Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thursday's Green Tip Toe: 10-Minute Water Saving Ideas

As promised, I'm delivering, and I have to tell you I could have gone on for pages. I started out thinking it was going to be tough to find enough things you can do in 10 minutes that don't take any tools or expensive purchases to complete. I was very wrong. These are all simple things that you and even your young children can do (most of them), so teach them the right way while they are young, and they'll lead us to the promised (green) land when they are older.

Done drinking an iced drink? Don't dump the ice; use it to water a plant, bush or tree, as shown here. If you're drinking water, go ahead and put the ice in the bird bath or dog dish.

Collect shower water in a bucket while the water warms up. Use it for pets, plants, mopping or clean up after a dirty job outside.

When you return from a picnic or day at the beach with a cooler still full of ice and melted water, use it or save it for the car wash later.

This is a no-brainer we don't think of: Turn off the water while brushing your teeth, shaving, scrubbing hands, washing your face; you get the idea.

Check your automatic sprinklers for strays--those sprinkler heads that somehow end up watering the street or sidewalk aren't doing the grass much good.

Not a new idea, but we sometimes forget: Use a spray nozzle when washing the car. Better yet, use the spray nozzle AND wash the car on the grass, so the run off waters the grass.

Wash the dog in the grass, preferably somewhere that the grass needs extra water.

Add faucet aerators to all faucets.

Insulate your hot water heater and the pipes leading out of it. Surprisingly, you CAN do this in about 10 minutes, once you've picked up the insulating wrap, duct tape and foam tubing to do it with.

Bathe your young children together; they'll enjoy it and get cleaner while they're having fun playing in the water.

When replacing plants, choose those which need less water.

Do outdoor planting in Spring and Fall when less water is needed to establish them.

Use one glass a day per family member for drinking; you'll do less dish washing.

Wash produce in a pan of water, rather than under a running faucet. Reuse this water on plants.

Start a compost pile instead of using the garbage disposal. This saves lots of water and will make nice, rich soil for planting.

Run your dishwasher and washing machine only when full.

Rinse clean dishes in a sink full of water, rather than under a running faucet.

...and I could go on and on!

Special thanks to Water Use it Wisely and Ideal Bite for many of these ideas. If you're ready to put some real effort into this goal, I highly suggest you go to Water Use it Wisely and click on your geographical region for a complete list of things that apply specifically to your area, including the more adventurous topics like replacing plumbing fixtures with low-water use ones, and other such fun. More power to you if you're this ambitious.

Tomorrow on Fun Food Friday, I'll announce the drawing for a free Chicobag to one lucky reader who left a comment. Since my blog is so new, most of my comments have come to my personal e-mail, but thank you to those of you who have commented using the purple COMMENT links at the bottom of each post. I appreciate you taking the time to give me feedback. Keep them coming, as I'll be giving another shopping bag away on September 1. This time, only comments that are posted on the site using the purple COMMENT links will count.

Many of your ideas and suggestions are in the works, including the comparisons that were voted for in my mini-poll earlier in the month. Soon I will be reporting on our milk comparisons, and with Labor Day cookouts coming up, the all-important American hotdog goes Organic. At least a week before Labor Day, I'll let you know which brands my testers found to be the most tasty.

Also, tomorrow I'll begin a 5-part, money-saving series on how to make 3 meals for your family with one Organic Hen. Stop in tomorrow for the shopping list and join me next week when we get cooking.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Reusable Shopping Bags Can be Fun!

It's Woofing Wednesday again, and once more my dogs are heading up this post. Oliver (left) and Tanner (right) are waiting permission to eat the yummy organic carrots I have given them. What good boys!

Speaking of shopping for carrots, I found a great post with lots of reasons to use reusable shopping bags for your grocery shopping at Squawkfox. I'll add one: Some of mine are colorful tote bags I've collected from the publishing industry. My favorite is the one with Captain Underpants on it, pictured above. I get lots of comments on that one from the grocery packers. This series of books is a favorite among kids, but especially boys.

Check out the Squawkfox list, and clean out your closet. You're sure to find at least one old tote bag that will be a great shopping bag. Have fun collecting.
Join me tomorrow when I'll offer a few easy (10-minute Green Tip Toes) ways to save water. See you then, and don't forget to leave me a comment. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Comments, Please!

Welcome to
Organic Journey Online
I am happy to say that in the past week, I finally let the cat out of the bag about my new blog. Your e-mails have come pouring in and I am so thrilled to hear your comments. There is such an abundance of interest in living green and eating organic, that I found it quite heart-warming to have so many soul mates out there. Now, I know you won't all have time to read every post I put up (daily, Monday-Friday), but I do want to make it easier for you to read those you are most interested in. Yesterday's post described how to easily get a subscription for Organic Journey Online to come straight to your e-mailbox. You'll get the title and the first few lines, sort of like a commercial. Then, if you want to read the rest, you just click and it pops up. It is really that easy.

Moving on from subscriptions, let's talk about all your comments. I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU ALL. In order to help my blog readership grow, I'd like to redirect your comments to the blog. Once again, it is very easy. At the bottom of each post, there is a purple COMMENT link. Just click and type your comment in the box. It will automatically be posted on the blog AND be sent to my e-mail. Getting some comments on my blog will help it immensely, so thanks for all the help you can give me on comments. And more importantly, thanks for joining the journey.

I don't want you to go away from this post saying " Where is the green and organic information I was expecting to see", so I'll offer a simple primer for buying organic fruits and vegetables. All organic produce sold by the piece is required to be labeled as such. The labels identify the type of produce with the following codes:
  • Organic produce stickers have 5 digits, starting with a 9
  • Genetically Modified produce (GMO) also has a 5 digit number, starting with 8 (we'll talk more about GMO at a later date, but suffice it to say, there are convincing reasons to avoid this produce)
  • Conventionally grown produce has a 4 digit number and does not mention the word Organic on the sticker, nor does it tell you that the produce was grown with chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Buyer beware.

Although you will often notice a difference in the price, please keep in mind the investment you are making is in your health. In upcoming posts I will try to give you more of the background and reasoning for making this investment. For now, I hope you 'll at least give it a try. To wrap it up, check out this link, the Organic Center, where you will learn which of the fruits and vegetables are most important to buy organic. Scroll down to page 2 to find a colorful visual guide to the fruits and vegetables which are most at risk of contamination by pesticides and other chemicals harmful to your health. This non-profit organization also offers a free newsletter here. Just click on News & Media and then select Newsletter.

Finally, they offer a wonderful introduction to the hazards of pesticides in our foods on a Youtube video entitled, Serious Science, Serious Benefits. Watch it for your kids!

Please join me tomorrow on Woofing Wednesday (can you tell I'm a dog lover?!) for another pup pix and a motivating post on using cloth grocery bags, and Thursday's Green Tip Toe, when I will offer a few simple ways to save water. See you then.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Free and Easy Subscribing to Organic Journey Online

This new journey I am on has become more than just green and organic. It is also about experiencing the abundance of things you can do with the Internet at your fingertips. With the help of a book called Clear Blogging, by Bob Walsh, I have learned more in 2 months about the business and art of blogging than I thought possible. I have managed to edit HTML code (with great trepidation), set up accounts with all kinds of techie websites that do stuff for bloggers (if you're interested, check out Technorati), configured comments tracking for the blog, set up RSS feeds (I'll explain below), embedded videos and much more. I didn't even know most of this stuff existed until 2 months ago. Amazing! The web is so vast that the more I search, the more I find out that there is to search. I don't know how to describe it except to to say that the resources on the web are unbelievably unlimited.

Enough babbling; let's get on with instructions for subscribing. Here goes:

  1. First you need an RSS "Reader". RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, and it is really simple. You'll find the orange RSS reader icon just under my profile in the right sidebar of my blog. It looks just like the one at the top left of this post, but that one is just a "picuture". The icon under my profile says "Subscribe to my feed in a Reader". If you don't already have a "Reader" on your computer, then go to step 2. If you DO have a reader, you already know what to do. Click and add this blog.

  2. Before you download a reader, you'll want a free e-mail account for the subscription. Trust me; it is better than sending it all to your regular e-mail. If you don't already have a Gmail (free e-mail) account, sign up for one. Just go to and click on Gmail at the top. (Note: Other free e-mail services offer free "readers", but I can't help you with theirs--sorry) It only takes a few minutes, and you'll be glad to get your subscription coming to a separate e-mail, especially when you start subscribing to other blogs and news sites. When you can hand-pick the topics you want to hear about and have the headlines come to your free e-mail, it is a wonderful way to screen your mail and news stories.

  3. If you DO have Gmail, then sign into your Gmail account and click the reader link at the top. Now sign out or minimize Google and return to Organic Journey Online.Click the Orange button just below my profile. It says Subscribe to my Feed in a Reader.

  4. On the right, click the light yellow button that says Subscribe with Google.

  5. Next, and also on the right, click the blue button that says Add to Google Reader.

Congratulations! You are now a subscriber of Organic Journey Online. Our post headlines and a few additional lines will appear there each time I post (currently 4 days per week Tuesdays-Fridays). If the headline sounds interesting, just click and it will expand or take you to the blog to read more. It's that easy. Enjoy, and please comment below this post with the purple comment button if you have questions or would like to tell me anything about this harrowing 10-minute experience. I'd like to know if you found these instructions helpful, and what suggestions you might have for next time.

FYI-- Becoming a subscriber will help get my blog noticed by the blogosphere (This the world of blogs on the Internet): search engines, bloggers, Technorati and the like. Thank you in advance for helping me to grow. I hope you, in turn, enjoy and learn.

Friday, July 25, 2008

PB & J Challenges Revisited: Friday's Food Post

Hurrah! Thanks to an unnamed source, there is a nice, soft, whole wheat bread available at my local grocery store, Publix, that is made with organic flour. Now, I realize that doesn't qualify it as 100% Organic, but it is a very good start. The bread is called Nature's Own All Natural 100% Whole Wheat Bread. The label touts a stunning 24 grams of whole grain per slice, which translates to 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber in each slice. I hope you can find this in your area if you don't have a Publix. Good luck.

As I am sure most of you already know, the FDA requires all ingredients in packaged foods to be listed in the order by volume--largest amounts first, and so on. The first ingredient in this bread is the Organic Whole Wheat Flour. Bread, of course, is mostly flour, which means that this loaf of bread is probably at least 80% Organic, maybe 85%.

The final good news is that it is not preserved with BHA or BHT or the like, so I feel better that these synthetic preservatives are not in there. I suppose this means I should store it in the freezer to keep it nice and soft and fresh, but then that's no problem. It takes, what, 10 minutes for a slice of bread to thaw out on the counter. No problem! Hope this is good news for you also.

I'm still hoping to hear from someone who has found a softer peanut butter that will spread without tearing the bread. Anybody?
Don't forget to check in on next Friday (8/01/08) when I will be describing how I make one Organic hen serve a family of 5 for 3 dinners. It isn't magic, and your whole family will like this. Recipes will be included, so turn on those printers and have your hen ready.
Also, on Miscellaneous Monday I'll take a stab at being a "techie" and help you subscribe to my blog in a "reader". This is way cool. You'll get the title and first few lines of the newest posts sent to your "reader", sort of like e-mail commercials. You can either click to read, or delete them if they're not your thing. You'll love it, and it is sooo easy. Join me Monday, August 28 for this helpful post. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thursday's 10-Minute Green Tip Toe

My Green Tip Toe post is designed as a "you-pick". Do whatever you can. Even if you only have time to do one thing on this list, you're doing something to help. These tips are all about living more green, so keep in mind if travel is necessary, pick your method by being mindful of the environment (i.e. walk or bike if you can; leave the Hummer at home. We'll call that tip#1):
  • It is almost back to school time, and that means school supply shopping is around the corner. If you have an office supply or discount store nearby, you and the kids might just as well make it a fun outing and take the bicycles. Don't forget to bring backpacks to carry your loot home, and most importantly, wear your helmets.
  • While you're at the supply store, remember to buy only recycled notebook and printer paper, and consider this idea instead of buying new 3-ring notebooks: Take last year's notebooks and let your kids decorate them with photos, magazine clippings, cartoon strips, wrapping paper and cloth leftovers, and anything else your creativity brings to mind. These notebooks certainly won't be lost easily and the kids will get a lot of compliments from their teachers. That's a great way to start the school year. To protect their artwork, use heavy-duty vinyl from the office supply store to cover the notebooks, or get them laminated for a more professional look.
  • Another product to look for at the school supply store is soy ink. All that printed paper ends up in a dump at some point, so choose soy when you can.
  • Clean out your closet and locate all those old, misplaced and unused tote bags. They will make great "green" grocery bags and you won't have to pay a thing for them.
  • Are you like me and have a lawn service who handles fertilizing, insect problems, fungicides, etc.? Do a quick search online for organic lawn care providers and give them a call. I'll be meeting with 2 suppliers in my area soon, and I'll let you know what I learn. I hope you will leave me a comment on your experience.
  • No doubt you have read and heard the many dangers of plastics to the environment. Plastics are made from petroleum products, and the dangers of both freezing and heating your food in plastic has been much-publicized lately in the green media. You can help the environment and your family's health by gradually shifting your food storage containers to glass. Ideas?
  • Every year I send my family home with leftovers from Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners in disposable plastic containers. Last year I told them to keep them. If you like to give goodies for gifts, use up some of your plastic containers as gift packaging. With an appropriately frilly bow and ribbon, it will look quite festive. Finally, save and reuse glass containers from foods you buy. Some examples are fruit juice, pasta sauce, mayonnaise, jams, etc. If you are up for spending a little money, think about canning jars. They are dishwasher safe and have a good seal for freezing and holding liquids.
  • Speaking of gift giving, try to focus on reusable gift bags instead of gift wrap. More trees on the planet means cleaner air.
  • The next time you are in a discount or bed/bath store, check out organic cotton sheets. If there is any one cloth item in your life that you should consider changing to organic, it is your sheets. Check out the prices so you know what you'll need to spend and then keep it in mind when you need sheets. Think about it. You spend about 8 hours a day wrapped in them; that is more skin contact with pesticide-laden cotton than your clothing, so it should be your first conversion. Check out the prices now so you will know what it will cost you when you need new sheets. Watch for sales.
  • Stop by your local bookstore or library and pick up a book on living more green. There is a starter list on my sidebar. The Hundred-Year Lie is definitely a must-read. My next book to read will be Living Like Ed, by Ed Begley, Jr. I found it interesting that he has been living "green" since long before it became "cool". Check it out; his website includes a biography of his acting career as well as information on the many environmental groups he is involved with.

Join me tomorrow for Friday's food post, when I will tell you about one solution that has come up regarding my PB & J Challenges post on 7/18/08. Remember that the comment button follows each post in purple. Thanks for sending along your thoughts.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Find Good Food:

Since this is "Woofing Wednesday" I have to deliver on my promise to post a photo of one of my pups. I have a very active trio! This little fella, Oliver, is a 9-month-old Papillon who, like his retriever housemates, loves to bike with me. Papillon means butterfly in French, because their ears look like butterflies when they mature. Oliver is just about full grown and weighs a whopping 8.5 pounds. You can see another picture of him at the bottom of the site. He is peeking out of Toni's handbag, where he often travels when out and about with his best girl. Now for the serious business of the day:

The title above is the subtitle of today's helpful reference website, the Eat Well Guide. I've added their search widget to the sidebar for you to quickly look up organic resources in your area. Its easy:

  • Just type in your zip code and hit the search button.

  • The search results will either show up on your browser OR, a share this tab will appear in your browser; click it to view the findings of your search.

  • Another option offered is to send the site info to your e-mail or to friends' e-mails. Just click the envelope below the widget box.

  • Fill in the drop down menu and it will take care of the e-mails for you.

The information I got was so helpful, that I found myself looking up resources for others. It was fun seeing what kinds of stores are in different areas that I am familiar with. The search will list links for:

  • organic stores

  • farmers' markets

  • education centers

  • restaurants

  • caterers

In addition, there are further information options below these results for recipes, articles, a notebook for savings things, and a blog. Check it out and share it with your friends and family who might be interested in knowing what's near them. Have fun and thanks for reading. Please leave a comment below this post. Just click the purple "Comment" link and it will only take a minute. Hope to see you Thursday for my Green Tip Toe: Things you can do in 10 minutes to live more green.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Organic Pasta Review

On July 4, I posted Getting Started: Day One: and concluded that post with a sauce recipe that my family enjoys. I realized today when I made it, that I did not say anything about pasta brands. As I have mentioned before, I'm really new to this, so there are still many brands to explore. We are partial to Angel Hair and Penne, so that is where my search began.
I have found Angel Hair Pasta (thinner than traditional spaghetti pasta) in the DeBoles organic brand. The DeBoles Angel Hair is made with USDA Organic Jerusalem Artichoke Flour and Organic Durum Semolina. I had never heard of flour made from Artichokes, so I have to admit that I was hesitant to try it at first, but we all found it to be quite tasty. The package indicates that Jerusalem Artichoke Flour is their signature flour and they chose it for its subtle nutty flavor and less sticky texture than traditional pastas. Although we didn't notice the nutty flavor, the absence of stickiness, which is always an issue when cooking pasta, was a pleasant change from typical pasta. Interestingly, the box goes on to explain that "Jerusalem Artichokes naturally contain inulin, a pre-biotic that helps promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system." I have heard of pro-biotics many times, but never pre-biotics. Their description of it building beneficial bacteria makes me wonder if they are the same thing. Anyone out there know anything about this? I'd love to hear from you.

DaVinci Italian Organics was readily available and reasonably priced. Their website indicates that their products are Kosher, organic and Non-GMO, and they offer free recipes at .I was already familiar with this brand and felt confident that it would be consistent with previous DaVinci pastas I had purchased. All went well with that selection, as well. I have tried one or two pastas that were less than acceptable, so I suggest you ask the store clerks what sells best when choosing something new. They often know what they have to restock the most, and that bit of information says a lot about a product. Fortunately pasta is not one of the more inexpensive organic foods, but it still pays to ask a few questions.

Thanks for reading my Tuesday Tip and hope to see you tomorrow on Woofing Wednesday. I'll be sharing another great green website, and of course, showing off another pup pix, just for the fun of it. Thursday's 10-Minute Green Tip Toe will be a U-Pick, including a bulleted list of options for saving money with just a few minutes' investment. It will be worth your while to stop by to read this one and pick up a few coupons. I've been enjoying the Organic Valley $1.00 off coupons, but they're due to expire 8/14/08, so get 'em while you can.
I would really love to hear your comments on my posts, and want to remind you that I am giving away a Chico shopping bag to one lucky "Commenter" on August 1 and September 1, so get those comments rolling. The purple comment link is located at the bottom of each post. I hope you have a moment to share your thoughts.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Organic Crabgrass Killer

Hello, and welcome to Miscellaneous Monday, where I'll diverge on various topics in the realm of organic eating and living more green.

Crabgrass is a stubborn weed that often suffocates our St. Augustine grass and takes over what used to be our lawn. Until a few years ago, many lawncare organizations used a chemical (name?) to kill this nasty stuff, but the authorities that be finally banned the product due to environmental safety issues.

Ironically, it turns out that long before the ban, many natural gardeners had discovered a safe alternative that I'll bet is in your kitchen pantry right now. Simple baking soda, sprinkled on the pesky stuff, gradually turns it brown and kills it off. It works great for small areas of crabgrass, so try to catch them early, before they spread like wildfire and take over, killing your St. Augustine, or whatever type of grass you have. Once the area is looking pretty dead, dig it up (it comes out easily) and put in plugs or sod to replace the missing grass. If you don't replace it, you can be certain that the area will fill itself in with weeds, and quickly, so don't put this off.

After the ban, my local lawncare company's representative finally confessed to this alternative solution, leaving me feeling angry. I had asked for safer, chemical-free solutions for years, but it seems that they were told not to recommend this option because of the possibility of loss of business.

I have also read a number of stories on the use of cinnamon bark, and have found a company online, Megagro, that sells a natural preparation that includes both cinnamon bark and baking soda. Anybody heard anything about their product?

I'll be discussing my foray into natural lawncare in an upcoming post. I have scheduled meetings with two of our local organic lawncare companies, and we'll see what they have to offer in services and prices. I've heard that one of them, Jolly Green Planet, is a chain. If you know anything about them, please leave a comment and share your experience below. Happy gardening!

Friday, July 18, 2008

PB & J Challenges

Today I want to address the challenge I have had with the staple of the American lunchbox--the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So far I can only say that we have conquered the jelly part. I have found many brands of grape, strawberry and raspberry jelly or jam to suit my family's varied preferences. Cascadian Farm's brand is often the most economical in my area.

The toughest dilemma is the peanut butter. Organic or natural peanut butter is so hard to spread that I end up tearing the bread. My family also has had their complaints about it's drier taste, despite the numerous brands we have tried. Flavor, if you just eat a spoonful of it, has not been a contended issue, just the spreadability for sandwiches. Unfortunately, the fact that it has to be refrigerated once opened has further complicated that problem.

I read one suggestion regarding adding 1 part honey to 2 parts organic/natural peanut butter in a food processor or blender and tried that with high hopes, but found it, too, became less than spreadable when refrigerated. The flavor was wonderful, but still quite stiff. I don't know about your house, but in the mornings things are crazy and there isn't time for warming up the peanut butter before sandwiches are made for lunchboxes. So consider this an all-call for spreadable peanut butter suggestions--either store-bought or home-prepared from organic peanut butter.

The final problem with our current PB & J's is the bread. We all love Pepperidge Farm Light Style Wheat bread, which is light-textured, low-calorie and sliced thin, so the sandwiches aren't "all-bread". I'd like to find a similar organic bread that I can purchase for the freezer, so that when I don't have home-made bread, I'll have a quick organic option. Unlike warming up the peanut butter, which takes an hour or more, slices of bread thaw quickly when set out on a clean kitchen towel to absorb excess moisture during thawing.

Thank goodness for my bread maker. We have a favorite cinnamon-raisin bread recipe that I'll share in an upcoming post on bread recipes. I hope you will share one in return. Remember, this blog is all about us learning together. So, if you've found a light wheat (or oat) bread that you can recommend, let me know with a comment at the end of this post. Just click on the comment link in purple.

Thanks to those of you who have voted in my poll on organic food reviews. I have enlisted some of the pickiest eaters I know to give their opinions on various brands, and I will bring you their results shortly. Keep voting! I'll be giving away a ChicoBag to one lucky winner when I draw "names" from a hat full of voters' names from the poll. The drawing is August 1st and I'll do it again September 1st, with a new poll, of course. So be sure to check in and vote again.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Thursday's Green Tip-Toe

This is definitely not the post for total greenies. I'm just a novice and I have to start somewhere. Baby steps lead to bigger steps and so on, so no teasing. I'll fess up: I'm a Starbucks junkie. After taking and editing this photo of their logo, I realized that I probably should have some sort of permission to post it here. I'm a new, and very small fish in the ocean that is the blogosphere, so I'll have to read up on the rules and put them in play as I learn. Back to my Starbucks habit. My position on that is that we all have to have a vice. Mine is my Latte. So, the question is how can I make that a tad bit healthier? Easy. Our local Starbucks is exactly 1 mile from my house. I walk, sometimes with a friend or family member, sometimes with my dog(s). I can't say I walk every time I go, but I walk often.

And there's more: I just learned two good things about my favorite Starbucks drink. I can get my grande vanilla latte with organic milk and the vanilla syrup is made with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. If I was really ambitious, I suppose I could buy an espresso machine and make organic espresso. They do sell it for use in home espresso makers. It may take a while for me to get that organized. I don't even know how to make espresso, much less a vanilla latte, so we'll put that on the back burner for now. At least I walk there and can get organic milk.

Now let's talk about that high fructose corn syrup I mentioned. According to my favorite, well-researched book, The Hundred-Year Lie, high fructose corn syrup(HFCS) "arrives almost intact in the human liver, not breaking down." In 1983 Coke and Pepsi began sweetening their drinks with 100% high fructose corn syrup. If you drink soft drinks, do the math. How much undigested high fructose corn syrup is clogging up your liver?

In 1983 when Coke and Pepsi added HFCS to their drinks, no research had been done on the long-term effects of this product. In 2000, the University of Toronto researchers tested hamsters, using amounts of HFCS to mimic a typical teenager's diet. The hamsters developed high triglyceride levels and insulin resistance in only a few weeks. This information was all it took to get me off of soda--cold turkey. I haven't had a coke or other soda since I read this last summer.

If you haven't yet read the book, The Hundred-Year Lie, I highly recommend it. You'll learn a lot of scary stuff, but it will motivate you to make some serious changes. I guess I needed some solid reasons to drop soda, but the good news is that I did it. I need my liver.

So, to recap, Thursday's 10-Minute Green Tip Toe for this week is this simple:

  • Walk when and where you can
  • Choose organic when possible
  • Avoid high fructose corn syrup to save your liver

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Woofin Wednesdays

Just to lighten things up a bit, I think I'll bring you into the fold of my other passion. Thanks to Carrie M. from I am a Work in Progress for the inspiration. I have 3 dogs who have now replaced my 3 grown kids as the object of my nurturing. Xena, a nearly 12-year-old Golden Retriever/Black Lab mix loves the water, and often cruises the pool deck as our Lifeguard when the others swim. Here she is, sporting her official lifeguard uniform, straight from Baywatch. Pamela Anderson should look so good!

I'm working toward making some type of daily post, even if short. Short is good, right? But even with short posts there is prep time, and being a total beginner at this blog stuff, I need extra, so I've vowed to make Wednesdays really easy. I'll share a picture of something from my furry family's goings-on and a new-found website that I think you'll enjoy. Yesterday I spent quite a while perusing the ranks of The Blog Catalog. A simple search made it easy for me to find green and organic blogs and check out the rest of the blogosphere that I'd like to align myself with. If you haven't been there, it is definitely worth a visit. Enjoy the journey and I hope to see you Thursday for another new adventure:

Thursday's 10-Minute Green Tip-Toe: baby steps you can take to live greener in 10 minutes. Hope to see you here, and don't forget to leave me a comment. I'd love to hear some of your thoughts, questions, etc.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Why Eat Organic and Strive to Live Green?

There are so many answers to this question. I cannot help but remember the passage in THE HUNDRED YEAR LIE which profoundly placed the images in my brain that changed my mind about my eating habits. I will quote this passage as an answer to this question, and I encourage you to buy the book and devour it. Visit Randall Fitzgerald's website and blog for more information and a way to order the book. Fitzgerald says:

Photo courtesy: The HUNDRED YEAR LIE

"Let's examine the reality of what we confront on a daily basis. If you are a typical person, on any normal morning of your life the following routine should be similar to your experience. You awaken from sleeping on a mattress that was coated with flame-retardant chemicals during its manufacture--as .most mattresses are--and which emits minuscule amounts of formaldehyde gas and a brominated substance known to be carcinogenic, which your body readily absorbs. You pad on your bare feet toward the bathroom, across a synthetic carpet treated--as most carpets are during manufacture--with benzene and styrene and several other cancer-causing chemicals.

Once in the bathroom, you turn on the faucet and splash your face with tap water laced with fluoride and chlorine, both carcinogens (most tap water also contains
traces of herbicides and pharmaceutical drugs). You open a plastic bottle of Listerine mouthwash (or a similar brand) and gargle, not realizing that the plastic bottle has leached its own chemicals into a mouthwash mixture that already includes four active ingredients along with a half dozen flavoring and coloring chemicals. If you read the mouthwash label you will find the following: WARNINGS: Do not administer to children under twelve years of age. Do not swallow. In case of accidental ingestion, seek professional assistance or contact a Poison Control Center immediately." You pick up your Crest toothpaste and find it also has a warning label: "If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help...." Though sodium fluoride is the only "active" ingredient listed on this toothpaste container, there are other chemicals in this concoction that don't have to be revealed to you, because they are classified as "inert" and are thus protected under trade secrecy laws.

You raise your arms and apply Speed Stick deodorant, which contains seven chemicals, including aluminum, parabens (a preservative), propylene glycol (a lubricant and suspected cancer agent), and other chemicals disguised under fragrance," which is another trade secrecy term. On average, according to the FDA, we each use nine personal-care products daily, containing about 126 chemical ingredients. If you use body lotions, they contain penetration-enhancing chemicals that can drive toxins from other toiletries deeper into your flesh. Before leaving the bathroom you pull a prescription drug (with a warning label attached) out of the medicine cabinet and swallow this mixture of synthetic chemicals. All the while you have been breathing benzene fumes (capable of causing leukemia) from the deodorizer you installed under the commode seat lid.

Back in your bedroom you pull on clothes fresh from the dry cleaner and expose yourself to fumes and residues of trichloroethylene and n-hexane, chemicals known to cause nerve cell damage, memory loss, and cardiac abnormalities. If you have mothballs in your closet, you are exposing yourself to the carcinogenic pesticide dichlorobenzene, which is also found in toilet deodorizers. If your clothing contains synthetic fibers, you are being exposed to a form of plastic, and the newer the clothing, the more it off-gases molecules of plasticizer fumes. Your clothes may also contain flame-retardant chemicals that are notorious releasers of toxic fumes. The more tightly insulated your bedroom and the other rooms of your dwelling, the greater the outgas collection effect of the chemicals from your furniture, wall paint, rugs, and carpeting, and the greater the impact on your brain, with symptoms like mood swings, feelings of spaciness, headaches, and an
inability to concentrate.

You walk into your kitchen and pour yourself a bowl of cereal containing nearly a dozen synthetic chemical food additives, including the sweetener aspartame, which has been linked to a wide range of allergies and illnesses. Meanwhile, while eating you turn on the dishwasher and expose yourself to a cloud of chlorine fumes. You fix yourself a sandwich you will eat for lunch later at work. You use meat that contains nitrates, synthetic hormones, and antibiotics that were injected into the animals when they were alive. You place lettuce and sliced tomato on top, each of which contains the residues of a half dozen different pesticides. Then you wrap the sandwich in Saran Wrap (or a similar brand of plastic), which contains vinyl chloride, a carcinogen known to cause liver, brain and lung cancers. As you are preparing this meal, fumes from the toxic bug spray and the cleaning solvents beneath your sink (all with warning labels attached) are further contaminating the air you breathe.

Here we are barely into the first hour of your day, you haven't even left your home yet, and already you've been absorbing molecules from hundreds of synthetic chemicals."

I hope this compelling excerpt has sparked an interest in learning more about a healthier lifestyle. If it has, please join me as I blog about my journey. I look forward to your comments and questions. Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Getting Started: Day One

Copyright 2008 Carrie Boyko
Today's Organic Fruit Purchases
So it's D-Day. You've decided to make the switch to organic foods and today is the day to begin. But where do you start? With a list, of course!
1. Open up your refrigerator and make a list of the basic items you cannot do without (i.e. milk, eggs, cheese, butter, juices, fruits and vegetables, sandwich supplies, etc.)

2.Now do the same with your pantry: bread, flour, sugar (my bad!), coffee, tea, oatmeal, cereals, canned goods, vinegar, oil, peanut butter, etc. If you are planning to go cold turkey, might as well clean out the fridge and pantry while you're working on the list. By all means, don't forget the garlic. I absolutely can't get through a day without it.

3. Probably by now you have decided where you'll try to shop for the first round of product searches. For me it was my local supermarket, that happens to carry a reasonably good selection of organics. Typically, it has been my experience so far that supermarkets' prices are somewhat better (especially in store brands) because of volume buying. I shop the 3 local organic markets AFTER I hit the supermarket. If you have a farmers' market close by, plan to go when they are open, and give yourself time to talk with the farmers. Many farm organically, but because they are small, cannot afford to have their produce certified as organic. All the better for you, as their produce will be fresher and cheaper.

4. If you have the time to browse my previous coupon post for items you'd like to try, it could potentially save you a LOT of money.

5. After you've gotten what you can at the supermarket and the farmers' market, go straight to the largest organic market in your area. This will be FUN, so plan to enjoy the experience. Our Whole Foods Market was a virtual mecca of organic goodies, the likes of which I did not expect to find. They even carry organic versions of some of my kids' favorites like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Oreo cookies and Fruit Loops. (Honest, I never bought Fruit Loops, but Whole Foods does have their own take on this popular children's cereal.) Beyond what I wanted to buy for my kids, the adult selection is exceptional, as well. Organic wines and cheeses are in abundance, frozen pizzas are for everyone (right?!), and the produce aisle is to die for.
By now you're exhausted and yet exhilarated by the thought of cooking up some wonderful concoction with your kitchen full of healthy foods. Keep it simple tonight so you can take some time to regroup and plan for Day Two, which probably should come next week. Meanwhile, you'll need to look up some recipes that you can make with your new collection of goodies.
Here is my family's favorite (and my easiest 4 ingredient recipe) pomodoro sauce (tomato sauce for spaghetti or any pasta you like) recipe, which I got from a great novel, True Believer, by Nicholas Sparks. It's also great for chicken or eggplant parmesan. Here goes:
2 large cans of organic San Marzano tomatoes
(I like the crushed ones, but there are other choices)
1 stick of organic sweet cream butter
2 large organic white (or red, NOT yellow) onions
1/3 cup grated or shaved organic Parmesan cheese
Open and pour the tomatoes into a large saucepan. Peel and slice each of the 2 onions in half horizontally. Place the four sections of onion in the sauce and cover. Bring to a boil and lower the heat. Simmer for 1-1/2 hours covered. Check and stir after an hour, but don't disturb the onions. When the time is up, the onions will have melted into the tomato sauce, and you can either stir them in or scoop them out with a large slotted spoon. Serve fresh over hot pasta and sprinkle with fresh grated Parmesan.
Let me know how you like this sauce. I have tried it without the butter and find little, if any, difference in taste, and less fat, calories, and cholesterol are a wonderful perk. You may also wish to try it by adding garlic in much the same way as the onion. The infusion of the onion flavor is wonderful, even if you scoop out the meat of the onion, so I imagine garlic would do much the same. I'd love to hear from you. Happy cooking!

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

In the Beginning

About a year ago I read a book called THE HUNDRED YEAR LIE: How to Protect Yourself from the Chemicals That are Destroying Your Health, by Randall Fitzgerald. This well-researched, informative book is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Books-a-Million, and was a major wakeup call for me. It is an easy, yet startling read which will open your eyes to the dangers in your foods and personal care products. I immediately began transitioning to organic, all-natural, earth-friendly foods and products. In upcoming posts, I will share with you some of the major reasons why you might consider changing to organic and green products also. As I have shared my experiences with friends and family they often ask many questions and are interested in learning how to get started integrating organics and green products into their own lives. My written journey will chronicle the experience of moving my family toward a lifestyle that will protect our health and our Earth.

I would love to hear your questions, thoughts and ideas. What would you like to know or better understand? What obstacles do you need to overcome? This will be a major focus of many posts. Sourcing, too, will be important to getting started. As I have worked my way through many of these early challenges, I will share some of my solutions and ideas for helping you take those first steps. In this, I hope to develop a dialogue with you so I can help you solve your problems, work through your frustrations, and stay with your goal.

Here I will talk about products, services, toxins, green resource organizations, cleaning products, personal care products, and much more. Hopefully, together we will build a network of support for one another with our dialogue. Like-minded folks like us can help each other stay on track, sort of like those support groups on e-diets. That is one of the goals of OrganicJourneyOnline, so I invite you to comment often. I'll answer; I promise.

I trust I will learn as much from you as you learn from my blog. If you find my resources helpful, please send OrganicJourneyOnline to your friends and family. With your help and support, I'll be able to do more; it's good karma. I hope you will join me in my journey.

Final Note: Each comment you leave will put you in a monthly drawing for a free cloth shopping bag to get you started. Let the dialogue begin!
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