Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Goodbye Microbeads!

I just read this article from CNN:

Photo: 5
(CNN)Say goodbye to your exfoliating shower gel.
Those tiny plastic microbeads you have been rubbing on your face are now outlawed in the United States.
President Obama signed a bipartisan bill that prohibits selling and distributing products containing microbeads. The bill is intended to protect the nation's waterways.
A microbead is any solid plastic particle that is less than 5 millimeters and is used for the purpose of exfoliating or cleansing, according to the bill.
These tiny plastic beads have become ubiquitous in hundreds of products ranging from body scrubs to toothpastes. They provide an exfoliating sensation for users and are designed to wash down drains.
But because they are made of plastic, microbeads do not dissolve and may pose a threat to the environment.
In September, a study published in Environmental Science & Technology reported that more than 8 trillion microbeads were entering the country's aquatic habitats daily. The volume was enough to coat the surface of 300 tennis courts every day.
Microbeads have contributed to a greater increase in microplastic polluting the planet's oceans and lakes, researchers say.
Not only are they hard to clean up because they are about the size of a pinhead, but researchers say they are also posing a threat to aquatic life.

Some marine life mistake small plastic as food particles. Scientists are researching whether microplastics affect the health of marine life once ingested and if chemicals transfer to humans who eat those species later, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
There are several natural exfoliants such as oatmeal, honey, yogurt, baking soda, lemon juice, and papaya. I avoid using sugar, salt, and coffee, as these tend to be a little too rough on the skin. I make my face wash with ground whole oats, coconut milk, raw honey, and a little coconut oil.  I don't usually measure, so I can't give you an exact recipe, but the next time I make a batch, I will measure everything and post the recipe. 
Photo: EnkiVillage
Here is a great recipe for a papaya face mask.  Note: In recipes calling for honey, use raw honey. The beneficial enzymes in honey are destroyed during pasteurization.
Use organic ingredients whenever possible to keep your face wash non-toxic. If you are making a multiple-use batch of face wash or a mask, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator to keep it from spoiling.

Bottom line - healthy skin doesn't have to destroy the environment. By making your own beauty products you can be confident knowing that the ingredients are wholesome, non-toxic, environmentally-friendly, and in most cases, more affordable than commercial chemical versions.
Until next time...become the change you imagine.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Is it possible to eat well on a tight budget?

With all the concern over GMO crops and chemicals contaminating the food supply, organic food is becoming increasingly in demand by consumers. However, the common perception is that safe, healthy food is too expensive. Depending on where you live, that may or may not be true. For those of us on a tight budget, organic food can seem out of reach.

Fortunately, there are ways to eat healthy and still stay on budget. Most large grocery chains have organic foods available, and their purchasing power can keep costs only slightly above the non-organic items. There are also stores that specialize in healthy foods.

Founded in 1975 in Asheville, North Carolina, Earth Fare is the authentic organic and natural healthy grocery store with 39 locations across the Southeast, mid-Atlantic and Midwest. Whole Foods calls itself  "America's Healthiest Grocery Store" and has 279 stores in 38 states and Washington, D.C. Organic food can be expensive, but Albertsons’ house brand, Wild Harvest, typically costs 15% less than name-brand organic products. 

If you don't have access to these, then check out Environmental Working Group's "Good Food on a Tight Budget". This guide—the only one of its kind—lists the most nutritious, most economical and least polluted fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains and dairy items. You can even print out a copy of the guide to take with you when you shop. Brilliant!

Have a healthy, happy holiday season!

Until next time...become the change you imagine.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I'm Only One Person. How Can I Make a Difference?

Oftentimes, the thought is that one person cannot make a change in this world. That thought would be incorrect. Throughout history there have been examples of how one person has affected tremendous change. Sometimes for good, and sometimes for bad.

Two individuals have illustrated perfectly the premise that any single person can affect change on a grand scale. Through dedication, and perseverance, great things can be accomplished.

The Man Who Planted Trees is the fictional story of Elz√©ard Bouffier, who turns a barren wasteland in the Alps, into a natural paradise, by single-handedly planting hundreds of thousands of trees. Although fictional, the natural principles involved are relevant.

Forest Man is the true story of Jadav Payeng, who turned his barren island into a lush oasis by planting a forest larger than Central Park.

Both videos are well worth watching, and sharing. It might just inspire someone to make a difference, all by themselves.

Until next time...become the change you imagine.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Food Crisis Solution: Go Back to the Beginning?

Much has been said, over the years, about the global food crisis and world hunger. At the same time, food waste in many countries is at an all time high. Perhaps part of the problem is that food production has become too big; too global. Perhaps the answer is to go back to the beginning with local/regional food production and distribution.

A return to seasonal selections of food based on local/regional geography. Less transportation costs, shorter distance from field to table, less waste. A resurgence of small family farms able to offer healthy, produce, meat, fruit, nuts, eggs, cheese, etc. in a sustainable way. Personal relationships between farmers, grocers, butchers, bakers, restaurants,
and consumers.

“Slow Food reminds us of the importance of knowing where our food comes from. When we understand the connection between the food on our table and the field where it grows, our everyday meals can anchor us to nature and the place where we live.”
~ Alice Waters, chef, author, Vice President of Slow Food International

In metropolitan areas, abandoned buildings and vacant lots are being converted to vertical farms and urban gardens, eliminating food deserts, and providing employment opportunities for inner city inhabitants. Will Allen's Growing Power is testimony to the ways a community can benefit from urban farms. Urban farms can be found in New York, Chicago, London, Paris, Berlin, and Sydney, as well as many other cities around the world.

"Our connection to, and knowledge of, the food we eat, the land upon which we grow it and the people who plow, plant and pick it is more important to our future than all the money in the world. "                      ~Nancy Kotting-Two Men, Two Farms and a Legacy We Can All Learn From

Small, local farms can also successfully eliminate the issue of food waste in communities by using waste food from restaurants, grocery stores, and schools as compost. California Safe Soil has developed Harvest-to-Harvest, or H2H, a liquid fertilizer made from food waste. Comprised completely of organic matter, H2H vastly reduces the amount of chemical fertilizers needed by a crop. Just as important, the liquid can be applied to crops with farmers’ existing irrigation equipment, reducing the necessity for extra labor or equipment costs. The company sources food waste from a number of Sacramento-area grocery store chains to create its product. 

Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland, which has an extensive sustainability policy, uses their grains in almost every area of its business. After brewing, some of the waste go to local farms where it’s fed to the livestock and poultry that end up being served back at the brewpub. Some of it goes to the baker who makes the bread and pretzels on their menu. Another portion is composted for use at their urban farm and another urban farm in the city. The grains, which are rich in the nitrates and sulfates on which fungi thrive, are also used by local mushroom cultivators to grow mushrooms that end up as toppings on pizzas or salads. 

It's time for agriculture to become, local and sustainable, if we are to have a secure, healthy food supply in the future.

Until next time...become the change you imagine.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

GMO - Can David Beat Goliath in the 21st Century?

What is the DARK Act?

In February 2015, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) reintroduced HR 1599, a bill intended to strip states of their right to pass GMO labeling laws. The bill is officially called the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act.” Others call it the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act because it would stop GMO labeling laws.  

On July 23, 2015 in a 275 to 150 vote, the House of Representatives voted in favor of the DARK Act, in spite of the fact that 90% of Americans surveyed are in favor of GMO labeling. 

GMO crops took up about 1.7 million hectares soon after they were introduced in 1996. Acreage has grown at an average clip of 10 million hectares a year, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, and are now up to 175 million hectares, with no signs of abating. And Monsanto is either leading most of these markets, or is in close competition for them.In 2013, Monsanto racked up sales of $14.9 billion. Of that, $10.3 billion came from seeds and genomic traits.

It is becoming clear that big business will soon have control over the food supply. Will we let that happen? There have been some successes in the grassroots movement to stop Monsanto from taking over the world's food production. It will take the voices of millions of people demanding an end to agribusiness' stranglehold on seed production. Millions more voices to end the systematic destruction of small farms around the globe.

Some brave souls have fought the good fight, and have won, in a small way. The 10-minute short documentary, Seeding Fear, tells the story of a farmer named Michael White, who with his father Wayne, took on the corporation in court. Percy Schmeiser: David vs Monsanto runs a little over an hour but is a much more comprehensive look at what independent farmers are going through in their fight against GMO supremacy in the fields. They are both disturbing and frightening.

GMO Awareness has a list of state, national, and international anti-GMO groups. The Non-GMO Project has good information and suggestions on how to get involved. Contact your Congressmen and tell them to vote "NO" to HR 1599. The future of food is in our hands.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."~ Edmund Burke

Until next time...become the change you imagine.