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September 2011

Sustainable seafood short film

This new short film on the Australian Conservation Foundation's Sustainable Seafood Project is informative, entertaining, inspiring and well-worth watching. 

I love the transparency and sound science behind the project.

I also love that the results are simple to interpret. It's as simple as clicking on a map to find local sustainable seafood. At this stage the seafood assessed is mainly in Victoria, given that's where the project has been funded.

So far, all that is identified for New South Wales is Squid from the Hawkesbury River. The guide tells me that squid from this location are sustainable because:

'They grow quickly – some up to a mantle length of about 20 centimetres – but only live for about six to seven months.

The squid fishery in the Hawkesbury River is a small, well-managed estuary trawl fishery that has little impact on the overall stock, the local ecosystem or on bycatch species'.

I think i'll head down to the Fisherman's Co-op on the weekend and ask if they have any Hawkesbury River Squid.

I'm thinking salt and pepper squid, pickled squid, or perhaps stuffed squid. Know any good squid recipes?

ACF and UTS are currently seeking funding to expand their Sustainable Seafood program in NSW and Queensland. I'd love to see ACF's Sustainable Seafood Project expand into NSW so just made a donation. You can too if you like? Donations taken over here.


We need to be careful about how we discuss the environment with our children

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..the endlessly repeated message that nature is dead or dying just encourages people to step back from the natural world, the way someone distances themselves from a friend with a terminal disease.”  Richard Conniff

Why would the children of today want to get to know nature? We show them pictures of environmental destruction and remind them regularly of all the species threatened with extinction. We send them a message that nature is polluted and on her way out.

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They have been told their whole life that the environment is being destroyed, so why would they think otherwise? Why would they think that they can change that?

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Instead, let’s remind our children of how beautiful, magical, and powerful nature is. Let’s show them why nature is worth saving and let’s tell them that they have the power to save her.

{There's only a few hours left to enter the Eco Dream giveaway. Entries close midnight tonight}.


On my mind...

NNUTS oranges

I'm playing along with Rhonda's Friday photo feature.

On my mind...is sharing food, yet again. I bought these delicious juicy oranges last weekend from the NNUTS stall at the Newcastle Farmers Markets.

They were grown in someones backyard and they were able to sell them at the NNUTS stall, earning money for their surplus fruit. NNUTS is a Transition Newcastle initiative and stands for Nourishing Newcastle Urban Tucker Stall, and it's a place for people to sell their backyard produce.

I love the idea of NNUTS. I love that by buying from the stall I am supporting local small-scale urban farming, helping to reduce food waste, and helping someone to earn a little money from their urban backyard.

I wonder what i'll find at the NNUTS this weekend?


A sunny solar Sunday roast

I was well-and-truly taking advantage of the sunshine on Sunday.

Sun cook solar oven and solar kettle

Here’s a view of our veranda around midday. Clothes drying, water boiling in my solar kettle, and plenty of solar cooking in my solar oven.

At the same time our PV solar panels and solar hot water system were generating our power and heating our water.

That’s a whole lot of good from a little sunshine!

Four reasons why I love solar cooking.

I’m discovering loads of reasons to love solar cooking. Here’s just a few that are fresh in my mind from Sunday.

1. I can bake on hot days without heating up the kitchen.

Solar cooking on the verandah

I’d bought a chook from the farmers markets on Sunday morning and planned on using it for a baked dinner that night, sandwiches for lunch on Monday, and for chicken-noodle soup on Tuesday night (after using the bones to make a stock on Monday night). I had it all planned, but then Sunday was so warm that the last thing I wanted to do was turn the oven on.  I was tempted to throw the chook in the freezer, but decided instead to try cooking it in the solar oven, despite doubting that sunshine would be able to cook a whole chook in a few hours. But it did! I placed the chook in the solar oven around noon, and by 4pm I had a perfectly baked chicken.

Given that the solar oven reached only 125 degrees Celsius, the chook baked real slowly, so was nice and tender. The downside of this low temperature is that food rarely browns. That’s fine when it’s a cake or muffins, but with the chicken I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the pale and almost slimy finished product. So I quickly grilled the chook in our conventional oven for a few minutes. Perfect. That’s not really cheating is it?

2. I can leave the house with the oven cooking, without worrying about my house burning down. I was out and about for much of Sunday afternoon. I loved not having to worry about leaving the oven on.

3. Given the low cooking temperatures, it’s almost impossible to burn or over-cook food. I put a loaf of cornbread in the solar oven on Sunday morning and promptly wandered off and did something else without even thinking about when I needed to take it out. Every now and then I’d peek in when wandering past and could then wander off again without worrying about over-cooking.

4. Making a cup of tea has never been easier.

Solar cooked tea and cornbread

On Sunday I had water on the boil all day in the solar kettle. Each time I filled the tea pot I simply re-filled the kettle and placed it back in the sun. By the time I was ready for another cuppa, the water would be hot enough. I loved not having to wait for the jug to boil (which is often enough to turn the impatient me off making a cuppa).

Want to give solar cooking a go?

You don’t need a fandangle solar oven to solar cook (although they do make it easier and quicker). Check out the solar oven that Marita’s kids recently made out of a couple of cardboard boxes. Their frugal homemade solar oven even reached 100 degrees C - just hot enough to make a cuppa.

And back to that baked chook...

Picnic in the new van

We enjoyed our solar roast in the back of our new (to us) camper delivery van. We’ll be converting it to a camper van, so consider this the ‘before’ photo. Although, if you know us personally, you'll know there's often a LONG time between 'before' and 'after' photos, so don't hold your breath for the 'after' photo (although i'd love to prove me wrong). In the mean time, watch this space for a blog post titled ‘How to reduce the environmental impact of a not-very-eco decision’.

{Don't forget to enter the Eco Dream giveaway if you're interested in winning a Green Toy Chef Set}.


When it comes to toys, plastic ain’t always bad (& a giveaway}

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I wrote a post a few months back titled ‘Here's one of the reasons why I don't like plastic toys’.

In response to that post, Frances wisely commented:

'There's plastic and there's plastic, though, isn't there? We buy most of our toys second hand (often like new and they come with NO packaging), and we sell or donate what we've outgrown.’

While I agree the world needs less cheap crap in general, not every plastic toy is cheap, or crap. Not handcrafted, ok, but there are well designed, open-ended toys out there in every material. I refuse to feel bad about our lego collection. Also refuse to buy meals with play-with-once toys in them.

Rather than asking whether a purchase will biodegrade when we dispose of it, we ask whether it will last well enough for someone else to use it, and hopefully someone after that, and after that. Just 'cause I'm done with it doesn't mean it's garbage.'

Well said Frances. You had me thinking, and reflecting on my narrow-mindedness.

Plastic isn’t always bad, the problem is when we treat it like a disposable product, or when it’s laden with BPA and other nasties.

I’m sure there’s a lot of lego that has been played with by multiple generations.

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I'm also sure there's more than a few smurfs that have lasted decades. On a trip to Melbourne a few months ago, we bribed let Little Eco choose a second-hand toy each day (as a way of giving Daddy Eco and I time to browse all those unreal Melbourne op shops). She came home with a few little pre-loved plastic smurfs and a plastic smurf house. They're probably over 30 years old and she absolutely loves playing with them. There's not a lot to dislike about these toys (although, as new, when they were sold cheaply at petrol stations, it's a whole other matter).

Timber toys aren't always ethical or sustainable

Soon after I wrote about why I didn’t like plastic toys, I noticed a whole heap of cheap mass-produced timber toys for sale in Aldi. What’s the difference between those mass-produced cheap timber toys and cheap plastic toys?  Not a lot really, given that I doubt the timber was sustainably harvested or recycled.

So I’ve decided to lighten up on plastic toys, as long as they're good quality and non-toxic. Which brings me to the giveaway...

Green Toys giveaway from an Eco Dream

Louisa of An Eco Dream* has kindly offered to giveaway a Green Toys Chef Set to one Little Eco Footprints reader.

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Green Toys are made from 100% recycled plastic milk containers, and are phthalate and BPA-free.

Louisa also gifted Little Eco her very own chef set so that we could test it. We made a matching stove, from the box that the set came packaged in, and Little Eco has been 'cooking' up a storm ever since. 

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I love that the set is child sized. I’ve given Little Eco old spoons and pots to play with in the past, but being able to play with something her own size is great.

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The plastic is also very strong and presumably durable. Yesterday, I caught Little Eco enthusiastically 'cooking' scrambled eggs with Emu's first eggs. Thankfully the pots are easy to clean and are even dishwasher proof.

To enter the giveaway, simply head on over to an Eco Dream, browse their stock, and head back here and leave a comment revealing which product tempts you the most and why (I'll share my mine - the eco.kid: Lice Bomb. You can probably guess why. Little Eco has managed to get through almost four years of childcare and preschool without catching Nits, until recently..).

Those of you reading this by email will need to head on over to the blog (by clicking on the title) to leave a comment.

One entry per person, please. Sorry, entries only open to those with Australian addresses.

Entries close midnight (Australian EST) Monday 26th September. The winner will be chosen by Random Number Generator and announced here in this post on the Tuesday morning. I'll contact the winner directly by email.

The winner was comment number 50 by Jen. Congtratulations Jen! I've just emailed you to request your postal details.

Thank you everyone for your entries.

*An Eco Dream was previously know as Modern Little Munchkins. The name change is in response to the store increasing it's range to include products for all ages.