Tag Archives: organics

What’s Your Motivation To Choose Organic?

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What's Your Motivation To Choose Organic?I don’t have a lot of brand preferences when it comes to food.   it’s important to me to keep our kitchen as organic and GMO free as I can, working within the budget I have, so my considerations are generally to shop for the “cleanest” food I can find at the lowest price.

To my delight, both the large supermarket and the small, local grocer where I do most of my shopping have been expanding their selection of store-brand organics. We usually end up choosing those when they are offered simply because they are the least expensive.

Organic and all-natural products generally have some sort of little message on the box that says something along the lines of, “Even though we are a company that employes a zillion people around the world we are moms and dads just like you and this recipe was created by sweet little old apron-wearing grannies in a kitchen surrounded by rainbows and unicorn dust to be as healthy as possible for your family.” (Paraphrased)

The notes always make me roll my eyes a little. It takes a lot of grannies to churn thousands of pounds of organic butter every day!  It’s advertising. Take it with a grain of salt and use your common sense to know that even organic stuff is produced/packaged by relatively low-wage workers in gigantic factories.

Then one day I noticed the note on the back of a box of Kraft Organic Macaroni and Cheese.

First, let me say, before anyone else brings it up, I realize that “organic” and “healthy” are not synonymous and orange-colored cheese dust is never going to pass the “is it real food” inspection.  Often I make my own mac and cheese from… well… from actual mac and actual cheese.  But sometimes we eat this. Judge me if you must.

Second, I should probably admit that Kraft is a brand that I pay attention to when I’m shopping. I notice them to avoid them.  I thought the way they handled the recent petitions by the ladies at The Food Babe and 100 Days of Real Food showed a distinct lack of class and disdain for the consumers that keep their company open.  They did eventually cave to pressure… sort of… as little as possible…. but the whole thing just put me off of them in a big way.

However, because there are only a few stores around me that carry organic choices they often sell out quickly and, sometimes, Kraft is what’s left and I end up reluctantly giving them a bit of my money.

So, this one day I’m in the kitchen waiting for the noodles to cook and I happen to see the picture on the box.

I look cool?

Really?

You think I chose the $2/box macaroni instead of the $.68 stuff because I wanted to be a trendsetter?

You really think that the consumers who make organic choices are that shallow and lame?

I buy organic food for my family because, after an absurd amount of research (no one should have to work so hard to find out what’s in their food!), I decided it’s the HEALTHIEST choice.

My family doesn’t have a lot of money. Spending extra on organic food means we go without things that many people take for granted.  If I wanted to look cool I would whittle my groceries down to the lowest possible cost, buy the cheapest crap on the market and use my money to get some clothes that have never been previously worn by others. Maybe I’d even wildly splurge on a professional haircut and a manicure! I could indulge in cable TV. Imagine the luxury!

At least I can take comfort in knowing, as I stand in the checkout line with my mouse-brown pony tail and my decade old clothes, that the grocery store cashier thinks I’m fabulous.

It’s fair to say that I found Kraft’s message offensive.

But then I started thinking… the majority of Americans do not make organic food choices.  Is this how they see people who do?

Do those “in the mainstream” think that those who live a “crunchy” lifestyle are doing it because it’s trendy at the moment?

It’s not my experience.  I started on this path because I was concerned about how many diapers I was putting in the landfill. That led to researching the effects of our modern society on our planet and on our bodies. Two years later I’m growing my own veggies from heirloom seeds and using baking soda deodorant.

The way I live now is, in many ways, more difficult than the way I lived before.  Every choice is researched and thought out. I don’t do it because it’s cool or because a celebrity said I should or because I’m trying to make a statement to the world. I do it because these choices have made me feel stronger and healthier than I ever have and I want my children to grow up feeling strong and healthy.

Every single other person I know who strives for an “organic lifestyle” does so for the same reasons.

But I wonder…

Maybe we are in the minority because people in “the mainstream” see us just the way the box-writers at Kraft see us.  Maybe people think that I’m buying organic salad dressing because Paul Newman has pretty blue eyes. Maybe they don’t realize that the petroleum-based food dyes in the regular mac and cheese have been proven by the medical community to cause symptoms very like those of ADHD and autism and that they are limited or banned in most countries around the world because of their negative health effects.

I am curious to know. What do you think?

Do people buy organic to be trendy?

Do “the crunchies” need to get better at explaining the reasons behind their choices?

Do folks in the mainstream even want to know our reasons, or do you think that many of them are working on an “ignorance is bliss” mentality?

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow Lazy Hippie Mama  by emailFacebookGoogle+Twitter or Instagram to get all the updates? 

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

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Beginner’s Guide to Real Food & Natural Living

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A few weeks ago I spent some time talking with a dear friend who said, “my sister tells me I will feel better and have more energy if I switch from conventional food but I don’t even know what that means. I don’t want to eat NOTHING but vegetables and water for the rest of my life. Then she tells me I should stop using deodorant. What is THAT all about?!”

GMOs & biotech, Glyphosate, neonicotinoids, Bt, aspartame, parabens, Dimethyl-polysiloxane, and rbGH are just the beginning of the “natural vs. conventional” discussion. To really be fluent in the language you need to know the difference between “organic” and “natural.”  What is “raw?” Which foods are considered “processed?”  Is “whole wheat” and “whole grain” the same thing? What do the labels on meat mean? Aren’t they the same as the labels on other items? Why does some produce have a 5 digit code?  What’s the big deal about fluoride?

If you try to read up on it you find comments like these.  They are a sampling I’ve come across on “natural living” sites over the past few days.

Mollyann H: NEVER eat any processed food – there is an accepted limit of insects in every processed food.

David T: Medicine is drugs. Don’t do drugs, prescription, over the counter, under the counter, street corner, doesn’t matter, don’t do drugs. Remember this…you do not get a headache because you are aspirin deficient.

Nikki H: I don’t understand why the people who continually shovel this crap into their pie holes aren’t held accountable. (In response to health care costs related to diabetes and other issues that may be linked to high consumption of processed foods)

AAARGGHHH!!!

It’s enough to make anyone crazy! No wonder people get overwhelmed and go back to their old, familiar habits!

Here’s the thing: I waded into this sea of information very slowly.  I went looking for a good detergent for my cloth diapers. I learned one or two things about dyes and perfumes and ended up where I am now… blogging about natural living.

The same is true of most of the people I know who have begun to turn away from the “mainstream” choices.  Consider Lisa, who writes at 100 Days of Real Food.  She started out a few years ago just trying to encourage her family to make healthier choices for a few months.  Now she has hundreds of thousands of followers and she is one of the leaders of the “real food” movement in the US!

What makes it even more complicated is that there isn’t always agreement.  People have huge debates over certain products.

BUT WAIT!!!

It doesn’t have to be THAT complicated!

There are some changes that pretty much everyone – not only in the “natural living” community, but in the world of  medicine & environmental science as well – agrees will go a long way toward benefiting your health and our planet.

No more margarine.

Margarine is cheaper and lower in calories than butter but the fats in butter are natural and actually aid the body in the proper digestion of the nutrients in your food.  On the other hand, the polyunsaturated fats found in margarine oxidize easily which causes inflammation and mutation in cells.  Contrary to the claims of these products being more heart healthy the inflammation can actually clog arteries.   Choosing whipped butter will lower your caloric intake without adding chemicals and toxins to your body.    Using olive oil or coconut oil may be an even better alternative.  If you MUST choose a “fake” butter go with something like Earth Balance that contains no transfat.  It is one of those products that would fit in the “controversial” category (mentioned above) but it’s pretty universally accepted as better than most.

No more processed drinks – especially diet drinks.

Processed drinks such as soda and punch are an abyss of bad nutrition.  Everyone from your dentist to your doctor will agree that they hold no benefit.  The sugar content is extraordinary and they are full of artificial colors and toxic preservatives.   Unfortunately, the diet versions may be even worse.  Artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, are linked to a host of illnesses from reproductive issues to join pain, to migraine headaches.  The dyes used are associated with a variety of issues (see below).  Brominated vegetable oil, found in many soft drinks, has been associated with extreme fatigue, tremors, and memory loss.

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100% fruit juice, milk, tea and other natural beverages are better by far. Your body recognizes these foods and digests them properly.

Even better? Drink water.  Yes, it seems bland at first.  It can be a hard switch and there is an adjustment period but you will find, over time, that you will start to crave fresh, clean water over anything else. That’s coming from a girl who regularly drank 6-8 cans of Diet Coke a day.  No other drink is healthier or cheaper than water.  It’s a win-win.

No more white food.

White bread, white rice, and treats made with white flour throw off your body’s glycemic index in a serious way and hold almost no nutritional value.  Some processed “white” foods have been “fortified” with vitamins, which sounds impressive, but your digestive system does not break those vitamins down in the same way it would if they were naturally-occurring.  Opt, instead for choices that list “Whole Grain” as the 1st ingredient.

It can get tricky because some products say, “made with whole grains.”  If I bake cookies that call for 5 cups of flour and I use 4 cups of the bleached stuff and 1 cup of whole-wheat I could say they are “made with whole grains.”  Read carefully!  Remember – ingredients are listed by weight/volume so the lower down the list an item is the less of it is in your food.

No more high fructose corn syrup.

We all know that too much sugar in any form is bad for us but HFC is like sugar’s evil twin.  It is absorbed into the blood faster than sugar, potentially causing metabolic issues, liver problems, pancreatic issues and more.  It is known to contain contaminates such as mercury and it is pretty much always from genetically modified crops (more on that, below).

Don’t believe the line that all sugars are created equal.  That’s like saying wine coolers, tequila and rubbing alcohol are all the same since they are all alcohol.  Sugar cane and “table sugar” have been around for thousands of years.  People ate it in TINY quantities.  People have eaten raw honey even longer.  If you must sweeten things up, use these real foods and keep your portions sane. I confess – my personal downfall lies in portion control.

No more artificial colors or flavors.

There is NO benefit to artificial colors or flavors. Zip. Zero. Zilch. None.  Perhaps one can argue for the use of vegetable oil spreads over butter or artificial sweeteners over sugar but artificial colors & flavors… I can’t fathom why these are still in our food.  Especially when you consider that MOST of the world has now banned them.  They come from petroleum. They are associated with a whole array of medical issues including symptoms like those associated with ADHD and autistic-spectrum disorders.

Many manufacturers now offer choices colored and flavored with vegetable extracts or other natural items.  Some of these, such as Castoreum or Cochineal may come from sources that sound less than palatable but the body DOES recognize them as food and digests them properly.  They are always a better choice than their petroleum-based counterparts.

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Avoid the “dirty dozen.”

People who say it isn’t more expensive to eat naturally in America are lying.  Perhaps… if you grow all your own food you can pull it off but most of us don’t have the resources to do that.   There are certain foods, however, that are more effected than others by the chemicals used by farmers.  Apples, for instance, absorb toxins like crazy.  Bananas… not so much.  Each year the Environmental Working Group publishes a list of the foods most and least effected.  If you can’t afford to buy all organic put the list in your phone’s memo pad and make your choices accordingly. Another option, usually fresher and cheaper than the grocery store and better for the planet, too, is to buy from your local farm stand or farmer’s market. Often these farmers are not “certified organic” which is a complicated and costly process, but their produce is grown without pesticides. Since the farmer is right there, you can ask.

Other steps you may want to consider…

No more deodorant.

Commercial deodorant contains some very harmful toxins including aluminum (a neurotoxin) and parabens (linked to breast cancer). There are some natural products, such as “Tom’s” that are pretty easy to find in big retailers but, in my experience, they are not as effective as the chemical stuff. If you have a natural health store you may be able to find something a little stronger and still natural, like Primal Pit Paste.  However, it’s cheap and easy to make your own at home.

No more laundry detergent.

Anyone who’s ever had a sneezing fit when they walked into the detergent aisle at the supermarket knows that these products are FULL of perfumes and chemicals.  They are harsh on skin and on our planet.  Making your own detergent couldn’t be an easier and it is ridiculously inexpensive. It’s effective and, if you just love that lavender (or whatever) smell you can add a few drops of essential oils to get a great scent. Lemon juice and vinegar can be great stain and odor fighters.

No more sunscreen.

All those doctors who told us to slather ourselves in sunscreen every single day are now re-thinking their approach.  Many commercial sunscreens have been linked to a HIGHER incidence of skin cancer. That’s not just a hippie rumor. It’s actual AMA news.  This is one of those areas that can be complicated but keep in mind:  The sun is not evil and all sunscreen is not created equal.  If you’d like more information, you can go here to read about it.

No more bug spray.

DEET is a really powerful chemical.  It is very effective but it has been linked to serious neurological issues.  The links are strong enough, in fact, that there are warnings on your bug spray can.  Having had a child suffer through West Nile Virus I understand that there are times when extra protection may be worth the risk.  If you are exploring the deep woods, perhaps the risk is worth it.  On the other hand, it is a very bad idea to spray yourself, or especially your children, with such a powerful toxin every time you leave the house. There are dozens of natural products on the market that are quite effective as a repellent under “normal” circumstances.  Consider one of these for more common use.  For more info, click here.

Why GMOs are not on this list.

I’m not going to get into the GMO  (genetically modified organisms. AKA: biotech.  Not to be confused with hybrid plants, which can occur in nature.) debate in this post because it is such a massively huge topic that it needs its own space.  I have discussed it in great detail in another post.  I will say this: every day this issue becomes more hotly debated and for good reason.  Organics are never GMO.  Anything else is uncertain as there are no GMO labeling laws in the US.  I think that biotech is an issue that will be at the forefront of global discussion for generations to come and everyone needs to become educated on the topic.  Don’t just listen to the rhetoric from either side of the debate.  Become truly educated. I can not overstate how important I feel this is.  The single thing that people on both sides of the debate agree on is that there is nothing less than the future of our planet at stake.

That said…

Try not to make yourself crazy!

"I'm freaking out! FREAKING OUT!"

“I’m freaking out! FREAKING OUT!”

When people start to read that this is bad and that is bad and it all causes cancer and other horrible diseases they often have one of two reactions:  they give up and figure there is no hope or they become terrified of the very foods and products that are supposed to be nourishing them.

Try hard to keep some perspective.

Spinach is full of good nutrients whether it’s organic or conventional, canned, fresh or frozen.  Sugar needs to be kept to a minimum in all its forms.  You already know that.  Start there, with your own common sense.  If you can cut out 1/2 of the processed foods and chemicals from your diet you’re way ahead of the curve. Your body will have an easier time processing the toxins it will inevitably encounter in day-to-day life.  “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”  Keep taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle and it won’t seem so overwhelming.

If you’d like the chance to try out a few natural products without breaking the bank we have a great give-a-way going on right now through Friday, July 26, 2013.  Click here for a chance to win a $25 gift card to Squishy Tushy Natural Boutique.  

Not just cloth diapers - they have natural bug spray, lotions and more!

Not just cloth diapers – they have natural bug spray, lotions and more!

If you would like to know more, get some great recipes and share a few laughs, here is some recommended reading for you.

100 days of real food

food babe

mind body green

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email or Facebook to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!  

I’m proud to have my blog linked up at Modern Hippie Momma and The Home Acre Hop. Go on over and see what other writers are posting about this week!

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Reading Labels and Eating Giant Snickers Bars

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Yahoo! posted an interesting article today about some of the most common food additives that we goofy Americans tend to consume on a daily basis without a thought.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:  You need to learn what’s in your food!

This isn’t like learning calculus or the history of French poetry ( I TOLD those teachers I was never going to use it!).  This knowledge is actually useful and important!

Unless you build roller coasters or launch rockets for a living, you don't need to know this!(Image from oaklandcc.edu)

Unless you build roller coasters or launch rockets for a living, you don’t need to know this!
(Image from oaklandcc.edu)

If you feel like it is too much to go 100% “real” food (like me… the very idea totally overwhelms me) at least learn about which ingredients are the very worst and try your best to avoid them.

Often, you will find that simply switching from one brand of crackers or juice to another will eliminate some awful stuff! (See a few of our favorite “switches” at the end of this post.)

Maybe giving up your favorite Red Baron Supreme Deep Dish Pizza (Sigh. Lord help me, I could eat it every day and never get tired of it!) is a sad thought.  I understand.  Believe me! I understand.  But if it’s a “sometimes” food, interspersed with a very “clean” diet, toxins aren’t going to build up in your system as much.

Mmmmm...... I can smell them!

Mmmmm…… I can smell them!

McDonald’s french fries are salty, crispy, hot, golden bursts of heaven on your tongue.  But they really shouldn’t be the main “vegetable” in your diet.

As Ralph Nader once said, “If God hadn’t wanted us to eat sugar, He wouldn’t have invented dentists.”  Sugar is like childhood happiness you can eat.  But, again, I don’t think you can count “sugar cane” as a fruit serving.

Coffee may seem like a blessed gift from the gods, coursing through your veins with all the power and energy of a magnificent volcano but it isn’t going to help lengthen your life…. oh wait! I forgot! It will!  I’m going to drink some now.

Ahh.

(Image from fanpop.com)

(Image from fanpop.com)

Thank you, God, for inventing coffee!

But I digress.

Why bother switching brands and reading labels?

The ingredients listed in the Yahoo! article are ALSO used as weed killer, flame retardant and sunscreen.  They are directly linked to: breast tumors, thyroid disease, headaches, dizziness, memory loss, epileptic seizures, lead poisoning, learning disabilities, infertility, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease,  rheumatoid arthritis, intestinal tumors and more.

Many of them have been partially or completely banned in other countries.

Seriously, are you REALLY willing to take that chance with your life?  How about with the lives of your children?

I have never seen evidence linking pesticide-free fresh produce or humanely raised, cage free poultry to wide-spread, horrible, chronic illness.  Yes, you COULD get food poisoning if you don’t wash it or cook it properly…. so wash it and cook it.  Yes, there have been RARE cases when food produced in one person’s yard or farm was contaminated.  There will always be exceptions to every rule.

Now that I got that off my chest (again), I would like to take a moment to highlight my very most favorite part of the article:

Castoreum

WHAT IT IS: Beaver anal gland juice. Really. Beavers combine it with their urine to mark their territory.

FOUND IN: Vanilla or raspberry flavoring in processed foods, labeled only as “natural flavoring.”

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:It’s beaver anal gland juice.

HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!   As far as I could find, there is NO evidence that Castoreum is especially bad for you.   But, indeed, “it’s beaver anal gland juice.”  This is a good example of the use of the term “natural flavoring.”  Other “natural flavors” include insect exoskeletons, bones and genetically engineered bacteria.  Yum yum yum!

Image from scientopia.org

Image from scientopia.org

Take it from this food-loving often gluttonous chubby Hippie Mama!  You can find LOTS of “real” food that is totally delicious and 100% free of things than came from the anuses of rodents.  ew.

I’m a huge cheerleader for Meijer.  I have found a great selection of “real” food there, at very reasonable prices.   Some of the relatively painless switches we’ve made include :

(Please note: Not all of these are totally “natural” but they are better than their more common counterparts.)

We used to eat Nabisco Honey Maid Graham Crackers, which contain, among other things, enriched flour, sugar, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, artificial flavors and, possibly, GMO wheat and soy.

Now we eat Meijer Organic Honey Graham Crackers, which have none of those (except organic evaporated cane juice, which is really only marginally “better” than white sugar).

We used to eat Aunt Millie’s Seeded Italian Bread, which contains, among other things, enriched bleached flour (possibly from GMO wheat), sugar, soybean oil (possibly from GMO beans), corn syrup (possibly from GMO corn), corn flour (possibly from GMO corn), azodicarbonamide (a product which must be used with a warning label in Europe), calcium peroxide (fertilizer and bleaching agent. Yum.)

Now we eat Meijer Organic Spelt Bread, which has none of those.

We used to eat Johnsonville Polish Kielbasa which contains salt, corn syrup, dextrose, sodium phosphate (a saline laxative), monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium erythorbate (fermented corn sugar), and sodium nitrite (a known carnigen).

Now we eat Meijer Naturals Chicken Sausage, which has only chicken, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, cane juice (hey… nobody’s PERFECT), spices and natural casings.  I have to give special honors to this sausage because it is a new family favorite.  It is AMAZING!!!  It is SO flavorful and easy to prepare! And at only about $3 a package the price is definitely right!

We used to eat Cocoa Puffs, which contain corn (most likely GMO), “artificial” flavors, and BHT (rocket fuel stabilizer. Seriously.)

Now we eat Cascadian Farms Organic Chocolate O’s, which contain none of those.

As you can see, we aren’t starving or suffering in any way, and these products are very similar in price to what we were buying before.

Go! Shop! Eat! Enjoy! You may find some new products that you like much more than the old. Read labels!!! Don’t sacrifice your health just because you’re “used to” a certain brand of food or beverage!

Now I’ve officially made myself hungry so I’m off to find something delicious.  I’ll meet you back here soon!

Sweet Hippie Daughter on Christmas morning.  Proof that we have not yet gone over 100% to the "real food" side of the aisle!

Sweet Hippie Daughter on Christmas morning. Proof that we have not yet gone over 100% to the “real food” side of the aisle!

Good News For Sleepy People

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A happy hippie coffee mug if ever there was one!  I think I must find this and buy it!

So… it’s like this.

I’ve been tired.

I’m not talking about a 2pm slump.

I’m talking about the kind of tired where I’ve dozed off doing my business in the bathroom.  At least I haven’t done my business while dozing off elsewhere!  There is always a silver lining.

I started to explain exactly WHY I’m so tired (it’s not health-related, I promise), but then realized that you probably have better things to do with your day than read 1,000 words about how busy my summers are.

I’ll sum up:

Summers are lots of fun.  We get to have a lot of great family time.  I have the privilege to serve my community in wonderful, enjoyable ways.

Add all that fun and community to a 14-month-old who refuses to sleep and you are left with one Sleepy Hippie Mama.

The only reason I haven’t collapsed in a gooey heap of Hippie?

Coffee.

Lots and lots of coffee.

Pot after pot of the good stuff.

Oh, my dear friend, coffee.  You are truly one of the top 20 best things on Earth.  When God invented you, He was having an especially wonderful day.  You are fragrant and tasty and hot…. but sometimes cold and frothy.  Oh, how versatile you are!

But is coffee good or bad for a Hippie looking to be healthful and mindful of the Earth?

Well…  I have heard some conflicting reports.

I’ve shared once before that, because of coffee, I may live forever.

I have also heard that it will give me high cholesterol and destroy the rainforest.

Being a coffee-guzzling Hippie, I thought I’d look into the facts and share them with you.

It turns out that coffee has a lot of health BENEFITS including lowering the chance of diabetes, kidney stones and gall bladder problems.  It’s also good for the prostate, though, being a woman and all,  I’ve never especially worried about my prostate.

Some research has shown that coffee can negatively affect the condition of the arteries and heart muscle but here’s the thing…

Coffee has something called diterpenes – cafestol and kahweol.  These are, apparently, bad.  BUT… they are very nearly completely filtered out if you use a good quality, unbleached,  paper filter.  Ever get a cup of coffee that looks greasy?  That greasy stuff is what’s bad for you.

Also, a light or medium roast is better, as dark-roasting kills all of the good antioxidants that coffee gives you.

I found a few great articles about the health pros and cons of coffee, here and here.

I also learned that coffee can be bad for the environment.

Traditionally, coffee was grown in small, shady patches.  It was then discovered that greater profit could be made by razing huge stretches of native vegetation, planting coffee in the sun, and then dousing it with huge amounts of chemicals.

That’s about as bad for the environment as you can get.

BUT…

Due to an increased public awareness of this practice, and a realization that the rain forest is our friend, many growers are returning to traditional practices.  If you read the label on your coffee and look for terms like, “Organic,” “Chemical-free,” “Fair-trade,” or “Local Co-Op,” you will find a product that is not only friendlier to the earth, but friendlier to the often-impoverished local economies where coffee is grown.  You can learn lots of details about coffee and its impact on the environment here.

All of that is interesting and good to know, right?

But here is the best thing!

It’s wonderful news!

It should be on every news report in the world!

There are studies that show that coffee reduces the risk of suicide!

I know exactly why that is.

It’s because when you’ve been up until midnight, after a 14 hour day on your feet,  making sure that an event goes off without a hitch, and your baby wanted to play from 3am-5am, and your alarm goes off at 6:30 so you can start all over again….

your good friend, coffee, is there for you…. clearing away the cobwebs and helping you lift yourself into an upright position.

(Coffee Powered Mom, I know you know what I’m talking about!)

I didn’t find any articles about coffee being linked to homicide prevention, but I bet if someone did the research the results would be very favorable.

So, drink that fabulous Dunkin’ Donuts Blend (my personal favorite and, also a Fair-Trade product!) and be healthy and guilt-free, dear readers.

Ahhh… coffee.  I think I’ll go refill my smiley Santa mug right now.

Get your hippie on, dear readers!  It’s gonna be a wonderful week, full of happy surprises in the midst of the busy-ness.  I’ll see you back here in a day or so.

***Coming someday in the future (maybe):  an article on addiction and the benefits of moderation.  But I’m not quite ready to let go of my cup and write that one yet.

“You Weren’t Like This a Year Ago”

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Image from ThirdCoast Digest.  Just look at that smile!  How could anyone resist?

John Tesh Strikes Again.We’ve already established that John Tesh Makes Me Giggle.  He just does.  He’s funny! I’m not sure he intends to be funny, but he is.  He offers great “Intelligence for Your Life” sometimes.  But sometimes…. well….  for example:

If you want to know the key to eternal life, click the link above.

Yesterday I learned something new from Mr. Tesh.  Apparently, there is a hidden dark side to organics.  They can change you in a way that you never expected. Organic vegetables may have an effect on you that will ultimately drive away everyone you ever cared about.

“People who eat organic become judgmental of those who don’t.”

I bet you didn’t know your produce was turning you into a b*tch!

You’ve been warned.

Thank you, John Tesh!

Well, the truth is, we’ve all met “those people.”  You know the ones… they drive $50,000 cars and get a manicure every week and they simply can’t believe that some parents would stoop so low as to send a baggie full of Coco Puffs to school as a snack for their child instead of a re-usable stainless steel container of organic apple slices.  After all, don’t they love their child enough to spend the extra money on healthy foods?

The reality is that a baggie of cereal is a fraction of the cost of an organic apple.  Consider also that families receiving WIC are forbidden from buying organics.  (I’m told, by a WIC nutritionist, that this is because there is absolutely no evidence that they are healthier.  Hmmm….   not so sure about that, dear government official.  Better check your research again.)  Families receiving help from a food bank may not have any choice at all over what food they have.  They are just thankful to have food.  I know.  We’ve been there.

Gorgeous Not-So-Hippie Teenager made the comment yesterday, in regard to my hippie ways, “You weren’t like this a year ago.”

It’s true.  I wasn’t.  Since I’ve started this blog I find myself reading and researching in order to write accurately.  What I have learned has changed me. I get mad about people watering their brown lawns during our current drought.  I refuse to buy certain soaps or personal products because of the chemicals in them.   I use fewer plastic baggies and encourage my kids to eat more organic produce and less processed food.  But it’s vitally important to me to not let the organics change me into a judgmental jerk.  I must always remember that people are doing the best they can with what they have… be it money, time, knowledge, skill, etc.  I haven’t always had the options available to me that I have now.  And even now, there are many people who live a MUCH healthier and environmentally friendly lifestyle than me.  There is always room to improve.

So thank you, John Tesh.  I will make sure to keep my attitude in check as I increase my consumption of organics, lest the lack of pesticides in my diet turn me mean.

Would You Like a Little Bleach With Your Chicken?

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Mmmm. Doesn’t that look lovely? Wouldn’t you like to drizzle a little Clorox over the top of it?

I was clicking through some headlines today and saw one by a favorite blogger of mine, Putting Down Roots.  In the post, she mentions that poultry in the USA must be dipped in bleach before it is sold in supermarkets.

Surely I read that wrong.  Bleach?!

I did a little research and, sadly, it’s true.  I’m not talking about nasty, processed “Pink Slime.”  I’m talking about that lovely “healthy” boneless skinless chicken breast you just bought at Kroger.  It’s been dipped in bleach.  The stuff that will kill you if you drink it.

This is not necessarily the choice of the farmers or the meat packers or the markets.  The federal government requires it.  There are many other ways to keep poultry free from bacteria including NOT mass producing or soaking in electrolyzed water.  We don’t use those methods.  We bathe our meat in chlorine.  Only farmers selling to individuals, not markets, are exempt from this particularly disgusting regulation.

It turns out there are warnings all over the internet in which European and Asian citizens are telling each other to be wary of poultry from America as it’s been “contaminated” by bleach.

I’m officially convinced.  I’ll be finding a local farmer to buy my poultry from from now on.  I will be able to see where the animals lived and I will know how fresh the meat is and I can be fairly sure that it hasn’t been soaked in the same stuff that burns through the fibers in my clothes if I use it too often.  If I was allowed by city ordinance I’d buy some chickens and just raise them myself!

Buying local makes more sense every single day!

On Green Slime and Other Things I Ate Last Week

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Thursday night we grilled portabella mushrooms, green peppers, onions and pineapple and had a little picnic outside. Very yummy!

Today my 7 days of veganism/sort-of Ezekial diet/anti-processed-food made-up detox diet are up.  You all were a big help to me!  I never would have gotten through my week without you.  Thank you!

I often tell Handsome Hippie Hubby that I’m going to the store for “staples.”  This means, in our house, bread (usually whatever store-brand wheat bread that is on sale), eggs, milk, cheese, pasta and ground beef (or sometimes chicken).  From these ingredents I can build almost anything!  I’m not Wolfgang Puck, but I can put together a decent meal.  I’m pretty good at tacos and enchiladas, fried chicken, sloppy joes, burgers, spaghetti, and home-made mac and cheese.

Know that about me and then drop me in a wheat-free, vegan world.  After a day of eating salad I sent out a Plea For Help.  I needed some real FOOD, you know?  I simply didn’t know what to eat or how to prepare it.  Boy, did I get answers!  There was a great response in the comments, on Facebook, and in person.

Several people recommended “green shakes,” or “green smoothies.”  There are a lot of recipes out there, but the basic idea is 1/2 (or a little less, depending who you ask) spinach or other green leafy veggie and 1/2 fruit with a splash of water or almond milk.  On drinking green slime I have to say…. it’s not that bad.  I probably wouldn’t be lying around watching TV and thinking, “Golly, you know what sounds good?  A spinach smoothie!”  But the fruit made it sweet and it was very filling and I felt good about so many healthy foods going into my body.

I explored the world of tofu (pretty good!), and vegan chili (eh.  It was OK.).  I ate a lot of mushrooms.  I think it’s because the texture gave my food some substance that was “meaty.”  Strawberries are in season right now so they are cheap and exceptionally sweet.  I must have eaten 4 pounds of them.  The only bread I had was on Thursday when we grilled portabella mushroom “burgers.”

I visited two sites, almost daily, to get ideas:

http://blog.canadianparents.com/veggiemama/

http://beccasgreenkitchen.wordpress.com/

Overall, I have to call the week a great success.  I would recommend 7 days of this randomly created “detox” diet to anyone who’s just feeling bloated and bogged down.  I was warned that I would feel worse before I felt better but I really didn’t.  By day 2 I had noticeably more energy and the random achyness and ill feeling I’d been experiencing started to ease.  I slept more soundly and woke up feeling more refreshed.  The week didn’t have anything to do with appearance or weight loss.  I just wanted to give my body a rest from all the chemicals and processed junk that I tend to gravitate toward.  That said… I lost 9 pounds!  In seven days!  (And, truth be told, I cheated on the last day and had a hotdog).  Granted, I’m guessing a large portion of that was because less sodium = less water.  But, still!

In a stroke of synchronicity this article was Freshly Pressed over the weekend.  The author started off where I was a week ago and ended up a whole-foods evangelist of sorts.  I wish I could say I had that level of enthusiasm and perseverance.  But I’m a sucker for a Pizza Hut ad.  I enjoyed the foods I ate this week very much.  But I also found that it was a lot of work to eat healthy.  21 meals a week + snacks need to be washed and sliced and cooked (as opposed to opened and thawed). All that prep dirtied a lot of dishes.  I ended up going to the market 3 times (I usually go 2-3 times a month) because veggies don’t have much of a shelf life.  I think the expense probably comes out about the same since organics cost more than “regular” produce but less than meat.*

I don’t want to lose the great, healthy feeling I have right now.

I don’t want to find the 9 lbs I lost.

But I miss meat and cheese and ice cream.  Oh, my dear friend, ice cream.

So I’m thinking maybe this doesn’t need to be an all-or-nothing proposition in my life.  Just like using “one less” napkin can help save the planet, perhaps eating from my new menu just some of the time, can be a step in the right direction.  I’m thinking I could probably commit to 4 days a week.  That means I’ll be eating well (and so will my family) more often than not.  Who knows, I may grow as a person and find, someday, that I no longer mind the shopping and washing and slicing and cooking so much.  Maybe, when my body gets used to green slime and tofu I’ll no longer have such a taste for pepperoni and cheese.

After all, life is a journey, right?  See you along the path!

* A little P.S. – When I lived in Tucson, every corner market had a lovely selection of organic produce and free-range meat.  In Michigan… not so much.  My local market has a few items but they are really more of a convenience store than a super market.  Wal-Mart had virtually nothing.  And their regular produce was horrible.  One more reason for me to never go in there.  Kroger had a lot of great healthy choices and they were very nicely organized and easy to find.  And really really really expensive.  Some of their organics were 3 and 4 times the cost of the “regular” items.  MEIJER, however, wins 4 gold stars in my book.  Their organics and vegetarian choices are a little hard to find.  They are not really in their own section and they are not really mixed in completely so you have to go searching in seemingly random places.  But, if you can find them, the selection is impressive and the prices are very competitive.  Plus, since they are a Michigan-based company I could feel good about keeping my dollars (relatively) local.