Recipe – Tuna with lettuces and scallions

I’ve greatly expanded my gardening space this year, and today, for the first time ever, I picked a scallion (green onion).  Most of my lettuces are bolting (turning to seed from the heat…. the leaves get smaller and more bitter).   I’m still eating them though.  My recipe:

  • Can of tuna, drained (I use tuna in water)
  • Mayonnaise (I use Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo)*
  • Scallions, sliced

Mix together tuna with appropriate amount of mayo and sliced scallions to taste.

Scallion/green onion from my garden

Scallion/green onion from my garden

  • Loose lead lettuce (keep it simple and grab a bag of salad)
  • Handful of pecans
  • Handful of berries (I like blueberries or blackberries, but raspberries and sliced strawberries work as well).
Lettuces from my garden

Lettuces from my garden

 

Tuna salad

Tuna salad

 

* I had been getting Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo from Costco, but it is no longer available at my Costco.  I had to order it through Amazon, but it was very expensive.  Looking for other places where I can find it cheaper.

 

 

 

Paleo & Rheumatoid Arthritis – Gardening

Admittedly, I am a crazy person.  The further I get into this Paleo world (over 5 years as of this post), the more paranoid I become about Big Business trying to poison us all.  I heard the other day that 80% of foods in the US listed as organic are not organic, and that most come from China which is heavily polluted with things like arsenic.  AGH!  We do not eat all organic, but I do buy organic when the price is reasonable and we can afford it.  I’ll be pissed if I’m not getting what I pay for.

If you do reading on the state of the world’s food supply, you’ll hear things like we’ve only got 30 – 60 years of top soil left before we can’t grow crops here anymore.  You also hear about the chemicals, like Monsanto’s Roundup, that are poisoning us all.  I live in a farming community with farmland on the south side of my house.  In the summer, the crop duster comes around 5:00 AM spraying nastiness that makes us all wheeze.

Then, of course, there are some theories that the reason we’re all getting autoimmune diseases is that our soils (and therefore the foods we eat) are depleted of nutrients and/or loaded with chemicals.

Remember when I said I was crazy? Ok, so then I think about how far our food travels (like from Chile or China), and how the way we raise animals to eat is both inhumane and destroying the planet.  That’s starting to keep me up at night.  On top of that, Colorado has a significant lack of water problem (on top of being in the high plains desert, the oil and gas industry takes most of our water for fracking).  We don’t even have the rights to water that falls from the sky in our yards in Colorado. They just passed a law last year that now allows us to keep two 55 gallon drums of water from rain.  That’s not much.  Scary, huh?  That starts creating scares not just about water security, but food security as well.  Colorado has an ever shrinking agricultural economy.

I started thinking about all of this, and thinking it is completely wasteful to be watering a lawn in my yard, when I could grow food and at least recoop that water in food that I eat.  When we moved into our house in 2003, we made a few garden beds in our back yard, which I have used every year.  This year, with my new found craziness, we expanded our endeavors with 5 new 4 foot x 4 foot wood square planters, 4 for food, and 1 for compost.  So, here’s what I’ve got in pictures so far.  Most of these were taken on June 7th, so still very early in the season.

4 foot by 4 foot square box garden with strings every 1 foot.  10 foot pvc pipes criss crossed to allow shade cloth (in this case, burlap) or plastic to make it like a greenhouse and extend the growing period.  This picture, taken June 7th, has lettuce (has already had at least a dozen salads from it), broccoli, carrots, and scallions.

4 foot by 4 foot square box garden with strings every 1 foot. 10 foot pvc pipes criss crossed to allow shade cloth (in this case, burlap) or plastic to make it like a greenhouse and extend the growing period. This picture, taken June 7th, has lettuce (has already had at least a dozen salads from it), broccoli, carrots, and scallions.

 

 

 This box contains lettuces, cauliflower, tomatoes (not ideal, as they get too big), and kale.

This box contains lettuces, cauliflower, tomatoes (not ideal, as they get too big), and kale.

 

 

This box, with the exception of the PVC pipe was a kit from a company called Greene's.  It is not as deep as the others, which we built from scratch.  It contains sweet potatoes, a pepper, strawberries, and some seeds (carrots and scallions) that haven't come up yet.

This box, with the exception of the PVC pipe was a kit from a company called Greene’s. It is not as deep as the others, which we built from scratch. It contains sweet potatoes, a pepper, strawberries, and some seeds (carrots and scallions) that haven’t come up yet.

 

Not ideal for large plants, this box has 1 cucumber and 1 cantaloupe.  We did not break it up into 1 foot sections as these will be long vines and will outgrow the box.

Not ideal for large plants, this box has 1 cucumber and 1 cantaloupe. We did not break it up into 1 foot sections as these will be long vines and will outgrow the box.

 This is one of our old beds from 2003/4.  The white flowers are arugula that came up from last year and is already going to seed.  There is a broccoli plant with yellow flower (close) that was also a surprise from last year.  Planted among all of that mess is kale and collard greens.  Kale is wonderful baked into chips.  We also juice kale and collard greens.

This is one of our old beds from 2003/4. The white flowers are arugula that came up from last year and is already going to seed. There is a broccoli plant with yellow flower (close) that was also a surprise from last year. Planted among all of that mess is kale and collard greens. Kale is wonderful baked into chips. We also juice kale and collard greens.

 

This used to be my son's garden, but he hadn't planted anything the last 2 years, so my husband took it over.  There is a new apple tree planted to the left.  I don't know what all he has planted in that bed.  In the back fence corner, there is a large rose bush.

This used to be my son’s garden, but he hadn’t planted anything the last 2 years, so my husband took it over. There is a new apple tree planted to the left. I don’t know what all he has planted in that bed. In the back fence corner, there is a large rose bush.

 

This is one end of a very long bed.  You can see sage, chives, and oregano.  In the mulch, you can see the shives have spread, as has the arugula from 15 feet away.  There are pumpkins, zucchinis, and yellow squashes planted in here also (behind these plants).

This is one end of a very long bed. You can see sage, chives, and oregano. In the mulch, you can see the chives have spread, as has the arugula from 15 feet away. There are pumpkins, zucchinis, and yellow squashes planted in here also (behind these plants).

 

Pots interspersed with flowers, basil, and rosemary (basil and rosemary are annuals in Colorado, so must be replanted every year).

Pots interspersed with flowers, basil, and rosemary (basil and rosemary are annuals in Colorado, so must be replanted every year).  The bottom pot is my lemon tree, which almost died before it got warm enough to go back outside after a long winter under grow lights.

 

My orange tree is getting buds.  Maybe I'll get some oranges.  I've had the tree for 3 years and have gotten a total of 4 oranges.

My orange tree is getting buds. Maybe I’ll get some oranges. I’ve had the tree for 3 years and have gotten a total of 4 oranges.

There’s a lot more going on in the yard than this.  It looks pretty messy, but I don’t care.  I do eventually want to kill off the grass, so we won’t have to mow.  We are composting everything we can get our hands on, so you’ll see cardboard on the ground in some of the pictures.  Very little is going to waste in our house, but I’ll save that for another post.

 

 

 

 

Paleo – GMOs and Glyphosates

For over 17 years, I’ve had constant thoughts about how my body got to this weird, sick place.  It sort of drives me a bit crazy.  Well, then there’s the fact that I am a bit crazy.  I was reading some Facebook posts recently on people’s thoughts about GMOs.  What are GMOs?  They’re genetically modified organisms, and in this case, I am thinking about our food.  Supposedly 80% of processed food contains GMOs, as in somebody changed our food using some science, well beyond my understanding.  They changed what used to be nature’s food into science food, and without safety testing, threw it into our food chain.  What?  When did that happen?  Yeah, I didn’t realize it either…. 1994, according to Wikipedia.

Well, I, in my constant thoughts about my RA (was it stress, food, poor sleep, etc…), have thoughts about GMOs.  See, they were introduced in 1994, and I got very sick in early 1996.  Makes you wonder, huh?

So, I was reading another article: Glyphosate: What You Don’t Know Might Be Killing You and listening to Robb Wolf’s podcast, episode 95.  This got me thinking even more.  In the podcast, Robb Wolf has a guest, Dr. William Davis, author of the Wheat Belly book.  Dr. Davis had some awesome insight into how we got to genetically modifying our food.  According to him, we got nervous in the 1970s or so about having a stable food supply (aka, too many people and not enough food).  So, we started researching ways to increase yields from crops, and apparently we were quite successful.  My husband believes some folks even won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work in this area.  I wonder if this is what those researchers had in mind when doing their work.  Anyway, wheat plants got shorter in height, which made it so they could be planted closer together and yield more per acre, like 10 times more.  Fast forward even more, and groups like Monsanto have developed plants that are genetically modified to be resistant to the weed killer, Round Up.  Round Up contains glyphosate, which according research that’s coming out, is very toxic.  So, plants that are genetically modified are doused with Round Up over and over, and then YOU EAT IT!  I get to see this all summer long, as I live in a farm turning to suburban area where a plane zips by our house dumping chemicals all summer long.  And although I don’t know for certain what the chemicals are, I do know that we feel sick after the spraying (which has been as close as 10 feet of our property, but even 2 – 3 miles away has an effect).  Supposedly a BILLION pounds of Round Up are sprayed every year, making their way into our food and water supply.  Concerned?  You should be!

Not only that, but many plants are becoming resistant to glyphosate and are now becoming noxious weeds, as I’ve read about particularly with canola.  Not worried about Round Up?  Well, how about this?  Monsanto has developed corn that produces its own toxins.  These toxins break open the stomachs of certain insects.  And yes, this corn is in our food.  Think of all of the foods with corn syrup…. your sodas, your kid’s Halloween candy.  You’re eating food that’s not been tested for safety in humans.  Oh, and a study came out linking it to autoimmune disease.

Well, how did this happen?  Certainly our government would protect us from such things, right?  Well, it does let this happen when you have men like Michael Taylor, former attorney for Monsanto, working as the Deputy Commissioner for Policy for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Administrator of the Food Safety & Inspection Service for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  Yeah, you really should read the Wikipedia article on him.  It’s quite enlightening.

You should also read the Wikipedia article on Monsanto itself.  Let me highlight some of the things that stress me out about it. 

Monsanto has the technology to stop plants from making their own seeds (aka, the seeds you get out of your garden pumpkins wouldn’t grow if you planted them), making everybody dependent on Monsanto seed.

Monsanto developed and sold recombinant bovine somatotropin (also known as rBST and rBGH), a synthetic hormone that increases milk production.  This milk (available at your local grocery store) was found to have increased levels of insulin-like growth factor 1.

Monsanto was the maker of Agent Orange, DDT and PCBs.

Monsanto spent $6.3 million lobbying Congress and the USDA in 2011 and spent $8.1 million fighting California’s Proposition 37 to label GMO foods.

There was a list of folks with US government and Monsanto ties.

The company has patented seeds, aka, patented life. 

Mostanto developed the drug Celebrex, now owned by Phizer.

In 2005, Monsanto was the largest conventional seed company.

In the grand scheme of how I think about my RA, I try to control my life in terms of diet, exercise, sleep, stress, etc… The scary thing is there is so much crap in our food that’s not labeled, that I may never figure out how to totally get well.  Scary, huh?  If you really want to learn about some of this stuff, I highly recommend watching the movie Food Inc., which you can stream from Netflix if you’ve got it.

Unleashing my stress on the world,

Lori

Food Security – Least Harm Principle

I’m up to Episode 64 of The Paleo Solution podcast (downloads free from iTunes, and if you can tolerate all the Crossfit talk, the nutrition and autoimmune information is spectacular).  At about 37.5 minutes in, a woman wrote in with a question of Paleo and sustainability, something I think about a lot.  Anyway, the answer was long and complicated, but went into comparing the environmental damage from Veganism (ok, they  think Vegans are all going to die sick and young).  They talked about Least Harm Principle, basically meaning that grain/crop farming kills just as many animals as meat-eating in terms of lost animal habitat, death of mice, gophers, rabbits, worms, etc… that live in fields.  When eating meat, you have the death of the animal, but if done well (like grass-fed beef), habitat is minimally impacted.  If you haven’t checked out Polyface Farms, the habitat is so well cared for, it’s amazing.

The answer on the podcast was long and complex.  It really involved that yes, people need to eat meat to be healthy, and yes, we need a lot fewer people in the world to be sustainable, and yes, to eat healthy we need to stop feeding every critter grain. 

I wondered if I’m the only one hung up on sustainability or if others worry about it.  Anybody ever see where your food comes from?  Join a CSA?  Visit a farm?

Being Natural – Aquaponics (Fish and Plants)

I’m going to the bad side… or maybe the good side… or maybe the “I’m crazy side.”  So, you know I grow worms and harvest their poo.  You know I have 20+ houseplants to clean my home’s air.  But, did you know I now have fish as slaves to grow my plants?  Well, sorta.

Aquaponics is basically using fish poo (I know, I’m all about the poo!) to grow plants in a closed loop system.  Basically, you have 2 tanks, one with plants and the other with fish.  The plants grow by anchoring themselves to rock, NO SOIL, and being bathed in dirty fish poo water.  The plants in turn, clean the water for the fish.  They only thing you need to do is feed the fish and top off water that has evaporated.  You can grow edible fish, like tilapia, or use a pet fish, as I’m doing now… a Betta.

Interesting aquaponics links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquaponics

http://www.thegrowhaus.com/grow/

http://www.growingpower.org/aquaponics.htm

Why am I doing this?  Well, in reality, I want to go much bigger, convert the basement to a space that can grow most of our veggie and fish needs (yes, I plan to EAT the tilapia).  I want to know where my food comes from, know that it’s not sprayed with chemicals, grow locally (less gas wasted getting it from farm to store to me).  In some ways, I’m in it for the environment (believe it or not, this uses LESS water than conventional farming and water is at a premium where we live).  In other ways, I’m in it for the control (would my RA be better without pesticides on my food?)

Either way, I started reading about this last summer, and found this Aquafarm on a Kickstarter program.  The farm arrived yesterday, I bought my fish today, and set the whole thing up, planting 4 cups of lettuce and 1 of basil.  Hopefully I’ll start seeing plants in a few days.

What do you think?  Am I crazy?

 

 

 

Getting a Little Off Topic Here…

Image

This is one of those non-sensical stream of consciousness posts!

Did you ever get in a panic about your food?  What’s in it?  Where does it come from?  Who makes it?  How processed is it?  What’s not on the label?  Pesticides?  Antibiotics?  I’ve been investigating and experimenting with my diet off and on since I was diagnosed with RA, and how our food gets to our table has been an interest of mine for a while.  If you want to know the dirty truth about the food industry, check out the movie Food Inc.  Be prepared to want to change your diet after watching it!

Did you ever notice how much of our produce comes from other countries, thousands of miles away?  What do they do to get it to my supermarket looking so good?  I’ve become a big believer in buying local as much as possible (we buy our beef from a local farmer and some produce from a local organic farm).  I garden, although I wish I could garden more.  Colorado has a terrible climate and terrible soil to try to grow anything edible.  Still, I try. This year, I’ve got kale, collard greens, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash, strawberries, watermelon, zucchini, and several herbs growing.

Our home, which we purchased new 10 years ago, sits on an old farm, and we have farmland currently on 2 sides of our house.  Little did we know that the cropduster would be buzzing 10 feet from our house, dumping chemicals that make us all wheeze at 5:00 AM all summer.  It took 6 years before we saw a single worm in our yard, and we’ve worked hard to get our soil healthy.  What on earth do the farmers do to the soil to make all the worms go away?  Aren’t worms supposed to be good for plants?

I compost.  It hadn’t been going well.  I am lazy about turning it.  Last fall, I started worm composting.  That’s gone great!  I keep 2 bins of worms in my garage, and they eat leftover fruit and veggie scraps.  This year is the first I’ve used their poop for fertilizer, and my plants seem quite pleased thus far.

May, 2013 Worms and Worm Poo Fertilizer!

Since this diet has become so good for me, I am becoming more alarmed about the lack of access to good quality food.  It’s hard to find.  I have to go to 3 stores to complete our week’s needs, and I still can’t find some things, like chicken and pork products that are local and not so processed.

Last summer, I started reading about aquaponics.  Ever hear of it?  No, it’s not hydroponics.  Aquaponics is basically a closed food system with fish and plants.  You have 2 tanks.  You keep water and fish in one tank.  You feed the fish, and the fish poop.  You flood the water out of the fish tank, through the tank holding the plants and gravel (no soil… yes, it really works).  The fish poo breaks down, feeding the plants and cleaning the water in the process.  The clean water goes back to the fish.  I’ve seen some great youtube videos on it (just search for “aquaponics” on youtube).

Ok, so now that you’re understanding I’m nuts, have a great day!