Ask Umbra®

The New York Times calls Umbra Fisk "a trailblazer in the field of eco-advice columnists" and "the arch online sage of the new green age." Her latest passion: kale smoothies ... no, sorry, civic engagement, because getting political is the only way we'll get a planet that doesn't burn and a future that doesn't suck. Ask Umbra a question here.

Umbra on attracting wildlife

Hi Umbra, I agree with your analysis of bird feeders, and would like to share a win-win solution. I have a huge variety of birds that visit my yard year-round. Instead of bird feeders, I have planted an abundance of …

Umbra on replacing a boiler

Dear Umbra, When changing boilers for heating a house for the next 30 to 40 years, should we choose gas or electric? We have gas now and want to go from 80 percent efficient to 95 percent efficient. About 60 …

Umbra on community-supported agriculture

Umbra, Please illuminate CSAs for us, how they work, and how your readers can join one. Thanks! (And by the way, that photo of a peach in your recent column is an apricot.) Bobbe Santa Fe, N.M. Dearest Bobbe, Alas …

Umbra on organic pork

Dear Umbra, Commercial pork production is a nasty, polluting operation and inhumane to the animals. What makes organic pork different? Simply what they are fed, or does it involve more humane and less polluting production operations? Related, I have been …

Umbra on sustainable meat

Dear Umbra, My wife and I recently began changing the way we eat. We located several free-range/pastured farms here in the area, and found that some local restaurants buy meat from these farms. We plan on supporting these establishments. My …

Umbra on prioritizing organic purchases

Hi Umbra! I just recently became a stay-at-home mom. Life is bliss, except for the one-income household we now have (my husband brings home the tofu-bacon). Now that we have very limited funds I cannot afford to buy all organic …

Umbra on salt

Dear Umbra, What’s up with salt, environmentally speaking? Is it good for the Dead Sea if I buy Dead Sea salt (but then it travels halfway around the world)? Am I getting trace amounts of Bad Stuff in any sea …

Umbra on wave power

Hello Umbra, I just read a little bit about wave power and was wondering what you think the future potential is for this clean and never-ending energy source? Peter Blomquist Orlando, Fla. Dearest Peter, Wow. I’m a sucker for anything …

Umbra on feeding birds

Dearest Umbra, Every winter I take pleasure in putting out birdseed to feed the backyard wildlife. I purchase the easily available, run-of-the-mill, found-at-my-local-hardware-store type of seed. My question is, in the big picture … am I doing more harm than …