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!
HAPPY SUNDAY! I’m not so happy today, because my fiance is out of town for the next week (sad face), but at least I’ll have plenty of time to catch up with my girlfriends and…. blog. Ugh. Come back, Julian! In all reality, I’m looking forward to making a dent in my reading list and watching shows and movies he’d begrudgingly agree to watch.
Here’s a list of random stuff that will hopefully distract you from the list of Sunday chores you should be doing right now.
- New app tells you what music is hot on MySpace right now. Say what you will about MySpace, but one cannot deny their reign as King of the music world. We Are Hunted created a new radio app that lets you listen to MySpace artists that have had the most playing action in the last 60 seconds. It is a phenomenal tool for discovering new music. And it’s not nearly as pop-heavy as you’d think – quite the contrary, actually. It also comes in iPhone and Android form. Try it here.
- Norway’s luxury prison/spa has more amenities than my apartment does. A gym, training room, chapel, library, family visiting unit, football (possibly soccer) field, a school, and, most unbelievably, a sound studio.
- Nerd Merit Badges – I think everyone was going gaga over these a couple weeks ago, but I just found them. They’re like little FourSquare badges, only they’re REAL, and they err on the side of nerdiness (i.e., a badge for reaching Inbox Zero). Back in 8th and 9th grade, I used to go crazy over some patches on my bookbag.
- This picture of Darth Vader riding a white cat into battle with a light saber is also moderately funny.
- The Cat Hammock Coffee Table – Sorry for all the Geekologie links, but I couldn’t not include this baby. My cats would looove to lay on this – even more so because they can be adored while lounging – the top is made of glass. Julian- don’t think I will forget that you said we can get this.
- Dating Tips from 1938. Some of these are still very important and hold true today, for example, not passing out drunk in the middle of your date (never a good look.) Some others, however, not so much:
- A tweeting bike that shares your location as you cruise around town. It was created to encourage and aid social media connection for an upcoming festival in London…. sounds cool! And only a little bit dangerous!
“Love is tender, and any real relationship is based on forgiveness, compassion and vulnerability.”
- Martha Stewart pitches new TV show, ‘Help Me, Martha!” – I imagine this would be something like Clean House, but instead of Neicy Nash’s tough love, slobs would get a dose of Martha’s honey-dipped words of wisdom and a how-to solution for their toughest household problems or entertaining disasters. If I had cable, I’d watch, because I love anything Martha.