For over two years I’ve had a lemon tree. This lemon tree is very stubborn because it doesn’t want to sprout any lemons! I think it’s died and come back to life multiple times. I’ve heard and read that it takes a while for lemons to grow, and that I should have purchased a tree that already had lemons growing on it, etc. My dream is that one day (and hopefully soon) I can just step outside and pull a lemon off my tree. But until that day comes… to the store I go.
Module 6 was all about farming. It discussed farming best practices which include: organic ways of growing produce, balanced soil (this uses crop rotation instead of chemicals to improve soil fertility), and sustainable farming (i.e. repurposing manure as organic fertilizer). I am no farmer. To say I don’t have a green thumb is an understatement. I’m capable of killing succulents. Succulents. I bet you didn’t even know that was possible, but I’m here to tell you that it is and I’m guilty. Obviously no surprise then that my lemon tree won’t give. Maybe I should pick up a new hobby and get into gardening. I’m very tempted with this amazing website that IIN provided ALL about gardening. It includes so many helpful tips from working with challenging garden styles (like my home which doesn’t have a yard) to growing plants inside, making your own perfume, and using dried flowers in art. So cool! If any of that sounds appealing to you please check out this site!
So I’ve been obsessed with the idea that food is medicine. I firmly believe this because I’ve seen how changing the way I eat (and my relationship with food in general) has healed me. But this week one of the teachers added on to this idea: “the places where food is grown – the air, the soil – is the medicine.” This got me thinking. Our health is completely connected to and dependent on farms. With this in mind, I can justify shopping local and organic. I haven’t been to a lot of farmer’s markets, but I want to make it a habit so that I can really learn and see for myself where my food is coming from.
We stumbled upon this urban farm while on vacation in New York last weekend. What a cool concept: food grown by students for their public school cafeterias, with over 100 varieties of vegetables, herbs, and grains!
I learned it is estimated that nearly SIX BILLION pounds of pesticides are used throughout the globe each year! Pesticides have been linked to hormone disruption, skin, eye, and lung irritation, brain and nervous system toxicity, and cancer. Chronic effects from repeated exposure include reproductive effects, birth defects, and nerve and blood disorders. This alone is reason for me to spend a few extra dollars each grocery trip on organic produce. Let’s clarify what organic means: of, relating to, yielding, or involving the use of food produced with the use of feed or fertilizer of plant or animal origin without employment of chemically formulated fertilizers, growth stimulants, antibiotics, or pesticides. Now I realize that in some situations it’s not always possible to shop organic. IIN has done a wonderful job at referring me to a “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” cheat sheet. The dirty dozen are more likely to have pesticides so when shopping, you should opt for organic with these items. The clean 15 – you guessed it – are considered cleaner so you may be able to get away with non-organic. Be sure to check it out before your next shopping trip! (It’s also updated each year so is subject to change). Also, this is a great website for eating organic while on a budget!
So how do you know if something is organic, non-GMO, or pesticide free? Look at the labels or price lookup codes (PLU). Organic foods typically have a 5-digit code that begin with the number 9. Conventional produce (non-organic) usually have a 4-digit code that begin with a 3 or 4. This system is completely voluntary though, so not all produce will have these codes. Check out this quick video that is helpful and serves as a great reminder when shopping. (This banana is safe!)
I put my organic search skills to the test this past holiday weekend. I bought all different types of fruit, paying attention the PLU labels and the “dirty dozen/clean 15” rule of thumb. My purchases made for some yummy Sangria that I enjoyed with my husband and his family over the 4th. It’s tasty and nutritious (well minus the alcohol!)…
Sweet Summer Sangria
- 2 bottles of white wine (I used $4.99 Riesling from Trader Joe’s)
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- 6 white peaches diced
- 2 lemons sliced
- 1 lime sliced
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1/2 cup halved strawberries (about 15 small ones)
- 1 cup soda water
- 2 cups ice cubes
- optional 1 tbsp coconut sugar to taste
I did not store overnight, but made it about 2 hours before serving and it hit the spot! I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday!
Food for thought: Try to start paying attention to the items you’re buying. Are you shopping the perimeter of the store? Are you looking at labels? Do you know where to find organic items compared to conventional? Once you start tuning into these things grocery shopping becomes fun… at least it is for me!