Looking to save money, eat clean, and do something good for the environment? You can do it all by just getting your hands dirty – and it all starts in your own backyard.
It’s easy to get intimidated if you’re a gardening neophyte, but there’s really nothing to fear. Scout out a sunny spot in the yard and make sure there’s a water source in the vicinity.
Visit your local garden center for pots, potting mix, seeds or starter plants, and a few pots, plus a shovel and watering can.
It’s time to plant once you know there’s no longer a risk of overnight frost. In the northeast where I live, that’s around mid-May.
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This topic just won’t seem to go away. Is it worth the extra cost to buy organic or does healthy conventionally grown food trump pesticide-free? It’s really not a black and white issue. To get to the bottom of things, you have to look closely at different types of food.
An organic food is grown without the use of any chemicals, herbicides and pesticides. Such toxins are potentially detrimental to the nervous system and may also play a role in the development of cancer, hormone dysfunction and damage to tissues like the skin, lungs and eyes. It’s well understood that one serving of conventionally produced food won’t cause harm. The big question is whether or not long-term consumption is problematic.
Way back when, foods were simply organic or they weren’t. As more organic products have become available, the issue became more complex. To keep up with the variations, the USDA has designated specific nomenclature for organic foods. For example, a food labeled “100 percent organic” contains all organic ingredients; the “organic” designation means that all agricultural ingredients must be organic. Foods with 70 percent organic ingredients can only state that they’re “made with organic ingredients.” For the complete breakdown of organic labeling definitions, visit the USDA Organic Certification web page.
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Our recent post on 5 Healthiest Kids Meals stirred up controversy over chicken. Some folks felt that it’s loaded with artery-clogging saturated fat while others voiced their concern over how chickens are raised and fed. Here’s a breakdown of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Chicken is easy to prepare in a healthy way by grilling, roasting, sauteing, poaching, stir-frying and baking. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, we should be eating lean sources of protein, including chicken. It is recommended to remove the visible fat and skin from chicken before eating to decrease unnecessary calories from fat. Here is a comparison of 3-ounces of chicken breast with and without the skin:
Without the skin:
Fat: 3 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 gram
Cholesterol: 73 milligrams
Protein: 27 grams
With the skin:
Fat: 8 grams
Saturated Fat: 8 gram
Cholesterol: 82 milligrams
Protein: 29 grams
As with most meat and poultry, it can get expensive. The problem is, most folks eat much higher portions that they really need. Purchasing 3-4 ounces cooked (about 4-5 ounces raw) per person can help keep portions at bay and control costs.
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- How clean is your diet?
Clean Eating is a term that’s been thrown around a lot lately, only it’s not necessarily understood. We’ll explain what it is and if it’s advisable to eat this way.
What Is It?
Although you’ll find Clean Eating “diets”- it’s more of a way of living than a temporary weight loss solution. The term Clean Eating is relatively new, but it dates back to the 1960s when the natural health food movement looked down on diets filled with processed foods.
Author Terry Walters helped fuel the Clean Eating movement into mainstream America. According to the author of Clean Food and Clean Start, it’s all about consuming natural, unprocessed foods. Her philosophy is:
- Eat a varied diet
- Eat a rainbow of colors
- Enjoy food and mealtime
- Eat locally grown and seasonal food
- Eat all 5 tastes (sweet, salty, bitter, sour, umami)
This means eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables and lean proteins (a.k.a. real food) instead of fast food or highly processed, packaged foods, and giving new foods a try that you may not recognize at the farmers market— a lot like Dana’s Market Watch series.
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- Make smarter, healthier, greener choices.
We’ve been keeping you updated on the Environmental Working Group’s how-to list for buying organic produce (a.k.a. – the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen). Today they’re unveiling the much anticipated 2011 Meat Eater’s Guide – a tool to help educate consumers about the environmental impact of their protein choices.
How It Works
EWG partnered with the environmental analysis firm CleanMetrics to calculate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with 20 popular proteins that Americans consume. Red meat, pork, poultry and fish were obvious points of interest, but vegans and vegetarians should also pay attention – protein sources like milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, beans, tofu, nuts and some vegetables were also evaluated.
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- Find out what fruits and veggies are most important to buy organic.
Sure, we’d probably all love to buy every fruit and veggie organic, but it’s not always affordable to purchase everything from the often higher-priced organic section. Luckily, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) keeps a running list of the fruits and veggies that are most and least contaminated — here’s how they updated the list for 2011.
Find out the most important foods to buy organic »
Last year on Earth Day, we introduced the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Shoppers Guide to Pesticides – the list of most and least contaminated produce items to help you decide where to spend your organic food budget. The EWG continues to conduct research on contamination levels in popular fruits and veggies—here’s the latest update.
Get the details »
- Grow your own veggies with your getting-started tips. Image courtesy Food Network Magazine.
Spring is officially here! Believe it or not, it’s time to start making plans for your backyard garden. In a few short months (Mother Nature-permitting) you’ll have a flourishing garden with a bounty of the most local produce you can get. Here are some simple tips to get you started.
The basics: Grow your own food »
Eating local foods is healthy for you, for the environment and for your community. By choosing locally-sourced goods, you’ll not only support farmers, bakers and artisans in your community, but you’ll also be adding the freshest-tasting foods available to your diet. Another (often unrealized) benefit to going local is the relationships you’ll form within your community — with other local shoppers at the farmer’s markets, with those who grow and produce your food and with local foods advocates like yourself.
Local food is getting a lot of buzz lately. It can be overwhelming to weed through all the press to find the good stuff you need to know, so we’ve come up with a list of tips to help you get started. And getting started might not be too difficult — you probably already know of a few of these or have adopted some into your lifestyle. Read more »
I look forward to Tuesday nights like it’s my birthday, only instead of traditional presents I get fruits and vegetables and it happens every week for 6 months and not just once a year. I’m having trouble getting anyone to sing to me each week, but honestly, I don’t really miss it.
See what was in this week’s box »