Posts filed under ‘organic’

Wageningen’s Buy Nothing Day 2006

I found this video today, more or less accidentally and I thought I would share it with you. Buy Nothing Day was in November, apparently on a Saturday, and I can’t believe that I somehow missed it! It just totally passed me by, I didn’t even know about it. Damn… It looked really cool… apart from the typical November weather.

It’s here for a few reasons. You can see the small town where I live, you can see the market I always talk about, and you can see the back of Emmaus, the charity shop (where you see the ‘pimp my bike’).

The thing they are shooting the video from is a tricycle, a special cargo bike. I used it twice for moving my shit across town (including one bulky sofa). Apparently it was put together by 2 local organizations, one of which I knew because they give out free food at the market about once a month. That’s the ‘Food Not Bombs’ people, it’s them pouring soup in the video. (also in Wikipedia)

The first two stands you can see are the organic vegetables (the guy who waves at them) and right next to it is the organic dairy guy. It’s too bad they didn’t write ‘free hugs’ in dutch, “gratis knuffels”. Knuffels (the k is not silent) always cracks me up… it’s just such a funny word 😀

Notice in the end, when they are putting the tricycle back, there is a yellow sign in the road and a bunch of bicycles inside. That’s the shared patio of Emmaus and a ‘Bike Oasis’, which is a bike repair shop where I always take my bike when I have a flat. The guy is really nice.

Anyway, I just thought it would be interesting for you guys to see where I live and actually see the stuff I’m always talking about. I hope you enjoyed it.

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May 11, 2007 at 3:34 pm 5 comments

Success and Failure

Environmental dialogues with a catClick to see full size.

I just couldn’t resist posting this strip from Get Fuzzy, my favorite comic strip. It describes my kitty dialogues very accurately.

It’s now been more than one month since I started this blog, and taking all things environmental a little more seriously… So I guess it’s about time to have a little recap on our “struggle”. I know this is kind of a random time for a recap, but please, be patient with me. Take into consideration that this is the blog of a highly UNorganized person, who probably qualifies as Attention Defective. Such is my condition, condemned to starting blogs on ordinary days, and having random unannounced recaps. And I am a little short on time and blogging topics, and it finally seems like I have enough to recap about.

Bad news first:

  • This week, the kitty-litter experiment has been officially declared a failure. Kitten fought the system and won. I tried to make him realize that it was better for the environment and for his kitty health but he would not have it. Believe me, he made it verrrry clear. “Oh Boo Hoo! Every time a microwave dings an angelfish looses it’s reef”
  • That means, back to the nasty clumping litter, and back to the ‘scooping plastic bags’. No kitty litter composting 😦
  • I still can’t stand tofu… My taste buds reject it like my cat rejects eco-litter. Lucky I didn’t leave any surprises around the house like some orange citizen I know (who will remain anonymous to preserve his dignity).
  • I keep getting a load of free newspapers, in dutch, despite the ‘No unaddressed advertising’ sticker on the mailbox. Talk about waste of paper. They sit in the mailbox till it’s recycle day. Grrrrr…
  • I kinda dropped the ball on monitoring my utility bills… I have no idea how much money, if any, I am saving. I know this sounds strange but we’ve had this arrangement 1,5 years now. The bills are included in the rent and we are adjusting it when we move out.

And now for the good stuff…

  • The freezer is unplugged! Hoorray!
  • Bringing Your Own Bags is old news here, everyone does it (plastic bags are a expensive commodity here, you know). So I took it to the next level, where I am viciously storing and reusing EVERY single bag I already have. This includes stuffing my totes with paper bags for fruit and veggies on the verge of disintegration, piles of price stickers on top of each other. I am also religiously reusing egg cartons. If the eggs are not packed yet I just put them in My Own Carton. At one organic stand at the market, I ‘exchange’ my empty cartons for a full carton, their cartons are all reused as well.
  • We are now unplugging all our electrics from the socket. Except the microwave… I use it as a watch in the kitchen. Being disorganized also means having improvised watches, like the cell phone, the microwave and the church tower.
  • I recently discovered that we are actually using green electricity here. I would never suspected that of my landlords, judging by the stashes of disposable plates, cups and utensils we inherited. Oddly, I found out because it says so on the mailbox sticker. Awsome!
  • I am growing herbs on the balcony, which are just starting to be big enough to use. We are also growing arugula and spinach (even though I’m pretty sure I’m messing up the spinach).
  • We are buying organic veggies exclusively (unless there is dinner emergency), and buying as local as possible. And strangely, I don’t think I am spending much more money than before. At least not enough to notice.
  • What I am noticing is that we are buying less quantities of veggies, and using them. Because organic stuff is so expensive, we really cut down on food waste. When we were buying the cheapest, we would often get a bunch of stuff and let it go bad.
  • We stopped relying on meat for every meal. Now we have an agreement on once-a-week meat, but ironically, we forgot to honour it this week. Our tasty organic steak this week was, sadly, replaced by some crappy supermarket salami.
  • And finally, a very satisfying change is that I don’t buy my stuff at the supermarket anymore. Now I just go there on emergencies, like the above mentioned dinner, as well as breakfast and litter emergencies. That means that I am also avoiding the plastic invasion of my kitchen by the packaging army.
  • Oh, and I almost forgot! I got the Diva Cup, no more disposables for this gal!

I’ts looking good, everyone! I don’t think that any of the changes I made are very hard to do, but it does take a lot more ‘thinking investment’ into my daily life. And it requires me to be constantly on the look out for the packaging scum of the Earth trying to infiltrate my home. I know that supposedly I am spending more money on food, but somehow I am not noticing any cash flow shortages. And I do think what we’ve been doing has the potential of saving me more money than what I am spending. So in the end, it’s all peaches and cream. As long as they are organic of course 😉

May 8, 2007 at 1:33 am 7 comments

Refined tastes

 rice

I have been talking a lot about eating organic and eating local, and eating less meat.  Continuing on the subject of reducing the environmental impact of food, I want to talk about another aspect that has recently been on my mind – refined foods. I am, especially, referring to flour, bread, rice and sugar.

Refining grains, including rice and wheat, consists in the mechanic removal of the germ and the bran, leaving only the endosperm, the starch. As such, refined grains not only loose 90% of their nutritional value and fiber, they also consume a considerably larger amount of energy to produce than whole grains. If this was not bad enough, there is more. White rice grains are polished with glucose, starch or talc (which has been linked to stomach cancer and is still used in some countries), making it nice and shiny.

White flower, in turn, is only white because it’s bleached with ” potassium bromate, benzoyl peroxide  or chlorine dioxide gas. Potassium bromate is also known as Bromic Acid or Potassium Salt. It’s an oxidizing agent, can be fatal if swallowed, is harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin and may also cause kidney damage. Benzoyl peroxide is another irritant that can kill animals, birds, or fish, and cause death or low growth rate in plants. Chlorine Dioxide is also a pesticide and even though it breaks down very quickly, it is ranked in the USA as one of the compounds most hazardous to the environment.”[green living tips].

And that’s not the end of the story. Since all nutrients have been removed from the refined product, these are then often added back as synthetic vitamins, with the associated impact of producing them industrially. To add to the creepiness factor, nutrients are often ‘sprayed’ into the bread mixture.

My beef with refined sugar comes from the way it’s made, which involves either adding sulphur dioxide or phosphoric acid and calcium hydroxide, centrifuging and vaccum crystallizing. And brown sugar? I have been shamefully duped  into buying brown sugar, innocently believing that it was less refined than white sugar, and hence, better for the environment. But NO!!! Turns out, most of the brown sugar, including the one I have been buying, is actually produced by adding molasses/dye to … you guessed it…. refined white sugar! What a scam….

Now that I know the truth, I am know that, as a self-respecting  wannabe environmentalist, I have to take some drastic measures and pledging all refined things out of my life!

Rice grains by IRRI on Flickr.

April 27, 2007 at 1:59 pm 11 comments

The only good peach…

 The only good peach is an organic peach

…. is an organic peach! 

Continuing on the organic topic, I found this post on Chick Lit about what conventionally grown products are especially rich in …. no, not vitamins… pesticides 😀

I have to admit that I am quite ignorant about what can befal you from eating pesticides for breakfast lunch and dinner, but I can guess that none of it is good things. There is the age old portuguese addagio that goes ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you fat’ (maybe that’s where the ‘stronger’ comes from). Whether or not pesticides will make you fat (if they don’t kill you) is another matter, but my personal belief is that they might make you infertile and/or stupid and/or cancerous. Whatever the case may be, I know that I don’t want them messing with my hormones and that’s final.

Anyhow, if you can’t afford to pledge pesticides out of your life, the Environmental Working Group has an great guide to know what you should absolutely stay clear of.

The Dirty Dozen consists of, according to gravity of offense.

  1. Peaches (bastards!!)
  2. Apples
  3. Sweet Bell Peppers (I guess organic peppers  are worth their price in gold)
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarines
  6. Strawberries – hold on while I remove the dagger from my back… ok
  7. Cherries
  8. Pears
  9. Grapes (imported) – I’m guessing they mean imported from outside US, which carries the implication that our Euro-grapes rank in this category. American grapes are lower in the chart
  10. Spinach
  11. Lettuce
  12. Potatoes

Good news: Now I know I wasn’t buying peppers at 8 euros a kilo for nothing. I have been buying organic apples (phew!). No peaches yet (phew!). Apples, pears, and potatoes are reasonably priced. I’m growing my own salad greens, which are just about getting ready. No more toxic lettuce for me!

Bad news: Didn’t see any organic strawberries yet (those little back-stabbers).

Check out this list for extra dirt on your favourite veg…

Leading the Cleaner 12 list we have onions, avocados, frozen sweet corn, pineapples, mango and asparagus, among others. Broccoli and cabbage are on this list too. So, if you are short on cash, you know you can easily dispense the organic onions or broccoli.

Personally, my choice still goes for organic, for anything from cabbage up… But now at least I know its relatively safe to eat broccoli if need be.

Good peaches, courtesy of rayvaughn on Flickr.

April 24, 2007 at 4:15 pm 8 comments

Organic Grocery Bag

groceries

Here is a picture of my groceries from my latest shopping trip. This is what you can buy for E 16,50 at the organic shop in Wageningen.

This is what you see in the picture:

  • 1L of full-fat, very yummy yogurt. The glass bottle is reusable and has a 25ct deposit to make sure it makes it back to the store.
  • 500g of sunflower seeds. I’m a sucker for roasted sunflower seeds. Also good in salads. I was shocked to find that the organic bag’o’seeds is several times cheaper than the regular, non-organic seeds I used to buy at the market. Goes to prove organic is not always more expensive.
  • 250g of sesame seeds. For some reason I thought that I could make hummus with sesame seeds… Apparently what I needed was ‘tahine’. Whatever… I think those must be good in sandwiches, salads and sauces.
  • 250g of firm unflavored tofu. We’ll see what comes out of that…
  • 1 bell pepper, paid it’s weight in gold for it.
  • 1 plain dutch cheese. Pretty tasty.
  • 1 certified sustainable smoked mackerel. Tasty by itself, but better in a fish dip/salad.
  • a bunch of fresh shiitake mushrooms. Those were damn good with risotto… *droool*
  • My orange Slow Foods shopping tote. Very handy and cute as well. I also have a couple of other, not so cute bags.

Lately, I have been shopping almost exclusively at this shop.  I still have to start buying bread there as well.  Sometimes I cheat by going to the supermarket across the street, and buy bread and other emergency items. I am buying meat exclusively from the Nature Slagerij (the organic butcher). For eggs, I only buy them at the organic stalls at the market, because it’s the only place I can reuse my egg carton. Sometimes I also buy veggies at the market. There is one stand that sells stuff from their own farm just across the river. They invited me for the inauguration of their farm-shop next weekend but I’m not sure if it’s close enough to bike there… maybe it’s worth the ride. We’ll see.

I’m trying to avoid shopping at chain supermarkets, I don’t want my Euros fattening up their corporate @$$ess, but sometimes cheapness and convenience still gets the better of me. But I’m going there less and less, and when I do, I’m also buying a lot less stuff. I think I can ‘just say NO’ pretty soon, though.

April 23, 2007 at 11:58 am 1 comment

Meat less!

entrecôte 

My name is Alina, I am a meat-aholic and it’s been 7 days since my last steak. Lori, sign me up for the support group. I mean, stock cubes don’t count, right? I know it may not sound like much, but for a couple of unrepentant meat lovers like ourselves, its a major accomplishment.

Before we started this blog we were eating meat at least once a day,  for dinner and with sandwiches… And for people aiming for sustainability like yours truly, that’s a big no-no.  

Recently we started buying our meat exclusively from the organic butcher, but even so, we were still getting bacon cubes and sandwich hams or pates and such at the supermarket. I still don’t know how Bryce ever agreed to this… He squirmed every time I mentioned ‘eating less meat for the environment’.  But then I also mentioned that eating less meat is healthier, and considering that most of his family is meat and dairy intolerant, he figured it was better to delay his mandatory vegan days for a few years…

And so, somehow, we managed to go a whole week without meat in any way, not even bacon (again, stock cubes don’t count, right? ). It took a lot of imagination just to figure out “What the hell are we gonna do for dinna??” It took a lot of effort not to eat lentils every day, but we did it!

This week we had a stew, with texturized soya protein instead of meat which was reasonable, didn’t miss the meat so much. We had potato hash browns with portobella mushrooms and roasted brie, which was pretty damn good. We had some lentils (doh). We had some veggie pasta with a nice organic kohlrabi salad. 

Less successful was our bean and rice dish from last night which failed miserably, by the time the beans were half-done I had already lost my appetite and was in ‘go to bed’ mode. But not all is lost, we are still going to eat them tonight, hopefully a couple more hours cooking and they should be done 😀 And yes, I did soak them… but only for the afternoon. I am still not very proficient in planning my meals more than a few hours ahead.entrecôte

I have to admit I still shy away from the soya products section… I don’t know what I did wrong but every time I tried to reach out to tofu, things never really worked out between us. Fortunately, Bryce seems to be more comfortable with it so I think we might try using tofu and the likes pretty soon.

All things considered, I would say it was a pretty successful week in terms of culinary prowess and meat-lessness. But I have to say… I am very much looking forward to treating myself to a yummy, juicy, organic entrecôte tomorrow, maybe followed by organic bacon and eggs on Sunday *droooooool*

Photo Courtesy of FotoosVanRobin on Flickr.

April 20, 2007 at 5:02 pm 8 comments

Eating out

utrechtIt is funny how every time we make any changes to our lives, we always antecipate all the worstcase scenarions, set-backs and problems. Most of the time, we envision changes to be harder than they actually turn out to be.  But the fact is, sometimes, it doesn’t take a super-human effort to make a change, and after you have made up your mind, and are set on a certain course, things just kinda come together naturally.

This is what I sort of realized this weekend. We decided to spend our Saturday in Utrecht, a real city, for a change. And without putting much thought or effort into it, ended up going to a nice organic restaurant that caught my eye in the New York Times. They change their menu every month and deliberately include seasonal products in it, which I presume must be local, for the most part. And of course, all their ingredients are organic.

So despite the fact that we failed miserably in what was our objective for the day – shopping – we had a great time. And in the end it was quite a ‘sustainable’ day out, which came as a surprise even to me. Especially when our consumerist impulses were done away with.

Photo courtesy of my love.

April 15, 2007 at 8:03 pm Leave a comment

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