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

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.

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.

Interested in learning more about slow living and the sustainable lifestyle?

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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

Unveiling Fashion: Inaugural Sustainable Fashion Conference in the Nation’s Capital a Huge Success!

Unveiling Fashion: Inaugural Sustainable Fashion Conference in the Nation’s Capital a Huge Success!

Sustainable Fashion is getting buzz in Washington, DC!

Sustainable Fashion Conference

Last September 2018, Lady Farmer was excited to be a part of Unveiling Fashion, Conversations about Fashion and Sustainability, a sold-out event hosted by the newly formed DC Sustainable Fashion Collective less than a year after launching their organization. Designers, writers, lawmakers, activists, entrepreneurs and fashion professionals from across the industry came together to discuss the negative impact of the current industry on our fellow man and the planet, its effect on their daily lives, and how they can implement sustainable changes in their lives and their neighborhoods.

The day was loaded with information and discussions, including a keynote address by Lauren Fay, Executive Director of Fashion Revolution USA, presentations by Whitney Bauck, Assistant Editor of Fashionista Magazine and Marci Zaroff, Founder & CEO of Metawear Manufacturing. In addition, there were four panels covering various subjects in the broad realm of sustainable fashion. Lady Farmer joined panelists Diana Watts of Trinity Washington University, Kaveri Marathe, co-founder of a textile recycling business called Texiles, and Amy Dufault of the Brooklyn Fashion and Design Accelerator in discussing The Consumer Trap (Buying Things You Don’t Need and Why). What is the impact of the current levels of consumption and its far-reaching economic effects around the world?

DC Sustainable Fashion Collective

The DC Sustainable Fashion Collective is a community-based organization, whose purpose is to foster and educate consumers in the D.C. Metropolitan Area on the importance of sustainability and ethical practices in the fashion industry. Established in January 2018, DCSFC is poised to develop educational programs, retail opportunities, workforce development/training initiatives, and networking opportunities for the local creative, sustainable and ethical communities.

Sustainable Fashion Movement

The level of participation in this lively and successful first-time event indicates that there is a keen and growing interest in the sustainable fashion movement. In our efforts to educate and inform consumers on the existing issues in the apparel industry, as well as to provide responsibly sourced and manufactured alternatives to fast fashion, we at Lady Farmer are delighted to join this organization in spreading the word!

Slow Shopping

Slow Shopping

The season of celebration and festivity has begun, and with it a blast of cultural messaging telling us that it’s time to get busy and buy lots of things! Meanwhile (here in the northern hemisphere) the light is waning, the plants are shifting into dormancy and animals are going into hibernation. Nature– our nature– tells us it’s time to go inward to seek respite and restoration while the voices of commerce would have us believe that peace and joy come with going out and shopping. While we know that’s not true, avoiding it altogether usually isn’t practical.

Celebrations and gift giving are true expressions of the heart — but the real and meaningful behind it all is too often entangled with consumer habits that drain our energy, our resources and our joy. We experience this conflict in our minds and our bodies and end up exhausted. So how do we navigate this season where nature, our traditions and our consumer culture are pulling us in so many different directions?

In recognition of Black Friday and all that it stands for, here are some suggestions for keeping the buying in balance.

A Guide for Slow Shopping

  • Think about the holiday traditions and activities that bring you the most enjoyment such as planning gatherings, cooking, baking, gift giving, traveling, attending special performances, listening to seasonal music, etc. Make it a point to plan your time around these as much as possible.
  • From the above, make a list of  which ones actually require purchases.
    • For instance, if you’ve having people over, take a good look through your cupboards to see what you already have before making your list. Challenge yourself to use things you already have to reduce what your have to buy. Consolidate your shopping trips and plan them during a time when you aren’t as likely to be tired or rushed.
  • For gift giving, consider giving experiences rather than material things.
    • This is a great idea for anyone of any age. Promise tea with a friend, an evening of Netflix with your teenager, an afternoon of making cookies with a pre-schooler. If the presentation is important to you or the recipient, you can cleverly gift -wrap a note of explanation!
  • Be conscious of who and what you are supporting with your purchases.
    • Think about materials, sourcing and labor practices and seek alternatives for those things that you feel don’t deserve your dollar.
  • Try to observe when the outside noise of advertising and false expectations are draining your energy and joy.
    • Focus again on the things that you know you love about this season and center your activities around those.
  • Remember that The gift of kindness is free to everyone!
  • Look for the beautiful, peaceful, and joyful expressions of the season and you will find them!

We’re intentionally having a slow holiday week with family, but we’ve curated some lovely sustainable, responsibly sourced lifestyle items  as “slow shopping” choices for you. Look for them to be up in our online store by Wednesday. In the meantime enJOY this special time of year.

Lady Farmer Love,

Mary and Emma

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s Empowerment: Refuse Fast Fashion and Change the World

Women’s Empowerment: Refuse Fast Fashion and Change the World

We’re living in amazing times. Women are changing the world with their courage to speak out, take a stand, and act outside of a male dominated paradigm.  We listen to unfolding events and yes, we feel the surfacing of deep anger and frustration at the status quo, but at the same time we feel hope and inspiration because we know that there is a movement.

natalie-chanin-alabama-chanin-empower-women

photo: Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin by Peter Strangmayr

We believe so deeply in making change! We want to do something. But sometimes we get stuck. Beyond watching disturbing telecasts that entrench our convictions, posting on social media to people that already agree with us and traveling to events that we hope will amplify our voices--what do we do?  Well, here is something huge you can do to help the cause of women’s empowerment–every single day. 

1) REFUSE Fast Fashion

stop fast fashion

Yes, that’s it. There are few things reflecting women’s disempowerment on such a broad scale as the clothing industry. It doesn’t show up that often on social media and is not being televised on cable TV twenty-four-seven, but it’s something in which practically every single one of us is a participant. Yes, it sounds overwhelming– but it is every bit within your power to RESIST, starting now.  Start with that T-shirt you have that proclaims the power of women and find out where it came from. In all likelihood, it was sewn by a woman who does not earn a living wage, who possibly has to live away from her children to have this work, who cannot afford adequate food, health care or child care.  Please do not wear this shirt or buy it for your sisters or daughters or book club until you confirm the truth behind it.

fast fashion human rights - effects of fast fashion

80% of garment workers in the fashion industry are women. Fast Fashion is a women’s issue.

who made my clothes fashion revolution - empower women

the cost of fast fashion

2) STOP perpetuating this behemoth of a broken system that enslaves women.

Is the fast fashion industry really that bad? Yes, it’s really that bad, and the worst of it is that the vast majority of people are literally buying into this system daily without even realizing what they’re doing. Don’t be one of those that doesn’t know. You can read all about fast fashion and its devastating impact here or here or here.

what is fast fashion

fast fashion alternatives

3) DO seek, find and support fast fashion alternatives.

Once you know, please don’t make excuses for not using the power of your choice. There is nothing that can change things in our economy faster or more affirmatively than the informed consumer. If you want to be truly invested in the empowerment of women, it is necessary for you to know this truth.

We’re doing our best at Lady Farmer to educate and provide consumers with alternatives in their clothing choices. There are also some great lists and blogs online that will guide you, such as this one and this one.

women's empowerment - stop fast fashion

Want to empower women every single day?  Be a part of this movement by exercising the power of your consumer choices and refusing fast fashion.

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Refuse Fast Fashion // Empower Women + Change the World

The Medicine of Making

The Medicine of Making

We’ve been sold the goods–literally.  Somewhere along the line, we were convinced that it was better to buy everything we needed rather than to make, that our lives would be better when our food, our clothing, our living spaces and everything in them was produced somewhere out of sight and out of mind. This message, delivered through the word “convenience”  was that our time was better spent pursuing other things. And we bought that whole idea–along with all of the other millions upon millions of products that have filled not only shopping malls, outlet centers and megastores–but our houses, lives and landscapes.

abandoned-mallIt’s ironic that the human quality of ingenuity that made our self sufficiency possible in the first place is the very thing that’s taken our culture to such extremes. We are creative beings, and have reached our position as the dominant species by our perpetual spirit of invention. Every perceived obstacle on our human path is met with a solution, a product, a system that eventually becomes an industry. We have an incessant forward-moving instinct. But we are at the far end of the pendulum’s swing. Our consumerism is a cultural tsunami, full of brokenness at every level from our earth home to the very deepest part of our human hearts and everything in between. We are soul-sick with longing for balance.

It will be the same quality of problem solving that will eventually see us through this, that will bring us back, certainly not to the self reliance of our predecessors–there are too many of us and we’ve come way too far for that– but at least to a place of more equilibrium and more of a circular economy. Yet right here and now it’s time for the medicine of “making” to be fully embraced as a step towards healing. We’ve all made something at one time or another, some food or clothing or craft, and have felt that surge of satisfaction that comes from creating.There’s no denying that this pure and simple act is part of our humanness, essential to our individual well being and to our society as a whole.

We recently attended a retreat in Maine hosted by A Gathering of Stitches, during which both of us, guided by skilled instructors and surrounded by a community of fun loving, creative and supportive new friends, learned not only how to make a garment from scratch, but how “making” is so much more than a pastime. It’s not only part of our own healing, but is a radical political statement and an act of transformation. In refusing to feed the beast of fast fashion, we do our small but powerful part in cutting off its lifeline.  Without a continual, massive infusion of consumer participation, it cannot live, and neither can the broken food industry or the pharmaceutical companies that have compromised our nation’s health, or the scourge of single-use plastics or the toxic residuals of waste dumps filled with the refuse of our collective illness.

Paradigm shifts don’t happen overnight, however, and we don’t do ourselves any favors by becoming loud zealots who have no patience for the power of increment. History has shown us over and over that it’s the ripples of the small acts that create the waves of change.

So how can you be a “maker,” even in the smallest of ways? You certainly don’t have to be an artist or a gourmet cook. You can make your own coffee or tea instead of going to Starbucks, find a new use for something you might have thrown away, make a meal instead of going out, recycle a piece of paper to write a letter, make a cute patch for that hole in your pants. The possibilities are endless–and the effect is profound.

So what’s your medicine today?