Digest – Features: toxic gardens, green restaurants, stylish shopping bags

starA side of sustainability: Solar water-heated dishwashers, biodiesel delivery trucks, local produce are all part of the burgeoning trend of "green" restaurants in Los Angeles. Russ Parsons tries to make sense of the claims, shows what restaurateurs are doing (and are not doing, like totally giving up bottled water, a significant revenue stream). (Los Angeles Times)

starDeadly beauty: A new book from the New York Botanical Garden, “Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants,” contains descriptions, photos, and the effects on the body of hundreds of toxic plants found in gardens and nature. The beautiful foxglove (pictured at right), for example, can cause numerous health problems, including death. The skin of a mango contains a compound similar to the irritant in poison ivy or poison oak (urushiol). (New York Times)

Caloric quandaries: Many cities are considering requirements for menu or menu board nutritional labeling. This information can be valuable in an age of ingredient lists that look like a supply list for a chemistry class, as it can be hard to tell which item has fewer calories by name alone (Subway’s tuna sandwich, for example, has almost twice as many calories as the roast beef sandwich). It’s unclear, however, whether consumers will use the information to eat healthier, or simply ignore the information. (New York Times)

Drinking inside the box: Bag-in-box packaging is a loser on the recycling front, they require far less energy to produce and ship than glass. Even though the quality of the wine in the boxes has been increasing, consumers are reluctant to switch from bottle to bag (perhaps they don’t know that wine in a bag is protected from oxygen, thus preventing degradation). (Reuters)

I’ll stick with my nerdy trade-show bags: London-based handbag designer Anya Hindmarch has created a canvas shopping bag that has resulted in pandemonium in several cities: stampedes of people in Taiwan and Hong Kong vying for the bags during their brief sale period there. In New York, they went on sale for $15 at Whole Foods stores, most likely selling out (and almost certainly available on EBay by now). Going high-fashion without the high-fashion price tag seems like a good way to make durable shopping bags more common. Perhaps creative t-shirt companies like Threadless could get into the game too. (New York Times)

Tension between farmers, migrant laborers, labor activists and the program administrator in Montreal. (Montreal Gazette)

Agrotourism and sustainable coffee in Nicaragua (The Telegraph)

A panel discussion about organic foods (KQED Forum)


Foxglove photo from lluma2007′s flickr collection, subject to a Creative Commons License.

2 Responsesto “Digest – Features: toxic gardens, green restaurants, stylish shopping bags”

  1. Diane says:

    I sometimes make mango dal with green mango with the skin on, and haven’t sucumbed yet to any bad effects. Maybe some people are more sensitive?

  2. Diane –
    I think it that the sensitivity is a personal thing. Some people I know can jump around in a bush of poison oak (which has urushiol oils on the leaves and branches) without getting a rash; others can get a rash merely by looking at poison oak. Your lack of response could be due to many factors: you aren’t sensitive to the compounds, or the green mango has a lower content, or cooking reduces its effectiveness.