Monday, January 31, 2011

Aromatherapy: Diffusion

a suburban greenmom fights the flu and winter blues with essential oils


Last week I talked a bit about aromatherapy—the use of plant essential oils—in general; over the next few weeks I’ll take some individual posts to write about some of the more specific ways it can be used to avoid and/or replace a bunch of the icky synthetic chemicals and pharmaceuticals that pop up in our lives. (As always, the disclaimer: I am not a licensed anything—except driver, I am a licensed driver, but that’s hardly relevant—so please do not take my advice as expert in any way. Do your own homework, read and study and ask, and pay attention! And please do read last week's post for cautions about how not to use essential oils!)

One of the most basic uses of essential oils is diffusion, which is essentially a fancy way to say “getting the oils into the air so you can smell them.” This whole concept is pretty foreign to our Western allopathic medical thinking, which says if it ain't swallowed or injected it probably ain't working—but if you consider it, it makes a lot of sense.

For one thing, the human sense of smell is incredibly powerful, and it’s linked very directly to our emotions and memory. (My grandmother used to wear L’air du Temps. I can smell it in my head to this day, as clearly as I can smell my mom’s spaghetti sauce, or my grandpa’s cigar.) Scent-memory has a very immediate and direct impact on our psyche, and that is a link that could be used to our advantage. In times of stress or depression, the very act of smelling something we associate with relaxation or peace directly links our current mental state to the one associated by the fragrance.

In a more concrete and scientifically measurable way, dispersing the oils into the air so we can breathe them means we are actually inhaling the chemical constituents of the oil into our bodies and respiratory systems. It’s not something we think about, but when we smell something, we do so because molecules of that which we smell are in the air, entering our bodies. (Think of that the next time your flatulent spouse makes your eyes water.) (Eew, or maybe don’t.) It’s why airborne viruses are called “airborne.” Something gets into the air, we breathe it in, and it’s inside us, absorbed into our lungs and/or nasal membranes.

(The above two paragraphs, I admit, are sort of Aromatherapy Froufrou 101—I apologize for the less-than-scholarly analysis of all this, but if you’re interested there’s a lot of info out there on the Internet, in places like Aromaweb, Nature’s Gift, and some very well-researched articles on the AGORA website.)

The most basic and least equipment-intensive method of diffusing and inhaling the oils (and probably least effective, honestly), is the “put a couple of drops on a tissue and tuck it into your collar” method. That’s what I used for my PPD, though, since it was immediate and easy, and it took the edge off until other methods had time to work. When my husband and I are sick, we’ll each put a little spray of eucalyptus oil on our pillow, which helps open up our nasal passages and helps—one hopes/believes—kill any other nasties we might otherwise be breathing onto each other in bed.

If we really wanted to keep the air clean and bug-free, we’d do better to get an actual nebulizer or diffuser; nebulizers are most effective and also most expensive; fan-based diffusers are also effective in smaller spaces. Heat-based diffusers are okay, but heating the oils changes their chemical compositions and may make them less effective.

One can find all kinds of diffusers, all over the place—Nature’s Gift (I swear, I don’t work for them, they’re just my main source for All Things Aromatherapeutic) has a very good and wide selection, with very thorough descriptions of the capabilities of each; so does Mountain Rose Herbs. There are diffusers you can plug into your car a/c jack, there are diffusers you can plug into the wall, there are even diffusers you can stick into your computer’s USB port (with a gig of extra storage to boot!). There are ceramic diffusers that absorb the oils and then disperse them into the air, which cover less space but also do not require power to run. And I have been known to put a few drops of the oil on a tissue and lightly tape it over one of our furnace vents—that’s fairly effective as well, if a little cheesy looking!

Diffused essential oils are being used for all kinds of things—to keep air in public environments less prone to harboring viruses, to help induce mental states of either greater alertness or greater calm, to address depression, and even in some children’s classrooms (including and especially kids with special needs) to help promote focus and diminish scattered behavior. Obviously researching the effectiveness of these methods is a challenge, especially with no giant pharmaceutical companies lining up to fund such studies, but anecdotally they seem to be meeting with some success.

So as we sit here in the middle of flu season, here are a few suggestions for your own blends (although—here I go again sounding like a commercial—Nature’s Gift’s “germ beater” blends are a good way to get it all in one bottle rather than buying a bunch)—

· Eucalyptus—a great decongestant, clears out your passages

· Thyme—nasty-smelling, one of the best anti-viral and anti-bacterial oils around.

· Basil—I also can’t stand the smell of this, but along with Thyme it’s highly effective. I don’t know why Thyme and Basil are so lovely smelling in red sauce but so icky when diffused in a room…but heck, they work.

· Manuka—a little more off the beaten track, it’s related to the melaleuca (tea tree) plant and, some say, has even more germ-beating power.

· Lavandin—similar to Lavender (also a must-have) but a bit more camphor-y smelling

· Tea Tree—of course. Tea Tree oil is good for pretty much everything.

· Pine and Cedarwood—also very good air-cleaners, antibacterial and antiviral.

If it were me, and I didn’t have much in the way of oils yet, I’d probably get some mixture of Lavender, Tea Tree, and Eucalyptus as my flu-season hard-hitters. I’d throw in a little peppermint or lemon if the winter blues were getting my family down, or maybe a little chamomile if my kids were getting unbelievably squirrelly and cabinfeverish, and diffuse it in the family room all evening after school.

Again, if anyone tries any of these, I’d love to hear how it works for you and what you think!

--Jenn the Greenmom


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Phone Booth Flashback

Welcome to the Phone Booth Flashback, where we take a trip down memory lane so you can catch up on posts from the Booth's past.

Last Year

  • Cookbook Roundup: Jenn the Greenmom shares her favorite cookbooks and asks what your favorites are.

Two Years Ago
  • The Road to Victory: Green Bean shares how she transitioned from a traditional grassy lawn to a front yard victory garden.
  • Getting Religion: Ironically, almost exactly a year before Going Green Mama's post on environmentalism/religion (see first bullet point above), The Raven pondered the same question.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Garden plans?

Spring catalogs are a huge temptation for me - and for my kids. Each winter, the bursts of color that shine from the pages make me want to far exceed my little garden's capacity.

I tend to shop organic, heirloom and local for my seeds (yes, it's possible in Indiana), so we just recently placed our first of likely three orders. And I had to chuckle when, just a few days later, our package arrived with a note apologizing for the delay!

This year, we're branching out from our usual suspects. Though I'm hoping to avoid a garden full of onions like last year, last season expanded our children's repretoire, with a few surprising additions. So we're adding okra, bok choy, Indiana heirloom tomatoes, and if I can find seeds, ground cherries to our mix.

What are you trying out in the garden this year?

Wishing you an end to the doldrums of winter,
Going Green Mama

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Packaging Waste: a Food Allergy & Intolerance Conundrum

From Amazin' Alison.

Fluffy, Crisp & Allergen Free!
A year ago February my eco-conscious lifestyle got kicked to the curb by gluten. Suddenly, the bulk aisle was a danger zone and cooking from scratch was like working in the lab of a mad scientist. My husband will confirm that I had several melt-downs and complete kitchen failures. The final straw was a batch of muffins that tasted so horrible (texture, flavor, you name it) that neither the neighbor's dog nor my father (who will eat ANYTHING) could manage to choke down more than a single bite.

Needless to say I was devastated. Baking from scratch is a multi-generational tradition and a matter of pride in my family. And I'd spent the last few years searching out local and bulk goods. I had more than 50lbs of local whole wheat and all-purpose flour stored in our chest freezer. Wheat berries, barley and huge bag of oats in glass bulk containers. Let alone a collection of bake ware and mini-cookie cutters that I'd collected to make our own bread, bagels, pasta, tortillas, muffins, animal crackers and cookies. Not only had I lost my way, I was buried in gluten. And, something, somewhere tasted like fish. And smelled like fish.

I did not like it. Not. one. bit.

And so I caved. I stopped baking and I bought bagged gluten free pretzels. I bought animal cookies. Gluten free frozen mac and cheese. Gluten free boxed frozen pizzas. Tortillas. Bread. Bagels. And even donuts. Soon our cupboards were bursting with every gluten free snack and lots and lots of tiny plastic packages. I cringed every time I opened a package or tossed a plastic bag in the trash, but I did not know what else to do.

In the meantime our food budget had made it to an entirely new level of outrageous spending. In the past we had made the choice to spend more on fresh produce, organic produce and locally made or raised foods as they were available. However, buying gluten free had increased our consumption of packaged products, decreased our consumption of local products and added at least $400 per month to our food budget. And then, we learned that my son is also allergic to corn. Gluten may be hard to avoid, but as anyone who has read the Omnivore's Dilemma knows, corn is in EVERYTHING, including many gluten free foods in the form of corn flour, corn starch and xantham gum. The good news is that corn brought me back to reality. We could not continue eating out of a box (literally).

Suddenly, many of my son's favorite packaged foods were off limits and I was fully aware that our budget was out of hand. So I donned my apron, gave away my mad scientist lab coat, and once again started to create in the kitchen. And, I discovered an amazing thing -- in the last six months through the use of gluten free mixes -- I'd learned a new way to cook. I know knew the proper texture for gluten free pizza dough, I knew that certain doughs (like cookies and pie crusts) HAD to spend a good 30 minutes in the fridge before being rolled out or baked and I knew how much moisture different cookies or muffins needed to bake properly. And, I'd discovered that tapioca starch tastes like fish and smelled like fish. Once again, I could create my own or customize recipes to match our tastes.

One of the bigger challenges I've yet to solve is that of bulk goods. The bulk aisle and many prepackaged bulk goods are a cross-contamination danger zone and I've yet to find a bulk supplier of beans or oats to cut out on that packaging. Thanks to Lundberg I can buy 25lb bags of brown and white rice. We also occasionally have access to locally produced quinoa and beans, so I am playing more with vegetarian recipes and quinoa flour & flakes. Needless to say, there is light at the end of the tunnel!

And so, my resolution for 2011 is this: kick as many of those gluten free boxes and packages to the curb. Find someone to sell gluten free flour packages in bulk locally (some can be ordered from Bob's Red Mill, but my grocer says they can't get them). In the meantime, I've perfected a recipe for waffles (tastes just like the Bisquick boxed mix if you ask me!). And, just last week I made bagels, a recipe I'll be glad to share once it has been perfected.


Dry ingredients only -- all the different packages still drive me nuts!

Mommy Jommy's Gluten Free, Corn Free and Vegan Waffles
Sift together your dry ingredients:
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup potato starch
1/4 cup quinoa flour (you could sub another 1/4 cup rice flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder (gluten free, corn starch free)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix together wet ingredients:
2 E-nerg egg replacers prepared + 1 tsp ground flax (could sub 2 real eggs)
1/3 cup canola oil (these are waffles -- do not skimp/sub!!!)
2 cups milk (may need more if batter is too thick)

In a large bowl combine the dry and wet ingredients. Batter should be thick, but pourable. Make a test waffle. If you think batter is too thick, you can add 1/4 cup of milk or water to the batter to thin it out. These waffles freeze wonderfully and can be popped in the toaster at any time of day! Our waffle maker is not a standard size, but I'd say this makes enough for a family of four (we are three and always have a few sticks left over).

For those of you with special diets:
Do you feel like you rely too heavily on pre-made or at the least pre-mixed? Do you wish you could buy in bulk? Are you frustrated by the lack of locally grown gluten free flours? For example, lots and lots of oats are grown in Colorado, but only for animal feed.



Will You Answer My Gardening Questions?

SustainaMom is taking names...

In my other life, I have a Twitter account that I use for work. I find it an endless source of links to great information and inspiring stories. And out of the 1,400 people that I follow, I've made a handful of truly awesome connections and come into contact with an awful lot of really nice people. Its 1 a.m. and I've broken something on my website? I bet someone on Twitter will help. Need a recommendation about X product? Bound to get some feedback from someone on Twitter.

On Saturday, I was writing an article about gardening apps for a client. "Move over, Farmer's Almanac," I typed. And then I was stuck. I haven't actually used any gardening apps. So I posted on Twitter: Can anyone recommend smartphone gardening apps?

Nothing. Not a single response. I am following some nice people, some smart people, some entertaining people. But I am not following my people. I want to follow the nice, smart, entertaining people who like to garden ... and compost, and line dry...

Although maybe y'all know more about gardening than to trust a phone app?!

I digress. The point is, I want to follow y'all! (And I'd love to see our readers following each other and connecting.)

So I've created a personal Twitter account. If you would be so kind as to leave your Twitter handle in the comments, I would love to make your acquaintance.

Please, please leave your comment in URL format, like http://www.twitter.com/SustainaMom, so we can all click through the link without typing anything.

If you haven't joined Twitter yet, go sign up! Here are a few accounts with green-tinted tweets to get you started following people:

First, the ladies here at the Green Phone Booth:

Then, I looked up some of my favorite environmental blogs/bloggers:

Some green media & eco-organizations:

And a couple of people you all know and love:

But Jamie & Michael aren't going to help me the next time I need advice on gardening apps. I'm counting on you all to connect with me. I promise I'll try to help if you post a question!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Little Co-Activists

More thoughts on getting involved from the Conscious Shopper

Two weeks ago, I wrote about taking my kids with me to a meeting with the City of Raleigh about changing the zoning code to allow for community gardens. For brevity's sake and to emphasize my point, I focused that post on the frustration I felt because those planning meetings are always held during the day, making it difficult for the average person with a job or kids to get involved in advocating for greener policies. But the comments on that post reminded me that there's another angle to that story...

After several months of mooching off my friends for free babysitting, I decided one day, "Screw this. I'm taking my kids with me." But that wasn't the only thought that led up to my decision. I thought about how I often left my kids to go to meetings and how they had no clue what that meant or where I went. I wanted them to recognize that the community gardens issue was something I felt passionate about, and I wanted them to know how to get involved (something I certainly wasn't taught and have had to muddle through figuring out).

So I dragged my kids with me to a meeting, and as soon as we had settled into our seats, a woman who worked in the building came up to us with an offer of crayons and paper. I had come prepared with art supplies of my own, but her offer showed me two things:
  1. They didn't expect me to leave (like I'd feared) and
  2. They'd had kids there before.
That meeting unfortunately was not a success for many reasons, but here's something else I didn't mention on the last post: I've taken my youngest with me to meetings several more times. He's three now, and without the distraction of his older brothers, he's fine. It would certainly be more convenient for me and less distracting for other people if I left him at home, but I'm making do with the situation I'm in right now.

Underbelly pointed out in the comments of the last post, "Bringing children into public spaces has been a long-standing feminist issue, because more often than not, when you discourage children from being in public spaces, you discourage women, too." I think she makes a great point, but from my experience, it's not so much that children are outright discouraged as it's just out of the norm to see them there. But it won't become the norm until more of us are brave enough to do it.

If you'd like to get involved with kids in tow, here's what I've learned in my short amount of experience:
  • Some meetings are appropriate for kids, and some aren't. All of the meetings that I've taken my kids to have been pretty casual. If I think someone important is going to be there, something really important is going to be discussed, or the meeting will be a little more formal in some way, I find a babysitter.
  • Some kids will do better than others. I am lucky to have three kids who can sit still and entertain themselves for at least an hour with about an 80% success rate. Not all kids are like that, and only you know how your kid would do.
  • Kids do better one on one. It's just the nature of siblings that they can't let an hour of life go by without a squabble. That's how memories are made, right? Taking all three of my boys to that first meeting was my number one mistake, and one I will not make again.
  • Be considerate. Have you ever been to a movie where someone has brought their newborn baby and he cries through the whole thing? Remember how mad you were because you couldn't hear the movie over the darn baby? Don't be that person! If you're kids are disrupting the meeting, leave until they've calmed down.
  • Be prepared. I bring a snack, art supplies, a portable DVD player with headphones, and my iPhone.
Every time I take my little one with me to a meeting, my stomach squirms in anticipation of what might happen. Will someone ask me to leave? Will he disrupt the meeting too much? I'm sure there have been people at those meetings who've grumbled to themselves, "Why is a kid here? So unprofessional. What an annoyance." But no one has ever said those words out loud to me.

Instead, I hope that most people leave those meetings thinking, "Having a kid there wasn't too bad" or "I barely noticed him." Maybe one or two think, "Maybe I could do that sometime." I hope that my bravery makes it easier for someone else to be brave next time.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Are There Fake Blueberries in Your Cereal?

Some food news from Retro Housewife

If you eat Kellogg's, Target brand foods, Betty Crocker, or General Mills there likely are fake blueberries in your food. NaturalNews.tv recently posted a video showing products that market themselves as a blueberry product but have few or no blueberries and instead have dyes, sugars, and fats.

This is not the first time a food company has been caught trying to trick us, it happens everyday. This isn't even a first for Kellogg's who is currently in trouble over claims that their Rice Krispies cereal helps kids immune system. False claims are everywhere but it's easy to spot them. All you have to do is read the labels. One big hint that the company is trying to trick you is dyes. Dyes are used to make food look better and often to trick us.

And while this form of marketing is poor and can be harmful to consumers, there is more to this story. Those fake blueberries are full of nasty things. The dyes are made from things like petrochemicals and are linked to hyperactivity, allergies and even cancer. The fats are often partially hydrogenated oils also known as trans fats. Trans fats are linked to heart problems, liver problems and again even cancer. And we all know to much of any kind of sugar isn't good for us but the sugars in these products are often things like high fructose corn syrup which has been linked to liver disease, increased weight gain, and seems like something new everyday. High fructose corn syrup even has been found to often contain mercury. So there are many reasons to stay away from these products, so remember to read your labels!

Was this a shock to you? Did you have any of these products in your house?


Photo Credit: --b--

Monday, January 24, 2011

Aromatherapy Basics

Thoughts from a suburban Greenmom with a medicine cabinet full of awesome-smelling glass vials...


In wintertime it’s a little depressing to write many herbal posts, especially when one lives (as I do) in the frigid North where nothing really grows from November to April…but I feel a little badly that I abandoned my “First Friday Focus” posts about herbs here at the Booth. (Of course, now that I write on Mondays, it’s all sort of moot, isn’t it?)

I miss my herbs. I miss my garden. But it’s in the winter months that I take greatest advantage of that other plant-derived medicinal wonder, the distilled essential oil. So I’d like to take a few weeks to talk about my experiences with essential oils, kind of share what I know, and invite you to do the same in the comments.

Essential oils (or EOs) can be used in a variety of ways, but let me start by mentioning how they should not be used: do not take them internally, and do not use them undiluted on your skin. These are extremely extremely potent concentrations of the alkaloids in plants—it takes 5000 pounds of rose petals to make 1 pound of rose essence. By extension, where any given plant might be very “safe” in its normal plant form, its essential oil might be deadly in fairly small doses. Keep these away from kids, treat them as you would any potentially lethal medications you have in your house. And do your homework.

How they can be used: in diffusers (sending the scent molecules throughout a room), diluted in carrier oils, in baths, compresses, household cleaning products, bath salts and sugar scrubs, and so forth. (Nature’s Gift has an excellent page of suggestions.)

Over the past few years, I’ve amassed a fairly good collection of oils—since you generally use them only a drop or two at a time, a single 15ml (1 oz.) bottle lasts a while; the only oil I’ve ever needed to buy the 4 oz size of is lavender, and that was a good year ago, and it’s still 2/3 full—and I am a heavy user of lavender oil. Many of the basic oils aren’t too expensive; still, it can really add up if you’re not careful. Below is my own list of what I think the most essential of the essential oils are--If you’re interested in starting your own set of oils, this might be a good place to start (listed in no particular order):

· Lavender—this is an amazing all purpose oil. Relaxing, antibacterial, and just plain nice-smelling. It is also said to harmonize with whatever purpose the oils its blended with are there to accomplish, and strengthen their effectiveness.

· Lemon—great antiseptic and cleaning oil. I use it to clean the kitchen and bathroom (a few drops in my vinegar/water cleaning solution), as well as adding it to my favorite antidepressant blend. I also use it for my homemade hand sanitizer, although the citrus oils can be sensitizing and aren’t always a great idea to use on the skin.

· Ginger—great for funny tummies, and one of the very few oils I feel comfortable even after all this time taking internally. (A drop or two in a spoonful of honey, dissolved in a cup of hot water, is a lovely remedy for nausea or overindulgence. Adding a drop of fennel makes it even better.) (Again, go very easy on the oils if you're even considering internal use--and bear in mind that I am not a licensed ANYTHING, so do anything you do at your own risk, and do your homework.)

· Peppermint—good for headaches and nausea; a good cooling oil, for helping with fevers and flashes and such. For headaches, mix a couple of drops with a neutral carrier oil like olive or grapeseed, and rub it on your temples.

· Eucalyptus—good for coughs and congestion; we often give our pillows a spritz at bedtime when we’re stuffy-nosed.

· Tea Tree—I’ve blogged before about this super-oil; it’s a champ antifungal and antibacterial oil, one of the few oils that’s mostly considered safe to use undiluted on the skin (though not all aromatherapists agree--generally diluting it in a carrier oil is considered safest). I use it in diffuser blends, deodorants, salves—this is a must-have.

· Clary Sage—this maybe isn’t one to put in the “basics” list, but it’s also one of the oils I’ve used most, and one of the few I’ve actually emptied a bottle of and needed to buy more. Clary is a “woman’s” oil, effective (usually in a blend) against PMS, cramps, and a lot of hormone-y ickiness. Combined with lavender and lemon, clary is the main ingredient in my anti-post-partum-depression blend.

There are lots more, of course, and over the years I’ve picked up a bunch more oils. I actually have a fairly good-sized collection at this point—Rosemary for hair and astringent recipes, thyme to mix with eucalyptus for those really nasty cold-coughs, fennel to pair with ginger in anti-nausea blends, sweet orange for anything lemon is too strong for (plus it just smells lovely), pine for the same kinds of cleaning jobs I use lemon for, chamomile for anything soothing or in diffuser blends for the kids, cedar and lemongrass for insect repellents…once I hit the jackpot when our local Wild Oats was switching over to Whole Foods, and they put this whole line of essential oils on sale for ridiculously cheap, and I pretty much bought two of everything. And I have my splurges—one tiny little vial of pure jasmine essential oil, and a slightly larger one of Helichrysum, and a precious bottle of sandalwood, none of which get used except for very special occasions. I still haven’t brought myself to buy any rose absolute, because it’s just plain too expensive and I can’t bring myself to cough up that kind of money. (I use rose geranium instead; not the “real thing,” but very nice nonetheless.)

Any other essential oil lovers out there? What are your favorite oils, the ones you come back to again and again?

--Jenn the Greenmom

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Phone Booth Flashback

Welcome to the Phone Booth Flashback, where we take a trip down memory lane so you can catch up on posts from the Booth's past.

Last year
  • One Thing Leads to Another: The Greenhabilitator wonders if her small personal actions really make a difference in the big scheme of things.

Two years ago
  • News Flash: JessTrev points out some news articles that caught her eye.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Got gas?

A quick post from the still-drugged-up-on-DayQuill Going Green Mama.

Gasoline prices topped the $3.15 mark in our town recently, and all of a sudden people are realizing that hmm... consumption carries a price.

In the last few days, I'm starting to see a resurgence in headlines covering rising gas and food prices, and people who are retooling their lifestyles as a result.

My question is this: What were these folks doing since the last time gas hit $3? Going back to old habits? Figuring, hey, $2.75 ain't so bad?

For us, our habits forged a few summers back have stuck. We piggyback errands. I weigh the cost of a sale against the cost of a special trip to the store. We've reduced our extracurricular activites, too, choosing to spend more time at activities closer to home, rather than commuting around the city.

So my question to you today is this: What's your breaking point on fuel prices? Have you made changes to your routines - and do you stick with them when prices decline?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Waste-Free Yogurt

From Emerald Apron's Kitchen




My family likes yogurt, but for a while now I've been annoyed by the little plastic cups that I can't recycle in my weekly pickup. And how many little cups can you really save? I started buying the larger quart sized containers to reduce waste, but lately I've gone back to the smaller containers because it's easy to send them to daycare with my son Joshua.

I've transitioned to making a lot of our foods at home, but up until a couple of weeks ago I never thought I could make my own yogurt. I wasn't willing to buy a special piece of equipment, and I didn't want to have to buy enzymes or cultures and keep them in the freezer. It just seemed like too much of a pain. However, that's not true! I stumbled upon a method to make homemade yogurt using things I already had: a thermos, a thermometer, milk and a spoonful of yogurt. I figured I could at least try it. I was completely shocked at how surprisingly easy it is to make homemade yogurt! I'm sharing some step-by-step instructions so that you, too, can make your own yogurt!

Step 1: Measure milk into your thermos. Since thermoses are different size, I won't give you an exact measurement because it will vary. I stole one of my husband's thermoses so it's pretty large.





Step 2: Bring the milk to a boil. You can do this in a pot on the stove top or in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl. I've done both ways, and this time I used a pyrex bowl in the microwave. It took about 5 minutes, stopping to check it every minute or so, to come to a boil. Tip: watch the milk carefully. I hate the smell of burnt milk!




Step 3: Allow the milk to cool to 122 degrees F. This is the temperature at which the yogurt cultures will be most happy. Variation: If you prefer to have raw-milk yogurt, skip the boil and just heat the milk to 114 degrees F. This lower temperature will preserve the enzymes that are destroyed in the pasteurization process. I choose to use pasteurized milk, but that's a post for another day. Once the milk has cooled, stir in a spoonful of yogurt. You can use store-bought or homemade yogurt leftover from your last batch. This contains the cultures that will transform your milk into yogurt.



Step 4: Pour your milk back into the thermos and screw on the cap. Find a place to let the thermos sit for 8 to 14 hours so the cultures can do their work.



Step 5: After 8-14 hours, open up your thermos and this is what it will look like. Don't let it fool you, that's yogurt! You can stop here if you like your yogurt to have a thinner consistency. Just transfer it to a different container, stir the whey back into the yogurt, and store it in the fridge.



Step 6: If you want a thicker consistency like Greek Yogurt, allow the yogurt to drain through cheesecloth. I let my yogurt to sit for a hour or two for a thickness similar to sour cream. If you want it even thicker, allow it to drain longer and you'll have yogurt cheese, which is a nice substitute for cream cheese.



Step 7: Transfer the yogurt to a container and store it in the fridge. You probably want to chill it before you eat it.



And don't forget to save the whey! You can use the clear liquid as a substitute for milk or water in bread or pancake recipes.

Serve your yogurt plain or with fruit, honey, maple syrup, granola and/or preserves. You can also use it as a substitute for sour cream in dips and dressings. One of my favorite ways to eat yogurt is to make a layered parfait with strawberries.

I've heard that you can use any type of milk (whole, 2%, 1% or skim) to make yogurt, but I've only tried it with whole milk.

Finally, I titled this post "Waste-Free Yogurt" because I've just recently found a local(ish) source of milk in glass bottles that are returned and reused. So we're not only saying good-bye to plastic cups, we're saying good-bye to cartons and jugs, too!


Joshua approves!

If you've never made your own yogurt, I hope that I've demystified the process!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Virtuous Waste

A confession from Green Bean.


It was a windy Sunday. Sitting next to me, my mother suddenly pointed out the window. Behind her, my oldest squinted and read in the slow deliberate speech of an emergent reader "E-State Sale." I spun the wheel left and we barreled up the hill.

We pulled into a tight set of townhouses. Up the stairs with several reminders of "look with your eyes" to my two boys, we opened the door, passed the tables of jewelry and racks of clothes. Those really aren't my thing. Peeking into the kitchen, the counters were denuded. There was no garden here and, as it was near the end of the sale, well, most of the good stuff would be gone. When closing down a sale, everything is 50-75% off but there's usually only furniture and virtuous waste left.

What is virtuous waste, you ask?

As someone who aspires to be green, there are certain things that are clear no-no's. Wrapping paper and ribbon. Notecards. Ziplock bags. Those stick on bows for presents. Single use anything, really. And, while, the title of this post might be a bit overstating the matter, I do think there is such a thing as having your single use product and using it too.

I love the slow life of handmade, homemade, soaked over night, and so on but there is also something about an occasional bit of convenience - so long as I don't have all the guilt that goes into acquiring it in the first place.

Guilt free shopping second hand style:

- wrapping paper, ribbon, gift boxes, gift bags

- art supplies, paper, markers, paints

- fancy cake pans shaped like dinosaurs, bugs, things that you'll only really use once

- stationary, notepads, place cards

- single use dusters, swiffer pads, decorative paper napkins and paper towels

- party favors for goodie bags and such

- plastic crap and other nicknacks as rewards for the kids

These are just a few of the things I indulge in at yard sales, in dim thrift store aisles, and on the hot keys of Freecycle. Maybe buying these wasteful items isn't virtuous, but I keep them from going straight to the landfill. I do recycle or reuse as much of them as possible. And, yes, I do get just a bit of a thrill from being wasteful virtuously.

Are there any eco-no-no's that you still enjoy? How do you work around the guilt?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Green Kitchen Advice

A quick question from the Conscious Shopper

Ever since we got back from Christmas vacation, my husband has been working insanely long hours to the point that I haven't really seen him in two weeks. Tonight, he decided to take a break from all the work and spend some time with his two favorites: me and the telly. So I hope you'll understand when I keep this post short and sweet. My man is waiting for me.

I just have a question for y'all. My hubby and I have been married nigh on ten years, and for the most part, our kitchen is still stocked with the gifts we received at our wedding reception. The towels are threadbare, the dishes are chipped, and the nonstick pans have run out of nonstick. I try not to think about how much teflon we've consumed over the years.

I'd like to completely restock my kitchen. This month, I decided to start with my bread pans because the old ones were actually starting to rust, and that's not a flavor I want in my bread. But then came the debate: stainless steel? cast iron? stoneware?

I went with the stainless steel (right choice? wrong choice?), but I still have the rest of the kitchen to go - pots, pans, bakeware, towels, dishes, etc. I'm willing to pay a pretty penny since I plan to do this upgrade gradually over the next year or two. Mostly, I want things that will last longer than ten years. Like, the rest of my marriage would be nice.

What do you greenies have in your kitchens that you love?


Making Christmas ornaments requires a lot of flour.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More Ways to Recycle

Some recycling tips from Retro Housewife.


Since everyone seemed to enjoy the recycling tips in my last post I decided to share some more. Of course remember recycle is the last of the three R's, first reduce and reuse. When those aren't an option here are a few others to help you out.

CFL Recycling:
Home Depot will recycle CFL's. CFL's have mercury and should never go in the trash.You can also get a kit to mail them in to Waste Management.

Cosmetic Recycling:
Origins started recycling cosmetic jars, bottles and tubes a couple of years ago. They will recycle any brand, so start saving all of your cosmetic containers today.

E-Waste Recycling:
Gazelle has a great e-waste recycling program. They will pay you for your e-waste and if the item can be fixed they wipe all personal data off and sell it. 80% of the items get reused! What is recycled is done in the US. You can also take e-waste to Best Buy.

PVC Recycling:
Earthworks takes PVC like hotel keys, credit cards, etc... You can contact them for info on mailing your items to them.

#5 Plastic Recycling:
Whole Foods will recycle #5 plastic.

Brita Filter Recycling:
The wonderful Beth Terry from My Plastic-free Life is largely to thank for the fact that Whole Foods will recycle used Brita filters.

Plastic Bag Recycling:
Wal-Mart, Staples, Target and most grocery stores will take bag plastic bags. This includes bread bags and sandwich bags (remove any zippers or ziplocks first).

Gift Cards, CDs/DVDs, and Battery Recycling:
All of these items can be taken to Best Buy.


Sealed Air Packing Plastic Recycling:
Former boother EnviroRambo talked about how you can recycle these. Read about it here.

Bottle Cap Recycling:
EnviroRambo helped us out here as well. Read about it here.

Glue Stick Recycling:
Another former boother the Greenhabilitator told us about recycling glue sticks, click here for more.


Baby Gear Recycling:
And yet another post on the Booth about recycling! JessTrev shared how to recycle your old baby gear, click here for more.

Inkjet Cartridges Recycling:
Best Buy and Staples will recycle inkjet cartridges.

Other Recycling:
Check out TerraCycle to find out about setting up recycling to raise money for your group or school.


If you have more ways we can recycle be sure to share.


Photo Credit: Dano

Monday, January 17, 2011

Homemade or Handcrafted?

Jenn the Greenmom wonders who first sighted the wild longhaired dilemma to confirm that it actually has horns...

I find myself struggling with a little bit of an ethical dilemma lately.

It’s about the divide between “patronize small ethical businesses” and “make it yourself.”

Let me ‘splain.

A couple of weeks ago I visited a nearby spa for a blissful morning of lounging in an enormous whirlpool with waterfalls, sipping tea in a robe on a comfy chaise, and having my hands and feet smoothed and buffed and polished into lovely feminine softness. (This place is amazing—one can stretch a simple mani-pedi into a full-blown Day Of Beauty. All in a LEED-certified building.) I was chatting with my technician about natural beauty products, and she mentioned that these ladies who sell stuff through the spa were up in front working on their display.

And that’s how I met the Duggan Sisters.

First of all, let me just say that these are a couple of amazing women. They have built this business in the basement of their house on the South Side, deeply committed to hydrotherapy as a route toward purifying our bodies of the various and sundry toxins, poisons, irritants, and general ickies we are almost unable to avoid in our daily existence in our chemically nasty world. They have an online store and are teaming up with Whole Foods to sell their products, which look fabulous. (They also hold regular “Raw Food Cooking Classes,” a cool if somewhat oxymoronic concept.)

You can check out their online site and store—their “life stinks” line of all-natural deodorants, free of any aluminum compounds (the “crystal” deodorants contain potassium alum, an aluminum compound which, while it would certainly be toxic to the system if it could be absorbed through the cell wall like the aluminum chlorohydrate molecules employed in mainstream anti-perspirants which clog the system and prevent toxins from being released especially from breast tissue, is less of a problem for most people but still not ideal.) (Mary Duggan and I got into a slight debate on the topic, and while I’m not convinced she’s up on the chemistry of how it all works, her point about “if it’s at all toxic, why even bother figuring out exactly how it works” makes a certain degree of sense…still, alum is one of those compounds that’s been around and in use for hundreds of years, you can find references to it in colonial cookbooks and stuff, so at the very least it’s not some weird chemical cocktail that’s been cooked up in recent years in some lab to make someone a lot of money…) (I’m digressing again, aren’t I?)

Anyway. Life stinks deodorant powder. Good for underarms, stinky feet, all kinds of things. It contains exactly three ingredients: sodium bicarbonate, Australian tea tree oil, and either lavender or cedarwood essential oils. Bicarbonate is basically baking soda, a known odor absorber. Tea tree oil is one of the best anti-bacterial/anti-fungal oils around, and lavender and cedarwood have similar properties but also just plain smell nice. They source their oils directly from the growers and know they’re getting the Good Stuff, and they know their Sodium Bicarbonate contains no aluminum, unlike most of what’s on the market.

I really wanted to buy some. I really wanted to support this small local business, and do my bit to help along these awesome women on a wonderful journey of passion to heal and help other women.

But…I just could not bring myself to spend $27 on any product, however awesome it might be, when I knew it had exactly three ingredients and I had those ingredients sitting in my kitchen. Not just random stuff, either, good oils, aluminum-free soda, the whole nine yards.

So…that's where I start wrestling with my ethical dilemma thing.

A few months ago I reviewed Motherlove Herbal Company’s Green Salve, which is a truly awesome product I will likewise probably not ever buy for myself, because I know how to make something that will serve my needs very nearly as well, and I’ve told my readers how I do it, and it’s really appallingly easy. (Well, except that the Motherlove people actually infuse their oils with the fresh herbs, which is dicey and messy to do on one’s own, and I can't be bothered.) The little pump bottle of Little Twig Baby Oil I bought a few years ago has been emptied and refilled with my own version of that incredibly delightful concoction several times. The primary raison d’etre for my blogging existence is to figure out how, in my own home, to make my own version of practically anything I might otherwise have to go out and buy, and in so doing to have complete control over the ingredients that go into it. (I am, of course, only partially successful at this.) Now, when the things I’m learning how to make are items like healthier chicken nuggets or nontoxic skin care products, I feel no qualms whatsoever about scooping the corporations. Or when it’s how to make quantity versions of staples like cooked beans or yogurt or applesauce, which I would otherwise need to buy in multiple little containers with God-knows what kinds of processing and preserving (and BPA can linings!) rather than with one or two simple ingredients in my own kitchen.

But with things like these deodorants and salves, I begin to sometimes feel a little squirmy about telling everyone how to make the products themselves, when I know some small business I completely support is trying to earn a living selling that exact thing.

Some folks “in business” are very open and out there about their content—Stephanie O’Dea, the Crockpot Lady, blogged for 365 days about using her crockpot every day—and despite having published two books now of recipes from that year, she has removed none of her content from the original site. Jan Andrea of Sleeping Baby Productions, who sews absolutely gorgeous baby slings, hosts the single most comprehensive sling-sewing site I’ve ever encountered, with beautiful tutorials for how to make anything she sells as well as any other kinds of slings you could think of. She’s fairly firm about people not taking her patterns to make slings they will sell, but her attitude seems to be “if you want to make your own sling, awesome, go for it, here’s how—but if you don’t feel like it, I’m happy to sell you one.”

Crunchy Betty (my absolute heroine) has a site full of recipes that honestly kick the butt of any purchased cosmetic product I’ve ever encountered, and that honestly includes lovely ethically produced natural products as well. (This morning I even skipped recipe all together, and mixed up a spoonful each of almond meal, yogurt, and honey and washed my face with this yummy scrub). I’m not sure what her business-life investment in her recipes is, or whether she sells products anywhere…

So, I don’t know…not even sure what I’m asking, really. And honestly, with any of the products someone else makes and for which I know and share my version of the recipe, there are tons of versions of same all over the internet (including deodorant made from baking soda and essential oils), so it’s not like I’m really spilling deep trade secrets or anything…

Anyone have any insights on this? Or even better, do any Booth readers actually have small in-home businesses where they make natural products in the vein I’m describing? Or have friends who do? How do you feel about those of us whose corner of the blogosphere is all about “you don’ hafta buy nothin’ from nobody, here’s how you make it yourself!”

I’m just curious. Because I think those small businesses absolutely rock.

(And in the meantime…the Duggan Sisters also have some very lovely looking bath soaks –the kind which take chlorinated tap water into account--that I do not know how to make nor do I have the ingredients in my kitchen…if any of y’all try them out, I’d love to hear how they do!)

--Jenn the Greenmom

(UPDATE: Please make sure you read down the comments; Mary Duggan apparently found the above post to be full of "damaging misinformation." I honestly thought I presented it all as my opinions with links to the reputable sources of information, i.e. her site, and was fairly clear about that, but...anyway, she links to her 15,000+ words worth of dissection of my less-than-500-words about her and her company below in the comments, and she has asked me in the interest of "ethics and integrity" to make sure our readers see it. So...there it is.)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Phone Booth Flashback



Welcome to the Phone Booth Flashback, where we take a trip down memory lane so you can catch up on posts from the Booth's past.

Last year
  • Helping Out by Doing Without: Going Green Mama suggests taking on a fiscal or environmental challenge and then donating your savings to a good cause.
  • TakeOutWithOut: Says Envirambo, "The TakeOutWithOut (TOWO) campaign aims to reduce restaurant waste by raising awareness to the outrageous amount of unnecessary waste we create every day."
  • Designing a better world: Regular GPB guest poster Karen Moser-Booth dreams about a car-less nature-filled future for Americans.

Two years ago

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Reclaimed crafts for a winter wonderland

Going Green Mama is on the hunt for indoor activities to entertain her kids for a weekend...

Oh the weather outside is frightful, and the kids are so delightful...Actually, they're ready to come out of their skin with excitement... Because it's winter, and SNOW is outside!

Sadly, as both parents are down with a bug, outdoor play is unlikely. So this month's edition of reclaimed crafts focuses on winter projects the kids can do, hopefully without that trip to the store.

After we get through the hustle of the Christmas holidays, it seems like we're all in the mood for a big cleanse. Rip down the decorations. Purge our extra belongings. So "winter decorations" don't just appear too often, either in home decor or in children's activities beyond making cut-out snowflakes. Yawn.

So here are a few quick, seasonal ideas for those of us stuck inside:

The Magic Onions has directions for making bird feeders, something that can easily be done with cookie cutters and leftover ribbon from the holidays.

Or you can take a simpler path and just do as we did: take pine cones, "paint" them with peanut butter, and roll them in a mix of leftover sunflower seeds, raisins and nuts. The birds of course, ate them up in no time!

My kindergartener has been learning about "King Martin," as she called him, this week in school. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, we checked out part of his "I have a dream speech" (which really helps bring that historical figure to life). We've also been checking out education.com, my new favorite go-to place for activities for the kids (it covers a broad range of topics from preschool through high school).

If my ears and sanity will cooperate this weekend, we might even try making this African Djembe drum I found at education.com. (OK, we would have to make two for parity.) Looking at the instructions, you could likely scrounge up materials and eliminate the twine (used mostly for decorations and to cover glue lines) and stick to the small terra cotta pot, plastic lid and container, and beans.

As for my family, I'm sure they're tired of asking me to make snowmen (and being denied) when:

1) the snow is not the right consistency
2) temperatures are now safe
3) mom or dad are not sick.

I think we'll have to settle for an indoor version like the one at Roots of Simplicity, which offers directions for makeshift indoor snowmen stuffed with plastic bags or sheets.

What are your favorite ways to creatively entertain your children indoors?

Wishing you all wellness this winter,

Robbie @ Going Green Mama

Friday, January 14, 2011

A funny thing happened on the way to 2011

In which Truffula muses about just what the new year has brought unto her household...


As he passed through the kitchen moments ago, Mr. Truffula remarked on his trip to the grocery store earlier today.  "You know," he said, "I bought only a bag of bananas and a few bottles of juice."

Little did he know that this was exactly the topic I wanted to share with you today.  Ha!  Validation!  I'm not the only one whose radar is picking up that our "normal" has shifted.  A few months ago, our grocery store list would have covered the entire back of an envelope.  Why an envelope (rescued from the paper recycling)?  Because, of course, it holds the stack coupons to be used on the shopping trip.  The thing is that today's trip required no envelope, and involved no coupons.

In fact, those packets of coupons in the Sunday paper -- the ones which are supposed to save you so much money that they more than pay for the cost of the newspaper -- have become largely irrelevant to us.  The coupons don't apply to things like sacks of over-ripe or singleton bananas, or five-pound bags of carrots.  The potential savings on shampoo, conditioner, and hair dyes are nil when you're a committed no-poo'er and trying to embrace the grey.  And what's a dollar off of the latest antiseptic, ultra, super-duper dirt zapper when generic baking soda and vinegar are the order of the day?  Factor in a Diva and cloth liners, and a whole other coupon category goes pouf!

Our dishwasher has taken on a chronic state: full.  What's filling it up?  Glass jars.  Lots of jars.  That's right, my jar situation has taken on new dimensions.  The refrigerator and freezer are loaded with large jars of broth and soups.  My little lunch bag is populated with smaller jars for transport.  It's a constant dance of filling, emptying, washing, and repeating the process.

What's given me even more pause is... our waste stream.  We dutifully use our recycling bin, but it doesn't see as much love from us as it once did.  Great Scott!  I think the trash can use has been steady, or a hair below.  Like the dishwasher, the bucket next to the sink for to-be-composted items is full all the time.  By weight, I think our amount of waste has actually gone up.  Oh, my stars!  Granted, the relatively heavy compostables get turned back into luscious black gold for the garden, but still... What the cuckoo is going on?!

I think the causes are two-fold: 1) we've been buying increasing amounts of locally-produced food, often direct from the farmer; followed by 2) a significant change in diet.

We've got our milk farmer; our egg farmer; our cheese producer; our dear CSA (which I've quit this year, but that's a (happy) story for another day, and we're still going to volunteer lots of time in their fields); and our nut, seed, and dried fruits source.  Plus, if all goes well, I hope to have a good amount of veggies flowing from our own garden this coming growing season.

The (coconut oil) frosting on the (nut flour) cake is that we've turned the family diet on its head.  We were already moving in a real foods direction.  Now, two of us are GAPSing.  The 25-words-or-less description is that we went grain-, starch-, and sugar-free, with generous portions of fermented goodies for good measure.  Most prepared foods are out the window (along with those coupons for them).  We're cooking loads from scratch, which is what's spiking our food scrap generation.  With less foods coming out of cans and other containers, we have fewer cans, bottles and jars for the blue bin.  When we're the ones jarring up those precious bone broths, soups, and leftovers, we slap on a reusable Tattler lid, and ultimately add to that dishwasher situation I mentioned.

Whether your new year began at the Solstice, on January 1, or is taking a fresh start with the Lunar New Year next month, what differences have you noticed in your own households between 2010 and 2011?  What did you expect to notice?  What was unexpected?  What observations are you happy to trumpet, and which ones (like noting that your recycling has gone down) are less suited for sharing with polite company?  In any case, a Happy New Year to you all!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Just How Many Milk Decisions Must I Agonize Over?

A chance comment sends Sustainamom on a milk research mission...

Milk. It may do a body good, but it drives a green mom crazy. At least the non-vegan green moms.

I started buying organic milk long before my pregnancy. Thanks to media attention, I was aware of the dangers of hormones in milk long before I considered the health or eco-implications of every single decision I make in the grocery store.

So, organic milk. That was easy.

Then my son was born and I went off the green end.

First, I worried about the plastic. Milk is not sold in glass bottles at any of my local grocery stores. I kept buying plastic jugs of milk and recycling the jugs all the while worrying about leaching.

Then I started to eat more locally sourced foods. I was thrilled when my twice-a-month veggie delivery added the option to buy milk from a local farm. Not certified organic, but a quick email to the farmer reassured me that the cows are mostly grass-fed, free of hormones and steroids, and given antibiotics only if they are sick. (Drawbacks: (1) the milk is more expensive, but then again it is delivered! (2) two weeks out of the month, I have two half-gallon jugs to recycle instead of one gallon jug.)

So, I started having local milk (pasteurized, non-homogenized) delivered every other week and buying organic milk (pasteurized and homogenized) at the store the alternating weeks. That was easy.

Then a friend mentioned she’d purchased milk from a farmer at her farmer’s market. He’d taken a great deal of time explaining to her the meaning of “pasteurized” and “homogenized.” And the health implications of “homogenized.”

Now, I’ve read about raw milk before. And with all the food recall scares, I opt to err on the side of paranoia and buy pasteurized milk. But I had not thought about what "homogenized" means in terms of health.

(In case you’re not familiar with the terms, homogenization is the process of reducing the size of fat molecules in milk so that the cream does not separate from the milk. Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to destroy bacteria. In many states, it is not legal to buy or sell non-pasteurized — or raw — milk for human consumption because of risks of contamination. On the other hand, raw milk proponents feel the added benefits of raw milk — including taste and higher vitamin content — outweigh risks. It really depends on the source of the milk, I think.)

Anyway, homogenized… According to my friend, the farmer explained that his milk was not homogenized and would separate. He did not want her to think that the milk was bad if she noticed separation. But he went on to say that non-homogenized milk is healthier. He said that our bodies digest the different size particles differently. He indicated that the smaller fat particles of homogenized milk are more likely to contribute to the clogging of our arteries and heart disease.

Obviously this farmer is biased toward his product, but my friend is a nurse practitioner and she said that it is an interesting theory.

So here we go again. More worrying. In spite of recent encouragement from Ruchi and The Conscious Shopper to focus on the positives. ☺

Here is what I found about homogenization:

Apparently, a Dr. Kurt Oster theorized that the homogenization of milk was causing an epidemic of heart disease. (The timing of the epidemic coincided with the widespread distribution of homogenized milk.) This theory was studied from the early 1960s until the mid-1980s and has been disproven.

You can read all about it in “Milk Homogenization and Heart Disease” by Mary G. Enig, PhD, who ends the article by saying,
“The fact that Oster's theory has been disproven does not mean that the homogenization process is benign. During homogenization there is a tremendous increase in surface area on the fat globules. The original fat globule membrane is lost and a new one is formed that incorporates a much greater portion of casein and whey proteins. This may account for the increased allergenicity of modern processed milk.”
So I’ve now spent hours trying to find a non-biased, fairly easy-to-understand answer to my original homogenization question only to be told that even the scientists do not know what other questions I need to be worried about! I should’ve listened to Ruchi and The Conscious Shopper!

After reading about this subject, I'm inclined to look for the least processed milk that I can legally buy. I think that would be non-homogenized milk that is pasteurized using the vat process at 145 degrees. Anyone know something else I should know before I declare this my final answer?

--

Please note that the website hosting Enig’s article is by a company that advocates raw milk. I tried to find unbiased sources, but they were more technical and much longer. I think Enig’s article sums up what I found elsewhere, and I like her credentials.

Additional interesting information that I came across:

• Dairy products are sensitive to photo-oxidation. In other words, exposure to light causes quality deterioration, therefore many dairies prefer to bottle milk in opaque plastic bottles rather than glass. Light affects the vitamins and minerals, as well as the proteins, in milk. (A quick search at My Plastic-free Life reveals you can find milk in glass bottles, though. Do you buy in glass? Where? Notice any quality issues?)

If you are interested in reading varying perspectives about raw and processed milk, here are a few resources:

• The Weston A. Price Foundation maintains http://www.realmilk.com - includes sources for raw milk by state, should you be interested.

• Cornell University maintains http://milkfacts.info which has an interesting FAQ

• Law firm Marler Clark maintains http://www.foodsafetynews.com. “Raw Milk: An Issue of Safety or Freedom?” is an interesting read.


Do you have any good sources of information about milk and the effects of processing or packaging? What is your take on raw milk, different levels of pasteurization, and homogenization?

* original photo by wwarby on Flickr

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