Cut back on waste by using the whole buffalo

Yesterday was Earth Day. I missed getting this post done in time for it but it’s a great Earth Day concept I share with you today – the concept of reducing waste. I firmly approve of the notion that the native American Indians “used the whole buffalo” when they hunted. A buffalo provided many useful things, including:

  • Meat: for food
  • Bones: for ceremonial uses, weapons, tools
  • Hooves: for glue, rattles
  • Hair: for ornamental use, ropes
  • Hide: for clothing, shelter, blankets, bags (could be tanned into tough leather or left soft)
  • Organs: for food, brain used for tanning leather
  • Sinew: for thread
  • Tail: for whips, ceremonial uses
  • Poop: for fueling fires

While I am not hunting buffalo, I do try to use a similar mentality in my life as a minimalist to reduce my impact on the environment and to reduce the amount of things I need in my home. I hate waste. Throwing away food that has gone bad upsets me – especially if it’s meat or dairy, because those items impacted the life of another living creature. Sorry plants, I get sad when you go off too, but you can’t look at me with sad eyes. Except the potatoes. Sorry about the eyes.

Anyway. Here are some ways I reduce waste in my home:

  • Buy in re-usable containers. I buy some brands over others because they are packaged in glass wide-mouthed jars. I re-use the heck out of glass jars!
  • Avoid plastic wrap. I hate things in plastic wrap. I hate using “biodegradable plastic” produce bags, because I’m just not sure if they’re lying to me. The only thing worse than plastic wrap over a container of produce (looking at you, mushrooms) is plastic wrap over a styrofoam container of produce. Styrofoam. Humbug!
  • Re-use food items. Leftover mashed potatoes become potato pancakes. Bones from making broth are re-used two or three times. One whole chicken can make several days’ worth of meals. Food scraps are put in the compost pile.
  • Garden. Growing food in a garden means you don’t have to drive to the store to buy produce packaged in containers!

Just for fun, and because people love recipes, here’s how I “Whole Buffalo” a chicken.

“Whole Buffalo” Chicken Recipe:

  1. Obtain a whole chicken.
  2. Remove giblets.
  3. Rinse chicken.
  4. Put chicken in crockpot.
  5. Add spices – salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, rosemary, whatever you want.
  6. Cook on low, 8 hours.

Congratulations, you now have a cooked chicken!

Make some meals with it! Like:

  • Chicken quesadillas
  • Chicken salad
  • Chicken breast with pasta or quinoa salad
  • Chicken and rice
  • Chicken soup
  • White chicken chili
  • Buffalo chicken dip (hey, THE WHOLE BUFFALO!)

BUT WAIT. Keep those bones and the broth from the crockpot. Put the bones in with the juices from cooking the chicken. Fill the crockpot up with filtered water. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar and some pink salt. You can add herbs or veggies if you like. Cook it on low for 8-48 hours, adding water as it cooks off.

This is bone broth. It’s awesome. Cook it for a shorter length of time (~8-12 hours) to achieve a gelatin-rich broth (it will look like chicken jello when it’s cooled. Don’t be grossed out. It’s magical). Cook for a longer length of time (~24-48 hours) to achieve a collagen-rich broth. You can preserve broth by canning or freezing. My goal this summer is to learn how to can and preserve.

If you cook for a shorter length of time, you can re-use the bones once or twice, they are good to use again until they crumble when you pinch them. Those are pretty tapped out. You can throw them out, OR… grind the cooked bones up into bone meal and feed them to your pets! The added calcium helps them with their teeth and bones. However, you should not feed cats any bones that have been cooked with garlic or onions, as these vegetables are toxic to cats.

And that’s how I buffalo a chicken.

What do you buffalo?

Advertisements

Shopping smarter: Earth Fare vs. Heinen’s

It is said that ignorance is bliss. But ignorance about food can cause major health issues. However, being informed about food means that the pool of acceptable food choices grows ever smaller. Pesticides, GMOs, artificial dyes and flavors, growth hormones, and antibiotics are all chemical concerns from food. Then you add ethical issues of animal treatment, environmental hazards, and community impact. The more you know, the harder it is to just stop on the way home and pick up something for dinner.

My co-human describes my eating and food-shopping habits as “fussy.” I suppose they are, but I think I’m fussy with good reason.

My grocery budget living alone was $300 per month. Adding another person, it has grown to a budgeted $600 per month but winds up being more than that. It’s become a grocery budget black hole. Obviously this is driving me slowly insane as money leaks out of our combined income un-budgeted.

Between February 21, 2014 and March 3, 2014, I spent over $250 on groceries and supplements. One of the northeast Ohio Earth Fare stores was having a 30% off liquidation sale and I went a little crazy. The wellness inventory was a whopping 40% off so I stocked up on supplements, castile soap, and cold remedies because co-human and I were both fighting off some respiratory bug.

Ahem. Anyway. I shopped a bit stupid instead of shopping smart, and I am now more resolved to shop smarter and spend less at the grocery store. I think it’s ridiculous to be spending $700ish per month on two people. This has to be able to be done on a better maintained budget.

My first move was to suggest a no-spend March, save for fresh food items like bread, eggs, dairy, and meat. Nothing in a packet, jar, can, box, or bag. This way, we could deplete our stores of foods in the pantry instead of just buying more shelf-stable items that would likely sit around indefinitely. (Our first attempt at this limited-spend month was about 90% successful – we still ended up buying some condiments and a box of granola).

In an effort to shop smarter and cut the grocery bill, I also took co-human’s suggestion to try a different grocery store. I primarily have been doing the shopping at Earth Fare, a chain store based out of North Carolina with a food philosophy I feel comfortable with. At Earth Fare, there is no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial fats or trans fats, no artificial colors, no artificial flavors, no artificial preservatives, no artificial sweeteners, no antibiotics or synthetic hormones in meat or dairy, and no bleached or bromated flour. Earth Fare also has a humane treatment policy on all their animal products. When I shop at Earth Fare, I feel safe. It’s a big relief to know that anything I pick up in that store meets my bare minimum of food-fuss. I am aware that I pay a premium for that safety, though, and it’s possible to put in a little effort and find similar food in more affordable venues.

Enter Heinen’s, a regional supermarket chain in Ohio. Heinen’s has a selection of organic and natural foods similar to Earth Fare, though they also sell the conventional processed food items of the Standard American Diet. While I scoff at the fact that they sell GMO-Os next to the organic granola in the cereal aisle, I relent to my co-human’s growing frustration with my high maintenance shopping standards. Let’s give Heinen’s a shot. Note, there’s also a local Giant Eagle I have started casing for Caitlin-approved groceries. More research needed.

First, the commute. Earth Fare is roughly 18 miles away from home, and it takes around 25 minutes to get there. Heinen’s is about 10 and a half miles from home and the drive takes just under fifteen minutes. Point, Heinen’s. (Also a point for Giant Eagle, because it’s less than five minutes from home, but it’s not my top choice).

Second, the selection. Heinen’s has a decent spread of organic produce, a humane treatment policy on their house brand animal products, and select brands for sale that I trust. Selection is acceptable and comparable between stores, though at Earth Fare there’s less research involved because I already have a baseline of trust based on their food policies and philosophy. Point, Earth Fare, but Heinen’s an acceptable second. (Giant Eagle definitely third place in this competition but does have some acceptable selection).

Third, the price. I will readily admit that Heinen’s won on some price points, but Earth Fare does continue to have better deals on other items. Giant Eagle wins my heart with my preferred brand of ice cream at a serious deal ($3.99 per pint vs. $5.99 per pint at Earth Fare) but I haven’t compared prices on other common items with GE vs. the more natural-based stores. Overall, point to Heinen’s, but some items just make sense to buy at Earth Fare.

A breakdown of common items on my list below:

Bacon: Depends on who we’re buying for

  • Canadian Bacon (his favorite) – Earth Fare sells a brand called Garrett Valley, sold for $5.99 for an 8-ounce package. Heinen’s house brand Canadian bacon is thicker cut, has less annoying packaging, and is $5.75 per pound. Point, Heinen’s.
  • Thick-sliced bacon (my favorite) – Earth Fare’s house brand is $21.99 for a 3lb package. An 18-ounce package of Garrett Valley at Heinen’s was $10.99. Point, Earth Fare.
  • Applegate Uncured Sunday Bacon (his second place favorite) – Earth Fare, 6.99. Heinen’s, 5.59. (Target, $5.00!). Point, Heinen’s, unless we’re at Target.

Lunch meat: Earth Fare is ideal, Heinen’s is acceptable in a pinch

  • Applegate Turkey, prepackaged – Earth Fare, Heinen’s, and Giant Eagle, all around 5.99 or 6.99 per 6-ounce package depending on sales.
  • Applegate Turkey, from deli counter – 11.99/lb at Heinen’s, a much better deal per pound.
  • Deli counter turkey – Earth Fare’s house brand is 8.99/lb. I didn’t check Heinen’s house brand because I am waiting to hear back if it falls under the same ethical treatment policy as their other meat (it’s a different brand name, and I am still gathering data). I trust nothing from Giant Eagle’s house brand. Point, Earth Fare, especially when comparing to the Applegate at the deli counter of Heinen’s.

Dairy and Eggs: Earth Fare

  • Snowville Creamery milk – I can drink this, so it’s the winning brand. Snowville Creamery pasteurizes at the lowest possible temperature for the shortest possible length of time to be deemed legally pasteurized. As such, it still contains many of the beneficial enzymes available in raw milk. Raw would be my ideal, but I’ll take Snowville as a reasonable second place. Half a gallon is $3.89 at Earth Fare and $4.29 at Heinen’s. Point, Earth Fare.
  • Snowville Creamery yogurt – NEVER WITNESSED AT EARTH FARE. Comparable product pricing pending a visit to Earth Fare. $5.29 at Heinen’s. Point, Heinen’s, for the selection if not price.
  • Butter – Based on my cursory evaluation of the selection at Heinen’s, I give this point to Earth Fare. We didn’t need to buy butter this time around so I didn’t pay close attention.
  • Cheese – I didn’t get a good look at Heinen’s selection, so I am unsure if they carry my preferred raw farmer’s cheese. They do have Organic Valley American-style slices, however, at the same price as Earth Fare, $4.99. Tie.
  • Eggs – Grade A, Large, from happy chickens. $2.27/doz at Earth Fare. $2.89/doz at Heinen’s. Point, Earth Fare.

Bread: Earth Fare

  • Sourdough bread – I have found out that I can tolerate sourdough bread without any ill effects on my stomach, hooray! A boule (round loaf) at Earth Fare is $3.59, while a smaller loaf at Heinen’s is $4.29 and has questionable ingredients. A big sandwich-style loaf is $3.99 at Earth Fare, making sourdough a no-brainer win for Earth Fare.
  • Sandwich bread – Co-human does not dig sourdough sandwiches, so we often buy a softer bread like challah or “english muffin” bread. For price and ingredients, the points still go to Earth Fare.
  • Ezekiel bread – This bread is made from sprouted grains and is also tolerated by my digestion, woohoo. It’s far cheaper at Earth Fare and Giant Eagle than at Heinen’s. I didn’t look closely at the price, but I tentatively give this point to Earth Fare. Giant Eagle an acceptable second in a pinch.

Produce: Heinen’s

  • Apples: $2.99/lb at both Earth Fare and Heinen’s. Tie.
  • Mushrooms: $2.59 for a package of button mushrooms at Heinen’s. Similar at Earth Fare, $3.99. Point, Heinen’s.
  • We didn’t buy much else in the way of produce so I will have to evaluate more over time, but Heinen’s appears to have better prices on organic produce

Meat: Undetermined

  • We bought no meat this week, so this will require more research.

Overall impressions of Heinen’s are good, and I will be evaluating our actual receipt with a comparison of what we would have paid at Earth Fare for the same amount to get a better idea of how to prioritize our shopping trips. I really do want to get bread, dairy, and eggs at Earth Fare if possible but I am very optimistic we can reach a compromise on grocery shopping that makes us both happy!

Update: I worked out a comparison between a few staples so far.

EF vs Heinens

Fuzzy Legs

I started shaving my legs when I was nine.  Mom did it, and I wanted to do it, because it’s something girls do.  So I began shaving.  Poorly.  At one point, my dad had to continue my education on how to shave my legs (I am pretty sure I was running the plastic edge of the razor over my legs and wondering why the hair was still there).  In sixth grade, I pressed so hard with my razor that I tore off a chunk of skin on my knee.  Constant nicks and cuts were painful and annoying.

Shaving is hard work.

Eventually, I got the hang of it and then had to deal with the necessity of buying razors and shaving cream.  Even then, I didn’t really shave very often, once a week tops.  I shaved when I wore skirts and shorts.  I did not shave in the winter (because pants, and warmth!)

My ex-husband was grossed out by it, but the way I saw it, they were my legs and not his and why should I decorate myself for anyone else’s benefit if I didn’t like doing it? I’ve had an ex-boyfriend (and even an ex-girlfriend) who didn’t mind when I had fuzzy legs.  My cat doesn’t mind.  I don’t mind.

My sister calls them my “hairy man legs.”  And so do I, sometimes, but I am trying to get away from that… because they aren’t hairy man legs.  They’re hairy woman legs.  Hair is not an inherently masculine bodily feature, and we shouldn’t make it that way.  Having body hair does not make me less of a woman.

The horror! Human legs with hair on them!

The horror! Human legs with hair on them!

I still feel (mentally) uncomfortable sometimes, because the expectation in society is that women should be soft, hairless, touchable creatures.  There is an immense pressure on women to have a perfect body, and the images streamed into our brains tell us that perfect is slim and smooth (with large, perky breasts).  I reject that notion of perfect for the idea that maybe, just maybe, our bodies are inherently perfect and we don’t need to spend the majority of our lives changing them to make them perfect.  Humans are mammals.  Mammals have hair.  The only reason we feel compelled to shave our bodies is because someone told us it looked prettier that way.

This is not an indictment of shaving.  If you want to shave your legs because you like how it feels or looks, then by all means shave! Sometimes I, too, enjoy the feeling of silky hairless skin on clean sheets in the summer time.  I also appreciate the razor because it gives me the gift of well groomed facial hair on men.

downey

LOOK AT IT.

I don’t think we should all just throw away our razors, though I do think we should all reconsider the reusable razor with changeable metal blades instead of those plastic monstrosities.  But I do think we should really think about why we shave.  If I remove my body hair, it’s because I want to.  I don’t do it for anyone else.  Plus, now I don’t have to buy razors and shaving cream!

 

legs

Let’s also just take a moment to think about how ridiculous commercials for razors and shaving cream are.  Women shaving already-smooth legs?  As read on  Dear Blank, Please Blank, “if you want to impress us, shave a gorilla.”

Who, me?  (I took this photo!)

Who, me? (I took this photo!)

Do you shave?

Ditch it: The bra

I’m an information sponge and I read a lot about health and wellness knowledge that comes from outside the realm of modern medicine.  Up until now, I thought that a good bra was necessary for breast health, but I’ve come upon some conflicting information that has me second guessing that belief.

The history of the bra

Many ancient civilizations’ artwork depicts women wearing some type of bra or breast-supporting garment.  These cultures include India, Greece, Rome, and China.  Ancient Egyptians did not wear bras, preferring to go bare breasted or wear tunic-style garments without undergarments for the chest.

Beginning in the 16th century, women wore corsets, which pushed their breasts upward.  It also looked pretty hard to breathe in, in my opinion.  In the late 19th century, clothing manufacturers split the corset into pieces – a girdle for the lower torso, and a breast-containing bit, the ancestor of the modern bra. Commercial production of bras began around the 1930s.  Only eighty years ago.

There is a lot more to the history of the bra but I want to get to the stuff that tells you that you don’t need to wear one.

The industry of bras

The sale of bras is a multi-billion dollar industry. In my opinion, a lot of this money probably comes from the fact that bras are only “good” for six months before you “need” to replace them.  I have a bra from 2009 in my dresser.  Whoops.

Bras are marketed to women from the onset of puberty until death.  Bras have special features to push your breasts up, make them look bigger, make them look smaller, make them someone’s version of ideal.

Holy crap, they’re breasts.  They didn’t need artificial support when we were cave-dwellers or natives and they don’t need artificial support now.

Don’t you need a bra?

Bras support the breasts, right? Wrong.  Bras actually cause drooping, sagging breasts.  What happens when you have to wear a cast or a sling for several weeks, and you can’t use an arm or a leg? Muscle atrophy. The same thing is happening to breasts when we stuff them into bras for years.  The muscle around the breast loses tone, thereby creating a “need” for breast support.  Those training bras are training girls’ breasts to require artificial support.  Bras don’t make healthy breasts, they make lifetime customers!

There is a study that found a positive correlation between length of time a bra is worn and incidence of breast cancer.  “The longer and tighter a woman wore a bra, the higher her chances of developing breast cancer.”  Bra-free women have a similar incidence of breast cancer to that of men.

Bra Free, a site run by Dr. Elizabeth Vaughan, outlines another risk of frequent bra wearing: the potential for toxins to build up in our bodies.  She says:

Follow me through this, step by step…it’s not complicated:

  • We live in a world that is increasingly polluted; many of these environmental toxins are in our bodies.
  • Many of these toxins have estrogenic effects.
  • Most of these toxins are stored in our body fat.
  • Breasts are primarily made of fat. It surrounds our breast tissue.
  • Each of us has a different capacity to clear these toxins out of our fat and our bodies. Studies suggest that some individual women’s bodies can detoxify these substances and get rid of them 500 times more efficiently than others. Quite a range.
  • Toxins are carried out of the breasts by the lymphatic system. Breasts are loaded with lymphatic tissue. The lymphatic system doesn’t have a “pump” like the heart. Movement and massage help move toxins along our lymphatic system.
  • Anything that slows down the clearing of these toxins will increase an individual’s risk of developing symptoms and/or disease.
  • Bras which restrict movement of the breasts, appear to increase congestion in the breasts, and slow down clearance of toxins from the breasts will increase the rate that women develop breast diseases. Why? Because the toxins remain concentrated in otherwise healthy tissue for much longer.
  • I’m convinced that the longer women wear tight restrictive garments, the faster the damage will progress.

So go bra free. Or wear a less restrictive bra. Let your breasts move and jiggle. Let your breasts detoxify themselves more freely.

What will people think?

I recently went on vacation to Florida.  While I was there, I didn’t wear a bra.  I didn’t care.  The people weren’t going to see me ever again.  When I got back to Ohio and returned to work, I wanted to continue the experiment.  I went without a bra for a week, and no one appeared to notice.  No one said anything, at least.  There were no leering man creeps eyeing my chest.  I wore a bra for four hours to volunteer on the weekend, but then when volunteering the next day I went without.  Still, no one said anything.

The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what people think.  If your breasts flop around in your top a little bit, that’s not anyone else’s problem.  I get a little self conscious, still, so I tend to wear a camisole under a top just for a little extra layering and comfort.  Especially in my polyester volunteer shirt, sheesh.

Other reasons to ditch it

Can you imagine the money savings from not having to buy any more bras? If you never buy a bra in your life, you could save thousands of dollars.  Estimating 60 years of bra-wearing, replacing every six months, and spending $30 per bra (this is just assuming you buy one at a time, instead of a white one, a black one, a “nude” one, a strapless one, and a sexy one), that’s over $3,500 on bras in a lifetime.  What have I been doing with my life?

You’ll also save space in your dresser or closet used to store bras, you won’t have to hand wash and hang dry bras, and you won’t have to agonize in dressing rooms trying on new bras after getting measured by a stranger to make sure you have the right cup size.  You won’t have to deal with twisted straps, pinching clasps, and the red marks left imprinted into your skin after a long day in a tight bra.  Ditch it.