Archive for June, 2009

r and r

June 26, 2009

Even when life is seemingly sailing along smoothly, it helps to take a break to quiet the mind and relax the body.

Some benefits of R&R are obvious: increased sense of calm, reduced muscle tension, overall sense of well-being. But there are other forces at work when we take time to chill out. So step away from the email, facebook, Twitter, and cell phone. Truly disconnect to reconnect with yourself and experience bliss from one of these activities:

Some may think of massage as a luxury, but massage has several health benefits that warrant making it a regular part of your health regimen.

  • Pain relief – not just in the area that’s worked on, but throughout the body
  • Immunity boost – through decreases in stress hormones responsible for illness
  • Blood pressure drop – a boon for people with hypertension

[via Newsweek]

Learn about 10 of the most popular types of massage

Find an eco spa near you:

Tip: Save money by visiting a massage therapy school where sessions with students are offered at a discount

There are many great benefits of regular meditation practice, including:

  • Increased concentration
  • Reduced stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Improved memory and mental clarity
  • Greater awareness

Find a meditation center near you:

Hatha yoga, the physical branch of yoga, has many physical and mental benefits. Try yoga for:

  • Greater flexibility
  • Increased strength and muscle tone
  • Improved posture
  • Greater sense of calm
  • Improved concentration and mood
  • Beneficial effects on health condition like asthma, hypertension, pain
  • Increased energy

[via WebMD]

There are several types of hatha yoga, from energetic vinyasa flow to hot and sweaty Bikram. Find your style of yoga and a studio near you:

I’m going to follow my own advice, take some time off from the computer and head on a yoga retreat myself. See you all next Wednesday!

eat it up, yum!

June 25, 2009

I’m on a food post kick lately. Maybe it’s the thrill of summer produce getting me all excited about eating again… berries, asparagus, various peas, basil (though these days we grow our own), heirloom tomatoes! (coming soon).

If you’re in the same boat, head on up to the New York Botanical Garden for The Edible Garden, an all-season-long celebration of food. The program kicks off this weekend with a local food festival. A shiny list of culinary celebs had their hand in the garden’s program, including Martha Steward, Dan Barber, and Peter Hoffman.

While you’re there, be sure to check out the Seed Savers Exchange edible landscape, proof that heirloom seeds make edible gardens both bountiful and beautiful.

Get the full scoop here.

My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

standing up for bees

June 24, 2009

[Image: Green Brooklyn]

There’s a movement happening in this city right now to develop a strong localized food system. Urban farms, community gardens, backyards, and rooftops are the sites for productive vegetable gardens, chicken coops, and even rabbit raising. People who care about food and where it comes from are going to great lengths to find space to grow. And some are even breaking the law to ensure greater success of these urban crops. They’re illegally keeping bees.

A matter of sustainability
In places like Chicago, San Francisco, and Atlanta, beekeeping is considered part of the city’s long-term sustainability plan. Bees are even kept in the White House garden. But in this city, according to sustainable food advocacy group Just Food,

The New York City Health Code under Section 161.01 prohibits the possession, keeping, harboring and selling of ‘wild animals.’ This ban’s listing of ‘all venomous insects’ includes bees and in doing so outlaws beekeeping.

The perceived risk (allergies, swarming) by few is limiting opportunities for many.

Without bees, we’d all have less food. Einstein didn’t say this, but it’s still rings true to an extent,

If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.

In a post on The Daily Green (2007),

Of about 240,000 flowering plants in North America, three quarters require the pollination of a bee, bird, bat or other animal or insect in order to bear fruit. Since many of our food crops – with the exception of grains – are imports, the imported honey bee is key to our food supply. Beyond that, no other pollinator can be collected, moved and unleashed to pollinate fields of crops like commercial beekeepers can do with honey bee colonies.

So losing bees would have repercussions throughout the food supply chain.

Legalize the bees!
In February, Councilman David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights) introduced legislation to lift the ban on beekeeping. And yesterday he spoke at a press conference in front of city hall backed by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (not “Stinger” as he joked), Executive Director of Just Food Jackie Berger, other Just Food members, beekeepers, urban farmers, and concerned citizens (that would be me).

[David Yassky, Scott Stringer, Deborah Romano, and a swarm of press]

We were all there not just in support of lifting the ban on beekeeping, but to support Park Slope resident Deborah Romano who received a fine for beekeeping and was ordered to remove her hive. Talking about the complaint brought against her, Deborah told the AP yesterday,

“I don’t know why (that neighbor) did it,” she said at the rally. “But my guess is that it probably was a combination of ignorance and fear. They didn’t understand how vital bees are to our very existence on the planet, and a more livable existence in NYC. They probably didn’t realize that honeybees and other pollinating insects are more endangered than dangerous.”

Bees work for me
As someone who uses honey on a daily basis, I’d prefer if the sweet nectar came from right here in Brooklyn than be shipped in from upstate or beyond. I also prefer beeswax candles to paraffin, a petroleum byproduct, or even soy, which is most likely a genetically modified crop.

If we could produce these items locally, it would boost our economy, improve the local food production system, provide the community with products to be proud of, and offer beekeepers the peace of mind that performing their craft brings.

NYC beekeeping in the news and blogosphere

NYC beekeeping resources

It’s Pollinator Week!
And there are still some fun events to partake in:

Hidden Hives Tour & Mead Tasting
@ Jimmy’s No. 43
Thu 6/25

Honey Fest
@ Union Square Greenmarket
Fri 6/26

Honey Tasting
@ The Unfancy Food Show
Sun 6/28

…And more!

For more info visit:

this just in from just food

June 23, 2009

If you care about food issues in NYC, here’s your chance to get involved!

Join us at two important City Council Hearings on food justice issues…today and tomorrow!

June 23rd Hearing on Food Access Disparities, 1pm

Today at 1pm the NYC Council’s Committee on Community Development will be holding an oversight hearing on the topic “Access to Fresh Food in NYC Neighborhoods and Associated Health, Economic, and Community Impacts”. The hearing will be held on the 16th Floor Hearing Room at 250 Broadway.

Local groups have prepared testimonies to present at the hearing, and written testimony is also being accepted. Come, listen, engage!

Buzzzzzzz: Come a little early and attend the Pollinator Week press conference, 12:30pm at City Halls steps and hear Council Member David Yassky, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, and representatives from Just Food, East New York Farms and local beekeepers give support to legislation that will legalize beekeeping in NYC!

June 24th Hearing on Community Gardens, 10am

Action Alert from the NYC Community Gardens Coalition:


We urgently need all gardeners and garden supporters to bring your voices and letters of concern to a public hearing sponsored by City Council’s Committee on Parks and Recreation at City Hall and speak up for the preservation of all community gardens! We need as many people as possible to attend to prove our political (voting) power – so bring friends and forward this message far and wide!

If you are a Parks or a city-operated GreenThumb community garden and think you are safe, THINK AGAIN! Your garden is not safe, as the Attorney General’s agreement that saved us in 2002 is set to expire in 2010 with NO OTHER legislation in place to protect us!

The hearing will focus on the future of community gardens in NYC and specifically Resolution #1890, which calls upon the City to map all GreenThumb community gardens in NYC as parkland, thereby giving them stronger protection for the future!

NYC City Council Hearing on Community Gardens
Wednesday June 24th @ 10:00am
Committee Room @ City Hall

City Hall is located in City Hall Park. You can enter the plaza from either the west side of the park at Broadway and Murray Street or the east side at Park Row.By Subway: #4, #5, #6 trains to City Hall/Brooklyn Bridge; #2, #3 trains to Park Place; W, R trains to City Hall; C, A trains to Chambers Street By Bus: M15 to City Hall/Park Row

Please bring: ID to enter City Hall and 20 copies (double-sided) of your prepared testimony as to why your garden – and all gardens – should be made permanent (if you need help to make copies, please call us – the most important thing is for you to BE THERE!).

Also bring: Youth from your garden (now that school is out – their stories are very powerful), your garden’s scrapbook, pictures, and banners. Our representatives need to understand the deep importance of the community gardens.

If you cannot make the meeting, but want to submit testimony, you can mail or fax it by June 24th to:
Gary Altman, Legislative Council
Council of the City of New York
250 Broadway 15th Floor, New York NY 10007
Att: Community Gardens Hearing – June 24, 2009
Fax: (212) 442-6420 (Attn: Gary Altman)

For more information: See our website for our recommendations to protect our gardens, links to Resolution 1890, the Attorney General’s agreement, and more. If you have any questions, call us at 888-311-3993.

New York City Community Gardens Coalition – United We Grow! The mission of the New York City Community Gardens Coalition is to promote the preservation, creation and empowerment of community gardens through education, advocacy and grass-roots organizing.

Thank you for all you do in advocating for healthier food, farms and communities in New York!

Warm wishes,

Nadia Johnson
Just Food

clean up indoor air pollution

June 22, 2009

The air inside our homes and businesses is often more toxic than the air outside, even in big air-polluted cities like LA and NYC. This is due to several factors, including off-gassing chemicals in furniture, toxins in cleaning products, and artificial fragrances and other chemicals in our beauty care regimens.

In spite of this barrage of airborne toxins, there is an amazingly simple way to clean up the air while increasing the amount of oxygen we breathe. Learn about three common house plants that work wonders on air quality from Kamal Meattle in the video below:

Grow your own fresh air with one (or all) of these plants:

wink eco beauty bar

June 18, 2009

I’m a pretty low-maintenance lady. I only wear makeup maybe twice a year, have very few products in my daily beauty regimen, and keep my nails au naturale. So these days, because it’s sort of a special occasion for me to get a manicure and pedicure, I’m particular about where I have this service performed.

Luckily for me, I live right near a new eco-friendly beauty salon – Wink. I noticed their sign a few months ago, and had been waiting for an opportunity to check them out. Enter this weekend’s wedding.

My friend and I got there for our appointments right when they opened at 11 am, despite the pouring rain (blech!). We picked from the selection of DBP-, touluene-, and formaldehyde-free nail colors on the wall and headed over to the cushy chairs for the pedicure. All of the products used at Wink Beauty Bar are sans parabens, phthalates and other nasty chems.

After the pedicure we enjoyed a manicure at the bar that’s covered in AFM Safecoat non-toxic finish. Wink offers other services, like massage, body scrubs, makeup, and waxing, all with earth-friendly ingredients.

I highly recommend Wink for their friendly and professional service, comfortable environs, and of course, green products and practices.

W!NK eco beauty bar
602 Vanderbilt Avenue

(St. Mark’s Ave & Prospect Pl)

Prospect Heights, Brooklyn 11238


Don’t live near Wink? Check out this post about less toxic (no nail polish is really non-toxic) options for painting those toe- and finger-tips, plus a few additions:

blogging for brooklyn food coalition

June 16, 2009

I’m psyched. I’m part of an amazing movement that’s happening in Brooklyn right now. It started with the Brooklyn Food Conference (well, I guess it started months before the BFC, by those great people that planned and organized that incredible event). It’s taken on new life as the Brooklyn Food Coalition, and it has the power to change the way people in this borough (and city, and nation) eat, for the better.

My part in this whole thing is specifically participating in neighborhood meetings, especially meetings in my own neighborhood, and blogging about it.

Check out my first post on the Brooklyn Food Conference/Coalition website

And in related news…
New food co-ops coming to Brooklyn
If you live in Park Slope or any of the surrounding neighborhoods, you probably know about the Park Slope Food Co-op. It’s a thriving cooperative business that provides a community of participants with healthful food choices, including locally sourced produce. Well, it seems other neighborhoods in Brooklyn are seeking a similar arrangement. As I mention in the BFC post, new co-ops are springing up in other parts of Brooklyn. That’s good news for small farms in the New York area, for the local economy, and of course for Brooklyn residents. When I wrote the post, I didn’t know about a new Bay Ridge food co-op that’s forming, but I was quickly informed. (See email message below). So if you live in Bay Ridge and are interested in becoming a member, check out their website, sign up for their newsletter, check them out on Twitter (@thefoodcoop), get involved!

Hi Liz – just saw your piece on the Brooklyn Food Conference site, and thought I’d get in touch. I’m coordinating the effort to bring a food co-op to Bay Ridge, and sat on the food co-op panel at the conference, alongside Greene Hill, Kalabash and others. I wanted you to know a little bit about us too.

The Bay Ridge Food Co-op has a database in excess of 700 people, and is now moving to start collecting membership equity from people, we’ve made as much progress as the other co-ops you’ve mentioned. Like all the nascent co-ops though, we need help to drive membership, and if you do anything on co-ops again, it would be great to get a mention...

Best wishes,
David Marangio

rally for bees, please!

June 16, 2009

By now most people know that we need bees in order to have healthy food crops. Not to mention that bees produce a delicious sweetener with health benefits called honey.

But did you know that beekeeping is illegal in NYC?

Help legalize the bees by taking action.

Come to the rally at City Hall on June 23!

A Notice of Violation for having honeybees was issued on May 20 to a backyard beekeeper in Brooklyn by the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, whose health code renders beekeeping illegal in NYC. The beekeeper’s hearing will be on June 23rd, let’s send a strong message of support for her and other brave beekeepers in NYC, and tell City Council and the Department of Health to take immediate action to end the illegality of beekeeping in NYC!

When: Tuesday, June 23th at 12:30 PM and 1:30 PM


  • Press conference & rally with beekeepers, bee supporters, and David Yassky and other Council Members will be held at City Hall steps at 12:30
  • Beekeeper Citation Hearing will be at NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene’s Administrative Tribunal, 66 John Street, 11th Floor at 1:30

Please RSVP with subject line “bee rally” to

Sign the petition to legalize beekeeping

It’s easy, just click here!

[via Just Food]

nothing over $30 sale at the greenloop

June 13, 2009

You read that right. The Nothing Over $30 sale is on at the Greenloop, online eco-boutique. What better time to introduce some low-impact, high-style items into your wardrobe?

You can get adorable duds like this Stewart & Brown organic cotton dress for only $29.99! (it was $138)

Or this sweet fair trade organic cotton Loomstate tee for just $19.99! (it was $60)

Greenloop was recently named best online eco-boutique in Treehugger’s Best in Green Awards.

food, inc.

June 11, 2009

A couple of days ago I mentioned Food, Inc. in a post about, of course, food. If you’re interested in seeing the film, and maybe even asking the director a few questions, it’s playing at Film Forum for a limited engagement that begins tomorrow (Friday, June 12). Director Robert Kenner will be at 4 shows, Friday, June 12 and Saturday, June 13, both at 6pm and 8pm.

Joel Salatin, a farmer who raises pastured animals, (and who was featured in The Omnivore’s Dilemma) is also in the film. While I didn’t get a chance to visit his farm, I recently was fortunate enough to eat some of his products (see next post).

Here’s a preview of the film (not the official trailer):