Herban Lifestyle Store Grand Opening, Feb 8th!

HL_GrandOpening

At the end of November, we moved into a large studio space in the Merrifield neighborhood of Fairfax. The space has a showroom in the front, which we have turned into the Herban Lifestyle Store! To celebrate our new space, we are hosting a Grand Opening on February 8, 2014 from 3:00pm to 6:00pm. We will have food & beverages (including delicious treats from Thunder Pig Confectionary and Momme Meals), samples, product-making demo, discounts and a drawing to win a free DIY kit! For more information, check out our Eventbrite invitation or Facebook Event Page.

At the store, customers can see and sniff our entire line and learn about the various organic and Fair Trade ingredients that go into them. The store also serves as a gathering spot for people to share practical ideas about sustainability, self-sufficiency, creative reuse, and safer products. You are welcome to join events or use hands-on resources at the store, including:

• Workshops where you can learn how to make your own truly natural personal care and household products, as well as other green crafting techniques, including a Couple’s Valentine Craft Night on February 12 and Make Your Own Organic Spa Products on February 19.

• A learning library for those of you who want to make your own bath and body products, plus a variety of USDA Certified Organic and Fair Trade Certified ingredients and sustainable packaging.

Store

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logoWe hope you can join us!

How to Make Vegan Welsh Rarebit (aka Rabbit)

rarebitA while back I posted a recipe for vegan mac and cheese. And although it was the best recipe I had produced at the time, I have to admit that I haven’t been quite satisfied with it.

Recently, I had a craving for vegan nachos with cheese sauce, so I did some searching on and found this excellent recipe on Food.com. This one has a higher proportion of cashews, which results is a rich, creamy texture.

Ingredients*

  • 4 cups of filtered water
  • 2 cups raw cashews (roasted won’t give you the nice creamy texture)
  • Another 2 ½ cups of filtered water
  • Strained juice of 1 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (regular works, too, but smoked provides a deeper flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • ½ cup of beer (a dark beer, like porter, is preferred)
  • 4 slices of whole grain bread, toasted

Directions

1. Soak the cashews in filtered water overnight.

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2. Drain the water from the cashews and place them in a blender with all of the ingredients, except for the beer and bread, and blend until smooth.

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3. Pour the blended mixture into a saucepan, add the beer and heat for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently

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4. Spread over the toasted bread and serve with a salad for a simple, delicious meal!

To make nacho cheese sauce, eliminate the beer, replace the mustard powder with garlic powder and add 1 tablespoon of chili powder.

*Most Welsh Rarebit recipes call for Worcestershire Sauce, but this contains anchovies. If you are not a strict vegan, this adds a nice depth to the flavor.

Meet Us at The Mother Earth News Fair this Weekend!

The following post is by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate.

This weekend, Herban Lifestyle will be exhibiting at the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania.

This fun-filled family festival is a three-day event held at the Seven Springs Mountain Resort starting at 12:00 pm on Friday and going until 6:00 pm on Sunday. The event is like a state fair, but better, because it’s all about rocking the sustainable lifestyle. So it’s like a Sustainability State Fair (as this Rogers and Hammerstein geek starts to sing, “Our State Fair, is a great State fair, don’t miss it don’t even be late!”)

Back to the fair… When you go, you’ll find a slew of activities to partake in to boost your sustainable expertise. First off, there are the workshops (with very entertaining titles), featuring hands-on experiences on topics ranging from modern homesteading to composting to DIY solar panels. Then there are the animal husbandry workshops with a variety of animal workshops on chicks, and ducks and sheep (oh wait, that’s another R&H musical) and llamas, alpacas, horses, and so on. I am torn between whether I would get a bigger kick out of “Hare-Raising Possibilities with Heritage Rabbits” or “Everybody Duck! The basics of raising ducks.” For those who are not as amused with word play as I am, there are also classes like “Pastured Pork Basics” and “Incubation 101.”

So where does Herban Lifestyle come into this mix? Well, we will be exhibiting in good company with an array of vendors including Affordable Barn Co., The Apothecary’s Daughter, Featherman Equipment, Flying Fibers, Gita Naguri Yoga Farm and Grandma Whimsy’s Cupboard. And I really like the name, Love at First Sit, which happens to be “portable, fair trade, ergonomic back support systems made of organic cotton and hemp.”

Tickets are $35 at the gate for a three-day pass or $20 for one day. By using this coupon, you can get $10 off those prices. Sounds like we are going to have a blast. I hope you can join us this weekend to get your State-Fair-Fix-with-a-twist. Mmmm pass the raw cultured veggies and vegan goodies this way!

Paul Newman and Paul Anastas: Green Salads and Green Chemistry

Just a few months after I started my business, I came across Paul Newman’s book, “In Pursuit of the Common Good,”  and had to buy a copy. I was always a huge fan of his; he was not only incredibly handsome, but he was an amazing actor, top-tier auto racer, and strong advocate for social justice. While I never had the good fortune of being introduced to him (although I did almost bump into him – literally – in the stairwell of his Westport, CT office), all my friends who knew him said that he was an incredibly kind, generous and down-to-earth guy.

image copyright People

But anyway, back to why I bought Newman’s book. I had recently started my business making organic and natural bath and body products. Being part of the broader crafting community through various online groups, I ran into an interesting phenomenon. There were many other bath and body product producers who claimed to make natural and organic products, but when I mentioned the idea that I didn’t want to use chemical preservatives, some got up in my face and starting writing in ALL CAPS that it is dangerous and irresponsible not to use them. They warned that I would kill my customers with bacteria, yeast, fungi and molds. Given that people have been making soaps and creams, etc.  for a long time before the advent of “Better living through chemistry,” not to mention the fact that companies like Badger Balm, Pangea Organics and Dr. Bronner’s have not been (to my knowledge) killing their customers in large numbers, I thought those statements might be a bit of an overreaction.

In Newman’s book, he describes the adventures he had in developing, manufacturing and distributing his famous salad dressing. Back in the early 1980s, when he began approaching companies to manufacture and bottle his recipe, there was no such thing as “all-natural” salad dressing. He finally found a bottling company willing to produce his dressing, but they tried to convince him that he had to use chemical preservatives, or his dressing would spoil quickly. They also wanted him to add other chemical agents and gums. But he refused to allow any chemicals in his products. So they gave his recipe to their chemists to test the formula.

Interestingly, testing showed that the combination of olive oil, red wine vinegar and whole grain mustard made a natural gum (no other dressings used olive oil or red wine vinegar at that time, instead opting for cheaper, lower-quality, refined soybean oil and white vinegar). In addition, the chemists found that the natural gum from the ground mustard seed had the same chemical effects as EDTA (a chemical preservative used in all dressings at that time), and the olive oil had a much longer shelf life than refined soybean oil, which together eliminated the need for preservatives. On top of this, the bottling company agreed that it was a far better tasting product than anything else on the market at the time. And here we are 30 years later, with 10s of thousands more chemicals than we had then, many of them used in our food, personal care and home cleaning products.

Two weeks ago, I had the good fortune of sitting in on a web conference sponsored by the American Sustainable Business Council where Dr. Paul Anastas was the speaker. Anastas is the Assistant Administrator for Research and Development for the Environmental Protection Agency. He is also the Director of Yale University’s Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering, where he has been on leave since joining the EPA.

Anastas quoted John F. Kennedy by saying, “The greatest enemy of the truth is very often not the lie – deliberate, contrived, and dishonest – but the myth, persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Belief in myths allows the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” Anastas feels that one of the greatest myths of our time is that “we have to use toxic substances to have quality of life.” Luckily, as Anastas pointed out, “green chemistry is helping us to belie this myth.” I thought of Paul Newman’s salad dressing adventures, and how he helped to dispel the myth that we need chemicals in our food to make it taste right and not spoil on the shelf.

And I thought of Newman when Anastas emphasized that the only way that the chemical myth is going to change is if we keep showing people how safe alternatives can not only work, but often work better. Anastas says that as advocates of the environment and human health “We have to be relentless in letting people know [the chemical myth] is not the case.” And with an increasing number of widely distributed products from companies like Newman’s Own, Badger Balm, Dr. Bronner’s, Pangea Organics, Seventh Generation, Method and so many more, the true is becoming more and more obvious.

Back to the Start

In her blog today, EcoKaren wrote about a very cool Chipotle ad, “Back to the Start,” that was shown during the Grammy Awards last night.  As Karen put it, “This short film depicts the life of a farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the errors of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future.” The soundtrack is Willie Nelson’s moving cover of Cold Play’s “The Scientist.”

I was so moved by the video that I wanted to share it with you. I downloaded the song on iTunes for 99 cents. For each sale, 60 cents will be donated to Chipotle’s Cultivate Foundation, whose mission is to help fund initiatives that support sustainable agriculture, family farming, and culinary education.

I have been impressed by Chipotle’s sustainability efforts. It’s a good place to get a quick, relatively healthy vegetarian meal. Plus, some of the Virginia Chipotle’s use pork from Polyface Farms, a sustainable farm that was featured in Food, Inc.

We Are the Champions, My Friends

Today, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released a new report, Market Shift, which documents how they worked with cosmetics industry leaders over the past 7 years to raise awareness about personal care product safety. Through the Compact for Safe Cosmetics, companies voluntarily pledge to avoid chemicals banned in other countries, avoid harmful ingredients whenever possible and fully disclose their product ingredients. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, increasing consumer demand for products made without hazardous chemicals has made natural and safe cosmetics the fastest-growing segment of the $50 billion cosmetics industry. This is great news for consumers looking for healthy options, and great news for companies that work hard to provide the safest, purest products for them.

I am proud to announce that Herban Lifestyle is one of the 432 companies that have achieved “Champion” or “Innovator” status by meeting the goals of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics’ Compact for Safe Cosmetics! In fact, Herban Lifestyle achieved Champion status, which means that we:

• Comply with the European Union’s Cosmetics Directive, widely considered the global gold standard of cosmetics safety regulation,

• Disclose all ingredients, including ingredients in “fragrance,” which in the United States can be claimed as “confidential business information,” even when it contains hormone disruptors, carcinogens and other harmful chemicals,

• Publish and regularly update product information in EWG’s Skin Deep cosmetics database,

• Comply with any additional ingredient prohibitions and restrictions under the Compact and substitute ingredients of concern with safer alternatives, and

• Participate in the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

If you go to the Campaign’s Skin Deep Database, you will see that Herban Lifestyle products contain the safest ingredients available.

Market Shift shows how the Champions and Innovators (who range from small mom-and-pop businesses to some of the largest businesses in the natural products sector) are working toward higher standards of safety for personal care products, and are doing so successfully. As Mia Davis, organizing director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics said, “Their ability and willingness to work toward the Compact requirements shows not only that it is possible to make products that far exceed current safety standards in the United States, but also that making safe personal care products can be part of a successful business model.”

[Note: I have seen similar posts to this one on other sites that have attracted comments emphatically stating that there is no need for safer cosmetics because the FDA already assures that cosmetics are safe. It is true that the FDA has standards around cleanliness of facilities and non-contaminated products, which is very important. But safety in this context means that a product doesn't have the potential to put you and your family at higher risk for cancer, diabetes and a host of other chronic diseases that are not as immediately apparent as a rash, but certainly have more dire long-term effects. For more details, please see the President's Cancer Panel Report, which was released in April 2010. Also, today's news on the FDA and contaminated cosmetics products indicates there is still some work to be done in this area, too.]

Fresco Green Scene, Our New Brick and Mortar Friend

image copyright Fresco Green Scene

Fresco Green Scene is an eco-lifestyle store located in Lancaster City. They specialize in safer, healthier, eco-conscious products, building, remodeling, bath, body, household detergents, gifts and accessories. And every product at Green Scene has been carefully researched to assure sustainability, fair trade and quality. For example, Fresco Green Scene now carries a full line of Herban Lifestyle MAN Grooming products and soaps :) They also have a filling station where you can buy empty bottles then fill them (and later refill them) with whatever quantities you like of shampoo, conditioner, hand soaps, laundry soaps, cleaners.

image copyright Fresco Green Scene

Owner Rick Frescatore created Fresco Green Scene as an extension of Fresco Green, his green building supplies and education center located in Manheim Township, Lancaster County, PA. He saw the new retail store as a way to expand his eco-friendly offerings from the larger environment (people’s homes) to the details within the environment (bath and body, and cleaning products).

image copyright Fresco Green Scene

You can also visit their Facebook fan page to see more photos and hear their latest news. Plus you can purchase many of their products from their Facebook online store. However, if you are in Pennsylvania, and would like to touch and feel their yummy green products, Fresco Green Scene’s brick and mortar store is located at 104 West Chestnut Street, 1st Floor, Lancaster, PA 17603.

Meet One Well, Our New Eco-Chic Brick and Mortar Friend

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The One Well opened its doors in Brooklyn last month. It is a home and body boutique featuring the work of local and global eco-friendly artisans along with carefully selected vintage pieces. The One Well was created by owner Kerry Jones as a place where people can find beautiful, environmentally responsible items to help beautify their homes and treat their bodies.

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The One Well offers artisanal foods (like a yummy-sounding authentic Mexican caramel made with goat milk), hand casted beeswax candles, quilted bedding, gorgeous paper goods, unique jewelry and much more.

image copyright the one well

I met Kerry when she visited my booth at this year’s Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn, NY. As she described her vision for One Well, it sounded like the perfect place for my products and a place where I would love to shop. Along with the work of a variety of artisans, the One Well will carry a special line of my fuzzy soaps in earth tones, with earthy scents, as well as my MAN grooming products.

image copyright the one well

You can read more about them and see more photos of their gorgeous offerings on their Facebook page.

Their grand opening celebration is being held on the very auspicious date of 11.11.11. One Well is located at 165 Greenpoint Avenue (between Manhattan and Guiness), Brooklyn, NY.

Our New Brick and Mortar Friend: The Local Market

The Local Market opened less than a month ago in Falls Church, VA. The store features locally produced breads, dairy products, sausages, condiments and in-season fruits and vegetables from farms within a 100-mile radius of the store. The owners, husband and wife team Tom and Laura Coates, came up with the idea after missing too many Saturday mornings at the town’s award winning farmers market, due to their children’s sports commitments. The Local Market is open 7 days a week from 9am to 8pm, so people like me who also often miss the farmers market (due to travel or oversleeping) can have access to all the great produce, dairy products, fresh bread and more any time it’s convenient. I have been wishing for a store like this since I moved to this area, so I was thrilled when two different friends told me that it was coming to town.

In addition to being a great place to do my grocery shopping, it is the first retail outlet near me to carry my full line of bath and body products, so I love The Local Market even more than I would have!

image copyright The Falls Church News Press

The local press has already given it some great coverage, and word-of-mouth news about the new neighborhood gem has been spreading like wildfire. I believe this store is a place whose time has come, so not only are they going to make it, but I believe it will thrive.

So, if you are in town, I hope you’ll stop by The Local Market at 246 West Broad Street, Falls Church VA 22046.

The Story of the Stinkhorn and the Four Thieves

My husband found something very strange growing in our yard, and asked me to come outside to look at it. Elongated, pinkish with a red tip, it looked like some magical sea creature that nature had guerilla crocheted on our lawn. It was bouncy and spongy to the touch. We had no idea what it was, other than some type of fungus, and I have seen enough Sci-Fi flicks to know that I needed to keep an eye on it…

To try and unravel the mystery of this fungus, I turned to my Facebook network of friends. I posted the above photo and within minutes our friend JT, who is knowledgeable on a surprisingly wide array of topics, responded, “Looks like a stinkhorn. Didn’t know we had any around here. Live & learn.” So, I Googled “Stinkhorn” and found on MushroomExpert.com that they are “notorious for popping up suddenly and unexpectedly in urban settings.” They are member of the aptly-named Phallaceae family of fungi and they are called stinkhorns because of the distinctively stinky slime they use to entice bugs to come pick up their spores and spread them around. Ours being newly formed had not developed the slime, so did not have a scent.

I planned to leave it in the yard to see how it would develop, but the next morning when I went to check on it, it was gone, along with a patch of grass around where it had been. Some critter had gotten to it! However, I found another one near where it had been that was fatter and slimier looking than the first. Not long afterward, my friend Andi warned me with some information she had found on eHow.com’s Facts on the Stinkhorn Fungus, “Whatever you do, don’t uproot it. they’ll just propagate.” On the other hand, she noted that “Because of their suggestive shapes, the Phallus and Dictyophora stinkhorns are sold as aphrodisiacs in China,” so I could start a new business! Andi also found that the “eggs” from which certain stinkhorn varieties emerge are “edible and taste like radishes.”

Intrigued by the possible utility of this newly discovered wild plant in my yard, I did some further research. Perhaps I had discovered some new gourmet edible. I found an article by Wildman Steve Brill, who has tried stinkhorns in a couple of different forms, and came to the conclusion that they are flavorless with a weird slimy texture like “mock squid.” I decided I needed to eliminate the second stinkhorn before they took over my lawn.

In the meantime, Andi had found this method for eliminating them:

1) Locate the fungus.

2) Make a mixture of boiling hot water and bleach.

3) Plug your nose with free hand or with the help of a neighbor.

4) Pour the mixture (still hot) onto the fungus. (Add to sneaker tips too for an extra brightening effect.)

5) Repeat steps once a day until the fungus is gone

I had recently bottled a batch of Four Thieves vinegar, so I chose to start with a natural solution, following the above directions but substituting the Fourt Thieves for the bleach. It has been over a week now, and my lawn remains stinkhorn-free.

As a bonus for those of you who have read this far, here are some images from the Stinkhorn Hall of Fame