Sunday, December 20, 2009

Children Can be Chefs

I am an avid cook and baker, and these days I am spending a lot of time in the kitchen, since our family is so big and we have so many different tastes. (I only prepare vegetarian as all of us are ovo-lacto vegetarians, except my husband. And very often for myself, or a few of us, I am making a raw vegan meal.)

My husband and I love watching certain shows on Food Network, especially "Chopped". Our 6 year old son Skylar recently took an interest in in watching some shows with us, and he now cooks with me, though he usually prefers to make his own "recipes" which, as he says, "are first created inside my head." Most of the time this involves a lot of fruit or other ingredients that can be stacked.

Recently he said he was thinking of a recipe in his head that involved eggs, yogurt, and some other things. I patiently explained that in some ways cooking and baking are different. The whole "Cooking is an Art, Baking is a Science" thing. He eventually accepted that raw eggs were not an option, and his recipe (he insisted it was "NOT a pancake!) became something entirely different.

I took Skylar to a high-end kitchen specialty store, and he had so much fun looking around at all the tools and asking what they were for. The staff and owner came up to us and were most impressed by him. In the end that night we left with a kids cookbook:

Although I may have way to many cookbooks to mentions, many of them do not have pictures- which by now I feel is a travesty. And none of them are for kids, not really. One of the cookbooks I personally like is written by Robin Lim, and she published a couple of my recipes.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vegetarian Marshmallows...

I received an email from my sister in LA who designs yoga clothing made from organic bamboo and organic cotton. We were raised vegetarian and have chosen to raise our children that way too.

She was ecstatic because she found a site selling Vegan Marshmallow treats... here is what she said...

I have been searching for quite some time!! I didn't want Treya to miss the joys of S'mores over an open fire, but didn't want him to be eating boiled animal parts either....

So just in time for Halloween, here it is:

If you want to make your own, please check out this link. I found this two months ago and am finally going to experiment with it...

Happy Halloween (early!)

Organic Lonica Lee

Monday, October 5, 2009

Target hit with $600,000 penalty for violating 30-year-old ban on lead toys

Everyone should see this... and really is $600,000 enough? How many children will continue to play with the dangerous toxic toys because their parents never saw the recall? Probably most of them. Here is the link to the full article...


Or if you just want to see the toys:


Next time, we should all buy natural toys made form non-toxic materials and non toxic paint.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Patented Organic Scrubs Save Lives!

In the town where we live, the healthcare industry is huge. There are more people working in the healthcare field than any other. But just as people go to hospitals to heal one thing, they are catching another. Hospital Aquired Infections (HAI) are on the rise, and 276 people die EVERY DAY from them.

What if we could reduce the risk of this by a simple, inexpensive, eco-friendly thing? What if it was as easy as getting dressed in the morning?

This is now possible. Scrubs made from Organic Bamboo are naturally anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, hypoallergenic and thermodynamic.

What do all these words mean to us? It means we all stay healthier. It means ALL of us stay healthier: the doctors, nurses, massage therapists, and the patients.

Using a sustainable, renewable material to produce a biodegradable product that performs better than the current, earth damaging scrubs is genius! These are not just words. We will be showing the only scrubs that are made from an FDA approved and patented bamboo fabric! Watch for more on this exciting development!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Like Mother, Like Daughter

I found my 17 month old daughter Alexis in her crib recently after waking up from her nap, and she was reading (my favorite magazine) Fast Company. I had a stack next to the crib (yes, that is odd) and she had pulled several issues in, and was carefully leafing through one in particular. She was actually reading about an entrepreneural green company... who knows what SHE will do someday...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Interview with Loni

I was interviewed by high school student Tara Nelson, for a project she was doing on being "green".

What is your name?
Lonica Eisenbraun

Where do you live?
Rapid City, South Dakota (right near the beautiful black hills - about 20 min from Mt Rushmore!)

Why have you gotten involved in your business?
In early 1995 I was helped organize a fashion show fundraiser for a non-profit college environmental club. When I heard about Organic Cotton Clothing I knew it was an exciting new thing, and wanted to learn more. Discovering how destructive the process of growing conventional cotton* was convinced me that someone had to offer organic clothing for everyone. So after much research, I decided to open a store, Natural Selections, in my hometown of Fairfield, Iowa on the town square in November of 1995.

(*It requires about 1/3 of a pound of pesticides to grow the amount of cotton used in one t-shirt. And did you know that 25% percent of the worlds insecticide use is just for cotton? Yet cotton takes up only 2% of the worlds agricultural land. These chemicals are cancer-causing and should be eliminated, as every year people are poisoned and die from exposure to them.)

How long has your business been running?
since 1995 --- When I started you could find organic clothing in only one or two places in the entire USA!

Do you partake in being a green outside of work?
Absolutely! It is ingrained into me! Plus it feels great!

If so, how do you partake in being a green outside of work? Well I believe the most important thing I do is buy organic food and clothing as much as possible. Since we spend 1/3 of our life in bed, I sleep on soft organic cotton sheets and use natural rubber latex pillows and mattresses. And since our skin is our largest organ, I also use organic personal care products and makeup.

But of course I also recycle, conserve resources by growing a small organic garden, and use natural household cleaning products (this is SO important- especially considering I have 4 children!) I try to educate my children also, for example, my nine year old daughter is interested in makeup and so the lip glosses I buy her are all natural, organic ones that actually are good for her, instead of chemicals.

With one of the green resources you use in your house how does it save you money/save the environment?
Organic products are higher quality. In the case of textiles, they are softer, and don't put harmful chemicals into your skin, plus they often last longer than conventional textiles. In the case of food, they taste better, have more nutrition, and I find can literally keep you healthier! (We all want to avoid getting sick!)

What do you typically sell the most in your business?
Mens and Womens underwear! Shouldn't underwear be soft and pure, since it is next to your skin? And our organic cotton underwear is actually made in the United States, where the workers are paid a true living wage, (not made in a sweatshop overseas.)

What advice do you have for aspiring greens?
The very best thing you can do to change the world is to change yourself, change something in your life. So, voting with your dollars makes a lot of sense. When you buy an organic product, you are casting a vote, showing companies what YOU want, what YOU think is important. You are making an improvement in our world. Plus, with organic products, (whether it is the cereal you had for breakfast or the sheets you sleep on at night, if you choose organic, you are getting the best quality.) Look for green products that are actually made in the USA. If you have to buy an item made overseas, look on the tags to see if it was made with fair-trade practices, or fair-wage labor, or sweatshop free. If you think green is expensive, start with one thing. One pair of underwear. Or one organic lipstick. Or one organic chocolate bar. In my experience, once you have tried it, you will love it and see the difference.

There is so much information available online - so many cool resources, groups, etc. I wish those resources were available when I was younger - I think there are so many amazing things you can do now! For starters, check out to find local links to green products and services in your area. If you can, go to one of the Greenfests they have in major cities, like Denver and Chicago, as they are SO much fun and you can try lots of organic products and meet interesting people too! And don't forget my website:

Is there anything else you would like to add or is there anyone else that you suggest I contact for another interview?
What specifically is your interest? There are LOTS of people I could suggest in different green businesses!

Thank You very much for taking time for this interview.
Sure. Good Luck!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Getting Real About the High Price for Cheap Food

WELL, you may know that I have spent pretty much my entire life in IOWA. This is a current article from TIME magazine which I have excerpted here.

Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food

By Bryan Walsh Friday, Aug. 21, 2009

Somewhere in Iowa, a pig is being raised in a confined pen, packed in so tightly with other swine that their curly tails have been chopped off so they won't bite one another. To prevent him from getting sick in such close quarters, he is dosed with antibiotics. The waste produced by the pig and his thousands of pen mates on the factory farm where they live goes into manure lagoons that blanket neighboring communities with air pollution and a stomach-churning stench. He's fed on American corn that was grown with the help of government subsidies and millions of tons of chemical fertilizer. When the pig is slaughtered, at about 5 months of age, he'll become sausage or bacon that will sell cheap, feeding an American addiction to meat that has contributed to an obesity epidemic currently afflicting more than two-thirds of the population. And when the rains come, the excess fertilizer that coaxed so much corn from the ground will be washed into the Mississippi River and down into the Gulf of Mexico, where it will help kill fish for miles and miles around. That's the state of your bacon — circa 2009.

The U.S. agricultural industry can now produce unlimited quantities of meat and grains at remarkably cheap prices. But it does so at a high cost to the environment, animals and humans. Those hidden prices are the creeping erosion of our fertile farmland, cages for egg-laying chickens so packed that the birds can't even raise their wings and the scary rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria among farm animals. Add to the price tag the acceleration of global warming — our energy-intensive food system uses 19% of U.S. fossil fuels, more than any other sector of the economy.

And perhaps worst of all, our food is increasingly bad for us, even dangerous. A series of recalls involving contaminated foods this year — including an outbreak of salmonella from tainted peanuts that killed at least eight people and sickened 600 — has consumers rightly worried about the safety of their meals. A food system — from seed to 7 Eleven — that generates cheap, filling food at the literal expense of healthier produce is also a principal cause of America's obesity epidemic. At a time when the nation is close to a civil war over health-care reform, obesity adds $147 billion a year to our doctor bills. "The way we farm now is destructive of the soil, the environment and us," says Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist with the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

But we don't have the luxury of philosophizing about food. With the exhaustion of the soil, the impact of global warming and the inevitably rising price of oil — which will affect everything from fertilizer to supermarket electricity bills — our industrial style of food production will end sooner or later. As the developing world grows richer, hundreds of millions of people will want to shift to the same calorie-heavy, protein-rich diet that has made Americans so unhealthy — demand for meat and poultry worldwide is set to rise 25% by 2015 — but the earth can no longer deliver. Unless Americans radically rethink the way they grow and consume food, they face a future of eroded farmland, hollowed-out countryside, scarier germs, higher health costs — and bland taste. Sustainable food has an √©litist reputation, but each of us depends on the soil, animals and plants — and as every farmer knows, if you don't take care of your land, it can't take care of you.

from page 2:

The Downside of Cheap

But cheap food is not free food, and corn comes with hidden costs. The crop is heavily fertilized — both with chemicals like nitrogen and with subsidies from Washington. Over the past decade, the Federal Government has poured more than $50 billion into the corn industry, keeping prices for the crop — at least until corn ethanol skewed the market — artificially low. That's why McDonald's can sell you a Big Mac, fries and a Coke for around $5 — a bargain, given that the meal contains nearly 1,200 calories, more than half the daily recommended requirement for adults. "Taxpayer subsidies basically underwrite cheap grain, and that's what the factory-farming system for meat is entirely dependent on," says Gurian-Sherman.

So what's wrong with cheap food and cheap meat — especially in a world in which more than 1 billion people go hungry? A lot. For one thing, not all food is equally inexpensive; fruits and vegetables don't receive the same price supports as grains. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a dollar could buy 1,200 calories of potato chips or 875 calories of soda but just 250 calories of vegetables or 170 calories of fresh fruit. With the backing of the government, farmers are producing more calories — some 500 more per person per day since the 1970s — but too many are unhealthy calories. Given that, it's no surprise we're so fat; it simply costs too much to be thin.

But the quantity of that fertilizer is flat-out scary: more than 10 million tons for corn alone — and nearly 23 million for all crops. When runoff from the fields of the Midwest reaches the Gulf of Mexico, it contributes to what's known as a dead zone, a seasonal, approximately 6,000-sq.-mi. area that has almost no oxygen and therefore almost no sea life. Because of the dead zone, the $2.8 billion Gulf of Mexico fishing industry loses 212,000 metric tons of seafood a year, and around the world, there are nearly 400 similar dead zones. Even as we produce more high-fat, high-calorie foods, we destroy one of our leanest and healthiest sources of protein.

Concentrated-animal feeding operations (CAFOs), are every bit as industrial as they sound. In CAFOs, large numbers of animals — 1,000 or more in the case of cattle and tens of thousands for chicken and pigs — are kept in close, concentrated conditions.

To stay alive and grow in such conditions, farm animals need pharmaceutical help, which can have further damaging consequences for humans. Overuse of antibiotics on farm animals leads, inevitably, to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the same bugs that infect animals can infect us too. The UCS estimates that about 70% of antimicrobial drugs used in America are given not to people but to animals, which means we're breeding more of those deadly organisms every day. The Institute of Medicine estimated in 1998 that antibiotic resistance cost the public-health system $4 billion to $5 billion a year — a figure that's almost certainly higher now.

from Page 3:

But with wonder drugs losing their effectiveness, it makes sense to preserve them for as long as we can, and that means limiting them to human use as much as possible. "These antibiotics are not given to sick animals," says Representative Louise Slaughter, who is sponsoring a bill to limit antibiotic use on farms. "It's a preventive measure because they are kept in pretty unspeakable conditions."

This November, California voters approved a ballot proposition that guarantees farm animals enough space to lie down, stand up and turn around.

Work in a CAFO is monotonous and soul-killing, while too many ordinary farmers struggle to make ends meet even as the rest of us pay less for food. Farmers aren't the enemy — and they deserve real help. We've transformed the essential human profession — growing food — into an industry like any other. "We're hurting for job creation, and industrial food has pushed people off the farm," says Hahn Niman. "We need to make farming real employment, because if you do it right, it's enjoyable work."

from page 4:

"Ultimately it's going to be consumer demand that will cause change, not Washington," says Fedele Bauccio, Bon Appétit's co-founder.

How willing are consumers to rethink the way they shop for — and eat — food? For most people, price will remain the biggest obstacle. Organic food continues to cost on average several times more than its conventional counterparts, and no one goes to farmers' markets for bargains. But not all costs can be measured by a price tag. Once you factor in crop subsidies, ecological damage and what we pay in health-care bills after our fatty, sugary diet makes us sick, conventionally produced food looks a lot pricier.

What we really need to do is something Americans have never done well, and that's to quit thinking big. We already eat four times as much meat and dairy as the rest of the world, and there's not a nutritionist on the planet who would argue that 24 oz. steaks and mounds of buttery mashed potatoes are what any person needs to stay alive. "The idea is that healthy and good-tasting food should be available to everyone," says Hahn Niman. "The food system should be geared toward that."

Whether that happens will ultimately come down to all of us, since we have the chance to choose better food three times a day (or more often, if we're particularly hungry). It's true that most of us would prefer not to think too much about where our food comes from or what it's doing to the planet — after all, as Chipotle's Ells points out, eating is not exactly a "heady intellectual event." But if there's one difference between industrial agriculture and the emerging alternative, it's that very thing: consciousness. Niman takes care with each of his cattle, just as an organic farmer takes care of his produce and smart shoppers take care with what they put in their shopping cart and on the family dinner table. The industrial food system fills us up but leaves us empty — it's based on selective forgetting. But what we eat — how it's raised and how it gets to us — has consequences that can't be ignored any longer.

— With reporting by Rebecca Kaplan / New York


Friday, July 24, 2009

Can Chemical Abortions be Linked to Midwestern Agriculture?

Since I am pregnant with my 4th baby, and have spent my entire life in the midwest, I thought this article was very important to note...

ultrasound from my 3rd baby, Alexis

Can Chemical Abortions be Linked to Midwestern Agriculture?

Driving across a rural Iowa highway, anti-abortion signs are almost as common a sight as farmers spraying crops. Now there is a growing body of evidence linking the substances sprayed on fields to human reproductive health issues, including unintended abortions.

"Abortion means more than just a woman entering a clinic and willfully terminating a pregnancy," said Sandra Steingraber, an ecologist and author invited to speak at the University of Northern Iowa tonight. "It also refers to chemicals we are using in farming. If farming communities - where we know that pro-life sentiments run strong - are contributing to fetal death, then that is a disconnect that we need to examine closely."

Steingraber, an internationally recognized expert on the links between environment and human health, believes society has a moral obligation to move toward chemical-free, organic farming. She plans to outline the reasons for that in detail during her visit at UNI, but agreed to speak with Iowa Independent in advance of her appearance.

"It's definitely the chemicalization of farming," Steingraber said, noting that the topic is somewhat related to flood frequency. "When you have these huge runoffs, you get these big burdens of farm chemicals carried downstream. There is definitely a connection between the farm chemicals used in Iowa and the dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico."

Her book "Living Downstream" was the first text that linked environmental and chemical data to the information available from the U.S. cancer registry. For the first time, and through the telling of her own battle with cancer, Steingraber was able to present cancer as a human rights issue.

"Ecologically, we are linked together," she said. "That's why I called my book 'Living Downstream' - to point to how the things we do in one place affects people in ecological communities and farming downstream."

A study released in 2005 by the Environmental Working Group of the blood taken from 10 umbilical cords revealed an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in each sample. The umbilical cord blood of the 10 children, collected by the Red Cross after the cord was cut, harbored pesticides, consumer product ingredients and wastes from burning coal, gasoline and garbage. Of the total 287 chemicals identified, 180 are carcinogens and 217 are toxic to the nervous system. In addition, 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests.

"There is a growing body of evidence linking exposure to different sources of farm chemicals to problems with reproductive health for both men and women," Steingraber said.

According to Steingraber, the commonly used pesticide methoxyclor has the ability to prevent implantation of an embryo in the uterus.

"When a farm chemical like methoxyclor gets into the body of a woman - and it gets into the body because it is present in the environment in which she lives - then she can abort a pregnancy," she said. "I think there is room in this debate for a big conversation about these chemicals. We need to talk about farm chemicals as chemical abortionists, or chemicals that have the ability to extinguish human pregnancies." Sandra Steingraber, an author and ecologist, will speak at the University of Northern Iowa this afternoon and tonight on how a rural environment can impact human health.

Sandra Steingraber, an author and ecologist, will speak at UNI this afternoon and tonight on how a rural environment can impact human health.

Steingraber said this type of discussion is one that can "bridge the gap of the divide in our culture" for abortion.

"Sometimes you can drive in rural areas and see a big pro-life sign and right behind it will be a farmer spraying chemicals that might very well be linked to reproductive problems," she said.

"Having given many presentations and speeches and having lots of conversations in farm country, I've come to believe that there is just a lot of unknowing. When the evidence is placed before people, they tend to be very moved by it."

In addition to the impact on reproductive health, Steingraber believes food security is another key reason people are now more willing to have a discussion about local and organic agriculture.

"The idea that we are food insecure in the middle of the most fertile soil in the world - that all of our food comes to us floating on barrels of diesel fuel from California and beyond is nuts," she said. "It makes us prone to problems like pathogens in food. MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant staph infection, which is a huge problem in Iowa, may be linked to hog farming operations. But there are a lot of public health problems related to chemical farming. So, rebuilding local and regional food systems and transforming Iowa from a food desert and into a bread basket again is a message that I'll bring."

Health issues that have possible links to farm chemicals include early pubescence in girls, asthma and male genital malformation. And, with at least some of the chemicals, density in the body may only increase from generation to generation. In the EWG study of cord blood samples, for example, researchers found DDT and other pesticides that were banned more than three decades ago.

"Peoples' motivations for seeing these connections and being willing to look at the evidence - because it is all based on evidence, and there is a lot of data under my feet when I talk about these things - people have various reasons for looking at this," Steingraber said. "For my mother, who is quite conservative, it was the idea that the Middle East is, in her words, 'holding us hostage' due to our need for foreign oil. So, that's her entree into thinking about the chemicals being used and their links to human health."

 This is me breastfeeding my third baby, Alexis.  You can click the picture to see the chemical free Organic Clothing and Bedding we offer at The Organic Company.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

One reason to eat less (or no) meat...

The consumption of meat is one of the main causes of environmental degradation and devastation. Animal livestock uses approximately half of the water consumption in the United States. A diet that centers on meat creates a need for about 4,500 gallons of water per day, per meat-eater, as compared to 300 gallons per day for a vegan (a diet of no flesh or dairy). An animal based dies requires approximately eighteen times more energy to sustain than a plant-based diet. The destruction of the rainforest for grazing land, and the resultant greenhouse effect is one more case of the harmful effect of a flesh-centered diet on our environment.
Animal products are at the top of the food chain having about 15 times more pesticides and herbicides than fruits and vegetables.

(Ok maybe that is about 3 reasons.)
Just food for thought.
This information was taken from several very recent publications and books.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pesticides - not in my yard!

I live about 15 minutes outside of Rapid City, SD. The children and I came home at 8:30 PM tonight and there was a Pest Control truck in the neighbors driveway, which we share with them.

I was told I shouldn't worry because even though it said pest control on his truck the stuff he was spraying was "all natural, non toxic." I saw clouds of white about 3-4 feet over the lawn. So I went inside and googled it. Meanwhile my husband asked them about it and they said they were told "it begins with a P and it is made from a flower."

Well googling stuff is quite simple these days and of course- it is just as bad as everything else... Pyrethroids are carcinogen, toxic to central nervous system, etc, and there was even this official info (from the Pesticide Action Network, which maintains a database of thousands of chemicals normally used) that I copied below.

"Pyrethroids are a widely used class of pesticides applied in agricultural settings, homes, and for the control of some parasites. Pyrethroids work by paralyzing the nervous systems of insects. Predator insects that keep problem pests in check are often more sensitive to these insecticides than the pests themselves. Because pyrethroids are structurally similar to pyrethrins which are extracted from chrysanthemums, manufactures often mislead consumers to believe that pyrethroids are as safe as chrysanthemums. In fact, they are the second most common class of pesticides that result in poisoning, including negative effects on the central nervous system (e.g., loss of consciousness and/or seizures). Pyrethroids are also a skin irritant, and exposure can result in abnormal skin sensations including itching, tingling, stinging, burning and numbness."

It just makes me so angry that chemical companies lie so much, and people believe them. We have to learn that we cannot trust chemical companies. We have to be smart and check out what they say. If a product is DESIGNED TO KILL ANYTHING, it is not a "non-toxic, safe" product.

I am just glad that I am near the end of the pregnancy where the baby is already formed, pretty much just getting chubbier. I guess the lungs are still forming though. I will hope they are perfect.

Be well,


Monday, April 27, 2009

Earth Day April 22!

On April 22th, Earth Day, it was 91 degrees! We spent time outside starting our garden. Brian created several nice borders for the beds, and we prepared the place we are planting climbing grapes. I actually got a little bit of a tan! The next day it snowed 5 inches. All of the 101 tulips we had planted last fall were already up, so they got covered, yet as you can see here they have pretty much bounced back!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Snow Days & Smoothie Days

Snow Days, once a longed for pinnacle of our scholastic career, have taken on a whole new meaning as an adult. And, now that we live in South Dakota, they have become yet another thing entirely.

The children had 2 snow days last week, and now another 2 this week. If this doesn't stop they will have to go to school a lot in the summer. Of course on the first snow day it is so exciting, but by now I know they actually miss school!

The thing about snow in South Dakota is that it is unpredictable. Last Sunday, March 22 it was a record-high, balmy 77 degrees. The next day it snowed a record blizzard of 19 inches. Yet the next day, I could see most of the grass in my yard, but with 6 foot drifts randomly scattered throughout.

You see, it because it is windy here. Very windy. In fact, South Dakota is not a skirt friendly state, I have discovered the hard way over the last 9 months. I also have a picture of the stop sign near us that it literally bent into an almost 45 degree angle from wind (I can only assume.) I will get a picture.

In all this wind and snow, we still garden. We have planted over 200 flower bulbs which are coming up (through the intermittent snow), and we have grandiose plans for an organic garden that we can't wait to start. The asparagus plants are on their way, and we are shaping the beds. I am teaching my kids how to use the freshest ingredients they can to make healthy snacks for themselves. So in summer, I imagine they will pick organic cherry tomatoes and peas and radishes to make salads. For now, we have to be grateful for the shipped-in organic peaches and strawberries from California that we use to make amazing smoothies for after-school snacks. My 8 year old Lily loves to make that her job, every day when she gets home, she creates a custom organic smoothie for the whole family!

I like teaching her that taking care of yourself can be fun and makes you feel great. It all starts with food. What we put in ourselves is so important. What we put on ourselves is important too. I have taught her to treat her skin, (since it is our bodies largest organ) with respect and she loves the Organic Peach Body Scrub, Organic Vanilla Bean Lotion. I think her new favorite- I can't wait for it to arrive- will be the Organic Chocolate Mint Bubble Bath!