What I found!

Today, my friend Peekje and I went out exploring the two organic stores here in Stavanger – plus a few others 🙂 It was great to shop with Peekje, we were so excited to share information with each other. Plus she was able to read some of the German labels for me. Shockingly our organic stores have tons of German brands – Peekje told me that the health, green, and recycling thing is huge there!

I asked the cashier at one store if he knew where to get raw milk. Come to find out the milk in Norway is somewhat monopolized – all by the brand Tine. However there sold Organic Milk from Tine for only 2 NOK more (36 US cents) – so that will be my go to from now on. He said that he knew they treated and fed there organic milk cows well. One of the main reasons that I want raw milk though it to taste it, even if just once. I hear it is amazing. The other is because I want it in glass. I emailed Tine to ask if there cartons are lined with wax or plastic. Tine replied that the “milk carton has a plastic coating of Polyethylene (PE), which is called a polyolefin and consists only of carbon (C) and hydrogen (H).” He continued to say something about how the plastic and paper weld together – which was in Norwegian, and neither Ole or I understood. But the point is made, it is lined with PE or plastic #2. While plastic #2 is considered a safer plastic then #7, I still want to avoid it. I have my fingers crossed I will find a source!

Find #1: Organic Apple Cider Vinegar in Glass
We have ACV in the general grocery stores here, but it is in plastic. That version only cost about 15 NOK for .5L. Sometimes there is another bottle of ACV, from Heniz, cost is 36 NOK for .5L but has a plastic lid. Then today I found – Demeter Apfelessig, naturtrüb – that is unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar in glass with a metal lid that cost only 36 NOK for .75L!

Find #2: Local Honey
OK well I found this a few days ago, but at the same store. This honey is called Økologisk Lynyhonning (Organic) and is from Flekkejord which is 100 kilometers away.

Find #3: Produce Bags
I have been on the hunt for some produce bags for ages now! I have been wanting to order some, because all the ones I have found here are outragous. Shipping them it was also going to be costly, I found a 2 for $10 USD deal, plus shipping to Norway – but was not sold, and boy am I glad I waited! I was in Søstrene Grenes yesterday and they had some sitting by the exit, I almost missed them since there exit and entrance are seperate! But get this, they were only 8 NOK ($1.50 USD) each! I am so excited!

Find #4: Saft in glass with metal lid, made locally
More on this coming later!

Community, what is it good for?

com·mu·ni·ty [kuh-myoo-ni-tee]
–noun, plural -ties.

Definition: a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, share common characteristics or interests and perceive itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists

In a seminal 1986 study, McMillan and Chavis identify four elements of “sense of community”: 1) membership, 2) influence, 3) integration and fulfillment of needs, and 4) shared emotional connection.

Why we have lost community? I Think that we have gotten to comfortable in our day to day lives and routines that we do not want anyone getting in the way of them. We are to stuck to our phone, email, twitter, facebook, blogs, tv, play-station; that we have forgotten what it is to play board games against people – not the computer. Now why is it that we have come to like a artificial entertainment over a natural one?

I am not saying that tv, twitter facebook and blogs are bad – obviously I have all of those. I think though that we have become to dependent on them. This summer while I was still waiting for a work visa in Norway our internet went our for a few hours. I freaked out. What was I going to do. We had no tv or internet actually. This should have been a no-brainer for me, I live in one of the most beautifully places in the world – go outside! I should have went on a walk or strolled into town. But instead I continually kept checking to see if the internet was back up, cleaned the house abit and checked the internet again. I think that I ended up going on a walk. But I am sad to say that my need for the online world was so strong, that I forgot about the real [beautiful] one right outside the window behind my computer screen.

We dislike or are uncomfortable talking to strangers. If we know them they might make us late to our meeting or to the bus. I think that this is so sad. Growing up, I knew that if Dad or Mema and I went somewhere – somewhere where they could talk to someone – we would be there for some time. You see we lived in a small town of 3,000 people. We would go to walmart just for shampoo or milk and be there for more then 10 minutes – normally we would see someone or meet someone new and chat for 20, 30, 50 minutes. You see, in our evenings we had not big to do have too’s. We had some commitments, but I don’t remember hearing ‘oh we need to leave to catch the new episode of CSI’ type of comments. We chatted, were nice, asked how their family was and if we needed to be somewhere kindly excused ourselves and said we would talk more next time.

This is a far cry from what I see so often now – you see someone in the store and you try to avoid them. Why do we do this? The only real practical reason I can see is that there is a true uncomfortable-ness with this person for real reasons. But generally that is not why we do this [I am guilty], normally it is that we don’t want to get stuck there, or they will see us in our ‘bad’ clothes or without make up ect ect. I have heard friends say before they will not go out to ‘said’ event with us because they don’t want to look cheap in the same clothes and have not had time to buy new ones yet. Our culture is so hung up on all this consumer-istic stupidity. Don’t get me wrong, I love fashion. What I don’t love that that we feel we are less of a person because we do not have that new $150 handbag. What ever happened to liking a person for who they are not what they have. People are great on the inside, full of love and goodness.

Getting to know someone can make us uncomfortable, what if they ask a question we are not comfortable answering. Or what if they see I cannot afford something. Or what if they invite me to a party and I don’t have anything to wear. Personally, I love talking to the cashiers at health food stores and the farmers in town. Or the lady in our bits-and-bobs shop. They all have something different to offer. They are all from different walks of life and have great amounts of different knowledge. (I personally need to do this more in Norway like I did in the States – I get worried with the language barrier, where really it is not that big of a problem.)

I am not saying that we should all have a core group of 150 friends, I think that it is wise and healthy to have a nice small core group of friends – the closest ones, the ones you would call when you knew no one else would answer. But I think that our community, those around us, should be bigger.

I think we are scared people will steal our ideas, friends, or attention. We are so scared to share our ideas with others. When you find a great recipe or a new thing that will make someone’s life much easier – you should share it. However so often we do not, we feel we deserve something in exchange for what we have [probably accidentally] found.

When you have a large community, there is pressure to join. When you have a group of people that know you, care about you and want to hang out with you – then they start inviting you places. People are scared that –heaven forbid– someone invites you to there house for dinner and you miss your Tuesday night tv show regimen. I have heard this as a reason for not having dinner with friends before. I love having people over or going over to other people houses for dinner. I love the conversation of a group, see how everyones day was, hearing what is new and learning new things.

We have to change this. We need to get our of our convenient ways and change our habits. Community is what holds us together when times are down. Having someone to share with or help you along. Community is who we celebrate with when times are good and there is plenty.

Online friendships are great, that is how Ole and I meet – I am not beating it down. However, when you are sick or you need some help or you want someone to celebrate with – facebook just does not do the job. I am an expat, all my friends I grew up with live across the world. I cannot tell you what they are doing today or this month. I have no connection to them, there is no real relationship anymore since it is digital. I talk to my best-friend and dad via skype weekly, and besides them – I only see status updates that don’t always make sense. I cannot say enough how valuable I think that these social networks online are – I just think we need to remember what we did before them. How did we kept up with friends without the internet?

We went to baseball games, out for ice cream, to the movie, to a BBQ or just meet at a house for coffee. Now I feel that this is still for the most part happening. More so with some then others. But what I think is sad, is that when before we would get a coffee and catch up with a friend we would have lots to talk about. Now, they or you check you phone a million times, you have already seen there photos from vacation so that is just a few seconds of conversation and then there comes the silence.

I am not saying that we need to throw away our electronics and have everyone we meet over for dinner. I am saying that we need to think about how we live and communicate. Without the internet I would have not found Ole and would not have made so many friends through blogs and would not have such a great resource at my finger tips for this lifestyle changes we are going through. But I am challenging myself and you to have friends over for dinner or meet up with a friend for coffee – dig around, who knows you might both have one of the same hidden hobbies – or talk to the lady/man at the cashiers counter.

I know I have just went on a wild rampage of a rant – I just think that there is something we are missing and need to get it back. So lets find a group to be a member of, influence them and let them influence us, help each other and bond over common interests!

PS. On a side-note. I think that older people -obviously- are such a great wealth of knowledege. I love learning a cool ‘old’ way something was done when they were kids. It makes me think of how people lived and what they did without what we take for granted. Plus they are full of wisdom and tips!

Where does your food come from?

Since other people have said it best, first I will start out with some large quotes:

5 Reasons To Care About Where Your Food Comes From

1. Big corporations don’t have YOU in their best interest. Some food corporations put a lot of salt, sugar and fat in our diet because it is cheap, fast and easy. Does this include healthy? Nope — and if you saw what it takes to add salt, fat and sugar into ‘food’, you probably wouldn’t even want to eat it.

2. Knowing what’s fed to animals is knowledge of what’s being fed to YOU. Most people make a stink about commercial farmers that give antibiotics to animals because eventually those antibiotics will not work for you. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it concerns what animals are being fed. Need I remind anyone of mad cow disease caused by cows given feed mixed with diseased animal parts? That issue may be in the distant past, but did you know that grass-fed cows don’t get sick the way corn-fed animals do?

3. If you don’t care, you may end up spending more on your health (or illness) care. Spending less of our income on food doesn’t necessarily make it good for us. In fact, the less we spend on food, the more we spend on health care. Today, 9.5% of our income goes to food, the cheapest it’s ever been for us in the U.S. — a proud achievement of government-backed commercial agribusiness, but we’re not any healthier from eating cheap, over-processed, packaged foods.

4. To determine for yourself what is actually worthy of a ‘food’ label. Much of what you see is not worthy of the term “food”; instead, they are edible food-like substances. (Food Rules) Almost everything Americans eat contains corn in the form of high fructose corn syrup, corn-fed meat, and corn-based processed foods, the staples of our modern diet.

5. Our government (USA) does not subsidize healthy food. The American food system is built on the abundance of corn — an abundance perpetuated by a subsidy system that pays farmers to maximize production. What this translates to is that you will have to do your own homework — expensive television commercials won’t be advertising local farmer’s markets or healthy organic fruits and vegetables. You have to overcome the ‘outta sight, outta mind’ concept by taking the first steps towards putting information and resources about food on your radar at all times.[via]

Nowadays, many of the toxic chemicals used in farming are a public health concern as they‘re closely linked to cancer, infertility, birth defects, abnormality, deformation, mentally retarded diseases among the babies and other chronic or acute health issues due to both chronic long-term exposure and acute poisoning. Additionally, the medical personnel have connected pesticide exposure to memory decline, destabilisation of moods, Parkinson’s, depression, asthma, migraine, irritable bowel, rhinitis, eczema, aggressive outbursts and 40% of them have been proved to be cancer promoting. The toxic genetic chemicals (such as hormones, steroids, herbicides, insecticides and etc.) for example, can cause destruction to environment, ecosystem and food webs if they’re used widely in agriculture or on foods. In short, the combination of multiple chemicals is extremely harmful to both our health and environment.

Lets take apples for example. Apples are picked even they’re still green (under ripe), and be loaded in the truck. Once the truck reaches the warehouse, these apples are sprayed with thiabendazole for about 20 minutes. This chemical has been known notoriously for causing birth defects or deformations. It’s really sad to see that immoral merchants have used this strong ingredient to treat the apples! After sorting out the apples carefully, the apples are treated with preservatives such as 1-methylcyclopropene (1-mcp), diphenylamine to keep them juicy and crispy. Before keeping storage in a warehouse for at least 3 months (may up to a year), the apples are waxed with shellac or carnuba wax. In the warehouse, they’re kept refrigerated to 32 degrees with reduced level of oxygen and this helps to make apples last longer. They may have appeared to you juicy and crispy but instead their taste has gone away. [via]

Why looks aren’t everything when it comes to produce.
We’re picky about our produce. And we work to bring you the freshest, finest Certified Organic fruits and veggies from the most reliable suppliers. We’re always here to credit any less-than-perfect item and answer your questions. One of the questions we’re asked is “Why doesn’t this organic apple or banana look ‘as good as’ a “conventional” one?” Here’s why, when it comes to store-bought produce, looks can be deceiving…

Extreme Produce Makeover
Today’s consumers are raised on TV, airbrushed photos and carefully manipulated images designed to sell illusions of perfection. But when it comes to produce, looks aren’t everything. Chances are that shiny apple, or yellow banana are gassed, bathed in pesticides and fungicides or injected with food dyes that make them a toxic treat for the senses.

Let’s slip into bananas. We’ve recently had some quality issues with this family favorite. This is because February and March are traditionally tough months for banana growers. Soaring humidity makes their crop very vulnerable to rot. Organic growers typically treat this disease naturally, with aids such as grapefruit seed oil extract. It’s not a perfect system. But the blemished bananas contain far fewer chemical contaminants than their photogenic golden “conventional” counterparts.
“Conventional” bananas are picked before they ripen naturally. Calcium Carbide, ammonia or sulphur dioxide then ripens them at super-speed. In high concentration, these toxins may damage the nervous system, kidneys and liver. The bananas might also be soaked in the carcinogen benonomyl, and repeatedly sprayed with pesticides.

Tomatoes are also picked before maturity and shipped long distances. They’re gassed with the plant hormone ethylene to ripen them and may be injected with red dye for eye appeal. Because the “conventional” tomato was never truly ripe it’s now vitamin deficient…unless you count the nutrient value of its chemical fertilizers, pesticides, ripeners and dye. And its taste pales next to a vine-ripened, fresh organic tomato full of flavour.

What about “juicy” ‘conventional’ grocery store apples? They’re full of enough preservatives to change the slogan to “an apple a day keeps decompostion away.” Picked while still green, apples are sprayed with thiabendazole at the warehouse, a chemical known to cause birth defects. After sorting they’re treated with preservatives to keep them juicy and crisp, and then covered with shellac or carnuba wax.

Overall, there are many variables that affect the look of our organic produce—as well as quality and availability. One factor that’s growing in importance is climate change. For example, this year in California extreme drought devastated farmers. In India, disastrous gales wiped out mango crops. And in Florida, farmers felt the chill as the coldest winter in decades played havoc with their citrus harvest.

After all, as Joni Mitchell wrote, “Give me spots on my apples, but leave me the birds and the bees.” Organic produce may not always look as “pretty” as its ‘conventional’ counterpart, but it’s less toxic and more tasty. [via]

So what to do..
1. Eat foods that will eventually rot – the faster the better in most cases since that shows they are alive.

2. Eat meat that has been properly fed and are treated humanly.

3. Buy locally as much as possible, if you can know the name of the person growing your tomatoes – then do it! It is great to be able to ask ‘how did you grow this’, ‘what chemicals where used’ and ‘how is the family’.

I think that our large disconnect with our food has to do alot with our lack of community. If we can just walk into a store and get what we need when we need it (24-7 in some cases) then we don’t have to talk to the farmer or seller. There is not connect to the food and no distraction from us getting home to see that TV show. I think that there is such a loss of community, I loved going to the Health Food Stores when I was younger! Mema or Dad and I went in and we knew the people. They would chat, catch up with how the family was and actually know each other. People, especially farmers and natural food market workers are such a wealth of knowledge – why you would not want to have them as your friend and resource would make no sense. Ill have to write another post about community, and leave this one to knowing where your food comes from.

I have not yet made the switch over to knowing the farmers in my area, I am abit ashamed to admit to this since my town has such a great market, but I am trying! (photo above is from our local market) So much of the food in Norway is produced in Norway – but I want to have a more local food supply. This coming week I will be visiting our farmers market (which is open everyday), the meat market, the fish market, and will be back out to our Organic Farm to try to source some local milk. I will be asking tons of questions and hoping that I don’t scare the people with my bad Norwegian or use of English! Ill report back soon on how it goes and what I find. I am excited at the thought of local food not packaged in plastic.

My [mini] Herb Garden: Week 3 Update

My herbs have started to sprout! I am so excited! I keep going the window sill when I get home from work to check on them, Ole has been chuckling at me since I get so giddy like a little kid about every new sprout or thing happening with them!

However, the coriander plant had withered away – I knew this was going to happen, but did not want to believe it. It was bought from the grocery store and had been made/cultivated for one use. I gartered all the seeds that I could from it, planted them, and only one has sprouted. I hope more come up, if not I will need to buy some ‘real’ seeds.

Here are photos from the end of week 3 of My [mini] Herb Garden!

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