Fresh white corn, carrots, green beans, potatoes, summer squash, red onion, lettuce, nectarines, black plums, peaches, and lavender.
Just an example of what we got in this week’s box from AHO. All organic, all local. All harvested just a couple days ago, and more delicious than anything I’ve ever bought in a grocery store. Sometimes living in an agriculture-friendly state like California is really, really great. And did I mention all this cost a mere $21.80? That’s for a small bin. Large bin is $36.80. Every week the contents change, for example, last week we got the most incredible honeydew. If you live in a place that offers a CSA like this, you are a fool if you don’t take advantage!
Sorry, no pictures of this week’s booty, but trust me, it looks fantastic (with the exception of the cosmetically-challenged peaches – what are ya gonna do?)…
Why do you think we always feel like we need more? More clothes, more furniture, more books, more gadgets, more junk food, more more more more more. If the human race were a chick, we’d definitely be that needy chick that is never satisfied (now that’s a terrifying thought).
Everyone’s talking minimalism these days, and I just found this excellent video that brings up some interesting questions about our wild consumption habits and how it affects production (and ultimately, our health and the environment). It’s not super short, but it’s a great watch. (Sorry I can’t figure out how to embed the video!)
It also touches on our workaholic American ways (after all, you don’t get stuff without first getting a lot of money to buy that stuff). BTW, did you know that the US has less paid vacation days per year than Finland, France, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Switzerland, Netherlands, UK, Canada, and Japan? That’s a long list to be at the bottom of.
But let me get back on track. I’m not sure about you, but things like this definitely make me question my motives for needing x, y, and z. They say that the best way to promote change (whether it be in manufacturing, food production, whatever) is to ‘vote with your dollar.’ Lately I’ve been trying to be smarter and more mindful about the things I consume – do I really need this? How will it positively impact my life, my health? Will I have this for years to come? Or will it wind up in a dump? How will it impact the life of the person who made it? Should I buy this cheap version & replace it with something nicer down the road, or just save for the nicer version to begin with? Things like that.
It hasn’t been too difficult of a change for me – I’m not a big fan of clutter to begin with, and it feels great to think you’re making a difference of any kind. Knick knacks & the like really aren’t my thing anyway, paired with the fact that I’ve lived in apartments for most of my adult life and just haven’t had the room. And honestly, I feel much less distracted and claustrophobic when my home isn’t packed to the brim with crap. Over the past year or so I’ve donated loads upon loads of random junk I’ve accumulated over the years (rather, I put it in a box, Julian takes it). Guess what? I haven’t missed any of it. Not one single time have I thought, “Man, I really wish I still had that lamp/candle holder/sweater/DVD/etc.” What does that go to show you?
Have you made any changes to try and simplify your possessions and/or reduce your consumption? Any good tips, articles, websites? Please share!
I must be the last person on Earth to have learned about Kickstarter, a community-driven way to fund creative-driven projects. You can pledge to ‘back’ projects with as little as $1, and many of them even offer rewards for doing so. Plus, you get to learn about the projects along with way with stories, videos, updates, and more. Each project must meet their funding goal before any of the money changes hands. It’s pretty neat!
I have only funded one project so far, Heritage Seed Co., but I’m pretty excited about it. One, because I think seed saving is not only fantastic but necessary – as many a documentary has told us, the agriculture industry is becoming dominated by a small number of very large companies who create genetically modified seeds to “commit suicide” after one season, forcing farmers to buy more each season, fining them if they find their patented seeds in their fields (often wind-blown from a neighboring farm), putting them in financial dire straits, not to mention sacrificing the integrity of food and the way it was meant to grow. These seeds are also bland, tasteless, and the crops are usually sprayed within an inch of life with pesticides. As a project backer, I got my choice of reward, and I chose a few packages of heritage seeds. Awesome! Watch the vid to find out more about seed saving & their project:
I love that every couple days I get emailed an update about their progress. It makes me feel like I’m a part of it, at least in some small way. So far they have 81 backers and are at $2,792 pledged. Their goal is $10,000 and they have 33 days to get there.
Learn more about Heritage Seed Co & poke around at the other many worthy projects!
High fructose corn syrup = evil. This is widely accepted, old news for most of us. But just in case you missed the memo on why you should stay far, far away from HFCS (or you need a reminder the next time that bag of Oreos is calling your name… JULIAN), here are ten big FAT reasons you should take every precaution not to ingest that garbage, which seems to be in everything from fruit juice to salad dressing these days.
10 Side Effects of High Fructose Corn Syrup
1. Obesity. HFCS restricts your pancreas from producing enough insulin and leptin, which makes it really, really hard for your body to metabolize food and regulate your appetite.
2. Diabetes. Not only does HFCS make you fat, but the irregular fluctuation in insulin levels causes damage to your pancreas, which just so happens to be the primary cause of the D word.
3. Tooth decay and infections. High sugar foods and sweeteners rot your teeth, period. (This isn’t just HFCS, of course, but it certainly doesn’t help matters.)
4. LDL cholesterol and triglycerides increase. When you eat any kind of sugar, your body metabolizes it into fat, increasing your body’s cholesterol levels. HFCS severely limits production of insulin and leptin, so when you eat foods that contain high amounts of the sweet stuff, they are nearly 100% metabolized into fat & cholesterol. Yummy!
5. Increased risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease. If none of the rest of these scare you, this should, considering it is the number one killer in America. Higher cholesterol levels from consuming HFCS causes your arteries to become clogged and block blood flow to and from the heart. Your heart muscles are then weakened, which restricts new oxygen from getting to the rest of your body. The little bonus pockets of fat get an F in Heart Heath, too.
6. Anemia. It goes without saying that foods like HFCS usually contain no vitamins or minerals that your body needs to stay healthy. When you eat them, your body is forced to grab from previously stored nutrient reserves, draining the supplies and lowering the safe, healthy levels.
7. Lowered immunity. HFCS disrupts your body’s production of hormones and enzymes that protect you from contracting diseases and illnesses. If you don’t like getting sick, put down the soda.
8. Lack of calories. Wait, isn’t this a good thing? Not this time. Though foods with HFCS usually contain a ton of calories, they contain little to no nutritional value, which means you are putting your body to work, wasting valuable resources, and in the end – you’re still hungry.
9. Fatigue. Increased sugar intake results in your body releasing more hormones and endorphins (e.g., a sugar rush), and we all know how that ends – with you being pooped and needing another sugar boost. Which brings me to the last point…
10. Mood swings and withdrawal. As with most things in life, the more HFCS (and other sugars) you eat, the more you come to crave it, which makes giving it up that much harder in the end.
So, who wants to grab a Coke and a bowl of Fruit Loops? Unless the thought of being old, decrepit, sick, and broke from medical costs makes you giddy, start checking your labels and opting for HFCS-free foods. Trust me, they are out there, even if you have to check every single brand of maple syrup on the shelf – they are out there.
Special thanks to the many internet medical journals for helping me understand why HFCS is so naughty, and to my husband for inspiring this post.
It’s funny where the rabbit hole of internet surfing can take you sometimes. I sat down at the computer to read reviews about The Artist’s Way, a book given to me by a dear friend, and wound up signing up for a weekly delivery service that provides organic produce from small local family farms. How did that happen?
It all started because I saw I had this article by John Robbins (one of my fave authorities on humane and inhumane food manufacturing) open in a tab and thought “better read that now or I’ll never get around to it.” The article begins with some good news about the egg industry – the USDA recently proclaimed that eggs actually contain way more Vitamin D than previously thought, making them even better for you (hooray!) As wonderful as that is, Robbins does what he does best and quickly shifts the focus to how these delicious and good-for-you eggs are actually produced – more often than not, in deplorable conditions that even the strongest of stomachs wouldn’t be able to handle. I nodded smugly in agreeance, recalling the fact that I personally go out of my way only to buy eggs that have that little green & white organic logo and say “free range” – even if it means making a special trip to Trader Joe’s. I mean, it’s the right thing to do, and I love animals.
But Robbins goes on to push the fact that “organic” and “free-range” labels actually mean diddly squat when it comes to humane practices in the egg industry (and probably the rest, too). So I decided to double check my facts and see how the eggs in my fridge measured up using the “Organic Egg Scorecard” created by the Cornucopia Institute. The scorecard ranks egg manufacturers and farms based on the best organic practices and the most ethical regard for the hens, doling out points for things like roaming space, access to the outdoors, and whether or not the farm clips beaks (a painful procedure that prevents hens from pecking each other to death out of sheer insanity from being lodged in a space so tight they can’t even raise a wing). The very best farmers get a cheeky “Five Egg” score.
One of the Five Egg farmers, Christian, with a fluff ball dog
Well, I’ll be honest with you. My eggs weren’t even on the list. But several other brands I’ve bought were (Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, O Organics, Land O’Lakes, and several other seemingly trustworthy household names), and to my supreme disappointment, every single one of them ranked only ONE EGG. What this means is that the eggs are produced on industrial-scale operations that grant no meaningful outdoor access. But it’s probably worse than that! Because unfortunately, many of these private-label One Egg manufacturers refused to participate in the Cornucopia Institute’s project – quite an interesting move considering the organic food market is one that requires quite a bit of brand transparency in order to gain customer trust and loyalty. I mean, whatcha hiding, friends? Better to know than not know, in my eyes.
I was pretty disgusted by what I found, so what did I do? I Googled a couple of the Five Egg farms that were in California and found that although none are available in a common grocery store, eggs from Alexandre Family EcoDairy Farms are available as an add-on in a weekly organic produce delivery service called Abundant Harvest Organics. At first I was intimidated by something like that – isn’t that only for super hippie people who live in Venice and work at co-ops on the weekends (when they’re not standing outside of Whole Foods with a clipboard)? But I read a bit more and was really intrigued, so I signed up.
The way Abundant Harvest works is like this: you sign up for a VERY affordable weekly box of produce from a variety of local farmers (around $20 for a small box) – everything from oranges to potatoes to thyme (whatever’s in season, of course) – set your delivery location (the closest one to us is in Santa Monica), and once a week, you go pick up your box at the scheduled delivery time. Before hand, you can check out which fruits & veggies will be included in that week’s box and add whatever ‘extras’ you want – coffee beans, eggs, nuts, even whole chickens, and they charge your credit card once a week. You can even “cancel” your subscription for the weeks you know you’ll be out of town or won’t need a box. I like that feature.
The best part about this service is that I know we’ll be getting fresh, organic food that hasn’t even been out of the ground for more than a day or so. Try finding that at your grocery store. Plus, we’re supporting local family farms instead of the big box manufacturing overlords. I’m super excited to pick up our first box of produce next Tuesday afternoon. One thing is for sure – this is absolutely one of those times I’m extremely grateful to be living in California.
Unfortunately, local means that this is of course a Central- and Southern California-only service, but I’m sure there are plenty of similar organizations out there doing the same thing.
And that’s my story for today. What did we learn? Something I quite frankly have already been told many times – that you can’t trust food products simply because they say “organic”, you’ve got to put in the research these days. A few minutes on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon should do the trick.
Cheesy as this commercial may be, I’ve never wanted to hug a polar bear more than I do at this very moment. What a sweet pea. Though I think he’d be more stoked if that guy were riding a bike instead of buying Nissan’s new car. And just for kicks, here’s all kinds of fun info about polar bears.
Ick! Ick ick ick! Last week, I shared a video about the story of bottled water from Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff project. Her latest video has me squirming and completely grossed out, because it’s about something I (and you, too, probably) use every single day (except on days when I’m just too lazy). I’m talking about MAKEUP. And cosmetics in general, including shampoo.
I like to think of myself as more educated about this than the average person, seeing as my Mother owns her own line of handmade soaps and is always telling me what garbage goes into the national brands we buy at Target and what not. I started washing my face with oils, toning with witch hazel and moisturizing with Avalon organic lavender lotion long ago, but now I’m completely convicted about what else I might be putting on my face that contains potentially cancer-causing chemicals.
This is our SKIN, people – the same skin that sweats and is extremely porous, permeable and absorbent. It works both ways. Our skin pushes stuff out and it pulls stuff in. Maybe we should be thinking a little more about what it is we’re slathering all over it, right?
I feel dirty.
So what do you buy? This is a great place to start, it’s a very long list of cosmetics manufacturers that have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. It’s updated frequently, this list is from March 2010. I was very proud to see that my Mom is on this list, by the way!
Oh how I love Annie Leonard and her educational video series The Story of Stuff. I just now caught this installment she did about the story behind bottled water. If you’re concerned about the future of our planet, your own health, your bank account, or your future grandkids, you may want to watch this video. It’s not long and it’s very easy to digest, so you have no excuses (especially if you’re reading this blog right now instead of working).
There! You’ve now been educated. So what are you gonna do?
My guess is that most of us who see this will still continue to buy bottled water out of convenience. I’m certainly aware of the horrible consequences of this behavior, yet I have one sitting on my desk at work as we speak. Yes, I’m guilty too, not at all preaching. But I’m eager to make a change, and I hope you will too. After all, the choices we make today will affect what kind of world our grandkids live in. So let’s suck it up and make some positive changes for their sake.
Most of my posts are light-hearted and full of of happy-go-lucky quips, but I have to say, the photos below have filled me with anger. I am ashamed of everyone involved in the oil spill, down to my own self for contributing, even in some small way, to the monumental devastation to this has caused that vast area in the Gulf. There is no price you can put on the environmental and wildlife destruction. This is not just “business,” my friends – this is our planet. Our home. We don’t have room to make mistakes of this magnitude.
These poor, poor animals. These helpless creatures didn’t do a single thing to deserve being smothered and drowned in oil to feed our greed and selfish behavior. And we think WE have it bad because the Starbucks barista gave us caff instead of decaf and Target is out of our favorite brand of toothpaste. It makes me want to scream and cry until I’m blue in the face.
What can we do to help?
1. For starters, check out the organizations who have made it their mission to clean up the coast and restore balance to the ecosystem. Donations help fund efforts, but volunteering (if you’re in the area) is amazing, too.
3. Help spread the word online. You’re on Twitter and Facebook all day, anyway. Sacrifice one of your mundane updates and post a link to an article, a photo, a video – anything that will spread awareness. The more that know, the better!
I wrote 2009 in the title of this, I still can’t believe it’s 2010. Where’s my flying car? So, I haven’t done one of my ‘Bits ‘n Pieces’ thingamajigs since before Christmas, therefore many of these items are old, but – who cares. Many of them warrant their very own blog posts, but I don’t have time for that right now, so you get a list. Love ya!
One of the images in my ‘Wedding Inspiration’ folder. From 100 Layer Cake.
Seriously cute wedding pics from a NYE eloping!
Up The Lacquer: I want these limited-edition Chanel nailpolishes. Can you imagine the hours of painting-and-picking fun I could have with them?! What cute colors.
The Blogosphere 2.0: Veteran blogger 11D writes about how the blogging community has changed/evolved in her six years of blogging. Among her findings are the demise of the A-list, a dwindling sense of community except among niche blogs, a lack of crediting and reciprocity with links, and burnout by reader and blogger due to over-saturation of content. The Zeray Gazette has a great follow-up, calling out the blogging industry and claiming it has become too commercialized.
FINALLY! The Oatmeal’s comic-style guide to Ten Words You Need To Stop Misspelling (is it coincidence that I misspelled “misspelling” just now?) Among them: lose vs. loose, your vs. you’re, to vs. two vs. too, its vs. it’s and of course… effect vs. affect. Amazing.
The Decade In Culture: A fun, quick look at the major events of the last decade. Yeah, this is one of those things I found before the end of the year but am just now posting… sorry! Also interesting: The decade in 7 minutes. That one was wildly popular on the SocialVibe blog.
VintageWhere.com: Want to start shopping vintage so you can keep up with the more green/fashionable trends? The chick from What I Wore created this searchable map/list of vintage/thrift shops across the country.
Happy New Year – With Turquoise!: Photos of chandeliers with turquoise in them. Mmm, I love turquoise. And chandeliers! House of Turquoise (all about the use of turquoise in home decor, delish) is awesome, btw.
What Is Yoga, Really?: A piece from a GOOD community member. Pretty interesting background on yoga… he also references a book, The Yoga of Jesus that I want to check out. Man, I really need to start doing yoga again. Just thinking about it makes me more aware of my tense upper back.
New Uses for Old Things: I love Real Simple! It’s like Martha Stewart for the realistic housewife. I also love recycling and refurbishing. Lots of cool ideas on how to take things around the house and make them new again.
What Is The Monkeysphere? – This article is more than two years old, but is filled with priceless information about society, human nature, and our lack of compassion for people who are outside of our “inner circle,” or as they refer to it, the Monkeysphere. The author explains how the same reasoning applies to individuals and larger corporations (and government). It’s worth a read. For me, it emphasizes the importance of “loving thy neighbor,” even if there seems to be nothing in it for you (P.S. there is always something in it for you).
“If a man doesn’t feel sympathy for his fellow man at $6.00 an hour, he won’t feel anything more at $600,000 a year.
Is College Worth It?: This diagram contains stats about the study and lifestyle habits of America’s undergrads and how their finances and worth stack up after the fact. As a college dropout, I can see their point, I’ve managed to become successful by hard work, paying attention to my employers, and taking advantage of opportunities to gain hands-on experience. Same goes for Julian, who never went to film school, yet knows more about filmmaking than most aspiring directors. In his case, he was blessed with a homeschooling environment that allowed him to concentrate on his passion. That being said… I still want my kids to go to college. (via 11d)
The Poetry Clock: I don’t know how it works (I guess it lights up certain words to let you know what time it is), and it really doesn’t seem efficient, but this poetry clock sure is purdy!
Vaccinating Our Son: Our Approach: I don’t have kids, so I won’t be doing any vaccinating anytime soon, but it’s never too soon to start researching I suppose. Plus, I totally trust Chris and Kelly as I agree with many of their stances on diet, health and eco-responsibility. My instincts tell me to do your own research on vaccinations versus following “doctors orders” which sadly aren’t always the smartest approach. If you’ve got a bun in the oven or a freshly baked bun, could be worth taking a look.
Non-toxic nail polish: I don’t even want to think about the amount of chemicals I’ve ingested over the years while using my teeth to peel nail polish off my fingernails. This is a great idea. Thanks to my friend Sarah, who is aware of my issues with nail polish peeling, for sending this my way!
Julie Powell’s blog: I love, love, loved Julie & Julia. Not only is Meryl Streep basically my theatrical idol, but this is a very cool story (and true!) If you aren’t familiar, you’ll have to check out the movie. I’m kind of jealous of Julie Powell, who began blogging her way through Julia Child’s French cookbook LOONG before blogging was the “in” thing to do. If only I were a few years older. Sidenote: why are we always trying to be the “first” to like something? Is there some secret prize you get for being the first person to discover a band or start a trend?
Simmer Down! Green Is Sexy is Rachel McAdam’s blog with two friends that is filled with daily tips on how to live a more sustainable lifestyle. This post is all about how to give yourself a facial at home with nothing but herbs, oils, hot water and a towel… I can’t wait to try it.
An (obviously) fake trailer for SATC 2. Bunny MacDougal returns!! Only hardcore fans of the show will appreciate this.
Michael Pollan (of In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma) has a new book out, a small handbook called Food Rules with easy rules to follow for healthy eating and smart grocery shopping. He talks about them here:
The funniest thing about this “how to wrap a cat for Christmas” video are the clever annotation speech bubbles from the cat.
Hahaha, aww… this high school theatrical performance of Peter Pan is quite possibly the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen. I feel for the kids though – producing serious theatre in a public high school is seriously tough. It takes me back to my days as an “Osbourn Player.”