Thursday, July 30, 2009

Integrating Local Foods into Your Life...

The Bruce and Betty show focus for Friday, July 31st: SUPPORTING LOCAL and MORE SUSTAINABLE FOODS. This from my fellow earth-loving friend, Dawn Story, who has been working Kay's Kitchen, a local community project working to serve local farm-fresh food to homeless in the area. Thanks Dawn for letting us post your living document (i.e. please add comments and suggestions) on the Betty Blog!

25 Ways to Integrate Local Foods into Our Lives
Dawn Story, Growing Food & Community 2009
1. Buy locally produced food to support our small, regional farms and preserve our agricultural heritage and traditions. It strengthens our local economy and reinforces the web that connects us to others within our communities. It safeguards our environment and lessens our dietary carbon footprint by reducing the number of miles our food has been shipped. Piedmont Environmental Council’s Buy Fresh Buy Local food directory is the ultimate resource for sourcing local food. Go to:
2. Shop at one of many local farmers markets. Get to know the farmers. Listen to their stories and learn their growing practices. Touch, smell and taste fresh, healthy and locally grown food. I say, “Meet a farmer, make a friend”. For a local listing, go to For a statewide listing, go to: or
3. Patronize grocers that sell locally produced food and request your favorite producers. For a list, go to: or
4. Dine at restaurants that include local food on the menu. Inquire about where the food on the menu comes from. Recommend your favorite local producers. For a list, go to: or
5. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). A CSA is a mutually supportive relationship between local farmers and community members with annual membership fees to cover farm production costs. Members receive weekly “shares” of the harvest during the local growing season which ensures them tasty, nutritious food and a deeper connection to their food source and community. For a list of regional CSAs, go to: or
6. Eat fresh produce in seasonal and learn to cook with it. Consuming local foods within season is the diet that nature intended and is designed to supply us with many of the nutrients we need for health and well-being. These most auspicious foods allow us to take in the terroir – or essence – of the land from which they are grown. For a seasonal availability chart, go to:, or pick up a copy of one of our many regional food ‘zines featuring recipes and articles on seasonal foods, such as In The Kitchen, Flavor, Piedmont Virginian Magazine and Edible Blue Ridge,. The Weston A. Price Foundation ( is a great resource for learning the art and appreciation of traditional food preservation and preparation. Or visit the Sustainable Table website at for a fusion of food advocacy and education, cooking methods and ideas. Alternatively, take a class in cooking with local food from Charlottesville Cooking School ( or the Seasonal Cook (
7. Sign up for the EAT Local list serve to stay abreast of – and to post -- current, local food issues and resources. Do so at:
8. Go visit a farm. Attend a nearby farm tour and meet those behind our local food supply. While you’re at it, try harvesting your own food at one of the area’s many U-Pick farms and orchards. For a list of U-Pick farms and farm tours, go to: or to
9. Participate in a community garden plot at either Meadowcreek Park or Azalea Park through Charlottesville Parks and Rec. Call 434-970-3592 for more info. Or, collaborate with your neighbors or home owners association to start one in an unused community greenspace. For more information on community garden projects in general, go to:
10. Get involved with an urban garden program, such as Quality Community Council’s Urban Farm Initiative. For more information, go to:
11. If you have a yard, plant a garden of your own and replace chemical and energy-intensive lawns with edible plants (fruit and nut trees, berries, herbs and vegetables)! For more information, go to: For courses teaching permaculture and sustainable gardening, contact the Blue Ridge Permaculture Network ( Better yet, visit Edible Landscaping in Afton and taste your way around their diverse supply of functional and edible plants. Or, to hire someone to garden for you contact
12. If you don’t have a yard, learn about container gardening. Lots of foods can be grown in pots on patios and balconies and in windowsills. For consulting services, contact Growing Food & Community:
13. Learn the art of traditional food preservation techniques (such as canning, drying and fermentation) and take advantage of surplus fruits and vegetables during a seasonal glut. Resources include:,,,,
14. Become an agricultural entrepreneur. Turn an old, cherished family recipe into a specialty food sensation by creating a great product using local ingredients and marketing it. Find out more by visiting the Virginia Agriculture & Food Entrepreneurship Program at
15. Share surplus food and garden supplies with friends and neighbors in need or to area food banks and community kitchens like the Thomas Jefferson Area Food Bank ( and the Charlottesville-area Emergency Food Bank ( Donate unusable yet perishable CSA shares by contacting the Charlottesville Community Food Project. Their website is:
16. Get involved in community foods projects or start one of your own. Find out what initiatives are taking place and how to get involved by joining Transition Blue Ridge’s “Food & Agriculture” committee. Or contact for more ideas.
17. Talk to your friends, family and neighbors about the importance of eating locally, the state of our current food insecurity and what options are available. Form a “support” group and, together, take the “locavore” challenge! For ideas go to
18. Host or attend a dinner party with a local foods theme. Discuss where and how the foods were grown and compare the taste and vibrancy of these foods to processed and far-travelled foods. Not sure how to organize one, let alone cook up fresh, local produce and foods for a crowd? Contact Lisa Reeder, our local food and drink consultant extraordinaire at
19. Host or attend a showing of a documentary on food production and supply issues and follow it with a discussion. Check out our area’s own “Meet the Farmer” cable television program featuring interviews with local food producers, buyers and consumers to hear what current issues are facing our local food supply and what initiatives are taking place. Go to Good feature films to screen include “The Future of Food”, “King Corn”, “The Real Dirt on Farmer John”, “The World According to Monsanto”, “Power of Community”, “Peak Moment Television” and “Eat At Bills,” available from Netflix, by searching online or by special order from your local video rental.
20. Join forces with others interested in discussing local food issues, initiatives taking place and how to get involved. Transition Blue Ridge hosts a monthly community dialogue about food ( Express your concerns, ideas and opinions so that our local officials are aware that food security is an important issue. Support organizations that advocate for scale-appropriate agricultural laws like the Virginia Independent & Consumers Association ( Check out what is happening with the Virginia Food Policy Council by going to
21. Preserve our agricultural heritage and biodiversity by learning the practice of seed saving. Go to: to learn about seed saving, to buy seeds and to get information on attending the annual Monticello Heritage Harvest Festival on September 12.
22. Catch rainwater from the roof in rain barrels or cisterns to conserve precious water that can be used to irrigate the garden without taxing our water supply. Contact our local rain barrel guru, Brian Buckley, at or find them at the EcoShop in Preston Plaza, Charlottesville next to Integral Yoga (where you can also buy local produce!).
23. Support organizations working to ensure a safe, nutritious and equitable food supply through volunteering and donating useful supplies and through making financial contributions. Volunteer opportunities abound at any of the aforementioned organizations and initiatives. Also find out about volunteer and benefactor opportunities for the new day haven and community kitchen serving the Charlottesville-area’s hungry and homeless (slated to be open this fall) by contacting
24. Learn and practice sustainable farming in the state of Virginia by reaching out to groups like the Virginia Association for Biological Farming (, the Center for Rural Culture (, the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (
25. Vote with your dollar. Remember, every local food purchase you make contributes toward building a safe, secure, healthy food system and supply.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Calling all yogurt lovers!

This article is from Betty fan, educator, dj, ever-talented, ever-helpful Eric Betthauser! You may have met him at the Saturday farmer's market downtown. (Thanks for all your time and enthusiasm, Eric)

Ah, fantastic plastic. It has brought so many benefits to our lives, not the least of which is lightweight, shatter-proof food containers. Trouble is, they still often become long-term residents in the local landfill. So, what about recycling?

Charlottesville is better than most places, in that our city will recycle any plastic bearing the #1 (PETE) or 2 (HDPE). But, in most municipalities, “if it doesn’t have a neck, you can’t recycle it”. That includes plastic ice-cream pails, sour-cream tubs, defensive tackles and, yes, yogurt containers. It may be the “right” number (1 or 2), the recycling truck might even pick it up (they trash them at the end of the ride), but it’s not going to be recycled.

So, what’s an eco-conscious dairy lover to do? Well, you’ve got a few options:

 Make your own. Many of us do it, and it seems to be becoming popular again. Truthfully, after conquering the learning curve, making your own yogurt or kefir is pretty easy. With yogurt, the best method that I’ve found is to use a Thermos:
1. Bring a pint of milk to about 120o F (you can use a candy thermometer).
2. Stir in ¼ cup of plain yogurt.
3. When the mixture is at 105-110o, pour it into a Thermos, seal it, and put in the oven with the light on. (Or, you could wrap the Thermos in towels and set it in a warm place.
4. Let the mixture sit at that constant temperature for 7-10 hours (the longer it sits, the more tart the yogurt).

You can also buy packets of starter culture at natural-foods stores (rather than using a pre-packaged container of yogurt); it is produced by the Canadian company Lyo-sant. If you’re not willing to do the make-your-own, you have several other options:

• Reuse those containers. This may go without saying, but reusing is always step 1, before recycling. The only trick is to figure out how comfortable you are with reusing plastic, which may leach chemicals.
• Buy from Stonyfield Farm. They have a recycling program, by which you can send them your old (clean) containers, and they will recycle them. The inherent problems are that:
1. You need to package and pay to send them (although they do respond by sending you
2. The energy, time, and expense of shipping something many kilometers (they’re
based in New Hampshire) may offset the benefits.
To their credit, Stonyfield Farm has done extensive research about packaging, and the simple fact that their yogurt is in lightweight Polypropylene (#5) plastic saves a lot in shipping (and therefore in gasoline). Also, they now put recyclable aluminum foil on their yogurt, rather than plastic lids. This makes it harder to reuse the containers, so, again, it’s a tradeoff.
• Gimme 5. This program was recently started by The Preserve. You can send any plastic containers bearing the number 5 (Polypropylene) back to them, and they will eventually turn them into toothbrushes. Whole Foods is also sponsoring this by placing drop-off bins in their stores (not in Charlottesville…yet),
• Buy kefir. Never tried it? This Middle Eastern drink, similar to yogurt, is readily available. Properly pronounced /kÉ™-FEER/, it’s more of a liquid than yogurt, and it’s produced with a different starter culture. As a result, the flavor is a bit stronger than yogurt, it can be slightly effervescent, and it can even contain a small amount of alcohol. Helios produces plain, peach, raspberry, and other flavors, and they’re all made from organic milk. Helios is now owned by Lifeway Foods, who also produce a line of regular and lowfat kefir, some of which uses organic milk. Additionally, Lifeway has begun offering small bottles of the Indian drink lassi. All of these products are bottled in High-Density Polyethylene (#2), recyclable virtually everywhere.

Making kefir is quite simple, too: Place the starter culture in a container of milk, let it sit at room temperature for a day or two, strain, and enjoy. Starter grains are available at natural-foods stores, or online at (a Minnesota company)

Monday, July 20, 2009

On your marks, get set, the County Fair!

I can't believe the Albemarle County Fair is just over a week away! Lots of exciting NEW green initiatives have been implemented. Not the least of which is NO STYROFOAM and Adrienne Young's Backyard Revolution and Better World Betty's Booth at the Eco-Exhibit Tent. So much Bettier, everyone!

2009 Albemarle County Fair Eco-Initiatives:
Eco-Exhibit Tent
Eco-friendly Landscaping Exhibits
Recycled Materials being used throughout
Elimination of Styrofoam
Waste Recycling and Recovery

I also want to encourage you to enter the Home Arts Section 4: the Recycling contest!! (I hope my boys are still planning on entering this). Contact Sarah Nissen 434-977-3989 or check the website, but here are the details I have. The special rules are:

1-All items must be made with recycled materials.
2-Entries must have been prepared by the exhibitor
3-Entries must reflect original work by the exhibitor
4-Materials used must be identified
5-The entry should be self-explanatory
6-The department reserves the right to add or delete classes if the need arises

1. Sculpture 2. Jewelry 3. Imprinting on Tin 4. Wine Corks 5. Wood 6. Paper 7. Metal 8. Stone 9. Plastic 10. Every Duct Tape 11. Miscellaneous

Free "Backyard Revolution" and singer/songwriter and creator of Backyard Revolution witll perform at the 2009 Albemarle County Fair. Young is an ardent supporter of sustainable agriculture, the preservation of our historical character, and the honorable aims of our ancestors. These beliefs are evident in her music. Adrienne has has integrated a national responsible-farming awarenesss campaign and fund-raising effort into the release of her third album "Room to Grow." Also don't miss Better World Betty and other environmental non-profits as well as local green businesses in the Albemarle Fair's Eco-tent this year sharing our vision for a sustainable future, helpful green living hints, and more! Remember to carpool and bring your own reusable water bottles.

Operating Hours: Tuesday, July 28th 4-11pm
Wednesday, July 28 4-11pm
Thursday, July 30 4-11pm
Friday, July 31 4-11pm
Saturday, August 1 10am-11pm
Sunday, August 2 1-6pm
Admission Prices: Adults $7, Seniors (60+)$6, Children (6-12) $3, Children (under 6)


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Betty brings you Green Spaces interview!

(In) Play: Green Spaces Competition is an exhibit on display at the Charlottesville Design Center from July 10- August 31

From their website: "Every year the James River Green Building Council sponsors a design competition to showcase innovative strategies and practices in the field of sustainable design. This year's (In) Play competition challenged designers to address the evolving relationship between people and the natural world through play. Read more about the competition and view selected entries on the JRGBC website."

Better World Betty fan and our first guest blogger, Jan Ferrigan, did a video spotlight for us. It's the next best thing to going there and seeing it for yourself!

And here's the link

Thanks, Jan!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

July's column in Abode: Green Gadgets that are worth it!

Enjoy Betty's July article in Abode magazine here or at
Green gadgets that are really worth it

Far be it from Betty to promote the latest, greatest green gizmo with a hefty price tag and made-in-China label, but I believe your pocketbook and the planet will appreciate these eco-gadgets.

The Smart Strip “is still the best bang for your buck as far as green gadgets,” according to Paige Mattson of the Blue Ridge Eco Shop. Given our love of Plasma HD, LCD, TV, and all things bright and flashy, it behooves all of us to conserve energy in any way we can. This powerstrip can sense when devices are on and off and acts accordingly to eliminate any excess energy drain. Reviews suggest the cost (around $40) can be recouped within months.

So many items in our home require the use of batteries, why not use solar battery chargers? They now come in all shapes, sizes, and options. Ubergreen geeks will love the HyMini which has an option to collect wind power while you jog, bike or ski! Given the wide price range, consider your budget and remember solar power requires some planning and patience.

Finally, two gadgets which conserve our most precious resource:
water. No plumber is needed for the Controllable Flush, a five-part handle replacement, which converts a standard toilet into dual flush.
After all, not every flush needs a full flush. (If it’s yellow...). A two-person household can save 15,000 gallons of water per year depending on your toilet!

The five-minute shower timer is simple, durable and costs $5. Suction cup this (recycled) plastic covered hourglass to a relatively dry area to help you to cut down your shower time. I used mine from the Charlottesville City (free from Earth Day) religiously. Here comes the green confession. I thought I was the queen of the quick shower (me: I'm sure I'll have left-over sand! shower timer: you were just daydreaming of your next Betty idea for at least 30 seconds!) Unfortunately that one wasn't shatter-proof (so check for when you purchase).

Here's to half-flushes and shorter showers!