Archive for January, 2006

Consumer Reports on organic food

Consumer Reports has a good article on the benefits of buying organic. The section on chemical health risk describes new studies that show pesticide exposure through conventional foods is harmful and that an organic diet dramatically reduces exposure. A helpful summary of what and what not to buy organic notes the most pesticide-laden foods.

Some highlights from the article:

  • “Apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach, and strawberries” are the worst to buy conventional (best to buy organic).
  • Organic foods are particularly important for expecting mothers and kids (stick to organic baby food).
  • The “organic” label is meaningless on seafood.
  • “Free Range”, “Free Roaming”, “Natural”, and “All Natural” as applied to, e.g., eggs and poultry, are meaningless labels, but “organic” does imply free-range for poultry, dairy, and eggs.

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Solar houses and the new modernism

Interior: University of Michigan Solar Decathlon house

An article in this month’s Urbanite Magazine (an interesting special issue on the suburbs) reminded me of the Solar Decathlon, a competition among universities to build a solar-powered house to be judged on a variety of criteria. I toured CMU’s house while it was under construction a couple years back. I think it’s a great contest and I really like most of the designs that resulted. Check out the photo gallery.

I’m glad to see that modernism is alive and well in almost all of these designs, and by extension I assume it is alive and well in today’s architecture and design students. Read the rest of this entry »


Coffee alone

courtyard from window
Like misery, bad habits love company. Conversely, being the only one in the household to drink coffee makes it much less fun, especially when other members of the household can’t stand the smell of it. While home for break, I’ve tried to limit my coffee consumption to mornings when I need that bit of liquid motivation to get some schoolwork done. By now, the tail end of break, I’m a caffein lightweight, so after two half-cups of coffee I’m positively buzzing. Hence I am doing crazy things like adding Friendster friends and writing blog posts.

One nice thing about “working” here in my former bedroom is the really nice view of a courtyard outside my window. It’s not a view I had growing up (my parents’ house has been steadily stepping up in classiness since I left for college), but I enjoy it. It’s nice at night as well, when Christmas lights give it a liminal glow and reflect off the dewy surfaces.

This being my last post before packing up and heading back east, I might as well put up some other photos from my stay.


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