Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Backyard Gardens

I think eventually, backyard gardens will be the new "yards".  With people's attention (hopefully) focusing more concern on eating locally grown, pesticide free fruit and vegetables, I believe we will be seeing more and more backyard gardens.  I wonder what our relatively non imposing neighbors would say if we overturned our front grassy yard with the full sun into a farming working garden.  That would mean however, that I (and my husband for that matter) would need to actually LEARN how to farm.  I'm not like this teenager in Michigan I read about today that grew up in 4H and learning about farming as a child.

But I am very inspired and wowed by what she has created.  I love her entrepreneurial spirit too.  Maybe soon, I'll be posting about the lettuce I'm growing.  We are loving the super awesome tomatoes that my husband is growing.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I'm thinking about growing lettuce.  I really have no idea what it will entail...need to do some research.  I just read a quick paragraph and got compeletly enthralled with it.  It seems totally possible, but I've been a bit nervous about it.  How cool would it be though to have a ready supply of lettuce to eat?  Fresh salad, that seems such a luxury, but really, when you think about it, what is the luxury is spending the money to buy it at the market and then have it go bad time after time in the refrigerator because you didn't eat it fast enough.

Hunter, my 3 year old, would love it too.  He loves eating salads to begin with, but the thought of him getting to pick the lettuce would be very exciting to him I think.  Supposedly you can grow lettuce in just a weeks time.  Again, I have to do some research for growing it here in hot Atlanta, but I know it's do able.

Yay!  I'm excited!!  Here's the ideal picture of what I want it to look like.  I stole this picture from Gwenyth Paltrow's blog called GOOP which is by the way, an awesome blog...check it out...  http://goop.com/

Have a great day!  I'm going to go discover what it takes to grow lettuce!!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cutting down on plastic baggies

I am trying to eliminate the use of plastic baggies in our family's daily activities.  I have gotten a $3 sandwich holder.  Boy, is it worth the $3!!!  I use it everyday for my son's sandwiches.  I figure at the daily rate, I will save AT LEAST 365 baggies a year.  Forget about the dollar savings, I'm loving the fact that I will not need to THROW AWAY and put in the trash, those baggies.  I can't tell you how it pains me to throw away those bags.  Maybe it's having been raised in Oregon and watching my mother save baggies throughout my upbringing (they have a drawer dedicated to used baggies), that has me pained to throw them away, but even still, regardless of the reason, I am thrilled to not be doing it.  Imagine if everyone used those sandwich holders everyday.  Imagine, the amount of oil (yes, oil) we wouldn't be using to make all of those plastic bags.  I'm just saying, that $3 is worth a lot more than $3, really.

Now, where else can I cut down on my family's carbon footprint??

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fruit flies

I didn't take into consideration when I bought my cute little counter composting storage container that in the summer I would be raising a township of fruit flies.  So you know those little airholes in the top of the container?  I don't understand really the reason for them, however, I found two reasons I do not like them.  One is that it actually does let out a bit of the smell, not a lot, just a little, but enough.  The other reason for my dislike, is that it allows the fruit flies to come and go from the container like it is a little apartment complex made just for them.  A small little township, if you will.

So, finally I just couldn't stand it anymore.  It was reminding me too much of my high school biology class with the fruit fly experiments.  We always knew when the fruit fly experiments were happening, because inevitably they made it down stairs to the lunch room.

I had to switch containers.  Now we use an ugly, not cute at all, AIR TIGHT plastic container.  It has however solved the problem with the fruit fly township.  All but gone.  Those that remained found the almost too ripe bananas to host on... ugh........those too will be gone (as soon as I put the bananas in the freezer). 

Happy composting!!!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Let's have an edible schoolyard in EVERY school!

I was reading about the Edible Schoolyard created by Alice Waters yesterday ( http://www.edibleschoolyard.org/about-us ) and was thinking how amazing it would be for every school to have this opportunity.  From the blog:  The Edible Schoolyard (ESY), established in 1995, is a one-acre garden and kitchen classroom at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California. It is a program of the Chez Panisse Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by chef and author Alice Waters.

I wonder what it would take to get legislation passed to have this everywhere.  Wouldn't that be wonderful to have kids at school getting excited about farming?  This is the type of thing that can change not only the health of our children, but with exposure to how things grow, how to be creative, how to cultivate a garden, and be able to eat the food teaches our children to be self-sustaining human beings. 

I think our dependency on food would shift back from grocery stores to local farming.  I have often wondered, living in Georgia, why it is I cannot for the life of me, find a good Georgia Peach in the supermarkets during prime peach season, but I can get wonderful New Jersey Peaches.  For those of you who aren't familiar with Georgia's relationship to peaches...it is on our license plates, girls grow up being compared to "georgia peaches" (which given my experience isn't such a good compliment...)  But seriously, I've been told by a Georgia Peach farmer's daughter that they ship all of the good grade A peaches out of state, and leave the grade B (second rate) peaches here in state.  Crazy-Amazing.  So going local (buying from your nearby farmer) is the only way REALLY to get those delicious mouth watering peaches that the state is known for.

The other thing I think would happen, is that you would see many more people planting fruit and vegetables in their gardens rather than having grass, which is one dimensional.  I do believe in grass.  I have a 3 year old and it is important to me that my son grow up playing wildly in the yard and creating fantasy lands of explorers in that yard of grass and trees.  But in other parts of the yard, it is also important to designate a part to growing such yummy things as tomatos, cucumbers, zucchini, melons, and have apple trees, pears, plums, and yes, peaches.  Much of my childhood is full of memories of eating fruit right off of trees: pommegranites, apples, plums, delicious mouth watering berries...and some other fruit that I am forever searching for that we used to eat from a tree in Mrs Leonard's back yard in LA (the name of which I think will forever escape me). 

How wonderful would that be?  To have our children have that wonderful education of being able to grow their own food, and, to have memories of eating right off the tree rather than thinking their fruit and vegetables come from the grocery store...and that's it.  My dream.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

America's Food Revolution

Looks like Jamie Oliver is in good company...do a bit of searching on the web, post something on facebook and you will see it is becoming a "Food Revolution" of sorts (referring to his TV show Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution and his talk at theTED conference, see  http://www.ted.com/talks/jamie_oliver.html for Jamie's talk)...

Michelle Obama has her organic garden at the White House.  She has started a program called Let's Move (http://letsmove.gov/) where they are out to alter the youth's relationship to food, gardening, eating right, the schools food system, exercising and a whole lot more.  It seems she has taken on the mission as hers as First Lady.  Thank you Michelle, you are a real woman/mom/person for seeing this as important. 

There are the 11 year old girls in NYC who on vacation in Ohio tasted a cherry tomato and were blown away by how good it tasted.  They started finding out where their food was coming from and what was in their food.  Check out their website... http://www.whatsonyourplateproject.org/  They have also made a movie about their adventure of discovering where their food comes from. 

When checking out the blog on http://www.whatsonyourplateproject.org/, I discovered this interesting blog: 
http://fedupwithschoollunch.blogspot.com/ .  This is a neat real life adventure.  A teacher has decided to eat the schools lunch that is served to the kids, everyday and blog about it.  Awesome.  Hopefully that will generate some awareness about what our kids are eating and that it is not locally grown.

What I would love to see is kids learning HANDS ON what it is like to grow food and what food grown in their garden tastes like (like the 11 year old girls).  One thing Jamie was shocked by in his TV segment was the lack of knowledge the kids had about what vegetables are.  They didn't know the difference between tomatos and potatos.

So I am inspired to garden this year, to get my son Hunter out into the garden helping us grow the tomatos, the cucumbers, and all of the other things we are growing, and then to teach him about what he is eating.  I am also inspired to shop locally for my produce so that my family's carbon footprint is not a growing footprint, but a local footprint.

I am joining Jamie's forces, First Lady Michelle Obama's...and other's.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My friends think I’m a regular Martha Stewart…

They think this because I make my own play dough and granola (among other reasons…one being I love to bake and I make great desserts).

The play dough happened because at my son’s preschool at the beginning of the school year we had to sign up for a month to provide play dough for the class. We could either make it (recipe provided for us) or buy it if we were so inclined to go that direction. I signed up for January and decided to make it. My philosophy was “why buy it?” Plus, there was this nagging thought in the back of my head…what other chemicals do they put in the store brands that are toxic. It might SAY non toxic, but to whose standards? The government’s? I don’t trust the government’s standards on non toxic (see other post on toxicity in our cosmetics).

So I made the play dough. I was doing it for a few reasons actually. First, it HAD to be cheaper than buying it…and in today’s economy, that is a big reason. Second, the reason stated above regarding toxicity. Third, I just couldn’t deal with the environmental aspect of buying all of those plastic little containers. I am trying to lower the carbon foot print of this family. Hard to do when there are all of these personal little sized items out there available to buy. Marketing individual sizes has certainly hit when it comes to our children. Yes, I want him to eat yogurt at lunch, but those little small containers just fill up our landfills – because you know those small plastic containers aren’t getting recycled at school! Plus, Hunter eats about three of those in one setting. Buying those cute little containers of play dough was out of the question.

So I made my own…and the only tough parts were stirring it fast enough in the big pot (my arms got tired…note to self, need to work out the upper arms) and getting it purple enough with the food coloring. Getting it purple enough (and not lavender) was actually the hardest part of the whole deal. Of course it had to be “purple month” in January and not blue, red or green! HA! But it turned out and was incredibly easy and it eased my mind when Hunter came home and I found out he had been eating the play dough (as all kids do at some point in their lives). At least I knew he wasn’t eating a whole bunch of chemicals.
And that is the final reason why I bake, make play dough, and make things from scratch (like cakes, muffins, cookies) rather than processed by a manufacturer…I know what the ingredients REALLY are!!! Call me Martha, but I like knowing that I can substitute apple sauce (with no added sugar) for the oil, and cut the sugar in half, etc., it makes me feel like I am doing the right thing on many different levels.