Ha!  You CAN save money and eat healthy, earth conscious foods!  It’s so simple I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before!  

Here is the secret:

Switch to a plant-based diet. 

That’s it….

Oh, don’t roll your eyes at me.  I don’t mean you have to become a vegetarian or a vegan (although those are very healthy, good lifestyles – just not for everyone).  Instead you become what is rapidly becoming known as a “flexitarian”. 

Apparently, and I just learned this new word last week, a flexitarian is someone who eats mostly a plant-based diet but isn’t opposed (morally or otherwise) to eating meat on the occasion.  

We did this a while ago, after working with a holistic health/food counselor who taught me new uses for old foods and coaxed me to eat vegetables I NEVER thought would darken my door, much less my refrigerator!  But being brave, and not one to ever shrink from a challenge, I pushed on.  Now we are full-fledged “flexitarians” eating meat only once or twice a week.  

We are a  family of three, fully organic/wild, including meat purchases – which in other words reads E.X.P.E.N.S.I.V.E.   And my grocery bill had creeped up to $250 a week (including whatever sundries we purchased, which are all natural products too)!  

Today, even with those expensive meats and products like for instance,$20 for a free range chicken! $18 lb for fresh caught wild Salmon, $7.99 for a small  container of laundry soap that is safe for the earth and for me and my family….

my grocery bill is…..drum roll please…..$150 a week!  Holy SMOKES!  I never thought I would see the likes of those prices again once I committed to eating organic foods and using organic products. 

So a regular weekly menu in my house looks like this:

Breakfast:  Whole Grain Cereal (usually Kashi brand), boiled eggs and fruit, omelette, or spinach Quiche

Lunch:  Left overs, sandwiches (made with boars head all natural meats and LOADS of veg including tomatoes, sprouts, onions, ect., salad and a slice of sour dough bread or homemade bread

Dinner:

Monday: Double Mushroom Soup, whole wheat bread and fruit salad made with seasonal fruits and sweetened with agave nectar. 

Tuesday:  Cuban Black beans & Rice

Wednesday: Roasted Chicken, Cajun spiced boiled potatoes, sautéed collard greens, sliced tomatoes

Thursday:  Left overs

Friday: Stuffed Portobello Mushroom caps (stuffed with spinach, cheese, etc), some sort of vegetable side

Saturday: Clean out fridge – left overs

Sunday: Warm Shrimp Spinach Salad with sliced bread

snacks include: roasted pumpkin seeds or nuts, fruits, pretzels, popcorn, smoothies, banana bread, guacamole and baked tortilla chips, etc. etc.

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Sustainability

December 29, 2009

“When we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world.”
– John Muir

I recently had lunch with a colleague who has left telecommunications and entered the world of bio-fuels.  Producing leaner, cleaner fuels to run our cars, trucks, trains and ships.  It’s renewable rather than depleatable like fossil fuels.  It leaves us much less dependant upon OPEC and the Middle East.  

Sounds great right?  I thought so too until we started discussing how much acreage is needed to produce bio fuels.   Bio fuels produced from palm oils would require thousands upon thousands of acres of rain forest to be cleared and planted with palm trees.   Rain forests aren’t just some neat place to vacation every now and then, they are vital to the earth’s ecology by recycling carbon gases into oxygen, helping recycle water from the earth back into the atmosphere to have it fall back down again, which makes them critical for weather patterns.  

Then there are biofuels produced from algae.   But they require a shallow area in the sea so they can get sunlight – an area about the size of Rhode Island.  Imagine how giant floats of algae would alter the ocean ecology. How many species would die from oxygen deprivation due to clusters of algae like the infamous red tide? 

And then my favorite, someone has figured out how to separate the oxygen and hydrogen components of sea water and make it burn.  Imagine, they say…using sea water.  How great, it is not depleatable! ….Or is it?  If we pump billions of gallons of water out a day  or a week or a month, how would that again alter weather patterns?  Would we one day reach the bottom of the well?

The one thing that struck me and struck me hard during that lunch the current American lifestyle is simply not sustainable.  For the sheer fact that, as John Muir states above, when we tug at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to other things.

I am finishing up a great book on sustainable living written by Barbara Kingslover, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.    Not only is the book well written – Barbara Kingslover writes well renouned works such as The Prodigal Summer and The Poisonwood Bible, but it is also full of useful information, facts and even recipes.

The book explores the Kingslover family quest to spend one year consuming only what they could produce or was grown or produced locally.  Throughout the project, and the book, you and they learn the fine art of gardening, planning, preserving and canning and raising animals for meat. Frightening facts are sprinkled liberally throughout the book such as the water piped into to serve Arizona residents is considered toxic to aquarium fish but safe for humans or how humans are closer to starvation than we know because of our reliance on unicrop food production has dwendled the available food species to just a few, meaning just one blight could put the earth on a course for global famine.  She also pulls no punches on “big food” and their appalling practices such as raising over 1,000 turkeys into a room the size of my bathroom all in the name of mass producing cheap turkeys for the holidays while not criticizing farmers, including tobacco farmers, for making a living.

Even if you don’t plan on living off the land, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is a good read and a good opportunity to think about how and where you get your own food and why paying more may be worth the price.

The answer is most usually yes.  I know, the price of organic foods is high but you really can eat organic and healthy on a budget. 

Here is the secret.  Eat seasonally, buy locally and eat less.  It takes some adjustment and a bit of an adventurous streak but in the end, it is cheaper and healthier for you and the environment. 

Virtually every part of the country has access to either farmers markets or community sponsored agriculture.  The first is where local farmers bring their produce and other products usually one or two days a week.  I am lucky, I live in a city that has not 1, not 2 but 7 different farmers markets going on throughout the week.   The prices on these foods are generally slightly lower than you would find on the same organically grown produce in a grocery store because the farmers have taken out the middle man.  But, wait for it…you get a bonus.  You get the best tasting and the most nutritionally sound produce because it was picked either the day before or more often the morning it was brought to market.  

Produce in the grocery store, even organic produce is nutritionally inferior (organic does not boost nutrition, it simply limits how much poison you and the earth absorb growing that particular item).  It was picked before peak ripeness so it would come to you fresh and pretty and ripe on the grocery store shelves.  When it is picked prior to ripeness, not all of its nutrition has been fully set.  And then once separated from the plant, vegetables and fruits almost immediately begin to lose nutritional content, in other words, it begins to die.  So the week or two it spends between the grower and the grocer it is steadily declining in vitamins and minerals.   Not only that, but most often organic produce is grown in California or south of the border and shipped at great expense and great CO2 emissions to your waiting grocer’s shelves.   

By choosing a farmers market you are not only getting the best produce but you are buying local, supporting local small farms that have a tough time making a living against giant commercial agriculture, you are reducing your carbon footprint by reducing emissions that it took your food to come from where it was grown to your plate and you are getting the best bang for your nutritional buck.

Community sponsored agriculture (CSA) is another great option.  This is where you “buy into” a farm.  You buy shares and receive a box weekly of what that farm produces.  It is just as good as the farmer’ markets but perhaps a bit riskier. Farming itself is risky business and if a farm produces a bounty, all CSA members share in that bounty.  But if it has a hard year, you share in that too.  I would love to do this but you have to find a CSA selling new shares. Most of the farms in my area take advantage of the farmers  markets and the limited markets that buy local produce therefore there are fewer CSA opportunities.

I have the best option.  Living in a very green city, a local entrepreneur started a delivery grocery business.  When possible they buy from local farmers but they also have a nice selection of other grocery items you can buy. It is like shopping at Whole Foods over the internet and it comes directly to your door.  I will post more on that another time. 

For now, check out this website to find your local farmers market or CSA.

Local Harvest

If you live in Central Texas or San Antonio check out Greenling

Change, Change, Change

December 8, 2009

I have had a lot of changes in my life recently. Changes that forced me over a year ago to abandon this blog and focus inwardly on my life, and culminated in the loss of my mother to breast cancer.  No one ever wants to lose their parents, especially when their parents are still so young.  But with my mother’s death, I was given an amazing new insight and clarity about life that I didn’t have before. In other words,  with my mother gone I am officially a grown-up.

Yes, I realize that since I AM 38, I should have realized I was grown up a long time ago.  But you really never feel that way until you can no longer pick up the phone to call your mom.  Despite whether you had a good or bad relationship, rocky or smooth, your mother is the true umbilical cord to your childhood. 

And so with this growing up, I am making more changes. Positive changes.  First and foremost, I am changing the name of this blog to “Simply Green”.   The former name is long and unwieldly.  Simply Green, however, aptly conveys my quest to live simply, live green and to save money (green being a double entendre for both the green movement and money).

Not all changes have been as hard as caring for and then losing my mother.  I have made a great many positive changes in my life over the past year and I am excited to tell you about them and I will start tomorrow.

Take care and keep watching.  Simple living is back.

Borrow – Don’t Buy

October 13, 2008

Green resource: 

An excellent website that links people who have stuff with people who need stuff.

www.loanables.com

If you have something that you aren’t using regularly rent it to your neighbors who may need that particular item.  If you need something like a saw or a canoe or truck even…do a search on loanables to see if someone has one in your area that you can rent.

Do you pick the fruit?

July 16, 2007

One of my frugal/simple/organic message boards is having a review.   Simple/ecological living acts are designated as fruit and embarking on the simple/light lifestyle you begin by picking the low hanging fruit and moving up the tree as you get more comfortable.  Have you reached the top of the tree?  I am proud to say we have.   I have placed an asterisk next to the things we do to be more simple, ecologically friendly.  We do a lot but we could clearly do more.

Low Hanging Fruit

  • Bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store*
  • use reusable containers rather than plastic bags or ziploc bags*
  • shop at a local farmer’s market to reduce petrol use in shipping food to your grocery store*
  • shop once a week*
  • increase ac temp/lower heat temp*
  • use compact florescent bulbs*
  • shop thrift stores and second hand when purchasing items*
  • Install a clothes line*
  • Drink out of one cup during the day, refilling it as necessary*
  • ditch bottled water, fill a pitcher in the fridge for quick access to cold water*
  • wear clothes more than once*

Medium Hanging Fruit

  • Plan car trips for maximum efficiency*
  • bike/use public transportation for work
  • have a producing garden*
  • mow lawn with reel mower
  • replace grass with native plants to reduce water and work* – in progress
  • compost kitchen scraps*
  • install gutters/rain barrels to collect rain water

Top of the Tree

  • buy appliances with high energy star rating*
  • install solar panels
  • install tankless water heaters
  • install solar powered water heater
  • buy a Prius
  • telecommute to work*
  • switch to front loading washer*
  • move closer to work