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12 Smart Ways to Go Sustainable In the New Year

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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.

For:

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.

For:

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.

For:

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

For:

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.

For:

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.

For:

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.

For:

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.

For:

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.

For:

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.

For:

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.

Green Living Guest Posts Healthy Living Real Food

Changing Ingredients For A Nutrient-Dense Diet

www.mypicshares.com

Are you thinking about making changes in your dietary choices that are more traditional and nutrient-dense? This process can seem daunting, even to the most experienced cook. But making those changes can cause a huge impact on your health – in ways you might never imagine.

It may seem like too much to go into your pantry, throw everything out, and start from scratch. But, just by making a few simple changes – like switching from rancid, genetically-modified, artificial fats such as shortening and canola oil to healthy fats like butter and tallow, you can lose that extra 20 pounds you’ve been fighting for the last decade, or perhaps reduce the amount of colds and flus you catch each year. The possibilities are endless!

I want to thank Marilyn Moll from from The Urban Homemaker for allowing me to post this great list of getting-started ideas in your kitchen from her site. It provides some basic ideas about how to change out some of the not-so-healthy ingredients in your kitchen for those that are healthier and better for your body.

Making changes from processed foods to natural, nourishing foods does more than just satisfy our bodies. It also provides us with a sense of satisfaction about preparing foods from scratch for our families, supports our local farmers and food growers and our own communities, secures sustainable and humane farming practices for the future, and keeps our environment clean by not putting our dollars toward companies that pollute our health, water, soil, and air.

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If you have decided to transition over to a more nutrient-dense diet based on Nourishing Traditions or Eat Fat Lose Fat, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. This post will summarize ingredient changes to make existing recipes in your kitchen more NT (Nourishing Traditions) friendly.

Ingredient changes:

Replace commercial baked goods such as bread, biscuits, muffins, crackers, tortillas, and others, with: breads, biscuits, muffins, pancakes, etc prepared using fresh whole grain flours which use the Two-Stage Process. If you do not have a grain mill, many batters can be prepared with whole grains using a blender.  Locate additional recipes for baked goods here.

Replace any refined sugar with: Rapadura, sucanat, muscovado, raw honey, maple syrup, or Stevia (use the green variety, not white powder or the liquid).

Replace white flour with: freshly milled (if possible) whole wheat flour, spelt or kamut flour, sprouted whole grain flour, or other freshly milled flours. Flours that are not sprouted can be soaked overnight in 2 tbsps whey, apple cider vinegar, or lemon juice.

Replace water and bullion cubes or canned stock with: Home-made chicken or beef stock.

Replace shortening/other artificial fats with: virgin coconut oil or palm oil, or butter from grass-fed cows (or raw butter, if available).

Replace canned cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, and other creamed soups with: homemade white sauce, add your own flavorings. Recipe: 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp whole wheat sprouted flour, and 1 cup stock. Multiply this out for the number of cups you need for healthy and tasty homemade cream of chicken soup.

Replace vegetable oils such as canola oil or corn oil with: coconut oil or butter, olive oil or Mary’s Oil Blend, written about in Eat Fat Lose Fat (equal amounts of coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, and sesame oil). Use a variety of healthy fats for good balance of essential fatty acids.

Replace canned fruit in syrup with:  fresh or frozen fruit w/a little honey and enough added fluid to make the recipe

Replace skim, 1% or 2% milk with: raw milk or coconut milk

Replace flavored yogurt with: raw milk or whole milk yogurt.  Add real fruit or 1-2 tbsp all-fruit preserves to sweeten.

Replace dry milk with: coconut milk powder

Replace constarch with: arrowroot powder

Replace canned beans with: dry beans that have been soaked overnight in water with vinegar added. Drain in the morning. Then add fresh filtered water to cover, bring to a boil, and simmer until softened. Drain. Add to your soup or stock and cook 4-8 hours.

Replace soy, rice, or nut milks with: Raw milk from cow or goat

Replace refined table salt with: Real Salt or sea salt (minerals should be visible in the salt)

Replace sodas and juice with: carbonated water, Nourishing Traditions ginger ale, kvass, kefir soda or other fermented drinks. See Nourishing Traditions for more information.

Replace commercial cheese with: raw milk cheese whenever possible.

Replace commercial mayo and salad dressings with: homemade dressings and mayo from NT’s recipes or use good quality mayo or good quality dressings that contain no soy, cottonseed, or canola oil. Try Wilderness Family Naturals mayonnaise.

Replace pasta with: spaghetti squash or brown rice pasta, or other whole grain alternatives which have been soaked or sprouted, or long-fermented.

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The Urban Homemaker is a family run business dedicated to teaching and promoting “old fashioned skills for contemporary people”. UH offers back-to-basics products for physical and spiritual family health. They believe the products and skills offered promote a more healthful diet, the virtues of thrift and self-sufficiency, and enable homemakers to fulfill the Biblical mandate to be keepers of the home in the spirit of Titus.

When making changes to ingredients in your kitchen, unless you are ready, don’t feel like you need to do everything on this list at once. Pick three items and focus on those for one or two weeks, then pick three more.

Make a list of the things you’ve changed and each week and add to it. At the end of two months, look back through your list and notice what you’ve changed and which of those you’ve committed to and what difference, if any, it has made in your health.

In the near future, I’ll be posting more about how to make changes in your kitchen and health that will bring noticeable change to your life.  Until then, here are some other posts you might find useful:

Breakfast makeovers – you really can rise and shine!

Food budgets – using creativity and prioritizing for healthy eating

Waste not want not: tips for saving in the kitchen

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday, hosted this week by A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa.