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Mad Flavor: Wine and chocolate

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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Campaign will let restaurant patrons donate to drinking-water project

Mark your calendars for the week of March 16, when diners at participating restaurants can choose to drink local tap water instead of bottled water and donate $1 to the Tap Project. Proceeds from the project benefit Unicef's efforts to provide clean drinking water to children in developing countries. The Tap Project was started pro bono last year by New York boutique exec David Droga; it raised $100,000 in New York last year, will go forth in more than a dozen additional cities next month, and may go global in 2009. sources:

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Love me, love my food habits

Veganism as relationship deal breaker

Love is in the air, and according to the New York Times, it's also served up at the dinner table. But when it comes to dueling food preferences -- he loves meat, she doesn't -- sometimes dinner leaves couples, well, hungry for more. No-holds-barred carnivores, for example, may share the view of Anthony Bourdain, who wrote in his book Kitchen Confidential that "vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans ... are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit." Returning the compliment, many vegetarians say they cannot date anyone who eats meat. Vegans, who avoid eating …

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PVC is latest target of folks concerned about toxic toys

Photo: iStockphoto Lead-toy furor is so last year; the source du jour of parental outrage is plastic polyvinyl chloride in toys. Numerous playthings -- balls, dolls, rubber duckies, tea sets, you name it -- contain PVC, which is made with carcinogen vinyl chloride, often softened with phthalates, and frequently contains lead and other heavy metals. While the Toy Industry Association says PVC poses no safety risks, many big retailers have begun to phase it out in favor of corn-based and other less-toxic plastics. What? You're nostalgic for lead-toy-related aggravation? Fine: The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which in August was temporarily …

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Umbra on avoiding vinyl

Hi Umbra! I've been in denial about vinyl. Blue Vinyl, the movie, got me thinking, but unfortunately I space out and lie to myself. I even have bought those recently popular adult toys that advertise as being vinyl in large unavoidable proclamations on the front of the box and I still managed somehow to think, "It is probably a different process for toys." After reading your article about the LPs, I realized just how bad I have been. So this is what I need: a clear list of popular items made with vinyl so that lying to myself will be …

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Not-so-dirty dancing

NYC nightclub groovin’ to a green tune

Dirty dancing is so 2007. An NYC hot spot aiming for LEED certification could become the first eco-club in the U.S., W Magazine reports: Jon B., owner of Manhattan nightclubs Home and Guest House, plans to open Greenhouse -- the first eco club in the U.S. -- in time to make it New York Fashion Week's buzziest hot spot. In the three-story space on 10th Avenue, LED lights replace standard bulbs, the toilets are programmed to use less water, furniture is covered with recycled material, and an organic drinks menu is in the works. Hey, Jon B., put me on …

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Hot Chocolates

A review of six eco-chocolate brands, for your Valentine’s pleasure

The connection between chocolate and Eros runs deep. How do I love thee? Let me taste the ways. Photo: iStockphoto In southern Mexico -- where chocolate cultivation probably originated -- the treat figured among the wedding rituals of the ancient Maya. By the time it became popular in Europe in the 18th century, a Venetian named Casanova was crediting chocolate with boosting his romantic prowess. Modern science confirms the beliefs behind this long-held tradition. Chocolate contains tryptophan and phenylethylamine -- two chemicals thought to trigger sensations in the brain similar to falling in love. So its status as the Valentine's …

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Is that wood in your pants or ...

White pine underthings more natural than they sound

This post goes out to all the ladies: If this hottie respectable underwear model could talk, I bet he'd be telling us all about his wood. About how it's so sustainable and never loses its shape. It has "the feel of cashmere and the coolness of linen," he'd say. Plus, it's antibacterial, thermally regulated, and biodegradable. Sigh. If only every man had such amazing wood in his pants.

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Jewelers join campaign against proposed gold mine in Alaska

Psst -- Valentine's Day is coming up. If you're now rushing out the door in a panic to buy your sweetie a trinket, keep this in mind: A group of prominent jewelers has joined a campaign against the Pebble Gold Mine, an environmental monstrosity that would be sited in Alaska's Bristol Bay, at the headwaters of the world's largest sockeye salmon run. Of 28 jewelers signed onto an enviro-sponsored No Dirty Gold campaign, five -- Tiffany, Ben Bridge, Fortunoff, Helzberg, and Leber -- have pledged not to source gold from the Pebble Mine. "There are places where mining does not …

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Letter to the editor: forest certification

Kathy Abusow of Sustainable Forestry Initiative responds to Grist’s green-buying tips

Here is a letter to the editor from Kathy Abusow of Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc., written in response to our article featuring tips for buying green products and avoiding greenwashed ones. ----- Dear Editor: I am writing in response to an article that your website ran titled "Is It Really Green?" It was disappointing to read your statement about the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Standard® (SFI®). The fact is, SFI is an independent nonprofit organization and internationally endorsed forest certification program that is positively influencing the markets for certified forest products while improving forest practices across North America and promoting responsible …

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