Monday, April 30, 2007

Benefits of buying local, there are many!

I've been talking about this topic lately with friends and family, but really haven't seen an article yet until now. I noticed this article today about Whole Foods and how they promote local products; not just for supporting the local community, but for many reasons, including:

  • Fewer or no chemicals to preserve the food

  • Less packaging and package waste

  • Lower shipping costs, which uses less fuel

  • Promotes/supports the local community

  • Personalized service (it's great to know your local seller)

Here is a small snip from the full article:
Chains have long sought local suppliers to keep distribution costs down. But the influence of top chefs, farmers markets, Michael Pollan's book "The Omnivore's Dilemma," and concerns about the environmental effects of shipping food long distances have raised shoppers' interest in buying local. The U.S. Department of Agriculture listed 4,385 farmers markets nationwide in 2006, up 18 percent from 3,706 in 2004.

Small local growers often cannot offer lower prices than large-scale operations that benefit from economies of scale and cheaper labor. But fuel costs for shipping food are less for shorter trips, which in turn often require less packaging to preserve food. Buying local also shortens the time it takes produce to get to market, preserving nutrients and freshness, the Center for Food & Justice said in a December report.

We buy weekly from a great company called Pioneer Organics. The prices are very competitive and they strive to buy from only local sellers and the food is very fresh. We've needed to adjust our deliveries lately, because they normally deliver so much food each week, it's difficult to eat all of it. We enjoy getting their delivery where they pick the products, so you get the best in-season foods. We like everything so it's great to get the variety.

It's nice to buy products from Whole Foods and Pioneer Organics, not only for the good local produce, but we know who we're buying from so we can ask questions, offer suggestions to improve service, and the personal attention is awesome!

I highly recommend everyone research and try-out a local seller or store that offers local products. You'll be amazed how much you'll enjoy the local products, supporting the community, and getting to know your local businesses.

By the way... if you wanted to know how to find locally grown produce ANYWHERE, check out Local Harvest. They have a great map to narrow down the search criteria and have many categories if you are looking for something specific.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Conserve water AND recycle sticky containers

Why waste water hand-washing glass or aluminum items with sticy residue? A typical container can be quickly rinsed and thrown in your recycle bin, but then there are the peanut butter jars... or honey jars... You-name-the-sticky-substance and it takes you 10 minutes to wash and scrub it out (or soak it) just so you can recycle it. Not to mention the time it takes for the water to warm up since cold water does NOTHING! LOL

Toss it in the dishwasher! You were planning to run it anyway (I run mine every evening - I'm a very pitiful FlyBaby), so if you have room, let your energy-star, efficient dishwasher do all the work. Once it's done, toss it in the recycle bin or find a clever use for it. :)

We use glass containers to hold crayons, markers and kids silverware. They're also great for SMALL amounts of bulk products like bulk raisins, dried pineapples, lentils, Sundrops (healthier alternative to M&M's), strips of nori, etc.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Natural Home Magazine

I subscribe to a wonderful "green" magazine called Natural Home.

It's filled with fantastic info on making your life green. I just can't recommend it enough. Unfortunately the issue only comes out every TWO months, but it's so worth it. Surprisingly, one of my favorite things is the ADS! It's fun looking at all of the natural products available even though I can't afford half of them.

My most recent issue just came the other day and I read it from cover to cover within hours! I was so upset when I read the opinions section because some reader wrote in complaining about the last issue. It featured a green remodel for a larger home - obviously the people had money. I thought it was a wonderful article. Regardless, the woman went on about the home being too big (let's spread misery evenly, right?) and how their efforts weren't good enough because they tore the old house down and built new using green products. Rather than paraphrasing, I'll just put her comments here:

The Not-So-Small Home

Why do you insist on showcasing homes that are too big? In the September/October 2006 issue, the home in "Standing Tall" was described as "not-so-big" at 2,700 square feet. "A Sociable Home" is called "cozy" at 2,700 square-feet. Both households consisted of a couple and one child, and both dwellings were twice the size of most houses built in the 1950's.

"Standing Tall" was brought down to its foundation - so, to build green, they threw away most of the resources used to build the original home? It's hardly "building green" when you destroy an existing home so you can use green products to rebuild another.

Please showcase families who are building small and green, such as the "Natural Home Kitchen of the Year" (Septerber/October 2006).

The environmental movement would make a bigger impact if it approached building with a completely different mindset rather than just swapping out regular building materials with green ones.

-Leslie in Idaho

Ugh, this drove me up the wall. Another opinion even went on to say people should live in homes with 500 sq ft per person and limit offspring to two. Way to push an agenda. *eye roll* So I emailed the magazine a response and they're going to put my comments in their July/August issue!!! Yay! So here is the response I sent them:

RE: The Not-So-Small House
I'm writing in response to an "opinion" I saw in this month's issue from Leslie in Idaho (page 12).

A 2,700 square foot house isn't THAT huge. It's all based on perspective and we need to keep that in mind. My house is close to that size, but I'm surrounded by neighborhoods with 4000 sq ft homes. 4000 sq ft seems excessive in my opinion, but to each his own. :) Not everyone WANTS to live in a small space. Many people don't have a choice, but those who do, have the right to live in whatever size house they choose. Whether they NEED that much space is irrelevant and none of anyone else's business.

What they do IN that space is what really counts.

I'm proud of your magazine for showcasing this home's green efforts. I think people can be environmentally friendly at any level. I love the fact that your magazine highlights green efforts from all walks of life.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Seasonal Allergies - Homepathics - Local Honey

I'm one of those lucky people who gets hit hard by allergies each year, right about NOW. I think it's the cottonwood trees. Anyway, about a week ago mine just exploded overnight. *sigh* Coincidence this happened right after PIGGING OUT ON UNHEALTHY FOOD at Easter Brunch??? Hmmm..... Noone is perfect... Even I eat junk on occasion. *wink*

Boiron Sabadil Allergy homeopathic medicineFor the first time ever, I decided to TRY handling allergies naturally with homeopathics. In years past, I always relied on Claritin. So I dragged my sneezy, stuffy, red-nosed self over to Whole Foods and begged the nice employee in Whole Body to put me out of my misery. :) She was so helpful and recommended several brands. In the end, I went with her favorite and chose Sabadil by Boiron.

I also let her know that we buy only LOCAL RAW HONEY (in Washington, I recommend Anna's Honey) and that I had increased my intake of that lately - which she totally agreed with. Local honey exposes you to local allergens and pollen in low doses and in a way your body can handle. It's a great way to help combat allergies. If you travel, make sure to purchase LOCAL raw honey at your destination too. Most honey is pasteurized, which kills all of the natural enzymes and good stuff found in honey. Make sure you buy RAW honey. Sometimes they don't specify raw on the packaging so make sure to ask a sales associate. Anna's honey is one like that. I know their honey is raw because it says so right on the home page of their website even though their packaging doesn't specify.

Back to my story... As I staggered out of Whole Foods, I immediately dissolved two tablets and waited for a sneezing miracle... You know - medicine is supposed to work immediately!!!

For a full 24 hours, I followed the directions exactly and was almost ready to return the product. Then all of a sudden it started working! It took a little time, but it did work. Slowly since yesterday, my symptoms have COMPLETELY vanished. I feel wonderful today!

Yay for homeopathic remedies!!!

Friday, April 13, 2007

There's Trans Fat in Butter, Cheese, and Beef!!??

This article points out (in my opinion) how the Trans Fat hysteria has gone a little too far. There is a difference between naturally occurring Trans Fat and the heated, processed, and altered hydrogenated oils in foods.

Since many restaurants and even Starbucks are switching to no trans fat foods, they don't realize that many foods contain natural trans fats. In the article, a baker supplying Starbucks is having a hard time finding trans fat free substitutes for butter and switching to non-trans fat margarine (yuck!!), which is about as bad as using the old hydrogenated oils.

Several things need to happen in the laws for trans fats including getting rid of the stupid loop-hole of .5 grams per serving or less of hydrogenated oils equaling no trans fat (whatever!!). Also, after reading this article, the law should be clear about naturally occurring trans fat versus hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils. There are too many scams, too many loop-holes, and we're suffering because of it. I feel like I have to be such a freak reading labels and I shouldn't need to.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Move without hitting-up the local grocer for boxes!

I noticed this article today about "moving green." Considering that I've been spending much of the past two weeks moving family members, this looked like a great idea and easy too!

It's a service that rents large plastic crates for moving. What I like best about this is they deliver them, they are same size, easy to stack, easy to carry, and easy to load-up on a cart. Boy... I wish we had this service here in Seattle. It would have made moving a lot easier and it's cheap too!

I'd like a glass of sugar water, please.

This is what you're essentially asking when you order a glass of juice.

And I AM talking about the 100% juice, no-sugar-added types too. When fruit juice says "no sugar added" it just means no refined white table sugar or high fructose corn syrup has been added. Fruit juice is pure fruit sugar (fructose) which is just as dangerous as refined white sugar. Without the fiber, the fructose is absorbed too quickly (and released into the bloodstream) and not digested properly. Because it is pure fruit sugar, it causes insulin imbalances. When insulin is irregular, children are more susceptible to ear infections, allergies and obesity. Fruit juice is extremely dangerous for adults as well if they are overweight, have high blood pressure or high blood sugar. Any kind of fruit juice just isn't good for you at all. An 8-ounce glass of commercial fruit juice contains about 8 full teaspoons of pure fructose sugar.

A piece of real FRUIT and a big glass of pure water is so much healthier.

I had a nice wake-up call about a month ago. My little ones are homeschooled, but they do attend a language immersion school twice a week since I can't give them that experience at home. I knew the school served fruit juice so when we signed up, I made sure to say something to the owner. Unfortunately that info was never passed on to the girls' teachers and they have been drinking fruit juice since.

My 4YO is a little version of me and can talk anyone's ear off about nutrition. But she's still 4... So when I asked her weekly if she said no to fruit juice, what do you think she said? "Oh yes, I always tell them no apple juice." *sigh* And I believed her because I'm a dork and had no idea eyes that adorable could lie so convincingly. LOL Not only were they both catching colds left and right (which was unusual)... The wake-up-call happened when, for the first time EVER, both of them got ear infections! They had NEVER had them before and they were BAD infections. :-( Luckily I contacted our naturopath and both of the girls healed naturally with out the need for antibiotics... which was awesome, considering the severety of their infections.

Needless to say, after a very detailed discussion with the teachers, the girls do NOT get juice anymore.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Green Linens

So I was chatting about blankets yesterday and realized I should post some of my favorite linens here. I am always cold, while hubby is always warm... So for the longest time, I've had a small, twin-sized electric blanket added to my side of the bed. I never plugged it in, but it was enough to keep me warm during the winter.

Even though I never plugged it in, it seriously bothered me to be sleeping under all of those wires... every night... Anyway, I subscribe to the magazine Natural Home and loved looking at all of the natural linen choices. But man is that stuff expensive! So I set out to find some less expensive alternatives and here's what I found.

Hammacher Schlemmer WASHABLE Merino Wool Blanket has been WONDERFUL! It's thin, it's a natural fiber and it breathes. It keeps me warm when it's REALLY cold outside and when it's warmer, it makes a nice light cover. I keep it under my big comforter. I've only had it for about 6 months, but already I can see how it would work perfect into the summer after I remove my regular comforter. Also, I wear contacts so wool can be annoying... This blanket doesn't bother my contacts at all and isn't itchy. LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT! Did I mention they're on sale right now??? I think I'm going to order two smaller sizes for my little ones.

Bed Bath & Beyond Pure Beech Jersey Sheets, 100% Modal are so soft! You'll feel like you're sleeping on silk sheets! I set out to find bamboo sheets, but everywhere I went they were blends and weren't that soft. Bamboo or Modal would have made me happy since both are sustainable and neither need chemicals to grow. Anyway, once I felt these sheets I was hooked. They are so soft and stretchy. Not all BB&B stores carry them so make sure you call ahead.

I'll post more later!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Splenda packets are 99% High Fructose Corn Syrup!?

I don't use Splenda, but in my latest Mercola newsletter he talked a bit about it. And THANK GOD I don't use it!

Seriously... O...M...G...

Splenda studies were done on pure sucralose, NOT on the little packets that everyone uses. Since sucralose is 600 times sweeter than sugar, they have to use bulking agents to manage the sweetness. Those bulking agents are dextrose and maltodextrin, which come from high fructose corn syrup (pure sugar). And not just a little bit... Since sucralose is SOOOOOO sweet, 99% of the powder in those little Splenda packets is bulking agent.

And the lovely loophole in the law says if there is less than 1 gram per serving, they don't have to claim calories and can put 0 calories when in reality there are 4 calories per packet.

I'll say it again...

99% of your Splenda packet is PURE SUGAR.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Who's the one needing carbon offset credits?

Take a look at this description of two homes belonging to famous people we all know. If you're familiar with the whole carbon credits scam, you'll see one of these homes needs a lot of them. ;)

House #1
House #1

A 20-room mansion (not including 8 bathrooms) heated by natural gas. Add on a pool (and a pool house) and a separate guest house all heated by gas. In ONE MONTH ALONE this mansion consumes more energy than the average American household in an ENTIRE YEAR. The average bill for electricity and natural gas runs over $2,400.00 per month. In natural gas alone (which last time we checked was a fossil fuel), this property consumes more than 20 times the national average for an American home. This house is not in a northern or Midwestern "snow belt," either. It's in the South.

House #2

House #2

Designed by an architecture professor at a leading national university, this house incorporates every "green" feature current home construction can provide. The house contains only 4,000 square feet (4 bedrooms) and is nestled on arid high prairie in the American southwest. A central closet in the house holds geothermal heat pumps drawing ground water through pipes sunk 300 feet into the ground. The water (usually 67 degrees F.)
heats the house in winter and cools it in summer. The system uses no fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas, and it consumes 25% of the electricity required for a conventional heating/cooling system. Rainwater from the roof is collected and funneled into a 25,000 gallon underground cistern. Wastewater from showers, sinks and toilets goes into underground purifying tanks and then into the cistern. The collected water then irrigates the land surrounding the house. Flowers and shrubs native to the area blend the property into the surrounding rural landscape.

... and the carbon credit Oscar goes to ...

World renowned environmentalist (and filmmaker) Al Gore!

Don't believe me?.... check out the truth on about this article. Below is most of the details.

According to the Associated Press, the Gore's 10,000 square foot Belle Meade residence consumes electricity at a rate of about 12 times the average for a typical house in Nashville (191,000 kwh versus 15,600 kwh). While there are mitigating factors, this is still a surprising number, given that the residence is approximately four times the size of the average new American home.

The ranch home owned by George W. Bush in Crawford, Texas, (dubbed "the Texas White House") was designed by Austin architect David Heymann, an associate dean for undergraduate programs at the University of Texas School of Architecture. While its precise size isn't known, scuttlebutt has it that it's about 4,000 square feet, all on one floor.

The ranch utilizes an efficient geothermal heating and cooling system that pumps ground water through a heat exchanger to warm the house in the winter and cool it in the summer, a system that expends roughly one-quarter the energy of a conventional heater/air-conditioner. Water used by the house is reclaimed, treated, and reused, and rainwater funnels from the home's gutters into a large cistern, which holds the water for garden irrigation.

Ever heard of Carbon credits?

Now... I don't have all of the intricate details, but to put it simply... Let's say you have a nice house and use more power than the "average American" (whatever that is... I'm sure Liberals can determine how much you really need). You can "offset" the extra power you're using by buying "credits" to compensate.

Carbon credits sounds really important doesn't it? Well... it's basically a sheet of paper saying you have purchased or invested in environmental programs in an attempt to offset (code for "make you feel better") the extra power you're using. Carbon credits don't reduce anything and the same amount power is still used.

Why can't people invest in something simply because it's good for the environment? For example, I recycle like crazy (more than my weekly bin can hold) and buy green products whenever possible (including organic groceries), but I don't need to buy stupid carbon credits to get that feeling of environmental equality.

If you want a little more than my opinion, take a look at a couple of these links. While you do that, I'm going to take a drive in my SUV to nowhere special. ;)

Boring wikipedia article
Carbon Credit collapse
Feel like throwing money away? Buy now!!


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