While we were busy enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and counting our blessings for food and health, we may have done a bad thing. We ended up renting and watching Food, Inc.
The movie is a bit of a documentary and expose on the food industry and the largely mechanized version of food growth, production, and delivery to consumers. Who controls the manufacture and quality? Not the FDA apparently, but for the moment, the food conglomerates. We are talking big business and some questionable practices. The moral of the story? There are some good guys out there and they will listen if we as a nation stand up and demand better quality food at better prices.
At fist, I was much saddened and disheartened by the movie. But, I now realize we will probably look back on this time in fifty years and scoff when people try and tell us how they ate. “Really? Food with little nutrional value and all those nasty trans, corn related, disease causing food substitutes? No wonder y’all needed healthcare!” Recognize any of same voices we now use when we look back on the tobacco industry? Granted, it still has room for improvement, but we know the risks and they are out in the open for tobacco and additives. We will hopefully one day soon understand the epidemic of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and even some cancers as related to food. For now, we speculate.
Recent efforts to eat better, live simply and be more conscious have made me realize it isn’t easy, but worth it. I am glad we watched the movie. It was thought provoking, disheaertening and empowering at the same time. Here is to lifting the veil and taking the harder but long term road for health.
I have been on a strict regimen of simplicity in diet and workout lately. The motivation is to get past the “do things better a little bit at a time.” The incremental is not working. I have been saying I will do better for months, and there is always some justification or excuse. Once the slippery slope started sliding, I realized I needed drastic changes.
The two biggest take aways so far?
Simple is hard work. There is a reason things are called “convenience foods” and prepackaged does save time.
Simple diet. It works to cleanse and heal the body on it’s natural rhythms.
One of the goals has been to not eat prepackaged foods, processed sugars, no added salt and buy local and organic when possible. I find planning out the shopping trips and meals VERY time consuming. I have been relying on energy bars, energy shakes and pre-cooked meals for a long time. I ate fairly healthy, no sodas, no trans or hydrogenated extras, but would let a little (sometimes a lot) of sodium sneak in for convenience. Now I am constantly steaming vegetables and buying fruit, trying to dehydrate when possible and cook healthy proteins. Between shopping, working, cooking, working out, eating and getting a full recuperative night of sleep, there isn’t much time. Whew. Not easy, but the results are worth it so far.
I have only been at this for a month, and plan on a 90 strict regimen with an evaluation of goals at that point. Then I can decide, what can I reintroduce back in my life, and if I will scale back workouts? We will see what the next set of goals requires. Why so strict? Because it is working! I have a much more even level of energy throughout the day both physically and mentally. Clothes feel better and I am working on functional exercises designed to let my body move and perform instead of just lose weight or gain muscle. Increased health benefits are totally worth the investment. It doesn’t seem so rigid when I consider both the short and long term return on my health.
With concern over health care and cost of health care, taking care of your body seems wise. Many people find themselves laid off in the flailing economy and without benefits as their COBRA runs out. Long term, it is really unclear what our healthcare industry will look like in years to come. Considering so many ailments are directly related to how we live our lives (not all, but many), I am feeling a lot better about getting back on track to a more sustainable diet and physical regimen.
Again, this isn’t as easy as just buying off the shelf what is provided and prepared. It is work and very conscious effort. At first it was a bit of sacrifice, but not the rewards are making the choices easier. I really wish the food industry would do much more to make healthy foods available. Not just foods advertised as healthy!
We have been doing some work clearing a bit of land for future camping trips and overnight stays. Tough work, but we had some help from my brother who camped out for a few days. It is a good 20 miles into town, and sometimes you just don’t want to drive in. Current setup = no electricity, water brought in, one cooler and one camp stove. He is burning lots of calories, so keeping hydrated and fed with decent nutrition has been a challenge.
Last year, we tried a few freeze-dried camping foods during some local power outages. These were, how do I say this?…. Not your brother’s MREs of questionable age. These were fantastic. In fact, we kind of wanted to enjoy a few more once the power was back on. Camp out in the living room anyone?
During the hurricane, we tried Mountain House Chicken and Mashed Potato pouches, chocolate mousse for a comfort food and a few others. This week we also tried Alpine Aire Foods. We gobbled these up with great taste, no cleanup and kept working with full bellies. Both were excellent and depending on flavours, I would recommend both brands. The both are easy to rehydrate and the taste is more than adequate. For example, to heat and serve the chicken and mashed potatoes, remove the mashed potato packet from the pouch. Add hot water and rehydrate the chicken breast, remove chicken and use the water to make mashed potatoes. Serve and eat. Nom, nom. Yum!
This past week, we gave good reviews to the rice and chicken, mexican style chicken and rice, lasagna and well… everyone was a little afraid to try the ice cream, but it is next on the list. These are expensive, but well preserved with a long shelf life of 7 years for pouches and closer to ten or more for #10 cans. We are buying a few more and will probably pick up a few for each car and backpack “just in case.” Well okay, we will probably pick up a few for those backyard campouts as well!
Next on the list, I SO want to try some Mary Jane’s Organic BackPack Foods. This looks incredibly good and love all the extra information about the company and philosophy. That’s being Ready with responsibility!
The news today on all major news networks is about Swine Flu and the cases confirmed in Mexico, Texas, California and now possibly Kansas.
This has some nastiness potential, but it seems all government agencies including the CDC and WHO are doing all the right things for social containment. World Health Organization has declared the Swine Flu Epidemic and International Public Health Emergency which gives them the personnel and resources to follow, track and support the local agencies.
For information on how to respond and recognize symptoms, review the sites above. Now is a good time to top off any over the counter medications to support a flu like illness and check expiration dates on medicines. Make sure you have current medications for diarrhea, fever reducing medication, and rehydration solutions. Have on hand Pedialyte or similar such as Gatorade diluted with water to support an illness of stomach flu symptoms. If you are out at the store, make sure you have some easy to store foods requiring little or no preparation such as soups, juices and teas.
Finally, make sure you keep good disinfectants on hand and remember to wash hands often, keep surfaces clean, and cough or sneeze into tissues that are disposed of properly. Watch your local news for updates and take the time to talk about Pandemic preparedness with your family since it is on the news anyway.
Follow recent events using these resources:
Use the HealthMap to track events for last 30 days.
Subscribe to the RSS feed for news from the World Health Organization.
We spent this past weekend in our soon-to-be home, a 35’ Class A motorhome. It seems fitting for an Earth Day post as we learned how small our impact and footprint will be on the environment. Here are some of the things we noted:
Storage and recycling becomes necessity with limited space. You can’t buy much and bring it home, since there is not an extra closet or space for storage.
Water consumption is lower, a 6 gallon water heater shortens the morning shower!
Grey water is separate and can be captured for use in a garden or for plants. We will be growing container vegetables and herbs.
Electricity is controlled by a 30 amp plug at the utility pole. If you have too many appliances on at once, you blow your circuit breaker.
Heating and cooling a smaller space is more efficient.
Natural air and ventilation help maintain climate control. We used open ventilation, screen doors, and fans much more to control buildup of humidity and condensation in the smaller space.
All of these things led to a much greater awareness of recycling trash (no room for a big kitchen garbage can), using items only as needed, and understanding the space and environment we were connected to. The outside and inside began to blur and we were much more connected all weekend. It wasn’t camping, we were quite comfortable. But it was full-time living with nature and raised our awareness of activities for our best interests.
We made our commitment in February and I think I realize new benefits and new challenges each week. You see, we are moving. To an RV, motorhome, motorcoach, Class A rig or tiny, tiny home on wheels. It goes by many names, but so far… .the best seems to be – small footprint.
The journey officially begins in May after we finish renovating our 1998 Fleetwood Bounder. We will move into our RV and live in it “full-timing.” Not necessarily traveling, but mostly parked at RV sites in our metro area. Weekends will be spent in town or at our land where we will work on developing a weekend getaway in the country.
After months of research and test drives, we purchased the RV last month from Best PreOwned RV and have started some basic updates and renovations. The 35’ gas powered RV has been mechanically checked and the onboard living appliances tested. We just replaced the carpet with new flooring, but didn’t quite get the chance to make sure the new wood was as earth friendly as possible before installation. It may come out someday and be recycled for something more sustainable, but we will work with what we have for now. We have ordered no V.O.C. paint from the helpful staff at www.newliving.net and are currently deciding on countertop and tankless water heater options. One of our goals is to decrease our footprint, be more earth friendly and responsible towards our self and our neighbors. So far, pretty good. Anticipation is building!
The biggest challenge is rightsizing, but we are finding it easier than expected. So far, quite a few large pieces of furniture have been placed in new homes through Craigslist and we continue to sort smaller items for upcoming garage sales and charitable donations. Some objects definitely hold memories attached, but letting some of those go for new adventures and travels seems like a fair trade when we wrestle with it a few days. The steadily reducing clutter is keeping us focused. Our new life will cause some choices, but we are looking forward to it and the lessons along the way.
How does this fit on the Ready Queen’s blog? We are planning on this providing us with options. Options to be more financially secure, live a responsible life, develop a second homesite outside of Houston for weather related emergencies and allow us to focus on simple living. Not the answer for everyone, but one we find is right and rightsized.
I am reading a great book about Rightsizing by Ciji Ware. The full title is “Rightsizing Your Life – Simplifying Your Surroundings While Keeping What Matters Most.” Like many people cautiously watching the economy, I am looking around at all the Things (Stuff) I have and trying to decide if I need it or not. It seems the answer is more often – not. But, how do I decide a logical vs. an emotional argument.
Next, when I realize I may not need something, how do I get rid of it? Most items won’t ever bring back the full monetary value needed to obtain them. Most of our possessions depreciate and are valuable only to us. So when we need to let go of them, through Craigslist, eBay or purely through a charitable donation, we can’t justify the loss of value. So, we keep our stuff. It is an emotional decision really. Logically, we typically spend more money paying for the interest on, repair of, or larger home to store the things we hardly ever use. Kind of a never ending cycle of work hard to get more things and keep the things we have.
If a decision is finally reached to let go of an item, then is it a donation or a possible financial gain? The real value may not come in the resale of the item, but in the reduced clutter, gained space and reduced cost of upkeep or storage. Inherent costs associated with an item continue to build while it’s value may decline. Selling at a loss, may be a perfectly acceptable gain for the long run. It’s also perfectly okay to keep sentimental things, but understanding the why and associated cost are important. One of the exercises I have found from another blog involves a suitcase test. If you could only pack one suitcase and had to leave everything behind, what would you take? Do you really need everything else? It is harsh, and not a good barometer for everyday living. But, the Suitcase Test does make you appreciate even more what you have and realize how much we don’t need some of our cherished items.
One of the tips I found embarrassingly effective from the book Rightsizing was to justify keeping unused items verbally. If you can say it out loud, and convince someone else why you need the expensive dress that no longer fits, then keep it. But in the verbalizing, you may find you can’t even convince yourself. If not, consider other options.
As most families and individuals are scaling back on their purchase of things, or may be considering Rightsizing to a more comfortable and attainable size of life, check out local resources to make your living space sized to your needs. It can be a slow process, but take one room, one closet, or even one drawer at a time and begin to value the things you really enjoy and need. Enjoy what you keep, and enjoy letting go of the rest.
An open Letter from Michael Pollan on the coming food crisis and why it may be one of the most important challenges for the next presidency. It has not been a topic of the current campaigns, but the newly elected president will decide important policy regarding our food supply.
Organic gardening and producing your own food is quite a new movement. The United States has become an importer of food. We now import more than we produce. The cost of this will eventually be passed on to the everyday consumer.
I am working on the small backyard and raised bed garden to help supplement my families food. We enjoy the local farmer’s markets and have decided we want a bit more control over what goes in our own bodies.
This video from the Dervaes family is amazing, they raise over 6,000 pounds of food a year on about 1/10th of an acre of land. Wow.
Hurricane Ike just off the coast of Texas. We lost power about 30 minutes after this screen photo, and are still without power ten days later. When power returns, what worked and what didn’t. The short answer is we are doing okay, no physical damage and only downed trees and limbs on the fence and yard. House is in good shape and we are learning very much about camping in our own modern house.