More Photos From The Millions Against Monsanto Rally For The Right To Know/No GMOs March 26th City Hall New York City

  • March 26, 2011 8:37 pm

Photos From The Millions Against Monsanto Rally For The Right To Know/No GMOs March 26th City Hall New York City

  • March 26, 2011 4:08 pm

It was a cold day at City Hall when the sun was hiding behind a skyscraper. But the signs were hot.

Advance Praise For The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat

  • March 23, 2011 10:22 am

I am beyond thrilled to share these quotes we’ve been getting for The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat, due out June 7th.

“Don’t let the ‘butcher’ throw you: the Applestones have written a guide to buying, eating, and preparing well-raised meat for just about everyone out there—the gourmand, the environmentalist, the home cook, the chef. There’s a story and a recipe for anyone who cares what’s on his or her plate. A thoughtful, timely, and important book.”
Dan Barber, chef-owner of Blue Hill

“By learning about meat and where it comes from, we become more competent and responsible cooks and carnivores. In this tribute to farmers and animals, the Applestones and Ms. Zissu have put together a compelling guide to local and sustainable meat and poultry. In an honest, irreverent, and funny primer, we learn which are the best cuts for a given dish, how to cook (and serve) a perfect steak, and what to expect when buying a turkey. This charming and informative reference is sure to influence irreversibly the way we buy, prepare, and appreciate meat.”
James Peterson, author of Meat and Cooking

“If you like eating meat but want to eat ethically, this is the book for you. From the hard-headed, clear-eyed, and sympathetic perspective of butchers who care deeply about the animals whose parts they sell, the customers who buy their meats, and the pleasures of eating, this book has much to teach. It’s an instant classic, making it clear why meat is part of the food revolution. I see it as the new Bible of meat aficionados and worth reading by all food lovers, meat-eating and not.”
Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health, NYU, and author of What to Eat

“I love the way The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat explains the world of meat in straightforward, no-nonsense language by folks who learned from trial and error. It is great to see a perspective from butchers selling meat raised in a non-industrial manner. It is clear that the Applestones are folks who care about how the animals are raised for the meat they sell and are willing to explain why doing so is very important to them. There are hard-to-find recipes for making your own prosciutto, bacon, and bresaola.”
Bruce Aidells, author of The Complete Meat Cookbook

Wanna Be My Intern?

  • March 15, 2011 10:16 am

I’ve posted this in several places, but somehow didn’t think to also spread the word here!? Too busy! I’ve gotten some really wonderful responses so far, but that doesn’t mean you’re not my dreamboat. (Well, full transparency: that one response that told me that interns are slaves and therefore I know nothing about sustainability wasn’t so lovely. No shocker here that she’s not getting hired!)

Author Seeks Intern

Author/environmental health journalist/eco-consultant Alexandra Zissu is seeking an eco-obsessed intern for research, writing, and social media help. I’m looking for a warm, smart, amazing, energetic, organized, and self starter-y person who is interested in all things sustainable and might want to write later in life/dabbles now. It’s a big plus if you adore 5-year-olds and a hectic and wonderful life that bleeds into a hectic and wonderful professional life. I’m happy to arrange for school credit if that’s available from your school. I prefer a multi month commitment, though hours and days are flexible. The position is unpaid, but comes with many perks and introductions. If we hit it off and you stick around for months, a modest stipend is available. I prefer that you already live and/or are in school here in New York, though most of the work can be done remotely. How can I find such a dreamboat?

Check out my website, http://www.alexandrazissu.com/, then write me via the “get in touch” page and tell me all about yourself.

Sunday Night Musings

  • March 13, 2011 7:45 pm

Having spent all of last year (and then some) writing Planet Home and The Butcher’s Guide To Well-Raised Meat, I’m trying to come back to the world of working more regular-ish hours. This includes a no-computer policy after 10 p.m. weeknights and, um, all weekend long. This is for my sanity and for the overall health and enjoyment of the whole family.

So far so bad.

I’m sort of managing the after 10 p.m. weekday part. Basically. And weekends I’m middling through at only being on email/texting etc. when it pertains to weekend-specific plans. But wow there are a lot of people emailing me work questions I’m itching to answer after 10 p.m. and all weekend long. Perhaps I should suggest they also adopt similar computer and social media pauses?

The whole attempt means I wind up creating a long list of things I know I have to do Monday morning on Sunday nights. Not the most relaxing scenario. Especially as I did actual work today, giving a Planet Home-linked talk at the Child Grows In Brooklyn Baby Expo (wearing, I might add, a very cute organic sweater–a fantastic gift from Eileen Fisher).

On my To Do list this week:

  • reading through intern resumes (how telling that I need an intern in order to have enough time to hire an intern)
  • all of my regular work (enjoying my PracticallyGreen.com editing!)
  • being a mom to a 5-year-old
  • taxes!
  • writing blog, articles, and more
  • all of that Tweeting and Facebooking my publisher really seems to want me to do
  • going to Edible Manhattan’s Good Meat issue party with my Butcher’s Guide co-author (Fleisher’s was lovingly featured in the magazine)
  • organizing a meeting for my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
  • preparing for the make your own cleaning products seminar I’m giving at Stone Barns Center For Food & Agriculture next weekend

And that’s just the tip o’ the iceberg. But I’m still going to turn off my computer at 10 p.m. Or else.

How is your week looking?

Do You Compost? My Farmers’ Market Does!

  • March 9, 2011 10:19 am

compost drop off!

Look what greeted me when I arrived at my small local winter farmers’ market this past Saturday. What a fabulous and welcome surprise! I already compost at home — in a NatureMill automatic composter that does the trick in my small urban apartment. We bring the results to friends and/or tuck it into the beds of the trees that live on our New York City street. But sometimes there is overflow (we cook at least three times a day and eat a lot of fruits and veggies, plus there are egg shells, coffee grounds, and more). This sign introduces what is a trial run to see if compost drop-off is widely needed/desired beyond the main Manhattan farmers’ market (Union Square). I want the organizers to know it’s very much in demand, so I intend to march my overflow there every Saturday. If you live in NY, there are more trial drop off sites being organized by GrowNYC. Join me in dropping off your scraps.

Here are some thoughts about composting from The Conscious Kitchen:

For biodegradable items to actually biodegrade in landfills, they need access to a basic combination of air, water, light, microbes, and enzymes. Landfill methane emissions are a result of the fact that landfills don’t offer this access. Most are too tightly packed for biodegradable scraps to be exposed to such things, and so they sit, unbiodegraded , next to truly unbiodegradable items for years. In 1989, a garbage project out of the University of Arizona went into a landfill and discovered a legible newspaper from 1952, intact hot dogs, and an ear of corn (husks, too) mixed with material dated from 1971. Tragic but true. These findings are like poster children for why it’s a good idea to keep even biodegradable items out of the landfill and aid the process yourself. Composting is truly win-win. It will drastically reduce your garbage output and give you something valuable–nutrient-dense soil for your garden and house plants–in return from “trash.” Seeing your atrophied garbage once you start composting is nothing short of miraculous–there’s almost nothing in it! It’s mind-boggling how much we collectively throw out that can simply, cheaply, and effectively be turned into good dirt. Once you’ve composted, you’ll never go back.

For more on composting, including resources, see pages 209 to 214 of The Conscious Kitchen.

When Greening Your Kitchen, Don’t Forget To Look Beyond Food

  • March 8, 2011 11:19 am

So you know the very person who planted, watered, and picked your tomato. And maybe you even visited the farm where your steer roamed before it became your steak. You’ve figured out the ratio of certified organic to local in your weekly shopping ritual. You’ve got this whole sustainable thing down pat and you can now stop thinking about it already. Right?

Not so fast.

Sourcing food well is both crucial and tasty. But what are you prepping on, cooking in, storing in? There are hidden things lurking in most kitchens beyond roaches that aren’t safe for you or your dinner guests—some are even the very chemicals you avoid by buying organic. And most can—and should—be easily avoided.

Let’s say you drop extra cash for an organic chicken, or maybe a local pastured one. That chicken is all kinds of things, including not decontaminated with chlorine bleach. But if you prep it on a surface you happen to clean with chlorine bleach, you’re re-contaminating your carefully sourced bird with the very residue you hoped to avoid by buying it in the first place. Changing all of your cleaning products to natural versions today is a great way to avoid these residues, plus reduce air pollution in your home and outside. Win win win. It’s empowering to know that the small choices we make at home can have such far-reaching impact.

In Planet Home, the new book I co-authored with Jeffrey Hollender, we discuss a study that shows that in cities including Los Angeles, Denver, and Baltimore, household products such as cleaners, personal care products, paints and stains are the largest source of pollutants after cars.

If you’re at the grocery store and want a natural cleaning product, check to make sure the product you’re considering has an ingredient label. Most conventional cleaning products won’t have a label; cleaning product formulas are government protected trade secrets for now. If you see one, the company making it has gone above and beyond and offered customers this information. Still, there are warning labels even on products that don’t list ingredients. Look for these and really consider what they mean. If you see a skull and cross bones, avoid!

So now you’ve prepped that chicken on a board washed in plant-based dish soap, or maybe a cleaner containing hydrogen peroxide. Browning the poultry in a non-stick pan will undermine these good choices. As I discuss in The Conscious Kitchen, until recently most non-stick cookware was made with a chemical that has been linked to cancer, infertility, and complications during pregnancy. This chemical—perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA—is so persistent it has been found in low levels in the blood of 98 percent of the general U.S. population. In 2005, DuPont settled with the EPA for $16.5 million for allegedly withholding PFOA health risk information. The EPA called on them and six other chemical companies to voluntarily eliminate PFOA and similar substances from plant emissions and products by 2015. In the kitchen, we’re exposed to it mainly through scratched pans, and these things scratch easily. They can also break down at high temperatures and the fumes can cause flu like symptoms in humans, and death in birds. Hello, canary in the coalmine.

There are new chemicals now being used to produce non-stick cookware as this phases out. The replacements are largely unknown, so their safety is also unknown. The safest thing to do is brown that bird – and cook everything else – in tried and true durable materials: cast iron, enamel coated cast iron, and stainless steel.

If you make too much pastured chicken stew in your cast iron dutch oven, make sure to store the leftovers in similarly safe materials: glass, stainless steel (unless you stewed it with tomatoes—the acid can cause the metals to leach), or lead-free ceramic. The environmental health community has done a good job of letting people know about the dangers of certain plastics and the various you-don’t-want-it-for-dinner chemicals they might contain (bisphenol-A and phthalates come quickly to mind). Plastic is actually fairly easily avoided in the kitchen, especially when it comes to food storage containers. Tuck food into glass containers you buy specifically for the task, or just put it in jelly jars. Just leave room for liquids to expand if you’re freezing leftovers. If you’d like to use plastic, the numbers currently considered safe by the scientific community are #2, #4, and #5. Look for these in the recycling arrow on the product. If you don’t see a number, call up the manufacturer and ask what it is. Treat plastic gently; the more you bang it up, the more likely it is to leach its chemical components into our food. And never put plastic in the microwave, even #2, #4, or #5, or even if it says “microwave safe.” That just means how much heat it can withstand, not that it won’t release its chemicals into your meal.

There are many other things to be considered for your health and the health of the planet in any conscious kitchen, but these are some of the biggies. It can be overwhelming to take into account this much when you just want to eat dinner. But it’s worthwhile, and before too long it becomes second nature. You don’t have to do it all at once, either. Making one change – switch your cleaners or toss your non-stick pans – is a step in the right direction.

The Conscious Kitchen At The Books For A Better Life Awards Ceremony

  • March 7, 2011 9:48 am

You’re supposed to love all of your children the same. Right? Well I feel the same way about my books. They’re all so personal, such labors of love. I adore them all. That said, The Conscious Kitchen is the only one I have written (so far) that I didn’t co-author. It’s mine all mine. And it’s truly a description of how I approach food and everything in my kitchen (cleaning products, safe cookware and food storage, composting, not really following recipes, and so much more). It comes right from me to you in an effort to help people figure out how to navigate having and maintaining a green(er) kitchen, all while loving food. I think it’s a really helpful guide.

So I was understandably overwhelmed/touched/thrilled when my labor of kitchen love was named a finalist for a Books For A Better Life award. I found out many months ago about the nomination. And the ceremony is at long last happening this Monday, March 7th. My competition is truly fierce. I’m only expecting to show up at the Millenium Broadway Hotel in midtown and have a lovely glass of wine with my editor in a room filled with authors. But just in case for some reason I do win, I have the two minute speech they asked me to prepare. My hopes aren’t up but, um, it was really fun coming up with it.

Mother Earth News and Natural Home Magazine

  • March 4, 2011 5:33 pm

Excited that this Mother Earth News article, BPA-Free Plastics Release Estrogen Disrupting Chemicals Study Finds, mentions Planet Home. It also links to an excerpt of the book in Natural Home Magazine where we discuss safety concerns about plastic food storage containers.

Q&A: Safe Shelf Inserts? And: How To Minimize Formaldehyde Offgassing From Particleboard?

  • March 4, 2011 5:16 pm

This exchange happened over on my Facebook fan page earlier this week and I thought I’d share it here as well.

The Question:

We bought some inexpensive shelves as a temporary measure for our sons’s toys while we are living in a condo. They have particle board as the shelf inserts (the frame is metal). I am suffocating from the off-gassing! It finally just built up enough within the last few days for it to be really bad. Headache, burning ey…es, cough. My husband is going to take an insert to Home Depot tomorrow and get a cheap alternative. Any suggestions? They are just to hold toys, so they don’t have to be very strong. I’ve read about a hard coat varnish to use that keeps the formaldehyde from leaking out, which we’ll do when we finally move and have a garage to paint in (and in which we’ll use the shelves). But it’s not convenient for us to paint them now while in a condo. Still, any suggestions for that method, too? From now on we’ll have only real wood. My husband says I’m a canary in a coal mine, forgetting the purpose of those canaries was to warn of danger before it was noticed by the miners. Meaning, it’s still affecting him and our son, buy they just don’t have any symptoms, yet!

– Pam


The Answer:

Sorry you’re going through this. No telling what might work for you, but I’d say metal (steel/stainless steel) or real hard wood (preferably FSC certified), not particleboard. Or ask at your Home Depot if they have any green or eco MDF, and then ask to see what the specs are/what that means that it is “green.” Some of these are wheatboard etc. The safest sealant I’ve run into that works to contain formaldehyde offgassing is AFM Safecoat. Good luck. Anyone else reading this with ideas, please weigh in comments!