Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Smart Suzy: Real or artificial tree? Celebrate with song FREE, savvy menu options, ideas

Congratulations to Jeremy Kemble of Franklin, lucky (and very happy) winner of KyForward’s BIG BLUE GIVEAWAY. Suzy is so happy for Jeremy – and sends a great, big warm hug to everyone who participated and shared and hoped . . .There’ll be more great giveaways like this coming soon, so stay tuned. KyForward loves its readers and Suzy knows you are all winners anyway.

Now, about that Christmas tree . . .


Should you go real or artificial? Thanks to Earth911.com, here’s a pro and con – and a conclusion:

The truth is, each option has its own place on the naughty-and-nice list. Wasn’t long ago that the only option was real. All that changed in the 1930s when a U.S.-based toilet bowl brush manufacturer, the Addis Brush Company, created an artificial tree from brush bristles, thus fueling the debate.

Pros and cons of artificial:

Guilt. Many have made it the sole reason to invest in an artificial tree. The thought of cutting down a new tree each year can put a damper on the holidays .

Also, cost, convenience and environmental impact are other reasons consumers opt for an artificial tree.

Given the current economic climate, artificial trees may be especially appealing for their investment value when compared with the recurring annual expense of a real Christmas tree. Their convenience is also appealing to consumers as they don’t need watering, don’t leave pine needles all over the floor and getting it home isn’t an issue.

But many experts believe artificial trees actually have a greater negative environmental impact when all aspects of their life cycle are considered. Today’s artificial trees are typically manufactured with metal and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a non-biodegradable, petroleum-derived plastic. In addition, many older varieties may contain lead, used as a stabilizer in the manufacturing process. Artificial trees are non-recyclable and non-biodegradable, meaning they will sit in a landfill for centuries after disposal.

Furthermore, approximately 85 percent of artificial trees sold in the U.S. are imported from China, adding to their overall environmental footprint.

Pros and cons of real trees:

Approximately 33 million real Christmas trees are sold in North America each year. Luckily, about 93 percent of those trees are recycled through more than 4,000 available recycling programs.

Also known as “treecycling,” the act of recycling a Christmas tree is a leading reason many experts agree they are more environmentally friendly than their plastic counterparts.

Treecycling is an easy way to return a renewable and natural source back to the environment instead of disposing it in a landfill, where decomposition rates are slowed due to lack of oxygen.

Christmas trees are recycled into mulch and used in landscaping and gardening or chipped and used for playground material, hiking trails, paths and walkways. They can be used for beachfront erosion prevention, lake and river shoreline stabilization and fish and wildlife habitat.

A single farmed tree absorbs more than 1 ton of CO2 throughout its lifetime. With more than 350 million real Christmas trees growing in U.S. tree farms alone, you can imagine the yearly amount of carbon sequestering associated with the trees. Additionally, each acre of trees produces enough oxygen for the daily needs of 18 people.

In order to ensure a healthy supply of Christmas trees each year, growers must use sustainable farming techniques. For each tree harvested, one to three seedlings are planted the following spring, ensuring a healthy supply of trees.

The Christmas tree industry employs more than 100,000 Americans, an important economic consideration.

Trees are farmed as agricultural products, meaning repeated applications of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers may be used throughout their lifetime. The ideal tree would be raised organically, using integrated pest management techniques rather than chemicals.

Another con associated with real Christmas trees may depend on where you live. For climates where coniferous trees don’t grow, that tree in your living room may have had to travel hundreds of miles to reach the lot, significantly impacting the environmental impact associated with travel. However, a tree trucked from a couple states away is still traveling thousands of miles less than one from overseas.

The verdict? So, what’s the final word? Drumroll please… Real trees. Even though they might shed needles on your floor, the investment in a U.S.-based product, the carbon-neutral nature of their production and their ease of recycling make them a clear winner.

Suzy says if you are going to go real, then check out Kentucky’s Christmas tree farmers and add “shopping Kentucky-made” to the “nice” side of your ledger.

Go singalong – FREE

Awaken the spirit of Christmas with music during the 7th Annual Celebration of Song, an hour of old fashioned Christmas carols performed by the award-winning vocalists of the University of Kentucky Opera Theatre and the Alltech Vocal Scholarship Competition. Downtown Lexington will be buzzing with Christmas cheer as families and friends sing along during two free community performances.

WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 9
Two performances: 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: The Atrium at Victorian Square (401 W. Main St.)

Santa Claus will be there for the kids and adults will have the opportunity to sample Alltech Cafè Citadelle and Alltech Cafè Citadelle French Vanilla coffees. DeSha’s restaurant will provide a cash bar available inside the Atrium.

Need gift-wrapping?


Volunteers for Seadleaf, a nonprofit advocating sustainable food, will wrap your gifts at Joseph Beth Bookstore this month. They are working for tips that will go to support Seadleaf’s good work. A nice service for you – and an opportunity to support this work:

Friday, Dec. 7, 2-6 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 8, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 14, 2-6 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 21, 2-6 p.m.

Healthy thought for the day

You’d like a salad? Want some fries with that?

A new study shows that providing more menu options on a fast-food menu doesn’t mean the average diner chows down fewer calories.

Researchers found that although there has been a 53 percent increase in the total number of menu offerings over the last 14 years, the average calorie content of foods sold by eight of the major U.S. fast-food chains has not changed much.

Part of the problem is that some of the highest-calorie foods are masquerading as healthy.

Katherine Bauer, lead author of the study and an assistant professor in the department of public health at Temple University in Philadelphia, says “Entree salads, which are increasing in number, can be bad, too. With fried chicken on top and regular dressing, they can have more calories than a burger.”

The study analyzed menu offerings and their nutritional value from McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, KFC, Arby’s, Jack in the Box and Dairy Queen.

In the last two years studied — 2009 and 2010 — the average lunch or dinner entree had 453 calories, while the average side dish had 263 calories.

According to the study authors, fast food accounts for about 15 percent of Americans’ calorie intake, up from about 4 percent in the late 1970s. They said that a recent survey found that 28 percent of adults had fast food two or more times a week, and 40 percent of high school students consume fast food on any given day.

Some suggestions: Eat home more often. Remember that even if it’s healthful and nutritious, it still may have a lot of calories. Try ordering the smallest portion available, even from the children’s menu.

A deal and a gift idea

If your daughter of granddaughter is like Suzy’s, she is crazy about Hello Kitty – and anything with that familiar logo is going to be popular as a gift or stocking stuffer. How about making it practical as well? So here’s a deal, among others you’ll find at Walgreen’s this week!

Dial Hello Kitty Body Wash, B1G1 Free – $5.79
Use (2) $1/1 Dial Hello Kitty Body Wash printable,/a>
$1.89 each after coupons and sale!
Hello Kitty Hand Soap, B1G1 Free – $2.99
Use (2)
$0.50/1 Dial Hello Kitty Hand Soap printable
$0.99 each after coupons and sale!

Enjoy your Tuesday, Suzy Friends. Remember, the gift doesn’t have to be expensive to be meaningful. Be wise – and informed – about food choices. Do something “good” today. Be safe – and come back tomorrow!