- The top on my list of strategies is to limit juices and beverages. We drink mostly water, filtered from tap water. One bottle of apple or orange juice lasts a couple of weeks, as we have a small glass or dilute it with water to make it go further. Doctors like this strategy, as it reduces the amount of natural sugar intake, reduces calories, and helps maintain a level blood sugar in its wake. Dentists approve as well--less sugar residue on our teeth. The result is a much smaller food bill, allowing for more of a variety of other organic foods.
- Learn how to make one organic hen = 3 family meals with my recipes that start with this link: Roasted chicken, Chicken and Rice, Homemade Chicken Soup. Three meals from one chicken. Not bad, eh?
- If you are not Vegan or Vegetarian, go meat-free a couple of nights a week to cut your cost of putting meat on the table. Try making homemade organic cheese pizza, pasta with pomodoro sauce, or salads topped with cheese and nuts for protein.
- Speaking of pasta, you'll save some serious bucks by limiting your purchases of prepared and packaged or processed foods, especially those with shorter shelf lives. In these times when convenience in king, we sometimes forget that we can create convenience with a little ingenuity. For instance, making double recipes when you cook from scratch, allows you to freeze one meal and eat another today. The next time you need a meal in a hurry, your freezer will be your convenience store.
- Once a month or so I Google "organic coupons" and cash in on these at the grocers. Some sites require you to sign up, and they mail out coupons periodically. Others allow you to select and print those you want, right on the site. On an average trip to the local organic market, I have about $10 in coupons ready to apply to my balance. One last tip: Make a list of your family's favorites and check out those company's websites for coupons. Write to them, asking for coupon offers, and often they will send you some via return email. Bingo!
- Along that same line, watch your favorite stores' sales fliers and newspaper inserts for specials that you can cash in on. When something your family eats a lot of is on sale, stock up. That's why you bought that freezer...remember?!
- When it's time for your periodic visit to the warehouse store (Costco, Sam's, BJ's), take a friend and share the savings. These stores are getting with the program and offering the basics in organic foods. The savings is definitely worth the trip there. However, often you will find items that you choose not to purchase because of the quantity. If your friend likes these same foods, you're in luck. Split the savings and the quantity between your families--perfect!
- Shop for foods that are in season. IN SEASON always means cheaper. If you need some help with this, first find out what's in season . Then plan your menus around these foods and watch your food bill dip again.
- Visit your local farmers market for the best prices on IN SEASON foods. There's no gasoline costs tacked on to the prices you pay, and the other perk is the all-important freshness. Finally, you'll be pumping your hard-earned food dollars into your local economy. This will benefit you in more ways than your grocery budget.
- Do you find yourself gawking at the breads in the upscale bread shops? Why not experiment with your bread maker again...you know, that small appliance in the back of your cabinet that you purchased long ago and forgot about. Dust it off and have some fun trying new breads. Here's my family's favorite breakfast bread, organic cinnamon raisin.
- Watch your waste. In every household there are a few items we tend to over buy, and then some of the product ends of going in the garbage. There is almost always a strategy for saving on waste. At my house bananas used to go to waste far too often. Finally the light bulb went off in my head. Freeze them when they are too ripe to enjoy eating. They still make great banana bread whenever you're ready to thaw them out. My recipe makes two batches of bread or muffins. Freeze one for later, or give it as a gift. What better way to save money than homemade goodies, and your friend or family member will love knowing that you put your own time in on their gift.
- Say "let's skip the dessert". Do you really need dessert every night? Perhaps just on the weekend, or when company comes for dinner. Your waistline will know the right answer.
- When all these ideas still leave you short, focus on meats and dairy for your organic priorities. Why? Because on top of the pesticides, herbicides and other added toxins you'll avoid, meat and dairy products that are not organic often contain hormones and traces of antibiotics used to keep the animals healthy and productive. Those hormones are likely the culprit in our children's increasingly earlier puberty--a big concern to pediatricians.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Fresh From my Local Natural Foods Store
The first link below is especially helpful in understanding the differences between the type of groups available. It appears to come down to semantics, not the actual title, so ask lots of questions.
- Coop directory
- Green People CSA Buying Club
- Organic Consumers (Coops)
- Locally Grown (homegrown coop in Central Florida)
- Meetup groups (many buying groups use Meetup Groups to coordinate)
September is National Organic Harvest Month. Isn't it time you found your way to organic produce and the toxin-free health benefits they provide?
Nature lovers? Check out my guest post at the Central Florida Green Guide. There you will find resources on canoeing, kayaking, and tubing the Wekiva River at Immerse Yourself in Central Florida's Natural Beauty.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Water, water, water. There are so many issues with water. Did you ever think about why? Water makes up the greatest volume of Earth's surface. We drink it, we bathe and swim in it, we heat it and cool it for various reasons, and we use tons of it for washing clothes, cars and watering lawns; all its uses have their inherent challenges.
August is National Water Quality month, a time for us to reflect on how our over-consumption affects water quality. For instance, I live on a lake where many homeowners over-water their lawns. This causes excessive runoff of fertilizers and other toxic chemicals that degrade the quality of the water in our lake. Being aware of the damage caused by over watering, not only saves water, but improves water quality. They're tied together.
Since I started my green journey, I have noticed that saving water is much easier than, for instance, saving money or gasoline. When I think about it every time a faucet comes on, I naturally turn it right back off and think about how I can use less. I've found tremendous inspiration in the smallest things.
For example, all melted ice in glasses and leftover water from almost anything, including steaming vegetables, goes toward watering the houseplants. I almost never run water down a sink, except to wash the toothpaste down or cleaners (all natural, of course) down the drain.
Nature lovers? On Friday I have a new guest post at Central Florida Green Guide. You'll find resources on canoeing, kayaking or tubing the Wekiva River at Immerse Yourself in Central Florida's Natural Beauty.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Photo Provided by Laptoplunches.com
Bento Boxes have gone mainstream and this version is all-American. Each of these cute little containers seals shut, so you can pack up four tasty yummies for your kids' lunches. There's room for utensils and a napkin. No more buying bags, ziplocks or wrappers that end up in the landfill. The whole thing comes home for a bath, and goes back to school with another assortment of healthy lunch foods inside.
I have to admit, I have used this photo before. I don't generally repeat photos, but Laptop Lunches is not your usual site. They've provided code for us bloggers that allows us to plug in this cute photo, and each week the food changes. It's the coolest thing I've seen in my time in the blogseat.
Even though I don't have kids at home any longer, I had to go out and get a lunch container similar to this, after being sold by the great photos. I'll challenge you to come back again in 7 or 8 days. You'll see. The food will be different and you'll have another reason to want a Bento Box. I'll make it easy for you. You can click the Bento Box under this line and buy yourself one right now. Happy lunching!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Has Obama answered all of your questions or concerns? What about John Mackey's plan? I'd love to hear your opinions--all of you. Surprise me and use the comment link at the bottom of this post. Crash my server with comments, if you please. This is every American's worst nightmare come to call. Let me know what YOU think!
The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare
Eight things we can do to improve health care without adding to the deficit.
(quoted in full from the Wall Street Journal)
By JOHN MACKEY
"The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."
With a projected $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009, several trillions more in deficits projected over the next decade, and with both Medicare and Social Security entitlement spending about to ratchet up several notches over the next 15 years as Baby Boomers become eligible for both, we are rapidly running out of other people's money. These deficits are simply not sustainable. They are either going to result in unprecedented new taxes and inflation, or they will bankrupt us.
While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:
• Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs). The combination of high-deductible health insurance and HSAs is one solution that could solve many of our health-care problems. For example, Whole Foods Market pays 100% of the premiums for all our team members who work 30 hours or more per week (about 89% of all team members) for our high-deductible health-insurance plan. We also provide up to $1,800 per year in additional health-care dollars through deposits into employees' Personal Wellness Accounts to spend as they choose on their own health and wellness.
Money not spent in one year rolls over to the next and grows over time. Our team members therefore spend their own health-care dollars until the annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully. Our plan's costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while providing a very high degree of worker satisfaction.
• Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but individual health insurance is not. This is unfair.
• Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should be able use that insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable.
• Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance by billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual customer preferences and not through special-interest lobbying.
• Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are passed back to us through much higher prices for health care.
• Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost. How many people know the total cost of their last doctor's visit and how that total breaks down? What other goods or services do we buy without knowing how much they will cost us?
• Enact Medicare reform. We need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and enact reforms that create greater patient empowerment, choice and responsibility.
• Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren't covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program.
Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care—to equal access to doctors, medicines and hospitals. While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?
Health care is a service that we all need, but just like food and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges. A careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter. That's because there isn't any. This "right" has never existed in America.
Even in countries like Canada and the U.K., there is no intrinsic right to health care. Rather, citizens in these countries are told by government bureaucrats what health-care treatments they are eligible to receive and when they can receive them. All countries with socialized medicine ration health care by forcing their citizens to wait in lines to receive scarce treatments.
Although Canada has a population smaller than California, 830,000 Canadians are currently waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to get treatment, according to a report last month in Investor's Business Daily. In England, the waiting list is 1.8 million.
At Whole Foods we allow our team members to vote on what benefits they most want the company to fund. Our Canadian and British employees express their benefit preferences very clearly—they want supplemental health-care dollars that they can control and spend themselves without permission from their governments. Why would they want such additional health-care benefit dollars if they already have an "intrinsic right to health care"? The answer is clear—no such right truly exists in either Canada or the U.K.—or in any other country.
Rather than increase government spending and control, we need to address the root causes of poor health. This begins with the realization that every American adult is responsible for his or her own health.
Unfortunately many of our health-care problems are self-inflicted: two-thirds of Americans are now overweight and one-third are obese. Most of the diseases that kill us and account for about 70% of all health-care spending—heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity—are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices.
Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat. We should be able to live largely disease-free lives until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age.
Health-care reform is very important. Whatever reforms are enacted it is essential that they be financially responsible, and that we have the freedom to choose doctors and the health-care services that best suit our own unique set of lifestyle choices. We are all responsible for our own lives and our own health. We should take that responsibility very seriously and use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will protect our health. Doing so will enrich our lives and will help create a vibrant and sustainable American society.
Mr. Mackey is co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market Inc.
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009
With lots of rain this summer, Tanner is enjoying plenty of water, in many different forms. He enjoys swimming in our lake, pool, and a good romp in the rain.
Tanner's doggie daycare of choice, Bow Wow Resort, is busy making improvements. He enjoys his visits there to catch up with the regulars, splash in the pool, and lounge in their new shaded, green grass. Their new, realistic synthetic grass looks and feels real, yet it requires no water to keep it green and weed free. What's not to love about that?
Today's website suggestion is the Ivillage Green Machine. Here you will find a nicely illustrated selection of tips, suggestions and a few surprises. Great information that is quick to review. Let me know what you think at that comment link below:
Monday, August 17, 2009
During my time off, I've witnessed some green seniors in action, and was inspired by them to share their inspirational activities with their grandkids. Whether you're a senior or just know one who might like these ideas, it is still wonderful to see the older baby boomers beginning to teach their young charges better ways. I hope, when my time comes, I'll be able to join them.
Here's just a few of the examples I've seen:
- Visiting garage sales with the grandkids is a great way to set an example, while being able to buy them something fun for little more than pocket change.
- For another view of this activity, helping your grandchild collect and sell old toys and clothes could be a fun, family event that will teach many lessons. Need some tips; check out the book at the bottom of the post.
- Freebies on Craig's List seem to be catching on with seniors who are online.
- A story about grandparents visiting a recycling plant with their family perked my ears. What a great way to inspire the kids to recycle.
- Young children enjoy tending a vegetable garden, and there's no better way to get a child to try a green veggie, than when he has had a hand in growing it. Plant a garden together and watch your relationship grow, alongside the produce you'll be harvesting in a few months. It's a bonding experience for all.
While taking this recent time off, I found myself observing more for feelings than for post ideas. My topic idea list is around 3 pages long (and growing daily), so that will likely never be a problem. I did find that focusing on emotions, such as the inspiration of involved grandparents, tugged at my heartstrings--the green ones!
Thanks for joining me after a short hiatus, and I hope you'll keep reading and leave me a comment occasionally; the comment link is beside the white envelope icon just underneath each post. Your comments keep inspiring me. It's a team effort. Thanks for recharging my engine!
Friday, August 14, 2009
My husband and daughter tested out this relatively green vacation, and their reports were positive. No gasoline used while under sail, the "head" (aka toilet) is emptied into sanitary receptacles while in port, and only a small amount of propane was used to cook with. Most meals were enjoyed ashore or eaten without cooking.
The water in the BVI was clean and clear, providing the feeling of swimming in a clean pool. The ship's captain provided exceptional service, even while steering from aside a cooler full of beer. I hope it was organic.
The Magpie Bridge returned to port with four happy travelers who are sure to talk about their journey for years to come. While reunited with these friends of ours recently, they all spoke adoringly of the yacht that served as home for their voyage. Many laughs were shared; among them a few green lifestyle changes peeked out from behind the giggles and stories. It made my heart proud to hear those Eco thoughts become a natural part of the tales that were told, as if there were no effort to be conscious of the environment. That's the way it should be, although most of us would agree it generally takes effort.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
August at my house this year is hopping. I have all three kids home with special friends and lots of plans for bonding time. I guess a vacation is in order. I've written this blog faithfully for 13 months now, without a break. Do you think I've earned it?
I'll squeeze in a bit of family fun, green recreation, organic cooking, and physical fitness to stay busy. Hopefully some time off will provide inspiration and wisdom for future posts and angles on this journey.
In order to know when I'm posting again, your best strategy is to sign up for a free subscription in the upper right corner of the blog. You'll receive only a confirmation email (be sure to confirm), until I begin posting again very soon. Then, my posts will come right to your email. How easy is that?!!
Meanwhile, you can check out Organic Journey Online on its very own Facebook site, where I'm sure I'll be adding little blips of what's going on while I take a much needed respite. If you prefer Twitter, catch up with me at Twitter.com/Learning2Bgreen.
Oh, and don't worry. I won't be gone that long. There are no airline trips to foreign countries or cross country drives in the works. Just some good old fashioned outdoor recreation.
Finally, during my vacation, you can catch up on your reading by visiting my archives in the sidebar. You can go all the way back to post #1 and check out anything you may have missed along the way. I hope you get a chance to enjoy this catch up time too. See ya soon!
Monday, August 10, 2009
Welcome back to Woofing Wednesday, where I share a bit of puppy shenanigans, along with my latest website discoveries--more to the point in terms of green, organic and sustainable.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
© photo copyright Carrie Boyko 2009
SEQL has much to offer, so set a spell and poke around a bit. Find something that tickles your fancy? Pass it along. I'll share it with my readers. Got pictures?...better yet! Send them to me at CarrieLeaJohnson@gmail.com.
Friday, August 7, 2009
- Maintaining a stable weight throughout your life (i.e. no yo-yo dieting) has been proven to reduce the severity of wrinkles and loose skin on our bodies.
- Wear a hat with a brim when outdoors. Looser fitting hats are cooler, when wind is not an problem.
- Sunscreen is like American Express; don't leave home without it. Apply before you leave and often thereafter.
- Sunglasses provide extra protection to the delicate skin around your eyes.
- Loose, light colored and light weight clothing is coolest when long sleeves are required for longer hours in the sunlight.
- Cotton absorbs sweat best and is therefore cooler than synthetics like polyester.
- Some people swear that the newer spray-on sunscreens cause less sweating and therefore last longer. Try it both ways, and see what works best for you.
- Umbrellas are not just for rain; they also keep the hot rays off your skin.
- Use gentle cleansers such as glycerin type "soaps" for the least drying effect from bathing.
- Moisturize after showering, when you have spent time in the sun.
- To protect yourself from the toxic effects of some ingredients, avoid parabens, PABA, artificial colors, fragrances, and preservatives.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
I've talked to more than one dog owner who has found that their canine best friends enjoy showering with them. Most say it began when the pup curiously poked his head behind the shower curtain to find out what his owner was up to in there.
"Hmmm? What's that drippy stuff? It feels like rain. I like rain. Hey, this is fun! Can I come in?"
You get the picture. Tanner has showered with Toni before, and today it was Oliver's turn to test the waters. He did well, and now they're both squeaky clean and adorable in their pink towels.
Has your dog enjoyed a shower? Try it sometime and let me know how it goes. No photos on this one, okay?!
Sunday, August 2, 2009
According to Shoenberg, Facebook invitations have been used to get the word out to plenty of potential participants, without wasting paper, ink, stamps, valuable time in phone calls, or other resources. It seems like a no-brainer for me. I'm in!
Further, websites like Swap-bot, Frugal Village and Swapthing offer similar concepts over the Internet. No gas, no party, just a simple trade: my stuff for your stuff. But what's really cool to me about this trendy new shopping party thing is its effect on ladies attitudes toward used stuff. It's becoming cool to be thrifty. How great is that?!
Blogs are popping up all over with themed exchanges. What's your vote on that idea? Keep in mind, this is a green and organic blog: Reduce, reuse, recycle. Maybe it would fit my goals and you guys might actually enjoy the shopfest. So here's what I'm thinking. We'll run a mini-test. I'll give you till September 15 to clean out your closets and take digital photos of anything you're willing to swap.
Theme: Eco friendly. One Rule: Anything such as natural fiber clothing, toys, housewares, home decor items, books, (all clean and in relatively good condition) will be fine. Clothing and personal care items should be made without artificial ingredients or toxins. One Tip: Keep the really heavy items and anything extremely breakable off your list. They'll cost too much to ship.
Links to My Guest Postings on Other Blogs
- Greening Up Your Picnic is Easier than Ever
- Saving Gasoline without Walking
- Can You Pick the Eco-friendly Packaging?
- The Only Answer to Cancer: A Book Review
- Salvaging Your Over Ripe Fruit: 8 Ways to Use it Now
- Living Like Ed: A Book Review
- Old Fashioned Organic Brownies
- Ecodater: Green Singles take a Doggie Date
- Ecospheric Blog's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Book Review
- Just Say No to Overloading our Landfills
- Green Family Fun: Let's Visit the Dog Park, Part III
- Green Family Fun: Let's Visit the Dog Park, Part II
- Green Family Fun: Let's Visit the Dog Park, Part I
- Try a Greener Dry Cleaner at Central Florida Green Guide
- Hoover's Essential Health Market--A Hidden Gem
- Benefits of Eating Organic #1
- Benefits of Eating Organic #2
- Benefits of Eating Organic #3
- Benefits of Eating Organic #4
- Benefits of Eating Organic #5