Living

Slower

Kent A. Sepkowitz doesn’t mention it in this op-ed about lowering auto speeds, but it would save a heck of a lot of gas too. I’m sure politicians will be eager to propose it!

Newest iPod nano is ‘toxic free’

The newly unveiled update of the iPod nano is slender and sexy, equipped with “shake-to-shuffle” capability, and eco-friendly to boot. (Well, you don’t actually have to boot it … oh, whatever.) Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who is alive and kicking despite reports to the contrary, says the music player is Apple’s “cleanest” and most “toxic free” offering. The device contains no arsenic, brominated flame retardants, mercury, or PVC, says Jobs, and is “highly recyclable.” Apple has agreed to keep flame retardants and PVC out of all of its products after Jan. 1, 2009, and that’s music to our ears.

Eleven organic breakfast cereals get put to the spoon

The scene was surreal … I mean, cereal. I awoke from deadline-anxiety dreams one Sunday morning, and crept down to the kitchen at the farmhouse where I work. There I found a dozen people chomping breakfast cereal, scribbling down notes, and trading bon mots. Coincidentally, the farmhouse had been packed with guests that weekend, including a crew of cereal-loving Germans. We also had some visitors of the banjo-playin’, fiddlin’ variety — and they, too, took great relish in the cereal-tasting task. To my eternal delight, I heard one of the Germans regaling the fiddlers between bites with tales of his …

Umbra on bedbugs

Dear Umbra, I desperately need your help. My house has become infested with bedbugs! I’m trying to find an environmentally friendly way to get rid of them. I’ve tried a thorough cleaning and tried using diatomaceous earth (fossil shell flour) to no avail. The local exterminator is looking more and more appealing. Please stop me before I do something rash like resorting to him and the nasty chemicals he’ll be using. Ofer Pasadena, Calif. Dearest Ofer, Yipes. Would it help to know that you are not alone, or is that cold comfort? Can I distract you by offering scintillating scientific …

Slow Food Nation was magnificent in many ways, but overshot its mandate

Photo: karmacamilleeon Slow Food Nation — that grand, sprawling culinary event that seemed to permeate San Francisco over Labor Day weekend — has passed. Now we can ask: What was it? A brazen display of foodie elitism, as some critics charge? A transformative moment in an ongoing effort to overthrow the industrial food system, as its organizers sometimes hinted? Slow Food Nation’s Taste Pavilion. Photo: Eater SF First, the grandeur of the gathering — organized by Slow Food USA — has to be acknowledged. Slow Food Nation’s Taste Pavilion, dramatically located at San Francisco’s bay-side Fort Mason, deserves a place …

From Drink to Drive

No beefeater allowed Is it bad that veg-friendly rehab only makes us want to drink more? Hairy spotter Unable to bear it any more, the British army is looking to find a substitute material for its tall, fuzzy hats. Paging Devendra Banhart! Photo: Ella Mullins Stranger than friction If Smencils are smelly pencils, then Sliquid is … gross? We’re all for organic lube (and portmanteaus), but that’s probably not gonna get us in the smood. Drilling ain’t all that Says actress Rachael Leigh Cook: The next prez should turn environmentalism from the geeky kid into a prom queen top-three issue, …

Suns going solar

Phoenix NBA team to add solar system to arena’s roof

Going solar is a slam dunk for the Phoenix Suns, who are installing a 196 kW solar system on their arena’s roof. This installation was made possible by the state’s Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff, which was implemented by the state’s Corporation Commission and is currently under threat on several fronts. Arizona’s primary was last Tuesday, and it appears that those would-be commissioners who were running on a platform of junking the renewable rules will not make it to the general election. Results here, blog item here. Barry Wong, who appears to have won the third spot on the GOP …

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 …

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 …