Archive for the ‘Eco-Living’ Category

Is Buying Organic Worth The Cost?

My position on organic foods is quite simple: If I had a Dr. Oz or Oprah food budget, I’d buy everything organic. It’s true that organic foods are not purchased exclusively by the very rich or else it wouldn’t be a billion dollar industry. There are lots of regular people with regular incomes who have made the lifestyle choice of buying organic foods. I have made that choice, whenever possible and affordable, and some items that I’ve been buying organic for a decade now like milk, yogurt, eggs and butter are not cheap by any standard but I feel are worth it for my health. When it comes to produce, if there is a sale on organic products, I’ll jump at the occasion and there are certain conventional products, like berries, I will no longer eat if I cannot buy them organic. If I could only buy organic meats I would, but most are too expensive and hard to find so I do buy grain feed meats because they are affordable and they can easily be purchased at most grocery stores. No matter your goal when buying organic, there are ways to save money.

Libba Letton, spokesperson for Whole Foods Market, suggests the following:

• Buy your items in season. Even organic food is going to be priced cheaper when it’s in season, and this advice applies whether you’re buying conventionally or organically grown produce.
• Talk to the staff in the produce department of your local grocery store. Ask where the produce comes from, if it’s in season and if you can sample it. Make sure you’re spending on something worth it.
• Buy things in bulk. At Whole Foods, customers who buy in volume are offered up to a 10 percent discount.
• Buy only as much as you need. Food bought in large portions often goes to waste. If your store offers a bulk bin option, you can take as much or as little as you need which also means less packaging.
• Make your grocery list and stick to it.
• Compare organic-to-organic prices. In stores where there are less organic items, those items tend to be much more expensive.

Here are Dr. Oz’s 3 simple rules for when you should spend your green to go green and when to save your cash with conventional foods.
1. Thin Skins
Go organic: apples, peaches, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, grapes, pears, nectarines, peppers, celery, potatoes, and carrots
Save your cash: avocados, eggplants, pineapples, bananas, corn, kiwi, mangoes, papaya, sweet peas, oranges, grapefruit, and squash

2. Leafy Greens
Go organic: all lettuces and greens such as kale, collards, mustard, swiss chard, and spinach
Save your cash: broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, cauliflower, eggplant, melons, and sweet potatoes

3. Milk Products
Go organic: milk, yogurt, and cheese

Save your cash: fish and other seafood (USDA has no guidelines for certifying organic seafood)


Are household spices great natural healers?

 Organic spices can be used as a safe and natural alternative to the synthetic drugs found in your medicine cabinet.  Spices can be used to treat problems ranging from headaches, diarrhea, and gas to high blood pressure and acute infections.

Below are 25 common household spices that are great natural healers!

Great at relieving flatulence and dyspeptic pain, helps with nervous exhaustion, gas, and diarrhea.  It may be applied as a compress in cases of rheumatism and neuralgia

Excellent for improving memory, colds, flu, cough, bronchitis, sinusitis, gas, colic, tension, lactation (not pregnancy!), eye brightener, fresh breath.  Anise is very useful for breaking up mucus and is used for hard, dry coughs where expectoration is difficult.  A tea is made by adding a cup of boiled water to three teaspoons of crushed seeds, steeping for 20-minutes.  This may be used to stimulate the productions of mother’s milk.  The seeds may be smoked or added to a cough syrup formula.  It is also used as a stimulant and carminative to treat flatulence and colic, taken as a tea.  Added to laxative formulas, it will reduce cramping of the bowels.  For hacking coughs add 7 teaspoons of Anise Seeds to 1 quart of boiling water and then simmer down to 1 1/2 pints.  Strain and add 4 teaspoons each of honey and glycerin.  Take 2 tsp. of this syrup every few hours to relieve the cough.  To improve memory, take 2 tablespoons, 3 times a day.

A basil tea is good for lowering blood sugar levels and blood pressure, relieves colds, fever, congestion, joint pain, analgesic, anti-inflammatory. Externally applied to insect bites, skin infections.  A Basil tea is good to use for indigestion, fevers, colds, flu, kidney and bladder troubles, headaches, cramps, nausea, vomiting, constipation and nervous conditions.  A tea made of one heaping tablespoon to one pint of water simmered for 20-minutes with 3 crushed black peppercorns per cup will be effective for most fevers.  Traditional uses: coughs, colds, fevers, headaches, lung problems, abdominal distention, absorption, arthritis, memory, nasal congestion, nerve tissue strengthening,  clears the lungs, heart tonic, oxygenates the body, cleanses and clears the brain and nerves, relieves depression and the effects of poisons, difficult urination, prevents the accumulation of fat in the body (especialy for women after menopause), obstinate skin diseases, arthritis, rheumatism, first stages of many cancers, builds the immune system.   Basil contains the trace mineral copper (organic form), needed to absorb iron.

Bay Leaf
Internally good to stimulate appetite, promote digestion, relieve colic and flatulence.  Externally good for dandruff, boosting hair growth, rheumatism, sprains, scabies, and bruises. Also externally, can be applied as a poultice on the chest with a cloth covering to relieve bronchitis and coughs. An oil infused with Bay Leaves can be applied with great benefit to rheumatic and arthritic aches and pains as well as to swellings and sprains.

Pepper (black)
Pepper is an excellent remedy one can take at the first sign of most diseases.  Yogis consider Pepper to be one of nature’s most perfect foods and useful not only to cure disease but also as a preventive, taking a dose of seven peppercorns, ground, and mixed with honey each morning.  The mixture of pepper and honey is useful to overcome cold mucous diseases and sore throats.  When treating acute diseases, it may be used three to four times a day.  Useful for asthma, boils, colic, cough, diarrhea, fever, gas, hemorrhoids, indigestion, chronic rheumatism, obesity, phlegm, sinus congestion, skin diseases, sore throat, and worms.

Cardamom is often used to treat indigestion and gas.  It warms the body and is good for darrhea, colic and headaches.  It is an important ingredient in Chai tea, an Indian spice valued for its warm, stimulating effects.  To make this tea, mix one teaspoon of ginger, add seven peppercorns, a cinnamon stick, five cloves, and 15 cardamom seeds and heat in one pint of water, simmering for 10-minutes.  Then add one-half cup of milk and simmer for another 10-minutes.  Add a sprinkle of nutmeg and a few drops of vanilla extract.  Drink one cup of the tea, sweetened with honey, twice per day or as needed for warmth.

Cayenne (red) Pepper
Considered a superior crisis herb, useful as a first aid remedy for most conditions.  Taken as a daily tonic, one-quarter teaspoon three times daily, it is beneficial for the heart and circulation, preventing heart attack, strokes, colds, flu, dimished vitality, headaches, indidgestion, depression, and arthritis.  Cayenne is hot, but it not harmful. It may be difficult to swallow for a beginning user.  Cayenne powder can be rubbed on toothaches, swellings, and inflammations.  A remedy for arthritis is to rub a little Cayenne over the inflamed joint and wrap a red flannel around it to remain throughout the night.  The pain is usually relieved by morning.  A little Cayenne on a banana skin placed on the skin with a bandage will remarkably draw out any foreign object (splinters, etc) embedded in the flesh.

Used traditionally for digestive and gastric complaints as well as for coughs, chest pains, bladder complaints, leprosy rash, fever, dysentery, externally for headaches, oral and pharyngeal disorders, halitosis, and post-partal complications.  Can be applied externally for rheumatism and painful joints.  It improves the flavor of other medicinal preparations.  Once thought to be an aphrodisiac.  Chinese herbalists use Cilantro to remove unpleasant odors occurring in the genital areas of men and women, as well as bad breath.

Very helpful for digestive problems especially when accompanied by gas and cramping, diarrhea, vomiting.  Also used to treat colds, flu, arthritis and rheumatism. Medicinally it is used to warm the organs to treat chronic diarrhea, cramps, heart and abdominal pain.  It is effectively used as a tincture given every fifteen minutes or so to stop bleeding from the uterus.  Simmered in milk and taken with a little honey, Cinnamon is very effective for indigestion and gas, diarrhea, and dysentery.  Not for the pregnant.   Traditional uses: backaches, bronchitis, colds, congestion, diarrhea, dysentery, edema, flu, gas, headaches, hiccup, indigestion, liver problems, menorrhagia, menstrual pain, melancholy, muscle tension, nausea, pain of the waist and knees, palpitations, toothache, vomiting.

Internally good for pain relief, nausea, vomiting, digestive problems, antifungal, antibacterial, hiccups.  Cloves will kill intestinal parasites and act as an antimicrobial agent against fungi and bacteria.  Externally good for insect bites, myalgia, and rheumatism. May be chewed for toothaches.  Eating cloves is said to be an aphrodisiac.  To make an infusion, use 1 teaspoon of powdered herb per cup of boiling water, steep 10-20 minutes and drink up to 3 cups a day.

Coriander Seed
Coriander Seeds are added to hot stimulating foods to impart a balanced coolness.  Steeped in tea, it is useful to relieve fevers (a small amount of black pepper may be added to stimulate its action).  Use 2 teaspoons of crushed seeds in a cup of boiled water and steep for 20-minutes.  Before the invention of toothpaste, coriander seeds were chewed as a breath sweetener.  Coriander is added to laxative formulas to help prevent cramping. 

A blend of ginger, turmeric, cardamom and other spices that have been shown to increase metabolism, help breathing, and reduce cholesterol.

Useful for asthma, bronchitis, circulation, colitis, coughs, gas, high blood pressure, intestinal infections, lungs, parasitic diarrhea, warts, worms, anti-fungal, arthritis, blood purifier, cancer, cold, fever, flu, infections, detox liver, mucus, prostate, toothache, tumors, whooping cough, and yeast infections.

Good for bronchitis, colds, muscle and menstrual cramps, energy, sore throat, circulation, cough, digestion, flu.  Externally, Ginger is applied as a fomentation for the treatment of pain, inflammation, and stiff joints. Simmer one ounce of dried Ginger Root in two quarts of water for ten minutes. Strain and soak a cloth in the water and apply to the affected area.  Keep changing the cloth to keep a constant warm temperature on the skin.  The skin should become red as the circulation increased.   For children and adults with bronchial coughs: mix Ginger Root powder with a non-petroleum jelly and rub on their chest to help loosen coughs and expel mucous.  Works great!

Useful for menstruation disorders, congestive and neuralgic forms of dysmenorrhea, vomiting, diarrhea, colic, flatulence, muscle spasms, fever, catarrh. For fevers, combine with ginger, sugar, and cinnamon.  Good for children’s digestive system. Externally, great for lumbago, chronic rheumatism, neuralgia, ringworm, lice, athletes foot, scabies, and sprains.  Mix with pure coconut oil to apply as a liniment.

A tea made from Marjoram is used for an upset stomach, headache, colic, and a variety of nervous complaints.  It can be used for cramps and nausea associated with menstruation and for severe cases of abdominal cramps.  It is also considered helpful for seasickness.  It can be added to the bath to promote a calming effect and to relieve insomnia.  Marjoram is applied as a fomentation to painful swellings and rheumatic joints and in salves to stimulate the circulation.

Internally, a teaspoon full of crushed seeds in warm water acts as a mild laxative and blood purifier.  Externally, a Mustard infused oil is used to stimulate local circulation.  A Mustard plaster is used for aches, sprains, spasms, and cold areas needing ciruculation.  It should not be used on tender, sensitive areas and if it seems to strong, the Mustard may be diluted with a little rye flour.

A small amount of Nutmeg, about the size of a pea, can be taken once daily over a long period to relieve chronic nervous disorders and heart problems.  Internally good for diarrhea, dysentery, gastroenteritis, vomiting, bloating, indigestion, colic.  Externally good for eczema, rheumatic and abdominal pain. 

Oregano helps to settle flatulence and stimulates the flow of bile, useful promoter of menstruation. Great for headaches.  It is often used in the treatment of colds and flu also, the infusion is used in coughs and whooping cough. Use as a mouthwash for inflammations of the mouth and throat. It may also be used externally for infected cuts and wounds and may be applied as a hot fomentation to relieve painful swellings and rheumatism, as well as for colic.  A lotion may be made which will soothe stings and bites.  As with basil, it has been suggested that eating a lot of oregano can help repel mosquitoes.  Oregano has many of the medicinal attributes of the other marjorams, but it also contains further essential oils which make it much more antiseptic in action, both internally and externally.

Good source of Vitamin C. Acts as antioxidant. Mild form of cayenne pepper which serves as a carrier for other nutrients. 

Internally used as a diuretic, to relax spasms, reduce inflammation, clear toxins in the body, inhibit tumor growth, menstrual complaints, urinary tract problems, gas, dyspepsia, rheumatism, arthritis, anemia, anorexia, colic, indigestion, lactation.  Externally relieves itching.

Commonly used as an aspirin substitute for headaches. Internally good for improving digestion, gas, rheumatism, circulatory problems, headaches, nervous complaints, antifungal, antioxidant, antibacterial. Good as a mouthwash for gums and sore throat.  Externally use in baldness shampoos, increases circulation, scalp stimulation, and dandruff.

Internally good for indigestion, gas, reduce excessive lactation, night sweats-especially menopausal, excessive salivation, profuse perspiration, anxiety, depression, female sterility, and menopausal problems.  It should not be used for more than a week, but during this period, the tea may be taken up to 3 times per day.  Externally good for insect bites, throat mouth and gum infections, vaginal discharge, combats greasy and oily hair and scalp and helpful with acne.

A tea made with thyme is commonly used for bronchial problems such as acute bronchitis, whooping cough and laryngitis.  It is aso beneficail for the treatment of diarrhea, chronic gastritis, and lack of appetite.  Uses: alcoholism, headache, mucus, stomach, worms, parasites, hangover, infection, respiratory, stomach cramps.  Externally, its antiseptic properties make it a useful mouthwash and cleansing wash for the skin.  It will destroy fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and skin parasites such as scabies, crabs and lice.  For those purposes, a tincture made from 4 ounces of Thyme to a pint of alcohol is used.  It is said that Thyme is to the trachea and bronchitis what peppermint is to the intestines and stomach. It contains an aromatic oil called thymol that is responsible for many of its excellent properties.

Makes an excellent arthritis tea! Strong anti-inflammatory, blood purifier, hepatitis, inflammatory bowel diseases, bruises, colic, ulcers, hemorrhages, yeast infections, antiseptic. It can be used internally and externally to heal wounds, relieve pains in the limbs, break up congestion and as a restorative after the loss of blood from childbirth.  Turmeric Arthritis Tea Recipe: 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric, 3 cardamom pods (optional), 1/4 cup water. Simmer 5 to 7 minutes, then add 1 cup of milk, 2 tablespoons almond oil (cold pressed). Bring just to the boiling point (but do not boil). Add honey or Agave Nectar to taste. Sip slowly as a hot tea.

How Clean and Green Are Your Cleaning Products?

DfE Label“EPA allows safer products to carry the Design for the Environment (DfE) label. This mark allows consumers to quickly identify and choose products that can help protect the environment and are safer for families.

When you see the DfE logo on a product it means that the DfE scientific review team has screened each ingredient for potential human health and environmental effects and that-based on currently available information, EPA predictive models, and expert judgment-the product contains only those ingredients that pose the least concern among chemicals in their class.

Product manufacturers who become DfE partners, and earn the right to display the DfE logo on recognized products, have invested heavily in research, development and reformulation, to ensure that their ingredients and finished product line up on the green end of the health and environmental spectrum, while maintaining or improving product performance.

EPA’s Design for the Environment Program (DfE) has allowed use of their logo on hundreds of products. These products are formulated from the safest possible ingredients and, in 2007, reduced the use of “chemicals of concern” by 80 million pounds, up from 59 million pounds in 2006.”



What “1” Thing Will You Do For Earth Day?

The Earth


Let’s all do “1” thing for Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22nd.  People say that one person can’t really make a difference, that “1” thing won’t make a difference, but I don’t believe that.  If all of us just do “1” thing for Earth Day this year, we will make a difference!

What will you do?

“Organic” or Not?

New Food PyrmidThis is a great article in the New York Times, “Eating Food That’s Better for You, Organic or Not”.

This article has a lot of good points that I never thought about.  If you buy and eat “organic” fruits and vegetables but then drink 2 or 3 cans of pop (I’m from the northeast originally) or processed food, then are you really eating “better”?  I do buy some “organic” products like fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs and a few others but maybe what we all should be eating is “nutritious food”.  It takes a little longer making dinner from scratch instead of a box but in the long run, isn’t the time worth it?

Local Harvest – connect with the REAL food community in your area 
Eat Well Guide – find great food near you
Food Routes – connect with local farmers nearest you

Are you looking to green your skin care?

FC5 If so, it would be tough to do much better than the products from Arbonne International. Arbonne rolls out its newest line of eco-friendly face, hair and body products, called FC5.

“FC5? What’s that supposed to mean?”

It refers to Fresh Cells 5, the delivery of fresh cell nutrients from 5 fruits and vegetables.

Arbonne really went above and beyond when it comes to this new line of products. In addition to this line, as well as ALL of Arbonne’s products, being certified vegan, it’s also paraben free and comes in awesome eco-friendly packaging printed with no-VOC’s, and vegetable based inks! The company has been around for 29 years and has ALWAYS used plant-derived ingredients. Did you catch that? In Arbonne’s 29 years, they have NEVER used any animal products or by-products. I really love that this company isn’t hopping on the green bandwagon just because it’s the trendy thing to do. No, instead eco-friendliness has been built right into Arbonne’s corporate DNA…from the very beginning.

So What Makes FC5 So Special?

The new Fresh Cell Technology is currently exclusive to Arbonne, and they use it to deliver precious nutrients from 5 key fruits and vegetables, while remaining intact until they are applied to the skin.
Here are the 5 key fruits and vegetables (and why they work):
o Kiwi – Extraordinary source of antioxidants
o Strawberry – Known for its purifying and toning properties
o Carrot – Soothes and calms, ripe with B-carotene
o Mango – Nurturing and hydrating fruit
o Pumpkin – Moisturizing properties and bursting with B-carotene

    The 14 products in the FC5 line are also:

Formulated without:
o Parabens
o Mineral Oil
o Phthalates
o Propylene Glycol
o Paraffin
o Petrolatum
o Diethanolamine
o Animal Derived Ingredients (VEGAN)

o 100% Natural Fragrance

o Dermatologist and Ophthalmologist Tested

Arbonne’s FC5 eco-friendly packaging is:
o FSC certified
o Printed with vegetable based inks, so no VOC’s
o Recyclable