Just say NO, to the war on psychedelics

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Do they?? Well, not ALL of our minds…

 

Reset
Forget everything you thought you knew about psychedelics, especially if you never tried them before. A minority of people has ever tried psychedelics and many associate them only with concerts, escape and youthful experimentation. I would say a minority of that minority has intentionally consumed them for spiritual, medicinal or self development purposes. All of this is fine except a great majority of us are completely missing what psychedelics have the greatest purpose and potential for, teaching us how to better exist on this planet together. Not only are we unaware of their true purpose, but we are forbidding those who want to explore this potential from doing so.

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Here’s to the crazy ones

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

-From Apple’s Think Different advertising campaign

 

Apple_logo_Think_Different

 

Why in the world would a website like Sattvic Planet glorify the lyrics from a television commercial of a powerful corporation? Over the past year on multiple occasions I have written about the destructive role that corporations play on the health of people and planet. I often write negatively of the pharmaceutical industry, genetic engineering companies such as Monsanto, junk food companies such as McDonalds, and extractive companies such as Exxon. Yet, this is the third time a quote related to Steve Jobs has appeared on Sattvic Planet in the past year. Jobs led Apple to become the most valuable corporation on the planet, and today everybody and their mother has an Apple product in their pocket. Apple has very much become a mainstream product, perhaps not to the extent of Microsoft or Coke, but they are in no way a part of the counter culture. The irony here is that the Think Different campaign of the late 90’s appears to be born of the counter culture. In a society of mass conformists afraid of being different, the Think Different campaign is at least partly responsible for launching Apple to new levels of wealth and popularity.

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Celebrate Buy Nothing Day!

From Adbusters.org

 

It’s that time of year again, Thanksgiving is this Thursday, snow is already falling in the Eastern US, and Christmas is only one month away. Are you ready for the holiday season? Beyond eating turkey dinners with family and hanging festive lights, a new tradition has emerged. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, has become famous for low sales prices, all night shopping, and busy shoppers crossing gifts off their lists. Once again, you ask why would this topic be included on a website dedicated to agriculture, food, health, and the environment? And once again I reply, as I did a couple weeks ago during the US Elections, because “everything is connected”.

Tradition, holiday, or religion?

It is no secret that Americans love to shop, and it has become well established over the past few decades that the holiday season is a profitable time for retailers, but what does this mean for the health of our society and our planet? It appears that the act of buying gifts for family has moved beyond the status of tradition to that of an actual holiday. Rather than being a small task that we do for those we love as we celebrate the larger purposes of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, and the New Year, there is now an entire day dedicated to shopping. The only thing missing is a Congressional declaration that Black Friday is an official US holiday. So shopping has arguably transformed beyond the status of tradition into that of a holiday, but does it stop there? As each year becomes more and more extreme the temptation arises to label shopping the new American religion. Retailers once opened their doors at normal operating hours until some of them thought it would be a good idea to open a few hours earlier. Like the US-Russian Cold War, an arms race ensued and eventually some stores started opening at midnight. Of course, it didn’t stop there, and some stores now even open on Thursday evening, barely late enough for most people to have digested their pumpkin pie. It appears to me as though the holidays have completely lost their meaning. Sorry if I’m stating the obvious here, but do we really believe that Americans are thankful for the kindness offered to them by our Native American hosts? Are we thankful for the rich and fertile soils, which are necessary to produce the abundance of foods that fill our plates? Do we celebrate the birth and life of Christ, or are we more focused on getting that new smart phone we asked for?

Buy Nothing Day

As consumerism spreads like bacteria across America’s borders into the emerging markets of Brazil, China and beyond, the planet is being devoured by our wants and needs. It would be bad enough if all 7 billion of us were simply shopping for the items we actually needed (in reality there are probably only 1-2 billion of us wealthy enough to shop). Instead, we shop for items that we merely want, or even worse we try to make ourselves happy by seeking the entertainment of some new toy that we quickly forget about. I suspect we are trying to fill an empty spiritual void with material possessions. Speaking from my formal education in Environmental Science, I would strongly argue that the planet is not able to supply our endless demands. I don’t want to sound like the Grinch who stole Christmas, but the truth is that Christmas was already stolen, by Walmart. Or did Walmart sell Christmas? Either way, if you want to show your love for somebody by buying a gift they would truly appreciate then I honestly see no harm in that. One sign of the problem here is seeing shoppers who view gift giving as a stressful chore they must endure, so they buy family members things they don’t even want or need simply to complete their duty. By now, you’ve probably heard enough, so you may be wondering what kind of action can be taken. Perhaps you should try taking no action. Buy Nothing Day has emerged as a global movement in response to Black Friday. However, if you must buy a gift then consider purchasing it from a local business, or making it yourself. Ask yourself what the person really needs, whether they will actually appreciate it, and if there is an environmentally friendly version of the product available. Instead of an item you could also purchase an experience such as a massage or a float tank session for your family member.

From buynothingday.co.uk

From buynothingday.co.uk

Mind, body, spirit

Now that Black Friday is a holiday, and Santa Claus is a corporate executive, where do we go from here? Economists always tell us that we need to grow the economy, but can the planet sustain nonstop consumerism while population rises to 9 billion and beyond? If shopping really is an attempt to fill a spiritual void with a material possession then it is probably time to reconnect to the spiritual world. Ayurveda tells us to eat organic kale for a healthy body, and to get good sleep for a rested mind, but we can’t forget the spirit. This holiday season instead of worshipping at the church of the shopping mall, consider spending some time in the wilderness on a winter hike, or take a trip to a sunny destination to connect with nature. If you must shop then be mindful, and don’t forget to have a very happy Buy Nothing Day!

Related Articles:

Everything’s Connected: US Election results

Today I floated in a sensory deprivation pod

What color is a Sattvic Planet? 

 

Eating for the Equinox (chicken crockpot recipe)

pastured chicken

Photo by everychickdeservesamother.com

 

The Autumn Equinox has come and gone and since then you have probably begun to notice seasonal changes. The days are shorter, the weather cooler, the leaves are falling, and the food available at your local market is changing from foods like berries, melons and snap peas to apples, squash, and parsnips. According to Ayurvedic principles, now would be a good time to adjust your diet to match our changing environment. This can be easy to ignore when we have access to foods like strawberries in January at the grocery store, but seasonal eating makes a little more sense when you start shopping for locally produced food as much as reasonable.

Warm, greasy and heavy

According to Ayurveda, as we transition from the season of Pitta to the season of Vata, we can also transition from the foods of Pitta to those of Vata. Sour and salty replaces the tastes of bitter and astringent, while the taste of sweet continues until later in winter during the Kapha season. Isn’t it interesting that salty and sour are the tastes you would experience while eating the cabbage you fermented during the summer to eat as sauerkraut during the fall, while sweet and sour would be most noticeably tasted with the fall apple harvest? Beyond the tastes of food, the qualities transition from cool and dry to warm and greasy (oily), while the quality of heavy continues until later in winter during the Kapha season. A good example of a heavy, warm and greasy food might be a dense winter squash roasted in the oven and then drizzled with a generous amount of ghee or coconut oil for moisture.

Meat in Ayurveda?

You may find it odd that a website with an Ayurvedic theme would have a recipe for chicken, but the ancient texts never forbid the consumption of meat, and in some cases encourage it for the recovery from disease. The Hindu religion is known to be vegetarian, and is also very common in India, so since India is the home of Ayurveda it is easy to see how the connection between vegetarianism and Ayurveda could be made. However, vegetarianism may be required to practice the Hindu religion, but that does not mean it is required to practice Ayurveda. Another fact to consider is that many parts of India are low in latitude and as a result have a much warmer climate. I’m not sure if you’ve ever noticed this, but my appetite decreases when I’m in a hot and humid environment, which would make vegetarianism much easier closer to the equator. If you don’t believe me then try being a raw food vegan in northern Canada and let me know how that works for you. I’m not promoting eating meat; I’m promoting diets that are appropriate for your geography and your season. Simply put, those of us in the north have less access to fresh produce, and more need for nourishment during a cold winter. I’m not talking about eating meat for pleasure as most Americans do, I’m talking about eating what your body needs, which I’m willing to bet is far less than what we are currently witnessing around the country. Eating based on bodily needs will require people to be aware of their bodies, and to learn how to properly cook nutritious meals. I often say that PETA would be far more successful if they encouraged people to eat less meat rather than none, and that is because even though most people are probably eating much more than they need, telling them to quit completely can not only cause a defensive reaction, but it may also be inappropriate advice for their location and time of year.

 

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Photo by sattvicplanet.net

 

 

Crockpot time

The size of my crockpot is 5.5 quarts, or 5.2 liters, and I find that a 5.5 pound, or 2.5 kg bird can easily fit. This recipe is very simple, but that is the point, to realize that cooking high quality meals is a convenient and healthy way to live. Here is the recipe:

4-5 pound chicken

1 onion

2-4 bulbs of garlic

½ T oregano

½ T thyme

½ T rosemary

½ T black pepper powder

½ T pink salt

1 T dried parsley

1 T dried basil

3-4 cups water

Dice the garlic and allow to sit for 10 minutes to maximize the nutritional benefits. Place the bird and the water into the crockpot. Dice the onion and add it to the crockpot along with garlic and all the spices. Sprinkle the spices under, on top of, and all around the bird. I like to set my crockpot to 10 hours on a low setting. You can flip the bird after about 6 hours if you like. The final result is more like a stew than an oven roast, but you can try a shorter duration or less water if you prefer that effect. Serve with roasted squash or root vegetables and some steamed dark leafy greens. Don’t forget to save the bones for a bone broth!

Integrity Food

When buying your chicken I highly recommend a locally sourced, pasture raised product. This will require you to search beyond the deceptive “all natural” and “cage free” feel good options available at the grocery store. Did you know a cage free bird might never see the sun, breathe clean fresh air, or have enough room to run around? An organic, pasture raised bird may cost 2-5 times as much as a conventional bird, but don’t you think it is worth it? A pastured bird might be more nutritious if they are eating insects as they were meant to. I find it odd when the label says “vegetarian fed” since chickens are known to eat insects, but they obviously don’t have that opportunity in an indoor facility. My last chicken had a slightly wild taste to it versus the typical bland and neutral flavor we are all accustomed to. A pastured bird should be less likely to get sick since it is not breathing dirty air in a confined space and is therefore also less likely to need antibiotics. Wouldn’t you rather eat a healthy chicken than a sick one? I actually get at least 10 servings from a bird, so when you look at the per meal price it is not bad compared to what you would pay at a farm to table restaurant. Besides the nutrition, taste and health, I think raising animals on pasture is much more humane, and a great way to support your local family farmers.

 

Related articles:

The “Integrity Food” Revolution

The Season of Sweet

Confessions of an Ayurvedic Counselor: Part 2, Meat

 

 

 

How much soap should you use for healthy skin?

dr bronner

Try Dr Bronner’s

Talk dirty to me

We’ve been taught our entire life the importance of good hygiene, and how frequent use of soap is essential to avoid offending the noses of the people around us, and to steer clear of infectious disease. How accurate are these teachings, and may they even be damaging our health in ways we never imagined? Now I could present my typical argument to you that common body products contain toxic chemicals that we should all avoid, and I certainly will, but there are some further risks you should consider the next time you lather up in the shower.

Goodbye antibacterial, hello probacterial

Recently there has been an emerging field of research and media coverage on the roles bacteria play inside our bodies, specifically within our digestive system. Probiotic foods such as yogurt and kombucha are commonly found in natural food stores, along with the probiotic capsules that doctors often prescribe following a dose of antibiotics for your infection. That may not be news to you, but did you know that scientists are now pioneering into a less understood territory and have begun researching the beneficial roles that bacteria may play ON our bodies, and not just inside our bodies? In this New York Times article the author highlights an innovative company called AOBiome that is attempting to sell a probiotic product that you apply externally rather than swallowing. Initially they plan to offer this as a health enhancing product, but hope to someday get approval to treat specific skin diseases with their product.

Colonize it, don’t criticize it, yeah…

The concept behind reducing the use of soap, and maybe even intentionally applying bacteria to your skin, is that all these years we may have been inadvertently removing bacteria from our skin that serve a purpose. Imagine if some species of bacteria naturally exist on our skin in a balanced ecosystem that reduces odors, prevents disease, and allows wounds to heal. Now imagine what happens to that harmonious ecosystem when you scrub your skin with a soap made of harsh chemicals 1-2 times every day. Research is ongoing, and we are far from any conclusions, but if external bacterial colonies prove to be beneficial then we will realize that for decades we have been battling the bacteria that exist to help us. This definitely wouldn’t be the first time humans thought they could improve a perceived inferior natural situation only to actually make matters worse. Just as we are now learning that dietary fat is actually good for our health despite being told for decades that it will kill us and make us obese, I wouldn’t be surprised if scientists discover that we should be trying to build colonies of bacteria on our skin rather than destroy them. Obviously those in certain professions, surgeons or food handlers for example, need to be very careful with their hygiene, but there is increasing concern that antibiotic soaps are being overused by the average person, and now companies like AOBiome are showing just how far down the wrong path we may have traveled.

sappo hill soap

Sappo Hill is one of my favorites.

The vicious cycle

I don’t know about you, but even though the research is only now beginning, a lot of this seems intuitive to me. We buy all these harsh soaps that our parents and the corporations taught us to use, then we buy all these creams and products to moisturize our skin after stripping our skin of the oils that our body naturally produces. We would rather apply chemicals that were developed in a factory to moisturize our skin than rely on our own bodies, or use plant based oils. Next we buy cosmetics to cover all the damage caused by the harsh soaps and chemical intensive body products. It seems to me that cosmetics often times are just substitutions for not taking care of your body. Finally we go to the doctor to receive a prescription for a pharmaceutical skin product to help us with our skin conditions that seem so common now. Perhaps these skin conditions are partially caused by our excessive chemical use and our deficiency in beneficial bacteria? Regardless of the cause of common skin conditions, I try to avoid the faulty logic that traps people in this vicious cycle and have reduced my use of soap and body products. The only body products I’m using are the occasional use of sunscreen and deodorant as I experiment with various essential oils to find an effective substitute for deodorant.

What are you waiting for?

The company in the New York Times article expects at least a decade to maneuver through the approval process of the FDA, but that doesn’t mean you need to wait years to experiment on your skin. As I mentioned, I reduced my use of soap, but I still take warm showers and use soap when and where it is needed. If you do use soap then try to find a mild natural version like Dr Bronner’s or Sappo Hill. Experiment, see what works best for you and ask your partner to sniff you and give their honest opinion. In the Steve Jobs autobiography former coworkers often complained about his odor, but Jobs would ignore them and argue (mistakenly) that vegans don’t stink. I’m not encouraging you to offend your neighbors like Jobs did, instead try to find a balance between reducing the chemical attack on your skin and smelling pleasant for others around you.

In Ayurveda

The innovative company mentioned above is really not very innovative, they are simply reintroducing a concept that has been with us since the beginning of human history; bacteria live on our skin, and it is probably not bad for us, and maybe even good for us. I wonder if it is worth buying their product when similar results could probably be achieved by reducing the use of harsh soaps, and finding natural ways of applying bacteria to your skin. In Ayurveda plant based oils are regularly applied to the skin to prevent and treat numerous health conditions, and artificial products are avoided, as they are known to be absorbed through the skin and consumed similarly to the food you put in your mouth. Following the application of these oils I have been advised to rinse off excess oil with a warm shower, but not to use soap as this would reduce the benefits. The reality is that in this modern world most of us are really not dirty at all. How dirty do you get sitting at the desk and typing on the keyboard? If you work at a petroleum refinery, an auto repair shop, or a greasy restaurant then I can understand your need for soap, but for the rest of us the need doesn’t really exist. The theme to this website is “Traditional lifestyles for a modern world”. Often times we think the solutions to our problems need to be complicated, highly technical, and purchased from a company, yet many solutions are already available from traditional sources and can be as simple as removing products from your life rather than adding more.

 

Related Articles:

Ending the war on fat: Victory!

For External Use Only? Tips for sun and skin care

Do you want to know the secret?

Fermentation Nation (sauerkraut recipe)

 

 

Weapons of Mass Distraction

You are what you watch

You are what you watch

WAKE UP!!!

Last week my yoga instructor said the American society has been attacked by Weapons of Mass Distractions. I think he was referring to things like TV, advertisements, video games, casinos, professional sports, smartphones, mainstream media, and the everyday culture you experience at the office, grocery store, and even in your neighborhood. The WMDs are exploding all around us, and we are all the victims, so how do we wake up from these distractions? It’s not an easy question to answer. I know we all think that we are awake; there is a Starbucks on every corner, but that is not the type of awake I’m talking about. If you’re not one of the fortunate few who wonders if there is more to life than the next episode of America’s favorite TV show then perhaps you need to be blasted into consciousness. Many people have profound experiences while experimenting with various chemicals during summer music festivals with their friends, though I don’t think that is the ideal scenario. If you really want to get serious about this then you may even consider participating in a medicinal plant ceremony with an Amazonian shaman. Of course chemicals are not the only way of being awakened, though they can be fast and powerful tools. A less intense method might involve beginning the practices of breathing, meditation, yoga, or float tank therapy. Another option might be to substitute your daily mind numbing activities with something more stimulating, such as listening to these episodes of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast…

JRE498

The Joe Rogan Experience

I know the Joe Rogan Experience (JRE) podcast is not for everybody. For example, as a martial artist and a commentator for mixed martial arts, often times professional fighting is discussed on his show; which is probably a turnoff for some people. What I find fascinating about the JRE is that he is one of the most famous people I know that openly discusses taboo subjects with his guests, and there are thousands, if not millions of people listening to him every week. Joe’s guests often include fighters and comedians, as you might expect from a man who is a fighter and a comedian, though they are not the guests who I normally listen to, but if you know what to look for there are some real gems in his archive of podcasts. Among my favorites are the episodes with Amber Lyons and Aubrey Marcus discussing in great detail their trips to the Peruvian Amazon where they participated in traditional Ayahuasca healing ceremonies conducted by a native shaman using plant medicines. There is no place else on the internet that I know of where you can find such lengthy and highly detailed conversations about these subjects, led by such a well known moderator, and listened to by so many people. He may not be the best choice for academics or the spiritually advanced, but I see that as his strength. Because Joe speaks in a language that appeals to the common person he reaches a wide audience of people that normally wouldn’t be exposed to his message. Though it is difficult to measure, I imagine that Joe and his guests are responsible for waking many people from a life unconscious. One of my good friends owns a float tank studio, and many clients report on their first session that they first learned about floating from Joe.

JRE-amber lyon

Conscious Consumption

When I talk about being awake, or attaining consciousness you might think of some mystical eastern religious concept that is difficult to relate to, but I’m simply referring to the act of being aware of your surroundings and considering the consequences of your actions. Life is really just a long series of decisions and the choices we make constantly shape our bodies and the world around us. What should I do with my free time, watch TV, or read a book? How should I go to the store, in a car, or by bike? What should I do with this waste, compost it, or throw it in the garbage? Should I sit down to eat my meal on a plate, or order it to go in a disposable container? What should I eat for breakfast, a donut, or some whole foods? Do I need to buy the newest smartphone or does my old phone still serve me well? Do I feel good about my career, and does my job make the world a better place? Taking a look around I think it is safe to say that a majority of the American people are distracted and unconscious. Our consumption is high, our health is poor, and we are killing the planet we depend on for survival.

In Ayurveda

Everyday, we are surrounded by a constant stream of distractions. The billboards on the side of the highway, the commercials playing on the radio, the incoming messages on your phone, and the big football game Sunday afternoon. Some of them are desired, and others are annoying, but they are both distractions. They are a source of constant noise that prevents us from listening to our bodies, observing our natural environment, and focusing on the things that really matter. With advancements in technology, and the increased sophistication of capitalism it has become more difficult than ever to escape these Weapons of Mass Distraction. This is why including breathing, meditation, yoga, or float tank therapy into your routine is beneficial. I can’t recommend psychedelics from an Ayurvedic perspective, but I know they are extremely powerful, and can quickly cause people to examine their lives and ask why they do what they do. In some cases they may be appropriate when used responsibly.

Related posts:

0 Easy Steps to Consciousness

Today I floated in a sensory deprivation pod

 

 

0 Easy Steps to Consciousness

Red_and_blue_pills

“You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes”

-Morpheus from the movie Matrix

Mind Body Green Approach

A couple weeks ago I submitted an article to Mind Body Green (MBG), a popular healthy living website that accepts work from freelance writers. According to their website to increase your chance of being accepted it is best to submit articles that resemble others already published. After a quick review of their website I immediately noticed a trend; nearly all of the articles had a title that involved either 5 tips, 6 exercises, 7 principles, 8 foods, 9 steps, or 10 reasons; you get the idea. My first reaction was that I don’t want to write in that style, though I did want to get published so that I could reach a wider audience. While I applaud MBG for attempting to introduce easy remedies to improve people’s lives, I struggle with this approach to solving problems, and here are my top 3 reasons why (irony intended):

  1. Without your health you have nothing, and if you don’t have time for your health then perhaps you need to reexamine your priorities if you want to maintain a high quality of life. Of course this advice is easier to adopt for the young who have not yet made the decisions that commit them to busy lifestyles. Regardless, this is something we all need to consider because I don’t think quick tips are adequate to achieve meaningful change.
  2. It takes more than quick tips, and easy steps to bring optimal health into your life. Healthy living advice shouldn’t be comparable to lists we see for buying a new smartphone, or investing for your retirement. Having a healthy lifestyle is a continuous process that never ends. Besides, imagine how many lists you will have to remember after just one month of visiting the website; you will need lists to keep track of your lists.
  3. What we really need to achieve planetary and personal health is consciousness, not rules, tips, and tricks. Yes education is essential, and I understand that MBG is attempting to inform their readers, but what our society suffers from more than anything is a lack of consciousness. Consciousness has an amazing ability to fill in the gaps when information is missing. Sure, you may not have memorized what to do in every given situation, but if you attain a higher consciousness then you will probably succeed in making healthy choices when you need to make a decision.

Red pill or blue pill?

In summary, MBG never did publish my article, though it did receive a warm reception on this site. I compromised and made a list as all the other authors seem to do, but maybe a one item list wasn’t enough for them: Want to know the #1 place in town to eat? Better luck next time. As for you, ignorance may be bliss, but I highly recommend taking the red pill. Waking up to the ugly realities of our industrial agriculture-food-health complex might be disturbing, but having access to that knowledge will allow you to navigate your way through the maze towards optimal health.

If you swallow the blue pill…

In honor of MBG, here are the Top 7 signs you may be living an unconscious lifestyle, in my humble opinion. A couple of these are probably fine, but hopefully they don’t all apply to you!

  1. You often watch TV
  2. You don’t eat healthy whole foods
  3. You are bored, scared or annoyed by quiet / alone time
  4. You are extremely busy
  5. You don’t consider the environmental impact of your actions
  6. You drink excessive amounts of alcohol
  7. You have never tried meditation, yoga, breath work, or psychedelics

Red_and_blue_pills

 

 

Make kale chips and save money (recipe)

Brassicas comp 17.indd

Who doesn’t like chips?

You’ve probably noticed the explosion of chip varieties over the past few years at the grocery store. Not long ago your only options were in the form of potatoes or corn, but we now have access to sweet potato, beet, bean, and rice chips. One of the most recent additions to the chip aisle are the kale chips. I was checking out one of the new products recently and had mixed reactions to what I was seeing. I was happy to discover the product was made using all organic ingredients, and there is no doubt that kale should be a healthy ingredient in most people’s diet. In my earlier post, Bitter is better, eating wilder foods, I shared Jo Robinson’s suggestion that everybody should definitely eat more cruciferous vegetables from the brassicaceae family. Examples of these plants include brussels sprout, broccoli, rutabaga, and kale. The part I struggled with the most while examining this new product was the price. The chips looked voluminous, but they were being sold in tiny servings of around 2 ounces for around $9. Out of curiosity I pulled out my smartphone calculator and did the math; these healthy, tasty treats sold for approximately $67 per pound! I then walked down to the produce section and saw locally grown organic kale being sold for about $2.50 per bunch. If each bunch is around 1.5 ounce after dehydration then I could buy a pound of kale chip ingredients for $27, not including all the flavorings. The price obviously drops even further if you are growing the kale in your backyard.

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Wastelandia

The price was obviously a major deterrent for me, but the packaging was also slightly disturbing. To protect these delicate little treats from being crushed into kale dust they are served in rigid plastic containers. I don’t know, as an Environmental Scientist maybe I’m the only person who sees the folly here. I notice things like that, and I understand why we have reason to be concerned about our wasteful society. Have you heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch yet? Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is that each of us eat many pounds of food each day, and plastic has become such an integral part of our industrial food system that he have now reached the point where we package mere ounces of food in large plastic containers. If we are packaging food by the ounce, and we eat pounds of food per day, and there are 7 billion of us, and our population is projected to grow to at least 9 billion… Well, you get the picture. The picture looks like a giant patch of plastic waste floating in the North Pacific Ocean.

Ignorance is bliss

Sorry if I’ve depressed you, but now is the time where I introduce some good news and empower you to make right the wrongs of the world. They weren’t lying when they said that ignorance is bliss, but I’d much rather be aware even if it can be a downer sometimes, especially since there are an abundance of solutions available. Now, who wants to learn how to make some healthy, tasty, organic, cruciferous, affordable, low waste snacks??

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Kale Chip Recipe

1 bunch of kale

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

1/8 teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt

black pepper grinder

Cut kale leaves into large pieces and remove the stems. Place kale in a large glass oven dish and be careful not to overlap the pieces. Drizzle one large spoon of olive oil over the kale. It would be ideal if you have some kind of refillable squeeze sprayer. Simply spray a few times until most of the kale has been lightly coated. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the kale; it is surprising how far even a little salt and oil can go, so try not to use too much. Season with a couple rotations on the pepper grinder if desired. Place the uncovered dish in a 350 degree preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes. They are not finished if still soft, tough and moist, but will be overdone if they become brown/black or excessively crispy. After they are cool and dehydrated store them in a glass container in the fridge or in the pantry. I like to double or triple the recipe and fill all the shelves of my oven for maximum efficiency. Like any recipe your results will vary based on many different factors, so if the first batch isn’t perfect then you will have to adjust the temp, time, or quantity of seasoning. Of course you don’t need to be limited to salt and pepper, as there are an infinite number of spice possibilities available. In fact, many of the new kale chip companies do offer some good ideas for flavor, and seem to be offering a high quality product. I think their intentions are great, and hesitate to criticize, but the reality is that there is a better way of adding kale to your diet, and that way is much cheaper, and much less wasteful.

That’s all for now,

CIAO

 

Related articles:

Rejuvenating Green Smoothie

Minimize it, don’t criticize it

 

Want to know the #1 place in town to eat?

20130803_212342

Seattle, WA

Healthy, tasty, affordable, and sustainable

Eating out at a restaurant can be a real challenge for people trying to be conscious of what they are consuming. If your only criteria when choosing a place to eat are tasty and affordable then there are endless options available to you in most US cities. Cheap, fast, sugary foods are everywhere you look, but if you add healthy to the list of criteria, suddenly your options are greatly reduced. If you take it one step further and seek a place that sources local, organic and environmentally friendly ingredients as much as possible then I wish you the best of luck. Even if you do find such a place then you are likely to trade health or sustainability for affordability.

Food as Medicine

I am a big advocate of the concept of Food as Medicine, and am also very interested in the connections between food, health, agriculture, and environment. As a result, when I go out to eat it can be difficult to find meals prepared with these concepts in mind. Here in the Pacific Northwest we are fortunate to have access to chefs and restaurant owners that are aware of these concepts, and who are passionate about raising their standards above typical restaurant food. Regardless, a restaurant that includes healthy, tasty and sustainable in all their meals is more often a novelty; a place perhaps where you go on a first date, rather than a place you go for lunch three times a week. So, what should you do?

Boring, OR

Boring, OR

The #1 place in town

Now is the time when I’m supposed to introduce you to the newest smartphone app that guides you to the closest healthy, tasty and sustainable restaurant in town. Sorry, but that’s not going to happen today. The purpose of this post is to remind you that the #1 place in town is…your kitchen. I know that may not seem very profound, but at a time when some people are eating out for a majority of their meals I think this is a message that needs to be said. Have you ever seen the episode of Portlandia where the foodies ask a thousand questions about where the chicken comes from? It’s very funny, but the reason they have to ask so many questions is because they have very little control over what they are eating. Sure, you know what chicken, tortillas, and vegetables are, but you rarely know if the chicken came from a factory farm, if the tortillas are made of genetically modified corn, or if the vegetables were sprayed with pesticides.

Take the power back!

I know that eating out is inevitable for various social occasions, and when you do I encourage you to have fun and do the best you can do while ordering from the menu. However, in our busy lives we often eat out even when it is unnecessary simply for the convenience. We don’t have the energy to cook, we don’t feel like doing the dishes after, or maybe we don’t really know how to cook. If you understand the concept of Food as Medicine then you know how important it is to decide what you put in your mouth. Some people have allergies and sensitivities, others are experiencing weight gain, and many are suffering from various diseases. The only real way to control for allergens, pesticides, GMOs, sugar, gluten, dairy, price, and quality is to cook at home. We can’t blame the restaurants; they are simply trying to survive, and are using the rules of supply and demand to do so. We demand affordable, so they supply it, often at the expense of health and sustainability. Instead, I think we need to rearrange our priorities and prepare our meals more often. If you don’t know how, there are endless resources available online now, including this one.

Ciao!

 

 

The Season of Sweet

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“Set the gear shift for the high gear of your soul!!”

-From the lyrics for Run Like an Antelope performed by Phish

 

Locavore

Last week while I was browsing the produce section of my local food co-op I wondered what kind of fruit I should buy. Of course all the options that we are familiar with as Americans came to mind, and were definitely available to me. There were apples, bananas, pears, and oranges, as you would expect. Most of the apples and pears that we eat in this country come from here, Washington State, so that is usually a good option for me. However, this time of year most of the apples and pears we see are being imported from places like New Zealand since their harvest was likely a few months ago, while ours was nearly nine months ago. Instead of looking at these fruits that traveled thousands of miles to get here I focused instead on the many new fruits that are now available with the onset of summer. First we had strawberries, now we have raspberries and coming soon will be the blueberries. The Washington cherries have been amazing lately, and while local grapes, melons and plums are not what this state is known for, at least the California options didn’t require a plane ride across the ocean to reach my mouth. My observations continued as I passed the bulk section and saw the dried figs and dates that I normally buy, but needless to say, I passed on all these usual options and instead loaded my cart with some of the rare treats available now. As the sign on the cherry bin said, “get ‘em while you can”! And get ’em I did, in fact I have been gorging on fresh fruits lately like a black bear in an alpine meadow full of huckleberry.

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Short and sweet

Locavore was the 2007 Word of the Year according to the Oxford American Dictionary, so by now I’m sure we are all familiar with the concept. Evidence of this can be seen in the explosion of farmer’s markets across the country since then. Much has been said of the environmental motivations behind eating local, namely to reduce the miles your food has traveled, and to support smaller scale operations that may be more likely to follow organic methods. Of course there are also other social motivations such as knowing the person who grew your food, and supporting the local economy. From the health perspective we sometimes hear of the health benefits of eating fresh foods, which are much easier to acquire when they are grown nearby. I also wonder if there are even more subtle processes going on within the body; for example, if we eat a summer food during the winter, strawberries perhaps, then are we sending our body confusing biochemical signals? More research is probably needed on that one, and I’ll let you know if I hear anything on that subject. What I do know is that Ayurveda already considers the effects of eating seasonally on your health…

In Ayurveda

Summer is the season of pitta, so according to the Ayurveda tri-dosha philosophy there are certain foods that are better to eat during summer and others to be eaten only in moderation. Sweet is considered to be one of the tastes to balance pitta, along with bitter and astringent, and as we all know there is an abundance of sweet fruit available during the summer. How convenient! Some people may read that and mistakenly interpret this advice as encouragement to eat sugary foods like cookies and cakes, but that is not the intention. When I say that Ayurveda promotes eating sweet foods during the summer I’m talking about naturally sweet foods like plums, not processed foods with concentrated sweeteners added to them. Again, the other two tastes are bitter and astringent, so bitter foods like dark leafy greens, and astringent foods like lentils and beans are important components of a summer diet. The three tastes to eat in moderation during the summer are salty, sour and pungent.

What would Eric eat?

I’m happy to say that my kitchen is now free of all concentrated sweeteners including cane sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave, and even maple syrup. Not only are they absent from my kitchen in whole form, but you won’t even find these on the ingredient list of any products I buy, which is not too difficult since I buy mostly whole foods. The only concentrated sweetener you will find is some raw local honey, which is considered to be a medicinal food in Ayurveda. I know this may sound extreme, but with all the amazing produce available now, there really is no need to eat sugary foods. I’m not so disciplined as to avoid an occasional treat; all things in moderation, right? The point is that with all the sugars available in fruits, vegetables, restaurants, and social gatherings, why have more temptations in your kitchen? We are certainly getting more than enough even with a kitchen as sugar free as mine.

For further information on sugar see my earlier posts:

Our Paleolithic ancestors rarely ate sugar, should we do the same?

Agave *UPDATE* (Best oatmeal recipe ever, for dinner)

 

Sattvic Planet Tips

  • Shop at the farmer’s market, or food co-op
  • Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group
  • Eat local / seasonal
  • In summer eat sweet, bitter and astringent foods
  • Eat salty, sour and pungent foods in moderation
  • Remove concentrated sugars from your kitchen