Friday, March 27, 2015

How we keep ourselves healthy

Our last survey asked about all the ways we use to keep our diets nutritious. Here are the results:

How do you maximize nutrition?


How we keep ourselves healthy
How we keep ourselves healthy

How we keep ourselves healthy

Here are the comments listed under "Other":
  • I cook at home and eat unprocessed, low fat, whole organic foods much of the time. I drink water to keep hydrated from a stainless steel water bottle instead of plastic when I'm on the go. At pot lucks I bring my own plate and utensils so I won't have to resort to using plastic. I am mindful about eating the rainbow of fruits and veggies, as I know to get all the nutrients I need I have to eat a wide range of colorful foods as well as nutrient dense foods like tempeh, beans, legumes, and dark leafy greens. I read a lot of food blogs and often adapt recipes so they contain less fat, salt, and no sugar. I use fresh herbs and spices so the meal is tasty and high in nutrients. Thanks for doing such a great job at Change the World Wednesday. Warm regards, Nancy Andres, Health & Lifestyle Writer, Author of "Colors of Joy: A Woman’s Guide for Self-Discovery, and Bliss," Blogger at http://obloggernewbie.blogspot.com and http://www.nancyandreswriter.com/colors-of-joy-blog/
  • Juicing
  • Wow, feeling good about how we eat. Just taking the survey makes one feel validated. Could also see a check box for eating/adding more plant based entrees to your diet.
  • Wish I could grow more food! I'm working on that.

My Thoughts


I wasn't surprised that eating more fruits and veggies, and drinking water, were the top methods of staying healthy. In fact, the top 50% answers seem to indicate that we primarily look to a variety of natural, whole foods as a way to ensure good nutrition.

It was a bit surprising that supplements and vitamin-fortified foods were low on the list. Advertisers spend a lot of money convincing us that we can't get our daily requirements of vitamins and minerals via natural, whole foods alone. Seemingly healthy products, like fruit juices and whole-grain cereals are fortified with "essentials". We're told that we need these added ingredients to develop strong bones and resist illness.

In thinking about it, however, I really shouldn't be surprised that green-living proponents view supplements and fortified foods as a last resort to improving nutrition. Those foods are processed, and processed foods use a tremendous amount of natural resources to produce. And in truth, it really makes no sense that a variety of organically grown foods wouldn't contain everything we need for optimal health.

Conclusion


The best way to maintain good nutrition is to eat a wide range of organic, whole foods. If we remove things like processed foods, pesticides, and GMOs from the equation, we are left with healthy food. Food which will sustain and nourish us. The rest is not only unnecessary, but unhealthy.

Thanks to everyone who participated!


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Meatless for a day

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)!

Wondering how to live greener? You've come to the right place. Each week we challenge ourselves to try a new task ... or "amp up" something we're already doing. We raise our awareness, learn from each other and develop Eco-friendly skills which will improve our lives and protect our planet. Doing so together gives us power ... the power to Change The World!

If this is your first visit, please click HERE for information and a complete list of all the challenges we've taken on so far.

This post contains great information and I encourage you to read through it at your leisure ... however, if you are short on time, you might find the following quick links helpful:


Last week we started a garden. Even though the calendar indicates that spring is here, many folks are still experiencing winter conditions. So it was a bit early to actually plant something ... but never too early to begin planning. In my area the days are warming up. In the last couple of weeks we've planted fruit trees, asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb, and potatoes. We've also started vegetable seeds in a mini greenhouse. It's an exciting time of year as everything begins to turn green.

The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments.

Christine makes a good point in this comment: "There is so much good that can be done with growing your own but so many people don't realise just what hard work it can be. You start in autumn by clearing back your vegetable patch and composting anything that isn't diseased as well as collecting leaves for leaf mould. You spend the winter digging over, digging in compost, repairing raised beds, cleaning out the greenhouse, pruning trees and fruit bushes, inspecting tools and cleaning out your shed, planning next year's crops, cleaning out seed trays and tubs. Come spring you plant out your seeds and crops then spend the summer weeding, feeding, watering and preserving what you can't eat instantly. And tending the compost heap. Come autumn you start all over again. Whoever said that gardening was easy or part time? Many people take allotments or start vegetable gardens to be astonished at the work involved. It takes time, effort and is continual learning. But ever so rewarding."

One of my favorite places to go for gardening inspiration is Aimee's (aka EcoGrrl's) blog. She's always got something growing. Curious about what's happening in her garden right now? Check out these POSTS.

Scarlet very kindly included CTWW on her RebelMouse Page. You'll need to scroll down a ways to find the headlines. Be sure to check out all her content ... she includes some great articles on that page.

piterson left a great comment on our Family Cook Day challenge: "Plastic products encompass a variety of additives, some of which (Adipate, Phthalates) can be toxic. They are durable and degrade very slowly; have an impact on climate change. So, raise your voice against plastic."

Morag not only accepted the challenge, she upped the ante: "This is a good time for this quest for us in the northern half of the world - Spring is upon us :) Today I've been planting chillis (in a heated propagator) and preparing the ground for other plants when the soil has warmed up a bit. If you are in the southern hemisphere it's time to think about letting those plants go to seed so that you can collect and save them for next season! http://www.worldchanging.me/quest-tag/growing. Up the anti - what about for those of you that don't want to grow food - what about skipping straight to the harvesting with our foraging quests? http://www.worldchanging.me/quest-tag/forage. Free nutritious food is just there for the taking - now that has to be worth a few moments research to see what edible things grow in the wild near you!"

Every year Alicia grows a garden and usually posts photos of her lovely herbs. And then she shares delicious recipes. Here's what she had to say about this challenge: "Oh we are so ready to be Gardening! I actually bought a pot of Basil the other day just so I could make some tomato Basil relish!. So we will be planting it as soon as the ground dries enough. We already have packets of seeds and are going to the local Herb Society's big herb and vegetable plant sale in a few weeks. They only offer locally grown plants and the farmers will be there to answer any questions on the plants. So excited to get started on our garden."

Marla is still waiting for spring to arrive. Here's what she said: "I am so ready for Spring and getting outside to work the ground, but it's just a little too early in my area of the country yet. I am waiting and hoping I have some daffodils and tulips up for Easter. I love Spring when the world seems to awakening with life. I definitely do agree with you that we can eat healthy on a budget if we just take the time and effort to do it. Gardening is just around the corner but we usually can't plant anything in our area until at April."

Charlotte dropped by and shared this: "Great challenge! Growing your own food is joyful, money-saving and sustainable. So get your hands dirty and have fun." She also wrote Start a Garden which offers readers great tips and ideas for container gardening ... perfect for balconies or small spaces. By the way, Charlotte is starting a great series on her blog called "A to Z". From A to Z she'll be introducing plants. Her focus will be on plants which grow well in Sweden but I'm guessing that many of them will be varieties which we, in the US, are familiar with. She'll not only be talking about planting and care, she'll be offering recipes. So head over and check out her first post and then, be sure to drop by often. Better yet, simply subscribe to her blog so that you don't miss an episode of this fun series.

Andie has been growing food and gardening for a long time so this challenge wasn't tough for her. So, being ever so green, she upped her own ante. Here's what she had to say: "We've been growing a lot of our own food for over 20 years, so this is a no brainer for us. We have a large vegetable garden (and even had some overwintering things like broccoli, onions, leeks, kale and parsley). We also have three apple trees, blueberries, raspberries, grapes and strawberries—all on our in-city lot in Seattle (it is about 8,000 sg ft). So, in thinking about ways I could up my own ante, I've come up with these:
• Look for a way to share my excess produce (my local Buy Nothing Facebook group)—though I do preserve a lot for year-long use (still have pesto in my freezer from last summer).
• Find more ways to preserve the food I grow. A friend will be teaching me the joys of dehydrating this year—KALE chips here we come!
On a final note: Don't forget the flowers—to bring pollinators into your yard. A vegetable garden flourishes when your yard is a complete ecosystem. Check out my website at www.thegreenqueenofmod.com to find ways to encourage bees and other beneficial beings to call your garden home. There are a number of applicable posts under "The Green Garden" category. Happy planting—and EATING!"


Lois knows, first hand, that getting kids involved in the gardening process has benefits. Here's what she had to say: "Like Alicia, I can't wait to get into the yard and start my garden. The more I learn about even the organic loopholes (such as antibiotics sprayed on fruit trees) I don't want to buy anything from a store. Now that I own my own land I am looking to add perennial plants along with fruit and nut trees that will pay off in years to come. You are so right about children eating what they help to grow. Last year in the apartment a couple of children asked if they could help and their mother was shocked when she saw her son eating peas right out of the garden. My grandchildren have also taken to eating foods they refused before when they grew them. I had enough space in the gardens that I gave them their very own sections and let them grow what they wanted. It was the first time my grandson ever ate salad, and only because he grew it. But they took it further by trying flowers such as dandelion, clover and others. When I moved it was the neighbor's children who asked if they could use my beds. I gave them seeds and showed them how to save the seeds of the foods still ripening in the beds to save money as their family has very little excess."

Clare stopped by. She's an avid gardener and shares some interesting information about one common vegetable. Here's what she had to say: "Great challenge this week! I've been growing my own fruit and veggies for a while now - the fruit is great but I do battle with all the tropical insects for my veggies. I'm still trying though! Thanks to Andrea for reminding us to include flowers too! For me this week my challenge will be to look at other methods of preservation. Due to flooding and subsequent power outages, I lost everything in my freezer, which was pretty heartbreaking when I think about all the work that went into what was stored in there, not to mention the sheer waste. So I need to broaden my outlook. I don't enjoy pickled food but I'm sure there are other ways of storing, dehydrating, bottling etc. On a related note, if you're growing cucumbers, you might want to read "6 Uses for Cucumbers You Haven't Heard Of" on http://www.ecofriendlylink.com/blog/6-uses-for-cucumber/ - or, as @SoulfulLab so beautifully tweeted: Cucumbers are the new WD40!"

Shopping Charity gave CTWW a nice mention and, if my memory serves, mentioned some of your articles. Unfortunately, I've been unable to get into their site so, give it a try and see if you can find CTWW. And thanks, Shopping Charity, for always thinking of us!

The #CTWW Gang are those folks who tweet our challenges using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I recommend following them ... they share great things. Let's meet them:

@2kidsandacoupon @89linz @arithatcher
@beatepdx @bestrawesome @biggreenpen
@bordognaroberto @brokeblokeblogs @clift_efst
@collegegogreen @conservationm @debsmikdav1
@dehelen @diyfolks @eco_novice
@ecoexpert1 @familyfocusblog @freshcleanersaz
@geisheker @givelocal15 @grandmasdiaries
@greengympenge @greenqueenofmod @greenwithrenvy
@gronavra @groovygreenlivi @herbgir1972
@inmemoryoftrees @kaitlingarder @kayelleallen
@krmbalclothing @laalicia @lady_bren
@ladyjcmuses @leniencymemo @lyndilane
@mamasmoney @marbaird @marjoriemcatee
@martha_bourke @mdgblogger @mianola5
@mimibarbour @moha_doha @momfindsout
@momsmadhousex6 @nolafusion @okidoki_tv
@outdoorfammag @rckweddings @realityarts
@rulesofgreen @ruralmoms @sally06301
@shoppingcharity @shopwhatpops @spafloating
@thefreckledrose @theworld4realz @tiffanywashko
@treesgroup @turningclockbac @wary12
@wimpyvegetarian @worldchangingme

My Final Thoughts:

The news on climate change isn't good. Polar ice caps are rapidly melting and conditions, around the world, are deteriorating. Recently, a report came out that California has only one year of water left. Since California provides most of this country with produce, their lack of water is a huge concern. Now, more than ever before, it's crucial to learn how to provide for ourselves. Food, in the near future, will become either unavailable or very expensive ... or, what we see in our markets won't be natural food but something fabricated in a laboratory. Growing our own produce ensures that we maintain nutrition. It also may end up being the way we survive.

Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share features located below this post.

This Week's Challenge:

March's theme is: Nutrition

Vegetarian Sushi - Meatless for a Day
Vegetarian Sushi? Yes Please!!
If you do a search for ways to improve nutrition, you'll find recommendations to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet and eat less meat.

Eating more plant-based foods is also great for the environment because it takes fewer natural resources to produce plant foods as compared to animal products.

And if you're thinking that vegetarians eat only raw carrots and celery, think again. There are millions of delicious plant-based recipes to try ... many of which will have carnivores licking their lips and begging for more.

Here's your challenge ...

This week, go vegetarian for a day. That means no meat (beef, chicken, pork, fish, etc.). A vegetarian diet does allow for cheese, milk, and eggs if you wish. If you're feeling ambitious ... try adopting a vegetarian diet for the entire week!

OR ...

Go vegan for a day. That means strictly plant-based dishes ... no meat and no byproducts (milk, cheese, eggs, or honey). If you can do more than one day, please do ... the earth and your health will thank you!

OR ...

Are you a full-time vegan? Then your challenge is to eliminate processed foods from your diet this week. And, if you're feeling extra ambitious, please share a recipe and/or the benefits, to you, of a plant-based diet.

Are you ready to go meatless and healthy this week? I know that you are!

Until next time ...

WE'RE CHANGING THE WORLD ... ONE CHALLENGE AT A TIME!





Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My Green Home - The Wisdom in Waiting

While standing in line at the county tree sale, people were talking about gardening. One conversation caught my attention. A woman, who recently bought a home, spent her first week's clearing the property. She cut the trees and bushes, burned everything, and was now repopulating her land.

I suppose that it's human nature to want to put our own "stamp" on things ... to make them our own. And frankly, it's often easier to wipe the slate clean and begin anew. But when it comes to property, rash decisions can hurt both the earth and one's pocketbook.

We made the decision to go slowly with our land, to discover the treasures it holds. It has revealed them bit by bit, almost as though it needs to get to know us before giving up it's bounty.

In April of last year, we discovered mushrooms growing along our creek ... delicious edible mushrooms.

When the trees lost their leaves in autumn and the underbrush began to die away, a small pear tree could be seen in a far corner of our lot. It still had the label on it and seems to simply need a little TLC to be productive.

This spring we were thrilled to find creasy greens, the earliest of the wild, edible greens which are found throughout the Appalachian mountains. We also discovered a lovely Camellia bush and several flowering trees.

Had we cleared the land, we would have missed out on these wonderful items. And here's another bonus ... finding thriving plants and learning about their growing habits has helped us decide on the right areas for other things like fruit trees and a vegetable garden.

Plants and edibles aren't the only treasures here.

Along the paths which wind through the property, previous owners displayed small statues, planters, and bird houses. They also stacked up building materials (bricks, lumber, windows, etc.). At first glance, because all of these things had been ignored for so long, they looked like piles of trash. But looking a little deeper revealed an abundance of usable items.

Here are a few of the projects which we have completed using recovered materials:


Work bench made from recovered wood
This work bench was made from recovered wood.


Mini greenhouse made from recovered materials
Recovered wood and windows were used to
make this mini greenhouse.


Deck partially made from recovered materials
All materials used to build this deck,
except for the top decking pieces,
were recovered from the back of our property.


Bluebird Nesting Box made from recovered lumber
Beautiful wood became Bluebird nesting boxes.


Most of these projects cost us nothing but our time and effort. And there's something very special about using what's available rather than heading to the local hardware store for materials.

All properties hold gifts. It might be wild edibles or fertile soil ... it might be items left by previous owners. But if we take the time to get to know the land, it will reveal it's special characteristics and treasures.

That is the wisdom in waiting!