Chef John Bishop’s cookbook titled Fresh is centered on seasonal recipes and local foods.

Bishop states that his cookbook was inspired by Gary and Naty King, owners of Hazelmere Organic Farm, a sustainable family-managed organic vegetable farm in Surrey BC. The Kings supply much of the food for Bishop’s restaurant. The farm is about nourishing and educating the community about real, healthy food with a focus on healthy-lifestyle vs. a for-profit-business.

An excerpt by Gary King writes, “By late May…the Farmer’s markets begin, and we start to see dramatic increase in customers. I always look forward to this time, the sharing the food grown with love, effort and dedication and respect for the wilderness from which it comes, so that it can sustain our bodies and our communities.” (32)

The pictures Bishop has included about the King’s farm capture a way of life that is in-tune with nature and about respecting each other. They are having fun while looking after the earth. Continue reading

The Wooly Owl

The Wooly Owl was created by owner and operator, Alissa Tarita-Havenaar from Muskoka Ontario because she believes that babies, moms and the earth deserve the best. Her company uses sustainable materials, like organic cotton and reclaimed wool fibers to create truly unique items for earth-conscientious families.

Alissa Tarita-Havenaar’s company was created from her own personal desire to live from the land and to offer reusable, biodegradable alternatives to many of the items used by moms, such as nursing pads. Her goals include keeping materials as local as possible. In her quest to be sustainable, Alissa uses 100% wool materials and organic cotton knits, organic flax seed, and biodegradable materials. She also uses recycled (aka upcycled materials) like vintage buttons. Materials, like vintage buttons add to the uniqueness of her pieces.

Alissa’s business is a one-woman enterprise and out of her creativity is born one-of-a-kind items, made by her, for moms and babies. Her business represents her commitment to the planet and helping others to live a chemical-free life. We just had to talk to Alissa about her business, her values and her future goals.

NaturalMommy: Alissa, what are some of the reasons why you use local materials in the products you create?

Alissa: There are a few reasons. First, it keeps the cost of materials low. I purchase all of my wools from local second-hand stores. Convenient since at present I can walk to the store, (saving gas money from my pocket and from added carbon emissions into the air,) and second, all donations to the stores will usually be made by the local people in the community. Thus, the materials in their own way are from the community made back into items for the community. I was purchasing organic cotton form the United States, but have since decided to go strictly with recycled materials over organic. Although there is a huge market right now for things strictly certified organic, I feel that buying used over newly organic is genuinely a greener choice. The material is already there and does not require raw materials to be processed weather organically or not. Continue reading

Air Quality & Pollution

Having a natural home means thinking about the air quality. Adding air filtration systems does not reach the heart of the problem. To begin people need to stop bringing in the things that create poor air quality. Sadly, many products in our homes omit volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) resulting in air quality inside our homes that can be much more dangerous then the air outside our homes. VOC’s released from many house-hold items, such as furniture (especially when made with plywood or particleboard), vinyl shower curtains (possibly releasing a higher concentration of chemicals from the heat of a shower) as well as mattresses and materials covered in stain or fire retardants. Carpeting is also a very popular culprit is the VOC’s found in homes and so called “cleaning” products present a serious danger to your family’s health and the health of the eco-system.

“These toxins affect mostly children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems, but the combination of all these chemicals in our homes may be a factor in the development of cancer and other serious illnesses.” (Bradley, 14)

VOC’s eventually creep out of our homes and wind up in the air and consequently become a component of smog. Buying more expensive products, such as low to no VOC paint is definitely worth the investment in the long run. Just think about it as an invaluable investment in your family’s well-being. Continue reading

Making Applesauce with Kristin Urdiales

This post is was sent to NaturalMommy by Kristin Urdiales of Nature Had it First.

Two years ago when my son Keenan was five, I took him to pick apples at a friend’s orchard.

Our little apple-picking outing was a bit of an afterthought and we were late in the season, so all the best apples had already been picked. We bobbed around the orchard stretching as high into the trees as we could (sans ladder or stepstool, mind you) in an attempt to find apples without wormholes or other signs of vermin. Finally, we had collected about two bags worth and headed home to make applesauce.

Even making applesauce was a stretch for my domestic skills. I had to print out a recipe. Since my son was so young at the time, he couldn’t help much where sharp knives and the stove were concerned, so my afternoon was spent peeling, chopping and cooking the apples. Finally, we were able to taste the fruits of our labor, and boy, was it ever delicious! Now, I know it’s tough to mess up applesauce, but there was a great sense of accomplishment in taking a food from the tree, to our table in one afternoon. Continue reading

Raising Elijah by Biologist & Mom Dr. Sandra Steingraber

We could not be more excited to introduce the book: Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis by mother and biologist Sandra Steingraber. She reveals that there is a large disconnect between the research about chemicals and the chemical regulatory system. In other words, we know that certain chemicals are bad for humans and the ecosystem but because of the way the legal system is set up, these chemical are not banned from the market place. As parents there are now two talks we need to have with our children, one is the age old: where do babies come from? This story is about creation. The other story, according to Steingraber is about the environment. This story is the opposite of creation. It is about the de-creation of our planet and does not have a happy ending unless we do something heroic.

Steingraber passionately explains on her podcast on the CBC’s The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti [found here] that the North American legal and social system presumes chemicals are innocent until proven guilty. This is a severe threat to our ability to protect our families. Only 5 chemical substances have been removed from the market place, while there are thousands currently in our food, on our cloths and in the bodies of our children.

The Toxic Substances Control Act was founded in 1976, yet no chemicals have been taken off the market since 1990. The fact is that the regulatory system was not made to be responsive to new science in the US and Canada. Tremonti adds, that in the European Union they operate on the precautionary principle which means that chemicals can’t be used until proven safe which is the opposite of the legal system in Canada and the US.Steingraber reveals that there are many pesticides that are banned in Europe because of the detrimental effect on children but are currently being sold in Canada and the US. This is simply hair-raising for Canadian and American parents. Continue reading

NorthernMom Cloth Diapers

NorthernMom is a hand-made cloth diaper company located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada.

Owned and operated by Samantha Levesque, mother of four (with one on the way!) whose passion is to manufacture custom one-size cloth diapers and share them with other parents. Samantha also enjoys making baby gifts, such as receiving blankets, knits and crochet baby hats.

NorthernMom produces easy to use cloth diapers. There are two rows of snaps ensuring a more customized fit in both the belly and leg, adjustable snaps on the rise and a cross over snap for smaller babies.

We also love NorthernMom’s re-usable baby wipes which come in a variety of fabrics such as: bamboo fleece, bamboo velour, and cotton velour. We got a chance to chat with Samantha about her biz. Check out her interview below. You can also find her on-line shop on etsy.

(NM): People often have a real aversion to using cloth diapers. How easy is it really and what would you say to people who think it is not for them?

(Samantha): My husband was one of those people. He was really apprehensive about starting, mostly because of the ‘ick’ factor. But within a few days he was right in there changing the kids with no problems. The best advice is to just try it out. You’ll find it is very similar to using disposables. These are not your Mother’s (and Grandmother’s) style of cloth diapers! Continue reading

Nothing Is New

In the Greenpeace Living Guide, it is revealed that “nothing is new”. What does that mean? It means that when we purchase items, whatever it may be, it comes from somewhere and “products are trailing strands of the most urgent narratives on the planet today: neo-liberal economic globalization, colonialism, ancient forest destruction, toxic pollution, climate change.” (116) In other words, everything is connected, everything comes from somewhere and everything is made from something else (and whatever that something else is, it is not new, indeed it is ancient and a part of the eco-system). Things are made from precious resources (often non-renewable or easily replaced) and connected to larger issues, like the corporate-globalization of our communities and health of the environment. The Greenpeace Living Guide states that we simply cannot “find the answers to the questions of economic injustice and environmental destruction in shopping. We will find it in political change.” (116)

We all know that people need things like clothing, food and household items to live comfortably. We cannot stop shopping altogether, but we can shop differently. We can shop greenly and we can shop aware. Shopping aware means understanding the impact the item in question might have when purchasing. Shopping aware also means making different choices, like buying in bulk in order to save on packaging (and money too!) or buying locally in order to support our communities and limit fossil fuel pollution. It also means working for positive political change that can protect our resources for many generations to come, even if it is through simple actions like asking our super markets to carry a particular green product or buying non-toxic cleaning supplies. Many people think that buying/living green means spending more money. Where food is concerned, that can be true – however buying green is often the cheaper option. It is more affordable because being green means buying used, re-purposing things you already have and going without things you don’t need.

Shopping with the planet in mind mean asking yourself the question: Do I really need this? If the answer is no, then the financial savings and savings to the environment are immense. Getting a “deal” at a dollar store or a department store on something that you don’t need (or really even want) is not actually saving you money. It makes you think you are, but truly you are “saving” your way into an empty bank account. The next thing is buying used items, like clothing which are not only the greener option but the more affordable one too. In addition to keeping items out of landfills and keeping more unnecessary things from being made, buying used is also better for your health because used items have less or no chemical residue, chemicals have usually dissipated or have been washed off. Used clothing is especially good for kids and babies because they go through clothing quite fast, so used clothing is a huge money saver. This is where I should mention how important sharing is. Giving away your kids cloths and toys to a younger family member or friend with kids is not only kind, but truly valuable to other moms.

Buying items from the people who make them is also greener. Buying local jams, for example is greener then driving to the department store and buying jam made by someone else, some where else. Further to that, make it yourself! Re-purposing or making things by hand offers a level of creativity that cannot be bought. It is also a great way to engage kids to do activities that are good for their mental stimulation while building long-term skills. It is also an excellent way to start the conversations with kids about the state of the environment, in a way that is positive and empowering rather then disheartening.

Another issue (explored in the video below) is that affluent countries are consuming more than their share and more than they share. Many scientists are saying that there is a finite amount of resources to go around and many countries use more then they need and leave other people and communities with less than they need. In that regard, buying less “new” items is not only an environmental action, but a social one.

When we constantly consume we are not addressing our deeper individual feelings and desires. We are not looking at the “why”. The “why” is often the feeling of needing something because of an internal void or not-so-hot self image wherein we believe that we should have an item which in some way will make us more likable or better than we are (often done unconsciously). We have been conditioned to believe that shopping will make us better to others or to ourselves, but that is just the calculated, highly studied and utilized power of advertising. So, don’t be fooled. Loosing money and hurting the planet for the “newest” car, gadget or item will not bring personal fulfillment, just a temporary high. Doing the work to love yourself unconditionally (with or without material wealth) will bring deep satisfaction and joy.

The Greenpeace Living Guide can be purchased [here], however it’s greener to find it used, borrow it from a friend or the library. Learn more about Greenpeace and how to donate to them [here].

Video: The Story of Stuff, created by Annie Leonard reviews the stuff we buy, use then throw away. View website [here].

Make Your Own Non-Toxic Hand Sanitizer

Recipe for an organic, non-toxic hand sanitizer that is made with water, veggie glycerin and vodka (option to eliminate vodka when making it for kids). It is safe, anti-bacterial and affordable! This is a healthier alternative to commercial hand-sanitizers that are often full of all sorts of harsh chemicals that we don’t want in our kid’s mouths!

Renewable, Salvaged and Recycled Materials

A material that will generate quickly in nature is a renewable material. A great example is bamboo since it matures quickly, in roughly 5-7 years. Further to that, bamboo does not need any pesticides to grow and requires little water. When one thinks of all the vast items that bamboo is made into it seems like a miracle plant. It is made into furniture, cloths and flooring to name a few! Since bamboo is a soft, fast-drying, absorbent and biodegradable material it is a great choice for kid’s clothing and bedding. Other examples of renewable resources: organic cotton (also great for kids), wool, wheatboard and cork.

Keeping things from the landfills and preventing new things from being made is great for the environment and your pocket book! These materials or items are referred to as recycled or salvaged. Used items of varying materials, like toys and bedding do not have any off-gas (it’s long gone) and are therefore better for our family’s over-all health. Products that contain post-consumer recycled content are also a better environmental choice, like toilet paper/tissue made from recycled paper.

Often, used items are not only cheaper, but more unique and more durable. Antique furniture pieces are often examples of unique and durable home décor items that are actually greener because they are being reused over and over again. As long as your antique piece does not contain led-based paints, chances are it is also a chemical-free option since its age means that there is no off-gas or VOC (volatile organic compounds).

Buying things that are made locally is also a great way to stay green and to support your community. Web-sites like are a great way to make purchases directly from those who make it. Many makers are embracing a technique known as “up-cycle”, meaning it is something new made from old materials or waste materials with little to no value. It is recycling and salvaging at its best. How green is that?

References/Recommended Reads: