Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Growing a Family "Pet"

I have tried making a sour dough bread starter before and it didn't work.  Well, I talked to my sister-in-law yesterday and she got me excited about it again.  So, I'm giving it another go.  A starter is basically a collection of living yeast that you feed and use to make bread.  It takes the place of using store bought yeast.  There are several ways of starting a starter and one way is to collect wild yeast.  That's what I'm doing. 

To collect wild yeast, you mix some flour with water in a bowl, cover it with a breathable cloth, feed it each day and transfer it to a clean bowl then it supposedly gathers wild yeast from the air.  hmm.  I started mine yesterday.  I noticed it smelling sour this morning (which is a good thing) so maybe it's working.

Our new family pet
You can't use any metal utensils or bowls while doing this which is really hard for me.  I like to whisk things (I'll admit it) and my whisk happens to be metal.  I whisked the pet this morning a few rounds before I remembered so hopefully I didn't kill it.

Once the starter is made, you feed it and it makes bread for you.  That sounds like a deal to me!  Sounds like more of a giving pet then those hens that aren't laying.

I'll keep you posted...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blowing a Breaker

A couple nights ago, Mr. Right and I noticed that a few things in the house had quit working.  The lights in the kitchen were no longer on, the Caller ID didn't work, the toaster oven had quit (thankfully my apple pie was done and I was just heating up some supper!), our little space heater wasn't heating and a lamp in the den was off.  We quickly realized that we had blown a breaker.  Mr. Right went outside to flip it back on and it wouldn't stay on.  So...that means it's time to call an electrician.  What was that going to cost?

I decided that having those things out wasn't really that bad.  To me, it kind of seemed like living "back in the day."  Then, as we started discussing it further, we realized what we had done.  We had the toaster oven, the space heater and the deep freeze all plugged into the same circuit....which apparrently can't handle that.  Wait....the deep freeze?!?!?  It had been off all night before we realized it.  Thankfully, it's about 30 degrees outside so our beef didn't spoil.  The electrician came yesterday and after 100 big ones, we have power back.

I would like to live "back in the day" but can I take my deep freeze?

The $100 breaker...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Our Favorite Things

I added a special section in the sidebar called "Our Favorite Things."  Here you will find links to some of the products we regularly use in our home.  These are natural products, of course.

It has taken us two years of research to come to where we are (and we're still learning) so hopefully this section will give you a headstart.

We order these products from Lucky Vitamin.  There is something magical about having them shipped to your house!  I don't like to shop and these things aren't offered in any store I've been in so Lucky Vitamin makes it easy.  We order in bulk to get the free shipping and it also cuts down on the number of times we have to order.  Love it!

Check it out and enjoy!

Love, the homesteaders :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011


It doesn't have to be about turkey or large crowds.  Maybe your Thanksgiving is just about rest.  Whatever you do, I hope you have a great one.

This is a great time to remember what we are thankful for.  Whether it's a little or a lot, be thankful for it.

See you after Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What do you do all day?

Being a homemaker, I've been asked this several times..."What do you do all day?"  Especially since we don't have children yet (well, other than the one kicking in my belly).  That question bothered me at one time.  Now, I see it as a chance to enlighten others on the role of a homemaker.  Now, some who ask are homemakers also (or were raised by one) so they know what it's like for them...they just want to know what it's like for me.  Fine with me.  :)

When Mr. Right and I first married, I just kept up with the house how I saw fit.  Then, I realized a schedule would be better.  That way, certain things are always done and you never get behind.  My first schedule divided my day into time zones.  Well, that didn't always work out.  Someone might stop by, Mr. Right would go to work at a different time, something else desperately needed to be done get the idea.  So, I've ended up with this...a list.  I have a list of things I do each day and they aren't constrained my time.

Here it is:
get dressed (yes, I stay home but I feel it's important to get dressed -including shoes- and be presentable)
pick up bedroom -meaning, make bed, gather laundry, put things away
light clean bathroom and shower
pick up den
put in a load of clothes to wash
clean kitchen- dishes, wipe table, sweep, clean off bar
put in load of clothes to dry
*daily chore
rest- ahhhh, yes.  Not a long rest but a needed one
sew, paint, read, scrapbook
*daily chore
*daily chore

My daily chores are divided up by days of the week, like this:
Monday: write cards, dust & clean foyer, clean laundry room
Tuesday: clean floors, scrub kitchen, organize & vacuum closet
Wednesday: pay bills/ balance checkbook, organize office, clean garage
Thursday: clean out frig, detail clean bathrooms, wash windows and sills
Friday: pack if we're leaving, clean floors

I'm faaaaar from perfect.  Most weeks, I don't make it completely through this list for one reason or another.  However, it's a fantastic plan for me.  If you stick to it, then your daily work is easy.  The house stays clean!

The great part about it being flexible is it allows time for me to plan meals and cook.  Since we eat the way we do, it takes longer sometimes for me to make a meal so I don't need a schedule that doesn't allow much time for me to be in the kitchen.  Plus, I really like being in the kitchen. :)

Happy Homemaking!

Monday, November 21, 2011

I Couldn't Help Myself!

They were on sale!  They smell soooo gooood.  This is what happens when you leave a pregnant lady alone in the produce aisle.  Not really, Mr. Right was putting them in the buggy like crazy too.  Though, I did add one more bag later. 

How many apples can two people eat?  Well, I'll tell you the truth.  I ate three last night because the smell kept drawing me to them.

Maybe I'll make apple sauce, an apple pie, fried apples....maybe we'll just eat them all like that.
I really like apples.....

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Crispy Potatoes

I got this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks and adapted it to what I had on hand.  Mr. Right really likes them and that's good enough for me!

Here it is...
1/3 c flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp basil
1/8 tsp pepper
several sprinkles of garlic
5 med. potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup oil

Fix your potatoes...

Combine the dry ingredients

Stir potatoes into dry ingredients

Dump potatoes into casserole dish and drizzle with oil.  Cover and bake at 450 for 35-40 mins.  (I usually don't cover mine.)  Stir half way through.

They will turn out like this...


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Homemade Wheat Hamburger Buns

These are FANTASTIC!!!!!!!  I got this recipe from my sister-in-law who got it here.  We've been eating our hamburgers on regular bread....until now.  It's awesome to have healthy, preservative-free buns.  By the way, in case you haven't ever read the ingredients in packaged buns...well, I'll say this...don't if you're planning a cookout tonight.  It's scary what they put in those things!  Think about it.  If you have ever made homemade bread, you know that it molds within days if you don't eat it.  Why don't the packaged breads mold that fast?  That's a discussion for another day.  Moving on.

The original recipe will feed an army so I halved it since I don't have an army (yet).

1 3/4 c warm water
1/2 c oil (I use coconut oil)
1/4 c honey
3T active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
5 1/4 c flour ( I use wheat)

Those involved...
That big honkin' jar is coconut oil.
Mix first four ingredients then let them rest for 15 mins.  It will get foamy.
Don't use a metal bowl.  Do as I say, not as I do.

Add remaining ingredients, mix then knead for 5 mins.

Preheat oven to 450.
Roll out dough to 1/2 inch thick

Immediately cut with lid to wide mouth jar (or whatever you want)

 Let rise 10 mins.
I'm a stoneware, cast iron kinda gal.
 Bake 10 mins or until done.

Pass the burgers!!!!!!

This hamburger made Mr. Right ask for more.  We had them for lunch and I'm making more for supper!  They are soooo goooood.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Guess What's for Supper!

We picked up 185lbs of beef this week.  (You can read more about how that began here.)  So, I've been stretching my cooking legs and coming up with some good beef recipes.  It's so nice to have meat again!  The cooking possibilities are endless when you have a freezer full of beef!

So, I started thawing and marinating this yesterday...

Whoo!  Round steak!  I've been searching my cookbooks for a good round steak recipe.  I want to find a way to cook it in the oven...because it's too cold to go outside.  I know, I'm a weenie.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cheap or Earth Friendly? You decide!

At our house, we call these napkins.  I found that buying paper towels/napkins wasn't economical so we were excited when we found these on sale one day.  We got 18 for $3!  Now, this is what we use at the supper table for a napkin.  I joke with guests that we're trying to save the world, one cloth napkin at a time.  :)

So what do you think?  Am I just cheap or would you do this too?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mr. Right Felt the Baby Move!

I've been feeling the baby move for about 2 weeks now.  Well, my handsome Hubby got to feel it also!  For the first time, two nights ago, Hubby got to feel that little thump on his hand.  It was amazing.

Not too much longer (ha!) and that crib will have a sweet little baby in it.  Yes, the room is blue and we don't know the gender yet.  There is a favorite color is blue so if it's a girl, she will learn to like it too.

I'm thankful we know what we do about food and health.  We are already giving our child a good start due to what I eat and we can continue to do that as he/she grows.  I'm eager to teach our children the importance of good food and health...among other things.

Look out Daddy, your little one is kicking me right now.  Feels like we're going to have an active one!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

GMO Corn and Other Crops

"Genetically modified foods (GM foods or GMO foods) are foods derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Genetically modified organisms have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques.  GM foods were first put on the market in the mid 1990s (1996). Typically, genetically modified foods are transgenic plant products: soybean, corn, canola, and cotton seed oil.  Critics have objected to GM foods on several grounds, including safety issues,[7] ecological concerns, and economic concerns raised by the fact that these organisms are subject to intellectual property law."
Huffington Post
It's very dangerous and tricky when companies start changing the DNA make-up of crops for profit.  Corn (like other crops) was changed to be stronger and withstand pesticides.  With GMO corn, Round-up can be sprayed on the entire field, killing pests but not the corn.  So, now, not only do you have a vegetable that has a new, engineered genetic make-up, it is also covered in Round-up.
"In a study released by the International Journal of Biological Sciences, analyzing the effects of genetically modified foods on mammalian health, researchers found that agricultural giant Monsanto's GM corn is linked to organ damage in rats.
According to the study, which was summarized by Rady Ananda at Food Freedom, "Three varieties of Monsanto's GM corn - Mon 863, insecticide-producing Mon 810, and Roundup® herbicide-absorbing NK 603 - were approved for consumption by US, European and several other national food safety authorities."
Monsanto gathered its own crude statistical data after conducting a 90-day study, even though chronic problems can rarely be found after 90 days, and concluded that the corn was safe for consumption. The stamp of approval may have been premature, however."  From here, bold mine
 The Wikipedia definition at the beginning of this post stated concerns, one being "the fact that these organisms are subject to intellectual property law."  What is the intellectual property law?  I knew you would ask...
Intellectual property is any innovation, commercial or artistic, or any unique name, symbol, logo or design used commercially.
Intellectual property is protected by
•  patents on inventions;
•  trademarks on branding devices;
•  copyrights on music, videos, patterns and other forms of expression;
•  trade secrets for methods or formulas having economic value and used commercially
Definition found here.

So, why is there concern "that these organisms are subject to intellectual property law?"  Because of the issue of putting a patent on life.  Is it right to patent a seed?  That depends on who you ask.  Now that corn is genetically modified, one company can own it.  They can govern who grows their corn.  This also means that if you are farming your own corn next to their GMO corn and their seeds blow over into your field...your operation can be shut down, sued, etc for "stealing" their product.  You didn't want their GMO corn in the first place.  That is a huge economic concern.  A large company can shut down a small farmer because of seeds that blew onto his property and took root.  Now the farmer has a choice, either work for that company and grow their GMO corn or stop farming crops. 
This Supreme Court ruling is responsible for allowing companies to patent life.
"With the biomedical revolution in full swing, academic scientists who lack industry ties have become as rare as giant pandas in the wild. But as Congress begins to investigate lapses in federal oversight of gene therapy experiments, lawmakers, bioethics experts and federal regulators say they are troubled that so many researchers have a financial stake in companies testing their discoveries -- companies whose fortunes, with those of the scientist, can rise and fall on a single product.
The fear is that the lure of profit could color scientific integrity, prompting researchers to withhold information about potentially dangerous side effects or push for experiments that might not be quite safe."  New York Times
If this is a concern in the medical field, it can also be true in the food industry.  Scientists creating these GMO products could also have their integrity "colored" by the "lure of profit." 
"The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) urges doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients. They cite animal studies showing organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and infertility. Human studies show how genetically modified (GM) food can leave material behind inside us, possibly causing long-term problems. Genes inserted into GM soy, for example, can transfer into the DNA of bacteria living inside us, and that the toxic insecticide produced by GM corn was found in the blood of pregnant women and their unborn fetuses.  Numerous health problems increased after GMOs were introduced in 1996. The percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses jumped from 7% to 13% in just 9 years; food allergies skyrocketed, and disorders such as autism, reproductive disorders, digestive problems, and others are on the rise. Although there is not sufficient research to confirm that GMOs are a contributing factor, doctors groups such as the AAEM tell us not to wait before we start protecting ourselves, and especially our children who are most at risk.
The American Public Health Association and American Nurses Association are among many medical groups that condemn the use of GM bovine growth hormone, because the milk from treated cows has more of the hormone IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor 1)―which is linked to cancer.Institute for Responsible Technology
The article cited above is a great read.  Click on the link for more information.

In conclusion, if you consume most cereal, candy bars, condiments, fruit juice, popcorn, sodas, chips, tomato based sauce, jelly, etc. (the list is endless) you are consuming GMO corn (along with several other GMO crops). 

Don't be a test pilot.  Be informed.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"Automatic" Egg Collector

We like having animals but we also like to travel.  When we first got the chickens and we left for a weekend, I would just cross my fingers and hope they didn't crack their eggs as they laid them in the nesting box all weekend.  With chickens, you could put a nesting box for each one of them in the coop but they will still use the same box even if it's already full of eggs.
Then I got this bright idea....
An "automatic" egg collector!
Now, they lay their eggs in the box and it rolls down into the plastic container!  No broken eggs at our house!  I lined the nexting box and the container with straw so the eggs roll softly.  That container will hold two dozen eggs and not one of them will get stepped on and broken by a chicken. 

Here is another view from inside the nesting box.  If you were an egg, this is what you would see...

You can tell in that photo how I cut the back of the crate out and the side of the container so the egg would have a path to travel.

The chickens don't mind that the box is elevated and slightly tilted.  At least, I don't think they mind.  They haven't formed a union and petitioned for better laying conditions yet.  So until they do, this is the way the eggs will be collected while we're gone!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Washing Eggs

Aren't they pretty?

One of my favorite things is laying eggs out to dry that I've washed.  I feel rich when I have a dish cloth full of fresh eggs!  The ladies aren't laying as much as they did during the summer but I'll take what I can get. 

Good job, ladies.  Thanks for the eggs.  :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Our Porous Skin


1.  full of pores.
2.  permeable by water, air, etc.

 Our skin is extremely porous.  Meaning, it soaks up everything we put on it (and that's more than just water!).  So, lets consider that for a moment....  On a daily basis, you might use perfume/cologne, hairspray, makeup, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, chapstick, soap, hand sanitizer, etc.  All of that soaks into your skin.  Not to mention the water you use to wash (and drink) most likely contains chlorine and fluoride.

If you have a baby in your home, think of how they are being saturated from birth with baby lotion, body wash, chemicals on wipes, ointments, powders and who knows what else.  What effect does that have on them as they grow?

We do not use lotion in our house.  We use coconut oil.  We buy it to cook with and also use it for moisturizer.  It's fantastic!  AND it's natural.

Soon, we'll explore what is in everyday products and the harm they can cause your body.  For now, just think about it and consider all the products you have in your house that are for your skin.

Natural living includes more than just food.  It also includes how you treat your body from the outside!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nitrites and Nitrates in Processed Meat

Don't those look natural?

 "Sodium Nitrite helps prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism in humans and is also used alone or in conjunction with sodium nitrate as a color fixative in cured meat and poultry products (bologna, hot dogs, bacon, lunch meat). During the cooking process, nitrites combine with amines naturally present in meat to form carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds. It is also suspected that nitrites can combine with amines in the human stomach to form N-nitroso compounds. These compounds are known carcinogens and have been associated with cancer of the oral cavity, urinary bladder, esophagus, stomach and brain.
Research in Sweden found that Swedes who ate on average 3 ounces of processed meat each day had a 15 percent greater chance of developing stomach cancer than those who consumed 2 ounces or less. The Cancer Research Center of Hawaii and the University of Southern California reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2005;97:1458-65) that they studied 190,000 people, ages 45 to 75, for seven years. Those who ate the most processed meat (bacon, ham, cold cuts) had a 68% higher risk of pancreatic cancer than those who ate the least. "Most" was defined as at least 0.6 ounce processed meat, 1 ounce beef or 0.3 ounce pork per 1,000 calories consumed. "  SupermarketGuru
That same article states that dietitians suggest to consume some sort of antioxidant such as vitamin C or vitamin E before a meal that contains a processed meat to help reduce the "possible cancer-causing effects of sodium nitrite."  It's not smart to eat something that requires you to consume an antioxidant beforehand just so your risk of cancer can be reduced.  The best thing to do it to not consume processed meats at all.  

Here is an interesting website that broke down information about hotdogs well...if you are interested in more information.

Nitrates and Nitrites in and of themselves are not dangerous.  In fact, they are found in vegetables and some drinking water.  The problem is when they are used in processed meats as a preservative.  When protein is present, they form compounds that are carcinogens.

Be aware of this hazard and cut back on processed meat.  These preservatives are dangerous for everyone especially children and pregnant women. eat the most hotdogs....

"...just this year, there was a study finding that kids who eat three or more hot dogs a week have a higher than normal rate of leukemia. Other studies found that eating hot dogs during pregnancy can increase the risk of brain tumors in the babies."  resource

Be informed.

Monday, November 7, 2011

High Fructose Corn Syrup

"High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) comprises any of a group of corn syrups that has undergone enzymatic processing to convert some of its glucose into fructose to produce a desired sweetness.  Critics of the extensive use of HFCS in food sweetening argue that the highly processed substance is more harmful to humans than regular sugar, contributing to weight gain by affecting normal appetite functions, and that in some foods HFCS may be a source of mercury, a known neurotoxin."  Wikipedia
Photo from Princeton University

In case you haven't noticed, HFCS is in LOTS of things you buy in the store.  Check the ingredients on your cereal, salad dressing, tomato products, soda, yogurt, soup, cookies, etc.  It is important to limit your intake of any kind of sugar but HFCS is something that really raises some eyebrows.  Anything that is created in a lab and approved by the FDA as "safe to consume" raises my eyebrows.

Why was High Fructose Corn Syrup created?  Well, it was created in the 1960s.  Then, in the 1970s, sugar prices rose so the food industry started replacing table sugar with HFCS in processed food.  Humans have been consuming regular table sugar for many, many years and have only been consuming HFCS for about 40 years so the effects of it aren't clear.  Are we the test pilots for this sweetener?  I think so.

One website noted, "In 1983, a beverage analyst estimated that by switching to high-fructose corn syrup, Coca-Cola gained a cost advantage of USD 70 million a year over Pepsi and its bottlers. A year later, Pepsi followed in Coke’s footsteps and also began using the artificial sweetener. "  So, we see that just like the arsenic chicken, it was created for profit....and it doesn't profit your health.  That same website also stated, "Because there are no enzymes to digest high fructose corn syrup, it is metabolized by the liver. ... An overworked liver produces significantly more uric acid, multiplying the risk for heart disease."

High Fructose Corn Syrup was once marketed as "natural."  According to MSNBC, "Natural is relative, so think of it this way: HFCS would not exist without the aid of humans. (Of course, neither would table sugar.) "You don't just squeeze it out of a kernel of corn," explains Jacobson. The sweetener is made from cornstarch via a process that alters corn's naturally occurring starch molecules. For that reason, Jacobson and CSPI protested an early version of the Corn Refiners Association ads that used the term natural in reference to HFCS. Eventually, he says, they took out the word "because it's not natural — it's highly processed."

Aside from the chemical concerns I have with HFCS, I found an interesting article from Princeton University.  According to them, HFCS leds to obesity faster than regular table sugar.  The scientists conducted several studies giving rats sugar water or HFCS mixed with water along with their regular rat chow.  The rats given High Fructose Corn Syrup in their water gained a considerable amount of weight. 
""These rats aren't just getting fat; they're demonstrating characteristics of obesity, including substantial increases in abdominal fat and circulating triglycerides," said Princeton graduate student Miriam Bocarsly. "In humans, these same characteristics are known risk factors for high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, cancer and diabetes." ...The Princeton researchers note that they do not know yet why high-fructose corn syrup fed to rats in their study generated more triglycerides, and more body fat that resulted in obesity."  Princeton
Keep in mind...
"It's prudent to consume any added sugar only in moderation. Consider these tips to cut back:
  • Avoid sugary ... sodas. Drink water or other unsweetened beverages instead.
  • Choose breakfast cereals carefully. Although healthy breakfast cereals can contain added sugar to make them more appealing to children, skip the non-nutritious, sugary and frosted cereals.
  • Eat fewer processed and packaged foods, such as sweetened grains like cookies and cakes and ... microwaveable meals.
  • Snack on vegetables, fruit, low-fat cheese, whole-grain crackers, and [plain] yogurt instead of candy, pastries and cookies." edited by me   Mayo Clinic
 There is sooo much information to read about High Fructose Corn Syrup that it can be overwhelming.  The one thing I learned from all my research is cut it out.   Your body does not need to try to digest HFCS.  Don't be a test pilot.  Be informed.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Yummy Soup!

Sometimes I make complex meals but I reallly like making easy things.  One of my favorite soups I made up is vegetable.  Here's how it goes:
boil your favorite frozen vegetables in filtered water until tender
add some whole wheat noodles and a can of diced tomatoes
cook until noodles are tender

Sometimes, I'll add a handful or two of lentils also.  Season as desired.  (I just use salt and pepper.)
You end up with this about 30 mins later...

The last time I made this, I ate it for three days.  I just like it that much.  The Hubs, however, had to have a change after day two.  :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sweet Potatoes in the Front Yard

A perk to "farming" a suburban lot is you get to be really creative!  As we were planning our garden several months back we decided to use the flower bed in the front yard wisely.  Tomatoes would look silly growing there but sweet potatoes would look almost ornamental!  So, that's what we did.  We planted sweet potatoes in the front yard.

Yesterday was harvest day so Mr. Right started digging.

A big one!

Lots of sweet potatoes!

Hubs found this snake in the flower bed too! 

After a bunch of scrubbing, I finally ended up with these pretty things.

All the sweet potatoes together weighed in at 4 1/2 pounds.  (The pan weighed half a pound so it reads 5 lbs on the scale.)

We didn't fertilize or water much, there were two other bushes growing in the flower bed too and it still had some lava rocks from sometime before.  So don't think you can't do it!  Plant a few sweet potato vines next year and enjoy the fall harvest!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Truth about Chicken

Did you know that until recently, the chicken we were eating from the supermarket contained traces of arsenic?  The FDA admitted here that small traces of the poison may have made it's way to the chicken we eat.
photo borrowed from

 Here is my favorite quote from the article:
"Pfizer Inc., which makes the feed ingredient, said Wednesday that it will pull it off the market in the United States. Had the company not stopped sales, the FDA could have eventually banned the product since it contains a known carcinogen."
"could have eventually banned"  Sounds like the FDA was reeaallly concerned.  The question is would they have eventually banned it?  If it's a "known carcinogen" then why was it ever given to chickens the public consumes?  I'll tell you why.  Arsenic is given to poultry to "kill parasites and promote growth" (according to the article).  So, at the risk of your health, they will give these birds a known carcinogen as to not risk their pocketbooks.  

Does is make you wonder what else the FDA overlooks?  It does me.

Mass-produced chickens are typically raised under terrible conditions.  Most of them get no sunlight or room to roam.  I have read that they actually only have about 1/2 a square foot of floor space per bird.  These cramped conditions can cause illness in the birds.  It would make sense to me to change their living conditions.  However, it makes more sense to Big Ag farmers to just make the birds survive in those conditions by giving them antibiotics. 
"The stress that poultry endure in crowded hen farms can cause disease, which is why they are given antibiotics. Scientists warn that the routine use of antibiotics in animal agriculture promotes the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can lead to serious consequences to human health."
 If we don't take action and use our purchases as votes, the FDA will continue to allow chemicals, poisons, practices, etc to advance Big Agriculture.

Ok, some people don't care about the living conditions of their food before it reaches their table but do you think it's quality meat?  Do you want to feed meat to yourself and your family that contains traces of antibiotics, arsenic and who knows what else?  Choose good food.

Check out this brand: Harvest Land

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Beef is Coming! The Beef is Coming!

My sister-in-law and her husband have been raising serveral cows to split with family and friends so we can have some natural beef.  Well, I got an email from her that said the beef would be ready November 13th.  Whoo!  In about two weeks, I'll have half a cow in my deep freeze.  I need to get busy and make sure there is room!  I'm not sure how much our cow weighs so I don't know how much meat to expect but I'll take anything.  It's been too long since we've had beef!

Steak, brisket, ground beef.....makes my mouth water.  I think we'll have meat every night for a week!

photo from here

There is so much to learn about the beef you buy in supermarkets.  If you get started researching, you might not eat your supper tonight....but that's ok.

According to Food Inc., "Approximately 10 billion animals (chickens, cattle, hogs, ducks, turkeys, lambs and sheep) are raised and killed in the US annually. Nearly all of them are raised on factory farms under inhumane conditions. These industrial farms are also dangerous for their workers, pollute surrounding communities, are unsafe to our food system and contribute significantly to global warming."

Here is some information I found on MotherEarthNews:
"The [supermarket] beef contains traces of hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals that were never produced by any cow. That hamburger looks fresh, but it may be two weeks old and injected with gases to keep it cherry red. Take a closer look at that “guaranteed tender and juicy” filet of beef. The juiciness may have been “enhanced” with a concoction of water, salt, preservatives and other additives.
More ominous, the beef also may be infected with food-borne bacteria, including E. coli 0157:H7. Some experts believe this toxic E. coli evolved in cattle that were fed high-grain diets. Every year, hundreds of thousands of pounds of beef products are recalled. One of the largest recalls to date took place in October 2007 when Topps Meat company recalled 21.7 million pounds of hamburger because of potential E. coli contamination. The massive recall actually put the company out of business."

Just remember, that's not beef you're eating if you bought it at the supermarket.  It's manufactured meat and the process it took to get it to you is astounding.
Do yourself a favor and watch Food, Inc.  Here's the link:  It's a very researched and thoughtfully put together film.  This is the push that really got us going on our real meat journey.

Keep in mind that you don't have to know someone who owns a farm to have good beef.  There are local markets that offer grass-fed beef.  Look beyond the supermarket.  Here is one in the Little Rock area  It may cost a little more but it's worth it for your health.  It may just mean that you don't eat beef as many times a week as you'd like.  There is more to life than beef for dinner!  

If you don't have a family member who will raise a cow for you (and most people don't), shop wisely.  Here is a short "decoder" to better help you understand what is on your beef's food label:
  • USDA Certified Organic — 100% organic grass, corn, grain; “access” to pasture required, but not defined; antibiotics only given to sick animals, which are then removed from the program; growth-hormones prohibited; animal welfare criteria vague.
  • American Grassfed Association – Grass only; access to pasture required, animals spend the majority of their lives on pasture; antibiotics only given to sick animals, which are then removed from the program; growth-hormones prohibited; animal welfare criteria vague.
  • USDA Certified Grassfed – Grass, if an animal consumes something other than grass it must be documented, but it can still bear the label; “access” to pasture required, but not defined; antibiotics allowed; growth hormones allowed; animal welfare not addressed.
  • Certified Humane Raised & Handled – Grass, corn, grain allowed; access to pasture not required; antibiotics only given to sick animals; growth hormones prohibited; animal welfare requirements quite specific addressing health, shelter, and handling.
  • Food Alliance Certified – Grass, corn, grain allowed; access to pasture required, animals spend the majority of their lives on pasture; antibiotics only given to sick animals; growth hormones prohibited; animal welfare requirements quite specific addressing health, shelter, and handling.
  • Animal Welfare Approved — Grass, corn, grain allowed; access to pasture required, animals spend the majority of their lives on pasture; antibiotics only given to sick animals; growth hormones prohibited; animal welfare requirements quite specific addressing health, shelter, and handling.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Can Goats Travel?

This is just a rant...
It would be really nice to have fresh milk.  However, our backyard is too small for a cow (I'm not sure the city would allow that anyway!) and that's A LOT of milk.  But a goat....a goat would be perfect.  We could get a little goat.  There's a problem though.  We like to travel.  When we go see Hubby's family we load the dog up in his crate and he rides in the back of the SUV.  Guess we could get a goat crate?  If we went camping, we could take the goat.  It could go for walks with us like Ranger does.
But...what about when we go places where pets aren't allowed?  Ranger has an automatic feeder so he's good for a weekend or so but someone would have to milk the goat.  Maybe we could train the goat to operate an automatic milker.  I'm sure with Ranger's help, they could figure it out.  OK...not really.
I guess I've found my answer.  Goats can't travel or stay alone and we would need a REALLY good friend to milk twice a day.  That's too much of a burden.
Eh... no goat for me.

Do any of you have goats?  What do you do if you want to leave town for a few days?
Looks yummy!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Whole Wheat Bread

Diving into the world of natural food can sometimes be overwhelming because there is so much to learn.  So, I have designed a section titled "Baby Steps" where you can learn and apply one element at a time.  I'll list a new one each week.  If you already practice something listed then you're just ahead of the game!  If you skip a week then just pick up whenever you can. 

The first baby step is to buy whole wheat bread.  Whether you're buying sandwich bread or hamburger buns, choose the whole wheat option.  Also, choose a brand with as little ingredients as possible.  Just because the bread is brown in color doesn't mean it's the best.  Read labels!  If the ingredients have a lot of words you don't know and the list is loooong then look for another brand.  Keep in mind that it really only takes a few ingredients to make bread so you shouldn't buy a brand with twenty ingredients if you can help it.

Gone are the days of buying white bread.  I remember all the commercials when I was growing up about "good moms buying white bread."  White bread seems good because a lot of the time it's fortified with nutrients.   Well, it's fortified because they bleach the wheat with chemicals which kill the nutrients so it will be white and fluffy.  Bleached bread then has to be fortified.  Most of the time, whole wheat bread will not read "fortified" across the package because the nutrients were never killed in the first place. 

This is a small step that can make a huge difference in your health.  After you have found a good brand, write it down (if your memory is as short as mine) so you'll remember the next time you go to the grocery store.  However, make an effort to recheck every few months to make sure the brand you're buying is still the best option.

I'm proud of you for choosing to make one small step!

Natural Cleaners

One thing I can't stand as a minimalist and a "naturalist" is a cabinet full of various cleaners. I spent a while getting rid of cleaners and experimenting with natural alternatives.  Here are some recipes I found helpful:
Furniture Polish:
¼ cup vinegar
Few drops of olive oil
Place in a spray bottle, shake.
(If it's not real wood, I just use a damp cloth.)

Window Cleaner:
¼ cup vinegar
2 c. water

Automatic Dishwasher Detergent:
1 cup Borax
1 cup WASHING soda (not baking soda)
½ cup kosher salt
½ cup citric acid (for hard water)
Mix together in a jar.  Use a tablespoon or two for each load.  Fill your rinse compartment with vinegar.

Soft scrub/toilet cleaner:
1/2 cup BAKING soda
Enough liquid castille soap to make it thick
Mix this all together to form a paste and it works well to scrub your toilets or tubs.

All Purpose Cleaner:
½ tsp.  WASHING soda
2 tsp. Borax
½ tsp. liquid castille soap
2 cups HOT (distilled or filtered) water
Combine minerals and soap.  Add water.  Shake well each time you use it.

So, get rid of all those nasty chemicals!  You don't need to smell them and your kids don't need to be around them.

Don't get these two confused!