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A few thoughts on an amazing event — and a recipe for a delectably slow-cooked pasta sauce

Say cheese: a sample of Slow Food Nation's Taste Pavilion. Photo: Russ Walker It's going to take me more than just a few days to fully understand the effects and implications of the first Slow Food Nation, held in San Francisco over Labor Day weekend. The brain power on display was impressive enough: Wendell Berry, Vandana Shiva, Michael Pollan, Winona LaDuke, Carlo Petrini, Raj Patel, Eric Schlosser, and other luminaries took center stage at panels. Add to that the myriad of other events and mind-blowing food, and you get a truly unforgettable event for the thousands who attended. Despite the …

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Under pressure from Big Canned Tuna, FDA lax in mercury regulation

Under strong pressure from Big Canned Tuna, the Food and Drug Administration is crazily lax in regulating mercury in tuna. Among many examples: In 2000, a draft advisory to pregnant women listed canned tuna as a product highly contaminated with mercury; after FDA officials met with the three largest tuna companies, the final advisory left tuna off the list. When the FDA's fish mercury guidelines were revised in 2003, canned light tuna was put in the low-mercury group -- mainly, according to an FDA official, "in order to keep the market share at a reasonable level." The FDA doesn't require …

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National Toxicology Program still concerned about BPA

The National Toxicology Program begs to differ with the Food and Drug Administration's recent conclusion that common chemical bisphenol A is safe at currently regulated levels. In a report released Wednesday, the NTP notes "some concern" that BPA can affect children's brains and reproductive systems. The agency made the same conclusion in a draft report in April, which caused enough outcry to make companies including Nalgene and Wal-Mart back away from BPA. The NTP's final report says further study is needed and suggests that concerned parents consider limiting their family's exposure to BPA, but does not recommend altering U.S. safety …

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The 'green craigslist'

Ecoflip offers a twist on online classifieds

Buying something used and local is already a fairly green way to consume (if consume you must) so I was curious what Ecoflip, which calls itself a "green craigslist," would entail. The categories are fairly standard but have a splash of hippie: Fuel-efficient vehicles get their own section (along with the more expected green living and household products), and wind/solar gets a section, so you know where to post this summer's discarded solar cell bikini. A Sustainable Community section has farmers market listings, except -- whoops -- there aren't any in Seattle (you have to change the default location to …

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Umbra on recycled vs. certified paper

Dear Umbra, Our office is trying to develop an environmental paper procurement policy, and we were wondering which component is most critical -- certification by the Forest Stewardship Council, or recycled content? If you could help us understand which is best to support, we would greatly appreciate it. Dan S. Denver, Colo. Dearest Dan, We need to pause and celebrate: 15 years ago, was it even possible for this question to be written? Could an office worker casually toss off "environmental paper procurement policy" and know that it would be generally understood? And were there two eco-positive, decent paper choices …

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New HP laptop packaged in messenger bag instead of box

Don't take Grandma to Wal-Mart: the big-box store's new Hewlett-Packard laptop "will be displayed on shelves wearing only the HP Protect Messenger Bag." Scandalous! But actually, there's no need to avert your eyes: the HP Pavilion dv6929 is served up in a recycled, reusable messenger bag instead of a box, cutting cardboard and plastic packaging by 97 percent. Thinking outside the box helped HP win Wal-Mart's Home Entertainment Design Challenge, which judged suppliers' products on attractive design, environmental innovation, and less-wasteful, less-toxic packaging. Wal-Mart says 25 percent less truck space is now needed to schlep the computer to stores, cutting …

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How to commute by bike

Easy rider. Ever glance enviously at the cyclists whizzing past while you're stuck in traffic? Joining 'em is easy -- and it doesn't have to involve full-body spandex. The health benefits of biking to work are plenty, from helmet hair a svelte physique to breathing fewer air pollutants than those stuck in cars. Regular bikers live longer and are less likely to get depressed than non-bikers, boasts the Chelsea Green Guide on biking to work. And with fuel prices showing no sign of coming down, you can save serious bling on gas -- plus, there's that teeny detail of cutting …

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From Bums to Bros

Naked truth Bummed out by excess packaging, LUSHes from Stockholm to Seattle bared their souls -- and nearly everything else -- this week. We wouldn't mind being tied to some of those apron strings. (C'mon, you knew we'd butt in with an ass-inine crack.) Bowler'd over Whether ball cap, bucket, or beanie, these helmet hats will keep you looking hip while you bike around town -- at least until you reveal that helmet-hat hair. Pocket all three to cap and trade. Putting the "race" in "rat race" Run, run, as fast as you can. You can't catch him; he's a …

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Got sustainable style?

Fashion season is upon us, and sustainable style has hit the ground strutting

As expected, we see a lot of energy on the eco-fashion front. More shows, more events, and even more awards for eco-designers. The Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation is giving out an award for sustainability and there's also London's RE:Fashion Award. Check out the highlighted events below the fold. I'll be at some of them and in some of them, but I have work to do in Mozambique smack-dab in the middle of the eco-fashion extravaganza, so unfortunately I'll have to miss a few. See any events that I may have missed? Include them in the comments section. Sept. 4: AVEDA …

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Like when hell freezes over, only the opposite

Why freezer burn matters, and how to avoid it

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. Dear Lou, What's the deal with freezer burn, that white discoloration that occurs when something is left in the freezer too long? What is it exactly and is there any problem with eating food that has freezer burn? Ross Conrad Dear Ross, Because I know you are a beekeeper (author of Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture -- nothing gets by this intrepid reporter), I feel the …

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