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How to green your fridge

Tastes great, less energy billing. Photo: Fred Ferand Home is where the fridge is. Whether it's a top-freezer or side-by-side model, in stainless steel, bisque, or black, that big box in the kitchen is on the job 24-7, rescuing us from hunger, boredom, warm beer, and cravings for Chunky Monkey. Refrigerators made pre-2000, alas, tend to be major energy hogs that waste watts and money. Add to that the unhealthy, unsustainable stuff so many of us stock inside our refrigerators, and the big box starts looking like an eco-villain. To start reforming your fridge -- and make it earth-friendlier, inside …

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Fortune mag: widespread poverty and child labor in the cocoa-producing world

While I was waxing euphoric last week about Fair Trade and ultra-fancy chocolate ahead of Valentine's Day, interesting things were happening in the chocolate world. Regulators in Germany raided the offices of seven corporate chocolate makers -- including Nestle, Kraft, and Mars -- investigating allegations of price fixing. Six food conglomerates process half of the world's cocoa, giving them tremendous leverage on price. Usually, they use their market power to squeeze farmers in the global south; evidently, they may now be using it to squeeze consumers in the global north. Canadian and even U.S. antitrust regulators have launched similar investigations, …

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Why burning a vinyl album is a bad idea

Thursday night, a group of us Grist gals headed out to The Stranger's Valentine's Day Bash -- a yearly purge for Seattle's lovelorn wherein the wronged bring in mementos of their failed relationship and host Dan Savage destroys them on stage in some sick and twisted but totally satisfying way. (Fret not, old boyfriends, I didn't destroy anything of yours ...) Weapons of choice include a sledgehammer, a power saw, liquid nitrogen, men's urinals, a high-powered blender, and a blowtorch. But it was not the dude in a pink furry costume nor the trio of women screwed by the same …

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A breathless appraisal of Lance’s new bicycle mecca and mission

Lance Armstrong will soon unveil his 18,000-square-foot Austin-based bike shop, Mellow Johnny's (named after the Tour de France's yellow jersey -- or "maillot jaune"). The goal of the shop is to promote bike culture and bike commuting: "This city is exploding downtown. Are all these people in high rises going to drive everywhere? We have to promote (bike) commuting..." Showers and a locker room will allow commuters who don't have facilities at their offices to ride downtown, store their bikes at the shop, bathe and catch a ride on a pedicab or walk the rest of the way to work. …

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Depressing ocean news buoyed by Pam Anderson’s striptease

Walking into the office this morning, I saw this headline in bold letters on the front of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "Scientists fear 'tipping point' in Pacific Ocean." Then, a news search told me this: "As vast as the oceans are, almost no waters remain untouched by human activities." It's enough to make me wanna strangle myself with me old eyepatch... But then, I turned to my favorite celeb goss site, as I often do in these times of turmoil, and I found this: Former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson followed in the footsteps of French actress Brigitte Bardot on Thursday by …

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Aussie musician Xavier Rudd chats about coming to America and greening his tour

Xavier Rudd. Photo: James Looker When Australian musician Xavier Rudd was 10 years old, he realized that he could reuse an old vacuum-cleaner hose as a didgeridoo. Talk about a career rooted in green values. Since then, Rudd has moved on from vacuum-cleaner hoses to guitars, harmonicas, banjos, lapsteels, and even real didgeridoos -- but his environmental ethics remain the same. The singer/songwriter/one-man-band is an avid supporter of several environmental organizations and often incorporates socially conscious lyrics into his bluesy roots music: His White Moth single "Better People" -- which opens "People saving whales/And giving your thanks to our seas/My …

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From Flesh to Flurry

Vegan exposure The perfect eco-nightspot: Casa Diablo. "[It's] vixens not veal; sizzle, not steak," says the owner. "We put the meat on the pole, not on the plate." Photo: iStockphoto You want a piece of her? A letter to the Parents Spears: "We have heard that Britney asked for ice cream while she was in the hospital. ... Switching to a vegan diet might very well benefit Britney's mental health." Uh, PETA? This may not be the best time for vegangelism. Stiff competition This model citizen wants to tell you all about his wood. About how it's so sustainable and …

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Researchers develop energy-generating clothing

We like the idea of harvesting energy from our own movement, but wearing a knee brace just sounds too clunky. But now U.S. researchers publishing in Nature have developed a way to generate electricity from nanofibers woven into fabric. If the technology goes mainstream, we'll be able to generate energy just by getting dressed -- which, of course, we do every day. Except on Nude Friday.

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A pair of decadent desserts guaranteed to sweeten up your Valentine’s Day

Like every food writer the world over, I am duty-bound to offer a chocolate recipe for Valentine's Day. I was fortunate to get a recipe for Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes from the Woodstar Café in Northampton, Mass., a bakery whose goods are so delicious that I have been known to eat there twice a day when I'm in town. Nothing says I Love You like a cannelé. Photo: Canto 6 Bakery and Café But I also wanted to offer a non-chocolate alternative for those who can't have chocolate or who just prefer other flavors. The owners of Canto 6, a bakery …

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More ideas for Valentine’s Day bliss

In "Mad Flavor," I describe exceptional culinary experiences from small artisan producers. Showing my usual absolute devotion to the interests of Grist readers and disdain for my own, I attended a tasting last night of wine and chocolate pairings. I made this sacrifice to give you, dear readers, more ideas for a festive Valentine's Day. The tasting took place at 3 Cups in Chapel Hill, a cafe fanatical about sourcing and serving excellent coffee, wine, chocolate, and tea. 3 Cups chocolate buyer Jonathan Wallace and wine guy Matt Souza paired four small-batch chocolates with Italian wines from small farms. Wallace …

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