Natural Living Des Moines

Here’s a great idea for someone to run with by sarahtar
April 19, 2010, 7:44 pm
Filed under: Food, Related Websites, Think About It

Not me. I have too many ideas I’m running with already, lol.

Apparently, in some counties and cities in the US, local governments are turning over abandoned lots for urban farming. Particularly in communities where there are numerous vacant properties that revert to city or county ownership, this seems like a great use of otherwise wasted urban space. Many of these vacant properties are located in neighborhoods where the local population may lack good transportation and yet they might live a fair distance from grocery stores. Establishing small urban farms in these neighborhoods solves several problems – the neighborhood doesn’t have eyesore properties, the locals learn good skills, and they also obtain a good food source.

Example: Genesee County Land Bank in Flint MI.

Makes me wonder if Des Moines could start some sort of program like this. I know funding’s tight right now, but I bet that this could be done very inexpensively, and it would save costs in the long run, potentially. (though with the city’s stellar record of late with responsible use of taxpayer money, I guess it’s hard to say.)


Decreasing reliance on foreign oil by sarahtar
August 15, 2008, 8:49 am
Filed under: Plastics/BPA, Think About It

Alright. I’ve had it with news coverage, ads, political campaign statements, and everything else that talks about reducing our reliance on foreign oil in a way that implies that the only way America uses oil is in cars. Cars are a part of it, yes. But look at all the other ways we use oil:

  • crayons
  • cosmetics
  • plastics – EVERYTHING plastic, from disposable spoons to heart valves
  • disposable diapers
  • polyester fabric
  • tires
  • ammonia
  • fertilizer
  • detergent
  • wax
  • medicine
  • going back to plastic, think about the plastic used by the medical industry. IV tubing, syringes, etc.

I mean, look around your house. A while back, when I first undertook the project to reduce my family’s reliance on plastic, I realized how much of it is in my house. Fake wood? Plastic. Upholstery backing? Sometimes plastic.

It’s not just about driving. Modern life relies on oil. While finding alternative fuels is important, we need to be thinking about alternatives to oil in the millions of everyday items that currently rely on oil as an ingredient.

Buy Local by naturaldsm
December 1, 2007, 9:15 am
Filed under: Think About It

written by Sara Janssen.

Buy Local

Where do you buy your stuff? What kind of companies do you support? Do you even care?

These are questions I’ve been asking myself lately. It’s brought to mind a blog I used to read. You can check it out here. Be warned…there is an expletive in the title of the website. I wish they didn’t do that, but they did. So if that offends you…just pretend it’s not there. Anyway…this person decided that they were going to stop supporting large chain grocery stores, instead only shopping at the local markets. It’s an interesting read. The experiment is over now…but you can still read about it there.

So, I’ve been wondering if I could do that. I always make a conscious effort to support my local organic grocer, New City Market, who is just a mile away from us. Even when the price is a little higher, I will still buy it at New City because I know them, I trust them, and I would much rather give them my money. If there are things I can’t get there, I go to the larger, but still locally owned Dahl’s, or Hy-Vee. I try to avoid SuperTarget…and I most certainly do not go to WalMart….blech. (I’m not judging anyone else for shopping there…I just want everyone to be AWARE of what they are all about. Be an informed shopper!).

However, up until now, I’ve been very loose on this. And lazy. I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it. But, I would like to do better. I would like to ONLY shop at locally owned stores. But not just for food…for everything. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought. For example…WHY do I NEED to go to SuperTarget for anything? What is there that I just couldn’t possibly purchase somewhere else? That place sucks the life out of me. I walk in there and want want want. And it’s always stuff I don’t need at all. But they make me think I NEED it. Everything is so pretty and bright and it all calls my name. I hate slick marketing, and yet I fall prey to it. So, I want to stop going.

In order to do this, I may have to change my menu and my habits just a bit…but not much. I will have to buy food that is in season, because, for the most part, New City carries what is either in season, or something that they can get pretty easily. Most of my groceries consist of bulk products (dry beans, rice, dried fruits, etc). And it’s all organic so it tends to be produced on a smaller farm (this is not always the case, however, so please know your organic farms). I just want to be aware of WHERE my food is coming from and also how many miles on the road it took some gas guzzling truck to get it there.

I would much rather eat an apple that came from Washington, instead of New Zealand. Or better yet, an apple orchard in Pella, IA. It’s a great day when I find those! Summer and farmer’s markets make this part easier. This can be tough if you love avocados and mangos, like I do. They usually come from Chili, Mexico, or another tropical location. However, I feel that when you buy those products organic, you ARE supporting the small local farmers in that country. If you read the tags, you can sometimes go to the website of the farm and see the cute farmer guys who make your mango.

For other goods such as clothing, housewares, jewelry, etc…I am still able to shop locally. We have several great shops close to us that have everything I need. It’s just a matter of making the decision. When I need a can of paint, do I want to support giant big boxmart…WalMart, Home Depot, Sam’s…or can I go to Ace Hardware or another local store? When I need new socks or a t-shirt, should I go to Target or instead go to Back Country Outfitters, where I can get organic and non-sweatshop clothing.

So…I CHALLENGE you to think about buying locally…and buying with a conscious. Know what the companies are all about…what do they support? Your money is POWER. Don’t give it to companies who don’t deserve your business! The main objection to this is usually cost (i.e. “my local grocer is too expensive…etc.). I know that if you plan better and budget better, it’s very easy to practice this. Also, don’t forget that when you shop at big box stores, you are not actually seeing the TRUE price of a product.

As we approach the Christmas season, think about giving locally made gifts…soaps, jewelry, candles, and other goods made by local artists. If you are in a place where there aren’t any options like that for you, check out Etsy (link below)…it’s like eBay for handmade stuff. It’s awesome.

Some great links:
Top 10 reasons to buy local
Local Harvest
An interesting blog on this topic
Etsy…handmade stuff

Have a Green Christmas by naturaldsm
November 8, 2007, 4:15 pm
Filed under: Think About It

Tim Hammond over at the Register wrote recently about how Christmas has become a fairly, well, anti-environmental holiday.

When did Christmas become about lights and presents? Christmas is about the celebration of the birth of Christ. And wouldn’t the celebration of the birth of Christ be best celebrated by helping others, as Christ did. Buying gifts made in China that have to be shipped here worsening global warming is not helping others. Buying electronics that will eventually contaminate our water with their heavy metals is not helping others. Buying decorations and other junk and throwing away all that stuff in the near future along with it’s packaging is not helping others.

I, for one, could not agree more. Consider the impact that your gift-giving choices have on the planet. Consider your home decorating choices. Consider how you package your packages.

We’ll have more on this topic during the next months.