Organic Buying Club Order

This post is referring to the order that will be delivered on Friday May 6th.

If you are placing an order for this shipment please comment with your order and your first name by noon on Saturday, April 30th.

If you have stumbled upon this post and have no idea what I’m talking about, this is an organic foods buying club located in central Mississippi. If you live in Winston County and are interested in more information, email me at brandi.denson@gmail.com

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No Sew T-Shirt Bags

I’ve been using these for everything! I can’t tell you how much plastic I’ve saved from landfills since I started making these. I feel amazing about it and have completely kicked my plastic bag habit!

Supplies:

  • T-shirts
  • Scissors
  • A safety pin

That’s really it! Each shirt bag takes about 5-10 minutes to make, depending on how many holes you want in the bottom (the more holes the smaller they are, but if you’re using the bags to carry things like groceries a bigger hole shouldn’t matter).  I’ve been making mine assembly-line style, and even with 3 holes each shirt takes me less than 5 minutes now. Get on it!

  1. Select a shirt, and gather your supplies. (Beer optional)
  2. Cut off the sleeves, cutting the seam off as well and trying to cut a straight line (it may curve some and that’s fine, you’ll discover through trial and error how you like to do it). You cannot mess this up.
  3. Cut the neck out. You can cut it out in a v-shape, a rounded shape, or squared off. I’ve made some of all – I choose depending on the design on the t-shirt. Again, you cannot mess this up!
  4. Cut snips in the bottom of the shirt, as many snips as you want holes. (The more holes you have, the smaller they will be but the longer it will take to make the bags. I made all my bags with 3 holes. Not really necessary for grocery bags, but they are so cute I want to be able to use them as purses.)
    If you are making one hole, your snip can be anywhere. If you make more than one hole (you can make 2, 3, 4 – it’s up to you!), make the snips about equal distance apart. Please don’t break out the ruler – you really cannot mess this up.
  5. Make the strings you will run through your snips by cutting your discarded sleeves. Cut the hem off first, then cut into strips. Cut as many strips as you did snips.
    Cut them so that they make one long strand and then stretch them out so they are more narrow and more like strings. The only mess up I’ve ever had was working with a friend’s thread-bare shirt: I cut the strips kinda narrow already, so when I pulled to make the hole, it broke. If your t-shirt is worn out, cut these rather wide.
  6. Place a safety pin in the end of a strip and run it through your snips, from one snip to the next.
    Pull the ends together and tie to make your hole!
    Tie, then repeat for each snip you made, until you have all your holes tied up. For added security, I then tie some of the strings together randomly until I feel good about the bottom holding up. Then I make little bows.
  7. Enjoy the finished product!
    Tote these everywhere and use them instead of plastic. Use them as beach bags, use them as purses. They are really handy!
    My daughter helped make some and my son donated an old t, which made a great handbag or could be nice if used instead of produce bags at the grocery store (you may want to take the produce out to be weighed, or at least use just one hole at the bottom).

HOW EASY IS THAT, huh? Did I mention that you cannot mess this up? I broke out a pile of t-shirts one night and systematically cut off the sleeves on all, then cut out the neck and made my snips on all, then made my strips for all, then completed each bag. I cut out extra snips of sleeves so that part will be done when I make more. THAT makes a difference.
I also started using strips from other t-shirt sleeves on the bottom, for a cute contrast effect.


Here are some more I made:

I can’t decide which one is my favorite, but I like the tie-dye t-shirt my buddy Chuck donated a lot, and also my Saturday Night Fever bag and Einstein bag (donated by Ken).

If you make any bags, I’d love to see pictures! And please, spread the word – this does so much to cut down on disposables!

Finally, I must thank leethal.net for the idea. Lee is really amazing and I’ll keep following her blog for more inexpensive and easy crafts. I promise to let you know what I try next!

Eating Flesh

For the past month, I have been on a diet that is vegetarian and, for the most part, vegan (I haven’t given up honey).

This started when I started going raw, naturally. I didn’t miss meat nearly as much as I thought I would!

Deer kabobs on the grill at the Lemmons'

But occasionally I will crave fish. Since my people enjoy fishing, there is usually a good supply of wild fish (crappie, bass, catfish). This weekend I thoroughly enjoyed some deer kabobs at Lindsey Lemmons’, as her husband Scott is an excellent hunter and cook! They were also wrapped in bacon and filled with a little cheese and minced jalapeños, and I should have abstained from both the pork and the dairy. I must say, though, they were delicious. I hate I missed the bear burgers they used to grill when they were stocked with bear meat.

So this brings up an important issue: why should a person eat meat? Why shouldn’t a person eat meat?

There is no good reason to eat meat. No good reason. It tastes good (if you are conditioned to like it, as many of us are), but people may taste good, and we don’t eat each other. My dog may taste good but she is in no danger of getting grilled. The very best diet for a human and for the environment is a vegan diet. That’s a fact. EATING MEAT KILLS OUR PLANET. Period, the end. If you care about the environment, switching to a vegetarian/vegan diet makes a bigger impact than switching to a hybrid car.

 

I *do* have a sense of humor - and the Lemmons' outdoor decor tickles me

So how do I justify doing it at all? The only way I will eat meat is if it is wild game or wild fish (not farmed fish, not farmed animals), and even then I am limiting my meat consumption to 3 times per week (allowing for one grilled fish meal during the week and 2 fish or wild game meals on weekends). That’s not perfect. Perfect would be NO MEAT. But it’s a great start, and it’s certainly better than what I was doing.

 

I know there are those of you reading this who will dismiss it because you think eating vegetarian is boring or bland, or you believe meat isn’t that bad for you or the Earth, or you just think it tastes good and you really don’t care what it’s doing to your body or the planet. But for those of you who do care and just don’t know how bad it is, let’s take a look at why we should all begin to eliminate our meat consumption:

  • Raising animals for food (including land used for grazing and land used to grow feed crops) now uses 30% of the Earth’s land mass.
  • More than 260 million acres of US forests have been cleared for cropland to grow grain for grain fed farm animals, and seven football fields of land worldwide are bulldozed every minute to create room for farmed animals.
  • Livestock grazing is the number one reason that plant species in the United States become threatened and go extinct, and it also leads to soil erosion and eventual desertification that renders once fertile land barren.
  • More than 70% of grain and cereal grown in this country is grown to feed farm animals.
  • It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of meat, and even fish on fish farms must be fed up to 5 pounds of wild-caught fish to produce 1 pound of farmed fish flesh.
  • It takes more than 11 times as much fossil fuel to make one calorie from animal protein as it does to make one calorie from plant protein.
  • Between watering the crops that farmed animals eat, providing drinking water for billions of animals each year, and cleaning away the filth in factory farms, transport trucks, and slaughterhouses, the farmed animal industry places a serious strain on our water supply.
  • Nearly half of all the water used in the United States goes to raising animals for food.
  • It takes more than 2,400 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat, while growing 1 pound of wheat only requires 25 gallons. You save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you do by not showering for six months!
  • A totally vegan diet requires only 300 gallons of water per day, while a typical meat-eating diet requires more than 4,000 gallons of water per day.
  • What do we get back from all the grain, fossil fuels, and water that go into making animal products? Tons and tons of feces. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the runoff from factory farms pollutes our waterways more than all other industrial sources combined.
  • Animals raised for food in the U.S. produce far more excrement than the entire U.S. human population, roughly 89,000 pounds per second, all without the benefit of waste-treatment systems. According to Oregon State University agriculture professor Peter Cheeke, factory farming constitutes “a frontal assault on the environment, with massive groundwater and air pollution problems.”
  • There are no meaningful federal guidelines that regulate how factory farms treat, store, and dispose of the trillions of pounds of concentrated, untreated animal excrement that they produce each year. This waste may be left to rot in huge lagoons or sprayed over crop fields; both of these disposal methods result in runoff that contaminates the soil and water and kills fish and other wildlife. The concentration of parasites, bacteria, and chemical contaminants in animal excrement can wreak havoc on the ecosystems affected by farm runoff and can sicken people who live near these farms.
  • The EPA reports that chicken, hog, and cattle excrement has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states. When 25 million gallons of putrid hog urine and feces spilled into a North Carolina river in 1995, between 10 million and 14 million fish died as an immediate result.
  • In West Virginia and Maryland, scientists have discovered that male fish are growing ovaries, and they suspect that this deformity is the result of factory farm runoff from drug-laden chicken feces.
  • The massive amounts of feces, fish carcasses, and antibiotic-laced fish food that settle below fish farm cages also contribute to water pollution and have actually caused the ocean floor to rot in some areas.
  • When the cesspools holding tons of urine and feces get full, factory farms frequently dodge water pollution limits by spraying liquid manure into the air, creating mists that are carried away by the wind.
  • This is more about dairy consumption, but still important: More than a quarter of cows who go to slaughter (former dairy cows, prematurely “spent” at around the age of 4 or 5) are pregnant. Many of these are in their third trimester. Most of the babies die horrible slow deaths, still inside the womb, as their mother’s throats are slit. Some calves are cut from the womb still alive so that their blood can be drained’ this also is a painful process.
    (for sources and more information, visit peta.org)

There are more reasons. Examples:

Boy chicks waiting to be smothered or crushed alive

 

 

Yummy.

 

 

So much room to roam around!

Chickens get a lot of room too!

Oh yippee, FREE RANGE chickens!

 

SO you may be asking yourself why I will continue to eat wild game. Okay:

  • Wild animals are not forced to live in these horrific, inhumane conditions.
  • Wild game has less saturated fat and more omega-3 fatty acids than farmed animals, because they eat a diverse diet of plants rather than grain.
  • Wild animals are not genetically modified.
  • Hunting legally and ethically poses no harm to the environment.
  • I would not eat ANY meat often (e.g., my 3 meals a week or less rule).

None of the animals I would ingest are endangered. Of course, if every person decided to start hunting and eating wild game instead of buying meat, we’d run into problems I’m sure. But for now, they are plentiful for me and I feel as if I can eat this way without contributing to a heartless and planet-destroying industry. The people I know who hunt and fish are not greedy, heartless, or cruel. They are grateful for what they are ingesting, and they don’t mindlessly slaughter any animal they see.

How do YOU justify what you eat? How do you make choices to give your children the best, to feed them the best, and turn around and participate in an industry that is inhumane, unethical, and which harms the environment on such a massive scale?

I don’t expect you to read this and just toss out all the meat in your freezer and give up dairy etc. for good. I believe, however, that my friends are compassionate people and they do care about animals, our children, and our planet. I firmly believe in meeting people where they are in life, too.

So how about this? Could you pledge to give up meat for one day a week? Say, “Meatless Mondays”? Could you pledge to try to go vegan for a week? Where are you now, where can I meet you (metaphorically) – how can I help? I will answer any messages you send me, any comments you leave. I will be of service in any way possible to help you take this step toward a better life, better health, and a healthier planet for all.

Ch-ch-changes

So, I am somewhat giving up the raw foods thing for now. Don’t panic! I’ll tell you why:

Transitioning was making me sick. I have been on processed foods way too long, and I agree with a reader who posted a comment a few weeks ago: getting off processed foods is the most important step.

I do believe an all raw or mostly-raw diet is healthiest, but I would like to get there much more slowly.

Here is what I am doing now:

I do not eat any meat during the day, whatsoever. IF I eat meat at night, it is baked or grilled fish. That is it.

I ignore that on the weekends, when I will eat any kind of wild game or truly free range poultry that is locally grown.

I do NOT eat: dairy, eggs (unless bought locally from neighbors who keep their animals in clean, humane conditions), or any meat purchased at a grocery store.

I am eliminating processed foods. I eat sprouted grain bread, sprouted grain pasta, organic sauces, etc. No fast food. No meals-in-a-box. Lots of COLOR. No GMOs.

It’s harder to eat well when you don’t have access to good, organic products. I live in rural Mississippi. There is no co-op, there is no health food store. So I have been fortunate enough to get to know some wonderful women who want to change that. I’ve gotten involved with them and we are organizing an Organic Foods Buying Club. Through the buying club we can access thousands of products and have them delivered weekly or bi-weekly, then we go and pick up our shipment and break it down for all the other members to come pick up their order. It’s a lot of work, but a lot of reward too.

People THINK eating well costs so much more. WRONG. First of all, you can grow your own organic produce. Even without much space, even without much time, even in an apartment – there are things you can grow. That’s cheap. Also, most people have no clue how much money they spend on fast food or going out to eat. Once I eliminated those costs, it really is at least as inexpensive to eat organic and GMO-free.

The products that cost more usually last longer. I paid $10 for a really amazing toothbrush recently that is more environment-friendly and has recyclable packaging … but it will last at least 50% longer than the average toothbrush. Stevia seems expensive until you realize that two TABLESPOONS of it equal a CUP of sugar. There are plenty of these examples.

Anyway, this blog will be talking a lot more about environmentally friendly products, diy crafts, living green, and eating green… and less about “raw”. At least for now. Eventually I do plan on transitioning to a nearly all-raw diet, but my body has GOT to get there at a much slower pace because I cannot be sick all the time while I detox it from the drugs (i.e. processed foods) that is has been hooked on for 30 years.

What do you eat??

Since I’ve been eating raw (about a week in and about 7 pounds lighter!) many people have asked me what, exactly, I eat every day. Let me reiterate that I am not 100% raw, nor is that my goal, but I strive to eat as close to that as possible. The goal is to have my diet full of “living foods” rather than “dead foods” and to eat foods as close to possible to their natural state (i.e. raw carrots are better than steamed carrots).

I am no gourmet cook and anyone who knows me knows that I’ve never been that domestic in the kitchen. I just don’t love it. I love fried food that someone else fries, that’s what I love. So I have to keep it simple in order to stick with it, though I will say that I’m loving what I’m eating so much that I can see some gourmet raw recipes in the future and I can’t wait to share those with y’all.

Basically, this is what I eat all day:

Around 7 am I have 32 oz. of Green Lemonade:

YUM!

Yummy-looking and yummy-tasting!

I do this by juicing the following ingredients:

FUEL!

6 stalks of kale, any type (I use mustard greens)
1 head of romaine lettuce
1 organic lemon (with peel)
2 Fuji apples
A little bit of fresh ginger root

Juice it all up and voila, you have my favorite juice, one that you cannot drink too much of, one that tastes like a delicious spiced lemonade, a perfect pick-me-up. This recipe produces enough juice for two people to have a large 16 oz. glass, but I have both of them myself:

Green Lemonade

It needs to be consumed immediately, as the juice starts to lose its nutrients right away. It isn’t hard to chug down this delicious recipe, so I always finish both glasses in well under 15 minutes. That makes me really full and I don’t want to eat for awhile. When I do want get hungry, I eat fruit! And oh do I love picking out what fruit I want to eat. Oranges, apples, grapes, melon, bananas, mangoes, fresh pineapple, pears. I pig out on fruit as much as I want, all the way up to lunch.

But fruit is fuel, so if you’re gonna eat a lot of it, you need to be moving, moving, moving! I try to stay busy as I munch all morning.

I eat fruit right up until lunchtime, and I quit about an hour before I have lunch. According to the philosophy I follow, I want to wait 30 minutes after eating fruit before I have lunch; less time if it’s melon, a little more time if it’s banana. And for lunch I basically have one of two things: a huge salad, or an avocado sandwich.

Huge salad

Or…

 

Avocado sammich

One recipe essential to either of these dishes is Liquid Gold Elixir:
2 c fresh lemon juice (I juice this)
3 cloves of garlic (I get this from my backyard!)
2 T of minced ginger
3 T of Nama Shoyu soy sauce
5 T of raw honey
1 1/2 c cold pressed olive oil

I blend all the ingredients except the oil, then slowly add the oil until its blended. I have to mess with the proportions more, though, because it’s still a bit runny, but it’s delicious! On the salad I use it as dressing (though I’m making some raw ranch this week and will tell you all about it and give you the recipe), and on the sandwich I use it as a spread/moistener for the bread. Another note on the bread: the bread above was used for my first avocado sammich and it’s whole wheat, but now I’m using raw split grain bread that you have to find at Whole Foods or online.

I combine this with a Lara Bar if I want, or I may have a Lara Bar later to stave off hunger before dark. I keep a “raw until dinner” regimine, so if I want something before dinner I try for raw veggies. If I get a craving for fats I eat raw nuts or an almond butter spread on raw flax seed split grain crackers.

For dinner, I keep things simple. I stick to my principles: No red meat, nothing fried, few processed foods, no dairy, at least 50% of the meal is green. So for instance, the other day I made my own dry rub recipe. I wrote it down somewhere in case it wound up fabulous (it did), but all I remember now is that it contained fresh garlic, fresh onion, fresh oregano, fresh thyme, paprika, cayenne pepper, sea salt, and fresh ground pepper. I rubbed this on some boneless skinless chicken breast filets and used it warm with my Liquid Gold Elixir on a salad for supper.

 

Salad with grilled chicken and liquid gold elixir

If I want a treat afterward, I indulge myself. I’ll have sweet tea (sweetened with stevia or agave nectar), “pecan pie” (a raw, shelled pecan shoved into a date), almond butter (I’m going to try my hand at making my own this week! I’m also going to try to make a healthier version of Nutella, so stay tuned) spread onto raw flax seed split grain crackers, or dark chocolate (70% or more cocoa). This week I’m going to make some whole wheat pasta with Seeds of Change pasta sauce (available at Whole Foods) and try my hand at making raw ice cream (with banana or coconut as a base).

I’ll also allow myself to eat cooked vegetables at dinner. The other night I had nothing but blackeyed peas and butter beans for supper. Yes, I had to pass up the cornbread but the upshot is that I eat as much as I want of what I can have!

I’m completely open to questions, so if you have some, lay ’em on me!

Rapid Detox

Every raw food site I’ve seen will caution you against transitioning to raw too quickly. I’m not sure I can stop myself. I read a lot before jumping into raw foods, but once I jumped, I dove in. The first few days I felt so amazing that I was certain I wouldn’t cave in to sweet temptations or fast food conveniences.

I was loving eating raw. Now, when I say “eating raw”, I’m not 100% raw. The nearest Whole Foods is nearly two hours away and there are certain things I just can’t get around here. Nama Shoyu soy sauce for example. Sprouted grain bread. Seeds of Change pasta sauce. In recipes I use low sodium soy instead and I have had bread once since starting my new lifestyle, and I just had whole wheat. I paid attention to the ingredients, not the calories, when making my alternative selections.

But as far as my body is concerned, I might as well have gone 100% raw vegan overnight. I weigh a lot. More importantly, I was eating a massive amount of crap. Just… not food. After a couple of days on the diet, realizing how amazing things could taste and how they could be flavored so naturally and easily, I was like, “Oh well, forget it – I’m never putting that garbage back into my body!”

So for the past six days I have completely and totally eliminated from my diet:

All sugar – not one bit in anything I eat
All dairy – no milk, no cheese, nada

Red meat – I had a small amount of grilled chicken on two different occasions on a salad, but other than that, I haven’t had meat at all.

Any and all processed foods except for two slices of whole wheat bread in the past six days

Yesterday my body started really feeling the intense effects of such a rapid detox. I juiced for the first time. I was so excited! I got my juicer out and had an awesome time washing and lining up my vegetables to juice. I absolutely love cutting fresh ginger root. It smells amazing. I made green lemonade, which pretty much consists of a whole celery “bunch”, a few fist fulls of leafy greens (I used a mixture of lettuce and spinach leaves), an inch or so of ginger root, two apples, and a lemon.

Because I know that the juice is more packed with nutritious benefits the sooner it’s ingested, I gulped it down quickly. It tasted delicious. Tart, like lemonade, but sweetened just enough with the apples. Seemed like the very best hot weather drink ever. I had about 22 ounces or so.

Within 20 minutes I had to sprint for the bathroom. How can I say this without being too graphic? I just won’t. Use your imagination. This activity continued for about 40 minutes, during which time I would keep thinking it was over and it would hit me again. As soon as I could get easy, I completely passed out. I was zapped of all that wonderful energy I’d been experiencing over the past several days. I ran a fever. And before, during, and after that I have had headaches. I’ve also experienced irritability, bloating, insomnia, nightmares, and have been coughing up disgusting mucous so thick I almost choke.

I feel very, very sick. Sometimes it is hard to concentrate.

None of this sounds good, right? So I looked up my symptoms and The Raw Foods Witch’s website confirmed what I suspected: my body has been rapidly taken off of all of its “drugs” and is going through detox.

The Raw Foods Witch assures her readers that detox will not last forever, and will get better and better if you push through it. However, she – just like every other source I’ve consulted for help – cautions against a rapid detox. Most raw foodists or anyone into this lifestyle will tell you to make certain changes, one at a time. You may cut out dairy for a few weeks, then cut out red meat for a few weeks too, etc., and you build on those changes.

But I read everything, I believe in this lifestyle. I truly do not want to put junk in my body. I look at anything other than natural foods as Unfit for Human Consumption – I can’t bring myself to cave and eat them. I passed right by a box of Krispy Kreme donuts this morning in the kitchen. No temptation. There is not one single food I shouldn’t have that I want anymore. I know that sounds shocking. I packed on 20 pounds FAST when I moved back to central Mississippi, and Ben and Jerry’s had a lot to do with that. Now the thought of eating B&J Milk & Cookies ice cream doesn’t only fail to tempt me, it downright disgusts me to think of eating it.

How does someone like me give up dairy so quickly? When I think over all the foods I truly, truly loved I cannot think of one that I would rather have over a fresh raw meal. I am not tempted in the least – quite the opposite. I have got to fight the urge to go buy a home enema kit to facilitate the detoxing further. That is very unlike me.

I just want the gross feeling I have to go away, but I can’t fathom trying to help it by cramming junk into my body. I’m going to keep dealing with it and I’ll let y’all know how it’s going as the days progress.

I will tell you that at the end of Day 4 I had lost a little over 4lbs.

Her blue body everything we know…

We Have a Beautiful Mother
Alice Walker

We have a beautiful
mother
Her hills
are buffaloes
Her buffaloes
hills.

We have a beautiful
mother
Her oceans
are wombs
Her wombs
oceans.

We have a beautiful
mother
Her teeth
the white stones
at the edge
of the water
the summer grasses
her plentiful
hair.

We have a beautiful
mother
Her green lap
immense
Her brown embrace
eternal
Her blue body
everything
we know.

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