On the Difficulty of Finding Pastured Animal Products

Chickens on pasture. Image by MentalMasala. I was hoping to bring some good news this morning, specifically about a non-profit animal welfare rating service that I found out about at the National Products Expo. There were two animal welfare rating organizations at the Expo, one I decided not to write about because I considered their standards too loose–specifically they do not mandate pasture. The other requires pasture...

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Picture Sundays: Harvard’s Glass Flower Collection

Photo ©President & Fellows Harvard College, photo of Blaschka Glass Model by Hillel Burger. This cactus is made out of glass. Root Simple reader tworose tipped me off to the Harvard Museum of Natural History’s collection of glass flowers. According to the museum’s website: This unique collection of over 3,000 models was created by glass artisans Leopold Blaschka and his son, Rudolph. The commission began in 188...

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There Will Be Kraut Part II–Full Day Hands-On Fermentation Workshop at the Greystone Mansion

Part II of the Institute of Domestic Technology’s Fermentation Fest begins with a lecture on Friday, April 26. The next day will feature a hands-on workshop. Here’s the description from the IDT’s website: Full-Day Hands-On Fermentation Workshop: $195 (Includes lunch, snacks and a take-home fermentation jar) Saturday,  April 27th, 10 ~ 4pm  |   Greystone Mansion Vintage Kitchen  (Beverly Hills) Sign up here...

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Compost and Pharmaceuticals

We get this question a lot–will pharmaceuticals end up in my compost if I use human urine or animal manure? This is really three questions: Does composting break down pharmaceuticals? Are some pharmaceuticals worse than others in terms of their ability to survive the composting process? If pharmaceuticals persist after composting do edible plants uptake them in sufficient quantities to effect humans? A look at what sc...

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How Will You Celebrate the National Day of Unplugging and . . . the Day After?

Image from Reboot’s Unplugging campaign. I was pleasantly surprised to see an article on “unplugging” in the last issue of Sunset Magazine, “The Unplugged Home.” That the article features a family in the San Francisco Bay area (the capital of plugging in) isn’t surprising. When I was a video editor many years ago the last thing I wanted to do was sit in front of another TV when I got home. I...

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A Homemade Mattress?

The Princess and the Pea by Edmund Dulac Addendum 8/2/14:  From the comments, a solution! You can read my meanderings below, and you can go through the many, many comments, where there’s lots of buried gold, but for the time-pressed who are ready and raring to make themselves a mattress, I’d just go to this PDF of a 1965 USAID booklet on how to make a cotton stuffed mattress: http://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PNAAW960...

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The Austrian Scythe is the New Weed Whacker

Scott at the Huntington Gardens gave me a quick lesson on the Austrian Scythe, setting me l oose to whack a stand of summer weeds. The scythe is to the weed whacker what the fixed gear bike is to the ten speed. Or, for you motor heads, it’s what a non-synchronized manual transmission is to an automatic. The scythe is all about technique, not technology and like riding fixed or “ten forward gears and a Georgia overdrive“, itR...

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Bicycles and GPS

So at a time when the whole hipster stripped-down fixed-gear bike phenomenon has just passed its inevitable pop cultural zenith, this post will come across as impossibly nerdy. Yesterday I finally got around to strapping my small handheld GPS unit to the handlebars of my road bike and I can say that this particular combination of 19th century technology and 20th century electronics rocks. The only sane way to get around Los Angeles and most lar...

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A New Source of Fuel

Homegrown Revolution comrades, the Yes Men have pulled off a rather nice stunt: June 14, 2007 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE EXXON PROPOSES BURNING HUMANITY FOR FUEL IF CLIMATE CALAMITY HITSConference organizer fails to have Yes Men arrested Text of speech, photos, video: http://www.vivoleum.com/ GO-EXPO statement: http://newswire.ca/ Contact: [email protected] More links at end of release. Imposters posing as ExxonMobil and National Petroleum Council...

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Simple Tech

At the intersection of third world need and our first world’s gadget obsession lies a number of non-profit organizations attempting to help poor folks through the development of clever low-tech interventions. The rocket stove we featured earlier exemplifies this approach. With a rocket stove, which is made out of simple, easy to repair materials, you can burn twigs, newspaper and scrap wood rather than cutting down whole trees to make char...

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