The Dirty Dozen – Top Foods to Buy Organic

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately about all the chemicals in our lives.  In our food, in our environment.  While there may not be a lot we can do about the air we breathe, we can make food choices that will put less stress on our livers and lymph systems as they work to detox our bodies.  Buying fruits and vegetables  that have not been sprayed with pesticides will not only keep those chemicals from harming us, but those foods have been tested and proved to be more nutritious, according to Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman, the detox diet expert.

There are 12 foods that are most easily contaminated with pesticides and 12 that she lists as okay to not worry about buying organic.  Here are the ones you should buy organic whenever possible. They are listed in the order of their toxicity.

1. Peaches

2. Apples

3. Sweet bell peppers

4. Celery

5. Nectarines

6.  Strawberries

7. Cherries

8. Pears

9. Grapes, imported

10. Spinach

11. Lettuce

12. Potatos

Wow!  I buy ALL this stuff. 

Here are the foods not to worry about:

1.  Onions  (just bought a bag of organic ones today.  Oh, well..)

2. Avocados

3. Sweet corn

4.  Pineapples (ooh, I love pineapple, good idea…)

5. Mangoes (yuck)

6. Asparagus (double yuck)

7. Sweet peas

8. Kiwi (good!)

9. Bananas

10. Cabbage (something else I just bought organic)

11. Broccoli (second verse same as the first)

12. Papaya (triple yuck)

The good Dr. Gittleman also shares a recipe for a Clorox wash that is supposed to “help remove pesticides, bacteria, parasites and other contaminants.”  She credits Dr. Hazel Parcells for proving that a very dilute mixture of 1 teaspoon of Clorox bleach to 1 gallon of water will not only clean your fruits and vegetables, but make them last longer. 

Thin skinned fruit such as apricots, berries, plums, peaches should be left in the bath for 15 minutes, same for leafy vegetables; poultry, fish, meat, eggs for 20 minutes; thick skinned fruit such as apples, bananas and citrus for 30 minute as well as thin skinned root or fibrous vegetables like carrots and radishes.  After the alloted time in the bath, place in clear water for 10 minutes.  Then remove, rinse and dry thoroughly. 

So, her point is, if organic is too expensive or not available, the above bath is a good alternative.  Think I might give it a try with the strawberries I bought today. 

So, let me know what you think.  Is this sort of information helpful?  Has anyone tried the Clorox bath?  Comments, comments, comments!

Keep it simple, ya’ll.

Clay Pot Irrigation – Part 2

Well, the pots are in the ground and I have planted onions, spinach and lettuce (yes, I know its a little late for these crops but I never read instructions or I would have planted the spinach weeks ago – darn it)

I have a 4’x8′ bed and five pots.  Using the diagram posted in Clay Pot Irrigation Part 1, I figured 16″ between pots so I would need 5 pots.  For once I did the math correctly. 

The holes needed to be pretty deep.  I ran into some old tree roots I had forgotten about.  Hope they don’t suck up all the water and starve my onions.

Here’s what they look like all sunk into the beds.  Next time – IF I do this again, I will paint a little further down on the tops than I did this time.  I have a feeling I am going to be rearranging the dirt a lot to keep the clay covered.

I busted an old clay saucer and used the pieces to cover the holes – to keep mosquitoes from breeding and other bugs out. 

The green sprigs are the onion tops.  I planted in a circle around the pots and along the edges of the bed because the water radius is supposed to be 16″ and I felt like I was wasting space in the bed by not planting something.  I filled the pots with water once they were in the ground and then watered the newly planted plants and seeds to get them started.  Justin at Little Homestead in the City very kindly replied to my email question on this topic.  He said they surface water until the plants get big enough to reach the pots, then they let the pots take over.

That was all done yesterday afternoon.  This morning I went out to check water levels in the pots.  Remember from Part 1 that I said I checked for leaks only on one of the pots?  BIG MISTAKE!!!  If you decide to make DIY ollas, check ALL of them for leaks!!!  Two of my pots had water levels low enough that I could not feel it with my finger; three of them were pretty much still full.  DANGNABIT!  You know what I really want to say.  Just use your imagination.   So, I have 2 pots that are pretty much going to be useless.  I’ll still have to surface water in those spots.  One was my lettuce and one of my onion areas.  There is no way I’m digging those babies up at this point.  They can just sit there all summer.  When I dig them up in the fall, I’ll reseal them for next year. 

So, at this point, the one bed is all I’m going to invest time and money in for the clay pots.  If  the whole system works well, I’ll do more next year and WILL TEST EACH AND EVERY ONE FOR LEAKS.  AAHHHGGG………

So, in spite of the frustration, I also got my potato bed planted – never grown potatoes before.  I found tomato plants at the nursery yesterday when I went back for more soil. Its a little early but they were going like hotcakes and not to be left out of the frenzy, I bought three.  They’re in the ground and looking a little shocky, but hopefully will perk up.  The bell pepper plants are in as is the cilantro.  I LOVE cilantro.  Grew some last year and really enjoyed it. 

About May 1 the okra and cantalope will go in and that’s it.  Something else I made sure to do this year was mark on the calendar when each veggie should be ready to pick.  Being so new at this its hard to tell how big to let something get before picking it.  So having it on the calendar will give me an idea of when its time. 

Hope you’re all having fun getting your own gardens going.  You know, it would be great to get some comments.  I have readers, but very few ever respond or comment on anything.  Is anybody out there?????

Keep it simple, ya’ll.

Doody Calls

Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun.  Doody – or chicken manure is now in the raised beds.  The instructions said to just spread it on top of the soil and water well.  Yea!  No backbreaking work in that. 

I also got the watering system set up, but its not perfect.  Three sprinklers are hooked up with connecting hoses to one faucet.  The first one gets lots of pressure – too much water for the #1 bed when its just right for the other two further down the line.   Will try putting a splitter on the faucet and operating them separately.  Will still have to water other areas by hand, but this system will lighten the load during the extreme heat of the summer.  I wanted to get it set up before I planted so as not to injure young plants.  Trial and error time again.  The story of my life. 

Next step is to buy my onion and potato sets and get them planted along with lettuce seeds.  Its still a little cold but I’m going for it.  Okra will wait until the middle of April.   

Just an update for anyone interested in the process.  Urban agriculture!!!!

Keep it simple, ya’ll.

A Simple Step Toward Stewardship

Just like most folks these days, my ever decreasing paycheck – due to increases in health insurance premiums for the year – and the ever increasing prices in gasoline, groceries and clothing means my paycheck doesn’t go as far as it used to.  The money belt is getting tighter.  Maybe its just my expanding midsection, but that’s a whole other issue. 

This can be a serious problem to an avid reader.  I love books.  No way around it.  I pride myself in buying from local bookstores rather than the big chains like Barnes and Noble or Borders.  La vida local!  But I had to take a step back recently when I found several books I wanted to purchase.

There is no way I can justify spending $80 on 4 books.  Just can’t do it.  The answer?  Well, duh, you’re saying about now.  The local library!  I turn to it often for my fiction fix, but tend toward purchasing when I want to add to my “resource material.”  Can’t do it this time.  Fortunately for me, Oklahoma City has a huge system of neighborhood branch libraries.  What may not be on the shelf at my local branch most likely is somewhere else in the city.  All I need to do is go online and put in a reserve for the book.  Presto!  Three days later I get an email telling me to come pick it up at my local branch.  I was happy to find all four books there.  Most times I find what I want, sometimes I don’t.   I realized that this latest book wish list is more biographical  than true resource or reference titles that will be of use later.  Those I purchase, if after borrowing from the library I decide I must own them. Simple Prosperity by David Wann is a good example – definitely one of those books that requires a highlighter.  So inspirational. I returned the library copy immediately and headed for Full Circle Books.  They had it!  Full price, but local.    Buying used is good, too, but that means buying online which means paying shipping.  Not always a savings and does nothing for my local economy.

So for now, being a better steward of our money by getting books from the library means I have more money to purchase organic food from the food co-op.  I get to improve my mental health – no guilt over buying books, improving my sustainability knowledge – and my physical health – better food – maybe a smaller midsection?   A win win, if you ask me.  Something else, too.  By being forced to wait a few days to get my hands on a book, I have actually found that by the time the email arrives in my inbox,  I may not want to read the book anymore.  So I  cancel the request and it goes to someone else or back on the shelf.  I haven’t spent money on an impulse purchase.  Better yet, I haven’t spent money on a book just to delve eagerly into the first chapter and then say, “Dude, who told you you could write!”  No money wasted on a book I’ll never finish.

Take a look around. Bet you can find ways to be a  better steward of what you’ve been blessed with. 

Keep it simple, ya’ll.

TEDx Manhattan Webinar – Changing the Way We Eat

I spent the whole day today – and I mean the WHOLE day – sitting in front of my computer watching a webinar all about sustainable food; the current food system in the US, the problems, the solutions, the people involved in small and not so small ways.  I was totally inspired.  One huge plus was the ongoing chat with over 100 people through Facebook.  There are a lot of people in this country striving every day to put locally grown, healthy REAL food back on our tables and in our kids’ school lunches. 

I must say I’m pretty brain dead from all the information, but I took some great notes and have lots of websites to visit.  I was proud to be able to tell my chat friends about the Oklahoma Food Cooperative.  Its been a model for other states in setting up distribution systems that connect farmers with consumers.  We have over 3000 members now and it continues to grow every month.  

From what I read, the whole conference should be available on the TED livestream site in about a month.  Write it on your calendars and take a look if you’re even remotely interested in local food production – I’m going to go plan my garden for this year!  There may still be snow on the ground, but I can almost taste that organically grown tomato from my backyard, the sweet cantalopes and the crunchy okra! 

Our Regional Food Bank has what is called Plant-a-Row, where individual gardeners can donate fresh produce to partner food pantries in their area.  I’ve signed up and can’t wait to help feed the hungry in my community with healthy veggies.   Go online and see if there is a program like this in your area.  We who are blessed with the space to grow food should pass that blessing along!

Have a great weekend everyone.

Wind Generators Mounted to Existing Utilitiy/Light Poles – Let’s Support This Guy!

I have a friend from the food coop who is in the running for a $50,000 grant from Pepsi.  While online voting for Urban Argrarian this morning, I ran across another guy who deserves our daily votes.  His name is Steven Flores and he lives in Owasso, OK.   He has a patent pending for a wind turbine that fits on existing utility poles or light poles or cell towers, etc.  and generates electricity straight to the grid!  This concept challenges the idea of huge wind farms with their huge towers on land that is becoming more scarce and expensive. 

SO…here is the link to the Pepsi challenge voting site.  He is way down at number 281 right now and needs lots and lots and lots of votes to get into the top 10.  You get 10 votes a day, so vote for him and Urban Argrarian both!

http://www.refresheverything.com/turbineflo

http://www.refresheverything.com/urbanagrarian

NYTimes.com: You Say Tomato, I Say Agricultural Disaster

This is a sobering article.  All the more reason to re-skill so we know how to germinate our own seeds, or know the person who did.   I especially like his recommendation to buy starter plants that are locally grown.  I tried starting my own tomatoes from seeds and, as you know, had bad results.  But the plants I bought from a local greenhouse have done very well.   It will take some time, but Americans can relearn the skills of home gardening.  I have certainly learned what I will and won’t grow next year.  Just because I grew lots (and lots and lots and lots) of lettuce didn’t mean we would automatically ate more lettuce.  So, next year…..not so much lettuce, definitely no Swiss chard, lots more okra planted sooner, less squash, plant the tomatoes directly in the ground – not pots – and lots more peas.  My few plants didn’t even produce enough for a meal.    So, read this article and let me know what you think.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/opinion/09barber.html?emc=eta1

Keep it simple