Tag Archives: natural

Elusive Serenity

I have written before that I view decrappification as having multiple aspects.  There is the rather obvious one of minimizing the number of possessions in my home.  That leads to a streamlining of the way I organize my home, which is to say less stuff to take care of means a less cluttered environment.  A third aspect, by no means the last, is a certain spiritual decluttering that comes with pursuit of simplicity.

The funny thing is, spiritual serenity can be quite elusive if it’s actively sought.  Think of trying to hold on to a slippery wet bar of soap-the harder you try, the less likely you are to succeed.  This past Sunday I found such serenity even though I was not actively seeking it.

I found it while planting my gardens.  As I was digging up my raised beds, the aroma of soil and compost calmed me.  I got my hands right into the soil as I transplanted my seedlings, and the feel of the sun-warmed soil soothed me.  I marveled at how tiny the kale seeds are and the potential they contain despite their small size.  I enjoyed watching wildlife from insects exploring the newly turned-over soil to the trio of bald eagles that slowly drifted on thermals above me.  And I had a sense of satisfaction from taking personal and direct responsibility for the source and quality of my food.

All this without even trying!

my gardnes 2014

Simplified Eating

A couple of weeks ago I made a decision to no longer eat meat, based largely upon ethical choices.  There’s a lot more to this decision than that simple sentence suggests, but this post isn’t about why I chose as I did.  It’s about how I have simplified my cooking and eating.

First, I make my life easier during the week by pre-cooking a few staples during the weekend.  I make a big batch of organic pasta of some variety, a couple (dry) cups of brown rice, and some quinoa.  I also steam a good sized bunch of kale or other greens to about the half-done point, as well as other veggies depending upon what’s on sale or strikes my fancy.  I store these in containers in the fridge, and when I am ready for supper I can mix and match, along with tofu, tempeh, beans, or lentils and fresh veggies like mushrooms, tomatoes and cucumbers for soup, stir fry, pasta, and so on.

I also make a big pot of something that can be frozen, like chili or stew.  This gives me an option of just popping something into the microwave.  That’s about as simple as supper gets during the week for me!

The other thing I do is make sure I have lots of herbs and spices on hand.  (Nothing is worse for my appetite than blandness.)  I add these at the last minute so that an entire batch of rice, for example, isn’t curried.  Also, I’m not above buying pasta sauce and so forth, but since it’s so easy I usually make my own by blending drained diced canned tomatoes (organic if possible) with herbs and simmering until I like the consistency-this seldom takes more than 15 minutes.

In truth, I rarely eat salads at home-I want a real meal when I get home from work.  By having the majority of my cooking done on Sunday, I can easily and quickly whip up a tasty meal in very little time during the work week.


Living Simply

What does it mean to live a simple life?  Let’s be honest with each other here.  Living simply quite likely means something entirely different for you than it does for me.  I am pursuing a simpler life to reduce my need for possessions, to eat more thoughtfully, to improve my health by exercising regularly, to minimize my exposure to toxic substances, and to be a better steward of the gifts God has given me.

Some of the ways I am going about this are by continuing my decrappification efforts-I’m always looking for ways to reduce my belongings in a responsible manner.  I’m going out of my way to eat as much unprocessed or minimally processed food as I can, and I plan to have a good sized garden this year to help with that.  I’m working out on a regular basis 6 days a week, which maintains my weight and keeps me off a bunch of questionable medicines with far too many potential side effects.  I bathe and wash myself with simple unadulterated soaps, and I use nontoxic personal care products, thus minimizing my exposure to excitogens, hormone disruptors and all sorts of compounds ending in “-icide”.

Obviously, this is far from a comprehensive list.  In broad terms I try to be aware of my needs, surroundings and situations, so that I can be thoughtful and considerate in my actions.  (This reduces a lot stress, let me tell you, and that too is simplifying in its own way.)  So I suppose that the short version of all this is that for me, simple living does not mean living an austere life.  It means living a life in which I am aware of my choices and their repercussions, and doing my utmost to choose wisely.

I encourage you to take a few quiet moments and consider what living simply might mean to you.  It would be a wise investment of your time.


I Stopped Using Soap 2 Years Ago

Okay, it’s more accurate to say that I gave up scented products the better part of 2 years ago.  No longer does Irish Spring reside on the rack in my shower.  Gone are the halcyon days of liberally splashing Old Spice all over myself.  Speed Stick is on a slow boat to China.  I no longer use any soap or personal hygiene products that contain perfumes, triclosans, preservatives, dyes, or pretty much anything I can’t pronounce in one try.

So what do I use?  For washing up, including washing my hair, I use Kirk’s Original Coco Castille bar soap.  I also use Kirk’s for shaving.  I recently found an herbal scented hair conditioner from Nature’s Gate that smells very much like Old Spice.  And to prevent myself from offending in a crowd, I use Tom’s of Maine deodorant-as well as their toothpaste.  For laundry and dishes I use products from Seventh Generation.  I get all of these at the supermarket!

So what’s the purpose to this list of products? Well, I’m not getting sponsorship dollars, that’s for sure!

My point is to show that there are alternatives to products laden with allergens and endocrine disrupting chemicals.  For my part, my asthma improved markedly, a variety of constant low-grade aches disappeared, and I have not had an inkling of a flare up from an old gout attack.  I don’t have any empirical evidence but I am persuaded that switching to “natural” personal hygiene products is largely responsible for these improvements in my health.


Points in Favor of Eating Organic

There’s a lot of information available on whether eating organic food is any better for you than eating conventionally raised food. There are some fairly strict standards in place for a product to qualify as organic under Federal definitions. Skeptics (and Food, Inc. lobbyists) claim that organic food is not significantly more nutritious than organic food.

Duh. No kidding. That’s not the point. It’s more than just vitamin content that’s at stake.

For example, I have read that the USDA finds pesticides on a regular basis in the skins of things like peaches, apples, tomatoes, and potatoes. That alone is enough to convince me to eat organic. I go out of my way to avoid eating additives, preservatives and so forth. I sure as heck don’t want to eat insecticide in any amount! Bio-accumulation anyone?

As a rule of thumb, organic produce and meat are raised at smaller, often family-scale farms, so buying organic generally helps small businesses. As to organic meat, it’s a foregone conclusion that the animals had a better life on a small farm than they do in commercial facilities like hog or chicken factories, making this an ethical choice as much as scientific. That’s another pair of points in favor by my reckoning.

Finally, certified organically raised produce does not include any genetically modified organism (GMO) seed stock, nor are animals given GMO feeds. I’ll come right out and say it: I don’t trust Frankenfood! Nothing Monsanto or Con Agra says will convince me otherwise.