Sunday, November 29, 2009

MLM goes organic :: can this work?

Not quite community-supported agriculture, but only in the US and Canada could they come up with a scheme such as this. Organic Acres, they call it "the future of gardening", is a scheme designed to give you all the pleasure of eating your own "home-grown" organic fruit and veggies whilst not having to get your hands dirty. Allow someone else to grow the veggies for you, and even have your surplus sold at the Organic Acres farmers market. The concept subscribes to all the values that I hold dear - knowing where your food comes from; eating fresh, nutritionally dense, local food; being sustainable - but, what's this about an affiliate program? The system is set up like a cross between a timeshare and a multi-level marketing scheme. Lease a plot where organic veggies are grown on your behalf. Introduce others to the scheme and receive flow-on benefits. The slick presentation certainly makes organic food look appetising to the unconverted. Read more about it here.

But the question comes up again, can "big organic" work? Is it sustainable? Does it make sense to set up a system such as this, built so strongly around a money system that is starting to fall down around our ears? Could a bartering system work better? Are there other ways of funding such an initiative? And what about actually getting our hands dirty? Perhaps it doesn't make sense to have every apartment dweller in an inner urban area experience the dirt and mud of a real farm, but it sure would do them some good to have a first-hand experience of seeing the plant or tree that grows the food they eat.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

the vexed question of which drink bottle to use

i recently saw this succinct article from the biome newsletter. it sums up some of the key points to keep in mind when selecting a drink bottle.

Which reusable bottle is best?
We are often asked this question by customers who are searching for the safest, cleanest bottle.

Our first criteria is that the company behind the brand discloses full information about who they are, what the bottle is made from, where and how it is manufactured and, importantly, independent test results on any leaching.

There should be information on the packaging and then more detail available on the brand's website. When you consider that all materials, even some stainless steel (which contains chromium and nickel) can leach substances into food or liquid, you should have absolute faith in the quality of your bottle.

We are wary of low cost bottles because the cheaper the product, the more potential for exposure to toxins. Materials, quality control, testing and reporting all cost money.
Companies often make misleading statements about their products (even though they say it is 18/8 stainless steel, how does one prove that?). Ultimately, we all have to make a judgment on who to trust.

Recommendations for choosing a bottle:
  • Reassure yourself of the quality of the bottle and reputation of the brand.
  • Choose on practical features like: the type of lid or drinking mechanism, the volume the bottle holds, whether the tops are leak-proof, will it fit your car/bike drink holder, do you need a wide mouth for easy cleaning and smoothies, how heavy is it, and are there joins/hard corners that trap germs?
  • Stainless steel or lined aluminium? This can only be a personal choice, just be sure that it is a legitimate brand with testing available on any lining. Testing shows that SIGG's BPA-free lining leaches nothing into the liquid and it is taste neutral. Some people prefer the food-grade reliability of unlined stainless steel. Klean Kanteen and Nathan use high grade 18/8 stainless steel.
And finally, how to clean your drink bottle.