From now through November you can purchase a Certified Reconditioned Vitamix Standard blender starting at $299. This is a $30 savings off the normal reconditioned price and hundreds off a brand new Vitamix blender. These reconditioned blenders come with a new container and a 5 year warranty. Free shipping too. This is an AMAZING deal!! Know anyone that wants one for the holidays???
I have had my Vitamix for about eight years and it is still going strong. I recommend it to anyone hands down as a must have gadget for the kitchen and a great value for the money. This little kitchen instrument is powerful and indispensable. Here are a few reasons why:
Benefits of using a Vitamix
Not only is the Vita-Mix is super easy to use, it has powerful health benefits. Hundreds of people have written letters to the Vitamix Corporation, witnessing their improved health because of their Vita-Mix. Thus, Vitamix can be used to naturally build up a weakened immune system. I got my Vitamix after I was diagnosed with cancer and I used it daily all throughout my fight with the big C. I have used it almost every day since.
The Many Uses
In addition to the many health benefits, it can be utilized in a variety of manners: juicing whole foods, cooking soup from fresh organic vegetables, and making homemade ice cream and sorbets. New mothers who practice green living use their Vitamix for making baby food, from whole foods, for their babies. People with health issues, like high cholesterol, cancer or heart disease, have experienced an improvement in their health after using Vita-Mix for an extended period of time. Why? Because it encourages you eat eat healthy whole foods and makes them easy to prepare!
Vitamix Saves Time
Vitamix is loved by working men and women because it is such a huge time saver. After a long day at the office, you come home worn out, too tired to cook a full meal. With this blender, you can walk in the front door, throw your ingredients into the machine, and in minutes you have a healthy serving, minus all the hard work.
The Vitamix is a heavy duty blender, a food processor, ice cream/sorbet maker, wheat grinder, and so much more all warped in one amazing package. It blends food at speeds up 218 miles per hour. They can be ordered online or purchased directly at store demonstrations throughout the country. It comes with two books including and amazing cookbook with hundreds of recipes for soups, salsas, ice cream, smoothies, dips, nut butters, and hundreds of other things. This machine is so good at blending smoothly you can through fruits and veggies in their whole form into this blender and mix it up smooth.
Likes: I have been using my Vitamix for 8 years now and it is still going strong. I have made hundreds of smoothies, sorbets, ice cream, soup, salsa, tomato sauce, cobbler, key lime pie filling, salad dressing, cookie dough, and even pie crust. I could never go back to using a regular blender after having this machine. I have found that I don’t even need a food processor anymore either. In fact I use my machine so much that is rarely gets put away because I always need it for something!
Dislikes: I don’t really have any dislikes although I have found that purchasing the extra dry grinding container is a good idea if you plan to grind wheat into flour. The regular container doesn’t do as good of a job although I have used it to grind flour before.
In recent years there has been coverage and discussion on the dangers of plastics and in particular bisphenol A or BPA and PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Recent studies have showed that very low doses of some of these common plastics ingredients may cause genetic abnormalities, birth defects and brain damage.
These plastics have also exhibited the ability to leach certain chemicals into foods that they come into contact with, especially when exposed to high temperatures.
So how do we find out what kinds of plastics are in the materials we touch or use each day? If you take a look at the bottom of plastic bottles, containers or shopping bags you’ll find numbers that can give you an idea of what you’re dealing with. First you have to know what the numbers mean. Here’s a brief primer.
#1 PETE or PET (polyethylene terephthalate): used for most clear beverage bottles.
#2 HDPE (high density polyethylene): used for “cloudy” milk and water jugs, opaque food bottles.
#3 PVC or V (polyvinyl chloride): used in some cling wraps, inflatable toys, mattress covers, shower curtains.
#4 LDPE (low density polyethylene): used in food storage bags and some “soft” bottles.
#5 PP (polypropylene): used in rigid containers, including some baby bottles and some cups and bowls.
#6 PS (polystyrene): used in foam containers with those “claim-shell” tops, meat and turkey trays, and in its rigid form, clear take-out containers, some plastic cutlery and cups. Polystyrene may leach styrene into food it comes into contact with. Styrene is also considered a possible human carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research and Cancer.
#7 Other (usually polycarbonate): used in 5-gallon water bottles, some baby bottles, some metal can linings. Polycarbonate can release its primary building block, bisphenol A—a suspected hormone disrupter—into liquids and foods.
Not all plastic products are labeled with a number. If you’re unsure don’t hesitate to call the manufacturer directly. Also look on food product packaging for toll-free telephone numbers where consumers can ask questions.
Points to keep in mind:
1. Foods such as cheese and meat are perfect receptors for potentially harmful chemicals that can leach from plastics.
2. Heating food in plastics can increase leaching.
3. For your safety or peace of mind, it is likely best to reduce the use of ALL plastics in food packaging and other products. It’s also much better for the environment.
When in doubt, just do without!
Natural and green parents no doubt want to find sustainable, natural, ethical, and planet friendly toys for their toddlers to play with. Does that have to be a tall order?? Where do you start? Do you want wood toys, cloth toys, solar powered toys, organic toys, or a combination thereof? Browse our top picks below for the best green toys for tots!
Plan Toys Nuts and Bolts is an instant classic in sustainable wooden “tool” toys. Plan Toy Nuts and Bolts come with two large bolts and six threaded geometric pieces. Arrange the pieces in many formats and screw them onto the bolts to form different designs. Children love the repetitive twisting motion of threading the pieces on the bolts. It is great for developing fine motor skills. 2 years & up. Build dexterity and strength in little fingers by encouraging children to use their imagination to create forms and figures. Assemble the nuts and bolts with various mixes and matches.
International E-Racer Cars are an awesome wooden car choice, sleek and gorgeous! The E-Racer couldn’t be more sporty or stylish – its beautiful design will delight young and old as it races around the home track! The E-Racer will thrill eco-minded moms and kids with sleek design and nimble handling and the extra benefit of having a tiny environmental impact. The body of each E-Racer is built from one single piece of renewable bamboo and finished in non-toxic, water based paints from Europe. They come in multiple colors!
Plan Toys Hammer Balls are a hit in our home! It has a lovely curved wooden box design with three colorful balls and a mallet. Toddlers love to hit things and play with tools and hammers so this gives them something constructive to do with that energy. It helps toddlers to improve hand-eye coordination, aligning, slotting and aiming It will be great fun to pound the balls and watch them roll out one by one. The concept is incredibly simple but the fun lasts for a long time! It is made of rubberwood and painted with non-toxic dyes
What toddler doesn’t like blocks? The Kaleidoscopic Blocks from Haba takean old and classic concept and adds an exciting and engaging twist! These beautiful wooden blocks have colored Kaleidoscope windows in the middle. Not only are they colorful and gorgeous they give your toddler a new view if the world. They can have stacking them, making buildings and castles, and creating with them. Haba is another company that makes excellent toys that last!
Mini Automoblox Cars and Trucks are a completely wonderful adaptation of the classic push car and truck. Boys everywhere just love their wheels and vroom vrooms right? They are sure to love these and innovative versions as well. The mini cars have a new universal connector system that enables the rapid interchange of parts, further accentuating the fun factor of creating different car styles. They are basically wooden vehicles but they have plastic parts that can be interchanged. They are a great compromise if you want cool and snazzy looking push cars but less environmental impact.
The toddler age is when kids typically learn to identify and sort shapes andthere are many mass produced toys to encourage this activity but most of them are plastic. This Rolling Sorter is perfect! Two toddler-pleasing toys in one! The littlest ones love to shake, rattle, and roll the shape sorter to make lots of noise, while older tots have endless fun fitting six bright blocks through the corresponding cutouts on both ends. The all-wood toy is made in Thailand.
Wooden blocks are awesome for creative play and stacking but they just seemso … square! These Nesting Rainbows are a delightful toy for stacking play and they can learn their colors as well. These vibrant wooden rainbows stack into colorful mountains or separate for wonderful arches, bridges and wee gnome or fairy houses – the possibilities for creative play are endless.
Handcrafted in Germany for ages 3+.
Tube Sorting Toy – Take shape sorting to the next level and provide lots of educational and play value to toddlers with this well designed Tube Sorting Toy. Most of us had one of a tube sorting toy as a child but it was likely plastic and the tubes looked like doughnuts. This is a new look for a classic toy!This set is comprised of five colorful wooden tubes. Children are able to learn about size, color and scale. Made of natural, chemical free recycled rubberwood and finished with non-toxic water based dye.
This Pterodactyl Push Toy is cute as a button! What little dinosaur enthusiast wouldn’t love to push this little guy around? When pushed, this winger dinosaur will flap his wings up and down utilizing offset wheels. Toddlers will improve their balance and directional skills as they play with this adorable dinosaur push toy. It is made of natural, chemical free recycled rubberwood and finished with non-toxic water based dye.
I adore Play Silks for kids. They are beautifully crafted, open ended play things. Children can use these versatile silks to create all sort sorts play scenarios with their imaginations. They can be capes, veils and head coverings, pirate flags, parachutes, clothing, flags, fairy wings, streamers… the possibilities are endless. They also come in many gorgeous colors.
123 Grow With Me – With not one, not two, but three or more different ways to use this innovative apparatus as your child grows, it’s certain to bring years of enjoyment.
Babies ages 9 to 24 months use it as a walker (with wagon!) when they take their first steps; it also easily converts to a fun scoot-along ride so that toddlers 12 to 36 months can tote toys along with them; and kids 3 and up can employ it as a pretend-play shopping cart, doll buggy and toy trolley. It’s sturdily made from solid wood with smooth-rolling plastic wheels.
Below is an interview I did quite some time ago with a lovely woman named Ginger Freebird. I met her on Twitter and became interested in her Squidoo site about Freeganism. I was so intrigued by her amazing story that I interviewed her for a podcast that I used to do (many years ago). I came across the conversation buried deep within the archives of this site and decided to republish. What she does reminds me so much of a movie I watched recently about dumpster diving for food. It’s called Dive!: Living off America’s Waste. It’s fantastic! I so admire folks who take action to rescue perfectly good food so that those who truly need it can benefit. Hope you enjoy!
What exactly is freeganism, for those that don’t know?
Ginger Freebird: Freeganism is a term that was coined from free and from vegan. Freegans live without consuming a lot of things in their lifestyle. Many of them are vegan, which is vegetarian without the dairy. So, they’re looking for strategies to live without buying all the things that Americans think we need to buy. Specifically, getting food from bins behind grocery stores. Fresh food, today’s food, that is sitting there in boxes just out of the fridge, and using that to eat and in my case to feed many of the homeless people.
How exactly did you get started doing this? Would you also call it dumpster diving, or do you prefer one term or the other?
Ginger Freebird: Lately, I’ve come up with the word Food Activist, and Homeless Advocate, Environmentalist, Food Rescuer, a lot of different terms. I don’t actually dive into dumpsters. I think it would be pretty dangerous to actually go in. There is broken glass, there are nails from broken palettes that they stack the food on a lot of times, spaghetti sauce, and cans of open paint that people throw in. Not to mention raccoons and squirrels sometimes. I blame getting started into this lifestyle on Oprah. I’m an Oprah fan. On February 27th, 2008 she had a show about what she called Freegans. These are educated people in New York City that go out at night and find good food in bins and use that for their groceries.
I never thought I’d do something like this. I’ve got college degrees, education. I never thought I’d look in a bin. You think old moldy food, and bugs, and things. But, my curiosity was great. I looked in a local bin behind a grocery store and was shocked to find 6 feet wide, 6 feet deep, 6 feet tall of fresh fruit in boxes just sitting there. And vegetables, broccoli, pineapple, tomatoes, apples, New Zealand kiwi. All sorts of organic vegetables, because they’re more expensive and don’t sell as much. Oranges, grapefruits, celery, strawberries. It was like finding a tree of plenty.
I’ve always been an avid garage sale person. I like a good bargain, and I like recycling and living green. I’ve also always been an avid gardener and vegetable gardener. I like getting my hands dirty and planting seeds, and watching them grow. To see all this beautiful food, these voluptuous vegetables and juicy fruits that were absolutely fine to be thrown away was amazing. So, I just took the boxes out and put them in my trunk. I came home, cleaned them, chopped and froze some and ate them. I’ve had smoothies for 9 months now every day. The most delicious smoothies.
Oprah got me started with my curiosity. Then I got the idea that there’s so much, I’ve got to feed the homeless with this. There are thousands of homeless people in my city. So, I started calling up homeless shelters to see if they needed food. I found two shelters that are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to receive food. They don’t ask where it comes from, they can see that it’s good. There are some shelters that have stricter laws and the foods must be packaged, so they will not take fresh fruits and vegetables.
Also, I first called the local police non-emergency line to see what the laws were, if it was illegal to take things out of store bins. They said it really wasn’t and no one had ever been arrested for that. So, I felt more comfortable. You almost feel like you’re stealing or doing something you shouldn’t be doing, because it’s not accepted by society. They think you’re a bum, you’re a desperate person, and it’s disgusting. They don’t see that it’s just like taking everything out of your refrigerator and placing it in a clean plastic bag, putting it in your bin, and then going out in 20 minutes and taking that bag in and putting the items back in your refrigerator. That’s about how disgusting it is.
When I think about taking food from a dumpster behind a store, I’m thinking that they’re throwing out the stuff that’s bad. Has that been your experience? Are you finding perfectly good fresh food in the garbage can that was thrown out for some unforeseen reason?
Ginger Freebird: Yes. I’m finding about 90 percent of it is just fine. The fruits and vegetables may have a small bruise or brown leaf. They just simply have to make room for the new vegetables and fruits coming in, I think. Also, there’s strict policies with yogurts, pizzas, frozen goods, and so on. They will throw it out on the expiration date. But, I have checked with a large food bank and they say that most of these things are good for 6 days after their expiration date, as long as they were kept properly refrigerated at 41 degrees.
I check certain bins often, and then I know that it’s just been thrown out and I can feel that it’s still cold. Then I get it right home and into the fridge or freezer. I sort through. There may be some, often one broken jar of spaghetti sauce in an area. So, it can be a mess at times.
How did you make the leap from just curiosity looking into a couple of these bins to deciding that you were going to make it charitable work?
Ginger Freebird: I’ve always had compassion for homeless people and the less fortunate. I don’t like to see things go to waste, and it just seemed natural to make this connection. To know I’m within half an hour of thousands of people being hungry that can’t get to this food. Then I put a little ad on Craigslist for any drivers that would like to help distribute the food and they would get a free box of food themselves for doing it to help pay for their gas. It’s helped several people that are the working poor, or that want to help out. It came to be that they saw the quality of the food they were getting.
The main comments I got from the shelters were, “There’s so many fresh fruits and vegetables we don’t get from the food banks.” The food banks do a wonderful job and the stores donate to them every day, but there’s still, I’ve estimated conservatively, each store throws away about 500 dollars worth of good fresh food every day, which is 18,000 dollars a month, which is 150,000 a year. A city with 400 stores is 72 million dollars worth of good, usable food.
The problem is getting it quickly. It needs to get quickly to a shelter within an hour or so if it’s a non-refrigerated vehicle in order to stay safe. So, that’s what I’m trying to do is coordinate where we can get it quickly to these places. A runaway teen shelter called me and said, “I hear you’re giving all these good cinnamon rolls, fruits, and vegetables to this other place. Could you please help us out? We’ll send a driver out.” So, they send their own driver out once a week and then they even donated a nice refrigerator to me to have in the garage so that I have two now. I often have about 200 pounds of food every week and I can collect more to give them if I can refrigerate it for a couple of days and not have to gather it all in that one day.
It’s satisfying. There’s something about physically going out and doing this work. It is physically demanding. And then meeting a need, it just feels good. It’s such a nice break from computer work and paper work, and things that take forever. Here you just do something and it’s actually helping people immediately. It feels good.
One story they had that one teenager got a job and needed roller blades to get over there quickly. Because now they have to spend much less on groceries, since I’m providing them they were able to spend 40 dollars on roller blades for him, and he was able to go to work. So, it stopped his cycle of addictions, and problems, and so on. It was a big part of the way he was helped to get a job and change his life.
Another time, I found blankets in the bin. On the weekends, the normal American citizens just throw all their stuff in the bins at stores if they happen to be moving, or happen to have stuff they don’t want.
I found a real sick comforter, it had one rip. I donated it to the shelter. The next week they told me that it kept one boy from having to sleep on the cement floor of the men’s shelter, because there wasn’t room for him elsewhere. So, he got to sleep on that blanket.
In fact, their whole budget has gone from 500 dollars a week that they used to spend on groceries, now they’re spending 50 dollars a week on groceries.
Do you have a rough idea of how much in a monetary value how much you’ve been able to help these homeless shelters?
Ginger Freebird: They’re valuing it at about $450 a week. Then I give it to miscellaneous other ones. I have been keeping a tally. I take pictures of most everything I get, and I keep lists. I put it on Twitter under Twitter.com/freegan, I put down my daily runs, my bun runs, what I’ve got. It’s about 29,000 dollars now in 9 months. This also has been feeding my family, so it’s cut our grocery bill about 300 dollars a month. I only have to get a few things now, everything else is provided.
For me, it’s kind of a sense of adventure. I need something that’s a sense of adventure, and something different. It’s actually a good therapy for depression. It gets you up, and you think, “I’ve got to see what’s in the bin today.” There’s always surprising things. One day I found 26 five pound crates of oranges that were absolutely delicious. I ate about 30 a day, and then gave away hundreds of them.
There are things to keep in mind. If someone is thinking of trying this, definitely make sure it’s okay with the police first. Then go when there aren’t many people around. I suggest taking a car and parking a little ways, usually there’s a parking spot 10 or 20 feet away, and then when no one is around just go and look in.
I use a grabber device, the type that older people use when they can’t pick things up. It’s a 3 foot pole with a handle, then the claws go together. I found there are a lot of cheap ones out there, and a good one is the MedMinds brand that’s found at Walgreen’s for 20 dollars. It pays for itself in about 20 minutes.
You can stand outside the bin, and just lean that in and it will pick up cans and fruits and things. The best days are when it’s stacked high and you can just lift the whole boxes of fruit out, and you don’t have to take it one by one with the grabber. But, it will grab loaves of bread and so on.
The second tool that is needed is some sort of rake or long poled thing that can bring things from the back of the bin to the front, then you can get it with your grabber. Also, I recommend wearing a back brace or back support type of thing, and wrist braces, and old clothes that you don’t mind if they get paint, spaghetti sauce, or ruined.
I wear solid dark clothes just so that I won’t stand out. Tennis shoes and socks to protect my feet. There are nails and glass sometimes around there. I wear a hat and sunglasses. Then I have a nice BMW, so people just think I’m getting a box. The ruse is you just keep an empty box beside you, and if someone does come by you can just take the box and get into your car. They think you’re looking for boxes to move, and that’s socially acceptable.
It’s amazing. Some statistics are that there are about 36 million people in America that are what they call food insecure. They don’t know where their next meal is coming from, or if they’ll have a next meal. About 13 million of those are children. 23 million are adults. Those are older statistics, so I’m sure they’ve increased.
There’s no reason that anyone needs to be hungry in America. We actually already have the food. It’s just a matter of getting the trust of some of these grocery stores and having them take the time to let you have a driver come by and take their 10 sheet cakes instead of seeing them all thrown in the bottom of a bin on top of bread, on top of apples, and other things.
I got all of my Halloween decorations from the bins. Tons of pumpkins. I get about 10 bouquets of flowers a week. I just got 22 herb plants a week ago that I’m nursing back to life and are doing well.
My ultimate goal is to see everyone fed in America. It is feasible to feed everyone. I would like to see the stores actually approve us picking this up. Where we wouldn’t have to get it from a bin, we would be stopping by. I would like to see a network in my city of hundreds of drivers that would be picking up from a store close to them and then it would be coordinated to take to a shelter that’s near them. They would get to keep one box of food themselves and they would get a receipt from the shelter. We’d have it all coordinated and worked out that way.
I am starting the paperwork and I do have some restaurants that do want to work with us, and some caterers. It’s a matter of getting enough drivers that can pick these up at convenient times for the stores and take it immediately to the shelters. That’s feasible to happen. With the food banks they have to send out their drivers to go to all the stores all day long in refrigerated trucks, bring it back, store it at their central area, then sort it all out, then take it later. So they can’t handle all the fresh fruits and vegetables. They do handle some. I see filling a real need with the fresh fruits and vegetables, and then also the bakery items, deli items, and anything else.
Is composting hard? No, not all. You just need to learn a few basic dos and don’t then you just get out of the way and let nature do it’s thing.
What Goes In Compost:
* Urine: dilute it with water first.
* Chicken manure: ideally from organically reared chickens.
* Comfrey: rich in many nutrients, especially potash, but contains almost no fiber.
* Lawn clippings: but mix them with dry material first, such as damp straw, weeds or leaves, as grass clippings can be too soggy on their own. Or let hem hang out on the lawn for a day or two to dry first.
* Kitchen waste: including tea bags, coffee grounds, eggshells, cooked pasta, fruit and vegetable trimmings.
* Farmyard manure: again ideally from horses or cows bred on organic farms.
* Seaweed: a great source of trace elements.
* Garden waste: chop it first to help the decomposing process.
* Weeds: especially stinging nettles which are high in nitrogen (treat in the same way as lawn clippings), but they should be young weeds that have not formed seeds or you will be spreading seeds around your garden or year when the compost is finished.
* Bracken: but avoid handling when it is producing spores as it is carcinogenic.
* Straw: should be damp and ideally already partly rotted.
*Woody prunings: shred them first.
* Newspaper, cardboard: use sparingly, shredded or torn up and dampened, and avoid materials with colored inks.
Things to avoid:
* Cat litter or dog excrement: both of these can carry disease.
* Meat and fish scraps: they smell as they rot and may attract rats and other pests.
* Diseased plant material: diseases can spread through the compost.
* Perennial weeds and weeds in seed: they may continue growing in the compost, especially if it is not hot enough to destroy the seeds.
* Plastic, tin, glass and other synthetic materials: they do not decompose.
The ideal method for making compost is to make a heap in one go, but to do this you need to collect bags of waste for several weeks or months. If you add material gradually, it may take at least eight to 12 months before it is ready to use, whereas in summer a newly constructed, complete heap would take around two months to turn to compost. A gradual heap may also not reach high enough temperatures to kill off weeds or diseases.
With either method, it is a good idea to layer the different materials, spreading them evenly and adding water if the material is dry, before covering the heap. Make sure your compost heap does not become too dry or wet. Soggy compost smells bad and takes a long time to break down; dry compost is also slow to decompose as microbes prefer damp conditions. To speed up decomposition, turn the compost with a fork every six to eight weeks.
Maintaining a high temperature is important to kill off weeds and diseases – your pile should be at least 50°C (122°F) (often not possible if composting gradually). If you are using a compost bin it should be at least 1 m3 (1 yd3) in size in order to achieve high temperatures and you can also help by lining the bin with dry autumn leaves or hay.
The compost is ready to use when it is a dark color, smells earthy and the original ingredients have almost gone. Remaining straw, twigs and sticks can be picked or sieved out. The final result can be used on gardens, lawns and house plants. Dig it into the soil or leave it on top for the worms to do the work for you. It is best applied in spring when the weather should be more conducive to its staying in the soil – heavy rain can wash the compost away before the worms can do their bit.
* Always protect the compost heap from rain with a waterproof cover.
* Make sure you can remove the bottom layer easily.
* Turn the heap every few months to introduce air into the mix.
* Dampen any dry material such as straw or autumn leaves first to aid its decomposition.
* Shred items tike leaves, newspapers, cardboard and weeds to speed up their decomposition.
* Mix fresh grass mowings and fruit and vegetable leftovers with dry material to stop the pile becoming too sodden.
* Make sure you have broad mixture of materials in the pile and layer them evenly.
* To avoid attracting flies and insects to kitchen waste, make a hole in the centre of your compost pile and bury the waste.
* If you want a quick start to your composting you can purchase compost activators or accelerators containing organic material designed to kick-start your compost.
* If you have large quantities of leaves, it may be worth composting them separately in a wire mesh container or in plastic sacks.
But if you are new to gardening and all this talk of creating your own compost has put you off making a start on your own garden, take heart – there are various green options that do not require you to devote a part of your garden to a decomposing pile of waste. Your local authority may well be running a community composting scheme or composting green waste from its parks and gardens, which it will deliver to you for a small fee, for example.
Creating your own nutrient rich soil is very rewarding. It is turning trash into treasure…food scraps into black gold. The bonus just happens to be that is is extremely easy to do. Happy composting!