Archive | farming RSS feed for this section

School Lunches versus Packing a Lunch: How to Keep Both Healthy

23 May

We homeschool, but we are out and about a lot.  Here’s an example of our packed lunch.

How do we keep our children’s lunches healthy?  According to the World Health Organization“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”   So, we can rephrase our question as: how can we ensure our children’s lunches contribute to their physical, mental and social well-being and, by consuming them, they will not be afflicted by disease or sickness?

I recently watched a short documentary called Lunch, a film based on interviews about ‘Green School’ lunch programs, instilling healthy habits in kids and organic gardening in a school setting.  It seems to me that most people talk about kid’s lunches from a single viewpoint: the food. They say: let’s improve food quality, organic is better, no more GMOs, add more fruits and vegetables, no more fried foods, add healthier options, grow a school garden, add nutrition to the curriculum…  While I think these are all wonderful and much needed, the most important thing we can do is to empower children themselves to make the right food choices.  

At the end of the day, the children are the only ones who can control what they eat, therefore it is not enough to simply create a healthy nutrition environment for them. Children need to be taught that any kind of food can keep us alive, but it is the nutritious food that helps maintain our body, mind and social capacities well. We need to teach children about a whole lifestyle that emphasizes not only nutritional choices, but also how the choices they make affect their own physical, mental and social well-being.   When children are educated, when they understand, when they are given proper role models and when they are given tools to help them choose health, then the responsibility for parents and guardians to create a healthy nutrition environment for them becomes easier – simply because children will WANT it for themselves.  

Proper Nutrition is integral to maintaining our physical, mental and social health and well-being.

We can teach children the value of eating to live, not living to eat. We can teach them the value of maintaining physical, mental and social well-being (these are a few examples):

    • show them what happens to their bodies when they consume junk versus nutritious foods, for example:
      • what happens to teeth when they eat processed sugar (place a tooth in Coca Cola and see what happens)
      • what happens to bones when people eat too much animal protein and cow’s milk (show rates of osteoporosis in different communities)
      • teach them to look at their own poop and explain what healthy poop should look like
      • teach them how different foods create different energy levels (discuss athletes and their diet)
      • watch Wall-E and discuss why the humans are obese (foods they eat, exercise)
      • show videos like Supersize Me and Forks over Knives to older children
    • show them what happens to their minds depending on the food consumed, for example:
      • discuss how mental performance suffers/improves due to diet (i.e. Food For the Brain study)
      • show them that learning challenges and problem behaviors may decrease/increase according to diet
      • discuss how exercising the brain is just as important as sports is for the body
      • discuss how quality foods help the nerves in the brain function properly (memory, problem solving, etc)
    • show them that their nutritional choices have social implications, for example
      • discuss what “social well-being” means vis-à-vis proper nutrition within the community, the nation and the world (according to the United States Institute of Peace: “Social well-being is an end state in which basic human needs are met and people are able to coexist peacefully in communities with opportunities for advancement. This end state is characterized by equal access to and delivery of basic needs services (water, food, shelter, and health services), the provision of primary and secondary education, the return or resettlement of those displaced by violent conflict, and the restoration of social fabric and community life.)
      • discuss composting, recycling, reusing and reducing in the community and at home
      • discuss pollution and toxicity
      • discuss what stress does to us
      • discuss how the quality of food we eat affects our emotions and therefore our social well-being.
As we teach them to grow their own food and to prepare their own meals from scratch… we can sit back and see what happens.

Other ideas here too: Top 10 Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat More Fruits and Veggies

Part of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop! Click on the image for more links to Gifted/2E Health and Wellness Issues!

How To Market Fruits and Veggies to Your Kids: Tip #6

20 Jan

Big bucks are being spent on marketing unhealthy foods directly to children.  What are parents to do?  Learn how and what is being done, find ways to counter the commercials that make kids want to eat unhealthy foods and in the process market fruits and veggies to kids.  We may not have more money than big food corporations, but we have the advantage of time with, love for and commitment to the health of our children.

Tip #6:

Grow Your Own

Organic Fruit & Vegetable Garden


Reliable Seed Companies: Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Seed Savers Exchange, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

The premise behind this tip is that by planting their favorite fruits or vegetables, children will be motivated to learn

– how plants grow
– to appreciate organic farmers and their practices
– the value of produce
– how much better fresh fruits and vegetables taste right off child’s own plants
– to enjoy spending time together in nature.

We have had a few different varieties of tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers,  onions, basil, rosemary,  thyme, lavender, mint and sage the past few years, but then my green thumb relaxed too much and I found our garden full of grubs one day, all plants failed and my ONE  ripe beefsteak tomato taken by an animal last year.   My attempt at composting was also a disaster and I killed about 200 worms while trying to vermi-compost.


Not giving up too easily, we have  started our broccoli, cauliflower, pak choi, snap beans and salad seeds indoors this week.  Wish us luck!

My back up plan if Tip #6 fails: visit a friend’s garden, as well as farms nearby and farmers markets.

Tip #7: Build Entertainment Value Through Raw Food

How Toxic Can Food Be?

3 Jun
Let Thy Food Be Thy Medicine,
And Medicine Thy Food.
– Hippocrates –

Having studied Ayurveda Nutrition, I am fully aware that foods we consume must be in the form our bodies readily accept them – organic, chemically free, non-genetically modified and REAL not powdered/boxed/bottled). If we consume too many boxed, powdered, bottled or ‘dead’ foods, our body turns these into toxins as our enzymes are not able to break them down and assimilate them into energy. Instead, they putrefy in the body, create toxins that fill our system and search for weak spots in our body. Once they find a weak organ, the toxins infiltrate cells there, which is how degenerative diseases begin. Once a symptom shows up, it is too late to reverse the destruction on the body.

Last year, I read a Wall Street Journal article that cattle were being fed factory ‘junk’ like Hersheys, cereal full of sugar, cookies, licorice, and tater tots as the price of corn rose. And as we all know, it is already unnatural for cows to eat corn, and now they were beginning to eat junk food too. Little did I know, there were other foreign matter in the feed (read below). Worst of all, people readily buy, prepare and feed toxin filled beef to themselves and their loved ones. This creates a bigger problem for human health – eating toxic meat that will only cause disease. It boggles my mind to think what FOOD has come to – our most basic need has been made so complicated.

Needless to say, we are looking forward to watching Food Inc. this sumer. What is the movie about? Click here for a summary.

While I struggle sometimes to come up with ingenious substitutes to cook and feed my beef loving husband and son, I have found more proof that I must try harder to introduce them to alternatives. I wish it were compulsory for this book to be read by everyone! Here are some eye-opening excerpts from The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and The World by John Robbins:

Studies indicate that vegetarians often have lower morbidity and mortality rates… Not only is mortality from coronary artery disease lower in vegetarians than in nonvegetarians, but vegetarian diets have also been successful in arresting coronary artery disease. Scientific data suggest positive relationships between a vegetarian diet and reduced risk for… obesity, coronary artery disease, hypertenstion, diabetes mellitus and some types of cancer. – American Dietic Association Position Paper on Vegetarian Diets

Drop in heart disease risk for every 1% decrease in blood cholesterol: 3-4%
Blood cholesterol levels of vegetarians compared to non-vegetarians: 14% lower
Risk of death from heart disease for vegetarians compared to nonvegetarians: 1/2
Blood cholesterol levels of vegans (vegetarians who eat no meat, eggs, or dairy products) compared to non-vegetarians: 35% lower

Vegetarians have the best diet; the have the lowest rates of coronary heart disease of any group in the country. – William Castelli

Intake of cholesterol for non-vegetarians: 300 – 500 mg/day
Intake of cholesterol for lacto-ovo vegetarians: 150 – 300 mg/day
Intake of cholesterol for vegans: 0 mg/day
Average cholesterol level in the US: 210
Average cholesterol level in US vegetarians: 161
Average cholesterol level in US vegans: 133

It is true that a small percentage of patients have a hereditary form of arteriosclerosis… but that only constitutes about 5 % of the cases. Most people (have develop heart disease) don’t realy have a hereditary disease. – Michael Debakey

25 yeasr ago, the region of the world with the worst heart disease problem was North Karelia, in Eastern Finland. Today, the region of the world with the fastest dropping rates of heart disease is the very same North Karelia. What happened? The area adopted a “get fit” program, based on reducing cholesterol and smoking through government-sponsored media campaigns, labeling meats and other foods as to their saturated fat and cholesterol levels, and converting farms that had been producing animal products to growing vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables. How much difference did it make? In the past 25 years, heart disease deaths in North Karelia have been reduced by an astonishing 65%.

Most common problem for which people go to doctors in the US: high blood pressure
Ideal blood pressure: 110/70 or less without medication
Average blood pressure of vegetarians: 112/69
Average blood pressure of non-vegetarians: 121/77
Incidence of high blood pressure in meat eaters compared to vegetarians: nearly triple
Incidence of very high blood pressure in meat eaters compared to vegetarians: 13 x higher
Patients with high blood pressure who achieve substantial improvement by switching to a vegetarian diet: 30 – 75%
What patients are typically told when prescribed medications for high blood pressure: You’ll probably need to take these for the rest of your life.
Patients with high blood pressure who are able to completely discontinue use of medications after adopting a low-sodium, low-fat, high-fiber vegetarian diet: 58%
Incidence of high blood pressure among senior citizens in US: more than 50%
Incidence of high blood pressure among senior citizens in countries eating traditional low-fat plant based diets: virtually none

Eating healthfully raises your odds of being well. It greatly reduces your risk of many diseases, and it opens the door to experiencing new levels of joy and passion and purpose in your body. But it can not guarantee that you won’t become ill….

Now some people scoff at vegetarians, but they have only 40% of our cancer rate. They outlive us. On average they outlive other men by about 6 years now. – William Castelli

Death rate from breast cancer in the US: 22.4/100,000
Death rate from breast cancer in Japan: 6.3/100,000
Death rate from breast cancer in China: 4.6/100,000
People in Japan and China eat more fruits and vegetables, les animal products, weigh less, drink less alcohol, and get more exercise than people in US.

Most common cause of cancer mortality worldwide: lung cancer
Impact of risk of lung cancer for people who frequently eat green, orange and yellow vegetables: 20 – 60 %
The vegetable with the strongest protective effect: carrot
Impact on risk of lung cancer among people who consume a lot of apples, bananas and grapes: 40%
Rate of lung cancer in British vegetarian men compared to the general British population: 27%
Rate of lung cancer in British vegetarian women compared to the general British population: 37%

A low-fat plant-based diet would not only lower the heart attack rate about 85%, but would lower the cancer rate 60%. – William Castelli

Most common cancer among American men: prostate cancer
Risk of prostate cancer for men who consume high amounts of dairy products: 70% increase
Risk of prostate cancer for men who consume soy milk daily: 70% reduction
Risk of prostate cancer for men with low blood levels of beta-carotene: 45% increase
Best sources of beta-carotene: carrots, sweet potatoes, yams
Risk of prostate cancer for men whose diet is abundant with lycopene-rich foods: 45% reduction
Best sources of lycopene: tomatoes
Amount of beta-
carotene and lycopene in meats, dairy products and eggs: none
Risk of prostate cancer for men whose intake of cruciferous vegetables is high: 41% reduction

If you step back and look at the data (on beef and cancer), the optimum amount of red meat you eat should be zero. – Walter Willett

Risk of colon cancer for women who eat red meat daily compared to those who eat it less than once a month: 250% greater
Risk of colon cancer for people who eat red meat once a week compared to those who abstain: 38% greater
Risk of colon cancer for people who eat poultry once a wek compared to those who abstain: 55% greater
Risk of colon cancer for people who eat poultry four times a week compared to those who abstain: 200 – 300 % greater
Risk of colon cancer for people who eat beans, peas or lentils at least 2x a week compared to people who avoid these foods: 50% lower
Impact on risk for colon cancer when diets are rich in the B vitamin folic acid: 75% lower

5 – 10 % of all cancers are caused by inherited genetic mutations. By contrast, 70 – 80% have been linked to (diet and other) behavioral factors. – Karen Emmons

The beef industry has contributed to more more deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of ‘real food for real people’, you’d better live real close to a real good hospital. – Neal Barnard

Obesity rate among the US general population: 18%
Obesity rate among vegetarians: 6%
Obesity rate among vegans: 2%
Average weight of vegan adults compared to non-vegetarian adults: 10 – 20 pounds lighter
US children who are overweight or obese: 25%
US vegetarian children who are overweight or obese: 8%
US children who eat the recomended levels of fruits, vegetables and grains: 1%
US vegan children who eat the recommended levels of fruits, vegetables and grains: 50%

Fat ina Burger King Whopper: 40 g
Fat in a Double Whopper with cheese: 67 g
Fat in the average veggie burger found in US supermarkets and natural food stores: 3 grams

Atkins and other advocates of high-protein, high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets claim: high-protein diets improve all aspects of our lives
Scientific realtiy (published in the International Journal of Obesity Related Metabolic Disorders): High-protein diets impair mental functioning

Protein in human mother’s breast milk: 5% ( as % of total calories)
Human minimum protein requirement (according to WHO): 5% of total calories
US Recommended Dietary Allowance for adult protein intake: 10 % of total calories
WHO International Guidelines for optimum protein intake: 10-15% of calories

Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet. – Albert Einstein

Some people say, well, if a vegan diet is a healthful one, and if it’s in keeping with our natural relationship to the Earth, how com vitamin B12 , which is necessary for health, is only found in animal products? It’s a good question, and the answer is simple.
Animal products have vitamin B12 because animals ingest plants and/or drink water that are carrying the microorganisms that produce the vitamin. Vitamin B12 is constantly being produced throughout the environment by bacteria. If you were living in the wild, as your ancestors did, you’d almost certainly get plenty of B12 in the water you drank. Nowadays, though, it is usually not safe to drink from rivers, streams and ponds, as they are often contaminated, and most of us drink water that has been chlorinated. If you were living the way your ancestors did, you’d probably be ingesting B12 along with the bits of dirt in the little grooves of your carrots, and on the peels of potatoes and other foods that didn’t get absolutely clean. But today our soils have been sprayed with chemical fertilizers and pesticides, with the result that they are devoid of B12 that once was abundant.

Annual medical costs in the US directly attributable to smoking: $65 billion
Annual medical costs in the US directly attributable to meat consumption: $60-120 billion

Countries with the highest consumption of dairy products: Finland, Sweden, US, England
Countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis: Finland, Sweden, US, England
Calcium intake in rural China: 1/2 that of people in US
Bone fracture rate in rural China” 1/5 that of people in US
Foods that when eaten produce calcium loss through urinary excretion: animal protein, salt, coffee

Antibiotics allowed in US cow’s milk: 80
Antibiotics found in soy milk: none
Children with chronic constipation so intractable that it can’t be treated successfully by laxatives, who are cured by switching from cow’s milk to soy milk: 44%
Actual number of adults worldwide who do not drink milk: 65%

Food irradiation causes a host of unnatural and sometimes unidentifiable chemicals to be formed within the irradiated foods. Our ignorance about these foreign compounds makes it simply a fraud to tell the public that ‘we know’ irradiated foods would be safe to eat. It is dishonorable to trick people into buying irradiated foods. – John W. Gofman

The prevalence of E. Coli 015:H7 is very low. – National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
A report by the United States Department of Agriculture estimates that 89% of US beef ground into patties contains traces of the deadly E. Coli strain. -Reuters News Service

Antibiotics administered to people in US annually to treat diseases: 3 million pounds
Antibiotics administered to livestock in US annually for purposes other than treating disease: 24.6 million pounds

The infectious agent of Mad Cow disease remains infectious even after exposure for an hour to a temperature of 680 degrees – enough to melt lead – and can withstand antibiotics, boiling water, bleach, formaldehyde, and a variety of solvents, detergents, and enzymes known to destroy most know bacteria and viruses.

One of the best things modern animal agriculture has going for it is that most people… haven’t a clue how animals are raised and processed… If most urban meat-eaters were to visit an industrial broiler house, to see how the birds are raised, and could see the birds being ‘harvested’ and then being ‘processed’ in a poultry processing plant, some, perhaps many of them, would swear off eating chicken and perhaps all meat. – Peter R. Cheeke

Traditionally, it took a broiler 21 weeks to reach 4-pound market weight. But today, with the birds having been systemically bred for obesity, it takes only seven weeks for them to reach the same weight.

US pigs raised for meat: 90 million
US pigs raised in total confinement factories where they never see the light of day until being trucked to slaughter: 65 million
US pigs who have pneumonia at time of slaughter: 70%

Current FDA regulations allow dead pigs and dead horses to be rendered into cattle feed, along with dead poultry. The regulations not only allow cattle to be fed dead poultry, they allow poultry to be fed to dead cattle. Americans who spent more than six months in the UK during the 1980s are now forbidden to donate blood, in order to prevent the spread of BSE’s human variant. But cattle blood is still put into the feed given to
American cattle. – Eric Schlosser

Water required to produce 1 pound of California foods, according to Soil and Water specialists, University of California Agricultural Extension, working with livestock farm advisors:
1 pound of lettuce: 23 gallons
1 pound of tomatoes: 23 gallons
1 pound of potatoes: 24 gallons
1 pound of wheat: 25 gallons
1 pound of carrots: 33 gallons
1 pound of apples: 49 gallons
1 pound of chicken: 815 gallons
1 pound of pork: 1,630 gallons
1 pound of beef: 5, 214 gallons

American feed (for livestock) takes so much energy to grow that it might as well be a petroleum byproduct. – Worldwatch Institute

Livestock account for 15 to 20 % of (overall) global methane emissions. – Worldwatch Institute

Global warming has emerged as the most serious environmental threat of the 21st century… Only by taking action now can we insure that future generations will not be put at risk. – Letter to the president from 49 Nobl Prize winning scientists

Click here to read 1992 World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity

By doing nothing, we are choosing a world of pollution and extinctions, of widening chasms and deepening despair, a world where humanity moves ever farther from achieving its highest aspirations and ever nearer to living its darkest fears.
Our other choice is to actively engage with the living world. On this path we work responsibly and joyfully to make our lives, and our societies, into expressions of love for ourselves, for each other, and for the living Earth. In this direction we honor our longing to give our children, and all children, a world with clean air and water, with blue skies and abundant wildlife, with a stable climate and a healthy environment.

In a world where an estimated one in every six people goes hungry every day, the politics of meat consumption are increasingly heated, since meat production is an inefficient use of grain – the grain is used more efficiently when consumed directly by humans. Continued growth in meat output is dependent on feeding grains to animals, creating competition for grain between affluent meat eaters and the world’s poor. – Worldwatch Institute

Two thirds of agriculturally productive land in Central America is devoted to livestock production, yet the poor majority cannot afford the meat, which is eaten by the well-to-do or exported. – Frances Moore Lappe

Number of underfed and malnourished people in the world: 1.2 billion
Number of overfed and malnourished people in the world: 1.2 billion

US corn eaten by people: 2%
US corn eaten by livestock: 77%
US farmland producing vegetables: 4 million acres
US farmland producing hay for livestock: 56 million acres
US grain and cereals fed to livestock: 70%
Human beings who could be fed by the grain and soybeans eaten by US livestock: 1.4 billion
World’s population living in the US: 4%
World’s beef eaten in the US: 23%

Number of people whose food energy needs can be met by the food produced on 2.5 acres of land, if land is producing:
cabbage – 23 people
potatoes – 22 people
rice – 19 people
corn – 17 people
wheat – 15 people
chicken – 2 people
milk – 2 people
eggs – 1 person
beef – 1person

Grain needed to adequately feed every one of the people on the entire planet who die of hunger and hunger-caused disease annually: 12 million tons
Amount Americans would have to reduce their beef consumption to save 12 millions tons of grain: 10%

The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. – Anatole France

It is increasingly obvious that environmentally sustainable solutions to world hunger can only emerge as people eat more plant foods and fewer animal products. To me it is deeply moving that the same food choices that give us the best chances to eliminate world hunger are also those that take the least toll on the environment, contribute the most to our long term health, are the safest, and are also far and away the most compassionate toward our fellow creatures.

Neither Monsanto nor any of the other genetic engineering companies appears to be developing genetically engineered crops that might solve global food shortage. Quite the opposite. – Rachel’s Environment and Health Weekly, 1999

You would never allow a new drug to be produced without a clear label, without knowing what company producted it, without knowing exactly where it was produced and even under what conditions, what batch it came from and so on. Genetically modified foods ought to be put in the same category as drugs because of their potential harm. They’re actually even more dangerous than drugs, because after all, we eat a lot more food during the course of our lifetime than we take drugs. Even if there are small effects, they can accumulate over years. And therefore people should have the right to say, ‘I’m not going to eat genetically modified food because I have no confidence that this is going to be safe for the whole of my lifetime. – Biologist Brian Goodwin

At present time in the US, the only sure way to avoid eating genetically engineered food is to eat organically grown food… But since it is not possible for most of us to eat only organic foods, the next best thing is to read labels carefully… Here’s what to watch out for…
– soybeans – most Genetically Modified crop
– corn – 2nd most GM crop
– canola oil -except organic canola oil
– potatoes – esp Burbank Russet, potato starch and flour
– papaya – most non-organic grown in Hawaii are GM
– cottonseed oil – more than 1/2 of cotton crop in US are GM
– squash – some crooknecked squash and zucchini in stores now have been GM
For more information, check out
Also did you know that several types of animals including cows, pigs, elk, deer, raccoon, squirrels, rats and mice, avoid eating GM food?

The USDA has, without telling the public, been allowing into slaughterhouses and into the food chain, animals that have been involved in experiments making them transgenic. These are animals that have foreign genes in every one of their cells, and that have been part of experiments by major… corporations… These are animals with human genes; these are animals that have a variety of viruses in them. They did this without consulting Congress. They did this without making it public. These animals have been in the food chain now since 1995. –Andy Kimbrell

Amount of minerals in organic foods compared to conventional food:
calcium – 63% higher
chromium – 78% higher
iodine – 73% higher
iron – 59% higher
magnesium – 138% higher
potassium – 125 % higher
selenium – 390% higher
zinc – 60% higher


My husband points out that the book is almost a decade old.

Obesity rate in the US is higher than you show. In 2007 it was 27% of US adults according to the CDC. Not 18%.
Also 32 per cent of US children are overweight and 16 per cen
t are obese. Not the listed 25%