Category Archives: Environment

My First Garden: Day 1

Garden Supplies

Garden

Plants

Garden Plants

Plants Lined Up

I decided a few weeks ago that this year was going to be my year to start gardening. I have such fond memories of visiting my grandparents and helping them pick squash, berries, corn, potatoes, etc. (they were big-time gardeners and even did their own canning!).

So, I decided to do some container gardening to see if I have a green thumb before I commit to digging up the backyard. I went to Poor Boy’s Garden Center on Saturday with my friend Lauren and picked up some supplies and plants. I know very little about gardening, but managed to get some soil, terracotta pots (with holes in the bottom for drainage), plastic water catchers and some starter plants. I decided to get starter plants this year to start off with, instead of seeds—but, with any luck I’ll be doing seeds next year!

Here’s the plants I’m growing:

  • “Magical Michael” Basil
  • Pet Grass (for my kitty)
  • Cilantro
  • “Julep” Mint
  • “Patio” Tomatoes

Now, I just have to water and be patient! It’s going to be so rewarding to be able to cook with herbs and tomatoes that I’ve grown instead of having to buy them every week. I can’t wait!

Do you have any gardening advice for me? Please share below.

Bread & Cheese Creek Cleanup!

Plant Growing in a Soda CanBullfrogMetal
Shopping Carts
Plastic Containers
Melissa

Last Saturday, I went to the Bread & Cheese Creek cleanup in Dundalk, Maryland with my friend Melissa. This was my third time volunteering to help clean up this creek (which flows into Back River and subsequently into the Chesapeake Bay).  Around 100 people came out to volunteer and there were four dumpsters filled with everything including: shopping carts, a bathtub, bicycles, skateboards and lots of plastic bottles and fast food containers. While wading in the creek, we saw a fish, a bullfrog and a large snapping turtle—which I hope from all of our hard work, there will be many more living in the creek!

Check out the article written in the Baltimore Sun about the cleanup. If you’re interested in helping out next time, join the Facebook group.

Share your volunteer experiences below!

Meatless Monday: Go Meatless and Save!

Lentils

Are you looking for a way to save some money at the grocery store while not sacrificing the quality of your food? Here’s one answer: go meatless. Eating a diet without meat is a huge money saver—even if you only do it one day a week.

I’ve been vegetarian for almost 2 years now, so I’ve become accustomed to not shopping for meat. So, when I was at the grocery store today I jotted down a few prices of fresh meat:

  • Ground turkey: $4.99/lb.
  • Chicken breasts: $5.99/lb.
  • 80/20 ground beef: $1.99/lb.
  • Whole chicken: $1.29/lb.
  • Filet mignon: $14.99/lb.
  • Rib eye steak: $6.99/lb.

Then, for comparison I checked out some protein alternatives:

  • Tofu: $1.79
  • Tempeh: $1.69
  • Black beans: $0.89
  • Garbanzo beans: $1.09
  • Kidney beans: $.089

The above protein alternatives, are MUCH less expensive than meat and provide an excellent source of protein. You can eat other foods to get your protein as well: rice, vegetables, grains, seitan, nuts and seeds (more protein sources from HappyCow.net).

If you participate in Meatless Mondays for an entire year, and you eat about $3.50 of meat a day between breakfast, lunch and dinner, you would save over $180 a year. That’s a big savings, not only for your wallet, but for your health—since eating other sources of protein are generally less in fat and cholesterol. Plus, you’ll be more apt to try new recipes using beans, quinoa and tempeh!

I love beans, rice and tofu for sources of non-meat protein. What’s your favorite sources of protein? Share below!

Meatless Monday: Step Outside Your Food “Comfort Zone”

If you haven’t heard of Meatless Monday yet, it is a non-profit initiative in association with Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health. The goal of the initiative is to help reduce meat consumption 15% in order to improve personal health and the health of our planet.

Meatless Monday has a simple premise: don’t eat meat on Monday and replace it with other sources of protein (beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, etc.). In addition to the many health and environmental benefits of going meatless, a diet without meat also allows the eater to try new foods.

Take for example, if you went out for lunch and looked at the menu of  your favorite restaurant. You may usually order the burger and fries, but now it’s Monday, so you’re looking for other options. Go ahead and try the vegetable wrap (filled with sprouts, avocado, tomato, lettuce and hummus), the black bean soup (topped with scallions and a little sour cream) or the penne primavera (broccoli, carrot, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, and spinach in a white wine sauce). You might find that foods you usually don’t try turn out to be very delicious and satisfying. It’s small steps like this that will help improve your health and open the doors to new foods and flavors. You may even begin to expand your diet to include international fare (Indian, Korean, Chinese, Afghan, etc.) that offers vegetarian options. So, step outside of your food “comfort zone” and seek out that new restaurant or try a new recipe at home! Eat something adventurous today!

Kids, Sodas & Schools

I’ve been reading the book Fat Land for a couple of months now and have learned some interesting facts about how soda became more prevalent in schools. In the mid-1990’s funding for sports teams and clubs had been cut and therefore with less funds, school administrators were looking for alternative ways to still be able to offer these programs to students.

Large soft drink companies began to sign contracts with schools that would offer the schools compensation in exchange for selling only a particular company’s product. The schools would get commissions, a yearly bonus payment (sometimes as high as $100,000), products and beverages to sell at fund raising events and marketing tools to aid in these events. Since budgets were stretched thin, this seemed like the ideal solution at the time.

Little did anyone realize that the consumption of soft drinks between 1989 and 1994 would jump drastically. “The USDA estimated that the proportion of adolescent boys and girls consuming soft drinks on any given day increased by 74 percent and 65 percent, respectively.” (page 49). Kids were now drinking soft drinks instead of drinking and eating nutrient rich foods. They were also were not lowering their caloric intake to compensate for all the soda. I wanted to post this today, because I just found out about PepsiCo’s pledge that by 2012, they will not be selling sugared soft drinks in primary and secondary schools worldwide. This is great news!

What do you think about Pepsi’s pledge?

My First Herb Garden—What should I grow?

My grandmother always loved gardening and I have such wonderful memories of helping pick squash, tomatoes, corn and cucumbers from the garden in the summer. Since this year will be my first foray into gardening, I thought I’d try a few simple herbs to get started (and maybe some tomatoes, too!). I love to cook with cilantro, basil and mint. But, I’d like to cook more with oregano, rosemary, and dill. I’m thinking of doing some potted herbs so that I can move them around outside and bring them indoors in the fall. There’s something wonderful about growing your own food and going outside to grab some ingredients for dinner—I can’t wait!

Given that I don’t have the greenest of thumbs (I’ve over watered a cactus before!), do you have any gardening suggestions? What should I grow?

Jamie Oliver: Teach Every Child About Food

If you’re interested in Jamie Oliver and his new show, Food Revolution, please check out his TED talk above. Learn how Jamie Oliver wants to teach every child about food and why it is so critical to do so. I just learned that 10% of what we spend on healthcare is because of obesity related diseases and that number is expected to double. We can start making a difference today in our own lives by cooking healthy meals and learning about food.

Are you doing anything in your own life to improve your health, educate others or fight obesity? Please share your story below.