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Sustainability and Sustainable Living

June 28th, 2010

 

While the term ‘sustainability’ is broad its core meaning is: to maintain or keep in existence. It applies to both the environmental world and the existence of human beings. Environmentally sustainability applies to the continuous diversity and productiveness of biological systems. For humans it is the ability to maintain well being for our current generation and generations to come. One depends on the other.

One big factor that is changing the way people think about sustainability is global warming. Global warming, the increase in the average temperature of earth’s near-surface air and oceans, is in part caused by the increase of greenhouse gases, which are a result of human activity. One example is deforestation. Global warming and recent natural disasters have caused people to think more about sustainability and sustainable living.

‘Sustainable living’ is based on decisions, whereby an individual or a group of individuals, such as a family or society, attempt(s) to reduce their use of the earth’s natural resources, as well as his/her own resources, in order to meet economical, environmental, and societal needs. Also known as ‘carbon footprint,’ an individual or group can decide to alter things in their life for the betterment of the planet’s resources, such as reducing energy consumption, diet, or transportation. Green businesses also choose and decide to conduct their practices in alignment with sustainable living by incorporating sustainable design and development into their business practices, such as a farmer who grows sustainable foods.

Ever since 1854, when the earliest piece of literature to distinctively address the idea of sustainable living—Henry David Thoreau’s Walden—there has been an awareness to meet economical, environmental, and societal needs without jeopardizing these three needs for future generations to come. Henry David Thoreau was one of the earliest environmentalists who spent a great amount of time contemplating nature and our impact on our world.

It is in meeting these three needs—economical, environmental, and societal—and keeping them in balance that result and will result in humankind’s ability to maintain its existence. Each individual’s impact and the population of a community, as well as the resources being used, renewable or not, affect the total environmental impact in which we live.

For many people, making the switch to a sustainable lifestyle can be overwhelming, with not being sure where to start. From switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) to riding a bicycle to run errands to preparing family meals made with organic foods from a garden, there are many easily incorporated practices that can help people live a more sustainable lifestyle. Do you incorporate sustainable living practices into your life and on a continuous basis? If so, what changes have you made in your lifestyle to lesson your carbon footprint? How did you begin to live more sustainably?

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Seed Spotlight: German Winter Thyme

June 14th, 2010

Easy to grow and dry at home, time-honored thyme is a kitchen staple that adds enormous flavor to a variety of dishes and foods: breads, meats, salads, soups and more. Throughout history, thyme has been used as and for: incense, as a purifier during sacrifices; gifts to knights and warriors, to provide the bearer with courage; embalming; medicinal purposes; an aphrodisiac; and even warding off nightmares. This unassuming herb has been revered for much more than just cooking!

In the kitchen, thyme is used as a basic ingredient and can be found globally, in French, Greek, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean, and Spanish cuisines, just to name a few. It is one of the main elements of Herbes de Provence and the bundle of herbs known as bouquet garni. Whether using whole sprigs for roasting a chicken or the leaves for a flavorful soup, versatile thyme is a must have.

Our hardy German Winter Thyme germinates in 14-21 days and matures in 180-240 days. It offers wonderful flavor and turns from bright green to blue-green as it matures. Use this classic herb fresh or dried.

Bay-Thyme Scalloped Potatoes

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 medium-size russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)

Adjust an oven rack in center of oven then preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, melt butter. When foam subsides, add onion; cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and soft. Add thyme, garlic, salt and pepper; stir and cook for 30 seconds. Add potatoes, cream, broth and bay leaves; bring ingredients to a very light boil. Cover Dutch oven, reduce heat to medium-low then simmer for about 10 minutes, until potatoes are just about tender. Discard bay leaves. Transfer ingredients to a buttered 8-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese then bake for about 15 minutes, until cream is bubbling and top is golden brown. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

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Guest Blogging for Humble Seed

June 8th, 2010

At Humble Seed, we know that people who live sustainably or are interested in living sustainably through growing their own foods are knowledgeable on various subjects related to our philosophy of:

We believe that the benefits you receive from growing your own herbs, fruits, and vegetables from seed outweigh buying store-bought foods.

Whether you are an experienced gardener, a prepper, or an organization that is interested in growing a community garden, growing your own food from seed provides you with fresher foods, saves you money, and can help you maintain a healthy and self-reliant lifestyle.

If you’re an individual who [or you work for a company that] is passionate about topics that complement the Humble Seed philosophy and happy to share your expertise for the betterment of our planet, we would like to consider you as a guest blogger for our Humble Seed website. From composting to seed saving and heirloom vegetables to community gardens, we’re excited to help build awareness through great, informative blog posts.

Guest blogging is a great way for an individual or company to get new readership via linking back to your blog. It’s also great for readers, as they will get to learn about topics they’re interested in from fresh, new perspectives.

If you’re interested in guest blogging for Humble Seed please send the following information to jmitchell@humbleseed.com:

  1. Short bio that outlines how you fit in with the Humble Seed philosophy.
  2. Link to your blog or website.
  3. Topics within the niche that you are interested in covering.

Note: This is not a paying gig but more of a ‘sharing is caring’ blog partnership in order to promote sustainability.

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Big Garden-Small Carbon

June 6th, 2010

To determine your “carbon footprint” means to measure the amount of greenhouse gases that you or your organization is adding to the atmosphere. The term was coined from carbon dioxide, the primary human contributor to climate change. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which means it traps solar heat in our atmosphere ‘changing’ our climate’s typical patterns.

Everything has a carbon footprint, whether it’s the car you drive, the shoes on your feet or the food at your table. Food requires energy to be grown and is a globally transported commodity. That’s a lot of attention for a tomato.

Whenever you use energy created from fossil fuels, you’re generating carbon emissions. To offset your carbon emissions, or become carbon-neutral, simply means to neutralize your part in the polluting of our environment.

As a green consumer, may people wonder how they can be more sustainable or offset their impact on the planet. Since carbon dioxide emissions are the principal human cause of climate change, carbon offsets are the key to promoting a greener environment. A carbon offset represents the carbon dioxide emissions accounted for in a verified project that reduces CO2 in the atmosphere. Offsetting your lifestyle or business is a great way to market yourself as sustainable, separate yourself from competitors and do your part to combat climate change. Be creative, you can offset nearly anything!

Like EcoAid, Humble Seed’s goal is to show that environmental activism is smart, proactive and part of a good business model. That’s why their product promotes growing locally, skipping the need to transport and grow food away from your backyard. Not everyone has space for an entire farm, but an herb or chili pepper garden is a great start.

Brendan Cook
Brendan is the sustainability director for EcoAid and can help you or your organization start saving money and being sustainable.
Website: http://www.ecoaidnow.com/

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Seed Spotlight: Tuffy Acorn Squash

June 3rd, 2010

 

If you’re seeking an easy to grow vegetable then consider the Tuffy acorn squash. Dark green and deep ribbed, the Tuffy acorn squash will provide you with a wonderful gardening experience, and it’s excellent for baking, sautéing or steaming. This squash is so simple to prepare it’s as easy as cutting them in half, scooping out the seeds, adding a little bit of brown sugar or maple syrup with butter then baking for just over an hour. For so little prep work, the Tuffy acorn squash offers incredibly rich flavor. The seeds of the Tuffy acorn squash are great for roasting, and the blossoms can be battered and fried, for a delightful eating experience. As a note, before cooking squash blossoms make sure to remove the stamens, stems, and stigma.

The Tuffy acorn squash provides a sweeter, thicker and drier flesh than other acorn squash varieties, and plants, on average, will produce 5-6 fruits. The acorn squash is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, and it is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A and B6, folate and magnesium, and a very good source of vitamin C, thiamin, potassium and manganese.

For more information on the Tuffy acorn squash visit Humble Seed then click on ‘our products’ then ‘Seed List and Details’ under ‘The Producer.’

Here is a great recipe to prepare after you’ve harvested the Tuffy acorn squash from your garden:

Slow Cooker Stuffed Tuffy Squash with Apples and Sausage

Ingredients

  • 1 pound sausage
  • 2 cooking apples, cored and chopped
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 Tuffy acorn squash, halved, seeded
  • ¼ cup water

Preparation

Place sausage in a skillet and cook until browned, breaking up sausage with the back of a wooden spoon. Drain sausage. In a bowl, combine sausage, apples, onion, oregano and salt. Liberally fill each squash half with sausage mixture then place in a slow cooker, in staggered layers. Pour ¼ cup water into the bottom of the slow cooker. Cook squash, covered, for 6 to 8 hours on low, or until squash is tender. SERVES 4

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Ordering Seed Now Is Important for Tomorrow

June 1st, 2010

Whether the garden season has passed for you to plant your favorite herbs and vegetables or you have not prepared your yard yet for a garden, there’s no better time than the present to buy seeds. That’s right; there’s no better time than the present to buy seeds, even if you’re not ready to plant. Here are four important reasons why you should buy now rather than later.

Seed shortages. Last year’s poor growing season—mostly due to extra wet conditions—may make it difficult now and in the future for gardeners to get seeds such as carrots, cucumbers, onions, and snap peas. When fewer vegetables are grown, fewer seeds can be saved.

Demand for seeds. The poor economy and concerns over chemical use on commercial foods has prompted more people to start their own gardens, thus, more seeds are being sold.

Pre-planning your future garden. Planning a garden takes some prep work. From choosing the perfect garden location for the best sunlight possible to preparing the dirt, and deciding where to plant what, when you take the time to plan your garden ahead of time it will not only alleviate stress but also give you something to look forward to when the time is right for planting. If you’re new to gardening, planning ahead also allows you the opportunity to learn about the herbs and vegetables you want to plant, e.g., planting depth, seed spacing, soil temperature, days to germination, days to maturity, sun, water, etc. Knowing this information ahead of time is extremely helpful when planning out your garden.

Peace of mind. Many people want to know that the foods they’re eating are safe to eat, and growing your own herbs and vegetables is a great way to feel good about what you’re feeding yourself and your family. Another aspect of peace of mind is in knowing that you are equipped to live self-sufficiently in cases of disasters that may deplete our nation’s food supply.

Having a supply of high quality seeds available at any given time is becoming more and more mainstream for many people, as well as being educated on how to successfully grow foods for self-reliance.

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