Archive for the ‘nutrition’ Category

I’ve never considered myself an environmentalist.  In fact, I’m more of a laissez-faire capitalist.  I may be wrong on this, but my understanding is that recycling doesn’t make much economic sense.  If it were economical, people would be doing it privately and getting rich off it.  So, I haven’t been one to separate out glass from cans from newspaper from the rest of the trash.  It just all goes into the dumpster.

I’ve also held the belief until recently that business corporations were inherently ethical and wanted what was best for their customers and for people in general.  Yes, they wanted to make a profit, but they were willing to do what was right even if it cost them financially.

Finally, I’ve believed that milk was milk, beef was beef, eggs were eggs and tomatoes were tomatoes no matter how they were produced.  It turns out this is not true.  A grass-fed cow will produce fundamentally different milk than a grain and soy-fed cow.  Pasteurization and homogenization further and unfavorably change the milk.  Pastured hens lay eggs far higher in omega-3 fatty acids than factory farmed hens.  A tomato produced in soil rich in organic matter, specifically humus, has a higher nutritional value than a tomato grown in depleted soil and artificial fertilizer.

Knowing this might not have had any effect on me before I had children.  But now I think a lot about what they are putting into their rapidly growing bodies.  I want them to be eating the very best there is.  I stopped buying milk from the store and signed up for a raw milk cow-share program.  Next month I will be switching to a cow-share program where the cows are grass-fed.  A vegetable garden seemed like too much work.  But we put one in this year because we knew that we could produce better quality vegetables than what was available at the store and now that matters.  I started keeping bees, so we could start eating our very own raw honey.  I’d like to keep laying hens, but that’s not allowed where we live.

I really enjoy keeping critters and having them work for me.  It started with me culturing the raw milk and using the whey to ferment all manner of grains and vegetables following recipes in Nourishing Traditions.  All these lacto-bacteria were working for me.  Then I moved up to honey bees.  I have a thriving hive that is now just beginning to produce honey that I will harvest.

A few days ago we acquired another critter:  red wiggler earthworms.  Their job:  kitchen waste recycling.  A few months ago my husband started another traditional composting system.  Well, we don’t generate enough kitchen waste to produce the kind of volume that will properly heat up and turn into humus.  A little at a time may work in some locales, but not in super dry Colorado.  At least we couldn’t get it to work.  It worked great as a housefly breeding ground, though, and I got so sick of the houseflies coming into our home in such large numbers.  I wanted to put a moratorium on composting.

That made Erik sad because to him it was a real tragedy to just throw away all that potential compost generated in the kitchen.  It’s hard enough to grow anything in this soil and it’s in such dire need of organic matter.  But I couldn’t live with the flies.

We’d both heard about worm composting before and so last week I did some Internet surfing and made a phone call to a local worm/compost dealer.  I also read Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof, which tells you everything you need to know to get started.  I got the crash course on worm composting.  We visited the worm guy and bought an old styrofoam cooler filled with worms and compost.  Today I separated the compost from the worms and started them on some fresh bedding and food (kitchen waste), and now we have an honest to goodness indoor worm composting bin.

It turns out worms need an incredible amount of paper bedding to balance out the food scraps.  I found some newspaper and old non-glossy catalogs to tear up.  So the worms will also compost my paper waste, which is probably the largest volume of stuff I put in my garbage containers.  It’s better than I’d originally thought.  Not only are we recycling our food waste, but also our paper waste.

It’s really gratifying to contemplate living in a less wasteful manner.  As a society, we throw an incredible amount of stuff away.  It goes to the landfill and there are all kinds of issues with that.  With worm composting, I can turn all that waste into humus, something my garden (and entire backyard, for that matter) desperately needs.  I don’t need to throw away such a valuable resource anymore.  And house flies generally aren’t an issue with worm composting.

I don’t have any huge belief about keeping things out of landfills, although I do participate in programs that seek to do just that.  I participate in those programs not because I care about the environment but because those programs benefit me and my family.  Worm composting for me is about enriching my family’s food supply through enriching our soil.  There’s a direct benefit to me.  It’s nice to know it also benefits the environment in general.

So I’m still pretty much a capitalist.  I’m not about to turn into an environmentalist who’s worried sick over global warming.  Though I like the idea of global worming.  Still, I believe in responsible living and in taking care of the resources I have to the best of my ability.  I believe that this kind of stewardship doesn’t just benefit the earth in the long run.  It also benefits me and the people around me in the short term.  I can still do something I know is good for me and know it’s going to help others.  I think this is what trickle down economics is touted as doing, and I think would do if the people at the top were more enlightened on even what their own best interests truly were.  For those with a conscience I would think making a buck without hurting anyone, without wasting valuable resources and without polluting would be in their best interest.  If they put their minds to it, they could still make boatloads of such bucks.

Maybe CEOs and other corporate big wigs should all keep a worm bin in their office.  It could be inspirational to them.  It’s thinking outside the box, though not to worry, the worms will happily stay in the box as long as you feed them.


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This morning I conducted what is becoming a monthly ritual in our household: the trip to the post office with the brown manila envelope in hand. Normally the girls and I walk to the post office, then stop by the park on the way back home. Today, the weather was bad, so instead I loaded the girls into their car seats and drove down the street. The post office has a big window facing the street. I parked the car there, left the motor running and went inside to mail off my manuscript. This one is My Baby Sister and its destination is the publisher Farrar, Straus & Giroux. I’ve revised My Baby Sister a total of five times, making this manuscript the one in which I’ve invested the most effort. It’s also the one I believe in the most. I think it’s good enough to go somewhere and I’m going to persevere with it until it does. F, S & G will take around three months to decide if they want it. I’m hoping to choose a second publisher to submit it to well before that in the event that F, S & G rejects it. But other than that, it’s time to give My Baby Sister a rest, forget about it, and start working on my next project. If I need to resubmit it to another publisher, I can take a fresh look at it.

Once I returned from the post office and unloaded the girls out of the car, the day took on a more normal stay-at-home mom flavor. Both my girls have the sniffles, so we took it easy. We rolled a ball back and forth to each other in the living room, I let L watch a sesame street movie while I took a shower. I added some rye flour and water to my sour dough bread starter. I swept and mopped the kitchen floor. Recently we replaced our fridge and the floor was showing signs of the large appliance switch. I folded three baskets of clothes, finally declaring myself officially caught up with the laundry. While folding the clothes, L got silly and started putting various pieces on her head. She saw E take off her slippers and socks and put the slipper on her head, and thought that was a riot. I pretended to make a big deal out of it, “What? A sleeper on your head?” This only made L giggle all the more. Who would have known that minutes before L was crying in my arms over some upset?

I’m a techie at heart and actually have my household chore task list entered in Outlook. I’ve set the tasks to recur based on my ideal for how often certain jobs, like cleaning the bathroom sinks, get done. But the task will only regenerate when I’ve checked it off as done. This means that when I invariably fall behind from the ideal, once I do accomplish the task, I’m automatically caught up on that task and won’t see it again until the time I’ve set for it to recur. Each day I make a little game with myself to see how many overdue tasks I can check off. Today, I got to check off two.

For lunch the girls and I shared one of the pints of yogurt I made yesterday. I get two shares of raw milk which translates into two gallons a week, half of which I process into yogurt. Lately I’ve been skimming the cream off to save for ice cream, but this time I left the cream with the milk. It is such an improvement on the taste and quality of the milk and yogurt to leave the cream in. I dream of the future when we will have a family cow who produces enough milk that when we want extra cream, the leftover skim milk is considered waste–something to feed the pigs, not consume ourselves. In the mean time, I have many pints of creamy yogurt to enjoy.

I contemplate what to fix for dinner, and settle on soup using a turkey stock I made up shortly after this past Thanksgiving. I will throw in the leftover whole grains we’ve eaten for breakfast, the chicken, a pint of sauerkraut my husband and I fermented ourselves last month. Of course, I’ll start by sauteeing some onions, carrots and celery in a stick of butter, sadly purchased from the store. I think again about our future milk cow, who will give us enough cream for me to make butter.

Many diaper changes happen before and during dinner preparation. I’m late on starting and want L to go to bed early so I feed her a couple painted hard boiled Easter eggs just in case. I also let her chew the chicken meat off the bones as I cut up pieces for my soup. Surprisingly, she’s still hungry and does have a little bit of her soup, but only after Erik agrees to add some rolled oats and banana slices. As I’m sitting down to enjoy my soup, it becomes obvious that E needs to go down to sleep right now, so I move to the rocking chair to nurse her. As soon as E is asleep, my husband Erik and I help get L to sleep. We then sit down for some private time and E wakes up. Erik gets her settled back to sleep but then he can’t put her down without waking her up. So I prop up a Tintin comic book to read while I consume three bowls of soup. Erik is reading another Tintin book while holding E. The soup, by the way, is delicious. Adding sauerkrout to soup gives it an incredibly rich flavor. I make a mental note that in a pinch stock and sauerkrout alone will make a decent soup–more nutritious than boxed mac & cheese.

Before I know it, it’s time to start thinking about my own bedtime, and maybe I should clean up the kitchen so it’s nice for tomorrow. Nah, I’d rather be blogging. Or working on one of my writing projects (I have more of those than I really have the time for). It’s during the evenings after my girls are asleep that I can usually count on some concentrated time to write. I say usually, because both girls often wake up at night fairly often and need to be soothed back to sleep. Still, there have been enough uninterrupted evenings that it’s not unreasonable to hope this one will be like that. Then I have to decide between writing, catching up on housework, spending some quality time with my husband, or any number of other possibilities that get put on hold day after day. What will it be tonight? Whatever it is, it will involve homemade ice cream.

Such is the life of a stay-at-home aspiring author.

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