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News

Meet the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors candidates

Meet the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors candidates

Two candidates have filed to run for the District 7 seat on the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors in the Nov. 4 election. The water district, established in 1929, oversees and protects water resources in Santa Clara County....

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Schools

New LAHS assistant principal focuses on school activities

New LAHS assistant principal focuses on school activities


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Suzanne Woolfolk, assistant principal at Los Altos High, teaches a leadership course for Associated Student Body leaders.

Suzanne Woolfolk – new assistant principal at Los Altos High School – said she is happy...

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Community

Petting zoo, car show highlight Chamber's annual Fall Festival

Petting zoo, car show highlight Chamber's annual Fall Festival


Courtesy of Los Altos Chamber of Commerce
The petting zoo is a highlight of the Los Altos Fall Festival. This year’s event is slated Oct. 4 and 5.

The Los Altos Chamber of Commerce has scheduled its 23rd annual Fall Festival 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oc...

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Sports

Burlingame bowls over Los Altos

Burlingame bowls over Los Altos


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High halfback Sean Lanoza looks for running room against Burlingame in Saturday’s home opener.

The opening drive of Saturday’s game against Burlingame couldn’t have gone much better for the Los Altos High fo...

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Comment

Does Los Altos have a parking problem, or is it a symptom? : Other Voices

Yes, and yes. It appears that the downtown Los Altos parking problem is a symptom of the city’s “Sarah Winchester” approach to planning that instead of resulting in staircases to nowhere resulted in a hotel without parking required by code.(1)

From ...

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Special Sections

Los Altos landmark Four families later, Shoup House goes on the market

Los Altos landmark Four families later, Shoup House goes on the market


Courtesy of Matthew Anello
The Shoup House dining room, above, features original elements. The 100-year-old house on University Avenue earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, a nod to its legacy as the home of city founder Paul S...

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Business

Longtime banker readies for retirement

Longtime banker readies for retirement


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Joanne Kavalaris is retiring at the end of October after spending the past 25 years of her banking career in downtown Los Altos.

A longtime Los Altos banker is calling it a career in a few weeks.

Joanne Kavalaris, Bank o...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

Pear builds wonderful 'House'

Pear builds wonderful 'House'


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Betsy Kruse Craig portrays Trish in the Pear Avenue Theatre production of “House,” which closes Oct. 5.

Mountain View’s Pear Avenue Theatre is staging an unusual theater-going experience – producing two plays...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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'Natural' not always nice: Deciphering deception in organic labeling

Photo Elliott Burr/Town Crier Hidden Villa's Community Supported Agriculture farm manager Jason McKenney, right, loads organic produce into baskets with the help of Max Bryer. Produce can lose its organic label if one uses fertilizers or if a product doesn't contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients.

 

The trend for gardening at home continues to grow – and people are taking a particular interest in raising flowers and vegetables organically. With such prominent figures as First Lady Michelle Obama promoting organic gardening in the White House yard, products that cater to this trend are increasingly available.

Unfortunately, the increased interest in organic gardening has led to some confusion – and some deception – about what it means for a product to be organic. Product labels and their meanings have become a minefield for consumers interested in eco-friendly agriculture. It can be difficult to know exactly what products labeled natural, plant-based or organic signify.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) designates the official organic labeling. The agency’s seal comes in several forms that denote whether a product is 100 percent organic, organic or made with organic ingredients. But anecdotal evidence suggests this multitiered labeling system is contributing to consumer confusion.

For example, if a product is labeled 100 percent organic, everything in it must be certified organic. If a product is labeled organic, that means it must contain 95 percent certified-organic ingredients. If a product contains 70 percent organic ingredients, it can be labeled as made with organic ingredients. Any product with less than 70 percent organic ingredients cannot carry the USDA seal.

Another tip is that a product labeled natural is not organic. While there might be some natural ingredients in the product, that doesn’t mean that it’s safe or Earth-friendly – not to mention organic.

The USDA directs consumers to other organizations that can help them determine whether the products they purchase are 100 percent organic. The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) is a non-profit, independent organization that reviews products and their rank on the USDA’s national organic standards list.

The institute provides a comprehensive list of products that pass the test for concerned consumers.

“OMRI’s list is an invaluable tool for gardeners who want to keep their plots organic,” said Claude Boisvert, president of Tree World Plant Care Products. “It makes it easier than ever to find gardening supplements that are not harmful to the environment.”

If a main concern in planting an organic garden is providing your family with safe-to-eat, healthful food from the backyard, you’ll want to ensure you’re using truly organic gardening products. At the same time, you want the garden to look great and produce well.

One of the biggest challenges in organic gardening is controlling pests in a way that is humane and safe – for people and the environment. For smaller pests, it is increasingly easy to find organic insecticidal soaps that are safe, unlike some traditional pesticides. Larger plant browsers can wreak havoc unless a rabbit or deer repellent is used. Several eco-conscious repellants are on the market, but if they’re not shelved at your store, it’s important to remember that consumers have the power to influence the products that are available.

If keeping an organic garden truly organic is important to you, discuss your concerns with local retailers. By asking them to stock products that are subject to rigorous standards, everyone in the community can have access to verified organic materials.

 

-ARAContent

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