When an issue of MaryJanesFarm arrives, I can’t wait to read it! I’ll browse, go back, and finally devour it page-by-page. One favorite feature is MaryJane’s column “Seven Wonders”. This post has seven little changes I’ve done that are often overlooked.
I’ve always been a gardener, crafter, and homemade foodie, but going organic was inspired by MaryJane. I’ve expanded my home to be as natural as possible. Blogging here since 2010, I’ve chronicled changing to a simpler, organic lifestyle.The most important lesson learned on my journey is to read labels! There’s everyday things with hidden dangers or ingredients. I didn’t realize these right away.
1. Make homemade bread crumbs. I collect vintage cookbooks and love homemade comfort food from time-to-time. Many favorite recipes call for bread crumbs, like Sauce-Topped Meatloaf, Fried Green Tomatoes (a summer treat) or Oven-Fried Chicken. I always kept a canister of store-bought bread crumbs in the pantry. Have you ever read the ingredients?
Even some marked “all natural” start out with “Enriched Bleached Flour”. Making them homemade is easy. First I throw the heels of (organic) bread loaves into the freezer. When I have several, I defrost the slices and toast in the toaster until crisp. Afterwards, I grind the toast into fine crumbs with my food processor, then spread the crumbs on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. The crumbs then go under my oven’s broiler for a minute on each side, (watching so they don’t burn). After cooling, I store the crispy crumbs in a glass canister with an airtight lid in my pantry. Tasty and economical, too.
2. Buy fresh lemons. In the eighties, Mom always had a refrigerated bottle of lemon juice in a convenient squirt bottle. I’m not sure if they added preservatives to those bottles back then, but if you’ve one in your fridge now, read the fine print. I noticed even ones marked “100% real juice” have something added to “preserve freshness”. Lemon juice is a staple in my kitchen…used to toss salads and pasta with olive oil, to marinate chicken, and in iced tea. I’ve found preservative-free organic lemon juice in glass bottles, but I usually buy a bag of fresh, organic lemons inexpensively. Those squeeze bottles of lemon juice aren’t worth the convenience. The acid in lemons can break down plastic, as well. A bowl of washed, fresh lemons is functional and pretty.
3. Stop eating microwave popcorn! Back in the eighties, my dad wouldn’t let us get an Atari or a microwave. Whenever we’d lament we were the-very-last-household-on-the-entire-planet without either technology, his answer was it’d be harmful to our health. Turns out Daddy was on to something. Don’t get me started on kids and smartphones (at least eighties kids still made eye and verbal contact with our friends at the arcade).
Microwave popcorn was a convenient invention. I love popcorn and it’s aroma. I worked in several offices where microwave popcorn was shared everyday, but ever hear of Popcorn Lung? It’s a disease that can’t be reversed. It’s from inhaling diacetyl, the chemical giving microwave popcorn it’s taste and smell. The bags are also made with chemicals. It contains unhealthy oils. My microwave popped popcorn in under three minutes. Popcorn on my stove takes about five, with only one pot to wash! Popcorn’s a filling snack. Anyone with growing tween-agers knows having one is like having human-sized termites invade. Stove-top popcorn isn’t such an inconvenience, and it’s cheaper, too.
4. Watch for hidden BPA. One danger of microwaving is BPA leached from warmed plastics. I switched to glass long ago, and avoid plastic as much as possible. A hidden source of absorbed BPA is from receipts, so if you don’t need a receipt, don’t take one. When you do, handle it as little as possible. (As for microwaves, that’s long been a debate. Since I never used mine much anyway, it isn’t an issue for us).
5. I’m using natural toothpaste. If I find one more friend, loved one, or acquaintance with some form of thyroid or endocrine issue, I’ll scream! Compared to other countries, it’s an epidemic here. There’s many theories how these problems are caused, but one theory is from fluoride. “Google” fluoride and you’ll find dozens of articles on the argument. Also in conventional toothpaste is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. If companies are removing it from shampoo and soap, why on earth would I want it in my mouth? I’ve gotten canker sores since I was a kid; I’ve had none since switching to natural toothpaste.
6. Chew natural gum. I’m an old-fashioned gal: I think there’s a few places neither flip-flops nor gum belong! Still, sometimes I love a piece of gum, and as a kid, nothing beat bubblegum! Read gum ingredients nowadays, and it’s like a science experiment, full of dyes and artificial ingredients. (My favorite “natural” gum is made by Glee, which I’ve found locally and on the internet, made with real chicle…remember when all gum had that)?
7. Don’t buy antibacterial soap! Studies are finding what’s in antibacterial soap is harmful and contributes to super-germs. Plain ol’ soap and water’s just fine.
I won’t live worried about constant danger. Reactions can occur to natural stuff, too (think poison ivy), but I believe every bit helps. Think of health and our planet as a credit card: keep overexposing ourselves, and eventually there’s debt to pay. As consumers, we have choices. I choose to limit the chemical exposure I can control as much as possible. I’m angry hearing something marketed as “safe” is later found toxic. Buying organic and natural, I’m using my voice.
Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole