Why These Sustainable Dryer Balls Are Better

Why These Sustainable Dryer Balls Are Better

sustainable-dryer-balls

When contemplating sustainable laundry, hand washing and line drying might be ideal. But we don’t have to go that far if we’re not inclined—do we? Eco friendly laundry products and energy-efficient machines make it far easier. But what about all of those floral scented dryer sheets that supposedly make your laundry smell all “natural” and meadow-like?

Fragrances used in dryer sheets don’t have to be listed under federal law, as Dr.Josh Axe details. So does that mean chemical byproducts that we don’t know about are coming out of dryer vents into our air? We can’t be certain. But fragrances concocted in a lab might make a person wonder. There’s the sheet waste byproduct to consider, too, and the cost and carbon footprint of buying a non-sustainable product over and over again!

Lady Farmer friends, we’re here to tell you there’s a better way to soften your fabrics and incorporate sustainable laundry routines into your joyful slow-living lifestyle!

Our alpaca wool dryer balls are a stellar sustainable choice amongst eco friendly laundry products. Here’s why!

5 Reasons We Love Using Sustainable Dryer Balls

sustainable-dryer-balls

They Save Drying Time

Adding 3 of our alpaca wool dryer balls to a small load of laundry reduces drying time by 25%! (Add 4-5 balls for larger loads.) Think 15 minutes is no big deal? If you do laundry twice a week, that saves 26 hours of drying time over the course of one year.

They Make Clothes Super Soft

No, it doesn’t take chemicals in dryer sheets to soften your clothes. The gentle friction from the natural alpaca wool balls bouncing around helps gently agitate your fabric—without the noise plastic balls make. Favorites from your last sustainable clothing thrift store trip are safe and soft!

They’re Fragrance Free… If You Want

Your clothes will smell fresh and clean without the artificial wildflower or sea breeze. Those with sensitive skin can just toss the dryer balls in and call it a day. Or add your favorite essential oils directly to the balls for the real thing—customized, sustainable fragrance! We particularly love adding a few drops of lavender and chamomile for an all-day cozy calm.

They’re Handmade and Long Lasting

Part of building your sustainable laundry routine is sorting through all the eco friendly laundry products out there for the best. Handmade in Pennsylvania, these are made from natural alpaca wool—a sustainable product. They come in minimal (recyclable) paper packaging. And they last a very long time—months to years, depending on how many loads you do. That’s quite a savings over time!

They’re Beautiful, Just As They Are

We love how the natural colors and soft textures of the alpaca wool blend into our sustainable laundry routine. Fresh out of the dryer, they look so lovely mixing in with our linen, organic cotton, and hemp-tencel blend overalls, dresses, and tunics. In their simplicity, they’re a reminder of how we can incorporate our slow-living values into even our most repetitive household tasks.

We’d love to hear what you think of our Alpaca Wool Dryer Balls! Share your story with us on Instagram.

The Sustainable Holiday Easter Basket

The Sustainable Holiday Easter Basket

Many of us are seeking a more sustainable approach to our holiday celebrations. Let’s take a slow living look at one our favorite cultural symbols of spring, the Easter basket. It’s a tradition to fill baskets to the brim with neon plastic grass, small toys and individually packaged candies. And we wouldn’t want to forget the glossy chocolate bunnies, stuffed animals, and loads of rainbow-colored jelly beans. Then, wrap it all up in an enormous sheet of cellophane and your kids will have the perfect Easter morning. Right? Sure, if you look past the enormous amount of waste replicated millions of times across the country on this one single day.

Sustainable Holiday

Rethinking Sustainable Holiday Celebrations

Transitioning beloved holiday traditions towards sustainable holiday practices can be a challenge, given our consumerist society. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend $18.11 billion on Easter candy, clothing, and gift-giving this year.

So what’s a sustainably-minded Lady Farmer to do? Our slow living mindset guides us to pause, ponder our desires, and move forward with greater intention. It encourages purchasing sustainable products that last, so we can love them longer. And it reminds us that no holiday tradition is more valuable than the time we spend connecting with ourselves, our loved ones, and our community. With a little mindfulness and effort, we can create sustainable holiday celebrations that preserve the meaning and enjoyment of our traditions. Here are some suggestions for one of our favorites.

Ways to a Better Basket

  • Look for baskets made from materials such as willow, wicker and bamboo. These can be used year after year and if cared for properly, passed on from generation to generation.
  • Skip the shredded plastic filler! Opt for biodegradable shredded paper available at your local craft store or online, get the kids involved and cut strips of craft paper, or run some leftover wrapping paper through your office paper shredder, like Martha Stewart. Want something even more natural? Fresh hay or straw work perfectly and smell amazing. And as long as fresh green grass hasn’t been sprayed with herbicides, it’s a colorful and sustainable option, too.
  • Opt for organic and fair trade brands of chocolate, such as Newman’s Own, Dagoba and Theo . Keep an eye out at your market for those made locally and with low-waste packaging. For online delivery, naturalcandystore.com has an impressive selection of vegan, organic, fair trade, and low-waste packaging options — including chocolate bunnies and other Easter treats!
  • Stuffed animals are not typically made from desirable materials – many contain synthetics, plastics, and toxins like flame retardants, BPA, PVC, lead and phthalates. Swap in books, wooden blocks, and soft toys made from sustainable materials and slow living companies. (Take a look at these adorable squishy stuffed animals knit by fair trade artisans over at Fair Indigo, and this collection of sweet little stuffies and blankets at Oompa!)
  • You don’t really need those brightly colored, non-biodegradable plastic eggs. They have nowhere to end up but the landfill and filling them with candy treats is a bad idea. Plastic storage containers can leach hormone disrupting and carcinogenic substances into foods.
  • Dye your own eggs! Food-grade dye kits do the trick. Or go one step further and make rich, rustic marbled eggs with dye from common vegetables, teas, and spices-our how-to guide to sustainable Easter eggs takes you through every step.

Spring is a time of refreshment, renewal, and celebration. And, we don’t have to buy anything at all to know and enjoy that! But for the things you do decide to buy, remember that sustainable options are out there for all of your sustainable holiday traditions!

Sustainable Holiday

Sustainable Easter Gift Ideas:

This delicious soap.

Our favorite travel mug that keeps your bunny’s coffee hot for so long!

An organic, sewn-in-DC Lady Farmer designed and approved apron.

American-made socks.

Plastic free hairties. The pink ones are especially for Easter.

Sustainable Kitchen: How To Reduce Plastic Food Storage

Sustainable Kitchen: How To Reduce Plastic Food Storage

One of the biggest challenges in creating a sustainable lifestyle is reducing the amount of plastic we use daily. According to a report cited in this  Scientific American article, plastic manufacturing has increased exponentially in this century. Because food storage is a big part of this increase, a sustainable kitchen is a great place to start.

Why worry about using plastic for food storage? 

Substances from plastics can leach out and impact human health. It’s known that chemicals in plastics make their way into our food by coming into contact with it. The substances known as Xenoestrogens and Phthalates are easily transferred into our food from storage containers. Consumers might already be aware of the dangers of bisphenol A, or BPA in plastic. Manufacturers are now marketing BPA-free products, yet consumers should be aware that this does not mean these products are safe or sustainable.   BPA is only one of perhaps hundreds of chemicals in plastic that we encounter daily.

Xenoestrogens And Phthalates Can Affect Weight Control, Fertility And Hormone Balance

Research has shown xenoestrogens to affect the body in the following ways:

  • It can impair development of reproductive organs
  • Correlated with infertility and decreased semen quality
  • Promotes early puberty onset in boys and girls.
  • Promotes weight gain in women and men.
  • Accelerates hair loss in women and men.
  • Glandular (hormonal) dysfunction.

Other harmful substances hiding in plastic food storage are known as Phthalates. These are chemical compounds that are commonly added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity.  These chemicals are associated with many health problems including obesity, infertility, birth defects and even certain cancers.

Tips For Reducing Plastic To Create A More Sustainable Kitchen

  • Don’t use plastic bags to bring produce home or to store it. Take your own cloth produce bags shopping with you.
  • Use clean dish towels to wrap things like leafy greens when storing in the hydrator. They will keep the produce dry and allow it to breathe.
  • Skip the plastic wrap and use sustainable beeswax wraps instead.
  • Get rid of all plastic food storage containers and switch out for glass. There are several brands to choose from on Amazon but most have airlock lids. Simax and Anchor Hocking have small baking dishes with glass lids that we use for storage.   
  • Use Mason jars for storage of bulk items.
  • You can also use Mason jars in the freezer. Just fill it up to about ⅔ full to allow for expansion.
  • Make your own condiments! Check out this super easy Mayonnaise recipe.
  • Skip the plastic jug and buy your milk in glass! Most natural food markets sell brands in glass bottles that you can return for a deposit.
  • When you buy meat and cheese, avoid grabbing the shrink wrapped kind off the shelf  and go to the counter to have it custom cut. Ask for it to be wrapped in paper instead of plastic.
  • Gradually begin cutting back on products that only come in plastic. Begin with things that seem less essential, such as chips, cookies, and most snack items. This might seem drastic at first because it includes so many things. You’ll find, however, that it not only cuts down on plastic use, but you’ll be eating more fresh, real food! You will also be saving money, which will make more room in your budget for better nutrition.

Remember that shifting towards a more sustainable lifestyle is a gradual process. It will take time and adjustment in many areas of your life. Taking steps to create a sustainable kitchen by reducing harmful plastics is a good beginning!

Sustainable Fabric: The Quick and Dirty about Cotton

Sustainable Fabric: The Quick and Dirty about Cotton

Often when we think of sustainable fabric with natural fibers, we think of cotton. It is grown in America and marketed as one of the softest and most useful materials for our everyday needs. Many consider it a sustainable fabric choice for clothing and will choose it over synthetics and other blends. So, a label that says 100% Cotton might instill consumer confidence in the product. And it may communicate to the consumer that the product is safe and reliable. But, that’s a dangerous assumption to make.

What You Need to Know About Conventionally Grown Cotton, the World’s Dirtiest Crop

Despite it’s reputation as a natural choice for sustainable fabric and clothing, cotton is highly contaminated. Yes, you read that right! Cotton is NOT the product it is marketed to be.

A report by The Environmental Justice Foundation reveals the routine use of harmful chemicals, including nerve agents and neurotoxins, on cotton crops. And, according to the Organic Trade Association, as reported in an article by Dr. Joseph Mercola, “Cotton is considered the world’s ‘dirtiest’ crop due to its heavy use of insecticides, the most hazardous pesticide to human and animal health.”

He also reports, “Cotton covers 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world’s insecticides, more than any other single major crop. Aldicarb, parathion, and methamidopho, three of the most acutely hazardous insecticides to human health as determined by the World Health Organization, rank in the top ten most commonly used in cotton production. All but one of the remaining seven most commonly used are classified as moderately to highly hazardous. Aldicarb, cotton’s second best selling insecticide and most acutely poisonous to humans, can kill a man with just one drop absorbed through the skin, yet it is still used in 25 countries and the US, where 16 states have reported it in their groundwater.”

It’s Not Just the Crops

However, the problems with toxins in the cotton industry are not limited to just the cultivation of the crop.

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) explains, “As an aid in harvesting, herbicides are used to defoliate the plants, making picking easier. More chemicals [are used] in the process of bleaching. Stain and odor resistance, fireproofing, and static- and wrinkle-reduction. Some of the softeners and detergents leave a residue that will not totally be removed from the final product. Chemicals often used for finishing include formaldehyde, caustic soda, sulfuric acid, bromines, urea resins, sulfonamides, halogens, and bromines.”

Our skin is our largest organ and absorbs what we put on our bodies. It makes sense that we would want to avoid this kind of toxic exposure for ourselves and our children. So, what can we do?

Sustainable Fabric

Organic Cotton is a Sustainable Fabric and Safer Alternative

According to the Organic Trade Commission, “Organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. In addition, federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seed for organic farming. All cotton sold as organic in the United States must meet strict federal regulations covering how the cotton is grown.

It’s true that clothing made from organic cotton will most likely cost you more. The cultivation of sustainable crops require investments and methods outside of  conventional industry practices.  This means greater costs and lower margins for the producers. Organic cotton farmers are using sustainable practices in their efforts to protect the environment and avoid chemical use. They are also maintaining soil fertility, preserving biodiversity and conserving water.

Always Choose Organic Cotton for Babies and Children

Consumers seeking more sustainable options might take these factors into consideration when making purchasing decisions. Some think it’s worth the extra cost to avoid the health and environmental problems that come with conventionally grown cotton. But, you might be limited in your ability to afford sustainable products in all of your clothing purchases.  If this is the case, please consider organic cotton over conventional for your babies and young children. Because of their developing brains and organs, they are more susceptible than adults to the harm of these toxins.

We’re committed to guiding you in your sustainable lifestyle journey. Click HERE to get free information, resources and updates from Lady Farmer.

Sustainable Fabrics

Sustainable Shopping with Lady Farmer

Slow Living: Sowing the Seeds

Slow Living: Sowing the Seeds

What is slow living?

slow living

You might be hearing this term more and more lately, along with slow food and slow fashion.  So what’s with this slow movement? What does it mean, and do we need it? If so, why?

At Lady Farmer, our understanding of slow living comes from making conscious choices about how we live our lives. It’s about paying attention to how we spend our time, money and resources. And, in doing so we take a step back from the industrialized systems that provide our daily needs. In observing  our own consumer habits we can evaluate our own quality of life.

Slow living

Front Porch Days

It’s not difficult to recognize  how quickly our society has left slow living behind.  Some of us only have to look back a generation or two  to recall a different era. We hear about a time when people whiled away the hours sitting on the front porch. Yet it wasn’t that they had less to do. People  weren’t dependent on factory farms thousands of miles away for their food. Nor did they require chain stores for cheap clothing made overseas by impoverished workers. It has been less than a century since many Americans fed and clothed themselves for the most part.

Fast forward to now, when practically every single thing we use is bought from a store. Most of these things are used up or broken in a relatively short period of time. Then they are tossed into the land of “trash,” that place society assumes is the endpoint of our concern.

In the Name of Sustenance

Our food supply, too, has long left the realm of self-production.  It now has much more connection to a factory or a lab than the land. Food today has been sprayed, machinated, wrapped, frozen, fortified, processed, sealed, flown around the globe, clam-shelled and shelved. Then we come along and happily pull these things from the supermarket aisles in the name of sustenance.

As for clothing, almost everything available today has been produced at a terrible cost to the environment. In addition, millions of  overworked and underpaid laborers work in deplorable conditions to fuel the toxic apparel industry. This broken system perpetuates our manic, throw- away habits while barely making a dent in our pocketbooks.

The Slow Living Choice

Slow living might have a different feel or  pace, but it is not the same as leisure. The slow living  choice to feed and clothe ourselves closer to the source might not take less time, work or money. In some instances it might take more. Those that have made the conscious decision to eat more locally know this. It takes effort and organization to seek out local sources and very often requires us to pay more. Growing your own is a wonderful option but there is a great deal of effort and energy involved. Yet, this is the choice we make over driving to the megamarket and buying packaged and processed food.

slow living

Likewise, sustainably sourced and produced clothing certainly will cost more in terms of dollars and cents. Yet this is the choice for the land, our water, our fellow humans and our own health.  Many people aren’t able to buy clothes made from responsible sources and well paid workers. The prevailing fast fashion system has squeezed the life out of this model. The availability of ethically produced apparel is extremely limited, putting the many consumers in a position with little choice. We encourage slow living practices such as buying less, buying thrift and participating in clothing swaps. It’s a great way to have fun and encourage others to dress sustainably.

The Hand that Feeds Us

Our goal in exploring the idea of slow living is to identify where we have become separated from “the hand that feeds us,” so to speak. In embracing slow living,  we want to see ourselves apart from mass production and consumption.  Our desire is to hear our own voice inside the noisy torrent of information, and seek out the things we truly value. In that space is where we reclaim our allotted time on the planet and create our truly authentic lives.

slow living

To help you in your own exploration of slow living, we provide information, resources, videos, courses and products. We also have our own, in house designed, responsibly and locally manufactured apparel line. We hope you’ll use these only in ways that seem helpful to you, remembering that you alone are the one true expert on your own life. So come join us in whatever way feels right.

It’s good to be waking up.

Mary Kingsley

Sustainable Lifestyle: The Lady Farmer Way

Sustainable Lifestyle: The Lady Farmer Way

What is sustainable living?

We most often think of sustainability  in terms of protecting rather than depleting our natural resources.  Reducing  our trash and avoiding plastic are positive steps towards living a more sustainable life. Eating local foods, driving less and choosing responsibly sourced clothing and household products are key as well.

Yet sustainable living is also about reducing the stresses and demands that deplete your energy and vitality.  It requires balance in your personal resources, your personal time, energy, creativity and passion.  Having respect for your spaces, your home and work environments are all part of it as well. It’s about creating the systems that work for you in living the life you want.Sustainable

 

Sustainable Simplicity

We live in a consumer economy, so that we generally have to buy everything we use. Yet as a culture, we have taken this behavior far beyond our basic needs for food, clothing and shelter.  Much of our time and space are taken up doing and acquiring things that are beyond our needs. Consequently, we feel we never have enough time in the day and our surroundings are cluttered and chaotic.

Sustainable simplicity means having everything you need for your safety, comfort and well being without all the excess. When we’re willing  to pay attention, we can make choices that enhance rather than deplete our quality of life. Local food, responsibly sourced clothing and carefully chosen home and lifestyle products can shift our lives towards sustainable simplicity.  When we’re willing to honestly observe our own consumer decisions, we can see where change is necessary. Sustainable living has to do with making conscious choices every day.

sustainable

A Sustainable Earth Home

As for this earth we all share, sustainable living means waking up to the impact of our human behavior.  

A healthy, balanced life necessarily includes some degree of cleanliness, order and respect for where we live. Most of us don’t dump nasty things in our living room or poison our own wells. Nor do we  burn things that create bad air in the house, drop trash wherever or destroy things that happen to be in our way.

Yet that’s exactly the way humans have behaved on the planet.

A Way of Life

Sustainable living was once a way of life for our ancestors. It was the way of survival.  Yet somewhere along the line, we began to think, act and live as if we are separate from nature.  As the dominant species, we have behaved as if it all exists for our own use and benefit, that resources were there to be used up for our immediate gratification and that it doesn’t matter what mess we leave behind.

I like to take a hopeful view of this. Perhaps humanity is moving closer to a tipping point when our unconscious behavior is no longer the norm. We’ve all seen pictures of the plastic waste island the size of Texas.  Or, heard the news that Cape Town is out of water. And, we’ve all had friends or family taken way too soon from some cancer that was once rare, but has increased exponentially.

Real Food Doesn’t Come from a Box

Maybe more of us are teaching our children that real food doesn’t come from a box and that single use plastic is not a sustainable option.  Maybe we’re all learning to get our hands in the dirt more and sometimes walk barefoot, look at the sky instead of our phones, consider what we put in and on our bodies actually does make a difference.

We created Lady Farmer to demonstrate, educate and inspire you in your personal expression of sustainable simplicity. We also offer sustainable choices in clothing and lifestyle products. Please visit our website for a wealth of resources and information, and our online shop for  sustainable shopping! While you’re there, sign up for our newsletter so you can stay updated on all of our latest news and offerings, including the print edition of our soon- to -be- released book,  The Lady Farmer Guide to Slow Living; Creating Sustainable Simplicity Close to Home.

6 Reasons You Should NOT Eat Local

6 Reasons You Should NOT Eat Local

There’s a lot of talk about eating local these days, but as with anything else, it’s not for everybody. Here’s a list of reasons why you might be one of those who’ll want to think twice about this.  You should not eat local if;

1) You like your food well traveled.  

Let’s face it. Food from far away must be more interesting, or else why would anybody buy it? Those strawberries from Chile have come 5,000 miles! Granted, they don’t have much taste but wow, they’re big! And all of those little lettuce leaves from California, flying 3,000 miles across the country–every single one of them. Do you think they might be sprayed with something to keep them looking perky all those days?

2) You want to support Big Ag

Industrialized farming has taken over our food supply and left us with a shortage of farmers.  That means the food supply of our entire country and beyond is in the hands of a very few. So we should definitely support it because it’s just about all we’ve got! Everyone takes it for granted, without even thinking about the fact that a worker shortage or fuel crises or airline strike could throw the whole thing off any day. If something should happen to disrupt this giant system that controls how everything we eat is grown, harvested, processed, packaged, distributed and sold–where would we be?  Then we might have to eat local–or starve.  

3) The oil industry needs your support!

Eating local does not do enough to support the use of fossil fuels. For starters, the food doesn’t have to fly long distances on airplanes or be transported by giant trucks.  And if it’s organic, it isn’t grown with all of those petroleum based chemical fertilizers. If you’re buying your food from your local farm or a farmer’s market, the produce doesn’t have to be encased in plastic wrap or boxes, which are mostly made of—you guessed it–fossil fuels. So when you support Big Ag, you also support Big Oil. Two for one!

4) Eating local costs more.

That’s right! It seems backwards, but food from far away is usually much cheaper than what you get from close by. Much of the food from the mainstream distribution system in our country is genetically modified to be grown and shipped in mass quantities while still remaining edible, or at least sort of looking like it might be, so it costs way less to produce than real food with more nutrition in it that’s grown by a local farmer. But lots of people in this country can’t afford that. They need to buy the cheap stuff which makes them fat and sick and miserable, which most people seem to assume is okay because it costs less. Others who possibly could afford it still often choose the industrial foods because our economy thrives on everyone thinking more/cheaper/better. Because a bargain is a bargain. Right?  

5) You don’t really mind eating a lot of chemicals

Those chemicals are necessary to giant companies producing such enormous quantities of food. After all, they’re trying  to feed millions of people across thousands of miles. So they just keep using all of these different substances to grow and process the food (many of which are illegal in other countries)  and to make it last a long time so it can be shipped long distances and sit for weeks on the grocery shelves until we buy it. It’s the only way to do it on such a large scale. Besides, the government says all of those things are safe, so if you’re one of those people who doesn’t care to eat local, then you’re okay with that!

(Read me)

6) You’d much rather see farmland used for recreation instead of growing food

You’ve heard it said that no one can make a living farming anymore. Old Macdonald is so old school. You might think that farmlands are better used as weekend entertainment. Don’t we need more open space for athletic fields? Let’s not waste all of that land growing expensive food that no one is going to buy. You can get whatever you need at the grocery.  City people need a place to get away from the rat race and kids need a place to run around. Right? And they should know where their food comes from.

Oh wait…where does their  food come from?

Anyway, if you decide you’re NOT one of these folks and you DO want to eat real food that supports not only the farmers but your food quality and your food security, find the nearest the nearest CSA and sign up today!

7 Days of Easy “Real Food” Winter Meals

7 Days of Easy “Real Food” Winter Meals

Healthy, hearty winter meal preparation is simple with these “real food” staples on hand.

hearty-winter-meal

What is “real food”?

Real food is organic, seasonal, fresh, non-processed ingredients. Local is best, of course, but getting things fresh from closer-to-home is more of a challenge in winter, so when our neighboring farms are in low supply we do okay at small organic markets.

Here’s a shopping list* of things we try to keep in stock for a week of deeply nourishing soups, stews and suppers that keep us going through the cold months.

Real Food Shopping List

  • Whole pastured chicken
  • Beef Stew cubes (grass-fed)
  • Soup Bones (grass-fed beef, foraged pork, pastured chicken feet)
  • Pastured Eggs
  • Fresh root vegetables–carrots (purple or red for more nutrient density), parsnips, turnips, beets, rutabagas
  • Other seasonal vegetables-sweet potatoes, orange and purple varieties, white potatoes, cabbage (red and green)
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Greens (kale, chard, dandelion, spinach, lettuce)

*Some Real Food Shopping Tips

  • Look for “pastured” eggs and chicken, if possible, as opposed to organic, free range, or cage free, all of which are misleading labels.
  • Choose the loose vegetables over the ones in plastic bags, boxes or containers.
  • Choose the carrots with the tops still attached. This usually indicates they are more fresh.
  • Resist the urge to place all of your produce into separate plastic bags. Just put it all directly into your shopping bag and you’ll love not having to deal with the annoyance of all that plastic when you get home.
  • Check out this blog for a lot more information on real food shopping, and optimizing nutrition when buying from the supermarket!

Below are meal suggestions for the week using these ingredients. You may of course want to supplement with bread, rice, pasta, cheeses, etc. as desired.

Real Food Daily Menu Suggestions

hearty - roast- chicken

Sunday

Roast the chicken (basic recipe here) with carrots, potatoes, garlic and onion. Add beets, turnips or other root vegetables tossed in olive oil if desired. Serve a fresh green salad with your meal. Remove all meat from the bone and whatever is left over from your meal refrigerate for later use. Place the chicken carcass (and the chicken feet, if you have them) in a slow cooker, cover with water, add with a quartered onion and two celery sticks cut in half, salt and pepper. Cook on low for 12-18 hours.

Monday

When cooled, strain the broth removing the bones and vegetable matter for the compost. Cut up onion, celery, garlic, carrots and chopped cabbage, cook in the bottom of a soup pot in plenty of grass-fed butter until tender. Add the broth and let it cook on low for 2-4 hours. Enjoy your soup dinner and store leftovers in the refrigerator to eat later.

Start your beef broth by placing the bones in the slow cooker just covered with water and adding onion, salt, celery and any other vegetable scraps. (Here’s the authoritative book on broth!) Set on low and let it cook for 24 — 36 hours.

Tuesday

Chop up mixed greens and add the leftover chicken for a light supper.

Wednesday

Strain your beef broth early in the day and let it chill. Save the bones in the refrigerator. 2-3 hours before your meal, brown the beef stew cubes in butter with onion, garlic and a little flour. Stir in chopped celery, cabbage and any root vegetables such as parsnips, rutabagas or potatoes and allow to cook for a few minutes. Remove the beef broth from the refrigerator and take off the fat that has formed on top .When vegetables are softened add the skimmed broth to the pot. Cook it all together slowly on a low temperature a couple of hours or until meat is tender.

Thursday

Serve leftover beef stew or chicken soup with a chopped slaw using the red cabbage, what’s left of the green cabbage, chopped celery, onion and a grated carrot. Mix together and dress with olive oil, apple cider vinegar and salt to taste.

Friday

Early in the day, start another batch of beef broth with the bones you used earlier in the week. For your evening meal, saute several cups of fresh spinach, kale or chard with some chopped onion in a skillet on the stovetop and whisk 4 eggs in a separate bowl. When the spinach is nearly cooked down, add the eggs to the skillet and stir until they are cooked and blended with the spinach. Season as desired, sprinkle fresh cheese on top and serve.

Saturday

Cool and strain your beef broth. You’ve already removed the fat so you don’t need to chill it this time. Start your dinner by using any leftover vegetables you desire and slow cook them in the broth. When the vegetables are tender, take an immersion blender and partially puree the soup so that it’s thick and chunky. Serve with green salad if you still have greens left from the week or any leftover slaw.

Wrap-Up

So there you have it, a full week (or more!) of fresh, nourishing meals made from simple ingredients straight from the earth! Whenever you’ve eaten through all of this you can go shopping and repeat the menus, mixing them up or varying them in any way you want, or of course adapting your own favorite recipes to real food ingredients.

You get the idea. No plastic, cardboard, cellophane, preservatives, additives required–no factories involved and ideally, minimal distances traveled from ground to table. In our way of looking at it, eating locally and simply is an important aspect of slow living because it’s supporting better health, less waste and a more sustainable food supply.

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A Guide To Microgreens

A Guide To Microgreens

What are microgreens?

Microgreens are essentially young, edible leafy greens such as lettuce, beets, sunflowers, radishes, spinach, kale and many more, harvested at 1-3 inches between 2-21 days after planting. Different from sprouts, which are grown in water, microgreens are grown in soil and only the leaves and stems are eaten. Microgreens are an easy and delicious way to get highly concentrated nutrients, up to 40 times more potent than the mature plants.

Where do I get microgreens?

Having gained popularity in restaurants over the last few years for use in soups, salads, sandwiches and garnishes, savvy consumers are now becoming interested in having them at home. You can find them in grocery stores, but this is not ideal because 1) they are expensive 2) they are most probably in a plastic container (boo!) and 3) who knows how far they’ve traveled to get there. But you don’t need to buy them because it’s so easy and inexpensive to grow them at home. Here’s how you can have these tiny nutrition-packed meal boosters in your kitchen all year round!

A Complete Guide To Growing Microgreens

  1. Obtain your seeds. There are many sources and many to choose from. Just make sure you get untreated, organic and non-GMO. You can get them from our store (use the drop-down menu to select the Microgreens Sampler Pack). It’s a good idea to soak the larger seeds such as peas, beans or sunflower seeds for a few hours before planting.
  2. Fill a shallow container or tray with an organic seed planting mix. Sprinkle your seeds evenly over the surface and then lightly cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil and press down lightly.
  3. Use a spray bottle to gently moisten the soil. You may cover the container loosely with plastic (make sure there are a few air holes in the top) but this is not necessary.
  4. Place in a sunny window inside or a partially shaded location outside (if it’s warm) and wait, keeping the soil moistened with the mister daily. Don’t let it dry out.
  5. When the plants are 1-3 inches tall (anywhere from 1-3 weeks, depending on the plant), harvest by cutting the stems at soil level, rinse and eat!
  6. Start another tray right away to keep yourself supplied in these marvelous little superfoods!

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A Complete Guide to Growing Microgreens

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6 Low-Waste (& Nutrient Dense!) Valentine’s Gift Ideas

6 Low-Waste (& Nutrient Dense!) Valentine’s Gift Ideas

How do Americans say “I love you” on Valentine’s Day? According to statistics, we do it by spending money – and a lot of it!

Here are a few Valentine’s Day spending figures to make your heart pound, gleaned from the National Retail Federation’s Valentine’s Day Consumer Spending Survey:

Gift cards – $1.5 billion
Candy – $1.7 billion
Clothing – $2 billion
Flowers – $2.1 billion
Night Out – $3.6 billion
Jewelry – $4.8 billion
Total – $18.9 billion

In terms of sustainability that’s quite a cringe-worthy list, considering all of the paper, cellophane, plastic, empty sugar-laden calories and world-wide slavery all of that represents, most of which is destined to be tossed and forgotten by the next day. I’m going to make an understatement here and say that perhaps we don’t need such excess to communicate our love to one another. Not to be the Valentine Grinch, but if everyone was more aware of this, don’t you think that most people would do it at least a little bit differently?

What about Valentine’s Day in our economy? It’s one of the holidays that retailers count on to help their bottom line. Does that mean that as consumers we have some sort of responsibility (or excuse) to perpetuate such over-the-top waste?

I think not. Given a little bit of thought and creativity, there are certainly ways to avoid participating in thoughtless buying rituals while still observing the delights of Valentine’s Day traditions. When we ourselves step away from the frenzy we become examples for how it can be done. What follows are some easy ideas for making your Valentine’s Day more about love and less about senseless waste.

6 Low-Waste, Sustainable Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

  1. Instead of a store-bought card, write a heartfelt personal note. (True story–in our family we keep old cards going back many years in a box. On birthdays and holidays, we dig around to find one that fits and give it again! Corny, but fun.)
  2. Call a friend or loved one and set up a time to get together. Your time is a gift.
  3. Give a plant or flower bulbs (tulips, daffodils or dahlias)  instead of cut flowers.
  4. Find your jewelry or clothing gifts at a local thrift store. They have a story!
  5. Give slavery-free chocolate–or a home-baked treat.
  6. Speaking of home-baked, we have an amazing HEALTHY (really, it is), gluten-free, chocolate cake recipe that’s not only a delightful treat but is filled with super nutrients–our Valentine gift to you!

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe

Chocolate Ganache Superfood Brownie Cake - Gluten Free and Nutrient Rich!

Chewy Chocolate Ganache Superfood Brownie Cake (Gluten Free and Nutrient Rich!)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup real butter from grass-fed cows (Kerrygold is a good brand and widely available)
  • 1 cup of organic coconut oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (a good fair trade brand here)
  • 1/2 cup 100% pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ½ cup raw sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 eggs ( from your local farmer if possible or buy “pastured” eggs in the store)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

STEP 1

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 1.5 QT oven-proof bowl (or you can just use a brownie pan if you don’t want it to be a cake).

STEP 2

Prepare the ganache–Place the butter and coconut oil together in a saucepan and stir until melted. Add ¼ cup of the cocoa powder and maple syrup and stir until all the ingredients are well combined. Let cool

STEP 3

In a bowl, whisk together the almond flour, remaining cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.

STEP 4

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla.

STEP 5

Combine ⅔ cup of the cooled chocolate and butter mixture with the egg and sugar mixture, setting aside ⅓ cup for later use. Mix into the dry ingredients until just moistened. Bake in the greased 8×8 pan for 30 minutes or until done.

STEP 6

Take out of the oven and after it has cooled briefly, remove the cake from the bowl by turning it upside down onto a plate. While still warm, poke several holes through the top with a something long. (I use a shish kabob skewer). Spoon the remaining ganache over the top one large spoonful at a time so it can seep down through the cake and drip over the sides slowly. Then let it cool completely.

STEP 7

Slice, serve and share the chocolate LOVE!

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Healthy & Gluten Free Chocolate Ganache Cake Recipe