But first, an enigma: Through what principle of agronomics are red and yellow peppers two or three times as expensive as green peppers? Can anyone tell me? Are red and yellow dyes that much more expensive than green? The main costs of the peppers are identical: the cost of packing and shipping them to the store, the cost of store labor for stocking them, the store’s rent and utilities. Is it that the red and yellow peppers grow only at the very top of the pepper tree and are thus an order of magnitude more difficult and dangerous to pick?

I need to know!

And now . . .

THE MULTIPLICATION GAME

In terms of stuff (yesterday’s video), one looks for ways to live lighter on the land.

And in terms of the Bush economy, one looks to economize. (A grand eight years for the rich and powerful, yes, but a time when – since the year 2000, NBC Nightly News reports – middle class families have seen their income drop by $1,175 while life’s necessities keep getting more expensive – gasoline up $2,200 a year, health insurance up $363, food up $220, the average yearly mortgage payment up $1,729.)

A psychological trick that may help if you don’t do it already: multiply whatever little thing you’re buying by 365, if you buy it every day.

It’s not a $4 Starbucks – it’s a $1,460 annual Starbucks habit. (Sorry, Starbucks; I love you!) Brewing coffee at home – toss in a little cinnamon or hot chocolate mix – and taking it with you in a go cup, which you can then use for your free office coffee instead of Styrofoam cups, saves you $1,000 a year.

It’s not a 75-cent bottle of water twice a day, it’s a $547 annual water bill. Yet just as $220 Johnny Walker Blue bottles are auspiciously refilled with Glenlivet at one fifth the price (I poured a Blue aficionado three unlabeled jiggers, one Blue, two Glenlivet, and watched happily as he couldn’t tell them apart), so the water bottle may be refilled – free – with delicious chilled tapwater, saving $527 a year and the need for 730 petroleum-based plastic bottles (of the 30-odd billion Americans throw out each year).

And don’t even get me started on cigarettes.

Paper towels? Have you people not heard of a sponge?

Beef? Have you people not heard of pork? Pork? Have you not heard of chicken? Chicken? Have you not heard of eggplant parmigian? The further down the food chain you go, and the less processing went into making it, the less resources were required – and, often, the less it costs and the better it is for you.

Most of you know at least much about all this as I do, and most of you know I’m not proposing you never have a Starbucks or a burger.

But I am proposing you ask the chef at your next BBQ for an Andy Burger. Just once, at least. Try it! (An Andy Burger is a fully loaded cheeseburger, with lettuce, tomato, and pickle on a grilled bun – hold the burger. Slather on the ketchup. The grill marks impart that beefy aroma, and ketchup is the main point of a burger anyway . . . I’m telling you, it’s every bit as good as the traditional burger but less expensive, lighter on the land, healthier, and much easier on the cow.)

RECYCLING 101

Good tips from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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