Thursday, April 22, 2010

Feliz Dia de la Tierra!!

Happy Earth Day Everyone!!  

I really haven't got much to say today, but I felt the intense need to not let this day go by without a blog post on this blog. I mean its Earth Day!

So, what I want to say is to let everyday be Earth Day! Don't just confine it to a calander. Pick up trash everyday. Don't litter any day. It's kinda silly we need a day to remind us to respect Gaia. She a the source of life for us. Our food comes from this earth. Our oxygen content, and source of water is directly related to her. Why shouldn't we take care of her as she does us?

Mmm...on that note, and without getting up on a soapbox today, I am reading this book I want to recommend called Genetically Engineered Food: Changing the Nature of Nature. I'll finish it before I start ranting about it, but if nothing else, its a good book to read for perspective about things that are going on right under our noses that may gravely affect us and our children, and our grandchildren, and so on and so forth.  Ok, Im coming down now...

Thats it I think. At least for today. Just wanted to say something.

I'll leave you with a few practical (some common sense) tips for celebrating the day, beside planting trees.

1. Spend the $1 to get the Reusable Grocery Bags...AND ACTUALLY USE THEM!

2. Really, if it isnt that far...walk instead of driving. And if it is, and you aren't in a rush or have the time...take the bus. While you are walking, check the scenery. Notice the trees. The textures, the colors, the patterns...all the things we ignore.

3. Buy in bulk, to reduce packaging needs.

4.The easiest most sensible: RECYCLE (pls...!)

5. Eat some Greens... haha-didn't think of that one did you? But what better way to celebrate the earth, than by enjoying her bounty? Your body will thank you too.

6. Turn off the lights, turn off the lights! If your not using them, or if you are but you really don't need them, turn it off. Same goes for power strips and yes even those "powersave" appliances. You can save even more by turning it totally off and unplugging it. And your BGE bill will thank you too (tough BGE might not).

7. Stop using herbicides and pesticides in your lawn and garden! Pretty self-explanatory.

8. Shop at a Farmers Market. Its better for you health-wise, and better for the planet and supports your local economy, and when buying organic there are no pesticides used.

9. Get involved with Earth-affected government regulations. You don't even have to move your pretty little feet. At the least write a letter to your legislators. Or even easier, go online and sign SOME petitions that have already been formulated to protect the earth, AND YOU!

10. Use homemade cleaners instead of those heavy bleach, ammonia scrubs. Lemon juice and baking soda clean fairly well. Give it a try.

And by no means is this a definitive list. Find your own ways to get involved. The more the merrier!

PS..Oh, and I wanted to point out too: while it was very clever, it was also a marketing idea to have the movie Avatar come out on Earth Day. I loved that movie: went to see it three times, twice on IMAX. But just in case you were wondering: buying the DVD does not subconciously fulfill your Earth Day duties, no matter how much you identify with the Avatars (and trust me I do). But it you aren't doing anything in this here life to prevent history from repeating itself (yea, you do know its based of many true stories right? READ: American History (ie. Native Americans) and African History (ie. Colonialism) to get a reawakening) then what are you doing, really? This is real life-not just TV!

PSS... Here are a few links to check:

Invisible Threats to the Planet
Slow Food   Slow Food USA

So much for not having anything to say. I start talking (or in this case typing) and I just can't stop!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Why I Take So Long In Supermarkets...

So anyone who has had the pleasure (or not) of going with me to the supermarket know that it's never quite as simple as in and out with me.  (I think only my daughter has been subjected to me at this time...)

The reason for that is because there are just soooo many different brands and versions of products, with varying prices, and I am so frugal, I want to know that I am getting the best value for my money. Notice I said best VALUE for my money, not most for my money. Thats one of the tricks they use, and you'll understand why I say that in a minute.

Probably much like you (or not), I used to go into the market and I would try to get the most for my money. That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you are on a budget, or like me are just tight with where you spend your hard earned money. Now-a-days however, with all the high fructose corn syrups, and genetically modified ingredients found in nearly everything, I am much more cautious about what goes into my shopping cart. While Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are great resources, I can't afford to get all my groceries from them, so I shop there for specific items, but do the bulk of my shopping at regulaar grocery stores...including the almighty Wally World!

So while the average Joe-Scmoh (did I spell that right?) is going around counting calories, I'm inspecting ingredient labels. I think its important, and often very interesting to know what is actually in your food. While calorie counting is fine, I tend to be more interested in ingredients, and from the Nutritional Label, I'm checking the sodium and sugar amounts, as well as fats presence (or absence) of any actual nutrients (that would be those vitamins and minerals). But that is for a later post. This one is about ingredients...

So anyway, I am moseying along the aisle in my local Food Lion, I think this particular day without the two year old (though that matters not), and a look to my left and my eyes fall upon none other than Apple Butter. Immediately feelings of nostalgia overtook me as I remembered the days of my youth, when my mother used to bring home apple butter and we would eat it on toast. I knew instantaneously that there was no way I could leave the store without it, as it had been probably a decade or more since I experienced its taste, and well, lets just say my mouth was watering just thinking about it.

There were three brands on the shelf. Food Lion, White House, and Country Acres. The Food Lion jar was clearly the biggest, next being the White House brand, and last coming in, the unknown Country Acres.

If you are shopping quantity for price, clearly the Food Lion brand would be the take home. It was 28oz for $2.99.  The 28oz, but much fancier packaged White House was $3.44, and the Country Acres was $2.79. The Country Acres was the cheapest, but smallest and least known. Very easy to dismiss. The most known was the White House but also a bit overpriced. The Food Lion brand was the best prices and the best value for size. It was also the one that I would have been most likely to pick up...

...had I not decided to check out the ingredients listing.

Check this:

In terms of the (transparent) ingredients, both the Food Lion adn White House brands were the same. Of course with the ingredient "Spices" there could arguably be a slight difference, but over all it is the same. Apples, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, and "Spices".

What spices? And why is there a need for both Corn Syrup and High Fructose Corn Syrup? My feelings of nostalgia were begining to wean. I know "grandma" did not make hers with Corn Syrup and High Fructose Corn Syrup. Something was not quite right here. But oh a beam of hope. There was still this Country Acres version I had never heard of. I decided to check it out and see what it contained...

Big difference from the other two: Apples, Cider, Salt, Baking Soda, Ground Cinnamon, Cane Sugar, and gee: No Preservatives Added. Now this sounded like something I could clearly recreate in my kichen at home, and hence the true winner was revealed.

One of my criteria for packaged food items when I am shopping, is that I should be able to make it at home. The ingredients should be things that I can clearly gather and find (depending on the complexity of the product) or at least recognize and (hopefully) pronounce. And I was definitely happy to walk away with my Country Acres Apple Butter.

So what's my point? Well just be aware of what you are getting and what you are looking for. Quality or Quantity? If its quantity, then by all means  price and size is what you should be aware of. If its quality, then you better start brand comparing the ingredients.

Yes it is a bit more time consuming, but don't you think its worth it for your health, and your children's health? Besides, what are you rushing for anyway? SLOW DOWN!

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Comment below...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Germ Warfare

It really is the simple things in life...

So I am sitting with the kid watching Dinosaurs. I purchased the DVDs because I loved the show that much. I'm a huge fan of satire, and so every part of this show tickles me...
I guess that is to say humanity tickles me more, because that is what the show is based off of.

         Dinosaurs - The Complete First and Second Seasons    Dinosaurs - The Complete Third and Fourth Seasons 

So this particular episode that comes on is called "Germ Warfare" (Season 3, Episode 6), and is a satrical representation of the medical establishments of today. And don't get me wrong, I do believe that they have their place, but it is true that many of our common ailments that we go to the doctors for and pay boo-koo money for are ailments that we could very well cure at home on our own with simple ingredients and/or lifestyle changes.

My grandparents generation knew and understood that. My parents as kids barely went to the doctors. I guess that was partially because they couldn't afford it. But in not being able to afford it did not mean they suffered. They "figured out" how to cure themselves. And a lot of their methods are time-tested and proven. But because of there simplicity, we think it's too easy to try. We have been sold the idea that medicine has to be advanced and technical. The reality is quite different though. One of my reasons for this blog is to help people to get back that wisdom that our ancestors knew. And for sure I'm going to pass it down to my own youngin'. Hopefully you will see fit to do the same.

On the show when Baby gets sick, Ethyl, the grandmother tells the parents to take him to the "guy in the woods". He would be the modern day equivalent of us herbalists specifically, but also any other holistic or complimentary health care professionals and naturopathic physicians. They spend thousands at the doctors office instead for medicine that not only did not work, but made the baby worst (modern day=side effects). They then go back to this doctor who they blindly trust and when he tries to sell them another more expensive batch of medicine, they realize that he may well be a sham. They finally reluctantly go to the "guy in the woods" and he heals the baby with an unlikely cure: mold.

Remember its a satire. So maybe we won't instruct you to eat moldy bread per se, but a lot of our medicinal plants are things that most people consider weeds. The things that they spray heavily for "polluting" their yard, all have qualities that could be health promoting... whats it gonna take though for us to make that shift consciously?

I'll add that in the light of all this health care hoopla, I see it as one of the leading answers to the questions that aren't being asked. But that's a political discussion, so I won't get into that.

Anyway, you can view the episode here. I was able to find it online. ENJOY! Let me know your thoughts!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

It's Spring!! That means allergies...

Yes, so I am quite a few days late, but spring is definitely in full effect. 89 degrees in mid-April?? Yeah.

Well for some people, such as myself, spring is the best time of year. Beautiful flowers in bloom, colors everywhere... the earth is in a stage of awakening.  For others though (also such as myself), it can be rather bothersome. It becomes the battle of the allergies. That sneezy, snotty, itchy time of year where being outdoors-what you've been waiting to do all winter- is not quite as attractive as you had imagined it would be.
Of course you can always pop a pharmaceutical allergy suppressant such as Claritin, Zyrtec, or Benadryl.
But since you're reading this blog...I am assuming you may be looking for a more natural route to travel.

Since pharmaceutical allergy medicines works so well, why go the natural route? Well, one because its natural. That in and of itself is enough reason for me...but in case you need more persuasion, here is a few reasons why you may want to opt for natural remedies:

Standard pharamceutical allergy relief comes in the form of decongestants and antihistamines. Histamine is a chemical that the body makes which results in an inflammatory response. Antihistamines work by supressing the body's natural release of the histamine compound. Thus, like most pharmaceuticals, the symptoms are being treated while the cause remains the same.

Well then, what is the cause of allergies?

Allergies is the body's immune system responding to a substance which is in fact harmless. If you inhale pollen or animal dander for instance, the body responds as if it is an invader (ie bacteri/parasites etc...), and then reacts to rid the body of the substance. Allergies can be said then to be a mistake of the immune sytem in the stages of indentification, as it has viewed these seemingly harmless objects as a threat.

Well thankfully, nature provides us with some herbs that can help fight the peskiness of hayfever. Here I will list only three:

1. Stinging Nettle Leaf

Stinging Nettle Leaf, often refered to as "Nettle" offers relief for allergic nasal symptoms. As an infusion (tea), nettles can be used to help detoxify and remove toxins from the body. It can also be taken in tincture (alcohol extrated) form. I use the tincture for myself, and a glycerite extraction for my 2 year old daughter (she didn't like the regular tincture. It took me a while to figure that one out). We both also drink it as a tea. You can also add it to foods. I sprinkle it, along with dried basil, onto grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches. You can't taste it, and its great for sneaking it into kids' diets...though in the sandwich it isnt enough for any medicinal value. I would stick to the teas and tinctures for those purposes.

2. Garlic

[Picture Coming...but yall know what it looks like]

Garlic (Allium sativum) and to a lesser extent onions (Allium sativum) is said to be effective due to its high concentrations of quercetin. According to Jim Duke in The Green Pharmacy, "These compunds retard inflammatory reactions. If you have allergies, I'd suggest adding generous amounts of these foods to your menu."

3. Horseradish 

Horseradish (Amoracia rusticana) can immediate clear blocked nasal passages, as anyone who has ever tried it may know. It must be cautioned though that horseradish is spicy (think cocktail sauce), so if you are averse to spicy foods, definitely opt for another method. Apparantly beside just clearing up nasal airways, horseradish can have preventative effects on allergies as well. According to Dr. Duke, it was reported in the book Natural Health Secrets from around the World by Glen W Geelhold, the "a daily dosage is necessary only untill the symptoms of your allergy subside. Thereafter, you need only a few teaspoons of horseradish each month to prevent another allergy attack."