Making sustainable food choices on a road trip can be a challenge, especially if you really care about sourcing and quality. Options are usually limited to fast food and packaged, shelf stable snacks at gas stations, not even close to the guidelines we like to follow at home. We try to bring our own along, but with so many things to do just to get out of town, food prep for the road often falls short. That’s why we’re always on the lookout for places to get “real food” while traveling by car.Here’s a gem we’ve discovered just up the road from where my grandparents live. The Harvest Table is in a small town called Meadowview, Virginia, a beautiful Appalachian town just off of Highway 81 close to Abingdon. It’s a special restaurant started by Barbara Kingsolver (The Poisonwood Bible, Prodigal Summer), which began as an extension of Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, the story about her family’s year-long experiment to eat only locally grown foods. It has grown into something much bigger, as they say on their website, “The Harvest Table is more than just a restaurant. Over the last ten years, the Harvest Table family has grown to include our kitchen staff, servers, store clerks, farmers, small business owners, artisans and neighbors. Relationships have developed over the common desire to support local and celebrate our Appalachian heritage.”
My family loves to stop here when we can, as we can count on a locally sourced, nutritious, and delicious meal. The atmosphere is relaxed and casual–you feel a bit like you’re on a friend’s back patio. It’s high quality without the extra frills—just good care for the land, community and experience. This time around, mom and I both got the grass-fed burger, no bun, with a salad. It was just delicious!
It’s true that places like this are probably few and far between. In the absence of such options (and if your run out of time to prep your own “to go” meals) here are a few quick tips to help you make your way along the interstate food desert.
- To avoid questionable water and plastic bottles, fill up a few half gallon mason jars with fresh, filtered water from home. (Stay tuned, the Travel Berkey water filter is coming to our online store— soon! )
- Pack dried fruit and nut mixes. They are calorie and nutrient dense and sometimes might suffice in the place of a regular meal.
- Fresh fruit, celery and carrot sticks, washed and ready to eat.
- Grab a jar of organic peanut butter, a loaf of bread and a spreading knife to save the day.
- A bar of high quality, dark chocolate will take you many a mile!
What do you take in the car to keep you going to the next real food? Do you know of any great places to stop for a meal where you’ve traveled? No matter where you are or where you’re headed, there are probably some Lady Farmers headed that way that would love to know how and where to eat better on the road, and experience local!
Happy summer travels!
At Lady Farmer, we’ve been on the hunt for clean, safe and sustainable bedding that we love and trust enough to make available to you. So what is sustainable bedding and why should we be concerned about it? We spend approximately one-third of our lifetime in bed. Unless we always sleep on top of the covers, we are literally encased in our sheets and blankets. That means continuous skin-to-fabric contact for the duration of our sleep every night! Cotton sheets might be luxuriously soft, but the heavy use of chemicals in conventional cotton production can remain in the fabric indefinitely. Bleaches, dyes and even flame retardants can be present in conventional bedding. But don’t worry, we’ve found what we were looking for and now—we’ve got you covered!
Welcome Our New Sustainable Bedding Products!
When we experienced how Holy Lamb Organics bedding surpasses the comfort and feel of even our most fancy conventional sheets, a partnership was born. Their sustainable, handmade sheets are made from organic cotton, which we value so highly because it’s free of the pesticides and herbicides used in growing conventional cotton. Their comforters, mattress toppers, and pillows are made of eco-wool, which means that participating ranchers practice healthy, humane, and environmentally sound methods in raising their sheep. Now THAT’s Lady Farmer LOVE!
5 Reasons You’ll Love Sustainable Bedding, Too
With this bedding, we feel like we’re sleeping on a pristine cloud! No herbicides, pesticides, dyes or solvents. As a bonus, wool naturally resists bacteria and is antimicrobial and antibacterial, so it’s pure and naturally fresh.
We’re smitten with these dreamy pillows stuffed with lovingly produced, dust-mite resistant eco-wool. Who needs to count sheep when you’re cuddling with them? However you like your pillows stuffed, you can choose between light, regular, or thick, depending on how you sleep. (We personally have the regular, and have found that they offer the perfect combination of support and softness.) Allergy sufferers take note! You might find welcomed relief in using a wool stuffed pillow as an alternative to other treatments.
Sleeping between the eco-wool mattress topper and the comforter feels so luxurious it’s like taking a cloud ride into dreamland every night. Because wool regulates body temperature by its natural breathability and moisture-wicking properties, it keeps us cool in the summer, warm in the winter and sleeping straight for hours whatever the weather. It’s a heaven sandwich, y’all!
Comfy and Safe
We’re pretty happy to snuggle into this gorgeous bedding knowing that, as a bonus, wool is inherently fire resistant. No need for chemical additives here. Mother Nature has her arms around us.
We’re SO excited about these sustainable bedding products, not only because they provide the ultimate in a comfortable, safe, and healthy sleep environment. By investing in our own well being in this way, we are also supporting agricultural practices that are restoring rather than depleting the soil. In effect, we are encouraging one of science’s most promising ways of addressing climate change.
Are we saying that we can literally help the planet in our sleep? Yes! If you’ve been following us for a while, you know we are soil nerds here at Lady Farmer. We care deeply how each and every one of the products we bring you affects all the living things that surround us, including the billions upon billions of micro-organisms living under our feet and making all of life above ground possible. So when it comes to this super comfy, healthy, dreamy bedding that helps us sleep AND helps heal our earth, we’re all over it—and in it!
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
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.
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.
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 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.
Plastic free hairties. The pink ones are especially for Easter.
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!
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?
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 Shopping with Lady Farmer
What is 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.