Archive for March, 2008

Events of Spring, 2008

Monday, March 31st, 2008

Here are a few green events and group meetings going on in Tacoma that I thought you might be interested in.
Friends of Ferry Park: This group is working to improve Ferry Park in Tacoma. They are meeting tonight.  For more info check out this write up about them:
Go Green, with Historic Tacoma:
Historic Tacoma launches its second Old House Lecture Series this April with a green theme. Learn how to respectfully renovate your older home while being environmentally friendly at the same time. The lecture series covers everything from making vintage windows more energy efficient to finding salvaged historic details to eco-friendly linoleum. Lectures start at 7 pm at the Knights of Pythias Hall, 926 1/2 Broadway Street. $5 a ticket for Historic Tacoma Members, $8 a ticket for the general public. A question and answer period will be held following each presentation. For more in formation, call Historic Tacoma at (253) 591-2026 or contact Lecture schedule:
           Thursday April 10–Salvage: Recycle! Where to find those great period details (woodwork, doors, windows, hardware, even lighting) that were removed from your house. Representatives from the ReStore, Second Use, and Olympia Salvage will be on hand to talk about the ultimate in historic recycling.
           Thursday April 17–Systems: Vintage and energy efficient? You bet. How to address HVAC, insulation, plumbing and those original vintage windows. Experts from Phase II Construction, York Enterprises Construction, At Your Service Plumbing, Legacy Windows, Allied Windows, BearWood windows, and the City of Tacoma will be on hand to discuss various options.
          Thursday April 24–Style: Vintage style. How to recreate period appropriate details with eco-friendly products. Representatives from EcoHaus and Cartozian will be on hand to discuss earth friendly paints, waxes, counter top materials, all natural wool rugs, cork flooring, and the original eco-friendly flooring, linoleum. A representative from Ballard Furniture Spa will discuss eco-friendly paint removal services for restoring painted trim and vintage furniture.

Attend Tacoma-Pierce County’s Livable Communities Fair
Saturday May 17, 2008, 9:00am – 4:00pm
Tacoma Dome Exhibition Hall
It’s Free, Fun and Informative
The fair is a countywide effort aimed at raising awareness about projects and programs that make communities more livable. Like a garden or home show, the LCF provides interactive displays on a wide range of topics including energy conservation, carpooling, recycling, neighborhood emergency preparedness, affordable housing, water quality, public safety, clean environment, agriculture, recreation, health, education, community involvement, children’s activities, and much more. For more information: or 253-798-7477.
 Identifying and understanding the region’s native trees
Free book talk, slide presentation & signing with  Stephen Arno
Tuesday evening, April 22 @ 7 p.m. 
Anna Lemon Wheelock Library       
 3722 North 26th Street, Tacoma
Celebrate a classic, the 30th anniversary edition of Northwest Trees, the essential guide to identifying and appreciating Northwest trees with a slide show given by author Stephen F. Arno, a retired research forester who first came to know the Northwest’s trees as a youngster growing up on the shores of Puget Sound.
In 2004 Arno received the Harold Biswell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Fire Ecology, and in 2006 he was elected a Fellow in the Society of American Foresters. He has practiced restoration forestry on his family’s ponderosa pine forest for more than 30 years.  
Arno and artist Ramona Hammerly have been studying and roaming Northwest’s forest for nearly 50 years. No other guide duplicates their blend of expertise and visual artistry. Covering Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and north into Canada, they help identify and illustrate over 60 species of wild Northwestern trees by characteristic shape, size, needles or leaves, and cones or seeds. With over 250 beautiful drawings, the book provides a easy to use identification key based on the most reliable and non-technical features of each species.
Presented in cooperation with Mountaineer Books & King’s Book Store.
Information : (253) 591-5666 or

Quiz from the Union of Concerned Scientists

Monday, March 24th, 2008

As webmaster and reader of Green Families, I wanted to share an email I recently received from the Union of Concerned Scientists:

Drug-laced corn flakes for breakfast? Fried chicken made from poultry raised on penicillin for dinner? Do we really know what we’re eating? Has the way America produces food gotten out of control?

Biotech companies are planting fields of corn, rice, and other food crops genetically engineered to grow drugs, hormones, plastics, and chemicals. Antibiotics are being fed to food animals that are not sick. These practices can have devastating consequences for our health, environment, and economy. 

How much do you know about the foods that line your kitchen shelves? Click here to take our short quiz:

What Does “Organic” Mean?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Finding the best Produce for our Families

What Does Organic mean to you?

Last month we did our best to discuss the overwhelming amount of information, opinions and options pertaining to our dairy purchases. This month, I hope that we can begin to tackle produce. The good news for us in Tacoma is that we have many small local farms, farmers markets and retailers that offer a wide range of fresh fruits and Veggies. Unfortunately, so many choices can be confusing. It is easy to make the decision to buy organic or local or both.   But, how do we ensure that the extra money or effort is worth our while? From the research that I have done, I find that the best way to answer this question is to ask: What does Organic mean to me?

To help you to answer this for yourself, hear are some facts about organics:


How Organics effect our Health:

  • Children who eat predominately organic produce have only one sixth of the levels of pesticides in their urine.
  • Exposure to a widely used pesticide, chlorphyrifos has been linked to delays in motor skill development and ADHD.
  • Breastfeeding mothers who consume organic meat and dairy pass along the benefits of a higher level of CLA.  This polyunsaturated fat boosts immunity, and reduces the symptoms of allergies and asthma.
  • As the produce from crops grow bigger then the norm (as often seen in large scale, non-organic farming productions) the vitamins, minerals, antioxidents and flavor decrease. This “over nutrition” also causes plants to make more starch and less protein.
  • Organics have higher levels of nutrients and antioxidants then chemically grown food.


How Organics impact your environment:

  • Organic farming practices reduce greenhouse gas emission by putting carbon into the soil rather than releasing it.
  • Organic farming uses 50% less energy then conventional farming.
  • Pesticides are contaminating the ground water across the globe.
  • Toxic chemicals used in farming have caused massive soil degradation. 40% of the worlds agricultural land is seriously degraded.
  • “Drifting pesticides” impact us all. Exposure to pesticide drift may cause birth defects, cancer, asthma, developmental disabilities and other long-term heath problems. Pesticide drift can also harm the local environment by contaminating waterways, air, and soil, killing fish, birds and other wildlife. Pesticides can travel long distances and have been found as far as 50 miles away from where they were applied.

The above are some of the main reasons why we choose to buy and consume organics as much as we can. Unfortunately, there is a catch. The downside of the organic market reaching the mainstream is that some of these benefits are being compromised.  As organic farms emerge on the megascale, more energy is used in both production and distribution.  Suppliers use more energy in the storage and transport of our food and additional resources are used in packaging. Accordingly, we take a good portion of the environmental benefits out of the equation. Up until recently, the organic farming movement also has revolved around the small family farms.  As we see that time and time again large corporations are buying up independent organic suppliers, we lose out on an opportunity to support our local and family farms. We also miss out on the gift of consuming wonderfully fresh produce.

As mentioned above, in our community we are blessed to have an abundance of opportunities to support are local farms and retailers while we gain he maximum health benefits. Shopping at farmers markets, joining in a CSA farm share and buying local produce from your grocer allows us to support the organic movement .  Admittedly, this can be quite a bit more expensive then the alternatives. Making the choice to “do the right thing”, doesn’t all happen overnight.  If we as consumers can commit to replacing one non-organic product for it’s local or organic rival weekly we still make a difference.  As the financial sting lessens with time, substitute another the following month.  Make a plan and stick to it.  In doing this, we use our consumer power to make a statement.