Tag Archives: sustainable

Green Living Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food

12 Smart Ways to Go Sustainable In the New Year


Have you been thinking about going sustainable and reducing waste? Well, what are you waiting for?

There are many ways to do it. From changing foods in your diet to exchanging items you commonly use every day in your home or place of business, there are endless ways to make your living environments less toxic and healthier for your whole family.

Here are 12 simple ideas to make significant changes in your life from toxic to sustainable:

1. Trade in:

conventionally-grown produce that is sprayed with pesticides and other harmful chemicals, and possibly originating from genetically-modified seeds and organisms

Remember, spray-free doesn’t mean no pesticides, it’s really just a marketing term like many others. If you have children, read Produce and Pesticides: The Dirty Dozen and Protecting Your Children’s Health. Pesticides are linked to ADD, Autism, hyperactivity, and other health disorders in children as reported from studies conducted by researchers at The University of Montreal in Quebec in 2010.


organic or sustainable versions of these same foods

Buy locally if you can, and have a conversation with the farmer at the market or in your local area about his or her practices.

2. Trade in:

commercial meats, poultry, eggs, and dairy which come from animals on feedlots

Meat and meat products from animals in feedlots are fed the wrong kinds of feed, contain hormones, antibiotics, pesticides and other harmful chemicals. Also, their nutritional content is compromised from being raised in non-sustainable environments where the soil, water, and other areas are not cared for in an ecological manner, and soils are not cultivated nor enriched with organic matter or fertilizer to make the meat healthier.


grass-fed and pasture-raised versions of those meats and poultry

Check with your farmer’s market or local farmer. Although many grass-fed and pasture-based farmers use sustainable and/or organic practices, it’s always a good idea to interview your farmer and find out whether their animals are normally on pasture (and if they are fed any grain, soy, or corn). Concerned about the cost of switching to naturally-grown meats? Consider the long-term cost of health problems as a result of consuming toxic meat such as sick days from work or school, doctor and hospital fees, and medications.

Take the Grassfed Meat Challenge

and read The Truth About Raw Milk, Part I and Part II

3. Trade in:

plastic cutting boards in your kitchen

Plastic degrades over time and can start to come off after many years of being cut on into your food. Plastic cutting boards are also petroleum based and bad for the environment since they don’t biodegrade in landfills for thousands of years.


bamboo, wood, or glass cutting boards.  These materials are safe and environmentally-safe and do not harbor bacteria on their surfaces, and are easy to clean with soap and water (glass is inert).

4. Trade in:

teflon, non-stick, and aluminum pans


cast iron, stainless steel, or enamel, granite, or stoneware

Non-stick and teflon are dangerous to health. Teflon contains a carcinogenic substance known as perfluoroalkyl acids which have been found in blood samples of people and animals, and are responsible for impairing liver function and increases the bad LDL levels of cholesterol in the body.

Studies released by the EPA in Du Pont and 3M labs concluded that rats who were fed PFOAs (perfluorooctanoic acid, one of the main offending chemicals found in Teflon and other non-stick cookware) had a higher incidence of developing tumors in the liver, testicles, mammary glands, and pancreas.

PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate, another offending chemical found in non-stick cookware) has been connected to thyroid and liver cancer in rats. Other problems include increased rates of weight loss, miscarriage, and thyroid issues. The offspring of female rats showed stunted growth and accelerated rates of sexual maturation.

5. Trade in:

canola or vegetable oil

If you are cooking with vegetable oils or using them for salads, now’s the time to pitch them out. These rancid, genetically-modified vegetable oils become trans-fats during processing, and cause heart disease and cancer because they are not real food, but are a chemically-altered fat which the body doesn’t recognize and cannot absorb. These substances are cheap to produce (think industrial waste by-products) and make huge profits for companies selling them.


olive oil, coconut oil, butter, or tallow or lard from animals on pasture

Healthy, traditional oils are loaded with nutrients and essential fatty acids, and support digestive, brain, endocrine, thyroid, and cardiovascular health. Foods with healthy fats are the most nutrient-dense foods on the earth. Some of the most important, fat-soluble vitamins found in fats are Vitamins A, D, E, and K – and those are essential to helping us absorb the nutrients found in many other foods, including vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes.

Read Do You Eat Butter or Margarine for Health?

6. Trade in:

toxic, commercial cleaners from the grocery store

Many disinfectants used in commercial cleaning products are considered pesticides by the EPA.  Products containing bleach (“ultra” concentrated) or quaternary ammonium chlorides (“quats”) are corrosive, that is they can cause permanent eye damage if spilled or splashed. Chlorine bleach is a powerful lung irritant and can form toxic compounds in fumes if combined with other cleaners such as ammonia or strong acids like toilet bowl cleaners. Many of these products have been tested and declared endocrine disruptors and are linked to reproductive damage and alterations in specific genders, and cancer.


safe, non-toxic, natural cleaners like Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap, vinegar & baking soda, lemon, olive oil, and grapefruit seed oil extract. Dilute your mixtures in a spray bottle with filtered water and experiment with how much you need to do your cleaning.

7. Trade in:

plastic containers used for food storage or water bottles

Many plastic containers contain BPA and other harmful petro-chemicals that can cause interference in the endocrine system, hormone function, and can lead to the development of cancer.


stainless steel, glass, and ceramic (lead-free) containers

Try stainless steel for water and stainless steel, glass, or ceramic for cooking and storage. Most ceramic cookware and containers produced in the U.S. are lead-free, check to make sure the manufacturer doesn’t use this chemical in their products.

8. Trade in:

canned products like beans and tomatoes

BPA, found in cans, interferes with hormonal activity in the body and gets stored in your cells. Also, aluminum cans can leech aluminum into your food, which has been liked to Alzheimer’s and other degenerative mental disorders.


dried bean and fresh tomatoes (or freeze them for when they are out-of-season).  Or, consider not eating tomatoes until they are in season since even jarring your own at home exposes you to BPA in the lining of the jar lid.

9. Trade in:

refined table salt

Refined table salt is primarily composed of sodium chloride and causes the body to retain water in its effort to isolate the toxin being stored in the body – hence the “puffiness” or swelling associated with salt consumption. Refined salts are processed and subjected to high heat, virtually eliminating all healthy trace minerals and nutrients, and leaving behind toxic chemicals which make our bodies sick.


real sea salt

Real salt that hasn’t been refined is essential to health and contains important trace and other major minerals that are largely missing from our diets like potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iodine, manganese, and phosphorus. Good brands include Himalayan Pink Salt, Celtic Sea Salt, and Brittany Salt.

10. Instead of buying new:

buy something used at a thrift store, garage sale, or on Craigslist, or borrow or trade from a friend or relative

11. Instead of washing your clothes on warm:

use cold water

I’ve been washing all my family’s clothes in cold water for over a decade, and our clothes still come clean. Use a clothes line instead of your dryer. If you still use a dryer, ditch toxic dryer sheets. To avoid your clothes being full of static, make sure you don’t over-dry them in the dryer (which will also save on electricity).

12. Trade in:

tap water

Tap water is notoriously full of many chemicals and heavy metals.  It is nearly impossible for city reclamation filtration to remove substances from water like caffeine, medications, and many other chemicals and toxins. See how the tap water in your city ranks in a list of the best tap water from all over the U.S. from the Environmental Working Group. Recently, a startling report came out about Hexavalent Chromium, a carcinogenic substance being found in tap water of 31 U.S. cities.


filtered water

Invest in a good water filtration system for your sink or house. For some good recommendations and some useful information about water filtration, visit The Urban Homemaker.

Other water filtration systems: Berkey Water System

LifeSource whole-house water filtration

Here’s a list of water filtration companies (and other eco-products), state-by-state on the Organic Consumers’ Association site.

Activism Green Living Healthy Living Real Food

3 Tips for Eating Organic On A Budget


This topic is near and dear to my heart, for all those who feel defeated when they contemplate going sustainable or organic and believe they just can’t afford it (especially in this economy). There are many ways to achieve a goal, and I believe anything you really want to do begins with the earnest desire to do it.

I was just telling someone this week about how much more sustainable the food in our house is now than it was 6 years ago when I really started to go through my kitchen and throw garbage out, and was concerned about paying attention to where my food was coming from. Back then our family had a steady income, my husband was a programmer for a dental insurance company. He didn’t like his job, but felt he needed to stay so we could continue to pay our mortgage, other bills, and feed our family.

Now we are both self-employed. We own a solar installation/sales business (Treasure Valley Solar and 42solar.com – our online solar catalog) and green IT (TVS Green Tech – information technology). We are dedicated to finding energy efficiency solutions for people, as well as maintain and support computer systems for people that use smart technology and save money by utilizing the latest in efficient equipment. Oh, and I’m now getting paid to do nutrition/health writing for several remote clients, which is awesome. Our main business has been slow, and we’ve had periods of time with no paycheck (for months, in fact). But we have made it our goal to afford healthy food and made it our number one priority, period. It has been difficult, but so far the three of us (me, my husband, and 10-year-old son) have managed not to starve even once, and still for the most part, we are eating sustainably.

Ruth Ann Bowen is the cultivator of Nurturing Naturally, who along with co-founder Rebecca Wirtz, host an online community helping connect yesterday’s pantry to today’s kitchen. “We show people how to integrate modern day convenience with time-tested traditions of the past.” I was delighted to “meet” Ruth online just last week, and went to look at her web site, which I love. Together Ruth and Rebecca share advice and recipes focused on helping people get out of the fast lane and back in the kitchen…and garden.

I want to extend my thanks to Ruth Ann for offering to help me out this week when I’m on a writing project deadline (what Godsend!) and have no time for my blog, and also express how much I appreciate what she and Rebecca do for the sustainable food community. I hope you’ll enjoy this guest post that she graciously agreed to write for Agriculture Society. I promise to return the favor when I am less occupied…soon!


“Organic food is so expensive!” That’s usually the first response we get when discussing the topic of organic food. We’ve spent many hours scouring and searching for organic deals and we’ve discovered these three tips for buying organic food on a budget. A few caveats, however, before we launch into our tips: First, we highly recommend frequenting your local farm markets for fresh produce. The quality is so much greater and we believe in fully supporting small farmers. Second, if you are able, grow your own garden! This is by far the cheapest way to feed your family nutrient dense, pesticide-free food. Third, when it comes to meat, we prefer buying a grass-fed cow from a local farm you trust. But knowing these aren’t an option for everyone, here are three ways we’ve found to enjoy a budget-friendly, organic household:

1. Think outside the grocery store.

Most large grocery stores feature an organic section these days. But many times, they aren’t the best place for deals. We’ve discovered stores like Big Lots http://www.biglots.com/ and Ollie’s http://www.olliesbargainoutlet.com/default.aspx carry a selection of organic products at greatly reduced prices. And we’ve been pleasantly surprised at the selection they offer including organic pasta, organic tea, organic cereal, organic soups, etc. all at great discounts.

Since discount stores won’t carry everything, check on-line for organic deals as well. We purchase quite at bit from Vitacost.com and we frequent a local organic food warehouse, Frankferd Farms who also features an online catalog.

2. Buy in Bulk

When you do find a good deal, buy in large quantities. There are two reasons for this: 1. To keep a good stock on hand (which is always a good idea), and 2. If you find a deal at a discount store, they may not carry that item again for awhile. These stores will buyout from manufacturers when they have overstocked on things, so get the bargain while you can. I have a friend who bought an entire box of the above-mentioned chicken stock and now I wish I had, too!

3. Check your cart

When discussing the price of organic food, take a look at your buying habits. Do you still have soda, chips, and canned soups in your cart? When organic food is just an add-on that’s when people see their grocery bill go up. Here’s a cost comparison of what approximately $20.00 could buy at our local western Pennsylvania supermarket, Giant Eagle:

Mainstream/Standard American Grocery Cart

6 pack of Coke in plastic bottles–$4.99
12 oz. Family Size (their description) Doritos–$3.99
4 pack Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup–$4.49
Giant Eagle brand diced peaches in juice (notice they didn’t say “syrup”)—2/$4.00
Edy’s Ice Cream (1.5 qt)–$3.33 (sale price)

TOTAL: $20.80

Organic Grocery Cart

Nature’s Basket 90% lean Ground Beef, 1 lb.—$4.72
Nature’s Basket Whole Chicken, 5.28 lb–$8.92
Organic Bartlett Pears, 1.92 lb–$2.48
Organic Red Delicious Apples, 1.52 lb.–$3.02
Organic Red Grapes, 2.22 lb.—$6.64

TOTAL: $21.06

Don’t just look at the dollar amount, though. Look at the actual items. The items in the organic cart are far more healthy and filling than soda and chips. So, if you have $20.00 to spend, why not spend it on healthier food that will fill you up? By ditching the soda, chips, ice cream, etc. you’ll find filling your cart with organic isn’t as expensive as once thought!

Finding organic food bargains is possible. And with these tips in hand, you’ll be on your way to a healthier body, slimmer waistline–and a fatter wallet–in no time.

Want more ideas for saving money on real food?

Is cheap food really cheap? The hidden costs of industrial food

Waste not, want not – tips for saving in the kitchen

Food budgets – using creativity and prioritizing for healthy eating

Sustainable farming – is it practical and can it feed us all?

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday hop (this week featured on GNOWFLGLINS).