Category Archives: waste minimization

Solar Powered Fuel for Your Body!

Solar ovens and solar dehydrators are two awesome and easy ways to utilize the sun’s energy for cooking and preserving your food. They both can be built with something as simple as cardboard or if you have the capabilities and want, then you can make a sturdy structure with wood. Obviously, the options are as abundant as your creativity allows.

Dehydrators are an excellent option for storing all the excess fruit and vegetables from your spring and summer’s harvest. While freezing is an option as well, drying your food frees you from relying on an electrical appliance that has the ability to fail or shut down. The food that you dry can be kept in a sealed container, such as a glass jar, for up to a year!

Solar ovens are especially useful for those who live in an efficiency or studio. A friend I work with constantly complains about not having the capabilities to cook because she does not have a conventional oven or stove. However, living in Durango, Colorado, which is a city proud of it’s sunshiny 300-days a year, she has yet to realize that a wonderful cooking option is at her back door.

Here are a few sites to give you some insight and examples of how some solar dehydrators and solar ovens are built.

Mother Earth News: This aricle is extremely informative and gives the reader a good insight to a good solar dehydrator design.

The Farm: Here is another design that incorporates found cardboard and household items, making it easy for anyone to get creative.

Solar Cooker: This link sells different soalr cookers, but it also shows you some of the easiest ways to make a solar cooker. All you need is something reflective and you are in business.

Pizza Box: I think this may be a link for students and science fair projects, however, it still shows a good idea on a how to make a solar oven with simple objects.

My suggestion would be to build a box, with whatever you have and make sure it is sturdy. Then, find an old window at a garage sale and maybe an old screen as well. Use some rocks to place inside the box to capture some heat. Depending on where you live, you may not have to paint anything black. Just experiment and have fun and make sure your oven is not too big so you do not have a ton of heat loss. Finally, enjoy the deliciousness of a slow cooked meal under the sun.

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Filed under Agriculture, Conscious Consumption, Natural Health, Renewable Energy, Urban Sustainability, waste minimization

Weed Eating

dandelion_1
Weeds. Most weeds are deemed weeds because they are not very pretty and they seem aggressive. However, weeds grow in disturbed areas or areas of compacted soil. We as humans have created many disturbed areas, therefore, creating a perfect habitat for weeds. There is a succession in the plant world. Weeds are the first step in this succession. They inhabit these disturbed areas, till the soil with their roots, bring in nutrients and eventually make it habitable for other plants to grow. The more we try to eradicate weeds with machines and chemicals, the more we are aiding an area for weeds to thrive.

I must say, there are some weeds that are aggressive. The cattle industry has seemed to create the weed list due to the assumption that it is harmful to their livestock or simply that the livestock or wildlife will not eat these weeds. True, there are some that are toxic to livestock and wildlife, however, there are several household plants that are toxic to animals and children. Most of the weeds on this noxious weed list are edible or medicinal plants! If we could figure out a way to harvest these plants for their use and to keep their numbers under control then I think a harmony can be created.

Dandelions are everywhere. I remember how fun it was to make a wish on a dandelion. Their flowers, when sucked, have a hint of honey. Their leaves, when eaten in a salad, are a bit bitter, but full of vitality. The great thing about eating these weeds from your yard or local park or a friend’s home, is the vibration you get from eating something fresh and straight from the ground. Nothing is lost in transporting it from some country to your local grocer. You will vibrate.

Dandelions are one of the most popular liver revitalizers. The root makes an excellent tea, and has a cooling quality that an inflamed liver would truly appreciate. Dandelion is a source of potassium, sodium, calcium, iron and phosphorus. The leaves are a richer source of Vitamin A than carrots. The root contains bitter glycosides, tannins, triterpenes, sterols, volatile oil, choline, asparagin and inulin. Anything that is bitter or considered a bitters is good for your liver and digestion!

So, this little weed, we all are sure to know, is jam packed with vitamins and minerals and cleansing properties. Imagine what else we could be eating from our yards or parks; as long as nothing is being sprayed. There is a whole garden available, which needs no tending or planting. How much easier could it be?

Here is a recipe for Dandelion Pesto, provided by Turtle Lake Refuge in Durango, Colorado.
1 cup cashews, pine nuts or walnuts
3 cups chopped dandelion greens
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cups chopped basil or oregano
3 cups sorrel greens
3 cloves garlic
2 lemons, juiced
1 tsp, sea salt
1 cup divine water

Blend and add to anything and enjoy! Be open to mixing up the recipe. I just used what I had at home and made it according to my own taste.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Agriculture, Conscious Consumption, Natural Health, Permaculture, Urban Sustainability, waste minimization

Scoobie Snack!

Homemade Dog Food

So Nate and I have finally made the plunge and commitment to adopt a dog. I am more than thrilled. We are big advocates of home-cooking for ourselves, so we have also always been intrigued by making our own dog food. I know we can definitely add more lovin’ to our homemade batches than the store bought. Plus, we are hoping that it is an economical option. From the recipes I have researched, it seems like some of our items can come from the bulk section in our local grocer. There are a slew of recipes on the internet and in raw cookbooks. This is just a basic breakdown. It is noted that dogs need 40% protein, 30% carbohydrates and 30% starch. Protein can be eggs, beef, chicken, turkey, fish or pork. Starch can be rice, pastas, potatoes, oatmeal and anything else you may think of, while carbohydrates are vegetables.

After researching some articles, I was led to www.bornfreeusa.org. This website is not for the faint at heart. They delve into the gruesome details of what is put into commercially made pet food. This shows why so many pets develop tumors and cancers, among other illnesses. Just to give you a taste, the pet food industry is an extension of the human food and agriculture industries. The slaughterhouses have found a way to make a profit on their waste, which is considered “unfit for human consumption.” Some of these unfit ingredients include intestines, heads, hooves, udders, and the possibility of diseases and cancerous animal parts. Rancid meat and oils exist in pet foods. Tons of bacteria exists and is never cooked out during the processing of making pet food. Sometimes, the processing of the food, brings out more bacteria than it kills. However, the pet food market has been swimming in $15 billion annually in profit. Close to all pet food brands are dominated by a bigger entity. Nestle owns Purina, and more. Del Monte owns Meowmix, Kibbles n’ Bits ad much more. Masterfoods bought out Mars which owned Pedigree, Sheba and more. Proctor and Gamble purchased Iams Company. Colgate-Palmolive bought Hill’s Science Diet. Private labelers who make food for Wal-Mart and Krogers are just as grotesque. They have been involved in may recalls in pet food that has killed and sickened many animals. Some of these big names are sometimes no different from each other; literally. Some have joined together to buy their ingredients in bulk, one company processes everything, because it cheaper and they slap a couple of different names on the packaging. It does not sound any different from the many issues we as humans face in our society and in our government, however, we sometimes do not look into the other products or aspects these corporations are thriving on.

What began as a simple curiosity into making dog food, turned into a world of eye opening. Sometimes things that we think we know, but once the gritty details are revealed, it tends to have a whole new impact. Therefore, I think Nate and I will stick to making homemade dog food. I do believe there are some good brands at the natural grocery stores that are aware and humane, but I think it will be fun to make our own. If you want more facts just visit www.bornfreeusa.org and they will tell you what labeling on the packaging means for you to better determine what is best for your pet.

If you already have a pet and would like to change their diet, just remember to incorporate it slowly. Start lessening what you already feed them and incorporate some homemade goodness.

Enjoy.

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Filed under Community, Conscious Consumption, Economy, Natural Health, Uncategorized, Urban Sustainability, waste minimization

Effective Microorganisms: Probiotics for the Planet and your Indoor Compost

We all hear about how great probiotics are for contributing to a healthy digestive system for humans and other animals, but could it be possible that these bacteria could have the same effect on the planet?  The company EM America has developed a series of products that utilize probiotics which offer safe, natural, and dramatic results in the areas of household uses, agriculture, health, and the environment! It is truly a cure all for the planet!

Probiotics, which comes from Greek and means “for life”, are living microorganisms that when administered to a host reap positive effects on the health of the host.  The purpose of probiotics to bring balance to the good and bad bacteria in a host.  The probiotic bacteria will reproduce until a homeostasis is met between the two.  Adding probiotic supplements to your diet is reported to have positive effects on gastrointestinal health, lactose intolerance, immune function, blood pressure, prevention of colon cancer, and more.  Now this same principle is being applied to treat the ailments of the planet.

EM America’s probiotic products can be used for everything from bio-remediation of soil that has been severely polluted, to waste water treatment, to treating odors in households and in livestock arenas, as fertilizer for gardening, as natural household cleaners, to prepare with raw foods, and more! As for urban sustainability, EM has created a product called Bokashi that is extremely helpful for those who want to compost in an urban setting but do not have a lot of space to do so, or have hesitated due to fear of odor and pests. Nobody wants their neighbor to say their house smells!

Bokashi is a fermented rice or wheat bran that has been inoculated with the EM probotic formula and is then dried and used in indoor composting containers to help food to break down quickly with less odor.  The probiotics in this miracle mix can even break down foods that many compost fans traditionally steer clear of, such as meat and animal products, due to the smell and pest issue.  This is because the Bokashi actually ferments the food waste so that there is no rancid smells!

In order to use this you need to purchase or make an indoor composting bucket.  EM America sells fancy Bokashi Buckets on their website, but you could easily make one for yourself.  All you need is two 5 gallon buckets, one lid, and a drill.  Check out this video on the EM America site that shows you how to make your own.  Once you have your bucket system, you pile the food in there, sprinkle in some Bokashi, and continue to layer food waste and Bokashi until the bucket is filled.  Let the food ferment for one week in the bucket, then after the waste has pickled you can add it to a worm bin, existing compost pile, or bury it directly in a garden with no worry of pests or smells.  It is as easy as that!  Plus, if you purchase the liquid version of the probiotic formula you can make your own Bokashi and then use the liquid for a plethora of other household applications!

So say goodbye to fear of bugs, flies, and smell in your compost and hello to a happy, healthy, and balanced system for the planet!

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Filed under Agriculture, Community, Conscious Consumption, Natural Health, Permaculture, Urban Sustainability, waste minimization