Smells That Sell!

Smells That Sell…with eco benefit for all.

  By Alison Caldwell, winter 2017


With real estate, listings get one opportunity to make a lasting great first impression. When staging a home, it’s imperative to cover all the senses to communicate to a buyer, “This is your home!” In fact, studies show the right smell of house can have a positive effect on the most important part of home buying: decision making.

Latest research explains that while popularly used scents like vanilla and baked cookies may elicit positive emotions, they can distract from our ability to make decisions. Eric R. Spangenberg (dean for the College of Business at Washington State University and professor in environmental psychology) says, “There is a lot of cognitive processing involved in a home purchase…You want scents to be on the edge of your perception- not centrally processed.” Basically, you don’t want to overwhelm or distract the central part of your brain when it comes to processing the task at hand- falling in love with a home!

Our nose knows…and remembers.Our extremely sensitive olfactory system- the way we process smell, the strongest of all our senses, is hardwired to the part of our brain that is responsible for memories, emotions and decision making. So how do you satisfy this sensitivity? Studies also show that the smell of a fresh and clean space has a positive influence on home buyers.


Beware of chemical based fragrance.  Yes, beware. Chemical based fragrance (perfumes, scented candles, plug-ins, detergents and cleaners) are known to cause allergies, and turn buyers off with their overpowering synthetic smells. Adverse reactions often include sneezing, nausea, and headaches. The last thing a seller wants is a buyer to leave feeling worse when they walked in the door!


Pure therapeutic grade essential oils! Pure therapeutic grade essential oils are non-toxic, and 100% from the plant…not the synthetic lab. Essential oils are wonderfully subtle, proven to work, and do not offend or irritate the senses like chemical scents do. The body recognizes the natural purity, and responds accordingly. And remember, a little goes a long way. Oils can be diffused with a ultrasonic cool mist diffuser (beautiful additions in and of themselves for staging a home). Just a few drops of an essential oil in water does the job.

So what smells have selling power? Think Clean. Think Citrus Lemon, Grapefruit, Lemongrass, Bergamot, Lavender (just a bit!), Purification™ by Young Living (Purifies spaces, helps eliminate smoke and mildew and leaves space smelling clean.)


But oils don’t stop there. We all know working late night on a deal makes it impossible to fall asleep. Simply diffuse lavender and cedar wood and before you know it, morning has come! Essential oils have long been a go-to alternative in the world of natural healing. Sleeping sounder, healthier home cleaning, and even getting a little bit more pain-free are just a few reasons people flock to them. But for now, just get started staging with essential oils to make that listing unforgettable.

Alison Caldwell is sustainable food expert and advocate for non-toxic living. Alison is a distributor for Young Living Essential Oils, one of the purist and oldest EO’s on the market.

Contributions by, Laura Fairchild – ©2017




For the Love of Chocolate…and Children

By Alison Caldwell


I love all things chocolate. I mean really, really love deep, dark, silky chocolate in any form it is offered to me. Valentines Day is coming up, and I don’t mean to be a V-Day Debbie Downer, but just like we now turn to organic eggs, ethical avocados, and humane-raised meat, equally deserving of our mindfulness is the chocolate we eat. It’s not so much about our health as it is the health of others; and by “others” I mean children in Africa, mainly from the countries of Ivory Coast, Ghana, Mali, and Burkina Faso.


There is an official term created by the UN-ILO called “Worst Form Child Labor,” or W.F.C.L. Sadly, the chocolate industry has risen to the top of the WFCL list.  An estimated 1.5 million African children work on cacao farms. While many of these children are not subjected to harsh labor conditions, a great deal are and face a combination of hardships including exposure to pesticides, high levels of sun exposure, heat exhaustion, snake and insect bites, heavy lifting, musculoskeletal injuries, long working hours, stress, physical abuse from caretaker/owner, and forced slave labor often via kidnapping-and the problem is getting worse.

The Ivory Coast and Ghana supply most the world with chocolate from their staple cacao crops.  Companies like Hershey, Mars, and Nestlé  are all buyers. Mali and Burkina Faso play a big part in supplying migrant labor- sometimes in the form of stolen children sold into slavery on the black market and exported for work. Ghana has made strides in their organized attempt to address this internal industry pandemic of child welfare and fair trade policy, yet this problem is so difficult to wrangle. The Ivory Coast, on the other hand, remains significantly less compliant.

Just last month the U.S. Supreme Court refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former child slavery victims originally from Mali in West Africa against Nestlé, Cargill Inc., and Archer Daniels Midland.  Cargill (who has since purchased ADM’s Chocolate commerce) procures cacao from farmers to manufacture chocolate and to sell to Nestlé; who in turn manufactures products to sell to consumers. That’s you and me. If you eat chocolate, any chocolate, that isn’t committed to and/or certified fair trade, (and even then traceability is questionable) chances are it comes from this supply chain.

15fcff6d5dee0acfebc1e069157f98b0Next to Europe, the U.S. is the second largest consumer of chocolate. In today’s food cultural where chickens, kale leaves, and pigs receive our undivided ethical attention, cacoa crops and the kids who are subjected to its labor are practically invisible to the average consumer. Again, that’s you and me. Nobody’s perfect, it may be close to impossible to enjoy chocolate and be 100% ethical at the same time. Understanding, the true cost of chocolate is grave and depressing to unwrap. But this Valentines Day, if we reach for the more ethical (and yes, more expensive) chocolate that is abundant in shops everywhere; or at least be conscious of where our chocolate comes from, then we are doing a great service to the children who provide us with this undeniably decadent confection.

More Reading: “How Child Labor is Shaped by the Way Cocoa is Distributed Along the Global Supply Chain,” by Alison Caldwell


One Bad Apple?

In case you have not heard, the USDA has recently approved the first Genetically Engineered apple. It’s called the “Arctic Apple.” Now, remember, organic apples are not Genetically Engineered, or “GMOs.”  Yet, soon, conventional farmers everywhere will have the option to grow and sell  the Granny Smith and Golden Delicious varieties of Okanagan’s non-browning “Arctic” apple.

Let’s get geeky. So how does it not brown? As Nation of Change puts it…” This apple was produced using a relatively new method of genetic engineering, known as RNA interference. This technology uses RNA to silence a target gene, but mounting evidence has shown that meddling with the genes could have unintended effects within the plant and also on organisms that eat the plant. The particular gene targeted by this technology allows the apples to be sliced without turning brown, which could mislead consumers into thinking they are eating fresh apples when they might be eating apples on the verge of rotting. Browning is an important indicator to consumers in determining the freshness of an apple or apple slice. The silenced gene is also heavily involved in a plant’s natural defense against pests and pathogens, which could lead to trees that are less healthy than non-GMO apples and rely on more chemical treatments to ward off pests and disease.”  And  As the Center for  Food Safety explains,  “Little understood gene silencing technology will now be unlabeled in common consumer products.”

My question:  What’s wrong with a browning apple? 

Here’s your current list of supermarket foods containing GMO’s.  CORN: Corn flour, meal, oil, starch, gluten, and syrup. Sweeteners such as fructose, dextrose, and glucose; Modified food starch.  BEET SUGAR: Sugar not specified as 100% cane sugar is likely from GE sugar beets. Grown from white sugar beets.  SOY: Soy flour, lecithin, protein, isolate, and isoflavone, Vegetable oil and vegetable protein. CANOLA: Canola oil (also called rapeseed oil) COTTON: Cottonseed oil.  ARCTIC APPLE: Coming Soon

Meet your “Agriprenuer”!

hawaii profile picThis is Kevin Muno, agroforestry farmer with a passionate reverence and ethic for the land. What could we love more, right!  Kevin is founder of Montado Farms, and is embarking on a proposed restoration agriculture farm modeled after the oak savanna biome of the Mediterranean California climate. His Kickstarter campaign is almost near it’s goal and could use all the help he can get. At the very least, check out his  inspiring video that explains just how cool all this is.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 12.05.46 PMWhen you ask why the Montado Farms project is so important, Kevin says, “As a society, we will have some serious questions to answer in the near future regarding our food and our planet. How do we address climate change and sequester excess carbon out of the atmosphere? How can we stop desertification and heal our dry land soils? How do we feed the world’s growing population without destroying our soils? How do we build a community where the average person knows there farmer and where their food comes from?” Sustainable farm models like the one Kevin is proposing are smart small scale local solutions to such large scale dilemmas.

Thank you, Kevin. Fair food for all begins with unstoppable visionaries just like you!


In solidarity, #ItAintOverI522

As we await the final count from Washington states GMO labeling prop I-522, I feel it timely to repost my article from early this year,  “From Agent Orange to GMO’s in Vietnam.” The politics of GMO’s/GE’s  have local and global implications that are grossly imbedded in deep pockets and an imbalance of social power. In solidarity of labeling, seed freedom and biodiversity. -Alison  

From Agent Orange to GMO’s in Vietnam. By Alison Caldwell, MA. 2013.

Upon exiting the Agent Orange exhibit at the  War Remnant Museum in Ho Chi Mihn City, stop, exhale and take a deep breath of fresh air to leverage the unease in your stomach. Proceed 600 meters down the street past the farmer in the bamboo hat selling her mangostenes and sugar cane, make a quick right, then left turn, and find yourself at the doorstep of the American chemical and seed giant, Monsanto, at 72-74 Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street in the trendy 3rd quarter. If this doesn’t strike your core as odd, then perhaps the fact that both Monsanto and Dow Chemical (original producers of Agent Orange) are open for agribusiness in Vietnam should.  READ MORE…

Victory! “Monsanto Protection Act” is Defeated.

Fair food for all indeed…

Victory! CFS and Allies Defeat “Monsanto Protection Act” in Congress

STOP the Monsanto Protection Act.

Because I eat…

BREAKING NEWS! Senate Could Strike the “Monsanto Protection Act” – Contact Your Senators Today! – From the Center for Food Safety

“Thanks to your calls and emails, and the leadership in the Senate, today Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, will propose an alternative short term government funding bill that would repeal the “farmer assurance provision,” otherwise known as the “Monsanto Protection Act.”[1]

The Continuing Resolution, passed by the House last week, would fund the federal government beyond the current deadline of September 30, 2013, but the House also extended a controversial policy rider that would guarantee the ability of agrichemical companies to continue selling genetically engineered (GE) seeds even if a federal court declared them unlawful. Senator Mikulski’s alternative bill would strip the controversial provision before sending the bill back to the House for final approval.”   Read More Here