Sunday, November 4, 2007

Green Food- striking a balance between health, environment & your wallet

How to choose healthy food on the cheap!? Everyone has different opinions about quality, quantity, and source. Personally, I do my best to strike a balance. I have noticed you can get just about anything with organic content (even Oreo's!), so I'm feeling like I'm buying trendy jeans when I buy Organic apples from New Zealand. Then there's the issues with conventionally grown food (will I get cancer from these grapes?!). We just use our best judgement based on personal circumstances.

The cheapest thing to do would be grow your own garden. Personally, I kill everything I try to grow (cuz I forget plants need water!); so, we buy what we can as organic or local. I'm considering planting fruit trees, since I get the idea that they require less maintenance.

In the grocery store, mostly we skip the organic meat due to price. Milk is much more available as organic, but you can also get no-hormone-added milk and its a bit less. Again, if you have multiple teenagers gulping it down, it can be a quantity issue. Fruits and veges are hit or miss. My daughter LOVES apples, but organic ones can be kind of pricey, so we do some organic and some non-organic. Carrots are always available organic and resonably priced, so we always get those. We get organic broths, since they are a good deal. Some bulk items are well priced as well. I opt for non-organic Kashi products, since whole grains are important to me. Mostly it seems that any given packaged product (mustard, mayo, crackers) will cost at least 75 cents more than the conventional counterpart.

As far as organic farmers' markets; I'm undecided. I would think a farmers' market would be a little cheaper than the store, but that's not always the case. There are several coops and farmers markets in Houston and its got to be a pretty good deal for me to make an extra trip. Now, I may be more excited about this if delivery was an option (in some places it is). Maybe I wouldn't mind paying a delivery fee if it ends up being the same cost, but buying produce is a hands-on experience.

Don't forget that some stores offer a discount if you bring your own grocery bags. Also, aks your current store to stock items you like. Our local Target started carrying Seventh Generation products when I asked for them.

I'm interested to hear what other people do when they shop, and what the good deals are out there. Do you opt to make an extra trip to the farmer's market or Natural Foods store? Maybe there's a good deal that makes it worth the trip? Here's some coupon links: Organic Valley Seventh Generation Stoneyfield Farms Brown Cow Mambo Sprouts Santa Cruz Organic various links

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Swap-o-rama-rama & Maker Faire

Consider this you personal invitation to creative recycling! I wanted to let everyone know about this really fun event that happened in Austin; it was the Swap-o-rama-rama and Maker Faire! It's was a blast! Swap-O-Rama-Rama is a giant clothing swap and series of do-it-yourself workshops in which a community explores reuse and creativity through the recycling of used clothing. At Swap-O-Rama-Rama consumers are taught to be creators and this transformation takes place through the local talent in the community. Swap-o-rama-rama was part of Maker Faire, which had everything from art cars to hacked bicycles, robots, CNC machine hacks, and recycled crafts galore! It was a blast for anyone with a creative streak or a knack for reusing materials. Everything a DIY-er could want! The next Maker Faire in Austin will be October 18 and 19, 2008. I know I'll be there! About Swap-O-Rama-Rama: About Maker Faire:

Building Green-on the Cheap

Brigid's Paradigm would like to invite members of the public to a tour of their salvaged material home and other salvaged material homes in Huntsville. The tour will take place on November 3rd at 11am and another at 2pm beginning at 1410 13th Street. This event is free, but will serve as a fundraiser for the program; donations are gladly accepted. Please RSVP to Directions: From Houston travel IH-45 North to Huntsville, and take Exit 116. Get onto the service road and go to the light. Turn right. From there go to the third stoplight, which will be Avenue O, and turn right. Go two blocks to 13th Street and turn left. Park on the street midway down the block close to 1410 13th Street. Brigid's Paradigm was on the New Capital Show September 13th. To listen to a podcast of the show visit The New Capital Show at About Brigid's Paradigm: Brigid’s Paradigm is a model for families building their own houses, with free, salvaged and recycled building materials, under the guidance of a mentor. Our first home has been built in Huntsville, TX in in collaboration with Dan Phillips of the Phoenix Commotion. For more information on Brigid's Paradigm and Phoenix Commotion go to: Also, check out Dan on Living Smart with Patricia Gras!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Green Travel- On the Cheap

Just having gotten back from vacation, I found a lot of ways to travel on the cheap and environmentally friendly! We took a road trip on the old highways of Texas.
For lodging we have stayed in KOA "Camping Cabins" where you bring your own bedding and share a central restroom, supplying your own toiletries. We have also stayed in restored motels, and in State park cabins. Surpisingly, there are quite a few of these around, if you book in advance. Some of the ones we stayed in were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and we also stayed in yurt. Of course, camping is always "least impact," but we mostly opted for A/C in the desert heat!
We brought a lot of our own food and snacks and looked for rooms with kitchenettes or camp sites where we could cook our meals. We were able to save quite a few meals out with strategy and our ice chest. We tried to eat at local places that would have vegetables and avoid fast food. I really noticed a plethera of picnic areas all along the highways. I also noticed large trees planted every 10 miles or so along the old highways; you can tell many people pull up there to cool off and eat lunch. It is easy to have a quick picnic and move on down the road.
One of the challenges of vacationing out of the City is access to fresh fruits and vegetables (not to mention organics, which were completely out of the picture for the most part). Many small towns barely have a grocery store; we unsuccessfully tried to keep an eye out for farmers' markets. I won't even begin to mention the lack of recycling options (which I gave up on). I was shocked at the fact that many people who live in these areas are forced to drive hours away to get dry goods and groceries. While I was happy to be 2 days away from the last Wal-mart I saw (and believe me- the towns' cultural difference without a Wal-mart are like night and day!), I was left wondering about the millions of rural folks that do not have access to organic foods or basic recycling. This could lead many people to eating a lot of Convenience store foods, leading to poor health and obesity.
Sight seeing:
We are very interested in Vernacular Architecture and history; so we visited a lot of State parks, Missions, and Forts. These places are surprisingly affordable. We noticed that if you pay to get into a State Park for the day, you can have access to any other State park as well. Well, of course, we stopped at every state park on our route almost!
What do you do to consider the environment a save $$$ on your travels?

Friday, July 6, 2007

Green Cleaning

I have tried the following glass cleaner recipe with great results. The biggest expense was a small bottle of Dr. Bronner's Castille soap, but you can use dish soap instead. I like to use a china marker (wax pencil) on my spray bottles so I can write what's in them and reuse it later. I write the recipe on the bottle b/c when I refill, I know I'll be too lazy to look it up. THE BEST WINDOW CLEANER Make a great all-purpose window cleaner by combining 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon liquid soap or detergent, and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Combine in a spray bottle. Shake to blend.