Thursday, July 28, 2011

What's the difference between conventional and organic?

This was another question that I heard the other day at our family gathering. It always surprises me that people don't know this because it's such a big part of my life, but it's a very valid question. I'm sure that even people who think they can answer that question are probably a little surprised at the extent that something has to go to be labeled "organic". So, knowing that I tend to ramble, I decided to Google the question so you get a more concise answer and in the process, I found a really cool website! It's and it's a great resource! They even have a "Just For Kids" section! How cool! Anyway, back to the original topic (see what I mean about rambling?!?) So according to this site:

What does “organic” mean?

Simply stated, organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.

The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as follows:

Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled "organic," a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.

his post was intended to just answer the question "what does organic mean?" but now I'm including this awesome new website! It has an Education tab that address organic myths, has a glossary, label guide...tons of great stuff. Check it out!

The Dirty Dozen

Yesterday I was at the lake again with my family and friends. I now realize this is probably the most adult interaction that I have all week, which is probably why I always come home with blog's almost like my kids aren't providing stimulating discussion topics. We were eating some fruit yesterday and the conversation lead to organic VS conventional. SO... today's topic is the Dirty Dozen, the Environmental Working Groups list of top 12 fruits and veggies that are the most contaminated with pesticide residue. They also came up with a 12 least contaminated list. I have read in many books and articles that even if your favorite food is on the 12 least contaminated list, it's still a good idea to buy it organic. Any food that you eat a lot of (for example, our family eats about two bunches of broccoli a week) should be organic. And the winner's are...

12 Most Contaminated
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes
12 Least Contaminated
  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Healthy Vegetarian Recipes

Finally! I useful blog post! I thought I should share some of the recipes that I've found in my endless search for healthy, vegetarian foods my kids will eat. First I have Pink Pancakes. This is from Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. Even though they're pancakes, I rarely make them for breakfast. I usually make them for lunch or when we have breakfast-for-dinner. I freeze any extras (I always double the recipe) and use them for quick breakfasts. When I first started making them I didn't serve them with syrup, but now the kids expect it. (Not sure where I went wrong there!)
Pink Pancakes
3/4 C water
1/2 C ricotta cheese
1/4 C beet puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 C pancake Mix (I use a whole wheat or buckwheat variety)
1/4 C grated apple

1. In a blender or food processor combine the first 5 ingredients and blend. Dump the mixture into a medium bowl, add the pancake mix and apple and stir just until combined.
2. Coat griddle with cooking spray and set it over med-hi heat. Cook pancakes until bubbles form and batter is set, 1-2 minutes. Then flip and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.

The second recipe isn't really a family favorite, my oldest son and my daughter aren't fans (although my daughter will eat it if it's mixed with other veggies and in my bowl.) Since I wrote about kale I thought I should give you another option besides the baked kale recipe I already posted. This recipe is from my FAVORITE cookbook The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook by Cathe Olson.
Braised Greens with Sesame (servers 4)
1 bunch kale (or chard or other leafy green) chopped (about 8 cups)
2 tsp toased sesame oil
soy sauce to taste
brown rice vinegar to taste
2 TBSP toasted sesame seeds

Wash greens well and chop coarsely. (Don't forget to cut out the stem if you're using kale or chard!) Don't dry the greens. They should still have water adhering to them to help them steam. Heat lg skillet and add oil. Add greens to skillet. Cover and steam until wilted. Reove cover. Season with a little soy sauce and vinegar to taste. Sprinkle sesame seeds over top.

This last recipe I found in Mothering Magazine. I've taken it to a few gatherings and it's been popular.
Baked Vegetable Rice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 med onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1/2 C brown rice
3/4 C uncooked lentils
1 tsp cumin
1 2/3 C vegetable broth
1 c tomatoes, crushed with juice
salt and pepper to taste
2 C greens (spinach or kale works best) chopped
1/2 C Monterey Jack Cheese

Preheat oven to 325. In dutch oven, heat olive oil over med heat, then saute onion, garlic, celery and carrots until tender (about 5 minutes). Add rice, lentils and cumin then stir 1 mi. Add broth, tomatoes salt pepper stir to combine. Bake 1 1/2 hrs. Mix in greens and cheese and bake 15-30 minutes more, until done.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I had a smoothie and cream of millet for breakfast! I'm doing much better with my whole food diet, but not so good with time, since we were 10 minutes late for cheerleading this morning. Lunch wasn't as good, I had an Amy's burrito, which has all natural ingredients and didn't have anything in the ingredient list that I couldn't pronounce--always a good sign!

I was thinking back on older blog posts and I remembered my post about home schooling. I'm not doing so well. I really would like to, but it just seems to get lost in everything else we're doing. As I'm typing this I did realize that I'm doing little things here and there to further my kid's education and experiences. For example, today we're practicing phone manners. My dad came over with this phone system, one phone is a touch button and it's avocado green and the other is a creamy pink and it a rotary dial so I'm guessing it's from the 60s or 70s. Both phones have long cords that connect to an operator box which will ring phone right, phone left, give a busy signal and dial tone. I'm not sure what the original purpose of the phones was, but I played with them all the time when I was little and they were always SO COOL! Of course my kids are less enthused about them (my oldest looked at the rotary phone and said, "What do I DO with this?" but I've found it's been a great way to teach them phone manners. Now that they're both tall enough to actually reach the phones in our house it's time they should be able to answer them as well. So we're working on saying "Hello" when you answer, "May I ask who's calling" when they don't know who it is and "good-bye" when they're done. I'm not sure how to work on "when-the-caller-isn't-Daddy-stop-insisting-that-they-are-indeed-Daddy-and-just give -the-phone-to-Mommy" but I'm sure something will come to me. So this must be what home schooling is about--using everyday life to teach you kids. So maybe I'm not doing THAT bad..but I still need to work with my daughter on letters since I haven't run across any day to day activities that have given adequate letter recognition practice!

Monday, July 25, 2011

What Being a Vegetarian Means to Me

As I was mentally composing this blog in my head while I was in the shower, I realized it sounded kind of like a standardized test essay portion. So I've decided to just go with it and title it appropriately! My mom watched the Forks Over Knives trailer I posted a few days ago and decided to start cutting meat out of her diet! Yeah Mom! As I listened to her talk about her diet, I realized that being a "vegetarian" means different things to different people. And I'm talking beyond the some eat eggs, some eat fish thing. I'm a solid vegetarian...I actually just passed my 2 year anniversary (please, no gifts!) yet I'm not truly happy with my eating habits. Cutting meat out of my diet isn't really where I strive to be. I want to eat only whole foods. That means more grains, more beans, and fruits and veggies. For example, I told my mom that she should try to cut preservatives and dyes out of her diet (we were discussing the Jillian Michaels book I've mentioned before (see the list to the left)) and she told me she wasn't eating that stuff. She had egg beaters for lunch... "eggs" that come in a carton and not a shell are not whole foods! While at the lake with my family, we were grilling out, hot dogs and burgers...American food...and my stepmom was thoughtful enough to get me some veggie (actually vegan) burgers. When I said they're weren't healthy, I heard a surprised, "They're not?". No, they're a fake meat with additives and thickeners. That's not a real food either! Being the vegetarian, as I'd like to define it, would mean eating whole grains (rice, quinoa, lentils, millet, oats--NOT General Mills whole grain cereal!), beans (at LEAST two cups a day), veggies (at least a cup of dark leafy greens a day) and fruits (being sure to "eat my rainbow!"). I'd like to limit the amount of dairy I consume to as little as possible. This is where I want to be. This is how I define being a "good" vegetarian. This is not where I am. I ate an entire carton of Ben and Jerry's this weekend (it was Pistachio Pistachio...can you blame me??) I had Papa John's not only for dinner last night, but also for lunch today. I DID have steamed broccoli, Greek Yogurt with organic raspberries, a 1/4 organic apple and a small glass of Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness juice too, so I'm not LIVING on junk...but clearly I'm not as close to my goal as I'd like to be. These last two days aren't my norm, I usually do have a cup a greens about 3 times a week and I DO eat fresh fruits and veggies at at least two meals a day. As I write this, I'm realizing how silly it all must sound. I'm the one who does all the menu planning in my house. I'm the one who does all the grocery shopping. If I WANT to eat like a "good" vegetarian, what's stopping me? Laziness, I guess. It's a lot more work to make a bowl of oatmeal or cream of millet for breakfast than it is to open a box of (albeit organic) cereal. I takes a lot longer to soak and cook beans than it does to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. So I guess it comes down to priorities...what's more important to me? My time, or my diet? Guess I'll answer that tomorrow at lunch.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Farm-To-School Programs

If you haven't been lucky enough to hear me complain about school lunches, here it is in a nutshell: It drives me crazy that I can't send any nut products with my child to school, but it's fine for the school to feed them HFCS, pesticide-laden food, preservatives, and dyes. I allow my oldest to buy lunch once a week, on pizza day, simply because it's so important to him. He wants to buy breakfast in the worst way, but that's usually a pop-tart or sausages, neither of which I want him to eat. He did get breakfast on the two mornings that his teacher had a sub and didn't know which kids could get breakfast and which couldn't. So when I read articles about Farm-to-School programs, like the one in this link, (I cut and pasted the article from the link below.) I wonder how hard it would be, in Canton, OH to get locally grown food into the schools.

USDA seeks ways to boost farm-to-school programs

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The popularity of farm-to-school programs that put locally grown food on cafeteria trays has exploded in recent years — so much so that the federal agency in charge of school lunches is giving them a new stamp of approval.

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said the programs have become so popular so fast that her agency doesn't have solid figures on how many schools are serving their students vegetables, fruits and meat grown by local farmers.

"We know it's just snowballing," Merrigan said in an interview with The Associated Press before her appearance Tuesday at the School Nutrition Association convention in Nashville, Tenn.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture used the convention to release a new report on what works in farm-to-school programs, what doesn't and what the agency can do to help them work better. The report was put together by a USDA team that traveled to 15 school districts across the country and comes as officials, including first lady Michelle Obama, are promoting the importance of healthier food for kids.

"First, it is about bringing fresh locally grown food into school cafeterias," Merrigan said. "So there's the yummy factor, the good nutrition factor. ... Number two, we believe it provides good market opportunities for local producers, particular those midsize farmers that are struggling to make a go of it. This is a real opportunity for them to increase the bottom line in their farming operations. So it's about rural economic development."

Third, she said, farm-to-school programs help connect people with where their food comes from, how it's produced and by whom.

"We know that children are very disconnected from agriculture ... literally thinking food comes from a grocery store," Merrigan said. But many schools use farm-to-school programs to work agriculture into the curriculum, she said, transforming the lunchroom into a classroom.

Farmers who supply schools say they benefit from having steady customers, and they also get satisfaction from knowing they're helping children eat healthier food. Jeff Rosenblad, owner of Happy Harvest Farms in Mt. Angel, Ore., said he gets great feedback from the districts he supplies with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

"The kids like it so much they're eating (from) salad bars more. They're eating watermelon, they're just gorging themselves," Rosenblad said.

Matt Jones, who owns Jones Farm Produce in nearby Gervais, Ore., said the extra business he gets from supplying schools lets him keep a few more workers employed for a few more weeks a year. He's been able to sell to schools later into the winter because he has plenty of cold-storage capacity for the apples he grows. A lack of refrigerator space is a common problem for many schools.

"These school districts are not just serving the fresh fruits and vegetables but they're also educating kids in the process," Jones said. "They're trying fruits and vegetables they never would have tried at home, so that's really good for the children."

Farm-to-school sales benefit rural economies, said Deborah Kane, vice president of food and farms for Ecotrust, a Portland, Ore., conservation and economic development group that organized a pilot program that gave the Portland and Gervais school districts an extra 7 cents per meal in 2008-09 to spend on local foods. An Ecotrust study coming out soon found even such a small sum could have a big impact — every dollar the two districts spent on local food generated $1.86 in economic activity, Kane said. And, for each job directly created by their purchase of local food, another 1.43 jobs were created indirectly.

Kane was invited to the White House last week to brief President Barack Obama on another Ecotrust initiative, a USDA-backed online service called FoodHub that helps connect family farms with schools and other urban buyers. The site covers parts of the Pacific Northwest now and aims to go national next year.

The USDA's 76-page report said team members learned in their travels that communities with farm-to-school initiatives are passionate about them and work hard to overcome the challenges they face, but success depends on good communications among schools, farmers and others invested in the programs. And it said money is needed to support these programs, particularly for food service staff training, equipment and facilities to process and store local produce, and to develop educational activities for students.

In an age when many districts do little more than heat up prepackaged foods, the report noted that schools often lack people trained to clean, cut and cook fresh fruit and vegetables. They may not even have enough knives and other basic equipment to do the job.

The USDA pledged in the report to step up efforts to connect schools with farmers, including increasing collaboration with nonprofits and expanding outreach and awareness initiatives.

Merrigan also announced a pilot program that will give Michigan and Florida schools more flexibility to use federal school lunch money to buy locally grown produce for their students, removing one obstacle. It's difficult under current rules for schools to direct their federal food money to local farmers, she said. The goal of the project is to work out the kinks in procurement systems and rules so the program can be expanded nationwide.

While various farm-to-school programs are operating in every state, Merrigan said, the USDA has relied on advocacy groups for data and their numbers are often limited or old. So she asked officials at the convention to participate in a USDA survey to determine what schools across the nation are doing.

"This thing is growing beyond our ability to track it, and we really need a systemized way to get this data," she said.

The National Farm to School Network estimates there are over 2,500 programs involving more than 10,000 schools around country, up from about 400 programs in 22 states in 2004, but spokeswoman Chelsea Simpson said those numbers aren't certain. The network is hoping the USDA survey gives everyone a better picture of how many students are benefiting, she said.

"It's a tricky thing to figure out because the beautiful thing about farm-to-school is it's such a grassroots initiative," Simpson said.

If you're interested in this article here are more links.

USDA Farm To School initiative:

National Farm To School Network:

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Yesterday I was talking to my family about my garden. I said how we had our green beans two nights ago and last night we had sauteed Swiss Chard. "What's THAT?" my sister asked. I told her it was a dark leafy green. What I SHOULD have said was, it's one of those bunches of greens that everyone walks by on their way to grab a head of iceberg lettuce or a bag of salad. So this blog post is to pay homage to one of the healthiest foods out there that many people don't even know about...KALE! I try to eat kale every day. It can be eaten raw, but it's a tough green and it's hard to chew. I usually saute it with a little olive oil and various veggies I have, like cabbage, onions, mushrooms or zucchini. My kids, LOVE baked kale. Chopped into bite sized pieces and sprayed with olive oil and sprinkled with seasoning (my daughter loves seasoned salt) and bake at 350 for about 8 minutes. They crisp up and crunch like potato chips. I sent this with my daughter to preschool for Veggie Day and one of the other moms asked for the recipe. So what's so great about this veggie?? LOTS! (From
Diet and Digestion
One cup of kale has only 36 calories and zero grams of fat, which makes it a great diet aid. Furthermore, one cup contains nearly 20% of the RDA of dietary fiber, which promotes regular digestion, prevents constipation, lowers blood sugar and curbs overeating. Finally, kale contains the glucosinolate isothiocyanate (ITC) that fights the formation of H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori), a bacterial growth in the stomach lining that can lead to gastric cancer.

Kale is a superstar in the arena of carotenoids and flavonoids, two powerful antioxidants that protect our cells from free radicals that cause oxidative stress. The key flavonoids kaempferol and quercitin (not to dismiss the 45 other distinctive flavonoids in kale) have also been shown to specifically fight against the formation of cancerous cells. With the addition of high doses of well-known antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A, and manganese, kale is certainly a smart choice in the battle against cellular oxidation.

One cup of kale provides about 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids that helps regulate the body’s inflammatory process. A megadose of vitamin K further aids to fight against excessive inflammatory-related problems, such as arthritis, autoimmune disorders, and asthma.

Not only do kale's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities work together to prevent and even combat cancer, a healthy diet of kale also provides glucosinolates, which have been shown to prevent colon, breast, bladder, prostate, ovarian cancers, as well as gastric cancer.

Cardiovascular Support
The high fiber content of kale lowers our cholesterol by binding with bile acids that the liver produces from cholesterol for digesting fat. Because many of these bile acids are coupled with fiber, the liver is charged with producing more bile acid to digest fat, and therefore requires more cholesterol to so, ultimately lowering the amount of cholesterol within our bodies.

The isothiocyanates (ITC) from glucosinolates found in kale aid in both phases I and II of the body’s detoxification process. The high sulfur content of kale has further been shown essential for phase II of detoxification.

Vitamin K
Kale provides a whopping dose of vitamin K (providing 1327% of the RDA in one cup), which is necessary for the synthesis of osteocalcin, a protein that strengthens the composition of our bones. Vitamin K also prevents calcium build-up in our tissue that can lead to atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and stroke. Finally, vitamin K is essential for synthesizing sphingolipid, the fat needed to maintain the myelin sheath around our nerves, and therefore our nervous system as a whole.

Vitamin A
With over 192% of the RDA of vitamin A, one cup of kale is an effective antioxidant, boosts immunity, maintains healthy bones and teeth, prevents urinary stones, and is essential to our reproductive organs.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C, which one cup of kale heartily provides (over 88% of our RDA), is not only a powerful antioxidant, but also lowers blood pressure, ensures a healthy immune system, and fights against age-related ocular diseases, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Eco Malibu

Although blogging does not pay it does create one perk---free t-shirts!! My friend LaVon (as in FOK video clip donator!) was shopping, saw a "Live Green" tee, thought of me and picked it up. The cool thing about this tee is that it not only says "Live Green" in colors that match both my pink AND my blue flip flops but that it's made from a company called Eco Malibu, which is earth-friendly. When I was reading one of Deidre Imus's books she suggested buying organic cotton clothes. I don't know if anyone else has looked for organic cotton clothing, but unless you're wearing a size 3-6 months, it's pretty hard to come buy. The cool thing about this tee, and all of Eco Malibu's clothing, is that it's not 100% cotton, it's part cotton (organically grown) and part polyester from, are you ready for this??, recycled plastic bottles! Some of the other fabrics that they produce are made of a cotton/bamboo blend. How cool is THAT!?! So I know what you're thinking, "I'm not eating my clothes, why organic cotton clothing?" There are a few reasons why organic cotton clothing is better. First, it's better for the planet. By being grown without pesticides and chemical fertilizers it's better for the soil, doesn't produce toxic run-off, and protects the wild-life (remember the DDT thing with the Peregrine Falcon eggs? The DDT that was getting into the falcon's system's diet from the pesticides all along her food chain were causing her egg shells to be soft. When she sat on her nest, the eggs would crack, thereby greatly decreasing the Peregrine Falcon population. See, those endangered animal reports from 7th grade really DO have real life value!). Second, the material is stronger and softer. It hasn't been broken down by the use of chemicals. Third, that clothing is right up against your skin. Those chemicals that were used to grow the cotton are still present in the fibers and can seep into your system (just like the disposable diapers.) Hopefully there will be more companies that will choose this option in the future. In the mean time, the best we can do is vote with our dollars--when you see clothing that's organically produced--by it instead of the conventionally produced cotton!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I did the webinar! It was really great! Thanks to my mom for coming over to watch my kids so I could actually listen to what what being said! There was a lot of great information and ideas, and some startling statistics! When I registered for the webinar I found that you can access former webinars from the Kiwi website. (Later today you can also access this seminar.) I'm excited to check some of them out! This webinar, by Robyn O'Brien is about her book, The Unhealthy Truth. She talked mostly about her reasons (sick child) and her journey to eating a healthier diet. I thought the most interesting part was how she kept saying how most other countries do not allow all the junk (dyes, HFCS, growth hormones) in their food supply. US companies actually make two products, one without all the Junk, which they then export to countries that are working to protect their food supply, and one with all the junk, which we put on our grocery store shelves. This seems CRAZY to me!! Why are we not demanding the same, high quality food, that other countries are?!?! It actually made me feel good, for once!, about what I'm doing for my kid's health. Her webinar said that cancer is the number one disease related death for kids under the age of 15. This statistic alone motivates me each day to make sure that my kids are NOT part of this statistic.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Forks Over Knives

Thanks LaVon for sharing this with me! I was REALLY affected by Food, Inc and I'm sure I'll love this movie too! If you haven't seen Food, Inc. I highly recommend it! It's very enlightening. ANYWAY, this movie is called Forks Over Knives (click to view the website and the trailer). Its about how adopting a plant-based diet has been shown to prevent and "cure" many western diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and stroke. The website says "If you’re interested in learning more about the lifestyle, we are developing an online resource for this purpose. We expect this to be up and running in the coming months." So check out the trailer and let me know what you think! It's not going to be in a theater around here, but it's in my NetFlix queue when it comes out on DVD!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Produce Codes

I'm just doing a quick post today. I'm being lazy. I was thinking after I posted about my shopping trip about the fun fact I read about produce codes. Now that everywhere has self-scans I think most people are more aware of the codes for the produce, since you have to key it in yourself. ANYWAY, I read that you can tell from the produce codes if the product is organic, conventionally grown or a GMO (genetically modified organism). If it's organic, it will start with a 9, coventional has one less number and a gmo product starts with a 8. SO...I have beside me a red pepper. It's produce code (PLU#) is 94688. It's organic. If it were conventionally grown it would just be 4688. If it were a GMO it would be 84688. I usually buy organic (big surprise there!) but whenever I'm looking for some produce that I cannot find in organic form, I always look for that initial 8 to make sure that it's not a GMO. Actually, I haven't found one that starts with an 8 yet... so I guess that's good news! I'm going to look at the corn this season because I have a feeling that there's a pretty good chance that's been genetially modified. Now if they would only put that on labels of EVERYTHING so we could tell if it was made with any ingredients that were generically engineered...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Energy Hog

So I got my electric bill the other day. Being eco-conscious I do paperless billing (good) but my bill was $300, TWICE what it was last month!!(Bad!) So what am I doing wrong!?!? I'm doing my best to make a conscious effort to conserve energy in our house. I unplug all our kitchen appliances when not in use, I make sure to turn lights out when we're not using a room, I try to keep the air off and the window's open when it's not a HOT day, I got that new HE washer, I try to use the drying rack instead of the dryer for my clothes (but I'm really not that good at this! I like to laundry at night, when it's not really the best time for line drying). So what do I need to do differently do make sure our energy bill isn't over the top?!?! I know the AC is a HUGE drain and I'll be honest, I'm not really ready to give up on that entirely, especially when it's 90 degrees out! We got a dehumidifier for the basement, which is running nonstop and STILL not sucking out all the moisture. I KNOW both of these things are huge energy drains, but THAT much?!? I'm still trying to solve this mystery. While examining my bill I noticed some fine print.
AEP Ohio Messages
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio
approved AEP Ohio's requests in Case No.
11-1361-EL-RDR to increase its Enhanced
Service Reliability Rider, in Case No.
11-1337-EL-RDR to implement its
Environmental Investment Carrying Cost
Rider, and in Case No. 11-281-EL-FAC to
adjust its Fuel Adjustment Clause. As a result
of these adjustments, a residential customer
using 1,000 kWh of electricity will see an
increase of $1.44 a month effective with this
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in
case number 11-2473-EL-RDR on June 22,
2011, approved an adjustment to Ohio Power
Company's transmission service rates
effective with this bill. A residential customer
using 1,000 kWh of electricity will see an
increase of $1.47 per month.

So what's my kWh? 2998!!!! OK, I REALLY need to work on decreasing our energy usage! I've decided that from now on these animals are going to pull their weight around here! Does anyone know where I can buy a large dog sized wheel? Dog/Cat/Rat energy! The wave of the future!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Grocery Cart Voyeur

Last night I went grocery shopping ALONE! As odd as this may sound, I actually find grocery shopping kind of relaxing when I don't have 3 kids in tow. I can price compare, read labels and use two hands to push the cart instead of hold a child with one, pushing the cart with one and begging the third to PLEASE get off the side of the cart because an additional 50 lbs on one side makes it REALLY hard to push, especially with one hand! After my relatively short shopping trip I realized that they only had two lines open, thank you Giant Eagle!, and I, of course, picked the wrong line. As I tire of reading the tabloid headlines (Brad is cheating! People has a picture of him touching another woman's ARM (which looks like it was done in passing, as if she had said, "I loved you in Twelve Monkeys!" and he squeezed her arm and said, "Thanks!")) I looked at what the family of four (with two kids that are WAY to big to be in one of those double carts---we're talking 3/4 graders!) was taking out of their cart. This now has my full attention. Chips, pop, pop, pop, chips, white bread, Sunny D (which I also overhead a boy telling his mom WAS TOO orange juice--because it had vitamin c!!) and if you can't tell from my tone already, I started to judge. I looked at the mom and dad. They looked reasonably intelligent, except for the part about letting those big kids ride in the double cart. Why were they putting all that JUNK into their bodies? At this point I realize I'm staring (my husband says this is a common problem for me) so I try to distract myself by looking somewhere else, which happens to be the cart of the guy behind me. OK, this guy was WAY worse! Frozen corn dogs, 2 gallons of conventional 2% milk, fruit loops, white bread, Hot first I thought he was a single guy (wearing scrubs, which leads me to believe he works in the medical field...shouldn't he have SOME idea about nutrition??) when a woman and two kids walk up behind him and start talking. This again distracts me and my eyes finally come to rest on my own cart. What do THEY see when they look at ME? This brings me down a notch. I like to think that I eat only healthy food, but when I look in my cart, it's not all fruits and veggies and whole grains, like I'd like it to be. (For the record I only do half my shopping at Giant Eagle, I get all my fruits, veggies, bulk grains and anything else I need that's organic at the Raisin Rack. ) I KNOW that I'm not even CLOSE to having the perfect diet, but like I've said, I'm doing the best I can. I guess my nosiness into my neighbor's carts isn't so much me feeling superior, it's really just a sadness that so many people don't know what's in their food and what that stuff in their food does, or doesn't do, for their body. For example the Fruit Loops. They say "with Whole Grains" on the box, which everyone knows is good for you, but if you look closely, they barely have enough whole grains to even count and the High Fructose Corn Syrup and dyes more than outweigh any benefit that the whole grains could be doing. It's just so frustrating to me that it's a FIGHT to eat REAL food! Is that REALLY so much to ask?!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Garden Update

One of the first blogs I did was about the vegetable garden I planted. I know that not only did everyone read that blog, but that you have all been waiting for an update. I have a bean!!! After the rain we got a few days ago, my bean plants took of and I have one bean that's actually big enough to eat and a few more that are still growing. I have two little green pepper buds and my swiss chard is about ready to harvest for the first time. I was planning on running to the grocery store today, but NOW... When I planned the garden I didn't really have a good concept of where I was going to put the things I planted to I've kind of got a little bit of a mess out there. Plus the fact that I planted in what was a flower bed so my garden is tear-shaped, not particularly conducive to rows. I also planted the pumpkins, beans and beets from seeds. Next year I think I'll go to a nursery and buy some veggie plants since the chard and peppers are doing so well (although the spinach isn't exactly thriving and it was from the nursery.) But I'm pleased. This is what I was hoping for this season! I'm just giving it a shot and seeing how I do. Next year I'll know what I'm doing and hopefully I'll be able to plant something a little bigger (maybe even till up part of the yard in a normal garden shape!) and MAYBE I can even reach Victory Garden status and grow 40% of our veggies!

On a related topic...I'm considering growing pineapple! My oldest asked me if pineapples grow on trees...DO pineapples grow on trees? Thank God for Google! Apparently pineapples actually grow on plants, they're a member of the bromeliad family. They don't need much water and they can be started from the top of a store-bought pineapple. They do need full sun and warmer weather, so in the winter I'll have to bring it inside, which means I'll need to pot it, but I think the kids might think it's interesting to try and grow one. Here's a picture I found online of a pineapple plant. Crazy, right?