Standing in front of the open refrigerator door, you survey the contents. What do you want to snack on? In today’s globalized world, this is a complicated question. In April I commented about our nutritional choices. Today I’m more interested in the environmental repercussions.
How is the food grown? What fertilizers are used? Are the plants sprayed with pesticides? And are organic growing methods automatically better? How about the use of fossil fuels to transport food over long distances? Or the energy and other resources used in processing, preserving, and packaging those convenience products? If you believe all the hype, you could be convinced that an environmental apocalypse is just around the corner, all because of our food choices.
What should we have for dinner?
I never realized what a significant question that is… or how fraught with danger. If you read (and believe) the media, health hazards lurk at every turn; environmental disaster hinges on my choices. I could even destroy the lives of workers I’ve never met, should I make my food decisions irresponsibly. How in the world does anyone with any scruples determine what to eat?
In an effort to sift through the hyperbole and discover what is actually worth our time and energy, I have been reading extensively both online and in actually print-on-paper books. Now I want to pass along what I’ve learned. Hopefully it will save you time and money, and assuage your conscience at the same time.
Today, I want to consider the health aspects of our food choices. (I’ll cover the other issues in later postings.)
We all “know” that some foods are beneficial, while others will cut us down as we chew. Sausage and pepperoni pizza? Bad. A huge slab of caramel-topped cheesecake? Must be bad! Bran muffins? Supposedly good, except that they’re full of white flour, fat and sugar, which is bad. Apples are generally considered good (except for the pesticide load on the non-organic ones), as is broccoli, spinach, and sweet potatoes. While we may not always make the sensible choice, at least the options are pretty clear.
I confidently predict that every one of you will have a birthday some time during the next year. Let me be the first to wish you a very happy day.
A large number of businesses offer you free stuff on your birthday, ranging from ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery (or most other ice cream chains) to free movie rentals at Hollywood Video. Some of my favorites include Red Robin, Noodles & Co., and Souper Salad, in addition to the aforementioned Cold Stone. (Did you know some Cold Stone stores have no-sugar-added Cake Batter now? This flavor will also be present in heaven, I’m sure.) I was particularly impressed that Benihana will send you a coupon worth $30 for a free birthday dinner—I just wish our closest Benihana was less than an hour away.
Most potting mixes have fertilizer already added to them, so you won’t need to worry about feeding your plants for the first three to four months. Once that fertilizer is used up, it’s time to add more. You can use any commercial fertilizer sold for houseplants.
Your choices are really a matter of personal preference. Some fertilizers are powders or liquids that you add to your watering can. Others are time-release pellets you incorporate into the potting mix. Some of these are considered organic, others are not. I’ve used a wide variety of products: liquid concentrates, powders, time-release pellets, fish emulsion—and even my homemade “worm tea” (the diluted run-off from my worm composting bins). It all works fine.
Mix your fertilizers according to the package directions. More is not better—you’ll burn your plants. I’ve found that mixing fertilizer at half-strength and applying it twice as often gives good results. If you notice white minerals accumulating on the plant’s container, run some water through the potting mix to flush out the build-up of fertilizer salts. Be sure to let the pot drain thoroughly afterwards.