Thursday, March 1, 2012

Drink Good Water

Water is the basis of live on this Earth, but boy do we take it for granted.  About 0.007% of all the water on earth is accessible for humans to drink. And how do we respect this meager gift?  We water our useless lawns (in Phoenix no less!), shower for eons mindlessly dumping it down the drain, and literally CRAP in it! But my main point of this post isn't even to focus on the waste of water. It's to make you aware of the quality of the water you drink.

Municipal water is not good.  Don't drink it. First of all, it tastes horrible. The source of many municipal water systems is a nearby river or body of water. But these sources contain sediment, microorganisms, and pollutants (usually agricultural run-off). So a tremendous amount of energy goes into filtering and treating the water with chemicals--mainly chlorine compounds. In desperate times when I force myself to drink town water, I feel I may as well be drinking pool water because the chlorine taste is so strong. And the reason it tastes bad is because it's bad for our bodies. The water we drink is supposed to be pure, not pumped full of chemicals. And don't tell me that a little won't hurt, because I don't trust the government and their allowable limits for contaminants and disinfectants--I don't want any of that crap in my water! Sure you can run it through a Brita before drinking it, but don't think you're avoiding chemicals just because your drinking water is filtered. Your skin is an organ. It absorbs anything you put on it--otherwise lotion would be useless. (Disclaimer: I do not recommend using most lotions. I'll cover that another day...). When you shower with municipal water, you are absorbing what is in that water. They do make shower filters that run the water through a carbon filter much like a the Brita, thus removing chlorine and other contaminants.

And what about your pipes!? Many very old homes still have lead pipes, and the lead will leach into the water that comes out of the tap. I mean, doesn't the government give a damn!? Why aren't they replacing pipes in every single home? Even small levels of lead are extremely detrimental to children. (Excuse me while I go beat my head against the wall.)

Here are some tips for improving your access to pure water:

  • Find clean spring or well water to drink! It's full of minerals. Fill up jugs for a week supply.
  • Get an water purifier that will remove the impurities before it comes out of any of your taps.
  • Get an Reverse Osmosis (RO) system to purify your drinking water.
  • Have your pipes checked! If they are lead, change them ASAP!
  • Review your the water treatment report in your town or city. Call them with your concerns.

One more thing. Have you ever been to a waste water treatment plant? I think everyone should be made to go because we humans would be much more mindful of what is put down the drain. I went to one last year and was appalled to see what was floating in there. If you have EVER flushed a plastic tampon applicator, you suck, and don't ever do it again. All of that stuff has to be filtered and treated with chemicals and bacteria and has the sludge removed so that it is (hopefully) fit for returning to the environment (often back to a river). Anything that uses tons of energy and inputs like wastewater treatment is not sustainable and there's something wrong with it.

Drink good water. It's good for you and the Earth.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Eat More Vegetables

I thought I'd start with a more obvious tip. It's one that we've all heard, and we all say, "I know, I know." It's hard to get out of the meat and carb (yet oh-so-tasty) rut of the standard american diet. It's hard to get out of the rut of quick convenience food. But vegetables can be both satisfying and quick if prepared correctly. And you don't have to give up meat and carbs! It's good to adopt a way of food preparation that bases meals mostly on vegetables, and uses meat, dairy, and grains as condiments and to add flavor.   Don't get me wrong, I fall back on a good ol' grilled cheese sometimes, but for the most part, I love a big heaping bowl of sauteed vegetables over rice with some cheese or soy sauce on top. Preparing veggies has become an art for me. I'm always trying new combinations using what's on hand. Here are some tips on using veggies:

  • Use what you have. If a recipe calls for some crazy vegetable ingredient (who has shallots just lying around, really!?), use a substitution or just cut it out. Along those lines...
  • Don't use recipes. I mean, they're good to start with or to refer to for new flavor combos, but preparing veggie dishes becomes much easier when you don't have to follow any rules!
  • Start with onions. Lots of onions. Almost any meal I cook starts with sauteing onions in oil or butter. It's the base flavor for most savory dishes anyway (even the uber processed stuff). Plus, there is no better smell than onions cooking. People will think you are a master chef, and you will just have onions sauteing in a pan.
  • Keep some pre-chopped frozen veggies on hand. Washing, peeling, and chopping makes cooking with fresh vegetables a time-consuming task. Fresh veggies are a near nutritional equal to using fresh but take a fraction of the time to prepare.
  • Use butter and cheese! Especially when you're acclimating yourself to the fresh, earthy taste of veggies, smother them with butter and cheese and enjoy them to the fullest! Of course veggies are boring if you're just eating them plain! Plus the fats help you absorb the vitamins. Oh, and don't forget the salt.
  • Start small. Add some sauteed onions, peppers, or shredded zucchini to your marinara sauce. Mix steamed broccoli into your macaroni and cheese. Put lettuce or spinach on your sandwich.
There are more than just health benefits to eating vegetables. Vegetables are cheaper than processed foods and meat. Even cheaper if you grow them yourself! They are easier on the Earth--not as much energy goes into producing them. Also, gardening is therapeutic and fun! Many people don't realize how many vegetables exist that aren't sold at the grocery store. If you haven't heard of or eaten hubbard winter squash, kale, swiss chard, kohlrabi, cabbage, or eggplant, you must run to your nearest farmer's market or seed store and become familiar with them!

For the sake of the Earth and yourself, EAT MORE VEGETABLES!

Monday, February 13, 2012

A piece of my mind...

Over the years, my increasing knowledge of the state of our World has made me a bit of a neurotic. I wonder, how did it get this way? Why don't more people care? How can I fix this mess? People are getting cancer. Children are developing autism and learning disorders. One in 3 Americans are obese! Air is unsafe. Water is unsafe. Soil is unsafe. Food is unsafe. The earth is littered and disrespected. People are belittled and disregarded. 

This deeply troubles me and I don't understand it. There seem to be obvious things that people can do at least slow the ruin of our precious planet and can possibly repair and improve this world. Yet all too often, I'm made to feel wacky, overly worried, neurotic for feeling this way.

These are my tips. Take them as you will, but know that the only motive behind this blog is to raise awareness and to empower. It's to open your mind to things you may not know and encourage you to be mindful of EVERYTHING you buy, EVERYTHING you eat, EVERYTHING you do. It will require SACRIFICE. Warning: You may start to distrust everything.

Forgive my melancholy outlook, but until I see that people are safe and happy and have access to healthy food, clean air, safe water, and honest information, I can't be trusting and I can't be at peace. Hopefully I'll be able to muster up some humor to lighten up this heavy material. Humor is one of the only things that keeps one sane in this insanity. Thanks for reading, and I hope you'll help in saving the world and yourself, one neurotic step at a time.