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toxic stew

Part 2: Living In A Toxic Stew & Staying Healthy

toxic stewAmericans live in a constant state of toxicity that negatively impacts our already complicated chronic illness lives. We enter this toxic stew whenever we drink unfiltered tap water, eat non-organic, pesticide-heavy food, apply personal care products and makeup–even when handling those thermal receipts.

Our bodies don’t know what to do with the toxins, so they are warehoused in our fat.

health risks obesity

Many chemicals found in non-organic foods and personal care products mimic hormones. This is at the root of why it is so hard for millions of us to lose weight and makes it almost impossible if we also take prescription drugs that have weight gain as a common side effect.

This part of a multi-post series deals with eliminating as much pesticide residue as possible from our vegetables and fruits. Even organic foods may have pesticides used during the growing season. The difference is insecticides used on organic farms are found in nature and in many cases are less toxic than those used in conventional agricultural practices. (Pesticide includes herbicides used to kill weeds, fungicides to kill mold and insecticides to kill insects.)

Eat Organic Whenever Possible

Even though organics can have pesticide residue, we still should eat organic foods whenever possible. Ideally, grow your own food in pots or a garden.  Now that there are new cultivars of berries, they can be conveniently grown in a pot on the porch. Try to always eat the organic version of foods on the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) Dirty Dozen list of the most heavily pesticide-sprayed foods.

An easy way I remember what to buy organic is knowing that the fruits and vegetables hubby and I like are all full of pesticides. Take a look at the EWG’s shopping guide.

It used to be thought that fruits that are peeled, like bananas, have minimal pesticide residue under the peel. Modern testing shows that is not true. Bananas, like many of our food crops, is grown in a monoculture where there are devastating infections and insect damage from the same crop in the same place year after year. The pesticides used today penetrate well into the fruit beneath that hard peel. Don’t fall for the stories about using banana peels to increase potassium in the garden. These peels are toxic!

How To Reduce Pesticides

recent study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found a better alternative–a baking soda solution–to scrubbing the outside of vegetables and fruits with plain or soapy water. Gala apples that soaked in baking soda at a ratio of 1 tsp for every 2 cups of (filtered) water for 10-15 minutes had significantly reduced pesticide residue on the surface. However, no wash will remove pesticides that have moved past the peel and into the fruit.

Here’s a quick way to wash leafy greens:

  • Fill a Salad Spinner with greens, then fill with cold water
  • Add a teaspoon of baking soda for every two cups of water and mix well
  • Soak your greens for about five minutes, swish, dump, then rinse, and spin dry
  • If you don’t have a salad spinner, you can add the greens, water, and baking soda to a bowl, let them soak, drain in a colander, rinse, then pat leaves dry with a clean lint-free kitchen towel or paper towels

To wash other vegetables:

  • Fill a large bowl with water
  • Then add a teaspoon of baking soda for every two cups of water
  • Add the veggies
  • Soak for a 10-15 minutes
  • Scrub with a Vegetable Brush 
  • And finally, rinse off the veggies

Smooth skin fruits get the same treatment

Smooth skinned fruits, such as apples, grapes, peaches, nectarines, and cherries, can be washed in a baking soda bath the same way as veggies.berries

Your instinct may be to soak berries in the same baking soda wash when you bring them home. However, doing this actually increases moisture and accelerates spoilage, microflora, and mold growth.  It’s best to rinse soft fruits like berries just before you eat or cook with them. 

Rinse berries under cold water in a mesh strainer, or colander, then gently patted dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels just before you intend to eat them. This means there is no practical way to remove even a quarter of the pesticide residue on berries before eating them. Always, always and, let me repeat, always buy organic berries for this reason. 

Blueberries are high in antioxidants which are tied to protective health benefits. In total, domestic blueberries in a 2012 joint EWG and CBS news report tested positive for 42 different pesticide residues, and 73 percent of the blueberries contained two or more pesticides.

Strawberries earned the fifth spot on the 2012 “Dirty Dozen” list because, on average, this traditional summer fruit contained three pesticide residues. A single strawberry sample contained 13 different types of pesticides five years ago, according to the group. In 2017, strawberries are Number One for pesticide residue. When farm workers have to wear a hazmat suit and breathing mask to apply pesticides to strawberries, there is something very wrong with our food supply!

These solutions–baking soda wash and buying organic–are not a guarantee of eliminating all chemicals to provide you with a pesticide-free snack. They are just a lot better than the alternatives.

Coming up next is a look at the health benefits of organic food.

What about you? Are you among the millions who believe companies that produce and sell our food have your health as their foremost concern?

Part 1 of Living In A Toxic Stew

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Gardening Hacks To Grow Abundantly This Summer

Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about Marjory Wildcraft and her homestead in Texas? She’s offering a FREE 72-hour viewing of a very simple gardening system she developed starting March 20th and continuing until the 22nd. I receive a small fee for everyone who purchases the lessons after seeing her videos. 

ad for grow half your food in an hour/dayDisabilities aside, what if you could grow half of your own food, gardening organically, right in your own backyard garden in less than an hour each day?

No, Wisconsin is STILL a state where medicinal cannabis is outlawed so I’m not smoking/vaping/eating as I write this.

In this new system, Marjory takes all the guesswork out of growing your own food, so that almost everyone can get started today and be growing half of their own food within a year’s time.

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While literally anyone can get started, the system involves raising rabbits and chickens, as well as growing vegetables, in a way that does not require refrigeration or any electricity. 

If you live with or know someone who can’t spend hours working in a garden every day but wants to have healthy, nourishing, homegrown food, let them know about this free opportunity.

Marjory will walk through everything step-by-step. Even if you have no room or desire to raise animals, watch for the information on growing veggies.

The knowledge and insights compiled in this film take years to learn on your own, as Marjory did herself. But they are presented here in a system that eliminates the time-consuming research and trial-and-error that prevent you from successfully growing your own food.

Gardening guesswork is eliminated

Here’s what I mean. Marjory broke down the nutritional needs of the average person eating a healthy diet. She projected those needs out for an entire year. Then she identified three core components that, together, can supply half of the nutrition you need.

Marjory Wildcraft has helped thousands of people to start growing their own food. Her books and videos are used by governments and universities around the world. She condensed all her decades-long experiences into this simple new system.

Eliminate the research, and trial and error that slow you down. You can have fresh homegrown food on your table as soon as possible.

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How to Grow Half Your Own Food is a brand-new system. But it already is a huge success with members of Marjory’s Grow Lab. Unlike lab members who pay a monthly fee, Marjory Wildcraft is making it available to you–for free–March 20 – 22, 2018.

There’s literally nothing to lose and a lot of good information to gain by registering to watch the videos.

People who register for the video series also receive free bonuses

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Never GMOs, many open-pollinated, heirloom and organic seed producers from around the world

This ebook lists companies that have pledged that they “do not knowingly buy, sell, or
trade genetically engineered seeds,” thus assuring consumers of their commitment.

All of the Grow Network directors favorite seed companies are on this list.

Inside this ebook, you will discover small farms or stores selling heirloom, open-pollinated seeds. You’ll also find guidance on what works best in your area–no matter what climate and soil challenges you face. All the companies listed are members of The Safe Seed Pledge.

Ronnie Cummins
Ronnie and Marjory demonstrate seven ways backyard gardening helps the environment while helping you get healthier

From carbon capturing to animal husbandry, Ronnie Cummins and Marjory Wildcraft teach seven ways backyard gardening significantly reduces– and even repairs–damage to our Earth. 

Learn ways you can help reverse soil depletion and desertification. 

You will see an in-depth comparison of nutrition and quality from small, organic farming vs. factory-farmed animal products. You will find resources for better water capture and conservation, too. 

Discover the environmental and health benefits of integrating farm animals with your gardening. I would love to use the “chicken tractor” even though I live in a city that doesn’t allow backyard chickens!

free TGN membership
Membership in The Grow Network helped me, disabled for 11 years, to successfully garden in just a few hours week

The Grow Network is the online home of a global community of people who are producing their own food and medicine.

If you want to take a few steps back from relying on grocery stores and big ag by reclaiming your health and food supply then you are one of us.

There is a bi-weekly newsletter on how to produce your own food and medicine, too. The Grow Network also has forums, a marketplace, seed swaps, even dating, and farms for sale. You can also read about inspiring neighborhood changemakers.

You literally have nothing to lose by registering to watch the free video series. Plus, you’ll receive those free bonus materials. Here’s your final opportunity to register!

 

 

Farmers market

How Eating Locally & Seasonally Helps My Chronic Illness

Equations were never my strength. Even before ME/CFS I couldn’t remember the common ones, like how to find an area of something. If someone looked at me funny because of it, I reminded them that Albert Einstein never memorized his phone number. He didn’t want to crowd his brain with information that could easily be found. That usually shut them up. 😉

Anyhow, here’s an equation that even I can remember.

Saving Money=Sustainable Nutrition=Healthier Body

It’s not news that we are living in a nation of quick and easy meals from a box, freezer or the bag handed through a drive-up. fast-food-pickup

It isn’t easy to eat healthily and sustainably, especially on a budget. Here’s how I manage it.

Starting with produce, I check organic prices and if there is a good conventional produce sale. Most of the time the loss-leaders are on the Dirty Dozen list, so I don’t buy them. Once in while I can snap up a great bargain–like a couple of months ago when organic avocados were selling 2/$1 because they were all ripening too fast.

You don’t know about the Dirty Dozen list (not the Steve McQueen movie)? Each year the Environmental Working Group looks at all the pesticides applied to all the crops grown for sale in the US and assigns each fruit or vegetable a rank in comparison to each other. The top 12 “winners” are called the Dirty Dozen.

Farmers market
Local Farmers Markets are the best for purchasing local produce.

Summer fruit and veggies I don’t grow myself are bought at one or more of the local Farmers Markets. Here I can talk directly with the grower and be certain no pesticides were used–especially glyphosate (RoundUp®).

While I’m at the Market, I also buy pastured pork products from a family farm where the pigs roam about and don’t receive antibiotics to grow faster. My beef is grass-fed and raised on a friend’s farm where the cattle receive excellent care.

I used to do public relations for the top crop seed breeder in the US. As part of this, we spent time in Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska where a whole lot of feedlots hold a whole lot of cattle. These steers spend the final months of their lives, sometimes up to their knees in manure, in a crowded feedlot with cattle they never met before. No wonder grass-fed tastes better. Just think of the stress those feedlot animals are under!

If you want to eat better for less, these are good ways to cut your food budget:

EAT LESS MEAT

Even when bought in bulk, meat from animals that have the freedom to wander pastures is expensive. Organic is not as necessary to purchase as beef that is 100% grass fed. Why is this important? First, grass-fed cattle are on pastures all spring, summer, and fall here in Wisconsin. They can remain outdoors even during winter in many other areas of the country so you know they are as close to having a good life as it’s possible for cattle to have.

cows on meadow
Grass-fed beef is superior to conventionally raised.

Second, grass-fed beef has a very good nutritional profile compared to conventionally raised steers. This meat has less total fat, more omega-3 fatty acids, more conjugated linoleic acid and more antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin E (Source).

Although my freezer is still full of freezer paper wrapped roasts, steaks, hamburger, we don’t have meat at every meal. You could try observing a Meatless Monday for a few weeks. Then look at the difference in your grocery budget. There are lots of vegetarian main dishes you can find online

If you are interested in some of my recipes, let me know in the comments. I was a good cook when I was working. However, I didn’t really have time for something that couldn’t go in the crockpot or on the table in less than an hour.

When I started getting better I began to change my eating habits. This inevitably leads to learning how to cook all over again. I love that I now know the most nutritious ways to prepare meals and snacks, but I know I would find it more difficult if I were still working. Soaking beans and grains, making sourdough bread, and accounting for the time my Instant Pot needs to naturally release before opening all take more planning than I was up to when working.

The obvious solution is a multi-generational home. Grandparents would be the traditional cooks and childcare providers for their children’s families. Sadly, I don’t see that happening much around me or with me. Sometimes I dream about what it would be like living with my daughter and her family (husband, 2 girls, dog) and it’s all good. Until I remember they live in the Washington DC/Baltimore Metroplex. 

Now, where was I?

Ah, yes. Here it is.

BUY IN BULK

Grocery stores are offering more and more healthy choices. Frequently, they will have a bulk foods department that may or may not contain organics. Conventional granola, trail mix and sesame sticks bought in bulk are an environmentally responsible choice even if they aren’t all that healthy. If you want to be super PC, buy from the local health food cooperative, natural foods store or buyers club. pexels-photo-458796.jpeg

I buy in bulk whenever possible because of things like steel cut oats at half the price of the imported can. For example, splitting a quarter of a cow. I have a small chest freezer, but my friend who split the purchase with me got everything from her half of a quarter into her side-by-side freezer.

EAT SEASONALLY

Out-of-season fruits and vegetables are more expensive, not to mention less sustainable, because of the fuel and other resources used in transport from other areas with different growing seasons. Buying local is, by definition, buying seasonally. It’s good for you in several areas. Traditional medicine, like Ayurveda from India and Chinese Medicine, stresses eating seasonally because of the way our bodies have evolved. When we are in tune with the environment, we can heal and then maintain our wellbeing. Most importantly, eating locally grown food in season is much less expensive at both ends of the marketplace transaction.

For example, my friend, Mary, who milks cows and raises grass-fed beef and pork, has few to no marketing expenses.  I see her at the Farmers Market where I and many others buy individual cuts and put in orders for bulk beef. Before selling directly to the consumer, Mary had to settle for what cattle futures were the day she shipped steers to the feedlot. Now she can sell at a price that keeps her profitable. Would you believe Mary sold bulk beef for the same per pound price this fall as in the autumn of 2015? (No special favors. The price was the same for everyone buying her beef.) What other food has remained the same price over the same period? pexels-photo-709817.jpeg

Fruits and vegetables reach their nutritional peak at the same time they are harvested. This, conveniently, is also when they taste best. According to the University of California-Davis, as a bell pepper progresses from green to red it gains 11 times more beta-carotene and one and a half times more vitamin C.

Once a fruit or vegetable is harvested it begins to lose nutrients and taste within the first hour. The USDA’s Table of Nutrient Retention Factors shows frozen fruit, in most cases, is more nutritious than fresh fruit that was picked before ripening and transported from who knows how far away.

If you’re not familiar with Farmers Markets, call the local reference librarian and ask. If your community has 211 phone service you can use them, too. Most often, you’ll find something if you ask around. Local Harvest is a clearinghouse for small farms raising healthy plants and animals. You pop in your zip code and nearby farmers who register with them pop back at you.

With all the new things in the produce department these days it can be hard to tell if a certain fruit or vegetable is in season. You can find a produce person at the store and ask them. And don’t forget to make room in your budget to purchase organic produce on the Dirty Dozen list. I’ve read you can break down some pesticide residue with a brief (10 min) soaking in a sink full of cold water and about a quarter cup of white vinegar.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Recipe requests? Let me know below.

Here are similar posts you may like.

https://www.aswellasicanbe.com/chronic-illness/maximize-nutrition/

https://www.aswellasicanbe.com/chronic-illness/diet-therapy/