Fitting Three Children on Your Car's Back Seat

 "I hate to give up my hatchback, but with the third baby coming, we need to buy a minivan." You hear this a lot. Even if you have two young children, you can't offer a ride to a friend because the extra child seat won't fit in the back row.Do manufacturers of child seats get a kickback from manufacturers of minivans?...more

What's Arsenic Doing in My Rice, and What Can I Do About It?

There is arsenic in my rice. Not just any arsenic, the inorganic trivalent form that is known to be carcinogenic. And I seem to be eating a lot of it: Rice comes to me not only in my Chinese take-out and my sushi rolls, but in breakfast cereals, crackers, and the baby foods I used to offer so liberally to my children. Now that we've gone gluten free, we've started to rely on rice flour in our baking as a substitute for wheat. ...more
 @HomeRearedChef  Ugh.  So sorry to be the messenger of bad news.  Sometimes I think that just ...more

Freeing our food from fossil fuels

In the early 1600s a consortium of Dutch merchants called the VOC (the United East-India Company), colonised the spice islands, now known as Indonesia, mainly for the rich harvest of peppercorn, cloves, cinnamon and other spices. These spices arrived in the North-European diet of potatoes, cabbage and kale like the sudden appearance of Californian sunshine into the grim Dutch winter (nobody has more words for "rain"), and made the merchants who imported them by the shipload fabulously rich. The 10,000 mile diet was born. ...more

Just how bad is diesel exhaust?

It's no secret that I am a proponent of cars fueled by clean diesel, so much so that since this spring a clean-diesel car occupies our driveway (I believe in transparency and want to put this disclosure right up front). ...more

Temperature Control: Sweat vs. Air Conditioning

Are you hot yet? The summer is turning, umm, a tad warm. And perspiration is everywhere. For some reason Western culture has a problem with perspiration, exemplified by the Victorian-era pronunciation that "Horses sweat, men perspire, and ladies glow". ...more

So you want a seven-seat car that does better than 30 mpg

It's only reasonable: you have a large family to move. Or a family of musicians that play large and delicate instruments. Or you regularly have grandparents in the car, or a few friends. You end up with a minivan or an SUV / crossover: but those tend to eat fuel in a big way. Gas prices have been down fron their peak earlier this spring, but they're still high. I've heard so many moms say, with a sigh, that they would gladly give up their gas hog, if only they could find a gas sipper that offers enough space. ...more

When to buy a car running on natural gas

Cries of pain are heard at gasoline stations all around the nation as the price of a gallon of regular unleaded is close to $4 again. It's time to get used to it: 2012 is the year that oil consumption of OECD countries is surpassed by that of non-OECD countries. China is ready to add 125 million cars to its roads in the next five years, and all those extra cars will compete for the same pool of oil with everybody else's cars on the planet. ...more

The Arrival of Clean Diesel

Say goodbye to the image of Mack trucks belching a large black cloud of exhaust wherever they go. With the arrival of "clean" diesel at US pumps, and the development of power-boosting and exhaust-scrubbing technologies, diesel-powered passenger cars are cleaner than their gasoline counterparts on just about all emissions - and run at a higher fuel efficiency....more
 @Cynthia M  I had known for a while that modern diesel engines gave significantly higher fuel ...more

How to buy a gas sipper for LESS

Rising gas prices. Energy security. Global climate change. Each one a good reason to work on raising the fuel economy of our vehicles. The CAFE 2025 standard calls for the US fleet of passenger cars and light trucks to achieve an average mileage of 54.5 mpg by 2025, up from 27.5 mpg in 2011. Just about every news article and blog covering CAFE 2025 states that the new standard will add, on average, $3000 to the purchase price of a car (but the savings at the pump amount to a lot more than that over the car's lifetime). ...more

Small Is Beautiful 2.0

You may have seen the wistful sighs, often as comments on articles on gas-frugal cars: "Why can't I buy a car like my 1980 Honda Accord that did 45mpg?" or "Why don't they sell cars like what the Europeans drive? Some of those get over 55mpg." Well, here is good news for the wistful: After three decades of increasing car size, weight and accessories, all requiring more and more energy to operate, the pendulum has started to swing the other way. ...more