Diapers and Dandelions

Diapering baby #2 has been so much fun. Fun because we are, of course, using cloth diapers. Somehow it just isn’t FUN to use disposables. Just a baby related something to be done and at least sometimes marginally unpleasant. The whole process of cloth diapering is something that most of the time brings me joy and satisfaction. It’s saving us money. Lots of money. Particularly since our kids are apparently allergic to one component or another in mainstream diapers (yes, sadly, this includes Huggies Naturals) and all of the “Organic” diapers cost a small fortune. So for us the cloth diaper savings is above and beyond what it is for the average family. Secondly, I’m a huge fan of diversity and seeing tiny bums clad in multi colored and outfit coordinating cloth is just FUN. And adorable. Especially on chubby babies. Now that I have a chubster babe I am decidedly a fan of baby rolls. The more the better.

Bean-Boy chilling in FL in Fuzzi Bunz Green One Size Fits All

Bean-Boy chilling in FL in Fuzzi Bunz Green One Size Fits All

Last time we did cloth diapering it was mostly a pre-fold and fitteds system with covers. While practical, fairly easy to “learn”, and most important of all cheap. Super cheap. It was also a bit more user challenging than some of the easier systems that exist like pockets or all-in-ones. DaMan learned the prefold+cover system but it was never easy for him which resulted in an understandable reluctance to help out with diaper changes. This time around as soon as we verified that yes, extra-white-child version 2.0 also has mega sensitive skin we decided it was totally worth it to invest in an easier diapering system upfront. And by “we” I really mean “me” since solo diapering children is not my idea of sharing the parenting load. (ahem) DaMan was relieved and happy at how simple the Fuzzy Bunz have been to use and finds it just a hair less efficient than popping disposables on.

One used lot of One Size Fits All Fuzzi Bunz later and we were in business. And yes, you read that correctly. Used. While the used factor of cloth diapers may be more than some can handle between a very hot water wash, good sunning, a vinegar wash followed by a Grapefruit Seed Extract wash followed by yet another thorough sunning I’m pretty satisfied that anything potentially detrimental to my kidlets health is adequately neutralized. And consider this, if cloth diapering is a savings at retail value imagine how much more you can save if you buy previously used???

Baby-Bean in FL

Baby-Bean in FL

This is where I get to excitedly tell you about my latest cloth diaper resource. It is a website owned by a dear friend of mine and allows you to both put up for sale and purchase in an auction type setting cloth diapers. http://www.myuseddiapers.com It’s FREE. Free to list. Free to put up pictures. Free to bid and Free to buy. So you can SAVE $ on those diapers you want to try out or bolster your stash with and purchase without having to leave your home. No sales tax, no hassle. I’ll be listing some of my gently used covers that we no longer have need for soon. I’d encourage you to check it out and if you have ANY questions about cloth diapering at all just e-mail and ask. I happen to know the lady at the other end is super knowledgeable and will bend over backwards to help if she can.

We have been staying in Orlando the past week to attend business meetings. The warm pools have been a special treat for our kids. The chubby Bean-boy bobbed happily in the water on his back with only the bare minimum of neck support/stability from a parent. The kid was born to swim, er, well, float to be more accurate.

Bean swimming for the first time

Bean swimming for the first time

One day after a bit too long in the pool the 4 year old Doodlebug and I walked back to our unit. Little tiny gnat like creatures floated in the air in front of us. “Dose are Dandy bugs” Doodles informs me casually. A little distracted trying to keep up with key-card, towels, towel wrapped baby, cell phone and water bottle I say rather absently “Dandy-bugs?” She nods gravely while slowly swishing her hand back and forth in front of her face “Dey wiv on Dandelion Fwowers and when you go poof dey fwy away. Dats cuz dey have no home aaaaaaanymore.” Still distracted I say “Hmm. Don’t see any Dandelions around here dear, maybe they are another sort of bug” Slightly indignant that I would question her bug expertise she insists “No no! Dey ARE Dandelion bugs. The alligators just poofed all dere homes away. So see? Dats why Mom” Inwardly shuddering at the reminder that we are located right on a lake, ambling down a sidewalk that borders said lake and that there is a sign just a few feet in front of us that says “Please Respect Our Wildlife” with images of a snake, turtle and Alligator on it. Feeling something a little stronger than the ‘respect’ the sign requested I walk a bit faster.

Doodles by the Lake

Doodles by the Lake

Doodles trails along slowly. “You’d better hurry or maybe the Dandelions won’t be the only thing the alligators poof away” I call over my shoulder. She stops and her little jaw drops open and lets out a small gasp. “You mean dey would poof away the Dandelions AND the Dandelion BUGS???? Dats dust so mean.” And turning to the lake that supposedly houses said alligators she hollers “You mean alligators! You ate ALL de Dandelions and now eat aaaaaalll the bugs you dust MEAN!” A couple senior citizen aged adults within ear-shot shoot me reproachful looks and I can all too easily tell what they are thinking “What in heavens name is that woman teaching her child?? Blaming Alligators for destroying Dandelions. And whats that she was saying about bugs??” I try to smile reassuringly and confidently as though it’s all part of some grand parental plan to teach an awesome object lesson but all I manage is a slightly guilty and sheepish smile and head bob their direction before we shuffle off again.

Doodles tries to say hello to unfriendly bird

Doodles tries to say hello to unfriendly bird

Finally back at our Unit I was able to laugh at her vivid imagination. Dandelion Bugs. So now you know. The Alligators ate the Dandelions then apparently declared war on the Dandelion bugs. I knew you’d want to know that.

Tomorrow we hit the road again and begin the several day travel back home to TN. We are stopping into GA to have a meet and greet with some family that haven’t met the little Bean yet. I’m off to pack up a bit more and then get some sleep.

Cloth Diapers: The Primer Version

There is increasing interest these days among my fellow Mommies in cloth diapers. For some it is because of an ever growing awareness of the need to care for the earth’s resources. Other’s the knowledge that it is the healthier choice for their babies and even more that it is cheaper. In these ever increasingly difficult economic times for many people the cost factor is becoming more compelling. The problem with the cloth diaper world these days vs. when our Mom’s were cloth diapering is the exact opposite of the one they were dealing with. We have too many options and it becomes terribly confusing for those new to cloth diapers.

First, the some of the terminology.

CD = Cloth Diaper

AIO = All In One

All in one means exactly what the name implies. In it’s simplest form it means that the diaper has a cover, padding and extra pad of absorbent material all included and sewn together into one complete diaper. These are the easiest to use, being every bit as user friendly as disposable diapers. As such they are enormously popular among Daddy’s, babysitters, nurseries etc. The primary downside is the cost. These are one of the most expensive cloth diaper options.  A secondary downside is the drying time. A few companies have come up with some clever designs to help speed drying time but, as a general rule these are ‘long dryers’ Many families opt to buy a few for the sake of people unfamiliar with cloth diapers when they have to leave for a while and use a cheaper option for the day in and day out.

AIO: All in One Cloth Diaper by Mums Bums

AIO: All in One Cloth Diaper by Mums Bums

Fitteds

Fitted diapers are available in a variety of materials. They are designed to be used with a cover. The advantage of fitteds is that you get a trimmer fit than with many other CD options. They also come in a large variety of colors and patterns which ups the “fun” factor. The argument has been made that there is no point in purchasing a cute diaper if you are just going to cover it up with a cover. Others counter with saying it’s similar to wearing cute undies just so you know they are there. =D Plus, there are some very cute covers available these days. Fitteds are also on the “higher” cost side of available cloth diapers particularly if made of more expensive material like Organic Bamboo. A long drying time is also a frequent complain of fitted diapers. These are also considered to be very user friendly and do not require stuffing and un-stuffing like Pocket Diapers do (an explanation of those later).

Fitted cloth diapers can be purchased in two ways. 1) Fitted sizes in small, medium, large and extra large. This is the most expensive but provides the most exact fit per the babies size. The reason it’s so expensive is you keep having to buy diapers in the next size up.

2) One Size Fits All This is managed by a series of snaps that can be adjusted as the baby grows. Usually comes with some extra layers of cloth that can be laid into the diaper as the baby grows bigger and needs more absorbency. Although the up front cost per one size fits all diaper is definitely higher in my opinion the savings in the long run is worth it if you stick with cloth diapering longer than a few months.

Organic Bamboo Velour One Size Fits All Fitted Cloth Diaper with Extra liners

Organic Bamboo Velour One Size Fits All Fitted Cloth Diaper with Extra liners

BeetleBugs One Size Fits All adjustable fitted Diapers

BeetleBugs One Size Fits All adjustable fitted Diapers

Pocket Diapers

These have become increasingly more popular due to the more affordable “models” available these days and the wide range of options that can be done with them. A pocket diaper has a water proof cover so no extra covers are needed but instead of having sewn in layers of fabric for absorbency like the AIO’s they instead usually have a thin sheath of micro-fleece. The micro-fleece is what is against the babies skin and serves to efficiently wick the moisture away to the absorbent insert stuffed into the interior. Pocket diapers can be stuffed with a huge variety of things. Anything from folded cotton pre-folds to a large array of specifically sewn and created absorbent pads in all sorts of cloth/material.  Like the Fitted Diapers, Pocket diapers can be purchased one size at a time or in one size fits all adjustable sizes. Again, I am a fan of the One size Fits all option because in the long run it is a savings. For some people though a precise and trim as possible fit is the most important thing.  Also, due to the flexibility in purchasing material to “stuff” them with it gives a lot of options as to how absorbent the diaper needs to be. Extra absorbent material like hemp/bamboo can be added for naptimes and bedtimes. Another advantage of the pocket diaper is that when they are “stuffed” ahead of time they are every bit as easy to use as the AIO’s.

A complaint some have about pocket diapers is that some models have to be “un-stuffed” before washing which means touching the urine or poop saturated material. Manufacturers are becoming more sensitive to this issue and there are several versions available now that are “hands free” and advertised to “unstuff” themselves in the washing machine. Others have come up with some other ways to make it very easy to “unstuff” the diapers. In my personal experience with three different brands of pocket diapers unstuffing requires no more contact with grossness than unsnapping/velcroing a fitted diaper or peeling a pre-fold diaper out of a cover. Most of it can be done hands free with a little creative diaper “jiggling” over the diaper pail or washing machine.

Pocket diapers, because they literally “dismantle” have some of the best drying times of any cloth diaper choices. The inserts typically dry faster than the pockets themselves but it is still significantly faster than most Fitteds or AIO’s.

One Size Fits All Pocket Diaper by Rumparooz

One Size Fits All Pocket Diaper by Rumparooz

Bum Genius Pocket Diaper Demo

Bum Genius Pocket Diaper Demo

Pre-Folds

These are the old time classics that pop into most peoples minds when they hear the term “cloth diapers” They are usually considered synonymous with crunchy plastic pants and scary looking diaper pins. These are hands down the cheapest of the cloth diapering options, especially if a cheaper cover is purchased to go along with them. The two most common types of prefolds are Chinese Cotton and Indian Cotton. There are also so more eclectic options available in pre-folds…Made of hemp, bamboo or some combination of both with cotton. The only reason for someone to invest in something other than cotton is if something extra absorbent is needed and for whatever reason fitted diapers out of those materials are not wanted. Can be obtained in organic, unbleached, bleached although without chlorine.  Pretty much whatever is wished for by the parent is quite affordable in pre-folds.  Cotton pre-folds have to be purchased in individual sizes and that can add up after a while but they are so much cheaper than the other alternatives they are usually still cheaper than the one size fits all alternative options.

Cotton pre-folds have some of the best drying times of any of the cloth diaper options available.

Pre Fold Indian Cotton sizes already washed

Pre Fold Chinese Cotton sizes already washed

Chinese Cotton Prefolds

Chinese prefolds benefits: Typically heavier duty stitching, probably made of twill. Due to being made of a heavier-weight fabric and stitched with a thicker thread, these prefolds will probably stay nice longer than the Indian prefolds. Chinese prefolds drawbacks: May pill up more than the Indian prefolds. They are still soft but they are definitely rougher than the Indian prefolds (when washed and dried in the same load) It takes 7-10 hot wash cycles to make an unbleached Chinese prefold usable and absorbent.

Indian Cotton Prefolds

Indian prefolds benefits: Softer cotton, are probably made of gauze cotton. Unbleached diapers wash up quicker (3 washes) More absorbent Indian prefolds drawbacks: May wear out faster than the Chinese prefolds. Depending on the manufacturing company the weight thread used when sewing the ends of the diapers so the thread may wear out faster than the fabric does.

When either the Chinese or Indian prefolds are purchased they are quite flat and “thin” They require several washings to get to the nice fluffiness we expect of cotton pre-fold diapers.

Un-washed multi sized Chinese and Indian pre-folds

Un-washed multi sized Chinese and Indian pre-folds

The diversity of uses in prefolds is literally limitless. They can be used inside pocket diapers, they can be folded and inserted inside appropriate covers and they can be snappied or pinned directly onto the infant for the most efficient fit. The following photo’s will illustrate some of the many ways they can be used.

Instead of the potentially dangerous pins they came up with the ingenious invention called a Snappi. It effectively holds the diaper into place without the use of pins.

Snappi detail with protetive rubber band pulled down to protect baby when not in use

Snappi detail with rubber band pulled down to protect baby when not in use

Snappi'd diaper

Snappi'd diaper

Pre-folds can be folded and inserted into a variety of covers. This method does not require the use of a Snappi. The fit is usually not quite as snug as when a Snappi or pins are used but it is just as effective as far as getting the job done without any extra leaks.

Multi Sized Pre-Folds in several different covers

Multi Sized Pre-Folds in several different covers

Aplex Vs. Snaps

Aplex stands for Velcro and snaps…well…Stand for snaps. Heh. At least something is simple in cloth diaper lingo! After using snaps and aplex I have got to say that aplex is by and large a waste of time. It wears out, sticks to other parts of the diapers and tends to get tangled up in the wash regardless of the preventative measures the manufacturers go to prevent this. The good news is when velcro wears out it is relatively easy to replace if you are the crafty sort. Most brands and diaper models come in both snaps and aplex for the same cost. In my opinion the long term investment is more sound with the snaps. Some say it takes longer to fasten the snaps than the velcro but in my personal experience the extra time is negligible.  Snaps are particularly important for covers in my opinion. Worn out velcro on fitteds can still be used with a good cover to hold everything in place but if the velcro is shot on a cover it’s un-usable until fixed. If you are investing in one size fits all pocket diapers, fitteds or AIO’s I would also cast my vote with snaps vs. velcro because you will need them to last as long as possible and they will be getting longer term wear and tear.

Cover Options

There are three primary types of material available for covers. The most natural and in my experience most effective for absorption is Wool. It is beloved for being absorbent, almost completely waterproof and allows airflow all at the same time.   Wool cannot be dried in the dryer but must be air-dried and it takes quite a long time necessitating more covers than with the other two options.  Unless you have the talent and skill to make your own wool covers wool is the most expensive of all of the cover options. They cannot be washed in the washing machine but require hand washing. The upside is that they only have to be washed every few weeks due to the anti-microbial action of the protective lanolin in the treated covers. There are many tutorials on-line with instructions on how to make your own if you are so inclined. I personally bought some wool sweaters at a second hand store and had a friend convert them into wool covers for me since I lacked the skills to do it myself. They worked really well and I would definitely do it again in the future. I used them for overnights.

Little Beetles Wool Diaper Cover with snaps

Little Beetles Wool Diaper Cover with snaps

Aristocrat Wool Diaper Cover

Aristocrat Wool Diaper Cover

The Synthetic version of wool is fleece which is not as water resistant/water proof as wool but it does allow for airflow. Fleece can be dried at low temps in a dryer.

Swaddlebee's Fleece Diaper Cover

Swaddlebee's Fleece Diaper Cover

Polyurethane Laminate, or PUL, can be said “P-U-L” or “pull”. This laminate-backed diaper fabric was originally developed for the medical community, but it’s softness, flexibility and water-proof qualities make the perfect choice for cloth diaper covers. PUL was meant to be autoclaved so it easily tolerates high dryer temperatures and heavy use. PUL is used in most diaper covers and all of the AIO and Pocket Diapers.  PUL does not allow air flow at all so may not be the best option for the most sensitive skinned babies. These are by far the cheapest diaper cover options available although even with that side there are widely varying prices by brand.

Bummis PUL Cover

Bummis PUL Cover

Covers also come in one size fits all options and in my opinion are the most cost effective even though they cost more up front.

Extra’s to make it Easy

For those that involuntarily gag at the thought of dunking a poopy diaper in the toilet or heaven forbid manually scrubbing it off modern cloth diapering has two wonderful solutions.

1) This amazing thing called “liners” They are laid down in the diaper and are between the baby’s bottom and the diaper. They allow the moisture to go through and the solids are caught. They can be flushed into the toilet. Most of them are designed to be re-used (rinsed out) if they have just been exposed to urine. Especially if the “lightly” used ones are recycled they in no way negate the savings of cloth diapers.

The softest ones available are from Bummis Brand. Due to their very soft nature they don’t last as long as the rougher Imse Vimse brand. I personally preferred the Bummis both for it’s softness against baby and also because to me it seemed like it would be easier on our septic system.

Bummis Bio Degradable Cloth Diaper liner

Bummis Bio Degradable Cloth Diaper liner

The hardier Imse Vimse may be slightly more cost effective but are not as user friendly in my opinion.

Imse Vimse cloth diaper liners

Imse Vimse cloth diaper liners

Option 2 is a marvelous little spray attachment that can be purchased and attached to the toilet.  No more dunking/swishing or scrubbing. If something is stuck on simply spray the diaper off into the toilet and drop into the diaper pail or wetbag until washing time.

Toilet Sprayer attachment for cloth diapers

Toilet Sprayer attachment for cloth diapers

Important to note: Keep in mind neither liners nor sprayers will be needed until solid foods or formula is introduced. Breast fed babies poop can be put straight in the washing machine without any problems at all.

There is a great deal of discussion out there about the various merits of what they call a “wet pail” and a “Dry pail” methods. Having done both in my opinion “dry pail” wins out every time. We started out using a simple five gallon bucket purchased from Lowe’s for our cloth diapers. Later I graduated to an official “wet bag” hung on a door knob.

Wet bags are these marvelous inventions with zippers on the bottom to make it oh, so easy to dump the soiled diapers into the wash. “Look Mom! No hands!” Once the diapers are into the washing machine the bag can be tossed in after it. My bag has a sewn in strip of micro fiber cloth so that essential oils can be dripped on it for odor control. My main bag is made by Fuzzi Bunz and is quite large. It easily holds 3 to 4 days of constant use cloth diapers for one child. For a full time cloth diapering family I would highly recommend two and perhaps even three wet bags.

FuzziBunz Hanging Wet Bag

FuzziBunz Hanging Wet Bag

Last but not least. A list of my favorite websites to purchase from. I am in no way guaranteeing their products or their customer service but I have personally used each of these companies and had good experiences with them. Plus, they are all great places to further your cloth diaper education. For education I highly recommend Green Mountain although you will find them biased against most synthetic fabrics.

www.greenmountaindiapers.com/index.html

www.nickisdiapers.com

www.cottonbabies.com

Aaaaand…Don’t laugh. www.craigslist.com

If you are looking for a fantastic bargain and have an active craigslist in your area this can be a great way to get your hands on some gently used cloth diapering supplies at well below retail cost.

Welp, as the Cartoon says “That’s all folks!” I’m sure I’ve left quite a bit out but even with that I’m now over 2900 words making this the longest blog post I’ve ever made. My apologies. I did try earnestly to keep it as to the point as possible while still covering most of the bases. Please feel free to bombard me with questions…I’ll do my best to answer and point you to the resource that can best clarify any confusion I created. I would love feedback and opinions, especially for any other Mom’s who cloth diaper. =) As we all know cloth diapering favorites ends up being a highly personal opinion and although I’ve tried to keep the general info relatively unbiased I’m sure my personal preferences came through loud and clear.

Thinking in Shades of Green: The Never Ending Monologue

In a past life I was very active in the Republican Party and would be classified as a classic conservative, right winger, fundamentalist and whatever other title seems appropriate. Needless to say, earth friendly anything hasn’t traditionally been a leading issue for that political side of the house. However a verbal emphasis given to fiscal responsibility and dare I say it tightwadism has been. Interestingly enough as my lifestyle has become more and more “green” over the past few years I have realized that taking responsibility for the earth’s resources as a consumer doesn’t mean that you are anti business, anti budget, anti american economy at all as some of the right wing rhetoric would have you believe. To the contrary when done wisely and prudently going green can be very compatible with tight budgets. A core principle of the natural/alternative grassroots movement that is happening right now is to support local, small businesses. As a small business owner at  www.beeyoutiful.com I am particularly appreciative of the effort that it can sometimes take for an individual to go out of their way to support the quality of small business vs. the convenience and or price point of big business. But this blog isn’t about politics or political views. It’s supposed to be about food. Bear with me, I’ll get to food eventually.

Going green for me has been a huge learning curve. The concepts of the green shades that have crept into my life here and there are not new at all they are old and most of them based in centuries of common sense traditions. Concepts I’ve been exposed to in my lifetime by my Grandparents and even my parents. Their importance however has been lost in the face of an increasingly overwhelming world where an easy button for everything is all we wish for and convenience is the watch word of society.

By some standards I haven’t even begun to arrive at green but one baby step at a time I think I’ll get there. Check back in with me in a few years when I have the solar powered hobby farm of my dreams.  Thought I would share some of my least painful and basic lifestyle changes. Some would disagree that these are purely green and they would be correct. The pursuit of a health restoring and maintaining lifestyle from a nutritional standpoint has been far more compelling than either caring for earth’s resources or a budget. That is the overwhelming motivation that will come through in many of these points. But, I think you will discover as I have, that many healthy choices, are green choices and are also budget friendly choices. Given enough time and sufficient little things changed from what the normal frenzied consumer based American lifestyle is there are dozens of symbiotic relationships and crossover benefits that begin to emerge. This is a fairly recent and altogether delightful discovery for me personally.

Cloth diapers have been a HUUUUGE learning curve for me. I have to say in spite of the lure of the fluffy cuteness in all sorts of patterns all created to highlight the utter adorableness of the infant they adorn I was not a fan. Being the avid…Ok ok…Compulsive reader that I am some references that some fair skinned babies more frequently beginning to have troubles with disposable diapers passed before my eyes.  Assessing the gene pool that our poor kid was being created from I concluded that something inbetween glow in the dark and marshmallow would probably be the dominant pigmentation so figured that taking some precautions might not be a bad idea. Not knowing the first thing about cloth diapers and finding the terminology baffling I bought a lot of what I thought sounded like a great deal on newborn sized diapers off of craigslist.  As it turns out I was really grateful to have that particular little bit of obsessive preparation in place. We ran through every brand of disposable diaper out there and ended up with cloth like it or not because it was the only thing her skin would tolerate without breaking out into a horribly painful and red rash. As time went by I became more and more of a fan and learned through trial and error what prefolds vs. AIO’s vs. Pockets were and the various merits of aplex vs. snaps.

Don’t ever get a seasoned cloth diapering Mom started on hemp vs. cotton vs. bamboo vs. microfiber vs. any combination of any of the above unless you wish to be sucked into the black hole that is the cloth diapering world. Unlike the plastic pants and pins of my parents generations cloth diapering options are genuinely limitless now and are generating enough interest that if you are smart about it you can get a decent collection of high end and user friendly stuff while keeping the budget not only intact but actually freeing up some extra cash. This is one of those win win win things to do. It’s great for the environment (think about all the landfills being spared the bags full of your kids plastic wrapped waste) It’s great for the budget even with one kid but the savings sky rocket if you use them with a second. Last but certainly not least I am personally convinced it is the optimal health choice for the baby as well. Disposable diapers are increasingly toxic and it explains why more babies are unable to tolerate them than in times past. Well, that combined with increased environmental senstivities due to being born to parents with chemical overload.  Sorry, rabbit trails are a must this late a night.  Back to Diapers… Use an high efficiency washing machine and line dry the diapers and the impact on the environment will be even less for those of you that care.  I leave you with my last and final point on the whole diaper subject. Nothing is cuter on a baby than cloth. Nothing. See photos below for evidence.

Cloth Diapered Toddler

Doodles in Haute Pockets One Size Fits All pocket diaper

Tin Tin baby sporting green Fuzzi Bunz

Tin Tin baby sporting green Fuzzi Bunz

Glass So this may seem basic and overly simplistic but one of the most green things I’ve done in the past year is to go plastic free. The Tupperware was given away, the plastic canisters disposed of. In their place I invested in several sets of (very much on sale) Pyrex glass with snap on lids, gallon wide mouthed jars with lids, and save every glass container with a lid that comes into our posession. The main driving force of this decision was in an attempt to remove the hormone disrupting properties that leach from plastic into our foods (particularly plastic anything that is heated) so that my body could begin to hopefully regulate itself without the negative extra components mixing things up. I can’t really claim that this one has been a boon to the budget. By biding my time and stalking some good deals at the ed of the day I’ve pretty much broken even with what decent quality plastic stuffage costs. I still use food grade five gallon buckets to store my bulk/dried items in. My primary concern is that anything that is enzymatically or bacterially alive in a liquid base like Kombucha, or food items that will be heated and cooled and or stored long term need to be in glass. All for health reasons. I think there is sufficient general knowledge out there regarding the manufacturing process of plastic that I don’t need to cover that ground yet again here in regards to the Environmental impact. So, I chalk Glass up as a win for two out of three. Health and Environment. Neutral on Budget.

Garden The foodies among us quiver with delight at the mental image of garden fresh produce. The budget minded beam benevolently at the savings a garden can afford and the environmentalists delightedly chortle about the positive impact of bio dynamic gardening. This really leaves just the black thumbs among us to still be convinced that a garden is a worth while waste of time, er, I mean, wise investment of resources. Being the shamed possessor of a black thumb myself and a badge carrying member of the Exclusive Excuse Clubs of “I don’t have enough space for a garden” and “My soil is poorer than Haiti” please believe me when I say you have my utmost sympathies and understanding. However even for me the effort of a garden outweighs the staggering frustrations and failures. Some success can be managed with some creative problem solving and at the very least it gets you outdoors and active which counts as a plus on the Health front even if the veggie garden never actually produces anything more than nutrient dense weeds.

Kitchen I am convinced that nothing is more healthy, beneficial to the budget or earth friendly than getting re acquainted with the kitchen. Kick the microwave out. Welcome the Toaster oven in. Seriously. Unproven and as of yet anecdotal and theoretical serious health ramifications aside a microwave just makes it too darn easy to cheat with food. The preparation of genuinely from scratch food (No, this does NOT include Duncan Hines. Seriously people. Mixes do not count as homemade, it’s cheating plain and simple. Got that?? Some exceptions allowed. It’s my blog. I can do that) is a lost art and along with the flavor, fellowship and textures that have been lost we’ve also lost the knowledge and ability to prepare our foods in ways that our bodies can actually access the health sustaining nutrients inside.

As oblivious as most of us are to this reality there are actually compelling and scientifically viable reasons for many traditional food methods of preparation as time consuming as they were. There are the right ways to prepare certain foods that unlock the full range of nutrients in such a way that our bodies can easily utilize them. Neutral methods that neither unlocks their full potential nor blocks it off and then the really bad terrible horrible awful way of treating food that basically blocks off our bodies ability to access anything there and actually utilize it in a helpful way. The worst effects of the poor methods is that it actually mutates the food on a basic cellular level so that it not only fails to support health it actually harms it. So that covers the Health front of things. For the Budget, cooking from scratch = less time eating out and less out to eats = less money spent. Unless you are eating off of the McDonald’s Dollar Menu in which case I have to wonder what on earth you are doing reading a blog like this in the first place.  As for the Green impact of kitchen re prioritization if done correctly it can be enormously beneficial. Mostly in regards to how it is supplied, stocked and how energy resources are managed and maximized. Details, tips, tricks on that is another mammoth post for another occasion.

There are many more areas of Green improvement in my life that have evolved over the past few years but my brain is weary and you my dear reader have successfully toughed through somewhere in the ballpark of 2000 words according to the handy dandy word counter that WordPress provides. That’s a lot. Way too much. I apparently like to see myself type. Probably almost as much as I like to hear myself talk. At least I’m easier to tune out in text than in cinematic full color glory with the audio cranked up.  Be glad it’s a text blog and not a video blog.

Until next time,

The Crunchy Sorta, Kinda Conservative

Steph Tallent

www.traditionalfoodadventure.com