If you are reading this, you are most likely going to be drunk this weekend. Why? Because everybody gets drunk on St Patrick’s Day. And by everyone, we mean most people. Yes, we know, the holiday occurs on this coming Wednesday, but the only realistic celebration days for the working world are this weekend, which means you don’t have much time to prepare. And that is why you have turned to us! With a drinking holiday fast approaching, we researched our beer options and found purchasing organic is superior for various reasons. Read on and be, first, horrified, then satiated.

Now, like you, perhaps, many of our favorite beers are conventionally produced. Essentially, this means, large-scale, factory farm produced hops end up in almost all beers. Much like with conventional fruits and vegetables, conventional hops are farmed using harmful pesticides. In fact, the EPA has reported in the last 60 years farming has moved away from labor intensive techniques to pesticide heavy methods. This comes with a whole host of environmental nightmares from the obvious pollution of soil, drinking water, and aquatic eco-systems to the startling death of wildlife, more than 60 million birds die annually from pesticide poisoning. Which makes us wonder, how much of these harmful chemicals end up in our bottled beers? In a Japanese study, many residues were found in shelf ready beers. For some chemicals, this means up to 36% of pesticides lacing the hops in the field, survive processing, brewing, and end up in the finished product. The bottom line, we are drinking and ingesting crop duster poisons. Told you we would horrify you, didn’t we?

We have covered why conventional beers can be harmful to both the environmental and our own personal health. Now on to be satiated! Drinking conventional beers can be dangerous, however, we are not recommending you give up the wonderful world of beer just yet. Instead, we can all turn to organics! The benefits of drinking organics is pretty simple, as you won’t be ingesting any of those harmful chemicals mentioned above. But on top of drinking pesticide free beer you will be supporting local farming. Most organic hops come from  farms which are 100 acres or less. So by purchasing organic beer, you are not only doing your body good, but are supporting local and small farms! Sounds like a double win to us.

Fortunately, the organic beer market is expanding and there are many more choices available these days. The best place to find organic beer is in your city or region! Some of the best beers are from small, local, micro-breweries. You should check around your neighborhood for suggestions. However, there are many great organic companies that are available around the nation and should be stocked at your local specialty shop, large liquor store, natural foods store, co-op, or even Whole Foods. There are many different companies to choose from. Here are some of our favorites: Peak Organic(from Maine), Samuel Smith (although from far away Britain, how can you deny flavors like Strawberry?), and Wolaver’s (Vermont brewery, Otter Creek’s organic line). If none of our favorites satisfy your palate, you can check this list of organic beers from the Daily Green.  You just might find something local and delicious!

Organic beers may not be as readily available as the conventional type yet, however, drinking them and supporting their business helps you and the environment. Next time you are at the liquor store think about those poor birds or the pesticides that can survive in your beer and fork out the extra cash to purchase the organic alternative. Remember the more we purchase, the more demand breweries will see, and that means more organic beers to choose from! So knock one back for the ole’ Irish style holiday and make sure your label reads USDA Organic!

-Jeremy Pearson & Gina Williams

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Since the election, many people have used the phrase “change has come to the White House.” And of course they mean more than just a change in leadership but a change in policy. Well, Barack Obama is not the only one ushering an era of change to the White House. The First Lady, Michelle Obama has her own plan! This past Friday, Michelle and volunteer elementary students began to build a White House garden. The garden is set to grow herbs, vegetables, and fruits that will be used in the White House Kitchen. As well as feeding the residents and staff of the White House, the gardens produce will be donated to a local soup kitchen in Washington DC.

Obama White House Garden Photo By mitbbs2008

Michelle and her volunteers began digging and planting such plants as broccoli, spinach, bcollard greens, and many herbs.  The veggies and fruits planted in the garden are set to change with the seasons. The First Lady said she had been planning on building the garden since she moved into the new residence as her daughters, Sasha and Malia prefer fresh vegetables!

Our organic Garden at the studio - May 1st Photo by Just in Parr

We think its absolutely wonderful that the White House has made the move to pant a garden. Eating local or growing your own garden is a great way to not only save money but help the environment. Growing mass amounts of produce and shipping them across the country is very wasteful. And as Sasha and Malia have pointed out, when you grow your own garden, the produce is extremely fresh! Also, many experts have stated that eating with the seasons is not only healthier but keeps you in touch with your surroundings.

Fresh Herbs Photo by (nz)daveThe White House is leading a great example for our children and the country! We hope this move inspires others to grow their own produce. If you are wondering how to grow your own organic garden, check out this Beginner’s Guide to Organic Gardening. If you live in an apartment and do not have a yard to grow a whole garden in, try at least growing your own herbs. It’s actually pretty easy inside your apartment! And finally if you just don’t have that green thumb, try the next best thing: local farms! There are many small, local, and organic farms throughout the country: find one near you! The White House is one of the most symbolic American landmarks and the President is perhaps the most influential person in the world. So it is inspiring to see them live by example! Thank you Michelle for making a change!

Happy New Year from all of us at AP! 2008 was a long and transitional year for most of us. In this country we have seen positive changes and some tragic events. Yet we have to keep our heads up even in economic turmoil and look towards the next year. Hopefully 2009 will be a prosperous and healing time for all of us. We at AP want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and would like to make some quick suggestions for New Year’s Resolutions this coming year. The following list is our 2009 New Year’s Resolutions; which we all plan to implelement into our lives as much as possible. “Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind…”

1) Support Fair Trade: In the next year, we hope more and more people will support fair trade. There are easy changes in your life to do so. Make sure several products that are easy to buy fair trade are done. Such as coffee, tea, chocolate, and even vanilla. These products can be found fair trade in most grocery store chains, as well as in local stores. But on top of that make a conscious effort to incomporate more fair trade items into your life such as clothing and jewlery and even wine! If you are unsure of where to purchase such items, check out the FTF’s list of fair trade stores or even our own AP site.

2) Buy Organic: Whenever possible we at AP buy organic produce and other items, including clothing! Not only is organic items good for your body, but they are great for the environment. Check out your local grocery store, co-op, or farmer’s market for organic produce. Pay attention for other organic products such as clothing, vanilla, chocolate, and coffee!

3) Eat Less Meat OR Go Vegetarian/Vegan: Eating meat is very very harmful to the environment, as well as to one’s health. This year think about switching to a meat free diet or at least significantly cutting back on your meat intake. If you have trouble letting meat go, please try to eat only organic, free range, and local farms. As these types of farms tend to have less harmful effects. If you would like to know more about switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet, check out Go Veg.com or order one of their starter kits.

4) Support Local: Supporting your local businesses and farms is not only great for your community but it cuts down on energy used in shipping items from all over the world. Check out your local farmer’s markets and coops for great locally grown produce. And every city, town, and neighborhood in the country has thousands of small and local cafes, restaurants, and clothing stores.

5) Small Eco Choices: Make a commitment to make small green changes in your daily life. Some easy ones are changing all your light bulbs over to energy efficient ones (it saves you money too!), using eco friendly cleaning products, and recycling! You can also choose to car pool, use public transit, walk, or bike to work. These choices may seem small, but they have a large impact on the world around us. If each person cut back on the little things, we could use less energy together!

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