organic valley coupons

i just stumbled onto this site where you can print $1 off coupons for organic valley products (milk, soy milk, lactose free milk, butter, cottage cheese and cheese). they require an email address and then you can print up to four of each coupon!

i’ll also add the link to the best price list.

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PURGE!

if you’re in the portland area, i highly recommend you visit this site and see if you can recycle anything you might be purging. by now i hope you know how jen and i feel about recycling (and not filling landfills in general), so this post should come as no surprise.

for more information, visit this page. it goes into detail about what will and won’t be accepted and how to sort it. don’t be afraid- it’s minimal work and the payoff is huge!

this page will provide you with the locations.

so c’mon! PURGE! get rid of all of that plastic crap that’s taking up space and leaching toxins. go take inventory of your backyard and ditch the junk now!

what’s in the meds?

after all of this hoopla of cleaning out the pantry, fridge and cupboards, i sat in front of my medicine cabinet this morning and started to wonder what the hell’s in our medications. i have a ton (as you can see) and i try to purge it frequently. i honestly can’t quite figure out what we have all this crap for, but i seem to have a pill to ease nearly every ailment, one symptom at a time.

in my defense, not a single one is expired. this i know. everytime we move (on average, once a year) i go through the meds and toss the expired ones. a longtime friend (who really should be a professional organizer and cleaner) used to help me sort and arrange the medicine cabinet to make it more functional and that would cause me to re-evaluate everything, and yet i still have this disaster of a cabinet full of chemicals.

i’m a lost cause.

i guess what i’m wondering is if anyone has done any research on what’s in our meds. obviously, chemical laden substances are never good, but i’m also willing to accept that my husband will always need a bottle of excedrin migraine within his reach.

since having the babies, i’m much more cautious about what i put in their little bodies. they get the very occasional dose of tylenol, but only when things are really uncomfortable. for the most part, i try to limit them to their vitamins and natural remedies.

is anyone else out there dealing with the same challenge? how are you handling the decisions? and what about first aid stuff?

No “Specialty” Food for Poor People

Today, I sent the following letter to Activistas. I hope you’ll take a moment to read it, too.

I would like to call your attention to a serious frustration that I have been dealing with as a mom on government aid.

I have two daughters, ages 23 months and 5 months, and I am on WIC and food stamps. It’s common knowledge that it is very difficult to feed a family on food stamps alone, but with my husband in school, we have been doing our best to do just that.

Recently, I have been taking great pains (see budgethippies.blogspot.com) to switch our family over to organic food. As you can imagine, making food stamps stretch to cover an organic diet is a huge challenge, but I believe that my daughters deserve to eat food that is free of pesticides, antibiotics, and artificial hormones. This has meant regular trips to discount grocers in search of soon-to-expire organic goods, a reduction of meat in meals, more cooking from scratch, and paying a premium for produce, but I think it’s worth it.

A sweet little grocery store, The Green Grocer, just opened across the street from my discount grocer. Sweet! I thought. I can go over there after my discount trip and pick up the things that I didn’t find on discount! I was excited to discover that they carried hard-to-find organic produce, like fresh ginger (a good ginger tea is great for a cold!), as well as the best prices I’ve seen on organic bread and organic palm oil shortening.

I was not so excited to learn that they had been denied the right to take food stamps. When I called the USDA to complain, the woman in charge said, “You are not allowed to shop at specialty stores.”

Apparently, pesticide-free food is too good for me.

True, I can get some of these foods other places, although I have to drive 3 times as far for most of it. But it is very frustrating that I can’t frequent the new local market where the sweet owner gives my daughter free snacks and I can buy almost anything in bulk to avoid extra packaging.

This is almost as frustrating as WIC, which is essentially useless to me now, since they do not allow anything that you buy with their checks to be organic (the exception is the $20 in farmer’s market money that they give out every summer). Free milk with antibiotics, hormones, and pus? Free cheese filled with accumulated pesticides from all of the over-treated grain that the cow has eaten? Free hydrogenated peanut butter? I’m thankful that these services exist, but I wish that I didn’t have to choose between what’s best for my family and what’s most helpful to our budget. If WIC allowed me to simply purchase half the quantity of food that they do now, but to purchase organic food instead, it would be such a blessing!

Don’t get me wrong – I am grateful for both WIC and food stamps, and to the taxpayers who are helping us to make ends meet as my husband gets through school. Our experience at the receiving end of these services has caused me to actually look forward to being in a higher tax bracket, because I will know that our taxes will be going to people who are experiencing what we have experienced.

But when the government insists on distributing that money in a way that limits my ability to care for my family, I am upset, not only for myself, but also for all of the taxpayers who are funding this program, and will later have to fund health care to undo the damage that these products are doing to our bodies. These agencies are very behind-the-times scientifically if they think that organic food is elite and unnecessary. And they are bigoted if they believe that lower-income people do not deserve healthy food.

I would like to urge anyone willing to take a stand to contact WIC, the Department of Human Services, and the USDA, as well as the media and anyone else who might be influential, and to tell them that the government should lead the way in healthy eating. With our current epidemics of obesity, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and diabetes, the current method of taking care of the underprivileged is unwise and unacceptable.

You can go here to contact WIC,  here to contact the Oregon Department of Human Services, and here to contact the USDA.

Burt’s Bees – How Should We React?

By now, it’s no secret that Clorox has recently purchased Burt’s Bees.

There has been a lot of debate among hippies like ourselves about whether this is good, bad, or neither. I’d like to take a moment and share what I believe about the subject.

Burt’s Bees, first of all, creates great products. Their products are natural, environmentally friendly, affordable (more or less), and widely available. Being able to drop into the nearest supermarket and pick up a tube of Burt’s Bees lip balm is a wonderful convenience for the environmentally-minded consumer.

I use Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm and Burt’s Bees diaper rash cream. I have been very pleased with both products.

So, obviously, there are practical reasons to buy Burt’s Bees.

HOWEVER, if it is important to you to make sure that you money is only going to do good things, I would discourage you from buying Burt’s Bees.

People are arguing about whether Clorox is trying to truly “go green” or if it is just trying to cash in on the current popularity of environmentalism. Sadly, I am confident that the latter is true.

The reason why I would discourage buying from Burt’s Bees is the same reason that I will always choose Wendy’s over McDonald’s.

When trans fat came under scrutiny, Wendy’s pledged to eliminate all trans fat from its restaurants, and immediately set to work doing so.

When Super Size Me, among other things, brought McDonald’s under intense scrutiny, they added some salads and apple wedges to their menu.

Do you see the difference? The sincere people change what they’re doing wrong, and the fakers add something that seems right.

Clorox manufactures bleach, along with many cleaning products that contain bleach and other harmful chemicals. These chemicals are toxic to the environment, and to your family.

If Clorox truly cared about the environment, they would start phasing out their more dangerous products in favor of more natural alternatives. Buying Burt’s Bees? Probably either a business investment or a publicity stunt. Or both.

The moral of the story? If all you can afford or access is Burt’s Bees, keep right on buying it. It’s a far better product for you and your family than conventional brands. But if you can make the switch, find a better company to give your hard-earned cash to.

in my pantry & in my head

even before jenni did her post about her changing kitchen, i had started documenting my also changing pantry.

i can’t say that i’ve bought into the stock up method with quite the gusto that jen has, but i love the idea. i think i still need to sort through some cupboards and carve out some space for stocking up. it’s been a slow purging process, but it’s starting to pick up speed. i’ve kept a box in the kitchen for the last week and any time the thought strikes me, i toss another item into the box to be donated.

probably my biggest realization is just how lazy i can be. i have 2 food processors- one large and one small. i have a chopper that you pound on with the palm of your hand in order to mince your onions. i also have 3 cutting boards and a handful of okay-this-one-will-do knives. i can’t help but wonder how many of these tools i really need. what if i had just decided to invest in one really awesome knife and forgone all of the other gadgets?

well, maybe i’d have to hold on to the large food processor….

it’s a slow process as my pantry reflects. i have my tree top apple sauce next to my organic santa cruz blueberry apple sauce. i also have the S&W tomato paste neighboring the hunts organic tomatoes. i have a nice selection of bob’s red mill beans and irish soda bread mix (mmmm…), but i still need to use up the pizza sauce.

this doesn’t bother me though. we’re making the shift.

to my credit, i gutted the pantry and was able to purge a box and a grocery bag of food that i’ve been schlepping around (probably through the last two moves). these are now in my car trunk and waiting to be donated to the food bank. i’ve also purged the “snack cupboard” and loaded it with whole grain cereals, seeds, and home made bread. the bottom of the fruit bowl hasn’t seen the light of day for days now, but there’s always a hand grabbing something organic, local and juicy out of it. the people in my house are making better choices because those are the only options they have.

after a quick errand yesterday, our clan came home ravenous and in search of a substantial lunch. the girls were content with their usual- a tortilla with sun butter and an apple on the side. tom and i were looking for food though- real food. our eyes settled on the overflowing bowl in the bottom of the fridge. eggs. it was settled. we weren’t shy. i scrambled up 7 of the suckers and laid thick slices of homemade whole wheat bread on the side. thank god my mom has chickens and happily shares the wealth with us. we were singing those hens’ praise yesterday!

i realized later that part of the shift that we’re making is to look at meals differently. who on earth decided that sweet breads and eggs were for breakfast and sandwiches were for lunch? what’s wrong with mixing it up, depending on what you have on hand? eating with the seasons and the changes of the earth seems natural and harmonious.

our final step is to go local. our lunch of eggs was a great start. i fully realize that this will be very difficult to implement, but we’re going to give it a shot. already the challenge has eaten up hours of internet research but fortunately we have outstanding resources all around us so it’s not going to be impossible. expensive and time consuming at first? oh yes. beneficial? you bet.

i’m excited to learn the art of canning and food preservation. it’s something i wish i had learned from my great grandmother, but will be content to learn from anyone willing to teach me (or from a website, if necessary). next winter, instead of seeing hunts canned tomatoes in my pantry, you’ll see my labels facing out.

Evidence of a Changing Kitchen

I’m making little changes. Just step into my kitchen, and you’ll see!

An empty, glass bottle of organic juice is soaking in hot, soapy water. I plan to remove the label and use it as a water bottle.

A glass pitcher of water sits on the counter. We pour our water in here from the Brita pitcher immediately after filtering, to prevent the plastic from leeching into the water.

2 bunches of organic bananas! I wanted to make sure we had more than enough. I’ll probably use some of them to make banana bread.

Let’s peek in my fridge! There’s some homemade chicken broth chilling – couldn’t let those free range chicken bones go to waste!

A gallon of organic milk and a glass jug of organic, unfiltered apple juice sit beside the broth, as well as an almond butter jar that is being re-used to store leftover soup.

On the bottom shelf, you can see the organic butter that I bought yesterday.

On the table sit two ripe, organic tangelos, waiting to be eaten. Beside them, paper bags full of organic oranges and apples sit ripening.

I have a long way to go, but it’s heartening to see the changes happening. When I notice these little differences, it warms my heart to realize that I am taking steps toward taking better care of my family and myself.