Category Archives: Political Action

Some things are worth fighting for – here’s my short list of those things!

Cut Down on Food Waste And Eat Like A Nutritarian

Food waste sounds kind of like something mom used to tell you about at home, but as it turns out, it’s a far bigger problem than just not finishing what’s on your plate. In fact, farm to table the National Resources Defense Council estimates that 30 – 40% of the total food produced in the US is wasted. This is just a little bit shocking and disheartening, given how many people are hungry in this country and beyond.  Also, if you consider the impact on overall food costs that this must have, it’s a little staggering.

Staggering Factoids About Food Waste:

  • Decreases profits to farmers and increases the overall cost of food for all of us.
  • Limits the amount of food available for our population.
  • Rotting food in landfills is one of the most significant contributors to greenhouse gas levels, specifically methane (!! I had no idea!) In fact a Canadian Public Radio Broadcast gives this shocking quote:

    “If food waste was a country it would be the third largest CO2 producer after the U.S. and China”

  • 80% of the total fresh water, 10% of the US energy budget, and 50% of our land is used to grow our crops and farm animals – if 40% of all of these is wasted we’re doing something incredibly wrong.
  • We throw out the equivalent of $165 billion (BILLION!!) each year
  • Reducing food wastes by just 15% would feed an additional 25 million people.
  • The average American consumer wastes 10 times as much food as a consumer in Southeast Asia. This is up 50% from the average American in the 1970s.
  • Using foods we would normally waste – especially if you get creative with things like beet tops and carrot greens and use celery leaves, chicken bones and onion peelings in your soup stock boosts the nutritional content of your food significantly. This is one of the best ways to become a nutritarian (and if you don’t know what that is, check it out here).

Much of this waste is a problem with the industry, including issues with packing, transport, distribution and display but there’s also the myth of the perfect apple, the flawless peach, the stick-straight carrot.  As consumers we tend to shop with our eyes and reject foods, produce especially, that show any sign of actually coming from nature, in spite of the fact that produce that looks less perfect is entirely equal in terms of nutrition, flavor, and everything else that actually matters with food.  In light of this, the French supermarket Intermarche launched what has to be my favorite marketing campaign of all time – the Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables Campaign.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a campaign like that here? To have the option in supermarkets for buying “inglorious” fruits and veggies at 30% less than regular? I’d be thrilled to have that option because frankly produce spending is a huge cost.  It wouldn’t fix the problem entirely, but would certainly be one giant step forward.

Reduce your food waste and learn to love that ridiculous failed lemon. I mean seriously.

Reduce your food waste and learn to love that ridiculous failed lemon. I mean seriously.

What You Can Do To Reduce Food Waste:

Some of this starts with you and I. If we can take steps to reduce the amount we waste then not only do we benefit (think of the money we throw away constantly!) but everyone else benefits too. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Actually plan meals and snacks so that you know what you need each time you grocery shop.
  • Stop with the impulse buying – just because there’s a 2 for 1 special doesn’t mean you will actually eat 2 sheet cakes in a week. Honestly.
  • Love your freezer – If you do buy in bulk, freeze the portion you aren’t planning to use immediately right away so that it will still be useable when you get around to it.
  • Dish out less – Put smaller portions of food on your plate – you can always dish out more if you want it, rather than scraping your plate into the garbage after the meal.
  • Be organized with leftovers – If you cook large batches of things, separate out the leftovers into serving sized portions so they’re easier to use.  If there’s a lot of leftovers, separate them and then freeze them.
  • Take produce out of plastic bags – as it turns out, fruits and veggies rot faster in plastic. I like bringing them home, taking them out of plastic and rolling them up in big tea towels to keep them fresh and crisp.
  • Wash veggies just before you use them – moisture encourages mold growth
  • Label – When you freeze food, label it accurately with both name and date so that it’s less likely to be ignored as mystery food.
  • Buy from farmers – Buy from farmers markets and directly from local farmers. Ask them if they would be willing to sell you their seconds at a reduced price.
  • Grow your own – growing some of your own veggies, fruits and food connects you to your food in a different way. Its so much harder to waste food that you grew with your own hands, and you can grow great foods in containers if you don’t have a yard.
  • Get creative with leftovers – it doesn’t have to be the same thing 4 days in a row. Salmon can become salmon salad, salmon patties, salmon meat balls or salmon dip.  Apples that are getting soft or going brown are still wonderful sliced and baked with a drizzle of honey and some crushed nuts.  Cooked veggies can often be pureed and spiced into soups.
  • Make your own soup stock – this gives you a great use for onion skins, celery ends and leaves, mushroom stalks, ugly bits of veggies, parsley stems, veggie peelings and bones left over from your meals (chicken, beef, pork or lamb). Plus it tastes better than store-bought and doesn’t cost you anything at all. I’m going to do a post on this because people look at me like I have two heads when I talk about it, but making your own stock is so incredibly satisfying! This is also a great step towards nutritarian eating because you’re extracting the nutrition out of the bones and veggie remains that you wouldn’t normally get.
  • Compost – fruit, veggie and grain waste as well as coffee grounds and a lot of kitchen paper waste can be effectively turned into nutrient-rich garden soil. If you’re a gardener this is like gold and saves you from having to buy soil additives, fertilizers and a whole host of other things.
  • Clear the fridge – there’s something psychologically pleasing about having an overly full fridge, but it also creates more waste because you can’t see what’s actually in there.  Keep the fridge a little more empty and eat what’s there before you buy more.

 Great Additional Info about Reducing Food Waste:

NPR’s great broadcast and article about  ending food waste and the pilot program Food: Too Good To Waste.

Canadian Public Radio broadcast on food waste and steps you can take at home to reduce it.

I *love* this project from chef and masters student Leanne Brown. It’s called Good and Cheap and it’s a free cookbook in .pdf format that helps people to eat on $4 per day. Because she’s budget conscious she’s also really great at using leftovers and making sure food stretches as far as it can.  I love that she’s making good food accessible on all budgets. This is exactly what we need to boost health across the nation and the world!

This is the type of change and action that helps your health, helps your budget and ultimately helps the environment and changes the way food is handled on a larger scale.  Ending food waste really does start with you and there are so many benefits to everyone involved that it makes a great project to stat incorporating into your life. Small changes over time will really add up and it can be something as simple as starting a soup stock bag (look to next weeks post for how-to information) or getting a compost heap going for your garden. It can be changing the way your fridge and freezer are organized, or even sitting down for 10 minutes and writing down a list of ways that food is wasted in your home. Start with baby steps and work towards reducing the amount of money and nutrition you lose from food waste in your home.

Switching to no shampoo, inspired by the no ‘poo method

No shampoo sounds like one of those crazy hippie things that only women who don’t shave their armpits do, but after doing some more research on the matter I’ve been inspired – especially by Crunchy Betty’s no ‘poo method. So – in entertaining this craziness – lets look at the history of shampoo.

No Shampoo Used to Be The Best Method for Healthy Hair

  • Originally shampoos originated in India from herbal recipes including such ingredients as aamla (prized today for it’s high natural vitamin C content) and soapnuts, which helped to leave hair shiny and manageable.
  • The idea of shampooing was imported to Europe by colonialists and the first commercially available shampoos were developed around the turn of the century (early 1900s – this is our VERY recent history) and weren’t commonly used until the 1930s. Liquid shampoo wasn’t invented until 1927!!
  • Initially it was the trend to shampoo once per month, more as a hair treatment than as any kind of routine maintenance.  Shampoo manufacturers urged women to increase this to once every two weeks for the health of their hair (this was still in the early 1900s)
  • Every picture of everyone I have ever seen from that turn-of-the-century era features gorgeous, full, shiny hair – on par or even better than the over-managed, glossed, fluffed, primped hair of today.
No shampoo didn't hurt this 1910 Parisian fashion model and her full lustrous locks. No 'poo at it's best!
No shampoo didn’t hurt this 1910 Parisian fashion model and her full lustrous locks. No ‘poo at it’s best!

 Why Bother with No Shampoo? It’s Not Like Shampoo is Hard to Find…

Yes – fair point. Going with no shampoo is a whole lot weirder than just enjoying the thousands of nice-smelling, foamy, creamy, straightening, curl-enhancing, glossing whatevers.  Shampoo is everywhere and easy to find and gorgeously packaged and kind of fun to buy.  You can shop by color, by smell, by function, by brand, by advertising – it seems like there is no reason to give this up! Except what happens when there is a reason to give it up? Here are some of the top reasons I’ve found:

  • Gluten. I’m pretty solidly gluten free (let’s call it GF for short) and have been for years.  Many many shampoos, lotions, hair styling products and conditioners are not gluten free and not interested in being gluten free.  They also don’t necessarily put “wheat” or “gluten” on the label. Sometimes it’s hydrolized wheat protein, and that’s easy enough to spot.  Sometimes though it’s stearyldimoniumhydroxypropyl, which sounds ominous, but not wheat-y.  There’s a great list of hidden gluten words in skincare products here.  Just to clear up a myth here – many people with severe gluten sensitivities are fine with gluten in topical products because the gluten itself doesn’t absorb through the skin.  My particular brand of sensitivity it doesn’t need to absorb – it just irritates the surface of the skin and causes inflammation. On my scalp inflammation looks like itching and sometimes redness and flaking, which just isn’t fun or attractive.
  • Sodium Laureth Sulphate. So, this is a foaming agent that comes originally from coconuts, which sounds pretty good except that to get it out of the coconut you need to use a couple of chemicals called ethylene dioxide and dioxane, more specifically 1,4-dioxane.  Ethylene dioxide is a known carcinogen and dioxane is a suspected carcinogen. They’re bad enough that because of them SLS has made David Suzuki’s Dirty Dozen list of chemicals you should never use.  If the cancer thing wasn’t enough they also cause neurological issues and developmental issues in children. These chemicals also don’t break down easily and so persist in the environment for years. Also, because the chemical contaminants aren’t the actual ingredient, companies can get away with calling sodium laureth sulphate “organic.
  • Parabens. Thankfully there’s a big push now for paraben-free products so they’re not as hard to find as they used to be, but these little nasties mimic estrogen, have been found in breast cancer tumors and if that weren’t enough, methylparaben on the skin goes through a chemical reaction when exposed to UVB radiation (from sunlight) so accelerate skin aging and DNA damage. Of course these also make the dirty dozen list, and also persist in the environment long-term changing frogs into hermaphrodites and interfering with human and animal reproduction.
  • Microplastics. These are more of an issue with skin exfoliants, but lots of personal care products now are using microplastics, which are essentially tiny particles of plastic that are added for texture.  These particles are small enough to slip through water filtration processes and so end up getting dumped in our rivers and oceans at a staggering rate.
  • Less consumerism. I like the idea of not feeding more money into the giant industries like Proctor & Gamble (which owns Pantene), Kao corporation (John Freida), Unilever (tresemme, dove), etc…
  • Better hair.  For real – my hair is a totally different ball game now, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

 The Biggest Reason To Quit Shampoo: Better Hair

Yes – I am making the wild claim that no shampoo leads to better hair. I’ll say it again: by not doing the thing we all accept as the only possible thing to do (shampoo) you actually might get a better result.  Here’s the thing: shampoo is a detergent-type product that functions entirely by stripping the natural oils from your hair and depositing other things, like smoothing agents (usually silica based), fragrances, proteins (to build body – these are often wheat based but could be soy or silk), and sometimes even tiny shimmery particles to make hair look shiny (if the shampoo has a bit of a sheen, then that stays in your hair too).  So – we take away the oils that are best designed to smooth and protect your hair and replace them with a whole lot of other stuff.

These ladies, 1917 fashion models, had questionable frocks, but some seriously shiny hair (the temptation to use the word locks was strong there...). No shampoo was the norm then!

These ladies, 1917 fashion models, had questionable frocks, but some seriously shiny hair (the temptation to use the word locks was strong there…). No shampoo was the norm then!

Have you ever noticed how shiny a horse’s coat can be when they’re groomed? Or a dogs coat? Or a squirrels?  Or how fluffy a squirrel’s tail is?  It doesn’t turn into an oily mess because the squirrel doesn’t use shampoo, but somehow we all expect that an oily mess is precisely what our hair will turn into. And, if you’ve ever gone camping for a week and not washed your hair it becomes pretty apparent that there is a *lot* of oil there.  So what’s the deal?

Because you strip your hair with shampoo regularly, your body is compensating by increasing oil production from your scalp dramatically. And I do mean dramatically. Your body is trying to protect itself by restoring the natural barrier that is there to protect your scalp and hair. Once you stop stripping the barrier off, then your body can relax about the whole thing and decrease to a normal level of oil production except that there is a fly in this soup. If you’ve spotted it it’s the fact that to get from point A (shampoo every day) to point B (no shampoo) there is a really ugly transition period involving a lot of oily hair. I mean a lot of it.

How Do I Actually Do No Shampoo ( or no ‘poo ) and What Am I In For?

Yup – there’s a process.  First off, it takes some accepting that your hair will be super weird for a few weeks – and I do mean super weird.  Also, the first natural something you try might not be the one you stick with.

Here’s what I experienced:

I made the slightly scary decision to stop shampoo (but unwisely chose to keep using something that was comfortably close to shampoo). I tried a natural recipe from Rosemary Gladstar’s book of herbal formulas, which is below (although I only made a half batch to try):

8 oz. or 1 cup distilled water, boiled
1 oz. dry herbs (choose from chamomile, calendula, and marshmallow root)
3 oz. or 6 Tb. liquid castile soap (I used Dr. Bronner’s Rose scented liquid castile soap)
¼ tsp. jojoba oil
25 drops pure essential oil (I used lemon and grapefruit for a nice zingy yummy smell).


  1. Steep the herbs in boiling water, covered, for 15-20 minutes. Strain and cool.
  2. Slowly add the castile soap to the tea.
  3. Add the oils. Store by the shower. Gently shake before using. Only a small amount is needed.

The great things about this formula were that I did notice it start to strip away some stuff that I thought was just my natural hair texture – which means I probably had a lot of random shampoo left-overs built up.  I noticed that mostly in the first few washes. My hair was bigger and fuller, but did get oily quickly – more than usual.  It was great for a few days, fair to acceptable for about a week after that, and then it felt like it just kept getting worse.  There was a texture, for lack of a better word, that started happening to my hair. Like I could comb my hair (which was abnormally large and voluminous) in one direction and it would kind of stay in that direction in a sort of weird way… I really wasn’t into it and got less and less satisfied by it by the day.  I actually managed to last almost four weeks until I broke down and had to look for another solution. I think this one probably works really well for people with thicker hair, but I have baby-fine fly away hair and lots of it so this was not the right way for me.

This second solution, was from Crunchy Betty (who I feel like I need to meet because she’s hilarious). She advocates a much simpler solution, which is below:

Crunchy Betty’s No ‘Poo No Shampoo hair cleaner:

1 TBSP baking soda in 1 cup water.

Um… And that’s it.  Really.  Like, that’s all. So – total cost is about two cents for a cup of this stuff.  I mixed it up in an old jam jar for lack of something better to do with it and tried it out… Honestly – a miracle occurred! First off, it feels weird.  Baking soda in water feels mostly like water but slipperier – which is not our usual foamy shampoo experience. And for me I couldn’t really believe it was doing anything, so I poured some on, massaged my scalp, rinsed, and did it again straight away because it felt a little bit like nothing happened.

When I got out of the shower though I noticed right away that all the residue and texture from the castile soap version was gone – like gone gone – as well as the original shampoo residue that the castile soap recipe took away.  This left my hair light in a way I have never experienced before – like light as in weightless.  It had volume from the roots because there was nothing weighing it down and I’ve never seen it shine without anything else in it the way it started shining then.

It’s been about three weeks now that I’ve been using the baking soda in water and I’ve decided I like it best in a spray bottle.  I can really generously spray my scalp with it, do a little scalp massage, and rinse.  I’ve also started experimenting with adding a couple of drops of essential oils just to add a lovely fragrance (it really only takes a couple of drops). Now my hair is:

  • Shinier
  • Bouncier
  • More volume? Maybe it’s just more bouncy because it’s as fine as ever but there is more lift at the roots – like there’s less weighing it down.
  • Far less fly-away.  I don’t feel like I’m constantly wrangling strays
  • A slightly different color – this one is super interesting, but my hair has changed color slightly. I don’t know if anyone else would notice it, but I do.  It’s a slightly lighter color and has more variability to it – like it’s not as much just brown, but now there are all different shades of brown that are more noticeable.  Weird.

I’ve also started experimenting with the vinegar rinses as advocated by Crunchy Betty, but honestly my hair with the no shampoo doesn’t even really feel like it needs any kind of conditioner.

All in all I am thrilled with the results.  The commitment in the middle – going through the horrible weird hair phase was hard and certainly made me question myself a number of times, but I am SO glad I stuck with it to get the no shampoo results! There is no going back for me!

* Quick update as of August 2015 – I’m still loving no-poo but finding that my hair has less wave to it, it’s progressively getting straighter (which I don’t like) – still full and shiny and bouncy, just straighter.  I’ve been doing some reading on it and it sounds like the baking soda is actually too harsh for wavy/curly hair so I’ll try switching to a honey shampoo…  I’ve found two recipes that look promising, one is from that is:

  • 1 tbsp raw honey
  • 3 tbsp filtered water
  • Couple of drops of essential oil if desired.

The other is from and is a honey/aloe mixture:

  • 1/4 cup aloe gel
  • 2 tbsp raw honey

I haven’t tried either of these yet but plan on experimenting over the next few weeks so I’ll keep everyone posted…  Also there’s a great facebook group all about no-poo with some people who have been off shampoo for years and years – it’s a great place to get advice and information so here’s that link!

7 Reasons You Should Be Eating Bugs. Really.

Eating bugs is one of those taboo topics in North America and Europe (although the rest of the world, which is 80% of the population, eats bugs regularly).  But here?  Here it’s kind of like eating dirt or something yucky.  It’s time to shift those perceptions though because as it turns out bugs are health food for you, and for the planet and they could be the key to solving world hunger.  Outside of those lofty goals, they’re just really freaking good for you and have a nutty, easy to eat flavor just as long as you get past the thinking about it phase.

Top 7 Reasons You Should Be Eating Bugs:

Here are some statistics according to the Institute of Food Technologists:

  1. Protein – It’s easy to think of beef as the biggest, baddest protein source in the world, but actually bugs can claim that crown.  Crickets are 65% protein, where beef is only 50%. That’s a huge leap (bad cricket humor).
  2. Nutritarian – in addition to the protein, insects are one of the most nutritarian foods I’ve ever heard of, and you know I like my nutritarian, nutrition-packed foods.  Bugs have a broad range of amino-acids, vitamins, minerals, trace-minerals and they’re high in good fats including unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fatty acids. Seriously – it’s like super food.
  3. Low Fat – Many different types of edible insects have less than 5 grams of fat per serving.
  4. Sustainable – While modern agriculture is destroying the earth with chemicals, pesticide and huge land-use, insects don’t need much space, live in every sort of condition and eat just about everything.  Bugs are the perfect crop. I stumbled across a great charity that is working to promote bug-awareness as a sustainable food source. They do bug tastings and events and that sort of thing so check them out – they’re called (hilariously) Little Herds.
  5. Easy to Cook With – It sounds counter-intuitive to our Western minds, but you can cook bugs bunches of different ways from sauteed to pan fry to baked, roasted or boiled.  The easiest way to use them is actually in an insect-based flour that is high protein, high fiber and blends easily with regular flour to add nutritional oomph to your meal without having to know you’re eating bugs.
  6. Abundant – if there’s anything we’re not running out of, it’s bugs.  Plus there are hundreds of different species so you can find your favorites with many, many, many to choose from.
  7. Taste – you many not believe me but different species of bugs are delicacies around the world, prized as choice dishes.  The flavors have been described as nutty, like shrimp or (the common phrase) it tastes like chicken. Ha!

The Worse Sales-Pitch Ever for Eating Bugs (watch until the end. It’s a killer)

Yeah – so, disregard that guy. Great info, but really???

Where Do I Even Get Bugs To Eat?

Outside of harvesting in your back yard, which seems to me like it’s probably just a little too “real” if you’re just starting out on this bug adventure, you can buy bugs on amazon (they really do have everything).  Also the occasional health food store will have insect-based products.  I haven’t tried the bugs yet, but I’m keen to get started and I’m thinking that either flour or protein bar might be the way to go… I’m used to adding alternative flours to recipes so I will for sure keep you posted on this project…

Price-wise, here’s the best price on cricket flours that I found (still pretty pricey, for bugs):

Eating bugs is great for you! Cricket flour might be an easier way to get into this than, say, the chocolate covered scorpions (eek!)

Eating bugs is great for you! Cricket flour might be an easier way to get into this than, say, the chocolate covered scorpions (eek!)

I have to say, I’m really enjoying the company’s write-up about it:

Looking for an unusual and unique way to fuel your high protein diet? Nature has the answer with this nourishing flour made entirely from ground crickets.  To most, eating crickets may appear to have a high ‘yuk’ factor but you won’t spot any of the distinctive characteristics of our chirruping chums in this flour.

Our crickets are raised commercially, fed a specifically developed, healthy diet and are raised in clean and hygienic conditions. Containing no preservatives, artificial colours or flavours, this low-fat flour has many nutritional benefits. Packed with vitamin B12 and iron, and rich in protein, it can be used to produce energy bars, snacks and much more.

The flour is produced at our FDA approved factory where the crickets are cleaned, processed and packed ready to be shipped off to you in handy foil pouches. Each 100 grams (0.22 pounds) of cricket flour contains approximately 1,112 of our premium Acheta Domestica crickets! Who knew that Pinocchio’s wise little sidekick could be so tasty and nutritious?

Ha! Pinocchio’s little sidekick indeed. I suppose you would have to have a sense of humor if you make bug flour for a living. A good point here is that bugs fit nicely into an ancestral diet or paleo diet because they are chock full of protein, fiber and nutrients and certainly don’t have to be farmed or domesticated to be eaten.  In my research I found a fascinating article in scientific american about what the “true” paleolithic diet might be, and although the bottom line included complex factors like gut evolution, this stood out to me:

They eat and ate meat, BUT most of that meat comes from insects. And so if you are serious about eating a really old school paleo diet, if you mean to eat what our bodies evolved to eat in the “old” days, you really need to be eating more insects

Essential our ancestors were eating bugs in addition to lots of plant matter including starchy roots and only small amounts of meat and extremely small amounts of grains.  That’s a big diversion from the modern-day paleo diet. Does that mean modern paleo is wrong?  No – not at all, it just means that we tend to modernize even our view of ancestral eating to take out the things that don’t fit into our cultural view, like eating bugs.

Naturopathic Medicine Reduces Healthcare Costs

I just have to post this quickie because money is always a big concern when people are considering seeing a naturopath, but according to someone other than myself (god knows I’ll say it all day long), naturopathic medicine reduces healthcare costs and saves you money.

Naturopathic Medicine Reduces Healthcare Costs

Naturopathic medicine reduces healthcare costs and helps you find optimal health

Naturopathic medicine reduces healthcare costs and helps you find optimal health

In a 2011 study tracking individual use of health care options, researchers found that:

  • 29% of those who use naturopathic medicine reduced their hospital visits!
  • 30% of those seeing a naturopathic doctor reduced their visits to specialists
  • 42% of people under naturopathic care reduced their visits to their GP
  • 48% of people seeing a naturopathic doctor reduced costly prescriptions

The bottom line? Naturopathic Medicine reduces healthcare costs and saves money in the long-term.

Another study on Canadian postal workers showed that the inclusion of naturopathic medicine to their existing care significantly decreased their cardiovascular disease risk.  A companion study showed that for those same postal workers the annual economic benefit to society was $1,138 per person treated and the cost savings to the individual or their employer were $1,187 per year.  Yup.  According to science, naturopathic medicine reduces healthcare costs.  That is awesome.

This gorgeous tree could help your heart to stay healthy.

The biggest Reason to Be A Treehugger – The Health Benefits of Trees.

Anyone who knows me can tell you I love trees. LOVE trees. So it’s no surprise that I’m advocating tree-hugging, but I’m not actually talking about it here for the reasons I usually do (sanity check, beauty, air purity, etc…). I’m actually talking about your health.  As it turns out, the health benefits of trees are not all mental and emotional. Not that those aren’t important, but there tends to be some eye-rolling when doctors talk about “connecting with nature” and “getting out into the woods to relax.” I get it.

A recent study published in the journal Environmental Pollution  showed that trees (just trees!!) prevented 850 human deaths, averted $6.8 billion dollars in health care costs, and helped prevent 670,000 cases of acute respiratory symptoms in 2010 alone. That is all because of trees and all in just one year. But again – the respiratory part, we all knew about because trees are the natural filters for our air and trees and plants generally are our major natural air filters. This great pictograph shows precisely how much air pollution is removed by trees in your area:

The number of tonnes of air pollution removed per square km by trees. From Environmental Pollution and also The Atlantic Monthly

The number of tonnes of air pollution removed per square km by trees. From Environmental Pollution and also The Atlantic Monthly

More remarkably, there is a link between trees and your heart health. A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine in 2013 took advantage of a natural crisis in the tree population to show how the number of trees affects human health. Between 1990 and 2007 the Emerald Ash Borer (a type of insect) killed hundreds of millions of Ash trees in the U.S. and this study looked at trends in heart disease and also lung disease during that time. The results showed a clear increase in heart disease and death from cardiac causes in areas that were losing trees – 15,080 heart-related deaths because of tree loss specifically.  In those areas there were also an additional 6113 deaths from lung disease.  This suggests that the link between trees and heart disease may even be stronger than the link between trees and lung disease.

Trees also help reduce stress levels, increase wound healing speed and generally make life more livable. In fact, Richard Louv proposed a series of problems, especially behavioral problems in children stemming from “Nature Deficit Disorder.” I don’t know about you, but for my heart, my stress levels and my overall happiness I’m going to do everything I can to spend more time with trees.

The Health Benefits of Trees - This gorgeous tree could help your heart to stay healthy.

This gorgeous tree could help your heart to stay healthy.

Who Owns Your Food? Food Corporations.

Did you know most of the food you eat every day is owned by 10 major food corporations, and that those food corporations are squeezing local farmers, local bakers, and small businesses out of business. These are the companies that make food so that it can sit on a shelf for months at a time and not go bad, so that it can be “merchandized correctly” but not necessarily so that it can be digested or utilized correctly

The Food Corporations that own what you eat. Infographic by Joki Gauthier for Oxfam 2012

The Food Corporations that own what you eat. Infographic by Joki Gauthier for Oxfam 2012

This is what corporate food looks like. This is who owns what you put into your body.  I dislike this on so many levels.

What’s Wrong With Food Corporations?

Any time food becomes a big business the company HAS to focus more on the retail and money side of things than the health side of things. It’s the nature of the beast. But overall, here’s why this is so very very bad.

  1. Mass-produced food has to be shelf-stable for a long time, meaning more preservatives.
  2. Mass producing food (instead of making it by hand) means you’re using machines, instead of hands so chances are you’ll use more chemicals to make the machine process work.
  3. Big food companies use a lot of fancy packaging that contributes to environmental badness.
  4. A May 2014 report by Oxfam International says that if the big 10 was a company it would be the 25th highest polluting country in the world.
  5. Food corporations make deals with mega-farms and drive out the local farmers.

Here’s more info from Oxfam:

Corporate Food Is A Problem, What Is The Solution?

This is the really simple part and also the not-so-simple part because it means changing your routine. This is a money-driven machine so the less money you put into the system, the smaller the system will get.  What does that mean? Shopping for food, food services and restaurants totally differently.

  1. Get your produce from farmers markets, CSAs (or Community Supported Agriculture), local growers and your own garden.
  2. Cook more at home.
  3. Visit local bakers, butchers and food producers
  4. Shop at a food co-op
  5. Boycot food corporations
  6. Buy bulk from the bins instead of pre-packaged
  7. Consciously avoid the big brand names and look for smaller local options
  8. Visit restaurants that source their food locally
  9. Get involved – support Oxfam International or any other local food advocate
  10. Get way healthier because this is how your nutrition gets better anyway.

Is food always going to be a big money maker? Yes – it always is. We’re always going to need to eat.  Does it need to make money at the expense of farmers, nutrition, and the environment?  Nope. That part is up to you.

Happy cows! Grass fed beef.

Raw Milk is the Real Deal

Raw milk is something I have always promoted for health, but I thought it would be a cold day in hell before there would be any kind of positive public health message about it. Thankfully, it is a little frosty today:

Raw Milk is Real Nutrition:

Infographic by the team at Online Masters In Public Health

The Controversy About Raw Milk:

Raw milk has been a hot legal issue for a long time, with politicians regulating farmers left, right and center. In Texas, the uneasy truce has come with the simple solution of saying Texans can buy raw milk, but they have to drive to the farm (often hours away) to get it.  Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance is working to fix raw milk in Texas, but there is lots of opposition. Click for a link to their raw milk page.  In general they’re an amazing organization, protecting consumers and farmers and the quality of our food supply in Texas. Safety records for raw milk are stellar and there is no legitimate reason not to be able to sell it just like any other product or to allow farmers to deliver to their customers, but this is still a fight we have to continue.

Raw Milk is Superfood

Raw Milk is Superfood – thanks to Chiot’s Run photostream on flickr – they’re fans of real milk (that means raw milk) too! How do you not love that face?

Once we solve that problem I’m off to find me some reindeer milk (reindeer raw milk, of course), because that sounds like something to add to my bucket list. Right beside having my own cow/goat/milk animal (I’m open to reindeer).

If you’re looking for source for your family, check out this link to the organization real milk, which helps connect regular folks to some astounding milk. Here’s the Texas Real Milk list.

BPA free is a load of B(p)S!


Researchers at the University of Texas have found that “BPA-free” doesn’t mean safe, in fact BPS, which is the replacement in plastics, is just as toxic. BPA, which has been taken out of most consumer goods because of it’s strong effect on estrogen has been replaced by bisphenol S (BPS). I’m guessing you noticed that “bisphenol S” sounds almost exactly like “bisphenol A” and there’s a very good reason for that: it’s because they are almost exactly alike. When we found out how dangerous and toxic BPA was and consumers demanded BPA  free producs manufacturers just replaced it with BPS which has the same effects but isn’t as talked about in the media. Great system.

BPA Looks Like This:

BPA molecule

Bisphenol A molecule




BPS Looks Like This:

BPS - too close to BPA for comfort.

BPS – too close to BPA for comfort.








The obvious similarities between BPA and BPS make them act in similar ways in your body.  BPA and BPS both bind to estrogen receptors and are linked with hormone-related cancers like breast cancer, prostate cancer and obesity.  BPA free doesn’t mean safe.

BPA free is a load of B(p)S!

BPA free is a load of B(p)S!

BPA free is a load of B(p)S!

The bottom line is that “BPA free” is a load of B(p)S!!! Share this with as many people as you can and help your friends and family buy safe products that are not plastic. Be a smart consumer. You can read more about the research below:

BPA replacement alters hormones at low doses, study finds — Environmental Health News.

How do Gender Roles Hold You Back?

Gender roles and stereotypes are all around us. The expectations that men or women must be a certain way, act a certain way, look a certain way to be men or women.  For women, the driving message is that we must be what society considers “sexy” to have worth or value as a woman. I know among my clients there are so many who suffer from eating disorders, low self-esteem, and addictions, not to mention the number of women who don’t take on big projects, or pass up opportunities for the simple reason that they don’t believe in themselves. The change has to come from us – from consumers.  I don’t believe any big corporation is going to voluntarily stop sexualizing women, stop using women’s own fears and insecurities to sell us face cream or plastic surgery or really take any steps to change their impact on the images that both young women and young men see on a day to day basis.

We as consumers have to actually tell companies that we aren’t interested in their blanket perpetuation of gender roles and stereotypes. That we won’t buy products that are marketed in this way, that we want to see real women. Women who actually look like women you might see at work, in the office or in the grocery store. In supporting businesses that value women as people, not as objects or pretty things. This lack of gender roles and stereotypes should extend to their business practices too, we should spend our money with companies that actually treat women and men equally.

Here are the images we see daily – this is how we think of women:

Here’s a trailer for the Film Missrepresentation, a look at how gender roles and stereotypes and media bias perpetuate gender differences and gender inequality in America:

And on a final note, the women in our culture aren’t the only ones to suffer from gender roles and stereotypes.  Here’s how we teach our boys to “be a man:”

I can’t claim innocence – of course I have held men that I’ve dated to the “man” standard. In my weakest moments I am completely capable of judging myself by the “woman” standard. I don’t always shop consciously or act as an informed consumer.  I don’t always boycott the magazines that are exploitative to women, but I’m getting better. It’s a process. Maybe you can join me and we can help each other?

FDA Proposes Trans Fat Ban? FINALLY!

Actually the trans fat ban is in a 60 day public comment period, but the good news is that as the public, we all have the opportunity to comment and to have a say in what goes into our food supply. My feeling is that there should be a trans fat ban, but lets talk about it and you can tell me (or tell the FDA) what you think.  Here’s a little background:

Trans fats can occur naturally in small amounts in nature, but in processed foods they’re actually manufactured.  Liquid unsaturated fats are “catalytically hydrogenated” which means that they are forcibly bombarded by hydrogen, which turns them into a more saturated fat.  This makes the fats shelf stable and far easier to use in the food industry. These modified fats form in a different way than they typically would in nature (that’s the trans part) meaning that the hydrogens attach to opposite sides of the carbon chain in the fatty acid, which gives the trans fat a rigid, linear structure.  Fats in nature are usually in the cis configuration which is nice and loose and floppy and forms healthy, mobile cell membranes. Trans-fats not so much.

Research has shown that dietary intake of trans fats is strongly implicated in increasing coronary heart disease risk, and trans fats in your diet raise your LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol.  But don’t worry – there are plenty of other bad things trans fats do in your diet as well – just think of these as:

Great reasons for the trans fat ban:

  • Raise LDL cholesterol, contributing to heart disease
  • Lower HDL cholesterol, also contributing to heart disease
  • Increase obesity even while taking in the same number of calories
  • High dietary intake contributes to the development of Alzheimer’s disease
  • May contribute to liver dysfunction
  • Increases infertility rates in women
  • Contributes strongly to depression and may be implicated in irritability and aggression.
  • The jury is still out and studies are mixed on the effect of trans fats on both diabetes and cancer, but many studies have shown links.

Are you with me yet on the trans fat ban? Even if you’re not, there are several countries in the world that have already banned trans fats or limited it to less than 1 g total per day even if citizens eat mostly processed foods.  This includes countries like Denmark, Sweden, Canada, Iceland, Switzerland and the UK. Other countries, like Australia, have not yet banned it completely but it has been all but eliminated from the food source anyway.  The US took steps in 2006 to add trans fats to nutrition labels, which did cause trans fat use to drop (good thing), but it’s still prevalent in the American food supply and people who are eating fast foods and processed foods are most at risk for negative effects from trans fats. Some places in the US have either banned trans fats or limited their use including New York City, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Boston.

Crisco cookbook: trans fat ban

This is the original cover from the Crisco cookbook, published in 1912. Just FYI crisco is trans fats so they’re probably not in support of a trans fat ban, although they may have modified their product since then.

Currently the FDA is in a 60 day public comment period to see how consumers and the industry would feel if they revoked the GRAS certification in a trans fat ban. GRAS stands for “Generally Regarded as Safe” and quite obviously if trans fats are causing heart disease, obesity and Alzheimer’s they aren’t  safe at all. Here’s the FDA statement about it, and here’s the link where you can submit your own comments (docket number FDA 2013 -N 1317)  PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO COMMENT AND ASK THE FDA TO APPROVE THE TRANS FAT BAN. Just follow the submit your own comments link and click the Comment Now button in the upper right hand corner.

After submitting my own comment calling for a trans fat ban I was a little dismayed by this message:

Your Comment Tracking Number: 1jx-891g-7hs7  Your comment will be viewable on after the agency has reviewed it, which may be an indefinite amount of time. Use your tracking number to find out the status of your comment.

I added the bold in just for emphasis.  Really Really it may be an indefinite amount of time? The paranoid part of me wonders if the comments that take take an “indefinite” amount of time are the ones that they would rather the public not see, but I truly hope that the government is better than it often seems to be. So I will track the comment and keep you posted.  Please take the 30 seconds out of your day to add your comment to the proposed trans fat ban – after all, if you tell the government what you want and they don’t do it then you have every right to complain about the consequences, but if you never speak up then it’s all just a little bit on your shoulders too. Make sure the government knows what you actually want and what’s actually important to you. It matters.