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Series: Tiny Planet, Part 2 – Winning Small

Going from the McDonald’s diet to the Green Diet in a day is nearly impossible for most people, but we can all take baby steps.  My wife (girlfriend at the time) and I started with creating a simple mental list with different restaurants and eateries that determined whether or not we ate there.  The list was simple:

  • Blacklisted: never entering establishment
  • Graylisted: seldom entering establishment
  • Whitelisted: establishment approved for occasional use

The list only worked if we upheld it and didn’t cheat.  It started when we realized that each time we went out to McDonald’s we felt like our insides wanted to escape.  Needless to say, McDonald’s was the first to be blacklisted.  From there, we’ve added many to the mental list, based on how we’ve felt afterwards and the used ingredients.  That was our first step towards a healthier life.

Since that day in high school, our black and gray list included nearly every restaurant in and around town.  We’ve also started buying products based on ingredients (not the food facts chart) and avoiding the hazardous ones, using water filters, showering and washing our hands with all natural soaps; then pure soaps, making shampoos, and avoiding GMO’s as much as possible.  We still have a long way to go, but each step is a step closer to our ultimate goal: to be completely self-sustained, but still part of society.

Though there are many many possibilities, I have outlined two possible paths to healthy living below.

Fast-Track

This method is not for the faint of heart.  It is fast and requires you to give up a lot, in a very short period of time.  Treat each ‘step’ below as one day.

Slow-Track

This method is much slower.  With each step, take your time and pace yourself.  Treat each ‘step’ below as one month.

Take a Deep Breath

You’re about to change your life.  And remember, any small accomplishment, whether in a day or a month, is an accomplishment worth commending.  It is important that you don’t overwhelm yourself.  If you start the fast-track and realize that it’s too fast, slow down–just don’t stop.  If you start with the slow-track method and realize that it’s too slow for you, speed up–just don’t derail yourself.  The idea is to succeed long-term and long-term change takes time, patience, and determination.  Whatever method your chose, may you succeed.

Steps 1 and 2

Any and all restaurants, food joints, cafes, delis, eateries, and any other food places must be blacklisted.  Get your food from home-made sources.  The reason is that most food joints use at least one GMO or hazardous chemical in their food. Fast food joints are notorious for this and, now, the fancy sit-down restaurants are becoming so, too.  The goal is to cut unknown sources of these contaminates.

Step 3

The goal is to cut as many pesticides from our diet.  In this step, start buying the Dirty Dozen only (or more, if you want to go above and beyond this goal) as 100% 0rganic (USDA Organic allows for non-organic ingredients–up to 5%! Thanks Obama) or non-GMO Project Verified (not government operated and very strict).  The Dirty Dozen is a list of 12 foods that have shown to have the highest levels of pesticides inside them (so washing them will not work).  These foods are Peaches, Apples, Sweet Bell Peppers, Celery, Nectarines, Strawberries, Cherries, Pears, Grapes, Spinach, Lettuce, and Potatoes.

Reward yourself with something, you’re doing great!

Step 4

Here, we have two goals:

  1. Buy non-GMO verified grains and seeds.  This is in preparation for step 5’s goal of creating a small garden and/or greenhouse in your back yard.
  2. There are ten most dangerous genetically modified food items and the goal is to start avoiding them completely.  They are corn, soy, cotton, papaya, rice, tomatoes, rapeseed (canola), dairy, potatoes, and peas.  You think you’re already doing a good job? Read the ingredient labels on the foods you eat–chances are, you’re eating some (if not all) of these ten.  You may still eat these items, as long as they are 100% organic or non-GMO Project Verified.

Step 5

This goal is more hands-on.  We are going to build a backyard garden, greenhouse, or both (that’s up to you) and prepare for when our seeds arrive.

Backyard Garden

These are great, because they are relatively easy and you can make them as small or as large as you want (or are allowed to).  There are many books and websites to help you along, but make sure you also build vertically to reclaim the sky (see here, here, and also search the interwebs for vertical gardens). You can also try the Three Sisters technique (also called Companion Planting), which places three seeds from different plants in the same hole creating a symbiotic mini-garden in each hole.  This is a Native Americans method and traditionally uses corn, beans, and squash, but it can contain any combination of “approved” seeds.  Pressed for space? Try the square foot gardening method, which is good for very small gardens and does not yield much (but is a fantastic start!).

Greenhouse

You can go to your local home or garden improvement store and get ready-made greenhouse kits.  If you’re like me, though, you want to build one from scratch.  If you choose to build a greenhouse, know that you will may not be done in a day, but that’s okay–build some every day or so until your masterpiece is complete.  Have fun with it–design your own, use others’ plans, measure and cut wood, turn it into a family project.  And remember, it can be tiny, medium, large, recycled, indoor, dome-shaped–the world is your canvas.

Whichever you choose to set up, remember to plant your seeds when they arrive–there’s nothing like fresh vegetables and fruits grown in your very own backyard.

Step 6

This is possibly the hardest and most expensive step–we are going completely organic and non-GMO.  Search your house for all non-organic and GMO products (including toiletries), foods, and drinks (remember the teas and coffees) and donate your find to your local soup kitchen (they will be extremely grateful and you may be able to recover some of the costs in taxes under the ‘donations’ section).  If it’s a food you still want, buy its 100% organic and GMO-free counterpart or, alternately, you can search for the recipe and use organic ingredients.

Step 7

Stand in the middle of your kitchen with your pantry open and stare at what you’ve accomplished! You did great! Then, go outside and look at your new garden and/or greenhouse–finished or not, be proud (just remember to finish).  Now get yourself a treat of some sort and rest.  Tomorrow is a new day and you can live it organically–you made that happen.

Please remember to always operate under all applicable laws–they don’t serve organic in jail.


 

Next Post (9/19/2014):

Series: Tiny Planet, Part 3 – Tiny House

This is part three of a four-part series named Tiny Planet. In part three, we will discover what a tiny house is and how it is benefiting us and the planet.

Series: Tiny Planet, Part 1 – Making a Tiny Impact

We’ve all heard of our carbon footprint, but only the business savvy of us have heard about the commercial impact.

In business, commercial impact is measured with the commercial impact index, which is a number that identifies a company’s employees’ impact on its current and future earning power.

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Mid-Week-Post: Know Your GMO… And Now, GEO

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) are an almost unavoidable part of our food system. It is important to know which foods, now that they are not labeled as such, are genetically modified. But, why?

The experts at American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) urge all doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets for all patients, citing animal studies that show organ damage, gastrointestinal and immune system disorders, accelerated aging, and even infertility.   Human studies show how genetically modified foods can actually leave material behind as they get processed through our bodies.  It has been found and documented that genes inserted into modified soy, for example, can transfer into the DNA of bacteria making their home in our bodies creating a potential super bacteria, and that the toxic insecticide produced by modified corn was actually found in the blood of pregnant women and their unborn babies.  Not to mention that a whole slew of health issues was shown to dramatically increase after the introduction of genetically modified foods in 1996–the percentage of Americans with three or more chronic illnesses increased from 7% to 13% in nine years; food allergies hit an all time high; disorders, such as reproduction, digestive, autism, and others are on a steady incline.  Though no official study was conducted on humans (due to lack of funding), different doctors groups urge us not to wait for a study to start protecting ourselves, considering the the health risk it poses to us and our children (who are most susceptible).  In fact, the  American Public Health Association and American Nurses Association (to name a couple of the many medical groups involved) condemn the use of genetically modified bovine growth hormone, due to the fact that resulting milk from treated cows contains a significant increase in the hormone IGF-1 (Insulin-like Growth Factor 1), which is linked to cancer (note that it is linked to cancer, not thought to be linked).

GMO’s are incredibly efficient at cross pollination and their seeds travel with the water table, making it impossible to fully clean our gene pool (which is contaminated with all sorts of modifications) and is causing non-GMO and organic farmers to loose whole crops, due to these traveling contaminants.  It is estimated that GMO pollution will outlast the effects of global warning and even nuclear waste!  Due this cross pollination, the increase use of GMO crops has caused more resistant strains of weeds, causing farmers to use more toxic herbicide, causing even more resistant weeds that cross pollinate with GMO crops, creating even more resistant strains of weeds, causing farmers……. until, now, we have, what is coined as “super-weeds,” which are rendering many herbicides as ineffective (and that list grows each year).

Not to mention that the very process of creating genetically modified plants can result in the production of new toxins, allergens, carcinogens, and nutritional deficiencies.

Because of largely secret political agendas, the modification, use, and distribution of GMO’s is almost completely ignored by the government agency that is sworn to protect our health.  The United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require a single safety study, has no mandates on labeling of genetically modified foods, and allows any company to use modified foods in their product without agency notification.  Why?  They (fraudulent) claim that there is no information showing that modified foods were substantially different. There was a lawsuit that uncovered secret agency memos that show an overwhelming consensus (even among the FDA’s scientists) that GMO’s can create unpredictable and hart to detect side effects.  They even urged long term safety studies to confirm or deny the safety of GMO’s, but the White House had directed the FDA to support, advance, and advocate biotechnology.  Michael Taylor (Monsanto’s former attorney, later vice president) was the official in charge who made this call.  He is currently the United States Deputy Commissioner for Foods (thanks Obama).

You still think that your government is for the people, by the people?  Maybe it should read, “for the multi-billion corporations, by the multi-billion corporations.”

Once upon a time not that long ago, Monsanto (the same company that is pushing GMO’s) assured the US population that Agent Orange, PCB’s, and DDT were perfectly safe (which we know is a wild stretch, at best).  They are now using the same false research in an attempt to convince us of a caliber lie again–that GMO’s are safe.  Independent scientists have proven that industry-funded research is specifically designed to avoid finding negative results and that such results are distorted or omitted.  Scientists who found negative results with GMO’s have been martyred, fired, threatened, and denied funding for further research.  In fact, one of the propaganda that we were told was that GMO’s would help third world and developing countries in feeding their hungry by increasing yields was proven a prevarication.  The fact of the matter is that sustainable, non-GMO agriculture was shown to increase yields 79 or more percent each year, while GMO agricultural yields were shown to fail to increase, and sometimes decrease yields (Failure to Yield).  This report has shown a direct correlation between the use of GMO crops and variable and declined crop yields.

Modified crops and their associated herbicides have been show to cause birth defects in amphibians, embryonic deaths and endocrine disruptions, and organ damage in many species, even at very low levels (levels deemed safe).  The population of the Monarch butterfly has decreased 50% due to the elimination of habitat by modified crops.  In fact, in North Dakota and California, modified canola has been found growing wild, which threatens to cross pollinate and create herbicide tolerant weeds.

Well, what can we do?  Simple!  Start buying only non-GMO foods and tell everyone about the known risks.  Well, not that simple, but doable.  Keep in mind, all we need is an approximate 5% consumer rejection for GMO usage to become a business liability.  This tipping point occurred in Europe in 1999, after a high profile GMO safety story made the papers alerting citizens to the potential dangers.  This is what we need and you are the road to its success.

Alright, now GEO.  That’s Genetically Edited Organism. The difference?  GMO’s are organisms whose DNA is altered with foreign genes, while GEO’s are organisms whose own DNA is tweaked.  Before you make your opinion, know that the very experts that came up with this have stated that GEO’s may be a way to get around GMO regulation currently in play in Europe.  Although more research is needed, the day you see a GEO food in your supermarket may be around the corner.  In the meanwhile, see if you can perfect your skills of backyard gardening (see here and here) and greenhouses (see here, here, and here).

What are your thoughts?

Mini-Post: Make Your Own Coconut Milk

Buying coconut milk is fine, but so expensive, especially when it can be made at home for less than a fourth of the cost (depending on raw material prices that are sourced).

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