Growing My Own Food – Not Such a Bad Idea So Far!

The more I learn about issues surrounding the food at a grocery store, the more I am glad that I am growing my own food and buying from my local co-op and farmers market.

The gardening idea was a bit intimidating since my last attempt at creating food wasn’t necessarily a good one – growing 20+ tomato plants from seed can be a lot of work – especially in the arid and crappy soil conditions of Colorado!

But this time, things have been much easier from the get-go.

The first batch of plants was bought from a couple of large stores that have gardening sections in the summer (their guarantee that you can return them if they die was the driving factor – very low confidence level at that point!). The second batch was from FreeCycle – a woman was generous enough to offer plants that she had grown from seed but didn’t need.

I am happy to report that are all thriving and enjoying the beautiful summer weather so far. Here are some pictures to prove it (mostly to myself)!

If you haven’t grown your own food, I highly recommend it. It is really a treat to wake up every morning, look out at the plants and see that they are expanding, growing and becoming even more gorgeous than before. The fact that they are going to produce amazing veggies is almost a side point now.

Before I go, I had to throw in a picture of my lovely cat “Baby” enjoying the morning with me. She is 15 years old and quite the crankster most of the time, but today she was posing for the camera – not something she does often! – and here’s the shot I captured:

Are you growing your own food? Share your experiences on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter.


“To accept the factory farm feels inhuman.” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer

Eating Animals has been on my list for a while and now that I’ve read it, I wish I had not taken so long. But a part of me must have known it was better that I waited – until I was truly ready.

This book has shifted my world and it has been a disturbing and revelatory journey. I can feel the seeds that were planted while reading his stories, experiences and conclusions slowly growing inside this little noggin’ of mine and I’m quite terrified of what is going to come of them!

Seriously – there is some pretty heavy stuff that has been floating around in there since I finished this book!

As upsetting as it was, I am so glad that it was Jonathan who guided me through the rationalizations, philosophies and astute observations in such a way that I could finish what he had started.

My heart and stomach cannot take much – if any – of the graphic details that are so prevalent in the conversations about factory farming but somehow he was able to present it in a way that I knew it was important that I know it, not just for shock value, but as building blocks to seeing the bigger picture.

Now that I have seen that picture, and recognize that I am not behind the camera observing but participating – by my action AND inaction – I realize I must act. Inertia, complacency and neutrality are not going to cut it when you are dealing with people who see everything as a commodity – who see animals and humans as expendable.

Everything is Illuminated Mr. Foer – and it’s all your fault!

Have you read Eating Animals? What did you think of it? I would love to hear your comments on the blog, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Do You Believe in Promises? Kathy Freston Does.

I just finished reading Kathy Freston’s book Veganist and wanted to share with you the promises she makes to those who choose to ‘lean into’ a vegan lifestyle and my thoughts about the book.

The 10 promises are discussed in each chapter and are:

  1. Your body will find and maintain its ideal weight – effortlessly.
  2. You will lowers your risks for cancer, heart disease, and diabetes – and even reverse diseases already diagnosed.
  3. You will live longer and better.
  4. You will take yourself out of harm’s way.
  5. You will save money.
  6. You will radically reduce your carbon footprint and do the single best thing you can for the environment.
  7. You will be helping provide food to the global poor.
  8. You will reduce animal suffering.
  9. You will following the wisdom of the great spiritual traditions.
  10. You will evolve and take the work with you.

Although some of the promises may seem a bit of a stretch, she does present the evidence she used to come to these conclusions quite clearly. Her talking points are simple and very easy to understand. So if you’re new to the whole vegan idea, you will find it a pleasant introduction.

What I liked the most was her nonjudgmental style. Her suggestions and personal stories ease you into understanding the issues and are especially helpful for those who may be hesitant to adopt something that seems so radical – at first.

Even though I am someone who has already adopted the lifestyle and doesn’t need convincing, I still found myself saying, “That’s a great way to explain it.” and know I will be using some of her explanations in conversations with people about being a wannabe vegan.

Have you read Veganist? What did you think of it? I would love to hear your comments here, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Can Online Directories Help You Find Fresh Local Produce?

Because the majority of a wannabe vegan diet is fruits and vegetables, I am constantly trying to find fresh, organic and non-GM foods that are local and reasonably priced. With all of those criteria, it can sometimes be difficult. The following online resources make the process a lot easier and much more efficient.

Organic Consumers Association / Green People Directory
These two organizations have come together to provide one of the world’s largest databases of green and organic businesses. What’s cool about the directory is that you can search by category or filter your results by zip code, distance, type of product and keywords. For each company there is a short description and a hyperlink to a more detailed listing. The listing includes their contact information and a comprehensive description of what they offer. People can leave comments about the company too to further help you decide if you want to buy from them.

Local Harvest
This website is a treasure trove of information if you want to find farmers’ markets, family farms, and sources of sustainably grown food in your area. You can filter results by type of company, name, description, product or location. The results are mapped and include a hyperlink to a detailed listing that includes contact information, links and reviews.

The Organic Pages by The Organic Trade Association
This directory provides a quick, easy way to find certified organic produce offered by OTA members. There are a number of ways to search, from clicking on a map to filtering by category. It doesn’t provide a full description of each company, but does provide links to the company websites so you can find out more there.

Have you visited these directories? What do you think of them? I would love to hear your comments here, Facebook or on Twitter.

Super Duper Soap Nuts!

I have been on a quest for the last few months to find a simple, natural, and effective laundry detergent that isn’t full of chemicals that either end up in my clothes or in the water supply.

To say that this journey has been an arduous one is an understatement. The sheer volume of products – even the ‘natural’ ones – is daunting.

So I opted to make my own detergent thinking a simple recipe could be found on the internet and voila! my clothes would be fresh, clean and chemical-free.

I was disappointed that after a few rounds of trials that didn’t go so well, I had to resort to using the most natural pre-made detergent at the store until my search would uncover the perfect formula.

I suppose I could have walked around in funky clothes, but that just isn’t nice to myself or others – especially in the hot weather!

I am ecstatic to report that yesterday while I was perusing Twitter a potentially amazing laundry detergent secret was revealed!

A video made by Hip Mountain Mama talked about using Soap Nuts:

Soap Nuts?! What the heck are those?

Turns out, soap nuts are a dried fruit that are organically grown in the Himalayas. The outer shell contains saponin, a natural surfactant (it forms soap-like, foam when combined with water) and has been used as a cleaner for centuries.

Even better, soaps nuts are:

  • Non-allergenic
  • Antimicrobial
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Harvested in a sustainable way

Multiple studies show they are comparable, if not better than traditional detergents, with regard to their cleaning ability.

So, as soon as I can get my hands on some, I am going to give them a try!

Have you used soap nuts before? I would love to hear your tips and comments here, Facebook or on Twitter.