Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Just Passing Through

Dear Loyal Readers and Friends of Darius -

It is with great sadness that I am posting on Darius' behalf. At 10:13am on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, Darius took her last breath and left this world. As you know from following her blog, she was a passionate, multi-talented and multi-faceted woman. I knew her for 30+ years as my beloved Aunt Donna.

There are no words to fill the void that she has left in my heart and in this world. She was always just passing through, soaking in as much experience in this world as she possibly could, and sharing every ounce of her knowledge and perspective with anyone who wanted to partake.

I hope that she has blessed your life as she has mine, from this, her little corner of the world wide web.

Thank you for sharing and supporting my wonderful Aunt.

Shawnee R. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Guide to Pesticides in Produce

We all worry about what's in or on our foods. This may be a help.
The growing concerns about chemical pesticide exposure in our food is exactly why the Environmental Working Group (EWG) developed its annual list of “clean” and “dirty” foods. From EWG’s website ( )

The Dirty Dozen
    Nectarines (imported)
    Grapes (imported)
    Sweet Bell Peppers
    Blueberries (domestic)
    Kale/Collard Greens

The Clean Fifteen
    Sweet Corn
    Sweet Peas
    Cantaloupe (domestic)
    Sweet Potatoes

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Preparedness and Disease

If you have followed my blog for long, you know that 2 important factors for me are nutrient-dense (healthy) foods, and being prepared for what may come our way.

I usually have a good stock in my pantry of home-canned foods but with being hospitalized 7 times last year I really cut into the larder without the energy to replace items.

Normally I have enough stored (canned) veggies and meats for as much as a year, enough water filters for several months, a pile of dry firewood in case I have to cook over an open fire or on my wood stove when it's cold, but that has diminished over the last year. I hope this year will be better, and my garden productive.

However, one thing I'm not prepared for is a pandemic. I just have 2 banker's boxes of medical stuff like bandages and antiseptics and 2 good first-aid books with drawings even an idiot should be able to understand.

I watched a show on the history channel last week about the Bubonic Plague and I just cannot wrap my mind around losing half the population... about 100 MILLION people in Europe at the time. Often there were so many deaths in a single day that they could not keep up with burials.

Think about your extended family, add in some friends and neighbors, and then imagine half of them dead in short order of a disease without control. That's scary.

The CDC says there are STILL pockets of the Plague around the world... that's also scary. Plus, the more they adulterate our food supply, the more we become vulnerable to ANY disease that comes along... and the diseases have grown more resistant to our "modern medicines" thanks to feeding antibiotics to the animals grown for us to eat, and the air-carried pollen of GMO's.

I wish I had some suggestions for those kind of preparations but I don't. I DO think eating as healthy as we can is a first line of defense but that may not be enough to avoid a disaster.

If any of you have any good suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Zinc and Colds

I've kept zinc supplements and lozenges on hand for years, taking some whenever I've had a cold coming on, but never looked into exactly how and why it works. I never take it in a daily basis because I think I get enough in my foods.

Scientists at the University of Adelaide, AU have discovered how Zinc interplays with one of the deadliest bacteria, Streptococcus pneumoniae, which kills more than one million people a year by causing pneumonia, meningitis and other serious infectious diseases.

Zinc starves the bacteria that need to feed off manganese (an essential metal), bacteria that can to thrive and attack the body. By blocking this process, Zinc weakens the bacteria and makes the job of the immune system so much easier.

The essential mineral Zinc, is one of the very best anti-bacterial agents.

Food Sources:
Beef and Lamb
Pork & Chicken
Wheat Germ
Spinach and Silverbeet (Chard)
Pumpkin and Squash Seeds
Cocoa and Chocolate (Cocoa Powder)
Dry Beans or Legumes

Zinc - An Essential Mineral

Zinc is an essential mineral present in nearly every cell of your body. Zinc stimulates the work of about 100 enzymes that keep your body functioning normally. In addition, your body needs zinc to use nutrients for immunity, for wound healing and for maintaining your senses of taste and smell. Food is the best source of zinc, as supplements have not proven (to date) to be a sufficient source. It is very difficult to get too much zinc in your diet; however, supplements may cause harmful side effects: Lowering of HDL (good) cholesterol levels, weakening of immune response and impairment of copper absorption. Zinc is found in many different foods from both animal and plant sources so you can usually get all you need from a variety of foods.

Foods of animal origin are the best sources: Lean meat, poultry, and some seafood, liver and, in small amounts, milk and eggs. In fact, the body absorbs zinc better from a diet rich in animal protein than from one high in plant protein. You also get zinc from whole-grain foods, nuts, fortified breakfast cereals and some legumes, but phytates in those foods can decrease its rate of absorption.

If you are deficient in zinc, symptoms include reduced immunity, appetite loss, skin changes and impaired growth - and, during pregnancy, birth defects. The causes are poor intake, poor absorption, zinc loss or increased need. Vegetarians may need more since zinc from plant sources is not absorbed as well as zinc from other sources. Fortified cereal may be the best source.

There are some health-conditions linked to poor zinc status: Digestive diseases, alcoholism, inadequate calorie intake and poor infant and childhood growth. The USDA found that high fat, low-carbohydrate diets do not provide an adequate supply of zinc. If you suspect a deficiency, talk to your doctor about your symptoms before trying a supplement. Should you and your doctor decide you need a supplement, read the label's Supplement Facts to help keep your daily zinc intake under the UL.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Pricing Convenience

This is my 1,000th post on this blog, despite not being my original information. I'm looking forward to starting seeds as the weather begins to warm and melt the snow cover, and plan on a larger garden than I intended this due to what I fear is more rising food costs. Growing more food and cooking from scratch also means looking at what others do as short-cuts in convenience.

Today everything is convenient. You cook your meals by pushing a microwave button. Your car shifts itself, and your GPS tells you where to go. If you go to a  public restroom, you don't even have to flush the toilet! This tedious chore is a thing of the past because the toilet now has a small electronic "eye" connected to the Central Restroom Command Post, located deep underground somewhere near Omaha, Neb., where highly trained workers watch you on high-definition TV screens and make the flush decision for you. ("I say we push the button." "Wait, not yet!")

So we have it pretty easy. But we have paid a price for all this convenience: We don't know how to do anything anymore. We're helpless without our technology. Have you ever been standing in line to pay a cashier when something went wrong with the electronic cash register? Suddenly your safe, comfortable, modern world crumbles and you are plunged into a terrifying nightmare postapocalyptic hell where people might have to do math USING ONLY THEIR BRAINS.

Regular American adults are no more capable of doing math than they are of photosynthesis. If you hand a cashier a $20 bill for an item costing $13.47, both you and the cashier are going to look at the cash register to see how much you get back and both of you will unquestioningly accept the cash register's decision. It may say $6.53; it may say $5.89; it may be in a generous mood and say $8.41. But whatever it says, that's how much change you will get because both you and the cashier know the machine is WAY smarter than you.

I tried for several painful minutes to show a neighbor’s granddaughter how to do long division, at which point she gently told me I should go back to watching "Storage Wars" and she would figure out long division on her own. And she did. I don't know where she got the information. Probably from the Internet.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Affording groceries

With the severity of this winter across much of the US, coming food prices are starting to worry me. I had planned only a small garden this summer due to my health issues but I need to re-think that plan because I NEED to eat healthy foods.

I just paid almost $17 for two grass-fed beef shanks which are usually a cheap cut of meat, and lemons (not even organic) were just barely under a dollar each.

Here are a few sites with information, although I don't agree with some of them that are merely cost-cutting without addressing healthier foods. No doubt bulk fills our stomachs, but does it make or keep us healthy?

Affording groceries duringtimes of rapid price increases

During the past two years alone, the price of some household staples such as bread, milk, and eggs have increased in price by as much as 69%, while the median household income has only increased 1%.

•In Soups and Stews that call for diced potatoes, use uncooked rice instead. Allow half an hour for soup or stew to simmer so rice can cook.

•Use cooked rice in place of oats or bread crumbs in meatloaf and hamburger patties to make them go further.

•This is not food related... BUT keep a rice hot pack around the house for those aches, pains, and headaches that arise from time to time. Take a clean tube sock, fill halfway with rice, and tie a knot in the end. When you need a good hot pack, just heat in the microwave for about a minute or so. Be careful because it gives off a moist heat and can burn skin if too hot when placed directly on it. This is a long lasting heat source that can be made in a jiff!