Reeal's Profile

Display Name: Reeal
Member Since: 10/16/10

Latest Comments...

Thanks, ditherthither. I googled "cashew farming and labor abuses" and you're right, it's terrible. This is why I read the comments.

Recipe: Oatmeal Nutella Mug Cake Recipes from The Kitchn
3/26/14 07:51 PM

You may have a point, little_melly. In retrospect I could have chosen another link, though the information would remain the same - the problem has been well documented since the media first began reporting on it over a decade ago.

Thankfully there are plenty of other credible sources of information for anyone interested enough to google chocolate's connection with child-slavery and forced labor. Here's the link to an article that appeared on The Huffington Post:

Several film documentaries have also been made on the subject. IMO, one of the most informative is the BBC's, "The Dark Side of Chocolate":

I also like the link ditherthither provided and refer to that site often.

Hope these additional links help.

Recipe: Oatmeal Nutella Mug Cake Recipes from The Kitchn
3/26/14 07:41 PM

vintagejenta ~ Whether it's a name brand or generic version, if the brand of Nutella you purchased contains cocoa, most likely it was produced using child-slaves and forced labor, since most of the world's cocoa (including the less expensive brands) is sourced this way. It's a huge problem that most consumers remain unaware of. Once we know, we can choose differently.

Choosing organic, fairly-traded and/or direct trade cocoa is part of the solution. For a comprehensive list of ethically produced cocoa/chocolate, I always refer to Food Empowerment Project's Chocolate list:

Recipe: Oatmeal Nutella Mug Cake Recipes from The Kitchn
3/26/14 04:12 PM

Good info, denisegk. Thanks.:)

Why Organic Fabrics Are Worth the Money Apartment Therapy's Home Remedies
3/26/14 02:25 PM

Faith ~ This recipe sounds good, though following your suggestion, I'd replace the Nutella with something else. Maybe a home-made combination of a fairly-traded brand of cacao or cocoa combined with a nut butter and a few other ingredients. I'd also replace the palm oil with coconut oil, for ethical reasons.

Nutella contains cocoa, and Ferrero sources its cocoa from West Africa, where some of the worst forms of child-slavery, forced labor and human trafficking are used to bring us our chocolate - thousands of children are imprisoned, forced to do hard manual labor for free and are beaten if they fail to perform or try to escape.

Like a lot of other companies, Ferrero has signed a pledge to " . . . eradicate child labor and forced adult labor from cocoa plantations it uses by 2020, verified by “independent and credible” third parties." Until and unless that happens, whether we mean to or not, we support child-slavery every time we buy, consume, sell or support any product that isn't sourced ethically:

Like I said, palm oil (another ingredient found in Nutella) is a whole other subject and another good reason to avoid this product.

Recipe: Oatmeal Nutella Mug Cake Recipes from The Kitchn
3/26/14 02:16 PM

For ethical reasons, if I was buying new, I'd choose organic cotton over a non-organic option - there's *less* impact on the environment and less harmful effects on humans. Chemical pesticides can cause serious problems for the people who work or live around them.

On the other hand, after reading this post and the comments that followed, I got to wondering. I found this link describing the environmental effects of the production of various fibers:

This link lists more sustainable fabric options and why:

Why Organic Fabrics Are Worth the Money Apartment Therapy's Home Remedies
3/25/14 12:37 AM

I agree with 37Rubydog, ec05 and luluchin. Legalities aside -and speaking as a renter- it seems unwise and unethical to expose neighbors (and landlords) to the risks involved in renting to strangers under these circumstances.

Could You Be Evicted for Being an Airbnb Host?
3/20/14 11:58 AM

Boiled chicken thighs are comfort food for me. I've joked how if given a choice as to my last meal, this would be it.:) Over rice and with greens, or with a few cooked carrots, some celery and egg noodles. Almost any way is fine with me - though I rarely indulge these days.

10 Ways to Make Chicken Thighs Your Dinner BFF
3/20/14 12:36 AM

The first thing people usually comment on is how beautiful it is, also how clean, organized and welcoming. We're in an in-law at the back of a garage, so I think most people are surprised it's as nice as it is. Sometimes people comment that it looks like more like a boutique hotel or a "home" - which it is- or that they didn't realize I was so artistic.

Our kitchen is also much bigger (and nicer) than is typically found in in-laws, and we have a spiral staircase in our tiny living room that adds height and character without leading anywhere (it holds plants and books). Folks are just generally surprised - we were too, which is why we rented it. We could see its potential, in spite of its size.

What Surprises People the Most About Your Home? Reader Survey
3/16/14 04:46 PM

kaleo ~ Though there's no clear consensus, if you're at all concerned about possible radiation issues (which seems reasonable), I'd avoid seafood from the Pacific Ocean. Of course, not everyone agrees. Here's a link that might help:

Should I Feel Guilty Buying Canned Tuna? Expert Advice from Seafood Watch Ingredient Intelligence
3/16/14 02:46 AM

Some of these suggestions are very worthwhile. To expound on the basic idea behind the third suggestion, we might also consider how items are produced, why we're buying and what the larger (cumulative or long-term) effects of our purchases are likely to be.

In the book, "Mindfulness in the Marketplace", L.D. Ness talks about "The Cost of Illusion" and how Western culture ". . . embraces corporate capitalist consumerism as the fundamental organizing principle of life."

We've all been so conditioned to think this way, it can be hard not to buy into it - I used to be quite the consumer. In retrospect, I wasted a lot of resources trying to fill a need that couldn't ever be filled by things.

Learning to question the ethical impact of my choices, on people and the environment, has dramatically changed the way we live, consume - and decorate. Maintaining a clean, beautiful, well-organized space helps me to realize how much I already have and how little I need. The more I pare down, the freer I feel.

10 Mindful Habits for a Lighter Life Apartment Therapy's Home Remedies
3/14/14 02:13 PM

I avoid simple sugars or starches before bed. Although they initially make me sleepy, I end up feeling warm during the night. If I need a snack before a bed, I've found a spoonful of almond butter satisfies me without causing problems.

Exercising during the day also helps me to sleep better at night, as does a cool bedroom - which is why we always keep our windows open at night. As far as noise goes, unfortunately there's not much we can do about our neighbors late-night door-slamming, but we keep trying anyway. My sound machine helps to drown out some of the noise, just not the louder booms and bangs that startle us awake. Turning door knobs and shutting doors quietly makes a big difference.

5 Things to Avoid for a Good Night's Sleep Apartment Therapy's Home Remedies
3/12/14 05:09 PM

Emma of the barberry ~ You're welcome. Like I said, your earlier heads-up has made a big difference, so thanks again. If you mean the most recent CNN International documentary, "Cocoa-nomics", then no, we don't get that channel here in SF. Based on the promos it seems like a bit of a sham anyway, since it could easily leave consumers with the false impression that mainstream companies like Hershey's (one of the worst long-time offenders) are leading the way, which they're NOT! When in doubt, this is my go-to list for ethically produced chocolate, cocoa and cacao:

Some of the older documentaries have handled the subject more honestly. I like this one:

About 4 minutes into the filming, the commentator says how no one they talk to seems to believe child slavery or human trafficking exists in the chocolate industry. Years later, and in spite of the problem having been well documented, people still don't want to believe - though some remain unaware. Or maybe they know and don't care.:( I'm glad if you do.

Thanks for that link about shade-grown cocoa - I agree it matters. Don't know if you noticed or not, but Navitas cacao (the brand I recommended in my previous comment) is shade-grown. That hot-cacao concoction I whipped up yesterday was crazy good!

How To Make Your Own Hot Cocoa Mix Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn
3/7/14 03:48 PM

Emma of the barberry ~ This post inspired me, so as an experiment I combined about a third of a cup of unsweetened oat milk, a heaping teaspoon of Navitas raw organic powdered cacao, a teaspoon of organic ceylon cinnamon (true cinnamon, which is the safest kind) and a teaspoon of raw, organic coconut oil. It tasted sweet, rich and yummy!

Unlike the ordinary chocolate used in most cocoa mixes, raw cacao is rich in antioxidants and contains no sugar. It's also an ethical choice, since Navitas cacao powder is *fairly traded*, which means no child slaves or forced labor were used to harvest the cocoa:

Here's something on chocolate's under-reported connection to child slavery, human trafficking and forced labor:

About that oat milk - though it's carrageenan-free and naturally sweet, I just realized the brand I used contains orangutan-unfriendly palm oil in the form of Vitamin A palmitate, which I think is something *you* warned me about. That was such a great heads-up - thanks! Unfortunately, now I have to find another brand of oat milk or consider making my own.

How To Make Your Own Hot Cocoa Mix Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn
3/6/14 05:01 PM

My first memories were of sitting on the front steps of our Mission district rental, waiting for my dad to come home, so I understand some of the comments and concerns. While I don't begrudge anyone the right to live in any particular neighborhood, considering all of the evictions going on in San Francisco right now, its hard not to wonder. And to hope the people moving in understand what it is that's happening - which isn't to say Candice and Jason were a party to anything.

It's also possible people are unaware, in which case it's worth bringing up. San Francisco has become a very unfriendly place for many long-term, low and middle income renters - who lack affordable housing options and have no place to go.

Candice and Jason's Colorful, Light Filled Apartment House Tour
3/5/14 12:54 AM

With subjects as important as some of these, I hope people research for themselves before reaching any conclusions, particularly when it comes to BPAs, organics and GMOs.

For a more balanced view on GMOs, I'd recommend reading anything written by Vandana Shiva -an Indian physicist, environmental activist and author who remains actively involved in helping grassroots organizations throughout the world resist genetic engineering:

What To Read This Weekend: Pizza Math, Nutrition Label Makeover, and Pseudoscience at the Grocery Store 10 Weekend Reads from The Kitchn
3/1/14 07:22 PM

Even in a city like San Francisco, we can get to know the names of the people we do business with on a regular basis. It's also not all that unusual to have them extend us certain (reasonable) courtesies you might not expect in a city. There's a reason I've continued to bank and shop at the some of the same places for the past 10, 20, even 30 years.

It's true that many newcomers to the city aren't as friendly or invested as in previous times, but there are still exceptions - especially in certain neighborhoods. Having said all that, we'd still love to live in a smaller, friendlier, village-like community someday after we've retired - IF we can find one that meets our criteria.

Big City To Small Town:
A Personal Cost-Of-Living Update

2/28/14 05:43 PM

Adding to my previous comment - how as San Francisco renters, our monthly PG&E currently runs us about $30-35 a month. Gas, water and garbage are included and we almost never turn on the heat. For us, the cost of heating and cooling was definitely a relevant consideration, since all of the smaller communities we looked at had hotter summers and colder winters.

And speaking only for myself (since my husband still drives), my transportation costs are usually less than $8.00 a month, if that. I walk almost everywhere, everyday and only take the bus on those rare occasions when I have to get somewhere in a hurry or it's too far to walk (or there are too many hills) - which doesn't happen very often. Even when I worked a regular 5-day a week job, I tried to walk (it was often faster than waiting for the buses). My husband parks on the street and pays nothing for parking, takes Muni to work each day.

Something else I forgot to mention in my first comment is how much we appreciate having easy access to our local Public Library, since at some point we may have to get rid of cable (and also our computer) to save money. I LOVE how it's an easy walk to a huge selection of free books, DVDs, even computers.

Big City To Small Town:
A Personal Cost-Of-Living Update

2/28/14 05:13 PM

Thanks for sharing your experience and for being so honest about the pros and cons. After looking at smaller towns for several years -and carefully considering what our additional heating, cooling, transportation and relocation costs would be- this is why my husband and I eventually decided to stay put in our rent-controlled in-law in San Francisco.

At our age (and with our particular skill sets), jobs aren't so easy to come by - we both lost our management jobs years ago and since then earn a small fraction of what we once earned - though we're grateful one of us at least has a "regular" job.

Then too, there are other practical considerations. I don't drive (or ride a bike) and almost always get around on foot or by public transportation. I *love* to walk, but can't imagine being able to walk much during the Summer or Winter, in places with more extreme climates where our rent might be less expensive. My husband currently drives, but once our older vehicle dies I'm hoping he'll be willing to do without and take advantage of San Francisco's Zipcars. It's only a matter of time before he won't be able to safely drive anymore anyway -yet another good reason not to leave a place we're familiar with and where we can maintain some degree of independence into our senior years.

We *only* buy organic food (something SF is great for) and like you, try to shop used (or fairly traded). We don't partake of San Francisco's foodie or bar and club scene, so that's not why we stay. On the other hand, I do like being able to enjoy nature, shop, get to appointments and visit friends without having to depend on someone to drive me. I've talked to a lot of older or low-income people here in the City who no longer drive, so I know I'm not alone in my thinking.

Big City To Small Town:
A Personal Cost-Of-Living Update

2/28/14 02:23 PM

Whenever possible, we try not to purchase items made in China, because as other readers have commented, we're concerned about fair labor practices and the ethical treatment of workers. I also try to research businesses to see where and how they source their materials - something that can be very challenging to do. I'd rather buy used - or in the case of something like sheets, pay more for a well-made, ethically produced product.

I've learned to be *very* wary of green labeling and other misleading advertising and to always contact the company directly with any questions or to confirm what it is I'm being led to believe. Someone else has already pointed out how the raw materials can be sourced from one country, then put together in another and then even be packaged (or tweaked in some way) in yet another - which can be very tough to follow.

We can encourage companies like Restoration Hardware to reconsider how and where they produce their products by returning anything that's not up to standard (for whatever reason) and then emailing them to let them know what we look for and why. As consumers, we vote with our money. I email companies pretty regularly to let them know how I feel and what it would take to make me a customer.

Have Restoration Hardware Linen Sheets Always Been Made in China? Good Questions
2/27/14 11:33 AM