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Lou Bendrick's Posts

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In a tasting of seven eco-cocoas, only one hits the mark

Have you been mugged by some icky cocoa lately? This Bottom Line from the archives can help prevent it from happening again. Can eco-cocoas melt away holiday stress?Photo: Jason HoustonLet's just say for the sake of argument, that you're a little busy this time of year. (This is the part where you snort, as if to say, "You have no idea, sister.") Also, let's say that it's cold outside where you live. (Is the pope an old German guy?) Lastly, let's assume that, because you're reading this on an environmental news site, you have green inclinations. This all leads me …

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Choosy tasters stick to Skippy-like organic peanut butters

Butter up! Six organic, creamy nut butters were put to the test for mouthfeel, flavor, and overall satisfaction.Photo: Stacey Potter Does anyone else long for the days when rat droppings were the scariest thing about peanut butter? Anyone? Show of hands? Let's see. The problems with peanut butter now include: Really scary chemicals, including neurotoxins (as if we need something else getting on our nerves). Deadly salmonella outbreaks. The mysterious rise of very serious peanut allergies. A peanut butter aisle so big that it makes you want to curl into a ball and rock back and forth -- right there …

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A recently converted vegetarian tells which meatless dogs cut the mustard

Who let these veggie dogs out?Photo: Lou Bendricks Q: What's better on a hot sticky evening than firing up the ol' grill, grabbing a cold beer and throwing on some dogs? A: Firing up the ol' grill, grabbing a cold beer, and throwing on something more environmentally friendly and way less gross than hot dogs. Sorry to turn the heat up when it's already hot out there, but cheap, conventional wieners are the poster pups for factory farming and its associated environmental and moral ills. Though soy and processed, faux-meat products have their own sets of problems (soy is a …

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Taste-testing the best green rosés

(Jason Houston photos) When a certain Grist editor who shall remain nameless, suggested I do an organic rosé tasting, I was eager to comply. The weather has been getting warmer, and I had fond memories of a hiking trip in southern France that involved a familial decision to consume crisp, refreshing rosés in lieu of sports drinks. Plus, after my recent organic milk tasting (which generated lots of hate mail in shouty ALL CAPS), a wine tasting sounded as light and fun as pink wine itself. But there are more serious, compelling reasons to drink organic wines: conventional grapes may …

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A taste test of greener milks

Full Circle's ultra-pasteurized offering, versus small-farm Blue Hill's raw milk: Which mooved tasters the most?(Photos by Jason Houston) Putting aside for a moment the dietary arguments against drinking cow's milk -- we're not calves, it's liquid meat, it's snot-producing, so hard to digest, etc. -- conventional milk deserves vilification for many reasons. Conventional dairy's ethically repulsive and planet-reaming process involves more or less torturing cows to lactate year-round; pumping their ailing, grain-fed bodies with hormones and antibiotics right up until they become hamburger; butchering their anemic offspring for scallopine and pet food; and, last but not least, polluting our own …

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Eco dog treats confound canines and humans alike

Everyone's a critic: one of our panelists gropes for a sniff of biscuit.Photo: Jason Houston I've got a bone to pick with conventional dog biscuits. Like commercial dog food, they are made with un-green or even potentially dangerous ingredients. Surely, they're unworthy of a companion who greets your return from the mailbox with nothing less than rapture. But are the spendy, natural and/or organic versions worth the price of reducing Rover's carbon pawprint? Will your dog eat them, or even prefer them to cheap, commercial Milk-Bones? Our esteemed critics are ready for their treats. Photo: Jason HoustonTo find out, I …

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Tasting five organic French roasts leads to buzzkill

Photos: Jason Houston To say that I love coffee is a big, fat lie. I need coffee in a chemically dependent way. Its effect upon me is essentially the reverse of those faces-of-meth photos. There are two things that can really screw up a good coffee buzz (OK, three if you count skim milk). First is the fact that conventionally grown coffee is an environmental bummer. To quote Umbra Fisk, "Conventional coffee production involves chemicals, deforestation, and mistreated workers and dead birds." So to avoid songbird blood on your hands first thing in the morning, buy coffee with organic, fair …

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Pom-Pom club: Just how ‘Wonderful’ are pomegranates?

In Checkout Line, Lou Bendrick cooks up answers to reader questions about how to green their food choices and other diet-related quandaries.  --------------- Dear Checkout Line, For months now, I can't seem to walk through my local natural-food market without smacking into a vast display of pomegranates -- and I usually put one in my cart. Not that long ago, the fruit with the deep-red seeds would show up in the market in a tiny pile, and just for a short time in October. What gives? Did someone put in a giant monocrop of them somewhere in California? Are they …

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How to make healthy, safe food-bank donations 

In Checkout Line, Lou Bendrick cooks up answers to reader questions about how to green their food choices and other diet-related quandaries. Lettuce know what food worries keep you up at night. --------------- Time to green the canned-food drive.From the Grist Twitter feed: Looking for healthy safe nonperishable foods to donate to food banks. Ideas?  -- Janieo  
  Dear Janieo,  Thanks so much for this question. I must admit that sometimes I feel like I'm fiddling while Rome burns -- prattling on about the merits of artisan chocolate while people go hungry. To understand the issue of hunger better, I contacted …

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A tasting of four meatless “turkeys” for the holiday table

Can such a "turkey" make your holiday feast soar?Photo courtesy of Jason HoustonGiven the ire I provoked in last year's turkey column, it's high time that this Grist columnist acknowledges that: A. Meat-centric holidays such as Thanksgiving can be challenging for vegetarians and evoke all kinds of emotions -- including, but not limited to, extreme irritation toward carnivores. B. These carnivores are likely to get very defensive, harrassed by the guilty knowledge that even a heritage-breed, biodynamic, locally raised, and gently killed bird probably isn't as environmentally or morally justifiable as a plant-based meal -- even if that plant-based meal …

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