Day 100–Reflections on 100 Days

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When Ellie was in kindergarten, there was great pomp and ceremony around the first 100 days of school. She made a 100 days hat, brought in 100 cheerios and the class celebrated learning to count to 100. So here we are at our 100th post and I am making this post from our campsite at Jordan Lake. Our own 100 days celebration.

In the past 100 days, I have learned that eating locally and mostly organic is not as hard as I originally thought, although staying within our budget is still a challenge. I’ve cooked many more meals than I think I ever have, but I have enjoyed the process more than I thought I would.

My biggest surprise (and delight) is in the relationships I’ve cultivated with people in my community. Farmers, bakers, cheesemakers, dairies, livestock farmers, beekeepers and pasta makers all in my backyard! I enjoy seeing them at the market, asking how the crops or animals are doing and hearing about what is new this week. Shopping at the grocery store seems pretty lonely and institutional in comparison.

Wish you could be here to celebrate our 100 days with our locavore sandwiches of Great Harvest bread, Coon Rock Farm sliced ham and Hillsborough Cheese Co cheese + fresh strawberries on the side. Come on down to the lake–we have a spot at the table for you!

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Day 21–Changing Diets, Changing Bodies

Caffeine

Three weeks into our journey, we’re taking time to assess how our dietary changes have influenced our bodies. We’ve already seen several benefits from our reduced caffeine and soda intake.

My husband says he feels great and has added both speed and distance to his daily runs on the treadmill. He doesn’t miss diet soda like he thought he might and he’s doing really well without coffee. So far, he also likes the different meals we’ve been cooking and really liked trying his hand at pizza making last week!

My seemingly chronic insomnia has abated and I’m sleeping better than I have in a long time. I can’t tell you how awesome that is. I’m even dreaming, which I don’t remember doing for months. I had attributed my sleeping problems (I could fall asleep, but not stay asleep) with pre menapause, but clearly, caffeine had a major role in that problem. I don’t miss diet soda either and drinking more water has definitely helped me feel more energized during the day. Either that or I just have to take more bathroom breaks and that’s making me get up from my desk 🙂

Our pre-teen weighed in with her opinions of the change. She feels like she has more energy and she said she feels happier with fewer mood swings during the day. With the exception of the bison chili we made, she has enjoyed everything we’ve been eating so far and really liked our pizza challenge.

The only challenge I’ve had so far has been a small weight gain, which seems to be reversing itself nicely. I think it’s taken my body a while to adjust to “real” food during the day instead of Lean Cuisine and Diet Coke. Since I’m still going to the gym and working out regularly, I’m not concerned about this, but it was a surprise at first.

All in all at week 3, we are happy with the changes we have made and all three of us see positive benefits. So, onward we go!

Day 20–What’s In Your Makeup Bag?

Lotion Bars

We seem to have an astonishing number of beauty products in our house. Between my pre-teen and I, we seem to have enough supplies to open our own Ulta store. Couple that with my husband’s amazing coupon savvy and we also have enough “almost free” deodorant and toothpaste to last the rest of our lives. I know enough to buy unscented products most of the time, but really, I am just now learning about the chemicals and other somewhat bizarre ingredients (placenta? formaldehyde?) that are allowed to be in our cleansers, moisturizers, soaps, shampoo and so on.

I recently heard a great piece on NPR’s “The People’s Pharmacy” about household and food toxins and the impact they have on people, especially children and pregnant women. I had no idea that neither the FDA nor the Consumer Products Safety Commission regulate what chemicals go into beauty products. The terms “natural,” “hypoallergenic,” and “organic” when it relates to beauty products can be used without any proof to substantiate those claims. This concerns me. Greatly. In addition, a recent study from Europe found that all women treated for breast cancer had parabens present in their breast tissue. Parabens are regularly present in such products as moisturizer, deodorant and shampoo.

I did find a great website (referenced in the above “People’s Pharmacy” segment) from the Environmental Working Group called Skin Deep that has tested and rated beauty and hygiene products. Each product has two ratings–one is a numerical rating 0-10 (0 being least toxic, 10=most toxic) based on ingredients and levels of potential toxicity. The other is a rating on the level of date available for the safety of that product (“robust” to “none”). Many products also have a narrative description of why they received that ranking. You can search by company name, by type of product and by ingredient. It’s a nice tool and very interesting, but they really need a phone app so you can take that information with you when shopping.

The website address is http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

Here is what we found:

  • Our deodorants had high toxicity levels for the chemicals and trace chemicals in them.
  • Our toothpaste didn’t fare much better, at medium levels of toxicity.
  • My Boots No. 7 facial moisturizer fared pretty well (better than my old Bobbi Brown products)
  • The Bath and Body Works lotion and body gel soap I received for Christmas are going bye-bye. They were at the highest levels of toxicity (probably due to their fragrance and levels of parabens).
  • Makeup fared so-so. Mascara, due to its petroleum product base tends to fare worse than, say, most lip gloss. Foundation, bronzers and blushes run a wide range from low to very high (glitter products were the worst).

So, what now? Here’s the plan:

  • The worst offenders go first. We will replace our deodorant and toothpaste this week. That’s an easy fix. Other offenders like the Bath & Body Works lotion and soap will go as well.
  • As we run out of our regular, unscented body lotion, we will replace them with lotion that is better. After looking at some prices of the best scoring products ($15 for a bottle of body lotion???), we may try to find other options.
  • Some items, like my Bobbi Brown concealer and foundation? That’s a harder call. I love them and they work so well, it will be hard to switch.

The Big Dilemma

So now that we will be getting rid of some of our old products, we have a dilemma. What to do about the stockpile of products (many unused) that we have now? We don’t want to put them in the landfill, but I feel guilty about giving them to charity when I know they aren’t good for you.

What would you do??

Day 12–The Produce Box

A single week's fruits and vegetables from com...

I love the idea of a traditional CSA, where you arrive at a meeting place, wait with other earnest, veggie loving people, and leave feeling virtuous with a box of farm fresh produce. The trouble is, I am a terrible CSA participant. Terrible. Pickup day arrives and I invariably have a late meeting scheduled or I get stuck in the carpool line (it’s not a social gathering, Mrs. Volvo Station Wagon!) or…I forget. Most often, it’s the latter. I’m half way to the gym and realize…*@&!$%…veggies! And “resentful” isn’t the way we should pick up our fresh veggies. That just seems so wrong.

So, a friend and neighbor introduced me to The Produce Box. I love those people, I tell you. Rather than waiting with a tapping foot for me to come screeching around the corner, they patiently pack up my order and deliver the veggies to ME! I didn’t realize anyone did that anymore. According to their website, they are “a network of families, farmers, neighborhood moms, and others who all share a common vision–growing and eating food that’s good for you and the planet, from people you know.” I think of them as the “veggie fairies,” but whatevs.

Here is how it works:

  • You pay an annual membership fee of $18. (This fee covers boxes and containers and provides funds for small, board-sponsored grants to local farmers to buy seed, equipment, and make their farms more sustainable.)
  • Each week on Friday, you receive an email detailing the standard (default) box of veggies as well as several alternatives, including an organic box, a fruit box and so on. Each box is about $23.00 and you pick whatever you want or bypass that week altogether and pay nothing.
  • By Sunday night, you go into your account, pick your box for the week, plus any additional add-ons. If you’re like me and you forget, you automatically get the standard box (it’s like they know me). This fall, add-ons included local bread, honey, preserves, apple butter and cheese. Your account is charged when your order is filled.
  • Wed or Thursday, a box of your beautiful, locally grown vegetables and other items arrives on your doorstep.

Voila! No forgetting! No speeding down the highway after a long meeting to get to a pickup location!

I say, “voila!” like this is an easy feat. Really, the entire production depends on a LOT of very dedicated farmers, volunteers and part time employees. I don’t know them, but I love every single one of them. The vegetables we have received have been unbelievably wonderful, very fresh and of excellent quality. The board surveys members in the fall and works with local farmers to plant crops that members have interest in. Pretty cool!

The Produce Box is not operating now, but they will be starting up again in April. Here is a sampling of what they hope to offer in April:

  • asparagus (yes!)
  • cauliflower
  • broccoli
  • green beans
  • onions
  • berries
  • cherries

Interested? The website is www.theproducebox.com

It may be cold and rainy outside, but I’m thinking spring!