Sunday, July 26, 2015

Just Eat It

Remember Nike's motto: Just Do It? Well this is the same thing, only instead of athleticism it has to do with wastefulness. And instead of being a large advertising ploy to get you to consume (athletic things) this is a giant wakeup call to stop consuming or at least to consume in the right way.

Just Eat It is an excellent documentary, the premise: two Canadians on a food rescue mission.
Filmmakers and food lovers Jen and Grant dive into the issue of waste from farm, through retail, all the way to the back of their own fridge. They pledge to quit grocery shopping cold turkey and survive only on foods that would otherwise be thrown away. In a nation where one in 10 people is food insecure, the images they capture of squandered groceries are both shocking and strangely compelling. 
Bottom right photo Minnesotan Curt Sullivan
Fabulous right? I mean how embarrassing! Americans are literally throwing away the opportunity to eliminate hunger right here in our backyard.

See above for examples of squandering. See below for some of the unexpected consequences.

I won't give out any spoilers, because we think you should really watch this movie. Instead here are some food waste facts for our state (Minnesota, baby!!). Wish us luck (who knows what you might read next).

    Minnesota continually reaches the top of the charts for Fittest U.S. Cities (this one dates back to 1990!), best state for kids, top state for business, the BEST American state, not to mention that every year Minnesota vendors find something else to put on a stick. (CONFESSION: Brian and I definitely got side-tracked looking at new foods for 2015 at the fair. give in to you temptations here.) Despite all of those wonderful rankings we still have our share of garbage - and it stinks.
    Stuffed Meatloaf on a Stick: Coming This Fall!

    But wait! Don't be discouraged by the negative.
    There are plenty of good options, that we can all implement, to help minimize food waste and to keep good, edible food from going to waste.


    every.                    single.              time.
    • Challenge your grocery stores to sell ugly fruit! But first check out Silly, Saucy, Scary. Stores can sell these mangled marvels at a 30% discount but the point is force them to sell it! Hungry for more of this? Watch the damn video below! Josey cried a little (CONFESSION: it was nothing compared to her full-body-heaving-breakdown while watching Just Eat It. Please, for her sake at least, just eat it.)

    And let's not forget the programs that Minnesota already has in place:
    • St. Paul Public Elementary schools participates in a food recycling program that sends food waste to pig farms; they repurposed over 2 million pounds of food waste in the 2010-2011 school year.
    • Check out CafĂ© Latte's waste reduction success, they reduced their trash volume by 50% by using commercial composting.
    • Cub Foods and Seward Co-op donate to 360 Communities Food Shelf; Target, Lunds & Byerlys, Cub, General Mills, Whole Foods etc. are food donors to Second Harvest.
    • MSP Airport produces 10 tons a month of organic recycling including food waste and things like paper napkins; that's a 50% reduction in waste! Then they use the soil they make to upkeep the grounds. genius.
    • The MN State Fair produces nearly 40 tons of food waste, which is turned into nutrient-rich soil, during its 12 day run and 1.8 million attendance
    • And just in case you weren't feeling proud to be a Minnesotan quite yet, we shall now reveal the Mall of America's valiant green initiatives:
      • By converting parking garage lighting to LED technology MOA reduced electrical consumption by 7 million KWH annually
      • Wind powers two parking ramps and the Nickelodeon Universe
      • More than 60% of MOA waste is recycled; thats an average of 32,000 tons per year OR more than 18,000 cars in a landfill. 
        • More than 2,400 tons of food waste is sent to a local hog farm feeding more than 1 million hog meals annually
        • More than 4,000 pounds of biodiesel is produced per month by converting fat from restaurant fryers. That's enough to fuel a 53-foot semi truck from New York to Los Angeles five flippin' times
        • More then 100 tons of glass bottles are recycled each year - yup, that powers 3.5 homes running electricity 8 hours a day for 1 year.
      • MOA DOES NOT USE CENTRAL HEATING. I know this one is almost unbelievable. If you've never been to the Mall of America let me tell you, the temperature inside is never on your list of complaints, even when it's below zero outside. Inside the comfortable 70 degrees is maintained year-round by passive solar energy and heat from the store fixtures. We are so impressed.
    Okay so some of that has nothing to do with food waste and we were just bragging. We are still so impressed. In fact we feel as though we must do our part. Because after all part of being a minimalist is about reducing waste and that certainly includes food waste.

    We pledge to search out the ugly fruit, use reusable bags every time at the store AND stop wasting food.

    We'll be weighing any food we waste (so far we're scared to be the first one to throw something out - success?) and we will keep you updated! Wish us luck! (It worked well the first time so you must be some kind of wish granting gurus)

    We know you want to watch this documentary, like you are dying to see it. Have no fear! August 1st it will be playing on MSNBC at 5pm EST. Mark your calendars and get enlightened!

    Need not,
    Brian and Josey

    Monday, July 20, 2015

    Brian's Tip of the Week II

    I know you thought you'd never be so lucky, but here you are.

    Are you wearing your favorite pair of jeans right now? Oh you are (oh you aren't because it's summer). We all have one pair that we most favor - because the pockets are big enough, because they're clean. What ever it may be there are jeans in your closet (or on your floor) that you never wear. Maybe you put them on every once in a while with good intentions, but then end up swapping them for your favorite pair. That's okay dude, but you've got to get rid of some jeans. Especially the ones you don't wear.

    So go. Right now. To your closet and be honest with yourself. Donate the pair you never wear. (Hopefully it's more than one, that means you aren't lying to yourself.) Alright I'll let you keep two pairs, but the rest have to go. Instead of a tip, this is actually more like a rule.

    Need not,

    Sunday, July 12, 2015

    Old Fashioned Laundry

    how Pioneers did thems warshing
    Congratulations... to us! We've survived one year of laundry minimalism. Brian and I have successfully mastered part II of Old Fashioned Laundering. Have no idea what I'm talking about?

    Part I: Wash
    Part II: Dry

    Part I may never be conquered, mainly because unlike the pioneers we don't use scrubbing boards. But we have switched to using all natural detergent. After a not so pleasant experimental stage using washing soda and baking soda and vinegar and essential oils we have settled for letting someone else make the detergent. What we're using (see image on right, buy it here), its ingredients: Saponified 100% coconut oil, sodium borate, sodium bicarbonate, pure essential oils and vegetable glycerin.

    Chemical free is the way to be! While I don't intend to spout that one brand of nature-made detergent is better than the other, we really like this one because it makes our house smell like lavender. The whole damn thing smells zum clean. This is made possible because we hang dry our laundry (unless we are feeling lazy and like rich people). Yup. Monday is washing day, break out the clothes line. I can feeling the grass roots getting stronger. Hence, we have declared complete independence from our 20th century dryer contraption thingy. All hail hard work!

    Not so quick explanation: Last summer after returning from our vacation at the lake we proceeded to wash said lake clothing. A week or so later I was looking at our energy bill and holy cow. lots of warshing = lots of money. Like think in terms of a doubling our bill. The worst equation I've ever seen. Called up the energy company man and he said it most likely was from our dryer use. In other words using our dryer doubled our bill. Even worser equation. lots of drying = 2x moneys. WHHHHAAAA?? Yeah, that's what I said too. Our solution = boycott dryer use. But in order to give you unbiased facts our bill has fluctuated just as inconsistently as it did the year before (sorry but I have a degree in sociology and using the dryer is not mutually exclusive with energy bill, of course there are other factors that affect the bill like heat use, oven use, outside temperature blah. blah. blah.) But the point is we can now call ourselves: minimalist part II launderers. And no, that title can't be shortened. I tried and it just doesn't work.

    Need not,
    Brian and Josey

    Sunday, July 5, 2015

    How (or perhaps why) I haven't bought deodorant since last year

    Crazy right? I know. You thought sleeping on the floor was nuts, but now this! Fortunately for you, and more specifically for people that have to be around me, having not bought deodorant in the last year does not mean I haven't been wearing it, at least not everyday.

    I made the plunge away from commercial deodorant after reading one too many articles about aluminum, parabens, and propylene glycol, I decided to get back to the basics. While WebMD would have us believe that "There is no convincing evidence that antiperspirant or deodorant use increases cancer risk," (Ted S. Gansler, MD, MBA), I am not so easily tricked. I went to college. That's just one doc, and one resource. Without getting too technical here's a few things I found on the anti-deodorant side of things. Be forewarned, I looked up what specifically in deodorant contributes to health concerns because I totally believe in not smelling like you slept in an alleyway.
    • Parabens. They mimic estrogen and can increase human breast tumor cells to grow and proliferate in vitro.
    • An earlier age of breast cancer diagnoses is related to more frequent use of antiperspirants/deodorants and underarm shaving
    • Also found on the page are a list of other chemicals that even with low-dose exposure have negative effects. This includes BPA (found in plastics), alkyl phenols (found in hair products and cleaning agents), and rBGH (found in dairy products), amongst others. I think it's good to know the negative side of those hard-to-pronounce-ingredients. They aren't just chemicals, they have crazy effects on our bodies. If there are 1,000 pores or so per square inch, and an average armpit takes up, uh... um... 10 square inches? That's like 10,000 pores. Each one can become clogged by chemicals, which is bad. I repeat, clogged pores equals bad news. 
    I think that with all of the experience I have in hospice, exposed to young women with cancer, I'd like to think that I am terribly motivated to follow healthy habits. Many of those women are actually big supporters of alternative deodorant, so it can't hurt to try. 
    Last fall I quit deodorant. I'm not proud of it. okay. I am actually. And during winter coconut oil was my friend. However, we are not in winter and my sweat glands are done hibernating. So I've been investigating 'all natural' deodorants and here is my review:
     LuckyVitamin sent me TWO! free samples of Tom's Naturally Dry and I was more than happy to oblige. CONFESSION: my skin is not the same color as white deodorant, using it always turns out to be a failed covert operation. I did like the scent and the overall texture but half way through the day my pits start to rev their engines with a flaming vengeance. This means white clumps in my skin creases and I still stink. So attractive. Unfortunately I will not be trying this scent again, but I may be tempted to try a different type of Tom's in the future, like Long Lasting.
    Three Comforts Sample Jasmine Deodorant - my mom's own concoction. Lucky for me my mom makes bath and beauty products and decided to give deodorant a try. While this was simply a tester and is a work in progress, I did like that it has amazing ingredients, like baking soda and jasmine. Also a little goes a long way, it went on easily and actually lasted most of the day. She's still working on the formula so if you are interested let her know here or see the other items she sells here. Otherwise I will keep you posted.
    My first attempt at all-natural deodorant was actually some stuff that I bought at Whole Foods - Herbal Clear 24 Hour Natural Sport Deodorant - that came 'highly' recommended. Of course this just means that the sales girl was reading the same label that I was looking at and figuring that because it said 'sport' and 'all natural', it was exactly what I was looking for. Unfortunately it smelled a little to manly for my taste (uh, for my smelling?). The positive it contains tea tree oil, the negative it didn't really work and contained a few too many hard to pronounce (but supposedly safe) ingredients - this includes propylene glycol.
    So I'm almost out of the Tom's and NEED deodorant. Seriously, I can go without in the winter, but now that the temperature is heating up, I think it's only fair to mankind to keep up with my personal hygiene (even if I am trying to be a minimalist). I've heard great things about Primal Pit Paste, plus the name insinuates that it will be both lacking in chemicals and strong enough to handle my sweaty pockets. Any suggestions out there!? I know some people have tried just essential oils, but working in hospice we aren't allowed to wear scents... the amount of oils I would need would be noticeable, even if your 90. Please help! One last CONFESSION: To be honest I didn't try the stuff in the last photo, that spray on stuff, I just wanted 3 pictures. 

    Need not,

    Oh good, you're still reading. To be fair Dr. Ted Gansler encourages us to seek more proven techniques for preventing cancer: eat right, exercise and limit alcohol consumption. Because after all our bodies do have the ability to detox on their own if we give them the right fuel and the right tools. That is all.

    Thursday, July 2, 2015

    LuckyVitamin Plug

    CONFESSION: this post is overly enthusiastic and contains no pictures.

    Looking for an easy way to research healthy, reliable, and trustworthy products for your life? Also interested in purchasing those products without forfeiting all of your hard-earned-cash? LuckyVitamin is not only the answer, but holds all the answers - and is willing to share. LuckyVitamin has an easy to use website, giving the consumer the ability to make informed health decisions. This family-based company is all about 'spreading the wellness' and I'm hooked.

    My favorite features on
    1. Shop By: Specialty. It won't be long before everyone has heard of the perilous evils of parabens, paraffins and phthalates, but until then it's nice to have the option to easily search for products that don't contain them.

    2. Shop By: Ingredient. I recently searched for Turmeric containing products after reading the Luckyblog post "7 Reasons Everyone Needs a Turmeric Supplement". My mom takes the anti-inflammatory supplement and swears by it, claiming her arthritic pain stays at bay as long as she includes Turmeric in her daily vitamin regimen.

    3. LuckyBlog. While it's quickly becoming commonplace for business to have their own blog, not all of them actually regularly post or post quality content. LuckyBlog posts easy-to-understand health information and as if that's not enough LuckyVitamin also has a Health Library, for those of us with insatiable curiosities.

    When it comes to buying products like Zum Laundry Soap or Nutiva Hemp Protein, LuckyVitamin is my number one stop, and I know my body (and my wallet) will be thankful. That is all.

    Need not,
    Josey and Brian