Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday's green books series: Farewell, My Subaru

Today we're having for our green books series a funny and inspiring story of Doug Fine, who "grew up on concrete eating pizza" in American suburbia, and his attempts to kick oil while still living like an American in a small farm in New Mexico.

Our book for today is:

Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living

Doug Fine

Adventure journalist, NPR contributor and Cosmos-nudger Doug Fine speaks several languages, including suburban American, rural American and Alaskan American. He has reported and sent panicky emails from Rwanda to the Arctic Ocean. At last sighting he was living in New Mexico with too much livestock and just the right smear of stars.

Publisher: Villard

Published in: March 2008

What it is about (from the book's page on Like many Americans, Doug Fine enjoys his creature comforts, but he also knows full well they keep him addicted to oil. So he wonders: Is it possible to keep his Netflix and his car, his Wi-Fi and his subwoofers, and still reduce his carbon footprint?

In an attempt to find out, Fine up and moves to a remote ranch in New Mexico, where he brazenly vows to grow his own food, use sunlight to power his world, and drive on restaurant grease. Never mind that he’s never raised so much as a chicken or a bean. Or that he has no mechanical or electrical skills.

Whether installing Japanese solar panels, defending the goats he found on Craigslist against coyotes, or co-opting waste oil from the local Chinese restaurant to try and fill the new “veggie oil” tank in his ROAT (short for Ridiculously Oversized American Truck), Fine’s extraordinary undertaking makes one thing clear: It ain’t easy being green. In fact, his journey uncovers a slew of surprising facts about alternative energy, organic and locally grown food, and climate change.

Both a hilarious romp and an inspiring call to action, Farewell, My Subaru makes a profound statement about trading today’s instant gratifications for a deeper, more enduring kind of satisfaction.

Why you should get it:
1. Nothing like a good story about experiencing green living with a self-deprecation sense of humor.

Need an example? just read Doug's description of the book: "Farewell, My Subaru is the account of everything that can go wrong (and then right) when a regular guy tries to get oil out of his life. It details, among other embarrassing (but, my editor insists, inspiring) realities: coyotes eating my chickens, my near-death due to clumsiness during solar panel installation, and my suffering from Extreme Munchies thanks to the exhaust of my new carbon-neutral, vegetable oil-powered R.O.A.T. (Ridiculously Oversized American Truck)."

2. I like the fact that he connects the ideas of being greener with being more happy. We hear too often about the hurdles of getting green, but not too much about the happiness it brings to people's life.

3. Although Doug lives in a farm in New Mexico in a way that most people won't find a good fit for themselves, his ideas about combining the digital age with green living, when you don't need to give up amenities like Netflix or ice cream, can be relevant for many people who are looking to find the right path.

What others say about it:
“The details of Doug Fine’s experiment in green living are great fun…what we are built for. It’ll make you want to move!” –Bill McKibben, author of Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future

“This is Green Acres for the smart set–– a witty and educational look at sustainable living. Buy it, read it, compost it.” –AJ Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically

Want to learn more about Doug and his green living experience, with the goats, chickens, solar panels and his veggie oil truck? check out this short film from YouTube (and don't miss the sign in Hebrew he has in his farm..). You are also welcome to check out the book's website -

And if you're looking for other interesting green books, you are invited to check out our
green books page on our website's green resources section.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Five green recommendations for the weekend

What are you doing this weekend? if you're still looking for ideas, we have few green recommendations for you:

1. Go to a party - if you're anywhere near by Long Beach in California, come to the DIY issue release party of ISM magazine.The party will take place between 7-10 p.m. in ISM: gallery at the Koos Art Center - 540 East Broadway Long Beach, California 90802.

What's green about it? well, the new issue includes an article on Eco-Libris! Anyway, it should be a great party so don't miss it. You can find more details on
ISM website.

The DIY issue release party will coincide with "Shudder", ISM's celebrity portrait/personal project exhibition. “Shudder” is highlighting the words and works of five relevant and prolific photographers (Jeremy & Claire Weiss, Patrick Fraser, Dan Monick and Michael Lavine) that train their lenses on the world of celebrity, lending their vision to the commissioned portrait.

2. Check out the Lazarus Corporation - great website, which is "an eclectic collection of artists working in assemblage, collage, painting, drawing, photography, mixed media, text, music, and any other art form we can think of."

I got to know the site after I was referred to an excellent article of Paul Watson ('The future for Publishers'), where he discusses the future of the publishing industry in a world of digital and free content (thanks to publishing talk for the tip!).

3. Watch 'Into the Wild' - This beautiful film directed by Sean Penn is available on DVD. It brings you the story of 22 year-old Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch), who just graduated college and instead of continuing a regular career path chose to walk out of his privileged life and into the wild in search of adventure.

Sean Penn also wrote the screenplay, based on Jon Krakauer's acclaimed bestseller 'Into the Wild'. You can check the movie's trailer here.

4. Take part in Earth Hour - Today, from 8 to 9 pm, local time, millions of people around the world will be turning off their lights to save a little electricity and show some solidarity for the planet. Here are some ideas from Daily Green what you can do when you turn the lights off -

5. Read a green book - need ideas for a good one? check our recommendations on these pages: and

Enjoy your weekend,

Friday, March 28, 2008

The story of Don Cheyo

We bring you from time to time stories and updates from our great planting partners, and today we have a mini-documentary about Honduran farmer Don Cheyo, who grows organic crops and lives sustainably thanks to help from our planting partner, Sustainable Harvest International (SHI).

SHI works in developing countries in Central America - Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize, Panama. Central America has lost more than half of its rainforests in the last 50 years, contributing to mass extinctions and global warming. Rainforest destruction also wreaks havoc on local populations who depend on the rainforest for their survival.

SHI helps many farmers like Don Cheyo in nearly 100 struggling communities across Central America to reverse rainforest destruction with sustainable land-use practices that allow them to take control of their environmental and economic destinies. SHI is involved in many activities - from trees planting and restoration and preservation of degraded land to educational programs and community loan funds.

Here are some of SHI's achievements within 11 years of operations:

-Planted more than 2,000,000 trees.
- Converted 6,000 acres to sustainable uses, thereby saving 30,000 acres from slash-and-burn destruction.
- Improved nutrition through the establishment of more than 200 organic vegetable gardens.
- Increased farm income up to 800%.
- Built 165 wood-conserving stoves (saving 1,650 trees per year)

SHI is proud in the fact that it works only in communities where we have been invited by local people. One of their main strengths is that their projects are locally initiated and supported by in-country organizations, which helps to ensure that the work will continue long after they left an area.

So, now that you know them a little better, you can lay back and enjoy this video clip. The story of Don Cheyon demonstrates the important work SHI do in few areas - promotion of sustainable agriculture, planting trees, provision of wood-conserving stoves, etc. It was filmed and edited by a media company that is currently producing a documentary on SHI's work (we'll update you as soon as this documentary will be released):

If you like to know more about SHI, please check their website -

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Who support junk mail?

I hate junk mail. Even though I recycle all of of it, we're talking about so much waste of paper, energy, pollution, etc. that I get mad every time I find it in my mailbox. Now I've learned from the Washington Post that there's an organization that thinks junk mail is good. No, I'm not talking about the marketers, I'm talking about USPS - United States Postal Service.

Lyndsey Laton reported last week in the Washington Post ('Effort to Block Junk Mail Slowed') that "barred by law from lobbying, the Postal Service is nonetheless trying to make its case before a growing number of state legislatures that are weighing bills to create Do Not Mail registries". If you're wondering what reason the Postal Service can find to support junk mail, the answer is simple - their business. The Postal Service, according to the article, claims that junk mail (they call it "standard" mail) became a very important part of their business and that many jobs are depended on that.

Well, this argument is not very strong, isn't it? If we'll act in accordance with the Postal Service's logic, then we shouldn't stop any polluting or environmentally damaging activity like driving SUVs or using coal to generate electricity because of its consequences on the suppliers of these products/services.

I really wish that USPS will focus more on how to create new revenue engines, hopefully green ones, instead of trying to maintain services with such enormous environmental impacts (not to mention the fact that junk mail is so annoying!). I want to remind USPS that eight million tons of trees are consumed each year in the production of the 19 billion catalogs that are mailed in the U.S. every year!

I believe that eventually the interest of the public will win and junk mail will be limited by law, so it also makes sense business wise for USPS to get prepared for that day instead of wasting money on lost bottles.

I also want to remind you the great service of Catalog Choice to prevent receiving further catalogs by mail. I wrote about it few months ago and last week I used it for the first time to prevent receiving more catalogs of Pottery Barn, which I really don't understand why they send me in the first place. Anyway, it's a very user-friendly service and it's free, and I hope it will help me now to keep my mailbox safe.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What's big and green?

What's big and green and is a world renowned center for trees and plant lovers? It's the Missouri Botanical Garden of course! And now it's Garden Gate Shop also carries the Eco-Libris stickers, providing shop patrons the option to plant new trees in developing countries to balance out the paper in the books they read.

The Garden’s 79 acres of splendid horticultural displays include the vibrant tropical rainforest that thrives inside the alarmingly named Climatron conservatory. The Japanese Garden in one of the largest in North America, covering 14 acres. Other displays include Chinese, English and German gardens and a Victorian District. Over 5,400 trees live on the grounds, including some rare and unusual varieties and a few stately specimens dating back to the 19th century, when Garden founder Henry Shaw planted them.

But even more exciting to us is the fact that the Garden is one of the world’s leading centers for botanical exploration, plant science and conservation. Garden botanists are active in 36 countries spanning the globe, and information is shared via the Web ( using a botanical database, developed and maintained at the Garden. With more than six million specimens, the Garden herbarium is one of the six largest in the world and one of the two largest in the United States.

The Garden Gate Shop is a great place to find plants, garden accessories, merchandise... and books on related subject. And now of course you can
plant a tree for every book you buy there, by adding the Eco-Libris sticker.

The Garden is a host to events an exhibitions. Opening on April 28th, 'Niki' is a Colorful, Playful Mosaic Sculptures by
Niki De Saint Phalle. A prolific self-taught artist, Niki created a repertoire of work that also included paintings and illustrations. She sculpted her playful, larger-than-life creations from fiberglass, stones, glass, mirrors and semi-precious materials. And here's the cool part - visitors are encouraged to touch many of them and some invite sitting or climbing!

The Missouri Botanical Garden is conveniently located off I-44, and is easily accessible from the major highways in the area.

4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110 Automated events hotline: (314) 577-9400 - 1-800-642-8842


Eylon @ Eco-Libris

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Green Options - Eat Food. Not Too Much. Translated.

As part of Eco-Libris' ongoing content partnership with Green Options Media, today's post was originally published by Beth Bader on Eat.Drink.Better. Though today's post is not directly related to books, you will see that it is corresponding with Michael Pollan's great books.

plate2.jpgSo, when Michael Pollan set forth his short mantra on food, what did it all actually mean when you go to fill your dinner plate? For starters, we eat too much in general, and too much of the wrong things. Following are some very specific guidelines on actual portion sizes, and tips on eating right without dieting. I hate dieting.

First, some general "gut checks" you should keep in mind daily:

  • How many servings of each type of food we should eat each day

  • All the different colors and kinds of veggies, and if you are eating a variety

  • Small meals and healthy snacks work best for moderating blood glucose levels

  • When is best to eat, and what combinations of foods are best for you (eating proteins with carbs to balance sugars for diabetics, for example)

  • The true size of a portion, and sticking to it

  • The tremendous amount of healthy food you can eat for the same amount of calories as a small bit of unhealthy food

These are good considerations. The trouble is, it is hard to do all that portion size measuring and planning when you are a busy mom. I mean, if I had that much time, I'd just work out more and keep eating ice cream. That's what always worked for me when I had time to work out and before I found out I have high cholesterol.

So, based on this here's my easy plan, my visual food mantra. See the plate photo at the top of the post? It's a normal size plate. I will not overload it or mound the servings to the rim. I will have three of these a day with half the plate holding fruit and veggies, one-fourth the plate holding a lean meat or vegetable protein, and the other fourth holding a whole grain.

Note that the meat/protein is NOT the main course, and not the largest section of the plate. We eat too much meat for health reasons and environmental reasons, and it's time to change that focus of the American plate.

I have to make adjustments for things like pasta dishes and other combination dishes. If I get hungry, I'll try to have a healthy snack. I will aim for 5-9 servings of vegetables and fruits per day, more veggies than fruit. I will try to make sure most, if not all, of my fats are healthy fats.

It won't work every day. I know this because I am a realist. But, I will aim to make it happen most of the time. And I will try to remember my portion sizes.

Some examples:

  • One serving of meat/protein = 3 oz.

  • One serving of vegetable = 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw

  • One serving of fruit = examples are 1 small apple, or 1 cup berries, or 1/4 cup dried fruit

  • Grains/Legumes/Starches = 1/3 cup cooked pasta, or 1/2 cup mashed potato, 1 slice whole grain bread (note that potatoes are not in the vegetable category).

  • Milk/Dairy = 1 cup skim, or 3-4 oz. yogurt, 1 oz. cheese

Surprised? Portions really aren't as big as what we think. Certainly not what's packaged or served to us in a restaurant.

Oh yeah, ketchup? Does not count as a vegetable. Sorry, but no way, unless you eat half a cup of ketchup. Fries count as a starchy vegetable, not a vegetable. Ready for this? You only get 10-15 fries per serving. That's like the corner of the supersize box, you know? Or maybe just licking the grease off the bottom of the carton even. Which is just plain disgusting. Fast food in general is pretty disgusting.
I make my own baked sweet potato fries instead.

That serving of protein? It's less than the size of a "quarter-pounder." Child-size servings are even smaller. Around our house, as a family of three, we eat about 3 lbs. or less of meats per week. This means we eat at least two meals per week with a non-meat protein. I've also made it a habit to source those meats (and eggs and milk) we do eat direct from farmers that I know personally. It's reassuring to know the meat is safe and healthier for us and for the environment.

I pack our lunches every day to save money and to make sure we are all eating healthy foods. It takes effort to do all your own cooking, but after all the meat recalls and issues, I would not have it any other way.

As far as number of servings of each food type to eat daily, the food guide pyramid is a good resource — if you can decipher the new food pyramid diagram, that is.
Luckily, they have a handy calculator on the site. It also has tracking tools and a worksheet if you are more interested.

It's not a bad idea to check these guidelines out since this is the kind of plan that school lunches will be based on
if they ever update the guidelines from the 70s. These are basic, healthy eating guidelines. It is not a diet. I hate diets. Almost as much as I hate sit ups.

Because I also hate to count servings (and don't have time), I will just stick to my plate, eat a lot of different colors of fruits and veggies, and take the stairs. And, yeah, once in a while, I'm still going to eat ice cream and chocolate. Because I am a realist, and I really love ice cream almost as much as I hate sit ups.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday's green books series: The Green Eaters

Today we're having for our green books series a cute green picture book for babies and young children:

The Green Eaters - A Dream Comes True

Author: Jennifer Murphy. Illustrated by Mary Deaton.

Jennifer Murphy lives in Chicago with her husband Dan, super spunky daughter Natalia, "Green Eater" son Owen, and crazy cat Diva. Jennifer has had a variety of careers and life experiences. Her love and concern for the lives of farm animals and the future of our environment led to the development of The Green Eaters. Jennifer's mission is to improve the lives of others through her talents, creativity, intuition and knowledge.

Jennifer also designed The Green Eaters as a part of her organic baby/toddler clothing line,
Chapter One Organics. Chapter One Organics clothing is made in the U.S. by a manufacturer that trains women facing significant barriers to employment. These individuals learn sewing skills, earn a living wage, learn productive work habits, establish careers, and begin their Chapter One.

Publisher: Trafford Publishing

Published in: November 2007

What it is about: This is the story of five farm animals - Gertie the cow, Curly the pig, Bailey the sheep, Franzy the horse and Plucky the chick. They live in a Dreary Day factory farm and dream of a better future, where they will be able to enjoy the simple pleasures of life like roaming in the green grass (Gertie), fresh grains (Bailey) and even just a nice brush of the mane (Franzy). One day they're all being transferred to an organic farm (The Green Eaters Farm), where, as you can expect, their wishes come true.

Why you should get it: I don't have children yet, but I'm very soon going to become a father and I'm already looking for green stories that would fit babies and this book is a great fit. I find it a fun story, written in rhymes, that helps to simplify and explain young kids the very important issue of organic living and the difference between the life of animals in factory farms and in organic farms. Babies may not be able to fully understand these issues, but for sure they will enjoy the great pictures of Mary Deaton.

I agree with the author who said in an interview that it's important for children to be introduced to this topic "because the children of today are our future" - I think it's a fun and sensitive book that helps kids to get some sense of the issue, which hopefully will be a base for further learning of these issue as they grow up.

The book reports that it is printed using solar and wind power with a minimum use of 30% recycled paper. Also, all of The Green Eaters books purchased through their site and their retailers (except Amazon) are balanced out with Eco-Libris!

What others say about it:
"Reconnecting to Mother Earth and all she has to offer can be made fun through the lens of a child, more specifically in child-like wonder. Miracle workers all have one thing in common; they operate from child-like wonder. It will take miracles to come through many people, to help people stop all the polluting we do; polluting our bodies, our water, our soil, and the planet. The Green Eaters - A Dream Comes True is written in child-like wonder. This is a great book to help people start to heal the way we farm, eat, and generally look at things. God bless Jennifer and her farm friends for bringing light into our lives." Greg Christian, Owner and Chef, Greg Christian Catering, Founder, Organic School Project,

“The Green Eaters – A Dream Comes True offers a simple, fun and positive message for children about organic farming!"Harmony Susalla, Founder and Creative Director, Harmony Art ,

Check out the book's website -, and if you're looking for other interesting green books, you are invited to check out our green books page on our website's green resources section.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Release party of the DIY issue of ISM magazine (and Eco-Libris is in!)

What are you doing next Saturday in the evening? If you live nearby Long Beach, California, here's a suggestion for you: come to the DIY issue release party of ISM magazine.

The party will take place between 7-10 p.m. in ISM: gallery at the Koos Art Center - 540 East Broadway Long Beach, California 90802.

What is ISM? it is a community project, a non-profit organization dedicated to benefiting the youth of our society through the artistic enrichment of our community. ISM has a magazine - a unique periodical focusing on educational content relating to specific art scenes, creative projects and art institutions including galleries, museums and schools.

Portrait of David Lynch with "Chris Dive" by Jeremy & Claire Weiss

The new issue of ISM magazine is themed around the "Do It Yourself" theory featuring inspirational editorial about Odd Nerdrum and Nancy Chunn. Educational highlights including Victor Wooten, Peter Sutherland and the Chinatown Soccer Club. Artist profiles detailing Lola, Craig Atkinson, Lisa and Tom Dowling, Tony Phlippou and Calethia DeConto. And also an article on Eco-Libris, which includes an interview with me.

The DIY issue release party will coincide with "Shudder", ISM's celebrity portrait/personal project exhibition. “Shudder” is highlighting the words and works of five relevant and prolific photographers (Jeremy & Claire Weiss, Patrick Fraser, Dan Monick and Michael Lavine) that train their lenses on the world of celebrity, lending their vision to the commissioned portrait.

“Shudder” celebrates these five photographers by presenting a commissioned work beside a personal project, calling attention to the singular vision which runs through these two styles. Presented next to each work will be the words of each photographer giving the viewer insight into their motivation and technique.

If you're interested in coming to the party, you cab RSVP for the event here -

You're also welcome to order the DIY issue (and don't forget to look for the article "The Forest In Your Library") -

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Plant a tree with Eco-Libris

Friday, March 21, 2008

Dumbo is going green

Dumbo (an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is a beautiful neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY and now it is also getting greener. Green initiatives already take place in Dumbo and a series of green events starts now, including a panel discussion on Monday on how to raise a "green family" with few authors of green books!

The green initiatives in Dumbo are part of are part of
Dumbo Improvement District’s neighborhood sustainability program called 'Smart Environmental Efforts in DUMBO' (SEED). The blog Dumbo NYC, Brooklyn quotes from SEED's last newsletter: "SEED was built on a foundation of five initiatives that encourage: public recycling, alternative modes of transportation, consumption reduction, greater energy efficiency and environmental education." According to the blog, the program already initiated installation of bicycle racks to encourage transportation by bicycle, planting of 52 trees in Dumbo last year and installed recycle bins around the neighborhood.

And what's next? more interesting green events! Yesterday, an art exhibition,
Oil Drum Art opened at Gallery 202 of the 111 Front Street Galleries. And on March 24 at 7:00 pm at the powerHouse Arena (37 Main St., at the corner of Water St.) there's going to be a discussion on how to raise a green family with: Alexandra Zissu, co-author of The Complete Organic Pregnancy; Marisa Belger, founding editor of and contributor; and Lynda Fassa, author of Green Babies, Sage Moms: The Ultimate Guide to Raising Your Organic Baby. The panel will be moderated by Josh Dorfman of the “Lazy Environmentalist” on Sirius Radio. Besides the panel discussion there will be also book signing, so don't miss it.

And one last personal note on the greening efforts of Dumbo - I visited Dumbo this week and it's really a neighborhood with a character, something that we don't see much these days, so I think it's great the neighborhood is going green. While I was in Dumbo, I visited two major culinary institutions there - Jacques Torres Chocolate Store and Almondine Bakery (both are located on Water St.), and I couldn't notice that these two places serve their great chocolate and food on disposable plates and cups made of paper, even if you eat on spot and don't take it with you. It generates a lot of trash that is not recyclable, so I hope these great places will join the initiative and go green as well!

Have a great Easter weekend and Happy Purim,
Raz @ Eco-Libris

plant a tree with Eco-Libris

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Merrill Lynch is investing in forest protection

With all the gloomy news coming these days from Wall Street, it's great to see that when it comes to the environment, Wall-Street is still bullish. I'm talking about the news on Merrill Lynch new investment of $9 million to finance a project to protect 750,000 hectares of forest in Indonesia.

Dana Mattioli reported last week on the Environmental Capital blog of Wall Street Journal about the new green deal. Firstly, let's make one thing clear - this is not a donation or anything like that. It is an investment that according to the article is supposed to generate Merrill proceeds of $432 million over the next 30 years.

The expected income will come from in carbon financing, which means that someone will pay Merrill to offset polluting activities elsewhere with the amount of carbon dioxide that won't be emitted (3.4 million tons of carbon dioxide every year) because of the fact that the trees will be kept alive and won't be cut down.

Carbon financing based on forest protection wasn't permitted under the Kyoto Protocol, but as we reported in the past, it was discussed in the U.N.’s Bali meeting in December last year, and though it is not approved yet, there's a good chance it will be part of the post-Kyoto program that will replace in 2012.

Although carbon financing is far from being proven as an efficient and beneficial solution, I am very supportive of adding the forest protection into the program. Unfortunately, economic forces are the ones leading most of the deforestation and therefore it might be that economic forces may be the best realistic remedy.

I believe that Merrill will be followed by many other institutional financiers that will see an opportunity in protecting forests. For many forests this involvement will make the difference between deforestation and conservation.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Iowa, Food Policy and God's Creatures: An Interview with Documentary Director Aaron Woolf

King Corn is a not-so-new documentary film about food and agriculture. It is a sort of a reality documentary that follows Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, two friends from college on the east coast, who take upon themselves a sort of a strange investigative dare - to move to Iowa to learn where their food comes from.

King Corn's Director and Producer, Aaron Woolf, is actually going back to his roots, having received a Master’s in film at the University of Iowa. He has since moved on and got further education in the field in Lima, Mexico City, and Los Angeles. He directed Greener Grass: Cuba, Baseball, and The United States, and Dying to Leave: The Global Face of Human Trafficking and Smuggling, both have won awards and got aired on PBS.

He now works on two new films, one about an Indian tribe in the Amazon, and the other about Coral Reefs. But he says that the work on King Corn changed his life in a different way. More about that coming up:

Q: Hi, how are you?

A: I'm good. I am eating a sandwich, and I am thinking how I've been cursed to be thinking about everything I eat since making the film. And it is certainly as much as an imperative as it is a blessing.

Q: I know what you mean, and it brings me to my first point of discussion. While watching the movie, one of the things that struck me as strange was that everyone kept eating those hamburgers. And they didn't stop, even while they uncovered all those various facts about cow feed lots and how the corn that they were growing was contributing to the very low quality of the meat.

A: I think the first thing that I wanted to do in making a film about this issue, was to make a film about real issues, but also with real people in it. The real main two characters in the film are my cousin Curtis and his best friend Ian. I wanted to make a film that was a film I want to watch, and that was not a lecture, or preachy. Ian and Curtis continued to eat hamburgers. I don't think they were immune to the kind of things that we were learning but I think there are two reasons to that.

The first is that it's very hard to change your diet. The choices that we make about food, like we started this conversation with, comes from such a complex matrix of ethical and religious and intellectual sentiments, as well as a kind of bio-evolutionary drive. The amount of ingredients in our food choices are almost impossible to know. It's one of the hardest things to change, in the sense that we are inculcated into a food culture almost before we accede to language. It is one of the more primal things we are introduced to in our upbringing.

I think there are a lot of ways in which the things you see and learn do change your diet. A lot of time people ask me how making this film changed my own diet. The answer that I gave for a long time was that making this film made me wish that I ate differently than I did. But now, six months after our theatrical release, and more than a year since finishing the work on it, I think it starts to actually affect real changes.

I am not a vegetarian. I do eat food derived from animals, but I learned something very profound at those feed lots. I am also not a terribly religious person, but I have become more in recent years. I grew up eating a lot of American food, and going to church a lot. I've been thinking a lot about what God is, and I still don't know what it is, but I know what god isn't. And when I saw those feed lots, and the ways in which God's creatures were being used as nothing but machines for our pleasure, and even not really our pleasure but only for commerce, I had a very profound sense of something being deeply wrong about this. What we should eat, or rather what I would like to eat, are things that have lived, but lived a dignified life. And this is as much true about plants as about animals. An asparagus stalk that was doused in chemicals, pesticides, and grown in a strict monoculture on a gigantic scale, is just as undignified life as an animal forced to live in a confinement situation. They're both living beings. And I believe that if you eat a living being that was allowed to have a good life, you're much better off.

The other reason why Curt and Ian keep eating those hamburgers is that in a lot of America there's not much else to eat. Maybe in California there are a lot of alternative but one of the saddest ironies of the fact that we use some of our best soil, some of the best soil in the world in fact, in Iowa to grow commodity corn, is that commodity corn is not really an edible crop without being processed. And Iowa has become a kind of a colonial economy, in which it ships its own produce out of state and then it comes back as some sort of processed food. If you decide to make a film about growing and following corn, you are going to follow it through many places where it is difficult to eat anything other than hamburgers.

Q: That's an interesting observation. Do you think that something like “the 100 miles diet” or any of those “eat locally” diets is impossible to adhere to in Iowa?

A: Well I don't think so anymore. Iowa is the state with the least amount of wilderness of all the states in the US. Something like 97% of the state has been turned to the use of human kind one way or another. In fact, it is said, and I don't know if this is apocryphal or not, that one of the largest pieces of federally owned land in Iowa is the median strip in interstate 80. So Iowa's landscape has been utterly and completely altered by agriculture – which means tiling up fields, drying out wetlands, plowing over burns, pushing aside contours in the land and making it harder than ever for there to be a protected wildlife there. But Iowa also has, I think, the largest per capita production of organic produce in the country right now. There is an incredible movement there to grow, market and distribute organic food. And one of the things that is most wonderful and heartening about this movement in Iowa is that it is not a hippy-liberal type coastal movement. These are family farmers, often who have decided, for very non-political reasons, to go back to a different kind of farming, and to grow diverse crops. I think we are going to see it in other parts of the country soon. We've got to begin to envision an agriculture in a diminishing petroleum environment. But for me these are some of the best farmers in the world. And that farming knowledge is something that we need to protect and turn towards diverse operations on smaller scale. We're seeing that in Iowa more than anything in the country.

Q: Did you screen the film already in Iowa?

A: We screened it in several places in Iowa and the response has been positive, and surprisingly so. We were worried. At first, and there has been some interesting criticism there, but one of the things that was profound for us when we first got there, was that there was a real connection to be made between farmers, even commodity corn farmers, and consumer in far away cities. We knew nothing about where our food came from, and they knew very little about where their food went. Almost as if we have become separated by the system, and on some level, kind of missed each other. And I believe that farmers want to grow quality food for real people. Food that people would eat. And I believe that people would like to know who are the people who grow their food. They don't just want to peel off a cellophane wrapper. We have lost something that we did not know that we lost. For those of us who grew up in the 80s, the system has already been in place and we did not know anything else. But the moment we make those connections, we find a very deep level of satisfaction.

I've been making documentaries for many years. And I always struggled to move on from one film to the next, and even if the subject matter of the film affected me, I would move on before I was able to digest what I have done. And this time I am making a couple of new films but I also opened a grocery store called “Urban Rustic” in New York, which is a direct outgrowth of the King Corn project. I wanted to see if you could make a store where you would know where everything came from, and that the faces of the people behind the food would not be obscured.

Q: Congratulation, this is awesome. How do you make sure the customers know who the farmers are?

A: First of all you need to make sure you know who they are. And even if you did not meet them personally you can put a face or a name by using the Internet. And it turned out to be a more lot challenging than we imagined. We're still working on the nuts and bolts, but we realized it is more important to have priorities than to have orthodoxies. I wanted everything to be local, but I also wanted a place where people could get coffee or limes and things you really need to get to make a full meal. I did not want it to be a boutique store, and I did not want it to be a kind of a 60's style co-op. The model is more of a 19th century grocer, where the grocer knew where everything was coming from because back then things were local. I would say that we are 75% local, and 90% organic, but you come up with those funny paradoxes sometimes where you need to decide between local OR organic. And I usually choose local. I consider pesticide to be less of a problem than a bag of lettuce coming from abroad or even California.

Q: If you look back to the beginning of making the film. Now, after you learned all that, and it seems your life was profoundly changed by the experience, would you have done it differently?

A: That is a great question, and one that I wasn't asked before. I think that at the time I was a little too uncertain that the message would be carried by the farmers. If we would have spent even more time in the movie listening to them, we might have not needed the kind of academic contextualization as I used. Don't get me wrong, I am so incredibly grateful to Michael Pollen whose approach to journalism is so refreshing. And to Ken Cook and Ricardo Salvador, and all the other academics who helped to contextualize. But I wonder if there would have been a way to do it with just farmers and Iowans telling the story. But I am mostly pretty happy with the film.

Some people wanted the film to be more anti corporate. But the film has been pretty roundly criticized from both the left and the right. I guess when you are getting it from both sides, in my view, you are doing pretty good.

I didn't think it was fitting to make this film against agricultural corporations, although there is some implicit criticism about the way they do things. A lot of why Big Ag has so much influence in the political choices made about food, is because people like you and me haven't taken much of an interest. And before making criticisms we need to realize that the reason they have so much influence is that because their interest is not diluted by consumer interest. Nobody ever perceived that farm and food policy really matter until very recently. So if you're not willing to play the game, don't criticize those people who do.

Q: If you wanted to put a call for action to consumers, what would you ask them to do?

A: If you do not choose to ask questions about where your food comes from, or what government policies are putting what type of food on your plate and or your shelf, then you are doing so at your own peril. Consumers have an immense amount of power in the food industries, and companies are terrified of consumer's opinions. We have often been told that we can vote with our dollars, and the food industry is probably the best example of how powerful those dollars could be. But we can also vote with our votes, and affect issues such as the food we have in our school programs, and food stamps, and the kind of food aid we send abroad, and the kinds of foods that become the cheapest and the most accessible. All these are affected by policy choices, and all these can be affected by us.

The film is not a call for action. It is a call for discussion. My own opinions are separate from the film.

But my opinions are that we need to demand in this election cycle that each candidate clearly articulate easily comparable food policy statements. And when we have the debates and when we make our choices of who our next president is going to be, I can't imagine an issue that is more fundamental than what the food policy of our leaders is going to be. What kinds of food we are going to promote? How are we going to make choices that are not just short term choices, which means cheap and efficient production, but long term choices. The health of our soil, the health of our land, and the health of our children.

Q: So what can a person do? Let's say I want to take a stand or join the discussion and I am now reading this interview. Where can I go?

A: The best place to go is to your local farmers' market, and if there isn't one then help to organize one. Again, a lot of good gets done when farmers see the people who gets to consume the food they grow. It makes them want to grow good food. And when a consumer see the farmer that grows their food they benefit deeply on many levels. And if you can't get to a farmers' market, go to your local supermarket and say “I'd like to get food locally. I am willing to pay a little more now.” We need to get away from our obsession for cheap foods, because the cost of cheap foods is really so high. Americans are not very good at doing full cost accounting of things, but I believe Americans work in a very good community way in times of a crisis and I think we are in such times today.

Offical Website:

Aaron Woolf's grocery store:

Upcoming screenings of King Corn:

Saturday, March 22, 2008 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave, Seattle, Washington

Wednesday, March 26, 2008 7:30 PM (In Person: Star and co-producer Ian Cheney)

Cinema Arts Center, 23 Park Ave., Huntington, New-York

March 24,25 & 29 – A Green Mountain Festival Presentation

City Hall Arts Center, 39 Main Street, Montpelier, Vermont

Eylon @ Eco-Libris

Plant Trees for your books with Eco-Libris

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Recycled Newspaper Crafts

As part of Eco-Libris' ongoing content partnership with Green Options Media, today's post was originally published by Juliet Ames on Crafting Green World.

newspaper1.jpgHere at Crafting in a Green World, we clearly like crafting with recycling paper! Emma's post on maps and Autumn's posts on recycling folded paper and Playing Card Bags made me want to risk the paper cuts to craft. I am discovering, through writing these blog posts, that I am pretty fascinated in paper crafts too. I have already tackled junk mail, paint chips, and old photos, but as I pack up my recycling for the week, I noticed a kind of paper then gets no love, newspaper! Sure, we have all used it to pack a box, but think of all the possibilities!

One of my favorite ideas from Emma's map post was the adorable Paper Cotton Bird. I could not resist sharing this one made out of newspaper. This Etsy seller from England pays great attention to detail as she hand stitches each bird with embroidery thread using her own pattern. They are so darn adorable, I can't stand it.

When talking about recycled newspaper crafts, I must mention Newspaper Jewelry. I had the pleasure of seeing these in person, and they really are spectacular. This stuning pendant is made up of newspaper headlines that were hand formed into beads and stitched together with Swarovski Crystal beads.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Green Chic: Saving in Earth in Style – A Monday's Green Book Review

In January we covered Big Green Purse, a book about the way women can help change the world by using their enormous power as consumers. Today's book touches upon some similar topics, but many others as well. This week's book review is written by our new blogger, Harriet Watson. Welcome on board!

Welcome to another Monday on the Eco-Libris blog. You know what that means? That's right: Another Monday...another book! And this book is especially FABulous!

You know how every once in a while you read a book that makes you laugh, cry, experience filled with so many `Oh!', and `Yes!' moments that it reminds you why you LOVE reading so much? A book written by someone you wish was your BBF (forget Paris Hilton, y'all), because they sound so funny, hip, and interesting? Pick up a copy of Green Chic: Saving in Earth in Style, by high-style author and fashion journalist, Christie Matheson, and you too can revel in such pleasure!

`Want to go green without giving up great style? Not sure how to make changes - or why they matter? Welcome to the world of GREEN CHIC.' What is `green chic'? In this sassy and clever little book, Matheson talks about everything from beauty-chic to car-chic. She covers topics ranging from where to get eco-vibrators (oh, hi mom!), compostable trash bags, green(er) wedding rings, and how to offset airplane miles and make your car less of a polluting hellion. She educates you about the impact of your choices, and couches the technical aspects of production and consumer use, offering staggering statistics. All that in language that's easy to understand and not science-heavy. And although you may be already in-the-know, she'll teach you how to use the words `carbon footprint' and `greenwashing' in a sentence, AND know what they mean. This handy-dandy book even has a `green-glossary'! There is definitely an emphasis on how to lighten our...ummm...carbon footprint ;)..but there's so much more.

Green Chic is NOT about giving up everything you own; either to dumpster dive, or buy `greener' options. Green Chic is about taking time to figure out your style, what makes you happy, to not let the trend of the minute dictate what you buy (hence what you throw out). And it specifically tells you NOT to throw out what you have. Use what you have. If it's possible, make things `greener' until they need to be replaced. So, roll up the car windows to reduce `drag' and drive the speed limit to get higher mpg's. And when the old clunker goes, buy a hybrid. Or a used car. While you're renting (okay, so maybe forever), use less water when you flush the toilet by displacing the water in the tank with a milk bottle (cool, huh?) And when you do use your voice as a consumer, make sure to replace what you have thoughtfully and eco-consciously. Don't know What to replace your things with? Fortunately, Matheson includes a reference guide to help you out with ideas and specific companies that sell timelessly green chic items.

The best aspect of this book is that Matheson's personality shines through. She doesn't guilt-trip herself or anyone else about not doing `all the right things'. She's light and chatty, and doesn't scold you anymore than she scolds herself for buying regular deodorant and Jimmy Choo shoes (albeit very, VERY occasionally...and on sale....used). She breaks down how we can be green chic into manageable steps:

if you turn off one 75 watt incandescent bulb, for 3 hours each day, you'll keep 125 pounds of Co2 out of the environment. That's one lamp!*

Turning the heat in your home down one degree saves 240 pounds of CO2 per year. 240 pounds. That's no small chunk of pound-age!

She also encourages us to make profound positive and pro-active changes in our lives, to shift our mindset so that we incorporate conscious living broadly into every part of our lives. And she does so with such approachability, and positivity, that we WANT to become green chic!

This book, Eco-Libris friends, is going on my kitchen shelf so that I can refer to it over and over again. How timelessly chic is that!

Title: Green Chic: Saving in Earth in Style

Author: Christie Matheson


Publication Date: March 1st, 2008

Pages: 240


Harriet Watson @ Eco-Libris

Plant Trees with Eco-Libris!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Eco-Bibles? Hallelujah!

The Earth is the Lord's and All its Fullness” (Psalm 24:1). Yep, the first book ever to be printed is sprouting some greenery with an Eco-Friendly bible by The Thomas Nelson Bible Group.

The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Daily Bible contains recycled fiber by paper manufacturer, Domtar (exact specifications and percentages of recycled fiber were not disclosed), and is wholly Forest Stewardship Council certified.

The text of this NKJV Bible is arranged in 365 portions, each including devotional insights derived from Dr. Stanley's Life Principles Bible. The full text of the Bible is broken into daily readings so you can read the Bible in a year.

Thomas Neslon also announced that they will be making a donation with the Arbor Day Foundation for copies of The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Daily Bible sold starting on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th) through Arbor Day (April 25th). Their company's goals are to reduce paper usage at least 30% by 2012, and to do so by printing less copies per title and improving the way supply meets real demand. By 2012 they also aim to use 30% recycled fiber (majority being post-consumer waste) in their products.

With the Vatican recently announcing pollution to be regarded as a new sin, we can only hope to see more and more main stream religious leaders taking a stand and acting as leaders on climate change.

Eylon @ Eco-Libris
Planting Trees with Eco-Libris

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Ovum Factor: An environmental thriller book review

The Ovum Factor begins with a hero, David Rose, a young and single investment banker, who is ready for an early midlife crisis and a big change. Then fate catches up with him, his boss sends him on a due diligence mission with an eccentric biophysicist, and he gets involved in a big story that flings him all around the globe, Indiana Jones style. The plot brings together adventure, espionage, science, investment capital, and a bit of science fiction for good measure. All to save the planet from an environmental destruction, of course.

I wrote here recently about
Earth: The Sequel, a new book that describes the current state of technological developments in the field of clean energy, and the struggle of investors and entrepreneurs to avert the same sad fate. It describes various technological developments: solar cells, wave energy, biofuels, geothermal energy and others. While The Ovum Factor's author, Marvin L. Zimmerman, does put venture capital backers as the engine behind the scenes of any plot to save the world, it is interesting to note that the technological solution he thought up is none of the above.

According to The Ovum Factor, humanity as it is does not stand a chance. What it takes is a new biological agent that will be able to accelerate the development of brain cells in a human baby during pregnancy. Such a development will create a generation of super babies, that will be able to finally make sense of our society's woes and ills, and come up with the right solutions, whatever those may be. In Zimmerman's world, like in
James Lovelock's, we're way past the tipping point, and it is going to take a whole new kind of humanity to make things right.

What I loved about the book in particular were the parts set up in the Amazon jungle. The author's love to the region and its inhabitants clearly shows, and the diversity and immensity of Brazil shines through.

The Ovum Factor
Author: Marvin L. Zimmerman
Publication Date: February 1, 2008
Pages: 383
Synergy Books

Eylon @ Eco-Libris
Plant trees with Eco-Libris

Friday, March 14, 2008

Going green - a Literary Publicist's Perspective

We were first contacted by Phenix & Phenix, literary publicists based in Austin, to review The Ovum Factor, and that article is coming up tomorrow. However, we were also intrigued by some green themed posts on their blog and asked them to elaborate on the topic.

They embraced the challange enthusiastically, and here are the results:

Like everything else right now, literary publicity is going green. While it doesn’t seem as likely a candidate to need a green makeover as say, cars and grocery bags, there are plenty of opportunities to help save the earth in book promotion.

As publicists, we rely on galleys, the unedited bound manuscipts that help us leverage long-lead coverage and pre-pub attention for our clients' books. But when a particular title doesn't make the cut, the galley graces more rubbish bins than book review columns and magazine spreads. Needless to say, we are thrilled to hear of a new service announced recently in PW DAILY:

Publishers Weekly has signed up with Rosetta Solutions to use the company’s netGalley service in connection with the magazine’s book review section. NetGalley, which Rosetta introduced last year, allows publishers to send and track galleys online. PW will use NetGalley to capture information on books—such as title metadata, press materials and promotional plans—when the books are submitted for review. At the current time PW will still accept printed galleys for review purposes, and will primarily use the service to collection title information, which publishers can upload.

Green literary PR practices don’t end there. Alongside online Galleys, virtual press kits (the ‘VPK’ to industry patrons) are also playing a growing role in the green movement. The average press kit is usually stuffed with papers - author biographies, press releases, examples of past interviews, sample interview questions for the author… Just like galleys, if the media isn’t particularly interested in an author or book, the press kit makes a b-line for the garbage bin. Now is the time to take advantage of technology and the VPK and virtual press room. Besides, doesn’t everyone prefer email these days? Putting an emphasis on a virtual exchange of press matieral, rather than the old-school blanket mailout/fax methodology, publicists can save a a forest full of trees, thereby reducing its landfill byproduct.

Don’t forget about this environmentally-friendly PR tool (a practice that is already in widespread use!) -- YouTube. Today authors and publicists can post their video interview footage, book trailers and material from recent speaking events on video sharing websites. Gone is the need to burn DVDs to then mail to media prospects. Thanks to the popularity of viral marketing, this technique gives authors even more exposure than they would with burned DVDs, and reduces energy consumption and waste.

One more opportunity that we have to promote sustainability is to use the services of other companies that work to reduce their carbon footprint. At Phenix & Phenix, we use the services of DHL to send mailings several times a day. They maintain energy efficiency by optimizing delivery routes, using hybrid vehicles, and by raising awareness of environmental protection initiatives.

We’re just one chapter in the green movement story. We’d love to hear what practices you’ve adopted to make a difference for future generations of readers.


Phenix & Phenix is a literary public relations firm that has been serving the unique publicity needs of authors and publishing houses since 1994. Our client list includes a wide range of authors, such as Philip Carlo, Stephen Baldwin, Vicki Courtney and Les Parrott; publishers such as St. Martin’s Press, Tor/Forge, FSG/Sarah Crichton Books, Zondervan and Thomas Nelson; and best sellers such as Crucial Conversations, The Ice Man and Revolve. Over the past two years, P&P has added 16 best sellers to our overall tally of nearly 30. We also frequently work with literary agencies and are among the list of recommended publicists at top distributors around the country. For more information, please log on to: or visit our blog at:


Plant Trees with Eco-Libris!