and happiness.

The autoimmune protocol (AIP) of the Paleo diet is one of the most popular ways to naturally reduce internal inflammation. In addition to the restrictions of the standard Paleo diet, those suffering from autoimmune disease are encouraged to avoid inflammatory foods for at least 30 days. At that point, you can try reintroducing each food one at a time to see if your body can handle it.

Eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, nightshades, nitrates, alcohol and all inflammatory foods are all to be avoided initially.

Every person is different. Once you eliminate inflammatory foods for a month, you can test out each food and eventually return to a more simple grain-free, legume-free Paleo diet. You may even eventually be able to consider occasional grains and legumes once your system has sufficient time to heal the inflammation damage.

Keep in touch with Kristi on Facebook, Twitter @VeggieConverter and Pinterest

Related on Organic Authority:
Is Paleo a Healthy Low-Carb Choice?
30 Days of Paleo: Resources & Results
3 Paleo Pancake Recipes

Image: minimallyinvasivenj via Compfight cc


View the original article here

Monday, January 27, 2014

Botanic Notables: Quintessentially Mediterranean Quercus

This oak bears truly unique bark for interest at eye level that's even better at night when uplighting creates shadows that bring out all the furrows and textures.

They're native to the Mediterranean, but for thousands of years Quercus suber, the cork oak has been an orchard tree in Spain and Portugal. It's easy to identify by the thick, deeply fissured, spongy bark which is the source of wine corks. The cork bark builds up over time to a layer up to a foot thick, then it's stripped away for harvest every ten years.

Cork Oak
The cork oak is an upright branching tree for plenty of room beneath for shelter and shade.

Cork is an adaptation to wildfire much like redwood tree bark resists burning. Unlike other oaks that resprout from the root after the tree burns, a cork oak canopy regenerates from the branches so it returns to beauty far sooner. These trees are also very tolerant of salt spray for a problem solver in coastal gardens.

There is no better tree to enhance the history and aesthetic of Mediterranean style gardens. Cork oak is a natural companion for olive trees and Italian cypress which share similar water demands.

very old cork oak
Specimens of very old cork oaks line the entry walk to the San Diego Botanical Garden, a legacy of foresight by the original owners of the property.

This is a fine shade or street tree, but it does not tolerate winters colder than 10º F or USDA Zone 8. They prefer well drained soil and are tolerant of a long dry season. This is a slower growing tree that rarely exceeds sixty feet tall and wide, its life span short for an oak at just 250 years. An old saying shared among growers attests to the growth rate which keeps it perpetually in bounds for urban landscapes. “Eucalyptus trees are for us, pine trees for our children, and cork trees are for our grandchildren.”

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Escarole and Pomegranate Salad

Once my nephew had a girlfriend from Spain. For the holidays, they brought an escarole and pomegranate salad to dinner that I’ve been wanting to make it ever since. I’ve recreated it from taste and description, and it’s good. My …

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Botanic Notables: Plants of The Hunger Games

Editor’s Note: When The Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire opens this Friday, early reviews say the dramatic and subversive storyline will not disappoint its ravenous fans. In anticipation, we pulled this article from our archives as a horticultural hat tip to Suzanne Collins and The Hunger Games trilogy.

“Plants are tricky. Many are edible, but one false mouthful and your dead” —The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

Whether or not you've seen the movie or read the book, you probably know that The Hunger Games is a dystopian story of competition and survival in a post-apocalyptic world. Much of the narrative takes place in the wilderness, a setting that comes with its own cast of characters: plants. The book (not so much the film) is a wonderful collection of ethnobotanical references. Flowers that heal, trees that feed, and berries that kill—plants are the ally and the enemy. 

Author Suzanne Collins considered the significance of the wild plant when she scripted a food-insecure world, and her characters are often defined by a plant—some can identify them (they live), others can't (they die). Collins has even named several major characters for plants that symbolize them. And, in the months since The Hunger Games premiered on screen, there has been a renewed appetite for foraging and wild plant literacy. A high school in Texas was inspired to introduce a course on plant identification and foraging, and there have been a number of Hunger Games-inspired recipes, many of which include plants mentioned in the book.   

Without further ado, a list of several significant plants in The Hunger Games. To readers who aren't familiar with the story, two warnings: first, [SPOILER ALERT] the list contains some spoilers. Second, beware the deadly nightlock berry!


Katniss Everdeen, the story's heroine and champion forager is named for a plant. Hardy, valuable, and sometimes sweet, the katniss plant is also an adaptable survivor, just like the character. Also known as duck potato and swan potato, the plant is sometimes called "arrowhead," derived from the Latin name for its genus: Sagittaria, which refers to the archer in the zodiac—a master with the bow and arrow, just like the young protagonist. 

In the wild, the katniss plant is found in wetlands. Its leaves are edible, though it's most valued for its roots: large, nutritious tubers whose taste is comparable to a sweet potato. Katniss was once a staple food of Native Americans, especially in the Northwest (where they dug up the plant with their toes). Of the 30 katniss species, Sagittaria latifolia is most prevalent in North America.


Katniss plant. Image credits: Wikimedia Commons


Primrose Everdeen, Katniss's gentle sister, is most likely named for the evening primrose, Oenothera spp, a plant that Collins describes as beautiful and delicate. Like the character, primrose flowers are not all that hardy—they're not at the Games either. The evening primrose is a medicinal plant, called "king's-cure-all, and a softening agent, both of which reflect Primrose's character in the story. The flowers will thrive in forsaken land, just like the young girl—except in regions west of the Rockies, which is where the story's "Capitol" is likely located—and also where the character herself dies.

Evening primrose (Oenothera lamarckiana). Image credit:


The rue plant (Ruta) is an evergreen "herb-of-grace" that carries many metaphors. It's been called the plant of purity and it is featured in many cultural and religious ceremonies. In literature, it has been used as a symbol of both regret and freedom. And so it is an apt name for the young girl who befriends Katniss during the games, whose death serves as a turning point in the narrative. When Rue is killed, Katniss's regret becomes a sense of freedom, prompting her to launch the critical rebellion. 


Rue plant (left); Rue listing in Tacuinum Sanitatis, a medieval handbook on wellness (right). Image credits: Wikimedia Commons.

"Tomorrow I’ll stay here, resting, camouflaging my backpack with mud, catching some of those little fish I saw as I sipped, digging up the roots of the pond lilies to make a nice meal."

Katniss's survival plan sounds very pleasant—a picnic by the lily pond. Collins does not mention the species, so the lilies of The Hunger Games could be any species of the most common three genuses—Nuphar, Nymphaea, and Nelumbo, all of which have edible rhizomes. Pond lily roots are enormous, spongy, and sold in many street markets (think of the lotus root, which the Chinese call a "cooling" food, thought to restore balance in the body). 


Nuphar luteum (left); Nymphaea mexicana, native to the southern United States (right). Image credits: Wikimedia Commons.

Pine Trees

“I slowly chew the stuff as I walk along ... it’s a little hard to choke down.”

With little else to eat, Katniss turns to a pine tree. Its soft inner bark can be a good meal and its needles are a good source of Vitamin C. Native Americans often chewed on pine tree bark during the winter months to conserve food reserves. 


Edible pine bark. Image credit:


"I had just turned away from Peeta Mellark's bruised face when I saw the dandelion and I knew hope wasn't lost. I plucked it carefully and hurried home. I grabbed a bucket and Prim's hand and headed to the Meadow and yes, it was dotted with the golden-headed weeds. After we'd harvested those, we scrounged along inside the fence for probably a mile until we filled the bucket with the dandelion greens, stems and flowers."

In the story, the dandelion becomes a symbol of hope for Katniss, and evidence of her resourcefulness and expert foraging. When she sees the field of dandelions, she gains confidence in her ability to feed her family. Dandelions are entirely edible—to a forager, a dandelion field means something entirely different than what it means to the gardener. Dandelion leaves have more beta carotene than carrots and more iron than spinach. The root can be applied as an herbal remedy for a number of ailments and the milky sap can soothe bee stings and blisters. 


From Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen, 1897 (left); dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) (right). Image credits: Wikimedia Commons.


When Katniss emerges from the tracker jacker (engineered wasp) hallucinations, she reaches for a honeysuckle to soothe her spirits and sweeten her tongue. The edible nectar can be eaten directly from the flower—remove the stamen from the bottom of the flower, and suck the nectar droplet.


European Honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum). Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


Nightlock, the poison of the forest, doesn't actually exist, but its name is most likely derived from two living plants with similar toxicity: deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), and poison hemlock (Conium maculatum). Ancient Romans used the nighshade's berries and leaves as a poison, and hemlock was famously used in the death of Socrates. In The Hunger Games, Katniss accurately identifies some berries that Peeta collects to be deadly. A competitor who doesn't share Katniss's plant identification acumen later eats the nightlock's berries, with fatal consequences.


Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna). Image credits: Wikimedia Commons.


Collins writes about one plant whose identity eludes us. The leaves of an unnamed plant are used several times to heal various wounds and ailments: in one instance, Rue chews the leaves, then applies the pulpy salve to Katniss's tracker jacker wounds; in another, Katniss's mother boils the leaves to make a medicinal elixir; finally, Katniss uses the leaves to treat Peeta's leg wound. It's possible that the plant is Calendula officinalis, which herbalists often laud for its beneficial tinctures, tea, and oil. Calendula leaves and petals have been applied to reduce inflammation and as an antiseptic against infection. Calendula is a good candidate for this unnamed plant, but it's hard to be sure. Hunger Games fans, what do you think it could be? [Editor's note: Our commenting system is a little wonky right now and being fixed, but you can comment on our Facebook page or tweet at us through Twitter!]

calendulaCalendula officinalis. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.Anna Laurent is a writer and photographer. Her work explores how we look at plants, and how those plants behave.

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Apple Cake Recipe with Nutmeg and Cinnamon

apple cake recipe

At my local market, near all of the other apple varieties, there is always a flat of apples with a sign on it: pommes à compote, apples for applesauce. The harvest season here in France is nearly over, but the apples have been stored on the farms and orchards for months, and while their skins might be a bit wrinkled, they’re still delicious when cooked. As I picked some of my own apples a few months ago, I have some pommes à compote in my pantry; this apple spice cake recipe is one of my favorite ways to use them. This apple cake recipe is just the thing to make your home smell like warm autumn spices.

Yields: 1 12-inch loaf

This “cake” is technically a quick bread, which means there’s no need to feel guilty should you decide to have a slice or two at breakfast. It’s a clever and delicious way to get your healthy apple a day!


2 apples (baking apples or slightly acidic apples)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar + 2 tbsp. raw sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 pinch nutmeg


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a loaf pan.

Grate the apples (skin and all) into a large mixing bowl. Add the oil, cup of sugar, eggs and vanilla and mix well to combine. Without mixing, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg over the top. Carefully fold the dry ingredients into the wet, and pour into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the reserved sugar.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool fully before slicing. on Organic Authority:

The Lazy Gal’s Breakfast: Make Quick Breads Over the Weekend, Eat All Week!

Eat Your Veggies: 3 Vegetable Quick Breads for the New Year

Go Loaf Crazy: 3 Creative Quick Breads

Image: Emily Monaco

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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Escarole, Farro, and Chicken Soup

I’d been craving escarole in soup for years—hence the long search for organic escarole. There’s just something about escarole in a soup that is so clean and nourishing. When I served this soup at dinner (along with some garlic-butter toast) …

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Explore a Tropical Paradise

The moment you enter Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Fla., you are transported to the tropics. It is the only garden of its kind in the United States, encompassing 83 acres of rare tropical plant collections and native wildlife.

Did you know there’s only one spot in the continental U.S. where tropical plants are able to thrive outdoors year-round? This tropical paradise, near the Florida Keys, in Coral Gables, Fla., is the site of the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, one of the premier tropical botanical gardens in the world. Nowhere else will you see in one place such an amazing collection of palm trees, exotic flowering plants and vines, and lush rain forests.

Bailey Palm GladeFairchild’s beautiful Bailey Palm Glade features a display of unusual palm trees and provides incredible views of mangrove preserves and Biscayne Bay.

More than 350,000 people visit Fairchild annually to take in these incredible plant displays including a 16,400-square-foot conservatory featuring 1,900 species of rare palms and cycads, ferns, orchids, bromeliads, fruit trees and other tropical plant specimens; the Palmetum, a world-renowned display and research collection of palm trees from all over the world; a butterfly conservatory containing host plants for more than 30 species of native butterflies; and 8 acres of tropical flowering trees collected from all tropical regions of the world. You can also tour a 4-acre collection of plants native to South Florida and see birds and other wildlife native to the Florida Keys.

Butterfly Garden The Lisa D. Anness Butterfly Garden displays host plants for more than 30 species of native butterflies, serving as an important educational resource for local gardeners.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, which opened to the public in 1938, is the oldest major cultural institution in Miami-Dade County. It is named for Dr. David Fairchild (1869-1954), founder of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction Section. Many plants still growing at Fairchild were collected and planted by Dr. Fairchild, including a giant African baobab tree. Fairchild Garden is open every day of the year, except Dec. 25. For more information, visit

palm trees
At Fairchild’s Palmetum, you can see a collection of palm trees of all shapes, textures and sizes from all over the world.

In this paradise of the exotic and beautiful, you will dazzled by the sight and heady fragrances of colorful orchids and tropical flowering plants of all kinds.

Rainforest Stream
Explore Fairchild’s rainforest and find yourself walking along a rushing stream with waterfalls and petite cascades.

A breathtaking sunrise over one of Fairchild’s 11 lakes.

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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Trans Fats Out: 5 Processed Foods Impacted By the FDA Ban

doughnuts with trans fats photo

The FDA announced that it’s moving toward further limiting trans fats in processed foods because the agency has decided that there’s no acceptable limit for human health.

Trans fats are popular because they give foods taste and texture while improving shelf life. But they’ve also been directly linked to heart disease. The CDC recommends keeping trans fat consumption as low as possible because they increase LDL low-density lipoprotein or “bad cholesterol” and decrease HDL high-density lipoprotein or “good cholesterol”. The agency states that further reducing trans fats in American diets could prevent 10,000-20,000 heart attack deaths and 3,000-7,000 coronary heart disease deaths every year. Personally, I’m shocked that knowing their death toll anyone would eat a food with trans fats. But surprisingly, these artery cloggers are still in quite a few of the processed foods that we Americans can’t seem to resist.

5 Processed Foods Brimming with Trans Fats

1. Doughnuts

You know you love them, whether at your Friday morning office meeting or with a cup of potent coffee at the coffee shop. But doughnuts are loaded with trans fats and if the ban goes into place they just won’t be the same. Without trans fats they’ll likely be slightly more oily than what we’re used to. But I’ll take the oil if it means I won’t drop dead from a heart attack after the morning meeting.

2. Popcorn

Microwavable and movie popcorn are currently loaded with trans fats but if the ban goes into place, they may have to use actual butter in their “butter flavor” popcorn. I think the more obvious question is: why weren’t they using butter in butter popcorn beforehand?

3. Frozen Pizza

Frozen pizza contains trans fats but with the ban, food manufacturers may have to switch to vegetable oil. But the pizza might not last as long. “We don’t want other additives to make these last longer. Do we really want something in our food that can stay in our pantry for three years?” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, a wellness manager and registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio on Time.

4. Cookies and Crackers

Cookies and crackers tend to contain trans fats because it improves their texture and keeps them crisp.

5. Refrigerated Dough and Pie Crusts

While ready-made dough and pie crusts can make homemade dessert that much simpler to make, they also contain trans fats. But with the new ban, food manufacturers will likely switch to regular canola. (Look out for the canola oil; it’s mostly GMO.)

Related on Organic Authority:
FDA Finally Pulls The Plug On Trans Fats
10 Processed & Fast Food Options That Are Full Of Trans Fat
Can a Food’s Nutrition be ‘Improved?’

Image: Amy Loves Yah

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