Tag Archives: organic

Breaded Quandaries

10 Jun

How much is a loaf of bread these days? £1.20, £1.30? It’s been so long since we’ve bought one I don’t know anymore, I just hear people complaining about the hike in its prices. It set me wondering if it’s actually cheaper for us to make our own, or if we would be better buying it from the bakery down the road. Ok, well I’m going to attempt to do the maths (which I must warn you may contain a glaring mistake, it really isn’t my strong point!)

 

Yeast (I can’t remember the price but I would guess around 5p per loaf)

Flour = 60p per loaf

Butter = 13p per loaf

Sugar and Salt = Around 5p or less per loaf

Milk Powder (although I don’t use this because we ran out and I’m too lazy to go searching for it around town) = around 10p per loaf

 

So this suggests that it is cheaper to make our own…I don’t really have a clue about how much electricity would cost to run the breadmaker, but I guess it’s costing us about £1.10 for a large loaf of bread?

 

The thing I love about making our own bread is that we know what’s in it. I’ve read horror stories about supermarket loaves which are just filled with fat and salt to make them stay risen because they haven’t been given the full amount of rising time due to production pressures. Even if we were paying the same price –or more- I think that knowledge makes it worth it. I guess that goes for all the extra prices we pay to get organic or local food.

 

…although I must admit that we had Subway last week, which I know if all very uneco-friendly and probably full of gunk, but I had never had one before and they are SO YUMMY!

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Organic Experiments – a review

8 Apr

According to my blog stats I get a fair amount people viewing my blog (particularly the organic experiments post) because they have been referred by search engines after asking questions along the lines of “do organic toiletries work”, “are organic shampoos worth it?” or “no aluminium deodorant”. 

Well, as people are obviously wondering about these things I thought I would give you an update on my organic toiletries as it’s coming up to a year since I first started using them. Here goes…

 

Organic Hair Care

I use Greenpeople’s Organic Base No Scent shampoo and conditioner. It has a SLS and preservative free formula and contains no parabens or perfumes. I started off using the Aloe Vera shampoo but changed to this type because (a) it was 50p cheaper and (b) I figured fewer additives couldn’t be a bad thing.

I don’t really think that these products leave your hair feeling any better than conventional shampoos in the short term, but I’m almost sure that the build up of residue on your hair is reduced – meaning that in the long run your hair ends up feeling softer and lighter. They certainly don’t have a negative effect, so the fact that you’re not rubbing lots of harmful chemicals onto your scalp and down the plug has to be a huge plus point.

Yes, it is expensive at £8 a bottle, but it also is more concentrated and lasts for a lot longer. I think I have bought 3 new bottles of shampoo in 9 months and I’m still on my first bottle of conditioner (that’s between two people, and I shampoo my hair everyday and condition once a week). I would recommend these products.

 

Organic Deodrant

I use Ice Guard Crystal Deodrant. It is a mineral stick which you wet and rub on and it works by suppressing the growth of skin bacteria.

I would recommend this to anyone, and already have to most people I know! Although it is not an antiperspirant (so doesn’t stop you sweating) I have not found it a problem at all. I have used it nearly everyday for 8 months and have never felt embarrassed or let down by it. In fact it means that we have to wash our clothes less because there is no stale smell left on our clothes from deodorant at the end of the day.

It is completely natural and doesn’t contain aluminium or other additives known to be linked with Alzheimer’s and breast cancer.

 

We also use…

Greenpeople’s Organic Toothpaste and Olivia Soap

 

The main thing I have found is that all the products that the ‘industry’ sells as necessary really aren’t. Perhaps that’s just me being slow and most people know it already but I used to spend so much on junk to make my skin amazing and my hair shiny and now I only use these few products and if anything, my skin and hair are in better condition! Funny that, considering I’m not smothering them in chemicals anymore…hmm…

 

Anyway, if you are interested in living a more ethical/organic lifestyle but are not too keen on trawling your way through scientific based books I would recommend ‘A life stripped bare’ by Leo Hickman. It’s an entertaining but informative read on pretty much everything you need to start off living a greener life.

Horray for Syrup and time off!

23 Feb

I have just found a local shop that sells organic golden syrup which brings me much joy because it was one of the final ‘can’t live without’ items that we were still buying from multinational chains. I am totally addicted to the stuff and put it in lots of tasty treats so this is a really great find!
The only thing left on my list is Doritos now so if anyone knows of any local alternatives for tortilla chips then let me know! 

Work has been really quiet this week which has left me feeling very drained and lethargic as I hate just sitting in front of a computer twiddling my thumbs. On the up side it has given me a lot of free time to roam other people’s blogs (check out the new ones on my blogroll à à) particularly those focussed on smallholding and sustainable living which has made me more excited about what we are going to do when we leave Aber! 

I have also been planning our holiday to Devon the week after Easter. I have managed to get over a week off so am very very very excited! As we are going to ‘Thirst’ too on the 15th March (more about that later) I will have over two weeks away from the office, hurrah!

Check out our new milk!

21 Feb

Calon Wen Milk 

We have been buying Calon Wen organic butter for a while now as it is delicious but we have just switched to buying their milk too. Here’s why… 

  • Calon Wen is a Co-op owned by over 20 farming families from across Wales.
  • It supplies organic milk to local producers and in doing so helps the local economy
  • Calon Wen is the first dairy in the UK to achieve the Soil Association Ethical Trade Symbol. This shows a commitment to forming ethical relationships with everyone involved in production, and also supporting local communities.
  • Farmers are paid for quality as well as quantity. This means that farmers are not pushed towards high yielding systems that cause environmental damage.
  • Their milk can come in strong low density polyethylene Eco Paks (pictured) which uses 75% less plastic packaging than an equivalent polybottle – instead it fits into a specially made reusable milk jug.
  • Their milk is not homogenized.  This is a largely pointless cosmetic process which basically makes the milk more ‘perfect’ for supermarkets by improving shelf life and creating a more uniform colour.
  • Although you can only buy the ecopaks in 1 litre bags they work out slightly cheaper than other organic options in conventional bottles (at around 85p per litre).

The milk does taste different but you soon get used to it and don’t notice it anymore.
If you live in Aberystwyth why not check this company out at local shops such as the Treehouse. Calon Wen is also available across Wales.  Check out their website for more information.

If you don’t live in Wales why not try to find out whether you have a local farmers cooperative in your area and try to support them?
Farmers get such a raw deal from selling to supermarkets it’s great to be able to support a company which is committed to the farmers and not just on their profit.

Fractal Food

26 Oct

What’s bright green, knobbly and makes your skin crawl?

A Romanesco Cauliflower, that’s what!
They are the most freakish vegetables I have ever seen and it has made me feel itchy and weird all afternoon (from looking at it, not eating it I should add). 

romanescocauliflower.jpg

I can’t find many recipes which include it either, but I think I will serve it with a creamy mustard sauce as that seems to be a recurring theme on the internet sites I have looked at…will get back to you about that one. 

As you can probably guess from my ramblings, we got our latest Veg box. The experiment is going well so far, we haven’t had to throw away any vegetables yet – although we have got a couple of mushrooms and carrots that are on their last legs (the carrot really did have crazy leg-like projections). We got grapes today too…yummy! 

All quiet in the life of Rachel really, other than vegetables (what an interesting life I lead). Autumn is setting in and I love it. I did, however, see some dolphins off south beach the other day which makes me think it can’t be too near winter after all. 

Lovely recipe I would suggest everyone makes because it’s yummy and SO easy…

Chicken, Sweet Potato and Coconut Curry (from GoodFood) It says it serves 2 Adults and 2 Children, but in reality if you have naan/ puppodums and you toss in a bit more potato it serves 4 adults.

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp mild curry paste
  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 medium-sized sweet potatos, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 4 tbsp red split lentils
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 175g frozen peas

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or wok, stir in the curry paste and fry for 1 minute. Add the chicken, sweet potatoes and lentils and stir to coat in the paste, then pour in the stock and coconut milk. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Tip in the peas, bring back to the boil and simmer for a further 4-5 minutes. Season to taste before serving.

Vegging Out

12 Oct

The weather in Aberystwyth is rubbish today. Neither raining, nor dry, but that annoying drizzle that soaks everything and is miserable.However, I am so NOT miserable today because we finally got our first organic fruit and vegetable box!

SOOOO excited! On first impressions it didn’t look like there was much in the box for nine pounds and it looked very different from what you would expect to get from a supermarket, but after thinking rationally it’s a very good selection, considering it’s organic too.Lots of fruit, and in small portions which is good because I always get bored of having to eat loads of the same…bananas, plums, oranges, kiwi, pears, apples.
Lots of staple veg like potatoes, onions, carrots and salad, and also some interesting vegetable, courgette, broccoli, red pepper, and a corn on the cob (think we will have to flip a coin for that one!). 
I just had a plum and a (yellow/green) orange and they were VERY yummy, and made me feel healthy, even though I think that was just psychological 

My brother recommended the book ‘A life stripped bare’ by Leo Hickman and I can’t wait to read it, although can’t afford to buy it yet. Looks like the thing that will inspire me to do lots more ethical and sustainable stuff.  I think we’ll need lots of encouragement along the way as it is going to be hard to keep going at times, especially as we don’t have much money. I really don’t think that you have to be rich to eat organic though.
We only spend £25 a week between us on shopping…is this a lot compared to what others spend? I’m not sure, but we manage fine on that. 

Other good things that have happened today…

Found out my MOT doesn’t expire until April 2008 (had a scare that it was April 2007!).

I tricked the people who always hang up on me into talking to me…one point to me! Veg Box

Organic experiments

11 Oct

Did you know that the many products we use on our bodies every day are actually full of harmful chemicals? I have been researching them and have been freaked out by what I have found so have decided to try and cut many of the brand name products I use and opt for more natural, often organic products. 

Why?
One of the main ‘badies’ is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, (SLS) and its close relative Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) which are commonly used in many soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes and other products that we expect to “foam up”. These can actually be highly irritating and dissolves the grease on your skin and is absorbed into the body. It’s used because it’s cheap, The sodium lauryl sulfate found in our soaps is exactly the same as you would find in a car wash or even a garage, where it is used to degrease car engines = YUCK! 

Anyway, why don’t you check out some of the stuff yourself, there are loads of sites around. here’s some:

http://www.natural-health-information-centre.com/sodium-lauryl-sulfate.html

http://www.safe2use.com/data/sls-sles.htm

http://livingtoxinfree.org/Articles/SLS-SLES-ALS.htm 

The problem is healthy alternatives are so expensive! The only way I have been able to use organic products is to cut out the amount of products I use in the first place.  I tried to work out the things I actually needed and the things that I only bought because the adverts told me I needed them to be beautiful/healthy blah blah!
As a result I cut the number of bottles and pots on my dressing table dramatically, and the money I save by not buying them can be spent on the more expensive natural products

Now, I buy (Green People’s)

Organic toothpaste (normal toothpaste has SLS in it among other things, including aluminium which may cause Alzheimer’s)

Organic Mouthwash,

Organic Shampoo, conditioner

Natural Soap

Mineral Deodorant (normal deodorants/ antiperspirant also have aluminium in them which is especially absorbed into recently shaved skin and antiperspirant may also be a cause of breast cancer due to the fact that you’re not letting any of the toxins out of your skin). 

Is it worth it?
The products named above have all worked for me.The tooth paste takes a bit of getting used to as it doesn’t have the foaming agents that normal toothpastes do, and you don’t get so much of the ‘minty freshness’, but doubled with some mouthwash it works okay.

The shampoo and conditioner also take a bit of getting used too. They don’t smell as lovely as normal shampoos because they don’t have the perfumes in it, but then again they don’t smell horrid either. My hair doesn’t really smell of anything now.When I first started using them my hair didn’t feel as nice either, a bit dry and strawy, but, seriously, I’ve been using it for about 2 months now without any other product and my hair has never felt this nice before. It feels soft and without residue, and I don’t even use the conditioner all the time. It lasts for MUCH longer as well (about 3 times as longer as conventional shampoos).

The deodorant was one of the things that took the longest to get used to. The stuff I have is called Ice Guard and is a lump of mineral salts that you wet and then rub on – so none of the nice smells you normally associate with deodorants.However, I find it actually works better than regular deodorants because it leaves absolutely no smell on my tops what-so-ever, because the salts suppresses the growth of skin bacteria and it doesn’t have any perfume smell which goes stale by the end of the day (and it lasts for  at least 24 hours). Unless I have been doing strenuous exercise I don’t need to really wash my tops every time I wear them. It only costs about a fiver but can last for about a year!

However, you have to remember that this is NOT an antiperspirant. In my job I’m okay and I don’t find it a problem even when I’m just doing normal day to day exercise but it probably wouldn’t be the best thing if you were running around getting hot and sweaty all day.

Anyway, here’s my ramblings on the subject. The whole experience has really opened my eyes to how much manufactures manipulate us into thinking we need all this stuff to make us beautiful. I have cut about 70% of the products I use but I don’t think that it has made any difference to how I look or feel. It’s just an extra reminder of 1 Peter 3 v 3-4. It’s liberating, and I love it!