WHY ARE WE AFRAID TO CARE?
This question plagues me a lot. It plagues me when I'm too afraid to watch documentaries, it plagues me when my friends sometimes say "Stop, I don't want to know" regarding ocean plastic.
It was my own life for a really long time. Because if you know, you'll care. So I repeat: why are we afraid to care?
Today on the blog, brilliant life and emotional health coach Diana Deaver answers this question.Read More
Have you ever met a chicken?
I mean really looked at one of those clucking, crazed birds and wondered what the HELL was going on in there?
I had not.
Until I went out to Fili-West Farms and met... The Chicken Lord.Read More
It takes a special sort of spunky brunette to spend their Saturday nights hauling around nasty, stinking oyster shells.
But Rachel Gordon gives a damn about oyster shells, and we should too.
Today, we're taking a closer look at what it takes to build a sustainable business, and why oyster shell recycling is so important.Read More
Did you know eating locally farmed oysters can actually improve the environment?
Sign me up! Raw, steamed, fried, or in a shooter, I will do my duty to save our shores.
The other day I was lucky enough to check out Charleston Oyster Farm, and Q&A them about what it means to raise sustainable seafood. Check it out!Read More
Photographer/activist Chris Jordan made a point that deeply resonated with me: You cannot save this planet without also falling in love with it over and over again.
Conservation is hard work. Going green is hard work. Caring is incredibly hard work.
So, taking that moment to breathe, to connect to the epic masterpiece that is Mother Nature, is vital. Let yourself wonder and fall in love, remember that we are of this wonderous and majestic planet. That love is what sustains us through the work.
No one's photography reminds me to take that moment more than bad ass adventure photographer Marisa Jarae. I could sing her praises all day long, but I'd rather let the work speak for itself.
I'm taking a moment this week. Will you take it with me?Read More
Jennifer Forrest has lived an interesting life so far, and I'm so lucky to call this talented gal one of my best friends since high school. A former international model turned Le Cordon Bleu-trained pasty chef turned wedding dream maker, Jen is a master of all things style and food, and if you're not already following her Instagram Weddings Yay!, then you really should be. It's ethereal, opulent, and addictive, and one of my favorite accounts to follow.
Naturally, when I was developing the concepts of this blog project, I reached out to my besties. And no one loves Halloween more than me except for maybe Jen.
When we were in high school, we two weirdos came up with the idea of Pumpkin Month, where we made and ate one pumpkin recipe for each day of October. My parents still recoil at the smell of pumpkin, but I also wonder what was wrong with them to even entertain that idea in the first place. It was like that scene from Forrest Gump but with pumpkin instead of shrimp: pumpkin cheesecake, baked pumpkin, pumpkin curry, pumpkin salad, pumpkin flan, pumpkin pasta, and something absolutely appalling called pumpkin meatloaf. *shudders*
I reached out to Jen about a pumpkin bread recipe for the Meals Without Plastic Challenge. Was it even possible? Jen was right that baking does, in many ways, translate much more easily into reduced-plastic packaging recipes than protein or dairy heavy meals.
Most of the ingredients are available in cans, bottles, or paper containers, and packaging options vary widely by region. For instance, in Charleston you can easily snag the nuts and chocolate chips in a paper coffee bag at Earth Fare! The rest of the ingredients are easily accessible in any major grocery store.
There were three big stumbling blocks down here, though: 1) the tiny cellophane wrapper around the top of my metal and glass vanilla extract bottle, 2) the plastic lid to the baking powder, and 3) the spices, as you can tell from the photo above.
Here are the solutions to each hang up, respectively.
Vanilla Extract: Honestly, I just went ahead and bought a quality bottle. The lid is metal, the bottle is glass, it smells like heaven. It generated only the tiniest bit of waste for an ingredient that will contribute to many more meals to come, so it's way better than, say, chicken packed in styrofoam and then shrink wrapped and double bagged in plastic. But, it's apparently super easy to make (some of you will be getting this for Christmas!), and you can purchase it in a mason jar on Etsy.
Baking Powder: Though the packaging on this isn't too bad from our local stores, apparently it's also readily available around the rest of the country packaged like this and like this, and you can buy both online if you'll be baking a lot this fall.
Spices: This one is a super easy solve. I went to Charleston Spice and Tea Exchange, and they told me they will happily fill any container you bring in to them, since spices are sold in bulk based on weight. This is awesome, because if your recipe calls for something bizarre, you don't have to go buy an entire bottle of it that will collect dust and taste like sawdust by the time you need it again. (Witness, the three things of nutmeg I threw out last year. Who uses that much nutmeg?!)
BUY WHAT YOU NEED! Forty percent of the food in the US each year is wasted, uneaten. Think about how much money you LITERALLY THROW AWAY, next time you balk at spending a couple extra dollars at the farmer's market or on a local product.
Truth bomb: you're already spending that money anyway, but getting nothing for it other than trash.
This recipe is fabulously easy, delicious, and your friends will love it! It tastes like fall and happiness. We ate mine at a potluck for dessert, and I maybe got seconds.
- 1/2 can (7.5 ounces) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 TSP vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 3/4 cup chopped nuts (from bulk in paper bag)
- cup raisins, if desired
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease bottoms only of two 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5 loaf pans.
Stir together pumpkin, sugar, oil, vanilla, and eggs in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into pans.
Bake 8 inch loaves 50-60 minutes or until toothpick in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves from pans, remove from pans, and place on wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.
And finally, in case you're new here, I'll again answer the Why Meals Without Plastic question, but add to the previous arguments thanks to new information.
China is no longer accepting our recyclables. Oh, you didn't know we're shipping our waste plastics, textiles, and mixed paper to China? Me either. We are. Are we equipped to handle that volume of plastic here, now that they don't want it?
Though technology has recently been developed to aid in the recycling of plastic back into food-grade plastic, the FDA is still very cautionary against it, and much of the plastic you're encountering at the store is a brand new plastic container.
I don't care what political party you are, it's near impossible to say that competition over petroleum or petroleum-based products (ie. plastic) or the handling of oil related environmental disasters hasn't caused us all an enormous amount of strife on this planet. The less dependence we have on this non-renewable, non-biodegradable crap in our day to day lives, the better for everyone, in my opinion.
Plastic does have a place in this world. Lord knows you'll never find me asking for a bamboo IV at the hospital. But my point is this: There's enough of it already in this world. Recycling is a wonderful thing, but it's time to change the way we live. As always, I'll remind you it's projected that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. Think about that, those of you that have or want children. We owe the next generation better than this mess!
When you first meet Rachel Gordon, she doesn't strike you as the sort to be knee deep in buckets of smelly old oyster shells. However, looks can be deceiving.
Best known for her One Love clothing line, Rachel has long been a fixture on Charleston's fashion scene, and her stunning, ethereal gowns are regularly spotted on the pages of bridal magazines or Lowcountry catwalks.
But there's so much more to Rachel than her incredible talents as a designer, and that's where Grit and Grace Studio comes into play. You may have seen beautifully painted oyster dishes and holiday ornaments popping up in Charleston's established boutiques, gift shops, and spas lately. They're gorgeous and simple, hard to miss, and even harder to forget.
The varied and ruffled, irregular shape of the sun-bleached oysters is perfectly accentuated by gold lacquer, and you could not ask for a prettier salt, jewelry, or soap dish, although I keep my air plants in mine!
"Grit and Grace was born from my mom's mantra about getting through the peaks and valleys of life," Rachel says. "When I decided to go for it with this concept I couldn’t think of a more perfect name for these little gifts. The oyster dishes and ornaments are naturally beautiful but they are also supposed to be little reminder to live life to the fullest, and with grit and grace in the good and challenging times."
But what do Grit and Grace and gold oyster shell gifts have to do with saving the planet?
A lot. There is a critical oyster shell shortage in South Carolina.
I had no idea there even was a such thing as an oyster shell shortage prior to talking with Rachel at a dinner party. Why is there a shortage? And why is that so bad?
Think about how many oyster bars have popped up around Charleston in the last several years, and then think about how many other places have oysters on the menu, and think about how many people and organizations host oyster roasts around the Lowcountry. That's a lot of oysters, right? Well, unfortunately a lot of those oyster shells end up in the landfill instead of back in the water, where they will sit forever, failing to biodegrade alongside normal household garbage instead of going back into our ecosystem. While the will to recycle is usually there, our demand for oysters as consumers has outstripped the current availability of oyster shell recycling pick ups.
Here's why that's bad, aside from generating massive quantities of unnecessary waste. Oyster reefs help prevent erosion and provide a natural breakwater against waves and storms for our shorelines, and they're also a habitat for other marine animals. Additionally, oyster spat (juvenile oysters) like to attach to other oyster shells, and oysters are superheroes when it comes to filtering water. A single adult oyster can filter up to 2.5 gallons of water PER HOUR, meaning up to 60 gallons per day.
And this is how fashion maven Rachel Gordon wound up knee deep in buckets of stinky, slimy old oysters from some of Charleston's hottest restaurants. The One Love designer has partnered with some local area restaurants to courier their discarded shells to the DNR drop off sites, which is a win for everyone involved, from Grit and Grace, to the local restaurants, to SCDNR.
"It’s been a true joy working on this project and making naturally beautiful dishes and ornaments out of oyster shells. However, I quickly realized that if I was going to be taking oyster shells from the ecosystem that I would need to work hard to grow this company in a way that was environmentally sustainable," Rachel explains. "From day one I decided that for every oyster shell Grit and Grace sold the company would recycle 10 shells to DNR oyster recycling program! The partnership that I have created with DNR and the volunteer work that we have started to do has been the most rewarding part of this project."
And so, the sight of one of our city's most accomplished clothing designers schlepping giant, gritty buckets of ripe oyster shells is about to be come a lot more common, based on the blossoming success of Grit and Grace.
A special thank you to Rachel Gordon and Grit and Grace for spreading love, awareness, and showing me the power of one individual to make a difference.