Everyone loves a sunny, beautiful summer, but lack of rainfall is a problem. Conserving water is always important, especially in drought-like conditions. Below are some everyday solutions to help you save water and money!
- Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when full. Save up to 1,000 gallons/month.
- Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Compost vegetable food waste instead.
- Plant in the fall when conditions are cooler and rainfall is more plentiful.
- Keep a pitcher of filtered drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap.
- Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalk.
- Shorten your shower by a minute or two and save up to 150 gallons/month. Aim for a 4 minute shower.
- Upgrade older toilets with water efficient models.
- Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. A taller lawn shades roots and holds moisture better than if it’s closely clipped.
- Use leftover water from boiling vegetables to water your plants.
- When running a bath, plug the tub before turning the water on and adjust the temperature when filling.
- Designate one glass for your drinking water each day or refill a water bottle. This cuts down on the number of glasses to wash.
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth or shaving.
- Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
- Wash your car on the lawn and water your lawn at the same time.
- Teach your children and grandchildren to conserve water.
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Feel good knowing you are doing the right thing for the earth. For more water saving tips, go to www.wateruseitwisely.com.
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A diet rich in grains, fruits and vegetables is much touted today as a means to living a healthy, disease resistant life. One easy and delicious way to get your minimum daily requirements of fruits and vegetables is to juice. How? With a juicer, which separates the liquid from the fiber and is different from a blender. You put whole carrots, apples or beets into the juicer to extract the juice. Fresh juice provides the vitamins, minerals and enzymes that are vital to life. The rich supply of antioxidants in fresh juice offers significant protection against today’s most common diseases.
What’s the difference in eating fruits and vegetables versus drinking them? Our body converts the food we eat into juice in order to absorb it. Juicing allows for quicker absorption of concentrated, high quality nutrition. Fresh juice is far superior to frozen or bottled juice because it contains living enzymes. It has not been pasteurized nor contains additives for shelf life. The fresher the juice the greater the nutrition.
Aim for 5 cups of fresh fruit and vegetable juice a day. For breakfast I have a smoothie with at least 4 fruits. An afternoon snack of fresh carrot and apple juice is a great pick me up, and starting dinner with vegetable juice fills you up so you eat less. Each fruit and vegetable offers different nutritional benefits so it’s important to drink a variety. Certain juices help specific ailments too. For example, juicing cherries is a great benefit for arthritis. Throw the leftover pulp into soups or return it to the earth in your compost pile.
A vegetable juicer is a good investment. We’ve had our Acme juicer for over 30 years! With vegetables so abundant this time of year, fall is the perfect time to make juicing your new healthy habit. You’ll notice you have more energy too!
Redmond Real Salt
Knowing which foods are beneficial and which aren’t seems to change daily and salt is no exception. We’ve all been told that too much salt is not good for you, that it contributes to strokes, high blood pressure and other ailments. The truth is we need salt. Our bodies are made up of 75% water, a salty solution similar to seawater (Ever tasted your tears?). Water and salt regulate all metabolic functions of the body and are crucial for maintaining the health of every cell. The culprit is not salt, but the wrong salt. Regular table salt is refined, primarily kiln-dried sodium chloride with anti-caking agents and iodine added. The beneficial trace minerals, as well as calcium, magnesium and potassium salts that keep the body’s electrolytes in a healthy balance, are removed in processing. Table salt is bleached and usually contains sugar (dextrose) and other additives. Processed food and frozen dinners contain high amounts of this table salt further adding to the salt problem.
So what kind of salt do you buy? Sea salt that is sun dried and in its natural, mineral rich crystal form. It often is pinkish in hue because of the trace minerals. Sea salt is available in most grocery stores including Trader Joe’s. As with all food that you buy, read the label though. Some sea salts have been processed too. Redmond Real Salt is a good brand and free from any additives or chemicals. It comes from an ancient salt deposit near the small town of Redmond, Utah.
Who doesn’t love summertime barbeques and the delicious smoky taste of grilled hamburgers and hotdogs? Many people don’t know however, that grilling can be hazardous to your health if not done properly. The National Cancer Institute found that for every 2.5 ounces of grilled, well-done meat you consume weekly, your risk of colon cancer goes up 26%. Unfortunately when meats are exposed to high heat, chemical compounds are formed which may increase the risk of cancer. It can also cause internal inflammation leading to type-2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s. As with everything, there is a safer way.
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Always cook over a low-to-medium flame and avoid over-charring. Flare-ups and smoking oil create carcinogens. Marinate or baste with oil, honey or a barbeque sauce to provide a barrier and help prevent charring. Honey adds great taste and a wonderful glaze. Studies published in the Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition found that rosemary extract or tart cherries, known for their anti-cancer properties, added to hamburger meat reduce the chemical compounds. The researchers are not sure why, but it’s certainly worth trying. Other common marinade ingredients, which are natural anti-oxidants and reduce cancer-causing compounds, are basil, mint, sage, oregano, garlic, thyme, ginger and sesame seeds. Try grilling vegetables, which don’t have the carcinogen forming compounds found in animal based foods. They are loaded with anti-oxidants.
For those non-gas grill cooks, only use 100% all natural hardwood briquettes and never use petroleum-based, toxic lighter fluid or the infused briquettes. Instead start your grill with the chimney starter which is fast, efficient and safe! For an extra healthy punch, add nutritious vine ripened tomatoes and watermelon to your meal – they contain lycopene, another powerful antioxidant, which may also help ward off sunburn! Enjoy!
One of the most nutritious and convenient breakfasts is a delicious organic fruit smoothie. The Department of Health recommends that we get at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, which research proves reduces the risk of heart disease and some cancers. With a smoothie you can almost get your full day’s requirement in one serving!
Put 16 ounces of a liquid in your blender. I prefer a combination of almond milk and yogurt for the calcium and probiotics. You can also use cow’s milk, soy milk, rice milk, hemp milk, 100% fruit juice or water for the liquid. Experiment with different kinds to see which you like.
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To the liquid, add 2 -3 scoops of protein powder like whey, and then whatever fruits you like. I always add a banana for the consistency and the nutritional value. In addition to the potassium, its natural sugars give an instant, sustained and substantial energy boost. Avocado is a delicious and healthy thickener as well. I then add about a cup or more of blueberries or strawberries and pineapple bits. Blueberries are powerful anti-oxidants, but make sure you use organic since all berries are heavily sprayed with pesticides. Pineapple is high in Vitamin C, A and manganese and good for arthritis, bones and joints, and indigestion. Finally, add flax seed powder or oil. Flax seed contains Omega 3, an essential fatty acid necessary for our brains and skin and an all around must for good health. Blend it for a minute or two and enjoy your delicious, nutritious and easy meal setting you on your way to optimum health for the day. With its abundance of fresh fruit, summer is a good time to get into the smoothie habit. (The rest of the year use frozen fruit). Be creative – you’ll feel great!
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After crude oil coffee is the world’s most commonly traded commodity, and tea is the world’s most consumed beverage after water. Making an “eco-correct” purchase of these mainstays of the American diet, however, can be complicated.
There are several categories for coffee. “Fair Trade” applies to coffee, tea, chocolate, bananas, handicrafts that are produced in a way which ensures living wages and safe working conditions for farmers, promotes sustainability and usually includes rigorous environmental standards. “Shade Grown” coffee refers to the traditional method where coffee beans grow in shade and mature slowly, creating richer flavors. Coffee farmers were encouraged to replace shade grown coffee with sun cultivation in order to increase yield. To do this, over 2.5 million acres of forests in Central America were destroyed, which caused an immediate loss in biodiversity, both in the many types of trees and plants that were eliminated and the animals that depended on them. When I visited Brazil, we saw sun cultivated coffee plantations everywhere and were told that 95% of the Atlantic rainforest has been destroyed. Coffee and tea with the organic certification are ecofriendly, grown without toxic chemicals, thus sparing workers from exposure to the harmful pesticides and herbicides. They are also harvested in a way that protects the environment.
In summary, most fair trade coffee is also shade grown and organic. Otherwise, you choose which of the certifications is the most important to you and buy accordingly. Fortunately, you can now buy coffee and tea with these green certifications at most grocery stores, Starbucks, Peets Coffee and Dunkin Donuts.
One more tip, coffee grounds and tea leaves make outstanding compost!
In this era of industrial grown food transported thousands of miles, and food borne illnesses that can often result, many people understand the health and environmental benefits of eating locally, or at least regionally. Part of the new “locavore” movement is growing some of your own food, and one of the best and easiest ways to do so is to install a raised bed garden.
A raised bed garden is a garden built on top of your native soil typically sized around 5’ x 10’. The basic idea of a raised bed is that instead of battling against poor soil conditions, you build above ground where you have absolute control over the soil texture and ingredients. You can plant more in a raised bed garden because you don’t need to leave room for paths. You simply lean over to work in the garden. Because raised beds tend to have more plants in less space than a traditional vegetable garden, they have fewer weeds and require less maintenance. Raised beds also drain better because they are elevated.
As with any garden, the quality of the soil is key – healthy living soil means healthy thriving plants, which means healthy fresh food. So make sure you use local compost to enrich the soil, hopefully from your own compost pile. Along with the satisfaction of growing your own food, you’ll save money and will find that raised bed gardens add beauty to your landscape!
Have fun, get creative and grow a themed garden like a salad garden, a pizza garden, an Italian garden, whatever you can imagine. One idea is to grow fruits and vegetables from the Dirty Dozen list,the produce that contain 47 to 67 pesticides per serving and the foods you should always eat organic. These foods are believed to be most susceptible because they have soft skin that tends to absorb more pesticides. Growing your own food is very rewarding!!! Go to Gardener’s Supply Company for ideas!
“Eating Is An Environmental Act.”
—Alice Waters, Restaurateur/Environmental Activist
April 22 is the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, a milestone worth celebrating! There are lots of fun ways to participate. You can plant a tree, sow some seeds for your garden, change a conventional light bulb to an energy-saving compact fluorescent one, pick up litter on the beach, recycle newspapers, bottles and cans, visit a zoo or aquarium or have an Earth Dinner. The concept of Earth Dinner to celebrate Earth Day was founded by Theresa Marquez and revolves around the philosophies of supporting local, sustainable and organic foods that will help keep our planet’s land, air, water and inhabitants healthy for generations to come. You could host a potluck dinner with regional specialties, plan an earth dinner fundraiser for your favorite local organization, and have an earth day party for kids or a simple supper with your family. If the weather is warm, try an earth day picnic. The main idea is to serve foods that are grown locally if possible and are gentle to the earth – organic vegetables and fruits, grass-fed, grass finished beef, free-range chicken or sustainably harvested fish – and raise awareness about the origins of our food. Use real cutlery, not plastic, real plates, not paper and cloth napkins. Seed packets make great place cards. Eat by candlelight to save energy and wash the dishes with non-toxic detergent. Earth dinner can be celebrated anytime – make it your new tradition! For ideas go to earthdinner.org.
Image by Elizabeth Buie
The average food travels 1500 miles from farm to plate, consuming large quantities of fossil fuels and generating major CO2 emissions. It is picked unripe, then gassed to ripen it. Or it is processed using preservatives or irradiation. Scientists are experimenting with genetically modified foods to extend the shelf life, but what about the unknown long-term effects? Local food is usually transported only 100 – 200 miles, has fewer pesticides and can be picked when ripe, making it fresher, more flavorful and more nutritious.
You want to eat seasonally as much as possible – lettuce, asparagus, new potatoes in the spring, peaches, plums, summer squash, peppers, berries, melon in the summer, apples in the fall, root vegetables in winter, citrus fruits in the winter, etc. In other words, don’t buy strawberries in the dead of winter. You know they have been shipped from thousands of miles away.
The New England growing season is short, so how do you eat locally the rest of the year? It’s a challenge, but summer’s bounty can be canned, preserved or placed in cold storage. Early fall is a great time to buy local food for preserving – farmer’s markets, farm stands and even supermarkets have an abundance of just picked produce. It’s important to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, so off-season, “local” might mean the East Coast.
Image by EraPhernaliaVintage EraPhernaliaVintage.etsy.com
Heirloom plants are vegetables, flowers, and fruits that are grown from seeds passed down through the generations and are open pollinated, meaning they rely on natural pollination from insects and wind. They generally are considered high quality, more flavorful and easy to grow. Heirloom plants are grown on a small scale using traditional techniques as opposed to being grown in large commercial nurseries. They have unique colors, textures, and tastes not found in factory-farmed industrial produce.
Heirloom seeds are raised from seeds that are at least 50 years old (there is controversy about how old an heirloom seed has to be) and growers save the seeds of their best plants for the most vigorous, disease resistant, flavorful, or beautiful.
Why are heirloom plants so important? Genetic diversity is essential to protecting our food supply. If we only grow a few varieties of crops, disease could wipe them all out.
Heirloom tomatoes are unbeatable in flavor and have gotten popular in the last few years. There are hundreds of varieties such as Brandywine, Green Grape, Green Zebra and Lillian’s Yellow. Kentucky Blue green beans, Jimmy Nardello sweet peppers and Moon and Shine watermelons are a few of the top picks among other heirloom plants.
There are several seed catalogs like Abundant Life, which specialize in heirlooms or you can purchase them on-line at heirloomseed.com. Happily, farmer’s markets also sell heirloom vegetables and fruits, some supermarkets are starting to carry them. Try them – you won’t believe the difference!