Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How to Cook a Pastured Chicken

I can never roast my pastured chickens right....I usually end up making them too dry. Pastured meat is a different kind of bird because there is more muscle, and less fat, making cooking times different from what you may be used to with a conventional chicken. So finally, I decided to crockpot the bird.....and I am now in heaven. Not only does it make a juicy, delicious dinner, but the meat just falls off, and you can utilize every last shred of meat without too much work. After I remove the meat, I simply leave the bones and skin in the crockpot, add some filtered water & seasonings and turn the crockpot back on low overnight. It produces a delicious, and oh-so healthy for you, bone broth that will help stave off the flu and other winter viruses. Not too mention you just can't buy broth like that at the store! With the extra cost of pastured poultry, utilizing every jiblet is important to keep the relative cost down. Works for me, hope it will work for you!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Stainless Steel Filterable Water Bottle: EcoUsable

We have all seen the studies: Bottled Water is no better than Tap Water. Not to mention that bottle water costs dollars when tap costs fractions of a penny! For this frugal mom, that fact alone would have me bringing my own! But when I saw the pictures of the Great Plastic Garbage Patch in the Pacific, the impacts of plastic really hit home.

I love my reusable water bottles, but often when I'm on the go, refilling leaves me with less than desirable tasting water. I know, I know, bottled water is not much different from normal tap water, but my taste buds care! I couldn't bear the eco-guilt of buying a water bottle, so I generally went unhydrated instead. Enter the Ech2o; the perfect solution for a busy mom on the go(or any person for that matter!)

EcoUsable has created the first stainless steel water bottle with a filter built in. A durable water bottle that will last for years, and can be completely recycled when you can't use it anymore! The filter is effective for about 500 fills, 1yr or 100 gallons. The most amazing part: It is effective in filtering ANY kind of water except salt water. You could dip this in a nearby river and the filter removes up to 99.9 percent of sediment, dissolved solids, chemicals, and biological pathogens.

I love our ech2o water bottle, and you will as well. Also great for Back to School; teachers or students! Would make a great gift for any new college student, active outdoorsman or overseas traveller. For all my readers I am offering FREE shipping at with code: eBfreeship!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Are the Farmers Markets really more expensive?

This post taken from The Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance Blog :

Are the Farmers Markets really more expensive?

While it is true that our markets offer many specialty items and unique products that might fall in to the category of splurges or special treats, the vast majority of the fruits, vegetables, herbs and berries are actually cheaper at the farmers markets, especially with organics. Additionally, the quality and variety of the products at the farmers markets often far exceed what one gets in a conventional grocery store. Berries are one example: there are more varieties at the markets (look for blueberries, tayberries, golden raspberries, numerous varieties of strawberries and red raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries (both red and green), marionberries, huckleberries, red currants…). Berry pints are nearly always cheaper at the markets - and, you can buy whole or half flats (which means if you don't gobble them up before the next week, you can freeze several pints to use for smoothies or pies when berry sesason is over).

Below are a number of price comparisons conducted from 2003 to the present, showing the Farmers Markets to be more cost-effective than regular grocery stores. We will continue to monitor this issue closely and publish new comparison studies.

Remember, too, that there are other ways to save at the markets. For eg., if you're buying large quantities for canning, most farmers will give you a discount; and many farmers also sell seconds.

Photo by M_J_M

First study, conducted in 2003: we compared identical bags of 10 items purchased the same day (items selected were a mix of fruits and vegetables such as a family of four might buy). This study was done three times, over a period of three weeks, to compare three different stores to the University District Farmers Market. Some items cost more and some were less but the total balance weighed heavily in favor of the Farmers Market:

Week one was Whole Foods vs the Farmers Market (the bag of groceries at Whole Foods cost $30.75, vs the Farmers Market bag of identical fruits and vegetables for $22.12). Week two was PCC ($38.11) vs the Farmers Market ($32.00). Week three was QFC ($35.83) vs. the Farmers Market ($22.98).

Testimonial (unsolicited) from a shopper:

Fall 2004: "Last week I headed to the U district market to stock up on fall vegetables and fruits. Most of the items I purchased store well so I purchased in larger than normal quantities. The farmers were quick to offer a "deal" and many offered to carry the boxes to my car. I spent a total of $76 and went home with the following:

50 pounds of organic Yukon and Russet potatoes ($30)
10 pounds of organic rutabagas ($8)
10 pounds of organic mixed beets (8)
2 organic celeriacs ($4, $2 each)
! pound organic German Red garlic ($5)
23 pounds of organic apples (mixed varieties) ($17)
4 fat bunches of leeks ($4 not organic)

"When I got home, I calculated the pounds and price of each vegetable that I purchased. I then calculated how much everything would have cost if I bought it at PCC. Overall, I calculated a remarkable savings of nearly $90. I love PCC and am always grateful to have a coop like that in our community. But when purchasing in large quantities for my family of five and the upcoming holidays, I was truly impressed with my recent U-District market experience. Thanks." -Missy Trainer

June 4, 2007: article in the Seattle Times: "Farmers-market food costs less, class finds"

Spring 2008: study by Stacy Jones' SU statistics students found that the average cost per pound of all organic produce at QFC was $2.98, at Whole Foods is was $2.53, and at the Broadway Farmers Market is was $2.36. A few items were more expensive at the Farmers Market, but most items were more expensive at the grocery stores, so the total average was less at the Farmers Market - which means that a shopper's grocery bill would average lowest at the Farmers Market.

Comparisons by a market volunteer in early fall with the Columbia City Farmers Market:

First week:

Safeway (Rainier Ave.) organic prices 10/7/08

Gala apples $2.79

Golden apples $2.00/lb.

Medium Tomatoes $4.19/lb.

Head red leaf lettuce $2.19/head

Large onion $1.89/lb.

1 medium green pepper $1.79 each

Blueberries 1/2 pint $4.99


Columbia City Farmers Market organic prices 10/8/08

Gala apples $1.50/lb.

Golden Apples $2.59/lb.

Medium Tomatoes $3.50/lb.

Red Leaf Lettuce $3.00/head

Large onion $1.50/lb.

1 medium green pepper $1.30 each

Blueberries 1/2 pint $4.00

Second week:

Safeway (Rainier Ave.) organic prices 10/14/08

Butternut squash $1.79/lb.

Acorn squash $1.79/lb .

Chard (medium bunch) $2.99/lb.

Gala apples $2.79/lb.

Romaine lettuce (med.) $2.19/head .

Green beans $3.00/lb

Golden delicious apples $2.79/lb


Columbia City Farmer's Market organic prices 10/15/08

Butternut squash $1.00/lb.

Acorn squash $1.00/lb

Chard (med. bunch) $2.50

Gala apples $1.99/lb.

Romaine (med.) $1.50

Green beans $2.79/lb

Golden Delicious apples $1.99/lb

Winter study by SU statistics class, November 2008 at the University District Farmers Market:

Stacy Jones' 2008 fall quarter statistics class conducted a price comparison study between the U-District Farmers Market, Whole Foods and QFC. They summarized their report as follows:

"According to the FDA, the average family should spend about $330 a month on groceries. At the Farmers Market, $330 will get you 152.25 pounds of organic produce; at Whole Foods you can get 131.80 pounds, and at QFC a mere 118.6 pounds for the same $330. I.e., the average price per pound is lowest at the farmers market."

January 2009 study by Seattle Central student: U-District Farmers Market vs. Whole Foods and QFC. Note: all produce at the market was local, everything at Whole Foods was from CA except apples from WA, and QFC simply said from "USA"

Squash $1/lb at market, $2/lb at Whole Foods, n/a at QFC

Potatoes $1.60/lb at market, $2/lb at Whole Foods, $1.99/lb at QFC

Fuji Apples $2.50/lb at market, $3/lb at Whole Foods, $2.99/lb at QFC

Braeburn Apples $2.50/lb at market, $2.50 at Whole Foods, $2.99 at QFC

Whole Chicken (free range) $4.50/lb at market, $3.29/lb at WF, n/a QFC

Chicken breast (fr. range) $11.63/lb at market, $5.99/lb, $7.99/lb QFC (WA)

Cabbage $1.00/lb at market, $2/lb at WF, $1.99/lb at QFC

Artichoke $2.49/lb at market, $2.50/lb at WF, n/a at QFC

Beets $2/lb at market, $2/lb at WF, n/a at QFC

Carrots $1.99/b at market, $1.29/lb at WF, $1.29/lb at QFC

Brussel Sprouts $5.50/lb at market, not available at WF or QFC

Eggs (xl, free range) $7 doz at market, $4.50 doz at WF, $4 doz at QFC

Arugula $3 bunch at market, $3 bunch at WF, n/a at QFC

Kale $3 bunch at market, $3 bunch at WF, $3 bunch at QFC

Average savings at market: $.62

Average miles saved by buying local: over 900

Main points to consider (as presented in class report): Farmers market offers largest selection of organic local produce, greater varieties unavailable outside of WA. Farmers at market take home 100% of their sales (vs grocery stores buy cheaply and mark up - the longer the item can sit on the shelf, the lower the wholesale price given to the farmer). Farmers sell based on their inventory - are also sometimes able to bargain! Many say pricing is the hardest part of the market job. We all benefit by shopping at the markets: putting $$ directly back into the local economy, produce is fresher, lowering carbon emissions from farm to table, learning about how your food is produced, soil quality, preparation ideas, meet the grower.


The real cost of cheap, mass-produced foods: higher taxes, more health problems, worsening environmental conditions.

With large, well-stocked grocery stores dotted throughout our urban and suburban landscapes, our modern food system appears efficient and effective, enabling most of us to buy an abundance of food for a relatively small percent of our paychecks. Americans, in fact, spend a smaller percent of their paychecks on food than nearly every other country in the world, even in our current economic climate. Unfortunately, while we save pennies at the checkout counter, we’re spending more on taxes for large farm subsidies ($114 billion between 1995 – 2002). Additionally, when we buy products shipped in from long distances that are also locally available, it adds to our carbon footprint and increases our dependence on foreign oil.

Our main-stream food system also depends upon 500 million pounds of pesticides annually, resulting in $8 billion in environmental and health costs, and 300,000 farmers with pesticide poisoning. Furthermore, some pesticides banned in America are still widely dumped into developing countries, providing us with cheaper produce yet causing terrible environmental and health problems in those countries. Runoff from overuse of synthetic fertilizers also ends up in our lakes and rivers, killing fish and other wildlife, and costing us more tax money in cleanup. Small, diverse, local farms do not depend on mass amounts of chemicals, packaging and long-distance shipping - instead, they produce smaller and more varied amounts of high-quality fruits and vegetables. Buying directly from these farms enables shoppers to support a more sustainable, healthier food system, with more diversity of products and far less waste and depletion of resources.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Waste Free Lunches

My guilty green conscience pricked up whenever I threw away plastic baggies and juice boxes from our bagged lunches. All that non-recyclable garbage, generated in one sitting! I knew there had to be a better way to serve my kids lunch on the go that didn't involve mostly pre-packaged items. But I also knew I couldn't afford hours of my time spent every day on such a task. Simple and Waste-free....could there be a solution? I'm happy to report that there are MANY solutions, and I'd like to share some that have worked for us.

Equipment: Avoiding plastic baggies, aluminum foil and prepackaged items were my primary concern. So the first step was to replace them. My kids love sandwiches and wraps, so we do lots of variations on these. The Wrap-N-Mat is a perfect solution to eliminating plastic baggies, and works well for other snacks as well. We also use our Laptop Lunch boxes with mini sandwiches & wraps. Our newest favorite lunch aid is the LunchBots. I love that there is no plastic at all in these, they are 100% stainless steel. This makes them very durable, and stylish enough for my husband to take to work without feeling like a school child!

What to Eat: Sandwiches are the easiest thing for me to pack. Along with this, I generally mix up some sort of almond/nut mix with popcorn & raisins. Carrot sticks, celery sticks & other veggies work well to pack for on the go lunches. Cut up fruit is easy and you can do it in bulk for the week. If you are using a Laptop Lunch, applesauce or yogurt can be made or bought in bulk and packaged without the waste. For more ideas visit:

It's all about habit. At first it will be an extra thing to think about that can be quite annoying. But after a week of consistent packing, you get more creative, and fall into a groove of things. The best part for us....our wallet is fatter! Stopping for a quick snack because I am caught unawares happens much less frequently. And DON'T FORGET YOUR WATER BOTTLES!! We refill ours whenever we see a water fountain so we don't get in a situation where we need a plastic water bottle. Having a lunch tote hanging by the back door is super convenient for me, I just throw our stuff in and grab it with my purse on the way out the door.

According to "It has been estimated that on average a school-age child using a disposable lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. That equates to 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for just one average-size elementary school." More and more schools are switching to waste free lunches, a great step in the right direction. I hope to feature one of these schools in the future. Please share your successes or problems with packing a waste free lunch!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Menu Planning-Frugal, Green & Simple!

More Menu Plan Monday found here:

Menu planning is one of those skills that kills lots of birds with one stone! My biggest vice is eating out, which is not only bad for the environment, it's bad for my wallet, the local economy, and family time. But when I plan my menu, our family life goes so much smoother, not to mention my local farmers get my support rather than Taco Bell (hanging my head in shame). With 4 kids, I have found great benefit from planning even our 2x a day snacks. Less arguing, no scrambling for something to eat. Simplicity at its finest! Here's what we're eating this week:

Photo courtesy of: dexter_mixwith

B: Cereal & Milk
L: Sandwiches & fruit
D: Quesadillas with grilled veggies
Snacks: Homemade Trail Mix & apple slices with honey

B: Homemade Blueberry Muffins & Milk
L: Grilled Cheese & Soup
D: Chicken Cacciatore (this is a Slow Cooker Recipe that I will double & freeze the extra portion. I work on Tuesday evenings, so Tuesday is always Crock Pot day!)
Snacks: Granola Bars, (snack at sitters)

B: Eggs & Cheese, Bacon
L: Sandwich & Carrots
D: Garden Veggie Pasta
Snacks: Crackers & Cheese, Apple Slices w/ honey

B: Yogurt, Fruit & Toast
L: Leftover Pasta
D: Hamburgers & Sweet Potato Fries
Snacks: Trail Mix, Bananas

B: Pancakes
L: Chicken Nuggets & Apple Sauce
D: Baked Mac N Cheese & Veggie Sticks
Snacks: Choice of Fruit & Cheese, Popcorn

B: Eggs or Oatmeal (I work, this will be hubby's decision)
L: Sandwiches
D: Spaghetti & Meatballs (Triple meatballs will be made & frozen)
Snacks: Popsicles, crackers & cheese

B: Cereal & Fruit
L: Chicken Nuggets & Sweet Potato Fries
D: Honey Maple Pork Chops, New potatoes & farmers' market veggies
Snack: Granola Bars & apple slices

All of this is pretty simple stuff, easy to make and double. All the veggies will be in season from our farmers' market, and almost all the meat, eggs & milk from there as well. I made a huge batch of blueberry muffins with in season blueberries, and froze them, I'm trying to do this 2x a month. Sandwiches are generally planned on days we will be out and need to bring lunch with us. They will be tuna/chicken salad, ham & cheese or pb&j. I'm certainly not the most homemade cook I canning experience or homemade yogurt here! But you can eat in season, locally and healthy even if you're busy!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Food Independence Day

"This July 4th, let's declare our food independence by sourcing the ingredients for our holiday meals as locally, sustainably and deliciously as possible and let's ask our nation's first families to do the same"
Visit for more info.

I have been severely neglecting this blog lately, due to my new job as Market Manager for our local farmers' market in Abingdon, VA. If you are ever in the area, visit our vibrant market, a premier market for this region! I am so proud to be a part of this community, and am enjoying every minute of it! Lots of new and exciting things to learn, and real-life greening to encourage! I'll be around more, don't give up on the blog!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

National Healthy Schools Day

Don't forget about the RuMe Bag Giveaway! I am so pleased to have a guest post today to inspire us to get active for our planet and our children; Earth Day & every day!

National Healthy Schools Day

What you can do to make sure no child’s health is left behind

Guest Post by Janelle Sorensen

When my husband and I first toured schools to find the one we wanted to enroll our daughter in, I’m sure I was silently voted one of the strangest parents ever. Why do I feel I was secretly endowed with this title? Because every room and hallway we were taken through, I sniffed. A lot. And, according to my husband, I wasn’t terribly discreet.

I didn’t have a cold or postnasal drip. And, I’m not part bloodhound. I was simply concerned about the indoor air quality. My daughter was (and still is) prone to respiratory illnesses and I wanted to be sure the school she would be attending would support and protect her growing lungs (in addition to her brain). For many air quality issues, your nose knows, so I was using the easiest tool I had to gauge how healthy the environment was.

While air quality is a significant issue in schools (the EPA estimates that at least half of our nation’s 120,000 schools have problems), parents are also increasingly concerned about other school health issues like nutrition and the use of toxic pesticides. Many schools are making the switch to healthier and more sustainable practices like green cleaning, least toxic pest management, and even school gardening. What they’re finding is that greening their school improves the health and performance of students and personnel, saves money (from using less energy, buying fewer products, and having fewer worker injuries among other things), and also helps protect the planet. It’s truly win, win, win.

To highlight the issue, the Healthy Schools Network coordinates National Healthy Schools Day. This year, over three dozen events will be held across the country (and more in Canada) on April 27th to promote and celebrate healthy school environments.

What can you do? Healthy Schools Network recommends simple activities such as:

  • Adopting Guiding Principles of School Environmental Quality as a policy for your School;

  • Distributing information related to Green Cleaning or Indoor Air Quality (IAQ);

  • Writing a letter or visiting your Principal or Facility Director to ask about cleaning products or pest control products;

  • Walking around your school: looking for water stains, cracks in outside walls, broken windows or steps, and overflowing dumpsters that are health & safety problems that need attention. Use this checklist.

  • Writing a Letter to the Editor of your local paper on the importance of a healthy school to all children and personnel.

You can also help support the efforts of states trying to pass policies requiring schools to use safer cleaners. (Or, initiate your own effort!) There are good bills pending in Connecticut, Minnesota, California, Massachusetts, and Oregon. According to Claire Barnett, Executive Director of the Healthy Schools Network, the key pieces to promote on green cleaning in schools are:

  • Not being fooled by ‘green washing’ claims—commercial products must be third-party certified as green (to verify claims);

  • Understanding that green products are cost-neutral and they work; and,

  • Learning that “Clean doesn’t have an odor.”

She encourages parents and personnel to tune into one of the archived webinars on green cleaning (like the first module for general audiences) at

The fact of the matter is that whether you’re concerned about the quality of food, cleaning chemicals, recycling, or energy use – schools need our help and support. Instead of complaining about what’s wrong, it’s time to help do what’s right – for our children, our schools, and our planet.

What are you going to do? There are so many ideas and resources. Find your passion and get active on April 27th – National Healthy Schools Day.

Additional Resources:

  • Creating Healthy Environments for Children (DVD): A short video with easy tips for schools and a variety of handouts to download and print.

  • Getting Your Child’s School to Clean Green: A blog I wrote last year with advice based on my experience working with schools.

  • Healthy Community Toolkit: Healthy Child Healthy World’s tips and tools for being a successful community advocate and some of our favorite organizations working on improving child care and school environments and beyond.

  • The Everything Green Classroom Book: The ultimate guide to teaching and living green and healthy.

Janelle Sorensen is the Senior Writer and Health Consultant for Healthy Child Healthy World ( You can also find her on Twitter as @greenandhealthy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

RuMe Reusable Bag GIVEAWAY

Even the lightest of greenies are starting to bring their own bags to the supermarket, and saving millions of pounds of waste each year. But even with the best of intentions, many of us leave our bags at home, in the car....anywhere but in the store with us! With so many types of reusable bags out there, choosing the right system for you can be daunting. I'd like to share with you why RuMe reusable bags are my personal favorites!

  • The Ease: Compact & simple to fold up into my purse. After I unload my market goods, groceries, or shopping exploits from the bag(s), I simply fold it up and return it to my purse. When I used plastic bags, I emptied them and stuck them in a designated spot for recycling. Now the spot is in my purse....and my cabinets are free of clutter!

  • The Design: Specifically the square designed seams. These make the bags easy to stand up, which makes your bagger like you. Other reusable bags can be slippery and annoying for baggers who are used to a system....which has led to me being left to bag myself! Never happens with my RuMe Bags

  • The Size: HUGE! You can take 3 and get an average size grocery cart into them. I'm not kidding...I've done it! They are also great at farmer's markets because they are water-proof and easily fit over your shoulder for easy carrying.

  • The Style: Who wants to walk into the mall or Target with a $2 grocery-store branded bag? RuMe bags are so cute, they move beyond the grocery store, and replace ALL one-time use bags! Not to mention many of the styles are masculine...your man will thank you!

  • The Options: If you don't need a bag as big, buy the Mini! Same style, durability and design...just mini! Great for packing lunch, going to the library, the gym, wherever!

There are really more reasons why this is my go to bag constantly, but I'll stop here! Actually, I'm not stopping, I'm giving away 3 of these bags to celebrate Earth Day! To enter, leave a comment about what one green thing you've resisted doing, and why. For an extra entry, subscribe the the MamaGoesGreen newsletter. And lastly, Twitter about it, and let me know! Do it before April 23rd, I'm choosing the winners on the 24th. Have fun!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

SKOY Winners

The winners have been chosen and contacted! Keep your eye out for another giveaway this week!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

SKOY is here!

Hello, my name is Sara and I am a dish rag addict. I fully admit that I have an obsession with avoiding paper towels. Maybe some of you can relate. It started as a frugal thing, I hated the extra dollars they added to my grocery bill, but then I realized how much waste they created. But lets be honest....a traditional rag doesn't always get the job done quite as neatly as the paper towels did. Not to mention how icky they get after just one use....getting a whiff of a stinky dishrag is the worst! We got a chance to try out SKOY, and I am officially in love! I had to order some immediately to offer on MamaGoesGreen!

I've been using my SKOY for about a month now, and as other moms must imagine, I have had PLENTY of opportunities to test out the durability and effectiveness. Dried up egg, jelly, peanut butter, and various unidentifiable messes are all tackled efficiently with the SKOY cloth. And just a quick rinse and ring, and the SKOY will be ready for its next use. I've had one in use for a month, and it has held up to the dishwasher every night, and just now needs to be replaced. At this price, these will save you money from the start!

SKOY is eco-friendly because they are 100% biodegradable, and made from a unique blend of cotton and wood-pulp cellulose. They are manufactured in Germany, in a facility that makes every effort to be as eco-friendly as possible. Independent tests have shown this to completely break down in compost within 5 weeks. All of the colors and inks are made using water based materials.

In celebration of EARTH DAY 2009, we will be featuring 1-2 products that we love per week, and doing giveaways for each of them! SKOY starts off the festivities, with a total of 3 winners! Here is how to enter:

1. Leave me a comment about how you are trying to cut down your waste
2. Twitter @Mamagoesgreen about this giveaway
3. Visit and tell me what you'd love to see the next giveaway about
4. Subscribe to this blog
5. Become a Facebook fan

3 winners will be chosen on April 10th, 12pm EST. Be sure to leave your email address so you can be reached. Have fun!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Joel Salatin - Ballet of the Pasture

The auditorium is abuzz with the bubbling excitement of a beehive. The lights dim ever so slightly and the buzz slowly turns into a low hum. I scan the audience and see that the number of college students, worn farmers, and families are roughly in proportion. It impresses me that so many different groups have come together to learn about the same thing. Joel Salatin is here, and we are hungry for his point of view.

Salatin is the farmer of Polyface Farms, featured and made notorious by Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma. Self-described as a "Christian Libertarian Environmentalist Lunatic", he's here tonight, at Appalachian State University, to present his lecture "Ballet of the Pasture". With a witty delivery, and first class pictures, we take a virtual tour of Polyface Farms, where "plant-animal symbiosis heals the landscape, the community, and the eater." Truly this common sense approach to farming and animal husbandry shouldn't be so revolutionary....but sadly it is! Huge, corporate agro-business has taken over the global market, and we've been suckered into thinking bigger is better and more efficient. But it has instead given us sub-par food, a disconnect from our own communities, and rampant disease. However, "it's not enought to say NO to what we don't like-we must say YES to the good, " according to Salatin.


What is our food culture as a whole in this country? There are stories of corporate greed, polluted environments, mad cow disease, salmonella outbreaks, genetically modified organisms, and bankrupt farmers by the hour. Can this be normal? Can it be normal for the average community to import 95% of its food? Can it be normal that the average hamburger has meat from 400 cows in it?! Joel put it poetically when he said, "If we think in our cleverness we can outbid nature-nature bats last." We don't have a relationship with our food, instead Salatin describes it as a "one-night stand of prostitution."


There is another model. A local, sustainable and noble model. It is a model relationally oriented and ecologically healing. The land, and animals are not creatures that are just to be manipulated however we please. Instead, Salatin offers a different point of view, celebrating "the pigness of the pig." When we let the animals do work they enjoy, we fully honor and respect them. As Micheal Pollan puts it: "The pigs on Polyface Farm have a happy life, and one bad day." The cows rotate grazing fields, the chickens follow behind them picking out bugs and parasites, whilst leaving ecologically sound fertilizer, and the Ballet of the Pasture is played out. Instead of exploiting our resources, we instead steward them, and preserve them for future generations. Ecology and Economy are not at odds-we can have both. Polyface Farms provides food for 1,500 families, 10 retail outlets, and 30 restaurants through on-farm sales and metropolitan buying clubs. The yields per acre are up to 4 times that of current farming practices. You tell me what makes more sense.

There will be more and more farmers willing to change their models, and even new entreprenuers entering the scene, if we support our local food structure. The corporate power influences the top....and is only concerned about keeping the status quo. Salatin warns that as this movement gains ground, there is an equal push back from the opposite side of the fence. He encourages us who care about our food, our health and our land, to be vigilant and build our local food system faster. Local, grassroots efforts will create successful innovation. Let's do what's relationships with your food and in turn with your community.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Update on Mountaintop Removal

I watch this video and weep:

And then I read this, and feel hope.
Read more about mountaintop removal at
Despite your politics, I think most Americans agree that we need to be looking for renewable energy sources that work and can sustain us while keeping our communities clean. This is a good step in the right direction.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Book Discussion

I can't recommend this book enough! Written by best-selling author, Barbara Kingsolver, it documents a year of local eating. I live in the same county as the author, and couldn't wait to pick up this book to get some tips that would certainly apply to my local eating options. I was surprised at the quick pace of this book, and how it pulled me in and kept me reading. Peppered with country anecdotes, and sobering statistics, AVM is a book that will likely change the way you eat. Every chapter is followed with numerous recipes, that keep me going back throughout the growing season for inspiration. After reading through it once, I am now enjoying reading it for a second time for the Sound Mind, Sound Mom Book forum hosted by Simple Mom. I do hope you'll join the book forum, and read this groundbreaking novel!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Guide to Your First Recession Victory Garden

In this economy, more and more of us are contemplating starting a backyard garden. If ever there was a “shovel-ready” project, this would be it! From saving money, to eating healthier, the reasons to start your own garden are plentiful. In fact, during this recession, seed sales have been up 25-40% for every seed company! Starting your own garden is a great way to pinch pennies while loving the planet.

Last year was our first garden, and beginning was very daunting! When to start, how to plant, how to avoid pests, what to choose, how much to water.....there's so much to learn in the beginning. But begin you should, because gardening has so many benefits. Most of our food travels an average of 1500 miles before it gets to our table. This requires the produce to be picked before it is ripened, which in turn makes it less nutritional, and frankly bland. Growing your own produce will help save billions of gallons of gasoline, a non-renewable source of energy which is growing scarcer by the minute. Also, by growing your own produce organically, we can collectively reduce the amount of pesticides that eventually run off into our water sources. Victory Gardens are being revived all over the country! So where can you begin? Here are some of my recommendations:

Read & Learn
There are so many great resources out there, you can get lost! My two favorite books that I am constantly returning to are: Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew and The Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food by Tanya L.K. Denckla. As a busy mom of 4, working at home, I don't have much time to fuss with a's just not an option. The Square Foot Gardening Method is so easy to grasp, and learn, which makes it perfect for beginners. No soil testing, or thinning plants, and even weeding is nearly non-existent. There are also a plethora of gardening forums and helpful websites. Some of my favorites:

Decide what you would like to grow by taking into account what you love to eat. Our family eats tons of squash, zucchini and green beans. I knew these would be the staples of our garden. However, your space or climate may restrict what you can grow. We don't have room for corn, so this is something I buy in bulk at our farmer's market, and then can & preserve. Read up on your favorite veggies and what it takes to grow them. You will start some plants by directly sowing the seed outside, but others you will either need to buy as transplants, or start indoors yourself. If something seems too complicated for your first year, commit to buying them locally and focus on a small amount at first. Last year we started with 4 raised beds, and will expand to 8 this year, along with some blueberry bushes and potted herbs.

Once you've decided what you want to grow, next comes the when. You Grow Girl has an amazing spreadsheet that will help determine your planting times specific to your climate zone. Prepping your ground comes next. For the SFG method, it's as simple as building some raised beds, and making a soil mix affectionately dubbed “Mel's Mix”. Mel's mix includes 1/3 vermiculite, which normally is sold in small bags. Call around to your local, family owned garden centers to see if you can buy this in bulk. This will make it easier to mix, more cost-effective, and create less waste. Also, call your local extension agent for local compost sources. There are local sources that will deliver a load of compost, often for less than you would spend on buying by the bag at a box store. Freecycle is a great source for wood scraps that can be used for your raised beds. Finally, plant! Your local farmer's market is a good place to buy plants to transplant in your garden. Your local nursery will also have a wide variety to choose from, as well as seeds. Other trusted seed resources:

photo: rigib

Commit to spending ½ hour, to an hour each day to maintaining your garden. Pests will come, but the best defense is a good offense! Buy resistant varieties, and use row covers whenever possible. Watching your garden carefully will help you stay on top of disease and pests before they are unmanageable. Visit Garden Forum for specific remedies to problems you may encounter.
I hope you're inspired to start a garden, whether it's just some tomatos and herbs on your porch, or several beds in your backyard. Next post we'll discuss some advanced gardening skills, including composting, water collection and organic pest control. Get started today!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

EcoStore USA Rosemary Orange Shampoo Review

photo by Laurence Tucker

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I've been agonizing over a good quality, non-toxic shampoo that won't drain my bank account. First off, be warned that I am a low maintenance kind of girl. I have never, I mean never, purchased shampoo from a salon. I am used to buying the Target version of whatever strikes my fancy at the time. So, no, I am admittedly not brand anything! So to say that the prices of natural shampoo shocked me would be an understatement. But I do know it is an important step in my journey to be a darker shade of green, so I say farewell to shampoo that cost me $3.49 a bottle!

The first company I decided to try out, EcoStore USA, has left me pleasantly suprised! I have very thick hair, just long enough to pull into a pony tail, and it gets oily within a day of washing. So despite the Rosemary Orange Shampoo description for thin/oily hair, I decided to solve my main problem, which is oil. I ordered the Shampoo, as well as 2 bars of soap. They came packaged in an appropriate box, without too much packaging. Eco-friendly check #1!
The fact that using my new shampoo excited me is a little sad, I know, but you know that you've done it too! After reading lots of reviews on natural shampoos, I knew to expect the shampoo being a little "watery" and so I used care when squeezing this out. When I just used a little at a time, I was able to adequetely spread it around my thick hair. This can be tricky until you get the hang of it, because this shampoo does not have Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, which is what gives traditional products their lather, but carries with it concerns of cancer. I rinsed, towl dried, and styled, and my hair looked and felt just as good as it does with my traditional products. At $11/6.8oz , it's not cheap, but less expensive than some of the brands you'd buy at a salon, or other natural products. Per their website, here are the ingredients:

Lauryl-glucoside (from glucose)
Derivatives from coconut and palm oil - olefin sulphonate
Polyol Coconut Fatty Acid Ester
Sodium Hydroxymethyl Glycinate (from natural amino acid)
Citric Acid
Certified Organic Cider Vinegar
Essential oils of Rosemary Cineol, Orange Sweet Organic, Pine Scotch, Sage and Cypress.

I would recommend this product, but will be trying other ones to find my perfect match as well. Any suggestions for my next try? Happy Greening!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

LaundryTree Soap Nuts Review

As a mom with 4 kids, laundry is a never ending chore. Towels, clothes, rugs, the list goes on and on! I have yet to find a laundry detergent that totally satisfies me. I've been relatively satisfied with Shaklee's Laundry detergent, but just recently got a chance to try some soap nuts from LaundryTree. At first I was a bit skeptical, wondering how nuts from a tree could really get my boys' dirty jeans clean!

When my soap nuts arrived, I instantly fell in love with the packaging. And face it ladies, packaging is one of the things that entices us to try something new! These would make a great and unique gift! I untied the ribbon, and examined the contents, which included a small drawstring bag, soapnuts and some essential oil. As impressed as I was by the packaging, the whiff I got of the nuts made me take a step back! Then I saw the package instructions answer my question: Will my clothes smell like the soap nuts? Answer: No! So I gave them a try, and can happily say that all of our clothes got fresh & clean....and they didn't smell like the nuts! You can choose to use the Energy essential oil blend in the bag with the nuts for a scent, or add your own lavender or lemon drops.

My next thought was: how much do these cost? When you buy in bulk, you receive enough nuts for 150 loads of laundry for under $30. This equals 5c a load!!! Not to mention that once you are done using these, you just throw them in your compost heap! These odd little nuts are definately worth a try in your washing machine.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Fun Weekend Green Projects: Beanbag toss

Have fun this weekend with this simple project! It's economical, and re-uses items most people have around their house. Beanbag Toss is a favorite game of all my kids, from 3-8yrs old! Here's a list of things to round up:

Fabric Scraps
Ribbon or twine
Empty bucket or basket
(we re-used a container that held bulk biscotti)
dry beans or peas

No sewing required! Just take some fabric, pour some dry beans in the middle, bundle 'em up, and tie a string around it. Make 5 or 6, and have fun tossing them in a pail or bucket that would've ended up in the recycling bin or landfill otherwise! Happy weekending!
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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bloggy Giveaway: Recycled Stamp Jewelry

It's Bloggy Giveaway time again! You don't want to miss this one! This stained glass necklace is made with an authentic vintage stamp, reusing in style! The artist, Lindsay Troutman, has a love for taking old and vintage pieces, and creating a true work of art. An EXCLUSIVE for Mama Goes Green, you won't find this anywhere else! Pictures are a good representation of what you will receive, although exact colors and stamps will vary due to the one of a kind nature to these necklaces.

All creations are made with silver plate chains, and lead free solder.

There are 4 ways to enter, choose on or all 4 for more chances to win:

  • Comment with the next step you want to take to "go green"

  • Tweet about this giveaway

  • Subscribe to the Mama Goes Green Blog

  • Join the Mama Goes Green Facebook Group

All jewelry is now 20% off on Mama Goes Green! Make a wishlist, and send it to your Valentine. The power of suggestion always works ;) Good luck! Winner will be announced on Feb 1st.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Recycling Made Simple-Tips & Facts to Green Your Routine

Before "going green" was coined as the latest rage, envionmentalists worked hard to spread the message about the 3 R's. It's a mantra well known by even the least green out there: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. The first two Rs are straight forward-use less, and reuse what you've got already. Recycling is where many of us throw up our hands in protest, and for a myriad of reasons. I was always too busy, or it was too inconvenient.

photo taken by: Locator

When I finally decided to go for it and give recycling a try, I stood by the sink with a yogurt container and a steel can, wondering if either of them could be recycled. The whats, and hows of recycling can be daunting, but implementing a recycling routine in your family is an important step in the greening process. Here are some basic tips to help you succeed:

What to Recycle

Start with the items that have the fewest "rules":

  • Aluminum: just a simple rinse will do

  • Steel Cans: no need to remove labels, rinse

  • Newspaper: keep it dry

  • Magazines & Glossy Inserts: seperate and keep dry

These are all items that are almost all universally recyclable in any community. The next items will vary in recyclability by your locale's services.

  • Plastics: PETE 1 & 2 are the most recycled plastics & include milk jugs, shampoo bottles, soda bottles, etc. Look for the symbol. Take off caps, unless coded 1 or 2.

  • Glass: You may have to seperate by color, but never include light bulbs, Pyrex, or windows in this mix. Also take off lids and caps. This would include: beer, soda and wine bottles, as well as glass jars. (Oh, and don't worry about getting the lime out of the beer bottle, it won't ruin the mix!)

  • Paper & Paperboard: office paper, cereal boxes, etc. Be careful of wax & paper lined milk cartons and food boxes. These are not recyclable.

  • Corrugated Cardboard: keep dry & clean

  • Plastic Bags: Keep these dry and clean, and turn them in at your grocery store. Hopefully you don't collect many of these because you have switched to reusable bags.

Where to Recycle

Check with your local waste services for common options:

  • Curbside Recycling: generally involves a small fee, however you are provided with bins and it can't get more convenient.

  • Recycling Center Drop-off: This is the more common option, and does require a new routine. We were suprised at how close our drop-off really was, and connected our trips with a weekly trip to the library that was close by. Many grocery stores and schools also have these in their parking lots.

How to Collect Your Recycling

It is important to set up your recycling station at home to be convenient and easy to use. Paper bags & makeshift containers will get frustrating very quickly.

  • Post a Quick Reference Guide: This helps other members of your family know what to throw in the garbage can, and what things are eligible for recycling. Great cheat sheet here.

  • Invest in some Plastic Bins: We use 5 that stack together from our local home improvement store. One of them stays in the kitchen to collect recyclables and is taken to be sorted into the others at the end of the day.

  • Assign Recycling duties: Rotate this chore like you do any others in your home. My kids love doing the sorting at the end of the day, and it takes the stress off me!

Important to Remember:

  • This is a process! Don't sabotage yourself by demanding perfection, every little bit counts. Your little bit does make a difference, and shouldn't be taken lightly!

  • Precycle: Before you buy in the store, take a look at the packaging. Can it be recycled? Could you buy it in a larger container, instead of individual packagings? This is a helpful way to combine reducing and recycling into one step.

Links for the advanced recycler:

With our current economic situation, there are some concerns over recycling. Definately precycle and reuse as much as you can. But I still feel more comfortable recycling my waste when I can, than throwing in the landfill. Working to make recyclables in demand will go a long way into making recycling a great option for the economy and our planet!

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Greener Better Life for 2009

Happy New Year! We are fully entrenched now in 2009, and many of us are reflecting on 2008. Our 2008 was full of "new" things. We planted our first garden, started a new business, and changed our routines to make them green. Looking back at my handwritten goals for 2008, I am happy to report we accomplished most of what we set out to do.
photo by Fred_711
This year, my husband and I are sitting down together to write out our personal and family goals. I prefer the word goal to resolution, because it keeps me focused on the process it takes to get to my goal. I'd love to hear from you: Do you make resolutions, or goals in the New Year? Care to share any? Here are some of mine for this year:

  • Continue with the green/healthy habits started in 2008

  • Establish morning routine

  • Read 1 book a month

  • Eat more raw, local foods, less processed and take out

  • Finish our Debt Snowball

  • Go to our town hall meetings, start to share my voice in my community

  • Expand the garden, plant more from seed

  • Be a better friend

  • Continue to simplify

  • Continue to grow

Thanks for all the love and comments you guys send my way! Here's to many more!