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FoodShed Planet Holiday Gift Guide 2012

Posted Dec 02 2012 7:58am
So, my mom taught my daughters to knit with a new type of yarn, and frankly, the gift of moments like this is just about as good as it gets for me. If you are a grandparent who has a skill to teach, I can think of nothing more valuable you can give this holiday season.

Other gift ideas that I'm high on this year include memberships, such as to your local nature center or city's art museum (pictured is the wonderful current exhibit at Atlanta's gorgeous High Museum, which is from the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, where I often went for lunch when I worked at USA TODAY just a few blocks away--seeing this exhibit in my adopted city recently felt like I was reuniting with old friends).  A quick trip to an art museum or gallery may also give you other gift ideas, such as creating a work of art such as what's pictured below, made with house paint and pine cone scales (and currently hanging at the High Museum in its excellent Folk Art section).

I like "buy one, donate one" companies, like TOMS and Better World Books (where you can also donate books in drop boxes in many places in the United States and United Kingdom, which raises money for your local organization, and more.  They are free. C lick here for details).

I like supporting artisans in third-world countries. My go-to place for gifts like jewelry, fair trade chocolate, and surprising finds continues to be Ten Thousand Villages , but I'm increasingly liking Global Girlfriend (which has lots of display space at Whole Foods). I particularly enjoyed the book about the founder, and I attended a luncheon where the head of national sales shared background stories and presented partnering opportunities to sustainability leaders at corporations, which was all very impressive.

Clotheswise, my husband loves Gree n Label Organic (mostly because they are the softest shirts in the world), and I love giving shirts from Threads f or Thought , which are comfortable, affordable, and form-fitting, and the company "does good" in lots of ways. I also continue to be a huge fan of Goodwill (if you haven't liked the selection you've found, try going to a location closest to the biggest business district in your city--the really good stuff may be sent there). Twenty bucks goes very far there, many things are brand new, and something like 87 cents of every dollar goes directly to programming to help those in need. This gift is a good homemade gift certificate opportunity for an outing that includes Goodwill shopping and a lunch stop at a local restaurant.

Speaking of "buying local," you actually give a gift to your community when you do so, as the "multiplier effect" means something like 46 cents of every dollar stays in your local community, as opposed to 16 cents or so when you buy at big box stores (here are the rest of the top ten reasons to support local businesses ). And it doesn't matter if the company is actually local to where you live, now that internet ordering makes it so easy to support local businesses everywhere. Farmer D Organics ships all over the U.S. every single day, through both his Williams Sonoma line and his own website.  Here is his 2012 gift guide .  All the wood products are handmade right here in the United States, right here in Atlanta.  (Full disclosure--Farmer D Organics is a client of mine , but he's also been a friend for more than ten years, when he was simply a farmer, long before he had this business.)

When you consider pure donations, please put these two at the top of your list: Heifer International and Imba! The fun part?  Two people involved with telling the stories about these amazing organizations are friends of mine and of each other--Betty Londergan and Erin Levin (pictured during a walk we took this summer).
Betty is currently wrapping up a full year of traveling to 12 countries and telling the stories of individuals who have benefited from your previous donations of pigs and goats and bees (and even snails and guinea pigs). Your donation to Heifer truly matters (and Betty's outstanding blog, Heifer 12 x 12 , with links to donate to Heifer, is worth a good, long look).

Imba! (which means "sing" in Swahili), on the other hand, is an effort to raise money to tell a story worth telling--that of the African Children's Choir, which has been changing lives for almost thirty years now (which is more years than Erin has been alive).  Erin met these children during her work travels and was so moved by them she literally dropped everything to make a film about them, and is already well over a year into it. This young woman is on a mission, with CNN International and Better World Books video production credits under her belt, a long list of supporters, and a fire in her belly.  See the fundraising video for Imba! here:


Here are a few more holiday gift suggestions for you:

"It's a Beautiful Day. Have You Had Your Coffee? (Introducing the FoodShed Planet Gift Guide for Holidays and Other Beautiful Days)  

Ten Ways to Turn Black Friday Green

And if you want to read my book (or gift it to someone, especially a mom), it is structured month by month (starting with January) with stories, tips, recipes and more (and is especially timely again, in light of Hurricane Sandy), so now is a good time to get it. And a portion of proceeds always goes to help grow food for those in need.  You can purchase it from Better World Books (which donates one-for-one for every book purchased, and you get free shipping) or help support a local bookseller like Powell's Books and order it here , plus there are three signed copies (last I checked) at Farmer D Organics (in-store only).  It is also available on Amazon:

US: Order here UK: Order here Germany: Order here France: Order here
Italy: Order here  
Spain: Order here
If you've already read the book (thank you!) or are curious to see more, you may enjoy more than 40 bonus photos on the Food for My Daughters Pinterest board .  See my recommendations for many more books here .
Want a very simple gift you can make?  Use old albums and make this.  Fill it with wrapped candy or coins.  It's easy.  Find out how here .  Also, if you still have hot peppers (or thought to freeze a bunch), make this .
Want to inspire the next generation to think about what's really possible?  Here's my choice: water-powered alarm clocks. (The Georgia Tech bookstore has these right now, or go here .)  (Now, try wrapping your head around the fact that four African teenage girls just unveiled a urine-powered generator at an international competition.  What is possible?!)
   If the mere thought of the holidays has already worn you out, don't miss Helper Fish and Yellow Days (and, in fact, both those stories are in the book).  These are just my little gifts to you right now.  
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