Visiting a Postcard

We’re on vacation in Colorado.  We started our trip in Cuchara – about a 10 hour drive from home.  A VERY long day in the car.  We are borrowing a condo from some friends.  It is located on what used to be a ski resort.  When the resort shut down years ago they sold off the condos.  This one is right on the slopes and you look out the deck and see the ski runs and ski lifts that are all still in place.  The night sky is unbelievable.  My husband, the amateur astonomer, is having the time of his life.  He got up about 5 a.m. yesterday to watch Orion rise and a bat dive bombed his head!  My son was standing on the same deck the day before and a hummingbird flew right into his face. 

From Cuchara we drove to Ouray to visit friends who own the Christmas House B&B.  If you are looking for a great couple’s getaway, this is the place.  Ouray is situated in a steep valley surrounded by tall mountains covered in pine.  I tell them they live in a postcard.  They serve gourmet breakfast, too.  Today the guys are taking the jeep road to Lake City and the wives are driving the highway to meet them later.  The jeep would only fit four and the road is pretty scary in places, so we are taking the easy route. 

I’ve been meaning to blog daily on the trip and post pics of the beautiful scenery we are enjoying, but we didn’t pack the cable to download from the camera (duh!)   We all brought our individual laptops, though!  Good grief, we’re a bunch of yahoos.  So, this is the first chance I’ve had to post anything.  I’ll try to post a little on Twitter, too.  I’m hooked on it!  I am Locavore55. 

Have a great week everyone.  I’ll post some pics when I get home.

Keep it simple.

Its Not All About the Money

I ran across this video today while checking in on one of my favorite sites: Little Homestead in the City.  Its a great statement on living a life of simplicity and living for what is important, not what big money media tells us should be.

From there I looked to see what else Free Range Studios has to offer.  I watched a few of the videos on The Story of Stuff. 

It just reiterates to me how money minded our culture is.  America is a great country and we have many freedoms here that other countries don’t have, but we are slowly poisoning ourselves and our surroundings and we don’t seem to care or feel powerless to do anything. In the meantime, a few giant corporations are getting rich at our expense.  Nobody seems to be willing to admit to the fact that we have a cancer epidemic in this country  BECAUSE OF ALL THE CHEMICALS IN OUR FOOD and we  just ignore, or worse, cover up, the fact that we are exporting that epidemic to other countries with our toxic habits and fast food. 

The Mouth Revolution video  is a little silly, but points out the major things about our food system that are slowly killing  us.   So “watching your diet” and “you are what you eat” takes on a whole new meaning when you realize how many toxins and chemicals we ingest every single day of our lives.  And the most contaminated food of all according to one of the videos is breast milk.  The toxins we ingest seem to concentrate there and a whole generation of babies are being fed on chemicals like never before.  

Which then leads me to say this: People, we have to stand up for the rights of organic farmers in this country.  They are up against so much from big agribusiness.  And now that the feds have relaxed the standards so that big business can get in on the organic market, organic isn’t what it should be and our labels don’t tell us the whole truth.  

Another labeling issue is with GMOs.  We have so much food that is now grown with genetically modified seeds that actually grow built in pesticides that  its really scary.  Good old Monsanto!  When are we going to wake up to the fact that we are killing ourselves for the almighty dollar?!?    We must insist to our national representatives that our food labels indicate when an ingredient or additive is a GMO.  We should be allowed to control the food that goes into our bodies and not have toxins and pesticides added to our food without our knowledge.  We have to stand up for our health and the health of our future generations.   This way of  life is not sustainable for humans or the planet.  

One issue leads to another and another and another.  They are all intertwined.  But it all boils down to AMERICAN GREED!  ITS NOT ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!!!!  Now more than ever we need to

Keep it simple.

Lagging Behind

Wow, its been two weeks since I posted anything. 

We finally got the kitchen all put back together this weekend.  The cabinet doors are back up and everything is back in the drawers.  It was really a pain with everything in laundry baskets in other rooms!  Having to track down a clean towel or some tool.  Things were starting to pile up on the counter tops because I didn’t want to trek back to the baskets! 

I really need to do better about getting back to the original purpose of this blog which is to share my passion for local foodways and living a life of purposeful simplicity.    I also vowed to start taking more pictures in order to share what is going on here but have fallen short there, too.   So, in the spirit of renewed purpose, here is my new license plate. 

7-20-09 001

Congrats to the organizers of this year’s Local Food Fair!  It was a great event despite the heat. 

7-20-09 002

The garden is waning.  I pulled up the last of the cucumber vines after a farmers market vendor told me that when the cukes don’t fully ripen on the vine, continue to grow but stay yellow on the ends, the vines are old and done for.  So out they went and in went more okra seeds.  My okra is growing well, putting on lots of new leaves but no blooms yet.  I should have planted sooner according to another vendor so next year I will!  Trial and error seems to be the theme this year.  I’m learning a lot about what not to do!  Still have some squash but it is just about done, too.  I am getting a few pea pods and will plant a lot more of them next year.    The sweet potato vines are going crazy and I’m anxious to see what’s going on under the surface.  Think I might have to do a little exploratory digging to see if I’m actually growing anything but vine. 

I’m on Twitter now, as are lots of the local food folks around here, so I hope to be better about following that crowd and learn whatever they have to teach about eating local!

Keep it simple.

Caffeine and Me

I have always been super sensitive to caffeine.

I have suffered the slings and arrows of caffeine consumption to one degree or another for years.  [Disclaimer: for those of you sensitive to “female” topics, just skip down a few paragraphs at this point].  I noticed during the pre-menopause years that my fibrocystic breast pain would spike minutes after consuming a simple glass of tea.  I also would suffer increased PMS symptoms.  During the menopause process – 5 VERY long years – caffeine would increase my  hot flashes exponentially, sometimes for several days.  I also have a stress related irregular heartbeat that is exacerbated with caffeine.  And of course, there is the insomnia with caffeine too late in the day – anything past 5 p.m. 

But now that I’m post-menopausal [keep going], the symptoms had greatly decreased – or so I thought.  I have let myself enjoy a daily glass of tea at lunch and days like yesterday – 3!  In other words, I have become slowly and subtly addicted like I have NEVER been before.  I have always greatly restricted my caffeine consumption because the side effects were quick and very noticeable.  But now  I am discovering a whole new world of consequences.  I have discovered that I cannot lose ANY weight at all when I consume caffeine on a daily basis.  Evidently, caffeine stimulates insulin production which stimulates the production of Cortisol which increases belly fat.  [TMI!  Sorry for the disturbing mental image].  And – well, let’s just say – digestive difficulties.  I’ll let you use your imagination.  It also increases sinus/allergy stuff and my mild TMJ which makes my ears hurt.  BUT, the most recent and by far the most disturbing side effect of daily caffeine consumption for me is what is called “tip of the tongue syndrome.”   I know, it sounds ridiculous, but evidently its a real side effect of caffeine addiction.  I have noticed frequently lately that I am unable to remember the correct word for something or remember a person’s name that I have worked in the same building with for several years.  It is always “on the tip of my tongue” and a few minutes later it will come to mind.  It has been kinda scary and in fact, I went on-line today to look at the early warning signs of Alzheimer’s – really.   Thankfully, I don’t seem to have that, so I Googled “caffeine and forgetfulness” and sure enough, a side effect of caffeine consumption is not being able to readily remember the correct word for something – tip of the tongue syndrome.  There is lots of information on what caffeine actually does to the brain and I’ve copied an interesting article below from The Vegan Lifestyle blog.

The harmful effects of caffeine are many. Among the harmful effects of caffeine are forgetfulness, nervousness, and addiction.

Caffeine is a psychoactive substance naturally found in coffee, tea, kola nuts,  and in lesser amount, in cocoa. It is also found in beans, leaves, and fruits of some plants that acts as a natural pesticide to ward off insects.

Caffeine is a common ingredient in soft drinks, such as cola which was originally prepared from kola nuts. Soft drinks usually  contain about 10 to 50 milligrams, and energy drinks, 80 milligrams of caffeine per servings. Guarana, a prime ingredient of energy drinks, contains large amounts of caffeine with small amounts of theobromine and theophylline. It is also found in tea, and in chocolates, in the form of cocoa, in small amount.

Caffeine is an excitotoxin that harms the brain. It stimulates the body in similar manner as cocaine and heroin, and its addiction is gradual and subtle. Like most excitotoxins, caffeine causes brain malfunctions. This substance, like alcohol and nicotine, can easily penetrate the blood-brain barrier and can over excite the brain neurons to death.

Busy people  who want to extend their working hours drink more coffee in order to stay awake all day. Caffeine blocks adenosine receptors in the central nervous system of our brain, and brings a temporary feeling of alertness and wakefulness. Adenosine is a neurotransmitter that is involved in the control of the sleep-wake cycle. It promotes drowsiness and sleep after long hours of work or mental activity.

Caffeine molecule is structurally similar to adenosine. It easily binds to adenosine  receptors on the cell surface without activating them, thus blocking and inhibiting their functions. Cells that are normally slowed down by adenosine are speeded up by caffeine. Sensing that the cells are not slowed down, and suspecting that an emergency has happened, the hypothalamus reacts by releasing a neuro-hormone called dopamine into the bloodstream which triggers the adrenal glands to start pumping. Dopamine  increases heart rate and blood pressure, thus the feeling of wakefulness and alertness when drinking coffee.

The temporary sensation of high energy and alertness after drinking coffee, soft drinks, and energy drinks could be due to the the effects of caffeine’s three by-products during its metabolism.   Paraxanthine increases the lipolysis process, which releases glycerol and fatty acids into the blood as a source of fuel for the muscles. Theobromine dilates the blood vessels to increase the amount of oxygen and the flow of nutrients to the brain and muscles. Theophylline relaxes the smooth muscle of the bronchioles;  changes the time of heart rate, and alters the force of  muscle contractions in the heart.

Caffeine is an excitetotoxin that destroys the brain. Its excitatory effects not only weaken the neurons in the brain but can even over excite them to death. Caffeine, by counteracting adenosine, has inhibitory effects on brain activity. It adversely affects the healthy functioning of the brain, and other learning skills.  Long-term consumption of caffeine even in small doses affects learning and memory by inhibiting the creation of neurons in the hippocampus of the brain.

Other harmful effects of caffeine are the following:

  • it causes nervousness, trembling, and abnormal muscle contractions
  • it causes dizziness and headaches
  • it causes indigestion
  • it slows down reaction to auditory and visual stimuli
  • it causes forgetfulness  and tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon
  • it increases the risk of myocardial infarction
  • it increases heart rate
  • it causes heart palpitation
  • it increases the risk of miscarriage in pregnant women
  • it causes lethargy, and irritability
  • it causes confusion and inability to focus
  • it causes visual hallucinations
  • it intensifies and prolongs the effects of psychostimulant drugs such as amphetamine, methamphetamine, and dextroamphetamine
  • it causes increased gastric acid secretion in the cells
  • it decreases broad-range thinking abilities

Some studies showed that caffeine is good for the heart, and increases mental performance related to focused thought. This may be true as in other contradicting results from studies done on the effects of caffeine. But these are all temporary and transitory. When the stimulating effects are gone, the harmful effects of caffeine appear in the form of illnesses and diseases.

Caffeine is a nerve irritant that does not nourish the system in any way. Its temporary effects of high energy, alertness, wakefulness, increased strength, vivid imagination, and mental arousal are only nervous excitements produce before caffeine is ever digested and assimilated by the body. When the effects of this stimulant are gone, these unnatural euphoric conditions disappear, and only results to debility and langor.    

So I REALLY REALLY need to get off the stuff.  I have also noticed that if I go two days without it,  I get extremely irritable and short tempered.  So, I guess I’ll have to suffer for a few days  – as will my husband 🙂 – until I can get past the cravings and hopefully set things straight again.   Its odd how the cravings come along.  I’m usually okay until I get back from lunch and then a glass of cold tea just beckons to me.  It doesn’t help that the cafe here in our building gives it  free to employees.  So, say a prayer for me and

Keep it simple.